"WHAT THE GOODMAN DOES IS SURE TO BE RIGHT!"
AM going to tell you a story that was told to me when I
was a little one, and which I like better and better
the oftener I think of it. For it is with stories as
with some men and women, the older they grow the
pleasanter they grow, and that is delightful!
Of course you have been in the country? Well, then, you
must have seen a regularly poor old cottage. Moss and
weeds spring up amid the thatch of the roof, a stork's
nest decorates the chimney (the stork can never be
dispensed with), the walls are aslant, the windows low
(in fact, only one of them can be shut), the
baking-oven projects forward, and an elder-bush leans
over the gate, where you will see a tiny pond with a
duck, and ducklings in it, close under a knotted old
willow-tree. Yes, and then there is a watch-dog that
barks at every passer by.
Just such a poor little cottage as this was the one in
my story, and in it dwelt a husband and wife. Few as
their possessions were, one of them they could not do
without, and that was a horse that used to graze in the
ditch beside the highroad. The
good-  man rode on it to town, he lent it to his neighbors,
and received slight services from them in return, but
still it would be more profitable to sell the horse or
else exchange it for something they could make of more
frequent use. But which should they do, sell or
"Why, you will find out what is best, goodman," said
the wife. "Isn't this market-day? Come, ride off to the
town—get money or what you can for the
horse—whatever you do is sure to be right. Make
haste for the market!"
So she tied his neckerchief—for that was a matter
she understood better than he—she tied it with a
double knot, and made him look quite spruce; she dusted
his hat with the palm of her hand; and she kissed him
and sent him off riding the horse that was to be either
sold or bartered. Of course he would know what to do.
The sun was hot and not a cloud in the sky. The road
was dusty, and such a crowd of folk passed on their way
to market, some in wagons, some on horseback, some on
their own legs. A fierce sun and no shade all the way.
A man came driving a cow—as pretty a cow as could
be. "That creature must give beautiful milk," thought
the Peasant; "it would not be a bad bargain if I got
that. I say, you fellow with the cow!" he began aloud.
"Let's have some talk together. Look you, a horse, I
believe, costs more than a cow, but it is all the same
to me, as I have more use for a cow. Shall we make an
"To be sure!" was the answer; and the bargain was made.
The goodman might just as well now turn
homeward—he had finished his business. But he had
made up his mind to go to market, so to market he must
go, if only to look on; so with his cow he continued on
his way. He trudged fast; so did the cow; and soon they
overtook a man who was leading a sheep—a sheep in
good condition, well clothed with wool
"I should very much like to have that!" thought the
Peasant. "It would find pasture enough by our roadside,
and in winter
 we might take it into our room. And really it would be
more reasonable for us to be keeping a sheep than a
cow. Shall we exchange?"
Yes, the man who owned the sheep was quite willing; so
the exchange was made, and the goodman now went on with
his sheep. Presently there passed him a man with a big
goose under his arm.
"Well, you have got a heavy fellow there!" quoth the
Peasant. "Feathers and fat in plenty! How nicely we
could tie her up near our little pond, and it would be
something for the goodwife to gather up the scraps for.
She has often said, 'If we had but a goose!' Now she
can have one—and she shall, too! Will you
exchange? I will give you my sheep for your goose, and
say, 'Thank you," besides."
The other had no objection, so the Peasant had his will
and his goose. He was not close to the town; he was
wearied with the heat and the crowd, folk and cattle
pushing past him, thronging on the road, in the ditch,
and close up to the turnpike-man's cabbage-garden,
where his one hen was tied up, lest in her fright she
would lose her way and be carried off. It was a
short-backed hen; she winked with one eye, crying,
"Cluck, cluck!" What was she thinking of I can't say,
but what the Peasant thought on seeing her was this:
"That is the prettiest hen I have ever seen—much
prettier than any of our parson's chickens. I should
very much like to have her. A hen can always pick up a
grain here and there—can provide for herself. I
almost think it would be a good plan to take her
instead of the goose. Shall we exchange:" he asked.
"Exchange?" repeated the owner; "not a bad idea!" So it
was done; the turn-pike man got the goose, the Peasant
He had transacted a deal of business since first
starting on his way to the town. Hot was he, and
wearied, too; he must have a dram and a bit of bread.
He was on the point of entering an inn when the
innkeeper met him in the doorway swinging a sack
chock-full of something.
"What have you there?" asked the Peasant.
 "Mellow apples," was the answer, "a whole sackful for
"What a quantity! Wouldn't my wife like to see so many!
Why, the last year we had only one single apple on the
whole tree at home. Ah! I wish my wife could see them!"
"Well, what will you give me for them?"
"Give for them? Why, I will give you my hen!" So he
gave the hen, took the apples, entered the inn, and,
going straight up to the bar, set his sack upright
against the stove without considering that there was a
fire lighted inside. A good many strangers were
present, among them two Englishmen, both with their
pockets full of gold and fond of laying wagers, as
Englishmen in stories are wont to be.
Presently there came a sound from the stove,
"Suss—suss—suss!" The apples were roasting.
"What is that?" folk asked, and soon heard the whole
history of the horse that had been exchanged first for
a cow, and lastly for a sack of rotten apples.
"Well, won't you get a good sound cuff from your wife
when you go home?" said one of the Englishmen.
"Something heavy enough to fell an ok, I warn you!"
"I shall get kisses, not cuffs," replied the Peasant.
"My wife will say, 'Whatever the goodman does is
"A wager!" cried the Englishmen, "For a hundred
"Say rather a bushelful," quoth the Peasant, "and I can
only lay my bushel of apples with myself and the
goodwife, but that will be more than full measure, I
"Done!" cried they.
And the innkeeper's cart was brought out forthwith, the
Englishmen got into it, the Peasant got into it, the
rotten apples got into it, and away they sped to the
"Good evening, wife"
"Same to you, goodman."
"Well, I have exchanged the horse, not sold it."
"Of course," said the wife, taking his hand and, her
eagerness to listen, noticing neither the sack nor the
 "I exchanged the horse for a cow."
"Oh, how delightful! Now we can have milk, butter, and
cheese on our table. What a capital idea!"
"Yes, but I exchanged the cow for a sheep."
"Better and better!" cried the wife. "You are always so
thoughtful; we have only just grass enough for a sheep.
But now we shall have ewe's milk, and ewe's cheese, and
woolen stockings—nay, woolen jackets, too; and a
cow would not give us that; she loses all her hairs.
But you are always such a clever fellow."
"But the ewe I exchanged again for a goose."
"What! Shall we really keep Michaelmas this year,
goodman? You are always thinking of what will please
me, and that was a beautiful thought. The goose can be
tethered to the willow-tree and grow fat for Michaelmas
"But I gave the goose away for a hen," said the
"A hen? Well, that was a good exchange," said his wife.
"A hen will lay eggs, sit upon them, and we shall have
chickens. Fancy! a hen-yard! That is just the thing I
have always wished for most."
"Ah, but I exchanged the hen for a sack of mellow
"Then I must give thee a kiss," cried the wife.
"Thanks, my own husband. And now I have something to
tell. When you were gone I thought how I could get a
right good dinner ready for you—omelets with
parsley. Now I had the eggs, but not the parsley. So I
went over to the schoolmaster's; they have parsley, I
know, but the woman is so crabbed, she wanted something
for it. Now what could I give her? Nothing grows in our
garden, not even a rotten apple; not even that I had
for her; but now I can give her ten, nay, a whole
sackful. That is famous, goodman!" and she kissed him
"Well done!" cried the Englishmen. "Always down-hill,
and always happy! Such a sight is worth the money!" And
so quite contentedly they paid the bushelful of gold
pieces to the Peasant, who had got kisses, not cuffs,
by his bargains.
 Certainly virtue is her own reward when the wife is
sure that her husband is the wisest man in the world
and that whatever he does is right. So no you have
heard this old story that was once told to me and, I
hope, have learned the moral.