Reader's Theater

A Story From: Scotland
Read Time: ["3 to 5mins","6 to 10mins"]
For Ages: 5 to 7yrs., 8 to 10yrs.

The Mermaid, a Ring and a Wish for Love ~ Fairy Tales for Kids 

The Mermaid, a Ring and a Wish for Love was adapted from our original story, The Fisherlad and the Mermaid’s Ring. It is sgeulachdan (skale-ak-tan) tale from Scotland that’s told as part of the entertainment at a gathering such as a wedding.


ONCE IN SCOTLAND a young man was so much in love with a lass that he did nothing but think of her night and day. At last he had the courage to offer her his heart and asked for hers in return.

But she did not share the same feeling, as it can happen. She sweetly smiled at him and then ran off. The young man was left feeling sad and defeated.

The young man was filled with embarrassment. He felt he could no longer show his face around town. Not with everyone knowing she had passed him over! He couldn’t even fish anymore with his friends at the shore, for he was too full of shame.

So with a heavy heart, he gathered his nets, got inside his boat and sailed off to a deserted island. He built himself a hut and every morning, very early, sailed to sea. There he would cast his nets and hopefully haul in a day’s catch. He took his catch to the closest shore port where no one knew his face. He would sell his fish to the local market, and with the money he earned, buy food and other necessities, and sail back home to his island. Such was his life, day after day.

Then one day, the corner of his eye caught something gleaming, with the fish in his net. Quickly, he grabbed it with one hand, though it twisted and thrashed, and he tied the net into a knot so that whatever it was could not escape.

“Let me go!” he heard a voice shout out. To his surprise, it was a mermaid! She looked like every other girl from the waist up, but below that flipped a long fishtail that glittered with shiny yellow-green scales.

“A mermaid!” he said.  “You know as well as I do that you must grant me a wish.”

“Very well,” said the mermaid, “I suppose you want a bag of gold coins. I happen to know of a sunken ship not far from here with such treasure.”

“I have no interest in coins,” he said. “‘That will not give me what I want.”

“So it’s a trunk of treasure you require?” She turned her head with pride. “I am the daughter of the king of the sea, and can have my mermaid servants deliver such a trunk to your island.”

“If you know enough about me to know about my island,” he said, “you know what it is I really want.”

“The girl?” sighed the mermaid. “Why her?”

“Ooh, you know why!” he said. “Her blue eyes. Her blonde hair. The way she moves. She is what I want most in all the world. If I can’t have her, I want nothing else!”

“Ah, she is not so special,” said the mermaid.  But when the young man tightened his grip on the netting, she quickly added, “Of course, I can grant your wish of love, but you must realize it will take some time. Release me and I’ll give you a magic ring. After one year and a day, when you go to her and offer her the ring, she will not refuse.”

“How do you know she won’t already be married by then?”

“She won’t be,” promised the mermaid.

So he decided to let the mermaid free.  He took the ring and placed it in a jar on his nightstand. He decided to scratch the wood on the mantelpiece to keep track of everyday that went by.

One day not long after that as he sailed back to his island, he saw what looked like a heap of seaweed. More curious still was when the seaweed moved. He then saw that it was no mound of seaweed, but a brown-haired girl whose dark hair lay in a heap around her.

“What are you doing here, on my island?” he frowned.

“Ooh, ‘tis not your island, just because you got here first,” she said.  “You’re not the only one who had to go somewhere! My father has a new bride not much older than myself. She’s horrible and mean and I fear she’s going to do something terrible to me.”

“You can’t stay here. You must go back and make it right with her.”

“It is not for you to tell me what to do,” she said.  “Besides, I can’t go anywhere right now because the winds aren’t right.”

“Tomorrow morning the winds will change.”

“And my raft is broken.”

“I’ll fix it.”

“Stop it! I need to stay somewhere where I’m alone and safe!”

“So do I!” thundered the young man.

“You’ll have plenty of room,” she said. “You stay on your side of the island, and I’ll stay on mine.  Besides,” she said more gently, “if I’m going to cook for myself, I may as well cook enough for two.

“Suit yourself,” he said.  “But I eat alone.”

The girl was true to her word. When the young man returned from fishing or from the market, he would find a hot meal for him on the table. Where she went, where she slept, he didn’t know and did not wonder in the least.

One day he had an especially good day. The fish were plentiful and fetched a good price at market. He came home earlier than usual and found the girl in his hut.  She was startled and started to leave. He said, “There now, you don’t have to go so quickly. Grab yourself a plate and sit across from me. We might as well eat together.”

So they ate together, saying little. But the next day she was also there when he returned and when they ate together, they said a few words more. The day after that, a few words more, until they got to know all about one another.

He understood completely why the girl had to leave her house, and he pounded the table with fury when she told him about her father and how he had been blind to the dangerous situation he had put her in. She listened with sympathy to the tale of his lost love and how he planned to win her heart with the mermaid’s ring after the 365 days.


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