On a certain day there were twelve men of Gotham that went to fish, and some stood on dry land; and in going home one said to the other, "We have ventured wonderfully in wading. I pray God that none of us come home and be drowned."
"Nay, marry," said one to the other, "let us see that; for there did twelve of us come out." Then they counted themselves, and every one counted eleven.
Said one to the other, "There is one of us drowned." They went back to the brook where they had been fishing, and sought up and down for him that was wanting, making great lamentation. A courtier, coming by, asked what it was they sought for, and why they were sorrowful.
"Oh," said they, "this day we went to fish in the brook; twelve of us came out together, and one is drowned."
Said the courtier, "Count how many there be of you."
One of them said, "Eleven," and he did not count himself.
"Well," said the courtier, "what will you give me, and I will find the twelfth man?"
"Sir," said they, "all the money we have got."
"Give me the money," said the courtier, and began with the first, and gave him a stroke over the shoulders with his whip, which made him groan, saying, "Here is one," and so served them all, and they all groaned at the matter. When he came to the last, he paid him well, saying, "Here is the twelfth man."
"God's blessing on your heart," said they, "for thus finding our dear brother!"