|English Fairy Tales
THE THREE SILLIES
Once upon a time there was a farmer and his
wife who had one daughter, and she was courted by a gentleman. Every
evening he used to come and see her, and stop to supper at the
farmhouse, and the daughter used to be sent down into the cellar to
draw the beer for supper. So one evening she had gone down to draw the
beer, and she happened to look up at the ceiling while she was drawing,
and she saw a mallet stuck in one of the beams. It must have been there
a long, long time, but somehow or other she had never noticed it
before, and she began a- thinking. And she thought it was very
dangerous to have that mallet there, for she said to herself: "Suppose
him and me was to be married, and we was to have a son, and he was to
grow up to be a man, and come down into the cellar to draw the beer,
like as I'm doing now, and the mallet was to fall on his head and kill
him, what a dreadful thing it would be!" And she put down the candle
and the jug, and sat herself down and began a-crying.
began to wonder upstairs how it was that she was so long drawing the
beer, and her mother went down to see after her, and she found her
sitting on the settle crying, and the beer running over the floor.
"Why, whatever is the matter?" said her mother. "Oh, mother!" says she,
"look at that horrid mallet! Suppose we was to be married, and was to
have a son, and he was to grow up, and was to come down to the cellar
to draw the beer, and the mallet was to fall on his head and kill him,
what a dreadful thing it would be!" "Dear, dear! what a dreadful thing
it would be!" said the mother, and she sat her down aside of the
daughter and started a-crying too. Then after a bit the father began to
wonder that they didn't come back, and he went down into the cellar to
look after them himself, and there they two sat a- crying, and the beer
running all over the floor. "Whatever is the matter?" says he. "Why,"
says the mother, "look at that horrid mallet. Just suppose, if our
daughter and her sweetheart was to be married, and was to have a son,
and he was to grow up, and was to come down into the cellar to draw the
beer, and the mallet was to fall on his head and kill him, what a
dreadful thing it would be!" "Dear, dear, dear! so it would!" said the
father, and he sat himself down aside of the other two, and started
Now the gentleman got tired of stopping up in the
kitchen by himself, and at last he went down into the cellar too, to
see what they were after; and there they three sat a-crying side by
side, and the beer running all over the floor. And he ran straight and
turned the tap. Then he said: "Whatever are you three doing, sitting
there crying, and letting the beer run all over the floor?"
says the father, "look at that horrid mallet! Suppose you and our
daughter was to be married, and was to have a son, and he was to grow
up, and was to come down into the cellar to draw the beer, and the
mallet was to fall on his head and kill him!" And then they all started
a-crying worse than before. But the gentleman burst out a- laughing,
and reached up and pulled out the mallet, and then he said: "I've
travelled many miles, and I never met three such big sillies as you
three before; and now I shall start out on my travels again, and when I
can find three bigger sillies than you three, then I'll come back and
marry your daughter." So he wished them good-bye, and started off on
his travels, and left them all crying because the girl had lost her
Well, he set out, and he travelled a long way, and
at last he came to a woman's cottage that had some grass growing on the
roof. And the woman was trying to get her cow to go up a ladder to the
grass, and the poor thing durst not go. So the gentleman asked the
woman what she was doing. "Why, lookye," she said, "look at all that
beautiful grass. I'm going to get the cow on to the roof to eat it.
She'll be quite safe, for I shall tie a string round her neck, and pass
it down the chimney, and tie it to my wrist as I go about the house, so
she can't fall off without my knowing it." "Oh, you poor silly!" said
the gentleman, "you should cut the grass and throw it down to the cow!"
But the woman thought it was easier to get the cow up the ladder than
to get the grass down, so she pushed her and coaxed her and got her up,
and tied a string round her neck, and passed it down the chimney, and
fastened it to her own wrist. And the gentleman went on his way, but he
hadn't gone far when the cow tumbled off the roof, and hung by the
string tied round her neck, and it strangled her. And the weight of the
cow tied to her wrist pulled the woman up the chimney, and she stuck
fast half-way and was smothered in the soot.
Well, that was one big silly.
the gentleman went on and on, and he went to an inn to stop the night,
and they were so full at the inn that they had to put him in a
double-bedded room, and another traveller was to sleep in the other
bed. The other man was a very pleasant fellow, and they got very
friendly together; but in the morning, when they were both getting up,
the gentleman was surprised to see the other hang his trousers on the
knobs of the chest of drawers and run across the room and try to jump
into them, and he tried over and over again, and couldn't manage it;
and the gentleman wondered whatever he was doing it for. At last he
stopped and wiped his face with his handkerchief. "Oh dear," he says,
"I do think trousers are the most awkwardest kind of clothes that ever
were. I can't think who could have invented such things. It takes me
the best part of an hour to get into mine every morning, and I get so
hot! How do you manage yours?" So the gentleman burst out a-laughing,
and showed him how to put them on; and he was very much obliged to him,
and said he never should have thought of doing it that way.
So that was another big silly.
the gentleman went on his travels again; and he came to a village, and
outside the village there was a pond, and round the pond was a crowd of
people. And they had got rakes, and brooms, and pitchforks, reaching
into the pond; and the gentleman asked what was the matter. "Why," they
say, "matter enough! Moon's tumbled into the pond, and we can't rake
her out anyhow!" So the gentleman burst out a- laughing, and told them
to look up into the sky, and that it was only the shadow in the water.
But they wouldn't listen to him, and abused him shamefully, and he got
away as quick as he could.
So there was a whole lot of sillies
bigger than them three sillies at home. So the gentleman turned back
home again and married the farmer's daughter, and if they didn't live
happy for ever after, that's nothing to do with you or me.