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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

The road was dusty, and crowded with people on their way to market, some in wagons, some on horseback, and some on their own two legs. Yes, it was a fierce sun, with no shade all the way.

Now a man came along, driving a cow, as pretty a cow as you could wish to see. "I'm sure she must give grand milk," thought the peasant. "It would be a pretty good bargain if I got her. Hey, you with the cow!" he said. "Let's have a little talk. Look here, I believe a horse costs more than a cow, but it doesn't matter to me, since I have more use for a cow. Shall we make a swap?"

"Fair enough," said the man with the cow; and so they swapped.

Now the farmer might just as well have turned home again, for he had finished his business. But he had planned to go to market, so to market he would go, if only to look on; hence, with his cow, he continued on his way. He walked fast, and so did the cow, and pretty soon they overtook a man who was leading a sheep; it was a fine-looking sheep, in good condition and well clothed with wool.

"I certainly would like to have that," thought the peasant. "It would find plenty of grazing beside our ditch, and in the winter we could keep it in our own room. It would really be much more sensible for us to be keeping a sheep rather than a cow. Shall we trade?"

Yes, the sheep's owner was quite willing, so the exchange was made, and now the farmer went on along the highway with his sheep. Near a road gate he met a man with a big goose under his arm.

"Well, you've got a fine heavy fellow there!" said the farmer. "It's got plenty of feathers and fat! How nice it would be to have it tied up near our little pond, and, besides, it would be something for Mother to save the scraps for. She has often said, 'If we only had a goose.' Now she can have one - and she shall, too! Will you swap? I'll give you my sheep for your goose, and my thanks, too."

The other had no objection, so they swapped, and the farmer got the goose. By now he was close to the town; the road was getting more and more crowded, people and cattle pushing past him, thronging in the road, in the ditch, and right up to the tollkeeper's potato patch, where his one hen was tied up, in case it should lose its head in a panic and get lost.

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