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The Three Jolly Lads and the Innkeeper

Lewis T Evans (1882-1975)

There were three lads. They were terribly eager to have fun. And not one of them had a single penny, but they went into a tavern and called for three pints of beer.

'I'm to pay', said one.

'No, no', said another.

'No, no', said the other.

'Oh well, bring another pint for each one of us', said one of them, 'then we'll settle who is to pay.' And the old innkeeper brought them a pint.

'I'm paying', said one.

'No, no', said another.

'No, I haven't seen you for so many years', said the other. 'I'll pay. Well, we'll put a mask on the man of the house, and the first one he puts his hand on, he shall pay.'

And so it was; a mask was put on the old man. The three slipped out, and there was the old man patrolling the room back and fore.

'What are you doing?' asked his wife.

'Go away', said the old man.

'No! if you're looking for the lads, they left long ago.' And the old man took off his mask.

'Oh, they've cheated me', he said.

However, the old innkeeper was going to a town quite far away next day. And he went, and who should he meet on the street but one of the three.

'Goodness me!' he said, 'have you seen the other two?'

'No', said the old innkeeper.

'Oh, I'll pay you', he said, 'can you change me a cheque for five pounds?'

'No, I can't', said the innkeeper.

'Well, come with me to my cousin's shop', he said, 'he's a chemist, over there. I can change it with my cousin straight away.'

And so the old innkeeper and he went there. And he told the old innkeeper to stay by the door for a minute while he spoke to his cousin.

'I have a man outside with the old disease', he said, 'he's too shy. He's in terrible trouble. Some have been trying to help him', he said, 'but they can't take his trousers off. I don't know whether you can. He's got plenty of money. He'll pay well.'

'Oh, he won't be any trouble', said the chemist. 'Send him in.' And the lad went out to the innkeeper.

'My cousin has the change over there', he said. 'He wants to see you, he says he knows you.'

'Oh!' said the old innkeeper, and in he went.

'Oh, you're the man', said the chemist. 'Come into this room. I'll come to you in a short while.' And he goes up to the old innkeeper, and says:

'You've had it rather badly, haven't you', he said.

'Oh, the lads were only having some fun', said the old innkeeper.

'No, you've had it rather badly, they said. Take off your trousers.'

'What do you mean, man?' said the old innkeeper.

'Oh, none of your nonsense', said the old chemist. He was angry.

'Take off your trousers.'

My word! They began to fight, and the old chemist was quite a bit stronger then the innkeeper. He took off his trousers, and the old innkeeper fled without his trousers and into the middle of the street, and the people flocked around him. And a policeman came and took him to the lock-up and wouldn't listen to his story. And he was taken to court. He had to pay a lot, I don't know how much the fine was, either. And he sent for his wife to bring some money so that he could go home.


The Three Jolly Lads and the Innkeeper

More information


MWL 2007. Recorded 2.xi.1968. Second recording 7.xi.1973 (tape MWL 4052).


Lewis T. Evans heard the story from his blind uncle, at Hafod Llan Isa, 1891-2. In the second version, told in 1973, the informant himself had added the reference to the policeman and the court case, and told it to the lads at the time he was working with the Forestry Commission in the nineteen thirties. His uncle always finished the story with the fight after the chemist had asked the old innkeeper to take off his trousers. But the informant thought that the story ended too abruptly. When the story was first recorded in 1968 it ended with the innkeeper in the chemist's shop.