A Story From: Scotland
Read Time: ["3 to 5mins","6 to 10mins"]
For Ages: 5 to 7yrs., 8 to 10yrs.
Read More of This Story
In fact, she posted a chart over the mantle to keep track of the days gone by and the ones left. A clever idea, he thought, since the scratches on the wood were becoming hard to tell apart and keep count.
Not long after that, the young man returned home from fishing one day and saw she had moved flowers from the field and planted them in front of the hut. “How nice and thoughtful,” he said to himself.
Around that time, she started to help him dock the boat and spread the nets. Though she was but a brown-haired young girl who was nearly as small as a child, she was surprisingly strong and helpful to have around.
One morning the girl said, “When you go to market, you must bring back a bit of window glass to keep the weather out.” He obliged, and the next day while he was gone she placed the glass in the window holes.
Indeed, the hut stayed warmer that evening. And in the day, a beam of sunlight shone through the new window. Another time she told him, “Bring me back some white paint – these walls are far too dreary.” He complied, and she cleaned the walls and painted them white.
Though he started to grumble about what little money was left after he fetched her this or fetched her that, he had to admit that his hut was more comfortable than it had ever been before.
On the other side of the island one day, he noticed a pile of grass had been pushed against a group of thick trees and was pressed down in the middle. He realized that it must be where she slept at night. A bit ashamed that he had never wondered about it before, he decided to forego fishing for a few days and started gathering wood and hammering it to the hut.
“What are you up to now?” she asked.
“‘It’s not proper for a young woman to sleep outside on a mound of grass,” he said. “This will be a room of your own.”
“Don’t do it on my account,” she sniffed. “I’m perfectly fine where I am.” But he noticed as she went about the house that evening she was humming to herself. A melody that was the same as one his mother used to sing.
And so the days went quickly by. Before he knew it, it was the 365th day, one whole year since the fateful day he caught the mermaid in his net. When the lad entered the hut that afternoon, he saw the girl in front of the hearth with the magic ring on her finger, holding up her hand and looking at it from all angles.
“What are you doing?” he barked.
“‘Tis nothing,” she said quickly, dropping the ring back into the jar and sealing it with its lid. “Just making sure all is well with the ring for tomorrow.”
Then she went to her room. When she returned, she held a cloth bag with all of her belongings.
“I’m leaving now. I’m going back to my father’s home.”
“What? Aren’t you worried how they will treat you?”
“I’ll manage. I’m older now.”
“It’s only been a year.”
“One year is enough.”
“But…the winds aren’t right.”
“They will be soon.”
“But we never fixed your raft. I’ll give you a ride in the boat.”
“I fixed the raft. I’d just as soon leave as I came, if that’s alright with you.”
She walked over to the chart, took it off the wall, laid it before him and marked off the last day.
“Tomorrow,” she said, “you will claim your own true love.”
And she left.
For the rest of the day, the young man stayed in his chair. He stared at the walls and at the floor. He slept in the chair. Early the next morning when he woke, the first thing he saw was the chart on the table before him. He went over to the mantle where he kept the mermaid’s ring and set out to claim the love of his life.
Only it wasn’t to the village he was born where he set his sail. It was to the land of the girl who had stayed with him at the island. You can imagine how surprised she was, to see him enter her father’s garden.
“Oh my! I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“Well, here I am,” he said.
“So, did you find the love of your life?”
“Yes, I did. I mean, now, I have.”
“And will she have you?” asked the girl, staring at the ring that he held in front of her.
“You tell me,” he said, looking into her eyes.
“Well, she might,” said the girl. “How about if you and the girl give it a bit of time to be sure?” And they smiled at each other.
They took their time, that they did. The young man found a place not far from hers and went fishing each day. At night they had dinner, and they talked and talked. Each day they felt more sure than the day before.
And so the two were wed, and a fine wedding it was, with all the family and friends that the girl and boy thought had been cross with them but who were no longer angry. If they had ever been angry at all.
And so the young man and his brown haired girl lived happily for the rest of their days.
Question 1: What did the brown-haired girl give the young man that the blonde-haired girl did not?
Question 2: What did the young man learn about love?SOURCE: