Ronald Booe had
rebelled against his chief but was defeated in battle. Then all his
followers deserted him, and he found that he would have to flee from
his native land. It chanced that he had heard tell of the wonderful
Land of Green Mountains nigh to the world's end, in which there were
great herds of wild animals, while fish could be caught in plenty
round its shores and in its rivers. He made up his mind to go there
and live happily and at ease. As he had no children, it was not
difficult for him and his wife to depart in secret.
One fair morning they
launched a boat and set sail. Ronald's heart was made glad when he
found himself far out on the wide blue sea. The broad grey sail
swallowed the wind, and the creaking of the ropes was like sweet
music in his ears. Ronald loved the shrill cry of the breeze that
blew so steadily and tossed the sparkling brine-spray through the
air in bright sunshine. The whisperings and mutterings of the waves
that went past the boat seemed to repeat over and over again the old
song of the sea:
Sweet to me, Oh, sweet
Is a life at sea, is a life at sea!
When the shore melted
from sight Ronald's wife felt very lonely and sad. "I wish," she
said, "I could see the high brown hills of my own country."
Said Ronald: "There
is no voyage so long that it will not come to an end. Speak not of
brown hills, for we are voyaging to the wonderful Land of Green
They sailed on and on
for six days and six nights, and while the one slept the other sat
at the helm. On the morning of the seventh day a storm arose.
"Alas," the woman cried, "the boat will be dashed to pieces and we
Said Ronald: "Have no
fear, Morag, daughter of Donald; am I not a skilled seaman? In storm
and calm I am a king of the sea. My boat bounds over the waves like
a spray-bright bird, and there is joy in my heart even in the midst
The sky darkened, and
the wind blew fiercer and louder, while the bounding waves gaped and
bellowed liked angry monsters seeking for their prey. Crouching low,
the woman moaned and wept with fear, until at length Ronald called
to her, saying: "I see land ahead."
His wife rose up and
gazed towards the horizon. With glad eyes she saw before her the
wonderful Land of Green Mountains. Thereupon she dried her tears and
It was not until late
evening, however, that the boat drew nigh to the shore. Ronald tried
to steer towards a safe landing-place, but, while yet some distance
from it, the boat struck a hidden rock and began to sink. Ronald
grasped an oar with one hand and his wife with the other, and leapt
into the raging sea. He was a strong swimmer, and, after a hard
struggle, he managed to reach shallow water, and then wade ashore.
There was a cave near
where he landed, and he carried his wife to it. Then he gathered dry
sticks and withered grass and lit a fire by using flint and steel.
Soon the flames were leaping high, and Ronald and his wife were able
to dry their clothes. Then they lay down to sleep, and, although the
sea roared all night long, they slept soundly.
Next morning Ronald
found on the beach a keg of salt herring, a keg of meal, and a pot
which had been washed ashore from the boat. His wife cooked the
herring, and baked oatmeal cakes, and after the two had eaten of
these they felt quite happy.
A day or two went
past, and then their store of food ran short. Ronald had no weapons
with which to hunt game, and no hooks with which to catch fish, so
he said to his wife: "I will go inland and explore this strange Land
of Green Mountains. Do not be anxious or afraid."
"You may lose your
way," his wife said.
"There is no fear of
that," Ronald answered. "I'll put marks on the trees as I go through
forests, and set up stones on the plains I cross."
Early next morning
Ronald set out on his journey. As he passed through the wood he
chipped the bark off trees, and on the plain he set up stones. After
leaving the wood, he saw a high green mountain, and walked towards
it. "When I reach the top," he said to himself, "I shall get a
better view of this strange land."
The sun was beginning
to set when he found himself on the crest of the green mountain. He
looked round about and could see many other green mountains but
there was no sign of human beings, and his heart grew very sad.
AIthough he was very tired and very hungry he did not despair
however. "I'll go down the other side of this green mountain," he
said to himself, "and perhaps I shall have better luck."
He began to descend
in the dusk, and before long he saw a light. It came from a little
house among trees on the lower slope of the mountain, and he walked
towards it. Darkness was coming on when he reached the house, and as
the door was open he walked in.
To his surprise he
found no one inside. A bright fire was burning, and near it stood a
table and two chairs. The table was covered with a green cloth, and
on it were two dishes of food.
"I am very hungry,"
said Ronald, "and must eat. I hope I shall not be found fault with
for helping myself."
He sat down and ate
all the food that was on one of the plates. Then he felt happy and
contented. Suddenly he heard the sound of footsteps, and, looking
up, he saw an old grey-bearded man entering the house.
this man said "who are you, and where have you come from?"
Ronald said: "My boat
was wrecked on the shore. I have been wandering about all day
searching for food, and found naught until I came here. I hope you
are not angry with me for eating without leave."
Said the old man:
"You are welcome to my food. You can stay here to-night. I live all
alone, and always keep enough food to give to any visitor who may
come hither as you have done."
Ronald thanked the
old man for his kindness, and said: "I shall tell you all about
myself in the hope that you may help me with good advice."
The old man sat down,
and, as he ate his meal, Ronald told the story of his life. When he
had finished the other asked: "Have you any children?"
"No," Ronald said, "I
have no children."
"That is a pity," the
old man sighed.
Next morning the old
man wakened Ronald and said: "Breakfast is ready. It is time you
were on your way back to the cave, for your wife is anxious and
When Ronald had eaten
an excellent breakfast he said: "I wish I had food to carry to my
Said the old man:
"What will you give me for this green table-cloth? When you want
food all you have to do is to shake it three times and lay it down.
As soon as you lay it down you will get all the food you need."
Ronald was surprised
to hear this. He looked at the green cloth, and, sighing, made
answer: "Alas! I am very poor, having lost everything I possessed. I
am not able to offer you anything for the green cloth."
Said the old man:
"Will you promise to give me your eldest son for it?"
Having no son, Ronald
promised readily. "Very well," the old man said; "come back here in
seven years, and bring your son with you."
Ronald took the
cloth, and bade good-bye to the old man. He climbed the green
mountain and went down the other side of it. Then he crossed the
plain, past the stories he had set up, and walked through the wood,
guiding himself by the marks he had made on the trees. He had no
difficulty in finding his way. The sun was beginning to set as he
reached the shore and hastened towards the cave, where he found his
wife sitting beside the fire moaning and weeping. She feared that
her husband had been devoured by wild beasts.
"Here I am, Morag,
daughter of Donald," he said as he entered the cave.
His wife rose to her
feet and kissed him joyfully.
"I have brought food
for you," said Ronald.
As he spoke he shook
the green cloth three times, and laid it on the floor of the cave
beside the fire. As soon as he did that, two dishes of hot, steaming
food appeared before their wondering eyes.
They sat down and ate
the food. "Where did you find this wonderful green cloth?" asked
"It was given to me
by an old grey-bearded man," Ronald told her. "Are we not in luck
now? We shall never want for food as long as we live."
Several days went
past. Then Ronald and his wife thought they would go inland and
explore the country. They felt lonely, and wished to find out where
the people who inhabited it had their dwellings.
For six days they
travelled inland, and on the morning of the seventh day they reached
a village. The people were kindly and hospitable and invited them to
stay. Ronald thought he might as well do so, and next morning began
to build a house. He got every assistance from the villagers, and
soon had a home of his own among his newly-found friends. Before the
year was out a baby boy was born, and Ronald and Morag's hearts were
filled with joy. They called the baby Ian.
Years went past, and
Ian grew up to be a handsome boy with curly golden hair, sea-grey
eyes, and red cheeks. Everyone in the village loved him, and he was
very dear to his father and mother.
remembered the promise he had made to the grey old man, but he never
told Morag his wife about it until the seventh year was nearly at an
end. Then one day he said: "On the morrow I must go to the mountain
house with Ian, because I promised the grey old man, when I was
given the green cloth, to do so."
Morag cried: "Alas!
alas!" and began to moan and weep. "It was foolish and wicked of
you," she said, "to make such a promise."
Said Ronald: "What
can I do? My heart bleeds to part with our boy, but I must go, and
he must go with me."
Next morning he bade
his wife good-bye, and she kissed Ian and wept over him. Father and
son then set out on their journey, and in time they reached the
dwelling of the grey old man, who spoke, saying:
"So you have come, as
you said you would."
answered sadly, "I have come."
"Do you find it hard
to part with your boy?"
"Indeed, I do. My
wife is heart-broken."
Said the grey old
man: "You can take him home again if you promise me to come back
when another seven years have done past."
Ronald thanked the
grey old man, and, having promised, he returned home with Ian. His
wife welcomed him with smiling face and bright eyes, and kissed her
child, saying: "If you had stayed away from me I should have died
Ian grew and grew,
and when he was twelve years old he was nearly as tall as his father
and nearly as strong. He had great skill as a hunter and as a
fisherman, and could work in the fields like a man.
When the second term
of seven years was drawing to a close his father grew sadder and
sadder, and one day he said to his wife: "On the morrow I must go to
the mountain house with Ian."
"Alas! alas!" cried
his wife; "I cannot live without him."
Said Ronald: "You
cannot have your son beside you always. To every youth comes the day
when he must leave his parents."
"Wait for a few
years," pleaded Morag. "I have not long to live, and I would fain
have him beside me until I die."
Said Ronald: "It
cannot be as you wish."
"Perhaps," his wife
sighed, "the grey old man will send him back for another seven
Said Ronald: "He may,
and he may not."
Next morning father
and son set out on foot towards the mountain house, and when they
reached it the grey old man said: "So you have come as you promised.
It is well. Do you find it hard to part with the lad?"
Said Ronald: "Indeed,
I do. I find it harder now than I did seven years ago."
"Has the boy been
well taught?" asked the old man.
Said Ronald: "He can
fish, he can shoot, he can work in the fields. I have trained him
"You have trained his
body, but I will train his mind," the grey old man told Ronald.
"Knowledge is better than strength. You will be proud of Ian some
The boy's father was
stricken with sorrow when he found that the old man intended to keep
Ian. He returned home alone. Morag wept bitterly when he entered the
house, and all Ronald could say to comfort her was: "The grey old
man promised that we should be proud of Ian some day."
Morag refused to be
comforted, for she knew well that many years must pass before she
would see her son again.
The grey old man was
like a father to Ian. He spent six years in teaching the lad, and on
the seventh he said: "Now you have passed your twentieth year. You
are strong, and you are well educated. It is time you began to work
for yourself. Before you go to look for a situation, however, I
shall take you on a long journey, so that you may meet friends who
may help you in time of need. It is better to make friends than to
Said Ian: "I am ready
to do as you advise me."
"Well spoken!" the
old man exclaimed. "You have learned to obey. He who learns how to
obey will rise to command. Come with me to the mountain-top. Behind
the door hangs a silver bridle. Take it with you."
Ian took the bridle,
and followed the old man. On the mountain-top the old man said: "If
you will shake the bridle over me I shall become a grey horse. You
can then jump on my back, and we shall go forward quickly."
Ian shook the bridle
as he was asked to do. The man changed at once into a grey horse,
and as soon as Ian mounted, the horse galloped away at a rapid pace.
Over hill and over moor went the horse. Nor did it pause until seven
hours went past. Then Ian heard the old man's voice, saying:
"Dismount and shake the bridle over me.
Ian did as he was
ordered, and the grey man at once returned to his own form again. He
spoke, saying: "Go and gather red moss, and fill your water-stoup at
the well below yonder red rock."
Ian gathered the
moss, and filled his water-stoup, and returned to the old man, who
said: "Go now to the cave which opens behind the waterfall. Inside
it you will find a wounded giant. Dress his wounds with the red
moss, and give him three draughts from your water-stoup."
Ian climbed down the
side of the waterfall over slippery rocks, and when he entered the
cave he saw the wounded giant. He put red moss on the giant's
wounds, and bound it round with cords made of dried reeds. Then he
gave the sufferer three draughts from his water-stoup. As soon as he
did that, the giant sat up and cried out: "I am feeling better now.
Ere long I shall be well again."
"Remember me and be
my friend," said Ian.
"Your friend I shall
be," the giant answered.
Ian then returned to
the old man, who asked him at once: "Have you done as I ordered you
"Yes," Ian answered.
"It is well," the old
man told him. "Shake your bridle over me again, and then leap on my
back, so that we may go forward quickly."
The old grey man in
horse shape went galloping on and on, until a lonely shore was
reached. Once more he called: "Shake the bridle over me," and when
Ian had done so, the man appeared in his own form and said: "Go down
the ebb until you reach a flat brown stone. Behind that stone lies
the King of Fish. Lift him up and put him into the sea, for this is
a day of misfortune for him, and he is in need of help."
Ian ran down the long
dreary sands until he reached the flat brown stone. He found the
fish lying gasping and twitching and helpless. Lifting him up, Ian
put him into the sea and, as he did so, cried out: "Remember me and
be my friend."
The fish answered
him, saying: "Your friend I shall be," and then vanished.
Ian returned to the
old man and once again changed him into a horse. They went onward
together, and ere long reached a bronze castle on a lonely headland
overlooking the sea. It was now late evening. The old man said:
"Enter the bronze castle, in which dwells a fair lady. You will see
rooms full of silver and gold and Bashing gems. Look on everything
but touch nothing."
Ian went through the
castle. He wondered to see so much treasure, but although it seemed
to be unprotected, for he did not see the fair lady even, he never
touched a single piece of gold or silver. When, however, he was
leaving the castle, his eyes fell on a heap of goose feathers. He
pulled out a single feather and put it in his pocket, but he did not
tell the old man that he had done so.
He mounted the horse,
and returned to the grey old man's hut in the gathering darkness,
and there the two rested for the night.
Next morning the old
man became a horse again, and carried Ian to the capital of the
country —a large and beautiful city in the midst of which the king's
castle stood on a high rock.
Outside the city wall
Ian shook the bridle over the horse, and the old man stood before
him and said: "Here we must part. You will go towards the castle,
and ask for a situation. The king is in need of a scribe. If he
offers to employ you, accept his offer."
Ian then bade
good-bye to the old man, who said: "If ever you are in trouble,
think of me and I shall come to you."
They parted at the
western gate of the city, and Ian walked towards the castle. He told
the guards that he was looking for a situation, and after a time
they took him before the chief scribe, who said: "I am in need of an
assistant. Will you enter the king's service?"
Ian accepted the
offer, and next morning began to work. He thought of the goose
feather he had taken from the bronze castle, and made a pen of it.
When he began to use it, he found that it wrote beautifully, and he
was delighted at his own fine penmanship.
The head scribe was
greatly surprised at the skill shown by the young man, and grew
jealous of him. After a few days he asked Ian for the loan of his
pen, and when he tried it he discovered that he could write just as
well as Ian.
"This is a magic
pen," he said to himself. He then went before the king and told him
about it, and the king tried the pen also. "Bring this young scribe
before me," he commanded.
Ian was called for,
and when he stood before the king he was asked: "Where did you get
this magic pen?"
Said Ian: "I found it
in a bronze castle."
The king gazed at him
in silence for a moment, and then spoke, saying: "There is a
beautiful lady in that castle, and she cannot leave it. Bring her
here, for I wish her for my bride."
Said Ian: "Alas! O
king, I am not able to obey your command. I do not know where the
castle is, for I was taken to it at late evening, and returned home
in the darkness."
"If you fail to do as
I command," said the king, "you shall be put to death."
Ian went to his
bedroom, and there wept tears of sorrow. He knew well that this
trouble which had befallen him was due to his having disobeyed the
old man, who had warned him not to touch anything he saw in the
bronze castle. After a time he said aloud: "I wish the grey old man
were here now." He heard a noise behind him, and, turning round, he
saw the grey old man, who spoke, saying: "What ails you now, Ian?"
"Alas!" cried Ian, "I
have done wrong." Then he told the old man how he had taken a goose
feather from the bronze castle and made a quill of it, and that the
king had discovered his secret, and ordered him to fetch the captive
lady from the castle to be the king's bride.
"You should not have
touched the feather," the old man said. "It is as wicked to steal a
small thing as a great thing. "Theft is dishonourable, even the
theft of trifles. I placed my trust in you, and you promised to obey
me. Because you have failed in that trust and done this thing, you
now find yourself in trouble."
"Alas!" Ian cried, "I
know I have done wrong, and am sorry for it."
"Let this be a lesson
to you," the old man said. "Because you are sorry for your
wrongdoing, I shall help you once again. Let us go outside. I have
the silver bridle with me. We shall visit the bronze castle once
Ian walked with the
old man to a solitary place outside the city wall. There he shook
the bridle, and his friend became a grey horse. He mounted and rode
away swiftly towards the seaside. Then he shook the bridle again,
and his friend appeared in human form and spoke to him, saying: "I
have a magic rod. Take it and strike me with it. When you do so I
shall become a ship. Enter the ship, and it will sail to the harbour
below the bronze castle. Cast anchor there and wait until the lady
looks out of a window and asks you whence you have come. Say: 'I
have come from a distant land.' Then she will ask: `What cargo have
you on board?' Say to her: 'I have a cargo of fine silk.' She will
ask you to enter the castle with samples of the silk, but you will
say: `Would it not be better if you came on board and examined the
rolls of silk?' She will answer: `Very well,' and come on board your
vessel. Take her down to the cabin, and spread out the rolls of silk
you will find lying there."
Ian seized the magic
rod and struck the grey old man, who at once became a large and
noble ship, afloat beside the rock. Ian got on board the ship, cast
off from the rock, and set sail. It had a crew of little men clad in
green, with red peaked caps on their heads. The skipper who steered
the vessel had a long grey beard and sharp beady eyes. He never
spoke a word, but gave orders to the crew by making signs.
The ship sailed
swiftly towards the bronze castle on the lonely headland. When the
anchor was dropped in the little harbour Ian walked up and down the
deck until an upper window in the castle opened, and the beautiful
lady looked out and spoke to him, saying: "Where have you come from,
my merry sailor man?"
"From a distant
land," Ian answered.
"What cargo have you
"A cargo of fine
"Come up into the
castle and bring with you samples of your silk, and I perchance may
buy a few rolls from you."
Said Ian: "I have so
many kinds of silk that I cannot carry samples to you. Would it not
be better if you came on board and examined the cargo, O fair lady?"
"Very well," the lady
answered, "I shall do as you suggest."
She came down from
the castle and came on board the ship. Ian led her to the cabin,
where he spread out before her the rolls of fine silk that he found
She examined them all
carefully. Then hearing the splashing of waves against the sides of
the ship, she ran up the cabin ladder to the deck, and discovered
that the vessel was far away from the bronze castle.
"Alas!" she cried,
"what is the meaning of this?"
Said Ian: "The king,
my master, has ordered me to bring you before him. It is his wish
that you should become his queen."
"It is your duty to
obey your master, and I do not blame you," the lady said. "But I do
not wish to be the king's bride. I should much rather have stayed
yet a while in my bronze castle."
As she spoke, she
took a bundle of keys from her waist-belt and flung it into the sea.
"There go my keys!"
she told Ian. "No one else can now enter the bronze castle."
The ship sailed back
to the place from which it had started, and drew up alongside the
rock, and Ian and the lady went ashore. Then Ian waved the magic rod
three times. When he did so the ship vanished, and the grey old man
appeared by his side and spoke, saying: "Shake the silver bridle
over me, so that I may become a horse. Mount me then, and take the
lady with you."
Ian shook the bridle,
and his friend became a grey horse. He mounted the horse, and the
lady mounted behind him. They rode away very swiftly, and when night
was coming on they reached the city. Ian shook the bridle again, and
the old man appeared by his side, and they bade one another
good-bye. Ian led the lady to the castle and brought her to the
king. His majesty thanked him for his service, and bade the lady
welcome. He called for maidservants to attend to her, and she was
taken to her room.
Next morning the king
had the lady brought before him, and said: "O fair one, be my
Said the lady: "I
shall not be your bride until my bronze castle is brought here and
placed beside yours.
"No one can do that
but Ian," the king said. Then he called to a servant, saying: "Bring
Ian before me."
Ian had returned to
his place in the room of the chief scribe, and was busy at his work
when he was ordered to appear before his majesty.
He obeyed the
summons, and the king said to him: "You must bring the bronze castle
from the lonely headland, and have it placed beside my castle."
"Alas!" Ian cried, "I
cannot do that."
Said the king: "If
you fail to carry out my command you shall be put to death."
Ian went to his room,
and paced it up and down for a time, lamenting his fate. Then he
cried out: "I wish the grey old man were here."
No sooner had he
wished that wish than the grey old man appeared in the room and
spoke to him, saying: "What is wrong now Ian?"
Said Ian: "The king
has set me an impossible task. He wants me to have the bronze castle
carried here and placed beside his own castle."
"Come with me," the
old man said.
Together they went
outside the city wall. Ian shook the bridle over his friend, who at
once became a grey horse. He mounted the horse, and rode away until
he reached the waterfall behind which was the giant's cave. Then he
shook the bridle again, and the old man appeared beside him and
said: "Enter the cave and speak to the giant whose wounds you helped
to heal. Tell him you are in need of his aid, and ask him to carry
away the bronze castle and place it beside the castle of your king."
Ian went down the
slippery rocks and entered the cave. He found the giant lying asleep
on the floor, and walked towards him. As soon as he touched him the
giant sat up and asked: "Who are you, and what brings you here,
Ian was at first too
terrified to speak, for the giant scowled at him. At length he said:
"I am he who dressed your wounds with red moss, and gave you three
draughts of the healing water. I am now in need of your help."
Said the giant: "I
remember you. I was in great pain, and you gave me healing. What do
you wish me to do? Speak and I shall obey, even should you ask me to
remove a mountain from its place and cast it into the sea."
Ian laughed aloud,
and the giant laughed also, but the giant's laugh was terrible to
hear, for it sounded like thunder.
Ian then told the
giant that the king wished to have the bronze castle carried from
the lonely headland and placed beside his own castle on the rock in
the midst of his capital.
Said the giant: "The
work shall be done tonight. I shall call all my strong men together.
Begone! or it may not go well with you."
Ian thanked the
giant, and returned to the grey old man, who said: "We must make
haste. There is no time to be lost."
As the grey horse,
the old man travelled again swiftly until he reached the capital.
Then he bade Ian good-bye.
That night as Ian lay
in his bed a great thunder-storm arose and raged furiously. He could
not sleep, and lay trembling with fear, for it seemed as if the
whole world would be set on fire by the flashes of lightning. When
the thunder-storm was at its height there came an earthquake. The
rock beneath the castle trembled, and the castle swayed like a ship
at sea. Ian was terrified, and he heard the shrieks of those who
were even more afraid than he was. At length the storm died down,
and he slept.
Next morning when Ian
looked through the window of his room he saw the bronze castle
beside the king's castle. Then he knew that the thunder-storm had
been caused by the giants, and that the earth shook when they set
down the castle upon the rock.
The king was greatly
pleased, and spoke to the fair lady, saying: "Your bronze castle has
been brought hither. Now you will be my queen."
Said the lady: "I
cannot marry until I am given the bundle of keys I threw into the
sea. The castle door cannot be opened without the keys."
"Ian shall find the
keys," the king told her. Then he called for Ian and said to him:
"You must find the bundle of keys which this fair lady threw into
"Alas!" Ian moaned,
"you set me a task I cannot fulfil."
"If you do not bring
the keys to me," said the king, "you shall be put to death."
Ian turned away and
went to his room. He felt sure that his end was near at hand because
it did not seem possible that the keys could be found. "I wish the
old grey man were here," he cried out.
The old grey man
appeared in the room and asked softly: "What does the king ask for
Said Ian: "He has
ordered me to find the bundle of keys which the fair lady threw into
"Come with me," the
grey old man said; "we have a long journey before us."
Ian rode again on the
grey horse until he reached the shore where he had found the King of
Fish. He then shook the silver bridle and the old man appeared
beside him. "Go out on the ebb," he advised Ian, and call for the
King of Fish. When he comes, ask him to search for the keys and
bring them to you."
Ian walked down the
sands and called for the King of Fish. Three times he called before
the fish appeared. Then it rose and asked: "Who are you that you
should call upon me?"
Said Ian: "I am the
one who found you lying behind the flat brown stone on a day of
misfortune when you were in need of help. I lifted you up and put
you into the sea, and you promised to remember me and be my friend."
"You speak truly,"
the fish said. "What is your wish? I am ready to grant it."
Said Ian: "Search for
the keys which the fair lady of the bronze castle threw into the sea
when I took her away in my ship. When you have found the keys, bring
them to me."
The fish vanished and
returned soon afterwards. "Have you found the keys?" he asked.
"I have," answered
"Give them to me."
"I will give them if
you promise one thing."
"What is that?"
"Promise that you
will not call for me again."
"I promise," said
The fish then gave
him the keys and vanished at once.
Ian was overjoyed. He
ran up the beach towards the old man, who asked: "Have you got the
"It is well. Shake
the bridle over me and mount."
Ian did so, and rode
back to the capital on the back of the grey horse. Having bidden
good-bye to his friend, he hastened before the king and handed the
keys of the bronze castle to him.
"It is good for you
that you found the keys," the king said. "Had you come back without
them you would have been put to death."
Ian bowed and turned
away, hoping that his troubles were at an end.
The king sent for the
lady of the castle and said: "Here are the keys of the bronze castle
which my servant found for me."
"He is a brave and
noble lad," the lady cried out.
"Now you will marry
me," said the king.
"I cannot promise to
marry you, O king, until I get a stoup of water from the Healing
Said the king: "I
shall order Ian to bring the water without delay."
He sent for Ian, and
spoke to him harshly, saying: "Bring hither without delay a stoup of
water from the Healing Well."
"Where is that well,
O king?" asked Ian.
" I know not," was
the answer. "But this I know: if you do not bring the water you will
be put to death."
Ian went to his room
and wished for the grey old man, who appeared at once and asked:
"What ails you now, my poor lad?"
exclaimed, "the king has asked for a stoup of water from the Healing
Well, but he does not know where it is."
"We had better make
haste and search for it."
Away went Ian again
on the back of the grey horse. All day long he rode over hill and
dale, through forests and across bobs, over rivers and through
lochs, until at length a lonely glen was reached.
"Shake the bridle,"
called the horse.
Ian shook it, and the
old man stood beside him and said: "Strike me with the magic wand
and I shall fall down dead."
"I cannot do that,"
Ian answered at once.
"You must do it. When
I am dead three ravens will fly hither. Speak to them saying: 'I
shall kill you with my wand unless you take me to the Healing Well.'
They will then show you where it is. When you find it, fill two
stoups and bring them to this spot. Sprinkle a few drops of the
water in my mouth, in my eyes, and in my ears. When you do so, I
shall come to life again."
Ian struck the old
man with the magic wand and he fell down dead. He lay so still that
the young man's heart was filled with sorrow, and he began to weep.
"Would that the ravens were here!" he cried out, as he looked round
about. To his amaze he saw no sign of the ravens coming.
For over an hour he
sat there beside his dead friend, fearing that he would never be
able to bring him back to life again.
But at length the
ravens came, and Ian stood up and called out: "I shall kill you with
my magic wand if you do not do as I bid you."
"What is your wish?"
the ravens asked him in turn.
Said Ian: "Lead me to
the Healing Well."
The ravens flew round
about above him three times, and then cried out, one after the
other: "Follow, follow me."
Ian followed them,
and was led to a dark and lonely ravine in which there was a deep
cave. The ravens entered the cave, and Ian followed them. Inside he
heard the dripping of water, but he saw naught, for the place was
Said one of the
ravens: "Dip your stoups in the pool beside which you stand."
Ian did so, and he
lifted them up full of water. Joyfully he hastened out of the cave,
and returned to the spot where he had left the old man. He sprinkled
water drops in his eyes, in his ears, and in his mouth. When he had
done so the old man rose up and said: "Shake the bridle over me."
Ian was soon again on
the back of the grey horse. When he returned to the castle it was
nigh to midnight. He carried the stoups to his room, and in the
morning gave one of them to the king.
The king called for
the fair lady, and he handed her the stoup of water and said: "Now
you will marry me."
Said the lady: "I
cannot marry you until you have fought a duel with Ian. He has done
what you cannot do, and is now more powerful than you are."
"You speak truly,"
the king answered. "This duel must be fought at once."
He called a courtier
and told him to hasten to Ian and bid him to make ready for the
Ian was amazed to
hear this command, and when he was alone he wished for the grey old
man, who appeared and asked at once: "What is wrong now, Ian?"
Ian told him that the
king desired to fight a duel.
Said the grey old
man: "Wash all your body with the water from the Healing Well. No
weapon can wound you when you have done that. I have brought a sword
He handed a small
sword to Ian and then vanished.
Ian washed himself
with the water from the Healing Well, and then went forth to fight
the duel with the king.
Said the fair lady:
"He who wins the duel will marry me, and reign over the Land of
Green Mountains. Is that not so, O king?"
The king was very
vain, and was certain that she expected him to win the duel. He
despised Ian with his small sword, and raised his own to strike him.
But although he struck Ian three times he could not wound him. Then
Ian struck once and the king fell dead.
"Hail to the new
king!" called the lady of the bronze castle.
All the people called
out: "Hail to the king!"
So Ian was crowned
king, and he married the fair lady. His friend, the grey old man,
came to the wedding, bringing Ian's father and mother with him.
"Did I not promise
you that you would be proud of Ian some day?" said the grey old man
to Ronald Booe and Morag, daughter of Donald.
Ere they could make
answer, Ian came forward. He embraced and kissed his mother, and
shook his father's right hand, and then said: "You shall stay here
with me for the rest of your days."
Ian was a wise and
good king, and he and his queen were greatly beloved by their
people. Indeed, there was never such a king in the Land of Green
Mountains as Ian, son of Ronald Booe and of Morag, daughter of