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HERE was an old soldier who had been long in the wars—so
long, that he was quite out-at-elbows, and did not know
where to go to find a living. So he walked up moors, down
glens, till at last he came to a farm, from which the good
man had gone away to market. The wife of the farmer was a
very foolish woman, who had been a widow when he married
her; the farmer was foolish enough, too, and it is hard to
say which of the two was the most foolish. When you've heard
my tale you may decide.
Now before the farmer goes to market says he to his wife:
"Here is ten pounds all in gold, take care of it till I come
home." If the man had not been a fool he would never have
given the money to his wife to keep. Well, off he went in
his cart to market, and the wife said to herself: "I will
keep the ten pounds quite safe from thieves;" so she tied it
up in a rag, and she put the rag up the parlour chimney.
"There," she said, "no thieves will ever find it now, that
is quite sure."
 Jack Hannaford, the old soldier, came and rapped at the
"Who is there?" asked the wife.
"Where do you come from?"
"Lord a' mercy! and maybe you've seen my old man there,"
alluding to her former husband.
"Yes, I have."
"And how was he a-doing?" asked the goody.
"But middling; he cobbles old shoes, and he has nothing but
cabbage for victuals."
"Deary me!" exclaimed the old woman. "Didn't he send a
message to me?"
"Yes, he did," replied Jack Hannaford. "He said that he was
out of leather, and his pockets were empty, so you were to
send him a few shillings to buy a fresh stock of leather."
"He shall have them, bless his poor soul!" And away went
the wife to the parlour chimney, and she pulled the rag with
the ten pounds in it from the parlour chimney, and she gave
the whole sum to the soldier, telling him that her old man
was to use as much as he wanted, and to send back the rest.
It was not long that Jack waited after receiving the money;
he went off as fast as he could walk.
Presently the farmer came home and asked for his money. The
wife told him that she had sent it by a soldier to her
former husband in Paradise, to buy him leather for cobbling
the shoes of the saints and angels of heaven. The farmer was
very angry, and he swore that
 he had never met with such a
fool as his wife. But the wife said that her husband was a
greater fool for letting her have the money.
There was no time to waste words; so the farmer mounted his
horse and rode off after Jack Hannaford. The old soldier
heard the horse's hoofs clattering on the road behind him,
so he knew it must be the farmer pursuing him. He lay down
on the ground, shading his eyes with one hand, looked up
into the sky, and pointed heavenwards with the other hand.
"What are you about there?" asked the farmer, pulling up.
"Lord save you!" exclaimed Jack; "I've seen a rare sight."
"What was that?"
"A man going straight up into the sky, as if he were walking
on a road."
"Can you see him still?"
"Yes, I can."
"Get off your horse and lie down."
"If you will hold the horse."
Jack did so readily.
"I cannot see him," said the farmer.
"Shade your eyes with your hand, and you'll see a man flying
away from you."
Sure enough he did so, for Jack leaped on the horse, and
rode away with it. The farmer walked home without his horse.
 "You are a bigger fool than I am," said the wife, "for I did
only one foolish thing, and you have done two."