kimurho (kimuro) wrote in sluagh_aotrom,

Friday tale - be careful what you say

"Beannachd nan siubhal is nan imeachd. 'S e an-diugh Dihaoine, cha chluinn iad sin."

Once upon a time, when crofters lived at Druim-Uachdair, in Badenoch, a poor widow at the end of a severe Spring was in great straits. She went to a neighbour, and begged her, for the love of God, to give her as much meal as would make porridge for herself and her children.

"The Devil a grain have I," said the other woman. (Am fear mór gràinne agam.)

"God bless my share, mother," said her little boy, who was sitting at the hearth. (Dhia beannachd mo chuid, a mhàthair.)

The poor woman went away sore-hearted ; and presently there came to the house she had left no less a visitor than the Fear Mór, whose name has just been mentioned. He immediately went to the meal-chest, and proceeded to take it out in handfuls, saying "This my share and yours, that for little Donald." (Seo mo chuid-sa, 's do chuid fhéin ; sid cuid Dònullain.) For every two handfuls he put in a bag, one handful he left. Having finished the work, he went out, emptied the sack into the burn, and disappeared in a cloud of smoke!

from A Collection of Gaelic Proverbs and Familiar Sayings edited by Alexander Nicolson (1882)

This tale reminds me of the story in Chaucer's Canterbury tales, about the Devil traveling with the tax collector. IIRC, though, in that story, the person who says "To the Devil with ..." whatever, has to really mean it in order for the Devil to take it to Hell with him.

The fact is, although the visitor is identified as the Devil, the sense of fair-play involved feels more like one of the OtherFolk than the Evil One.
Tags: devil, folklore, scotland, scottish
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