Rut’s Beautiful Daughter
The faeries took Rut on her wedding night and her husband was none the wiser. Apparently logs served just as well as a woman, or so the faeries swore. The sprite-things whisked her away to Connla, took her name, and set her to raise a troll-child they called Scáthach.
“Your hair brings faeries,” Rut’s mother always told her when she was small. “They’ll come for your hair and your eyes.”
And her mother had been right. Nothing lured old-world faeries more than blonde hair and blue eyes. But Rut could not find it in herself to be disheartened. She feared the wedding bed and her husband who smelled of ale and piss. So Rut did not weep when they saddled her with a trollish child. She loved Scáthach more than anything beneath the good Lord’s creation.
“We like human mothers for the trolls,” said the sprites when they took her.
“Why?” Rut had asked them.
“Faeries cannot lie,” they answered.
“Is it pretty?” Scáthach asked her softly.
Rut started from her sewing and looked up at her daughter. Scáthach had tied in her hair a pink ribbon; a ribbon which Rut had brought with her way back when she’d come to the trolls in the beginning. The ribbon sat in the troll girl’s greasy hair like a wilting linnea flower. It did nothing to hide the girl’s blobbish nose, her too-wide eyes, her lumpish and lopsided figure.
“Prettiness doesn’t mean anything,” Rut said dismissively. “You are more than your prettiness, Scáthach. You are smart, and you are kind. You know the Good Book, which is more than I can say for your cousins who are heathens of the worst sort.”
“But… is it pretty?” Scáthach insisted. She fingered the ribbon sadly and the cloth fell from her hair to the floor of their cave-made home.
Rut set down her stitches and went to take the ribbon off the floor and tie it back in Scáthach’s hair so that it looked lively.
“You are very pretty,” Scáthach muttered. “I want to…”
“You are beautiful,” Rut said with a small, sad smile.