Page:More Celtic Fairy Tales.djvu/43
Jack the Cunning Thief
So she gave them the bottle, and they passed it round, and the last man had the manners to leave half a glass in the bottom for the old woman. They all thanked her, and said it was the best drop ever passed their tongue.
"In throth, agras," said she, "it's myself that's glad to show how I value your kindness in giving me shelter; I'm not without another buideal, and you may pass it round while myself finishes what the dasent man left me."
Well, what they drank out of the other bottle only gave them a relish for more, and by the time the last man got to the bottom, the first man was dead asleep in the saddle, for the second bottle had a sleepy posset mixed with the whisky. The beggar woman lifted each man down, and laid him in the manger, or under the manger, snug and sausty, drew a stocking over every horse's hoof, and led them away without any noise to one of Jack's father's outhouses. The first thing the squire saw next morning was Jack riding up the avenue, and five horses stepping after the one he rode.
"Confound you, Jack!" says he, "and confound the numskulls that let you outwit them!"
He went out to the stable, and didn't the poor fellows look very lewd o' themselves, when they could be woke up in earnest!
"After all," says the squire, when they were sitting at breakfast, "it was no great thing to outwit such ninnyhammers. I'll be riding out on the common from one to three to-day, and if you can outwit me of the beast I'll be riding, I'll say you deserve to be my son-in-law."
"I'd do more than that," says Jack, "for the honour, if