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TITLE
The Greedy Blacksmith
EXTERNAL ID
HC_GAELICSTORYTAPE_004
DATE OF RECORDING
1997
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
unknown
SOURCE
The Highland Council
ASSET ID
84
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.

The Greedy Blacksmith.

On a calm summer evening a tailor and a blacksmith were returning together from a town where they had been working. As the evening was drawing in they saw the sun going down behind the mountains and the moon rising in the east. At the same time they heard, far away, the most melodious music that had ever been heard and it was becoming louder as they moved on. The sound was out of this world but it was so exceedingly sweet that they no longer felt tired, and they went on their way with light, energetic steps.

After they had travelled a little distance they came to a pleasant hollow, where they saw a company of little men and women holding hands and dancing in a lively and happy manner to the lovely music which they heard.

In the very centre of the circle in which the fairies were dancing there stood an old man who was slightly taller and heavier than the rest. He wore a coat of many colours and his beard was as white as snow and stretched down to his chest. The tailor and the blacksmith stood in great wonder gazing at the dancers. And then did the old man not beckon to them and the little folk made a path for them so that they could come into the circle.

The blacksmith was a bold, courageous man and he jumped in amongst them without fear or alarm; but the tailor was somewhat hesitant to begin with, and stood back. After a little while, however, when he saw how welcoming and pleasant they were he became confident and he went into the circle, along with the blacksmith. The fairies quickly closed around them, all very excited.

While this was going on, the one who was in the middle drew a huge knife out of the belt around his waist, sharpened it on a stone and looked at the tailor and the blacksmith in a manner that made them shake with fear.

They were not very long in that situation, for the little old man seized the blacksmith and in the twinkling of an eye cut off all his hair and beard with a single stroke. He then turned to the tailor and did the very same to him.

But in a very short time their fear disappeared altogether for the old man came and gave them a hearty welcome and placed his hand on their shoulder, praising them for being so ready in allowing him to shear them. Then he showed them a large heap of coal that was near at hand and asked them to fill their pockets.

They did as he asked though they did not know on earth what use the coal would be to them. At any rate, they set off and left the little folk there for it was getting late. Just as they reached the glen they heard a bell striking twelve o'clock.

The music stopped quickly, the little folk skipped away and the hollow lay calm and silent under the cold light of the moon.

Within a fairly short time the pair reached an inn beside the road but there was no place for them there unless they would lie down on beds of straw. They did that willingly, stretching out fully clothed and being too tired to take the coal from their pockets. Early in the morning, much earlier than they were accustomed to rise, the weight of the coal aroused them from their sleep. When they put their hands in their pockets they could hardly believe their eyes when they saw that, instead of coal, their hands were full of gold! Not only that, but their heads were covered in hair as they had been before. In an instant they had grown wealthy.

But the blacksmith was by nature a greedy man and had he not filled his two pockets with the coal. He, therefore, had twice as much gold as the tailor had. In spite of all that he was not satisfied, and he suggested to his companion that they would stay there until the next day and that they would go the next evening to get more gold from the little old man.

The tailor refused to do this. "I have enough and plenty," said he, "I am completely satisfied; I don't need any more."

In any case, to please his companion, he stayed another day in the inn and when evening came the blacksmith set off on his own, with two bags on his shoulder. He reached the hollow and found the little folk there dancing and singing, as they had been the previous evening.

They accepted him in kind, friendly fashion into the company, as they had done before. The old man again took off his hair and his beard and told him, as he had done before, to take as much coal as he wished with him. The blacksmith asked for no second invitation, he was delighted to rush over to where the coal was. It was not just his pockets that he filled but the two sacks as well and off home he went then full of joy, thinking of his splendid good fortune!

He did not get a bed that night either but he was pleased to lie down with his clothes on, just as he was. "I'll notice," he said, "when the coal gets heavy and turns into gold; and that will wake me up." At last he fell asleep in the full expectation and hope that he would wake up in the morning a rich, wealthy man.

As soon as he opened his eyes up he was on his feet and he began to search his pockets. But it was no wonder until now for were his pockets not absolutely full of dirty black coal, as they had been before! He threw out fistful after fistful but not a single little crumb of gold was to be seen there.

"A well," said the blacksmith, "it can't be helped; I still have the gold that I got the first night. It's just as well that I kept that safely." But the poor man, when he went to look for it, wasn't every crumb of it turned to coal again; and he was left as poor as he had always been.

He placed his dirty black hands up on top of his head. He had no hair at all and his chin was as smooth as the sole of his foot. He understood at last that a punishment had come upon him for being so greedy. He began to sigh and sorrow and at last he woke up the worthy tailor. The tailor was heart sorry for him. He said to him, kindly and generously, "Och, give up your grief and sorrow. Were we not, you and I, companions and travellers together; and now you are welcome to stay with myself and to have your share of all that I have. There will be enough and plenty for both of us."

The worthy man stood by his word. He did as he had promised. But from that day onwards the blacksmith had to wear a cap to keep his bald head hidden!

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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The Greedy Blacksmith

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 /> The Greedy Blacksmith.<br /> <br /> On a calm summer evening a tailor and a blacksmith were returning together from a town where they had been working. As the evening was drawing in they saw the sun going down behind the mountains and the moon rising in the east. At the same time they heard, far away, the most melodious music that had ever been heard and it was becoming louder as they moved on. The sound was out of this world but it was so exceedingly sweet that they no longer felt tired, and they went on their way with light, energetic steps.<br /> <br /> After they had travelled a little distance they came to a pleasant hollow, where they saw a company of little men and women holding hands and dancing in a lively and happy manner to the lovely music which they heard.<br /> <br /> In the very centre of the circle in which the fairies were dancing there stood an old man who was slightly taller and heavier than the rest. He wore a coat of many colours and his beard was as white as snow and stretched down to his chest. The tailor and the blacksmith stood in great wonder gazing at the dancers. And then did the old man not beckon to them and the little folk made a path for them so that they could come into the circle.<br /> <br /> The blacksmith was a bold, courageous man and he jumped in amongst them without fear or alarm; but the tailor was somewhat hesitant to begin with, and stood back. After a little while, however, when he saw how welcoming and pleasant they were he became confident and he went into the circle, along with the blacksmith. The fairies quickly closed around them, all very excited.<br /> <br /> While this was going on, the one who was in the middle drew a huge knife out of the belt around his waist, sharpened it on a stone and looked at the tailor and the blacksmith in a manner that made them shake with fear.<br /> <br /> They were not very long in that situation, for the little old man seized the blacksmith and in the twinkling of an eye cut off all his hair and beard with a single stroke. He then turned to the tailor and did the very same to him.<br /> <br /> But in a very short time their fear disappeared altogether for the old man came and gave them a hearty welcome and placed his hand on their shoulder, praising them for being so ready in allowing him to shear them. Then he showed them a large heap of coal that was near at hand and asked them to fill their pockets.<br /> <br /> They did as he asked though they did not know on earth what use the coal would be to them. At any rate, they set off and left the little folk there for it was getting late. Just as they reached the glen they heard a bell striking twelve o'clock.<br /> <br /> The music stopped quickly, the little folk skipped away and the hollow lay calm and silent under the cold light of the moon.<br /> <br /> Within a fairly short time the pair reached an inn beside the road but there was no place for them there unless they would lie down on beds of straw. They did that willingly, stretching out fully clothed and being too tired to take the coal from their pockets. Early in the morning, much earlier than they were accustomed to rise, the weight of the coal aroused them from their sleep. When they put their hands in their pockets they could hardly believe their eyes when they saw that, instead of coal, their hands were full of gold! Not only that, but their heads were covered in hair as they had been before. In an instant they had grown wealthy.<br /> <br /> But the blacksmith was by nature a greedy man and had he not filled his two pockets with the coal. He, therefore, had twice as much gold as the tailor had. In spite of all that he was not satisfied, and he suggested to his companion that they would stay there until the next day and that they would go the next evening to get more gold from the little old man.<br /> <br /> The tailor refused to do this. "I have enough and plenty," said he, "I am completely satisfied; I don't need any more."<br /> <br /> In any case, to please his companion, he stayed another day in the inn and when evening came the blacksmith set off on his own, with two bags on his shoulder. He reached the hollow and found the little folk there dancing and singing, as they had been the previous evening.<br /> <br /> They accepted him in kind, friendly fashion into the company, as they had done before. The old man again took off his hair and his beard and told him, as he had done before, to take as much coal as he wished with him. The blacksmith asked for no second invitation, he was delighted to rush over to where the coal was. It was not just his pockets that he filled but the two sacks as well and off home he went then full of joy, thinking of his splendid good fortune!<br /> <br /> He did not get a bed that night either but he was pleased to lie down with his clothes on, just as he was. "I'll notice," he said, "when the coal gets heavy and turns into gold; and that will wake me up." At last he fell asleep in the full expectation and hope that he would wake up in the morning a rich, wealthy man.<br /> <br /> As soon as he opened his eyes up he was on his feet and he began to search his pockets. But it was no wonder until now for were his pockets not absolutely full of dirty black coal, as they had been before! He threw out fistful after fistful but not a single little crumb of gold was to be seen there.<br /> <br /> "A well," said the blacksmith, "it can't be helped; I still have the gold that I got the first night. It's just as well that I kept that safely." But the poor man, when he went to look for it, wasn't every crumb of it turned to coal again; and he was left as poor as he had always been.<br /> <br /> He placed his dirty black hands up on top of his head. He had no hair at all and his chin was as smooth as the sole of his foot. He understood at last that a punishment had come upon him for being so greedy. He began to sigh and sorrow and at last he woke up the worthy tailor. The tailor was heart sorry for him. He said to him, kindly and generously, "Och, give up your grief and sorrow. Were we not, you and I, companions and travellers together; and now you are welcome to stay with myself and to have your share of all that I have. There will be enough and plenty for both of us."<br /> <br /> The worthy man stood by his word. He did as he had promised. But from that day onwards the blacksmith had to wear a cap to keep his bald head hidden!<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'