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Ellen's Luck

Ellen was a good girl, and beautiful to look on. One Sunday she was walking by an open gutter in a town in North Wales when she found a copper. After that day Ellen walked every Sunday afternoon by the same drain, and always found a copper. She was a careful girl, and used to hoard her money.

One day her old mother found her pile of pennies, and wished to know where she got them. Ellen told her, but though she walked by the gutter for many a Sunday after, she never found another copper.

[Emerson, 1894, p. 41.]

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Master of all Masters

A girl once went to the fair to hire herself for servant. At last a funny-looking old gentleman engaged her and took her home to his house. When she got there, he told her that he had something to teach her, for in his house he had his own names for things.

He said to her: "What will you call me?"

"Master or mister, or whatever you please sir," says she.

He said, "You must call me 'master of all masters.' And what would you call this?" pointing to his bed.

"Bed or couch, or whatever you please, sir."

"No, that's my 'barnacle.' And what do you call these?" he said, pointing to his pantaloons.

"Breeches or trousers, or whatever you please, sir."

"You must call them 'squibs and crackers.' And what would you call her?" pointing to the cat.

"Cat or kit, or whatever you please, sir."

"You must call her 'white-faced simminy.' And this now," showing the fire, "what would you call this?"

"Fire or flame, or whatever you please, sir."

"You must call it 'hot cockalorum.' And what this?" he went on, pointing to the water.

"Water or wet, or whatever you please, sir."

"No, 'pondalorum' is its name. And what do you call all this?" asked he, as he pointed to the house.

"House or cottage, or whatever you please, sir."

"You must call it 'high topper mountain.'"

That very night the servant woke her master up in a fright and said, "Master of all masters, get out of your barnacle and put on your squibs and crackers. For white-faced simminy has got a spark of hot cockalorum on its tail, and unless you get some pondalorum high topper mountain will be all on hot cockalorum." . . . That's all.

[Johnsen, 19005, p. 215-18. Also in Jacobs 1890, p. 20-21, note: p. 252.]

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Long-lived Ancestors

The eagle had been long married to his female, and had many children by her. When she died, he continued a long time a widower: but at length he proposed a marriage with the owl. However, since he was afraid that she was too young to have children by, and that marrying her could degrade his own family if that was the case, he first of all went to ask about her age among the aged of the world.

First he asked the stag, whom he found lying close to the trunk of an old oak, and asked to know how old the owl was.

"I saw this oak when it was an acorn," said the stag. "Now the oak has fallen to the ground through age, but I never remember to have seen the owl younger or older than she seems to be today. But there is one older than I am, and that is the salmon."

The eagle then asked the salmon if he knew how old the owl was. The salmon answered, "I am as many years old as there are scales on my skin, yet I never saw the owl you mention different from today. But there is one older than I am, and that is the blackbird. You should go and ask him, then." 

The eagle next took to the blackbird, found him perched on a small stone, and asked him how old the owl might be.

"Do you see this stone that I sit on?" said the blackbird. "The stone is now no bigger than what a man can carry in his hand. I have perched on this stone for a long time. In former days it was so heavy that a hundred oxen would be needed to draw it. I rub my bill on it once every evening, and touch the tips of my wings on it every morning when I spread them to fly, and that is what has made it smaller. But in all this time I have not seen the owl older or younger than she appears to be today. But there is one older than I am, and that is the frog of the bog. If he does not know the age of the owl, there is not a creature alive that knows it."

The eagle went to the frog and wanted to know how old the owl was.

The frog answered, "I have never eaten anything but the dust from the spot where I live, and that very sparingly. And do you see the great hills that surround and overawe this bog where I lie? They are formed only of the excrements from my body since I have settled in this place, yet I never remember to have seen the owl but an old hag, making that hideous noise, "Too, hoo, hoo!" always frightening the children in the neighbourhood."

So the eagle, the stag, the salmon, the blackbird, the frog of the bog and the owl are really old creatures –

[Emerson 1894, p. 47-49]

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