Jack and His Comrades
Once there was a poor widow, as often
there has been, and she had
one son. A very scarce summer came, and they didn't know
live till the new potatoes would be fit for eating. So
Jack said to
his mother one evening, "Mother, bake my cake, and
kill my hen, till
I go seek my fortune; and if I meet it, never fear but
I'll soon be
back to share it with you."
So she did as he asked her, and he set out at break of
day on his
journey. His mother came along with him to the yard gate,
she, "Jack, which would you rather have, half the
cake and half the
hen with my blessing, or the whole of 'em with my curse?"
"O musha, mother," says Jack, "why
do you ax me that question? sure
you know I wouldn't have your curse and Damer's estate
"Well, then, Jack," says she, "here's
the whole lot of 'em with my
thousand blessings along with them." So she stood
on the yard fence
and blessed him as far as her eyes could see him.
Well, he went along and along till he was tired, and ne'er
farmer's house he went into wanted a boy. At last his road
the side of a bog, and there was a poor ass up to his shoulders
a big bunch of grass he was striving to come at.
"Ah, then, Jack asthore," says he, "help
me out or I'll be drowned."
"Never say't twice," says
Jack, and be pitched in big stones and
sods into the slob, till the ass got good ground under
"Thank you, Jack," says he, when he was out
on the hard road; "I'll
do as much for you another time. Where are you going?"
"Faith, I'm going to seek
my fortune till harvest comes in, God
"And if you like," says the ass, "I'll
go along with you; who knows
what luck we may have!"
"With all my heart, it's
getting late, let us be jogging."
Well, they were going through a village, and a whole army
gossoons were hunting a poor dog with a kettle tied to
his tail. He
ran up to Jack for protection, and the ass let such a roar
him, that the little thieves took to their heels as if
the ould boy
was after them.
"More power to you, Jack," says
"I'm much obleeged to you:
where is the baste and yourself going?"
"We're going to seek our
fortune till harvest comes in."
"And wouldn't I be proud to go with you!" says
the dog, "and get rid
of them ill conducted boys; purshuin' to 'em."
"Well, well, throw your
tail over your arm, and come along."
They got outside the town, and sat down under an old wall,
pulled out his bread and meat, and shared with the dog;
and the ass
made his dinner on a bunch of thistles. While they were
chatting, what should come by but a poor half-starved cat,
moll-row he gave out of him would make your heart ache.
"You look as if you saw
the tops of nine houses since breakfast,"
says Jack; "here's a bone and something on it."
"May your child never know a hungry belly!" says
Tom; "it's myself
that's in need of your kindness. May I be so bold as to
yez are all going?"
"We're going to seek our
fortune till the harvest comes in, and you
may join us if you like."
"And that I'll do with a heart and a half," says
the cat, "and
thank'ee for asking me."'
Off they set again, and just as the shadows of the trees
times as long as themselves, they heard a great cackling
in a field
inside the road, and out over the ditch jumped a fox with
black cock in his mouth.
"Oh, you anointed villain!" says
the ass, roaring like thunder.
"At him, good dog!" says
Jack, and the word wasn't out of his mouth
when Coley was in full sweep after the Red Dog. Reynard
prize like a hot potato, and was off like shot, and the
came back fluttering and trembling to Jack and his comrades.
"O musha, naybours!" says he, "wasn't
it the height o' luck that
threw you in my way! Maybe I won't remember your kindness
if ever I
find you in hardship; and where in the world are you all
"We're going to seek our
fortune till the harvest comes in; you may
join our party if you like, and sit on Neddy's crupper
legs and wings are tired."
Well, the march began again, and just as the sun was gone
looked around, and there was neither cabin nor farm house
"Well, well," says Jack, "the
worse luck now the better another
time, and it's only a summer night after all. We'll go
wood, and make our bed on the long grass."
No sooner said than done. Jack stretched himself on a
bunch of dry
grass, the ass lay near him, the dog and cat lay in the
lap, and the cock went to roost in the next tree.
Well, the soundness of deep sleep was over them all, when
took a notion of crowing.
"Bother you, Black Cock!" says the ass: "you
disturbed me from as
nice a wisp of hay as ever I tasted. What's the matter?"
"It's daybreak that's the
matter: don't you see light yonder?"
"I see a light indeed," says Jack, "but
it's from a candle it's
coming, and not from the sun. As you've roused us we may
as well go
over, and ask for lodging."
So they all shook themselves, and went on through grass,
and briars, till they got down into a hollow, and there
light coming through the shadow, and along with it came
laughing, and cursing.
"Easy, boys!" says Jack: "walk
on your tippy toes till we see what
sort of people we have to deal with."
So they crept near the window, and there they saw six
inside, with pistols, and blunderbushes, and cutlashes,
sitting at a
table, eating roast beef and pork, and drinking mulled
wine, and whisky punch.
"Wasn't that a fine haul we made at the Lord of Dunlavin's!" says
one ugly-looking thief with his mouth full, "and it's
get only for the honest porter! here's his purty health!"
"The porter's purty health!" cried
out every one of them, and Jack
bent his finger at his comrades.
"Close your ranks, my men," says he in a whisper, "and
let every one
mind the word of command."
So the ass put his fore-hoofs on the sill of the window,
the dog got
on the ass's head, the cat on the dog's head, and the cock
cat's head. Then Jack made a sign, and they all sung out
"Hee-haw, hee-haw!" roared the ass; "bow-wow!" barked
"meaw-meaw!" cried the cat; "cock-a-doodle-doo!" crowed
"Level your pistols!" cried Jack, "and
make smithereens of 'em.
Don't leave a mother's son of 'em alive; present, fire!" With
they gave another halloo, and smashed every pane in the
robbers were frightened out of their lives. They blew out
candles, threw down the table, and skelped out at the back
if they were in earnest, and never drew rein till they
were in the
very heart of the wood.
Jack and his party got into the room, closed the shutters,
the candles, and ate and drank till hunger and thirst were
Then they lay down to rest;--Jack in the bed, the ass in
the dog on the door-mat, the cat by the fire, and the cock
At first the robbers were very glad to find themselves
safe in the
thick wood, but they soon began to get vexed.
"This damp grass is very different from our warm
room," says one.
"I was obliged to drop a fine pig's foot," says
"I didn't get a tayspoonful of my last tumbler," says
"And all the Lord of Dunlavin's
gold and silver that we left
behind!" says the last.
"I think I'll venture back," says the captain, "and
see if we can
"That's a good boy!" said
they all, and away he went.
The lights were all out, and so he groped his way to the
there the cat flew in his face, and tore him with teeth
He let a roar out of him, and made for the room door, to
look for a
candle inside. He trod on the dog's tail, and if he did,
he got the
marks of his teeth in his arms, and legs, and thighs.
"Thousand murders!" cried he; "I
wish I was out of this unlucky
When he got to the street door, the cock dropped down
upon him with
his claws and bill, and what the cat and dog done to him
was only a
flay-bite to what he got from the cock.
"Oh, tattheration to you all, you unfeeling vagabones!" says
when he recovered his breath; and he staggered and spun
round till he reeled into the stable, back foremost, but
received him with a kick on the broadest part of his small
and laid him comfortably on the dunghill.
When he came to himself, he scratched his head, and began
what happened him; and as soon as he found that his legs
to carry him, he crawled away, dragging one foot after
he reached the wood.
"Well, well," cried them all, when he came within
chance of our property?"
"You may say chance," says he, "and
it's itself is the poor chance
all out. Ah, will any of you pull a bed of dry grass for
me? All the
sticking-plaster in Enniscorthy will be too little for
the cuts and
bruises I have on me. Ah, if you only knew what I have
for you! When I got to the kitchen fire, looking for a
lighted turf, what should be there but an old woman carding
and you may see the marks she left on my face with the
cards. I made
to the room door as fast as I could, and who should I stumble
but a cobbler and his seat, and if he did not work at me
awls and his pinchers you may call me a rogue. Well, I
got away from
him somehow, but when I was passing through the door, it
must be the
divel himself that pounced down on me with his claws, and
that were equal to sixpenny nails, and his wings--ill luck
be in his
road! Well, at last I reached the stable, and there, by
salute, I got a pelt from a sledge-hammer that sent me
half a mile
off. If you don't believe me, I'll give you leave to go
"Oh, my poor captain," says they, "we
believe you to the nines.
Catch us, indeed, going within a hen's race of that unlucky
Well, before the sun shook his doublet next morning, Jack
comrades were up and about. They made a hearty breakfast
on what was
left the night before, and then they all agreed to set
off to the
castle of the Lord of Dunlavin, and give him back all his
silver. Jack put it all in the two ends of a sack and laid
Neddy's back, and all took the road in their hands. Away
through bogs, up hills, down dales, and sometimes along
high road, till they came to the hall-door of the Lord
and who should be there, airing his powdered head, his
stockings, and his red breeches, but the thief of a porter.
He gave a cross look to the visitors,
and says he to Jack, "What
you want here, my fine fellow? there isn't room for you
"We want," says Jack, "what
I'm sure you haven't to give us--and
that is, common civility."
"Come, be off, you lazy strollers!" says he, "while
a cat 'ud be
licking her ear, or I'll let the dogs at you."
"Would you tell a body," says
the cock that was perched on the ass's
head, "who was it that opened the door for the robbers
Ah! maybe the porter's red face didn't turn the colour
of his frill,
and the Lord of Dunlavin and his pretty daughter, that
at the parlour window unknownst to the porter, put out
"I'd be glad, Barney," says the master, "to
hear your answer to the
gentleman with the red comb on him."
"Ah, my lord, don't believe
the rascal; sure I didn't open the door
to the six robbers."
"And how did you know there were six, you poor innocent?" said
"Never mind, sir," says Jack, "all
your gold and silver is there in
that sack, and I don't think you will begrudge us our supper
after our long march from the wood of Athsalach."
"Begrudge, indeed! Not one
of you will ever see a poor day if I can
So all were welcomed to their heart's content, and the
ass and the
dog and the cock got the best posts in the farmyard, and
took possession of the kitchen. The lord took Jack in hands,
him from top to toe in broadcloth, and frills as white
as snow, and
turnpumps, and put a watch in his fob. When they sat down
the lady of the house said Jack had the air of a born gentleman
about him, and the lord said he'd make him his steward.
his mother, and settled her comfortably near the castle,
were as happy as you please.