There was a farmer who had a little gate which opened from his yard into a field. This little gate wanted a latch and therefore would not be fastened.
The result was that the gate was generally either flapping backward and forward in the wind or standing wide open.
In this way the poultry used to get out and the cattle used to get in. It took up half the children’s time to run after the chicks and drive them back into the yard and send the cattle back into the field.
“If you don’t mend the latch”, said the farmer’s wife, “the cattle will spoil all the kitchen garden”.
But the farmer replied, “If I bought a latch, it would cost me sixpenny, but it is not worth while”.
So the gate remained without a latch.
One day a fat pig got out of its sty and, as the gate was wide open, ran into the field.
“Oh, you fool”, cried the wife, “if you had mended the latch, the pig would not have run out”.
The farmer was in the stable, he was tying up his horse but he left it and ran after the pig.
“If I run after my husband we shall catch the pig sooner”, thought the wife who was ironing some shirts in the kitchen.
She left her work and followed her husband.
The daughter was cooking dinner.
“If I went after my parents, the pig would not have time to reach the wood,” she said to herself.
So she ran after her mother.
The farmer’s son joined the whole family and they all ran after the pig toward the wood. But suddenly the boy fell down and broke his g. The farmer and his wife were obliged to stop and carry hi back to the house.
Meanwhile the pig disappeared into the wood.
When they got back home, the first thing they saw was a shirt spoilt by the hot iron which had been left on it.
“How stupid of me,” cried he woman, “had I not been in such a hurry, I would not have left the iron on the shirt”.
“Oh, dear me,” cried the daughter, “the soup has boiled over”. The father began to scold his daughter for her carelessness. “If you had taken the pot off the fire, “he cried, “we should not have lost our dinner”.
Then he went to the yard where he found that the horse which he had left untied got into the kitchen garden and trampled down the vegetables.
“If the horse had been tied, we should have got such splendid cabbages,” he thought.
“You see,” said s wife, “Tommy has broken his leg, we have lost our best pig, all our cabbages, to say nothing of the loss of our dinner – all for the want of a sixpenny latch. If I were you, I should buy a latch at once and mend the gate”.