Gateway to the Classics: The Oak-Tree Fairy Book by Clifton Johnson
The Oak-Tree Fairy Book by  Clifton Johnson

King O'Toole and His Goose

I N Ireland there was once a king called King O'Toole, and he was very fond of hunting. Up he got every morning at the rising of the sun, and away he went over the mountains after the deer. As long as he had his health this kind of life just suited King O'Toole; but in the course of time he grew old and was stiff in his limbs, and could go hunting no more. Then the king was very sad, and at last he got a goose which he hoped might divert him somewhat.

The goose did its best, and it used to fly about over the lake near the king's castle and swim in the water and dive and catch fish. The king liked to watch the goose, and for a considerable time it entertained him very well; but at last the goose got stricken in years like its master, and could not divert him any longer. Then King O'Toole felt so downhearted that life seemed to him scarcely worth living. One morning he was walking by the lake lamenting his unhappy fate, and thinking he might as well drown himself when he met a young man.

"God save you," said the king.

"God save you kindly, King O'Toole," said the young man, who was none other that Saint Kavin in disguise.

"I have never seen you before," said the king. "Who are you?"

"I'm an honest man," replied Saint Kavin.

"Well, honest man," said the king, "you wear good clothing and look prosperous and as if you had money laid by. How do you get your living, may I ask?"

"By making old things as good as new," was Saint Kavin's reply.

"Is it a tinker you are?" inquired the king.

"No," responded the saint. "I'm not a tinker. I've a better trade than that; and what would you say, King O'Toole, if I made your old goose young again?"

At the thought of having his old goose young once more the king's eyes were ready to jump out of his head. Then he whistled, and the old goose came waddling to him from behind a clump of bushes near by.

The minute the saint set eyes on the goose he took pity on its feebleness and said, "I'll do the job for you, King O'Toole."

"Bedad!" exclaimed the king, "if you do I'll say you are the cleverest fellow in seven parishes."

"But you'll have to say more than that," was Saint Kavin's response. "I'm not going to repair your old goose for nothing, and I want to know how much you're going to give me."

"I'll give you whatever you ask," said the king. "Isn't that fair?"

"Yes, yes," said Saint Kavin, "that's the way to do business. Now this is the bargain I'll make with you, King O'Toole—you give me all the ground the goose goes over in its first flight after I make it young and strong."

"Done!" said the king.

"Well, then," continued Saint Kavin, "I'll go to work at once," and he called the old goose to him and took it up by its two wings. "Criss o' my cross on you," said he and threw the bird up into the air—and how the goose did fly! It went swift and high and cut as many capers as a swallow before a shower of rain.


The king stood with his mouth open watching with delight the bird's every motion, and when it came and lit at his feet he patted it on the head and said, "My dear, you are the darling of the world."

But the goose in its flight had covered a great deal of country. It had been over the castle and all the king's land for a mile around. "And now what have you to say to me for makin' your goose like that?" asked Saint Kavin.

"I'm very much beholden to you," replied the king.

"And will you give me all the ground the goose flew over?" Saint Kavin inquired.

"I will," said King O'Toole, "and you'd be welcome to it even if it took the last acre I had."

"And you'll keep your word true?" questioned the saint.

"Of course I will," affirmed the king.

"It's well for you, King O'Toole, that you speak as you do," declared Saint Kavin; "for if you did not keep your promise I'd never let your goose fly again."

"Waste no more words!" exclaimed King O'Toole, "the land is yours."

"But I don't want your land," said Saint Kavin. "I only came here to try you, and you're a very dacint man, King O'Toole; and now I'll tell you that I'm disguised, and that is the reason you do not know me."

"Musha! then," said the king, "and who might you be?"

"I'm Saint Kavin," was the reply.

"Oh, queen of heaven!" the king exclaimed, falling on his knees before the saint, "is it the great Saint Kavin I've been discoursing with all this time?"

"It is," said the saint.

"Be jabers! I thought I was only talking to a lump of a gossoon!" said the king.

"Well, you know the difference now," remarked the good saint.

And so King O'Toole had his goose made young again to divert him as long as he lived. But by and by the king died, and soon afterward the goose got into trouble with a big eel in the lake. The goose was fishing and got hold of the eel by mistake, and, instead of the goose killing the eel, the eel killed the goose. However, the eel did not eat the goose, for it did not dare eat what Saint Kavin had laid his blessed hands on.

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