Friday, 15 March 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Little Rag Girl (Soviet Georgia, 1894)


Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.

This week we look at a tale of a little girl in rags from Soviet Georgia. It was collected and published in Georgian Folk Tales in 1894 by English scholar and translator Marjory Scott Wardrop. She was an amazing woman. She never married and travelled extensively with her brother the British diplomat and scholar Sir John Oliver Wardrop where together they collected and translated volumes of works into English. She was fluent in seven foreign languages and taught herself Georgian so she could travel to Georgia (then part of Imperial Russia) in 1894-5. There she translated and published several books including the first English prose translation of a medieval epic poem by Shota Rustaveli After her death, her brother created the Marjory Wardrop Fund at Oxford University "for the encouragement of the study of the language, literature, and history of Georgia, in Transcaucasia.”

This tale has many elements that you expect to see in a Cinderella tale (mistreatment by a stepmother, magical helper, impossible tasks, lost slipper, royal wedding) but also bears some resemblance to the Aarne Thompson Uther classification of ATU 480—the Kind and the Unkind Girls where good behaviour is rewarded, and bad behaviour is punished. You see this in Perrault’s tale of Diamonds and Toads or the Grimm’s version of Mother Holle or in more contemporary retellings like Robert San Souci's The Talking Eggs. 

This tale begins interestingly because our heroine is not forced to wear rags by her evil stepmother (she comes later) but rather wears rags because they are so poor. Once her father remarries, the stepmother sets her up with impossible tasks. She is given a loaf of badly cooked bread and told to eat it all and share it with every passer-by, but to come him with a whole loaf at the end of the day. Later she is told to gather all the grains of millet together that have been spread all over the farmyard and to fill a trough with her tears before nightfall. Rag Girl’s magical helper is a cow who feeds our girl by producing food from its horns. As in other tales, the magical helper is slaughtered, and the bones still help our heroine from beyond the grave.

The most interesting detail to me is the King finds the slipper and declares he will marry who it fits without having seen her first. I also really like that we have a plucky heroine in this tale who is not passive. When the slipper is brought to their house, the stepmother puts her own daughter upon a throne to receive the King but hides Rag Girl under a basket that the King uses as a chair. She pokes him with a needle to get his attention. She comes out from under the basket and tries on the shoe and it fits. Then her shameless stepmother was left with a dry throat. As a child, I would have hoped that meant her throat was slit and bled dry for her treachery (I was a bloodthirsty girl), but I suspect it means she was at a loss for words.

 Image result for mother hulda gold
Conkiajgharuna, the Little Rag Girl source

There was and there was not, there was a miserable peasant. He had a wife and a little daughter. So poor was this peasant that his daughter was called Conkiajgharuna (Little Rag Girl).
Some time passed, and his wife died. He was unhappy before, but now a greater misfortune had befallen him. He grieved and grieved, and at last he said to himself, "I will go and take another wife; she will mind the house and tend my orphan child." So he arose and took a second wife, but this wife brought with her a daughter of her own. When this woman came into her husband's house and saw his child, she was angry in heart.

She treated Little Rag Girl badly. She petted her own daughter, but scolded her stepdaughter, and tried to get rid of her. Every day she gave her a piece of badly cooked bread, and sent her out to watch the cow, saying, "Here is a loaf; eat of it, give to every wayfarer, and bring the loaf home whole." The girl went and felt very miserable.

Once she was sitting sadly in the field and began to weep bitterly. The cow listened, and then opened its mouth, and said, "Why are you weeping? What troubles you?" The girl told her sad tale. The cow said, "In one of my horns is honey, and in the other is butter, which you can take if you want to, so why be unhappy?" The girl took the butter and the honey, and in a short time she grew plump. When the stepmother noticed this, she did not know what to do for rage. She rose, and after that every day she gave her a basket of wool with her; this wool was to be spun and brought home in the evening finished. The stepmother wished to tire the girl out with toil, so that she should grow thin and ugly.

Once when Little Rag Girl was tending the cow, it ran away onto a roof. [In some parts of the Caucasus the houses of the peasantry are built in the ground, and it is quite possible to walk onto a roof unwittingly. (Note by Wardrop)] She pursued it, and wished to drive it back to the road, but she dropped her spindle on the roof. Looking inside she saw an old woman seated, and said to her, "Good mother, will you give me my spindle?"

The old dame replied, "I am not able, my child, come and take it yourself." The old woman was a devi.
The girl went in and was lifting up her spindle, when the old dame called out, "Daughter, daughter, come and look at my head a moment. I am almost eaten up."

The girl came and looked at her head. She was filled with horror; all the worms in the earth seemed to be crawling there. The little girl stroked her head and removed some, and then said, "You have a clean head. Why should I look at it?"

This conduct pleased the old woman very much, and she said, "When you leave here, go along such and such a road, and in a certain place you will see three springs -- one white, one black, and one yellow. Pass by the white and black and put your head in the yellow and rinse it with your hands."
The girl did this. She went on her way and came to the three springs. She passed by the white and black, and bathed her head with her hands in the yellow fountain. When she looked up, she saw that her hair was quite golden, and her hands, too, shone like gold. In the evening, when she went home, her stepmother was filled with fury. After this she sent her own daughter with the cow. Perhaps the same good fortune would visit her!

So Little Rag Girl stayed at home while her stepsister drove out the cow. Once more the cow ran onto the roof. The girl pursued it, and her spindle fell down. She looked in, and seeing the devi woman, called out, "Dog of an old woman! Here! Come and give me my spindle!"

The old woman replied, "I am not able, child, come and take it yourself." When the girl came near, the old woman said, "Come, child, and look at my head."

The girl came and looked at her head, and cried out, "Ugh! What a horrid head you have! You are a disgusting old woman!"

The old woman said, "I thank you, my child; when you go on your way you will see a yellow, a white, and a black spring. Pass by the yellow and the white springs and rinse your head with your hands in the black one."

The girl did this. She passed by the yellow and white springs and bathed her head in the black once. When she looked at herself, she was black as an African, and on her head there was a horn. She cut it off again and again, but it grew larger and larger.

She went home and complained to her mother, who was almost frenzied, but there was no help for it. Her mother said to herself, "This is all the cow's fault, so it shall be killed."

This cow knew the future. When it learned that it was to be killed, it went to Little Rag Girl and said, "When I am dead, gather my bones together and bury them in the earth. When you are in trouble come to my grave, and cry aloud, 'Bring my steed and my royal robes!'" Little Rag Girl did exactly as the cow had told her. When it was dead she took its bones and buried them in the earth.

After this, some time passed. One holiday the stepmother took her daughter, and they went to church. She placed a trough in front of Little Rag Girl, spread a large measure of millet in the courtyard, and said, "Before we come home from church fill this trough with tears, and gather up this millet, so that not one grain is left." Then they went to church.

Little Rag Girl sat down and began to weep. While she was crying a neighbour came in a said, "Why are you in tears? What is the matter?" The little girl told her tale. The woman brought all the brood hens and chicken, and they picked up every grain of millet, then she put a lump of salt in the trough and poured water over it. "There, child," said she, "there are your tears! Now go and enjoy yourself."
Little Rag Girl then thought of the cow. She went to its grave and called out, "Bring me my steed and my royal robes!" There appeared at once a horse and beautiful clothes. Little Rag Girl put on the garments, mounted the horse, and went to the church.

There all the folk began to stare at her. They were amazed at her grandeur. Her stepsister whispered to her mother when she saw her, "This girl is very much like our Little Rag Girl!"

Her mother smiled scornfully and said, "Who would give that sun darkener such robes?"

Little Rag Girl left the church before anyone else; she changed her clothes in time to appear before her stepmother in rags. On the way home, as she was leaping over a stream, in her haste she let her slipper fall in.

A long time passed. Once when the king's horses were drinking water in this stream, they saw the shining slipper and were so afraid that they would drink no more water. The king was told that there was something shining in the stream, and that the horses were afraid.

The king commanded his divers to find out what it was. They found the golden slipper and presented it to the king. When he saw it, he commanded his viziers, saying, "Go and seek the owner of this slipper, for I will wed none but her." His viziers sought the maiden, but they could find no one whom the slipper would fit.

Little Rag Girl's mother heard this, adorned her daughter, and placed her on a throne. Then she went and told the king that she had a daughter whose foot he might look at. It was exactly the model for the shoe. She put Little Rag Girl in a corner, with a big basket over her. When the king came into the house he sat down on the basket, in order to try on the slipper.

Little Rag Girl took a needle and pricked the king from under the basket. He jumped up, stinging with pain, and asked the stepmother what she had under the basket. The stepmother replied, "It is only a turkey I have there."

The king sat down on the basket again, and Little Rag Girl again stuck the needle into him. The king jumped up, and cried out, "Lift the basket. I will see underneath!"

The stepmother pleaded with him, saying, "Do not blame me, your majesty, it is only a turkey, and it will run away."

But the king would not listen to her pleas. He lifted the basket up, and Little Rag Girl came forth, and said, "This slipper is mine, and fits me well." She sat down, and the king found that it was indeed a perfect fit. Little Rag Girl became the king's wife, and her shameless stepmother was left with a dry throat.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a tale from Serbia where the magical helper is both an animal and her mother.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Little Saddleslut (Greece, 1884)


Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.

This week we look at a variant of Cinderella from Greece entitled Little Saddleslut that was collected by Edmund Martin Geldart in his 1884 book Folk-Lore of Modern Greece: The Tales of the People.  Geldart studied at Oxford where he was friends with Gerald Manley Hopkins. Upon graduation he was appointed assistant-master at Manchester Grammar School, but a breakdown compelled him to give up his teaching post. He went abroad and spent time in Athens, where he developed an interest in the language and culture of modern Greece. He eventually returned to England and became a classics and modern languages teacher and later became a curate until his religious views changed and he left the Anglican church and joined the Unitarians.

This version bears some resemblance to other tales we have looked at (there are mean sisters and a shoe is lost) but it also resembles other tales like The Juniper Tree due to the cannibalism and there is a magic house with talking dishware which rather put me in mind of Beauty and the Beast. There is also shades of the Greek myth about the birth of Perseus where his mother Danaë is made pregnant by Zeus and her father locks her and the baby in a wooden chest and throws them in the sea.

The sisters in this tale are not just mean to our protagonist, they are cannibals who kill and eat their own mother. They put her on a saddle that is covered with bird poop and give her the nickname Little Saddleslut for not joining in their gore fest. Our heroine is virtuous and saves her mother’s bones and gives them a proper burial. The grave brings forth gold coins and a garment so blindingly beautiful that people could not gaze directly at it. As you would expect, she loses her shoe and the prince finds it, but one of the nicest things about this tale is the fact that the prince recognises her right away even though she is covered in bird poop. The moment he sees her, he knows the shoe will fit. She does not need a makeover to be recognised. Later, after her sisters have thrown her into the river in a wooden chest and she lives in the house with talking dishware he does not seem to recognise her. I can’t be sure. He tries to steal one of her talking spoons by sticking it in his shoe, but I am not clear if this is just a random act of kleptomania or is it a test to make her reveal her true identity. Also, the trigger for boxing her into the river was the fact that she’d had a baby and the sisters were jealous. Unlike Danaë, the baby was not included in the sea chest and when she is reunited with the prince, the child is never mentioned. However, it does have a satisfactory ending because the sisters are hewed into pieces for their treachery.

Little Saddleslut source

There were once three sisters spinning flax, and they said, "Whosever spindle falls, let us kill her and eat her."

The mother's spindle fell, and they left her alone.

Again they sat down to spin, and again the mother's spindle fell, and again and yet again.

"Ah, well!" said they, "let us eat her now!"

"No!" said the youngest, "do not eat her; eat me, if flesh you will have."

But they would not; and two of them killed their mother and cooked her for eating.

When they had sat down to make a meal of her, they said to the youngest, "Come and eat too!"

But she refused and sat down on a saddle which the fowls were covering with filth, and wept, and upbraided them.

Many a time they said to her, "Come and eat!" but she would not; and when they had done eating, they all went away.

Then the youngest, whom they called Little Saddleslut, gathered all the bones together and buried them underneath the grate, and smoked them every day with incense for forty days; and after the forty days were out, she went to take them away and put them in another place. And when she lifted up the stone, she was astonished at the rays of light which it sent forth, and raiment was found there, like unto the heavens and the stars, the spring with its flowers, the sea with its waves; and many coins of every kind; and she left them where she found them.

Afterwards her sisters came and found her sitting on the saddle and jeered at her. On Sunday her sisters went to church; then she, too, arose; she washed and attired herself, putting on the garment that was as the heavens with the stars, and went to church, taking with her a few gold pieces in her purse. When she went into the church all the people were amazed and could not gaze upon her by reason of the brightness of her garments. When she left the church, the people followed her to see whither she went. Then she filled her hand with money from her bag and cast it in the way, and so she kept throwing it down all the way she went, so that they might not get near her. Then the crowd scrambled for the coins and left her alone. And straightway she went into her house, and changed her clothes, and put on her old things, and sat down upon the saddle.

Her sisters came home from church and said to her, "Where are you, wretch? Come and let us tell you how there came into the church a maiden more glorious than the sun, who had such garments on as you could not look on, so brightly did they gleam and shine, and she strewed money on the way! Look, see what a lot we have picked up! Why did not you come too? Worse luck to you!"

"You are welcome to what you picked up; I don't want it," said she.

Next Sunday they went to church again, and she did the same. Then they went another Sunday, and just as she was flinging the money, she lost her shoe among the crowd, and left it behind her.
Now the king's son was following her, but could not catch her, and only found her shoe. Then said he to himself, "Whose ever foot this shoe exactly fits, without being either too large or too small, I will take her for my wife."

And he went to all the women he knew and tried it on but could not manage to fit it. Then her sisters came to her and spoke as follows to her, "You go and try; perhaps it will fit you!"

"Get away with you!" said she. "Do you think he will put the shoe on me, and get it covered with filth? Do not make fun of me."

The prince had taken all the houses in turn, and so he came at length to the house of Little Saddleslut, 
and his servants told her to come and try on the shoe.

"Do not make fun of me," she says.

However she went down, and when the prince saw her, he knew the shoe was hers, and said to her, 

"Do you try on the shoe."

And with the greatest ease she put it on, and it fitted her.

Then said the prince to her, "I will take you to wife."

"Do not make fun of me," she answered, "so may your youth be happy!"

"Nay, but I will marry you," said he, and he took her and made her his wife.

Then she put on her fairest robes. When a little child was born to her, the sisters came to see it. And when she was helpless and alone, they took her and put her into a chest, and carried her off and threw her into a river, and the river cast her forth upon a desert.

There was a half-witted old woman there, and when she saw the chest, she thought to cut it up [for firewood] and took it away for that purpose. And when she had broken it open, and saw someone alive in it, she got up and made off.

So the princess was left alone, and heard the wolves howling, and the swine and the lions, and she sat and wept and prayed to God, "Oh God, give me a little hole in the ground that I may hide my head in it, and not hear the wild beasts," and he gave her one.

Again she said, "Oh God, give me one a little larger, that I may get in up to my waist."
And he gave her one. And she besought him again a third time, and he gave her a cabin with all that she wanted in it; and there she dwelt, and whatever she said, her bidding was done forthwith.

For instance, when she wanted to eat, she would say, "Come, table with all that is wanted! Come food! Come spoons and forks, and all things needful," and straightway they all got ready, and when she finished the would ask, "Are you all there?" and they would answer, "We are."

One day the prince came into the wilderness to hunt and seeing the cabin he went to find out who was inside; and when he got there he knocked at the door.
And she saw him and knew him from afar, and said, "Who is knocking at the door?"

"It is I, let me in," said he.

"Open, doors!" said she, and in a twinkling the doors opened, and he entered. He went upstairs and found her seated on a chair.

"Good day to you," said he.

"Welcome!" said she, and straightway all that was in the room cried out, "Welcome!"

"Come chair!" she cried, and one came at once.

"Sit down," she said to him and down he sat. And when she had asked him the reason of his coming, she bade him stay and dine, and afterwards depart.

He agreed, and straightway she gave her orders: "Come table with all the covers," and forthwith they presented themselves, and he was sore amazed.

"Come basin," she cried. "Come jug, pour water for us to wash! Come food in ten courses!" and immediately all that she ordered made its appearance.

Afterwards when the meal was ended, the prince tried to hide a spoon, and put it into his shoe; and when they rose from table, she said "Table, have you all your covers?"

"Yes I have." "Spoons, are you all there?"

"All," they said, except one which said, "I am in the prince's shoe."

Then she cried again, as though she had not heard, "Are you all there, spoons and forks?"
And as soon as the prince heard her, he got rid of it on the sly and blushed.

And she said to him "Why did you blush? Don't be afraid. I am your wife."

Then she told him how she got there and how she fared. And they hugged and kissed each other, and she ordered the house to move and it did move. And when they came near the town all the world came out to see them. Then the prince gave orders for his wife's sisters to be brought before him, and they brought them, and he hewed them in pieces. And so henceforward they lived happily, and may we live more happily still.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for the tale of a little Rag Girl.
.


Wednesday, 6 March 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Wild Garlic and Walnut Pesto

Hello lovelies! Well, I have had an adventure. I went foraging for the first time on Saint David's Day with my friend Ebrill. She took me out to Green Castle woods and we had a wonderful time hiking in the mud and collecting wild garlic.

This was definitely in the top ten most fun experiences I have had in in the woods. I felt just like a dryad (that's a tree nymph for the uninitiated) as we wandered through the mucky mud in search of the leaves of wild garlic. Ebrill said they grow close to bluebells which were just in the green stage and not the flowering blue bit yet. You have to be careful as bluebell leaves are poisonous, so you don't want to accidentally pick some. But luckily bluebells and wild garlic look nothing alike.

We found banks and banks of the stuff and strayed slightly off the path to gather our leaves (avoiding any too close to the pathway.) It was so exciting to fill a bag with different sized wild garlic leaves--the smaller the leaf the more intense the garlic taste. Ebrill taught me to leave the bulb so the garlic leaves could grow back. I came home with about 6 cups of leaves.

Ebrill suggested making pesto and the whole rest of the way through the woods pesto was all I could think about. Seriously, I could not wait to get making. I know pesto is traditionally made with basil leaves and (expensive) pine nuts, but really any dark leafy green and any nut will do. I chose walnut as I had some on hand.

Now, I realise that you may not have a knowledgeable friend to take you on an exciting foraging adventure. Like me, you might not have ever seen wild garlic in person. The only knowledge i had of wild garlic was reading Tess of the d'Urbervilles where they can tell a cow had eaten wild garlic because the milk had a funny tang and they all scour the field on their hands and knees looking for it so they can dig it up.

If you don't have any wild garlic near you then you can use something leafy green like spinach and just chuck in some garlic. But if you can go out in the woods and collect some wild garlic then I urge you to do so. It's exhilarating.

I should also like to say that traditionally pesto is swimming in oil. I only used a little bit of oil and blended mine a bit chunky and it was still bloody gorgeous. I collected about 6 cups of leaves which made about 2 cups of pesto. I froze one jar and put the other in the fridge for pizza and hummus. I will be reporting on the pizza next week on the blog, so watch this space.

Wild Garlic and Walnut Pesto
3 cups leafy greens, well washed (wild garlic or spinach)
3-4 cloves garlic if you are using spinach (you don't need this if you are using wild garlic obviously)
1/4 to 1/2 cup walnuts
1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1-2 TB lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
2 TB olive oil

In a food processor put all your ingredients except oil and blend. Stop and scrape down the sides. Blend again streaming in the oil until a thick, chunky paste forms. Store in a clean jar.

I read online that if you were keeping it in the fridge for a while then to pour a layer of oil over the top to prevent oxidation which would discolour your bright green. We ate one jar the very next on the pizza and the rest mixed into hummus, so i can't say for sure.

Also as long as you got your food processor out, you might as well do a double batch and freeze one. then defrost overnight in your fridge. It might need a bit of a stir and an drizzle of oil or water if it seems a bit dry.

If I had known how easy and delicious homemade pesto was i would definitely have been making it all this time. Especially since you can freeze it...why not make several batches and store them away for future meals. I am picturing pesto pasta with roasted tomatoes somewhere in our near future.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Fair, Brown and Trembling (Italian, 1890)


Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.

This week we look at an Irish tale entitled Fair, Brown and Trembling which should surely win the award for the most unusually named group of sisters. This is definitely a Cinderella story, but with elements of many other tales including the murder ballad The Twa Sisters which I looked at in depth two years ago on Murder Ballad Monday.

This tale first appeared in Myths and Folk-lore of Ireland and was published by American ethnographer, folklorist, and translator Jeremiah Curtin in 1890. Curtin and his wife Alma travelled extensively in the British isles and from these visits he compiled one of the first accurate collections of Irish folk material. Joseph Jacobs retold it using Curtin as his source and published it in his book Celtic Fairy Tales in 1891.

There is a lot going on in this narrative. It is both a straightforward Cinderella story and a sweeping epic tale. It has elements you would expect—bullying sisters, magical helper, a lost shoe and royal marriage, but the story does not end there.

It begins as you would expect with our heroine Trembling being persecuted by her older sisters Fair and Brown because she is too pretty. They make her stay home and do all the cooking and cleaning because they don’t want her to marry before they do. In this tale (as you often find in tales from Ireland) the meeting place is at church, not at a ball. And instead of a midnight curfew, she must not enter the church and ride away on her horse the moment mass is over. Our henwife in this tale in not merely a wise woman but one who uses her “cloak of darkness” and real magic to make the clothing appear. With each visit to church, Trembling’s outfit gets more and more elaborate. It begins with a dress as white as snow, then a glossy black dress and then finally Trembling asks for:

"A dress red as a rose from the waist down, and white as snow from the waist up; a cape of green on my shoulders; and a hat on my head with a red, a white, and a green feather in it; and shoes for my feet with the toes red, the middle white, and the backs and heels green."

If this story doesn’t win for most unusual names, then it should definitely win for most specific outfit that looks like the Italian flag.

In this case she does not lose her shoe, but the prince chases her as she rides away on her steed and wrenches it from her foot and claims her as his own. Interestingly, the shoe is not described here-- as it often is in other tales-- as being impossibly small. It clearly says it was of proper size, neither large nor small. Despite some girls cutting off a toe to make their foot smaller and other girls stuffing the end of their stockings to make their foot longer, it only fits Trembling.

Then there is the strange interlude where the prince has to fight all the other princes of other countries for her hand because just having the shoe was not enough. He must win her hand (or foot?) by the point of the sword.

Now, here is where you would think the tale would end, but no. Here it morphs into elements of Aarne Thomspon Uther 780 The Truth Comes to Light where a jealous sister tries to murder her more beautiful sibling and steal her sweetheart but is found out and punished. There are also elements from tales like the True Bride where a sleeping draught of forgetfulness prevents a character from recalling vital information. In this tale Trembling is swallowed by a whale (yes, really) and is saved by a little cowboy (yes, really) and later marries her daughter off to the cowboy because that’s what you do when women are considered your property.

This is a really fun and epic tale that feels like it was written by a rather inebriated person due to all the unbelievable elements to it as the story progresses. It is rather long, but well told so I am including the whole of the text here.
Fair, Brown, and Trembling source

King Aedh Cúrucha lived in Tir Conal, and he had three daughters, whose names were Fair, Brown, and Trembling.

Fair and Brown had new dresses and went to church every Sunday. Trembling was kept at home to do the cooking and work. They would not let her go out of the house at all; for she was more beautiful than the other two, and they were in dread she might marry before themselves.

They carried on in this way for seven years. At the end of seven years the son of the king of Omanya [the ancient Emania in Ulster] fell in love with the eldest sister.
One Sunday morning, after the other two had gone to church, the old henwife came into the kitchen to Trembling, and said, "It's at church you ought to be this day, instead of working here at home."

"How could I go?" said Trembling. "I have no clothes good enough to wear at church; and if my sisters were to see me there, they'd kill me for going out of the house."

"I'll give you," said the henwife, "a finer dress than either of them has ever seen. And now tell me what dress will you have?"

"I'll have," said Trembling, "a dress as white as snow, and green shoes for my feet."

The henwife put on the cloak of darkness, clipped a piece from the old clothes the young woman had on, and asked for the whitest robes in the world and the most beautiful that could be found, and a pair of green shoes.

That moment she had the robe and the shoes, and she brought them to Trembling, who put them on. When Trembling was dressed and ready, the henwife said, "I have a honey-bird here to sit on your right shoulder, and a honey-finger to put on your left. At the door stands a milk-white mare, with a golden saddle for you to sit on, and a golden bridle to hold in your hand."

Trembling sat on the golden saddle; and when she was ready to start, the henwife said, "You must not go inside the door of the church, and the minute the people rise up at the end of mass, do you make off, and ride home as fast as the mare will carry you."

When Trembling came to the door of the church there was no one inside who could get a glimpse of her but was striving to know who she was; and when they saw her hurrying away at the end of mass, they ran out to overtake her. But no use in their running; she was away before any man could come near her. From the minute she left the church till she got home, she overtook the wind before her, and outstripped the wind behind.

She came down at the door, went in, and found the henwife had dinner ready. She put off the white robes and had on her old dress in a twinkling.

When the two sisters came home the henwife asked, "Have you any news today from the church?"

"We have great news," said they. "We saw a wonderful, grand lady at the church door. The like of the robes she had we have never seen on woman before. It's little that was thought of our dresses beside what she had on; and there wasn't a man at the church, from the king to the beggar, but was trying to look at her and know who she was."

The sisters would give no peace till they had two dresses like the robes of the strange lady; but honey-birds and honey-fingers were not to be found.

Next Sunday the two sisters went to church again and left the youngest at home to cook the dinner.

After they had gone, the henwife came in and asked, "Will you go to church today?"

"I would go," said Trembling, "if I could get the going."

"What robe will you wear?" asked the henwife.

"The finest black satin that can be found, and red shoes for my feet."

"What colour do you want the mare to be?"

"I want her to be so black and so glossy that I can see myself in her body."

The henwife put on the cloak of darkness and asked for the robes and the mare. That moment she had them. When Trembling was dressed, the henwife put the honey-bird on her right shoulder and the honey-finger on her left. The saddle on the mare was silver, and so was the bridle.

When Trembling sat in the saddle and was going away, the henwife ordered her strictly not to go inside the door of the church, but to rush away as soon as the people rose at the end of mass, and hurry home on the mare before any man could stop her.

That Sunday the people were more astonished than ever and gazed at her more than the first time; and all they were thinking of was to know who she was. But they had no chance; for the moment the people rose at the end of mass she slipped from the church, was in the silver saddle, and home before a man could stop her or talk to her.

The henwife had the dinner ready. Trembling took off her satin robe and had on her old clothes before her sisters got home.

"What news have you today?" asked the henwife of the sisters when they came from the church.

"Oh, we saw the grand strange lady again! And it's little that any man could think of our dresses after looking at the robes of satin that she had on! And all at church, from high to low, had their mouths open, gazing at her, and no man was looking at us."

The two sisters gave neither rest nor peace till they got dresses as nearly like the strange lady's robes as they could find. Of course they were not so good; for the like of those robes could not be found in Erin.

When the third Sunday came, Fair and Brown went to church dressed in black satin. They left Trembling at home to work in the kitchen and told her to be sure and have dinner ready when they came back.

After they had gone and were out of sight, the henwife came to the kitchen and said, "Well, my dear, are you for church today?"

"I would go if I had a new dress to wear."

"I'll get you any dress you ask for. What dress would you like?" asked the henwife.

"A dress red as a rose from the waist down, and white as snow from the waist up; a cape of green on my shoulders; and a hat on my head with a red, a white, and a green feather in it; and shoes for my feet with the toes red, the middle white, and the backs and heels green."

The henwife put on the cloak of darkness, wished for all these things, and had them. When Trembling was dressed, the henwife put the honey-bird on her right shoulder and the honey-finger on her left, and placing the hat on her head, clipped a few hairs from one lock and a few from another with her scissors, and that moment the most beautiful golden hair was flowing down over the girl's shoulders. Then the henwife asked what kind of a mare she would ride. She said white, with blue and gold-coloured diamond-shaped spots all over her body, on her back a saddle of gold, and on her head a golden bridle.

The mare stood there before the door, and a bird sitting between her ears, which began to sing as soon as Trembling was in the saddle, and never stopped till she came home from the church.

The fame of the beautiful strange lady had gone out through the world, and all the princes and great men that were in it came to church that Sunday, each one hoping that it was himself would have her home with him after mass.

The son of the king of Omanya forgot all about the eldest sister, and remained outside the church, so as to catch the strange lady before she could hurry away.

The church was more crowded than ever before, and there were three times as many outside. There was such a throng before the church that Trembling could only come inside the gate.
As soon as the people were rising at the end of mass, the lady slipped out through the gate, was in the golden saddle in an instant, and sweeping away ahead of the wind. But if she was, the prince of Omanya was at her side, and, seizing her by the foot, he ran with the mare for thirty perches, and never let go of the beautiful lady till the shoe was pulled from her foot, and he was left behind with it in his hand. She came home as fast as the mare could carry her and was thinking all the time that the henwife would kill her for losing the shoe.

Seeing her so vexed and so changed in the face, the old woman asked, "What's the trouble that's on you now?"

"Oh! I've lost one of the shoes off my feet," said Trembling.

"Don't mind that; don't be vexed," said the henwife; "maybe it's the best thing that ever happened to you."

Then Trembling gave up all the things she had to the henwife, put on her old clothes, and went to work in the kitchen. When the sisters came home, the henwife asked, "Have you any news from the church?"

"We have indeed," said they; "for we saw the grandest sight today. The strange lady came again, in grander array than before. On herself and the horse she rode were the finest colours of the world, and between the ears of the horse was a bird which never stopped singing from the time she came till she went away. The lady herself is the most beautiful woman ever seen by man in Erin."

After Trembling had disappeared from the church, the son of the king of Omanya said to the other kings' sons, "I will have that lady for my own."

They all said, "You didn't win her just by taking the shoe off her foot, you'll have to win her by the point of the sword; you'll have to fight for her with us before you can call her your own."

"Well," said the son of the king of Omanya, "when I find the lady that shoe will fit, I'll fight for her, never fear, before I leave her to any of you."

Then all the kings' sons were uneasy, and anxious to know who was she that lost the shoe; and they began to travel all over Erin to know could they find her. The prince of Omanya and all the others went in a great company together and made the round of Erin; they went everywhere -- north, south, east, and west. They visited every place where a woman was to be found and left not a house in the kingdom they did not search, to know could they find the woman the shoe would fit, not caring whether she was rich or poor, of high or low degree.

The prince of Omanya always kept the shoe; and when the young women saw it, they had great hopes, for it was of proper size, neither large nor small, and it would beat any man to know of what material it was made. One thought it would fit her if she cut a little from her great toe; and another, with too short a foot, put something in the tip of her stocking. But no use, they only spoiled their feet, and were curing them for months afterwards.

The two sisters, Fair and Brown, heard that the princes of the world were looking all over Erin for the woman that could wear the shoe, and every day they were talking of trying it on; and one day Trembling spoke up and said, "Maybe it's my foot that the shoe will fit."

"Oh, the breaking of the dog's foot on you! Why say so when you were at home every Sunday?"

They were that way waiting, and scolding the younger sister, till the princes were near the place. The day they were to come, the sisters put Trembling in a closet, and locked the door on her. When the company came to the house, the prince of Omanya gave the shoe to the sisters. But though they tried and tried, it would fit neither of them.

"Is there any other young woman in the house?" asked the prince.

"There is," said Trembling, speaking up in the closet; "I'm here."

"Oh! we have her for nothing but to put out the ashes," said the sisters.

But the prince and the others wouldn't leave the house till they had seen her; so the two sisters had to open the door. When Trembling came out, the shoe was given to her, and it fitted exactly.

The prince of Omanya looked at her and said, "You are the woman the shoe fits, and you are the woman I took the shoe from."

Then Trembling spoke up, and said, "Do stay here till I return."

Then she went to the henwife's house. The old woman put on the cloak of darkness, got everything for her she had the first Sunday at church, and put her on the white mare in the same fashion. Then Trembling rode along the highway to the front of the house. All who saw her the first time said, "This is the lady we saw at church."

Then she went away a second time, and a second time came back on the black mare in the second dress which the henwife gave her. All who saw her the second Sunday said, "That is the lady we saw at church."

A third time she asked for a short absence, and soon came back on the third mare and in the third dress. All who saw her the third time said, "That is the lady we saw at church." Every man was satisfied and knew that she was the woman.

Then all the princes and great men spoke up and said to the son of the king of Omanya, 

"You'll have to fight now for her before we let her go with you."

"I'm here before you, ready for combat," answered the prince.

Then the son of the king of Lochlin stepped forth. The struggle began, and a terrible struggle it was. They fought for nine hours; and then the son of the king of Lochlin stopped, gave up his claim, and left the field. Next day the son of the king of Spain fought six hours and yielded his claim. On the third day the son of the king of Nyerfó fought eight hours and stopped. The fourth day the son of the king of Greece fought six hours and stopped. On the fifth day no more strange princes wanted to fight; and all the sons of kings in Erin said they would not fight with a man of their own land, that the strangers had had their chance, and as no others came to claim the woman, she belonged of right to the son of the king of Omanya.

The marriage day was fixed, and the invitations were sent out. The wedding lasted for a year and a day. When the wedding was over, the king's son brought home the bride, and when the time came a son was born. The young woman sent for her eldest sister, Fair, to be with her and care for her.

One day, when trembling was well, and when her husband was away hunting, the two sisters went out to walk; and when they came to the seaside, the eldest pushed the youngest sister in. A great whale came and swallowed her.

The eldest sister came home alone, and the husband asked, "Where is your sister?"

"She has gone home to her father in Ballyshannon; now that I am well, I don't need her."

"Well," said the husband, looking at her, "I'm in dread it's my wife that has gone."

"Oh! no," said she; "it's my sister Fair that's gone."

Since the sisters were very much alike, the prince was in doubt. That night he put his sword between them, and said, "If you are my wife, this sword will get warm; if not, it will stay cold."

In the morning when he rose up, the sword was as cold as when he put it there.


It happened when the two sisters were walking by the seashore, that a little cowboy was down by the water minding cattle and saw Fair push Trembling into the sea; and next day, when the tide came in, he saw the whale swim up and throw her out on the sand.

When she was on the sand she said to the cowboy, "When you go home in the evening with the cows, tell the master that my sister Fair pushed me into the sea yesterday; that a whale swallowed me, and then threw me out, but will come again and swallow me with the coming of the next tide; then he'll go out with the tide, and come again with tomorrow's tide, and throw me again on the strand. The whale will cast me out thee times. I'm under the enchantment of this whale and cannot leave the beach or escape myself. Unless my husband saves me before I'm swallowed the fourth time, I shall be lost. He must come and shoot the whale with a silver bullet when he turns on the broad of his back. Under the breast fin of the whale is a reddish-brown spot. My husband must hit him in that spot, for it is the only place in which he can be killed."

When the cowboy got home, the eldest sister gave him a draught of oblivion, and he did not tell.

Next day he went again to the sea. The whale came and cast Trembling on shore again. She asked the boy, "Did you tell the master what I told you to tell him?"

"I did not," said he; "I forgot."

"How did you forget?" asked she.

"The woman of the house gave me a drink that made me forget."

"Well, don't forget telling him this night; and if she gives you a drink, don't take it from her."

As soon as the cowboy came home, the eldest sister offered him a drink. He refused to take it till he had delivered his message and told all to the master.

The third day the prince went down with his gun and a silver bullet in it. He was not long down when the whale came and threw Trembling upon the beach as the two days before. She had no power to speak to her husband till he had killed the whale. Then the whale went out, turned over once on the broad of his back, and showed the spot for a moment only. That moment the prince fired. He had but the one chance, and a short one at that; but he took it, and hit the spot, and the whale, mad with pain, made the sea all around red with blood, and died.

That minute Trembling was able to speak, and went home with her husband, who sent word to her father what the eldest sister had done. The father came and told him any death he chose to give her to give it. The prince told the father he would leave her life and death with himself. The father had her put out then on the sea in a barrel, with provisions in it for seven years.

In time Trembling had a second child, a daughter. The prince and she sent the cowboy to school and trained him up as one of their own children, and said, "If the little girl that is born to us now lives, no other man in the world will get her but him."

The cowboy and the prince's daughter lived on till they were married. The mother said to her husband, "You could not have saved me from the whale but for the little cowboy; on that account I don't grudge him my daughter."

The son of the king of Omanya and Trembling had fourteen children, and they lived happily till the two died of old age.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for the tale of little Saddleslut.