CELTIC FAIRY TALES
The Sprightly Tailor
SPRIGHTLY tailor was
employed by the great Macdonald, in his castle at Saddell, in order to make the
laird a pair of trews, used in olden time. And trews being the vest and breeches
united in one piece, and ornamented with fringes, were very comfortable, and
suitable to be worn in walking or dancing. And Macdonald had said to the tailor,
that if he would make the trews by night in the church, he would get a handsome
reward. For it was thought that the old ruined church was haunted, and that
fearsome things were to be seen there at night.
The tailor was well aware of this; but he was a sprightly man, and when the
laird dared him to make the trews by night in the church, the tailor was
not to be daunted, but took it in hand to
gain the prize. So, when night came, away he went up the glen, about half a mile
distance from the castle, till he came to the old church. Then he chose him a
nice gravestone for a seat and he lighted his candle, and put on his thimble,
and set to work at the trews plying his needle nimbly, and thinking about the
hire that the laird would have to give him.
For some time he got on pretty well, until he felt the floor all of a tremble
under his feet; and looking about him, but keeping his fingers at work, he saw
the appearance of a great human head rising up through the stone pavement of the
church. And when the head had risen above the surface, there came from it a
great, great voice. And the voice said: " Do you see this great head of
"I see that, but I'll sew this!" replied the sprightly tailor; and
he stitched away at the trews.
Then the head rose higher up through the pavement, until its neck appeared.
And when its neck was shown, the thundering voice came again and said: "Do
you see this great neck of mine?"
"I see that, but I'll sew this!" said the sprightly tailor and he
stitched away at his trews.
Then the head and neck rose higher still, until the great shoulders and chest
were shown above the ground. And again the mighty voice thundered: "Do you
see this great chest of mine?"
And again the sprightly tailor replied: "I see that, but I'll sew
this!" and stitched away at his trews.
And still it kept rising through the pavement, until it
shook a great pair of arms in the tailor's face, and said Do you see these
great arms of mine?"
"I see those, but I'll sew this!" answered the tailor; and he
stitched hard at his trews, for he knew that he had no time to lose.
The sprightly tailor was taking the long stitches, when he saw it gradually
rising and rising through the floor, until it lifted out a great leg, and
stamping with it upon the pavement, said in a roaring voice "Do you see
this great leg of mine?"
"Aye, aye: I see that, but I'll sew this!" cried the tailor; and
his fingers flew with the needle, and he took such long stitches, that he was
just come to the end of the trews, when it was taking up its other leg. But
before it could pull it out of the pavement, the sprightly tailor had finished
his task; and, blowing out his candle, and springing from off his gravestone, he
buckled up, and ran out of the church with the trews under his arm. Then the
fearsome thing gave a loud roar, and stamped with both his feet upon the
pavement, and out of the church he went after the sprightly tailor.
Down the glen they ran, faster than the stream when the flood rides it; but
the tailor had got the start and a nimble pair of legs, and he did not choose to
lose the laird's reward. And though the thing roared to him to stop, yet the
sprightly tailor was not the man to be beholden to a monster. So he held his
trews tight, and let no darkness grow under his feet, until he had reached
Saddell Castle. He had no sooner got inside the gate, and shut it, than the
apparition came up to it; and, enraged at losing his prize, struck the wall
above the gate, and left there the mark of his five great fingers. Ye may see
them plainly to this day, if ye'll only
peer close enough.
But the sprightly tailor gained his reward: for Macdonald paid him handsomely
for the trews, and never discovered that a few of the stitches were somewhat long.