by: Wheeler, Les
A mixter-maxter o tales fae Scotland,Japan an Germany aa happit thegither
Lang, lang ago in the days fan aa the eggs wir double yokers thir wis this chiel caad Gordoni fa wint roon the fairs an markets entertainin the fowk. His name wis raelly Gordon but he thocht it lookit better an attractit mair fowk tae his shows if he added an ‘i’ tae his forename. He wis a taal an skinny cratur wi bricht reid hair an a sherp pyntit face. It wis the sort o face that suitit his job an because o the leuk o him he wis affen cried ‘Foxie’. He wisna the best at ae thing but he wis affa gweed at a lot o things. He stravaiged roon the country fae fair tae market actin, tellin stories, singin, blawin his fusel, jugglin an performin his favourite ploy as a quick-chynge artist. Ye see, he wid dress up as ae character, sing a wee sang, dae a wee dunce or recite a wee poem syne dodge ahin a screen an, afore ye could blink, be back again as somebody or something else. He his aa his claes an costumes made sae he could jist get them on an aff as quick as ye like an jist add a wee bittie o make-up tae mak the chynge aa the mair convincing. He wis affa popular wi the fowk an weel kent for his skeely wyes.
Ae day he wis performin at a market fan a mannie appeared an said he hid a message for him. Gordoni’s mither, fa made aa his costumes, hid taen ill an she wintit him tae come hame an look efter her till she felt better. Gordoni wis rael fond o his mither sae he packit thegither aa his stuff an made tae set aff tae his hame in a toon a puckle miles awa.
‘Tell me,’ spiert Gordoni tae the chiel fa’d delivered the message, ‘fit’s the quickest wye tae Nethertoon?’ Nethertoon wis far Gordoni bade but as he traivelled aa ower the country fae fair tae market he nivver taen a stracht road onywye.
‘Weel,’ said the chiel, ‘the quickest wye is tae hud oot o here an instead o the main road tak the track that rins roon the loch, but, of coorse, naebody in thir richt mind gaes that wye.’
‘Fu nae?’ spiert Gordoni.
‘Div ye nae ken? That’s far the Muckle Kelpie roams. If the Kelpie gets hud o ye thir’ll be nae mair markets for you!’
‘A gye beast this Kelpie is it?’ spiert Gordoni. ‘Fit dis it leuk like?’
‘Weel, that’s the thing,’ said the chiel, ‘ It’s a shape-shifter. It can chynge itsel intae onythink it likes. The only thing that disna chynge, fowk say, is that its een are aye a fierce, fiery reid!’
‘Ach, tae pot we’t,’ said Gordoni, ‘I’m nae a bad haun at chyngin shape masel sae I’ll jist tak the risk an hud roon by the loch road an tak my chunces wi aul reid een.’
‘If ye dae that I some fear that yer peer mither will nivver set sicht o ye again. Naebody gaes by the loch o the Muckle Kelpie an lives tae tell aboot it.’ An wi that the chiel waakit awa shakkin his heid.
Gordoni happit aa his stuff thegither, closed the buckles an set aff awa fae the market an taen the pathie roon the loch side. It wis a fine day an Gordoni, fa wis fit as a flech, made gweed time.
He wis aboot half wye alang the roadie fan he noticed, jist aheid o him, an aul mannie sittin on a rock. The mannie wis dressed in ferm servant’s claes an hid on a muckle floppy bonnet that covert his heid an maist o his face. But Gordoni hid come up on the mannie fan he wisna expectit an as the mannie lookit roon fan Gordoni cam in aboot, Gordoni got a keek o his fierce, fiery reid een!
‘Ah, ha,’ thocht Gordoni, ‘it leuks like I’ve met in wi the Muckle Kelpie!’
‘Gweed day tae ye,’ said Gordoni, ‘ye’ve decided tae be an aul mannie the day hiv ye? Man, that’s a grand ploy. Ye’ve made a richt gweed job o it.’
The Muckle kelpie got a bit o a shock at somebody jalousin fa he wis sae easily an by a chiel at that fa didna seem tae be feart o him at aa. It taen the Kelpie a minitee or twa tae think o a reply. ‘Sae ye ken fa I am, dae ye? Affa clivver. Fu did ye manage it?
Withoot huddin back Gordoni said, ‘Weel ye ken ae shape-shifter can aye tell anither.’
The Kelpie wis a bit mair bumbazed at that than he wis at Gordoni recognizin him. ‘Ye’re a shape-shifter are ye? Fit kine o a shape-shifter are ye?’
‘Oh,’ said Gordoni leukin calmer that he felt, ‘jist the usual fox kine o shape-shifter. You being a great skeely an wise cratur will ken foxes can shape-shift.’
Kelpies aye like tae hae thir naiturs puffed up an be blawn aboot. Thir gey bigsy craturs an he wisna gyan tae admit that he’d nivver heard o foxes shape-shiftin but he’d need tae be convinced.
‘Ye dinna see mony shape-shiftin foxes gyan aboot these days, div ye?’ he spiert craftily.
Gordoni wisna pit aff, ‘Weel, that’s nae a lee an thir’s nae mony left fae can dae it. I’m een o the fyow left, ye ken. I mind on the aul days fan mannies on horses wi muckle dogs wid be chasin us an we’d rin intae a wid or park o corn, chynge shape an daunner oot like an orra man or a kitchie deem an the dogs wid be fair bumbazed. I’m sure ye’ve seent yersel. Dogs yelpin awa aifter a fox an afore ye can blink thir aa ower the place, haein lost the scent, an bawlin like bairns. That wis the gweed aul days but mony foxes tint that skeely wye, ye see. Peety, but that’s jist the wye o’t. I micht even be the last o the fox shape- shifters.’
The Kelpie peered at Gordoni. Thir wis nae doot wi his reid hair an pyntit snoot he lookit like a fox but he still wisna convinced. ‘Let’s see ye dae a bittie o shape-shiftin,’ he said in a gey crafty wye.
Gordoni nivver batted an ee-lid. He taen his pyock ahin a rock on the ither side o the pathie. ‘Ye hiv tae mind that foxes are nae near as skeely as Kelpies. You’re the great maisters.’ The Kelpie, aye willin tae be flattered, nodded his heid in agreement.
‘Besides that,’ wint on Gordoni, ‘we canna chynge as quick as you maestros, we tak a bittie langer. Tae tell ye the truth, if I wis tae try an chynge back intae being a fox ivnoo it wid tak me aa nicht an I hiv tae be on my lane tae dae it.’
‘Fit wye yersel?’ spiert the Kelpie.
‘Wee,’ said Gordoni, ‘if them that canna shift-shape saa us daein it they wid ken oor secret an syne aabody wid be daein it an we dinna wint that, dae we?’
The Kelpie gaed a grudging nod an added, ‘Weel, onywye, Get on wi it. We hivna got aa day.’
‘Richt awa,’ said Gordoni an wint ahin the rock. He pit a sodjer’s bonnet on his heid, buttoned on a sodjer’s jaiket, grabbit his fusel an playin a grand sodjer’s tune mairched up an doon the road.
‘Aye, nae bad,’ said the Kelpie. ‘Fit aboot something else?’
Gordoni nippit ahin the rock, pulled aff the uniform, pit on a goon an wig, addit some pooder an lipstick an daunered fae oot ahin the big steen like a laird’s dother. In a hich wifie’s vyce he sung a bonnie romantic ballad. It wis easy tae see that the Kelpie wis impressed.
‘Aye, that wis a grand een,’ said the Kelpie, ‘but fit aboot a chynge o shape tae something smaaer.?’
‘A wise pick,’ said Gordoni, ‘ ye see I’m at aboot the biggest a fox can manage. Only the verra grandest o shape-shifters, like yersel, can mak themsels afa big.’
‘Jist as is anely richt,’ agreed the Kelpie as Gordoni jinkit ahin the rock an chynged intae the claes o an aul man. He pit a muckle bonnet on his heid, stuck some fite fuskers on his chin an added a fyow wrinkles wi a black pencil. He grabbit a smaa waakin stick, booed his legs, bent ower fae his wyme an hirpled intae view.
‘Ye really are smaaer! That’s affa gweed. I nivver wid hae believed it!’ said the Kelpie.
‘Weel, that’s eneuch fae me,’ said Gordoni. ‘Fit aboot you showin me fu it really should be deen? You’re the grand maister at this sort o thing. Thirs naebody in the hale warld can shift-shape like you!’
Weel it’s tae the credit o the Kelpie that even he felt his face turning reid wi aa this puffin up. ‘I dinna ken,’ he said, ‘I dinna like tae show aff !’
‘Och, come awa,’ priggit Gordoni, ‘I wint tae be able tae tell aa my freens that I’ve met the greatest shape-shifter in the warld an seen him prove it..’ Gordoni his his fish on the heu.
‘Aa richt,’ said the Kelpie, ‘Fit wid ye like me tae dae?’
‘Could ye mak yersel as big as that tree ower there?’
‘Nae bother at aa,’ said the Kelpie an afore ye blink an ee he shot up tae sic a hicht that he gaed Gordoni a rael fleg.
‘Govie Dick, fit a stammygaster,’ said Gordoni. ‘I’ve nivver seen onything like it. Ye really are the maister o aa shape-shifters. Fit aboot smaa? Div ye dae smaa?’
The Kelpie gaed Gordoni a peetyfu leuk, ‘Naething easier. Waatch this.’
As quick as a fermer knocks back a dram the Kelpie hid made himself aboot thirty centimetres taal.
‘Fit aboot that.’ spiert the Kelpie, fa wis getting ivver mair bigsy wi his ain performance. It wis a lang time since he’d bin able tae show aff fu skeely he wis.
‘Man, ye really are the best ivver!’ praised Gordoni, ‘but I winted tae see ye really smaa.’ Haein said that Gordoni taen a wee tin oot o his pooch, taen aff the lid an said,’I mean, could ye really prove yersel the greatest maister ivver by fittin intae this wee tinnie?’
The Kelpie wis really cairriet awa wi himself noo an made himself smaaer than a wee moosie an loupit intae the tin. The Kelpie wis jist gyan tae say, ‘Fit aboot that then?’ fan Gordoni slammed the lid on the tin trappin the Kelpie. He pit the wee tinnie intae a wee bit bigger tinnie, tied it up wi some towe, gaithert up some o the lochside clay an clairtit it aa ower the tinnies. He gaed it a puckle minitees tae dry syne wrappit it in a cloot an on top o that tied the hale thing up wi heather reets. He syne pit aathing in yet anither box that he filled up wi rocks an lockit up. He gaed doon tae the shore an lookit alang the waater line. There it wis jist as he’d thocht; a wee rowing boatie. He taen his parcel, pit it in the boatie, owed oot tae the middle o the loch an drappit the hael jing-bang doon tae the depths. The Kelpie wis trappit forivver.
Gordoni pit the boatie back, gaitheret aa his trock an set aff hame. By the time he got there his mither wis weel on the mend. There hidna bin muckle wrang wi her but she thocht it wis time Gordoni cam hame for a veesit. Gordoni didna mind an decided tae tak a fyow days aff fae his stravaigin tae recover fae his tryst wi the Great Kelpie.
Noo, the Kelpie is nivver heard aboot nooadays, but if yer ivver daunerin alang a roadie alongside a loch or a river, it micht be jist as weel tae keep a gweed leuk oot in case the Kelpie his managed tae get oot o they tinnies. It’s nae verra likely that he’d be in an affa gweed mood!