The Sprightly Tailor
SPRIGHTLY tailor was employed by the great Macdonald, in his castle at
Saddell, in order to make the laird a pair of trews, used in
olden time. And trews being the vest and breeches united in
one piece, and ornamented with fringes, were very
comfortable, and suitable to be worn in walking or dancing.
And Macdonald had said to the tailor, that if he would make
the trews by night in the church, he would get a handsome
reward. For it was thought that the old ruined church was
haunted, and that fearsome things were to be seen there at
The tailor was well aware of this; but he was a sprightly
man, and when the laird dared him to make the trews by
in the church, the tailor was not to be daunted, but took it
in hand to gain the prize. So, when night came, away he went
up the glen, about half a mile distance from the castle,
till he came to the old church. Then he chose him a nice
gravestone for a seat and he lighted his candle, and put on
his thimble, and set to work at the trews; plying his needle
nimbly, and thinking about the hire that the laird would
have to give him.
For some time he got on pretty well, until he felt the floor
all of a tremble under his feet; and looking about him, but
keeping his fingers at work, he saw the appearance of a
great human head rising up through the stone pavement of the
church. And when the head had risen above the surface, there
came from it a great, great voice. And the voice said: "Do
you see this great head of mine?"
"I see that, but I'll sew this!" replied the sprightly
tailor; and he stitched away at the trews.
Then the head rose higher up through the pavement, until its
neck appeared. And when its neck was shown, the thundering
voice came again and said: "Do you see this great neck of
"I see that, but I'll sew this!" said the sprightly tailor
and he stitched away at his trews.
Then the head and neck rose higher still, until the great
shoulders and chest were shown above the ground. And again
the mighty voice thundered: "Do you see this great chest of
And again the sprightly tailor replied: "I see that, but
I'll sew this!" and stitched away at his trews.
And still it kept rising through the pavement, until it
 shook a great pair of arms in the tailor's face, and said:
"Do you see these great arms of mine?"
"I see those, but I'll sew this!" answered the tailor; and
he stitched hard at his trews, for he knew that he had no
time to lose.
The sprightly tailor was taking the long stitches, when he
saw it gradually rising and rising through the floor, until
it lifted out a great leg, and stamping with it upon the
pavement, said in a roaring voice: "Do you see this great
leg of mine?"
"Aye, aye: I see that, but I'll sew this!" cried the
tailor; and his fingers flew with the needle, and he took
such long stitches, that he was just come to the end of the
trews, when it was taking up its other leg. But before it
could pull it out of the pavement, the sprightly tailor had
finished his task; and, blowing out his candle, and
springing from off his gravestone, he buckled up, and ran
out of the church with the trews under his arm. Then the
fearsome thing gave a loud roar, and stamped with both his
feet upon the pavement, and out of the church he went after
the sprightly tailor.
Down the glen they ran, faster than the stream when the
flood rides it; but the tailor had got the start and a
nimble pair of legs, and he did not choose to lose the
laird's reward. And though the thing roared to him to stop,
yet the sprightly tailor was not the man to be beholden to a
monster. So he held his trews tight, and let no darkness
grow under his feet, until he had reached Saddell Castle. He
had no sooner got inside the gate, and shut it, than the
apparition came up to it; and, enraged at losing his prize,
struck the wall above the gate, and left there the mark of
 his five great fingers. Ye may see them plainly to this day,
if ye'll only peer close enough.
But the sprightly tailor gained his reward: for Macdonald
paid him handsomely for the trews, and never discovered that
a few of the stitches were somewhat long.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics