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The Dracae

Source: Folk-lore And Legends Scotland

These are a sort of water-spirits who inveigle women and children into
the recesses which they inhabit, beneath lakes and rivers, by floating
past them, on the surface of the water, in the shape of gold rings or
cups. The women thus seized are employed as nurses, and after seven
years are permitted to revisit earth. Gervase mentions one woman in
particular who had been allured by observing a wooden dish, or cup, float
by her, while she was washing clothes in the river. Being seized as soon
as she reached the depths, she was conducted into one of the subterranean
recesses, which she described as very magnificent, and employed as nurse
to one of the brood of the hag who had allured her. During her residence
in this capacity, having accidentally touched one of her eyes with an
ointment of serpent's grease, she perceived, at her return to the world,
that she had acquired the faculty of seeing the Dracae, when they
intermingle themselves with men. Of this power she was, however,
deprived by the touch of her ghostly mistress, whom she had one day
incautiously addressed. It is a curious fact that this story, in almost
all its parts, is current in both the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland,
with no other variation than the substitution of Fairies for Dracae, and
the cavern of a hill for that of a river. Indeed many of the vulgar
account it extremely dangerous to touch anything which they may happen to
find without saining (blessing) it, the snares of the enemy being
notorious and well-attested. A pool-woman of Teviotdale having been
fortunate enough, as she thought herself, to find a wooden beetle, at the
very time when she needed such an implement, seized it without
pronouncing a proper blessing, and, carrying it home, laid it above her
bed to be ready for employment in the morning. At midnight the window of
her cottage opened, and a loud voice was heard calling up some one within
by a strange and uncouth name. The terrified cottager ejaculated a
prayer, which, we may suppose, ensured her personal safety; while the
enchanted implement of housewifery, tumbling from the bedstead, departed
by the window with no small noise and precipitation. In a humorous
fugitive tract, Dr. Johnson has been introduced as disputing the
authenticity of an apparition, merely because the spirit assumed the
shape of a teapot and a shoulder of mutton. No doubt, a case so much in
point as that we have now quoted would have removed his incredulity.

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