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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "The Big Poor People"

The Big Poor People

It was a great conger that lived in a hole in the Sligo River, and I suppose he was ten yards long, and the man was a diver. He was gettin' stones out of the bottom of the river, and the conger says to him, 'What are you afther there?' says he. 'Stones, sor,' says the diver. 'Hadn't you betther be goin?' says the conger. 'I think so, sor,' says the diver, and afther that he never stopped goin' till he got to the States."

"That's you, Peter," said the old woman; "you don't believe in the Good People or strange monsters or anything of the sort, but you want to run away from them."

If Peter had been quite honest about it, he could scarcely have said, even to himself, whether he believed that there were any fairies or not; but he was really afraid of them, though he put on such a bold front and said that he did not believe in them, to make people think that he was uncommonly knowing. "Mrs. O'Brien," he said, "do you think it's true, what they say, that in the States you can pick up goold everywhere in the streets?"

"What good would it do you if it was true?" she asked.

"What good would it do me? Are ye askin' what good would goold do me? Sure, then, wouldn't I pick up all of it I could carry, and wouldn't I take land wid it and pay rent and buy stock for a big farm and grow as rich as Damer? What good would goold be? Ha! Ha! What couldn't you do in a country where ye could be pickin' up goold in the street?"

"There's no gold to be picked up in the streets there, any more than here," said the old woman, "and if there was, it would be no use to you. Only suppose, now, that you had picked up all the gold you could carry, and that you wanted to buy a loaf of bread with it. And suppose you went into a baker's shop and chose even the smallest loaf of bread you could find, and threw down a whole gold sovereign for it—aye, or a hundred gold sovereigns. Would the baker sell you the bread for your gold, do you think? Wouldn't he say to you: 'Go on out of this, for the silly Irishman that you are!

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