Gateway to the Classics: The Oak-Tree Fairy Book by Clifton Johnson
The Oak-Tree Fairy Book by  Clifton Johnson

The Cheeses That Ran Away

T HERE was a man of Gotham who filled a sack with cheeses and started off for Nottingham market to sell them. He carried the sack on his back, and when he became tired he sat down by the wayside to rest. Thus he went on until he reached the summit of the last hill he had to climb before he came to Nottingham bridge. There he rested, and when he rose to continue his journey a cheese slipped out of the sack and rolled down the hill toward the bridge.

"Ah! Mr. Cheese," said the man, "so you can run to market alone, can you? I wish I had known that before. It would have saved me the trouble of carrying you. Well, then, if you can go to market alone, so can the other cheeses, and I will send them along after you."

So he laid down his sack, took out the cheeses, and one by one rolled them down the hill. As the last one spun down the road he shouted, "I charge you all to meet me at the market-place."


Some of the cheeses went into one bush, and some went into another bush, but the man did not notice that, and he trudged on cheerfully to the market expecting the cheeses would meet him there. All day long he loitered about the market, and as evening approached he began to inquire among his friends and neighbors and other men if they had seen his cheeses come to the market.

"Who should bring them?" asked one of the marketmen.

"Nobody," replied the man of Gotham. "They would bring themselves. They know the way well enough."

"Why, then, are they not here?" said the marketman.

"A plague on them all!" cried the owner of the cheeses. "It has just occurred to me what the trouble is. I did fear, when I saw them start off so fast, that they would run beyond the market, and I am sure they must be now miles away on the road to York."

Forthwith he hired a horse and rode in all haste to York in pursuit of his cheeses. But he did not find them at York, nor has he been able to discover whither they ran even to this day.

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