The Orange Fairy Book HTML version

The Goldsmith's Fortune
Once upon a time there was a goldsmith who lived in a certain village where the
people were as bad and greedy, and covetous, as they could possibly be;
however, in spite of his surroundings, he was fat and prosperous. He had only
one friend whom he liked, and that was a cowherd, who looked after cattle for
one of the farmers in the village. Every evening the goldsmith would walk across
to the cowherd's house and say: 'Come, let's go out for a walk!'
Now the cowherd didn't like walking in the evening, because, he said, he had
been out grazing the cattle all day, and was glad to sit down when night came;
but the goldsmith always worried him so that the poor man had to go against his
will. This at last so annoyed him that he tried to think how he could pick a quarrel
with the goldsmith, so that he should not beg him to walk with him any more. He
asked another cowherd for advice, and he said the best thing he could do was to
go across and kill the goldsmith's wife, for then the goldsmith would be sure to
regard him as an enemy; so, being a foolish person, and there being no laws in
that country by which a man would be certainly punished for such a crime, the
cowherd one evening took a big stick and went across to the goldsmith's house
when only Mrs. Goldsmith was at home, and banged her on the head so hard
that she died then and there.
When the goldsmith came back and found his wife dead he said nothing, but just
took her outside into the dark lane and propped her up against the wall of his
house, and then went into the courtyard and waited. Presently a rich stranger
came along the lane, and seeing someone there, as he supposed, he said:
'Good-evening, friend! a fine night to- night!' But the goldsmith's wife said
nothing. The man then repeated his words louder; but still there was no reply. A
third time he shouted:
'Good-evening, friend! are you deaf?' but the figure never replied. Then the
stranger, being angry at what he thought very rude behaviour, picked up a big
stone and threw it at Mrs. Goldsmith, crying:
'Let that teach you manners!'
Instantly poor Mrs. Goldsmith tumbled over; and the stranger, horrified at seeing
what he had done, was immediately seized by the goldsmith, who ran out
'Wretch! you have killed my wife! Oh, miserable one; we will have justice done to
With many protestations and reproaches they wrangled together, the stranger
entreating the goldsmith to say nothing and he would pay him handsomely to
atone for the sad accident. At last the goldsmith quieted down, and agreed to
accept one thousand gold pieces from the stranger, who immediately helped him
to bury his poor wife, and then rushed off to the guest house, packed up his