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The Miller of Holdean

WHILE the miller of Holdean, in Berwickshire, was drying a melder [Grinding] of oats, belonging to a neighbouring farmer, tired with the fatigues of the day, he threw himself down upon some straw in the kiln-barn, and soon fell fast asleep. After a time he was awakened by a confused noise, as if the killogee [The empty space before the fireplace in a kiln] 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 mell," 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 meikie 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 [Artful] miller hath beguiled us,
Or we wud hae stown [stolen] his luck
For this seven years to come,
And mickle water wud hae run
While the miller slept.’

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