The Hedley Kow: an English folktale.
Long ago, near the village of Hedley, there lived a strange and playful trickster. Sometimes it looked like an ordinary object. Sometimes it looked like a donkey or a goat or even a cow. It was known as the Hedley Kow.
One evening, an old woman was returning home from helping a neighbor. As she went along the path, she saw an old iron pot lying in the ditch. "Fancy that," she said. "Nobody seems to want this old pot. I will take it home and plant pretty flowers in it."
When she tried to lift it, she saw that it was full of gold pieces. "Well, now, if that doesn't beat all," she said. "I'm rich! I can buy a fine house and fancy clothes. I'll never want for a thing."
The pot was heavy, so she tied her shawl around it and began to drag it home. After a while, she stopped to rest. When she looked in the pot, she was amazed to see that it was full of silver pieces!
"Oh, my!" she said. "Aren't I the lucky one! If it were gold, thieves would have been after me. My friends might have been jealous. But I can hide these silver pieces, take out a few at a time, and live like a queen."
On she went, pulling the pot after her. She was nearing home now. At her gate, she looked into the pot. What a surprise! The silver had changed into a lump of iron. "Iron," she said. "Well, now! No one will be jealous or want to steal this from me. I can use this iron to prop open my door and let in fresh air and sunlight. Lucky me!"
As soon as she said that, the pot began to grow. It grew hooves and a tail. It grew a long, cow-like body and a head like a goat's. Then it jumped up and ran off down the road laughing.
"Fancy that!" exclaimed the old woman. "I believe I have seen the Hedley Kow! Not many folks can say that, and that's a fact. I'll just sit up by my fire tonight thinking about how lucky I was to see it for myself. I truly must be the luckiest person in the world!"
Art by Nancy Cote