The Shifty Lad

the shifty ladThis Scottish is about a boy who likes to play tricks on people and wants nothing more than to grow up to be a thief. His mother doesn’t like the idea, and tells him that if he does become a thief he will get caught one day and be hung from the Bridge of Dublin. When the boy won’t give up on the idea, she arranges for him to learn under the best thief in the district. He proves to be very good at the job, and the two of them become very rich. Being such a nice lad, the boy then kills the man who trained him. He goes on to become so famous a thief that the king sends soldiers to try to catch him. When this doesn’t work, a series of unlikely events follow which end with the boy marrying the king’s daughter. Luckily, there is still justice in some folktales and the Shifty Lad is soon lying dead under the Bridge of Dublin.

English Learner Vocabulary Help

The words and expressions in our in our Pre-Intermediate level Simplified English story which are not in our 1200 word list are: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and . There is also a word from our 1200 word list that has a meaning in the story which is different to the one most commonly used. The Shifty Lad’s mother wants him to learn a . The boy of course has other ideas.

General Comments on the Story

lilac fairy bookOur source for this story was The Lilac Fairy Book, one of a series of twelve collections of folk and fairy tales for children edited by Andrew Lang. This is the last book in the series, and was first published in 1910. It can be downloaded as an e-book from Project Gutenberg here. An audiobook is available from Librivox here. Lang’s source was “The Tale of the Shifty Lad, the Widow’s Son” from Popular Tales of the West Highlands by John Campbell, published in 1860. This story has a lot of extra action between the Shifty Lad killing the Black Rogue and the king’s soldiers coming after him.

In our notes to an earlier folktale, The Master Thief, we pointed out that stories about thieves are common in European and Asian folktales, and that many of these share elements from very early literary sources. The events in the second half of “The Shifty Lad” closely follow the story of Rhampsinit and the Masterthief, written around 2,500 years ago by the Greek historian Herodutis. For anyone interested, we have also included a link to a copy of this above.

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folktale(n: folktale pl folktales) A story that is part of the traditions of a group of people and was handed down in spoken form before books and printing. 9000

ballroom(n: ballroom pl ballrooms) A large room in which a ball takes place. 7000
(n: ball pl balls) A large formal party with dancing. Cinderella went to the ball and danced with the prince. 1000

barn(n: barn pl barns) A large farm building that is used for storing grain and hay and for housing farm animals or equipment. The farmer keeps his tractor in the barn. 3000

bet(n: bet pl bets) An agreement in which people try to guess what will happen and the person who guesses wrong has to give something [such as money] to the person who guesses right.
(v: bet, bets, bet, betting) To make a bet; to risk losing something [such as money] if your guess about what will happen is wrong. 1000

bull(n: bull pl bulls) 1. An adult male animal of the cow family. 2. An adult male of some other large animals such as elephants, moose, walrus, or whales. 3000

captain(n: captain pl captains) 1. A person who is in charge of a ship, an aircraft, or a group of soldiers. 2. The leader of a team or club. 3000

cattle(n: cattle, plural) A group of cows, bulls, or steers that are kept on a farm for meat or milk. 4000
(n: cattle-dog pl cattle-dogs) A special breed of dog developed in Australia for driving cattle over long distances across rough country.

cheek(n: cheek pl cheeks) One of the parts of the face below each eye and to the side of the nose and mouth. 3000

dot(n: dot pl dots) A small round mark. Put a dot over the "i". The dots on the map represent cities. 2000

gallows(n: gallows pl gallows) A structure on which a criminal who has been sentenced to death is killed by being hanged. He was sentenced to death on the gallows. 12000

goat(n: goat pl goats) A small animal of the sheep family, with horns and a long-haired coat. 5000

hay(n: hay, noncount) Grass or other plants, cut and dried for use as food for farm animals etc. 3000

lad(n: lad pl lads; chiefly British) A boy or young man. He is a charming young lad. I have known him since he was a lad. (เด็กหนุ่ม) 1000

loft(n: loft pl lofts) 1. A room or space that is just below the roof of a building and is often used to store things; an attic. 2. Chiefly U.S.; An upper floor of a warehouse or business building, especially when it is not divided by walls. 3. The upper part of a barn where hay or other items are stored; a hayloft. 3000

mud(n: mud, noncount) Soft, wet dirt. His shoes were covered with mud. 3000

priest(n: priest pl priests) A man who leads people in the worship of a god or group of gods; a man who leads or performs religious ceremonies. 4000

rogue(n: rogue pl rogues) 1. [old-fashioned] A man who is dishonest or immoral. He is a lying rogue. 2. Someone [especially a child] who causes trouble in a playful way. He's a lovable rogue. 4000

scarf(n: scarf pl scarves) A long piece of cloth that is worn on your shoulders, around your neck, or over your head. 5000

shake(v: shake, shakes, shook, shaken, shaking) To move back and forth or up and down with short, quick movements. 2000

shepherd(n: shepherd pl shepherds) A person whose job is to take care of sheep; sometimes used figuratively. The shepherd and his dog brought in the sheep. He was a good shepherd to new students. 4000

shiftyThat salesman has shifty eyes. 10000

thief(n: thief pl thieves) Someone who takes (something) from the owner in a way that is wrong or against the law; a robber. The thief got away with all my money. (ขโมย) 3000

wedding(n: wedding pl weddings) The act of getting married; marrying. (การแต่งงาน) 2000

police whistlinggirl whistling(n: whistle pl whistles) A device through which air or steam is forced to produce a very high and loud sound. The policeman blew his whistle. (นกหวีด)
(v: whistle, whistles, whistled, whistling) 1. To produce a very high, often musical, sound by forcing air through your lips or teeth. He whistled a happy tune. (ผิวปาก) 2. To make such a sound with a whistle or by passing quickly through the air. The bullet whistled past his head. (ทำให้เกิดเสียงหวีดหวิว) 3. (of the wind) To blow with such a sound. (พัดให้เกิดเสียงหวีดหวิว) 3000

wise(adj: wise, wiser, wisest) Having gained a lot of knowledge from books or experience or both and able to use it well. (ฉลาด)
(n: wisdom; noncount) 1. The knowledge gained from books or experience. 2. The quality or state of being wise. (ปัญญา; สติปัญญา) 2000

(v: trades, traded, trading) 1. The activity or process of buying, selling, or exchanging goods or services. Japan trades a lot with the U.S.A.. (ค้าขาย) 2. To give something to someone and receive something in return; to exchange. I traded my watch for a bicycle. (แลกเปลี่ยน) 1000
(n: pl trades) 1. A job that requires special training and skills and that is done by using your hands. I am a carpenter/electrician/beautician by trade. 2. A business, occupation, or job. He's in the jewellery trade. (อาชีพ)1000

bartering tradesmen

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