O NCE upon a time there was a man whose name was Gudbrand. He had a farm which lay far, far away upon a hillside, and so they called him Gudbrand-on-the-Hillside.
Now, you must know this man and his good wife lived so happily together, and understood one another so well, that all the husband did the wife thought so well done there was nothing like it in the world, and she was always pleased at whatever he turned his hand to. The farm was their own land, and they had a hundred dollars lying at the bottom of their chest and two cows tethered up in a stall in their farmyard.
So one day his wife said to Gudbrand, "Do you know, dear, I think we ought to take one of our cows into town and sell it; that's what I think; for then we shall have some money in hand, and such well-to-do people as we ought to have ready money as other folks have. As for the hundred dollars in the chest yonder, we can't make a hole in our savings, and I'm sure I don't know what we want with more than one cow.
"Besides, we shall gain a little in another way, for then I shall get off with only looking after one cow, instead of having, as now, to feed and litter and water two."
Well, Gudbrand thought his wife talked right good sense, so he set off at once with the cow on the way to town to sell her; but when he got to the town, there was no one who would buy his cow.
"Well, well, never mind," said Gudbrand, "at the worst, I can only go back home with my cow. I've both stable and tether for her, and the road is no farther out than in." And with that he began to toddle home with his cow.
But when he had gone a bit of the way, a man met him who had a horse to sell.
Gudbrand thought 'twas better to have a horse than a cow, so he traded with the
man. A little farther on he met a man walking along and driving a fat pig before
him, and he thought it better to have a fat pig than a horse, so he traded with
the man. After that he went a little farther, and a man met him with a goat, so
he thought it better to have a goat than a pig, and he traded with the man who
owned the goat. Then he went on a good bit till he met a man who had a sheep,
and he traded with him too, for he thought it always better to have a sheep than
a goat. After a while he met a man with a goose, and he traded away the sheep
for the goose; and when he had walked a long, long time, he met a man with a
cock, and he traded with him, for he thought in this wise,
Then he went on till the day was far spent, and he began to get very hungry, so
he sold the cock for a shilling, and bought food with the money, for, thought
After that he went on homeward till he reached his nearest neighbor's house, where he turned in.
"Well," said the owner of the house, "how did things go with you in town?"
"Rather so-so," said Gudbrand, "I can't praise my luck, nor do I blame it either," and with that he told the whole story from first to last.
"Ah!" said his friend, "you'll get nicely hauled over the coals, when you go home to your wife. Heaven help you, I wouldn't stand in your shoes for anything."
"Well," said Gudbrand-on-the-Hillside, "I think things might have gone much worse with me; but now, whether I have done wrong or not, I have so kind a good wife she never has a word to say against anything that I do."
"Oh!" answered his neighbor, "I hear what you say, but I don't believe it for all that."
"And so you doubt it?" asked Gudbrand-on-the-Hillside.
"Yes," said the friend, "I have a hundred crowns, at the bottom of my chest at home, I will give you if you can prove what you say."
So Gudbrand stayed there till evening, when it began to get dark, and then they went together to his house, and the neighbor was to stand outside the door and listen, while the man went in to his wife.
"Good evening!" said Gudbrand-on-the-Hillside.
"Good evening!" said the good wife. "Oh! is that you? Now, I am happy."
Then the wife asked how things had gone with him in town.
"Oh, only so-so," answered Gudbrand; "not much to brag of. When I got to town there was no one who would buy the cow, so you must know I traded it away for a horse."
"For a horse," said his wife; "well that is good of you; thanks with all my heart. We are so well to do that we may drive to church, just as well as other people, and if we choose to keep a horse we have a right to get one, I should think." So, turning to her child she said, "Run out, deary, and put up the horse."
"Ah!" said Gudbrand, "but you see I have not the horse after all, for when I got a bit farther on the road, I traded it for a pig."
"Think of that, now!" said the wife. "You did just as I should have done myself; a thousand thanks! Now I can have a bit of bacon in the house to set before people when they come to see me, that I can. What do we want with a horse? People would only say we had got so proud that we couldn't walk to church. Go out, child, and put up the pig in the sty."
"But I have not the pig either," said Gudbrand, "for when I got a little farther on, I traded it for a goat."
"Dear me!" cried the wife, "how well you manage everything! Now I think it over, what should I do with a pig? People would only point at us and say 'Yonder they eat up all they have.' No, now I have a goat, and I shall have milk and cheese, and keep the goat too. Run out, child, and put up the goat."
"Nay, but I haven't the goat either," said Gudbrand, "for a little farther on I traded it away and got a fine sheep instead!"
"You don't say so!" cried his wife, "why, you do everything to please me, just as if I had been with you. What do we want with a goat? If I had it I should lose half my time in climbing up the hills to get it down. No, if I have a sheep, I shall have both wool and clothing, and fresh meat in the house. Run out, child, and put up the sheep."
"But I haven't the sheep any more than the rest," said Gudbrand, "for when I got a bit farther, I traded it away for a goose."
"Thank you, thank you, with all my heart," cried his wife, "what should I do with a sheep? I have no spinning wheel or carding comb, nor should I care to worry myself with cutting, and shaping, and sewing clothes. We can buy clothes now as we have always done; and now I shall have roast goose, which I have longed for so often; and, besides, down with which to stuff my little pillow. Run out, child, and put up the goose."
"Well!" said Gudbrand, "I haven't the goose either; for when I had gone a bit farther I traded it for a cock."
"Dear me!" cried his wife, "how you think of everything! just as I should have done myself. A cock! think of that! Why it's as good as an eight day clock, for every day the cock crows at four o'clock, and we shall be able to stir our stiff legs in good time. What should we do with a goose? I don't know how to cook it; and as for my pillow, I can stuff it with cotton grass. Run out, child, and put up the cock."
"But after all, I haven't the cock either," said Gudbrand, "for when I had gone a bit farther, I became as hungry as a hunter, so I was forced to sell the cock for a shilling, for fear I should starve."
"Now, God be praised that you did so!" cried his wife, "whatever you do, you do it always just after my own heart. What should we do with the cock? We are our own masters, I should think, and can lie abed in the morning as long as we like. Heaven be thanked that I have you safe back again; you who do everything so well, that I want neither cock nor goose; neither pigs nor kine."
Then Gudbrand opened the door and
"Well, what do you say now? Have I won the hundred crowns?" and his neighbor was forced to admit that he had.