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He never stirred out of the cradle till he was past twelve years of age, but lay there night and day, long days and short days; the only garment he ever put on was a goatskin; a hunter had once put it down on the floor beside his cradle and he reached out with his two hands, drew it in and put the goatskin on him. He got his name and his coat at the same time, for he was called ever afterwards "Gilly of the Goatskin."

But although he never stirred out of the cradle, Gilly of the Goatskin had ways of diverting himself. He used to shoot arrows with a bow out of the door of the house and hit a mark on a tree that was opposite him. And where did he get the bow and arrows? The bow fell down from the roof of the house and into the cradle. And as for arrows he used to make them out of the wands that the Hags brought in to make baskets with. But the Hags never saw him using the bow and sending off the arrows. All day they would be going along the streams gathering the willow wands for the baskets they made.

He knew nobody except the three Hags of the Long Teeth, and he had never heard the name of mother or father. Often, when she was peeling the wands with a black-handled knife, the Hag of the House used to tell Gilly of the Goatskin the troubles that were in store for him--danger from the sword and the spear and the knife, from water and fire, from the beasts of the earth and the birds of the air. She delighted to tell him about the evils that would befall him. And she used to laugh when she told him he was a hump-back and that people would throw stones at him.


One day when the Hags were away gathering willow wands, Gilly turned the cradle over and lay under it. He wanted to see what they would do when they did not see him sitting up in the cradle. They came in. Gilly looked through a crack in the cradle and saw the Hags--they were old and crooked and had long teeth that came down below their chins.

"He's gone, he's gone, he's gone!" screamed the Hag of the House, when she did not see Gilly in the cradle.

"He's gone," said one of the long-toothed Hags. "I told you he would go away. Why didn't you cut out his heart yesterday, or the day before?"

"Mind what I tell you," said the other Hag of the Long Teeth. "Mind what I tell you. His father's son will grow into a powerful champion."

"Not he," said the Hag of the House, with great anger. "He'll never become a Champion. He's only a little hump-backed fellow with no weapons and with no garment but a goatskin."

"It would be better to kill him when he comes back," said the first of the Hags with the Long Teeth.

"And if he doesn't come back, tell the Giant Crom Duv," said the second.

Gilly of the Goatskin crept from under the cradle, put his bow resting on the bottom that was now turned uppermost, took up some of the rods that were on the floor and then shouted at the Hags. "Oh, if that's a hazel rod he has at his bow he will kill us all," they screamed out together.

He drew back the string, fired the willow rod and struck the middle Hag full on the breast. The three Hags fell down on the ground. The pot that was always hanging over the fire turned itself upside down and the house was filled with smoke. Gilly of the Goatskin, the bow in his hand, sprang across the cradle, over the threshold of the door, and out into the width and the height, the length and the breadth, the gloom and the gleam of the world.

Next: Part VII