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The Fairies Of Merlin's Craig






Source: Folk-lore And Legends Scotland

Early in the seventeenth century, John Smith, a barn-man at a farm, was
sent by his master to cast divots (turf) on the green immediately behind
Merlin's Craig. After having laboured for a considerable time, there
came round from the front of the rock a little woman, about eighteen
inches in height, clad in a green gown and red stockings, with long
yellow hair hanging down to her waist, who asked the astonished operator
how he would feel were she to send her husband to tir (uncover) his
house, at the same time commanding him to place every divot he had cast
in statu quo. John obeyed with fear and trembling, and, returning to
his master, told what had happened. The farmer laughed at his credulity,
and, anxious to cure him of such idle superstition, ordered him to take a
cart and fetch home the divots immediately.

John obeyed, although with much reluctance. Nothing happened to him in
consequence till that day twelve months, when he left his master's work
at the usual hour in the evening, with a small stoup of milk in his
hand, but he did not reach home, nor was he ever heard of for years (I
have forgotten how many), when, upon the anniversary of that unfortunate
day, John walked into his house at the usual hour, with the milk-stoup in
his hand.

The account that he gave of his captivity was that, on the evening of
that eventful day, returning home from his labour, when passing Merlin's
Craig, he felt himself suddenly taken ill, and sat down to rest a little.
Soon after he fell asleep, and awoke, as he supposed, about midnight,
when there was a troop of male and female fairies dancing round him. They
insisted upon his joining in the sport, and gave him the finest girl in
the company as a partner. She took him by the hand; they danced three
times round in a fairy ring, after which he became so happy that he felt
no inclination to leave his new associates. Their amusements were
protracted till he heard his master's cock crow, when the whole troop
immediately rushed forward to the front of the craig, hurrying him along
with them. A door opened to receive them, and he continued a prisoner
until the evening on which he returned, when the same woman who had first
appeared to him when casting divots came and told him that the grass
was again green on the roof of her house, which he had tirred, and if
he would swear an oath, which she dictated, never to discover what he had
seen in fairyland, he should be at liberty to return to his family. John
took the oath, and observed it most religiously, although sadly teased
and questioned by his helpmate, particularly about the "bonnie lassie"
with whom he danced on the night of his departure. He was also observed
to walk a mile out of his way rather than pass Merlin's Craig when the
sun was below the horizon.

On a subsequent occasion the tiny inhabitants of Merlin's Craig surprised
a shepherd when watching his fold at night; he was asleep, and his bonnet
had fallen off and rolled to some little distance. He was awakened by
the fairies dancing round him in a circle, and was induced to join them;
but recollecting the fate of John Smith, he would not allow his female
companion to take hold of his hands. In the midst of their gambols they
came close to the hillock where the shepherd's bonnet lay,--he affected
to stumble, fell upon his bonnet, which he immediately seized, clapping
it on his head, when the whole troop instantly vanished. This exorcism
was produced by the talismanic power of a Catechism containing the Lord's
Prayer and the Apostles' Creed, which the shepherd most fortunately
recollected was deposited in the crown of his bonnet.





Next: Rory Macgillivray

Previous: The Seal-catcher's Adventure



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