Rough Scan

FOR more than one good reason it has been thought proper to issue a new edition of David Grant's poem "A Feughside Fairy Tale," first printed in his "Lays and Legends of the North," in 1884.  But it is chiefly remarkable as a relic of Deeside folklore written by one who was both a native of the district and an approved scholar-a rare combination where folklore is concerned, for it is seldom that the direct registration of local ballad or legend is the work of a man of letters who has himself heard it as a child in his native countryside.  It is also a fine and racy piece of genuine Deeside Scots, composed by one who had a first-hand vernacular knowledge of the dialect as his mother-tongue.  Therefore, in some respects it is well-nigh unique, and stands beside the "Kilmeny" of Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, Burns's "Tam o' Shanter," and several other instances of the supernatural in Scottish verse as a definite survival of folk-belief bequeathed by a writer who had received it in infancy from the fountain-head-and thus, of course, it is in descent collateral with the whole body of Scots ballad literature, whose chief preoccupation, perhaps, was the Land of Fairy and the affairs thereof.
Students of Scots Folklore who, like myself, have had the advantage of initiation into the lore of Fairy at the nurse's knee and from relatives gifted in that tradition, will more particularly realize the value of such a contribution as that of David Grant's "A Feughside Fairy Tale" to their department of the science of Folk-knowledge.  The thing justifies itself at once, and is revealed as genuine because of the close resemblance of its circumstances to a well-nigh inexhaustible body of legend which has been carefully collected by scores of hands and which is couched in as many languages, being known to the student of Tradition as "The Visit to Fairyland" theme.
The classical model of this theme in Scottish lore is, it need scarcely be said, the familiar ballad of "The Wee Wee Man," and, indeed, part of David Grant's "Feughside Fairy Tale" bears, so far as mere circumstance is concerned, so close a resemblance to its details, that I think one might be justified in saying that the legend recounted to him by Betty Mason, his old nurse, can scarcely have been other than a local version of it, in which some of the facts have been retained, if the manner of telling is altogether different, and, as is frequently the case in folktale revived or re-told, a new incident has been added at the caprice of the teller.  David Grant took it as he found it, that is, as a poet and not as a folkloreist, as Longfellow took his tale of the Viking, or as Coleridge took his "Christabel."  It is a clear case of the bardic descent of folk-tradition.
In Grant's version a certain tailor called Duncan Deans, slightly "the worse of a dram," was on his way home from a neighbouring inn when he felt a "dwaum" come over him, a swooning of the senses, which caused him to lose consciousness.  In this swoon or sleep he perceived a strange, unearthly light which, when his sight became accustomed to it, showed a wondrous interior roofed by a sapphire dome hung with lamps, a richly carpeted floor and sparkling walls.  Within this palatial cavern countless numbers of little folk in green apparel disported themselves or lounged on luxurious couches.  A dais was occupied by a fairy King and Queen, attired in costly robes and jewels.  Suddenly, unearthly music broke forth from an invisible orchestra, to the strains of which the Liliputian courtiers and their pygmy ladies danced rapturously.
One wizened old man-elf especially attracted Duncan's attention by paying assiduous court to one of the youngest among the female fays, the while her own devoted goblin admirer hunted for her high and low.  The distracted lover failing to find her, Duncan, whose sympathies were with the distracted swain, shouted to him to look behind the sofa where the diminutive satyr held his lady-love in unwanted embraces.
Immediately all was such confusion as on a similar occasion when Tam o' Shanter voiced his satisfaction at the cantrips of the witches.  The enraged elfin band, scandalized at the appearance of a human within their haunt, seized upon the hapless tailor and entreated him precisely as did those Breton fairies the luckless traveller who interrupted their revels inside the haunted stone-circle of Morbihan, pinching and prodding him and so ill-using him that in desperation he called upon the holy name, which freed them from their clutches and sent their entire rout, with the fairy palace of their habitation, flying along the winds to "the back of beyond."
I append the ballad of "The Wee Wee Man," brief as it is, in full, so that the generic resemblance of it to the legend recollected by David Grant and couched by him in verse may be realized.

"As I was walking mine alane
=Atween a water and a wa',
There I spied a wee wee man,
=And he was the least that e'er I saw.

His legs were scant a shathmont's length.
=And thick and thimber was his thie;
Atween his brows there was a span,
=And atween his shoulders there was three.

He's ta'en an' flung a meikle stane,
=And he flang't as far as I could see;
Though I had been a Wallace wicht
=I couldna liften't to my knee.

'O wee wee man, but ye be strang!
=O tell me where your dwelling be?'
'My dwelling's down by yon bonny bower;
=Fair lady, come wi' me an' see.'

On we lap, an' awa' we rade,
=Till we came to yon bonny green:
We lighted down to bait our steed,
=And out there came a lady sheen;

Wi' four an' twenty at her back
=A' comely clad in glisterin' green;
Tho' the King of Scotland had been there,
=The warst o' them micht ha' been his queen.

On we lap, and awa' we rade,
=Till we came to a bonny ha';
The roof was o' the beaten gowd,
=And the floor was o' the cristal a'.

When we came to the stair-foot,
=Ladies were dancing jimp and sma',
But in the twinkling of an e'e
=My wee wee man was clean awa'.

Out gat the lights, on came the mist,
=Ladies nor mannie mair cou'd I see;
I turn'd about, and gae a look
=Just at the foot o' Benachie."

I feel convinced that some memory of this very ancient ballad must have lingered in Deeside and become the prototype of that told by Betty Mason to her small charges.  Of course either she herself or some of her forebears or contemporaries must have added to it and embroidered it, as so frequently happens in such cases.  The human visitant to the fairy hall in "The Wee Wee Man" does not fall into a "dwaum," she espies no incident of treachery as did Duncan Deans, and is not belaboured as he was by the furious elves.  Elsewhere I have shown precisely how ballads of the kind break down into more popular and unofficial versions in the course of time, taking to themselves additions and interpolations which, as in this case, well-nigh disguise the original theme.
But one circumstance, I think, almost clinches the possibility of the theory that the ballad of "The Wee Wee Man" is the lineal ancestor of the legend on which David Grant wrote his expressive poem.  In the last verse of the former the teller of the tale places the _locale_ of her story "at the foot of Benachie."  Now the hill of Benachie, in the Garioch district of Aberdeenshire, is only about 17 miles from the Feugh Water, the best kind of proof that the story of "The Wee Wee Man" had a local origin.  Indeed, I scarcely think that we need look farther for the first fore-draft of the tale set forth by David Grant, who recorded it in its more modern form, much as Burns did an old story in his "Tam o' Shanter."
At the moment, it remains, according to the method of Folklore, to account for the additions and interpolations in Betty Mason's story, and which do not appear in the original form of the legend.  In the former, the name and trade of the visionary are given, and a reason is provided for his appearance in the district.  He is intoxicated, and beholds a specific incident in "Fairyland," and is ill-used by the fairies, all of which is novel to the early version.
As regards tales of visits to Fairyland, these are so numerous as to be embarrassing in their number and variety, and it would have been strange indeed if their influence had not penetrated to Feughside.  Many of the heroes of these tales are under the influence of liquor when they find themselves in fairy territory, as, for example, old Wäinämöinen in the Finnish story of "The Kalevala."  And this is to be remarked, that in the early version of tales of the kind the visionary, penetrating, intentionally or otherwise, to the abode of the dead, partakes of the food of the dead, which no man may eat and not become a prisoner in Hades, the place of the departed.  The act of eating the food of the dead makes him indeed ceremonially one with the dead.  In the secondary phase of this species of tale he receives warning, as in the case of Thomas the Rymour, that he must not partake of the food of this sphere.  In the third, as in that of the Finnish story, he is rendered intoxicated by the beer or brew of the dead, and in the latest phase, such as the Feughside version, he is merely intoxicated with ordinary human drink.  Thus the process of advance from what the late Mr. Sidney Hartland called "the savage and irrational attitude" in early folk-belief become fully illustrated in the series.
The episode of the elderly elf pursuing the female fairy is, I think, a much later interpolation, intended merely to eke out the story.  So far as I can recall, it has no implication or parallel in genuine folk-lore.  Indeed, I would not be surprised to find that it had originated through the forgetfulness of some narrator of the real cause of the fairies' discovery of Duncan Deans' presence among them, and had been invented in default of this.  There is usually a traditional and almost hackneyed reason for the breaking of silence on the part of the visitant to Fairyland, some unusual cantrip or ferlie, which evokes from him the equivalent of Tam a' Shanter's "Weel dune, Cutty Sark!"
But what is the reason for elfin wrath on these occasions?  The fairies have a rooted objection to being seen by mortals.  It is the objection of Lady Godiva to "peeping Tom," for in the larger sense, as I have shown elsewhere, the Lady of Coventry belonged to the supernatural host.  For man may not look upon the denizens of the spiritual world without scaith to himself.  Duncan Deans was lucky in that he was permitted to return relatively uninjured to earthland to "whip-the-cat," that is, to ply his trade as an itinerant tailor, for he might well have lost an eye, like the Cornish nurse of the fairy changeling, who used the elf-child's magic ointment and recognized the fairies in the market-place, or have been rendered speechless for ever, as were some other mortals for their temerity.
We have traced the development of the legend so finely given us in its modern form by David Grant, but obviously it must have had a much more ancient "recension" than "The Wee Wee Man."  In the event, of course, it casts back to such story-forms of the visitation of the place of the dead by the living as the myth of Proserpine and "The Harrying of Hades," or King Arthur's invasion of Annwn in Welsh tale.  But did it have an intermediate form between such things and "The Wee Wee Man"?  From its language and other internal evidence I believe this latter ballad, in the form we have it, to belong to the seventeenth century or the late sixteenth.  But in the mythological sense it bears all the marks of a relative lateness, although certain phrases it contains reveal a borrowing from still earlier poetical forms found in "The Prophecies of Merlin" and other ancient poems.  Its matter, too, betrays it as relatively late.  The roof is of beaten gold, the floor of crystal, and the fairies are described as "ladies."  Such "machinery" and scenery as there is, is, indeed, mediaeval, and not of the more ancient world.  It is, in fact, not related to the Celtic Otherworld, a place of dusky air and many streams, interspersed with fields and orchards.
But already in "Thomas the Rymour," a more ancient version of the series, the Otherworld is provided with a "hall," courtiers, and all the surroundings of feudal life.  Its only link with the elder and more barbarous Hades of the Celts is the clue provided that at stated intervals a "foul fiend" descends upon its menyie to take a tiend or "kain" of human sacrifice.  Thus we are able to note the gradual encroachment of more civilised ideas upon the general legend.  The fairy interior Duncan Deans beheld was, indeed, almost "Victorian," with its sofas and carpets, or, let us say, Georgian, at least, of the late eighteenth century.
The "genealogy" of "A Feughside Fairy Tale" is thus clear enough.  It is none other than a late version of one of the most ancient myths in the world, the tale of the visit of a mortal to the sphere of the dead.  But was it altogether so?  Has it no other significance for the student of folk-lore?
I think it has.  As I have shown in many articles of late years, considerable confusion has arisen between the idea of Fairyland and those spots or gathering-places - caves, mounds, and the like, where, in the older Scotland, living people met to celebrate some rite associated with fairy belief or to be initiated into some species of faith or ancient tradition connected with the belief in fairies.
Robert Kirk, the minister of Aberfoyle, in his well-known tract, "The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies," written about 1690, casts light on such proceedings.  He tells us that many who desired initiation into this fairy cultus betook themselves to such places to acquire it, going to "the Hollanders or Hollow-cavern inhabitants who live and traffick among us in another state of being without our knowledge."
As regards the places in which these rites and mysteries were held, certain authorities believe them to have been the "fairy hills" or "howes" to be found in various localities in Scotland.  Tales and legends of the the entrance of humans into fairy mounds in Scotland, where they were instructed in supernatural secrets, are numerous enough.  Such are to be found in the legend of Thomas the Rymour, already mentioned, that of Merlin, and the Fairy Boy of Leith, as well as in the letter of Lord Tarbat, the story of Elphin Irving, and many another source.
These places of initiation were, of course, frequently confounded with the Land of Fairy itself, which appears a not unnatural error in the circumstances.  But that they were the seats of a faith associated with the belief in Fairy, a fairy cultus, seems obvious enough to me, and that the people who inhabited them were the initiates, hierophants and mystae of that faith seems an equally cogent surmise, judging from the numerous tales of the all-too-human character of these mound-dwellers.  The hillock of Cnocnam Bocan, or the Knowe of the Goblins, in Mentieth, is spoken of as formerly "the headquarters of the Faeries of the whole district of Menteith," who were granted by the Earl of Menteith the cui-n'an-Uriskin, or Cave of the Urisks in Ben Venue, at which, says Dr. Graham in his "Sketches of the Picturesque Scenery of Perthshire," "_the solemn stated meetings of the order were regularly held._"
Great nobles do not confer lands either on hill or in dale upon airy spirits, nor do the "orders" of the same meet on earth.  Indeed, the Earl in question was spoken of as "overlord of the Faerie folk."  The "folk" in question were probably initiates of the fairy cult, and thus real enough.  Sinclair, in his "Satan's Invisible World Discovered," tells how "there was an King and Queen of Pharie, of such a Court, and train, as they had, and how they had the teind (tithe) and dutie, as it were, of all corn, flesh, and meale."
Also it must be clear that the very large number of fairy knowes or hills in Scotland or elsewhere have some association with such a condition of things.  The knowe at Aberfoyle, a very extensive one, to which Mr. Kirk was eventually spirited away, as legend avers, the Eildon Hill, the Brogh of the Boyne in Ireland, the Calton Hill at Edinburgh-all such places seem to have been centres at which a process of initiation into the fairy cult could formerly be gone through.
The late David MacRitchie, in his "Testimony of Tradition" and other works, collected much evidence relating to fairy knowes in Scotland and Ireland, showing that they had been formerly inhabited, and were associated with fairy belief.  Such a spot was the knowe of Aberfoyle, already mentioned ; the Maes-howe in Orkney; Coldach broch, Perthshire, and many others.  Such places have usually a long passage leading to a chamber with cells on either side, such as are typical of ancient centres of initiation.
I believe, then, that in old Scotland many persons anxious to acquire the Second Sight, or to get into touch with fairy influences, for reasons of their own, frequented such spots, where they were initiated by wizards or others into what was believed to be a communion and fellowship with the fairy race through the medium of certain ceremonies, I also believe that there were two "Faeries" or "Fairylands"-one, the world of the fays proper, and the other its material counterpart in hill or cavern where the votaries of the fairy cultus or faith met, and which, in time, came to be confounded with the supernatural fairy sphere itself.
I think that the above reveals a condition of things hitherto unguessed at.  If my theory does not err-and as it is based upon proof I cannot see that it does-we are certainly faced by the conclusion that in Scotland, at least, and probably elsewhere, there existed a cultus bearing many of the signs of a pagan religion which was associated with spirits known as "faerie" or "shee."  This may have been a branch or part of that general paganism which, at an early time, seems to have obtained in Europe, and that the Church so regarded it is surely obvious enough from the severity with which it banned almost the very name of Fairy.
Although an account of the life of David Grant has been furnished by his son, Mr. Henry Keith Grant, in a recently published collection of a part of his father's poetry ("A Northern Garland"), this seems to be the place in which his more native associations should be alluded to.  His roots were deep in the soil, and he belonged to a family claiming descent from the chiefs of Grant, which had been concerned in the rising of 1745, and migrated to Lower Deeside after Culloden.
He was born in 1823 at the farm of Affrusk in Banchory Ternan, but a political dispute ended in his father's losing the farm, and a long stretch of adversity faced the family.  From the age of seven he had begun to write verses in the vernacular, depending, like Burns, upon the surrounding rural population for an audience.
In this manner he attracted the attention of the local literati, and acting on their advice, went to Aberdeen Grammar School, and later to the University of that city, where Professor John Stuart Blackie awarded him a special prize for English verse.  On leaving the University he filled several scholastic posts in Scotland and later in England, becoming Vice-Principal of Ecclesall College, near Sheffield.
In 1880 he published his first book of poems, "Metrical Tales," which contained "Yarns of the Pentland Firth," recently re-issued.  But much more important for Scottish poetry was his volume of verse, chiefly in Scots, "Lays and Legends of the North," which, as already stated, was published in Edinburgh in 1884.
David Grant had, indeed, a fine and notable record of which any Scotsman might be proud.  But I for one cannot but deplore the circumstances which transformed a most promising Scots poet-whose promise later issued into brilliant performance-into a distinguished educationist.  We are told of David Grant that in his youth he wandered about the countryside composing impromptu rhymes and verses at the houses and cottages he called at.  He had, indeed, an irrepressible gift of rhyme, and could no more refrain from it than he could from common speech.
Of all men this was one who should have been left undisturbed upon his native soil to enrich it with his poetical experience and his songs.  To remove such as David Grant from the rural environment is to wring the neck of a virile peasant culture and to rob the country of its natural singers.  What he achieved was, in the circumstances, of very great value.  His "Sounin' o' the Kirk" and "The Muckle Spate" are masterpieces in little.
But I plead that the sophistication of such a man by well-meaning local amateurs was-as in the case of James Barrie-a literary tragedy.  Instead of his life being devoted to "turning out" young gentlemen at Oundle and Ecclesall, and editing "The Sheffield Post," it should have been given to David Grant to remain in his own countryside to pour out his "native woodnotes wild" for the enrichment of local poesy and of the Scots language.
Even so, he succeeded in achieving both rôles-educationist and rural poet-amazingly.  Here I am concerned with him only as a "Folklore" poet, and I cannot but lament what must inevitably have been the loss of a whole pyramid of valuable peasant lore, of which his particular age was the last repository, by his withdrawal from his native environment.  Of this loss "A Feughside Fairy Tale" and some other of his poems afford the most eloquent proofs.  They are the fragments of a much greater "might-have-been."  David Grant found this legend in the matrix of his countryside much as a skilled artificer might have discovered an artifact of antiquity, and on the stithy of his talent he wrought it into novel verse-form, in the true manner of the poet, whose _matèriel_ is never without its antique associations, but who transposes the old into the current type and phrase of his own day.  In short, he did with "A Feughside Fairy Tale" very much what the composer of the later ballad of "Thomas the Rymour" did with the old lay of that name.  To effect such a transformation a man must be deeply imbued with the spirit of the soil, and that spirit David Grant possessed in a remarkable degree.  He was a mouthpiece of the soil, and, his career as an educationist notwithstanding, he could not escape his destiny.



BETTY MASON, a romancer,
=Little waur than Watty Scott,
Nursed my infant years, an' told me
=Tales I hinna yet forgot.
Fairies, witches, deils, an' kelpies
=Played their pranks in Betty's tale,
Ghaists wad stalk, an' brownies frolic,
=Ca' the kirn, an' wield the flail,
Gruesome giants captured beauties
=Fair as simmer's openin' rose;
Ugly dwarfs an' ancient warlocks,
=Princes fix'd in stone repose;
Gallants handsome as Apollo
=Set imprisoned damsels free;
Snappin' chains like rotten lingans,
=Garrin' doors in finders flee;
Routin' armies single-handed,
=Slashin' heads o' dragons aff;
Scatterin' foes o' a' description,
=Just as win' wad scatter cawf.

Roon her knees ae winter evenin',
=Joseph, Nellie, an' mysel',
Pressin', cried in chorus, "Betty,
=Hae ye onything to tell?"
"Onything to tell?" quoth Betty,
="Little 'ns, naething new, I doot."
"Betty, ripe the story wallet!"
="Betty, turn it inside oot!"
"Betty, tell 's the wye the fairies
=Pinched an' proddit Duncan Deans,
When they lured 'im to the hollow
=In the lonely 'Sheetin' Greens."
Such were oor respective orders,
=An', consenting to the last,
Betty plunged into the story,
=Which the Muse has here recast.
Betty's language, voice, an' manner
=Minstrel's skill may never seize,
Nor may auditors like Betty's
=Press a story-teller's knees,
Watchin' ilka word an' accent
=Drappin' fae the speaker's mou',
Level stretch an' crookit corner,
=Fain an' faithful to pursue,
Sat we there that winter evenin',
=Deaf to rain an' rattlin' hail,
While oor story-teller, Betty,
=Thus rehearsed her fairy tale:-

The Fairy Tale

"Tailyour Deans, at Haugh o' Sluie,
=Hed been workin' a' the week,
Which was gettin' near its hin'most,
=When he drieve his closin' steek,
Drank a glaiss o' Sluie's whisky,
=Bade gude-nicht, an' trudged awa';
Reached Potarch, an' wad hae passed it,
=But the wife had bidden 'im ca'.
'Min', said she to him on Monday,
='Min' luik in as ye come back;
Folks fa hae sae mony little'ns
=Aye hae claes to men' or mak'!
Potty has a coat to alter;
=An' we'll hae a bigger job-
Winter claes for Rob an' Willie-
=Fan we get oor plaiden wob;
But the wyver-drucken bodie!
=He wad drink his vera sark-
While he can get cash or credit,
=Winna dae a jot o' wark.'
So for bisness, nae for pleasure,
=Duncan entered Potty's inn;
Mair for trade than love o' liquor,
=Spent a shillin' o' his win.
Duncan Deans o' Deeside tailyours
=Was the vera pick an' pink;
Seldom three times in a twal'month
=Neepers saw 'im waur o' drink.
Fan he left Potarch that evenin',
=Twal' o'clock it micht ha' been,
Wi' a siccar fit he steppit
=Owre the Feein' Market Green.
Fan he crossed the burn o' Cattie,
=Passed the fairm o' Tullentech,
Clam' a mile o' brae, or near it,
=Then he did begin to pech.
Then he did begin to stagger,
=But it wisna' wi' the drink;
An uncommon dwaum cam' owre 'im-
=Fat it wis he cudna think.
A' at ance his head grew dizzy,
=Hert gaed thumpin' like a fail,
Legs aneath 'im turned as dwaible
=As an autumn salmon's tail.
Fae the beaten road he staumered,
=Utter darkness closed 'im roon';
Lichtless, doited, dazed he wan'er't,
=Missed a fit, an' tummelt doon.
Whether he had swoon't or sleepit,
=Whether lang or short he lay
Till he neist had sense o' bein',
=Duncan Deans cud never say;
But o' this he wis as certain
=As that day succeeds to nicht,
That upon his waukin' vision
=Burst a strange, unearthly licht.
Never-an' he tell't the story
=While he lived to whip the cat-
Cud his tongue describe fat fairlies
=Met his e'en fan up he sat.
Owre 'im curved a dome o' sapphire,
=Hung wi' lamps o' gowden sheen;
Underneath 'im stretched a carpet,
=Velvet-saft an' emerald green
Precious stanes an' sparklin' crystals
=Walled his ample palace roon';
Little folks, in green apparel,
=Thronged it wi' melodious soun';
Pigmy lords an' pigmy ladies
=Strutted through the spacious ha',
Or on rose an' lilac couches
=Sat an' chattered roon the wa'.
At the en' remote fae Duncan
=Sat the fairy King and Queen-
He o' stern an' wrinkled visage,
=She o' sweet an' smilin' mien.
Baith, as weel's their gaithered subjects,
=Micht 'a' come frae Lillipoot;
Yet in ilka lim' an' feature
=Perfect they fae head to foot.
Richest gems o' earth an' ocean
=Glittered on the royal pair.
Courtiers roon' them boo't an' scraipit,
=Robed in splendours maist as fair.
Fae his throne the King descended,
=Fae her throne the pigmy Queen,
Music burst fae an orchestra
=To the tailyour's eyes unseen.
Never fell on ears o' mortal
=Strains sae rich, sae clear, an' sweet;
Never yet to mortal measures
=Raise an' fell sic timeous feet.
O sic music!  O sic dancin'!
=Duncan weel cud fit the fleer,
But the deftest human dancer
=Were a clumsy Bruin here.
Lang did Duncan glower enraptured,
=Lang he watched the belles and beaux:
Hoo the latter leered an' smirkit,
=Hoo the former jinkt their joes;
An' he cudna dee but notice
=That the men were auld an' staid,
While the women, young and frisky,
=Wi' their pairtners' frailties played.
Near 'imsel', an ancient mannie,
=Seemingly a hunner auld,
Had been linkit wi' a lammie
=Just escapit fae the fauld;
An' the pranks the limmer played 'im
=Wad 'a' driven a mortal mad,
But the carlie, fan bamboozled,
=Merely luikit vext an' sad.
Noo ahin' a couch or sofa,
=Like a little'n she wad hide:
Noo amang the dancers skimmin',
=Swift as swallow she wad glide.
Weel, fan Duncan saw a mannie,
=Aulder, grimmer than her ain,
Jouk ahin' a sofa wi' her,
=Kiss, an' kiss her owre again;
While her ain bamboozled bodie
=Socht her here, an' socht her there-
Tint the hert an' fell a-greetin',
=Thinkin' sport like this unfair-
'Luik ahin' the sofa, mannie!'
=Duncan cried wi' a' his micht;
Then a thoosand angry glances
=Pierced 'im like a glint o' licht.
He was seized, an' pinched, an' proddit
=By a hunner hands at ance;
Shak'n, showdit, thrashed, an' thumpit,
=Till he thocht his vera banes
Crackit, crummelt into powder,
=Fand his vera blood rin cauld,
An' the flesh upon his body,
=In his banes the marrow crawl'd.
'Gweed receive my saul!' cried Duncan,
=Mair he hedna time to say
Ere the fairy palace vanished,
=An' alane the tailyour lay.
Velvet carpet wasna under,
=Sapphire dome owre Duncan Deans.
Bed was his within a hollow
=Near the weel-kent Sheetin' Greens.
Roon 'im brak' an autumn mornin',
=Hung a drizzlin' weetin' mist,
Ilka minute in sic chaumer
=Ca'd a nail in Duncan's kist.
Drookit, dowie, an' disjaskit,
=Duncan left his dreepin' lair,
Ilka bane within his body,
=Ilka joint an' sinew sair.
Owre the hill he hitch't an' hirplet,
=Tulzied hame an' wan to bed,
Whaur he lay a month or langer,
=Ere he waxed anither thread.
Neipers said 'twas sair rheumatics
=Laid the tailyour on his back.
'Naething o' the kin'!' cried Duncan
=''Tis that cursed fairy pack,
Wi' their pinchin' an' their proddin',
=Wha have caused this weary ill;
I were noo a corp, for certain,
=Had they got their wicked will.
But I think I've got a lesson
=Nae to mak' nor meddle mair
Amang lovers' silly quarrels,
=Be they folks or fairy pair.'"


"What became o' Duncan after?
=Betty, Betty, tell us that."
"Duncan Deans got weel an' flourished
=Mony years to 'whip the cat,'
Up an' doon amo' the fairmers
=I' the Howe o' Birse an' Stra'an.
Noo he's gaen to join the mony,
=Gaen the road we a' are gyaun."
"Tell us faur we're gyaun?" cried Joseph;
=Answered Betty, "Till yer beds;
Aff at ance, an' on yer pillows
=Lay yer toozy sleepy heads."

Such was one of Betty's stories,
=Not her longest nor her best;
But the story-teller slumbers
=Where the weary are at rest.
Old and gray are we who listened,
=Nay, are two who then were three;
And between us two survivors
=Stretch a thousand leagues o' sea.


Brae-hillside, steep bank.
Ca'-call, drive, impel.
Carlie-little old man.
Cudna-could not.
Dowie-mournful, sad.
Dwaible-flexible, yielding.
Dwauin-sudden feeling of faintness, swoon.
Fain-eager, happy, well pleased.
Fairlies-wonders, marvels.
Feein' market-market where farm-servants are engaged.
Fit the fleer-dance.
Flinders-splinters, fragments.
Garrin'-making, causing.
Hirplet-limped, hobbled.
Hitch't-advanced with a jerking motion, stumbled.
Ilka-each, every.
Kelpies-malevolent water spirits.
Lammie-little lamb.
Lichtless-feeble, weak.
Lingans-shoemaker's thread.
Maist-most, almost.
Mony-many, the dead, the departed.
Plaiden-coarse woollen stuff.
Potty-the Landlord of Potarch Inn.
Scraipit-made obeisance.
Showdit-shoved, pushed.
Siccar-certain, steady.
Timeous-keeping time to the music
Waur-worse, inferior to.
Whip the cat-a tailor travelling from house to house was said to "whip the cat."
Wisna-was not.
Wob-a web.