Scottish myths 15

The fairy trinkets

A young couple who lived in a cottage near the brae of Invernauld many years ago, were so happy when it was apparent that they were going to be parents.
They awaited the day excitedly. The future father was very attentive towards his young wife, always insisting that she rest each day during the final months.

Despite all the care taken, when the time came for their baby to be born, the young wife didn't seem to have enough strength. The midwife did all she could but it seemed hopeless. When she was convinced of this, she finally informed the young man who had been tensely waiting outside that she feared that his wife was dying.

On hearing the terrible news, he rushed into the cottage to find his young wife almost in a coma. He kissed her on the forehead, tears in his eyes, then without really knowing what he was doing or where he was going, he wandered off.
He looked down sadly as he followed a burn side path leading up into the hill.

Suddenly he saw something sparkle in the grass, and reached down to find some finely wrought silver trinkets.
Without knowing why, he was certain that they were fairy trinkets. He rushed home and confided them to the midwife who was still trying to do what she could to revive the young woman.

The midwife immediately placed the silver trinkets under the young woman's pillow, then she took the arm of the young man whispering that they must leave her alone for a while.

As soon as the midwife heard cries coming from the bedroom she rushed back.  Only a few minutes later a wee baby girl was born. Her wan mother was smiling, tears of joy and relief streaming from her eyes.

Her husband was overjoyed. He tenderly kissed his wife then triumphantly held up his baby daughter. As he gazed into her eyes he remembered the trinkets. He instinctively knew that he must return them without delay. He was as sure as the wise midwife that they were magic. They had worked a miracle.

As he climbed up the hill however, he couldn't remember where he had found them. Nothing seemed the same. There was even a strange cave from which the sound of curious music came. The music seemed to call him. As if in a trance he entered the mouth of the cave.

He was never seen again until twelve months had past.
Then one day in May of the following year, late in the afternoon, a shepherd entered the cave to shelter from a heavy shower of rain. He found the young man fast asleep, wearing an expression of utter bliss.
The young man suddenly woke up, stretched himself contentedly, then recounted to the shepherd how he had been joyfully celebrating the birth of his daughter, dancing to the music of fairy pipers, most of the afternoon.
The shepherd scratched his head and said nothing having decided that the poor hermit must be mad.

When the young man returned home to his wife and daughter, he couldn't believe that a whole year had passed. It just wasn't possible. He was convinced that his absence had only been for a few hours in the afternoon of the very day his daughter was born.
And yet his beautiful wee daughter was there, standing before him, clearly one year old.

The overwhelmed and bewildered young man was eventually forgiven, and even believed, for the Scots are always very careful never to dismiss too easily any stories relating to Tir-Nan-Og.

  Scottish myths 16
 Scottish myths 14
Retelling and photo (A loch in Sutherland, Scotland) © Mirino. Sources include Beryl Beare's Scotland myths and Legends. With thanks. May, 2012

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