The Rollicking Adventures
of Tam O’Hare

Scotty Roberts
© 2007, 2012, Scott Alan Roberts


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"Come away, O, little child,
To the waters and the wild,
With a faerie hand in hand;
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand."

-- from William Butler Yeats’
"The Stolen Child"

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Malcolm MacDervish gripped the hilt of his sword tightly and kept very still, pulling the makeshift hood of his feileadh mor up over his head. Three soldiers were standing directly in front of the very bush in which he was hiding, and were they any closer, Malcolm could have reached out between the leaves and touched them.

The sun was starting to set in the west, transforming the sky from deep azure blue to hues of gold and pink. In the bright slanted sunset light, Malcolm could see his own golden breath on the cooling air. He slowly inhaled and exhaled through his mouth with deliberate quietness, a skill he had been developing for just such an occasion as this. Inside his leafy hiding place he curled his body into a tight ball, pulling his knees up under his kilt. Then wrapping the upper folds of wool around his arms and head, he hoped to blend-in and remain unseen. Unseen, that is, until the perfect moment offered itself, allowing him to launch a surprise attack on the unsuspecting soldiers.

He was lucky. The soldiers gave no indication that they even suspected he was there. They stood with their backs to him, engrossed, he imagined, in frustrated conversation. To date, they had not yet been able to hunt down "Malcolm MacDervish, the hero of Glenburrow, Scotland.” This pleased Malcolm to no end and he grinned gleefully in his silence. He wanted them to remain oblivious to his presence, knowing that he would need the element of surprise to be victorious against three professional soldiers.

No, wait... not soldiers - knights! They were knights, he decided. Evil Knights who were there to attack the families of his clan while they slept in their beds that night. A good hero needs an equally bad enemy, so Malcolm decided that these Knights were indeed heinously Evil. If he could thwart their plans and slay them before they had a chance to attack his village of Glenburrow, the name and deeds of Malcolm MacDervish would be recited around the fires of his clan for generations to come!

At that very moment, a sparrow landed on the hawthorne branch that hung low over the bush where Malcolm was concealed. He looked up at the bird and put a finger to his lips in a futile hope that the small bird would understand that it needed to keep quiet, making no noise that could possibly attract the Evil Knights’ attentions. However, the motion of Malcolm’s hand served only to startle the bird, who lit in a flourish and flew away in a fluster of flapping wings and falling feathers.

"I’m doomed!" Malcolm yelled inside his head, wincing and gritting his teeth at the sudden betrayal of his hiding place, "I’d best attack now before all element of surprise has faded!"

At that, Malcolm bellowed a horrifying war cry and leapt out of the bush with both hands gripping his sword high above his head. As he swung down toward the first of the Evil Knights, the blade of his sword hit the hawthorne branch above his head, sending the weapon flying out of control. Malcolm looked at his empty hands in horrified shock, glad that none of his friends were there to see him make such a bumbling maneuver. He then put his hands on his hips, tipped his head back and laughed at the Evil Knights.

"Think that’s the end of me, eh?!" he boomed.

Then in one fluid motion he tucked and rolled to the ground, snatching his sword from the dirt where it had fallen. While rolling back to his feet, he made a wicked slice toward one of the Evil Knights, taking his legs out from under him. Now back on his feet, Malcolm brandished his sword and without hesitation began hacking away at the two remaining evil knights. First a mighty blow to this one’s head, then a hack to that one’s ribs.

And just as suddenly as it had begun, it was over. The three Evil Knights lay in a pile at Malcolm’s feet.

With a broad smile and a champion’s bravado, Malcolm tipped his head back and howled the victor’s cry.


He then threw his wooden sword into the air and danced a victory jig, kicking in all directions the hawthorne sticks that he had used to build his imaginary Evil Knights. It wasn’t often that a seven-year-old hare saved his clan from destruction, and Malcolm was going to celebrate this one to the hilt. Too bad his friends weren’t there to share in this glorious victory.


Then it came. A wail on the wind. Like a banshee keening out the death of some great Irish warrior.


Malcolm slumped his shoulders.

"Time to come in for your supper," the voice echoed from down in the glen.

"Very weel, Motherrrrr!" Malcolm called back sullenly.

And wasn’t that the way it always was? Just when he was having the most fun, it was always time to come in for the night.

Malcolm stooped and picked up his toy sword and one of the hawthorne twigs.
"Tomorrow," he mused while pointing his wooden weapon at the scattered hawthorne sticks, "I will come back with Hamish and Grigor, and we’ll rebuild you, you Evil Knights, and then we’ll have another go."

Then tucking his sword into his belt, he turned toward the cottages in the glen and began to walk home, whacking the tops of the long grass with the hawthorne twig as he went. As he passed through the hawthorne grove near the tall blue-grey stones that stood on the bank of the stream, he thought he heard the sound of someone playing the pipes. The music didn’t sound nearby, but seemed as if it was being carried on the air from some far-off place. Malcolm stopped to listen, cocking an ear slightly toward the sky.

The pipes continued to play.

The longer and louder they sounded, the more his memories were roused of frightening bedtime stories told by his parents; tales of the beautiful mysterious musics that would fill the air on nights when the Good People - the faerie folk of the shadow lands - would appear.

Malcolm froze.

His heart was suddenly filled with fear, his eyes growing wide as the piping became more distinct. The music was haunting and beautiful all at once, blending into the sound of wind. It seemed as if the birds, the woods and all creation had grown silent around him save for the soft, sweet, lulling music of the pipes. The sun dropped out of sight, leaving a thin band of golden pink on the horizon’s edge while the rest of the sky melted into a deep, dark bluish-black. Malcolm stood still and alone in the grassy field, wanting to run toward the cottages in the glen below, but somehow unable to move his feet. He was surrounded by a soft bluish light that came from somewhere behind him.

The young hare, now wishing he had left for home much earlier, braved a glance back over his shoulder and saw what looked like flickering, blue firefly-like orbs filling the air from the midst of the hawthorne grove. A shaft of light danced over his head, terrifying yet strangely more beautiful and serene than autumn moonlight. The bluish iridescence seemed to be alive, brimming full with shimmering wee folk all riding the shaft of light as if it were a magic carpet dancing on the air. The little people all wore green scarves about their necks and shoulders in varying lengths, save for the one at the fore, who seemed to be leading the troupe.

Malcolm had never seen the Good People before, to be sure, and he was overcome with a curiosity that would not allow him to succumb to his fright. He stood frozen in his place, crossed himself in Christian incantation and watched the dancing faerie troupe float low on the air.

The faerie at the front of the troupe was a good deal larger than the others, Malcolm observed, yet still as small as a little child. She had bonnie long hair bound about with a strap that glinted like the stars. She was more beautiful than any creature Malcolm had ever seen.

Then something very strange happened. The beautiful faerie at the front turned aside and looked straight at Malcolm, who was immediately convinced he had lived his last day on this earth. Floating softly on the air before Malcolm, she stretched out her hand and touched her soft, cool fingers to his lips.


"Shhhhhh..." her whisper echoed softly into the twilight mist, blending into the beautiful melancholy of the pipes.

She gently took the hawthorne twig from Malcolm’s hand, then turned and slowly floated back to the head of her troupe. In a fluid motion they all glided up and over the hedge of hawthorne trees then down toward the small cluster of cottages in the glen below.

Malcolm could not speak, nor think, nor move. His little body felt all at once light and heavy, and his legs buckled beneath him. Sinking slowly into the grass he could see the first stars of the new night twinkling in the sky above him. He slowly closed his eyes and fell into a long, dark, peaceful sleep.



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