Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar lived in a vinegar bottle.
Now, one day, when Mr. Vinegar was 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.
agony of grief she rushed
forth to meet her husband.
On seeing him she exclaimed, "O Mr. Vinegar,
Mr. Vinegar, we are ruined,
we are ruined: I have
knocked the house down,
and it is all to 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 to seek our fortune." They
walked all that day, and at nightfall entered a thick
forest. They were both very, very tired, and Mr.
Vinegar said: "My love, I will climb up into a tree,
drag up the door, and you shall follow." He accordingly did so,
and they both stretched their weary limbs on the door, and fell fast asleep.
In the middle of the night, Mr. Vinegar was disturbed by the sound of
voices underneath, and to his horror and dismay found that it was a band of
thieves met to divide 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 could listen no longer; his terror was so great that he trembled
and trembled, and shook down the door on their heads.
Away scampered the thieves, but Mr. Vinegar dared not quit his retreat till
broad daylight. He then scrambled out of the tree, and went to lift up the door.
What did he see but a number of golden guineas. "Come down, Mrs. Vinegar," he cried;
"come down, I say; our fortune's made, our fortune's made! Come down, I say."
Mrs. Vinegar got down as fast as she could, and when she saw the money,
she jumped for joy. "Now, my dear," said she, "I'll tell you what you shall do.
There is a fair at the neighbouring town; you shall take these forty guineas
and buy a cow. I can make butter and cheese, which you shall sell at market,
and we shall then be able to live very comfortably. Mr. Vinegar joyfully agrees,
takes the money, and off he goes 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 perfect in every way. "Oh!" thought Mr. Vinegar, "if I had but that cow,
I should be the happiest man alive." So he offered the forty
guineas for the cow, and the owner said that, as he
was a friend, he'd oblige him. So the bargain was made,
and he got the cow and he drove it backwards and forwards to show it.
By-and-by he saw a man playing the bagpipesTweedle-dum, tweedle-dee.
The children followed him about, and he appeared to be pocketing money on all sides.
"Well," thought Mr. Vinegar, "if I had but that beautiful instrument
I should be the happiest man alivemy fortune would be made."
So he went up to the man. "Friend," says he, "what a beautiful instrument that is,
and what a deal 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,
I don't much mind parting with it; you shall have it for that red cow." "Done!"
said the delighted Mr. Vinegar. So the beautiful red cow was given for the bagpipes.
He walked up and down with his purchase; but it was in vain he tried to play a tune,
and instead of pocketing pence, the boys followed him hooting, laughing, and pelting.
Poor Mr. Vinegar, his fingers grew very cold, and,
just as he was leaving the town, he met a man with
a fine thick pair of gloves. "Oh, my fingers are
so very cold," said Mr. Vinegar to himself. "Now if
I had but those beautiful gloves I should be the happiest
man alive." He went up to the man, and said
to him: "Friend, you seem to have a capital pair of
gloves there." "Yes, truly," cried the man; "and my
hands are as warm as possible this cold November day."
" Well," said Mr. Vinegar, "I should like to have them."
"What will you give?" said the man; "as you are a friend,
I don't much mind letting you have them for those bagpipes."
"Done!" cried Mr. Vinegar. He put on the gloves, and felt
perfectly happy as he trudged homewards.
At last he grew very tired, when he saw a man coming towards him
with a good stout stick in his hand.
"Oh," said Mr. Vinegar, "that I had but that stick! I should then
be the happiest man alive." He said to the man: "Friend, what a
rare good stick you have got!" "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, as you are a friend, I don't mind giving it to you for
that pair of gloves." Mr. Vinegar's hands were so warm, and his legs so
tired, that 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 his name:
"Mr. Vinegar, you foolish man, you blockhead, you simpleton;
you went to the fair, and laid out all your money 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 fool, youyou had no
sooner got the bagpipes than you changed them for the gloves,
which were not worth one quarter of the money; and when you had got the gloves,
you changed them for a poor miserable stick; and now for your forty guineas,
cow, bagpipes, and gloves, you have nothing to show but that
poor miserable stick, which you might have cut in any
hedge." On this the bird laughed and laughed, and
Mr. Vinegar, falling into a violent rage, threw the stick at its head.
The stick lodged in the tree, and he returned to his wife without money,
cow, bagpipes, gloves, or stick,
and she instantly gave him such a sound cudgelling that she
almost broke every bone in his skin.
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from English Fairy Tales
by Joseph Jacobs, 1895