Traditional Fairy Tales
I ken ye're fond o clashes aboot fairies, bairns; an a story anent a fairy an the guidwife o Kittlerumpit haes juist come into my mind; but I canna vera weel tell ye nou whauraboots Kittlerumpit lies. I think it's somewhaur in amang the Debateable Grund; onygate I'se no pretend to mair than I ken.
But housoever, the guidman o Kittlerumpit wis a vaguin sort o a body; an he gaed to a fair ae day, an no only never cam hame again but never mair wis heard o. Some said he listed, an ither some that the wearifu press gang cleekit him up, tho he wis claithed wi a wife an a wean forby. Hech-how! that duilfu press gang! they gaed aboot the kintra like roarin lions, seekin wha they micht devoor. I mind weel, my auldest brither Sandy wis a' but smuired in the meal ark hidin frae thae limmers. Efter they war gane we pou'd him oot frae amang the meal, pechin an greetin an as white as ony corp. My mither haed to pike the meal oot o his mooth wi the shank o a horn spuin.
Aweel, when the guidman o Kittlerumpit wis gane, the guidwife wis left wi sma' fendin. Little gear haed she, an a soukin lad bairn. A'body said they war sorry for her; but naebody helpit her, whilk's a common case, sirs. Housomever, the guidwife haed a sou, an that wis her only consolation; for the sou wis suin to farra, an she hopit for a guid bairn-time.
But we a' weel ken hope's fallacious. Ae day the wife gaes to the sty to fill the sou's troch; an what dis she finnd but the sou lyin on her back, gruntin an granin, an ready to gie up the gaist.
I true this wis a new stound to the guidwife's hert; sae she sat doun on the knockin-stane, wi her bairn on her knee, an grat sairer than ever she did for the loss o her ain guidman.
Nou, I premeese that the cot-hoose o Kittlerumpit wis biggit on a brae, wi a muckle fir-wud ahint it, o whilk ye mey hear or lang gae. Sae the guidwife, when she wis dichtin her een, chances to leuk doun the brae, an what dis she see but an auld wumman, amaist like a leddy, comin slowly up the gate. She wis buskit in green, a' but a white short apron, an a black velvet hood, an a steeple-crouned beaver-hat on her heid. She haed a lang walkin staff, as lang as hersel, in her hand--the sort o staff that auld men an auld weemin helpit themsels wi lang syne; I see nae sic staffs nou, sirs.
Aweel, when the guidwife saw the green gentlewumman near her, she rase an made a curchie; an "Madam," qo she, greetin, "I'm ane o the maist misfortunate weemin alive."
"I dinna wish to hear pipers' news an fiddlers' tales, guid-wife," qo the green wumman. "I ken ye've tint yer guidman--we haed waur losses at the Shirra Muir; an I ken that yer sou's unco seek. Nou, what will ye gie me gin I cure her?"
"Onything yer leddyship's madam likes," qo the witless guidwife, never guessin wha she haed to deal wi.
"Let's wat thoums on that bargain," qo the green wumman: sae thoums wis wat, I'se warrant ye; an into the sty madam mairches.
She leuks at the sou wi a lang glower, an syne began to mutter to hersel what the guidwife couldna weel understand; but she said it soonded like:
Syne she teuk oot o her pooch a wee bottle, wi something like ile in't, an rubs the sou wi't abuin the snoot, ahint the lugs, an on the tip o the tail. "Get up, beast," qo the green wumman. Nae suiner said nor duin--up bangs the sou wi a grunt, an awa to the troch for her brakfast.
The guidwife o Kittlerumpit wis a joyfu guidwife nou, an wad hae kissed the vera hem o the green madam's goun-tail, but she wadna let her. "I'm no sae fond o fashions," qo she; "but nou that I hae richted yer seek beast, let us end oor siccar bargain. Ye'll no finnd me an unreasonable greedy body--I aye likes to dae a guid turn for a sma' reward--a' I ask, an wull hae, is that lad bairn in yer bosom."
The guidwife o Kittlerumpit, that nou kent her customer, gae a skirl like a stickit grice. The green wumman wis a fairy, nae dout; sae she prays, an greets, an begs, an flytes; but a' wadna dae. "Ye mey spare yer din," qo the fairy, "skirlin as if I wis as deif as a doornail; but this I'll let ye to wut--I canna, bi the law we leeve on, tak yer bairn till the third day efter this day; an no then, if ye can tell me my richt name." Sae madam gaes awa roond the swine's sty end, an the guid wife fa's doun in a swerf ahint the knockin-stane.
Aweel, the guidwife o Kittlerumpit could sleep nane that nicht for greetin, an a' the next day the same, cuddlin her bairn till she near squeezed its braith oot; but the saicont day she thinks o takin a walk in the wud I telt ye o; an sae, wi the bairn in her airms, she sets oot, an gaes far in amang the trees, whaur wis an auld quarry hole growen ower wi gerse, an a bonny spring well in the middle o't. Before she cam vera nigh she hears the birrin o a lint-wheel, an a voice liltin a sang; sae the wife creeps quietly amang the bushes, an keeks ower the brou o the quarry, an what dis she see but the green fairy kempin at her wheel, an singin like ony prezentor:
"Ah, ha!" thinks the wife, "I've gotten the mason's wird at last; the deil gie them joy that telt it!" Sae she gaed hame far lichter than she cam oot, as ye mey weel guess, lauchin like a madcap wi the thocht o begunkin the auld green fairy.
Aweel, ye maun ken that this guidwife wis a jokus wumman, an aye merry when her hert wisna unco sair owerladen. Sae she thinks to hae some sport wi the fairy; an at the appyntit time she pits the bairn ahint the knockin-stane, an sits doun on't hersel. Syne she pous her mutch ajee ower her left lug, crooks her mou on the tither side, as gin she war greetin, an a filthy face she made, ye mey be shuir. She haedna lang to wait, for up the brae mounts the green fairy, nowther lame nor lazy; an lang or she gat near the knockin-stane, she skirls oot: "Guidwife o Kittlerumpit, ye weel ken what I come for--stand an deliver!' The wife pretends to greet sairer than afore, an wrings her nieves, an fa's on her knees wi: "Och, sweet madam mistress, spare my only bairn, an tak the weary sou!"
"The deil tak the sou for my share," qo the fairy; "I comena here for swine's fleesh. Dinna be contramaucious, hizzie, but gie me the gett instantly."
"Ochon, dear leddy mine," qo the greetin guidwife; "forbear my puir bairn an tak mysel!"
"The deil's in the daft jad," qo the fairy, leukin like the faur end o a fiddle; "I'll wad she's clean dementit. Wha in a' the earthly warld, wi hauf an ee in their heid, wad ever meddle wi the likes o thee?"
I trow this set up the wife o Kittlerumpit's birse; for tho she haed twa bleert een, an a lang reid neb forby, she thocht hersel as bonny as the best o them. Sae she bangs aff her knees, sets up her mutch-croun, an wi her twa hands faulded afore her, she maks a curchie doun to the grund, an, "In troth, fair madam," qo she, "I micht hae haed the wit to ken that the likes o me isna fit to tie the warst shae-strings o the hie an michty princess, Whuppity Stourie!"
Gin a fluff o gunpouther haed come oot o the grund, it couldna hae gart the fairy lowp heicher nor she did; syne doun she cam again, dump on her shae-heels, an whurlin roond, she ran doun the brae, skraichin for rage, like a houlet chased wi the witches.
The guidwife o Kittlerumpit leuch till she wis like to ryve; syne she taks up her bairn, an gaes into her hoose singin til't a' the gate: