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Main > English folktales > Fairy tale "A Pottle o' Brains "

A Pottle o' Brains

Once in these parts, and not so long gone neither, there was a fool that wanted to buy a pottle o' brains, for he was ever getting into scrapes through his foolishness, and being laughed at by every one. Folk told him that he could get everything he liked from the wise woman that lived on the top o' the hill, and dealt in potions and herbs and spells and things, and could tell thee! all as 'd come to thee or thy folk. So he told his mother, and asked her if he could seek the wise woman and buy a pottle o' brains.

"That ye should," says she; "thou 'st sore need o' them, my son: and if I should die, who'd take care o' a poor fool such 's thou, no more fit to look after thyself than an unborn baby? but mind thy manners, and speak her pretty, my lad; for they wise folk are gey and light mispleased."

So off he went after his tea, and there she was, sitting by the fire, and stirring a big pot.

"Good e'en, missis," says he, "it's a fine night."

"Aye," says she, and went on stirring.

"It'll maybe rain," says he, and fidgeted from one foot to t' other.

"Maybe," says she.

"And m'appen it won't," says he, and looked out o' the window.

"M'appen," says she.

And he scratched his head and twisted his hat.

"Well," says he, "I can't mind nothing else about the weather, but let me see; the crops are getting on fine."

"Fine," says she.

"And—and—the beasts is fattening," says he.

"They are," says she.

"And—and—" says he, and comes to a stop—"I reckon we'll tackle business now, having done the polite like. Have you any brains for to sell?"

"That depends," says she, "if thou wants king's brains, or soldier's brains, or schoolmaster's brains, I dinna keep 'em."

"Hout no," says he, "jist ordinary brains—fit for any fool—same as every one has about here; something clean common-like."

"Aye so," says the wise woman, "I might manage that, if so be thou 'lt help thyself."

"How's that for, missis?" says he.

"Jest so," says she, looking in the pot; "bring me the heart of the thing thou likest best of all, and I'll tell thee where to get thy pottle o' brains.

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