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Story No. 123

Jack the Robber

Book Name:

Gypsy Folk Tales

Tradition: Gypsy, Roumania, Bukovina, Ukraine

Now we'll leave the master to stand a bit, and go back to the mother. So in the morning Jack says to his mother, 'Mother,' he says, 'give me one of them old bladders as hang up in the house, and,' he says, 'I'll fill it full of blood, and I'll tie it round your throat; and when the master comes up to ax me if I got the sheet, me and you will be having a bit of arglement, and I'll up with my fist and hit you on the bladder, and the bladder will bust, and you'll make yourself to be dead.'

Now the master comes. 'Have you got the sheet, Jack?

And just as he's axing him, he up with his fist, and hits his mother.

And the master says, 'O Jack, what did you kill your poor mother for?'

'Oh! I don't care; I can soon bring her right again.'

'No,' says the master, 'never, Jack.'

And Jack began to smile, and he says, 'Can't I? you shall see, then.' And he goes behind the door, and fetches a stick with a bit of a knob to it. Jack begin to laugh. He touches his mother with this stick, and the old woman jumped up. (This is s’posed to be an inchanted stick.)

Says the master: 'O Jack,' he says, 'what shall I give you for that stick?'

'Well, sir,' he says, 'I couldn't let you have that stick. My inchantment would be broke.'

'Well, Jack, if you'll let me have that stick, I'll never give you another thing to do as long as you live here.'

So he gave him £50 for this stick, and said he'd never give him nothing else to do for him. So the master went home to the house, and he didn't know which way to fall out with the missus, to try this stick. One day at dinner-time he happened to fall out with her; the dinner she put for him didn't please him. So he up with his fist and he knocked her dead.

In comes the poor servant-girl and says, 'O master, what ever did you kill the poor missus for?'

He says, 'I'll sarve you the same.' And he sarved her the same.

In come the wagoner, and he asked, 'What did he kill the missus and the sarvint for.' And he says, 'I'll sarve you the same,' he says. He wanted to try this stick what he had off Jack, He thought he could use it the same way as Jack. So he touched the missus with it fust, but she never rose. He touched the servant with it, and she never rose. He touched the wagoner, and he never rose. 'Well,' he says, 'I'll try the big end,' he says, and he tries the knob. So he battered and battered with the knob till he battered the brains out of the three of them.

He does no more, and he goes up to Jack and says, 'O Jack, you've ruined me for life.' He says, 'Jack, I shall have to drown you.'

So Jack says, 'All right, master.'

'Well, get in this bag,' he says; and he takes him on his back. As he was going along the road, he . . . went one field off the road, being a very methlyist man. During the time he was down there, there come a drōvyer by with his cattle. Now Jack's head was out of the sack.

'Hello! Jack, where are you going?'

'To heaven, I hope.'

'Oh! Jack, let me go. I'm an older man till you, and I'll give you all my money and this cattle.'

Jack told him to unloosen the bag to let him out, and for him to get into it. Away Jack goes with the cattle and the money. So the master comes up, taking no notice of it, and

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he picks the bag up, and puts it on his shoulder, and goes on till he comes to Monfort's Bridge. [Montford Bridge, over the Severn, near Shrewsbury]. He says, 'One, two, three'; and away he chucks him over.

Well, Jack goes now about the country, dealing in cattle. So in about three years' time he comes round the same way again, round the master's place.

So, 'Hello! Jack,' he says, 'where ever did you get them from?'

'Well, sir,' he says, 'when you throwed me, if I'd had a little boy at the turning to turn them straight down the road, I should have had as many more.'

So he says, 'Jack, will you chuck me there, and you stop at the turning to turn them.'

So Jack says,' You'll have to walk till you get there, for I can't carry you.'

And when he got to the bridge Jack put him in the bag, and Jack counted his 'One, two, three,' same as he counted for him, and away he goes. And Jack went back and took to the farm, and making very good use of it. For many a night he let me sleep in the field with my tent for telling that lie about him.


Matthew Wood gave the closing episode to Mr. Sampson, who summarises it thus (No. 69. 'The Fool with the Sheep'): –

The first half of this story, which, like the next, was told to Mr. Sampson in English by Cornelius Price, is here omitted, having been already summarised on pp. 48-9 (No. 12. 'The Gypsy and the Priest').


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