The Little Old Woman Who Lived In A Vinegar-bottle





There was once upon a time a little old woman who lived in a

vinegar-bottle. One day, as she was sweeping out her house, she found a

silver coin, and she thought she should like to buy a fish.



So off she went to the place where the fishermen were casting their

nets. When she got there the nets had just been drawn up, and there was

only one little fish in them. So the fishermen let her have that for her

silver piece.



But, as she was carrying it home, the little fish opened its mouth and

said: "Pray, good woman, throw me into the water again. I am but a very

little fish, and I shall make you a very poor supper. Pray, good woman,

throw me into the water again!"



So the little old woman had pity on the little fish, and threw it into

the water.



But hardly had she done so before the water began to bubble and a little

fairy stood beside her. "My good woman," she said, "I am the little fish

you threw into the water, and, as you were so kind to me when I was in

trouble, I promise to give you anything that you wish for."



Then the little old woman thanked the fairy very much, but said she did

not want for anything. She lived in a nice little vinegar-bottle with a

ladder to go up and down, and had all she wished for.



"Well," said the fairy, "if at any time you want anything, you have only

to come to the waterside and call 'Fairy, fairy,' and I shall appear, to

answer you."



So the little old woman went home, and she lay awake all night trying to

think of something she wanted. And the next morning she went to the

waterside and called "Fairy, fairy"; and the water bubbled, and the

little fairy stood beside her.



"What do you want, good woman?" she said.



And the little old woman answered: "You were so kind, ma'am, as to

promise that you would give me anything I wished for, because I threw

you into the water when you were but a little fish. Now, if you please,

ma'am, I should like a little cottage. For you must know I live in a

vinegar-bottle, and I find it very tiresome to have to go up and down a

ladder every time I go in and out of my house."



"Go home and you shall have one," said the fairy.



So the little old woman went home, and there she found a nice

whitewashed cottage, with roses climbing round the windows.



She was very happy, and thought she would never want anything more; but

after a while she grew discontented again.



So back she went to the waterside and called "Fairy, fairy"; and the

water bubbled, and the little fairy stood beside her.



"What do you want, good woman?" she said.



And the little old woman answered: "You have been very kind, ma'am, in

giving me a house, and now, if you please, ma'am, I would like some new

furniture. For the furniture I had in the vinegar-bottle looks very

shabby now that it is in the pretty little cottage."



"Go home and you shall have some," said the fairy.



So the little old woman went home, and there she found her cottage

filled with nice new furniture, a stool and table, a neat little

four-post bed with blue-and-white checked curtains, and an armchair

covered with flowered chintz.



She was very happy, and thought she would never want anything more; but

after a while she grew discontented again.



So back she went to the waterside and called "Fairy, fairy"; and the

water bubbled, and the little fairy stood beside her.



"What do you want, good woman?" she said.



And the little old woman answered: "You have been very kind, ma'am, in

giving me a house and furniture, and now, if you please, ma'am, I would

like some new clothes. For I find that the clothes I wore in the

vinegar-bottle are not nearly good enough for the mistress of such a

pretty little cottage."



Then the fairy said, "Go home and you shall have some."



So the little old woman went home, and there she found all her old

clothes changed to new ones. There was a silk dress and a flowered

apron, and a grand lace cap and high-heeled shoes.



Well, she was very happy, and she thought she should never want anything

more; but after a while she grew discontented again.



So back she went to the waterside and called "Fairy, fairy"; and the

water bubbled, and the little fairy stood beside her.



"What do you want, good woman?" she said.



And the little old woman answered: "You have been very kind, ma'am, in

giving me a house and furniture and clothes; and now, if you please, I

should like a maid. For I find when I have to do the work of the house

that my new clothes get very dirty."



Then the fairy said, "Go home and you shall have one."



So the little old woman went home, and there she found at the door a

neat little maid with a broom in her hand, all ready to sweep the floor.



This made her very happy, and she thought she would never want anything

more; but after a while she grew discontented again.



So back she went to the waterside and called "Fairy, fairy"; and the

water bubbled, and the little fairy stood beside her.



"What do you want, good woman?" she said.



And the little old woman answered: "You have been very kind, ma'am, in

giving me a house and furniture, and clothes, and a maid; and now, if

you please, I should like a pony. For when I go out walking my new

clothes get very much splashed with the mud."



Then the fairy said, "Go home and you shall have one."



So the little old woman went home, and there she saw at the door a

little pony all ready bridled and saddled for her to ride.



She was very happy, and thought she would never want anything more; but

after a while she grew discontented again.



So back she went to the waterside and called "Fairy, fairy"; and the

water bubbled, and the little fairy stood beside her.



"What do you want, my good woman?" she said.



And the little old woman answered: "You have been very kind, ma'am, in

giving me a house and furniture, and clothes, and a maid, and a pony;

and now, if you please, ma'am, I should like a covered cart. For I find

that my new clothes get quite as muddy riding as walking."



Then the fairy said, "Go home and you will find one."



So the little old woman went home, and there she found her pony

harnessed into a nice little covered cart.



She had hardly seen the cart, when back she ran to the waterside,

calling "Fairy, fairy"; and the water bubbled, and the little fairy

stood beside her.



"What do you want, good woman?" said she.



And the little old woman answered: "You have been very kind, ma'am, in

giving me a house and furniture, and clothes, and a maid, and a pony and

a cart; but now, if you please, ma'am, I should like a coach and six.

For it is like all the farmers' wives to ride about in a cart."



Then the fairy said: "Oh, you discontented little old woman! The more I

give you, the more you want. Go back to your vinegar-bottle."



So the little old woman went home, and she found everything gone--her

cart, and her pony, and her maid, and her clothes, and her furniture,

and her house. Nothing remained but the little old vinegar-bottle, with

the ladder to get up the side.





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