JACK THE MASTER AND JACK THE SERVANT...continued

From Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts by Patrick Kennedy

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That night they slept at the castle of the two-headed giant, and got his cloak of darkness in the same way; and the next night they slept at the castle of the three-headed giant, and got his shoes of swiftness; and the next night they were near the king's palace. "Now," says Jack the servant, "this king has a daughter, and she was so proud that twelve princes killed themselves for her, because she would not marry any of them. At last the King of Moróco thought to persuade her, and the dickens a bit of him she'd have no more nor the others. So he fell on his sword, and died; and the old boy got leave to give him a kind of life again, to punish the proud lady. Maybe it's an imp from hell is in his appearance. He lives in a palace one side of the river, and the king's palace is on the other, and he has got power over the princess and her father; and when they have the heads of twelve courtiers over the gate, the King of Moróco will have the princess to himself, and maybe the evil spirit will have them both. Every young man that offers himself has to do three things, and if he fails in all, up goes his head. There you see them--eleven, all black and white, with the sun and rain. You must try your hand. God is stronger than the devil."

So they came to the gate. "What do you want?" says the guard. "I want to get the princess for my wife." "Do you see them heads?" "Yes; what of that?" "Yours will be along with them before you're a week older." "That's my own look out." "Well, go on. God help all foolish people! " The king was on his throne in the big hall, and the princess sitting on a golden chair by his side. " Death or my daughter, I suppose," says the king to Jack the master. " Just so, my liege," says Jack. "Very well," says the king. "I don't know whether I'm glad or sorry," says he. " If you don't succeed in the three things, my daughter must marry the King of Moróco. If you do succeed, I suppose we'll be eased from the dog's life we are leading. I'll leave my daughter's scissors in your bedroom to-night, and you'll find no one going in till morning. If you have the scissors still at sunrise, your head will be safe for that day. Next day you must run a race against the King of Moróco, and if you win, your head will be safe that day too. Next day you must bring me the King of Moróco's head, or your own head, and then all this bother will be over one way or the other."

Well, they gave the two a good supper, and one time the princess would look sweet at Jack, and another time sour; for you know she was under enchantment. Sometimes she'd wish him killed, sometimes she'd like him to be saved.

When they went into their bedroom, the king came in along with them, and laid the scissors on the table. "Mind that," says he, "and I'm sure I don't know whether I wish to find it there to-morrow or not." Well, poor Jack was a little frightened, but his man encouraged him. "Go to bed," says he; "I'll put on the cloak of darkness, and watch, and I hope you'll find the scissors there at sunrise." Well, bedad he couldn't go to sleep. He kept his eye on the scissors till the dead hour, and the moment it struck twelve no scissors could he see: it vanished as clean as a whistle. He looked here, there, and everywhere--no scissors. "Well," says he, "there's hope still. Are you there, Jack?" but no answer came. "I can do no more," says he. "I'll go to bed." And to bed he went, and slept.

Just as the clock was striking, Jack in the cloak saw the wall opening, and the princess walking in, going over to the table, taking up the scissors, and walking out again. He followed her into the garden, and there he saw herself and her twelve maids going down to the boat that was lying by the bank. " I'm in," says the princess; "I'm in," says one maid; and "I'm in," says another; and so on till all were in; and " I'm in," says Jack. "Who's that?" says the last maid. "Go look," says Jack. Well, they were all a bit frightened. When they got over, they walked up to the King of Moróco's palace, and there the King of Moróco was to receive them, and give them the best of eating and drinking, and make his musicianers play the finest music for them.

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