The Pedlar of Lambeth from Ducarel's "History of Lambeth," 1786

The only bit of magic in this tale comes in the form of dreams. A peddler, who lives in Swaffham in Norfolk. “He’d much ado to make his living, trudging about with his pack at his back and his dog at his heels, and at the close of the day’s labour was but too glad to sit down and sleep.” One night he dreams about the London Bridge and hears that if he goes to the bridge he will learn good news. when he wakes up, he dismisses the dream, but he has the same dream the next night and the third night.

He can’t ignore the dream any longer, so he travels to London and stands on the bridge for two uneventful days. On the third day, however, a shopkeeper comes up to him, asking the peddler what he is doing. The peddler describes his dream, but the shopkeeper just laughs at his foolishness and tells him of a silly dream he himself had.

“I’ll tell thee, poor silly country fellow, that I myself dream too o’ nights, and that last night I dreamt myself to be in Swaffham, a place clean unknown to me, but in Norfolk if I mistake not, and methought I was in an orchard behind a pedlar’s house, and in that orchard was a great oak tree. Then me-seemed that if I digged I should find beneath that tree a great treasure. But think you I’m such a fool as to take on me a long and wearisome journey and all for a silly dream. No, my good fellow, learn wit from a wiser man than thyself. Get thee home, and mind thy business.”

The peddler does head home immediately, digs under the oak, and finds the treasure. He’s a rich man from then on, even building back up the church at Swaffham where it is said a statue of him still remains.

Follow your dreams, eh? The story is from Joseph Jacobs’ More English Fairy Tales.

I recently read a children’s book with Amber, Saint Patrick and the Peddler. I had wanted to read it closer to St. Patrick’s Day, but it got lost on the game shelves for a little while. The author, Margaret Hodges, has taken this tale and another, “The Peddler of Ballaghadereen,” transported it to Ballymena in Ireland and combined it with Saint Patrick. In her version, St. Patrick tells the peddler in a dream to go to Dublin and stand on the bridge over the River Liffey. There he will hear news.

The peddler in this version hears a butcher’s dream of a treasure buried under an iron pot in Ballymena. It’s the pot in the peddler’s home and the peddler digs up the treasure, making him a rich, happy man.

It’s a nice story and the illustrations¬† by Paul Brett Johnson are beautiful paintings that seem to glow in their depictions of the Irish countryside and the charm of Dublin.

You can purchase Saint Patrick and the Peddler on Amazon.

Challenge: Fairy Tales

Friday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. I would love it if you joined me. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, share with us. If you have a link, please include it in your comment.


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