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Main > Celtic folktales > Fairy tale "Jack and his master "

Jack and his master

Says the master when he came out, "Go, Jack, and look for the heifers, and bring them home."

"And where will I look for 'em?"

"Go and search for them as if they were your own." The heifers were all in the paddock before sunset.

Next morning, says the master, "Jack, the path across the bog to the pasture is very bad; the sheep does be sinking in it every step; go and make the sheep's feet a good path." About an hour after he came to the edge of the bog, and what did he find Jack at but sharpening a carving knife, and the sheep standing or grazing round.

"Is this the way you are mending the path, Jack?" said he.

"Everything must have a beginning, master," said Jack, "and a thing well begun is half done. I am sharpening the knife, and I'll have the feet off every sheep in the flock while you'd be blessing yourself."

"Feet off my sheep, you anointed rogue! and what would you be taking their feet off for?"

"An' sure to mend the path as you told me. Says you, 'Jack, make a path with the foot of the sheep.'"

"Oh, you fool, I meant make good the path for the sheep's feet."

"It's a pity you didn't say so, master. Hand me out one pound thirteen and fourpence if you don't like me to finish my job."

"Divel do you good with your one pound thirteen and fourpence!"

"It's better pray than curse, master. Maybe you're sorry for your bargain?"

"And to be sure I am—not yet, any way."

The next night the master was going to a wedding; and says he to Jack, before he set out: "I'll leave at midnight, and I wish you, to come and be with me home, for fear I might be overtaken with the drink. If you're there before, you may throw a sheep's eye at me, and I'll be sure to see that they'll give you something for yourself."

About eleven o'clock, while the master was in great spirits, he felt something clammy hit him on the cheek. It fell beside his tumbler, and when he looked at it what was it but the eye of a sheep. Well, he couldn't imagine who threw it at him, or why it was thrown at him.

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