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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

It was a bobtailed hen that winked with one eye and looked in good condition.

"Cluck, cluck," it said; what it meant by that, I wouldn't know; but what the peasant thought when he saw it was this, "She's the prettiest hen I've ever seen - much prettier than any of our parson's brood hens. I would certainly like to have her. A hen can always find a grain of corn, and she can almost provide for herself. I almost think it would be a good idea to take her instead of the goose. Shall we trade?" he asked.

"Trade?" said the other. "Well, not a bad idea!" And so they traded. The tollkeeper got the goose, and the farmer got the hen.

He had completed a good deal of business since he started for town; it was hot, and he was tired. What he needed was a drink and a bite to eat.

He had reached an inn and was ready to enter, when the innkeeper's helper met him in the doorway, carrying a sackful of something.

"What have you got there?" asked the farmer.

"Rotten apples," was the answer. "A whole sackful for the pigs."

"What a lot! Wouldn't Mother like to see so many! Why, last year we had only one single apple on the old tree by the peat shed. That apple was to be kept, and it stood on the chest of drawers till it burst. 'That is always a sign of prosperity,' Mother said. Here she could see plenty of prosperity! Yes, I only wish she could have it!"

"Well, what'll you give me for them?" asked the innkeeper's helper.

"Give for them? Why, I'll give you my hen!" So he turned over the hen, took the apples, and went into the inn, straight up to the bar; he set his sack upright against the stove, without noticing that there was a fire in it. There were a number of strangers present, horse dealers, cattle dealers, and two Englishmen so rich that their pockets were bursting with gold coins. They were fond of making bets, as Englishmen in stories always are.

"Suss! Suss! Suss!" What was that noise at the stove? It was the apples beginning to roast!

"What's that?" everybody said, and they soon found out.

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