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 cutter-clatter, cutter-clatter, about her ears. In an agony of grief she rushed forth to meet her husband. On seeing him she exclaimed, ‘O Mr Vinegar, Mr Vinegar, we are ruined, 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 fortune.’ 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 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, ‘there’s five pounds for you; here, Bill, here’s ten pounds for you; here, Bob, there’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 broad daylight. 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 comfortably.’
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 offered 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.