A rich man looked out the window of his house, and saw a schnorrer, a beggar, rubbing his back against his picket fence. The rich man went outside and called to him, "Why are you rubbing your back against my fence? You'll break it!"
The schnorrer said mournfully to him, "Oy-- I'm so itchy! My clothing is filthy. I haven't eaten in a week. I've been sleeping in the streets, and I haven't had a decent bath in a month!"
"Oy-- such a pity-- nebich!" said the rich man, "Come inside, and I will give you a bath, and a good, hot meal."
"Thank you, thank you!" said the schnorrer.
The rich man was as good as his word. He showed the schnorrer the bath, gave him bubble bath and a luxurious towel, and afterwards had his cooks make him a delicious, festive meal. The rich man dressed the schnorrer in old, but still decent, clothing from his own closet. Finally, he gave the schnorrer ten gold coins, and sent him on his way.
As the schnorrer left the rich man's house, two other schnorrers were standing outside on the pavement. Seeing their comrade wearing better clothing and looking clean and cheerful, they asked him what had happened.
Upon hearing his good news, the two schnorrers decided to imitate him. They immediately started to scratch their backs on the picket fence, as he had done.
No sooner had they begun scratching against the fence, than the door of the house opened, and the rich man came running out. But he was angry, this time.
"Go away, you dirty schnorrers!" he cried. "Go and stop rubbing your filthy backs against my picket fence!"
The two schnorrers were surprised.
"Why is it that, when you saw our friend, the first schnorrer, you were so kind to him, but now that you see the two of us, you are driving us away?" they asked.
"Why? Why?" asked the rich man, "it is because I saw that he was only one, and therefore had no one to scratch his back. But you-- you blackguards, there are two of you. Go ahead--scratch each other's backs!"