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Witchcraft
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; "ye’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.


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