|English Fairy Tales
THE ASS, THE TABLE, AND THE STICK
lad named Jack was once so unhappy at home through his father's ill-
treatment, that he made up his mind to run away and seek his fortune in
the wide world.
ran, and he ran, till he could run no longer, and then he ran right up
against a little old woman who was gathering sticks. He was too much
out of breath to beg pardon, but the woman was good-natured, and she
said he seemed to be a likely lad, so she would take him to be her
servant, and would pay him well. He agreed, for he was very hungry, and
she brought him to her house in the wood, where he served her for a
twelvemonths and a day.
the year had passed, she called him to her, and said she had good wages
for him. So she presented him with an ass out of the stable, and he had
but to pull Neddy's ears to make him begin at once to ee—aw! And when
he brayed there dropped from his mouth silver sixpences, and half
crowns, and golden guineas.
lad was well pleased with the wage he had received, and away he rode
till he reached an inn. There he ordered the best of everything, and
when the innkeeper refused to serve him without being paid beforehand,
the boy went off to the stable, pulled the ass's ears and obtained his
pocket full of money. The host had watched all this through a crack in
the door, and when night came on he put an ass of his own for the
precious Neddy of the poor youth. So Jack without knowing that any
change had been made, rode away next morning to his father's house.
I must tell you that near his home dwelt a poor widow with an only
daughter. The lad and the maiden were fast friends and true loves; but
when Jack asked his father's leave to marry the girl, "Never till you
have the money to keep her," was the reply. "I have that, father," said
the lad, and going to the ass he pulled its long ears; well, he pulled,
and he pulled, till one of them came off in his hands; but Neddy,
though he hee-hawed and he hee-hawed let fall no half crowns or
guineas. The father picked up a hay-fork and beat his son out of the
house. I promise you he ran. Ah! he ran and ran till he came bang
against the door, and burst it open, and there he was in a joiner's
shop. "You're a likely lad," said the joiner; "serve me for a
twelvemonths and a day and I will pay you well.'" So he agreed, and
served the carpenter for a year and a day. "Now," said the master, "I
will give you your wage;" and he presented him with a table, telling
him he had but to say, "Table, be covered," and at once it would be
spread with lots to eat and drink.
hitched the table on his back, and away he went with it till he came to
the inn. "Well, host," shouted he, "my dinner to-day, and that of the
"Very sorry, but there is nothing in the house but ham and eggs."
"Ham and eggs for me!" exclaimed Jack. "I can do better than that.—
Come, my table, be covered!"
once the table was spread with turkey and sausages, roast mutton,
potatoes, and greens. The publican opened his eyes, but he said
nothing, not he.
night he fetched down from his attic a table very like that of Jack,
and exchanged the two. Jack, none the wiser, next morning hitched the
worthless table on to his back and carried it home. "Now, father, may I
marry my lass?" he asked.
unless you can keep her," replied the father. "Look here!" exclaimed
Jack. "Father, I have a table which does all my bidding."
"Let me see it," said the old man.
lad set it in the middle of the room, and bade it be covered; but all
in vain, the table remained bare. In a rage, the father caught the
warming-pan down from the wall and warmed his son's back with it so
that the boy fled howling from the house, and ran and ran till he came
to a river and tumbled in. A man picked him out and bade him assist him
in making a bridge over the river; and how do you think he was doing
it? Why, by casting a tree across; so Jack climbed up to the top of the
tree and threw his weight on it, so that when the man had rooted the
tree up, Jack and the tree-head dropped on the farther bank.
you," said the man; "and now for what you have done I will pay you;" so
saying, he tore a branch from the tree, and fettled it up into a club
with his knife. "There," exclaimed he; "take this stick, and when you
say to it, 'Up stick and bang him,' it will knock any one down who
lad was overjoyed to get this stick—so away he went with it to the inn,
and as soon as the publican, appeared, "Up stick and bang him!" was his
cry. At the word the cudgel flew from his hand and battered the old
publican on the back, rapped his head, bruised his arms tickled his
ribs, till he fell groaning on the floor; still the stick belaboured
the prostrate man, nor would Jack call it off till he had got back the
stolen ass and table. Then he galloped home on the ass, with the table
on his shoulders, and the stick in his hand. When he arrived there he
found his father was dead, so he brought his ass into the stable, and
pulled its ears till he had filled the manger with money.
was soon known through the town that Jack had returned rolling in
wealth, and accordingly all the girls in the place set their caps at
him. "Now," said Jack, "I shall marry the richest lass in the place; so
tomorrow do you all come in front of my house with your money in your
morning the street was full of girls with aprons held out, and gold and
silver in them; but Jack's own sweetheart was among them, and she had
neither gold nor silver, nought but two copper pennies, that was all
aside, lass;" said Jack to her, speaking roughly. "Thou hast no silver
nor gold—stand off from the rest." She obeyed, and the tears ran down
her cheeks, and filled her apron with diamonds.
stick and bang them!" exclaimed Jack; whereupon the cudgel leaped up,
and running along the line of girls, knocked them all on the heads and
left them senseless on the pavement. Jack took all their money and
poured it into his truelove's lap. "Now, lass," he exclaimed, "thou art
the richest, and I shall marry thee."