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Main > Celtic folktales > Fairy tale "The mouldy Penny"

The mouldy Penny

He skimps the table, pares the cheese till the rind is as thin as paper, and makes her live on skim milk and barley. Besides this, he won't help the poor with a stiver. I saw him put away a bright and shining silver penny, fresh from the mint. He hid coin and pocketbook in the bricks of a chimney. So I climbed down from the roof, seized both and ran away. I smeared the purse with wax and hid it in the thick rib of a boat, by the wharf. There the penny will gather mould enough. Ha! Ha! Ha!"

At this, the little imps broke out into a titter that sounded like the cackle of a hen trying to tell she had laid an egg.

"Good for you! Serves the old schim right," said a good kabouter, who loved to help human beings. "Now, I'll tell you about his brother, who has a wife and baby. He feeds and clothes them well, and takes good care of his old mother.

"Almost every week he helps some poor little boy, or girl, that has no mother or father. I heard him say he wished he could take care of poor orphans. So, when he was asleep, at night, I whispered in his ear and made him dream.

"'Put away your coin where it won't get mouldy and show that a penny that keeps moving is not like a rolling stone that gathers no moss. Deliver it to the goldsmiths for interest and leave it in your will to increase, until it becomes a great sum. Then, long after you are dead, the money you have saved and left for the poor weesies (orphans) will build a house for them. It will furnish food and beds and pay for nurses that will care for them, and good women who will be like mothers. Other folks, seeing what you have done, will build orphan houses. Then we shall have a Wees House (orphan asylum) in every town. No child, without a father or mother, in all Holland, will have to cry for milk or bread. Don't let your penny mould.'

"The third brother, named Spill-penny, woke up on the same morning, with a headache. He remembered that he had spent his silver penny at the gin house, buying drinks for a lot of worthless fellows like himself.

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