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 how they'd 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, and says 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 along with it."
"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 a farmer's house he went into wanted a boy. At last his road led by the side of a bog, and there was a poor ass up to his shoulders near 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 he pitched in big stones and sods into the slob, till the ass got good ground under him.
"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 bless it!"
"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 of 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 out of him, that the little thieves took to their heels as if the ould boy was after them.