Gateway to the Classics: Firelight Stories by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
 
Firelight Stories by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

The Man of Gotham and His Cheeses

O NCE upon a time there was a man of Gotham who thought himself very, very wise indeed, and he started to Nothingham market to sell his cheese.

Now, one cheese sat in his pocket, and one cheese sat upon his shoulder.

The man of Gotham walked slowly along, whistling and loitering by the way, for it was a pleasant morning. All at once, out of his pocket fell one round, yellow cheese, and it began rolling, over, and under, down the hill by its very own self.

Now the man of Gotham thought himself so wise that he had no need to run after the cheese which had fallen from his pocket, but he called out to it in a very loud voice:—

"To market at Nothingham town, my good cheese,

'Tis well you should travel alone, if you please."

Then the cheese rolled over, and under, and out of sight, and the man of Gotham went on a bit farther.

All at once, down from his shoulder dropped the other round, yellow cheese, and it began rolling, rolling, over, and under, and down the hill.

Now the man of Gotham thought himself so very wise that he had no need to run after the second cheese, so he sat him down by the roadside, and watched the cheese roll, and he called out to it in a loud voice:—

"To market at Nothingham town, my good cheese,

'Tis well you should travel alone, if you please."

Then the man of Gotham sat down again by the roadside, and after he had whistled a bit, and rested a bit, he went on to Nothingham market to meet his cheeses, but, alas, the cheeses were not there.

"Have you seen two cheeses rolling over, and under, and along by themselves?" he asked of every one he met. But no, none of them had seen the cheeses.

"They have stopped by the way to rest," said the man of Gotham, and he sat down in Nothingham market to wait for them.

But the second cheese had soon caught up with the first one, and they rolled along together, and decided to take another road. So, rolling along, right merrily, over, and under, they met a mouse who was crossing the road to a wheat field. Now the mouse saw them, and gave chase.

"Why do you run so fast?" asked a brindle cow of the mouse.

"Cheese, cheese, mousikin sees," called back the mouse as she ran; so the cow gave chase, and the two followed the cheeses.

"Why do you run so fast?" asked a dairy maid as they all passed the dairy door where she stood churning.

"Cheese, cheese, mousikin sees," called back the brindle cow; so the dairy maid dropped her dasher, and gave chase, also.

So the three followed the cheeses.

"Why do you run so fast?" asked a butter tub, standing beside a barn.

"Cheese, cheese, mousikin sees," called back the dairy maid; so the butter tub tumbled bottom side up, and gave chase, also, and the four followed the cheeses.

And after a while they came to a stream of running water. Now every one knows that a cheese cannot swim, so the two sat themselves down on the bank, and they were quite undone, for they could go no farther.

Then the dairy maid packed the cheeses in the butter tub. She put the tub on the cow's back, and took them home to the dairy. The mouse went along, too, and lived in the dairy wall all the rest of his days, until he came to a fat old age from eating cheese.

But the man of Gotham, who thought himself so very wise, sat all day long in Nothingham market, waiting for his cheeses, and they never came.

Then said he, "They must have gone on to York."

So the man of Gotham journeyed on to York, but no cheeses were there. Then he had to go back to Gotham again, and, after all, he never sold his cheeses.


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