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Elphinstone Kist   Stories for Bairns

French Kate an the Lady o Abergeldie (A Scottish Folk Tale)     by: Wheeler, Les

Back in the days fan fowk hid still time for a nyatter wi een anither there bade in Deeside a wumman fa a lot o fowk wir feart o – she wis French Kate an aabody kent she wis a witch. Kate wis a strong witch an affen a sma een, for if fowk wir chasin her she could change hersel intae a moose an rin awa in hide in places far naebody could find her. But like a lot o ither witches she wis catched an met her eyn fan a wizard caad Robert McKeiry chased her. Unfortunately for Kate, McKeiry could change himsel intae a futtret an he managed tae trap her, catch her, an mak sure Kate wis taen afore the coorts sae justice could be done. This wis the wye o’t.

Kate wis brunt at the stake for the droonin o the Laird o Abergeldie an Abergeldie’s wife wis in it alang wi Kate. Kate, ye see, hid veesited the wife fan Abergeldie wis awa on a veesit tae France an hid tellt the wife that Abergeldie was aye flirtin wi ither lassies. “Surely nae,” said the wife o Abergeldie, “I’d hae noticed.”

“Bring me a bowl o clear waater an I’ll show ye,” said Kate. The bowl o waater wis brocht an Kate began tae stare intae it wi her bricht green een. She began tae chant wirds in some fremmit tongue an afore lang there appeared a pictur on the surface o the waater. “Look! Look!” cried Kate, “Fit div ye see?”

An the wife lookit an saw her ain Laird on the deck o the boat that wis takkin Abergeldie hame fae a veesit tae France. He was daunerin roon the deck an on his airm was a richt bonnie lassie.

“Fu could he dee sic a thing tae me?” cried the wife. “Ye’re a witch,” she says tae Kate, “Dee something aboot it. Mak him suffer!”

“Jist fu much wid ye like him tae suffer,” spiers Kate wi a gleam in her green een.

“I nivver wint tae see the limmer again. Raise a storm an mak sure the ship gaes doon wi him on it!” roars the wife fa wis sairly upset by fit Kate hid shown her.

Weel, fa can raise a storm better nor an aul witch? Kate caad for an even bigger basin full o waater an it wis brocht. Syne she taen the muckle basin up tae the tapmaist chaumer in the hoose, richt up in the garret an set it on the fleer. Syne she took a widden dish an laid it on the waater in the bowl which floated like a wee loon’s boatie on a lade. Kate muttered a fyow wirds syne left the garret an wint richt doon tae the deepest cellar in the hoose. Eence there she hunkered doon an began tae recite her magic wirds ower an ower an looder an looder.

Up in the garret the waater in the basin began tae shimmer. Syne a fyow wee waves began tae appear on the surface an the widden dish began tae rock back an forrit. As the wirds o Kate got looder, the waater in the bowl got rocher an rocher. Hicher an hicher wint the waves an the widden dish wis bein tosst aboot like a feather in a gale.

As aa this wis gyan on the wife lookit on wi a draawn, fite face an een fu o hate. But she wis beginnin tae get feart as weel. Fit hid she stertit here? Suddenly the waater began tae look like it wis bilin. It wis hissin an rivin an splashed aboot ower the fleer. The widden dish slowly filled wi waater an sunk doon tae the bottom o the bowl. An oot at sea the verra same thing happened tae the ship that wis takkin Abergeldie hame fae France!

“Yir man’s at the bottom o the sea, noo, my lady,” said Kate wi a gleam in her green een, “Ye’’ve gotten fit ye wintit.” The wife said nithin except tae tell Kate tae get oot an leave her alane.

Nae lang efter this happent, wird came tae the castle that the Laird o Abergeldie hid bin lost in a storm at sea. They wir tellt that the sea hid bin as calm as ye like fan suddenly a muckle storm hit the shippie an doon it wint. Aabody on boord wis lost.

On the news becomin public the Lady o Abergeldie began tae get worried an she accused French Kate o haein cast a spell on the boat sae that the Laird wid droon. By deein that she thocht fowk widna suspect she’d hin onything tae dee wi it. Sae fowk set aff tae catch Kate an it wis Robert McKeiry, the wizard, fa catched her. Kate wis taen in front o the sheriffs an nithin she said made ony difference. “Tak her an burn her!” wis the verdict o the coort an that wis the eyn o French Kate fa wis brunt on the Rock o the Weemen on Deeside. Ye can still veesit the Rock, but, ye ken, if thir hid bin true justice then the wife o Abergeldie wid hae kept Kate company in the flames.

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