WHAT THE OLD MAN DOES IS RIGHT
I will tell you a story which was told to me when I was a little boy. Every time I thought of the story, it seemed to me to become more and more charming ; for it is with stories as it is with many people—they become better as they grow older.
I take it for granted that you have been in the country, and seen a very old farm-house with a thatched roof, and mosses and small plants growing wild upon the thatch. There is a stork's nest on the summit of the gable ; for we can't do without the stork. The walls of the house are sloping, and the windows are low, and only one of the latter is made so that it will open. The baking-oven sticks out of the wall like a little fat body. The elder tree hangs over the paling, where there is a little pool of water with a duck or ducklings, right under the gnarled willow tree. There is a yard dog too, who barks at all comers.
Just such a farm-house stood out in the country ; and in this house dwelt an old couple—a peasant and his wife. Small as was their property, there was one article among it that they could do without—a horse, which made a living out of the grass it found by the side of the high road. The old peasant rode into the town on this horse ; and often his neighbours borrowed it from him, and rendered the old couple some service in return for the loan of it. But they thought it would be best if they sold the horse, or exchanged it for something that might be more useful to them. But what might this something be ?
: You'll know that best, old man,' said the wife. * It is fair-day to-day, so ride into town, and get rid of the horse for money, or make a good exchange: whichever you do will be right to me. Ride off to the fair/
And she fastened his neckerchief for him, for she could do that better than he could ; and she tied it in a double bow, for she could do that very prettily. Then she brushed his hat round and round with the palm of her hand, and gave him a kiss. So he rode away upon the horse that was to be sold or to be bartered for something else. Yes, the old man knew what he was about.