* 1 Synopsis * 2 Commentary * 3 See also * 4 External links
Two widows lived in a hut, and one had two sons and the other had
one—or a single widow had three sons. One day the eldest son was
told by his mother to fetch water for a cake, because it was time for
him to seek his fortune, and the cake was all she could give him. The
can was broken, the water he brought back little, and so the cake was
small. The mother offered him all of it with her curse, or half with
her blessing, and he took the whole. He left behind a knife, and said
if the blade grew rusty, he was dead. Illustration from Jacob's
John D. Batten
He met a shepherd, a swineherd, and a goatherd; each of the three told him the Red Ettin of Ireland had kidnapped the king of Scotland's daughter, but that he was not the man to rescue her. The shepherd also told him to be wary of the beasts he would meet next. They each had two heads, with four horns on each head, and the man fled them and hid in a castle. An old woman told him that it was the castle of the Red Ettin, which had three heads, and he should leave, but he begged her to hide him as best she could, for fear of the beasts.
The Red Ettin
He met an old woman on the way who asked for a piece of his cake, and he gave it to her. She, being a fairy , gave him a magical wand and a great deal of advice on what to do, and vanished. The shepherd, swineherd, and goatherd told him of the Red Ettin and the king of Scotland's daughter, and said that he was the man to defeat him. He walked boldly through the beasts to the castle, striking one dead with the wand, and stayed at the castle.
The Red Ettin