In which I share a story for the season: a tale from the stable

This is another story for Lytha. Apparently, I gave her this story years and years ago, and then forgot about it--but she remembered and asked about it. I could find not hide 'ner hair of it...until about a month ago, when a storyteller was telling a story about the story. I queried Barra, and she sent me the tale. This is my version, borrowed from Barra, who heard it from her Nana.

"Bride" is pronounced "BREED-ay".

Bride (Bridget) at the Stable – a tale of Bethlehem by way of Scotland

Came one day out of the hills a young woman down to the little town of Bethlehem. She knocked on every door, and at every door she was refused, though she asked for work of the humblest sort.

Finally, at a little inn on the outskirts of town, a man called Carter hired the lass, for though his inn was small and shabby and had almost no business at all, his mother on her deathbed had made him promise never to turn anyone away. So the lass, called Bride or Bridget, came there and did the work of cooking and cleaning, and became a friend to the neighbors while Carter earned money by carting supplies around the area. She started serving dinners in the evenings, and Carter couldn’t complain, for it brought good business, but it also brought trouble. There were Roman soldiers in the town, and strangers too, come to be recorded by the census, and some of these meant no good to the people of the town.

One day, Carter had to go on a journey that would take three days and two nights, and he worried for Bride’s safety while he was gone. He made her promise not to open the door between sunset and sunrise. She spent the first day cleaning the inn from top-to-bottom, and even cleaned the stable free of dust and spiderwebs. At dusk, she went into the inn and locked the door behind her as she had promised. Just as she was taking the first bite from her simple supper, someone knocked at the door.

Well, she’d promised not to open it.

But she hadn’t promised anything about the windows, so she opened a shutter and looked out. There in the courtyard she saw a donkey with a young woman on his back. The woman was heavily pregnant, and a man with a kind face held the donkey’s rope. The man explained that they had travelled far, the other inns were full, the donkey was footsore from the journey, and he needed to find shelter for his wife.

Bride explained about her promise not to let anyone come in during Carter’s absence. Then she remembered the stable, freshly cleaned. She had promised not to open the door, so she climbed out the window with a basket containing her supper, and took them to the stable. She brought blankets and later, when Mary’s pains came, warm water and soothing herbs. Bride had helped to birth babes since she was eight years old, and so she was the very first to hold that special child and to swaddle him in clean cloths.

Meanwhile, Carter had a feeling on that day that he should not be away from home. He dreamed of his mother, who told him to go home to the inn to receive a special guest there.

Carter woke up and started for home at once, despite being delayed by three people who asked for help. He was surprised by the brightness of the stars, but these enabled him to travel quickly on the familiar road.

When he arrived home at last, he found the family in the stable, and Bride there with them.

During the next few days, Carter doctored the donkey and welcomed all who come to see the child. The extra business from the Wise Men and their entourage paid well enough for Carter to give up travelling, and he stayed home from there on. He married Bride, who became a midwife, known far and wide for her gentle care of new mothers, as well as herds and flocks.

To this day in Scotland, midwives will open doors and windows at the beginning of labor, calling out to Bride to come and help with the birthing of a new child.


  1. I've never heard that version of the Christmas story. Nice.
    [I don't think I'll make it on Saturday--economics decrees that I not spend $100+ on gas for the truck! Sorry, and good luck!]

  2. I have never heard this version of the story either. Very nice. Thanks for posting.


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