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The Milk-white Doo

from The Scottish Fairy Book





There was once a man who got his living by working in the fields. He had
one little son, called Curly-Locks, and one little daughter, called
Golden-Tresses; but his wife was dead, and, as he had to be out all day,
these children were often left alone. So, as he was afraid that some
evil might befall them when there was no one to look after them, he, in
an ill day, married again.

I say, "in an ill day," for his second wife was a most deceitful woman,
who really hated children, although she pretended, before her marriage,
to love them. And she was so unkind to them, and made the house so
uncomfortable with her bad temper, that her poor husband often sighed to
himself, and wished that he had let well alone, and remained a widower.

But it was no use crying over spilt milk; the deed was done, and he had
just to try to make the best of it. So things went on for several years,
until the children were beginning to run about the doors and play by
themselves.

Then one day the Goodman chanced to catch a hare, and he brought it
home and gave it to his wife to cook for the dinner.

Now his wife was a very good cook, and she made the hare into a pot of
delicious soup; but she was also very greedy, and while the soup was
boiling she tasted it, and tasted it, till at last she discovered that
it was almost gone. Then she was in a fine state of mind, for she knew
that her husband would soon be coming home for his dinner, and that she
would have nothing to set before him.

So what do you think the wicked woman did? She went out to the door,
where her little step-son, Curly-Locks, was playing in the sun, and told
him to come in and get his face washed. And while she was washing his
face, she struck him on the head with a hammer and stunned him, and
popped him into the pot to make soup for his father's dinner.

By and by the Goodman came in from his work, and the soup was dished up;
and he, and his wife, and his little daughter, Golden-Tresses, sat down
to sup it.

"Where's Curly-Locks?" asked the Goodman. "It's a pity he is not here as
long as the soup is hot."

"How should I ken?" answered his wife crossly. "I have other work to do
than to run about after a mischievous laddie all the morning."

The Goodman went on supping his soup in silence for some minutes; then
he lifted up a little foot in his spoon.

"This is Curly-Locks' foot," he cried in horror. "There hath been ill
work here."

"Hoots, havers," answered his wife, laughing, pretending to be very much
amused. "What should Curly-Locks' foot be doing in the soup? 'Tis the
hare's forefoot, which is very like that of a bairn."



But presently the Goodman took something else up in his spoon.

"This is Curly-Locks' hand," he said shrilly. "I ken it by the crook in
its little finger."

"The man's demented," retorted his wife, "not to ken the hind foot of a
hare when he sees it!"

So the poor father did not say any more, but went away out to his work,
sorely perplexed in his mind; while his little daughter,
Golden-Tresses, who had a shrewd suspicion of what had happened,
gathered all the bones from the empty plates, and, carrying them away in
her apron, buried them beneath a flat stone, close by a white rose tree
that grew by the cottage door.

And, lo and behold! those poor bones, which she buried with such care:

"Grew and grew,
To a milk-white Doo,
That took its wings,
And away it flew."

And at last it lighted on a tuft of grass by a burnside, where two women
were washing clothes. It sat there cooing to itself for some time; then
it sang this song softly to them:

"Pew, pew,
My mimmie me slew,
My daddy me chew,
My sister gathered my banes,
And put them between two milk-white stanes.
And I grew and grew
To a milk-white Doo,
And I took to my wings and away I flew."

The women stopped washing and looked at one another in astonishment. It
was not every day that they came across a bird that could sing a song
like that, and they felt that there was something not canny about it.

"Sing that song again, my bonnie bird," said one of them at last, "and
we'll give thee all these clothes!"

So the bird sang its song over again, and the washerwomen gave it all
the clothes, and it tucked them under its right wing, and flew on.



Presently it came to a house where all the windows were open, and it
perched on one of the window-sills, and inside it saw a man counting out
a great heap of silver.

And, sitting on the window-sill, it sang its song to him:

"Pew, pew,
My mimmie me slew,
My daddy me chew,
My sister gathered my banes,
And put them between two milk-white stanes.
And I grew and grew
To a milk-white Doo,
And I took to my wings and away I flew."

The man stopped counting his silver, and listened. He felt, like the
washerwomen, that there was something not canny about this Doo. When it
had finished its song, he said:

"Sing that song again, my bonnie bird, and I'll give thee a' this siller
in a bag."

So the Doo sang its song over again, and got the bag of silver, which it
tucked under its left wing. Then it flew on.

It had not flown very far, however, before it came to a mill where two
millers were grinding corn. And it settled down on a sack of meal and
sang its song to them.

"Pew, pew,
My mimmie me slew,
My daddy me chew,
My sister gathered my banes,
And put them between two milk-white stanes.
And I grew and grew
To a milk-white Doo,
And I took to my wings and away I flew."

The millers stopped their work, and looked at one another, scratching
their heads in amazement.

"Sing that song over again, my bonnie bird!" exclaimed both of them
together when the Doo had finished, "and we will give thee this
millstone."

So the Doo repeated its song, and got the millstone, which it asked one
of the millers to lift on its back; then it flew out of the mill, and up
the valley, leaving the two men staring after it dumb with astonishment.

As you may think, the Milk-White Doo had a heavy load to carry, but it
went bravely on till it came within sight of its father's cottage, and
lighted down at last on the thatched roof.

Then it laid its burdens on the thatch, and, flying down to the
courtyard, picked up a number of little chuckie stones. With them in its
beak it flew back to the roof, and began to throw them down the chimney.

By this time it was evening, and the Goodman and his wife, and his
little daughter, Golden-Tresses, were sitting round the table eating
their supper. And you may be sure that they were all very much startled
when the stones came rattling down the chimney, bringing such a cloud of
soot with them that they were like to be smothered. They all jumped up
from their chairs, and ran outside to see what the matter was.

And Golden-Tresses, being the littlest, ran the fastest, and when she
came out at the door the Milk-White Doo flung the bundle of clothes down
at her feet.

And the father came out next, and the Milk-White Doo flung the bag of
silver down at his feet.

But the wicked step-mother, being somewhat stout came out last, and the
Milk-White Doo threw the millstone right down on her head and killed
her.

Then it spread its wings and flew away, and has never been seen again;
but it had made the Goodman and his daughter rich for life, and it had
rid them of the cruel step-mother, so that they lived in peace and
plenty for the remainder of their days.





Next: The Draiglin' Hogney

Previous: Poussie Baudrons



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