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The Little Men of Duthil

Once upon a time there lived at Mulinfenachan in Duthil a miller who was so strong that he was called Strong Malcolm. But though Malcolm was strong, no man in the parish was so afflicted as he with black laziness. Malcolm's laziness was encouraged by "little men” whom nobody ever saw, and very few ever heard.

When water was scarce, and corn had to be ground, Malcolm, before going to bed, would place a lippy of barley meal in the hopper; and during the night the mill would be seen lighted up, the wheel turning without water, the noise of shouting and laughter inside; and in the morning all the corn in the mill would be found ground, the meal in bags, and everything left tidy and in order. If any man was so bold as to enter the mill while the little men were at work, some unseen power would kick him in the rear with such force that he would fall to the ground; and when he would rise, with a broken and bleeding nose, the mill would be in darkness and all would be silent.

When straw was wanted for the cattle, a large basin of sowens was left on the thrashing floor at night, and in the morning all the corn was found thrashed, the straw in bundles, and the grain winnowed and ready for the mill.

One night, as the little men were busy in the mill the kiln of Tullochgriban was seen to be on fire, and the little men wore heard to exclaim “Who will have plenty of meal now, and sowens too, for Tullochgriban kiln is on fire, and Strong Malcolm must henceforth work for himself, or starve.” The little men then went away and never more returned.—“Folk Tales and Fairy Lore,” by Rev. James Macdougall, edited by Rev. George Calder. (Edinburgh, 1910).

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