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

Coat o' Clay

"Hout-tout!" said the landlord, with a wink. "I know what's wrong. Thou 'st got a skin o' dirt outside and all dry dust inside. Thou must moisten it, lad, with a good drink, and then thou 'lt have a real all-over coat o' clay."

"Hi," said the fool, "that's a good word."

So down he sat and began to drink. But it was wonderful how much liquor it took to moisten so much dust; and each time he got to the bottom of the pot he found he was still dry. At last he began to feel very merry and pleased with himself.

"Hi, yi!" said he. "I've got a real coat o' clay now outside and in—what a difference it do make, to be sure. I feel another man now—so smart."

And he told the landlord he was certainly a wise man now, though he couldn't speak over-distinctly after drinking so much. So up he got, and thought he would go home and tell his mother she hadn't a fool for a son any more.

But just as he was trying to get through the inn-door which would scarcely keep still long enough for him to find it, up came the landlord and caught him by the sleeve.

"See here, master," said he, "thou hasn't paid for thy score—where's thy money?"

"Haven't any!" said the fool, and pulled out his pockets to show they were empty.

"What!" said the landlord, and swore; "thou 'st drunk all my liquor and haven't got nought to pay for it with!"

"Hi!" said the fool. "You told me to drink so as to get a coat o' clay; but as I'm a wise man now I don't mind helping thee along in the world a bit, for though I'm a smart fellow I'm not too proud to my friends."

"Wise man! smart fellow!" said the landlord, "and help me along, wilt thee? Dang it! thou 'rt the biggest fool I ever saw, and it's I'll help thee first—out o' this!"

And he kicked him out of the door into the road and swore at him.

"Hum," said the fool, as he lay in the dust, "I'm not so wise as I thought. I guess I'll go back to the wise woman and tell her there's a screw loose somewhere."

So up he got and went along to her house, and found her sitting at the door.

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Category: United States folktales
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