Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Celtic  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales, by George Douglas, [1901], at


THE old family of the Grahams of Morphie was in former times very powerful, but at length they sunk in fortune, and finally the original male line became extinct. Among the old women of the Mearns, their decay is attributed to a supernatural cause. When one of the lairds, say they, built the old castle he secured the assistance of the water-kelpy or river-horse, by the accredited means of throwing a pair of branks 2 over his head. He then compelled the robust spirit to carry prodigious loads of stones for the building, and did not relieve him till the whole was finished. The poor kelpy was glad of his deliverance, but at the same time felt himself so galled with the hard labour, that on being permitted to escape from the branks, and just before he disappeared in the water, he turned about, and expressed, in the following words, at once his own grievances and the destiny of his taskmaster's family--

"Sair back and sair banes,
Drivin' the laird o' Morphie's stanes!
The laird o', Morphie'll never thrive
As lang's the kelpy is alive!"



185:1 Chambers, Popular Rhymes of Scotland.

185:2 Shafts.

Next: The Fisherman and the Merman