Scotland's Story Chapter I. The Story of Prince Gathelus
ONCE upon a time there lived in
Greece a king who had a son called Gathelus. Prince Gathelus was very
handsome and brave, but he was wild, and gay, and wicked, and he caused his
father much sorrow and trouble. Over and over again the King punished and
imprisoned his son for his evil deeds. But in spite of all his father could
do, Gathelus grew no better but rather worse. At last the King had no more
patience with him, and banished him from the land.
When Gathelus knew that he
was banished, he took a ship, and gathering as many of his friends as would
come with him, he sailed away to a far country called Egypt.
When they arrived in Egypt, Pharaoh, the ruler of the
land, received them very kindly, for he was at that time fighting great
battles, and he hoped that these gay young knights would help him against
and his friends did, and when Pharaoh had, with their aid, defeated his
enemies, he rewarded them richly and gave them a city in which they could
live together. Gathelus alone was not content with the rewards, for he had
seen Pharaoh's beautiful daughter Scota, and he longed to marry her. And as
Pharaoh could refuse nothing to the gallant Prince who had freed him from
his enemies, he gave his consent, and Scota and Gathelus were married.
many years Gathelus lived in Egypt, growing rich and great, and ruling over
his people, who became more and more numerous as the years went by. And
Gathelus loved his wife so much that he commanded that in honour of her name
Scota, all his people should be called Scots.
But when Pharaoh began to be
unkind to the Children of Israel, and terrible plagues fell upon the land,
Gathelus wished to live there no longer. So he gathered a great fleet of
ships, and with his wife and children, and all his soldiers and servants,
and a great company of people, he went on board and sailed far away across
the sea in search of another country.
After many storms and adventures
Gathelus and his company arrived at last on the shores of Spain. They had
been tossed and buffeted about by winds and waves for many days. They had
eaten all the food which they had brought with them, and they were nearly
starving. So they were very glad to be safe on land once more.
people of Spain were not glad to see these strangers, and they made ready to
fight them. Gathelus too made ready to fight, and a fierce battle followed
in which the Spaniards were beaten.
But Gathelus and his Scots wished to
live at peace with the people of the land, and although neither could speak
the language of the other, the Scots found means to make the Spaniards
understand that they did not wish to fight against them or to hurt them in
any way. So the two nations became friends, and the Spaniards gave a part of
their country to the Scots, where for many years they lived in peace.
the years went on, the Scots grew to be still and greater than they had been
in Egypt, and Gathelus, who had been so wild and wicked when he was young,
became a wise and good King. But when the Spaniards saw that the Scots had
become a powerful nation, they were once more afraid of them, and they
resolved to drive them out of the country.
Then both the Scots and the
Spaniards gathered their mighty men, and there was a great and terrible
battle, with awful slaughter on both sides. But in the end the Scots won the
victory. Then once more peace was made, and the two nations agreed again to
live side by side as friends.
But when Gathelus saw how the Scots still
went on growing richer and greater day by day, he feared that the Spaniards
would again become angry and want to fight. So he began to think how this
might be avoided. At last, hearing of a Green island which lay in the sea
not far distant, he resolved to send some of his people there.
great number of ships, he filled them with soldiers, and making his two
sons, who were called Hiberus and Himecus, captains, he sent them away to
seek for the Green Island.
For some days the ships sailed upon the sea
seeking the Green Island in vain. But at last they came to it and landed
there. The Scots soon found out that there were very few people on the Green
island, and those who were there were gentle and kindly, and had no wish to
Hiberus and Himecus therefore, instead of fighting, tried to make
friends with the people. This they easily did, for the inhabitants of the
Green Island, seeing that the Scots meant them no harm, welcomed them
So the Scots settled in the Green Island and taught the people
many useful things. They showed them how to sow and plough and reap, how to
build houses, how to spin, and in many ways how to live more comfortably.
Then presently, in honour of Hiberus, who was their Prince, they changed the
name of the island to Hibernia. The island is still sometimes called by that
name, although we generally call it Ireland.
For many years the Scots
lived in Hibernia.. Gathelus died, and Hiberus died, and after them ruled
many kings. At last, when many hundreds of years had passed, a prince called
Rothsay sailed over to the islands which lay opposite Hibernia, and took
possession of them. The island upon which he first landed he called Rothesay,
and to this day there is a town on the island of Bute called by that name.
The Scots, finding that these islands were fertile, and good for breeding
cattle, sailed over from Hibernia in greater and greater numbers, bringing
their wives and children with them. At last they filled all the little
islands, and some of them landed in the north of the big island, which was
then called Albion.
After many, many years, the north part of Albion came
to be called the land of Scots, or Scotland, just as the south part was
called the land of Angles, or England.
Some people think that this story
of Prince Gathelus is a fairy tale. But this at least is true, that in
far-off days when people spoke of Scotia, they meant Ireland, and when they
spoke of Scots, they meant the people who lived in Ireland, and Scotland
took its name from the people who came from Ireland and settled in Scotland.
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