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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "Shaking-head"



"What is your name?" asked the king's son.

"Shaking-head," answered the red man.

When they had gone on a piece of the way together the king's son stopped and asked: "Where shall we be to-night?"

"We shall be in a giant's castle where there will be small welcome for us," said Shaking-head.

When evening came they found themselves in front of a castle. In they went and saw no one inside, only a tall old hag. But they were not long in the place till they heard a loud, rushing noise outside, and a blow on the castle. The giant came; and the first words he let out of his mouth were: "I'm glad to have an Erinach on my supper-table to eat to-night." Then turning to the two he said: "What brought you here this evening; what do you want in my castle?"

"All the champions and heroes of Erin are going to take your property from you and destroy yourself; we have come to warn you, and there is nobody to save you from them but us," said Shaking-head.

When the giant heard these words he changed his treatment entirely. He gave the king's son and Shaking-head a hearty welcome and a kindly greeting. When he understood the news they brought, he washed them with the tears of his eyes, dried them with kisses, and gave them a good supper and a soft bed that night.

Next morning the giant was up at an early hour, and he went to the bedside of each man and told him to rise and have breakfast. Shaking-head asked his reward of the giant for telling him of the champions of Erin and the danger he was in.

"Well," said the giant, "there's a pot of gold over there under my bed; take as much out of it as ever you wish, and welcome."

"It isn't gold I want for my service," said Shaking-head; "you have a gift which suits me better."

"What gift is that?" asked the giant.

"The light black steed in your stable."

"That's a gift I won't give you," said the giant, "for when any one comes to trouble or attack me, all I have to do is to throw my leg over that steed, and away he carries me out of sight of every enemy.

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