From Widow M. Calder, a pauper, Sutherland.
IN the mill of the Glens, MUILION NA GLEANNAN, lived long ago a cripple of the name of Murray, better known as "Ally" na Muilinn. He was maintained by the charity of the miller and his neighbours, who, when they removed their meal, put each a handful into the lamiter's bag. The lad slept usually at the mill; and it came to pass that one night, who should enter but the BROLLACHAN, 1 son of the FUATH.
Now the Brollachan had eyes and a mouth, and can say two words only, MI-FHEIN, myself, and THU-FHEIN, thyself; besides that, he has no speech, and alas no shape. He lay all his lubber-length by the dying fire; and Murray threw a fresh peat on the embers, which made them fly about red hot, and Brollachan was severely burnt. So he screamed in an awful way, and soon comes the "Vough," very fierce, crying, "Och, my Brollachan, who then burnt you?" but all he could say was "mee!" and then he said "oo!" (me and thou, mi thu) and she replied, "Were it any other, wouldn't I be revenged."
Murray slipped the peck measure over himself, and
hid among the machinery, so as to look as like a sack as possible, ejaculating at times, "May the Lord preserve me," so he escaped unhurt; and the "Vough" and her Brollachan left the mill. That same night a woman going by the place, was chased by the still furious parent, and could have been saved had she not been nimble to reach her own door in time, to leave nothing for the "Vough" to catch but her heel; this heel was torn off, and the woman went lame all the rest of her days.
The word spelt Vough, is probably spelt from ear; but it is the Gaelic word Fuath, which is spelt Fouah in the map of the estate where the mill is. The story was told in Gaelic to D. M., gamekeeper, and written by him in English.
Of the same mill another story was got from the same source, called--
1. MOULION NA FUADH. One of John Bethune's forebears, who lived in Tubernan, laid a bet that he would seize the kelpie of Moulin na Fouah and bring her bound to the inn at Inveran. He procured a brown, right-sided, maned horse, and a brown black-muzzled dog; and, by the help of the latter, having secured the Vough, he tied her on the horse behind him, and galloped away. She was very fierce, but he kept her quiet by pinning her down with an awl and a needle. Crossing the burn at the further side of Loch Midgal, she became so restless that he stuck the shoemaker's and the tailor's weapons into her with great violence. She cried out, "Pierce me with the awl, but keep that slender hair-like slave (the needle) out of me. When he reached the clachan of Inveran, where his companions were anxiously waiting for him, he called to them to come out and see the Vough. Then they came out with lights, but as the light fell upon her she dropt off, and fell to earth like the remains of a fallen star--a small lump of jelly. (These jellies are often seen on the moors; dropt stars resembling the medusie on the shore--COLLECTOR. They are white, do not seem to be attached to the ground, and are always attributed to the stars. They are common on moors, and I do not know what they are.--J. F. C.)
The same creature, or one of her kind.
2. In Beann na Caltuinn, one day called to Donald MacRobb, "Will you eat any charcoal, Donald?" "No," he said; "my wife will give me supper when I go home."
3. And it is said, that a family of Munroes had, many generations ago, married with the Vougha of Beann na Caltuinn. Their descendants had manes and tails till within the last four generations.
4. Four or five miles from Skibo Castle is Loch Nigdal, with a great granite rock of the same name to the north of it; at one and is a burn which passes the mill where the Brollachan entered. It is haunted with a Banshee (that is, female fairy), which the miller's wife saw about three years ago. She was sitting on a stone, quiet, and beautifully dressed in a green silk dress, the sleeves of which were curiously puffed from the wrists to the shoulder. Her long hair was yellow, like ripe corn; but on nearer view she had no nose.
5. A very old, coarse, and dirty Banshee belongs to a small sheep-farm of Mr. Dempster's. A shepherd found her apparently crippled at the edge of the moss, and offered her a lift on his back. In going, he espied her feet, which were dangling down, and seeing that she was web-footed, he threw her off, flung away the plaid on which she had lain, and ran for his life.
From all these it appears that the Fuath in Sutherland is a water-spirit; that there are males and females; that they have web-feet, Yellow hair, green dresses, tails, manes, and no noses; that they marry men, and are killed by light, and hurt with steel weapons that in crossing a stream they become restless. From the following stories it appears that they are hairy, have bare skin on their faces, and have two large round eyes.
The Rev. Mr. Thomas Pattieson has sent me a story from Islay, which he has written in English, but which he picked up amongst the people. It is as follows; but I have ventured to shorten it a little:--
6. The Water Horse.--There is a small island off the Rhinns of Islay, where there is a light-house now, but which was formerly used for grazing cattle only. There is a fearful tide, and it is dangerous to cross the Sound in bad weather. A man and a woman bad charge of a large herd of cattle there, and the woman was left alone one night, for the man had to go to the
mainland, and a storm coming on, he could not return. She sat at her peat fire in her cabin, when suddenly she heard a sound as of living creatures all about the hut. She knew her fellow-servant could not have returned, and, thinking it might be the cows, she glanced at the window which she had left open. She saw a pair of large round eyes fastened upon her malignantly, and heard a low whining laugh. The door opened, and an unearthly creature walked in. He was very tall and large, rough and hairy, with no skin upon his face but a dark livid covering. He advanced to the fire and asked the girl what her name was. She answered as confidently as she could, "MISE MI FHIN"--me myself. The creature seized the girl, and she threw a large ladle full of boiling water about him, and he, yelling, bounded out. A great noise ensued of wild unearthly tongues, questioning their yelling companion as to what was the matter with him, and who had hurt him. "Mise mi Fhin, Mise mi Fhin--me myself, me myself," shouted the savage; and thereupon arose a great shout of laughter. No sooner did that pass than the girl rushed out in terror, turned one of the cows that was lying outside from its resting-place, and having made a circle about her, lay there herself. The storm raged, and she heard the rushing of many footsteps, loud laughter, and sounds of strife. When morning dawned, she was safe, protected by the consecrated circle, but the cow she had disturbed was dead.
An Islay pilot told me this year that water-horses still haunt a glen near the island. Rattling chains are heard there. An account was published some years ago in newspapers of the appearance of a mermaid near the spot.
7. I myself heard the groundwork of this story long ago from John Piper; and I heard a similar story this year in Man. (See Introduction.) It is the same as the Brollachan. The creature was scalded by a woman (who had said her name was MI FHIN when he came in), because he wanted to eat her porridge and when he told his friends Myself had burned him, they said, "Ma 's thu fhin a losg thu fhin bi gad' leigheas fhin thu fhin--If it was thyself burnt thyself, be thyself healing thyself."
8. I again heard a similar story this year from a gentleman whom I met in an inn at Gairloch. He had a large knowledge of Highland tales, and we spent several pleasant evenings together. He has every right to stories, for one of his ancestors
was a clever doctor in his day, and is now a magician in legends. Some of his MSS. are in the Advocates' Library.
Mr. Pattieson points out the resemblance which this bear to part of the story of Ulysses, and, for the sake of comparison, here it is from the ninth book of Pope's Odyssey:--
9. Ulysses goes into the cave of the Cyclop with some of his companions. The Cyclop was a one-eyed shepherd, and his cave is described as a dairy; his flocks were goats and sheep, which he milked when he came home:--
Scarce twenty-four wheeled cars compact and strong.
The massy load could bear or roll along."
He was a giant, therefore, living under ground; and he ate two of the strangers raw. He spoke Greek, but claimed to be of a race superior to the Greek gods. He ate two more Greeks for breakfast, and two for supper. Then got drunk on wine given him by Ulysses, which was better than his own. Ulysses said, "No man is my name;" and the giant promised to eat him last, as a return for his gift of rosy wine, and went to sleep.
Then they heated a stake in the fire, and drilled his eye out. The Cyclops assembled at his "well-known roar," asked what was the matter, and were told--
"Friends, no man kills me, no man in the hour
Of sleep oppresses me with fraudful power.
If no man hurt thee, but the hand divine
Inflicts disease, it fits thee to resign.
To Jove or to thy father Neptune pray,
The brethren cried, and instant strode away."
It seems, then, that the Cyclop was a water-being as well as the Fuath and water-horse of Gaelic story, and the kelpie. There is no word in Gaelic that could be corrupted into Kelpie, but he is the same as Each uisge. The Gaelic tradition may have been taken from Homer; but if so, the plagiarist must have lived some time ago, for the story is now widely spread, and his edition must have had some other reading for ουτις, because the Gaelic word is "myself," in all versions I know.
10. THE CAILLEACH MHORE OF CLIBRICK was a very rich and wicked old woman (I have already shown that there is some reason to suppose she was a Lapp; and no Lapp ever offered me anything, often as I have been amongst them), who, though she
had plenty of the good things of this world, never gave anything away, and never asked a traveller to sit down in her house. A bold man once laid a wager that he would circumvent her. He accordingly walked into her kitchen, when she craved to know whence he came and what was his destination. "I come from the south and am going north," said he. "And what is your name?" said the hag of Greyside. "My name is WILLIAM DEAN SUIDHE." "WILLIAM dean Suidhe!" (sit down) she repeated; when he flung himself into a chair, and making her a bow, said, "That will I when the mistress bids me." She was very angry, and, taking out an enormous bannock as round as the moon, began to eat without taking any notice of him. "Your piece seems a dry one, mistress," said William. "The fat side is to me," said the witch. And indeed she had one side spread with butter about an inch thick. "The side that is to you shall be to me," he retorted; and caught at the cake. He called her a satanic old Cailleach, and left the hut carrying his piece away as a trophy. The old woman was left cursing, and praying that the cake might kill him; but he had too much sense to touch it, and his ill-wisher (the hag) foolishly finishing the remainder, died of its unhallowed effects, to the great relief of her neighbours.
Those who maintain popular stories are as old as the races who tell them, will probably consider the Brollachan, and the Water-horse, and the Greek story, as so many versions of an older original. In this case Homer has a strong claim; but he has an equal claim to several other stories in this collection, which Grimm and the Arabian Nights claim as popular lore. Sindbad, and Conal Crobhi, and Grimms' Robber, if plagiarists, are far more guilty than the Brollachan; and Murachadh Mac Brian, who follows, is quite as bad.
203:1 Brollachan is a Gaelic expression for any shapeless deformed creature.--COLLECTOR. I should translate it breastling, or bantling.--J. F. C.