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 The Battle Of The Birds 
Page 2 of 4

SAID THE QUEEN to the king, "We'll try it yet; the butler's son is of the same age as our son."
      She dressed up the butler's son, and she gives him to the giant by the hand. The giant had not gone far when he put the rod in his hand.
      "If thy father had that rod," says the giant, "what would he do with it?"
      "He would beat the dogs and the cats when they would be coming near the king's bottles and glasses."
      "Thou art the son of the butler," says the giant and dashed his brains out too. The giant returned in a very great rage and anger. The earth shook under the sole of his feet, and the castle shook and all that was in it.
      "OUT HERE WITH THY SON," says the giant, "or in a twinkling the stone that is highest in the dwelling will be the lowest." So they had to give the king's son to the giant.
      When they were gone a little bit from the earth, the giant showed him the rod that was in his hand and said: "What would thy father do with this rod if he had it?"
      The king's son said: "My father has a braver rod than that."
      And the giant asked him, "Where is thy father when he has that brave rod?"
      And the king's son said: "He will be sitting in his kingly chair."
      Then the giant understood that he had the right one.
      The giant took him to his own house, and he reared him as his own son. On a day of days when the giant was from home, the lad heard the sweetest music he ever heard in a room at the top of the giant's house. At a glance he saw the finest face he had ever seen. She beckoned to him to come a bit nearer to her, and she said her name was Auburn Mary but she told him to go this time, but to be sure to be at the same place about that dead midnight.
      And as he promised he did. The giant's daughter was at his side in a twinkling, and she said, "To-morrow you will get the choice of my two sisters to marry; but say that you will not take either, but me. My father wants me to marry the son of the king of the Green City, but I don't like him." On the morrow the giant took out his three daughters, and he said:
      "Now, son of the king of Tethertown, thou hast not lost by living with me so long. Thou wilt get to wife one of the two eldest of my daughters, and with her leave to go home with her the day after the wedding."
      "If you will give me this pretty little one," says the king's son, "I will take you at your word."
      The giant's wrath kindled, and he said: "Before thou gett'st her thou must do the three things that I ask thee to do."
      "Say on," says the king's son.
      The giant took him to the byre.
      "Now," says the giant, "a hundred cattle are stabled here, and it has not been cleansed for seven years. I am going from home to-day, and if this byre is not cleaned before night comes, so clean that a golden apple will run from end to end of it, not only thou shalt not get my daughter, but 'tis only a drink of thy fresh, goodly, beautiful blood that will quench my thirst this night."
      He begins cleaning the byre, but he might just as well to keep baling the great ocean. After midday when sweat was blinding him, the giant's youngest daughter came where he was, and she said to him:
      "You are being punished, king's son."
      "I am that," says the king's son.
      "Come over," says Auburn Mary, "and lay down your weariness."
      "I will do that," says he, "there is but death awaiting me, at any rate." He sat down near her. He was so tired that he fell asleep beside her. When he awoke, the giant's daughter was not to be seen, but the byre was so well cleaned that a golden apple would run from end to end of it and raise no stain. In comes the giant, and he said:
      "Hast thou cleaned the byre, king's son?"
      "I have cleaned it," says he.
      "Somebody cleaned it," says the giant.
      "You did not clean it, at all events," said the king's son.
      "Well, well!" says the giant, "since thou wert so active to-day, thou wilt get to this time to-morrow to thatch this byre with birds' down, from birds with no two feathers of one colour."
      The king's son was on foot before the sun; he caught up his bow and his quiver of arrows to kill the birds. He took to the moors, but if he did, the birds were not so easy to take. He was running after them till the sweat was blinding him. About mid-day who should come but Auburn Mary.
      "You are exhausting yourself, king's son," says she.
      "I am," said he.
      "There fell but these two blackbirds, and both of one colour."
      "Come over and lay down your weariness on this pretty hillock," says the giant's daughter.
      "It's I am willing," said he.
      He thought she would aid him this time, too, and he sat down near her, and he was not long there till he fell asleep.
      When he awoke, Auburn Mary was gone. He thought he would go back to the house, and he sees the byre thatched with feathers. When the giant came home, he said:
      "Hast thou thatched the byre, king's son?"
      "I thatched it," says he.
      "Somebody thatched it," says the giant.
      "You did not thatch it," says the king's son.
      "Yes, yes!" says the giant. "Now," says the giant, "there is a fir tree beside that loch down there, and there is a magpie's nest in its top. The eggs thou wilt find in the nest. I must have them for my first meal. Not one must be burst or broken, and there are five in the nest."

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