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Rory Macgillivray

Source: Folk-lore And Legends Scotland

Once upon a time a tenant in the neighbourhood of Cairngorm, in
Strathspey, emigrated with his family and cattle to the forest of
Glenavon, which is well known to be inhabited by many fairies as well as
ghosts. Two of his sons being out late one night in search of some of
their sheep which had strayed, had occasion to pass a fairy turret, or
dwelling, of very large dimensions; and what was their astonishment on
observing streams of the most refulgent light shining forth through
innumerable crevices in the rock--crevices which the sharpest eye in the
country had never seen before. Curiosity led them towards the turret,
when they were charmed by the most exquisite sounds ever emitted by a
fiddle-string, which, joined to the sportive mirth and glee accompanying
it, reconciled them in a great measure to the scene, although they knew
well enough the inhabitants of the nook were fairies. Nay, overpowered
by the enchanting jigs played by the fiddler, one of the brothers had
even the hardihood to propose that they should pay the occupants of the
turret a short visit. To this motion the other brother, fond as he was
of dancing, and animated as he was by the music, would by no means
consent, and he earnestly desired his brother to restrain his curiosity.
But every new jig that was played, and every new reel that was danced,
inspired the adventurous brother with additional ardour, and at length,
completely fascinated by the enchanting revelry, leaving all prudence
behind, at one leap he entered the "Shian." The poor forlorn brother was
now left in a most uncomfortable situation. His grief for the loss of a
brother whom he dearly loved suggested to him more than once the
desperate idea of sharing his fate by following his example. But, on the
other hand, when he coolly considered the possibility of sharing very
different entertainment from that which rang upon his ears, and
remembered, too, the comforts and convenience of his father's fireside,
the idea immediately appeared to him anything but prudent. After a long
and disagreeable altercation between his affection for his brother and
his regard for himself, he came to the resolution to take a middle
course, that is, to shout in at the window a few remonstrances to his
brother, which, if he did not attend to, let the consequences be upon his
own head. Accordingly, taking his station at one of the crevices, and
calling upon his brother three several times by name, as use is, he
uttered the most moving pieces of elocution he could think of, imploring
him, as he valued his poor parents' life and blessing, to come forth and
go home with him, Donald Macgillivray, his thrice affectionate and
unhappy brother. But whether it was the dancer could not hear this
eloquent harangue, or, what is more probable, that he did not choose to
attend to it, certain it is that it proved totally ineffectual to
accomplish its object, and the consequence was that Donald Macgillivray
found it equally his duty and his interest to return home to his family
with the melancholy tale of poor Rory's fate. All the prescribed
ceremonies calculated to rescue him from the fairy dominion were resorted
to by his mourning relatives without effect, and Rory was supposed lost
for ever, when a "wise man" of the day having learned the circumstance,
discovered to his friends a plan by which they might deliver him at the
end of twelve months from his entry.

"Return," says the Duin Glichd to Donald, "to the place where you lost
your brother a year and a day from the time. You will insert in your
garment a Rowan Cross, which will protect you from the fairies'
interposition. Enter the turret boldly and resolutely in the name of the
Highest, claim your brother, and, if he does not accompany you
voluntarily, seize him and carry him off by force--none dare interfere
with you."

The experiment appeared to the cautious contemplative brother as one that
was fraught with no ordinary danger, and he would have most willingly
declined the prominent character allotted to him in the performance but
for the importunate entreaty of his friends, who implored him, as he
valued their blessing, not to slight such excellent advice. Their
entreaties, together with his confidence in the virtues of the Rowan
Cross, overcame his scruples, and he at length agreed to put the
experiment in practice, whatever the result might be.

Well, then, the important day arrived, when the father of the two sons
was destined either to recover his lost son, or to lose the only son he
had, and, anxious as the father felt, Donald Macgillivray, the intended
adventurer, felt no less so on the occasion. The hour of midnight
approached when the drama was to be acted, and Donald Macgillivray,
loaded with all the charms and benedictions in his country, took mournful
leave of his friends, and proceeded to the scene of his intended
enterprise. On approaching the well-known turret, a repetition of that
mirth and those ravishing sounds, that had been the source of so much
sorrow to himself and family, once more attracted his attention, without
at all creating in his mind any extraordinary feelings of satisfaction.
On the contrary, he abhorred the sounds most heartily, and felt much
greater inclination to recede than to advance. But what was to be done?
Courage, character, and everything dear to him were at stake, so that to
advance was his only alternative. In short, he reached the "Shian," and,
after twenty fruitless attempts, he at length entered the place with
trembling footsteps, and amidst the brilliant and jovial scene the not
least gratifying spectacle which presented itself to Donald was his
brother Rory earnestly engaged at the Highland fling on the floor, at
which, as might have been expected, he had greatly improved. Without
losing much time in satisfying his curiosity by examining the quality of
the company, Donald ran to his brother, repeating, most vehemently, the
words prescribed to him by the "wise man," seized him by the collar, and
insisted on his immediately accompanying him home to his poor afflicted
parents. Rory assented, provided he would allow him to finish his single
reel, assuring Donald, very earnestly, that he had not been half an hour
in the house. In vain did the latter assure him that, instead of half an
hour, he had actually remained twelve months. Nor would he have believed
his overjoyed friends when his brother at length got him home, did not
the calves, now grown into stots, and the new-born babes, now travelling
the house, at length convince him that in his single reel he had danced
for a twelvemonth and a day.

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Previous: The Fairies Of Merlin's Craig

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