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Main > Scotland folktales > Fairy tale "Elphin Irving"

Elphin Irving

But a brown elf shouted a loud, loud shout,

“Come, leap on your coursers fleet,

For here comes the smell of some baptised flesh,

And the sounding of baptised feet.”

But oh! the fire that burns, and maun burn;

For the time that is gone will never return.

On a steed as white as the new-milked milk,

The Elf Queen leaped with a bound,

And young Elphin a steed like December snow

’Neath him at the word he found.

But a maiden came, and her christened arms

She linked her brother around,

And called on God, and the steed with a snort

Sank into the gaping ground.

But the fire maun burn, and I maun quake,

And the time that is gone will no more come back.

And she held her brother, and lo! he grew

A wild bull waked in ire;

And she held her brother, and lo! he changed

To a river roaring higher;

And she held her brother, and he became

A flood of the raging fire;

She shrieked and sank, and the wild elves laughed

Till the mountain rang and mire.

But oh! the fire yet burns in my brain,

And the hour is gone, and comes not again.

“O maiden, why waxed thy faith so faint,

Thy spirit so slack and slaw?

Thy courage kept good till the flame waxed wud,

Then thy might begun to thaw;

Had ye kissed him with thy christened lip,

Ye had wan him frae ’mang us a’.

Now bless the fire, the elfin fire,

That made thee faint and fa’;

Now bless the fire, the elfin fire,

The longer it burns it blazes the higher.”

“At the close of this unusual strain, the figure sat down on the grass, and proceeded to bind up her long and disordered tresses, gazing along the old and unfrequented road. ‘Now God be my helper,’ said the traveller, who happened to be the laird of Johnstone Bank, ‘can this be a trick of the fiend, or can it be bonnie Phemie Irving who chants this dolorous sang? Something sad has befallen that makes her seek her seat in this eerie nook amid the darkness and tempest; through might from aboon I will go on and see.

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