CELTIC FAIRY TALES
King O'Toole and His Goose
ch, I thought all
the world, far and near, had heerd o' King O'Toole--well, well, but the darkness
of mankind is untellable! Well, sir, you must know, as you didn't bear it afore,
that there was a king, called King O'Toole who was a fine old king in the old
ancient times, long ago; and it was he that owned the churches in the early
days. The king, you see, was the right sort; he was the real boy, and loved
sport as he loved his life, and hunting in particular; and from the rising o'
the sun, up he got, and away he went over the mountains after the deer; and fine
times they were.
Well, it was all mighty good, as long as the king had his health; but, you
see, in course of time the king grew old, by raison he was stiff in his limbs,
and when he got stricken in years, his heart failed him, and he was lost
entirely for want o' diversion, because he couldn't go a-hunting no longer; and,
by dad, the poor king was obliged at last to get a goose to divert him. Oh, you
may laugh, if you like, but it's truth I'm telling you; and the way
the goose diverted him was this-a-way: You see, the goose used to swim across the lake,
and go diving for trout, and catch fish on a Friday for the king, and flew every
other day round about the lake, diverting the poor king. All went on mighty well
until, by dad, the goose got stricken in years like her master, and couldn't
divert him no longer, and then it was that the poor king was lost entirely. The
king was walkin' one mornin' by the edge of the lake, lamentin'
his cruel fate, and thinking of drowning himself; that could get no
diversion in life, when all of a sudden, turning round the corner, who should he
meet but a mighty decent young man coming up to him.
"God save you," says the king to the young man.
"God save you kindly, King O'Toole," says the young man,
"True for you," says the king. "I am King O'TooIe," says
he, "prince and plennypennytinchery of these parts," says he;
"but how came ye to know that?" says he.
"Oh, never mind," says St. Kavin.
You see it was Saint Kavin, sure enough--the saint himself in disguise, and
nobody else. "Oh, never mind," says he, "I know more than that.
May I make bold to ask how is your goose, King O'Toole?" says he.
"Blur-an-agers, how came ye to know about my goose?" says the king.
"Oh, no matter; I was given to understand it," says Saint Kavin.
After some more talk the king says, "What are you?"
"I'm an honest man," says Saint Kavin.
"Well, honest man," says the king, "and how is it you make
your money so aisy?"
"By makin' old things as good as new," says Saint Kavin.
"Is it a tinker you are?" says the king.
"No," says the saint; "I'm no tinker by trade, King O'Toole;
I've a better trade than a tinker," says he--"what would you
say," says he, "if I made your old goose as good as new?"
My dear, at the word of making his goose as good as new, you'd think the poor
old king's eyes were ready to jump out of his head. With that the king whistled,
and down came the poor goose, just like a hound, waddling up to the poor
cripple, her master, and as like him as two peas. The minute the saint clapt his
eyes on the goose, "I'll do the job for you," says he, "King
"By Jaminee!" says King O'Toole, "if you do, I'll say
you're the cleverest fellow in the seven parishes."
"Oh, by dad," says St. Kavin, "you must say more nor that--my
horn's not so soft all out," says he, "as to repair your old
goose for nothing; what'll you gi' me if I do the job for
you?--that's the chat," says St. Kavin.
"I'll give you whatever you ask," says the king; "isn't that
"Divil a fairer," says the saint; "that's the way to do
business. Now," says he, "this is the bargain I'll make with you, King
O'Toole: will you gi' me all the ground the goose flies over, the first offer,
after I make her as good as new?"
"I will," says the king.
"You won't go back O' your word?" says St. Kavin.
"Honour bright!" says King O'Toole, holding out his fist.
"Honour bright!" says St. Kavin, back agin, "it's a bargain.
Come here!" says he to the poor old goose-come here, you unfortunate ould
cripple, and it's I that'll make you the sporting bird." With that, my
dear, he took up the goose by the two wings--"Criss o' my cross an you,
says he, markin' her to grace with the blessed sign at the same minute-and
throwing her up in the air, "whew," says he, jist givin' her a blast
to help her; and with that, my jewel, she took to her heels, flyin' like one o'
the eagles themselves, and cutting as many capers as a swallow before a shower
Well, my dear, it was a beautiful sight to see the king standing with his
mouth open, looking at his poor old goose flying as light as a lark, and better
than ever she was: and when she lit at his feet, patted her on the head, and "Ma
vourneen," says he, "but you are the darlint o' the
"And what do you say to me," says Saint Kavin, "for making her
"By Jabers," says the king, "I say nothing beats the art o'
man, barring the bees."
"And do you say no more nor that?" says Saint Kavin.
"And that I'm beholden to you," says the king.
"But will you gi'e me all the ground the goose flew over?"
says Saint Kavin.
"I will," says King O'Toole, "and you're welcome to it,"
says he, " though it's the last acre I have to give."
"But you'll keep your word true?" says the saint. "As true as
the sun," says the king.
"It's well for you, King O'Toole, that you said that word," says
he; "for if you didn't say that word, the devil the bit o' your goose would ever fly agin."
When the king was as good as his word, Saint Kavin was pleased with him, and
then it was that he made himself known to the king. "And," says he,
"King O'Toole, you're a decent man, for I only came here to try you. You
don't know me," says he, "because I'm disguised."
"Musha! then," says the king, "who are you?"
"I'm Saint Kavin," said the saint, blessing himself.
"Oh, queen of heaven!" says the king, making the sign of the cross
between his eyes, and falling down on his knees before the saint; "is it
the great Saint Kavin," says he, "that I've been discoursing all this
time without knowing it," says he, "all as one as if he was a lump of
a gossoon?--and so you're a saint?" says the king.
"I am," says Saint Kavin.
"By Jabers, I thought I was only talking to a dacent boy," says the
"Well, you know the difference now," says the saint. "I'm
Saint Kavin," says he, "the greatest of all the saints."
And so the king had his goose as good as new, to divert him as long as he
lived: and the saint supported him after he came into his property, as I told
you, until the day of his death--and that was soon after; for the poor goose
thought he was catching a trout one Friday; but, my jewel, it was a mistake he
made--and instead of a trout, it was a thieving horse-eel; and instead of the
goose killing a trout for the king's supper--by dad, the eel killed the king's
goose--and small blame to him; but he didn't ate her, because he darn't ate what
Saint Kavin had laid his blessed hands on.