Highland cattle in a field of heather on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Photo by Frank Krahmer.
Highland cattle in a field of heather on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Photo by Frank Krahmer.

Today’s story comes from Scotland. It has a happy ending, but it does reference the hostilities between the English and Scottish people. “The Stolen Lady” was retold by Thomas Keightley in The Fairy Mythology: Illustrative of the Romance and Superstition of Various Countries,  1850, which is available on-line.

John Roy, who lived in Glenbroun, in the parish of Abernethy, was out one night on the hills in search of his cattle. He met a troop of fairies, who seemed to have a prize of some sort. Remembering that the fairies are obliged to exchange whatever they may have with any one who offers them anything, no matter how low in value, for it, he flung his cap to them, crying Shuis slo slumus sheen (i.e., mine is yours and yours is mine). The fairies dropped their booty, which proved to be a Sassenach (English) lady whom the dwellers of Shian of Coir-laggac had carried away from her own country, leaving a stock in her place which, of course, died and was buried.

John brought her home, and she lived for many years in his house.

Eventually, the new king decided to make the roads through these countries by means of soldiers, to allow coaches and carriages to get to the northern cities. Those soldiers were never great favorites in these countries, so it was not easy for them, either officers or men, to find comfortable places to stay.

But John Roy would not keep up the national animosity to the cottan dearg (red-coats), and he offered a residence in his house to a Saxon captain and his son. When there, they could not take their eyes off the English lady, and the son remarked to his father what a strong likeness she bore to his deceased mother.

The father replied that he too had been struck by the resemblance, and said he could almost fancy she was his wife. He then mentioned her name and those of some people they knew. The lady by these words at once recognized her husband and son, and honest John Roy had the satisfaction of reuniting the long-separated husband and wife, and receiving their most grateful acknowledgments.

I love stories with happy endings, although I do wonder about the lady’s life, how things were from her point of view- captured by the fairies and then spending years in a stranger’s house.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.

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