and the Princess
was once a king and a queen who lived in Rousay.
The king died and the unfortunate queen was
forced to move to a small house with her three daughters. There, they kept a cow
and carefully tended a kail (cabbage) yard.
so happened that one morning the eldest daughter noticed that some of the kail
from their yard was missing.
her mother, the daughter announced that she would, that night, take a blanket out into
the yard and await the return of the thief.
queen agreed that this was the best course of action so, when darkness fell, the
girl retired to a corner of the yard, wrapped herself in the warm blanket and
Before too long, a very large giant
stepped into the yard. He began cutting the kail and throwing it into the cubbie
strapped to his back. The princess was astounded by this sight but nonetheless
stepped out and confronted the thieving behemoth.
are you taking my mother's kail?" she asked, hands planted firmly on her
The giant barely glanced at the girl.
"Quiet or I'll take you too!" he snorted, before continuing to cut. Before
long his cubbie was soon almost filled with kail.
asked you a question thief!" shouted the girl. "Why are you taking my
The giant snorted again
and then, taking the princess by an arm and a leg, threw her over his shoulder
into the cubbie, along with the kail. Then he strode away with a full basket
of kail and a princess.
When he arrived home,
the giant emptied the kail out on to the floor. Out with it fell a bedraggled
and bemused girl. Before she had a chance to complain the giant leaned forwards
and stared her in the eye.
"Here is the work you must do," he said.
"You must milk the cow and thereafter put her to the hill called Bloodfield.
Then, you must take wool, wash it, tease it, card and comb it and then spin it
to make me some cloth! Fail to do this and it will be the worse for you my lady!"
if was from pure fear or some giant magic I do not know, but when the giant left
his house the girl did exactly as she had been bidden. She milked the old cow
and led her up the track to the hill of Bloodfield. Then, returning to the giant's
hall and feeling a little hungry, she put a pot over the fire and made herself
As she sat down to eat a bowl,
she was amazed to find herself surrounded by a horde of little yellow-headed folk,
each one crying out for her to give them some.
The princess sneered at the little-folk
"Little for one and less for
never a grain do I have for you."
little folk disappeared and the princess eagerly ate her porridge. But when
she went to work the wool she found that she could not do it. No matter how hard
she tried, she could not carry out the giant's task.
the giant returned home he was roused to fury when he discovered that the girl
had not carried out his instructions. Roaring with anger, he picked her up and,
starting from her head, travelling down her back and over her feet, he skinned
her and threw her up in the rafters, among the hens.
back in the queen's meagre household, all were wondering what calamity had befallen
the eldest daughter. It was once again decided that a daughter should watch over
the kail yard that night, so with her blanket and a small lamp, the next daughter
settled down beside the peat stack.
a long story short, the same thing happened to the second daughter - the giant
strode into the yard and began helping himself to the kail before throwing
the watching daughter into his cubbie and heading off home.
the giant's hall, the second girl was also instructed to milk the cow, which she
did, but, once again, before preparing the wool she sat down to a bowl of porridge.
The little folk appeared yet again, begging a mouthful of porridge, but the unkind
daughter would let them have none of her precious meal. As a result she soon discovered
that by some magical means she was unable to work the wool.
giant was furious when he returned and picking the girl up tore a strip of skin
from her crown right over her head and down her back. With a snarl, he hurled her
into the rafters beside her sister, where the two of them lay, unable to speak
or come down.
Thus we have a queen with but
one daughter - the youngest.
This young girl informed her mother that she would
take watch that night to see what had befallen her sisters. At first, the queen was reluctant
to permit this but soon gave in to her daughter's pleas.
fell. The youngest daughter was well-wrapped in her blanket when the giant arrived
with his empty cubbie and a large knife.
evening," she said politely. "Now tell me why are you stealing my mother's
The giant ignored her
so she calmly repeated her question.
the giant snapped, then, once he had filled his cubbie, snatched her up by a leg
and an arm, hurled her in beside the kail.
time later, when he had returned to his hall, he released the girl and instructed
her in the same manner he had instructed her sisters.
The young girl listed carefully
to his instruction and nodded meekly. The giant grunted and left the house again.
the youngest sister set to work.
She milked the old cow, thereafter leading her
up to the rich grasses on the high hills. Returning to the house, hunger gnawed
at her stomach, so she decided to make some porridge to warm her belly.
had she spooned the porridge into her bowl than the little yellow-headed folk
appeared in droves, each one begging for a sup of her gruel.
The young princess
smiled at the little folk and told them they could have some, but only if they
brought something in which to spoon the porridge. Off they scampered, chattering
all the while, but were soon back around her feet again, some with broken bowls,
others with stones. Some brought one thing, others took another. But in the end
they all had some of her porridge.
had finished eating, all but one disappeared. The one remaining was a little, yellow-headed
boy, who asked the princess whether she had any work.
princess smiled sweetly. "I have plenty of work my little friend, but alas
I cannot pay you for it."
yellow-headed boy simply shrugged.
"No matter. All I ask in payment is that
you tell me my name."
The princess thought
that this would surely be an easy enough task and handed the wool over to the
little boy. With a giggle, the little boy disappeared out the door with the bale
By now, darkness was falling outside and
the girl was disturbed by a loud knock on the main door. Opening the door, she
was confronted by an old woman.
the intrusion, young mistress." said the old woman, "but I seek lodgings
for the night and wonder if you would be so kind to put up an old, weary wife?"
that I could," said the girl, "but this hall is not my own and I can
therefore offer nothing in the way of lodging. But here, take this for your journey."
She handed the old woman a piece of bread and cheese.
old woman thanked her for her kindness and made to turn to seek shelter elsewhere.
you step into the night. Do you have any news of the islands?" said the young
girl, anxious to hear how her dear mother fared.
my dear. No news save that the night looks to be cold."
With that the old
Now, outside the giant's hall,
a short distance up the hillside there was a knowe.
The old woman chanced upon
this knowe and settling down within its shelter found it to be very warm and reasonably
As she settled down for the night, drawing her shawl about her bony
shoulders, she heard a voice from within singing merrily:
Card, Carders, Card
Spin, Spinners, Spin,
Peerie-fool is my name."
the old woman saw light shining from a crack in the knowe and, peering through
the hole, saw a great many little-folk working feverishly. Some were washing wool,
whilst others teased and carded. At the very back of the glistening chamber sat
a row of spinners, their spinning-wheels whirring frantically. Running around
and between the workers was the little yellow-haired boy, all the while singing
his merry song.
Now the old woman thought
that this news might be worth a night's lodging so hastily headed back down the
hill in the direction of the giant's hall. She rapped eagerly at the great door
and, when the princess opened it, spilled out a version of the events she had witnessed
up the hill.
The princess clapped her hands
for joy and led the old woman to a warm, dry outhouse where she might spend the
night. Then she returned to the hall, all the while repeating the name "Peerie-fool"
over and over again.
The next morning dawned
cool and bright.
The young girl had just finished stoking the fire when the little
yellow-haired boy appeared with all the cloth that had been spun from the wool.
thank you for that work my friend..." said the princess. "You have truly
made some beautiful cloth."
but not so fast," said the little boy, hopping and dancing with glee. "First
you must tell me my name!!"
feigned a look surprise and then worry.
"All right," she said, pretending
to be deep in thought. "Your name is 'Tooriebeuy'!"
shrieked the little boy, leaping for joy.
your name is 'Bobopow'" she ventured
he yelled, dancing in ecstatic circles on the floor..
is your name 'Peerie-fool'?" asked the princess, grinning.
howled in anger before throwing down the cloth and disappearing out the door,
the girl's laughter ringing in his ears.
his way home, the giant met a great many of these little yellow-headed folk, some
of whom had their eyes hanging out on their cheeks, others with their tongues
lolling out on their breast.
the matter with you folk?" the giant asked.
shall tell thee what is the matter with me and my kin," said one of the little
folk. "We are needing sleep for we've been working so hard at making such
The giant laughed heartily, immediately
realising how the young princess had got the better of the peedie-folk.
have a good wife at home," he said to himself, "and if she is safe when
I return, never again will she have to do a day's work."
we already know, the girl was perfectly safe, and when the giant arrived home
she presented him with many rolls of beautiful cloth. The giant was overjoyed
and treated the young princess very kindly.
the next day the giant ventured out of the house, the young princess found
her two sisters in their place in the rafters, amongst the hens. Pulling them
down, she managed to put the skin on their backs again, and with a few fine stitches
they were as good as new. Then, instructing her eldest sister, to climb into a
caisie, she filled the basket with as much of the giant's finery as she could
then topped it up with freshly scythed grass.
the giant returned home, the princess explained to him that she was concerned
about her poor mother and asked if he would take the caisie of grass by the door
to her. That way she could at least feed her cow. The giant, still pleased with
the quantity of cloth the girl had obtained, agreed and set off with the caisie
on his back.
When he returned, she asked him
how her mother fared to which the giant replied "fine".
that is good, although I will send her one more load of grass. It is plainly obvious
that the grass in this part of the island is far superior to the short, yellow
grass by mother's byre." she said.
you wish." said the giant. "When will you have this load ready for me?"
the morn. But as I will be going up the hill when the sun rises I will leave the
filled caisie by the door."
looked at the yard upon yard of fine material that lay stacked by the window and
agreed without question.
The next day, the
young princess hid her other sister deep in the caisie before climbing in
herself and making sure they were both covered her with freshly shorn grass. When
giant awoke from his noisy slumber, he saw the caisie standing by the doorway
and, remembering the young girl's request the previous evening, swung it on to his
shoulders and set off.
When the giant arrived
at the queen's house, he asked where the grass should be dumped. The queen pointed
to a spot by the window.
Unknown to the giant, the queen and her eldest daughter
had boiled a quantity of water which they threw over him when he approached the
window, killing him instantly.
The two sisters
tumbled from the caisie and were joyfully reunited with their mother and eldest