THE FIVE BITS
One day the Hodja was having a leisurely walk when all of a sudden he was slapped by somebody from behind on the nape of the neck with so much force that he was nearly knocked down. Looking back, he saw a young man he had never seen before in his life.
"How dare you hit me!" the Hodja raged.
The young man, who was more than a little arrogant, apologized summarily and said he had made a slight error and had mistaken the Hodja for a very good friend of his. He further opined that the Hodja was making a mountain out of a molehill.
After this obvious slight, nothing less than a trial by court could satisfy the Hodja. He insisted upon this, and there was no alternative for the offender but to submit.
The Magistrate heard the parties with apparent impartiality, but in fact he was a friend of the offender and the whole time he was trying to find a way to extricate him from the mess while at the same time mollifying the Hodja.
"Well, my dear Hodja," he said, "I understand perfectly well how you feel. Anybody would feel the same under the circumstances. What would you say if I allowed you to slap him yourself? Would you then call it even?"
No! The Hodja wouldn't be satisfied with that. He had been gravely insulted and wanted justice done.
"Well, then. Having duly deliberated the merits of the case, I hereby fine the offender five bits, to be paid over to the offended party as damages."
He then told the young man to go fetch the five bits, and the latter departed with alacrity.
The Hodja sat waiting for the young man's return. An hour passed, then two hours, but there was still no sign of the young man. When it was about time for the court to close, he selected the Magistrate's busiest moment and, giving him a mighty slap on the nape of the neck, he said:
"Sorry, I can't wait any longer, your Honor! When that fellow turns up, tell him that I said you are now entitled to the five bits!"