A midwife of Flodigarry was attending a confinement, when, one day, a message came for her to go some distance away. She [agreed to] the summons and found herself inside a fairy mound. She begged to be allowed to go, but the fairies refused to let her till she had performed two tasks. She was provided with a spindle, some wool, and some meal in a girnal. When the wool was all spun, and the meal made into bread, she might go. She toiled very assiduously to get all finished up, but it was of no avail. The wool and the meal remained undiminished. Despairing of ever seeing her home again, she begged of a fairy who was alone with her to tell her what to do. The fairy was moved by her prayers and told her to spin the wool as the sheep eats grass.p207-208 in
[Here the writer says This instruction has no meaning, so I suspect there has been some mistranslation from the Gaelic, which is of course, the language in which all these stories were originally told. Thus she misses the point entirely, because it's
surely a riddle the midwife has to solve? She continues..]
At all events the midwife understood, and soon finished that task. As to the meal, the fairy told her that she must take some of the dough and form a cake with it. This cake she must bake in front of (before?) the others, and eat it entirely herself. [Again some critical point has been missed, as she says:] In this way the task was done.
The fairies saw she must have had help from one of their own number, but she stoutly refused to tell. They were therefore forced to allow her to go. Joyfully she sped back to her "case," and on arriving at her patient's house she found it full of music and merrymaking. Astonished, she asked a bystander what it all meant. "A wedding," was the surprised answer.
"Whose wedding will it be?" she queried impatiently. What was her surprise to find it was the wedding of the very child she had helped to bring into the world, for she had been absent more than twenty years.
Folk-Lore of the Isle of Skye
Mary Julia MacCulloch
Folklore, Vol. 33, No. 2. (Jun. 30, 1922), pp. 201-214.
Posted by Rhiannon
3rd May 2007ce
Edited 3rd May 2007ce