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CELTIC-L  December 1996

CELTIC-L December 1996

Subject:

An Scottish Tale

From:

Scott Robert Ladd <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Sun, 1 Dec 1996 21:41:29 PST

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (228 lines)

[ I'm told this is a traditional Scottish fairy tale,
  but have not idea of its origins or authenticity.
  My kids like it, though! - SRL ]

THE RED ETIN

THERE were ance twa widows that lived on a small bit
o' ground, which they rented from a farmer. Ane of
them had twa sons, and the other had ane; and by-and-
by it was time for the wife that had twa sons to send
them away to seeke their fortune. So she told her eldest
son ae day to take a can and bring her water from
the well, that she might bake a cake for him; and however
much or however little water he might bring, the
cake would be great or sma' accordingly; and that cake
was to be a' that she could gie him when he went on his
travels.

The lad gaed away wi' the can to the well, and filled
it wi' water, and then came away hame again; but the
can being broken the maist part of the water had run
out before he got back. So his cake was very sma';
yet sma' as it was, his mother asked if he was willing to
take the half of it with her blessing, telling him that, if
he chose rather to have the hale, he would only get it
wi' her curse. The young man, thinking he might hae
to travel a far way, and not knowing when or how he
might get other provisions, said he would like to hae
the hale cake, com of his mother's malison what like;
so she gave him the hale cake, and her malison alang
wi't. Then he took his brither aside, and gave him a
knife to keep till he should come back, desiring him to
look at it every morning, and as lang as it continued to
be clear, then he might be sure that the owner of it was
well; but if it grew dim and rusty, then for certain some
ill had befallen him.

So the young man set out to seek his fortune. And
he gaed a' that day, and a' the next day; and on the
third day, in the afternoon, he came up to where a
shepherd was sitting with a flock o' sheep. And he
gaed up to the shepherd and asked him wha the sheep
belanged to; and the man answered:

"The Red Etin of Ireland
  Ance lived in Bellygan,
And stole King Malcolm's daughter,
  The King of fair Scotland.
He beats her, he binds her,
  He lays her on a band;
And every day he dings her
  With a bright silver wand
Like Julian the Roman
He's one that fears no man.
It's said there's ane predestinate
  To be his mortal foe;
But that man is yet unborn
  And lang may it be so."

The young man then went on his journey; and he had
not gone far when he espied an old man with white
locks herding a flock of swine; and he gaed up to him
and asked whose swine these were, when the man
answered:

"The Red Etin of Ireland"--
       (Repeat the verses above.)

Then the young man gaed on a bit farther, and came
to another very old man herding goats; and when he
asked whose goats they were, the answer was:

"The Red Etin of Ireland"--
       (Repeat the verses again.)

This old man also told him to beware of the next beasts
that he should meet, for they were of a very different
kind from any he had yet seen.

So the young man went on, and by-and-by he saw a
multitude of very dreadfu' beasts, ilk ane o' them wi'
twa heads, and on every head four horns. And he was
sore frightened, and ran away from them as fast as he
could; and glad was he when he came to a castle that
stood on a hillock, wi' the door standing wide to the
wa'. And he gaed into the castle for shelter, and there
he saw an auld wife sitting beside the kitchen fire. He
asked the wife if he might stay there for the night, as
he was tired wi' a lang journey; and the wife said he
might, but it was not a good place for him to be in,
as it belanged to the Red Etin, who was a very terrible
beast, wi' three heads, that spared no living man he
could get hold of. The young man would have gone
away, but he was afraid of the beasts on the outside of
the castle; so he beseeched the old woman to conceal
him as well as she could, and not to tell the Etin that
he was there. He thought, if he could put over the
night, he might get away in the morning without meeting
wi' the beasts, and so escape. But he had not been
long in his hidy-hole before the awful Etin came in;
and nae sooner was he in than he was heard crying:

  "Snouk but and snouk ben,
  I find the smell of an earthly man;
  Be he living, or be he dead,
  His heart this night shall kitchen[season] my bread.

The monster soon found the poor young man, and
pulled him from his hole. And when he had got him
out he told him that if he could answer him three
questions his life should be spared. The first was: Whether
Ireland or Scotland was first inhabited? The second
was: Whether man was made for woman, or woman for
man? The third was: Whether men or brutes were
made first? The lad not being able to answer one of
these questions, the Red Etin took a mace and knocked
him on the head, and turned him into a pillar of stone.

On the morning after this happened the younger
brither took out the knife to look at it, and he was grieved
to find it a' brown wi' rust. He told his mother that
the time was now come for him to go away upon his
travels also; so she requested him to take the can to the
well for water, that she might bake a cake for him. The
can being broken, he brought hame as little water as
the other had done, and the cake was as little. She
asked whether he would have the hale cake wi' her malison,
or the half wi' her blessing; and, like his brither, he
thought it best to have the hale cake, come o' the malison
what might. So he gaed away; and everything
happened to him that had happened to his brother!

The other widow and her son heard of a' that had
happened frae a fairy, and the young man determined that
he would also go upon his travels, and see if he could
do anything to relieve his twa friends. So his mother
gave him a can to go to the well and bring home water,
that she might bake him a cake for his journey. And he
gaed, and as he was bringing hame the water, a raven
owre abune his head cried to him to look, and he would
see that the water was running out. And he was a
young man of sense, and seeing the water running out,
he took some clay and patched up the holes, so that he
brought home enough water to bake a large cake. When
his mother put it to him to take the half-cake wi' her
blessing, he took it in preference to having the hale wi'
her malison; and yet the half was bigger than what the
other lads had got a'thegither.

So he gaed away on his journey; and after he had
traveled a far way he met wi' an auld woman, that asked
him if he would give her a bit of his bannock. And he
said he would gladly do that, and so he gave her a piece
of the bannock; and for that she gied him a magical
wand, that she said might yet be of service to him if
he took care to use it rightly. Then the auld woman,
who was a fairy, told him a great deal that whould
happen to him, and what he ought to do in a' circumstances;
and after that she vanished in an instant out o'
his sight. He gaed on a great way farther, and then
he came up to the old man herding the sheep; and when
he asked whose sheep these were, the answer was:

"The Red Etin of Ireland
  Ance lived in Bellygan,
And stole King Malcolm's daughter,
  The King of fair Scotland.
He beats her, he binds her,
  He lays her on a band;
And every day he dings her
  With a bright silver wand.
Like Julian the Roman,
He's one that fears no man,
But now I fear his end is near,
  And destiny at hand;
And you're to be, I plainly see,
  The heir of all his land."

 (Repeat the same inquiries to the man attending the swine and
the man attending the goats, with the same answer in each case.)

When he came to the place where the monstrous
beasts were standing, he did not stop nor run away,
but went boldly through among them. One came up
roaring with open mouth to devour him, when he struck
it with his wand, and laid it in an instant dead at his
feet. He soon came to the Etin's castle, where he
knocked, and was admitted. The auld woman that sat
by the fire warned him of the terrible Etin, and what
had been the fate of the twa brithers; but he was not to
be daunted. The monster soon came in, saying:

  "Snouk but and snouk ben,
  I find the smell of an earthly man;
  Be he living, or be he dead,
  His heart shall be kitchen [season] to my bread."

He quickly espied the young man, and bade him come
forth on the floor. And then he put the three questions
to him, but the young man had been told everything by
the good fairy, so he was able to answer all the
questions. When the Etin found this he knew that his
power was gone. The young man then took up the
axe and hewed off the monster's three heads. He next
asked the old woman to show him where the King's
daughters lay; and the old woman took him upstairs
and opened a great many doors, and out of every door
came a beautiful lady who had been imprisoned there
by the Etin; and ane o' the ladies was the King's
daughter. She also took him down into a low room, and there
stood two stone pillars that he had only to touch wi' his
wand, when his two friends and neighbors started into
life. And the hale o' the prisoners were overjoyed at
their deliverance, which they all acknowledged to be
owing to the prudent young man. Next day they a'
set out for the King's Court, and a gallant company
they made. And the King married his daughter to the
young man that had delivered her, and gave a noble's
daughter to ilk ane o' the other young men; and so they
a' lived happily a' the rest o' their days.

---
Scott Robert Ladd

[log in to unmask]    957 Empire Street
voice: +1 970 387 0271      P.O. Box 617
  fax: +1 970 387 0277      Silverton, CO 81433 USA

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