There once lived a lad in old Ireland named Lusmore. He had a great hump on his back, and whenever he sat down he had to rest his chin on his knee for support. But, in spite of this, he was as happy as a cricket, and used to go about the country with a sprig of Fairy-cap, or Foxglove, in his little straw hat. He went from house to house plaiting baskets out of rushes, and in that way he earned a living. And he was so merry that people always gave him a penny more than he asked.
One evening, he was returning from a distant town, and as he walked slowly on account of his hump, it grew dark before he could reach home. He came to an old mound by the side of the road, and, being tired, sat down on it to rest.
He had not been sitting there long when he heard strains of music, and many little voices singing sweetly. He laid his ear to the mound, and perceived that the music and singing came from inside it. And he could hear the words that the little voices were chanting over and over again:—“Monday! Tuesday!Monday! Tuesday!Monday! Tuesday!”
It was all so very sweet, that Lusmore listened with delight; but by and by he grew tired of hearing the same words sung over and over. He waited politely until the voices had finished their song, then he called:—
The Fairies—for it was the singing of Fairies that he heard—were so pleased with Lusmore’s addition to their words, that they pulled him right down through the top of the mound with the speed of a whirlwind. And he went falling and twirling round and round as light as a feather.
He found himself in a palace so bright that it dazzled his eyes. Then all the Fairies stopped capering and dancing, and came crowding around him. And one, wearing a crown, stepped forward and said:
—“Lusmore! Lusmore!The hump that you wore,On your back is no more.Look down on the floor,And see it, Lusmore!”
And as these words were being said, Lusmore felt himself grow so light and happy, that he could have bounded up to the moon. And he saw his hump tumble off his back and roll on the floor. Then the Fairies took hands, and danced around him, and as they did so he became dizzy and fell asleep.
When he opened his eyes it was broad daylight, and the sun was shining, and the birds were singing, and cows and sheep were grazing peacefully around him. He put his hand to his hump. It was gone! And there he was, as tall, straight, and handsome as any other lad in Ireland. And, besides all that, he was dressed in a full suit of beautiful clothes.
He went toward his home stepping out lightly, and jumping high at every step, so full of joy was he. And as he passed his neighbours, they hardly knew him without his hump, and because he was so straight and handsome, and was dressed so finely.
Now, in another village, not far away, lived a lad named Jack Madden. He also had a great hump on his back. He was a peevish, cunning creature, and liked to scratch and pinch all who came near him.
When he heard how the Fairies had taken away Lusmore’s hump, he decided that he, too, would visit them. So one night after darkness had fallen, he sat down on the mound all alone, and waited. He had not been there long before he heard the music, and the sweet voices singing:
—“Monday! Tuesday!Monday! Tuesday!Monday! Tuesday!And Wednesday!”
And as he was in a very great hurry to get rid of his hump, he did not wait for the Fairies to finish their song, but yelled out, thinking that two days were better than one:—
“And Thursday and Friday!”
No sooner had the words left his lips, than he was taken up quickly, and whisked through the mound with terrific force. And the Fairies came crowding around him, screeching and buzzing with anger, and crying out:
—“Our song you have spoiled!Our song you have spoiled!Our song you have spoiled!”
Then the one wearing the crown stepped forward, and said:—“Jack Madden! Jack Madden!Your words came so bad in,That your life we will sadden!Here’s two humps for Jack Madden!”
And quick as a wink, twenty Fairies brought Lusmore’s hump and clapped it down on Jack Madden’s back, and there it was fixed as firmly as if nailed on with tenpenny nails.
Then out of the mound they kicked him. And when morning was come, he crept home with the two humps on his back—and he is wearing them still.