'Sir Luck And Mister Riches' | Circle Round 77

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(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

Think of something that makes you happy.

Maybe it’s a sunny day, a favorite story, or the chance to hang out with someone you love.

In today’s story, two characters argue about what truly makes people happy. And they’re both convinced they have the answer!

Our story is called “Sir Luck and Mister Riches.” Versions of this tale come from parts of Europe, including Spain, Portugal, Denmark, and the modern-day Czech Republic. You’ll also hear variations from the Dominican Republic, in the Caribbean Sea.

Voices in this episode include  Jon Bell, Emily DiPietro, Hana Kenny, Delores King Williams, Maurice Emmanuel Parent, David Wain and Michael Ian Black.

Grown-ups, you might know writer, director and actor David Wain from the movies Wet Hot American Summer and Role Models, and the TV shows Stella and The State, which he created with Michael Ian Black. Michael has also written a bunch of children’s books, including Chicken Cheeks, The Purple Kangaroo, I’m Bored, I’m Sad, and I’m Worried.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Virginia Marshall. Original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Circle Round’s artist is Sabina Hahn. Circle Round’s executive producer is Katherine Brewer.

ADULTS! PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on FacebookTwitterInstagram or Pinterest, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.

Things To Think About After Listening

Think about one thing you can do this week to show generosity. Maybe you can donate books or toys to a charity, or split your sandwich with a friend. Whatever it is, tell a grown-up your generosity plan. Then, once you’ve followed through, come back to that grown-up and tell them how it felt to share with others!

Musical Spotlight: Chromatic Button Accordion

(Eric Shimelonis for WBUR)
(Eric Shimelonis for WBUR)

Like the diatonic accordion (which composer Eric Shimelonis used to score “The Rusty Cowbell”) and the piano accordion (which Eric used for “100 Rooms” and “Maya’s Feathers”), the chromatic button accordion is a box-shaped reed instrument where you push or pull bellows while pressing buttons or keys — in this case, as the name suggests, buttons! The reeds inside the accordion then vibrate to produce sound. The accordion is popular in many parts of the world, including the Czech Republic: one of the countries where our story comes from.


NARRATOR: One bright, sunny morning… not so long ago... if you had passed a certain bench in a certain park on a certain edge of a certain town… you would have come across a certain pair of men… having a certain fight.

LUCK: For crying out loud, how many times do I have to tell you? I am more important than you are!

RICHES: Oh, give me a break! Everybody knows that I am way more important than you are!

NARRATOR: One of the men was Sir Luck...

LUCK: Look — without me, people would be wandering into poison ivy patches, and getting struck by lightning all the time. Their fortunes would be terrible!

NARRATOR: … and the other was Mister Riches.

RICHES: Well, without me, people wouldn’t have any ‘fortune’ at allmoney-wise! No cash... no bread... no dough. They’d be penniless!

NARRATOR: Now, here’s the thing about Sir Luck and Mister Riches. They may have looked like two regular guys… but it was all a disguise. Sir Luck and Mister Riches were actually supernatural beings... in charge of the very things they were named for!

So Sir Luck was responsible for … you guessed it… luck! He determined what strokes of good fortune — or bad fortune — came to people like you and me.

And Mister Riches was in charge of… you guessed it again… riches! He decided how much money people had... you know, who was prosperous and who was not.

LUCK: (maintain under Narration that follows) Okay, I don’t even know what to say anymore. There’s no way you’re more important than I am.

RICHES: (maintain under Narration that follows) Then don’t say anything, because there’s no way you are more important than I am!

NARRATOR: (as the above dialogue plays underneath) And as Sir Luck and Mister Riches sat on that bench in that park on the edge of that town and quibbled about which one of them was more important...

LUCK: (play in the clear) You are out of your mind!

RICHES: (play in the clear) No, you are out of yours!

LUCK: (maintain under narration that follows) Am not!

RICHES: (maintain under narration that follows) Are too!

LUCK: (maintain under narration that follows) Am not!

RICHES: (maintain under narration that follows) Are too!

NARRATOR: (as the above dialogue plays underneath)… they were interrupted…

WISDOM: Good morning, gentlemen!

NARRATOR: Madam Wisdom.

[Riches/Luck bickering suddenly stops]

NARRATOR: Madam Wisdom was a colleague of Sir Luck and Mister Riches. And I’ll bet you can guess what she was in charge of.

That’s right: wisdom!

Madam Wisdom decided she had listened to enough quarreling between Sir Luck and Mister Riches. And given her vast knowledge and insight, she knew exactly what to do.

Madam WISDOM: Listen, you two. Squabbling won’t get you any closer to settling your debate. (beat) But it just so happens that I have an idea.

NARRATOR: She pointed to a man who was striding through the park. The fellow was dressed in ragged overalls and shabby work boots. He was carrying an axe and whistling a merry tune.

WOODCUTTER: (ad-lib whistling, continue for a while to provide coverage beneath the following dialogue/narration)

WISDOM: See that woodcutter over there? He’s on his way to cut down trees in the forest. He works hard, every single day, to support his family… and they don’t have very much. (beat) Why not take turns giving him your gifts?

NARRATOR: Madam Wisdom nodded at Mister Riches.

WISDOM: First... you provide the woodcutter with riches, but no luck

NARRATOR: … then she nodded at Sir Luck.

WISDOM: Next, you grant him luck, but no riches. (beat) In the end... you can see which one of you makes the woodcutter happier. What do you say?

NARRATOR: For the first time in a long time, Mister Riches and Sir Luck actually agreed on something.

RICHES: / LUCK: We’re in!

WISDOM: Very well, then. Let me know how it goes!

NARRATOR: Madam Wisdom sauntered away, and Mister Riches hopped up from his seat and ran over to the woodcutter.

RICHES: (to the woodcutter) Good morning, friend!

NARRATOR: The woodcutter stopped walking… and whistling... and turned toward Mister Riches.

RICHES: Sorry to bother you, but I’d like to give you… this!

NARRATOR: Mister Riches reached into his pocket and pulled out a glittering gold coin.

WOODCUTTER: (confused, but humble) A gold coin!?! For me?!? For what?

RICHES: Well, a humble woodcutter like you works so hard chopping in that forest every single day… Why not take the day off for once? Go to the market and buy something nice? Some bread... Some cheese... Some wine...

NARRATOR: The woodcutter blushed.

WOODCUTTER: (humble) Well, the truth is, I really like ‘chopping in that forest’! You see, my dad was a woodcutter… so was my grandpa. None of us have ever been rich... but we’ve always been content! Very content! (beat, getting an idea) Since you’re offering, though... I’ll take your gold coin. Thank you!

RICHES: You’re welcome! (beat) You know, I’d say it’s your ‘lucky day,’ but trust me...

NARRATOR: Mister Riches shot Sir Luck a withering glance.

RICHES: ...luck has nothing to do with it!

NARRATOR: What do you think will happen next? Will Mister Riches prove Sir Luck wrong?

We’ll find out… after a quick break.


NARRATOR: Welcome back to Circle Round. I’m Rebecca Sheir. Today our story is called “Sir Luck and Mister Riches.”

NARRATOR: When we left off… Sir Luck and Mister Riches were bickering about which one of them was more important. So Madam Wisdom suggested they take turns giving their gifts to a humble woodcutter, then see whether luck or riches made the man happier.

Mister Riches went first. He gave the woodcutter a glittering gold coin to spend at the market.

When the woodcutter arrived, it was the height of the morning rush, and the place was buzzing and humming with customers. As the woodcutter wove his way through the noisy crowd, he bought a loaf of fresh bread, a wheel of cheese, and a bottle of wine.

But just as he was elbowing his way toward the door, another throng of customers came swarming in. The woodcutter felt someone bump his shoulder, and before he knew what was happening, his groceries went flying out of his arms...

WOODCUTTER: (ad-lib sound of surprise)

NARRATOR: ...and came crashing to the ground. The woodcutter watched as his his bottle of wine shattered and splattered, and his bread and cheese were trampled by hundreds of pairs of feet.

So, carrying nothing but his trusty axe, the woodcutter left the jam-packed market and headed back across the park, toward the forest.

RICHES: Hey there, woodcutter! You’re not going back to work, are you? Where are your groceries?

NARRATOR: The woodcutter sighed and told Mister Riches what had happened.

RICHES: Well, that’s unfortunate! 

NARRATOR: From the corner of his eye, Mister Riches could see Sir Luck smirking.

RICHES: ...But no matter. I can offer you a whole different kind of fortune!

NARRATOR: This time when Mister Riches reached into his pocket, he pulled out a polka-dotted drawstring purse.

RICHES: This purse is filled to the brim with gold coins. Go back to the market, and buy something else. The morning rush should be over by now.

NARRATOR: So the woodcutter thanked Mister Riches and took the polka-dotted drawstring purse to the market. But just as he was stepping inside…

WOODCUTTER: (ad-lib sound/expression of surprise)

NARRATOR: … a falcon with long, pointed wings swooped down from the sky, seized the drawstring purse in its talons, and flew away!

So, once again, carrying nothing but his faithful axe, the woodcutter headed back across the park, toward the forest.

RICHES: Woodcutter! I told you to take that purse and buy things! Nice things! But here you are, empty-handed, and going back to work. What gives?

NARRATOR: Once again, the woodcutter sighed and told Mister Riches what had happened.

RICHES: I see… not catching many lucky breaks today, are you?

NARRATOR: Mister Riches heard Sir Luck chuckling.

RICHES: But... not to worry!

NARRATOR: Mister Riches snapped his fingers, and a giant grey stallion came galloping across the park. The steed’s massive hooves were fitted with diamond-studded horse-shoes… and his brown leather saddlebag was bursting with gold coins.

RICHES: Forget about work, friend, and forget about the market. Take this horse and bring him, and all this money, home with you.

NARRATOR: The woodcutter thanked Mister Riches and began leading the stallion home.

But soon after they left the park, a deer came bounding across the road, and startled the grey stallion. The horse jerked his reins out of the woodcutter’s hands...

WOODCUTTER: (ad-lib sound/expression of surprise)

NARRATOR: … then bolted away on his big, diamond-studded horseshoes, before disappearing into a stand of trees.

So, yet again, carrying nothing but his faithful axe, the woodcutter headed back across the park, toward the forest.

When Mister Riches spotted the woodcutter returning, he frowned. Sir Luck, on the other hand, grinned.

LUCK: (grinning) Well, pardon the expression, but isn’t this rich!?! Three times you tried giving riches to that woodcutter, and three times he’s come back carrying nothing but that axe!

RICHES: I suppose you think you can do better?

LUCK: Oh, I don’t think it…

NARRATOR: Sir Luck hopped up from the bench.

LUCK: ...I know it!

NARRATOR: Sir Luck pulled a copper coin from his pocket.

LUCK: Hello there, sir! How’s it going? Listen, I’d like to give you this copper coin.

NARRATOR: The woodcutter scratched his head.

WOODCUTTER: Um… thanks for the offer, sir. (beat) But I really should get to my chopping.

LUCK: Not so fast!

NARRATOR: Sir Luck laid a hand on the woodcutter’s shoulder.

LUCK: (a bit mysterious) Listen… this copper coin may not look like much, but it might lead to very great things! (beat) All I ask is that you don’t do any work today. Instead, go home. And on the way, spend this copper coin on the very first thing you see. Whatever it is... if it’s for sale… and you can afford it... buy it.

NARRATOR: The woodcutter thought for a moment.

WOODCUTTER: Alright, then. I’ll take your copper coin and spend it on the first thing I see. (beat) Thank you.

NARRATOR: As the woodcutter headed home, he came upon a traveling merchant, who was selling all sorts of goods… silks, spices, exotic fruits and vegetables. But the only item that cost less than one copper coin was…

WOODCUTTER: ...a rod…?

MERCHANT: But not just any rod, sir! Tell me… do you like olives?


MERCHANT: Well, we all know how time-consuming it can be to pick olives by hand, right? With this rod, all you have to do is find an olive tree… give the trunk/tree a good whack… and the plumpest and juiciest olives will pop right off! Just like that!

NARRATOR: So, the woodcutter traded his one copper coin for one rod, then resumed his trip back home.

On the way, he passed an olive grove, and spotted a tree that was practically exploding with olives. So he picked up his rod and gave the tree a good whack, and sure enough, dozens of plump, juicy olives fell to the ground!

But that’s not all.

Something else had fallen out of the tree, too… something much larger than an olive. And this something was polka-dotted… with a drawstring… and filled to the brim with gold coins!

WOODCUTTER: (ad-lib expression of surprise) Woah! It’s the drawstring purse! The one that man gave me… before the falcon swiped it out of my hands! What good luck! 

NARRATOR: Gripping the purse extra tight, the woodcutter continued on his way. But then he spied something on the ground.

WOODCUTTER: (spotting them on the ground) Horse tracks!?! And they’re enormous! (beat, thinking about it) The only horse I’ve seen who could leave tracks that massive is that grey stallion. The huge one that ran away when — (gasp as he puts it all together) Of course!

NARRATOR: The woodcutter followed the horse tracks to an apple orchard… and guess who was standing by a tree, nibbling all the apples! I’ll give you a hint: he was wearing massive, diamond-studded horseshoes, and carrying a brown leather saddlebag bursting with gold coins.

WOODCUTTER: Well! Looks like we’ve found each other again, buddy!

NARRATOR: Now… little did the woodcutter know, but as he led the grey horse back toward his house, he was being followed... by Sir Luck and Mister Riches!

LUCK: (stage-whisper-ish as they secretly follow behind) You see? Thanks to my good luck, the woodcutter bought that rod! And thanks to that rod, he whacked that olive tree, and found the drawstring purse! Plus the horse and the saddlebag! And now he’s taking them home, and he’ll never have to chop wood another day in his life! (cocky) Score one for Luck!

RICHES: (stage-whisper-ish as they secretly follow behind) Okay, I hear you… but tell me, whose money was inside that drawstring purse? And that saddlebag? Those gold coins were mine, thank you very much! I’m the reason the guy never has to chop wood again. (cocky) Score one for Riches!

NARRATOR: By the time they reached the woodcutter’s street, both Sir Luck and Mister Riches were convinced that they had won.

But then something happened that made them scratch their heads.

The woodcutter led the grey stallion past his own house… and over to the home of his neighbor!

The woodcutter’s house was a humble cottage… a bit of peeling paint here, a missing shutter there. But his neighbor’s house was a different story altogether. It was no bigger than a woodshed… with cracked windows and crumbling walls on the verge of caving in.

The woodcutter tied the stallion to his neighbor’s rusty gate. Then he knocked on the front door, and went inside.

LUCK: (stage-whisper-ish) What’s he doing in there?

RICH: (stage-whisper-ish) I don’t know! (smug) Bragging about his newfound riches, maybe...?

LUCK: (stage-whisper-ish) His newfound luck, you mean!

NARRATOR: A few minutes later, the woodcutter came out again. He was no longer holding the polka-dotted drawstring purse. And when he left his neighbor’s yard… he left the giant grey stallion — and the brown leather saddlebag filled with coins — tied to his neighbor’s gate!

Then, he crossed into his own yard and shut his front door. Sir Luck and Mister Riches were trying to figure out what had just happened when all of a sudden...

WISDOM: Hello again, gentlemen!

NARRATOR: … they heard a familiar voice. It was Madam Wisdom, accompanied by two other women.

WISDOM: So... it seems our little challenge worked, eh?

NARRATOR: Mister Riches and Sir Luck exchanged a look.

RICH: Whuddya mean, ‘the challenge worked’?!??

LUCK: The woodcutter rejected our gifts!

WISDOM: Exactly! Let me explain. You see, just like the woodcutter tried telling you... he’s always been content with his life. (beat) Friends, allow me to introduce...

NARRATOR: She pointed to the woman on her left.

WISDOM: ...Ms. Contentment.

CONTENTMENT: Pleased to make your acquaintance!

WISDOM: Thanks to Ms. Contentment here, the woodcutter is satisfied with his work... and his life... so he appreciates everything he has, no matter how little. And because of that… he’s able to be generous. (beat) Sir Luck, Mister Riches...

NARRATOR: She pointed to the woman on her right.

WISDOM: Dame Generosity.

GENEROSITY: How do you do?

WISDOM: Thanks to our dear Dame Generosity, the woodcutter is unselfish, and willing and able to share with others. And that’s what you saw him do just now — share! With his very own neighbor!

NARRATOR: Mister Riches and Sir Luck... were speechless.

This whole time, each one of them had been tripping all over himself… convinced that he could make the woodcutter happier with either riches or luck. And yet, this whole time, all the humble woodcutter wanted to do was share his bounty with someone who needed it far more than he did. In this case, a neighbor who had fallen on hard times.

So all of a sudden... Mister Riches and Sir Luck realized… when it all comes down to it, riches weren’t the most important thing. Nor was luck!

No. The most important things… the things that truly matter... were standing right there in front of them: Contentment… Generosity… and the Wisdom to find a place in your heart for both.

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Rebecca Sheir Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.



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