The Celtic Dragon Myth, by J.F. Campbell, , at sacred-texts.com
207. Now, when the fisher's three sons parted at the three ways, the middle brother took the middle road with his black horse and his black dog, and his gold-hilted glaive by his side, and he rode up a steep hill.
208. He took the hill way, and when he got to the top of the mountains he fell in with a great plain, and on he went till he came to a place where a lion, a pigeon, and a rat were all three quarrelling over a grain of corn. He was not much afraid of them, and went to see the sight.
"Come hither, lad," said the lion, "and give just judgment between us three. You will be the better for it if you do, but if you give unjust judgment you shall be put to death."
"What think you of my being here?"
"Well," said he, "I have no very sure notion, but I think that you ought rather to be about the banks of rivers."
Then the pigeon said: "And what think you of my being in this place?"
"I'm not sure what to think," said he, "but I have a notion that you ought rather to be amongst boughs and banks and rocks," said he.
"And what think you of my being in such a place?" said the rat.
"I don't surely know," said the lad, "but I am sure of this, that you ought to be gathering a shelter to keep ready for winter."
That pleased them well. Then the lad thought awhile, and spoke.
"You, lion," he said, "I wonder that you who have been raised above all the beasts of the field, should think it worth while to quarrel with a rat about a grain of barley. And you, pigeon, who can fly so far and fast through the sky, and gather so much, I wonder that you should dispute one grain of corn with a rat."
Then the lion spoke for the rest, and he said
"Well hast thou judged. The rat has best right to the barley-corn. We three were put under spells here to remain as lion, pigeon, and rat, and we were to dispute about this barley-corn till some one should come to give us right. Because of my might all that came before judged that I had the right, and I slew them all. We are kings altogether, and you have done us great service. Each of us will be a king again, and may go to his own realm, and for your help to me your reward shall be that whenever you think of me, you may be a lion, so that you may do a lion's exploits."
Then the pigeon said: "You have done me great service, and my gift is: If ever you need it, you need but to think of me and you will be in this form."
Said the rat: "He has done me as great a service as to either of you, and whenever he thinks of me he may be a rat, and though I be the sorriest amongst you, it may well be that it will serve him as.
well to be a rat as to be in the shape of either of you."
They went away, and he never asked what realm belonged to any one of them.
209. On he went and on he rode as swiftly as ever his brother did, till he came to a realm that he did not know. To all whom he met he spoke, and asked his road. All who knew it, answered. All who did not, gave him a civil reply, and so he went, and hurried till the evening was coming on, and he saw a great house before him, and a big town, and they told him it was the house of the king.
210. So when he saw the king's castle, he came to the gate as a poor lad seeking service. He told his errand at the gate, and word was sent in to the king that a sturdy lad was at the gate seeking service. He was sent for, and it was settled that he should serve in the kitchen under the hand of the great cook, and he was called the little cook, and he was the best servant that the king ever had.
211. He was there awhile, and he never saw a woman at all in the place. So one day he asked the head cook if there was ever a woman there at all.
"There is no woman here at all," said the head cook, "but the king's daughter, and it is not everyone who can get to her room."
"And where may that room be?" said the cook's mate.
"It is at the northern end," said the cook, "in a tower."
212. Now one day it so fell out that the king had an errand, and the lad had to go to a house that was far away. The king wanted to give him a horse, but he said:
213. "I would rather be without a horse, for I am not used to horses. But if you send a man on horseback I will be back before him."
That the king would not credit, but he thought that he would try. So a horseman was sent, and the little cook set off horseless to see who could soonest get back with the king's errand.
214. No sooner was the lad out of sight of the castle than he thought of the pigeon, and he was a pigeon, and flew to the journey's end and got the matter, and he was back before the horseman had got half-way there. The king would not believe that he had been there at all, till the rider returned.
215. "And where is the thing that I sent you to fetch?" said the king.
"They told me that the cook's mate got there before I did, and fetched it," said the rider.
The king was amazed, and he was very fond of the lad after that.
216. Nevertheless, he had to sleep in the kitchen with a hound, and his company did not displease him, for he knew that she would tell no tales.
217. Now it so happened that the cook's mate on his errands about the house saw the king's daughter, and spoke to her; and one night he thought that he would pay her a visit in her chamber.
[paragraph continues] So he threw a somersault out of heel and became a pigeon, and flew out of the window to the northern end of the castle, and to the top of the chimney, and down on to the floor, and then he was himself again in a trice.
218. The king's daughter was sleeping sound, so he crept to the bedside and tried to steal a ring off her finger.
219. But the king's daughter awoke in a fright and cried out, and all the guards and sentries and the king himself came rushing to help her.
220. But before they got the door open, he thought of the rat, and was a rat, and fled under the bed and hid in an old bacholl of a shoe.
221. The king and all his guard came clattering in and cried together: "What is the matter?"
222. "Oh!" said the king's daughter, "there is a man in the room. He came to my bedside and tried to steal the ring off my finger, but I awoke and cried out."
223. The guards searched and the king sought, and they kicked the old shoe hither and thither, but the little lad lay hid, and they found no one. When they were tired the king said:
"There is nobody in the room."
"Somebody was in this room when I called out," said she.
So the king and the guards sought again to see if there was any way to get out when the door was locked, and they peeped up the chimney and everywhere
else, and there was no place to get out of the room but the room door.
224. So the king flew in great rage, and he growled: "Daughter, if you ever dare to make such a disturbance and rout about the house again, I will give it to you with my sword when I come up."
So he marched out and locked the door behind him.
225. When they were all gone, the lad came out of the old shoe and turned heels over head, and was a lad again, and he seized her hand and stole the ring.
226. But since she did not dare to cry out for fear of the king, she said softly
"Where were you when they were searching the room?"
"I was in the room all the time," said he.
"And who are you?" said she.
"I am your father's head-cook," said he.
"That you are not," said she, "but I should like to know who you are. But since you can come here, if you come again I will give you a gift, for such is the custom in this country." Away he went as he came, and back to his kennel beside the dog who could tell no tales.
227. After a few days the lad thought that he would go the same way to see what might happen, and before he went away from the room the lady gave him a waistcoat (peiteag) embroidered with needlework, and told him to go with it to the fair at the big town next day.
228. He was a pigeon, and up the chimney and in at the kitchen window, and into his kennel in a trice, but the waistcoat he stowed in his box.
229. Next morning the head-cook was making himself smart for the fair, so the cook's mate began to wash his face.
"Are you going any way?" said the cook.
"I am going to the fair," said the other.
"You must not go," said the head-cook, "I am going."
The lad said never a word, but he opened his box, and took out the waistcoat and put it on.
"Wherever did you get such a brave (briagh) waistcoat?" said the great cook.
"No matter where, I have it," said the lad.
"I'd give you a good price for it to go to the fair in, if you would give it to me," said the great cook.
230. "Well," said the other, "I won't be hard upon you. If you will give me seven bellyfuls before we go, and seven bellyfuls when we come back, you shall have the waistcoat for the fair."
So the lad got lots to eat, and the cook got the waistcoat, and put it on and went to the fair.
231. When he was there, the king's daughter came to look if she could see who wore the waistcoat, but when she saw the cook with the waistcoat on, her hands fell down by her sides, and she went home.
232. When the cook came home, his mate met
him. "Well," said he, "did you see the king's daughter at the fair?"
"Yes," said he, "I saw her."
"Did she speak to you?" said the lad.
"She did not speak," said the great cook, "but as soon as ever she saw me she turned home."
" She is in love with you," said the lad.
"That is exactly what I supposed," said the king's head-cook.
233. That night, when everybody else went to bed, the cook's mate and the dog went to their kennel, but they had not been there long when the lad turned heels over head and was a pigeon, and out of the window and up in the chimney, and down on the floor of the north room, and there he stood as a handsome lad in the lady's room.
234. "Why were you not at the fair?" said she.
"Was I not?" said he.
"No," said she. "And I wish you would tell me who you are."
"Am I not your father's head-cook?" said he.
Not you," said she, and this time she gave him a pair of garters and bade him wear them at the fair for her sake.
Back he went, and these he stowed in his box as before.
235. Next morning it was the same story as last day. The cook put on a pair of short breeks, as was the fashion of Frenchmen in these days, 1 and the
cook's mate cleaned himself and produced his grand garters. Such garters the head-cook had never seen, and he got a loan of them for the same price seven good bellyfuls before he went to the fair and seven more when he came back.
236. He put on the garters and went. But when the king's daughter saw the cook arrayed in the broidered waistcoat and the grand gay garters, her arms drooped, and she had to go home for fear she should faint.
237. "Did you see the princess at the fair?" said the lad, when he came home, "and did she speak to you to-day?"
"I saw her," said the head-cook, "and she saw me, and as soon as ever she did her arms fell by her sides, and she went home."
"She must be in love with you," said the cook's mate.
"I rather think that she is," said the king's head-cook.
238. That night it was the same story. The lad went to see the princess, and before he went away she gave him a cap (biorraid) to put on his head, and bade him wear it at the fair, for it was the fashion in that country for ladies to give keepsakes to lads whom they liked.
239. Next morning it was the same thing again. The head-cook got a loan of the grand cap, and the little cook stayed at home and had plenty to eat. But when the princess saw the cook with the grand
gay garters and the broidered vest and the biorraid on his head as grand as a lord, she nearly fainted, and home she went as fast as she could.
240. When the cook got home and told his tale, his mate was sure that the princess had fallen in love with him; and he rather thought that that was the case.
241. A while after that there came a herald (teachdaire) from the Turkish emperor, 1 or from another powerful king. 2 He came to seek the king's daughter, and if she were not given at once, the Turkish emperor was to come to fight him. The king gathered the nobles of the realm 3 to get counsel from them, and he said:
"Daughter, I think it will be best to give you, for I have not got men enough to fight the Turks. It will be best to send word to the emperor that you will go."
242. "It will be cast up to me afterwards," said she, "if it is said that the realm of France could not hold one day's battle."
The high counsellors were gathered, and the king put the question before them whether war or submission to the Turks was best, and the counsel that they made out at last was that war was better than too easy submission. So the king sent a herald to the Turkish emperor to say that he would not give
up his daughter in spite of him. It was to be battle.
243. The king gathered all his people,head-cook, little cook, and alland he set out to meet the Turks.
244. But when he was near the field of battle, they remembered that they had left their standard behind. They could do no good without the flag, and there was but little time to fetch it. The flag was in the bedroom of the king's daughter, at the top of the castle, at the north end; and there was the king's armour 1 too, hung up at the bedside, as men in the isles hang their garments on a peg, for that too was forgotten.
245. Now, if the king had these he thought that he might win the battle. 2
246. "Oh," said the king, "is there any one in the camp who will try to bring the flag and my armour before the battle begins? If I gain, he shall have my daughter for reward, and my realm when I die, but if he fails his head shall be cut off at once."
247. There was no one who would leave the field but the head-cook, and off he set in great haste homewards.
248. But the cook's mate took a turn aside and turned head over heels, and was a pigeon, and flew his best flight to the castle, and was a man, and ran upstairs and he shouted to the king's daughter
249. "Open quickly, for there is great haste and need of the standard."
"I know your voice," said she. "I need not open the door, you have a way of opening it; come in as you came before."
"I have no way of opening doors," said he.
"Whether or no," said she, "you have some way to come into this chamber, so enter."
250. When he saw that there was no help for it, he turned over, and was a pigeon, and out of the window and up and down the chimney, and there stood before her the handsome lad that came to seek service at her father's castle, and not the head-cook.
"I see who you are now, lad," said she, "and how you got in, but where were you when they sought you."
251. "I was in yonder old bacholl of a shoe," said he; and he turned heels over head, and was a rat, and into the shoe and out again and himself in a trice.
252. "No one who could do all these tricks but could do a third," said the princess. "Show me another trick."
"I am afraid you will be frightened," said he.
"I won't be frightened for you in any shape of seeming," said she.
So he turned over and was a great lion.
253. But she took her shears, and shore a lock from his shaggy beard, and kept it, and she gave him the flag and armour.
254. Then he took another turn and was a pigeon,
and flew till he met the head-cook coming at about a third of the way back.
255. He met him and gave him the flag and armour, and he was back at the camp in time.
256. Then the fight began. The king put his soldiers in order of battle, and the Turks went to meet them, and victory was with the Turks.
257. The French were fleeing at each place in the field. So the little cook's mate stole into a thicket, and thought of the lion, and he was a lion himself.
And, as the old lady in Berneray says, what should he do but turn back all and whole of the king's foes. He tore and smashed and killed everyone, and drove the field with the king. According to Macnair, he also showed generalship, for he began at the Turks at the end that was farthest off, and put them out of order of battle. The French rallied, and the rout was on the Turks at the last. They fled to their ships, and very few escaped alive on board. 1
Then the head-cook, like Raja Vivata, said that he had gained the fight, and he it was who brought the flag and the king's mail, and so he was to have the princess, and be heir to the realm.
258. The whole array marched back in triumph,
and matters were set in order for a grand wedding.
259. The nobles were asked, and all the realm was gathered, and the cook sat at the end of the board, at the high end, exceedingly proud. Drinking and music and joy were up, and word was sent for a priest, so that the wedding knot might be tied.
260. The priest came, and the cook was in great haste to get it all over, for he was very tired and sleepy.
261. Then the king's daughter stood up and said: "There is one who ought to be here, and is not."
"All the household are here but the cook's mate," said the Grand Kitchener, "and it does not signify whether he is here or not."
"No one of the household is to be absent from my wedding," said she.
262. So a messenger was sent for him, but he would not come.
263. Then another and more honourable messenger was sent, and he would not come.
264. Then the bride herself went down to the kitchen where the lad was.
"And why did you not come to be at my wedding?" said she.
265. "I never was asked," said he, as his brother said in the like case.
"You were asked," said she.
"You did not ask me," said he.
266. Then she grasped his hand and said: "Come up with me, then." And so he went.
When she got to the guests, she said:
"Here is one who can turn twists and play tricks that will cause you wonder. Do one for me," she said to the lad.
"Perhaps you will be frightened," said he.
"No," they said that they would not.
267. So the lad turned over and was a rat, and he ran about the floor, and nibbled the ladies feet till they screamed and yelled and laughed.
268. Then he turned over again and was a pigeon, and flew, and stood on the ladies knees, and all were pleased, and stroked his feathers till they were like to hurt him; they were so pleased with the pretty bird.
269. But when he had been all round the company, he flew up to the lights and flapped them out with his wings, and then the ladies giggled and laughed, and said that they had never before seen a man turn himself into a rat and a pigeon in this strange fashion.
270. Then all begged that he would play another trick, and when the lights were lit once more, he gave another turn, and was a lion, gaping and roaring all about the room, and the ladies fled and tumbled about for fear, as did the Grand Kitchener, and all but the king and his daughter.
271. "Aha," said the king. "This is the man who did the deeds this day, and not me."
272. Then the princess fitted the yellow lock in the lion's shaggy beard, and she told that this was the man who fetched the flag, and that she had seen him play all the tricks.
273. Then the lion turned over, and was a very handsome lad, as likely to look upon as any in the whole realm, and all allowed that such a lad ought to have the princess.
274. So the cook's mate was married to the daughter of the French king, and the herd's boy was married to the daughter of the King of Greece, and the Lord High Grand Kitchener was sad, and disagreed, and left the company.
275. That wedding lasted for six days of the week, with drink, and music, and great rejoicing, and there I left the fisher's second son at the end of the second way.
276. The third brother, when he parted from the others, rode west, as it is said in Berneray, where all ways would lead to the sea after a couple of miles, and he came to a great forest.
277. Up he went into the forest, to try if he could see houses or find any people of the place, but nothing could he see but a tangled wilderness of wood and birds and fruits that he had never seen before. At last, day was going, and night was coming.
278. He thought that it would be well if he could find some place or other where he might stay in the night, for he was afraid wild beasts of this
forest might come through the night and slay him, and so he went wandering on, thinking that he should like to find a place where he might be safe in the night.
279. As he went, he saw a great castle before him, with a rampart wall about it. At first he feared to go on, for he did not know whether peaceful people or fierce men were within, or whether they might not slay him. But spite of danger, he risked going on.
280. He reached the castle, and he saw no one at all. He went round about the rampart till he came to a gate, and he went in by the gate, and looked all round, and still he saw no one.
281. He saw an open door in the castle, and he went in, but still he saw nobody there.
282. He went in past other two doors, and into a room where there was a fire.
283. He sat at the fireside, and there he stayed for awhile waiting, but he saw none living. 1
284. But a candle and a candlestick came into the room where he sat, and the candle and candlestick stood upon the board, and the candle gave light through the chambers.
285. When he had sat for a long time and saw no one, he began to be tired of waiting, and to long.
286. He thought that food might do him good if he could get it.
In an instant the board was spread, and his choice
of every food that was better than another was on it. He sat a while staring at the board, but still he saw no one living; and he was very hungry. At last he thought that he might as well eat part of the food, whatever the matter might mean; so he sat by the side of the table, and he ate till he had enough. Then he sat at the fireside again.
287. When he had sat awhile by the fire, he began to grow sleepy.
Then it seemed to him that if he had a bed he would go to rest.
288. The candle and the candlestick that stood upon the board went to the first door that was next to him, and the candlestick with the candle in it, stood at the door. He sat awhile looking at them, wondering at all he saw, but in time he took courage, and got up and went where they were.
289. They went when he came, till they came to another door, and there they stood.
290. It seemed to him that he might as well follow to see where they should go. On they went, till they got to the next door, and again he followed.
291. The third door was opened, and in he went to a wondrously gorgeous 1 chamber with a bed in it, and the bedclothes were choice and ready for going to bed. He stood awhile looking about him and looking at the bed, and at last he came to think that as he could see no one, he might as well go to bed. So he stripped off his clothes, and he lay down in
the bed, and put the clothes over his head and slept.
292. The first time he awoke during the night, he seemed to perceive something like a human creature near him. This did not please him very well, so he moved from it as best he might, and he slept again. The next time he awoke it was day, and no one living was near him.
293. He looked about him, as he usually did. The chamber was very richly set in order. He lay awhile staring about, and at last he got up to put on his clothes. But when he looked, there was not a rag of his there. He sought backwards and forwards, and all about, but he had no clothes to find. But there was a dress of other clothes, and clothes that were very grand, lying just where he had laid his own. Since he could not find his own, he put on the clothes he found instead, and he went to the chamber where the fire wasthe first in which he sat when he came to the castle over night. He found it with board decked and spread with each meat and drink that was best, so he sat and ate his fill.
294. When he had finished he looked about, and there he saw every sort of sporting gear 1 that he ever had seen, and many sorts that he never had seen before. He took what he understood the use of, and he went out to shoot in the forest, and that day he killed a couple of turkeyswhich feat the old sailor
or one of his messmates may have performed in America. These he took to the castle and cast on the ground, and when dinner-time came, one of them was ready. He wandered about the castle till "the night came," and when "the night came" he went in to the castle and to the chamber, where he was the night before, and he sat at the fireside.
295. Then came the candle and gave him light.
296. When he wished for supper, the board was decked. When he was sleepy, the candle led him from door to door, and he followed her, and went to bed and slept.
297. The first time he woke, he felt as though a human creature lay on the bed, but he said never a word and slept, and the next time he awoke "the day was there," and there was no one with him in the bed but himself.
298. He got up and found other and grander garments, and this time he was not so loath to put them on as he was the day before.
299. He went to the quarter where he was used to find food, and the fire was lit and the board decked, and when he had eaten, he went out to sport, and that day he killed two hares. These he took to the castle and cast on the floor. One he found ready for dinner, and when the night came the candlestick with the candle in it came and stood upon the board, and the candle gave him light.
300. When he wished for supper, the supper
was ready upon the table, and when he had eaten and wished to go to bed, the candle went before to show him the way, and he followed and lay down.
301. But he thought if anything should come near him, as on the other two nights, that he would speak, happen what might.
302. When he woke, he felt as though a human creature were near him, and he said:
"Who are you? and where am I?"
The thing that was near him said:
"I am the daughter of the king of the golden castle, and this is the castle. Here you may be well off if you will beware of yourself, and do that which is right, as you ought."
"If I knew what I ought to do I would do it," said he.
"What you ought to do," said she, "is to respect me, I am the candle and candlestick that you saw. I was laid under spells to be a candlestick with a lighted candle in it, till I should find some one to stay with me, and lay no hand upon me to touch me, till the end of a year and a day, as you are now doing. Then I shall be free of the spells, and you shall marry me, and have half the realm while my father lives, and the whole realm of the golden castle when he dies."
"If I may get that," said he, "I will stay here with you for a year and a day, if I get what I need in the meantime."
"You shall have all you desire," said she, "a suit of new clothes every day when you get up, your wish and choice of food, sporting gear and sport when you desire it, leave to go out and in as you see fit, but you will not see the face of man or woman here till my time of freedom comes. I am the candle that gives you light, you may look at me, here you may be when you wish to sleep, and here I will visit you, and talk with you, but touch me not. You will never know when I come or go. If you will live thus for a year and a day with me, you will do me great service, and serve yourself."
"I will do all you say," said the fisher's son. "I will make myself happy here, till you are freed from spells," and soon after he fell asleep.
303. When he awoke she was gone. All that day, and from day to day he "put time past" without seeing a soul, but when he awoke at night, the king's daughter was near him, and they talked awhile, and every morning when he got up, his suit of clothes was better and better, and so time was going past, till a year was nearly gone from the time he had left his mother.
304. Then his mother's spells and crosses began to work on him, and he could not but think on those he left behind.
305. On a night of these nights, while he lay chatting with the lady, he said that it was near a year and a day since he went away, and that his mother
had laid crosses and spells upon him if he were alive and had the means that he should go back to see her and tell her his tale.
"I could easily find you a way to go," said she, "but my counsel is to stay."
But his mother's spells were always upon him, and so they talked and talked a great deal, and told their stories over again
306. "I fear," said she at last, "that your mother will play you a trick that will harm us both, but tell me before you wish to start, and next day I will find you means to go."
307. The night came, and when he said that he must go, she said:
"When you rise you will find a new suit to put on, and food as usual, and you will find a black palfrey standing in the stable door, bridled and saddled, half in, half out, ready waiting for you. Mount, and she will take you where you wish to be. You have but to take off the bridle and let her go, and she will come home, but take good care not to lose the bridle. When you want to come back here, you have but to go out and shake the bridle, and the black palfrey will come for you."
308. As she said, so it was. He mounted, and he could not tell whether it was earth or air, till he arrived. But when he looked about he did not know the place; it was so altered with new houses.
309. He met an old man that he used to know,
but he did not recognise him. He asked him where the old fisher lived.
"Oh," said the old man, "that man is not a fisherman now, he is richer than the king, and he has a house that is finer than the king's own."
Then he showed him the way, and as they went, the old man told the lad all that he could know of the story over again, and all that the lady had told the lad the night before, about the fisherman's changed life.
310. When he got to the grand new house, grooms came for the horse, but he said that he would stable the steed himself. He took off the bridle, and no one knew where the steed went.
311. Nobody knew him, but at last he showed the hair of his brow, and his mother knew him by a mote and a scar that were on his forehead, and then there was joy.
312. The king asked them all to dinner, and the king's eldest daughter fell in love with the fisher's son.
313. His mother wished him to marry the princess, but he would go back.
314. But before he went, his mother made him tell all his part of the story over again, and then she said:
"But have you seen what sort of creature she is?"
"No," said he, "I have not seen her. I have put my first sleep past before I perceive that she is
near me, and I am in my sleep again when she goes away, and I never yet have seen what she is like."
315. "Well, my son," said the mother, "your pains seem great to me. You don't know whether she is black or white, nor what is her seeming. She may be legless for aught that you know, but here is a candle, it will light if you breathe your breath on it; keep it carefully till you get a chance, and when she is asleep, light it. You will see whether it is worth your while to wait for her."
He took the candle, for he was glad to get it, and he put it next his breast.
316. Next morning he was up betimes, and went out, and shook his bridle, and came in to breakfast. But before he was well sat down, the black palfrey was beating on the door. He went out and bridled her, and mounted and started, and no one knew the way he went.
317. The black palfrey reached the golden castle, and he went in, and there he found the fire lit, and the board decked, and the candlestick with the lighted candle in it standing upon the board.
318. All things happened as was usual on the first night. On the second, when he awoke, he felt that something was near, so he spoke and the lady answered, and then they told the whole of their stories over again, so that no one might forget it, if repetition would serve that end.
319. "And now," said she, "beware of yourself, for the time is nearly run out."
"I will take good care," said he.
320. On the third night he took his candle from his breast, and hid it under the pillow, and when he awoke and spoke, none answered. Then he perceived that the lady slept, so he sought his candle and blew upon it with his breath, and it lit, and he saw the very sun-breath that was the most beautiful he ever had seen 1 laid asleep outside the clothes.
321. He was in great haste for fear she should wake, and he blew so hasty a blast at the candle that a spark fell upon her, and she went from him.
322. In an instant, each bed and castle and thing that was there was gone, and he, stripped as he was, lay on the ground with the seaman's clothes that he wore when he came beside him.
He had but to rise as fast as he could and put them on.
323. The castle was gone, and there was no knowing what had become of it.
The fisher's son was wandering far and wide about the wood, and he began to repent that he had not married the princess at home, for had he married her, he would not have lost thus both before and behind.
324. All that day he wandered in that wilderness of a wood, and when night came, he climbed a tree for fear wild beasts should be in the forest.
325. But when the night grew dark, the wild beasts were growling and whining all about the foot of the tree, and he feared that they would climb up and kill him. But no matter, that did not happen.
326. The second day he wandered about eating wild fruits, and when night came he climbed another tree, and the wild beasts growled and prowled about it.
327. When the third day came, the beasts left the root of the tree, and when daylight had come, he came down and set out to see what he might see in the forest. But he could see nothing save a wilderness of great trees.
328. At last he came to a pretty green grassy glade, and there he saw a lion, an eagle, and an ant at the carcase of an old white horse. At first he turned to flee from the lion, but the lion roared: "Stop, lad; you need not trouble to flee, for I could speedily catch you, but come hither and make fair division of this carcase between us three. If you judge fairly, you will profit and so shall we; but if you fail, we shall suffer hereafter."
So the lad went to the dead horse, and there he found a lion, an eagle, and an ant standing by the white carcase. He took his little rusty seaman's knife that he used to have when he fished with his father to split fish and make bait of limpets and buckies, and he thought awhile as he looked at the old horse. At last he took his knife and cut off the horse's head, and that he threw to the ant.
"Here, you ant," said he, "is your share; here you have food and shelter, store and store-house, and dwelling."
Then he took his knife again and ripped up the carcase and dragged out the inside, and that he threw to the eagle.
"There, you eagle," said he, "it is fittest and softest for you to rive and tear with beak and claws."
"And, you lion," said he, "take the rest, for you have most power and pith to strip flesh from bones with teeth and nails."
Then said the lion: "Well have you done; you have given each that which is fittest, and for that, if at any time you come to straits or peril and need, you may be a lion three times."
Then said the eagle: "You have helped me likewise, and if you have need and it will help you, you may be an eagle thrice."
Then said the ant: "He has aided me as much as either of you, and if ever he has need to be in small space or creep through crannies, he may be an ant thrice."
Then the three blessed him and he blessed the three, and he left them with the white carcase of the dead horse in the forest glade.
329. After this, one day, as he was wandering about the great forest, he thought that if he were an eagle, he would not be long ere he knew whether the house which held the daughter of the king of the golden castle was in the forest where he was.
[paragraph continues] But no sooner did he think of the eagle than he was an eagle himself. He sprang, and he went upon his wings above the trees, and he wheeled and he wheeled about, and he wheeled round about again, and he saw the castle.
330. He flew away, and he perched upon the top of the castle till the night came. When the darkness was there, down he went and stood on the ground, and he went round about the castle and saw no one. He went to the door, but it was shut and barred.
331. He thought if he were as little as an ant that he would creep through the keyhole to see if the lady was there. But no sooner had he thought about the ant than he was one himself.
332. He climbed up the door and crept through the keyhole, and down the door to the floor, and in to the room where he used to find his food, but that room was dark, fireless, and without a candle. Then he crept on, climbing doors and creeping through keyholes, till he crept through three chambers to the bedroom where he used to sleep, and there in the bed he heard a loud snore.
333. Then he understood that some one had got the place that he used to have.
334. The king's daughter knew that he was in the chamber, and she cried to a giant who was in the bed: "Get up, you giant; something that is not right is in the house."
335. The man who was in an ant climbed up the bed and fled into the hole of a wood-louse (réudan).
336. "I'll get him if he is inside this house," said the giant as he got up, "though he were no bigger than a barley-corn."
But the giant sought within and without, and all round about, and never thought that anyone could be in the hole of the wood-louse.
337. While he was gone, the other came out and took his own shape, and spoke to the lady and she to him. But they had small time to talk, for the giant came back, and the fisher's son had to go into the ant's shape and flee into the hole, and there he stayed till next night.
But the giant came grumbling back and said, "I found nothing within but what ought to be." And he went to sleep.
338. Next night the giant came in and slept, and the lady came in and laid herself where she was wont. Then the ant crept out and touched her with his sting.
"Rise, rise, giant," she cried aloud. "There is something about this castle that is not right, and unless you find it, it will harm either you or me."
But the ant fled back into the hole of the woodlouse.
"There is no one that can harm me," said the giant.
"Search the castle within and without," said she, "unless you find him, it will be the worse for you."
"There never was a man that could slay me," growled the giant, "but I'll go to seek him for you,
and I will find him if he is no bigger than a barleycorn." And off he set to do the ransacking.
339. When he was gone the ant crept out and became a man, and he said:
"How do you do?" (Cia mar a to thu).
"Ill enough," said she. "Ill you have done to yourself and to me. Me you have lost, and my lot is to take this giant against my will. Oh, if you had been aware of yourself, it had been well with you and with me now, but I must bear my lot since it has fallen upon me."
"It was my mother's fault," said he.
"I know that," said she, "but if you had taken my counsel, you might have been married to me, with half the realm of the golden castle."
"Is there no way to get back?" said he.
"No, not while this giant lives," said she. And then they talked long and sadly, and told the story all over again.
340. "But," said the fisher's son, "perhaps I might find a way to slay this giant."
"You cannot slay him," said she. "It is not in himself that his life is at all."
"And where, then, is his life?" said the lad.
Said she: "It is in a lion that is in a thicket of oak, that is near the house of a farmer, that is at the uttermost end of this forest. In the lion's belly is a dove, and in the dove an egg. Nothing is that will kill this giant but to smite him with that egg."
341. Then they heard the clatter of the giant's
feet coming, and the fisher's son had to be an ant a second time, and flee into the wood-louse's hole. The giant came in and sought in the room, and when he could find nothing, he went to bed and slept.
When the giant slept, the fisher's son crept out, for that was the last time he could be an ant, and it would not do to stay longer there. He thought the sooner he was out of the castle the better for him, so he climbed down the bed, and crept over the floor, and crawled up the door and through the keyhole, and down over the floors, and so from door to door, and from room to room, till he was outside the walls of the castle.
342. Then he thought of the eagle, and sprang and flew to the castle top, and there he sat till day.
343. As soon as the day came, he went upon his wrings to see if he could hit upon the farmer's house near the grove where the lion was.
344. At the darkening of lateness he got there and took his own shape, and he beat upon the door, and the farmer came out and said:
"Who are you, and whence?"
345. "I am a poor sailor," said he, "my ship was lost, and all on board were drowned but me; and since I cannot get back, I am seeking service."
"Come in, lad," said the farmer, "your sort used to be hungry and thirsty at times."
346. In he went, and from less to more he offered to be a herd. "We need one of your sort," said the farmer. A lion is in a thicket of wood near us,
and each time the cattle go to that grove, the lion takes one of the cows, and sometimes he takes the best, and sometimes he takes the herd."
"I will be herd," said the fisher's son, and they settled the bargain.
347. Early in the morning he used to arise to put out the cattle. He drove them out and went with them to pasture where the grass was best, and at night he used to bring them home.
348. One of the farmer's daughters was dairymaid, and she fell in love with the herd, and she did not want him ever to go to the forest with the cattle, for fear that he should be slain by the lion.
349. On a day of these days, the herd said to the farmer: "I will go to the wood with the cattle today."
"Well, then, don't go too far in," said the farmer, "for fear that the lion should happen upon you and take one of the herd."
"I will take care of that," said the herdsman. The dairymaid did not wish him to go, but she was more afraid that the lion might take the lad. But no matter and never mind, the thing that was done was driving the cows to the wood.
350. When the herdsman got to the grove, instead of keeping the cows back, he drove them farther and farther into the forest, till at last the lion came.
351. He was going to seize a brindled heifer that was there, but the herd got between them.
352. Then he thought on the lion that he helped at the white horse, and in the twinkling of an eye, he was a lion himself.
353. The two lions struggled till the sun was going west beneath the mountain at evening, without knowing which was losing or winning.
354. They could struggle no more, so they sat and stared at each other.
355. "If I had a draught of water I would rive you to gobbets," said the forest lion.
356. "If I had one of wine I would tear you to tatters asunder," said the herd lion.
Then the forest lion got up and stalked back to the wood again, and then the herd lion got up and made a herd of himself, and drove the cattle home, singing a ditty tunefully.
357. When he got home, the farmer said: "How went it with you to-day?"
"Well," said he.
"Saw you the lion?" said the master.
"I saw him," said the herd.
"I wonder he did not take one of the cattle," said the farmer.
"He wanted to take one," said the herd, "but I would not let him."
358. The cattle were sent to the byre, and the dairymaid milked them.
359. And she never got so much milk from them before.
360. The herd got well taken to that night. Joy and a feast were made for him.
361. Next day the master said: "You need not go to the wood with the beasts. A day now and again is enough. It is not easy tó keep cows from the lion." The dairymaid said as much for fear of the herd's life.
But he said:
"There is good grass in the groves, and it is best to hold on till the cattle make it bare. I will keep off the lion."
362. "Then I will go with you," said the farmer's daughter, and she was ready to start, but he would not let her go that day.
363. He drove the cattle farther and farther in, till the lion came as before, and tried at the brindled heifer.
364. Then the herd ran between and thought on the lion, and was a lion himself. The two lions struggled and tugged and fought all day, till the sun was going down under the mountain at evening, and then at last they paused and gazed.
365. "If I had a draught of water," said the forest lion, "I would tear you to tatters."
366. "If I had a draught of wine," quoth the lion-herd, "I would not be long about riving you asunder."
367. Then they got up and went their ways as before.
368. "Saw you the lion?" said the farmer, as he got home.
"I saw him," said the herd, "and he wanted to take the brindled heifer, but I hindered him."
"It's odd that he did not take you," said the master.
"If he could, he would have done that same," quoth the herd.
369. So much milk they never got before.
370. And the herd was feasted, and praised, and well treated that night.
371. Next morning the farmer said: "I rather incline to think that you had better set the cattle on some other way to-day. A day in the wood now and again is quite enough. It is rather risky to go often to the forest with them, but that's no matter."
"The best grass is in the woods," said the herd, "and it is best to go there that grass may grow elsewhere."
372. The dairymaid did all she could to keep the herd from the wood, for fear that he should be killed by the lion, but no matter. To the wood they went.
373. Instead of holding the cattle back, he drove them farther and farther in, till the lion came, and he, as was his wont, tried to take the best in the herd. The herdsman thought of the lion for whom he divided the carcase, and was a lion for the third time, and the two lions struggled. And they struggled, and fought, and hauled, and pulled, and dragged, and bit, and roared, and growled, and struggled again, till
the sun was almost near going under the hill, and neither knew which should win or lose.
374. Then they ceased struggling, and sat and glowered.
375. "If I had one draught of water, you should never more keep me from taking a cow: I would tear you to pieces," said the forest lion.
376. "If I had a draught of wine, I would set you so that you should never more come to take a cow that belonged to another, for I would rive you to gobbets."
377. Who should be at his back when he spoke but the farmer's daughter coming to him with wine to freshen him up, for it seemed to her that he was weary on the night before. And she gave him the draught of wine.
378. The forest lion rose and fled. The other rose when he had drunk his wine, and he stretched out after him, and he caught him, and killed him, and tore him to pieces. 1
379. The pigeon came out of the lion's belly and sprang away on her wings. But the lion-herd made an eagle of himself for the third time, and spread his wings and darted after her, and he caught her and killed her, and took the bits to pieces, and found the egg.
380. He never went back to the farmer's daughter or to the cows, but on he flew to the
castle, where was the daughter of the king of the golden castle, and when he got there, he got into his own shape.
381. He went into the castle, and into the room where he used to find food, but there was none there, and on he went through the other chambers till he reached the bedroom.
382. There lay the giant with ich and och and acain, groaning in a miserable plight.
383. When the fisher's son went into the chamber where the giant was, he got up to be at grips with him. But he cast the egg at him, and the egg struck the giant full in the front of his face, and down tumbled the giant, dead.
384. The hardest work the fisher's son ever found to do, was to carry that giant out of the castle. He tried to lift him, but he could not stir him. The thing which he had to do at last, was to take his seaman's knife and cut him into four quarters, and carry him out bit by bit, and bury him in a hole that he happened to find somewhere outside.
385. When that was done and the chamber cleaned, he went and sat where he was wont, and there he sat till night.
386. When the night darkened, the candlestick with the lighted candle in it came and stood on the board as it used to do. When he wished for food he had it instantly, and when he grew sleepy and wished to rest, the candlestick and the candle showed him the way, and he went to bed and slept.
387. When he awoke he felt that some creature was near him. He spoke, and the king's daughter answered.
"Are you to be mine if I make out the time?" said he.
"I am," said she, "but you must begin at the beginning and be as you are for a year and a day. If you do that I shall be yours, and the golden realmall as you might have had it before, unless you think it too long to wait."
"I am willing to wait if I get you then," said he.
"You will," said she, "if you wait, and you shall have all you wish for here but me while you are waiting for me."
388. "I'll do that," said he, and so he did. Nothing worth telling happened for a year and a day, which seemed like one day to a lonely man who saw no one. At the end of the time, as he was wandering about in the castle, wearying, in came the most beautiful darling of a woman that he ever had seen, and said
389. "I am the daughter of the king of the golden castle, and now I am free of the spells that held me, but I must be gone for three days."
390. "I will take you to the realm where my father is. This is not my castle, this is an enchanted castle, and we must leave it soon. Stay here till I come back."
391. He did not like that at all, but for fear that he might go wrong as he did before, he stayed
there all alone for three days, and he never said a word against it.
392. Then she came forth with a band of maidens and of youths, and she said: "I have come to seek you to go to the golden realm with me."
393. "The ship is ready, let us go." And so they sailed over the ocean to the golden realm, where the old king was pleased to see his daughter come back with a handsome lad, and there they were married.
90:1 According to Macnair.
92:1 According to Macnair.
92:2 According to an island authority who has less history.
92:3 Maithean na rioghachd.
93:1 Deise chruadhach.
93:2 Probably because Macleod's fairy flag and ancient Norse standards are, and were, supposed to be magical.
95:1 Which is a fair description of a Scandinavian battle in which sea-rovers got the worst of the fight. Be that as it may, the story remains in its own shape, and it is rather like the Exploit of Bhima in the Mahabharata, who won a battle single-handed.
99:1 Gin, lit., any begotten being; creature.
100:1 Anabharra riomhach.
101:1 Inneal seilg.
108:1 An aon deo-gréine bu bhòidhche: a common phrase in speaking of a beautiful woman.
119:1 The equivalent of the mermaid's death. This lion was one of the tribe who guarded the hearts of mythical beings.