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

The Stolen Bairn

She stretched the strings tight and set them in tune, and when she plucked a note it was so full of longing and grief that even the birds winging their way to the sea stopped in mid-air for a moment and cocked their heads to hear.

The lass set her cloak around her shoulders, held the harp to her chest and set out to the S�dhean. As she traveled, villagers stepped aside for her to pass, according her the respect due a princess. But of this she noticed nothing, and continued along the high road and the byroad, her eyes fixed straight ahead, until at last, as the moon rose full, she reached the entrance to where the S�dh were known to gather. She spread her billowing cloak upon the path and stepped aside.

Before long a late-arriving S�dh strode toward her.

The S�dh pointed. "You! No humans are allowed here. Leave at once!"

Then the S�dh noticed the white cloak. "Hmm. Finders keepers." And she stooped for it.

"Nay!" said the lass. "It is mine. You cannot have it!" She quickly snatched the cloak from the ground, cleverly wrapping it round her shoulders so it swirled around her body, its folds glimmering in the sun and its golden threads shining.

"Mortal, don't be a fool. I'll give you a handful of gold for it."

"This cloak is not for sale. 'Tis embroidered with my own golden hair, and there's none like it in the world!"

"No amount of gold?" scoffed the S�dh. "You make me laugh - all of you humans crumble at the first glint of gold. Very well, I'll fill your pockets with gold and all you can hold in your arms. There! Are you satisfied now?"

"The cloak is not for sale for any amount of gold," she repeated, "nor for any regular price."

"What then?" said the S�dh, sensing a bargain could be struck.

"Take me with you inside the S�dhean. Then the cloak will be yours and you're welcome to it.

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