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Scottish Traditional Tales
One-Eye, Two-Eyes, Three-Eyes


Track 1 (CD 1) ONE-EYE, TWO-EYES, THREE-EYES Betsy Whyte, Montrose

Betsy WhyteBetsy Whyte was ‘discovered’ in Montrose by Peter Cooke in 1973 as the result of a hint from the Stewarts of Blair, and she belongs to a similar Perthshire-Angus travelling background, like them with a mother of Argyll stock who could sing if not speak in Gaelic. A house-dweller now for many years, she still loves the open-air life and treasures her early memories, some of which are in her autobiographical accounts, The Yellow on the Broom (1979) and Red Rowans and Wild Honey (1990). (These were written by herself and not ghosted’, for she is better educated than most travellers of her generation, having won a bursary to Brechin High School with the encouragement of her teacher and the support of her parents, though the hostility of the non-traveller children drove her out within a year. But her tales are from her

mother rather than from books.) Her interest in stories is thus specifically as part of her traveller heritage, and when telling them she is always thinking of her mother and the others who passed them down and trying to hand their tales on as they were given to bet This does not mean, however, that she cannot vary the telling of a story, both language and details of plot, to suit her audience, adults or children, travellers, ‘country hantle’, or non-Scots. She particularly loves telling stories to children and has done this all her life, though it was only our interest that started her remembering some of the longer hero-tales and Märchen she had heard as a girl.

On my first visit to her the party included my four-year-old daughter, and late in the evening as she at last grew sleepy Betsy took her on her knee and told her first ‘Cinderella’ (with the traditional rhyme mentioned in the sleeve note) and then this story, substituting my daughter’s name for those of Cinderella and Two-Eyes throughout to make it more personal. This is as far as we know the first Scottish or indeed British version of its type, AT 511. to be recorded. though several English versions have been found in America and it was clear that it must have been known in Britain at some time. Again there is a fairly similar variant in Grimm, but there is no likelihood that a printed text has anything to do with this version and its English rhyme. Rhymes of this sort are a characteristic feature of storytelling in Scots and English as against Gaelic: sometimes as in Bella Higgins’ story they are song. This telling has been chosen from among several others as a middle-of-the-road one, neither directed totally at a child nor with many cant words for travellers. -NIB

ONCE UPON A TIME there wis this woman and she hed three dochters. Two o them wis her ain dochters, but the ither one wis a step-dochter, the youngest one. Noo this woman wisnae like ony ither woman, because she had four eyes: she had one in her foreheid, an one at the back o her heid, an one at every side. An her ain twa dochters were odd tae: one o them had jist one eye in the middle o the forehead an the ither one had three eyes, one in the middle an one at each side. Now this two dochters an this woman, they didnae like this stepdochter because she wis normal an hed two eyes, so they made her dae aa the dirty work aboot the place, and seldom gien her anything but a wee drap watery porridge tae eat; an she'd tae go away every day up this hill, an away up for miles, and watch the sheep an the goats.

Now this wee lassie used tae sit up there every day withoot a bite or anything, except maybe ony berries or onything she got when it wis the season fir them, ye ken? But she hed a wee goat o her ain, it wis a wee pet goat, it wis the sharger, so they didnae mind her gettin it, an she used tae sit an cuddle it an kiss it an cairry on wi it an speak tae it as if it wis a buddy she wis wi, ye ken? Because she wis sae weariet up this hill. But one day she wis sittin up there, strokin her wee goat, an lookin efter the sheep an the other goats, when wha did she see comin alang the road but a funny wee man? An he wis aafae wee, this man, she thocht, an he didnae seem tae walk, ye ken, he seemed tae jist lilt alang the grund. An he came up tae her an he says, "Hullo," he says, "ma dear," he says, "whit are yeze doin up here?"

She says, "Oh, A'm jist mindin ma sheep an goats an that," she said.

He says, "But whit are ye lookin fir?"

"Oh," she says, "A wis lookin fir berries."

He says, "A doot ye'll no get nae mair berries ony mair the year then." He says, "Are ye hungry?"

"Oh," she says, "A'm stairvin!"

"Well," he says, "A'll show ye whit tae dae." He says, "D'ye see yir wee goat there?" He says, "Go tae yir wee goat, an stroke its ear, an say:

‘Bleat, little goat, bleat,

And bring me something nice tae eat!’"

He says, "Go on, dae it now."

So she went an stroked her wee goat's ear, and she said:

"Bleat, little goat, bleat,

And bring me something nice tae eat!"

An no sooner said than the deed wi done: there, spread on the gress, wi a table-cover, an it wis jist laden wi all the nicest things ye could think aboot tae eat - fruit, an everything. An he says, "Now eat."

An she says, "Whit aboot you, will you no take something wi me?"

He says, "Aye, A'll take something wi ye." So the two o them sat doon an they ate an ate an ate, and she wis - jist rived intae it, she wis that hungry, ye ken? And . . . there wis still lots left, an she says, "Whit am A gaunnae dae wi this noo?"

He says, "Well, jist stroke yir wee goat's ear again, and say:

‘Bay, little goat, bay,

And take the nice things all away!’"

So she went tae her wee goat, an she stroked its ear an stroked its ear, an said:

"Bay, little goat, bay,

And take the nice things all away!"

Noo that nicht when she come hame, ye ken, an saw this watery porridge, she says, "Ah, A'm no hungry," she says, "mither, A'm no wantin nothing tae eat," she says, "A'm tired, A'm gaun awa tae ma bed."

But every day now, when she went up, sittin up there herdin her goats an sheep, she would dae this wi the wee goat, an she would get as much as she could eat, an it wis lovely every day. An when she come hame, she wouldnae take the porridge, ye see. So this stepmother o hirs says tae her ither twa dochters, she says, "It's aafae funny hoo she's no takkin the porridge," she says. "She must be gettin something tae eat some place," she says. "And she's growin bonny an her skin's growin glowin," she says, "an she's lookin sae healthy she must be gettin meat some way," she says, "so A want one o yeze tae go wi her the morn, an watch an see whar she's gettin the meat." So she says, "You, One-Eye," she says, "you go wi her the morn."

So the next mornin One-Eye says, "A'm comin wi ye the day, Two-Eyes."

She says, "Oh, that's fine." She wis gled o any company, she wis that much on her own, ye see? So the two o them's sittin up this hill, an playin an makin daisy chains, and singin, an cairryin on an makin fun, ye see, as lassies will, and little Two-Eyes, she startit singin. An she wis singin an singin away till One-Eye fell sound asleep listenin tae her singin. An when she got her sleepin, she went tae her wee goat, and she says:

"Bleat, little goat, bleat,

An bring me something nice tae eat!"

And there wis the table-cover an all the goodies. So she filled hersel, and said:

"Bay, little goat, bay,

And take the good things all away!"

An they jist went away again.

When they come hame that nicht, an this woman says to One-Eye, "Well, did ye see noo whar she wis gettin anything tae eat?"

"No," she says, "I never seen her gettin anything."

"Are ye sure?" she says.

"Aye, A'm sure," she says. "She never got nothing the day, onywey."

She says, "Were ye there aa the time?"

"Aye, A wis there aa the time," she says. "Whar wis A gan tae gang tae?"

"Are ye sure?"

"Well," she says, "A wis sleepin fir twa 'r three minutes, richt enough. A fell asleep," she said.

"Ach," she says, "A canna trust ye at aa," she says. "A'm goin tae pit Three-Eyes up there the morn, 'cause A'm sure she's gettin something some wey, she wouldnae be lookin sae good."

So the next day she put Three-Eyes up tae watch her. An Three-Eyes come up wi her, an they played aboot an cairried on, an wee Two-Eyes was singin an singin away, an Three-Eyes fell asleep. But it wis only two o her eyes that slept: the other eye wis wide open, this eye in the middle, an it was kind o covered wi her hair, ye ken? So wee Two-Eyes, she didnae ken this, and she went up tae her wee goat an said:

"Bleat, little goat, bleat,

An bring me something nice tae eat!"

And she filled hersel an said:

"Bay, little goat, bay,

An take the nice things all away!"

Noo that night when they went hame Three-Eyes couldnae get rinnin tae tell her mither quick enough.

"Oh," she says, "that's whit it is, is it? A'll suin put an end tae that." So she went and she tell't the gairdner fir tae kill the goat. So the gairdner went an he killed the goat, an wee Two-Eyes, she wis - she tell't her she wis gaen tae dae it, she says, "That goat's gettin killed!" - an she wis aboot demented aboot her wee goat. And she run away oot an away runnin here an there - she didnae ken whar she wis gan, she wis that agitatit an upset aboot her wee goat. An wha did she meet but this wee man again? An he says, "Whit's adae wi ye, Two-Eyes?"

"Oh," she says, "they've killed ma goat," she says, "they've killed ma wee goat." She says, "Three-Eyes found oot that I wis gettin meat fae it," she says, "an so ma stepmither's killed it."

"Ach," he says, "try an content yirsel," he said. He says, "A'll tell ye whit tae dae. Go in tae yir stepmither," he says, "an ask her if ye can hae the wee goat's haert. A dinnae think she'll keep it back fae ye," he says. "An when ye get it, come oot," he says, "an tak it oot in the gairden, an bury it in the gairden, an," he says, "A think ye'll feel better efter ye dae that."

So in she goes, and she asked her stepmither fir the haert, and she says, "Oh, ye can hae it," she says, "tak it." So she got the wee goat's haert, an she took it oot tae the gairden, and she buried it.

Noo the next mornin when she woke up she wonder't how the sun wis oot sae aerly - ye ken, there wis an aafae bricht licht in the hoose - an she says, "Eh, A've slept in the day, A doot," she says, "A'll hae tae get up quick." And when she got up an pulled back the curtains an looked oot, this wis a tree, pure golden aipples hingin thick on it, near dazzled the een aff her. "My goodness," she says, "that's a bonny aipple tree" she says, "That's whar I buried ma wee goat's haert."

But she had to run doon anyway, she was that feared o her stepsisters and her stepmither, ye see, she run doon tae get started on her work; and jist like that, wha come alang the road past the hoose but the young prince in a carriage? - six lovely white horses in his carriage - an when he spies this aipple tree, he jist pulls the horses up an shouted tae his man fir tae stop. He says, "I must see who belangs this tree."

So he jumps doon oot o the cairriage, an he went up tae the door an knocked at the door, an the aald woman come oot. An he says, "Is that your tree?"

"Oh, of course it's my tree," she says. "Wha's tree wid it be? This is my hoose."

"Well," he says. "A wonder if you would sell me even one o that apples?"

She says, "A'll suin dae that." So she went ower tae the tree, and she tried reachin up tae the tree, and she tried shakin, tried tae get a branch tae shake, but no: she would reach up, the branches wis goin higher an higher so that she couldnae get tae them.

And he says, "A doot it's no your tree."

She says, "Well, really," she says, "it's one o ma lassies's trees, but I jist coont it ma ain as weel."

He says, "Well, send the lassie oot."

So Three-Eyes she cam oot, an she went up tae the tree, an she tried tae reach - she even tried climbin it, an as she was climbin it the tree wid jist gie itsel a shake an knock her doon.

She says, "It must be the ither lassie it belangs tae." So One-Eye cam oot, an One-Eye wis tryin tae climb up it - she wis fleeter than Three-Eyes, ye see, an the branches jist come whuch, knocked her doon. She even fell right doon tae the bottom o the tree.

He says, "I doot nane o you belangs tae this tree." He says, "There naebody else in the hoose?"

They says, "No, there's naebody else," she says. "Naebody but us."

But jist like that, one o this aipples fell aff the tree, an it rolled. An it rolled an rolled right tae the back door o the hoose, whar wee Two-Eyes wis standin, back intae the doorway, ye ken, lookin at them. An it rolled an stopped right at her feet, and she bent doon an picked it up, and she took it up tae the prince an she says, "There ye are, there's an aipple tae ye."

He says, "Dae ye think ye could get me any more?"

An she went up tae the tree, an the aipples jist fell doon intae her apron - she jist held it like that an the aipples fell doon intae it. And the prince says, "This must be your tree."

"Yes," she said. She says, "It is my tree."

So the prince says, "Well, whit about you comin wi me, he says, "an bein my bride?"

So she went away wi the prince, an they got marriet an lived happy ever efter!


 

 


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