Tam Lin. Story of the month

Tam Lin. Story of the month

Once upon a time there was a Celtic chieftain who had a daughter named Oisra. She was a pretty girl, smart and lovely - and very stubborn.

So the time came when Oisra became a woman and her father wondered which man he should give her to as a wife. A few of the young men in the village came to his mind who were also man enough to take on Oisra's stubbornness, but since he loved his daughter, he called her to him.

"Oisra, you are now old enough to marry. I will give you a choice among the young men of the village. Just say which one you wish to marry."

Oisra played with her long braids, lost in thought, as she went through the young men of the village in her mind's eye. Well, that one was too old. And that one was too young. That one - too fat, that one too skinny. This one too stupid, that one too know-it-all. This one too ugly, that one too vain ... She appreciated that her father gave her so much freedom to choose, and wanted to please him, but no matter how hard she tried, in the end she always came to the same conclusion: "Father, there is none among them. As much as I'd like to choose one, there's not a single one here that I could love."

"Love? Who's talking about love? I'm talking about marriage!" said her father, offended.

"No father, I will only marry a man who makes my heart pound and whom I love."

Angered that his magnanimity was not appreciated, her father said, "Heart pounding! I will give you a pounding heart! Either you decide by tomorrow morning who you're going to marry, or I'm going to make a choice for you! So go to your room!"

And Oisra went - but not only to her room. That night she took her cloak and left the village.

She wandered and wandered, she came to other farms, to villages, to towns. She met young men and old, fat and thin, talkative and dumb. But none of them made her heart pound.

Already a bit desperate, one day she came to a forest - it was not the first forest she came to, but that forest, it seemed special - especially dark, especially dense, especially silent.

Oisra hesitated to walk through it, but the forest was so large that there was no end to be seen to the left or to the right.

Was this the end of her wandering? Should she turn back and submit to her father's will? After the long time of lonely wandering, some of the men in her village did not seem so bad anymore.

As Oisra sat there, she spotted a rose bush at the edge of the forest, which, although it was already autumn, bore such beautiful blossoms that it brought a smile to her tired face. She wanted to pick such a rose and carry it with her so that she would not lose heart.

No sooner had she broken a blossom from the bush, a man stood before her, tall and broad-shouldered, wearing a dark green cloak and scowling.

"Who dares to break a rose?"

Oisra cringed, "Forgive me, I didn't know the roses belonged to anyone. I am Oisra and I have come a long way. When I saw the rose, it seemed so beautiful and comforting that I wanted to carry it with me so as not to lose heart."

A hesitant smile came to the stranger's face, and it seemed as if it were the first smile in years that touched his lips.

"Yes, they are beautiful, the roses, but so are you. That's why I want to pretend I didn't see it. But listen to me, turn back, do not go through this forest! This is land of the fay, and if you enter the forest, you will not be able to leave it."

When Oisra saw the bearded man smiling like that, and his deep, melodic voice reached her ear, her heart began to pound madly.

"Who are you, Guardian of the Forest?"

"Yes, I am the Guardian of the Forest, but once I was Tam Lin. Know, I too was once a mortal man, and how I wish I could be again! But one day, as I rode through this forest, I was overcome by a leaden fatigue that I fell off my horse and lay asleep. When I awoke, I was trapped in the middle of the fay realm, and as beautiful and alluring as the queen is, I miss my life as a human very much."

Tam Lin stood in the shade of the mighty trees, while Oisra was in the bright sunshine. Now she took a hesitant step toward the ominous darkness.

"If I enter the forest, could I be a guardian of the forest with you?"

Tam Lin stepped into her path, but could not cross the boundary of the forest, "Don't do it, dear Oisra, you never know what the Fay Queen will think of. She is very powerful and possessive."

Thoughtfully, Oisra took a step back. Her heart was pounding so loudly that it was clear to her she would not be able to leave this man.

"Well then, is there no way to get you out of the fay realm?"

"There is, but it involves great danger, I don't want to expose you to that danger because you are the most lovely creature I have ever seen and I couldn't bear it if anything happened to you."

"And I already know that I can't bear to be without you."

For a long time the two stood there, she in the meadow, he in the woods, gazing at each other. If you had had a fine ear, you would have heard their hearts beating in time together, fast and loud. They could probably have stood like that forever, but as it is when you want nothing more than to come to each other and can't, at some point the condition becomes unbearable.

"Tell me how I can redeem you and let me decide for myself if I dare."

Tam Lin sighed. "Very well, in three nights it is Samhain, and that night we fays ride out of the forest. You must hide here at the edge of the forest - but don't you come into the forest! First, a band of horsemen will come, led by the queen. Stay hidden. Then a second band will come, stay hidden. In the third band will be me, on a white horse. When you see me and when the last hoof of my horse has left the forest, you must snatch me from the horse and hold me tightly to you. No matter what happens then, don't let go. That's how you can free me."

That doesn't sound so hard, Oisra thought to herself.

A strange whistle sounded deep from the forest and immediately Tam Lin retreated, not without sending Oisra a smile.

For the next few days, Oisra waited at the edge of the forest. Tam Lin did not appear again and she was already worried that she would never see him again.

But then, as the third night fell, the night of Samhain, when the transitions between the human world and the other world are open, she heard soft hoof beats from the forest. She hurriedly hid at the edge of the forest. And sure enough, a crowd of horsemen galloped past her, the queen in the lead on a silvery horse with a silver saddle and bridle. The ruler's long silver hair blew in the wind and she looked beautiful. Oisra was so enchanted by the sight of her that the second band of riders had already passed her before she could think again. Just in time, because already the third crowd was approaching and, looking cautiously from her hiding place, she spotted Tam Lin, who was holding on to the edge of the riders with his white horse.

Waiting, waiting - there, the last hoof of his horse left the shadows of the forest, Oisra rushed towards him, tore her beloved from his horse and pressed him tightly to her.

A moment of silence, then - sudden commotion, riders stopped, voices shouted through the night: "Tam Lin has disappeared!"

The fay queen reined in her horse, yanked it around and dashed back. Her eyes met Oisra's and the girl felt a chill run down her spine.

"Oh how cute, a little mortal, thinks she can play the heroine here."

Defiantly, Oisra withstood the queen's gaze. But she felt Tam Lin begin to shrink in her arms at a gesture from the ruler. Smaller and smaller he became, until he had turned into a mouse. Oisra held the wriggling little animal tightly against her chest, worried about crushing it or letting it go, but she found the right measure.

"So see, you're not afraid of mice. How about that?"

The fay queen gestured again. Continuing to wriggle in Oisra's hands, Tam Lin now grew longer and longer, turning into a snake that hissed and spat its pointed tongue in Oisra's face. But this time, too, Oisra held her lover tightly, her eyes fixed on the fay queen. She would not break her stubbornness.

And again the fay knight transformed. The snake became rigid and firm, a heavy piece of iron. And this iron began to grow hotter and hotter until it glowed red. Determined, Oisra looked the queen in the eye, and held the glowing rod tightly against her chest, tears of pain streaming down her cheeks, the smell of burnt flesh spreading, but she would not give up, not for anything in the world.

At last the queen turned away with a contemptuous snort. As she strode off with the fay riders, she gave vent to her displeasure at being defeated in a shrill scream. With a grand, throwing-away gesture, she returned Tam Lin to his humanity.

When he stood before Oisra as a human again, she collapsed in relief and pain.

Tam Lin bedded her on soft moss and dressed her wounds with poultices made from the blossoms of the rose at the edge of the forest.

When Oisra opened her eyes again a short time later, her wounds had already healed thanks to the magic rose, and happily and closely embraced, the two of them set off to introduce Oisra's father to the man she was ready to marry - with all her pounding heart.

Moon of Begininngs

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