11th January

Jack's Message Home

Jack was setting out to seek his fortune. ‘You take care, Jack,’ his mother said, ‘and keep an eye out for yer twa brithers that went ahead of ye. We’ve never heard onythin frae them, and I’m feart they’ve got intae trouble. They might even be deid.’

‘Dinna you fash aboot me, Mither,’ said Jack. ‘I’ll send word back aboot how I’m gettin on, and if I find ma brithers I’ll let ye ken.’

After a few miles he came to a town, and he stopped at an inn. And his two brothers were inside, drinking and laughing and singing with a crowd of other folk. ‘I’m glad tae see ye’re weel,’ said Jack, ‘but ye might at least hae got word tae oor auld mither. Ye ken whit a worrier she is.’

‘Ach, we’re that busy,’ they said. ‘Tell her yersel if ye like. We hivna the time.’

So Jack went on down the road, and things turned rough for him. First a giant tried to eat him, then he had to get through a forest of thorns, then he was robbed of his money. He’d just about had enough of fortune-seeking when he met a man coming the other way. ‘Will ye take a message tae ma mither?’ Jack said. ‘I will,’ the man said. So Jack described all that had happened to him. ‘But I’m still alive,’ he said. ‘And so are ma twa brithers, but they’re too busy enjoying themsels tae tell her.’

So the man went on, and he came to Jack’s mother’s house. There was a big party going on, with an old woman at the heart of it. He said to her, ‘Are you Jack’s mother?’ ‘Aye, I am that. In ye come, sit doon and get yersel a drink and a bite tae eat. Now, whit was it ye were sayin?’

‘I’ve a message for you from Jack,’ the man said. He could hardly make himself heard. ‘He’s had a bad time, but he’s alive. And his brothers, they’re alive and well too, but he said they were too busy to get in touch.’

But the woman had turned away and was already speaking to some- one else.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Harp: Esther Swift
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