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The story of Glasgow's emblem (fish and ring)

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Here's the relevant excerpt from Iain MacDonald's "Saint Mungo" (Floris Books, Edinburgh, 1993):


Queen Languoreth, living in plenty and delights, was not faithful to the royal chamber or the marital bed, as she ought to have been: for the wealth of her treasures, the exuberance of her means of sensuality, and the elevation of power, gave incentives and fuel to the will of the flesh. She cast her eyes on a certain youth, a soldier, who seemed to her to be beautiful and fair of aspect beyond many at court. And he, who without external temptation, was himself ready enough for such a service as this, was easily induced to sin with her.

As time passed, the forbidden pleasures, frequently repeated, became more and more delightful to both of them; so from a rash act they proceeded to a blind love, and a royal ring of gold, set with a precious gem, which her lawful husband had entrusted to her as a special mark of his conjugal love, she very imprudently bestowed upon her lover. He, more impudently and more imprudently placing it upon his finger, opened the door of suspicion to all who were conversant in the matter.

A faithful servant of the king, finding this out, took care to instil the secret of the queen and the soldier into the ears of the husband, who did not willingly lend his ear or his mind to her disgrace. But the detector of the adultery, in proof of the matter, showed the ring on the finger of the soldier; and so persuading the king to believe him, he succeeded in kindling the spirit of jealousy within him.

The king veiled under a calm demeanour his wrath against the queen and the soldier, and appeared more than usually cheerful and kind. But when a bright day occurred, he went out hunting, and summoning the soldier to accompany him, sought the woods and forests with a great company of beaters and dogs. Having loosed the dogs and stationed his friends at different places, the king with the soldier came down to the banks of the river Clud, and they, in a shady place on the green turf, thought it would be pleasant to sleep for a little.

The soldier, suspecting no danger and resting his head, straightaway slumbered; but the spirit of jealousy exciting the king, suffered him neither to slumber nor to take any rest. Seeing the ring on the finger of the sleeper, his wrath was kindled, and he with difficulty restrained his hand from his sword and from shedding of blood; but he controlled his rage, and after drawing the ring off the finger threw it into the river, and then, waking the man, ordered him to return to his companions and go home. The soldier waking up from sleep, and thinking nothing about the ring, obeyed the king's order, and never discovered what he had lost till he entered his house.

But when, on the return of the king, the queen in the usual manner came forth from her chamber and saluted him, from his mouth there proceeded threats, contempt, and reproach, while with flashing eyes and menacing countenance he demanded where the ring was which he had entrusted to her keeping. When she declared that she had it laid up in a casket, the king, in the presence of all his courtiers, commanded her to bring it to him. She, still full of hope, entered the inner chamber as if to seek the ring, but straightaway sent a messenger to the soldier, telling him of the king's anger, and ordering him to send the ring back quickly.

The soldier sent back to the queen that he had lost the ring and could not tell where. Then, fearing the face of the king, for the sake of concealment, he absented himself from court. In the meantime, as she sought further delays, and was slow in producing what, of course, she could not find, uselessly seeking here and there, the king in fury frequently calling her an adulteress, broke forth in curses saying:

"God do to me, and more also, if I judge thee not according to the law of adulterers, and condemn thee to a most disgraceful death. Thou, clinging to a young adulterer, hast neglected the king thy spouse; yet I would have made thee the sharer of my bed and the mistress of my kingdom: thou hast done it in secret; I will do it in public, and the sun shall manifest thine ignominy and reveal thy more shameful things before thy face."

And when he had said much after this sort, all the courtiers praying for some delay, he with difficulty conceded three days, and ordered her to be imprisoned. Cast into a dungeon, she now contemplated death as imminent; but not the less did her guilty conscience torment her.

By the inspiration of the Lord, the woman in her great strait sent a faithful messenger to Saint Kentigern, told him her whole misfortune, and urgently requested help. She also begged that at least he would use his influence with the king and beseech pardon for her, for there was nothing so great which he would, or could, or ought to deny him.

The saintly bishop, knowing the whole story before the arrival of the messenger, ordered him to go with a hook to the bank of the river Clud, to cast the hook into the stream, and to bring back to him straightaway the first fish that was caught upon it and taken out of the water.

The man did what the saint commanded, and exhibited in the presence of the man of God a large fish which is commonly called a salmon; and on his ordering it to be cut open and gutted in his presence, he found in it the ring in question, which he straightaway sent by the same messenger to the queen. And when she saw it and received it, her heart was filled with joy, her mouth with praise and thanksgiving.

Therefore the queen returned to the king the ring he had required, in the sight of all. Wherefore the king and all his court were sorry for the injuries done to the queen; and humbly on his knees he sought her pardon, and swore he would inflict a severe punishment, even death or exile if she willed, upon her slanderers. But she wisely desired that he should show mercy. And so the king, and the queen, and the accuser were recalled to the grace of peace and mutual love.

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