“Willie’s Ladye” Summary


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Willie’s Ladye


Willie brings home a wife from over the sea, but his mother malevolently prevents her from giving birth by the exercise of black magic. Willie approaches his mother with a series of three gifts from his lady, begging her to relieve his wife.  Each time the witch wishes the wife to die and her son to remarry and each time the young man refuses to give up his wife and the wife laments. A way out of the impasse is reached when the belly blin instructs Willie to make a fake child out of wax and invite his mother to the boy’s christening and then to listen well to what she says. In the missing passage indicated in the text, Willie must have carried out the instruction and so made his mother think that her charms had lost their power. Willie overhears her questioning who has taken the actions that allowed his wife to bear a child and, since she lists all the charms, she reveals how the charms can be broken.  Willie then breaks them and his wife is enabled to give birth and has a fine son.