A long time ago, there lived a baker whose bread was very popular in the town. But, although his bread, cookies and pastries were the best in the town, he was greedy and stingy. He was so stingy that he wouldn’t even give the leftover breadcrumbs to the birds.
A young man lived on the street next to the bakery of the stingy Baker. The man used to work hard during the day and used to sleep in the little hut near the bakery at night. The man did not have much, but he was very kind and liked sharing whatever he had. He always smiled and greeted people with pleasantries. His kind and jolly nature had made him well-liked in the town.
The Baker was jealous of his always cheerful neighbor. “How can the man have so little and yet be always cheerful?” he wined.
Every morning the delicious smell of freshly baked bread, sweet cinnamon buns and flavorful pastries meandered on the street outside the bakery.
The delicious aroma used to reach the home of the poor man. The man used to eat his stale bread on his porch while enjoying the flavorful aroma that filled the neighborhood in the morning.
One morning the Baker saw the poor man enjoying his stale bread as he smelled the fantastic aroma from the bakery. “The aromatic smell from the bakery is making his plain stale bread taste better. This is not fair. The man should be paying for the pleasure of the smell from my shop.”
After observing the man enjoy his plain stale bread while smelling the flavorful, fresh aroma from the bakery several times. The greedy went and knocked on the kind neighbor’s door and handed him a bill. The man was perplexed as he had never eaten at the bakery. “What is this bill for? I have never eaten at your bakery.” asked the kind man.
“Exactly! You don’t pay anything, but still, you take pleasure in the smell of my baked goods every day. That is theft.” yelled the Baker.
“You want me to pay ten gold coins for smelling?” asked the baffled neighbor. “Yes! I will not be cheated any longer. If you don’t pay for my smell, I’ll take you to court,” replied the agitated Baker. The word of the Baker’s demand to charge for the smell from the bakery spread around the city; everyone laughed at the absurdity of the demand.
The poor neighbor consistently refused to pay for the smell from the bakery. So finally, the Baker took the case to a respected town judge. Of course, everyone expected the case to be dismissed, looking at the ridiculous demand from Baker. But to everyone’s surprise, the judge said,’ I must listen to what both the party has to say.’, and ordered both the Baker and his neighbor to be present in the court.’. The judge also asked the poor neighbor to bring five gold coins.
The greedy Baker was thrilled when he heard about the judge’s order. But, at the same time, the poor man was worried that he had to hand over the little money he had to Baker.
When Baker and the neighbor arrived, the court was crowded as the people were curious about what the verdict would be. They could not believe that the man could be made to pay for the smell.
The judge carefully listened to Baker’s complaint about the stolen smell from the bakery. Then, addressing the next-door neighbor, he inquired, “Is it true that you enjoyed the scent of this man’s baked products every day?”.
“Yes, your honor! That is true. Eating moldy bread was a lot less difficult with the enticing aroma of the bakery.” The neighbor admitted to the judge. The judge considered it for a while.
The judge declared, “since the man has admitted to enjoying the smell without paying a dime. I declare that smell has been stolen. So, the man has to pay the baker five gold coins for all the stolen smell for years”. The judge’s ruling shook the kind man. “But your honor…” he tried to protest but was shut down by the judge. “Order in the court,” bellowed the judge.
The Baker was ecstatic that he would be getting paid for his smell. The kind man begrudgingly took out coins from his pocket. The judge asked the man to count the coin in front of the court. The neighbor carefully counted five gold coins and placed them in a pouch. “Now toss the coin bag from one hand to another’ asked the judge. The man passed the gold coins back and forth between his hands as he was ordered.
The Baker was excited about all those coins going into his pocket.
“Did you see the coin? ”inquired the judge. “Yes, Your Honor,” said the Baker. “Did you hear the coin jingle?” asked the judge. “It’s a wonderful sound—the coins I fully deserve!” declared the Baker. So the Baker went over to his neighbor to get his money.
But the judge stopped the Baker. “wait!, You have received your fair payment. The man was guilty of stealing the smell from your bakery. You have been paid by viewing and hearing the sound of the coins.
‘This case is dismissed,” said the judge. The courtroom applauded and marveled at the judge’s clever and just decision. The kind man was happily relieved about the verdict. The Baker was embarrassed as he saw how ridiculously foolish and greedy he had been.