BY S. LOVER
There was wanst upon a time, long ago, a beautiful lady that lived in a castle upon the lake beyant, and they say she was promised to a king's son, and they war to be married, when all of a sudden he was murthered, the crathur (Lord help us), and threwn into the lake above, and so, of course, he couldn't keep his promise to the fair lady--and more's the pity.
Well, the story goes that she went out iv her mind, bekase av loosin' the king's son--for she was tendher-hearted, God help her, like the rest iv us!--and pined away after him, until at last, no one about seen her, good or bad; and the story wint that the fairies took her away.
Well, sir, in coarse a' time, the White Throut, God bless it, was seen in the sthrame beyant, and sure the people didn't know what to think av the crathur, seein' as how a white throut was never heard av afar, nor since; and years upon years the throut was there, just where you seen it this blessed minit, longer nor I can tell--aye throth, and beyant the memory a' th' ouldest in the village.
At last the people began to think it must be a fairy; for what else could it be?--and no hurt nor harm was iver put an the white throut, until some wicked sinners of sojers kem to these parts, and laughed at all the people, and gibed and jeered them for thinkin' a' the likes; and one a' them in partic'lar (bad luck to him; God forgi' me for saying it!) swore he'd catch the throut and ate it for his dinner--the blackguard!
Well, what would you think o' the villainy of the sojer? Sure enough he catch the throut, and away wid him home, and puts an the fryin'-pan, and into it he pitches the purty little thing. The throut squeeled all as one as a christian crathur, and, my dear, you'd think the sojer id split his
sides laughin'--for he was a harden'd villain; and when he thought one side was done, he turns it over to fly the other; and, what would you think, but the divil a taste of a burn was an it all at all; and sure the sojer thought it was a quare throut that could not be briled. "But," says he, 'I'll give it another turn by-and-by," little thinkin' what was in store for him, the haythen.
Well, when he thought that side was done he turns it agin, and lo and behould you, the divil a taste more done that side was nor the other. "Bad luck to me," says the sojer, "but that bates the world," says he; "but I'll thry you agin, my darlint," says he, "as cunnin' as you think yourself;" and so with that he turns it over, but not a sign of the fire was on the purty throut. "Well," says the desperate villain--(for sure, sir, only he was a desperate villain entirely, he might know he was doing a wrong thing, seein' that all his endeavours was no good)--"Well," says he, "my jolly little throut, maybe you're fried enough, though you don't seem over well dress'd; but you may be better than you look, like a singed cat, and a tit-bit afther all," says he; and with that he ups with his knife and fork to taste a piece a' the throut; but, my jew'l, the minit he puts his knife into the fish, there was a murtherin' screech, that you'd think the life id lave you if you hurd it, and away jumps the throut out av the fryin'-pan into the middle a' the flure; and an the spot where it fell, up riz a lovely lady--the beautifullest crathur that eyes ever seen, dressed in white, and a band a' goold in her hair, and a sthrame a' blood runnin' down her arm.
"Look where you cut me, you villain," says she, and she held out her arm to him--and, my dear, he thought the sight id lave his eyes.
"Couldn't you lave me cool and comfortable in the river where you snared me, and not disturb me in my duty?" says she.
Well, he thrimbled like a dog in a wet sack, and at last he stammered out somethin', and begged for his life, and ax'd her ladyship's pardin, and said he didn't know she was
on duty, or he was too good a sojer not to know betther nor to meddle wid her.
"I was on duty, then," says the lady; "I was watchin' for my true love that is comin' by wather to me," says she, "an' if he comes while I'm away, an' that I miss iv him, I'll turn you into a pinkeen, and I'll hunt you up and down for evermore, while grass grows or wather runs."
Well the sojer thought the life id lave him, at the thoughts iv his bein' turned into a pinkeen, and begged for mercy; and with that says the lady--
"Renounce your evil coorses," says she, "you villain, or you'll repint it too late; be a good man for the futhur, and go to your duty 1 reg'lar, and now," says she, "take me back and put me into the river again, where you found me."
"Oh, my lady," says the sojer, "how could I have the heart to drownd a beautiful lady like you?"
But before he could say another word, the lady was vanished, and there he saw the little throut an the ground. Well he put it in a clean plate, and away he runs for the bare life, for fear her lover would come while she was away; and he run, and he run, even till he came to the cave agin, and threw the throut into the river. The minit he did, the wather was as red as blood for a little while, by rayson av the cut, I suppose, until the sthrame washed the stain away; and to this day there's a little red mark an the throut's side, where it was cut. 2
Well, sir, from that day out the sojer was an altered man, and reformed his ways, and went to his duty reg'lar, and fasted three times a-week--though it was never fish he tuk an fastin' days, for afther the fright he got, fish id never rest an his stomach--savin' your presence.
But anyhow, he was an altered man, as I said before, and in coorse o' time he left the army, and turned hermit at last; and they say he used to pray evermore for the soul of the White Throut.
[These trout stories are common all over Ireland. Many holy wells are haunted by such blessed trout. There is a trout in a well on the border of Lough Gill, Sligo, that some paganish person put once on the gridiron. It carries the marks to this day. Long ago, the saint who sanctified the well put that trout there. Nowadays it is only visible to the pious, who have done due penance.]
37:1 The Irish peasant calls his attendance at the confessional "going to his duty".
37:2 The fish has really a red spot on its side.