THERE were once two farmers whose farms lay side by side in the same parish. Their land was of the same size and equally taxed, so that by rights both the farmers ought to have been equally well off. But they were not; for the one was rich, and the other was only just able to keep body and soul together. You may think this was strange, since the one was just as industrious as the other; but it was not so very strange after all, for the rich farmer had a servant lad to help him--and a very clever lad he was, while the other had to do all the work himself, and did not even get any help from his wife, for she suffered so much from internal complaints, she said, that she was unable to do any work in the fields. Nor did she do much indoor work, at which she had to sit quiet; but spin and wind yarn, and run about from one room to the other, that she could do. And as for her complaint, it could not be as bad as she pretended, for she did not look either ill or ailing. No, on the contrary she was stout and trim, and red in the face like a peony; and although she was short and stout, she was broad both across her shoulders and hips, so that no one could find anything amiss with her. But she was one of those who will steal away from work and idle her time away; and that was about all that ailed her. And she had the habit of hiding away all that her husband brought home with him in his ox-cart, and so you may guess things could not last very long. The farmer was greatly to be pitied, although no one thought of pitying him; for if only he had given his wife a beating now and then it would have been all the better for him. But this he neglected to do, and so he had to suffer for it; there was no help for it.
So one Sunday morning, when his wife was out gallivanting about, as was her custom early and late, the farmer was sitting alone in his parlour, and a strange lad happened to come in.
"Good evening, master!" said the lad.
"Good evening!" said the farmer.
"Do you want a servant lad, master?"
"A servant lad? God help me," said the farmer, "how can I afford that? I can scarcely manage to keep and feed myself, worse luck!"
"Is that so?" said the lad. "But that's just the reason why you want some one to help you."
"You talk as if you hadn't any sense," said the farmer. "If two mouths can empty a dish, does one get any the more when a hungry body stands by staring at one? And if the stuff for one's breeches is not enough for two legs, is it likely to be sufficient for four?"
"Of course," said the lad, "if only you use your wits; for if you use them, you need not be without either bread or breeches, that's certain, and that you may depend upon. And I'll take care to manage things, and to stretch the stuff for the breeches, so that it will be sufficient both for you and for me--that's to say, if the missis does not wear the breeches," he said.
"You have a bold tongue, my lad," said the farmer; "but it's one thing to boast and brag, and another to work and drag; and braggarts are generally the greatest sluggards,--have you heard that?"
"Yes, I have. I have heard that and a good deal more," said the lad. "But that's neither here nor there. I like this place, and here I'll remain, and as for wages we are sure to agree about them. I don't want to take anything from you till I've earned it."
"How you do talk!" said the farmer. "You talk and you talk till my ears tingle, but that's an easy matter, and big words often lead to a big fall; but if you can manage to get along on scanty fare, there will not be much risk about it," he said.
"Well, you take the risk, master, and you'll not regret it," said the lad. "For I am the lad who's not afraid of anything."
The farmer began to scratch his head. He liked the lad, for you must know he was a big, strong fellow, and if he were only half as strong as he looked, he would still be one of the strongest in the parish. But it would require more than water-gruel to feed such a fellow properly. What should he feed him on? And his wife was not at home either. What would she say when she found she had such a big eater in the house? What should they give him to eat?
"Well," said the boy, who began to be impatient, "what's your answer?"
"Well, that's just what I am thinking about," said the farmer.
"But that's of little good to me," said the lad. "Listen to me! Don't sit pondering and pondering, or it'll fare with you as with the parson who walked up and down the vestry pondering upon his first sermon till all the people had left the church. No, that won't do! Quick thoughts belong to a quick head, so don't make yourself more stupid than you are! Here's my hand!" he said.
Well, the farmer had to hold out his hand too, which the lad squeezed so hard that the farmer yelled; and that was the whole contract. But what was done was done; and the wife might think what she liked, for the lad went to his work at once, he did.
All at once the wife came rushing in.
"Good evening! Glad to see you back!" said the farmer.
"Good evening, husband!" said the wife. "How have you been amusing yourself while I have been out?" she said, in an insinuating voice and with a mild look in her eyes.
"Well, I've taken a servant lad!" said the farmer.
"Servant lad?" said the wife. "Have you gone clean out of your senses? Taken a servant lad, you say?"
"Yes, just so!" said the farmer.
"Bless me!" said the woman, clasping her hands in surprise. "Has any one ever heard the like? What are we going to pay him and feed him with, I should like to know?"
"His wages will be my affair, and the feeding yours," said the farmer.
"I pity him, poor fellow," said the wife.
"You needn't pity me at all," said the lad, "for I'm the sort of lad that isn't afraid. How do you do, mother? We shall be the best of friends and get on well together," he said.
The wife had to shake hands with him; and when she looked a little closer at him, she saw he was a fine fellow, who had his wits about him. 'That fellow is not to be trifled with,' she thought, but she did not say a word. And the lad did not speak a word either. He only stared at her, as she sat by the hearth, looking as fat and round in the face as a pancake; and then he looked at the farmer and saw how thin and gaunt and sallow he was. "What a fiend of a woman! She must eat something better than water-gruel," thought the lad.
On the following Monday the farmer and the lad set out early in the morning to the forest to cut trees for hurdles. When they got there, the lad remembered that he had forgotten his axe. So he had to run home again. He went into the parlour and found that his mistress was out, but there was a cloth on the table, and he could see she had not put it there to be bleached by the sun, for there was bread and butter and cheese and even brandy on the table. Had any one ever seen such a woman? That was quite another sort of breakfast to the water-gruel and bread-crumbs she gave her husband.
"There's something wrong in this house," he thought, "but take your time and you'll see." And so he crept into the settle-bed, and shut down the lid over him, and then he cut a little peep-hole in the side of the bed.
All at once the woman came hurrying in, bringing her neighbour with her. She asked him to sit down and make himself at home, which he lost no time in doing.
"I heard you were going to the forest to-day, and so I thought you would like a tit-bit and a dram," she said, and made herself as caressing and pleasant as a westerly breeze on a midsummer night. Her guest needed no persuasion, and it wasn't necessary to ask him twice. He ate and drank and helped himself to one dram after another. The woman was not backward either. She drank a glass with him, and chattered away and made herself as pleasant as she could. In the meantime the lad lay inside the settle-bed, chewing a bit of straw and peeping through the hole and listening all the while.
When the neighbour had finished his breakfast, he had eaten so much that he had to loosen the strap of his leathern apron, and then he got ready to go.
"Just wait a bit," said the woman. "Where will you be working to-day?"
"I shall be in the forest close to where your people are cutting," he said.
"Will you be alone?" she asked.
Yes, that he would, he said, for his lad had gone to the mill.
"If you will mark the trees and drop branches in the path, I'll come and bring you some dinner," she said.
"Thank you," said the neighbour as he went out; and so the woman went into the kitchen.
Then the lad jumped out of the settle-bed and made his way back to the forest.
Well, the neighbour did as the woman had told him, but as he went through the forest and lopped off branches, the lad, who was following behind, picked them up and marked the path leading to the place where his master was working.
He thought he had managed things very well.
In the meantime his master had been hewing away till the splinters flew, and swore because the lad did not come back.
"How stupid I was! What did I want with a lazy-bones like that," he thought. "He can boast and brag, but he is not so smart on his legs as with his tongue, that I can see; and if he goes on like this the first day, what will the end be?"
Just then the lad came back. He had lost his way in the forest, he said, and he had had to turn his jacket three times  before he got on the right path.
"With the lazy ox the Huldre drives best," the farmer said; "and I should like to know whether you belong to her people or mine," he said, and was very angry.
"Bide your time, and you'll see," said the lad, and set to work with a will.
He cut away till the forest thundered and rang with his blows, so that in a short time he had felled more trees than the farmer.
"Will that do?" he said.
"It will," said the farmer.
The lad then put down the axe and began to look round.
"What are you staring after?" said the farmer.
"I can see by the sun that it's dinner-time," said the lad; "and I am looking for my mistress, for I think it's about time that she ought to be here with our dinner."
"Is that what you are staring after?" said the farmer. "If so, you'll be staring till your eyes start out of your head, for mother said she hadn't got anything for us; so we shall have to cut and hew as long as we are able, and even when we get home I don't think we shall be able to scrape much together."
"Bless me!" said the lad, "we mustn't think it'll be as bad as that! Oh no, the mistress will be coming, you'll see, and you may depend she'll give us a good meal."
"Well, believe it if you like," said the farmer. "But if you can manage with that sort of food till this evening you'll not be difficult to keep," he said.
And with this he tightened the leather apron round his waist and began to fell trees again.
"Look there, master!" said the lad.
The farmer did stare, you may guess, for he saw his wife stealing along between the bushes with a big bag of food on her arm.
She did not take her eyes off the ground, as she was looking for the branches, and she didn't know where she was till she was close up to her husband.
"Well, mother!" said the farmer.
His wife gave a start.
"Good gracious, is that you?" she said.
"Of course it's me," said the farmer, and laughed. "Surely you ought to know that when you come here with the dinner. But sit down, and let me see what you have been able to scrape together for us."
He then took the bag and began to see what she had brought.
There was butter and cheese and there was pease pudding. "Ey, hey!" said the farmer, smacking his lips. And there was sweet cheese and cheese cakes, too.
"I can hardly believe my eyes! Why, this'll be quite a grand feast, mother!" said he. He then found a little bottle. What could there be in that bottle? He took out the cork. It was brandy. He became so pleased that he gave his wife a dig in the ribs, so that she went sprawling along the ground.
"I say, mother," he cried, "where have you got all these good things from? You haven't stolen them, I hope?"
"Oh, they are some trifles I have been saving up," she said, "and I thought they would just do to-day, since it is the first dinner we give our new lad," she said; but most likely she wished both the lad and her husband as far away as possible, and a little bit farther, as you may guess, for it was their neighbour she was looking for, and he, poor fellow, would not even be able to get a sniff of the good things.
But she was a cunning woman, and that kind of woman always finds a way out of difficulties.
"I say, husband," she said, "our neighbour is in the forest too to-day, and we have never offered him any hospitality. Won't you ask him to come here and have something?"
The farmer was not particularly anxious to get any help, for there was not overmuch of food in the bag, and he and the lad could easily manage what there was, he thought; but he was not mean, nor did he want to go against his wife either.
"Run and ask our neighbour, then," he said to the lad; and off went the lad, but first he took a large piece of cheese with him. He would eat that on the way, he said, for the water-gruel and bread-crumbs which he had had for breakfast had disappeared long ago, so he was very hungry, he said. But he broke the cheese in pieces instead, and dropped them on the path as he went along.
And so he came to where the neighbour was.
"I say, mister!" said the lad. "You'll have to be on the look out, for my master has discovered that my mistress asks you to our house when he is away, so now there'll be a fine kettle of fish."
And then he ran back to his master.
"Master!" he cried. "For God's sake, master, make haste and take the axe with you. Our neighbour has felled a big tree, which has fallen right across him."
"Dear, dear! What a misfortune!" cried the farmer; and set off running with the axe in his hand.
When the neighbour caught sight of him running towards him in this way he remembered what the lad had said, and took to his heels as fast as he could. The farmer stared after him in surprise; at the same time he was glad to see he was unhurt. "Wait a bit!" he cried. "Wait a bit, do you hear? I have got something nice for you over here."
Something nice? No, thank you; he was much obliged, but he thought it was best to keep away, for that kind of treat he could do without. He took to running still faster; he never said a word--he only ran.
"I should say he has gone mad," said the farmer; "for as a rule he does not want much pressing. But to run the flesh off your bones to get people to eat up your food when you're hungry, why, only a fool would do that," he said, and so he went back.
But then he saw the pieces of cheese which the lad had dropped along the path.
"What a careless boy!" he thought; and began to pick up the pieces as he went along.
In the meanwhile the lad was sitting beside his mistress, eating and drinking and gorging himself from the bag.
"What's father picking up over there?" said the woman.
"Pebbles," said the lad.
"Pebbles?" said the woman. "What is he going to do with them?"
"How should I know?" said the lad. "But you had better take care, mistress, for my master knows how you carry on with our neighbour when he is away. He knows it was for our neighbour, and not for him, that you brought this dinner; and now there'll be a nice kettle of fish."
The woman, as you may guess, turned red and became quite frightened.
"Heaven help me! heaven help me!" she muttered; and then she set off homewards.
The farmer shouted after her; but she would not hear him--she only ran as fast as she could.
"I think she is gone mad as well," he said; "or what is it she is running after?"
"Indeed, I don't know," said the lad; "unless the house is on fire."
"You don't say so!" shouted the farmer; and he took to his heels as well.
But his wife was more nimble on her legs, and she got home first. She ran into the kitchen and hid herself in the baker's oven. The farmer rushed to the well and filled a bucket with water, and ran into the kitchen. But he could see no fire anywhere.
"I wonder if it's in the baker's oven!" he said; and opened the door and threw the whole bucket of water into it. The wife began to shout and cry: "My dear, kind husband! Don't be angry with me! I will never ask our neighbour here any more when you are out, and I'll never take him any food either."
"Ah ha!" said the farmer. "Is that how matters stand? It's no wonder then that you have nothing but water-gruel for me! Did ever one hear the like? But I'll not stand it any longer; no, I'll not stand it!"
And he dragged his wife out of the oven and began to beat her as hard as he could.
The wife cried and screamed, but all of no avail; the more she screamed the more he belaboured her, for now he was fairly started.
Just then the lad came in.
"I think you had better take a rest now, master," he said; "for I suppose you have been thanking mistress for the grand feast."
"You think so?" said the farmer. "No--o! She must have more!" And so he wanted to begin again.
"No, stop!" said the lad; "it's enough now."
"Is it?" said the farmer. "I suppose it'll have to do then. But I haven't let him have anything yet."
"You mustn't either," said the lad.
"Mustn't I? Yes, indeed I will; and in such a way that I'll break every bone of that rascal's back."
"No, indeed you mustn't," said the lad. "I'll manage him."
"Will you?" said the farmer; and he did not at all object to this, for he had seen sufficient to know that the lad was able to manage it better than he, and that it was no joke when any one got into his clutches.
"Well, you had better do it, then!" he said.
So the lad went to the neighbour.
"Good evening!" he said.
"Good evening! How are things going?" said the neighbour.
"Very badly," said the lad; "for I must tell you that master is sharpening his axe, and is so furious with you that if you don't take care of yourself you'll never know what will happen. He has sworn he'll cut those shanks of yours to bits because you carry on with his wife when he is away."
"Oh dear, oh dear! What a scrape I have got into! What can a wretched man like me do?"
"Well, you must listen to what I say," said the lad; "you see, they have scarcely any corn left at our place and if you will give me two barrels of rye, half a barrel of peas, and a quartern of wheat, I shall be able to keep him quiet."
"Are you mad? So much for so little?"
"How do I know if it's too much or too little?" said the lad; "but I'll ask your wife about it, and then we shall soon know."
"No, stop!" said the farmer. "My wife, you see, has such a hasty temper. But one barrel of rye I might be able to manage, if only she doesn't get to hear of it."
"Two barrels," said the lad.
"One barrel," said the farmer.
"Two," said the lad, "or else----"
"No, no! stop! You shall have them then."
But the lad was not yet satisfied. He wrangled and bargained so long that he got the quartern of wheat, but of the peas he could only get half of what he wanted, for else they would run out of pease-meal altogether. The other quartern he would owe him. The lad was satisfied with this; and he was to come at midnight to fetch the corn, so that the neighbour's wife should not know anything about it; and with this they parted.
When the lad came back the farmer asked him: "Well, have you given him what he deserved?"
"Yes, you may be sure of that," said the lad. "He has now got enough to make his back smart for some time to come, and more he may get whenever I have a chance. But this you must keep to yourself, and you mustn't let either him or any of his notice anything. You understand that? And not a word to mistress either."
Yes, that the farmer promised.
"I say, master," said the lad, "I think you have now taught mistress to be obedient and to look after the crumbs better; but she has scarcely a morsel in the house, so I will be off to the mill, so that she can get her barrels and bins filled."
"To the mill?" said the farmer. "What are you going to grind? We have scarcely anything else but siftings in the bins."
"Oh, I'll see to that," said the lad. "Go to bed, and don't trouble about it."
"That's a wonderful lad!" thought the farmer. And then he did as the lad had told him; but the lad went into the cart-house and greased the wheels of the cart and got ready to start. In the middle of the night he called at the neighbour's for the corn, and then he drove to the mill.
But we know what womenfolk are. Even if they never go farther than from the hearth to the kitchen shelf they know what's going on in other people's houses for all that. And if they don't know they begin to wonder, and don't rest till they have found out. The neighbour's wife knew well enough how things were at the other farm, and when she heard they had taken on a servant lad, she wondered what they were going to give him to eat, and when she was told they had a cartload of corn at the mill, she began to wonder still more. Yes, she wondered and wondered, and could not rest till she had found out where they had got the corn from. She had her mother living with her--an old crone between eighty and ninety, or thereabout. But, old as she was, she was just as inquisitive as her daughter. And they kept on wondering so long till at last they hit upon a plan; and then the woman went to her neighbour.
"Good morning!" she said.
"Good morning!" said the farmer.
"We are all going to a party," she said, "and will you kindly let me leave a chest with you, while we are away? For I am rather anxious about the chest, I must tell you, as all the best we have is in it."
But the best was really her mother, who was hidden in the chest, and was to listen to what the people talked about. But nothing was said about this, of course.
"Oh, there won't be any difficulty about that," said the farmer; and so the woman and her servant girl carried in the chest, and then they set out for the party.
Soon afterwards the lad came back from the mill. And now his mistress had all kinds of flour, and she began to make both bread and pancakes.
All at once the lad saw the chest.
"What chest is that?" said he.
"Oh, it belongs to our neighbour," said the farmer. "They have gone to a party and have left it with us; for there is something very precious in it," he said.
"Ah, indeed!" said the lad. "I wonder what that can be? But I suppose we can have a look at it," he said; and so he took his axe and forced open the lid.
He then saw the old woman inside the chest.
"Hullo! Here's something precious indeed!" he said. "Just come and look!"
The farmer and his wife looked into the chest, and to their horror saw the old woman lying there as if she were dead.
"I think she is dead," said the farmer.
"And so do I," said the lad; "but we may as well try and see if there is life in her, or what can be the matter." And so he struck the side of the chest with his axe, to see if she would wake up and come to her senses.
But the old woman did not move a limb; she lay as stiff as a log.
Then he struck the chest again, but still she did not stir.
"Dead she is," said the lad; "but she must have come here alive, at any rate, for she has pancake and ham with her."
He took a piece of the pancake and put it in her mouth, whereupon he closed the lid again, so that no one could see it had been opened.
Later on the neighbour's wife came to fetch the chest, which she took away with her. Now she would get to know a lot of news, she thought, and she was quite looking forward to it.
But there was little occasion for joy, as you may imagine, when she opened the chest and found that her mother was dead, and had a piece of the pancake in her mouth.
"Oh dear! oh dear! She has been suffocated!" she cried. "Oh dear! how stupid I was not to give her as much as a drop of beer with her! Oh! what a misfortune!" and she cried and wailed till it was terrible to hear.
But what was done could not be undone, and since she could not cry life into the old mother, they would have to think of the funeral. And a grand funeral it should be; that was only fair and reasonable, in return for all her mother had suffered.
And this was done; the clerk chanted over the corpse till the walls creaked, and the parson preached about her life and good deeds till every nook in the church resounded with his words. The festivities were on the same scale; all the parish was there, with the exception of the lad, for they thought they had nothing to thank him for.
But the lad thought otherwise; and as he could not join in the eating and drinking, he thought he would find something else to do. He went to the churchyard about midnight and dug up the old woman, carried her in his arms and put her in the cellar among the beer barrels. The beer he carried across in pails to his master's cellar and poured it into his barrels, but the taps he placed in the old woman's hand, and then he went his way.
In the morning the neighbour's wife had to go to the cellar for beer, for the guests were thirsty, and wanted something to moisten their parched throats with. But you may imagine how terrified she was when she saw her mother sitting there.
"Oh dear! oh dear! That's because I left mother in the chest without giving her anything to drink," she said.
She ran to her husband, and he hurried to the parson to come and make his mother-in-law listen to reason. The parson told him to make his mind easy, and if he would promise to pay for a new funeral, he would read such prayers over the corpse that she would be sure to rest in her grave, said the parson; and the clerk would chant so that it could be heard all over the parish; and that would help a good bit too, added the clerk.
The new funeral took place on the following Sunday, and this time they did not forget the old custom of sewing the stockings together on the corpse and to put a thunderbolt in the coffin. Yes, they even put a whole bottle of beer beside her; and now they thought she could surely have nothing to look for in her son-in-law's house. And if the feasting wasn't greater, it wasn't at any rate less than at the first funeral; for everything was so grand that the old woman ought surely to rest satisfied, they thought. And so she might perhaps, if only the lad had been asked to the feast. But they had not asked him this time either, and so he went to the churchyard and dug her up again and carried her back to the farm. He placed her in the pea-bin in the barn, with a corn shovel in each hand. The peas he took away with him, for there was scarcely more than the quartern which the farmer owed him, and so he went away, leaving the door wide open.
In the morning they saw the barn door was open, and the farmer went to see what was the reason. But he nearly went out of his mind when he saw his mother-in-law sitting in the pea-bin, and found what havoc she had made there. "Did you ever see anything like it? This time she wanted to pay us out for the pancake which choked her," he said. "It's quite impossible to please that woman."
But there she sat in any case; and since she would not take herself off, there was no help for it but to go to the parson again. He wondered greatly at the old woman, who would not take any notice of all they had read and chanted over her. But if the man would pay him double fees, he would read so many prayers over her that she must remain in her grave; "there could be no question about that," said the parson. And the clerk would have to get some assistance, and they would sing so that it would be heard over seven parishes; "and that would be sure to help," said the clerk. The third funeral then took place, and they had now taken every care that the old woman should remain where she was. Yes, the parson read, the clerk chanted, and all the relatives, both in and outside the parish, were asked to the funeral feast.
But when the devil is abroad, it's little use to bar and bolt, and the lad was not asked this time either.
Close upon midnight the farmer said to the parson: "I am afraid that my mother-in-law is not satisfied this time either! Won't you let me drive you to the church, so that you could read over her once more, and then she would surely be at rest?" The parson would rather be excused, for he was enjoying himself at the funeral feast; but the farmer begged and prayed so hard that the parson promised to go, and so they drove off. When they came to the churchyard, the lad had already been there and dug up the old woman, but he had not got further than behind the church, and there he sat in a corner with the body in his lap.
The moon was shining, and the farmer had a foal, which was frolicking about after the mare. While the parson was reading over the grave the lad got hold of the foal, and then he took a stake and fixed it to the old woman's back, so that she could keep upright, and then he placed her across the foal. When the parson had finished he and the farmer set out on their way back.
"Now I think your mother-in-law will rest where she is," said the parson; but the same moment the old woman rushed past as swiftly as an arrow on the foal's back. The parson stood aghast and did not know what to say, and the farmer was quite at his wit's end; neither the parson nor the clerk could manage her. All the guests were lost in wonder, and pitied the farmer all they could, but they could not give him any advice.
At last his neighbour said to him: "I think we'll have to send for my servant lad. He may be able to manage the matter, for he is never at a loss."
"Ah, but what can he do? Is he better than the parson and the clerk?" they all said. But the farmer was quite certain that his lad was not to be despised, and since there was nothing else to be done they might as well try what he could do. And so they sent for him, and he came.
"Can you tell me how I shall make peace with my mother-in-law?" asked the farmer.
"I should think I can," said the lad. "That's not a difficult matter. Let me have the old woman and I'll read so many prayers over her that she'll keep quiet for good," he said. "But I must have a hundred dollars for my trouble."
That was a lot of money, but if she would only leave him in peace it might not be so unreasonable after all, thought the farmer.
The lad then took the old woman and carried her to the churchyard and buried her; and as he did not dig her up again she remained where she ought to be.
And the people of the parish now began to say the lad was a far better hand at reading over the dead than the parson himself.
He got the hundred dollars; and he well deserved them, thought the farmer; for if it had not been for the lad his mother-in-law would have worried him into his grave, he declared. But he was anything but pleased about all the money he had had to pay the parson, for his chest was now cleaned out altogether.
From that time there was a change in the parish. The farmer who had been rich only just managed to keep things going, but the poor farmer got on well and prospered in everything, so that he was worth several hundred dollars more at the end of the year. This he had to thank the lad for; it was only the truth, and he should honestly reward him, he said.
But the lad was a wonderful fellow. He had a head of his own, and he would not have any payment for all the help he had given the farmer.
"A hundred dollars is sufficient payment for a servant lad," he said; "and I have got that from our neighbour, so you do not owe me anything."
"It's seldom you come across such a lad," said the farmer, who did not want to let him go.
"I think you must stop here another year," he said.
But the lad thanked him for his good offer; he could not stop any longer, he said.
"Why?" asked the farmer.
"Well, the parson has engaged me to help him," he said.
How he fared afterwards I have not heard; but if that lad has not become a parson, or a dean, or a bishop, then no one else has.