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Elphinstone Kist   Stories for Bairns

The King o the Pipers and the Wunnerfu Tune (An Irish Folk Tale)     by: Wheeler, Les

Maurice Connor wis kent as the King o the Pipers for fan he played aabody, young an aul, jiggit aboot as if they hadna a care in the warld an naething tae dee but dance. He kent aa the tunes an jigs an wis in great demand aa ower the cwintry.

Noo he hid anither name, an that wis Blin Maurice, for the peer chiel wis withoot a glimmer o sicht. It wis maybe that his gift as a piper wis some compensation an he got on weel eneuch for his aul mither led him aboot on his traivels. She micht hae bin weerie noo an again, but she nivver complained an fowk gaed her as muckle a welcome as they gaed her son.

Noo, ae day the piper an his mither cam tae Ballinskellig Bay in Inveragh:
a rocky bit o coast, gie cut aff fae the rest o the country. But there wis a fine park o girss an a beach wi fine fite san, baith gweed placies for dancin.

A dancin maister hid come tae teach the fowk but they’d nae music sae fan Maurice struck up a jig aabody wis fair pleased an begun tae dance. The dancin-maister wis fair delightit an cried for mair an Maurice puffed awa till aabody wis tired oot an Maurice hid near han run oot o win!

The dancin-maister offert Maurice a dram an Maurice wis richt gled tae get it, but they’d nae gless sae Maurice hid tae drink fae the bottle. An sae he did! He pit the bottle tae his mou an drank.. an drank till he’ swalla’d the hale bottle. The fusky gaed doon his thrapple like a hurlygush ower a rock

“That wis grand fusky,” said the he handin the dancin-maister a teem bottle. Then he began tae play again, an if the wye he played afore wis gran, it wis nithin tae foo he played then. He played a tune that neen o them, nae even his mither, kent. An they couldna hae kent it for it cam tae him throu his ain genius.

The fowk forgot they were tired an aa began tae dance again an dance like they’d niver danced afore. The hale park wis filled wi dancers an the shore tae, for partans an lobsters cam oot o the sea an danced on thir claws, the fish loupit in an oot o the waater - even the seals cam loupin ower tae see fit wis fit an they keepit time tae the piper’s lilt.

Syne up fae the sea cam the bonniest lassie ony o them had iver seen an she driftit alang like a wraith. She’d lang green-gowd hair an a lang fite goon wi seaweed on’t for decoration. She’d pearls in her hair an a necklace o coral. Her teeth wir fite as pearls an her lips as reid as the bonniest rose.

She wint up tae the piper an spak tae him in a voice sweeter than ony tune ‘at ivver yiv heard. He couldna see fu bonny she wis but her voice wis aa the lure he needit. She danced tae the wunnerfu tune an then spak tae him.
“Maurice, yiv taen yir music fae the sea an yir the King o the Pipers sae ye should be piper tae a King. My faither is King aneth-the-sea an wid welcome ye tae his kingdom. Come an be my husband an aa my faither’s siller will be yours. Come wi me, Maurice. Come wi me doon tae the sea kingdom aneth the waves. Come, Maurice, come wi me!”

An aa the time this wis gyan on aabody, even Maurice an the lassie an the beasts o the sea win dancin doon on the beach an in the sea.

His mither priggit wi him nae tae listen. “Dinna heed her, my loon! Dinna listen!” spak the umman. “She’s jist a fish an yir bairns will be fish. I’d niver be able tae touch a fish again as lang’s I live for fear o aitin my son’s bairns!”

But the lassie spak on an on an wi her haun on his airm led Maurice tae the sea.

“Mother I hiv tae follow her. I’ll send ye a bit o brunt wid ilka year at this time, tae lat ye ken that I’m still fine.”

Noo, fit eese that wad be tae an aul wife neen kent, but then the piper wis bewitched. Maurice danced efter the lassie still blawin awa on his pipes an doon aneth the waves baith gaed followed by the fish, seals, partans an lobsters. The beach was teem an the fowk struck dumb. Nae a soond wis heard, but the sobs o the aul mither fa hid tint her loon.

Fowk wir gweed tae the aul wife. They gaed her a hame, but afore lang the peer wife wis deed o a brukken hairt an starvation tae for she wadna ait fish for fear o aitin her ain granbairns an in that airt maist o the maet wis fish.

Noo, on the richt sort o a nicht, fowk still heard the soons o Maurice’s pipes comin fae the depth o the sea an ilka year a bit o brunt wid wis foond on the shore.

Aye, they say ony body can hear Maurice playin his wunnerfu tune doon there in the derk depths o the sea, but if ye gyang tae listen I’ve three bitties o advice ye’d dee weel tae listen till.

If ye hear the tune, dinna try divin doon tae find the piper. If a mermaid comes up fae the waves an spiers at ye, jist boo politely an come awa. Dinna listen an dinna answer. It wadna dee ye ony hairm either, tae mak the sign o the cross. An, last o aa, dinna try tae swalla a bottle o fusky aa at aince as if it wis waater. That’ll dee ye nae gweed at aa!

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