A passionate little blog started by a deerhound dog in Scotland called Rogue ‘Brylach’ MacAllister and Passed to Rascal ‘Logan’ Dorrator Heath

Friday, May 02, 2008

What the Shrek?

From the many volumes of Rogues Tales of the Scottish Highlands, we bring you another interesting little ‘oldworld’ tale. This copy was originally published in the 1937, Lure of the Kelpie book by Helen Drever. The original story would possibly have referred to the highland grey hound - ’ahemm‘, later to become the popularised, greyhound when translated from Gaelic to the English.

Still, lovers of Shrek might find some interesting cross referrals (is it any wonder he had a Scots accent) - and all the while, you may have thought Princess Fiona was a Walt Disney creation and sleeping in the swamp a Dreamworks moment.


The Greyhound
and The Green Girl

There was once a King in the Highlands who had a quarrel with a wizard. Now wizards are uncanny people to quarrel with, and if the Queen been alive she would no doubt have persuaded the King to " let sleeping dogs lie," as they say. Instead of which the King called the wizard a scoundrel and declared that he would be revenged on him.

How it happened we do not know---whether the wizard killed the King or whether he only willed his death---but the King died very suddenly, leaving his son Fergus and his daughter Fiona alone. They had a big old castle, but not much money---for the King was poor, as kings go; and they had few friends, and no servants---so they felt very desolate indeed.

The wizard came to see them, and he said pityingly: "Poor young things! Although your father, the King, quarrelled with me, I should like to be your friend," and Fiona was grateful for his kindness.

But Fergus distrusted the wizard, and felt sure that he only wanted to get possession of the golden sceptre and the inlaid sword that were the dead King's greatest treasures. So he stole out in the night, carrying the sword and the sceptre. He made for Beinn Ghloine, the nearest mountain, which was a very difficult hill to climb, because at all times of the year it had a glassy surface like ice.

But Fergus knew it well, and he soon reached the cairn on the top. He pulled the cairn down, stone by stone, placed the sceptre and the sword at its base, and rebuilt it. And then, tired out with all his exertion, he lay down and fell asleep.

The wizard, meanwhile, had wakened, and finding Fergus' bed empty, he thought:

"What can that lad be doing at this time of night? I must go after him and find out."

He traced Fergus by his footprints on the dewy grass right to the foot of Beinn Ghloine, which he proceeded to climb. He took a very long time to reach the mountaintop, but when he got up, there was Fergus, lying sound asleep, and at his mercy.

"Aha! I have you now! " he snarled, and he began to chant a horrid spell, as he made some waving motions over the sleeping boy.

And poor Fergus woke to find that the wizard had turned him into a greyhound, and in that form he had to retrace his way down the mountain-side. The wizard now turned his attention to Fiona, who was a very pretty girl with a skin like milk and roses. He did not change her form, but he changed her colour to grass green, and he roared with laughter when he saw the result.

"Look you!" he said to the brother and sister. "Look at the bonny pair of you now! You will never become as you were, unless and until---and indeed it is not very likely to happen---you, Fergus, can find a beautiful girl who will of her own free will marry a greyhound! And until you, Fiona, have nursed three children of a King's son, and got a kiss from a King's lips. Until that happens, the bones of your father must lie unburied ! "

Time went on, and the King of a far-away region of the Higklands set out with his followers to make war on a neighbouring King. They were marching among the hills when a great mist came down and veiled the mountains, so that they could not tell in what direction the were going at all. One wandered here to seek the road, and another wandered there; and although the King kept calling to them to keep together, they soon got separated.

The first time he called, three hundred voices answered him. The second time, only thirty replied; then only three; and at last, none at all ! So there he was---a King without a single follower, and he not even knowing where his kingdom lay! He wandered up and down, and at last he came to the Castle where the greyhound and the green girl lived.

They gave him food and a bed, and the tired King slept for many hours. Next day, when he was looking about the Castle grounds, he saw some bones lying in a corner and he began to kick them idly. To his surprise the greyhound sprang at him angrily, and, finding his tongue, he said to the King: "Touch not the bones of my father!"

"But why do you not bury your father's bones?" asked the astonished King.

"Alas! there is a spell upon me," said the greyhound, "and I may not bury the bones until some girl will, of her own free will, marry me as I am. Look at me and tell me if that is likely to happen!"

"Well," said the King, "I have three daughters who are all beautiful. When I go back to my kingdom I will try to convince one of them to come here and break the spell by marrying you. Shall I go and fetch one of them now?"

"No, no!" said the greyhound. "We might never set eyes on you again! I'll tell you what---I shall keep you here as a hostage and send a message to your daughters to come and free you. My sister will put on her shoes that run by themselves where they are bidden, and she will soon bring them to you!"

So the green girl put on the shoes that run by themselves and, covering her face with a veil, she set out for the far-away kingdom. And, in response to the King's urgent message, his three daughters returned with the green girl.

When he told them why he had sent for them the two eldest were very indignant. "Really, father! You must be in your dotage to imagine that one of us would consent to marry a greyhound!" they said. "In any case, you have only his word that marriage would restore him to human form---and besides which he is nothing to us."

But the youngest daughter, who loved her father dearly, said she would remain at the Castle as a hostage until the end of the year, when surely one of her sisters would be willing to take her place. So she stayed on, and she and the green girl slept in the same room, guarded every night by the greyhound.

When the King returned at the end of the year he was alone, and the youngest daughter said: "Why have you not brought one of my sisters to take my place?"

"Because they both refused to accompany me," the King answered.

And the youngest daughter said bravely: "Well, father, I might be worse off than I am. The green girl is certainly ugly, but she cannot help it; and she and the greyhound have both been very kind to me. So, my dear father, for your sake I will marry the greyhound and you can return to your kingdom."

The green girl joyfully fetched a priest, and while the marriage ceremony was going on the youngest daughter stood with her eyes closed, that she might not see her strange bridegroom. And when she heard him say, " Look at me, my little wife," it was an effort for her to open them. But they opened very wide indeed, for there stood before her the handsomest young man she had ever seen! Her consent to marry him had restored his own shape to the greyhound, who was once more Fergus, the King's son, and the bride was now full of happiness.

Fergus went and fetched two treasures to show to his father-in-law---the golden sceptre and the inlaid sword that he had buried unuer the cairn on Beinn Ghloine. And he was thankful that he could now bury his father's bones.

When the King returned, well pleased, to his kingdom and told his elder daughters how happy their sister was, they were full of envy. One of them said spitefully:"Well, she may have got her Prince, but it will be very unpleasant to have to live with a grass-green sister-in-law! "

But the King told them that the green girl was no longer in the Castle, for she' had gone to live at the foot of Beinn Ghloine.

The two jealous sisters made a wicked plan---that, if a child should come to their sister, one of them would steal it away from her. And sure enough, when a babe was born to Fergus and his wife, the eldest sister came secretly to the Castle and stole to the room where the baby was. She opened the door stealthily, and was creeping up to the cradle in which it lay, when a green hand came in at the window and lifted out the child before she could reach it. So the eldest sister had to return home and confess that her plot had failed.

The same thing happened in the case of two other babes, the green girl rescuing them from the envious sisters just in time; and with the rescue of the third babe half the spell that the wizard had put upon Fiona was broken, because now she had nursed three babes of a King's son.

She gave back the children to the young couple, who were frantic with joy at their recovery, and when they heard the story the youngest sister said: "Our father must be told what my sisters have done," and she asked the green girl to carry a message to the King, asking him to return with her.

So Fiona once more put on the shoes that run by themselves and went off to fetch the King.

When they were nearing the Castle the King said to Fiona: "A heaviness has come over me. I must lie down and sleep for a while." And he lay down at the foot of Beinn Ghloine and went off to sleep.

Scarcely had his eyes closed when a gentle voice from the top of the mountain said:

"Fiona, I have long watched for a chance to help you, and now it has come ! I am the fairy of the mist that hovers round Beinn Ghloine, and if you will climb the mountain I will give you a cup of wine distilled from mist, which is one of the things that the wizard has no csntrol over. Then, if you can get back to the King and make him drink the wine on his awaking, the wizard's spell may be broken. You must also get the King to give you a kiss before you can regain your old form, but that you can manage for yourself!"

Fiona, of course, began to climb Beinn Ghloine at once, and though she often slid back she reached the top at last; and there, in the mist that hovers around the mountain-top, stood a cup of golden wine.

She looked about for the fairy, but a voice said: "You need not look for me, Fiona. I am an invisible fairy, the spirit of the mist. So take the cup and return as fast as possible, for I think the King is about to waken."

And the green girl, holding the cup with its precious contents very carefully, slid down the mountain-side and reached the King just as his eyelids began to flicker.

"Oh dear! I am so thirsty!" he murmured.

"Then drink, sire!" said the green girl tremulously as she held out the cup of wine. He drank it, and lying back with closed eyes, he said:

"If only you were not green, I should give you a kiss for that delicious wine. It has made me feel quite young again!

"You could kiss me without looking at me," said poor Fiona, terrified that the fairy's plans would not succeed.

"So I could and so I will," said the King, "for something in the wine told me to."

Closing his eyes he drew Fiona to him and kissed her lips; and when he opened his eyes, expecting to see the green girl, what was his amazement to see instead a lovely blushing creature with a skin of milk and roses!

"Where is the green girl ? " he asked, looking about him.

"I am she," said the happy Fiona. " I am free now from the spell that the wizard cast over me, for I have nursed the three babes of a King's son, and I have received a kiss from a King's lips!"

"Fiona," said the King wistfully, "if I were not too old for you, I should like to make you my Queen, for I love you!"

"But, sire," said Fiona shyly, "you look every bit as young as my brother, Fergus."

And a voice said from the mist that hovered round Beinn Ghloine:

"Take your bride, O King, for I have lifted half your years from you that you may make Fiona happy. The wizard can never again harm her, for both of his spells have been broken. And from now onwards the fairy of the mist that hovers round Beinn Ghloine will make life golden for the girl with the skin of milk and roses that was known as The Green Girl."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done Rogue a good site indeed.

The Laird
from under the world

3:21 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home