Home Tales from the Grimm Brothers
Once upon a time the shop belonging to an astute merchant called Salem, and all the carpets in it, were burnt in a fire. Salem was left with nothing but his house, and since he was a trader he decided to sell it.
With the money he would be able to buy a new shop and more carpets.
Salem did not ask a high price for his house. However, he had a most unusual request to make of would-be buyers:
"I'll sell you the house, except for that nail in the wall. That remains mine!"
And as they all went off, shaking their heads, they wondered what he meant by this strange request.
Abraham, however, more miserly than all the others, thought the price was fair, and he even haggled it down further. A bargain was struck and the new owner took over the whole house, except for the nail. A week later, Salem knocked at the door.
"I've come to hang something on my nail," he said. Abraham let him in and Salem hung up a large empty bag, said goodbye and left. A few days later, he appeared again, and this time hung an old cloak on the nail. From then on, Salem's visits became regular; he was forever coming and going, taking things off the nail or hanging something else up.
One evening, in front of the stunned eyes of Abraham and his family, Salem arrived dragging a dead donkey. With a struggle, he hoisted it up and roped it to the nail. The occupants of the house complained about the smell and the sight of the dead beast, but Salem calmly said: "It's my nail and I can hang anything I like on it!"
Abraham, naturally, could no longer live in the house under such conditions. But Salem refused to remove the donkey.
"If you don't like it," he said, "you can get out of my house, but I'll not pay you back a penny!"
Abraham did his best to persuade Salem to take the donkey down, for it smelt to high heaven. He even consulted a judge, but the terms of the bargain were clear. The house belonged to Abraham, but Salem kept the nail.
In the end, Abraham was forced to leave, and Salem got his house back without paying a penny for it!