THE FAIRY FROG

She was only a small girl, about fourteen or fifteen years of age. Her people had a cow and they told her to drive her to pasture one morning. She was herding the cow in a field, and there was nobody anywhere near her. When some of the day had passed, the girl went up on the highest hillock in the field. She started to hum a tune and to dance on the hillock. It wasn't long till she saw a frog coming up the hillock towards her--the biggest frog she'd ever laid eyes on. The frog sat down on the hillock, looking straight into the girl's face. The frog had a very large belly and, for devilment, the girl said: "Don't give birth to your load until I am with you!" The frog turned away from her and went off down the slope.

The girl went home and forgot all about what had happened. Just a month from that day, herself and her father and mother were asleep one night, when they heard the sound of a horse's hooves approaching the door. There was a knock at the door, and the voice of a man from outside asked that it be opened. The girl's father jumped out of bed and opened the door, and the finest gentleman he had ever seen walked in.

"I don't recognise you, sir," said the man of the house.

"I don't blame you for that," said the gentleman. "I cam to ask you to do something for me?" said he.

"'Tisn't much I can do for you sir," said the man of the house. "I'm a poor man."

"Tis for your daughter I have come. I want her for twenty-four hours."

The father didn't like that, nor did the girl, who spoke from her bed and said that she wouldn't go with him.

"Ah, you will," said the gentleman. "I give my hand and word to yourself and to your father and mother that you'll be home here again safe and sound, within twenty-four hours."

"Well, sir, I'll take your word," said the father. "She'll have to go with you for that length."

"Thank you," said the gentleman.

"Get up and go along with him," said the father.

She rose with great reluctance.

"Good girl!" said the gentleman, taking her by the hand and leading her out of the house.

He caught hold of her shoulder and lifted her up behind him on the horse. He gave spurs to the horse and rode away, conversing with the girl.

"You need not have the slightest fear now," said he to the girl. "There's no need for it, for I'll bring you home, safe and sound, to your father and mother tomorrow night. Give the back of your hand to the first food that will be offered to you," said he; "say that you won't eat it. But you may eat the second food that will offered to you, and any food given to you after that won't do you any harm."

They rode along until they reached a hill, in the side of which was a high, awesome cliff. It would surprise anybody. A door opened in the cliff, and they entered the finest court that ever rose to the sky. There were many people inside, moving around and chatting with one another at their ease. The gentleman and the girl walked through the crowd till they entered the central room of the court. There were three nurses there, tending a woman who was ill in bed. There was a huge fire blzing in the grate, with flames rising from it. The moment the two of them entered the room, the woman in the bed gave birth to a child. As soon as the baby was born, two of the nurses took it from the mother, and the third started to poke the fire, kmaking a hole in it. The child was laid down into the hole in the middle of the fire, and, to the wiailing of the mother, was covered up with live coals.

The baby wasn't yet fully burned, when in came a man and a woman; the woman was carrying a baby in her arms. She handed it to the sick woman, who had just given birth to the other baby. The baby began to drink at the woman's breast. It was a baby from the human world whom the fairies had taken in order that the woman would suckle it--that's the way they abduct children. The other baby was roasting away all this time, until it was burned to ashes. They lifted up the remains and they fell apart like ashes. There was a very large trough, as big as a vat, by the sides of the wall near the exit-door. They sprinkled some of the ashes of the baby on the water in the trough; it was full to the brim.

The girl who had been brought there by the gentleman watched everything with wonder. A table of food was then laid out, and the girl was invited to eat. She refused, saying that that kind of food would not suit her. She asked for different food, and this was offered to her. She ate it. The gentleman had not left the room during the whole time, and he watched the girl.

"Good girl!" said he, when she had eaten the second food.

Just then three pipers struck up music for dancing. The house was overflowing with people, men and women, but none of them said a word to the girl. When day broke, the crowd started to leave. AS each man or woman went out of the room, they dipped their fingeres into the trough and rubbed the water to their eyes. The girl saw them doing this. She spent the day in the house until it was almost night. The gentleman left the room ahead of her and put some of the trough-water to his eyes as he went out. The girl was at his heels, and she was wondering what she should do about the water; she decided to rub one of her eyes with it, and even if she lost the sight of it, she would still have the other eye.

"I may as well give you a present before you leave," said the woman with the baby on the bed, "since you were so kind to come when I sent for you."

The woman turned about in the bed, pulled out a silken little neck-shawl and handed it and a stocking full of gold and silver to the girl. She had barely done so when the gentleman re-entered the room.

"You had better get ready to leave," said he to the girl. "I will leave you safely back with your father and mother."

As the girl was leaving the room, behind him, she dipped her hand into the trough and put some of the water to one of her eyes. When she went outside, the gentleman jumped on the horse, took the girl by the shoulder and lifted her up on the horse behind himself. He conversed with her as they went along, until they came to a wood, a good distance away.

"Did the mistress give you any present?" he asked.

"Faith then, she did, and I'm very grateful to her," said the girl.

"I see," said the gentleman.

They were passing by a huge tree in the wood, when the gentleman jumped down from the horse and lifted down the girl in his arms.

"Go now, like a good girl," said the gentleman, "and wind the little shawl around that tree."

No sooner than she had done so, than the tree split into two halves, as if a hundred men had torn it apart.

"Leave the little shawl there!" said the gentleman.

She left it there. They mounted the horse again and rode on.

"Did the mistress give you any other present?" he asked her.

"She did," said the girl, "a stocking full of gold and silver."

"Very good," said the gentleman. "Now, as soon ever as you reach home, you must go to all the fine houses and shops, and change that money, for within six nights from now, every house that will have any of the mistress's money in it will be burned by the next morning. But your own money will be safe. You must do what I have told you for your sake."

Within a minute they were at the door of her father's house. The father and mother were sitting by the fire talking about their daughter when they heard the sound of a horse's hooves approaching. The horse stopped at the door. The gentleman dismounted, took hold of the girl and placed her feet on the ground. He entered the house with her.

"Here is your daughter back to you now," said he. "I am very thankful to ye. Good night!"

He went out of the house. On the following day, when the girl got up, she went around to the big houses asking for change of her gold and silver. Before six days haad passed, she changed it all. On the sixth night, every house that had any of the fairy money in it burned to the ground.

The girl started to buy land and cattle and she went to every fair, buying and selling them. She went one day to a very large fair far from her home, and it wasn't long before she noticed there people whom she had seen in the fairy court. They were moving here and there through the crowds at the fair. She also saw the gentleman who had taken her from home and brought her back again.

"I must speak to him," said she to herself, walking towards him through the crowd and shaking hands with him.

He shook her hand too.

"I'm very glad to see you," said she.

"Wasn't it quick of you to notice and to recognize me?" said he. "Did you see me with both eyes?"

"Oh, no, only with one," said she.

"Might I ask you with which of your eyes did you see me?" he asked.

"Of course," said she.

"Put your hand to the eye that you saw me with," said he.

She did so. He immediately thrust his finger into that eye and tore it from her head.

"You won't see me any more," said he.

And it was true for him. She never laid eyes on him again till she died.

~

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Gura Mi Ayd!

Copyright 1998 The Sacred Fire. All rights reserved.
Revised: October 31, 1998.