Recommend this Page to a Friend                                                            
The Nail

A TRADESMAN had once transacted a good day's business at a fair, disposed of all his goods, and filled his purse with gold and silver. He prepared afterward to return, in order to reach home by the evening, so he strapped his portmanteau, with the money in it, upon his horse's back, and rode off. At noon he halted in a small town, and as he was about to set out again, the stable-boy who brought his horse said to him: “Sir, a nail is wanting in the shoe on the left hind foot of your animal.”

“Let it be wanting,” replied the tradesman; “I am in a hurry and the iron will doubtless hold the six hours I have yet to travel.”

Late in the afternoon he had to dismount again, and feed his horse, and at this place also the boy came and told him that a nail was wanting in one of the shoes, and asked him whether he should take the horse to a farrier. “No, no, let it be!” replied the master; “it will last out the couple of hours that I have now to travel; I am in haste.” So saying he rode off; but his horse soon began to limp, and from limping it came to stumbling, and presently the beast fell down and broke its leg. Thereupon the tradesman had to leave his unfortunate horse lying on the road, to unbuckle the portmanteau, and to walk home with it upon his shoulder, where he arrived at last late at night.

“And all this misfortune,” said he to himself, “is owing to the want of a nail. More haste, the less speed!”