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Main > Scotland folktales > Fairy tale "The Stolen Bairn"

The Stolen Bairn

They searched the whole live long day, tramping up and down the path and all around the area, asking everyone they could find, but no one knew of a baby that had been found by the path near the cliffs.

"Stay here with us," said one of the fishermen of the village when the lass was given the sorry news. "This can be your home now. We have many a fine lad for you to marry. You'll have another bairn before long, no doubt."

She drew in her breath. "Thank you just the same, I know you mean well. But now I am going to go and find my bairn."

So the lass traveled from croft to croft, village to village, searching and asking everyone she met about her lost baby. With her hair blown about and a wild expression in her eyes, many thought her crazed, and perhaps she was, a bit.

One day the lass wandered into a camp of gypsies. "Where is my bairn? Can anyone help me?" The girl looked so forlorn and weary a mother with three young children took pity on her. She bid the lass to come inside her tent, washed her feet and fed her from her own pot. "Where is my bairn?" was all the girl could say.

"Alas, I know not," said the young mother. "But my grandmother is the wisest woman I know. If anyone can help you find your little one, it is she."

She led the lass to a tent, and inside sat a very wrinkled ancient woman dressed in black from heat to toe and sitting at a table. Saying nothing, the grandmother clasped her hands upon the hands of the lass and there they sat, hour after hour, hand in hand, till darkness fell. At midnight, the grandmother selected herbs from a basket and scattered them over the fire. The fire leaped up and the smoke that rose from the burning herbs swirled round the old gypsy woman's head. She closed her eyes and listened as the fire burned hot. When it died down, she took the lass's hand again. "Give up thy search, poor lass," she said sorrowfully, "for thy baby has been stolen away by the S�dh.

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