9. Fred the Fool

This was told by the same person as Flying Childer. MCB believed these last two tales were portions of the same tale.

A man called Fred Baddeley took service with a farmer, on the other side of the Wolds. He was the sort of man who was always getting into trouble and he had an enormous appetite, though he was just a thin little lad. A farmer saw him at the hiring fair and thought he wouldn't cost much to feed and clothe. Fred took the job but the farmer soon found that he could eat the house bare and still be hungry and if he was given a beating he would be even more hungry. One day the farmer came home to find Fred with his head stuck in the bars of the storehouse. The farmer beat him and then pulled off his thumb nail. Some time later, on finding that his clothes looked tatty, and the farmer away from home, Fred stole the master's breeches and best coat. The farmer returned home and caught him and in his rage, cut off Fred's hand with an axe. The farmer threatened that if Fred told anyone what had happened he would call the police and have Fred arrested for stealing. A little while later Fred was caught stealing money and the farmer threw something at him which ended up breaking his arm so badly that it had to be chopped off. The farmer was not a popular man locally and he believed that his ricks might get burnt one night. So he got Fred to keep watch alongside doing other work during the day. Fred fell asleep by the pigs in the yard one night and the farmer woke up to find his ricks a blazing. In his fury, he threw Fred into the middle of a burning rick, where he got caught in the ropes and was burnt to death.