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Legends and Traditions
Fiddler's Well


 . . THE path rises, by a kind of natural stair to the top of the precipices, and continues to ascend till it reaches a spring of limpid water, which comes gushing out of the side of a bank covered with moss and daisies, and which for more than a century has been known to the townspeople by the name of Fiddler’s Well. Its waters are said to be medicinal, and there is a pretty tradition still extant of the circumstance through which their virtues were first discovered, and to which the spring owes its name.

Two young men of Cromarty, who were much attached to each other, were seized at nearly the same time by consumption. In one the progress of the disease was rapid— he died two short months after he was attacked by it while the other, though wasted almost to a shadow, had yet strength enough left to follow the corpse of his companion to the grave. The name of the survivor was Fiddler—a name still common among the seafaring men of the town. On the evening of the interment he felt oppressed and unhappy; his imagination was haunted by a thousand feverish shapes of open graves with bones mouldering round their edges, and of coffins with the lids displaced; and after he had fallen asleep, the images, which were still the same, became more ghastly and horrible. Towards morning, however, they had all vanished; and he dreamed that he was walking alone by the sea-shore in a clear and beautiful day of summer. Suddenly, as he thought, some person stepped up behind, and whispered in his ear, in the voice of his deceased companion, "Go on, Willie; I shall meet you at Stormy." There is a rock in the neighbourhood of Fiddler’s Well, so called, from the violence with which the sea beats against it when the wind blows strongly from the east. On hearing the voice he turned round, and, seeing no one, he went on, as he thought, to the place named, in the hope of meeting his friend, and sat down on a bank to wait his coming; but he waited long—lonely and dejected; and then remembering that he for whom he waited was dead, he burst into tears. At this moment a large field-bee came humming from the west, and began to fly round his head. He raised his hand to brush it away; it widened its circle, and then came humming into his ear as before. He raised his hand a second time, but the bee would not be scared off; it hummed ceaselessly round and round him, until at length its murmurings seemed to be fashioned into words, articulated in the voice of his deceased companion. "Dig, Willie, and drink!" it said; "Dig, Willie, and drink! He accordingly set himself to dig, and no sooner had he torn a sod out of the bank than a spring of clear water gushed from the hollow; and the bee, taking a wider circle, and humming in a voice of triumph that seemed to emulate the sound of a distant trumpet, flew away. He looked after it, but as he looked the images of his dream began to mingle with those of the waking world; the scenery of the hill seemed obscured by a dark cloud, in the centre of which there glimmered a faint light; the rocks, the sea, the long declivity faded into the cloud; and turning round he saw only a dark apartment, and the faint beams of morning shining in at a window. He rose, and, after digging the well, drank of the water and recovered. And its virtues are still celebrated; for though the water be only simple water, it must be drunk in the morning, and as it gushes from the bank; and with pure air, exercise, and early rising for its auxiliaries, it continues to work cures.


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