A Fairy Joke

A Fairy Joke

Draw thy stool nearer and I’ll tell ye a true tale that happened when I was a bit gilpin o’ a lassie at Lochinwhirn.

My cousin Maggie Fairgray was as sonsie a weel-faured lass as ever graces the Ha’ o’ ony farmer atween Gargen Brig and the Corse o’ Slakes.  She wasna brought up like the guid-for-naething hizzies nowadays.  A’ the tome Maggie could be spared frae the hay or peat moss she gave to tentin’ her daddie’s sheep.

Well, it happened on a fine afternoon about auld Lammas as Maggie sat spinning on her rock (distaff) on a mickle grey stane near the brow o’ the well that bears her name to this day, she happened to look towards the well and frae a stump o’ moss oak about a foot ablow the water she saw gold chains supporting a kettle as large as ever swung in Lizzie Lowne’s lodging house.

Awa’ she heid wi’ a’ speed for her faither and brithers, but first she stuck up her rock – spindle and tow – to mark the place.  I mind weel to see her coming a’ forfochten up the close, crying, “Faither, Jamie, Will, evert ane o’ ye, come awa to the well at back o’ Bodsknowe and help me out wi’ a pot o’ gowd I saw in’t.”

“Hout, daft lassie,” quo’ her faither, “ye hae either been dreamin’ or some Elfe has casten its glamour o’er ye to gar ye droon yersel’ in that unsonsie well, but howsomever I’m thankfu’ ye escaped sae weel; and noo we’ll gang and see this wonderfu’ sight o’ yours, though troath I doubt nane o’ us will be muckle the richer o’t.”

When they reached the tap o’ the hill and Maggie cast her e’en towards Bodsknowe to look for her rock and spindle, the whole moss and moors as far as they could see was a forest of rocks and spindles.

“Did I no tell ye,” quo her faither, “that it was a fairy concern a’thegether?  And look yonders, the verra fowk themsel’s!”

Wi’ that a dozen wee fowk clad in green, as wi’ ae voice, started the auld sang, “Tea and Brandy,” then cried, “Maggie, Maggie, look aboot! Look aboot!”

Maggie and her friends did sae, and when they turned round again the elfin singers had set up a loud laugh and vanished.  Maggie’s rock was lying at her feet, the whole valley had its usual appearance, but her hale stock o’ tow was spun up.

And that’s nae carried clash, for it happened amang my ain honest fowks that widna lie for naebody.

Source: A Forgotten Heritage, ed. Hannah Aitken (1973). Taken from The Castle Douglas Miscellany, vol. 2.
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