The Story Of Mr Vinegar

: 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.