“Why, master,” they answered, “there is a cuck-oo in this field, and we are building a wall around it so as to keep the bird from straying away.”
“You foolish fellows!” said the sheriff. “Don’t you know that the bird will fly over the top of your wall, no matter how high you build it?”
“Why, no,” they said. “We never thought of that. How very wise you are!”
The sheriff next met a man who was carrying a door on his back.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I have just started on a long jour-ney,” said the man.
“But why do you carry that door?” asked the sheriff.
“I left my money at home.”
“Then why didn’t you leave the door at home too?”
“I was afraid of thieves; and you see, if I have the door with me, they can’t break it open and get in.”
“You foolish fellow!” said the sheriff. “It would be safer to leave the door at home, and carry the money with you.”
“Ah, would it, though?” said the man. “Now, I never thought of that. You are the wisest man that I ever saw.”
Then the sheriff rode on with his men; but every one that they met was doing some silly thing.
“Truly I believe that the people of Gotham are all fools,” said one of the horsemen.
“That is true,” said another. “It would be a shame to harm such simple people.”
“Let us ride back to London, and tell the king all about them,” said the sheriff.
“Yes, let us do so,” said the horsemen.
So they went back, and told the king that Gotham was a town of fools; and the king laughed, and said that if that was the case, he would not harm them, but would let them keep their noses.
THE MILLER OF THE DEE.
Once upon a time there lived on the banks of the River Dee a miller, who was the hap-pi-est man in England. He was always busy from morning till night, and he was always singing as merrily as any lark. He was so cheerful that he made everybody else cheerful; and people all over the land liked to talk about his pleasant ways. At last the king heard about him.
“I will go down and talk with this won-der-ful miller,” he said. “Perhaps he can tell me how to be happy.”
As soon as he stepped inside of the mill, he heard the miller singing:—
“I envy no-body—no,
For I am as happy as I can be;
And nobody envies me.”
“You’re wrong, my friend,” said the king. “You’re wrong as wrong can be. I envy you; and I would gladly change places with you, if I could only be as light-hearted as you are.”
The miller smiled, and bowed to the king.
“I am sure I could not think of changing places with you, sir,” he said.
“Now tell me,” said the king, “what makes you so cheerful and glad here in your dusty mill, while I, who am king, am sad and in trouble every day.”