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The Wisest Living Creature

by Ber Weyde

And then there was the Miller’s Cat who seems to have had the power of human speech. By some mischance the Miller had put himself in the power of a wicked giant and could only win free by answering certain questions. One of those stumped him completely. It was: “Who is the wisest living creature?”

Now the Miller had made a great friend of his cat and in his trouble he spoke to her of his problem. Straight away she set out on a pilgrimage to find the answer for him.

She went first to the Astan (eel) and he told her that the Coar-ny-Hasten (heron) was old and wiser than himself; but when she asked the Coar-ny-Hasten he said the Dreean (wren) had the wisdom of the Druids and was probably the wisest of all. But the Dreean again said no – it was the Braddan (salmon) under the Tenth Wave, for he gave wisdom to Finn mac Coole and Finn was wiser than any Druid.

So the cat went back and told the Miller, and he gave the right answer and won free of the giant’s spells.

(source: ‘This is Ellan Vannin Again: Folklore’ by Mona Douglas; artwork is Finn Mac Cool and the Salmon by Kate Leiper)

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