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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andersen Hans Christian > Fairy tale "What the Old Man Does is Always Right"

What the Old Man Does is Always Right

Now I'm going to tell you a story that I heard when I was a little fellow and that I like better and better the more I think of it. For it's the same with stories as with many people; the older they grow, the nicer they grow, and that is delightful.

You have been out in the country, of course. There you must have seen a really old farmhouse with a thatched roof, where moss and weeds have planted themselves; a stork's nest decorates the chimney (you can never do without the stork); the walls are slanting; the windows are low (in fact, only one of them was made to open); the baking oven sticks out like a fat little stomach; and an elderbush leans over the gate, where you can see a tiny pond with a duck or ducklings, under a gnarled willow tree. Yes, and then, of course, there's a watchdog which barks at everybody and everything.

Well, there was a farmhouse just like that out in the country, and in it there lived two people, a farmer and his wife. They had few enough possessions, but still there was one they could do without, and that was a horse, which grazed along the ditch beside the highway. The old farmer used it to ride to town and lent it to his neighbors, receiving some slight services from them in return, but still it would be much more profitable to sell the horse, or at least exchange it for something that would be more useful to them.

But which should they do, sell or trade?

"You'll know what's best, Father," said the wife. "It's market day. Come on, ride off to town, and get money for the horse, or make a good bargain with it. Whatever you do is always right; so be off for the market!"

So she tied on his neckerchief - for that was something she understood much better than he - tied it with a double bow, and made him look quite dashing. She brushed his hat with the palm of her hand, and she kissed him on the mouth, and then off he went, riding the horse that was to be either sold or bartered. Of course, he would know the right thing to do.

The sun was scorching, and there was not a cloud in the sky.

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