kimurho (kimuro) wrote in sluagh_aotrom,

The King and the Wise Daughter

This is an old story that in Gaelic is called "An Rìgh agus an Searrach"; in English this means The King And The Colt. If this were an English story, I think the title would be The King and the Wise Daughter. This story appeared in the Gaelic lesson An Litir Bheag No. 256, by Ruairidh MacIlleathain. It can be found at

I regret any errors that may be found in this retelling of the tale. I injured the middle finger on my right hand quite badly last week, which makes typing rather difficult.

Once there was a man who managed to get on the wrong side of the king. His wife was dead; he lived alone with his daughter.

One day, the king called for the man to come before him. When the man went up to the castle, the king said, "You'll come back tomorrow, and you'll answer the question I put to you. The question is, what is the most plenteous thing in all the world?"

The man went home in despair. For everything he could think of, there always seem to be something more numerous. When he told his daughter with the king had said, she replied, "Tell the king that there is nothing so plenteous as sides. "

Her father was puzzled. "Do you really believe that?" he asked.

"Yes father. Because everything in the world has at least two sides - an inside and an outside. A topside and a bottom side. A far side and a near side"

The man was satisfied. The next morning he went to the castle.

"Well," said the king. "What thing is the most plenteous in all the world?"

The man answered, "There is nothing in the world so plenteous as sides. Everything has at least two sides. So no matter how many of the thing there are, the sides a more plenteous. "

"I am satisfied," said the king. "But return again tomorrow and answer me this question, what is the richest thing in the world?"

The man left. When he told his daughter, she thought for a while and then answered. "That there is nothing in the world as rich as the ocean. "

"Do you really believe that?" he said.

"Yes father. The ocean is the biggest thing in the world. There is more in it than anything else. "

The man was satisfied. The next morning he went to the castle.

"Well," said the king. "What is the richest thing in all the world?"

"There is nothing in the world as rich as the ocean," said the man and he explained why. The king was satisfied but he said, "Return again tomorrow and unless you answer the question what is the fastest thing in the world, you lose your head. "

The man went home and once again told his daughter with the king had said. This was a more difficult question. She thought, and thought. Finally she answered. "Tell the king that there is nothing in the world as fast as a thought. You can be here and your thoughts can go to the other side of the world in a minute. No creature at all is as fast as that."

The man was delighted. The next morning he went to the castle.

"And what is the fastest thing in the world?" asked the king.

"There is nothing in the world as fast as thought," answered the man.

"My horse is faster than that," said the king.

"Not so," said the man. "Your thoughts can be on the far side of the kingdom in the second. No horse at all is as fast as that. "

" Ah," said the king thoughtfully. "I am satisfied with that but I will need to put another question to you. Who lives with you?"

"My daughter," said the men proudly.

"Yes," replied the king. "I want to marry your daughter. " But when the man's daughter was before him, the king insisted on a prenuptial agreement. "If anything ever comes between us," said the king, "You must leave the castle. "

"Very well," she replied. "But I have a condition of my own. If anything ever comes between us, I will leave the castle but I will be allowed to take three loads out of the castle. "

"Very well," agreed the king. And so the two were married, the king and the wise daughter. In time, she gave birth to a son.

There was a poor farmer who lived nearby will had with the one mare. About the same time that the young prince was born, this farmer's mare gave birth to a colt. When the herds went up the mountain to their summer grazing grounds, the colt went up the mountain with the mare.

The king’s horse was also on the mountain. The king’s horse was a gelding. At the end of summer, the horses returned from the mountain, the colt came down the mountain with the king’s gelding. When the farmer came to claim his colt, the king refused. He said that the colt belonged to his horse. The farmer was not able to get to his colt back.

One day when the king was out the farmer went up to the castle. He talked to the king's wife.

"Come tomorrow morning, with a bucket of salt, to the field near the castle," she said. "Sow the salt in the field. When the king asks you what you are doing, tell him that you are planting salt. When he asks you if you expect to grow salt, tell him that it is as likely as a gelding fathering a colt."

The next morning the farmer appeared. He had bucket of salt, he began spreading the salt onto the earth.

"What are you doing?" demanded the king.

The farmer answered as the king's wife had advised. "I am sowing salt. "

"Do you think that you can grow salt?" asked the king.

"I am as likely to grow salt," replied the man, "As you are to get a colt out of your gelding. "

The king was not pleased. He recognized from what source the man owed his response. The king went inside the castle.

To his wife, he said in accusation, "You told the farmer what to do." "I did," she replied.

"And do you remember our prenuptial agreement?" he asked. "I do," she replied.

"Well, then, you know that now you must leave the castle," said the king.

"You will remember yourself," said his wife, "That I had a condition also in that agreement. I will leave the castle, but I will take three loads out of the castle with me. "

"Of course," replied the king.

The wise daughter went to the treasury. She filled a chest with gold and silver. She carried this chest out the castle. That was her first load.

She went back in the castle. Going into the nursery, she picked up the cradle containing her son, the prince, and she carried both cradle and child out of the castle. That was her second load.

The king was not pleased. But his wife was not finished. She took the king himself by the hand, and she led him outside the castle with her. And that was her third load.

There was no one left in the castle. The king looked around and a small smile was on his face. All he said, however, was, "And now, I will carry back inside the three loads which you carried out." And the very first load he took back into the castle, was his wise wife and if they two did not live happily ever after, well, they at least lived happily enough. As for the farmer, he got his colt back.

The End
Tags: folklore, scottish
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