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Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales
Whitchcraft


MACGILLICHALLUM OF RAZAY

John Garve MACGILLICHALLUM, of Razay, was an ancient hero of great celebrity. Distinguished in the age in which he lived for the gallantry of big exploits, he has often been selected by the bard as the theme of his poems and songs. Along with a constitution of body naturally vigorous and powerful, Razay was gifted with all those noble qualities of the mind which a true hero is supposed to possess. And what reflected additional lustre on his character was that he never failed to apply his talents and powers to the best uses. He was the active and inexorable enemy of the weird sisterhood, many of whom he was the auspicious instrument of sending to their “black inheritance” much sooner than they either expected or desired. It was not therefore to be supposed that, while those amiable actions endeared Razay to all good people, they were at all calculated to win him the regard of those infernal hags to whom he was so deadly a foe. As might be naturally expected, they cherished towards him the most implacable thirst of revenge, and sought, with unremitting vigilance, for an opportunity of quenching it. That such an opportunity did unhappily occur, and that the meditated revenge of these hags was too well accomplished, will speedily appear from this melancholy story.

It happened upon a time that Razay and a number of friends planned an expedition to the island of Lewis, for the purpose of hunting the deer of that place. They accordingly embarked on board the chieftain’s yacht, manned by the flower of the young men of Razay, and in a few hours they chased the fleet-bounding hart on the mountains of Lewis. Their sport proved excellent. Hart after hart, and hind after hind, were soon levelled to the ground by the unerring hand of Razay; and when night terminated the chase they retired to their shooting quarters, where they spent the night with joviality and mirth, little dreaming of their melancholy fate in the morning.

In the morning of next day, the chief of Razay and his followers rose with the sun, with the view of returning to Razay. The day was squally and occasionally boisterous, and the billows raged with great violence. But Razay was determined to cross the channel to his residence, and ordered his yacht to prepare for the voyage. The more cautious and less courageous of his suite, however, urged on hir- to defer the expedition till the weather should somewhat settle,—an advice which Razay, with a courage which knew no fear, rejected, and expressed his firm determination to proceed without delay. Probably with a view to inspire his company with the necessary degree of courage to induce them all to concur in the undertaking, he adjourned with them to the ferry-house, where they had recourse to that supporter of spirits under every trial, the usquebaugh, a few bottles of which added vastly to the resolution of the company. Just as the party were disputing the practicability of the proposed adventure, an old woman, with wrinkled front, bending on a crutch, entered the ferry-house; and Razay, in the heat of argument, appealed to the old woman, whether the passage of the channel on such a day was not perfectly practicable and free from danger. The woman, without hesitation, replied in the affirmative, adding such observations, reflecting on their courage, as immediately silenced every opposition to the voyage; and accordingly the whole party embarked in the yacht for Razay. But, alas! what were the consequences? No sooner were they abandoned to the mercy of the. waves than the elements seemed to conspire to their destruction. All attempts to put back the vessel proved unavailing, and she was speedily driven out before the wind in the direction of Razay. The heroic chieftain laboured hard to animate his company, and to dispel the despair which begun to seize them, by the most exemplary courage and resolution. He took charge of the helm, and in spite of the combined efforts of the sea, wind, and lightning, he kept the vessel steadily on her course towards the lofty point of Aird, in Skye. The drooping spirits of his crew began to revive, and hope began to smile upon them,— when lo! to their great astonishment, a large cat was seen to climb the rigging. This eat was soon followed by another of equal size, and the last by a successor, until at length the shrouds, masts, and whole tackle were actually covered with them. Nor did the sight of all those cats, although he knew well enough their real character, intimidate the resolute Razay, until a large black cat, larger than any of the rest, appeared on the mast-head, as commander-in-chief of the whole legion. Razay, on observing him, instantly foresaw the result; he, however, determined to sell his life as dearly as possible, and immediately commanded an attack upon the cats; but, alas! it soon proved abortive. With a simultaneous effort the cats overturned the vessel on her leeward wale, and every soul on board was precipitated into a watery grave. Thus ended the glorious life of Jan (Jarbh Macgillichallum, of Razay, to the lasting regret of the brave clan Leod and all good people, and to the great satisfaction of the abominable witch who thus accomplished his lamentable doom.

THE WITCH OF LAGGAN

The same day, another hero, celebrated for his hatred of witchcraft, was warming himself in his hunting hut, in the forest of Gaick, in Badenoch. His faithful hounds, fatigued with the morning chase, lay stretched on the turf by his side,—his gun, that would not miss, reclined in the neuk of the bothy,—the shian dhu of the sharp edge hung by his side, and these alone constituted his company. As the hunter sat listening to the howling storm as it whistled by, there entered at the door an apparently poor weather-beaten cat, shivering with cold, and drenched to the skin. On observing her, the hairs of the dogs became erected bristles, and they immediately rose to attack the pitiable cat, which stood trembling at the door. “Great hunter of the hills,” exclaims the poor-looking trembling cat, “I claim your protection. I know your hatred to my craft, and perhaps it is just. Still spare, oh spare a poor jaded wretch, who thus flies to you for protection from the cruelty and oppression of her sisterhood.” Moved to compassion by her eloquent address, and disdaining to take advantage of his greatest enemy in such a seemingly forlorn situation, he pacified his infuriated dogs, and desired her to come forward to the fire and warm herself. “Nay,” says she, “in the first place, you will please bind with this long hair those two furious hounds of yours, for I am afraid they will tear my poor hams to pieces. I pray you, therefore, my dear sir, that you would have the goodness to bind them together by the necks with this long hair.” But the curious nature of the hair induced the hunter to dissemble a little. Instead of having bound his dogs with it, as he pretended, he threw it across a beam of wood which connected the couple of the bothy. The witch then, supposing the dogs securely bound, approached the fire, and squatted herself down as if to dry herself. She hud not sitten many minutes, when the hunter could easily discover a striking increase in her size, which he could not forbear remarking in a jocular manner to herself. “A bad death to you, you nasty beast,” says the hunter; “you are getting very large.” “Ay, ay,” replied the cat equally jocosely, “as my hairs imbibe the heat, they naturally expand.” These jokes, however, were but a prelude to a more serious conversation. The cat, still continuing her growth, had at length attained a most extraordinary size,—when, in the twinkling of an eye, she transformed herself into her proper likeness of the Goodwife of Laggan, ar.d thus addressed him:—“ Hunter of the Hills, your hour of reckoning is arrived. Behold me before you, the avowed champion of my devoted sisterhood, of whom Macgillichallum of Razay and you were always the most relentless enemies. But Razay is no more. His last breath is fled. He lies a lifeless corpse on the bottom of the main; and now, Hunter of the Hills, it is your turn.” With these words, assuming a most hideous and terrific appearance, she made a spring at the hunter. The two dogs, which she supposed securely bound by the infernal hair, sprung at her in her turn, and a most furious conflict ensued. The witch, thus unexpectedly attacked by the dogs, now began to repent, of her temerity. “Fasten, hair, fasten" she perpetually exclaimed, supposing the dogs to have been bound by the hair; and so effectually did the hair fasten, according to her order, that it at last snapt the beam in twain. At length, finding herself completely overpowered, she attempted a retreat, but so closely were the hounds fastened in her breasts, that it was with no small difficulty she could get herself disengaged from them. Screaming and shrieking, the Wife of Laggan dragged herself out of the house, trailing after the dogs, which were fastened in her so closely that they never loosed their hold until she demolished every tooth in their heads. Then metamorphosing herself into the likeness of a raven, she fled over the mountains in the direction of her home. The two faithful dogs, bleeding and exhausted, returned to their master, and, in the act of caressing his hand, both fell down and expired at his feet. Regretting their loss with a sorrow only known to the parent who weeps over the remains of departed children, he buried his devoted dogs, and returned home to his family. His wife was not in the house when he arrived, but she soon made her appearance. “Where have you been, my love?” inquired the husband. “Indeed,” replies she, “I have been seeing the Goodwife of Laggan, who has been just seized with so severe an illness that she is not expected to live for any time.” “Ay! ay! ” says he, “what is the matter with the worthy woman?” “She was all day absent in the moss at her peats,” replies the wife, “and was seized with a sudden colic, in consequence of getting wet feet; and now all her friends and neighbours are expecting her desmission,” “Poor woman,” says the husband; “I am sorry for her. Get me some dinner; it will he right that I should go and see her also.” Dinner being provided and despatched, the hunter immediately proceeded to the house of Laggan, where he found a great assemblage of neighbours mourning, with great sincerity, the approaching decease of a woman whom they all had hitherto esteemed virtuous. The hunter, walking up to the sick woman’s bed in a rage, proportioned to the greatness of its cause, stripped the sick woman of all her coverings. A shriek from the now exposed witch brought all the company around her. “Behold,” says he, “the object of your solicitude, who is nothing less than an infernal witch. To-day, she informs me, she was present at the death of the Laird of Razay, and only a few hours have elapsed since she attempted to make me share his fate. This night, however, she shall expiate her crime by the forfeiture of her horrid life.” Relating to the company the whole circumstances of her attack upon him, which were too well corroborated by the conclusive marks she bore on her person, the whole company were perfectly convinced of her criminality; and the customary punishment was about to be inflicted on her, when the miserable wretch addressed them ai follows:—“My ill-requited friends, spare an old acquaintance, already in the agonies of death, from any further mortal degradation. My crimes and my folly now stare me in the face, in their true colours; while my vile and perfidious seducer, the enemy of your temporal and spiritual interests, only laughs at me in my distress; and, ad a reward for my fidelity to his interest, in seducing everything that was amiable, and in destroying everything that was good, he is now about to consign my soul to eternal misery. Let my example be a warning to all the people of the earth to shun the fatal rock on which I have split; and as a strong inducement for them to do so I shall atone for my iniquity to the utmost of my ability by detailing to you the awful history of my life.” Here the Wife of Laggan detailed at full length the way she was seduced into the service of the Evil One,— all the criminal adventures in which she had been engaged, and ended with a particular account of the death of Macgillichallum of Razay, and her attack upon the hunter, and then expired.

Meanwhile a neighbour of the Wife of Laggan was returning home late at night from Strathdearn, where he had been upon some business, and had just entered the dreary forest of Monalea, in Badenoch, when he met a woman dressed in black, who ran with great speed, and inquired of the traveller, with great agitation, how far she was distant from the churchyard of Dalarossie, and if she could be there by twelve o’clock. The traveller told her she might, if she continued to go at the same pace that she did then. She then fled alongst the road, uttering the most desponding lamentations, and the traveller continued his road to Badenoch. He had not, however, walked many miles when he met a large black dog, which travelled past him with much velocity, as if upon the scent of a track or footsteps; and soon after he met another large black dog sweeping along in the same manner. The last dog, however, was scarcely past, when he met a stout black man on a lino fleet black courser, prancing along in the same direction after the dogs. “Pray,” says the rider to the traveller, “did you meet a woman as you came along the hill?” The traveller replied in the affirmative. “And did you meet a dog soon after?” rejoined the rider. The traveller replied he did. “And,” added the rider, “do you think the dog will overtake her ere she can reach the church of Dalarossie?” “He will, at any rate, be very close upon her heels,” answered the traveller. Each then took his own way. But before the traveller had got the length of Glenbanchar, the rider overtook him on his return, with the foresaid woman before him across the bow of his saddle, and one of the dogs fixed in her breast, and another in her thigh. “Where did you overtake the woman?” inquired the traveller. “Just as she was entering the churchyard of Dalarossie,” was his reply. On the traveller’s return home, he heard of the fate of the unfortunate Wife of Laggan, which soon explained the nature of the company he had met on the road. It was, no doubt, the spirit of the Wife of Laggan flying for protection from the infernal spirits (to whom she had sold herself), to the churchyard of Dalarossie, which is so sacred a place that a witch is immediately dissolved from all her tics with Satan on making a pilgrimage to it, either dead or alive. But it seems the unhappy Wife of Laggan was a stage too late.

THE BLACKSMITH’S WIFE OF YARROWFOOT

"Some years back, the blacksmith of Yarrowfoot had for apprentices two brothers, both steady lads, and, when bound to him, fine healthy fellows. After a few months, however, the younger of the two began to grow pale and lean, lose his appetite, and show other marks of declining health. His brother, much concerned, often questioned him as to what ailed him, but to no purpose. At last, however, the poor lad burst into an agony of tears, and confessed that he was quite worn-out, and should soon be brought to the grave through the ill-usage of his mistress, who was in truth a witch, though none suspected it. “Every night,” he sobbed out, “she comes to my bedside, puts a magic bridle on me, and changes me into a horse. Then, seated on my back, she urges me on for many a mile to the wild moors, where she and I know not what other vile creatures hold their hideous feasts. There she keeps me all night, and at early morning I carry her home. She takes off my bridle, and there I am, but so weary I can ill stand. And thus I pass my nights while you are soundly sleeping.”

The elder brother at once declared he would take his chance of a night among the witches, so he put the younger one in his own place next the wall, and lay awake himself till the usual time of the witch-woman’s arrival. She came, bridle in hand, and flinging it over the elder brother’s head, up sprang a fine hunting horse. The lady leaped on his back, and started for the trysting-place, which on this occasion, as it chanced, was the cellar of a neighbouring laird.

While she and the rest of the vile crew were regaling themselves with claret and sack, the hunter, who was left in a spare stall of the stable, rubbed and rubbed his head against the wall till he loosened the bridle, and finally got it off, on which he recovered his human form. Holding the bridle firmly in his hand, he concealed himself at the back of the stall till his mistress came within reach, when in an instant he flung the magic bridle over her head, and, behold, a fine grey mare! He mounted her and dashed off, riding through hedge and ditch, till, looking down, he perceived she had lost a shoe from one of her forefeet. He took her to the first smithy that was open, had the shoe replaced, and a new one put on the other forefoot, and then rode her up and down a ploughed field till she was nearly worn out. At last he took her home, and pulled the bridle off just in time for her to creep into bed before her husband awoke, and got up for his day’s work.

The honest blacksmith arose, little thinking what had been going on all night; but his wife complained of being very ill, almost dying, and begged him to send for a doctor. He accordingly aroused his apprentices ; the elder one went out, and soon returned with one whom he had chanced to meet already abryad. The doctor wished to feel his patient’s pulse, but she resolutely hid her hands, and refused to show them. The village Eseulapius was perplexed; but the husband, impatient at her obstinacy, pulled off the bed-clothes, and found, to his horror, that horseshoes were tightly nailed to both hands! On further examination, her sides appeared galled with kicks, the same that the apprentice had given her during his ride up and down the ploughed field.

The brothers now came forward, and related all that had passed. On the following day the witch was tried by the magistrates of Selkirk, and condemned to be burned to death on a stone at the Bullsheugh, a sentence which was promptly carried into effect. It is added that the younger apprentice was at last restored to health by eating butter made from the milk of cows fed in kirkyards, a sovereign remedy for consumption brought on through being witch-ridden.

THE MILLER OF HOLDEAN

While the miller of Holdean, in Berwickshire, was drying a melder2 of oats, belonging to a neighbouring farmer, tired with the fatigues of the day, he threw himself down upon some straw in the kiln-bam, and soon fell fast asleep. After a time he was awakened by a confused noise, as if the killogee3 were full of people, all speaking together; on which he pulled aside the straw from the banks of the kiln, and, looking down, observed a number of feet and legs paddling among the ashes, as if enjoying the warmth from the scarcely extinguished fires. As he listened, he distinctly heard the words, “What think ye o’ my feeties?”—a second voice answering, “An’ what think ye o’ mine'?” Nothing daunted, though much astonished, the stout-hearted miller took up his “ beer rnell,” a large wooden hammer, and threw it down among them, so that the ashes flew about; while he cried out with a loud voice, “What think ye o’ my meikle mell amang a’ thae legs o’ yourn?” A hideous rout at once emerged from the kiln amid yells and cries, which passed into wild laughter; and finally these words reached the miller’s ears, sung in a mocking tone—

“Mount and fly for Rhymer's tower,
Ha, ha, ha, ha!
The pawky miller hath beguiled us
Or we wud hat stown his luck
For this seven years to come,
And mickle water wud hae run
While the miller slept.”

RONALDSON OF BOWDEN

A man named Ronaldson, who lived at the village of Bowden, is reported to have had frequent encounters with the witches of that place. Among these we find tho following. One morning at sunrise, while he was tying his garter with one foot against a low dyke, he was startled at feeling something like a rope of straw passed between his legs, and himself borne swiftly away upon it to a small brook at the foot of the southernmost hill of Eildon. Hearing a hoarse smothered laugh, he perceived he was in the power of witches or sprites; and when he came to a ford called the Brig-o’-stanes, feeling his foot touch a large stone, he exclaimed, “I’ the name o’ the Lord, ye’se get me no farther!” At that moment the rope broke, the air rang as with the laughter of a thousand voices; and as he kept his footing on the stone, he heard a muttered cry, “Ah, we’ve lost the coof!”

THE FARMER'S WIFE OF DELORAINE

Witchcraft is not named in the next story, but we can scarcely be wrong in assuming it to be the agent at work in it. We must premise that it was, perhaps still is, customary in the Lowlands of Scotland, as in other secluded districts, for tailors to leave their workshops and go into the farmhouses of the neighbourhood to work by the day. The farmer’s wife of Deloraine thus engaged a tailor with his workmen and apprentices for the day, begging them to come in good time in the morning. They did so, and partook of the family breakfast of porridge and milk.

During the meal, one of the apprentices observed that the milk-jug was almost empty, on which the mistress slipt out of the backdoor with a basin in her hand to get a fresh supply. The lad's curiosity was roused, for he had heard there was no more milk in the house; so he crept after her, hid himself behind the door, and saw her turn a pin in the wall, on which a stream of pure milk flowed into the basin. She twirled the pin, and the milk stopped. Coming back, she presented the tailors with the bowl of milk, and they gladly washed down the rest of their porridge with it.

About noon, while our tailors were busily engaged with the gudeman’s wardrobe, one of them complained of thirst, and wished for a bowl of milk like the morning’s. “Is that a’?” said the apprentice; “ve’se get that.” The mistress was out of the way, so he left his work, found his way to the spot he had marked in the morning, twirled the. pin, and quickly filled a basin. But, alas! he could not then stay the stream. Twist the pin as he would, the milk still continued to flow. He called the other lads, and implored them to come and help him; but they could only bring such tubs and buckets as they found in the kitchen, and these were soon filled. When the confusion was at its height, the mistress appeared among them, looking as black as thunder; whilst she called out, in a mocking voice, “A’ye loons! ye hae drawn all the milk fra every coo between the head o’ Yarrow an’ the foot o’t. This day ne’er a coo will gie her maister a drop o’ milk, though he war gawing to starve.” The tailors slunk away abashed, and from that, day forward the wives of Deloraine have fed their tailors on nothing but chappit ’taties and kale.

LAIRD HARRY GILLES

The Laird Harry Gilles of Littledean was extremely fond of hunting. One day, as his dogs were chasing a hare, they suddenly stopped, and gave up the pursuit, which enraged him so much that he swore the animal they had been hunting must be one of the witches of Maxton. No sooner had he uttered the word than hares appeared all round him, so close that they even sprang over the saddle before his eyes, but still none of his hounds would give them chase. In a fit of anger he jumped off his horse and killed the dogs on the spot, all but one black hound, who at that moment turned to pursue the largest hare. Remounting his horse, he followed the chase, and saw the black hound turn the hare and drive it directly towards him. The hare made a spring as if to clear his horse’s neck, but the laird dexterously caught hold of one of her fore-paws, drew out his hunting-knife, and cut it off; after which the hares, which had been so numerous, all disappeared. Next morning Laird Harry heard that a woman of Maxton had lost her arm in some unaccountable manner; so he went straight to her house, pulled out the hare’s foot had changed in his pocket to a woman’s hand and arm), and applied it to the stump. It fitted exactly. She confessed her crime, and was drowned for witchcraft the same day in the we'll, by the young men of Haxton.

THE MISSING WEB

Some time since, when calling at the house of one of my oldest parishioners, who had been a hand-loom weaver, he fell to speak of other days; and, amongst other things, he told me of the disappearance, some years back, on a fine summer’s evening, of a web of linen which had been laid to bleach by the riverside at the foot of the glebe. The fishermen, it seems, were ‘burning the water' in the Skerry, and the man who had charge of the web went off to see the salmon ‘leistered' and on his return the web was gone. Of course there was a sensation. The story was soon in everybody’s mouth, with abundant suspicions of as many persons as there were yards in the web of linen.

“The web belonged to a very important personage, no less than the howdie, or old village midwife, who was not disposed to sit down quietly under her loss. So she called in the aid of a wise man from leitholm, and next day told her friend the weaver, my informant, that she had found the thief, for the wise man had turned the key. The weaver being anxious to see something of diablerie, the howdie brought the wise man to his house; and the door being locked on all within (four in number), the magician proceeded as follows. he took a small key, and attached it to a string, which he tied into the family Bible at a particular place, leaving the key hanging out. Next he read two chapters from the Bible, one of which was the history of Saul and the witch of Endor; he then directed the howdie and another person to support the key between them, on the tips of their forefingers, and in that attitude the former was told to repeat the names of all the suspected parties.

“Many persons were named, but the key still hung between the fingers, when the wise man cried out, ‘Why don’t you say Jock Wilson?’ This was accordingly done, and immediately the key dropped, i.e., turned off the finger-ends. So the news spread far and wide that the thief was discovered, for the key had been turned and Jock Wilson was the man! He proved-, however, not to be the man to stand such imputations, and being without doubt an honest fellow, he declared ‘he wudna be made a thief by the deevil.’ So he went to consult a lawyer, but after many long discussions the matter died away; and my authority, the weaver, says it was believed the lawyer was bribed; ‘for he aye likit a dram,’”

In the time of my grandmother, the farm of Delnabo was proportionally divided between three tenants. At first equally comfortable in their circumstances, it was in the course of some time remarked by all, and by none more forcibly than by one of the said three portioners, that, although superior in point of industry and talent to his two fellow-portioners, one of the tenants was daily lapsing into poverty, while his two neighbours were daily improving in estate. Amazed and grieved at the adverse fortune which thus attended his family, compared to the prosperous condition of his neighbours, the wife of the poor man was in the habit of expressing her astonishment at the circumstance, not only to her own particular friends, but likewise to the wives of her neighbours themselves.

On one of these occasions, the other two wives asked her what would she do to ameliorate her condition, if it were in her power % She answered them she would do anything whatever. (Here the other wives thought they had got a gudgeon that would snap at any bait, and immediately resolved to make her their confidante.) “Well, then,” says one of the other two wives, “if you agree to keep our communications strictly secret, and implicitly obey our instructions, neither poverty nor want shall ever assail you more.”

This speech of the other wife immediately impressed the poor man’s wife with a strong suspicion of their real character. Dissembling all surprise at the circumstance, she promised to agree to all their conditions. She was then directed, when she went to bed that night, to carry along with her the floor broom, well known for its magical properties, which she was to leave by her husband’s side in the course of the night, and which would represent her so exactly that the husband could not distinguish the difference in the morning. They at the same time enjoined her to discard all fears of detection, as their own husbands had been satisfied with those lovely substitutes (the brooms) for a great cumber of years. Matters being thus arranged, she was desired to join them at the hour of midnight, in order to accompany them to that scene which was to realise her future happiness.

Promising to attend to their instructions, the poor man’s wife took leave of her neighbours, full of those sensations of horror which the discovery of such depravity was calculated to produce in a virtuous mind. Hastening home to her husband, she thought it no crime to break her promise to her wicked neighbours, and, like a dutiful and prudent wife, to reveal to the husband of her bosom the whole particulars of their interview. The husband greatly commended his wife’s fidelity, and immediately entered into a collusion with her, which displays no ordinary degree of ingenuity. It was agreed that the husband should exchange apparel with the wife, and that he should, in this disguise, accompany the wives to the place appointed, to see what cantrips they intended to perform.

He accordingly arrayed himself in his wife’s habiliments, and, at the hour of midnight, joined the party at the place appointed. The “bride,” as they called him, was most cordiellv received by the two Ladies of the Broom, who warmly congratulated the “bride” upon her good fortune, and the speedy consummation of her happiness. He was then presented with a fir torch, a brooin, and a riddle, articles with which they themselves were furnished. They directed their course along the banks of the rolling Avon, until they reached Craic-polnain, or the Craig of the Birdspool. Here, in consequence of the steepness of the craig, they found it convenient to pass to the other side of the river.' This passage they effected without the use of the navy, the river being fordable at the place. They then came in sight of Polnain, and lo! what human eye ever witnessed such a scene before! The pool appeared as if actually enveloped in a flame of fire. A hundred torches blazed aloft, reflecting their beams on the towering woods of Loynchork. And what ear ever heard such shrieks and yells as proceeded from the horrid crew engaged at their hellish orgies on Polnain? Those cries were, however, sweet music to the two wives of Delnabo. Every yell produced frnm them a burst of unrestrained pleasure, and away they frisked, leaving the amiable bride a considerable vay behind. For the fact is, that he was in no hurry to reach the fccene, and when he did reach it, it was with a determination to be only a spectator, and not a participator in the night’s performance. On reaching the pool’s side he saw what was going on, —he saw abundance of hags steering themselves to and fro in their riddles, by means of their oars (the brooms), hallooing and skirling1 worse than the bogles, and each holding in her left hand a torch of fir,—whilst at other times they would swirl themselves into a row, and make profound obeisance to a large black ugly tyke,2 perched on a lofty rock, and who was no doubt the “muckle thief” himself, and who was pleased to acknowledge most graciously those expressions of their loyalty and devotion, by bowing, grinning, and clapping his paws. Having administered to the bride some preliminary instructions, the impatient wives desired him to remain by the pool’s side until they should commune with his Satanic Highness on the subject of her inauguration, directing her, as they proceeded on their voyage across the pool, to speed them in their master’s name. To this order of the black pair the bride was resolved to pay particular attention. As soon as they were embarked in their riddles, and had wriggled themselves, by means of their brooms, into a proper depth of water, “Go,” says he, “in the name of the Best,” A horrid yell from the witches announced their instant fate— the magic spell was now dissolved—crash went the riddles, and down sank the two witches, never more to rise, amidst the shrieks and lamentations of the Old Thief and all his infernal crew, whose combined power and policy could not save them from a watery end. All the torches were extinguished in an instant, and the affrighted company fled in different directions, in such forms and similitudes are they thought most convenient for them to adopt; and the wily bride returned home at his leisure, enjoying himself vastly at the clever manner in which he had executed the instructions of his deceased friends. On arriving at his house, he dressed himself in his own clothes, and, without immediately satisfying his wife’s curiosity at the result of his excursion, he yoked his cattle, and commenced his morning labours with as little concern as usual. His two neighbours, who were not even conscious of the absence of their wives (so ably substituted were they by the brooms), did the same. Towards breakfast-time, however, the two neighbours were not a little astonished that they observed no signs of their wives having risen from bed—notwithstanding their customary earliness—and this surprise they expressed to the late bride, their neighbour. The latter archly remarked that he had great suspicions, in his own mind, of their rising even that day. “What mean you by that?” replied they. “We left our wives apparently in good health when we ourselves arose.” “Find them now,” was the reply—the bride setting up as merry a whistle as before. Running each to his bed, what was the astonishment of the husbands, when, instead of his wife, he only found in old broom? Their neighbour then told them that, if they chose to examine Polnain well, they would find both their dear doxies there. The grieving husbands accordingly proceeded thither, and with the necessary instruments dragged their late worthy partners to dry land, and afterwards privately interred them. The shattered vessels and oars of those unfortunate navigators, whirling about the pool, satisfied their lords of the manner by which they came to their ends; and their names were no longer mentioned by their kindred in the land. It need scarcely be added that the poor man gradually recovered his former opulence; and that, in the course of a short time, he was comparatively as rich as he was formerly poor.

THE BRAZEN BROGUES.
OR, TOO MANY TO MARRY

There was a strange party assembled at the young fanner Gille Macdonald’s that late spring evening, the night of the tryst at Inveraray, from attending which all and sundry were making their way home to the southwards.

Though a fine dry evening, it was a bit chilly; there was still a touch of winter in the season, and so no one was too proud or too robust to join the circle round the ingle, and warm themselves by the cheerful blaze.

There was a fisherman from Strathlaehlan, a drover from Kilmun, two farmers from away south about Bute, a merchant from Rothesay, and a pedlar from anywhere you please, for he was always on the road from there to somewhere else.

Each had much to say for himself about his luck or otherwise at the tryst, and they were good company; but far and away the best of them all for conversation and news was the little pedlar, who sat on the threelegged stool in the centre, and had an answer ready for each and advice for all.

The conversation turned, as likely it would (for you see they had all been bargaining and belling), on how fortunes were made or lost, and one said this, and the other said that, each one seeming to have his own view of the matter, and deeming his own way the best; but what the little pedlar remarked just before they broke up for the evening was the only thing that Gille Macdonald remembered or thought worth listening to.

For the pedlar had said in answer to how would he set to work to make his fortune, that, if he was a bit bigger, and was a younger and stronger man, he knew a place where a fortune could be got for the digging, only it needed a stouter heart and a more adventurous spirit than he possessed to attempt the search. So he for one would still stick to his pack.

After the cup had passed round for the last time, and all were moving off to the beds provided for them, Gille Macdonald gently touched the sleeve of the pedlar, and asked him if he would kindly wait a moment after the others had gone, as he wanted to ask him privately a certain question.

The pedlar was delighted to oblige so kind a host as Gille llacdonald, and said he certainly would.

So when the kitchen was clear of company, Gille Macdonald drew the little pedlar towards the ingle, and filling his glass once more, begged him to be seated, and if it so pleased him, to say what he meant by the place where a fortune was to be had for the digging, if only a bravo heart and a stout spirit were there to attempt the deed.

“Oh!” replied the little pedlar, “that is it, is it? Well, the place I mean is over on the west side of Kintyre, a day’s journey from here on horseback. Across the loch and by the road over the ridge from Tarbert, there is the castle of Taychronan, inhabited by an evil old gentleman who is reputed to be eminently rich; and that that is not a mere rumour I myself know, for he has a treasure buried in the well in the garden. With these two eyes I saw him shovelling in ducats and gold pieces just as if they were potatoes, only a month ago. I would have liked much to have secured some of them, but you know what a fragile little fellow I am, and I was too much afraid of the old gentleman to do anything of the kind.

“Now, don’t let me induce you to go after the treasure; you are comfortably off, and can want nothing more than what you have got already. I should he sorry if you fell into the old gentleman’s clutches, for evil things are spoken of him, and he is said to be not only a selfish old miser, hut a powerful magician, and a cruel as well. Now, good night,” and the pedlar walked off to his couch.

In the morning the whole party of the night before left the farm, thanking their host, and going their several ways. As to the pedlar, he had started at cock-crow, to be early on the road, so Gille Macdonald had no further chance to question him about the castle and the treasure, of which he had dreamed all night, waking up in the morning quite determined to investigate, and, if possible, secure it.

So he occupied himself that day in putting his farm in order, and gave instructions to hi? head servant that this and that should be done in his absence, and this and that, should be done if he never came back at all; and this preparation finished, the very next morning he saddled his grey mare and took the road that led to the. nearest ferry on Loch Fyne side.

The crossing was accomplished successfully, for it was fine weather for the time of the year, while a light breeze and sunny sky put him in good spirits for his adventure.

A fair was being held at Tarbert when he arrived there; booths were erected up and down the streets, and music and dancing were going on by the shore.

There also many people were gathered together from the surrounding country, with mountebanks and singers and such like turning an honest penny among the crowd.

One little chap in especial Gille Macdonald could not help observing with interest, for he would throw three or four somersaults on the hard pavement without. stopping—yes, and could throw them backwards and forwards at pleasure for what trifle, the spectators might fling him in his upturned hat after each performance.

Amongst others the mannikin approached Gille as well.

“Well, then, a copper you must be satisfied with, email friend,” said Gille Macdonald; “I can’t give you more, for we are both seeking a fortune, I see, in our different ways.”

“Sow so, friend?” said the mannikin. “Where and how do you seek a fortune?”

“With a strong arm and a stout heart,” said Gille Macdonald. “I hope to get a fortune by digging;” and he passed up the street.

“Stay,” said the mannikin, running after him: “where did you say a fortune was to be got for the digging?”

Well, Gille Macdonald did not like to be interrogated further, and in fact he was angry with himself for having been led to speak of his adventure at all; but he did not wish to seem rude to a poor little mite, so he said; “Oh, not far away; over the hills to the west. Good night.”

“Good night,” said the dwarf; and Gille Macdonald thought there was a queer tone in the way it was muttered, and somehow he did not like it at all; but everything was soon forgotten in the enjoyment of good company at the inn, where, the host being an old friend of his, he put up for the night.

Early next morning he was astir, and saddled his mare, giving her a good feed, for she had a long journey before her, and he wished to reach Castle Taychronan before nightfall, so that he might be able to have a look round unknown to the old man, and to find out where the well was situated.

As he journeyed on his thoughts naturally turned to the adventure before him, and in a brown study he let the mare jog along as she chose, taking no heed of anything till, with a start, he was aroused by a squeaky little voice beside him, which struck him as strangely familiar. Looking down, he was aware of a little man walking by his side, with a face exactly like the mannikin’s he had seen at the fair the day before.

Yet it could not be the same, for that one was so very small and humpbacked, while this, though a wee bit creature, was not anything out of the run of little men. Yet he had the same hunch on his back, the same long pointed red nose and queer squint as had his acquaintance of the fair—yes, and his very voico too, only louder and stronger.

“Well met,” quoth the little man.

“Well met,” said Gille Macdonald.

“We are fellow-travellers, I see,” said the wee man.

“For the present, yes,” said Gille Macdonald, and he urged his mare on along the road.

“We’ll meet again, maybe, before long,” cried the wee man after him.

Now it made Gille Macdonald laugh to think such a crippled creature would ever catch him up again; but something about the dwarf he did not like, and he was not comfortable till he had galloped on a mile, and had lost sight of him.

It was about noon, and Gille Macdonald was giving his mare a quiet walk down that part of the highroad which, having kept to the upper moorland for some miles, here makes a rapid descent towards the sea again at Rohachan Bay. What was- his astonishment to hear again the now fr.miliar voice calling £o him from the other side of the dyke, and before he regained his composure he saw the old. ugly fa<56 peering at him from behind a stunted willow, whose twisted roots crept in and out like, snakes amung the stonework.

“Well met,” quoth the creature; and this time that which accosted him was a full-grown man just about his own size, and Gille Macdonald was not a small man by any means.

Gille Macdonald cnuld not believe his eyes. There was the long red nose, and the squinting eyes, and the round humpy back, but six foot the creature was if an inch. It could not be the same; but that it had some uncanny connections with the mannikin he met at Tarbert, and aqain already that morning, he felt certain.

You may be sure he liked the meeting less than ever; even his docile old mare shied on one side as the thing now stepped into the middle of the roau. But Gille Macdonald thought civility could do no harm, so he gave him good-day as before.

“We are fellow-travellers, I see,” said the thing, and he squinted horribly with his ugly eyes.

“For the present, yes,” said Gille Macdonald; “but I must be jugging on,” and he struck spurs into the mare.

“We’ll meet again, maybe, before long,” said the man.

It did not need much to make the mare go along the road at a good rate, and not for a while did Gille Macdonald feel the eerie thrill leave him; but young spirits arc not easily upset for long, so before an hour had passed he was singing as blithely as before.

It’s a long, straight bit of road from Balloehroy to Tayinloan, as every one. knows who has made the journey, and at evening, just as Gille Macdonald chanced to be entering upon it, the. sun was at his back, ard he could see a long way down before him, with everything standing out very clearly.

“What a funny thing,” said he, “for people to have planted a treo there right in the middle of the road!” for a little bit ahead there was what-seemed to him ayoung fir tree sticking up straight before him. "They do odd things in this part of the country, surely.” But you may imagine what his astonishment was when ho saw the thing move along in the di rection in which he was going. He rubbed his eyes, and thought it must be some trick of light and shade. It couldn’t be a human being!—yes, it was! and then the strange things he had seen that day flashed upon his mind, and he felt sure this was again another of the same nasty crew he had so wished to avoid.

“I shall most decidedly turn back,” said he, and he was giving the rein a pull to one side when the gaunt figure in front turned round, and, stepping to one side, took off its hat with a low bow, and with the same voice as he had heard before said—

“Well met.”

“Well met,” said Gille Macdonald, shivering all over.

“Pray pass on,” said the tall man; “we are fellow-travellers, I see”; and he rolled his squint eyes and shook his long red nose in a fearsome manner.

“For the present, yes,” faltered Gille Macdonald. “But, excuse me; I must be pressing on,” and he urged his steed past the creature, for now it was just as bad to go backward as forward.

“We’ll meet again, maybe,” cried the tall man after him, as Gille Macdonald sped along the straight road; for both man and beast were thoroughly frightened by this time, and they wanted to put as much country between themselves and that ugsome thing as they could.

Gille Macdonald did not forget the apparition this time, or his saying they would maybe meet again. At every turn he expected something terrible to appear; under every rock he thought he saw some horrid shape lurking, and ready to pounce. The evening also became dark and lowering, which added to his fears. The sun had set, and a fitful moonlight, now bright, now dark, made everything look larger and grimmer than it would appear by day. The trees by the roadside took fantastic shapes, and seemed to stretch out their arms fiercely over the path, with eager claws ready to seize him; in every sigh of the wind he heard again the croaky, familiar voice; in every echo of his mare’s hoofs a weird footfall rang behind him.

Suddenly he came to a spot where the road seemingly had no outlet—rocks on this side, rocks or that. “Yet there must be some way through,” thought he, “or the road would not lead this way,” and he urged his horse forward into the darkness. A plunge! His faithful steed reared high in air, and, throwing his master, coursed back down the road, screaming with fear.

“Well met,” said from somewhere above him the voice Gille Macdonald knew too well; and as he lay bruised on the road, he saw in the moonlight a gigantic figure blocking up the whole pass between the two steep rocks through which the road stretched beyond.

“Well met,” again said the voice. “But you don’t seem to have a civil answer for me as before;” for Gille Macdonald was so terrified his tongue stuck in his jaws, and he could not reply. “I said maybe we would meet again, and, by my troth, the pleasure seems to be all on my side.”

“With your permission,” said Gille Macdonald gasping for breath, “I will now go and see if I can find my horse.”

“With my permission you shall do nothing of the sort,” replied the figure. “You have come a long way to see my castle, and within it you shall rest this night. Ay, and for many a night to come, for the matter of that.”

“Your eastle?” said Gille Macdonald. “What do you mean by that?”

“Where gold can be got for the digging: is it not so?” said the voice. “Come, you thief, you hypocrite, you wretched slave! know I am the magician, and Castle Taychronan is my home. There you shall have the digging you looked for, as my slave during your lifetime, with the digging of your own grave at the end of it.”

Poor Gille Macdonald had not a word to say, so the giant—for he was a giant indeed of twenty feet by this time—took him up from the road and carried him by his waistbelt to the castle, which was a couple of miles off. Yet the journey only occupied but little time, for the giant’s strides were long, and he was in a hurry to get home.

When they arrived at the castle gate he set Gille Macdonald down on the ground, and, putting his head down, he said a queer word below the lintel, and immediately, from being a giant over twenty feet high, he dwindled to the size of a man of seven feet or thereabouts, after which transformation he turned round and drove Gille Macdonald into the castle before him with a cudgel.

They entered now a large and lofty hall, roofed with black oak, dark and grim with smoke and age. There was spread some supper on an oaken board, huge and vast, fit for a giant; while on an open hearth blazed a great fire of pine logs, which lit the hall with a fitful gleam. In its ruddy light Gille Macdonald observed that the only furniture, besides the table and a huge couch in the corner, was five oaken presses set along the wall, all with panels carved in quaint devices, and hinges and locks of burnished brass.

“Serve my dinner,” said the giant; “and be quick about it.”

Gille Macdonald did so without any demur. He was getting his wits together as best he could, so he did his best to please in the meantime, meditating the while on his unfortunate fate, and wondering whether there was any chance of escape. An idea soon came into his head, and while handing a beaker of wine to the giant, he got up in a chair behind him, and held it for some moments right over his head.

“What are you doing? what are you up to?” said the giant. “What the mischief makes you hold it up there in that way?”

“Oh, I beg your pardon, I’m sure,” explained Gille Macdonald; “you see I’m so accustomed ”

“Accustomed to what?” asked the giant sharply.

“To hand the cup to my master at home in this way; he likes me to hold it as near his mouth as he can."

“But that’s ridiculously high,” said the giant.

“Not a bit of it,” explained Gille Macdonald; “you are not the only giant in the kingdom.”

“Oh, ah!” said the giant, a bit taken by surprise. Then, recovering himself, he said, “He must be a queer creature; but see you, I won’t have any of your silly tricks here; so behave.”

“You won’t be troubled with them very long;” answered Gille.

“What d’ye mean by that?” said the giant.

“Only that my master will socn be here to take me away.”

“Take you away when you are in my house! I’d like to see any one do that,” remarked the giant with a snort.

“So should I,” said Gille Macdonald; “and he will, too.”

The giant got up with a bounce and went to the fire, where for a space he stood buried in thought. Meanwhile Gille Macdonald did not see any reason why he should not have a bit of the pasty and a sup of the wine; but he did not get long to do it, for the giant, turning round, said, as if to relieve his mind, “Well, he can’t find you here, for he don’t know where to look for you.”

“Your attention, sir, for a moment,” said Gille Macdonald. “Do you see these brogues of mine? well, look at the heels; they are shod with brass. All my master’s servants, men, women, and cattle, are shod with shoes of this description, so wherever they go, there he can trace them to the world’s end.”

“What sort of person do you say your master is?” said the giant, feigning composure.

“Oh! I can’t be bothered to explain,” said Gille Macdonald, plucking up his spirits as he saw the giant was losing his. “You’ll see for yourself presently; he’ll be here before to-morrow evening, most likely, and not in the best humour, either.”

At this the giant got still more subdued, and said, “Oh! it does not matter, of course, to me whether your master comes or not; but just tell me, is he as big a man as I was when we met in the pass? I’m not curious, but I only want to know.”

“Is that the very biggest you can make yourself?” said Gille Macdonald, not to be taken off his guard.

“Yes,” said the giant, “it is, and bigger than what you’ve been accustomed to.”

At this Gille Macdonald burst out laughing. “You’ll excuse me,” said he, “but you’ll be like a baby beside him, if that’s all you can do.”

At this the giant, in a great state of trepidation, again strode to the fireplace, and kicked the blazing logs about from one side of the hearth to the other in a most vicious manner, just to hide the flight he was now in.

“I think you had better be off at once,” said he. “I wish I had never seen your ugly face.”

“That’s not very civil,” said Gille Macdonald, “especially as you were so very anxious for my acquaintance on the road here.”

“Get out of the place this minute!” roared the giant. “Here’s a piece to drink my health with, if you will only be quiet, and go.”

Gille Macdonald took the piece and made for the door; but he was only pretending, for he saw now the giant was completely cowed, and he had no intention of leaving the castle without some treasure after all his troubles; so he turned round, just as he was leaving the hall, and said, “It is really very good of you to give me this piece, and to send me home; it is more than I would have expected, so I think it is only civil to tell you that whether I go or stay my master will come here after me, as once on the trail of the brazen brogues he never leaves it, so you had better be prepared. Hunh! there, don’t you hear that?” as a gust of wind swept round the tower; “there he is blowing his nose! Oh! don’t alarm yourself; he is miles and miles off still.”

“Come in and sit down,” said the giant, “and 1 will make it worth your while to tell me how I can escape the notice of your master; for he seems to be an irascible kind of fellow, and I should not like a quarrel to take place with any friend of yours in my own house.”

“Well,” said Gille Macdonald, “just you hide till he has come and gone. But stay, I don’t see how you are to do that; you’re so very big.”

“I’ll get into that corner by the door,” said the giant.

“Get into that corner?” cried Gille Macdonald. “How can you with your size, indeed?”

“How can I?” roared the giant. “I’d have you to know there is no can or cannot in this house for me;” and he went behind the door and said a very queer word, and there the giant was about five feet high instantly, just the right size for the hiding-place.

“Oh,” said Gille Macdonald, “that won’t do at all; my master will be poking about all over the place. That’s the worst of him, he is so curious, and will be certain to find you out.”

“Bot his curiosity!” said the giant. “Then under the table will do,” and he put his head under the table and said a very, very queer word, and in an instant there he was, just small enough to stand under the table.

“That’s better,” said Gille Macdonald, and he walked to the end of the hall. “But no; I can see you easily from here, and my master has such plaguy sharp eyes.”

“Plaguy sharp eyes! Plague take them and you too! I won’t diminish another inch to please anybody.”

“Hush, hush! ” said Gille Macdonald, as a louder gust of wind whirled round tho castle; “there he is, still a good mile off; but coming fast, and oh! what a cold he’s got in his nose! Just make the best of it. But don’t blame me if he wrings your neck.” Then tho giant rushed out from under the table and said a very, very, very queer word under the footstool, and there he was, sure enough, six inches high, a tiny mannikin squinting at Gille Macdonald from between its two legs.

“I really think he cannot see you there,” said Gille Ilacdonald, “though he is most inquisitive, and does kick things about; so let’s see, to make quite sure,” and saying this, he gave the footstool a kick with his foot. “No, it won’t do; I saw you then quite clearly when the stool moved. Can’t you get under something smaller?”

“No, not for you or for your vile master,” squeaked the mannikin. “I won’t, I won’t, I won’t!”

“Then take the consequences! There he is at the door,” as a fierce gust of wind roared down the chimney. “His nose will be as red as yours if ho goes on blowing it at that rate.”

Without a word the mannikin crawled out from under the footstool, and scrambling to the hearth, he said a very, very, very, very queer word under the hearthstone, and there he was in a moment, as small as a black beetle.

“Where have you got to?” said Gille Macdonald. “Under the hearthstone,” chirruped the mannikin.

“Nonsense; I can see you still under the footstool,” replied Gille Macdonald.

“You can’t,” said the mannikin. “I’m under the hearthstone.”

“Don’t tell me lies! ” said Gille Macdonald, “or I’ll tell my master.”

“Then will this satisfy you?” squeaked the mannikin, and a little, ugly black beetle crawled out from under the hearthstone. “Do you see me now? Are you satisfied now?” said he.

“I’m perfectly satisfied,” said Gille Macdonald, and he put his foot on the beetle, and squish, sqrunch! there was nothing but a black patch seen on the floor.

“Well, that’s over,” and Gille Macdonald sank with a sigh of relief into the giant’s chair.

But with a bang all the five doors of the five presses opened, and before he could say with your leave or by your leave, Gille Macdonald found himself surrounded by five maidens in seagreen-coloured attire, who clasped him round the neck and arms, kissing, tickling, and nearly throttling him, all the time laughing and giggling like wild lunatics.

“Have done! be off! Away with you, saucy wenches! Get off, I say!” choked Gille Macdonald, struggling to be free; but the more he pushed and kicked the closer they hung round about him and embraced him. What would have been the end of it I don’t know, if he had not, with a violent effort, got clear, and, flying to the corner of the hall, he stood at bay with the giant’s footstool held out before him in defence.

“Keep your distance,” cried he. “I’ll give the first one who comes within a foot of me a nasty smack, I vow I will!” and he whirled the footstool round and round in a circle in front of him.

And there were the five maidens dancing, laughing, kissing their hands to him, and kicking up their legs in a manner he had never seen before.

“Come out of the corner, you coward you!” cried they. “You call yourself a man, and go on in that, way? Bah! ugh!” And oh! what faces they made when they said “Ugh!”

“I’ll not come out or put the stool down,” said Gille Macdonald, “till you promise to behave—that’s flat. What is your business? tell me, go about it, and let me go about mine.”

“That’s just where it is; your business is ours,” said they, “and whatever you have to go about, we must go about too. You’ve got to marry us all, so it is no use fretting about, what must be.”

“What can’t be, you mean,” said he. “All of you, did you say? Whats the meaning of that? and don’t all speak at once,” for they began screeching and screaming together in return.

“Well,” said the eldest, “look here. Now can we or you help it? We are the King of Loch Lin’s daughters, and we have been locked up in those cupboards for three mortal years, because we vowed we would not marry that giant; and we must marry you, because we also vowed that whoever let us out should be our husband. You would not have us forswear ourselves, would you?”

“Well, if that’s the case,” said Gille Macdonald, “sit down quietly at that table, and we’ll talk over the matter seriously; but mind, any misbehaviour, and I will bang each of you over the head.”

So they promised to sit quietly at the table if he came out and sat at the end.

So they did, and so he did; but he kept the stool at easy reach of his hand, all the same.

After a great deal of arguing he explained that it was quite impossible for him to marry them all, but that they must choose which of the five should represent the others, and then he would see if anything could be done.

Then it was decided that the green maidens should play for a husband, and whoever won should be his wife. So they took the giant’s dambrod from the top of the chimney-piece, and for two hours did they play; but such was the cheating and contriving that none won and none lost. So they said it was evident that he must marry them all.

“No,” said Gille Macdonald; “this is ridiculous, and, what is more, it’s getting late, and will be next morning very soon. Try each of you a cast of the dice, and we will see if it can be managed that way, perhaps.”

So they took the bones and boxes from above the chimney, and threw for a husband; but they all cheated so and contrived so, that none won and none lost. So they said now he must marry them all, whatever he said or thought.

“No,” said he, “I won’t; but do get me some supper, I’m so famished, and then I’ll tell you how we will settle it.”

So they got his supper, and sat down, waiting, round the giant’s table.

"This is the trial,” said Gille Macdonald, when he had finished and collected his thoughts a bit. “Tomorrow I will ask you what colour I would my future bride should be dressed in, and whoever names the colour to my taste she shall be my wife. You can’t cheat or contrive about that, I fancy.”

“Very well,” said the green maidens; but the youngest put a draught in Gille Macdonald's cup, when he was nnt looking, a potion that, would make him dream—yes, and speak in his dream too. “Surely now he will tell us the secrets of his mind,” said she.

After draining the cup, Gille Macdonald went and lay down before the fire on the giant’s couch, and the green maidens made as if they were going upstairs, after giving him good-night; but as soon as he was fast asleep, they crept back into the room, and hid themselves about the room, waiting fur what would come to pass.

Sure enough, very soon the draught began to take effect, and he dreamed of his farm and the hillsides of Strachur, speaking out aloud in his dreaming—

“Yellow is the corn in the glen of Ardiniplas;
And yellow is the bracken on the Gides of Ben Ima;
Yellow is the hair of my loved one,
And yellow shall be the dye for her kirtle.”

Then the green maidens arose, and with a low laugh they left the hall.

The next morning the sun shone through the window and woke Gille Macdonald, but not before the green maidens had come down and prepared the breakfast; for they were so pleased at their liberty, their cheats, and contrivances, that whether the sun intended to get up or not, they did, and indeed, I don’t think they closed an eye all night.

“Put your question,” said the green maidens, when they perceived he was awake.

And Gille Macdonald put the question concerning the colour of his bride’s robes to each in turn, aud they all answered, “Yellow.”

At this Gille Macdonald was so taken aback it was no use his saying they had not guessed right, for his looks said so.

"There now," said they; “you see there is no help for it; you must marry us all.”

"Now, really,” said Gille Macdonald, “in such a serious business you must give me another chance. But once more 1 will try you, and if that does not succeed, well, we’ll see about it.”

So the green maidens said they would have one more trial, and that in all conscience must be the very last; and they laughed together, for they felt quite confident of the result, and as they looked upon Gille Macdonald as a sort of fool to be easily taken in.

“Well, listen,” said he; “whoever can tell me what favour it was the cod-fish of Ardminish asked of the widow woman of Gigha, that one I shall marry.” Then they said, “We must go out into the garden and think about the answer for a moment.”

“Do so,” said Gille. Macdonald, “and I will give you five hours for consideration.”

So off they went; but, bless yon, he knew perfectly well they had gone off to the Loch to see if the cod-fish would tell them for a consideration what favour he asked of the widow woman.

“Now is my chance,” quoth Gillo Macdonald, and he went without loss of time to the well in the garden, where he found, sure enough, the treasure the old pedlar had told him about. Having filled his wallet, without good-dav or with your leave or by your leave to anything or anybody, he went straight out of the door and took the road home.

“Oh, if I could only find my dear old grey mare,” he sighed, “how pleased I should be! Ah, then I should feel safe from these bold wenches.”

Scarcely were the words out of his mouth, when, turning a corner, he saw his old grey mare grazing by the roadside, and at his call she came whinnying up to him; and I can’t say which of the two was the gladder to meet with the other.

On her back he vaulted, and away towards Tarbert they galloped. His heart was as light as his wallet was full; and the mare’s head being turned homewards, both were in a hurry, so there was no need for whip or spur. Nor did he wait at Tarbert that evening, but for a large sum (what was money to him now?) he got the ferryman to take him across there and then; and by midnight he was at his own hearthside, with his mare in her cosy stable.

Next morning he was out and about with his servants, so eager was he to begin improving his farm with his new wealth, and he worked, and kept his gillies working, till the evening star came and. winked at the sun setting over Ben Dearg.

Then it was that, as he rested, leaning over the gate at the end of the field, he thought he heard voices up the road, and looking along there, what should he see about a mile off but five figures in green coming towards him, dancing, gesticulating, and chattering in a most unusual manner! No need, too, for him to ponder what visitors these might be, or what their errand was; so calling to his oldest and ugliest hind, he bade him cover himself with his plaid, and sit down by the hearth with a porridge bowl in his hands, just as if he were supping brose. Then running to the stable, he cut off a foot of his grey mare’s tail, which he plaited over the forehead of the hind, letting it fall in grizzly ringlets over his nose.

“Now mind,” said he, “to any visitors who chance to come, say you are the goodwife of the house, and ask them their business. As for myself, I will hide behind the peat-stack yonder, and bide the issue.”

In less time than I write this, there was a rare tapping at the door, and as the hind bid them enter the five green maidens hurried into the house.

“Is the goodman at home?” said the five green maidens, all at once.

“No; but I’m the goodwife, and may I ask you what is your business?”

At this answer the five green maidens stood for a moment transfixed with rage and wonder, then, shrieking aloud, they gathered up their coats and fled helter-skelter from the house down the road to the loch, and were seen no more.

So Gille Mardonald lived ever afterwards a life of wealth and comfort; and if he is not married yet, he can’t say it is for the want of offers, can he?


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