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TITLE
Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait
EXTERNAL ID
HC_GAELICSTORYTAPE_019
DATE OF RECORDING
1997
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
unknown
SOURCE
The Highland Council
ASSET ID
2354
KEYWORDS
oral tradition
folklore
stories
Gaelic
story telling
audio

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This story is recorded in Gaelic and the following is an English translation.

Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait.

Long ago there lived a nobleman and a noble lady. They had one daughter and she was as beautiful as the bright summer sun. The lady died and everyone was sorrowful and in mourning for her. After a year and a day the nobleman married the Henwife, a widow who had three daughters. They were as ugly as the nobleman's daughter was beautiful and they were terribly envious and jealous of the noble girl.

The nobleman had to go away to the war but before he left he asked the Henwife to send his own daughter to a school in order to receive an education. She promised to do that. He went off to the war but instead of the girl going to school she was made a servant waiting on the Henwife's daughters and doing everything they told her.

Now the son of the King of Greece had come to marrying age, but he told his father that he would marry only the most beautiful girl in the world.

"Off you go then," said his father to him, "and you find her yourself."

He set off, himself and a knight, to search the world. Every town they came to the knight announced a dance there. At long last they came to the town which was near the house of the nobleman and the Henwife. The knight announced a dance, as usual. There was much preparation there by the young folk and much pleasure looking forward to the dance.

Of course the Henwife's three daughters were there. But when the others went off to the ball the poor servant sat at the fire - she was so tired after attending to the Henwife's daughters from dawn till dusk. She fell asleep and it was the cold that woke her up after the fire had gone completely out and the house as cold as a prison. She started, with the fright she got. How on earth would she make the fire come alive again?

The house of a witch, Leth-Cheannach Nighean a' Chait, was near the house of the nobleman and the Henwife. One side of the witch's face was like a cat's face and that is why she had this unusual name. Although the nobleman's daughter was scared of her she went to her house to ask for a cinder or two that would kindle the fire again. There was nothing else for it.

"Are you not at the ball, then?" said Leth-Cheannach Nighean a' Chait to her as soon as she went in.

"No," she replied, "For I don't have proper clothes to take me to a ball. I've come to ask for a cinder or two to bring the fire alive, for it has gone out. I fell asleep when the others went away. I was so tired."

"You go off home with the cinders," said Leth-Cheannach Nighean a' Chait, "and when you kindle the fire come back to me. You will go to the ball yet tonight, without a doubt ... indeed you will."

This is exactly what the girl did. As soon as she returned and went inside Leth-Cheannach Nighean a' Chait struck her with the magic wand and her gown became a rainbow gown and her shoes became shoes of glass. The two of them went out to the end of the house. There was a ragged-looking foal there. Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait struck her with the magic wand and immediately she was turned into a beautiful white-legged mare. The girl mounted her without delay.

"Remember now," said Leth-Cheannach Nighean a' Chait, "that you must leave the dance hall before midnight. Remember that."

Off went the girl on the mare, to the ball. There was much music there, joy and dancing. When the servant appeared in the dance-hall there wasn't a girl or young man there who wasn't fascinated and surprised. Who was she? Or where did she come from? Nobody knew. She was as lovely as the sun and the King's son would dance only with this beauty. But before midnight there was not a single sight of her ... she had gone home on the ragged foal.

She had the supper ready when the Henwife's daughters came home but they could not eat a scrap of food but kept talking ceaselessly about the lovely handsome one who came to the ball. Who was she? Or where did she come from? Next day the knight came announcing a ball again, throughout the town. All the young folk gathered there willingly and happily and the Henwife's daughters also went there.

The servant fared exactly as she had done the previous night. She woke up to find the fire completely out and she had to go again to the house of Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait.

"Are you not at the ball, then?" asked that one.

"I don't have proper clothes that will take me to a ball," answered the girl.

"Off you go home with the fire," said the other one, "but come back to me as soon as possible."

The servant did as the other one told her. As soon as she returned Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait struck her with the magic wand. But if she did her gown turned into a gown of bird's feathers and with no two feathers of the same kind in it, and her shoes just as beautiful as that.

She and Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait went out to the end of the house, the witch struck the ragged foal with the magic wand and she was turned at once into a lovely fast mare with white legs. The servant mounted her and soon they were in the dance-hall.

What wonder and surprise there was when she appeared once again at the ball! And how lovely she was! Her like had never been seen. But who was she? And where did she come from? Nobody knew.

The King's son would not dance with any maiden except her, but before midnight there was again no sign of her. She got past those who were keeping watch at the door as ordered by the King's son; and when the Henwife's daughters arrived home she had supper ready for them. But they had no word about supper or anything else except the pretty, lovely one who appeared that night at the ball. Who was she? Or where did she come from? Nobody knew.

Next day, the King's son sent the knight again throughout the town, proclaiming a ball again ... every girl and young lad invited to go there. As usual, the servant had to go to the house of Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait to ask for fire, and when she returned that one struck her with the magic wand. The girl was then dressed in a gown of stars and planets, wearing a gold shoe and a silver shoe, a gold comb and a silver comb in her hair and a garland of little stars. The shaggy foal as usual became a beautiful white-legged mare, and she mounted her at once.

"Remember midnight now," said Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait to her, "see that you don't forget that." Off she went and it was not long until she appeared again in the hall.

What a commotion was there! Every maiden and young man there was speechless at this lovely sight. The King's son danced with her all evening. But at the stroke of midnight there was no sign of her ... but what with her hurry did she not lose the golden shoe inside the hall door. In any case she got past the ones who were keeping watch at the door, dressed in the clothes she wore in the kitchen. She jumped on the foal and they made for home. She had the supper on the table when the others came home. They could not eat any food or drink a mouthful for talking about the lovely girl who appeared again at the ball. But who was she? Or where did she come from? Early the next day the King's son and the knight went on a round of the town. The knight had the gold shoe on a pillow and he was proclaiming that the King's son would marry no other girl than the one whom the gold shoe would fit. The commotion that there was in the town, the like was never seen or heard, and every female wanting to find out if the gold shoe would fit her.

They arrived at the nobleman's house. One of the Henwife's daughters tried on the gold shoe, and her foot went into it. Up she went, with the gold shoe on her foot behind the King's son and off they went.

There was a little bird flitting about from bush to bush beside the road.

"What is that little bird saying?" asked the King's son.

"Some foolish thing or other," replied the Henwife's daughter.

The bird followed them, repeating "diog, diog, diog," all the time.

"I must find out what that bird is saying," said the King's son. "He has some news or other for us," said he.

He stopped the horse and listened carefully.

This is the song that the bird was singing:
"The Henwife's daughter
behind you on a horse
crushing her foot
to see if the shoe will fit her.
It's the maiden in the kitchen
that the gold shoe will suit."

"Yes, yes, is that the way it is?" said the King's son.

He told the knight to dismount and to take the shoe off the Henwife's daughter. He did so. The King's son saw how things were. They returned to the nobleman's house. The King's son asked if there was another girl in the house, whom he had not seen.

"No," answered the Henwife, "except the servant who is in the kitchen."

"Where is she?" he asked. "I must see her."

They called the servant.

The gold shoe fitted her as if her foot had grown inside it. In came Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait and struck her with the magic wand. In an instant the servant was clothed in silk of stars and planets, while wearing a gold shoe and a silver shoe and a gold comb and a silver comb and a garland of stars in her hair.

They had a happy, lively, enjoyable wedding and the King's son got half the kingdom from his father, while he lived, and the whole kingdom when he died. That is how I heard it.

This story is from a collection of stories available on tape, with an accompanying book, under the title 'Am Bloigh Beag le Beannachd'

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Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait

1990s

oral tradition; folklore; stories; Gaelic; story telling; audio

The Highland Council

Am Bloigh Beag le Beannachd (Cassette)

This story is recorded in Gaelic and the following is an English translation.<br /> <br /> Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait.<br /> <br /> Long ago there lived a nobleman and a noble lady. They had one daughter and she was as beautiful as the bright summer sun. The lady died and everyone was sorrowful and in mourning for her. After a year and a day the nobleman married the Henwife, a widow who had three daughters. They were as ugly as the nobleman's daughter was beautiful and they were terribly envious and jealous of the noble girl.<br /> <br /> The nobleman had to go away to the war but before he left he asked the Henwife to send his own daughter to a school in order to receive an education. She promised to do that. He went off to the war but instead of the girl going to school she was made a servant waiting on the Henwife's daughters and doing everything they told her.<br /> <br /> Now the son of the King of Greece had come to marrying age, but he told his father that he would marry only the most beautiful girl in the world.<br /> <br /> "Off you go then," said his father to him, "and you find her yourself."<br /> <br /> He set off, himself and a knight, to search the world. Every town they came to the knight announced a dance there. At long last they came to the town which was near the house of the nobleman and the Henwife. The knight announced a dance, as usual. There was much preparation there by the young folk and much pleasure looking forward to the dance.<br /> <br /> Of course the Henwife's three daughters were there. But when the others went off to the ball the poor servant sat at the fire - she was so tired after attending to the Henwife's daughters from dawn till dusk. She fell asleep and it was the cold that woke her up after the fire had gone completely out and the house as cold as a prison. She started, with the fright she got. How on earth would she make the fire come alive again?<br /> <br /> The house of a witch, Leth-Cheannach Nighean a' Chait, was near the house of the nobleman and the Henwife. One side of the witch's face was like a cat's face and that is why she had this unusual name. Although the nobleman's daughter was scared of her she went to her house to ask for a cinder or two that would kindle the fire again. There was nothing else for it.<br /> <br /> "Are you not at the ball, then?" said Leth-Cheannach Nighean a' Chait to her as soon as she went in.<br /> <br /> "No," she replied, "For I don't have proper clothes to take me to a ball. I've come to ask for a cinder or two to bring the fire alive, for it has gone out. I fell asleep when the others went away. I was so tired."<br /> <br /> "You go off home with the cinders," said Leth-Cheannach Nighean a' Chait, "and when you kindle the fire come back to me. You will go to the ball yet tonight, without a doubt ... indeed you will."<br /> <br /> This is exactly what the girl did. As soon as she returned and went inside Leth-Cheannach Nighean a' Chait struck her with the magic wand and her gown became a rainbow gown and her shoes became shoes of glass. The two of them went out to the end of the house. There was a ragged-looking foal there. Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait struck her with the magic wand and immediately she was turned into a beautiful white-legged mare. The girl mounted her without delay.<br /> <br /> "Remember now," said Leth-Cheannach Nighean a' Chait, "that you must leave the dance hall before midnight. Remember that."<br /> <br /> Off went the girl on the mare, to the ball. There was much music there, joy and dancing. When the servant appeared in the dance-hall there wasn't a girl or young man there who wasn't fascinated and surprised. Who was she? Or where did she come from? Nobody knew. She was as lovely as the sun and the King's son would dance only with this beauty. But before midnight there was not a single sight of her ... she had gone home on the ragged foal.<br /> <br /> She had the supper ready when the Henwife's daughters came home but they could not eat a scrap of food but kept talking ceaselessly about the lovely handsome one who came to the ball. Who was she? Or where did she come from? Next day the knight came announcing a ball again, throughout the town. All the young folk gathered there willingly and happily and the Henwife's daughters also went there.<br /> <br /> The servant fared exactly as she had done the previous night. She woke up to find the fire completely out and she had to go again to the house of Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait.<br /> <br /> "Are you not at the ball, then?" asked that one.<br /> <br /> "I don't have proper clothes that will take me to a ball," answered the girl.<br /> <br /> "Off you go home with the fire," said the other one, "but come back to me as soon as possible."<br /> <br /> The servant did as the other one told her. As soon as she returned Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait struck her with the magic wand. But if she did her gown turned into a gown of bird's feathers and with no two feathers of the same kind in it, and her shoes just as beautiful as that.<br /> <br /> She and Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait went out to the end of the house, the witch struck the ragged foal with the magic wand and she was turned at once into a lovely fast mare with white legs. The servant mounted her and soon they were in the dance-hall.<br /> <br /> What wonder and surprise there was when she appeared once again at the ball! And how lovely she was! Her like had never been seen. But who was she? And where did she come from? Nobody knew.<br /> <br /> The King's son would not dance with any maiden except her, but before midnight there was again no sign of her. She got past those who were keeping watch at the door as ordered by the King's son; and when the Henwife's daughters arrived home she had supper ready for them. But they had no word about supper or anything else except the pretty, lovely one who appeared that night at the ball. Who was she? Or where did she come from? Nobody knew.<br /> <br /> Next day, the King's son sent the knight again throughout the town, proclaiming a ball again ... every girl and young lad invited to go there. As usual, the servant had to go to the house of Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait to ask for fire, and when she returned that one struck her with the magic wand. The girl was then dressed in a gown of stars and planets, wearing a gold shoe and a silver shoe, a gold comb and a silver comb in her hair and a garland of little stars. The shaggy foal as usual became a beautiful white-legged mare, and she mounted her at once.<br /> <br /> "Remember midnight now," said Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait to her, "see that you don't forget that." Off she went and it was not long until she appeared again in the hall.<br /> <br /> What a commotion was there! Every maiden and young man there was speechless at this lovely sight. The King's son danced with her all evening. But at the stroke of midnight there was no sign of her ... but what with her hurry did she not lose the golden shoe inside the hall door. In any case she got past the ones who were keeping watch at the door, dressed in the clothes she wore in the kitchen. She jumped on the foal and they made for home. She had the supper on the table when the others came home. They could not eat any food or drink a mouthful for talking about the lovely girl who appeared again at the ball. But who was she? Or where did she come from? Early the next day the King's son and the knight went on a round of the town. The knight had the gold shoe on a pillow and he was proclaiming that the King's son would marry no other girl than the one whom the gold shoe would fit. The commotion that there was in the town, the like was never seen or heard, and every female wanting to find out if the gold shoe would fit her.<br /> <br /> They arrived at the nobleman's house. One of the Henwife's daughters tried on the gold shoe, and her foot went into it. Up she went, with the gold shoe on her foot behind the King's son and off they went.<br /> <br /> There was a little bird flitting about from bush to bush beside the road.<br /> <br /> "What is that little bird saying?" asked the King's son.<br /> <br /> "Some foolish thing or other," replied the Henwife's daughter.<br /> <br /> The bird followed them, repeating "diog, diog, diog," all the time.<br /> <br /> "I must find out what that bird is saying," said the King's son. "He has some news or other for us," said he.<br /> <br /> He stopped the horse and listened carefully.<br /> <br /> This is the song that the bird was singing:<br /> "The Henwife's daughter<br /> behind you on a horse<br /> crushing her foot<br /> to see if the shoe will fit her.<br /> It's the maiden in the kitchen<br /> that the gold shoe will suit."<br /> <br /> "Yes, yes, is that the way it is?" said the King's son.<br /> <br /> He told the knight to dismount and to take the shoe off the Henwife's daughter. He did so. The King's son saw how things were. They returned to the nobleman's house. The King's son asked if there was another girl in the house, whom he had not seen.<br /> <br /> "No," answered the Henwife, "except the servant who is in the kitchen."<br /> <br /> "Where is she?" he asked. "I must see her."<br /> <br /> They called the servant.<br /> <br /> The gold shoe fitted her as if her foot had grown inside it. In came Leth-cheannach Nighean a' Chait and struck her with the magic wand. In an instant the servant was clothed in silk of stars and planets, while wearing a gold shoe and a silver shoe and a gold comb and a silver comb and a garland of stars in her hair.<br /> <br /> They had a happy, lively, enjoyable wedding and the King's son got half the kingdom from his father, while he lived, and the whole kingdom when he died. That is how I heard it.<br /> <br /> This story is from a collection of stories available on tape, with an accompanying book, under the title 'Am Bloigh Beag le Beannachd'