A MISSING MAN FOUND
NCE upon a time twelve men of Gotham went fishing in
the stream that supplied the town pond, and sometimes
they fished from the shore, and sometimes they waded
out into the stream to get better positions from which
to cast their lines. As they were coming back one of
them said, "We have ventured much this day wading. I
pray God that none of us that did come from home be
"Let us see about that," said a second man. "Twelve of
us came out this morning. I will count and see if there
be twelve going back."
So he counted, "One, two, three, four, five, six,
seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven"
But he forgot to count himself. "I can make no more
than eleven," said he." Surely, one of us is drowned."
Then the other men counted, but each forgot to count
himself and could find only eleven. "Alas!"
one to another, "there is no doubt about it. One of us
They went back to the stream where they had been
fishing and looked up and down for him that was drowned
and made great lamentation. By and by a man of
Nottingham came riding past. "What are you looking for
there?" he asked, "and why are you so sorrowful?"
"Oh," said they, "this day we came to fish in this
stream, and there were twelve of us, and one is
drowned, for now there are but eleven of us."
"Count me how many of you there be," said the stranger.
One of the men of Gotham counted, and as he did not
count himself he made eleven.
"Well," said the stranger, "what will you give me if I
will find the twelfth man? "
"Sir," said they, "we will give you all the money we
"Give me the money," said the Nottingham man.
When the money was safe in his pocket he said, "Now
pass in front of me; and he began with the first man
and hit him a crack on the shoulders with his whip.
"There is one," said he.
 The next one he cracked with his whip likewise.
"There are two," said he; and so he served them all
down to the last, whom he gave an extra hard blow and
said, "Here is your twelfth man."
"God bless your heart!" said all the company; "you have
found our neighbor."
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics