JACK THE MASTER AND JACK THE SERVANT...concluded

From Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts by Patrick Kennedy

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When they were coming away, says the princess, "Here's the scissors; mind it or not as you like." "Oh, won't I mind it!" says he. "Here you go," says he again, opening a chest, and dropping it into it, and locking it up with three locks. But before he shut down the lid, my brave Jack picked up the scissors, and put it safe into his pocket. Well, when they came to the boat, the same things were said, and the maids were frightened again.

When Jack the master awoke in the morning, the first thing he saw was the scissors on the table, and the next thing he saw was his man lying asleep in the other bed, the next was the cloak of darkness hanging on the bed's foot. Well, he got up, and he danced, and he sung, and he hugged Jack; and when the king came in with a troubled face, there was the scissors safe and sound. "Well, Jack," says he, "you're safe for one day more." The king and princess were more meentrach (loving) to Jack to-day than they were yesterday, and the next day the race was to be run.

At last the hour of noon came, and there was the King of Moróco with tight clothes on him--themselves, and his hair, and his eyes as black as a crow, and his face as yellow as a kite's claw. Jack was there too, and on his feet were the shoes of swiftness. When the bugle blew, they were off, and Jack went seven times round the course while the king went one: it was like the fish in the water, the arrow from a bow, the stone from a sling, or a star shooting in the night. When the race was won, and the people were shouting, the black king looked at Jack like the very devil himself, and says he, "Don't holloa till you're out of the wood--to-morrow your head or mine." " Heaven is stronger than hell," says Jack.

And now the princess began to wish in earnest that Jack would win, for two parts of the charm were broke. So some one from her told Jack the servant that she and her maids should pay their visit to the Black Fellow at midnight like every other night past. Jack the servant was in the garden in his cloak when the hour came, and they all said the same words, and rowed over, and went up to the palace like as they done before.

The king was in a great state of fear and anger, and scolded the princess, and she didn't seem to care much about it; but when they were leaving she said, "You know to-morrow is to have your head or Jack's head off. I suppose you will stay up all night!" He was standing on the grass when they were getting into the boat, and just as the last maid had her foot on the edge of it, Jack swept off his head with the sword of sharpness just as if it was the head of a thistle, and put it under his cloak. The body fell on the grass and made no noise. Well, the same moment the princess felt any liking she had for him all gone like last year's snow, and she began to sob and cry for fear of anything happening to Jack. The maids were not very good at all, and so, from the moment they got out of the boat, Jack kept knocking the head against their faces and their legs, and made them roar and bawl till they were inside of the palace.

The first thing Jack the master saw when he woke in the morning, was the black head on the table, and didn't he jump up in a hurry. When the sun was rising, every one in the palace, great and small, were in the bawn before Jack's window, and the king was at the door. "Jack," said he, "if you haven't the King of Moróco's head on a gad, your own will be on a spear, my poor fellow." But just at the moment he heard a great shout from the bawn. Jack the servant was after opening the window, and holding out the King of Moróco's head by the long black hair.

So the princess, and the king, and all were in joy, and maybe they didn't keep the wedding long a-waiting. A year and a day after Jack left home, himself and his wife were in their coach at the cross-roads, and there were the two poor brothers, sleeping in the ditch with their reaping-hooks by their sides. They wouldn't believe Jack at first that he was their brother, and then they were ready to eat their nails for not sharing with him that day twelvemonth. They found their father and mother alive, and you may be sure they left them comfortable. So you see what a good thing in the end it is to be charitable to the poor, dead or alive.

End of this Story

In some versions of "Jack the Master," &c, Jack the servant is the spirit of the buried man. He aids and abets his master in leaving the giants interred alive in their caves, and carrying off their gold and silver, and he helps him to cheat his future father-in-law at cards, and bears a hand in other proceedings, most disgraceful to any ghost encumbered with a conscience. As originally told, the anxiety of the hero to bestow sepulchral rites on the corpse, arose from his wish to rescue the soul from its dismal wanderings by the gloomy Styx. In borrowing these fictions from their heathen predecessors, the Christian storytellers did not take much trouble to correct their laxity on the subject of moral obligations. Theft, manslaughter, and disregard of marriage vows, often pass uncensured by the free and easy narrator.

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