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Lazy Jack

from Popular Rhymes And Nursery Tales - NURSEY STORIES





[From oral tradition in Yorkshire.]

Once upon a time there was a boy whose name was Jack, and he lived with
his mother on a dreary common. They were very poor, and the old woman
got her living by spinning, but Jack was so lazy that he would do
nothing but bask in the sun in the hot weather, and sit by the corner of
the hearth in the winter time. His mother could not persuade him to do
anything for her, and was obliged at last to tell him that if he did not
begin to work for his porridge, she would turn him out to get his living
as he could.

This threat at length roused Jack, and he went out and hired himself for
the day to a neighbouring farmer for a penny; but as he was coming home,
never having had any money in his possession before, he lost it in
passing over a brook. "You stupid boy," said his mother, "you should
have put it in your pocket." "I'll do so another time," replied Jack.

The next day Jack went out again, and hired himself to a cowkeeper, who
gave him a jar of milk for his day's work. Jack took the jar and put it
into the large pocket of his jacket, spilling it all, long before he got
home. "Dear me!" said the old woman; "you should have carried it on your
head." "I'll do so another time," replied Jack.

The following day Jack hired himself again to a farmer, who agreed to
give him a cream cheese for his services. In the evening, Jack took the
cheese, and went home with it on his head. By the time he got home the
cheese was completely spoilt, part of it being lost, and part matted
with his hair. "You stupid lout," said his mother, "you should have
carried it very carefully in your hands." "I'll do so another time,"
replied Jack.

The day after this Jack again went out, and hired himself to a baker,
who would give him nothing for his work but a large tom-cat. Jack took
the cat, and began carrying it very carefully in his hands, but in a
short time Pussy scratched him so much that he was compelled to let it
go. When he got home, his mother said to him, "You silly fellow, you
should have tied it with a string, and dragged it along after you."
"I'll do so another time," said Jack.

The next day Jack hired himself to a butcher, who rewarded his labours
by the handsome present of a shoulder of mutton. Jack took the mutton,
tied it to a string, and trailed it along after him in the dirt, so that
by the time he had got home the meat was completely spoilt. His mother
was this time quite out of patience with him, for the next day was
Sunday, and she was obliged to content herself with cabbage for her
dinner. "You ninnyhammer," said she to her son, "you should have carried
it on your shoulder." "I'll do so another time," replied Jack.

On the Monday Jack went once more, and hired himself to a cattle-keeper,
who gave him a donkey for his trouble. Although Jack was very strong, he
found some difficulty in hoisting the donkey on his shoulders, but at
last he accomplished it, and began walking slowly home with his prize.
Now it happened that in the course of his journey there lived a rich man
with his only daughter, a beautiful girl, but unfortunately deaf and
dumb; she had never laughed in her life, and the doctors said she would
never recover till somebody made her laugh.[18] Many tried without
success, and at last the father, in despair, offered her in marriage to
the first man who could make her laugh. This young lady happened to be
looking out of the window when Jack was passing with the donkey on his
shoulders, the legs sticking up in the air, and the sight was so comical
and strange, that she burst out into a great fit of laughter, and
immediately recovered her speech and hearing. Her father was overjoyed,
and fulfilled his promise by marrying her to Jack, who was thus made a
rich gentleman. They lived in a large house, and Jack's mother lived
with them in great happiness until she died.

[Footnote 18: An incident analogous to this
occurs in Grimm, Die Goldene Gans. See Edgar
Taylor's Gammer Grethel, 1839, p. 5.]





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