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Custom and Myth

Page: 35

The giant was very angry, and dashed the bairn on the stone and killed it.

. . . . .

The same adventure is repeated with the gardener’s son.

. . . . .

Then the giant went back to the king’s house, and said he would destroy them all if they did not give him Nicht Nought Nothing this time. They had to do it; and when he came to the big stone, the giant said, ‘What time of day is it?’ Nicht Nought Nothing said, ‘It is the time that my father the king will be sitting down to supper.’ The giant said, ‘I’ve got the richt ane noo;’ and took Nicht Nought Nothing to his own house and brought him up till he was a man.

The giant had a bonny dochter, and she and the lad grew very fond of each other. The giant said one day to Nicht Nought Nothing, ‘I’ve work for you to-morrow. There is a stable seven miles long and seven miles broad, and it has not been cleaned for seven years, and you must clean it to-morrow, or I will have you for my supper.’

The giant’s dochter went out next morning with the lad’s breakfast, and found him in a terrible state, for aye as he cleaned out a bit, it aye fell in again. The giant’s dochter said she would help him, and she cried a’ the beasts of the field, and a’ the fowls o’ the air, and in a minute they a’ came, and carried awa’ everything that was in the stable and made a’ clean before the giant came home. He said, ‘Shame for the wit that helped you; but I have a worse job for you to-morrow.’ Then he told Nicht Nought Nothing that there was a loch seven miles long, and seven miles deep, and seven miles broad, and he must drain it the next day, or else he would have him for his supper. Nicht Nought Nothing began early next morning and tried to lave the water with his pail, but the loch was never getting any less, and he did no ken what to do; but the giant’s dochter called on all the fish in the sea to come and drink the water, and very soon they drank it dry. When the giant saw the work done he was in a rage, and said, ‘I’ve a worse job for you to-morrow; there is a tree seven miles high, and no branch on it, till you get to the top, and there is a nest, and you must bring down the eggs without breaking one, or else I will have you for my supper.’ At first the giant’s dochter did not know how to help Nicht Nought Nothing; but she cut off first her fingers and then her toes, and made steps of them, and he clomb the tree, and got all the eggs safe till he came to the bottom, and then one was broken. The giant’s dochter advised him to run away, and she would follow him. So he travelled till he came to a king’s palace, and the king and queen took him in and were very kind to him. The giant’s dochter left her father’s house, and he pursued her and was drowned. Then she came to the king’s palace where Nicht Nought Nothing was. And she went up into a tree to watch for him. The gardener’s dochter, going to draw water in the well, saw the shadow of the lady in the water, and thought it was herself, and said, ‘If I’m so bonny, if I’m so brave, do you send me to draw water?’ The gardener’s wife went out, and she said the same thing. Then the gardener went himself, and brought the lady from the tree, and led her in. And he told her that a stranger was to marry the king’s dochter, and showed her the man: and it was Nicht Nought Nothing asleep in a chair. And she saw him, and cried to him, ‘Waken, waken, and speak to me!’ But he would not waken, and syne she cried,


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