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THE TAILOR AND THE THREE BEASTS

from Stories To Tell Children





There was once a tailor in Galway, and he started out on a journey to go
to the king's court at Dublin.

He had not gone far when he met a white horse, and he saluted him.

"God save you," said the tailor.

"God save you," said the horse. "Where are you going?"

"I am going to Dublin," said the tailor, "to build a court for the king
and to get a lady for a wife, if I am able to do it." For, it seems the
king had promised his daughter and a great lot of money to anyone who
should be able to build up his court. The trouble was, that three giants
lived in the wood near the court, and every night they came out of the
wood and threw down all that was built by day. So nobody could get the
court built.

"Would you make me a hole," said the old white garraun, "where I could
go in to hide whenever the people come to fetch me to the mill or the
kiln, so that they won't see me; for they tire me out doing work for
them?"

"I'll do that, indeed," said the tailor, "and welcome."

He brought his spade and shovel, and he made a hole, and he asked the
old white horse to go down into it so that he could see if it would fit
him. The white horse went down into the hole, but when he tried to come
up again, he was not able.

"Make a place for me now," said the white horse, "by which I can come up
out of the hole here, whenever I am hungry."

"I will not," said the tailor; "remain where you are until I come back,
and I'll lift you up."

The tailor went forward next day, and the fox met him.

"God save you," said the fox.

"God save you," said the tailor.

"Where are you going?" said the fox.

"I'm going to Dublin, to try to make a court for the king."

"Would you make a place for me where I can hide?" said the fox. "The
rest of the foxes are always beating me, and they will not allow me to
eat anything with them."

"I'll do that for you," said the tailor.

He took his axe and his saw, and he made a thing like a crate, and he
told the fox to get into it so that he could see whether it would fit
him. The fox went into it, and when the tailor had him down, he shut him
in. When the fox was satisfied at last that he had a nice place of it
within, he asked the tailor to let him out, and the tailor answered that
he would not.

"Wait there until I come back again," said he.

The tailor went forward the next day, and he had not walked very far
when he met a lion; and the lion greeted him.

"God save you," said the lion.

"God save you," said the tailor.

"Where are you going?" said the lion.

"I'm going to Dublin to make a court for the king if I am able to make
it," said the tailor.

"If you were to make a plough for me," said the lion, "I and the other
lions could be ploughing and harrowing until we'd have a bit to eat in
the harvest."

"I'll do that for you," said the tailor.

He brought his axe and his saw, and he made a plough. When the plough
was made he put a hole in the beam of it, and got the lion to go in
under the plough so that he might see if he was any good as a
ploughman. He placed the lion's tail in the hole he had made for it, and
then clapped in a peg, and the lion was not able to draw out his tail
again.

"Loose me now," said the lion, "and we'll fix ourselves and go
ploughing."

The tailor said he would not loose him until he came back himself. He
left him there then, and he came to Dublin.

When he arrived, he engaged workmen and began to build the court. At the
end of the day he had the workmen put a great stone on top of the work.
When the great stone was raised up, the tailor put some sort of
contrivance under it, that he might be able to throw it down as soon as
the giants came near to it. The workpeople then went home, and the
tailor went in hiding behind the big stone.

When the darkness of the night was come, he saw the three giants
arriving, and they began throwing down the court until they arrived at
the place where the tailor was in hiding up above, and one of them
struck a blow with his sledge on the place where he was. The tailor
threw down the stone, and it fell on him and killed him. The other two
went home then and left all of the court that was remaining without
throwing it down, since their companion was dead.

The workmen came again the next day, and they were working until night,
and as they were going home the tailor told them to put up the big
stone on the top of the work, as it had been the night before. They did
that for him, went home, and the tailor went in hiding the same as he
did the evening before.

When the people had all gone to rest, the two giants came, and they were
throwing down all that was before them, but as soon as they began, the
tailor commenced manoeuvring until he was able to throw down the great
stone, so that it fell upon the skull of the giant that was under him,
and it killed him. After this there was only the one giant left, and he
never came again until the court was finished.

Then when the work was over, the tailor went to the king and told him to
give him his wife and his money, as he had the court finished; and the
king said he would not give him any wife until he had killed the other
giant, for he said that it was not by his strength he had killed the two
giants before, and that he would give him nothing now until he killed
the other one for him. Then the tailor said that he would kill the other
giant for him, and welcome; that there should be no delay at all about
that.

The tailor went then till he came to the place where the other giant
was, and asked did he want a servant-boy. The giant said he did want
one, if he could get one who would do everything that he would do
himself.

"Anything that you will do, I will do," said the tailor.

They went to their dinner then, and when they had eaten it, the giant
asked the tailor "would he dare to swallow as much boiling broth as
himself." The tailor said, "I will certainly do that, but you must give
me an hour before we commence." The tailor went out then, and he got a
sheepskin, which he sewed up until he made a bag of it, and he slipped
it down under his coat. He came in then and told the giant first to
drink a gallon of the broth himself. The giant drank that up while it
was boiling. "I'll do that," said the tailor. He went on until it was
all poured into the skin, and the giant thought he had drunk it. The
giant drank another gallon then, and the tailor let another gallon down
into the skin, but the giant thought he was drinking it.

"I'll do a thing now that you will not dare to do," said the tailor.

"You will not," said the giant. "What is it you would do?"

"Make a hole and let out the broth again," said the tailor.

"Do it yourself first," said the giant.

The tailor gave a prod of the knife, and he let the broth out of the
skin.

"Now you do that," said he.

"I will," said the giant, giving such a prod of the knife into his own
stomach that he killed himself. That is the way the tailor killed the
third giant.

He went to the king then, and desired him to send him out his wife and
his money, saying that he would throw down the court again if he did not
do so immediately. They were afraid then that he would throw down the
court, and they sent the wife to him.

When the tailor was a day gone, himself and his wife, they repented and
followed him to take his wife away from him again. The people who went
after him followed him until they came to the place where the lion was,
and the lion said to them, "The tailor and his wife were here yesterday.
I saw them going by, and if you will loose me now, I am swifter than
you, and I will follow them until I overtake them." When they heard
that, they released the lion.

The lion and the people of Dublin went on, and pursued the tailor, until
they came to the place where the fox was, and the fox greeted them, and
said, "The tailor and his wife were here this morning, and if you will
loose me, I am swifter than you, and I will follow them, and overtake
them." They therefore set the fox free.

The lion and the fox and the army of Dublin went on then, trying to
catch the tailor, and they kept going until they came to the place
where the old white garraun was, and the old white garraun told them
that the tailor and his wife were there in the morning, and "Loose me,"
said he; "I am swifter than you, and I'll overtake them." They released
the old white garraun then, and the old white garraun, the fox, the
lion, and the army of Dublin pursued the tailor and his wife, and it was
not long before they came up with them.

When the tailor saw them coming, he got out of the coach with his wife,
and he sat down on the ground.

When the old white garraun saw the tailor sitting on the ground, he
said, "That's the position he was in when he made the hole for me, that
I couldn't get out of, when I went down into it. I'll go no nearer to
him."

"No!" said the fox, "but that's the way he was when he was making the
thing for me, and I'll go no nearer to him."

"No!" says the lion, "but that's the very way he had, when he was making
the plough that I was caught in. I'll go no nearer to him."

They all left him then and returned. The tailor and his wife came home
to Galway.





Next: HOW THE SEA BECAME SALT

Previous: THE DAGDA'S HARP



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