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Frances Jenkins Olcott

The Nail


A merchant had done good business at the fair; he had sold his wares, and filled his bag with gold and silver. Then he set out at once on his journey home, for he wished to be in his own house before night.

At noon he rested in a town. When he wanted to go on, the stable-boy brought his horse, saying: "A nail is wanting, sir, in the shoe of his left hind foot."

"Let it be wanting," answered the merchant; "the shoe will stay on for the six miles I have still to go. I am in a hurry."

In the afternoon he got down at an inn and had his horse fed. The stable-boy came into the room to him and said: "Sir, a shoe is wanting from your horse's left hind foot. Shall I take him to the blacksmith?"

"Let it still be wanting," said the man; "the horse can very well hold out for a couple of miles more. I am in a hurry."

So the merchant rode forth, but before long the horse began to limp. He had not limped long before he began to stumble, and he had not stumbled long before he fell down and broke his leg. The merchant had to leave the horse where he fell, and unstrap the bag, take it on his back, and go home on foot.

"That unlucky nail," said he to himself, "has made all this trouble."