Michael Scott & The White Snake

Before Michael Scott became the legendary Borders Wizard who cleaved the Eildon Hill into three, he was just an ordinary young man who enjoyed walking the old tracks through forests and over hills.

By Graeme Johncock

Before Michael Scott became the legendary Borders Wizard who cleaved the Eildon Hill into three, he was just an ordinary young man who enjoyed walking the old tracks through forests and over hills.

One day he was making the long journey to Edinburgh with two of his friends and just as they crested a hill, they heard a loud hiss coming from behind them. As they turned, they could see a great white serpent snaking up towards them, clearly ready to attack. Michael’s friends were terrified and ran at the sight but he was made of sterner stuff and raised his wooden staff ready. Just as the serpent sprang forward, Michael struck down twice with the staff.

Michael’s friends were more than relieved to find out their attacker was left in pieces on the hill and they marched on towards their destination. Before long it was starting to get dark and the friends spotted a cottage where they hoped they could rest for the night. An old lady answered the door, agreeing to let them stay for a small fee and so it was that before long, the travellers were retelling their encouter from earlier.

“You have some strange wildlife around these parts. I’ve never seen a pure white snake like that before” said Michael.

The old lady looked shocked. “And what has happened to this white snake you speak of?”

“Well I left it lying on the hill where I split it into three with my staff!” boasted Michael.

“This is no ordinary beast my son, the local people thought it had been defeated once before after it was sliced in two. But if the head crawls to the nearest stream, then it will make itself whole again and hunt you down relentlessly until it has had it’s revenge. You must retrieve the middle section and bring it back to me here! It is the only way to stop it.”

Michael’s friends wanted nothing to do with it and turned in for the night, so he put on his cloak and headed out into the cold darkness alone. He trekked back a few miles and eventually made it to the hill where they had faced the snake and true enough, the head had disappeared! He picked up the middle of the snake and ran as fast as he could back to the warmth of the old lady’s cottage.

She was standing at the door waiting and exclaimed, “You have it! You have it!” as Michael arrived inside, panting with exhaustion. He was a little confused when she took the serpent’s body and dropped it into a pot she had prepared over the fireplace.

“Why would you cook such a thing?” asked Michael.

“It’s the only way to destroy it!” she replied, “and besides, I’m a poor widow and can’t turn down the chance of any meal.”

Michael was shivering with cold after his midnight mission and settled in a chair by the fire. The old lady enquired, “Would you not prefer a comfortable bed instead of that old chair?”

“I’ll take a while to warm up yet and I don’t feel sleep coming on while I’m shivering away. Don’t worry, I’ll watch the pot and make sure it doesn’t boil over.” said Michael.

As the woman went off to her bed she turned and warned Michael, “Just let me know when you think the meal is cooked but leave the pot well alone!”

As he sat stretching his limbs and feeling the warmth creep back into them, the smell of the meat cooking made Michael’s stomach growl. He could hear a light snoring coming from behind their host’s door and he decided that he would just dip his finger into the juices to see if it tasted as delicious as it smelled.

As soon as the liquid touched his lips, Michael gasped loudly and dropped the lid of the pot on the floor. Suddenly he could feel power he had never thought existed running through him. Knowledge of everything that ever had been and ever would be was at his fingertips. Simply by wishing it, his hunger had gone and his tired legs were recovered.

The old woman ran through and as soon as she saw the wonder in Michael’s eyes she knew what had happened. “You have tasted the serpent and gained it’s power” she sighed.

“Do I not deserve it? Was it not I who killed the beast?” asked Michael.

She conceded it was his prize after all but asked him not to forget that he would not have his powers were it not for her help. Michael became famous around Europe as a renowned Wizard but he would always remember his host from that night. She would never want for anything again, all thanks to the powers of Michael Scott.



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