Once on a time there was a man who had a goody who was so cross-grained that there was no living with her. As for her husband he could not get on with her at all, for whatever he wished she set her face right against it.
So it fell one Sunday in summer that the man and his wife went out into the field to see how the crop looked; and when they came to a field of rye on the other side of the river, the man said--
'Ay! now it is ripe. To-morrow we must set to work and reap it.'
'Yes,' said his wife, 'to-morrow we can set to work and shear it.'
'What do you say,' said the man; 'shall we shear it? Mayn't we just as well reap it?'
'No,' said the goody, 'It shall be shorn.'
'There is nothing so bad as a little knowledge,' said the man, 'but you must have lost the little wit you had. When did you ever hear of shearing a field?'
'I know little, and I care to know little, I dare say,' said the goody, 'but I know very well that this field shall be shorn and not reaped.'
That was what she said, and there was no help for it; it must and should be shorn.
So they walked about and quarrelled and strove till they came to the bridge across the river, just above a deep hole.
''Tis an old saying,' said the man, 'that good tools make good work, but I fancy it will be a fine swathe that is shorn with a pair of shears. Mayn't we just as well reap the field after all?' he asked.
'No! no! shear, shear,' bawled out the goody, who jumped about and clipped like a pair of scissors under her husband's nose. In her shrewishness she took such little heed that she tripped over a beam on the bridge, and down she went plump into the stream.
''Tis hard to wean any one from bad ways,' said the man, 'but it were strange if I were not sometimes in the right, I too.'
Then he swam out into the hole and caught his wife by the hair of her head, and so got her head above water.
'Shall we reap the field now?' were the first words he said.
'Shear! shear! shear!' screeched the goody.
'I'll teach you to shear,' said the man, as he ducked her under the water; but it was no good, they must shear it, she said, as soon as ever she came up again.
'I can't think anything else than that the goody is mad,' said the man to himself. 'Many are mad and never know it; many have wit and never show it; but all the same, I'll try her once more.'
But as soon as ever he ducked her under the water again, she held her hands up out of the water and began to clip with her fingers like a pair of shears. Then the man fell into a great rage and ducked her down both well and long; but while he was about it, the goody's head fell down below the water, and she got so heavy all at once, that he had to let her go.
'No! no!' he said, 'you wish to drag me down with you into the hole, but you may lie there by yourself.'
So the goody was left in the river.
But after a while the man thought it was ill she should lie there and not get Christian burial, and so he went down the course of the stream and hunted and searched for her, but for all his pains he could not find her. Then he came with all his men and brought his neighbours with him, and they all in a body began to drag the stream and to search for her all along it. But for all their searching they found no goody.
'Oh!' said the man, 'I have it. All this is no good, we search in the wrong place. This goody was a sort by herself; there was not such another in the world while she was alive. She was so cross and contrary, and I'll be bound it is just the same now she is dead. We had better just go and hunt for her up stream, and drag for her above the force, maybe she has floated up thither.'
And so it was. They went up stream and sought for her above the force, and there lay the goody, sure enough! Yes! She was well called GOODY GAINST-THE-STREAM.