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A Story for children age 4 to 6.
From English Fairy Tales, by Joseph Jacobs (coll. & ed.)
Start of Story
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, clitter-clatter, about her
ears. In an agony of grief she rushed forth to meet her husband.
On seeing him she exclaimed, "Oh, Mr. Vinegar, Mr. Vinegar, 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
They walked all that day, and at nightfall entered a thick forest.
They were both very, very 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 underneath, and to his horror and dismay found that it was a
band of thieves 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 great that he
trembled and trembled, and shook down the door on their heads. Away
scampered the thieves, but Mr. Vinegar dared not quit his retreat till
He then scrambled out of the tree, and went to lift up the door. What
did he see 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 when she saw the money
she jumped for joy. "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
Mr. Vinegar joyfully agrees, takes the money, and off he goes 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
way. "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 said that,
as he was a friend, he'd oblige him. So the bargain was made, and he
got the cow and he drove it 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 it was in vain he tried
to play a tune, and instead of pocketing pence, the boys followed him
hooting, laughing, and pelting.