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Main > English folktales > Fairy tale "Coat o' Clay"

Coat o' Clay

" said he.

"That's none o' my business," answered she, "Thou 'st got to find out that."

And she took up her potatoes and went into her house.

The fool took off his cap and scratched his head.

"It's a queer kind of coat to look for, sure-ly," said he, "I never heard of a coat o' clay. But then I be a fool, that's true."

So he walked on till he came to the drain near by, with just a pickle of water and a foot of mud in it.

"Here's muck," said the fool, much pleased, and he got in and rolled in it spluttering. "Hi, yi!" said he—for he had his mouth full—"I've got a coat o' clay now to be sure. I'll go home and tell my mother I'm a wise man and not a fool any longer." And he went on home.

Presently he came to a cottage with a lass at the door.

"Morning, fool," said she; "hast thou been ducked in the horse-pond?"

"Fool yourself," said he, "the wise woman says I'll know more 'n she when I get a coat o' clay, and here it is. Shall I marry thee, lass?"

"Ay," said she, for she thought she'd like a fool for a husband, "when shall it be?"

"I'll come and fetch thee when I've told my mother," said the fool, and he gave her his lucky penny and went on.

When he got home his mother was on the doorstep.

"Mother, I 've got a coat o' clay," said he.

"Coat o' muck," said she; "and what of that?"

"Wise woman said I'd know more than she when I got a coat o' clay," said he, "so I down in the drain and got one, and I'm not a fool any longer."

"Very good," said his mother, "now thou canst get a wife."

"Ay," said he, "I'm going to marry so-an'-so."

"What!" said his mother, "that lass? No, and that thou 'lt not. She's nought but a brat, with ne'er a cow or a cabbage o' her own."

"But I gave her my luck penny," said the fool.

"Then thou 'rt a bigger fool than ever, for all thy coat o' clay!" said his mother, and banged the door in his face.

"Dang it!" said the fool, and scratched his head, "that's not the right sort o' clay sure-ly."

So back he went to the highroad and sat down on the bank of the river close by, looking at the water, which was cool and clear.

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