"CLUMP, clump, clump; jolt, jolt, jolt," down the road lumbered the big brown horse at a jog-trot, Farmer Andrew bouncing upon his broad back. In the shade of an oak tree the rider drew rein, took off his wide-brimmed hat and wiped the beads of perspiration from his sunburned forehead. "Thou wast never meant for riding, Frank, old boy," he addressed the horse. "Thy huge hoofs stir the dust like a flock of sheep" he slapped the thick neck affectionately.
Far down the road came the light rapid sound of swift trotting and the rattle of wheels. A slender black horse with proudly arched neck rounded the curve. Farmer Andrew waved his hat.
"How art thou, Benjamin?" he called to the man, a distant neighbor, who drew up beside him. "Well, I thank thee, and thyself?"
"Somewhat sore with the pounding this gentle beast deals me, otherwise well."
"I was just admiring thy animal. He is scarcely the build of a riding horse, however." Benjamin looked at the great iron-shod feet overhung with hair.
"Nay he is most excellent for heavy farm work, but I need rather a light horse for the saddle or carriage, such as thy high-stepping charger there," Andrew answered.
"And I was about to sell my Prince to buy a cart horse." Benjamin had a sudden thought, "Why should we not exchange and both be suited?"
Andrew nodded "A most excellent idea. Let us do so."
The saddle and buggy were soon changed, and each man drove off well pleased with his new horse.
* * * * * * *
"Lickety-lop, lickety-lop," down the same road, over the brown leaves the oak tree had shed, rode Farmer Andrew, rising and falling easily with the rhythmical motion of his black Prince. Months ago at this place he had met Farmer Benjamin, and the horse trade had been made. He had not seen his friend since that day: the transaction weighed upon his mind, for surely Benjamin must have gotten the worst of the bargain. Prince had turned out to be exactly what Andrew wanted. He had finally decided to visit Benjamin and pay him twenty-five dollars additional for the difference in value of the two horses. Now, as he looked ahead on the leafy road, again he saw Benjamin approaching, this time in a farm wagon, drawn by the sturdy Frank. As soon as greetings were exchanged, before Andrew could explain his errand, Benjamin cried:
"I have been ashamed of myself Andrew, ever since we made our trade. Certainly I have gotten the better of thee. Frank is a marvel of strength and patience. It seems no load is too heavy for him. I determined, therefore, to stop at thy house today, after market, and make our account nearer even by the payment of this small sum," and he handed Andrew a roll of bills.
Before looking at the money, Andrew drew from his pocket the twenty-five dollars and placed it in Benjamin's hand.
"I was just now on my way to thy house on the same errand, for I have felt that I cheated thee in obtaining such an excellent horse as Prince."
Each man unrolled the bills curiously, and each found the same amount. They looked at one another and burst into merry laughter.
"Truly, Friend," cried Andrew, "we may now enjoy our horses with clear consciences!"