Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THE STORY OF MR. VINEGAR
R. and Mrs. Vinegar lived in a vinegar bottle. One day,
when Mr. Vinegar was away from home, Mrs. Vinegar, who
was a very good housewife, was busily sweeping her
house, when an unlucky thump of the broom brought the
whole house clitter-clatter, clitter-clatter about her
ears. Bursting into tears she ran forth to meet her
husband, and, on seeing him she exclaimed, "Oh, Mr.
Vinegar, we are ruined! I have knocked the house down,
and it is all in pieces!" Mr. Vinegar then said, "My
dear, let us see what can be done. Here is the door; I
will take it on my back, and we will go forth and seek
They walked all that day, and at night entered a
forest. They were both very tired, and Mr. Vinegar
said, "My love, I will climb up into a tree, drag the
door up, and you shall follow." He did so, and they
both lay down upon the door and fell asleep. In the
middle of the night Mr. Vinegar was awakened by the
sound of voices underneath, and to his dismay perceived
that a party of thieves were dividing their booty.
"Here, Jack," said one, "here's five pounds for you;
here, Bill, here's ten pounds for you; here, Bob,
here's three pounds for you."
Mr. Vinegar was so frightened that his trembling shook
down the door on their heads. The thieves ran away, but
Mr. Vinegar did not quit his retreat until broad
He then scrambled out of the tree, and went to lift up
 door. What did he see but a number of golden guineas!
"Come down, Mrs. Vinegar," he cried, "come down, our
fortune's made, our fortune's made!" Mrs. Vinegar got
down as fast as she could, and saw the money with equal
delight. "Now, my dear," said she, "I'll tell you what
to do. There is a fair in the neighborhood; you take
these forty guineas and buy a cow. I can make butter
and cheese, which you shall sell, and we shall be able
to live comfortably." Mr. Vinegar joyfully assents,
takes the money and goes off to the fair. When he
arrived, he walked up and down, and at length saw a
beautiful red cow. It was an excellent milker, and Mr.
Vinegar thought, "Oh! if I only had that cow, I should
be the happiest man alive." So he offers the forty
guineas for the cow, and the owner declaring that, as
he was a friend, he would oblige him, and the bargain
was made. Proud of his purchase, he drove the cow
backwards and forwards to show it. Presently he saw a
man playing the bagpipes, tweedledum, tweedledee; the
children followed him about, and he was pocketing money
on all sides. "Well," thought Mr. Vinegar, "if I had
but that beautiful instrument I should be the happiest
man alive—my fortune would be made."
So he went up to the man, and said, "Friend, what a
beautiful instrument that is, and what a lot of money
you must make." "Why, yes," said the man, "I make a
great deal of money, to be sure, and it is a wonderful
instrument." "Oh!" cried Mr. Vinegar, "how I should
like to possess it." "Well," said the man, "as you are
a friend, you shall have it for that red cow." "Done,"
said the delighted Mr. Vinegar; so he exchanged the
beautiful red cow for the bagpipes. He walked up and
down with his purchase, but he could n't play a tune,
and instead of pocketing pence, the boys followed him
hooting and laughing.
His fingers grew very cold, and very much ashamed, he
was leaving the town, when he met a man with a fine
thick pair of
 gloves. "Oh, my fingers are so very cold," said Mr.
Vinegar to himself; "if I only had those beautiful
gloves I should be the happiest man alive." He went up
to the man, and said to him, "Friend, you have a
capital pair of gloves there." "Yes, truly!" cried the
man, "and my hands are as warm as toast." "Well," said
Mr. Vinegar, "I should like to have them." "What will
you give?" said the man; "as you are a friend, you may
have them for those bagpipes." "Done," cried Mr.
Vinegar. He put on the gloves, and felt very happy as
he walked homeward.
At last he grew very tired, when he saw a man coming
toward him with a good stout stick in his hand. "Oh,"
said Mr. Vinegar, "if I had but that stick; I should
then be the happiest man alive." He spoke to the man:
"Friend, what a fine stick you have there." "Yes," said
the man, "I have used it for many a long mile, and a
good friend it has been; but if you have a fancy for
it, I don't mind letting you have it for that pair of
gloves." Mr. Vinegar's hands now being warm, and his
legs tired, he gladly made the exchange.
As he drew near to the wood where he had left his wife,
he heard a parrot on a tree calling out to him: "Mr.
Vinegar, you foolish man, you simpleton! You laid out
all your money at the fair in buying a cow; not content
with that, you changed it for bagpipes, on which you
could not play, and which were not worth one tenth of
the money. You no sooner had the bagpipes than you
changed them for the gloves, which were not worth one
quarter of the money, and when you had the gloves, you
changed them for a miserable stick, which you might
have cut in any hedge." The bird burst into laughter,
and Mr. Vinegar, being very angry, threw the stick at
its head. The stick lodged in the tree, and he returned
to his wife without money, cow, bagpipes, gloves, or