Jack Goes to Seek his Fortune

Reprinted in AppLit with permission, from the James Taylor Adams Collection
U of Virginia's College at Wise/Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum College

Collected by James Taylor Adams

Big Laurel, Va.

NOTE: This text was recopied directly from a typewritten copy in the archives of the Blue Ridge Institute. James Taylor Adams (1892-1954) kept typewritten copies of the folktales he and others collected during the last thirty years of his life, while he lived in Wise County, VA. In this copy of the tale, several inconsistencies in the typing of quotation marks and punctuation have been corrected. Any other dialect spellings or typographical mistakes in the archive manuscript have not been altered.

This story is one of the most popular tales among Appalachian storytellers and audiences. It is similar to the famous German folktale, "The Bremen Town Musicians," with the addition of Jack as the leader of the animals. For details on parallel tales and others with animal characters, see Jack and the Robbers  (or "Jack and the Animals" or "Jack Goes to Seek his Fortune") in AppLit's Annotated Index of Appalachian Folktales.


Told me November 15, 1940, by Lenore Corene Kilgore; she learned it from her grandmother, Mrs. Letty Mays, deceased, about fifteen years ago.

----

One time there was a little boy named Jack. His mother was dead and his father had married again, and his step-mother didn't like Jack and was mean to him.

So one day Jack decided he would leave home and go out in the world and seek his fortune. So he started out. He hadn't gone but a little piece when he met a horse.

"Good morning, Jack," said the horse. "Where are you going?

"Going to seek my fortune," said Jack.

"May I go with you?" said the horse.

"Yes, "said Jack, "the more the merrier. So Jack and the horse went on.

Hadn't gone but a little piece till they met a cow.

"Good morning, Jack," said the cow. "Where are you going?"

"Going to seek my fortune," said Jack.

"May I go with you?" said the cow.

"Yes," said Jack, "the more the merrier." So Jack and the horse and the cow went on.

Hadn't gone but a little piece till they met a dog.

"Good morning, Jack," said the dog. "Where are you going?"

"Going to seek my fortune," said Jack.

"May I go with you?" said the dog.

"Yes," said Jack, "the more the merrier." So Jack and the horse and the cow and the dog went on.

Hadn't gone but a little piece till they met a ram.

"Good morning, Jack." said the ram, "Where are you going?"

"Going to seek my fortune," said Jack.

"May I go with you?" said the ram.

"Yes," said Jack, "the more the merrier." So Jack and the horse and the cow and the dog and the ram went on.

Hadn't gone but a little piece till they met a rooster.

"Good morning, Jack," said the rooster. "Where are you going?"

"Going to seek my fortune," said Jack.

"May I go with you?" said the rooster.

"Yes," said Jack, "the more the merrier." So Jack and the horse and the cow and the dog and the ram and the rooster went on.

Hadn't gone but a little piece till they met a cat.

"Good morning, Jack, " said the cat. "Where are you going?"

"Going to seek my fortune," said Jack.

"May I go with you?" said the cat.

"Yes, "said Jack, "the more the merrier." So Jack and the horse and the cow and the dog and the ram and the rooster and the cat went on.

Hadn't gone but a little piece till they met a goose.

"Good morning, Jack," said the goose. "Where are you going?"

"Going to seek my fortune," said Jack.

"May I go with you?" said the goose.

"Yes," said Jack, "the more the merrier." So Jack and the horse and the cow and the dog and the ram and the rooster and he cat and the goose went on.

They went on and on; traveled all day. Long about sundown they begin to look for a place to stay all night. They was in an awful wild and thinly settled country and hadn't seen nobody for a long time. At last they come to a big house settin' way up on the side of a hill with a big high fence around it. They went up to the house and found that nobody lived there and decided to put up in it for the night.

So Jack put the horse just inside the gate, the cow just outside and told them to not let anyone come in. Then he put the ram on the porch and the goose just inside the door and the cat on the hearth and the dog under the bed and the rooster up on top of the house, and pulled off his things and went to bed.

It was a robber's meeting place, but Jack didn't know it. The robbers had stored a lot of money there they had robbed people of in the country and towns around there.

So 'way long in the night the robbers come. They thought somebody might be around so two of them waited down the road a little piece and sent the other one to investigate. He slipped up to the gate and just as he got the there the cow picked him up on her horns and tossed him over the gate. The horse kicked him onto the porch. The ram butted him through the door. The goose flapped him with her wings and bit him. He run to the fireplace to make a light and the cat scratched him. He run under the bed and the dog bit him. And as he jumped through the window and started running the rooster begin crowing for day.

When the feller got back to his buddies he was nearly dead. They wanted to know what was the matter. He told them he slipped up to the gate and there was a farmer there and pitched him over the gate on a pitchfork; a blacksmith over there struck him with a sledgehammer and knocked him onto the porch. A railmaker there struck him with his maul and knocked him through the door. There stood a thrasherman and he liked to flailed him to death with his flail. He run over to the fireplace to start a light and there was an old woman setting on the hearth a sewing and she stuck her needle in him. He went to hide under the bed, but there was a shoemaker under there and he stuck his awl in him. He made it to the window and jumped out and as he ran away he heard the leader of them all up on top of the house hollering, "When you get through with him send him up to me—ee." So the robbers was afraid to go back to the house and next morning Jack looked over the place and found their gold. He took it and bought hay for the horse and cow; bones for the dog; milk for the cat; and corn for the ram and the goose and the rooster. Then Jack married him a wife and they all lived happy.


[JTA-71]

Typed from original by Blue Ridge Institute, April 3, 1991.

copyright 2005 U of Virginia's College at Wise/Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum College,
Tina L. Hanlon, all rights reserved


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