Mr. Vinegar and His Fortune
Long time ago, there lived a poor man whose real name has been forgotten. He was little and old and his face was wrinkled, and that was why his friends called him Mr. Vinegar. His wife was also little and old, and they lived in a little old cottage at the back of a little old field.
"John," said Mrs. Vinegar, "you must go to town and buy a cow. I will milk her and churn（搅拌） butter and we shall never want for anything."
"That is a good plan," said Mr. Vinegar, so he started off to town while his wife waited by the roadside.
Mr. Vinegar walked up and down the street of the town looking for a cow. After a time, a farmer came that way, leading one that was very pretty and fat.
"Oh, if I only had that cow," said Mr. Vinegar, "I would be the happiest man in the world!"
"She's a very good cow," said the farmer.
"Well," said Mr. Vinegar, "I'll give you these 50 gold pieces for her."
The farmer smiled and held out his hand for the money, "You may have her," he said, "I always like to oblige（施恩惠） , my friends!"
Mr. Vinegar took hold of the cow's halter and led her up and down the street. "I am the luckiest man in the world," he said, "for only see how all the people are looking at me and my cow!"
But at one end of the street, he met a man playing bagpipes（风笛） . He stopped and listened -- Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dee.
"Oh, that is the sweetest music I ever heard," he said, "and just see how all the children crowd around the man and give him pennies! If I only had those bagpipes, I would be the happiest man in the world!!"
"I'll sell them to you," said the piper.
"Will you? Well then, since I have no money, I will give you this cow for them."
"You may have them," answered the piper, "I always like to oblige a friend."
Mr. Vinegar took the bagpipes and the piper led the cow away.
"Now we will have some music," said Mr. Vinegar, but try as hard as he might, he could not play a tune. He could get nothing out of the bagpipes but "squeak, squeak". The children instead of giving him pennies laughed at him.
The day was chilly and in trying to play the pipes, his fingers grew very cold. He wished he had kept the cow.
He just started for home when he met a man who had warm gloves on his hands. "Oh, if I only had those pretty gloves," he said, "I would be the happiest man in the world."
"How much will you give for them?" asked the man.
"Oh, I have no money, but I will give you these bagpipes," answered Mr. Vinegar.
"Well," said the man, "you may have them for I always like to oblige a friend."
Mr. Vinegar gave him the bagpipes and drew the gloves on over his half frozen fingers. "How lucky I am," he said as he trudged（跋涉） homeward. His hands were soon quite warm, but the road was rough and the walking hard. He was very tired when he came to the foot of the steep hill. "How shall I ever get to the top?" he said. Just then he met a man who was walking the other way. He had a stick in his hand which he used as a cane to help him along.
"My friend," said Mr. Vinegar, "if only I had that stick of yours to help me up this hill, I would be the happiest man in the world!"
"How much will you give me for it?" asked the man.
"Well, I have no money, but I will give you this pair of warm gloves," said Mr. Vinegar.
"Well," said the man, "you may have it for I always like to oblige a friend."
Mr. Vinegar's hands were now quite warm, so he gave the gloves to the man and took the stout（结实的） stick to help him along. "How lucky I am!'' he said as he toiled upward.
At the top of the hill he stopped to rest. But as he was thinking of all his good luck that day, he heard someone calling his name. He looked up and saw only a green parrot sitting in a tree.
"Mr. Vinegar, Mr. Vinegar," it cried.
"What now?" said Mr. Vinegar.
"You're a dunce（傻瓜） , you're a dunce!'' answered the bird, "you went to seek your fortune and you found it, then you gave it for a cow, and the cow for some bagpipes, and the bagpipes for some gloves, and the gloves for a stick which you might of cut by the roadside. He He He, you're a dunce! You're a dunce!''
This made Mr. Vinegar very angry. He threw the stick at the bird with all his might. But the bird only answered, "You're a dunce! You're a dunce!" And the stick lodged in the tree where he could not get it again.
Mr. Vinegar went on slowly for he had many things to think about. His wife was standing by the roadside and as soon as she saw him, she cried out, "Where's the cow? Where's the cow?"
"Well, I just don't know where the cow is," said Mr. Vinegar. And then he told her the whole story.