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Elphinstone Kist   Stories for Bairns

    by: Wheeler, Les

Lang, lang ago in the days fan aabody wis happy at the skweel there wis a King wi three dothers. He wis gyan tae a fair an afore he left he spiert at his dothers fit they winted him tae fetch back for them. The aulest een said a hunkie, the neist een a pair o sheen an the third askit for a bag o saut. The twa auler quines, fa wir jealous o thir wee sister, said tae thir faither, “Ye ken fu that vratch o a quine wints saut? For nae ither reason than tae pickle ye! Aye, her ain faither!”

“I’ll seen pit a stop tae that,” said the King. “Gyan tae pickle me is she! Weel, I’ll turn her oot o the hoose aa thegither.” An that’s jist fit he did.

Turned oot o her hame wi jist her nursemaid an a purse o gowd coins, the peer quine didna ken fit tae dae nor far tae gyang. But they left the country for anither an thocht that the quine micht seek a husband tae hersel. Aa the loons that she met in wi wir pests or jist plain gypit an it wis the nurse that cam up wi a ploy. She kent o an aul wife fa wis near-haun a hunner year aul fa hid jist deet an wis tae be happit i the mools o the kirk. The nursemaid wint tae the gravedigger an persuaded him tae sell her the hide o the aul wife, face an aa, forbye the hair, fingers an nails. The nursemaid tanned the hide, stitched it on tae claith, syne pit the quine in tae it. Fowk wir fair bumbazed at the aul deem they met fa could loup aboot like a young quine an spak wi a voice as bonnie as a bell.

Noo, ae day they met the King o the country’s loon an he wis a fine-like chiel. He spiert at the nursemaid, “Fu aul is this peer sowl?”
“Spier at her yersel,” said the nursemaid.
“Weel, aul wife, can ye hear me? Fu aul are ye?”
“Me? I’m a hunner an fifteen,” lauched the quine.
“Dyod save us! An far are ye fae?”
“Fae my toon.”
“An fa wir yir mither an faither?”
“I’m my ain mither an faither!”
“An fit div ye dee for a livin?”
“I hae a gweed time tae mysel!”

The King’s loon wis fair taen wi the quine an said tae his faither, “Let’s tak this aul body in tae the palace. She’ll mak us aa lauch as lang as she lives.”

Sae the nursemaid left the quine at the royal palace, far they gaed her a fine room an faniver the Prince his naething tae dee he wad gyang an nyatter wi the aul wife an feel aa the better for it.

Ae day the Queen said tae Runkled Een (they caad her that because o the bleary een o the aul wife’s hide), “Fit a shame ye canna dee ony mair wirk because o yir een.”

“But I’m sure I could spin as gweed as ony feel bit quine.”

“Try spinnin this bit lint,” said the Queen, “jist for something tae dee.”

As seen as she wis on her lane the aul wife snibbit the door, took aff the hide an got yokit in tae spinnin, an she spun as fine an bonnie a thried as iver yiv seen. An the hale coort wir fair taen aback that a wizzint, runkled aul wife, shakkin an half blin, could turn oot wirk like it.

The Queen spiert efter her tae mak a blouse an as seen as the door wis sneckit she hid it cut up, preened, stitched an the front embroidered wi the bonniest gowden flooers. Fowk jist didna ken fit tae think, but the Prince hid his suspicions an he keekit throu the keyhole the neist time the aul wife snibbit her door. Jist fit did he see? The aul wife taen aff the hide, an there wis as bonnie a lassie as ivver set fit in the warld.

Wi nivver anither thocht the loon bruk doon the door an taen the quine in his airms. “Fa are ye raelly?” spiert the Prince. “Fu div ye weir that orra hide an disguise yersel like thon?”

The quine could dee naething but tell the loon her story. She tellt him she wis the dother o a king fa hid cursed her an turned her oot o his palace.

The Prince wint stracht tae his faither an mither an said, “I’ve foond a King’s dother I wint tae mairry.” The King an Queen wir a wee bit pit oot at first fan they fun oot fa it wis, but they seen got ower that.

The waddin wis aa planned an aa the kings an queens fae near at haun an hine awa wir invited. In amongst them wis the bride’s faither, but he didna ken her aneth her veil an wee croon. The bride hid her faither’s maet cooked separately an wi nae saut added forbye tae the roast. The soup wis fetched an the ither fowk fair likit it, but aifter ae speenfae the quine’s faither ait nae mair. Neist cam muckle ashets o biled beef, but the faither taen jist een or twa bitties. It wis jist the same wi the herrin, it wis barely touched. “I’m nae aa that hungry!” he said. But fan the roast wis served, he likit it an helped himsel tae three helpins. Syne his dother spiert at him fu he’d nae aiten ony o the ither dishes, but hid made short wirk o the roast. The King said he jist couldna unnerstan himsel, but the roast his bin sae tasty an aathing else tasteless!

“Sae noo ye see,” said his dother, “fu affa maet is withooten saut? That’s fu yir youngest dother askit ye tae get saut fae the fair an thae coorse sisters o mine said it wis tae pickle ye..”

An. Of coorse, the faither saa that it wis his ain dother an he priggit wi her tae forgie him. The quine wosna een tae hud a grudge an the faither set aff hame tae see that his coorse, orra dothers at hame got jist fat they deserved. The quine an the Prince? Weel, nae couple could ivver hae bin happier.

Stories for Bairns

Wheeler, Les

The Smith an the Airn Man (A Ugandan Folk Tale)

There wis eence a smith caad Walukaga fa wis fair skeely at aa kines o metal wirk. Ilka day fowk wid gaither at the smiddy an waatch him makkin hyowes an ploo shares, knives an even bangles an ither fancy trock.

Ae day Walukaga wis pumpin awa at his bellaws fan a chel cam in aboot fa’d bin sent by the King.
“The King wints tae see ye stracht awa. He’s a job for ye,” says the messenger.

Walukaga wis fair delightit an, pittin on his best claes, set aff for the palace, winnerin fit on earth the King wintit him tae dee. He passed a lot o fowk that he kent an he wisna slow at tellin them that the King hid sent for him tae dee some wark.

He got tae the palace an, aifter waitin in an oothoose for a file, wis led intae a gran chaumer far sat the King. The smith booed doon an fan he lookit up the King spak, “I’ve sent for ye, Walukaga, because yir smiddy is the maist weel thocht o in aa the land. I’ve a rael special job for ye.” He clappit his hauns an a puckle o his servin men cam in cairryin loads o odd shapit bits o airn an laid them on the fleer in front o the King.

The King spak again, “Walukaga, yir tae tak aa this airn an mak it intae a man! Nae jist a statue, mine, but a livin chiel o airn fa kin waak, an spik, an think an fa his bleed in his veins!”

Weel, Walukaga wis fair dumfoonert. He lookit at the King tae see if h wis haein a bit joke, but na, the King’s een couldna hae bin mair serious. It wis a gey worried Walukaga fae wint hame tae the smiddy fae the palace.

The King’s servin-men cairriet aa the airn tae the smiddy an Walukaga followed on ahin lookin gey sair deen till an nae botherin at aa tae even look at his neebors an freens he met on the wye hame. Fan his neebors an freens funn oot fit he’d tae dee they wir gey quaet tae. Aabody in the cwintry kent that if ye didna dee fit the King commandit ye wad be pit tae death an peer Walukaga began tae think he widna see ower mony mair hairsts. Aa day an aa nicht he sat wi his heid in his hauns wunnerin fu he cwid sort oot his problem.

Of coorse, thir wir them that thocht they hid the answer an cam up wi some gey suggestions. Mak an airn shell an gar somebody get inside it an spik an waak. Walukaga thocht he micht rin awa tae a far cwintry an stert aa ower again. Een or twa fowk even suggested that he micht bribe the palace cook tae poison the King. It appeared that if the King didna dee, Walukaga wid!

Peer chiel! He couldna sleep an he couldna ait an wis jist dwinin awa. At nicht he took tae daunerin throu the wids on his lane, spikkin alood tae himsel as he tried tae think o a ploy that micht save his life. Ae nicht, as he wis waakin alane, he heard gey weird singin, an, gyan nearer, foond an aul freen fae fan he wis a loon. This peer chiel hid gaen richt awa wi it an bade aa on his lane in the wild wids ootside the toon.

“Walukaga! Fu ye deein?” spiert the daftie lad fa hid nae trouble minin on the smith, forbye he got in a richt kirn ower ither things. “That’s richt gweed o ye tae drap in bye. Sit yersel doon an hae a bittie maet.”

Walukaga hid naething else tae dee an the daftie seemed aa richt sae Walukaga sat doon wi him an ait some o the berries an honey the daftie hid gaithert. Noo it cam tae Walukaga that this wis the first maet he’d hin for mony a day an he felt aa the better for’t, sae he thocht he humour his aul freen an tellt him the story o the King’s orders. An aa the time he wis tellin the tale the daftie jist sat quaet an litened richt on till the end withoot eence sayin a wird.

“Weel,” said Walukaga, “that’s the story; an if ye can tell me fit I maun dee aboot it ye’ll be a better freen than ony ither, for naebody else his bin able tae help me.”

Jist at eence the daftie hid the answer. “I ken fit tae dee,” says he, “Gyang tae the King an tell him ye can only mak the kine o a man he wints if ye hae verra special charcoal an waater. Spier at him tae mak aa his subjects shave their heids an bring the hair tae be brunt intae charcoal an fan yiv a thoosan loads o sic charcoal ye’ll hae eneuch. Syne, sae that ye hiv tae hae a hunner pots o waater made o the tears o the King’s fowk, since only sic waater micht be ony eese for stoppin the fire getting ower het.”

Fan the nae-sae-daft chiel hid feenisht, he laucht an laucht an the smith, for aa he tried, couldna get him thankit for giein him sic gweed advice. He got him tellt at last, syne hurried aff tae the King’s palace, nivver mine that it wis sae late.

He booed afore the King an tellt him fit he hid tae dee afore he could even stert on the airn man. The King said, “Sae be it!” an sent wird tae aa his fowk tae shave thir heids for charcoal an greet intae thir waater pots.

Noo, fowk did tir best, forbye wunnerin at this gey queer command, but daurna disobey the king, but try as the micht, it wis jist impossible tae collect mair nor twa pots o tears an nae even ae load o charcoal.

Fan the results o aa this sair tchaave wis brocht tae the king a muckle sough gaed oot o him. “Weel, it’s plain tae see that we’ll nivver collect aa the charcoal an waater that Walukaga wints. Sen for him tae come here at eence.”

Shakkin wi fear Walukaga approached the King, booed an lookit up intae the King’s een. He wis fair surprised tae see the King hid siccan a muckle great grin on his face.

“Walukaga,” he said, “Yiv askit for the impossible. I see noo that my fowk could nivver growe eneuch hair tae fill a thoosan cairts o charcoal, nor greet eneuch tae fill a hunner waater pots. I’ve nae mair adee than tae exempt ye fae yir task.”

“Yir majesty,” said Walukaga, “I couldna thank ye mair, for ye askit me tae dee something that wis jist impossible. I could nivver hae biggit a chiel o airn, nae maitter fit I did.”
Syne aabody lauched for they kent fu skeely Walukaga hid bin at gettin oot o the fix he wis in, an the King lat him gyang hame an the fowk wir gled tae hae thir skeely smith back in his smiddy.

An the smith nivver forgot fa it wis that hid gaen him sic gweed advice. His aul freen wisna sae daft an he saa till’t that the chiel in the wids nivver wint athoot maet an drink till the end o his days.

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