19th August

Jack and the Princess (2)

When Jack’s mother comes in, the first thing she sees is the guilty look on Jack’s face. And she sees the milk jug empty and the pie with a great chunk missing out of it, and she flies into a rage at him.

‘Och, dinna be angry, Mither,’ Jack says from the far side of the table, ‘but I couldna help it. This lassie cam tae the door and she’s on a lang journey and she was thirsty so I gied her some milk, and she was hungry so I gied her some of the pie and she was tired so I let her sleep in yer bed. But, Mither, she’s an awfie sensitive lassie and I think she’s a princess and if she is maybe she’ll marry me and we’ll be rich.’

‘Ye’re an eejit, Jack,’ says his mother, but just then they hear a squeal of pain coming from the next room.

‘That’ll be the pea I pit under the mattress,’ Jack says.

‘Princess, is it?’ says his mother, and they both go into the bedroom.

But the lassie isn’t lying in the bed in agony. She’s halfway through the window with the sash fallen down and trapping her and that’s why she’s squealing. They pull her back in and she says, ‘Oh thank you, I was needing some fresh air but when I opened the window it fell on me.’ And Jack says, ‘Och, did ye hurt yersel?’

But Jack’s mother is much more interested in the bag that the lassie is trying to keep hidden behind her back. She grabs it and empties it onto the bed, and out tumble all of her own precious things – earrings, bracelets, silk scarves and suchlike.

Well, Jack’s mother chases the lassie round the room and out into the kitchen where she picks up the coal shovel and starts walloping her on the back and the legs till at last the lassie gets out of the house and takes off up the road with Jack’s mother right behind her.

By the time Jack’s mother returns everything is tidy and in its proper place in the house, but Jack’s away out for a long, long walk.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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