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Red Ettin.

From English Fairy Tales, by Joseph Jacobs (coll. & ed.)

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But the young man had to give it up. The lad not being able to answer one of these questions, the Red Ettin took a mallet and knocked him on the head, and turned him into a pillar of stone. On the morning after this happened, the younger brother took out the knife to look at it, and he was grieved to find it all brown with rust. He told his mother that the time was now come for him to go away upon his travels also; so she requested him to take the can to the well for water, that she might make a cake for him. And he went, and as he was bringing home the water, a raven over his head cried to him to look, and he would see that the water was running out. And he was a young man of sense, and seeing the water running out, he took some clay and patched up the holes, so that he brought home enough water to bake a large cake. When his mother put it to him to take the half cake with her blessing, he took it in preference to having the whole with her malison; and yet the half was bigger than what the other lad had got.

So he went away on his journey; and after he had travelled a far way, he met with an old woman that asked him if be would give her a bit of his johnny-cake. And he said: "I will gladly do that," and so he gave her a piece of the johnny-cake; and for that she gave him a magical wand, that she might yet be of service to him, if he took care to use it rightly. Then the old woman, who was a fairy, told him a great deal that would happen to him, and what he ought to do in all circumstances; and after that she vanished in an instant out of his sight. He went on a great way farther, and then he came up to the old man herding the sheep; and when he asked whose sheep these were, the answer was: "The Red Ettin of Ireland Once lived in Ballygan, And stole King Malcolm's daughter, The king of Fair Scotland. "He beats her, he binds her, He lays her on a band; And every day he strikes her With a bright silver wand. Like Julian the Roman, He's one that fears no man. "But now I fear his end is near, And destiny at hand; And you're to be, I plainly see, The heir of all his land."

When he came to the place where the monstrous beasts were standing, he did not stop nor run away, but went boldly through amongst them. One came up roaring with open mouth to devour him, when he struck it with his wand, and laid it in an instant dead at his feet. He soon came to the Ettin's castle, where he knocked, and was admitted. The old woman who sat by the fire warned him of the terrible Ettin, and what had been the fate of his brother; but he was not to be daunted. The monster soon came in, saying: "Snouk but and snouk ben, I find the smell of an earthly man; Be he living, or be he dead, His heart shall be kitchen to my bread." He quickly espied the young man, and bade him come forth on the floor. And then he put the three questions to him; but the young man had been told everything by the good fairy, so he was able to answer all the questions. So when the first head asked, "What's the thing without an end?" he said: "A bowl." And when the second head said: "The smaller the more dangerous; what's that?" he said at once, "A bridge."

And last, the third head said: "When does the dead carry the living, riddle me that?" Then the young man answered up at once and said: "When a ship sails on the sea with men inside her." When the Ettin found this, he knew that his power was gone. The young man then took up an axe and hewed off the monster's three heads. He next asked the old woman to show him where the king's daughter lay; and the old woman took him upstairs, and opened a great many doors, and out of every door came a beautiful lady who had been imprisoned there by the Ettin; and one of the ladies was the king's daughter. She also took him down into a low room, and there stood a stone pillar, that he had only to touch with his wand, when his brother started into life. And the whole of the prisoners were overjoyed at their deliverance, for which they thanked the young man. Next day they all set out for the king's court, and a gallant company they made. And the king married his daughter to the young man that had delivered her, and gave a noble's daughter to his brother; and so they all lived happily all the rest of their days.


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