Welsh: The Fishermen of Shetland (cont.)

This story is part of the Welsh (Emerson) unit. Story source: Welsh Fairy-Tales and Other Stories by Peter H. Emerson (1894).

The Fishermen of Shetland (cont.)
(see previous page for audio)

And he went and sat by the fire, and asked his sweetheart to brush the snow from his coat, which she did.

"I won't do you any harm," he said; "let me sleep by the fire."

He came again the next night, and they gave him some gruel, and played with him, for he was just like a dog.

So he came every night until the springtime, when, one morning, as he was going away, he said: "You mustn't expect me any more. Spring has come, and the snows have melted. I can't come again till the summer is over."

So he returned to the wood and watched the dwarf, but he could never catch him without his belt, until one day he saw him fishing for salmon without the belt, and at the same time his sweetheart and her sister came by picking flowers.

So the bear went up to the dwarf, and the dwarf, when he saw him coming, said: "Ah! good bear! good bear! Let me go. These two girls will be a more dainty morsel for you."

But the bear smote him with his paw and killed him, and immediately the bear was turned into his former self, and the girls ran up and kissed him, and talked.

Then he took the two girls to the dwarf's cave and gave each of them a bag of treasure, keeping one for himself. And taking the belt, he put it on, and they all walked back to the hamlet, when he told the fishermen that their troubles would soon be over — but that he must kill the witch first.

Then he turned the belt three times, and said: "I wish for the queen fairy."

And she came, and was delighted, and said: "Now you must come and slay the witch," and she handed him a bow and arrow, telling him to use it right and tight when he got to the hut.

So he went off to the wood, and found the witch in her hut, and she begged for mercy.

"Oh no, you have done too much mischief," he said, and he shot her.

Then the queen fairy appeared and sent him to gather dry wood to make a fire. When the fire was made, she sent him to fetch the witch's wand, which she cast into the flames, saying: "Now, mark my word, all the devils of hell will be here."

And when the wand began to burn all the devils came and tried to snatch it from the fire, but the queen raised her wand, saying:

"Through this powerful wand
that I hold in my hand,
Through this bow and arrow
I have caused her to be slain,
That she may leave our domain.
Now take her up high
into the sky,
And let her burst asunder
as a clap of thunder.
Then take her to hell
and there let her dwell,
To all eternity."

And the wand was burnt, and the devils carried the witch off in a noise like thunder.

The twelve months were up on that day, and the fairy said to the fisherman: "Take your chief and your brother, and put out to sea half-a-mile, where you'll see a red spot, bright as the sun on the water; cast in your net on the sea-side of the spot and pull to the shore."

They did as the queen commanded, and when they pulled the net on the shore they found the copper vessel.

"Now open it," said the queen to the fisherman with the belt, "but cover your belt with your coat first."

And he did so, and when he opened the copper, a ball of smoke rose into the air, and suddenly the merman stood before them, and said:

"The first four months that I was in prison,
I swore I'd make the man as rich as a king,
The man who released me.
But there was no release, no release, no release.
The second four months that I was in prison,
I swore I'd make the water run red,
But there was no release, no release, no release.
The last four months that I was in prison,
I swore in my wrath I'd take my deliverer's life,
Whoever he might be."

Whereupon the fisherman opened his coat and showed him the belt. Then the merman immediately cooled down, and said: "Oh, that's how I came into this trouble."

Then he asked the fisherman with the belt what had happened, and he told him the whole story.

Then the queen told the fisherman to take the girdle off and put it back on the merman, and he did so, and suddenly the merman took to the sea and began to sing from a rock:

"As I sit upon the rock,
I am like a statue block,
And I straighten my hair,
That is so long and fair.
And now my eyes look bright,
For I am in great delight,
Because I am free in glee,
To roam over the sea."

After that the hamlet was joyful again, for the fishermen began to catch plenty of fish, for the merman showed them where to cast their nets by colouring the water as of old.

And the two brothers married the chief's two beautiful daughters, and they lived happily ever afterwards.


(800 words)



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