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Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales
The Brownie, The Bogle, The Kelpy, Mermen, Demons


The Scottish Brownie formed a class of being? distinct in habit and disposition from the freakish and mischievous elves. He was meagre, shaggy, and wild in his appearance.

In the daytime he lurked in remote recesses of the old houses which he delighted to haunt; and in the night sedulously employed himself in discharging any laborious task which he thought might be acceptable to the family to whose service he had devoted himself. But the Brownie does not drudge from fhe hope of recompense. On the contrary, so delicate is his attachment that the offer of reward, but particularly of food, infallibly occasions his disappearance for ever. It is told of a Brownie, who haunted a Border family now extinct, that the lady having fallen unexpectedly in labour, and the servant, who was ordered to ride to Jedburgh for the sage-femme, showing no great alertness in setting out, the familiar spirit, slipt on the great-coat of the lingering domestic, rode to the town on the laird’s best horse, and returned with the midwife ere croupe. During the short space of his absence, the Tweed, which they must necessarily ford, rose to a dangerous height. Brownie, who transported his charge with all rapid ity, was not to be stopped by this obstacle. He plunged in with the terrified old lady, and landed her in safety where her services were wanted. Having put the horse into the stable (where it was afterwards found in a woful plight), he proceeded to the room of the servant whose duty he had discharged, and, finding him just in the act of drawing on his boots, administered to him a most merciless drubbing with his own horsewhip. Such an important service excited the gratitude of the laird, who, understanding that Brownie had been heard to express a wish to have a green coat, ordered a vestment of that colour to be made and left in his haunts. Brownie took away the green coat, but was never seen more. We may suppose that, tired of his domestic drudgery, he went in his new livery to join the fairies.


The brownie of the farmhouse of Bodsbeck, in Moffatdale, left his employment upwards of a century ago, on a similar account. IIo had exerted himself so much in the farm labour, both in and out of doors, that Bodsbeck became the most prosperous farm in the district. He always took his moat as it pleased himself, usually in very moderate quantities, and of the most humble description. During a time of very hard labour, perhaps harvest, when little better fare than ordinary might have been judged acceptable, the goodman took the liberty of leaving out a mess of bread and milk, thinking it but fair that at a time when some improvement, both in quantity and quality, was made upon the fare of the human servants, the useful brownie should obtain a share in the blessing. He, however, found his error, for the result was that the brownie left the house for ever, exclaiming—

“Ca’, brownie, ca’
A’ the luck o’ Bodsbeck away to Leithenha’.”

The luck of Bodsbeck accordingly departed with its brownie, and settled in the neighbouring farmhouse, called Leithenhall, whither the brownie transferred his friendship and services.


One of the principal characteristics of the brownie was his anxiety about the moral conduct of the household to which he was attached. He was a spirit very much inclined to prick up his ears at the first appearance of any impropriety in the manners of his fellow-servants. The least delinquency committed either in barn, or cow-house, or larder, he was sure to report to his master, whose interests he seemed to consider paramount to every other thing in this world, and from whom no bribe could induce him to conceal the offences which fell under his notice. The men, therefore, and not less the maids, of the establishment usually regarded him with a mixture of fear, hatred, and respect; and though he might not often find occasion to do his duty as a spy, yet the firm belief that he would be relentless in doing so, provided that he did find occasion, had a salutary effect. A ludicrous instance of his zeal as guardian of the household morals is told in Peeblesshire. Two dairymaids, who were stinted in their food by a too frugal mistress, found themselves one day compelled by hunger to have recourse to the highly improper expedient of stealing a bowl of milk and a bannock, which they proceeded to devour, as they thought, in secret. They sat upon a form, with a space between, whereon they placed the bowl and the bread, and they took bite, and sip alternately, each putting down the bowl upon the seat for a moment’s space after taking a draught, and the other then taking it up in her hands, and treating herself in the same way. They had no sooner commenced their mess than the brownie came between the two, invisible, and whenever the bowl was set down upon the seat took also a draught; by which means, as he devoured fully as much as both put together, the milk was speedily exhausted. The surprise of the famished girls at find ing the bowl so soon empty was extreme, and they began to question each other very sharply upon the subject, with mutual suspicion of unfair play, when the brownie undeceived them by exclaiming, with malicious glee—

“Ha! ha! ba!
Brownie has’t a’!”


This is a freakish spirit, who delights rather to perplex and frighten mankind than either to serve or seriously to hurt them. Shellycoat, a spirit who resides in the waters, and has given his name to many a rock and stone upon the Scottish coast, belongs to the class of bogles. When he appeared, he. seemed to be decked with marine productions, and in particular with shells, whose clattering announced his approach. From this circumstance he derived his name. One of his pranks is thus narrated:—Two men, on a very dark night, approaching the banks of the Ettrick, heard a doleful voice from its waves repeatedly exclaim, “Lost! Lost!” They followed the sound, which seemed to be the voice of a drowning person, and, to their infinite astonishment, they found that it ascended the river. Still they continued, during a long and tempestuous night, to follow the cry of the malicious sprite; and arriving, before morning^s dawn, at the very sources of the river, the voice was now heard descending the opposite side of the mountain in which they arise. The fatigued and deluded travellers now relinquished the pursuit, and had no sooner done so than they heard Shellycoat applauding, in loud bursts of laughter, his successful roguery. The spirit was supposed particularly to haunt the old house of Gorinberry, situated on the river Hermitage, in Liddesdale.


“The Conan is as bonny a river as we hat- in a’ the north country. There’s mony a sweet sunny spot on its banks, an’ mony a time an’ aft hae I waded through its shallows, when a boy, to set my little scauting-line for the trouts an’ the eels, or to gather the big pearl-mussels that lie sae thick in the fords. But its bonny wooded banks are places for enjoying the day in—no for passing the nicht. I kenna how it is; it’s nane o’ your wild streams that wander desolate through a desert country, like the Avon, or that come rushing down in foam and thunder, ower broken rocks, like the Foyers, or that wallow in darkness, deep, deep in the bowels o’ the earth, like the fearfu’ Auldgraunt; an’ yet no ane o’ these rivers has mair or frightfuller stories connected wi’ it than the Conan. Ane can hardly saunter ower half-a-mile in its course, frae where it leaves Contin till where it enters the sea, without passing ower the scene o’ some frightful auld legend o’ the kelpie or the water-wraith. And ane o’ the most frightful looking o’ these places is to be found among the woods of Conan House. Ye enter a swampy meadow that waves wi’ flags an’ rushes like a cornfield in harvest, an’ see a hillock covered wi’ willows rising like an island in the midst. There are thick mirk-woods on ilka side; the river, dark an’ awesome, an’ whirling round an’ round in mossy eddies, sweeps away behind it; an’ there is an auld burying-ground, wi’ the broken ruins o’ an auld Papist kirk, on the tap. Ane can see amang the rougher stanes the rose-wrought mullions of an arched window, an’ the trough that ance held the holy water. About twa hunder years ago—a wee mair maybe, or a wee less, for ane canna be very sure o’ the date o’ thae old stories—the building was entire; an’ a spot near it, whar the wood now grows thickest, was laid out in a corn-field. The marks o’ the furrows may still be seen amang the trees.

“A party o’ Highlanders were busily engaged, ae day in harvest, in cutting down the corn o’ that field; an’ just aboot noon, when the. sun shone brightest an’ they were busiest in the work, they heard a voice frae the river exclaim, ‘The hour but not the man has come.’ Sure enough, on looking roamd, there was the kelpie stan’in’ in what they ca’ a fause ford, just foment the auld kirk. There is a deep black pool baith aboon an’ below, but i’ the ford there’s) a bonny ripple, that shows, as ane might think, but little depth o’ water; an’ just i’ the middle o’ that, in a place where a horse might swim, stood the kelpie. An’ it again repeated its words, ‘The hour but not the man has come,’ an’ then flashing through the water like a drake, it disappeared in the lower pool. When the folk stood wondering what the creature might mean, they saw a man on horseback come spurring down the hill in hot haste, making straight for the fause ford. They could then understand her words at ance; an’ four o’ the stoutest o’ them sprang oot frae amang the corn to warn him o’ his danger, an’ keep him back. An’ sae they tauld him what they had seen an’ heard, an’ urged him either to turn back an’ tak’ anither road, or stay for an hour or sae where he was. But he just wadna hear them, for he was baith unbelieving an’ in haste, an’ wauld hae taen the ford for a’ they could say, hadna the Highlanders, determined on saving him whether he would or no, gathered round him an’ pulled him frae his horse, an’ then, to mak’ sure of him, locked him up in the auld kirk. Weel, when the hour had gone by—the fatal hour o’ the kelpie—they flung open the door, an’ cried to him that he might noo gang On his journey. Ah! but there was nae answer, though; an’ sae they cried a second time, an’ there was nae answer still; and then they went in, an’ found him lying stiff an’ cauld on the floor, wi’ his face buried in the water o’ the very stone trough that we may still see amang the ruins. His hour had come, an’ he had fallen in a fit, as ’t won Id seem, head-foremost amang the water o’ the trough, where he had been smothered, —an’ sae ye see, the prophecy o’ the kelpie availed naefliing.”


The old family of the Grahams of Morphie was in former times very powerful, but at length they sunk in fortune, and finally the original male line became extinct. Among the old women of the Hearns, their decay is attributed to a supernatural cause. When one of the lairds, say they, built the old castle, he secured the assistance of the -water-kelpy or river-horse, by the accredited means of throwing a pair of branks over his head. He then compelled the robust spirit to carry prodigious loads of stones for the building, and did not relieve him till the whole was finished. The poor kelpy was glad of his deliverance, but at the same time felt himself so galled with the hard labour, that on being permitted to escape from the branks, and just before he disappeared in the water, he turned about, and expressed, in the following words, at once his own grievances and the destiny of his taskmaster’s family—

“Sair bark and sair banes,
Drivin’ the laird o’ Morphie’s stanes!
The laird o’ Morphie ’II never thrive
As Iang’s the kelpy is alive!”


Of mermen and merwomen many strange stories are told in the Shetland Isles. Beneath the depths of the ocean, according to these stories, an atmosphere exists adapted to the respiratory organs of certain beings, resembling in form the human race, possessed of surpassing beauty, of limited supernatural powers, and liable to the incident of death. They dwell in a wide territory of the globe, far below the region of fishes, over which the sea, like the cloudy canopy of our sky, loftily rolls, and they possess habitations constructed of the pearl and coral productions of the ocean. Having lungs not adapted to a watery medium, but to the nature of atmospheric air, it would be impossible for them to pass through the volume of waters that intervenes between the submarine and supramarine world, if it were not for the extraordinary power they inherit of entering the skin of some animal capable of existing in the sea, which they are enabled to occupy by a sort of demoniacal possession. One shape they put on is that of an animal human above the waist, yet terminating below in the tail and fins of a fish, but the most favourite form is that of the larger seal or Haaf-fish; for, in possessing an amphibious nature, they are enabled not only to exist in the ocean, but to land on some rock, where they frequently lighten themselves of their sea-dress, resume their proper shape, and with much curiosity examine the nature of the upper world belonging to the human race. Unfortunately, however, each merman or merwoman possesses hut one skin, enabling the individual to ascend the seas, and if, on visiting the abode of man, the garb be lost, the hapless being must unavoidably become an inhabitant of the earth.

A story is told of a boat’s crew who landed for the purpose of attacking the seals lying in the hollows of the crags at one of the stacks. The men stunned a number of the animals, and while they were in this state stripped them of their skins, with the fat attached to them. Leaving the carcases on the rock, the crew were about to set off for the shore of Papa Stour, when such a tremendous swell arose that every one flew quickly to the boat. All succeeded in entering it except one man, who had imprudently lingered behind. . The crew were unwilling to leave a companion to perish on the skerries, but the surge increased so fast that after many unsuccessful attempts to bring the boat close in to the stack the un fortunate wight was left to his fate. A stormy night came on, and the deserted Shetlander saw no prospect before him but that of perishing from eold and hunger, or of being washed into the sea by the breakers which threatened to dash over the rocks. At length he perceived many of the seals, who in their flight had escaped the attack of the boatmen, approach the skerry, disrobe themselves of their amphibious hides, and resume the shape of the sons and daughters of the ocean. Their first object was to assist in the recovery of their friends, who, having been stunned by clubs, had, while in that state, been deprived of their skins. When the flayed animals had regained their sensibility, they assumed their proper form of mermen or merwomen, and began to lament in a mournful lay, wildly accompanied by the storm that was raging around, the loss of their sea-dress, which would prevent them from again enjoying their native azure atmosphere and coral mansions that lay below the deep waters of the Atlantic. But their chief lamentation was for Ollavitinus, the son of Gioga, who, having been stripped of his seal’s skin, would be for ever parted from his mates, and condemned to become an outcast inhabitant of the upper world. Their song was at length broken off by observing one of their enemies viewing, with shivering limbs and looks of comfortless despair, the wild waves that dashed over the stack. Gioga immediately conceived the idea of rendering subservient to the advantage of her son the perilous situation of the man. She addressed him with mildness, proposing to carry him safe on her back across the sea to Papa Stour, on condition of receiving the seal-skin of Ollavitinus. A bargain was struck, and Gioga clad herself in her amphibious garb; but the Shetlander, alarmed at the sight of the stormy main that he was to ride through, prudently begged leave of the matron, for his better preservation, that he might be allowed to cut a few holes in her shoulders and flanks, in order to procure, between the skin and the flesh, a better fastening for his hands and feet. The request being complied with, the man grasped the neck of the seal, and committing himself to her care, she landed him safely at Acres Gio in Papa Stour; from which place he immediately repaired to a skeo1 at Hamna Voe, where the skin was deposited, and honourably fulfilled his part of the contract by affording Gioga the means whereby her son could again revisit the ethereal space over which the sea spread its green mantle.


A stoey is told of an inhabitant of Unst, who, in walking on the sandy margin of a voe,5 saw a number of mermen and mermaids dancing by moonlight, and several seal-skins strewed beside them on the ground. At his approach they immediately fled to secure their garbs, and, taking upon themselves the form of seals, plunged immediately into the sea. But as the Shetlander perceived that one skin lay close to his feet, he snatched it up, bore it swiftly away, and placed it in concealment. On returning to the shore he met the fairest damsel that was ever gazed upon by mortal eyes, lamenting the robbery, by which she had become an exile from her submarine friends, and a tenant of the upper world. Vainly she implored the restitution of her property; the man had drunk deeply of love, and was inexorable; but he offered her protection beneath his roof as his betrothed spouse. The merlady, perceiving that she must become an inhabitant of the earth, found that she could not do better than accept of the offer. This strange attachment subsisted for many years, and the couple had several children. The Shetlander’s love for his merwife was unbounded, but his affection was coldly returned. The lady would often steal alone to the desert strand, and, on a signal being given, a large seal would make his appearance, with whom she would hold, in an unknown tongue, an anxious conference. Years had thus glided away, when it happened that one of the children, in the course of his play, found concealed beneath a stack of corn a seal’s skin; and, delighted with the prize, he ran with it to his mother. Her eyes glistened with rapture— she gazed upon it as her own—as the means by which she could pass through the ocean that led to her native home. She burst forth into an ecstasy of joy, which was only moderated when she beheld her children, whom she was now about to leave; and, after hastily embracing them, she fled with all speed towards the seaside. The husband immediately returned, learned the discovery that had taken place, ran to overtake his wife, but only arrived in time to see her transformation of shape completed—to see her, in the form of a seal, bound from the ledge of a rock into the sea. The large animal of the same kind with whom she had held a secret converse soon appeared, and evidently congratulated her, in the most tender manner, on her escape. But before she dived to unknown depths, she cast a parting glance at the wretched Shetlander, whose despairing looks excited in her breast a few transient feelings of commiseration.

“Farewell!” said she to him, “and may all good attend yon. I loved you very well when I resided upon earth, but I always loved my first husband much better.”


Theke was once upon a time a man who lived upon the northern coasts, not far from “Taigh Jan Crot Callow” (John-o’-Groat’s House), and he gained his livelihood by catching and killing fish, of all sizes and denominations. He had a particular liking for the killing of those wonderful beasts, half dog and half fish, called “ Roane,” or seals, no doubt because he got a long price for their skins, which are not less curious than they are valuable. The truth is, that the most of these animals are neither dogs nor rods, but downright fairies, as this narration will show. It happened one day, as this notable fisher had returned from the prosecution of his calling, that he. was called upon by a man who seemed a great stranger, and who said he had been despatched for him by a person who wished to contract for a quantity of seal-skins, and that the fisher must accompany him (the stranger) immediately to see the person who wished to contract for the skins, as it was necessary that he should be served that evening. Happy in the prospect of making a good bargain, and never suspecting any duplicity, he instantly complied. They both mounted a steed belonging to the stranger, and took the road with such velocity that, although the direction of the wind was towards their backs, yet the fleetness of their movement made it appear as if it had been in their faces. On reaching a stupendous precipice which overhung the sea, his guide told him they had now reached their destination.

“Where is the person you spoke of?” inquired the astonished seal-killer.

“You shall see that presently,” replied the guide.

With that they immediately alighted, and, without allowing the seal-killer much time to indulge the frightful suspicions that began to pervade his mind, the stranger seized him with irresistible force, and plunged headlong with him into the sea. After sinking down, down, nobody knows how far, they at length reached a door, which, being open, led them into a range of apartments, filled with inhabitants —not people, but seals, who could nevertheless speak and fee] like human folk; and how much was the seal-killer surprised to find that he himself had been unconsciously transformed into the like image. If it were not so, he would probably have died from the want of breath. The nature of the poor fisher’s thoughts may be more easily conceived than described. Looking at the nature of the quarters into which he had landed, all hopes of escape from them appeared wholly chimerical, whilst the degree of comfort and length of life which the barren scene promised him were far from being flattering. The “Roane,” who all seemed in very low spirits, appeared to feel for him, and endeavoured to soothe the distress which he evinced by the amplest assurances of personal safety. Involved in sad meditation on his evil fate, he was quickly roused from his stupor by his guide’s producing a huge gully or joc-taleg,1 the object of which he supposed was to put an end to all his earthly cares. Forlorn as was his situation, however, he did not wish to be killed; and, apprehending instant destruction, he fell down, and earnestly implored for mercy. The poor generous animals did not mean him any harm, however much his former conduct deserved it, and he was accordingly desired to pacify himself, and cease his cries.

“Did you ever see that knife before?” said the stranger to the fisher.

The latter instantly recognised his own knife, which he had that day stuck into a seal, and with which it had escaped, and acknowledged it was formerly his own, for what would be the use of denying it?

“Well,” rejoined the guide, “the apparent seal which made away with it is my father, who has lain dangerously ill ever since, and no means can stay his fleeting breath without your aid. I have been obliged to resort to the artifice I have practised to bring you hither, and I trust that my filial duty to my father will readily excuse me.”

Having said this, he led into another apartment the trembling seal-killer, who expected every minute to be punished for his own ill-treatment of the father. There he found the identical seal with which he had had the encounter in the morning, suffering most grievously from a tremendous cut in its hind-quarter. The seal-killer was then desired, with his hand, to cauterise the wound, upon doing which it immediately healed, and the seal arose from its bed in perfect health. Upon this the scene changed from mourning to rejoicing—all was mirth and glee. Very different, however, were the feelings of the unfortunate seal-catcher, who expected no doubt to be metamorphosed into a seal for the remainder of his life. However, his late guide accosting him, said—

“Now, sir, you are at liberty to return to your wife and family, to whom I am about to conduct you; but it is on this express condition, to which you must bind yourself by a solemn oath—-that you will never maim or kill a seal in all your life-time hereafter.”

To this condition, hard as it was, he joyfully acceded ; and the oath being administered in all due form, he bade his new acquaintance most heartily and sincerely a long farewell. Taking hold of his guide, they issued from the place, and swam up till they regained the surface of the sea, and, landing at the said stupendous pinnacle, they found their former steed ready fur a second canter. The guide breathed upon the fisher, and they became like men. They mounted their horse, and fleet as had been their course towards the precipice, their return from it was doubly swift; and the honest seal-killer was laid down at his own door-cheek, where his guide made him such a present as would have almost reconciled him to another similar expedition—such as rendered his loss of profession, in so far as regarded the seals, a far less intolerable hardship than he. had at first considered it.


The old house of Knockdolion stood near the water of Girvan, with a black stone at the end of it. A mermaid used to come from the water at night, and taking her scat upon this stone, would sing for hours, at the same time combing her long yellow hair. The lady of Knockdolion found that this serenade was an annoyance to her baby, and she thought proper to attempt getting quit of it, by causing the stone to be broken by her servants. The mermaid, coming next night, and finding her favourite seat gone, sang thus—

“Ye may think on your cradle— I’ll think on my stane;
And there’ll never be an heir to Knockdolion aerain.”

Soon after, the cradle was found overturned, and the baby dead under it. It is added that the family soon after became extinct.


The young Laird of Lorentie, in Forfarshire, was one evening returning from a hunting excursion, attended by a single servant and two greyhounds, when, in passing a solitary lake, which lies about three miles south from Lorntie, and was in those times closely surrounded with natural wood, his ears were suddenly assailed by the shrieks of a female apparently drowning. Being of a fearless character, he instantly spurred his horse forward to the side of the lake, and there saw a beautiful female struggling with the water, and, as it seemed to him, just in the act of sinking. “Help, help, Lorntie!” she exclaimed. “Help, Lorntie—help, Lor,” and the waters seemed to choke the last sounds of her voice as they gurgled in her throat. The laird, unable to resist the impulse of humanity, rushed into the lake, and was about to grasp the long yellow locks of the lady, which lay like hanks of gold upon the water, when he was suddenly seized behind, and forced out of the lake by his servant, who, farther-sighted than his master, perceived the whole affair to be the feint of a water-spirit. “Bide, Lorntie—bide a blink! ” cried the faithful creature, as the laird was about to dash him to the earth; “ that wauling madam was nae other, God sauf us! than the mermaid.” Lorntie instantly acknowledged the truth of this asseveration, which, as he prepared to mount his horse, was confirmed by the mermaid raining herself half out of the water, and exclaiming, in a voice of fiendish disappointment and ferocity,—

“Lorentie, Lorntie,
Were it na your man,
I had got your heart’s bluid
Skirl in my pan.”


NUCKELAVEE was a monster of unmixed malignity, never willingly resting from doing evil to mankind. He was a spirit in flesh. His home was the sea; and whatever his means of transit were in that element, when he moved on land he rode a horse as terrible in aspect as himself. Some thought that rider and horse were really one, and that this was the shape of the monster. Nuckelavee’s head was like a man’s, only ten times larger, and his mouth projected like that of a pig, and was enormously wide. There was not a hair on the monster’s body, for the very good reason that he had no skin.

If crops were blighted by sea-gust or mildew, if live stock fell over high rocks that skirt the shores, or if an epidemic raged among men, or among the lower animals, Nuckelavee was the cause of all. His breath was venom, falling like blight on vegetable, and with deadly disease on animal life. He was also blamed for long-continued droughts; for some unknown reason he had serious objections to fresh water, and was never known to visit the land during rain.

I knew an old man who was credited with having once encountered Nuckelavce, and with having made a narrow escape from the monster’s clutches. This man was very reticent on the subject. However, after much higgling and persuasion, the following narrative was extracted:—

Tammas, like his namesake Tam o’ Shanter, was out late one night. It was, though moonless, a fine starlit night. Tammas’s road lay close by the seashore, and as he entered a part of the road that was hemmed in on one side by the sea, and on the other by a deep fresh-water loch, he saw some huge object in front of, and moving towards him. What was he to do? He was sure it was no earthly thing that was steadily coming towards him. He could not go to either side, and to turn his back to an evil thing he had heard was the most dangerous position of all; so Tammie said to himself, “The Lord be aboot me, an’ tak’ care o’ me, as I am oot on no evil intent this night! ” Tammie was always regarded as rough and foolhardy. Anyway, he determined, as the best of two evils, to face the foe, and so walked resolutely yet slowly forward. He soon discovered to his horror that the gruesome creature approaching him was no other than the dreaded Nuckelavee. The lower part of this terrible monster, as seen by Tammie, was like a great horse with flappers like fins about his legs, with a mouth as wide as a whale’s, from whence came breath like steam from a brewing-kettle. He had but one eye, and that as red as fire. On him sat, or rather seemed to grow from his back, a huge man with no legs, and arms that, reached nearly to the ground. His head was as big as a clue of simmons, and this huge head kept rolling from one shoulder to the other as if it meant to tumble off. But what to Tammie appeared most horrible of all, was that the monster was skinless; this utter want of skin adding much to the terrific appearance of the creature’s naked body,—the whole surface of it showing only red raw flesh, in which Tammie saw blood, black as tar, running through yellow veins, and great white sinews, thick as horse tethers, twisting, stretching, and contracting as the monster moved. Tammie went slowly on in mortal terror, his hair on end, a cold sensation like a film of ice between his scalp and his skull, and a cold sweat bursting from every pore. But he knew it was useless to flee, and he said, if he had to die, he would rather see who killed him than die with his back to the foe. In all his terror Tammie remembered what he had heard of Nucke lavee’s dislike to fresh water, and, therefore, took that side of the road nearest to the loch. The awful moment came when the lower part of the head of the monster got abreast of Tammie. The mouth of the monster yawned like a bottomless pit. Tammie found its hot breath like fire on his face: the long arms were stretched out to seize the unhappy man. To avoid, if possible, the monster’s clutch, Tammie swerved as near as he could to the loch; in doing so one of his feet went into the loeh, splashing up some water on the foreleg of the monster, whereat the horse gave a snort like thunder and shied over to the other side of the road, and Tammie felt the wind of Nuckelavee’s clutches as he narrowly escaped the monster’s grip. Tammie saw his opportunity, and ran with all his might; and sore need had he to run, for Nuckelavee had turned and was galloping after him, and bellowing with a sound like the roaring of the sea. In front of Tammie lay a rivulet, through which the surplus water of the loeh found its way to the sea, and Tammie knew, if he could only cross the running water, he was safe; so he strained every nerve. As he reached the near bank another clutch was made at him by the long arms. Tammie made a desperate spring and reached the other side, leaving his bonnet in the monster’s clutches. Nuekelavee gave a wild unearthly yell of disappointed rage as Tammie fell senseless on the safe side of the water.


There were out between Lochabpr and Baidea-nach two shepherds who were neighbours to each other, and the cne would often be going to see the other. One was on the east side of a river, and another on the west. The one who was on the west side of the river came to the house of the one who was on the east of it on an evening visit. He stayed till it was pretty late, and then he wished to go home. “It is time to go home,” said he. “It is not that which thou shalt do, but thou shalt stay to-night,” said the other, “since it is so long in the night,” “I will not stay at all events; if I were over the river I don't care more.” The houseman had a pretty strong son, and he said, “I will go with thee, and it will set thee over the river, but thou hadst better stay.” “I will not stay at all events.” “If thou wilt not stay I will go with thee.” The son of the houseman called a dog which he had herding. The dog went with him. When he set the man on the other side of the river, the man said to him, “ Be returning now; I am far in thy debt.” The strong lad returned, and the dog with him. When he reached the river as he was returning back home, he was thinking whether he should take the stepping-stones, or put off his foot-clothes and take below. He put off his foot-clothes for fear of taking the stepping-stones, and when he was over there in the river the dog that was with him leaped at the back of his head. He threw her off him; she leaped again: he did the same thing. When he was on the other side of the river he put his hand on his head, and there was not a bit of a bonnet, on it. He was saying, whether should he return to seek the bonnet, or should he go home without it. “It’s disgusting for me to return home without my bonnet; I will return over yet to the place where I put my foot-clothes off me; I doubt it is there that-I left it.” So he returned to the other side of the river. He saw a right big man seated where he had been, and his own bonnet in his hand. He caught hold of the bonnet, and he took it from him. “What business hast thou there with that?—It is mine, and thou hadst no business to take it from me, though thou hast got it.” Over the river then they went, 'without a word for each other, fiercely, hatingly. When they went over, then, on the river, the big man put his hand under the arm of the shepherd, and he began to drag the lad down to a loch that was there, against his will and against his strength. They stood front to front, bravely, firmly on either side. In spite of the strength of tho shepherd’s son, the big man was about to conquer. It was so that the shepherd’s son thought of putting his hand about an oak tree that was in the place. The big man was striving to take him with him, and the tree was bending and twisting. At last the tree was loosening in the earth. She loosened all but one of her roots. At the time when the last root of the tree slipped, the cocks that were about the wood crowed. The shepherd’s son understood when he heard the cocks crowing that it was on the short 3ide of day. When they heard between them the cocks crowing, the big man said, “ Thou hast stood well, and thou hadst need, or thy bonnet had been dear for thee.” The big man left him, and they never more noticed a tiling near the river.


About fifty years ago, an unfortunate female wanderer took up her residence in a dark vault, among the ruins of Dryburgh Abbey, which during the day, she never quitted. When night fell, she issued from this miserable habitation, and went to the house of Mr. Haliburton, of Newmains, or to that of Mr. Erskine, of Shielfield, two gentlemen of the neighbourhood. From their charity she obtained such necessaries as she could be prevailed upon to accept. At twelve, each night, she lighted her candle, and returned to her vault; assuring her friendly neighbours that, during her absence, her habitation was arranged by a spirit, to whom she gave the uncouth name of Fatlips, describing him as a little man, wearing-heavy iron shoes, with which he trampled the clay floor of the vault, to dispel the damps. This circumstance caused her to be regarded, by the well-informed, with compassion, as deranged in her understanding; and by the vulgar, with some degree of terror. The cause of her adopting this extraordinary mode of life she would never explain. It was, however, believed to have been occasioned by a vow that, during the absence of a man to whom she was attached, she would never look upon the sun. Her lover never returned. He fell during the civil war of 1745-46, and she never more would behold the light of day.


Come, draw your chairs up to the fire, and listen to the tale I am about to tell. But mind and put three pocket-handkerchiefs on the table beside me, neither more nor less, and don’t forget your own, for sad, sad is the telling, and tearful the conclusion of the story; and I should like us to be prepared for every emergency.

“What a smell of cooking!” said the auld wife, as she came home from the village to the foot of the brae. “Farmer M'Nab must be having a rare feast to-night!”

Stay a minute; I am beginning at the wrong end of the story. Let us commence properly at the first line. You would not understand it otherwise, I know, though, of course, you are all so very clever.

It was a silly mutton that got behind the flock that summer’s daj', and lost itself on the road. Ho one was to blame but itself, neither the shepherd nor the collie dog was in fault, for,—greedy thing,—as the flock was being driven over the moor, the silly mutton saw a bit of nice, tasty grass by the roadside, and determined to have it at any price. So it hid behind a boulder of granite till the flock and shepherd and collie dog had gone past, and then, with a low “ baa, baa ” of satisfaction, it proceeded to browse on the coveted pasture.

But it was not long before it began to repent its folly, for the sky grew suddenly dark and lowering, rain began to fall, and night-time to approach. Where was the silly mutton to find refuge now, or seek companionship? The flock was far away, and the shepherd and kind collie dog out of sight and call. With anxious heart the silly mutton wandered all over the moorland waste in a rare fright, hopeful that some friend might take pity upon it, for it was young, and had never been really alone before in its life. Ah! it was such a lonely spot. A nasty growl of thunder increased the fears of the silly animal, while the hideous and ominous croak of a raven from a neighbouring pine-tree nearly drove all the little sense it had left out of its head.

“Baa, baa, baa!” moaned the silly mutton, as it galloped hither and thither; “Baa, baa, baa! where shall I seek refuge? baa, baa! Oh, there’s something at last!” it cried, as it spied the smoke of a bothy curling up from behind a heathery hillock, and, turning a corner, it ran through a little wicket gate tip between a patch of kale and potatoes, and never rested till, with a butt of its head, it burst open the low door, and entered the humble abode.

“Good life and sour sCones!” exclaimed the auld wife, as she started up iD a fright at the sudden intrusion; but she soon recovered herself when she saw what it was, and in another moment was congratulating herself upon such a luckv treasure-trove. “Come in, come in, my pretty mutton,” quoth she. “Good luck has fallen to me to-day, I must admit. Before long I shall make some money out of this visitor, I feel sure. I will feed it and look after it till the good time comes; it will repay me all my trouble.” So the silly mutton had a rare time of it— shelter overhead, and enough to eat and drink in all conscience, and the only thing it had to do was to eat, sleep, chew the cud, and grow fat at the auld wife’s fireside.

The silly mutton was not quite lost to all sense of gratitude: perhaps it would have been better if it had been; and it thought one day,-as it lay before the hearth and considered what good quarters it had, “Let me see; how can I do the kind auld wiffi a favour 2 Truly, I would like to do her one, if it was in my power. I will listen carefully, and, the first time I see a chance, I will do my best to please her.”

I told you the silly mutton was lying before the fire at the moment of which I am speaking. It was evening, and the auld wife had just finished her supper—a good meal of porridge, with just a taste of herring, potatoes, and salt, to make it go down, while a bowl of fresh milk, half emptied, was by her side, to be put away in the press with the remains of the feast, for next morning’s breakfast.

“Oh, dearie me!” said the auld wife, yawning, for she was very tired, having been out all day in the turnip-field till her back ached; “oh, dearie me! how I do wish the supper would clear itself off the table by itself! and that I could find myself bedded just as I am, without having to get up and undress!”

“Ah!” thought the silly mutton, “now is my chance to do the auld wife a favour. I’ve grown so and filled out so the last month, I’m sure I’m strong enough for that” And, would you believe it? before the auld wife could say “Gizzard,” the silly mutton had butted the table upside down, so that all the supper was cleared off it on to the floor, and the auld wife found herself pitched slap on her back in the bed, for the silly mutton had deftly put his head between her legs, and, with a kick out behind, sent her flying across the room!

“Baa, baa, baa!” said the silly mutton, grinning from ear to ear at his success; “baa, baa, baa! what d’ye think o’ that, auld wife?”

“Baa, baa, baa!” yelled the auld wife from the bed. “Just wait a minute, and I’ll baa, baa you!” Then, painfully crawling from the bed, she reached out her hand for the broomstick and made for the silly mutton. “Now comes the reward,” thought the silly mutton, and, indeed, it never knew how it happened, but in less than a minute it found himself out of the door, down the road, with many a sore place on its hide.

“Well, there’s no accounting for the ingratitude of some follrs,” moaned the silly mutton. “I shall certainly be careful how I do a kindness next rime, if I ever get a chance! Let’s hopa I shall get the chance;” and it disconsolately wandered along thf moorland road.

“Baa, baa, baa! Will no one take pity upon a poor silly mutton that has lost its way? Baa, baa. baa! Ah, there’s something at last!” said the silly mutton, as it saw another auld wife carrying her spinning-wheel up a narrow path that seemed to enter a wood by the side of the highway. “I’ll follow her. She can’t carry that thing far; I fancy we must be near her home.” So it followed the auld wife at a short distance.

“Holloa!” said the auld wife, turning round as she heard footsteps after her; “my patience me! why, here’s a mutton coming up the road! Well, if we only wait long enough luck will come surely to our doors, and a good fleece into the bargain. The poor thing looks a bit banged about; but still, a day or two of combing will put that all to rights. I shall shear a good fleece. Come in, silly mutton, come in and welcome!” And saying this, she held the low door of the bothy open, and the silly mutton, nothing loth, went in and sat down by the peat-fire.

And since it knew how to behave well in the house, this auld wife and the silly mutton got on capitally, and she chuckled to herself over her luck, for her stock of wool was getting very low, and here was enough to keep her wheel going again for a long time to come. So the silly mutton throve, and got quite fat, and its fleece shone bright, so silky was it; for the auld wife took great care of it,, combing and washing it daily, till the mutton could not help wishing it could do something in return. The wife was so very kind, that the mutton looked out. daily for an opportunity to repay her, until one fine morning quite unexpectedly, just before shearing-time, the chance came.

“One never can get all one wants,” muttered the auld vrife out loud, just as she was starting for a walk. “What a trouble it will be for me to have that mutton sheared! I must go, I suppose, this very day to Farmer IP Nab up the valley, and see if one of his gillies can lend me a hand, or I shall be late. Oh, how I do wish the fleece would come off of itself, and save me all the bother! But there, I must not complain.” So off she started up the, valley.

“Ah, auld wife,” muttered the silly mutton, “I think I can do that job for you without troubling any Farmer 11‘Nabs or tiresome gillies. You really have been so kind, that, however much it hurts, I will try my very best; and, when I get my fleece off. it will he, nice and cool, the weather is so sultry, so I shall gain too by the good action, I’m sure.”

The garden of the auld wife, I may tell you, was full of groset bushes; there was also a quickset hedge round the patch, and some very prickly old whins one side the fence. “ This is the very thing for me,” said the silly mutton; and there and then it rolled about on the top of the whips, it caperpd in and out of the quiekset hedge, and it danced the Flowers of Edinburgh round and between the groset bushes. In less than ten minutes there were left on the silly mutton’s back but a few wretched shreds of wool, hanging down in s miserable tangle here and there, while with scratches and cuts from head to tail it presented a most deplorable appearance. And there on the whins, the hedge, and the groset bushes liung scraps of fleece in festoons of every length, till a west wind springing up sent a good half of them flying along the road like bits of foam, a pleasant surprise to meet the auld wife on her return from the farmer’s.

Now came the auld wife. She had been longer than she had expected, having been detained picking up a few scraps of the wool which she spied on the road, thinking, poor soul, they were shed from a passing flock, and, though not of much worth, were still useful to make up in odds and ends. But, when she arrived at the bothy and saw the hideous desolation, and the wretched object standing making faces at her in the pathway, though her mouth flew wide open in surprise, she was absolutely dumb with her astonishment and rage.

“Baa, baa, baa! see what I have done for you!” cried the silly mutton; “baa, baa, baa! Ah, here comes the reward!” For now it saw the auld wife striding up towards him along the pathway at a great rate.

The silly mutton never knew how it was done, but the next moment it found itself shot through the quickset hedge into the road beyond, smarting behind with the most dreadful pain it had ever felt, for there the auld wife’s uplifted boot had struck it, disappointment and rage lending power to the blow!

“Oh dear, oh dear! the auld wife’s brogues must have been ahod with iron spikes!” moaned the silly mutton, as it galloped down the road as fast as three legs could carry it. The fourth leg, let me remark in passing, was of no use: it was so sore, so very sore. “The au!d brute, to behave so! Well, there’s certainly no accounting for the ingratitude of some people,” said the silly mutton. “I shall certainly be very careful how 1 do a favour next time, if I ever get the chance. Let’s hope I shall get the chance;” and he painfully wandered down the moorland road.

“Baa, baa, baa! will no one take pity upon a poor silly mutton that has lost his way? Baa, baa, baa! Ah! there’s something at last, surely,” as he saw another auld wife picking up sticks in a little copse beside the way. “I’ll just sit down in the ditch here till she’s finished her gathering, and then follow her home.”

And the silly mutton had not long to wait, for the auld wife’s bundle was soon gathered, and, as she toddled off home, the silly mutton followed at a respectful distance until she arrived at her bothy; and, just as she opened the door, it slipped past her quickly and lay down by the peat-fire. Oh! it knew how to behave prettily by this time, you may take that for sure.

“Holloa!” said the auld wife, “a mutton in my bothy! Where in the wide world did that come from? Can it be Farmer M'Xab has sent it to me for my larder during the winter? At any rate, I’ll think so until he, or whoever it belongs to, sends for it, which, I do hope sincerely, will never be. Oh, mercy me! what a state the poor thing is in! But it is fat, for all that, and that’s all I want.” So pho patched np the silly mutton’s scars and tears, and cut o£F the ragged bits of fleece that still hung about him, and washed the bruise where the last auld wife had given such a gruesome kick, and then, having fed the mutton with every good thing she could think of, sat down by the fire and congratulated herself on her good luck.

And from day to day she fed the silly mutton on all there was good and nourishing, and the silly mutton grew fat and sleek, so that now it barely cared to move from his seat by the hearth, but ate and slept, and slept and ate all day long.

And so delighted was the silly mutton with his new quarters and new mistress, that all former misfortunes were forgotten, and it thought: “Sure, so kind an auld wife cannot be ungrateful. I will try and do her a favour if it is in my power, and if I only can discover what she wants.”

And now the dark nights of November approached, when the auld wife thought it was time to salt the mutton and hang it up in the larder for winter use. So it happened one afternoon, while she sat considering how much of the mutton would do fresh for her present use, and how much was to be salted for the winter’s store, she put out her hand and stroked the silly mutton tenderlv down his sides. “Ah!” said she out loud, “what lovely chops! what bonnie chops are here! Oh, dearie me! if they only could be roasted without any bother on my part, what a lucky woman I should be, to be sure! ” and she sighed as she put on her shawl and daundered off, for she had something that afternoon to do down in the village, and wanted to get back home before it was quite dark.

Now, I must tell you, when the auld wife put out her hand and stroked the silly mutton, though she did it very tenderly and softly, it awoke, and, looking up, heard the auld wife’s last words. If it had heard all about the salting and the larder, perhaps it would not have been so precious obliging. But, said the silly mutton, “She wants my chops roasted without any trouble, does she? Dear old lass! so she shall; it is not very difficult, and only a step from this corner to the fire. As mv fleece came again soon after I gave that away, it won’t take much longer till I get my chops back again, I suppose. It is little enough she asks after all her trouble and attention to me, I must say.” So he got up and sat slap down in the midst of the burning embers in the centre of the hearth.

“Holloa!” said the silly mutton, “what a smell of cooking there is! Where’s it coming from, I wonder?”

“Holloa!” said the silly mutton, “I’m getting a bit too hot; I hope the chops will be done soon!”

“Holloa!” said the silly mutton, “the smoke is choking me! Why can’t the auld wife have better peats?”

“Holloa!” said the silly mutton. But it said no more, for it was a great deal too fat to move up when once it had sat down; and, choked with the Smoke, it fell back suffocated on the auld wife’s hearth.

“What a smell of cooking!” said the auld wife, as she came from the village to the foot of the brae. “Farmer M‘Nab must be having a grand feast! Why has he not asked me to it? the stingy old hunks! Dearie me! but it makes my mouth water. But I’ll have as good a feast myself sooner or later, and I won’t ask him to that—no, no, not I! and she stopped for a moment to laugh as she thought of the silly mutton at home and his fat chops.

“What a smell of cooking!” said the auld wife, when at last she got to the top of the brae, and she turned her face to the wind and sniffed again. “It can’t come from Farmer M‘Nab for he is down to the right, and this good smell comes from further up the valley, and there is only my house further on. It must be some strolling tinkers in the wood hard by making their supper. I do hope they have not been helping themselves to any of mine in my absence. They are nasty fellows, those tinkers!” and she picked up her petticoats and went, on faster.

“What a smell of cooking!” said the auld wife, as she turned the corner of the pine wood by her bothy. “Oh! oh! oh! oh I what do I see?”

Ah! how can I describe the spectacle that met her gaze —smoke in volumes pouring from the door and windows; at the top a burning roof-tree, and the frizzling remains of an animal lying' in the middle of the blazijg furniture!

And then it was, believe me, the auld wife opened her mouth and began,—no, I won’t tell you what she said; it won’t make the story any better to listen to, or the conclusion any less sad to relate. Suffice it to say it was neither pretty nor polite.

But, as the silly mutton said, there is no accounting for the ingratitude of some folk; and that’s not such a silly remark if you look at it sideways, is it?

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