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Elphinstone Kist   Stories for Bairns

Bairns o the Troch (A Scottish Folk Tale)     by: Wheeler, Les

Back in the early days o the 16th Century there wis aye a bit feudin wint on atween the gran femlies. Noo, it wis said that Farquharson o Inverey wis responsible for the death o Gordon o Brachlie. Brachlie hid merriet a young wife an Farquharson wintit her for himsel sae he challenged Brachlie tae fecht him an Brachlie, forbye he’d nae men tae help him like Farquharson hid, wint oot an focht Farquharson an wis killt. There are ithers fa say that it wis a son o Adam Gordon o Auchindoun fa trickit twa Clan Chattan spies tae cairry oot the dirty wirk an kill Brachlie because he winted the young wife tae himsel. Fitiver the truth is it his tae be said that maist fowk blamed Farquharson o Inverey, an sing aboot it tae this day, an it wis on the Farquharsons that the Marquis o Huntly, chief o the Gordons, decided tae tak his revenge. An a bloody vengeance it wid be.

Gordon decided that aa the Farquharsons wid pye for the death o Brachlie an tae mak siccar that neen wid get awa he got the Laird o Grant an his clan, freens o the Gordons, tae help him. Grant, ye see, wis kin o Braichlie, sae wis obliged tae help. Grant an his clan wid occupy the upper eyn o the Valley o the Dee an Gordon an his men wid come up the lower eyn o the Dee. On thir wye they wid kill, burn an destroy aathing in thir wye. Nae mercy wis shown tae ony Farquharson, fa wir massacred as a result of the Gordon plan. Near haun aa the men an weemin o the Farquharson clan wir slattert; only the bairns wir left alane. Gordon wis tae hae near twa hunner orphan bairns on his hauns.

Noo aboot a year efter the massacre o the Farquharsons, the Laird o Grant arrived tae dine at the Marquis’s castle. He wis gaen a gran denner wi the best wine an great entertainment for he wis a faithfu ally o the great Clan Gordon.

Fan they hid aiten Huntly said, “Come awa wi me noo Laird an I’ll show ye some rare sport.”

“Fine that,” says Grant, “I wis aye een for a gweed ploy.”

Sae Grant wis taen tae a balcony o the castle that owerlookit the kitchen; a balcony that wis meant tae lat the wife o the castle keep an ee on fit wis gyan on unnerneth wi the cooks an servin fowk. Noo, in the middle o the kitchen wis a muckle table an on it wis aa the remains o the mait that the Marquis’s servants hid jist aiten. Jist scraps, bitties o grizzle an some aul breid; nithin bit panjotterels. Aa this wis scaped thegither an pit in a muckle troch in the middle o the fleer; a troch jist like the een pigs ait oot o. Grant lookit an couldna think fit it wis aa aboot an fan he wis thinkin aboot it the maister-cook pullt oot a siller fussel an gaed it a blast. Syne a hatch, jist like on a dog kennel, wis raised an rushin intae the kitchie cam a hoard o bairns, bawlin, roarin an skirlin. They wir dressed in rags, some near haun nyacket, an loupit aboot like wild beasts. They threw themsels on tae the contents o the troch an shoved, focht an scrattit tae get the biggest share o the maet.

Grant couldna believe fit he’d seen an wis fair bumbazed. Noo, Grant wisna a coorse man an kent something maun be done aboot this. He didna see this as entertainment as Gordon seemed tae think it wis.

“In the name o Hivven,” he spiert, “Fa are these peer, dementit craturs fa are fed like swine?”

“They’re the bairns o the Farquharsons fa we killt last year on Deeside,” answert Huntly.

Shocked as he wid Grant couldna afford tae upset Huntly sae he said, “My gweed freen, my sword helpit tae mak orphans o aa these bairns an it’s nae fair that ye should hae aa the expense o lookin efter them. Ye’ve hin them for a year sae lat me tak them tae Castle Grant an I’ll see that they’re lookit efter noo. Ye’ve deen eneuch, it’s my turn noo tae bear the cost.”

Truth tae tell, Huntly wis getting scunnert o the bairns, the pig-troch bairns wir nae langer sic a joke as they eence wir, sae he wis happy tae pass them on tae Grant. The Laird o Grant taen the bairns tae his ain clan lands an seen that the bairns wir hoosed wi different Grant femlies fa brocht them up as thir ain an gaed them the name Grant, but, it’s said, thir descendants are still caad the ‘Fowk o the Troch’ tae tell the difference atween them an the lang-staunin femilies o the clan intae fit they were adoptit.

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