The Story Of Mr Vinegar
: NURSEY STORIES
: Popular Rhymes And Nursery Tales
[This story was obtained from oral tradition in the West of England. It
is undoubtedly a variation of the "Hans im Glueck" of Grimm, which is
current in Germany.]
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,
litter-clatter, about her ears. In a
paroxysm of grief she rushed forth to meet her husband. On seeing him
she exclaimed, "Oh, 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 excessively 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 beneath, and to his
inexpressible dismay perceived that a party of thieves were 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 intense
that he trembled most violently, 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 behold 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 saw the money with equal delight. "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 assents,
takes the money, and goes off 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 respect. Oh! thought Mr. Vinegar, if I had
but that cow I should be the happiest man alive; so he offers the forty
guineas for the cow, and the owner declaring that, as he was a friend,
he'd oblige him, the bargain was made. Proud of his purchase, he drove
the cow backwards and forwards to show it. By-and-by he saw a man
playing the bagpipes, Tweedle 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 alive--my 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 in vain he attempted 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, heartily
ashamed and mortified, he was leaving the town, when he met a man with a
fine thick pair of gloves. "Oh, my fingers are so very cold," said Mr.
Vinegar to himself; "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 accosted 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 exchanged. 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,
you--you 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 immoderately, 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.