ASSIPATTLE FOR ST. VALENTINE!
Hello, folks! I will always remember the articles I published when Chimamanda Lavinia was on my womb! Happy St. Valentine's Day! To celebrate the Day of Love, we will talk about Assipattle and the way in which he gain a wife, a kingdom and a sword just with ARTS! We always need to remember that Earth without ART is just EH!
There are quite a few stories about the boy known as Assipattle.
He was the seventh son of a seventh son and a bit of a dreamer.
While his father and brothers worked hard, Assipattle was more content to sit at the hearth and make up poems and stories. He was often berated for being lazy and useless, but when things went wrong it was Assipattle, with his quick wits, who was able to overcome any problems and be the hero of the story.
This is the story of the Dragon Stoorworm – the very first, and the very worst, dragon ever to exist from the beginning of time. Compared to the Dragon Storworm, all other dragons are teeny-tiny namby-pamby kinds of dragons who couldn’t frighten a baby, let alone a whole country. And the Dragon Stoorworm did frighten a whole country when it decided to take up residence there, and in this story that country was Scotland.
The first scary thing about the Dragon Stoorworm was its size. It was absolutely ginormous. The Stoorworm was so vast that is almost completely covered Scotland, from the very top to the very bottom, and all the way across from side to side. It wouldn’t have been such a problem for Scotland when the Stoorworm arrived if it had been a friendly sort of dragon – you know, the type that greets you with a pleasant “good morning” or “good afternoon” and enquires how things are with you and asks after the health of your granny – then its enormous size wouldn’t have been so worrying. But if the Dragon Stoorworm enquired as to the whereabouts of your granny, or indeed any of your relatives, it was because it intended to eat them. And if you tried to avoid telling it or hesitated to reply, then it’d most likely gobble you up instead.
The second scary thing about the Dragon Stoorworm was its enormous tail, which had jaggy spikes along it. When it was in a bad mood (which was often) the Stoorworm lashed this tail about, causing a considerable amount of damage. Churches, houses, whole villages, and even a mountain or two, were crushed and swept away.
The third scary thing about the Dragon Stoorworm was its eating habits. The Stoorworm would open its mouth and swallow cows, horses, sheep, ducks, geese and any other livestock that it spotted.
Quite often it liked to toast these first. Long flickers of flame would shoot out of its mouth, scorching anybody who happened to be passing by, and setting ablaze thatched roofs of cottages and most of surrounding fields as well.
Before long, Scotland was in a bad way. There were no crops growing (they’d been burned by the Stoorworm), there was little livestock (eaten by the Stoorworm), and soon there would be no fresh water, for every morning whrn the Stoorworm woke up it opened its huge mouth and yawned, swallowing gallons of water from the loch where it was resting its gigantic head.
The king sent his three wisest men to talk to the Dragon Stoorworm and to ask it to stop causing so much trouble and to suggest that it might like to go away and visit a different country.
The Stoorworm ate two of the wise men, but the third managed to run very faat and escape. He came back with a message to say that the Stoorworm would stop destroying villages, guzzling cattle and incineratin crops if the king sent it a pretty girl that it could eat for breakfast each morning.
As soon as the menfolk heard this they hurried to lock up their daughters and wives and sisters. But the womenfolk, who weren’t slow to catch on and not minded to hang about, had already gone and hidden themselves.
The only girl that was left was the king’s own daughter, the Princess Gemdelovely. Now the Princess Gemdelovely was brave and good, and she said that she would go and sacrifice herself if it would help to stop the Dragon Stoorworm from ruining the whole country.
The king, her father, was very upset when she came to say goodbye to him. He held up his famous sword, Sickersnapper, and cried out that he’d give his sword, his kingdom and the hand of his daughter in marriage to anyone who could free Scotland of the Stoorworm. To which the Princess Gemdelovely replied that her father could do what he liked with his kingdom and his sword, but as far as she was concerned her hands belonged to her and she’d marry whom she pleased. And she went to sit in the tower of the castle to wait and see who would turn up to slay the Stoorworm.
Many warriors from here and there, and this land and that, came riding up to the castle in the hope of gaining a kingdom, a sword and a princess to marry. Princess Gemdelovely, who always secretly listened when her father was negotiating terms, noted that these men listed the rewards for their work in that order: the kingdom, the sword, the princess. She was always last and frequently they didn’t even ask her name!
From her seat in the tower Princess Gemdelovely inspected the knights, nobles and commoners as they rode out in turn each morning to do battle with the Dragon Stoorworm. They never came back and no trace of them was ever found – well, perhaps just an occasional stirrup or a plume feather from a knight’s helmet: things that got stuck in the throat of the Dragon Stoorworm and were spat out on the side of the loch. Although the Princess Gemdelovely was sad that the warriors perished, none of them had touched her heart until one day a boy called Assipattle wandered long the road.
Assipattle was the seventh son of a seventh son and as such was a bit different from most boys. Instead of rushing about fighting and playing noisy games, he liked to sing and sit by the fire to read and think and make up poems, stories and songs. This had got him into bother with his parents and brothers, who shouted at him all the time to move himself and do what they considered real work.
“Assipattle, can you not help milk the kye?” his mother would say. To which Assipattle would reply, “I’ve just made up a beautiful poem about the kye walking home in the gloaming. Would you like to hear it?”
“Assipattle, can you not help plough the fields?” his father would ask.
To which Assipattle would reply, “There’s a song I’ve written about a ploughman and his horse. Would you like me to sing to you?”
“Assipattle! Come and help us plant the crops or we will beat your bones,” his older brothers shouted at him.
To which Assipattle was about to reply, saying, “I know a story about sowing and reaping. Would you like me to tell it to you?”
But looking at the faces of his brothers he realised that they would indeed beat his bones, so Assipattle jumped up from the hearth and went off to find his fortune.
And so, early on a fine morning Assipattle arrived, singing, on the road to the castle. From her tower the princess Gemdelovely looked down and thought, “Aha... this one looks interesting.”
And Assipattle glanced up and he caught sight of the Princess Gemdelovely and he thought, “Aha....”
When Assipattle knocked on the castle door he was taken at once to the king. Now the king was in a desperate state. It was nearly breakfast-time and no more volunteers had arrived to try to slay the Stoorworm. The king was beginning to think that he might have to strap on his mighty sword, Sickersnapper, and go and fight the dragon himself, when a servant announced that someone wanted to speak to him. On seeing Assipattle the king’s heart sank right down into his blue slippers. The boy was short and slight and covered in a layer of dusty peat ash from sitting at the fireside and, what’s more, had neither horse, nor armour, nor lance, nor mace, nor sword.
“How will you fight the Dragon Stoorworm?” the king asked.
“Oh, I didn’t stop by to fight the Dragon Stoorworm,” replied Assipattle, “I wa passing on the road and saw a girl in your tower and I thought her pretty enough. She’d an honest look about her and I wanted to meet her to talk and shae my poems and stories.”
Princess Gemdelovely, who was secretly listening as usual, didn’t know quite how to react to these words. “Pretty enough!” Pretty enough? She was considered stunningly attractive – everyone told her so (although it crossed her mind now that she should perhaps check as soon as she’d a chance to find a mirror). That remark annoyed her, but she did like the fact that this boy thought she’d an honest look and, even though he wasn’t aware she was a princess, he wanted to speak with her and share stories.
Before her father could reply, Princess Gemdelovely stepped from behind the curtain and said, “Well, now you’ve met me what do you think? Do you still want to talk to me?”
“I do indeed,” said Assipattle and he went forward and held out his hand.
Princess Gemdelovely saw that Assipattle’s hand was smudged with peat ash. Neverthless she took it in her own.
“Hold on a minute,” said the king. “There’s the matter of the Dragon Stoorworm to be dealt with first.” And he explained the situation to Assipattle. “That;s a bit inconvenient,” said Assipattle, keeping hold of Princess Gemdelovely’s hand.
“I agree,” said Princess Gemdelovely, not letting go of the hand of Assipattle.
“Would it be best to get rid of the Dragon Stoorworm before we sat down to chat?” Assiapattle suggested.
“It would be very helpful,” said Princess Gemdelovely, “otherwise I would have to break off our conversation to go and be breakfast for the Stoorworm.”
The king told Assipattle about the three rewards, to which Assipattle replied,
“I have no wish to be a king for I fear it would get in the way of my storytelling. I have no wish to own your sword, Sickersnapper, for i might be tempted to kill with it, and if I did that it might also kill my own spirit.” Assipattle paused and looked at Princess Gemdelovely, and then said, “I would like to get to know your daughter but it’s really up to us to decide whether we get married or not.”
Princess Gemdelovely smiled at Assipattle and they went off together to make a plan to defeat the Dragon Stoorworm.
Each morning when the Dragon Stoorworm awoke, it would yawn mightily and take in a great drink of water from the loch. That morning as the water rushed into the Stoorworm’s mouth a tiny boat holding Assipattle and Princess Gemdelovely was also swept inside. They rowed as fast as they were able and their boat was carried past the sharp teeth, over the dreadful tongue and down the throat of the monster. They hung on as the boat was battered from side to side until finally, bumping about, they arrived at the Stoorworm’s liver. Princess Gemdelovely held the boat steady as Assipattle took a knife and dug a hole in the flesh of the Stoorworm. Then Princess Gemdelovely opened a jar cointaining a glowing peat that they’d taken from the fire in the castle. They blew on the peat, not once, not twice, but three times, to make it blaze like a live coal. Then they rammed the peat deep into the liver of the Stoorworm.
When they’d done that, Princess Gemdelovely and Assipattle clung together and waited.
Very soon the fire from the peat began to hurt the Dragon Stoorworm. As it got hotter and hotter the Stoorworm started to writhe and moan. The more its liver was burning the more it howled in torment. It screeched and screamed, and screamed and screeched. Groaning in agony, it tried to get rid of the pain in its belly by gagging and spewing. And so the Stoorworm vomited the boat, with Princess Gemdelovely and Assipattle in it, out of its mouth and back into the waters of the loch.
As the little boat heaved out, Assipattle stood up. Princess Gemdelovely handed him the king’s sword, Sickersnapper, and Assipattle skelped the Dragon Stoorworm the most tremendous blow on the side of its head. Assipattle struck with such force that the Stoorworm was sent rocketing into the sky and was knocked out cold for ten thousand years a day.
Assipattle kissed Princess Gemdelovely three times and asked if she’d marry him. The Princess Gemdelovely kissed Assipattle seven times and decided that she would. And so they lived long happily together in the land of Scotland.
“And did the Dragon Stoorworm ever return?” I hear you ask.
Well, Assipattle gave the Dragon Stoorworm’s head such a clatter with the king’s sword that the Stoorworm’s tongue and eyes and teeth flew out. The tongue went east and landed between Scotland and Norway, two countries which were at that time joined together. It crashed to earth with a thump so hard that Scotland and Norway split apart and so created the North Sea. The Stoorworm’s eyes popped out and they went west. Spinning round and round, they plummeted deep into the stretch of water between Jura and Scarba. They continue to spin there to this very day, and that place is known as the Whirpool of the Corryvreckan.
One by one the shattered teeth of the Stoorworm splashed down around Scotland and formed isles and islets and skerries. There are many of these, including the beautiful Shetland Islands.
The whole of the Stoorworm’s body went north, landing with a terrific thud near the top of the world. The sea hissed and boiled for a while but then the cold Arctic Ocean froze around and over it and the great lump became the country called Iceland. He lies there still, the Dragon Stoorworm, deep below the snow and ice. But every so often when he is disturbed he opens his mouth and a great belch of smoke and fire erupts from the earth and flames leap high into the sky. Some folk call these volcanoes, but it is really the Dragon Stoorworm snoring in his sleep.
(from "An illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairytales" written by Theresa Breslin and Kate Leiper. )