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



"Well," said Shaking-head, "if you don't give me that steed I'll bring all the kingdom of Erin against you, and you'll be destroyed with all you have."

The giant stopped a moment, and said: "I believe you'd do that thing, so you may take the steed." Then Shaking-head took the steed of the giant, gave him to the king's son, and away they went.

At sunset Shaking-head said: "We are near the castle of another giant, the next brother to the one who entertained us last night. He hasn't much welcome for us either; but he will treat us well when he is threatened."

The second giant was going to eat the king's son for supper, but when Shaking-head told him about the forces of Erin he changed his manner and entertained them well.

Next morning after breakfast, Shaking-head said: "You must give me a present for my services in warning you."

"There is a pot of gold under my bed," said the giant; "take all you want of it."

"I don't want your gold," said Shaking-head, "but you have a gift which suits me well."

"What is that?" asked the giant.

"The two-handed black sword that never fails a blow."

"You won't get that gift from me," said the giant; "and I can't spare it; for if a whole army were to come against me, as soon as I'd have my two hands on the hilt of that sword, I'd let no man near me without sweeping the head off him."

"Well," said Shaking-head, "I have been keeping back your enemies this long time; but I'll let them at you now, and I'll raise up more. I'll put the whole kingdom of Erin against you."

The giant stopped a moment, and said: "I believe you'd do that if it served you." So he took the sword off his belt and handed it to his guest. Shaking-head gave it to the king's son, who mounted his steed, and they both went away.

When they had gone some distance from the giant's castle Shaking-head said to the king's son, "Where shall we be to-night?—you have more knowledge than I." "Indeed then I have not," said the king's son; "I have no knowledge at all of where we are going; it is you who have the knowledge.

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