The Celtic Dragon Myth, by J.F. Campbell, , at sacred-texts.com
9. On the next day it was the same thing. The old man fished from sunrise to sundown, and never a bite got he till the time of dusk and lateness; and
then in the mouth of the night, a fish laid on the hook. He hauled up cheerily, and when the head was by the side of the boat he gripped the fish fast by the throat.
"Are you going to take me?" said the fish.
"I am," said he, "I won't let you go any more."
"Well," said the fish, "it can't be helped. Have you any man to your clan?"
"No," said he, "I have in the whole wide world but my wife, my mare, and my dog."
Then the fish spoke once more and said:
Thou shalt let no one split me, but do it thyself. Thou shalt put into the pot but a morsel of my liver and a bit of my heart to boil for thyself, and for thy wife, and for thy mare, and for thy dog to eat.
Three bones thou wilt find at the side of my head. Go out and bury them in the garden.
Thy wife will bear three sons.
Thy mare will cast three foals.
Thy dog will litter three whelps.
When they are born dig up my bones and keep them.
Three trees will sprout where the bones are buried, and they will be in leaf and budding, in sap and growing, summer and winter, spring and autumn, every day for ever, so long as the clan shall live.
They will droop or wither or die as they do.
10. Home went the fisherman with the fish, and he did as he was bid. He split the fish himself, and he put a bit of the heart and a morsel of liver into the pot
to boil, some for himself, some for his wife, some for his mare, some for his dog to eat; and when they had supped he buried the bones in the garden and went to bed and slept sound.
11. At the end of thrice three months the wife was brought to bed and she bore three sons.
"Oh my husband," said she, "what is here?"
"Three sons," said he.
"That were well," said she, "if there were aught to give them."
"That there is," said the old man.
Then he cast his eyes around, and the mare had cast three foals, and the hound had littered three whelps, and three trees had sprouted up in the garden. So he went out and dug up the bones and laid them aside as the fish had said.
12. "So time went on and the children grew, and the old man fished as usual, and he got plenty of fish. But as the third year came near its end he grew sorrowful and failed day by day. At the end of the third year, in the gloaming, the mermaid rose at the side of his boat and she said:
"Have you brought your eldest son?"
"No," said he. "I forgot that this was the day. I did not bring the lad."
"Well, well," said the mermaid, "you may keep him four years more to see if it be easier to part with him. See, here is his like for age. Is yours as fine as mine?" and she held up a big bouncing baby.
13. Home he went full of delight that he had four
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Well, well, said the mermaid, you may keep him four years more to see if it be easier to part with him. See, here is his like for age. is yours as fine as mine? and she held up a big bouncing baby.
more years of his eldest son, and he kept on fishing and catching plenty of fish till the end of the second term was near. Then he grew sad and heavy, and failed daily. But when the end of the seven years had come he went to sea without his boy. The mermaid rose at the side of the boat and she said:
"Have you brought me your eldest son?"
"Oh! I forgot him," said the old man.
"Go home," said the mermaid, "and keep your son for seven years more; but at the end of that time you will be sure to remember me. It will be no easier then to part with your son, but you shall have plenty of fish till then."
And down she dived into the deep sea.
14. So the old man cheered up and went home joyful, because he had got seven more years of his eldest son. He thought he would be dead before the term ended, and that he would never see the mermaid again. But time went on, and the end of fourteen years drew near, and the old man grew heavier and heavier, and weaker and weaker day by day, and his wife and his sons could not make out what ailed him.
"What is troubling you, father?" said the eldest son one day.
"The matter that does not concern thee touch it not," said the old fisher.
"But that which makes you sad concerns me," said the boy. "I must know what it is."
So the old fisher told his son how the whole
matter stood between him and the mermaid, and how he was promised to the mermaid at the end of the fourteen years.
"Don't let that trouble you, father," said the boy. "I won't oppose you."
"No, my son," said he, "though I never get fish again for ever, I will not give you to the mermaid."
15. Now the sons had grown to great strength and wisdom, and the eldest son said to his father:
"If I may not go with you to sea any more, I will go out into the world to seek my fortune."
"That is but a poor prospect for me," said the old man. "It was long before I saw you, and it may be longer before I see you again. But if you must go you must not go empty. You must have a horse and a hound and a weapon to wield."
16. A black horse was foaled when you were born. Here take this halter and this little rusty bit, and go out to the hill and shake the bridle, and the horse will come and put his nose into it.
17. A black whelp was littered when the horse was foaled. Here take this cake and go out to the wood, and when the black hound comes baying openmouthed, give him the cake and he will follow you.
18. I will go to the smithy and forge you a weapon myself.
19. Now this lad had grown so great and stout and strong, that his like was not to be found for size and strength and courage and goodly seeming, so he took the little rusty bit and the old ragged halter and
strode up the hill to seek the black palfrey. He had not got far on the moor when the wild, shaggy, prancing, black palfrey came galloping down with clattering hoofs and shining eyes and streaming mane and snorting blood-red nostrils and open streaming mouth, rushing as if to trample the lad under foot and tear him; but the lad shook the bit till it clinked and rang, and the black steed came and put his nose into the halter, and they were good friends at once.
20. He took the halter in his hand and led the steed down to the forest. When they got there a great shaggy black hound came baying furiously out of the wood, with fiery eyes and blood-red tongue and glittering white savage teeth, glancing as if to seize and tear them. But the lad was not a bit afraid. He pulled out the little cake that his father had given him, and thrust it into the hound's open throat; and then the black dog was as tame as the black horse, and both followed the lad home to his father's hut.