The Bee, the Harp, the Mouse and the Bum-Clock
THE BEE, THE HARP, THE MOUSE, AND THE BUM-CLOCK
 ONCE there was a widow, and she had one
son, called Jack. Jack and his mother owned
just three cows. They lived well and happy
for a long time; but at last hard times came
down on them, and the crops failed, and poverty looked in at the door,
and things got so
sore against the poor widow that for want of
money and for want of necessities she had to
make up her mind to sell one of the cows.
"Jack," she said one night, "go over in the
morning to the fair to sell the branny cow."
Well and good: in the morning my brave
Jack was up early, and took a stick in his fist
and turned out the cow, and off to the fair he
went with her; and when Jack came into the
fair, he saw a great crowd gathered in a ring in
the street. He went into the crowd to see
what they were looking at, and there in the
middle of them he saw a man with a wee, wee
harp, a mouse, and a bum-clock,
and a bee to play the harp. And when the
man put them down on the ground and whistled,
the bee began to play the harp, and the mouse and the bum-clock
stood up on their hind legs and took hold of each other and began
to waltz. And as soon as the harp began to play and the mouse and the
bum-clock to dance,
and there wasn't a man or woman, or a thing in the fair,
that didn't begin to dance also; and the pots and pans,
and the wheels and reels jumped and jigged, all over the town,
and Jack himself and the branny cow were as bad as the next.
There was never a town in such a state before or since,
and after a while the man picked up the bee, the harp,
and the mouse, and the bum-clock and put them into his pocket,
and the men and women, Jack and the cow, the pots and pans,
wheels and reels, that had hopped and jigged now
 stopped, and every one began to laugh as if to break its heart.
Then the man turned to Jack. "Jack," says he,
"how would you like to be master of
all these animals?"
"Why," says Jack. "I should like it fine."
"Well, then," says the man, "how will you and me
make a bargain about them?"
"I have no money," says Jack.
"But you have a fine cow," says the man.
"I will give you the bee and the harp for
"Oh, but," Jack says, says he, "my poor mother at home
is very sad and sorrowful entirely, and I have this cow
to sell and lift her heart again."
"And better than this she cannot get," says the man.
"For when she sees the bee play the harp, she will laugh
if she never laughed in her life before."
"Well," says Jack, says he, "that will be grand."
He made the bargain. The man took the cow;
and Jack started home with the bee and the harp in his pocket,
and when he came home, his mother welcomed him back.
"And Jack," says she, "I see you have sold the cow."
"I have done that," says Jack.
"Did you do well?" says the mother.
"I did well, and very well," says Jack.
"How much did you get for her?" says the mother.
"Oh," says he, "it was not for money at all I sold her,
but for something far better."
"O, Jack! Jack!" says she, "what have you done?"
"Just wait until you see, mother," says he, "and you will soon say
I have done well."
Out of his pocket he takes the bee and the
harp and sets them in the middle of the floor,
and whistles to them, and as soon as he did this
the bee began to play the harp, and the mother
she looked at them and let a big, great laugh
out of her, and she and Jack began to dance,
the pots and pans, the wheels and reels began
to jig and dance over the floor, and the house
itself hopped about also.
When Jack picked up the bee and the harp again
 all stopped, and the mother laughed for a long time.
But when she came to herself she got very angry entirely with Jack,
and she told him he was a silly, foolish fellow,
that there was neither food nor money in the house,
and now he had lost one of her good cows also.
"We must do something to live," says she.
"Over to the fair you must go to-morrow morning,
and take the black cow with you and sell her."
And off in the morning at an early hour brave Jack started,
and never halted until he
was in the fair. When he came into the fair, he saw a
big crowd gathered in a ring in the street.
Said Jack to himself, "I wonder what are they looking at."
Into the crowd he pushed, and saw the wee man this day again
with a mouse and a bum-clock, and he put them
down in the street and whistled. The mouse and the bum-clock stood
up on their hind legs and got hold of each other
and began to dance there and jig, and as they did there was
not a man or woman in the street who didn't begin to jig also,
and Jack and the black cow, and the wheels and the reels,
and the pots and pans, all of them were jigging and dancing
all over the town, and the houses themselves were jumping and
hopping about, and such a place Jack or anyone else never saw before.
When the man lifted the mouse and the bum-clock into his pocket
they all stopped dancing and settled down,
and everybody laughed right hearty. The man turned to Jack.
"Jack," said he, "I am glad to see you;
how would you like to have these animals?"
"I should like well to have them," says Jack, says he, "only I cannot."
"Why cannot you?" says the man.
"Oh!" says Jack, says he, "I have no money,
and my poor mother is very downhearted.
She sent me to the fair to sell this cow and bring some money
to lift her heart."
"Oh!" says the man, says he, "if you want to lift your mother's heart
I will sell you the mouse; and when you set
 the bee to play the harp
and the mouse to dance to it, your mother will laugh
if she never laughed in her life before."
"But I have no money," says Jack, says
he, "to buy your mouse."
"I don't mind," says the man, says he, "I will take your cow for it."
Poor Jack was so taken with the mouse, and
had his mind so set on it, that he thought it was
a grand bargain entirely, and he gave the man his cow
and took the mouse and started off for home; and when he got home
his mother welcomed him.
"Jack," says she, "I see you have sold the cow."
"I did that," says Jack.
"Did you sell her well?" says she.
"Very well indeed," says Jack, says he.
"How much did you get for her?"
"I didn't get money," says he, "but I got value."
"O, Jack! Jack!" says she, "what do you
"I will soon show you that, mother," says he, taking
the mouse out of his pocket and the
harp and the bee, and setting all on the floor; and
when he began to whistle the bee began to
play, and the mouse got up on its hind legs and
began to dance and jig, and the mother gave
such a hearty laugh as she never laughed in her
life before. To dancing and jigging herself
and Jack fell, and the pots and pans and the
wheels and reels began to dance and jig
over the floor, and the house jigged also. And
when they were tired of this, Jack lifted the
harp and the mouse and the bee and put them
in his pocket, and his mother she laughed for a long time.
But when she got over that, she got very
downhearted and very angry entirely with
Jack. "And oh, Jack!" she says, "you are a
stupid, good-for-nothing fellow. We have
neither money nor meat in the house, and here
you have lost two of my good cows, and I
have only one left now. To-morrow morning," she says,
"you must be up early and take this cow to the fair and sell her.
See you get something to lift my heart up."
 "I will do that," says Jack, says he. So he went to his bed,
and early in the morning he was up
and turned out the spotty cow and went to the fair.
When Jack got to the fair he saw a crowd
gathered in a ring in the street. "I wonder
what they are looking at, anyhow," says he.
He pushed through the crowd, and there he
saw the same wee man he had seen before,
with a bum-clock; and when he put the bum-clock on the ground
he whistled, and the
bum-clock began to dance; and the men,
women and children in the street, and Jack
and the spotty cow began to dance and jig
also, and everything on the street and about
it—the wheels and reels, the pots and pans
began to jig, and the houses themselves began
to dance likewise. And when the man lifted
the bum-clock and put it in his pocket, everybody stopped
jigging and dancing and everyone laughed aloud. The wee man turned and
"Jack, my brave boy," says he, "you will never be right fixed
until you have this bum-clock, for it is a very fancy thing to have."
"Oh! but," says Jack, says he, "I have no money."
"No matter for that," says the man; "you
have a cow, and that is as good as money to me."
"Well," says Jack, "I have a poor mother who is very downhearted at home,
and she sent me to the fair to sell this cow and raise some money and
lift her heart."
"Oh! but Jack," says the wee man, "this bum-clock is the very thing
to lift her heart, for when you put down your harp
and bee and mouse on the floor and put the bum-clock along with them
she will laugh if she never laughed in her life before."
"Well, that is surely true," says Jack, says he,
"and I think I will make a swap with you."
So Jack gave the cow to the man and took the bum-clock himself,
and started for home. His mother was glad to see Jack back, and says she,
"Jack, I see that you have sold the cow."
"I did that, mother," says Jack.
 "Did you sell her well, Jack?" says the mother.
"Very well indeed, mother," says Jack.
"How much did you get for her?" says the mother.
"I didn't take any money for her, mother, but value," says Jack
and he takes out of his pocket the bum-clock and the mouse,
them on the floor and began to whistle,
and the bee began to play the harp and the mouse
and the bum-clock stood up on their hind legs and began to dance,
and Jack's mother laughed very hearty,
and everything in the house—;the wheels and the reels,
and the pots and pans, went jigging
and hopping over the floor, and the house itself went jigging
and hopping about
When Jack lifted up the animals and put them in his pocket,
everything stopped, and the mother laughed for a good while.
But after a while, when she came to herself and saw what Jack had done
and how they were now without either money, or food,
or a cow, she got very, very angry at Jack and scolded him hard,
and then sat down and began to
Poor Jack, when he looked at himself, confessed that he was a stupid
fool entirely. "And what," says he, "shall I now do for my poor mother?"
He went out along the road, thinking and thinking,
and he met a wee woman who said, "Good morrow to you, Jack," says she,
"how is it you are not trying for the King's daughter of Ireland?"
"What do you mean?" says Jack.
Says she: "Didn't you hear what the whole world has heard,
that the King of Ireland has a
daughter who hasn't laughed for seven years,
and he has promised to give her in marriage
and to give the kingdom along with her
to any man who will take three laughs out of her."
"If that is so," says Jack, says he, "it is not here I should be."
Back to the house he went, and gathers together the bee, the harp,
the mouse, and the bum-clock, and putting them into his pocket,
he bade his mother good-by, and told her it wouldn't be long
till she got good news from him, and off he hurries.
When he reached the castle, there was a
ring of spikes all
 round the castle and men's
heads on nearly every spike there.
"What heads are these?" Jack asked one
of the King's soldiers.
"Any man that comes here trying to win
the King's daughter and fails to make her
laugh three times loses his head and has it
stuck on a spike. These are the heads of the
men that failed," says he.
"A mighty big crowd," says Jack, says he.
Then Jack sent word to tell the King's daughter
and the King that there was a new man
who had come to win her.
In a very little time the King and the King's
daughter and the King's court all came out
and sat themselves down on gold-and-silver
chairs in front of the castle, and ordered Jack
to be brought in until he should have his trial.
Jack, before he went, took out of his pocket
the bee, the harp, the mouse, and the bum-clock,
and he gave the harp to the bee, and he
tied a string to one and the other, and took the
end of the string himself, and marched into the
castle yard before all the court, with his animals
coming on a string behind him.
When the Queen and the King and the court and the princes
saw poor ragged Jack with his bee and mouse and bum-clock
hopping behind him on a string, they set up one
roar of laughter that was long and loud
enough, and when the King's daughter herself
lifted her head and looked to see what they
were laughing at, and saw Jack and his paraphernalia,
she opened her mouth and she gave such a laugh
as was never heard before.
Then Jack dropped a low courtesy and said: "Thank you, my lady;
I have one of the three parts of you won."
Then he drew up his animals in a circle, and began to whistle,
and the minute he did the bee began to play the harp,
and the mouse and the
bum-clock stood up on their hind legs, got hold of each other,
and began to dance, and the King and the King's court and
Jack himself began to dance and jig, and everything
about the King's castle—;pots and pans,
wheels and reels, and
the castle itself began to dance also.
 King's daughter, when she saw
this, opened her mouth again and let out of her a laugh
twice louder than she did before,
and Jack, in the middle of his jigging, drops
another courtesy, and says: "Thank you, my lady;
that is two of the three parts of you won."
Jack and his menagerie went on playing and dancing,
but Jack could not get the third laugh out of the King's daughter,
and the poor fellow saw his big head in danger of going on the spike.
Then the brave mouse came to Jack's help and wheeled round upon its heel,
and as it did so its tail swept into the bum-clock's mouth,
and the bum-clock began to cough and
cough and cough. And when the King's daughter saw this
she opened her mouth again, and she laughed the loudest
and hardest and merriest laugh that was ever heard before or since;
and, "Thank you, my lady," says Jack, dropping another courtesy;
"I have all of you won."
Then when Jack stopped his menagerie the
King took himself and the menagerie within the castle.
He was washed and combed, and dressed in a suit of silk and
satin, with all kinds of gold and silver ornaments,
and then was led before the King's daughter.
And true enough she confessed that a handsomer and finer fellow
than Jack she had never seen, and she was very willing to be his wife.
Jack sent for his poor old mother and brought her to the wedding,
which lasted nine days and nine nights,
every night better than the other.
All the lords and ladies and gentry of Ireland were at the wedding.
I was at it, too, and got brogues, broth and slippers
of bread, and came jigging home on my head.