Celtic fairy tales / Hudden and Dudden and Donald O’Neary
THERE WAS ONCE UPON A TIME two farmers, and their names were Hudden and Dudden. They had poultry in their yards,sheep on the uplands, and scores of cattle in the meadow-land alongside the river. But for all that they weren’t happy.
For just between their two farms there lived a poor man by the name of Donald O’Neary. He had a hovel over his head and a strip of grass that was barely enough to keep his one cow, Daisy, from starving, and, though she did her best, it was but seldom that Donald got a drink of milk or a roll of butter from Daisy. You would think there was little here to make Hudden and Dudden jealous, but so it is, the more one has the more one wants, and Donald’s neighbours lay awake of nights scheming how they might get hold of his little strip of grass-land. Daisy, poor thing, they never thought of; she was just a bag of bones.
One day Hudden met Dudden, and they were soon grumbling as usual, and all to the tune of “If only we could get that vagabond Donald O’Neary out of the country.”
“Let’s kill Daisy,” said Hudden at last; “if that doesn’t make him clear out, nothing will.”
No sooner said than agreed, and it wasn’t dark before Hudden and Dudden crept up to the little shed where lay poor Daisy trying her best to chew the cud, though she hadn’t had as much grass in the day as would cover your hand. And when Donald came to see if Daisy was all snug for the night,the poor beast had only time to lick his hand once before she died.
Well, Donald was a shrewd fellow, and downhearted though he was, began to think if he could get any good out of Daisy’s death. He thought and he thought, and the next day you
could have seen him trudging off early to the fair, Daisy’s hide over his shoulder, every penny he had jingling in his pockets. Just before he got to the fair, he made several slits in the hide, put a penny in each slit, walked into the best inn of the town as bold as if it belonged to him, and, hanging the hide up to a nail in the wall, sat down.
“Some of your best whisky,” says he to the landlord.
But the landlord didn’t like his looks. “Is it fearing I won’t pay you, you are?” says Donald; “why I have a hide here that gives me all the money I want.” And with that he hit it a whack with his stick and out hopped a penny. The landlord opened his eyes, as you may fancy.
“What’ll you take for that hide?”
“It’s not for sale, my good man.”
“Will you take a gold piece?”
“It’s not for sale, I tell you. Hasn’t it kept me and mine for years?” and with that Donald hit the hide another whack and out jumped a second penny.
Well, the long and the short of it was that Donald let the hide go, and, that very evening, who but he should walk up to Hudden’s door?
“Good-evening, Hudden. Will you lend me your best pair of scales?”
Hudden stared and Hudden scratched his head, but he lent the scales.
When Donald was safe at home, he pulled out his pocketful of bright gold and began to weigh each piece in the scales.But Hudden had put a lump of butter at the bottom, and so the last piece of gold stuck fast to the scales when he took them back to Hudden.
If Hudden had stared before, he stared ten times more now, and no sooner was Donald’s back turned, than he was of as hard as he could pelt to Dudden’s.
“Good-evening, Dudden. That vagabond, bad luck to him—”
“You mean Donald O’Neary?”
“And who else should I mean? He’s back here weighing out sackfuls of gold.”
“How do you know that?”
“Here are my scales that he borrowed, and here’s a gold piece still sticking to them.”
Off they went together, and they came to Donald’s door.Donald had finished making the last pile of ten gold pieces.And he couldn’t finish because a piece had stuck to the scales.
In they walked without an “If you please” or “By yourleave.”
“Well, I never!” that was all they could say.
“Good-evening, Hudden; good-evening, Dudden. Ah! You thought you had played me a fine trick, but you never did me a better turn in all your lives. When I found poor Daisy dead, I thought to myself, ‘Well, her hide may fetch something;’ and it did. Hides are worth their weight in gold in the market just now.”
Hudden nudged Dudden, and Dudden winked at Hudden.
“Good-evening, Donald O’Neary.”
“Good-evening, kind friends.”