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Elphinstone Kist   Stories for Bairns

The Servin Loon an the Siller Tassie (A Scottish Folk Tale)     by: Wheeler, Les

There wis eence a servin-loon fa deen his darg in a gran castle that wis richt on the tap o the cliffs abeen the sea. He wis a fine like billie wis the servin-loon an wisna feart o wark an did that weel that aabody, even the laird an the stoot aul butler, likit him.

Noo, because it wis richt abeen the waves o the sea the castle wa on that side wis gey thick, but it hid a wee door that opent on tae a wee stair that led doon tae the sea shore an rocks alow the castle. Fin the wither wis fine ye could gyan doon the stair an hae a richt gweed dauner on the sands or sweem in the sea.

On the ither side o the castle wis the gairdens an a yett that opent on tae the muirlan an if he daunert far eneuch ye’d hae come tae the hills in the distance. Dyod! It wis a bonnie placie fin the wither wis o a mine tae be fine.

The servin-loon likit naething better than tae gyan on tae the muir efter he’d deen his darg for the day. He could rin aboot as muckle as he likit, chasin foggie-bummers an buttries an watchin the birds in the trees an the brocks, deer an tods that spent thir lives on the muir.

Noo, the aul stoot butler didna mine the loon gyan tae the muir for he thocht the fresh air wid dee him gweed an he kent that fin ye’re jist a loon ye should enjoy yersel as muckle’s ye can for fin he got auler there wis a gweed mony things he’d need tae dee, like bein a sodjer for the laird, that wirna jist sae gweed. But for aa that he aye gaed the loon ae warnin, “Noo, heed my wirds,” he wid say, “enjoy yersel on the muir but bide weel awa fae the Fairy Knowe. Eemocks are nae tae be trusted an micht dee ye a lot o hairm. Bide awa fae the hame o the eemocks!”

The Fairy Knowe wis a wee green hill that wisna far fae the castle gairden but there wisna a road verra near it for fowk wint oot o thir wye tae avoid the Fairy Knowe. Some fowk wid waak a roon aboot wye that taen them near haun a mile awa fae the Knowe unless they hid tae gyan tae the castle an syne they wid bide as far awa as they could fae the hill. They kent that if ye upset the eemocks then ye wir in trouble. The eemocks come oot at nicht an fowk kent that if ye upset them they’d be efter ye at nicht an they could aye find thir wye intae yer hoose an dae something coorse tae ye or yir femlie. The eemocks hid even bin kent tae steal fowk awa an them that wir teen wir nivver tae be seen again.

Noo, tellin a willin cratur like the loon nae tae gyan somewye wis like tellin a foggie-bummer tae bide awa fae a pottie o jam; nae worth the bother. The mair he heard aboot them the mair the loon wis determined tae see the eemocks in the Fairy Knowe.

Sae ae nicht fin aabody wis sleepin he creepit oot o the castle by the back doorie, wint doon the steps, alang the sea shore, up on tae the muir an wint stracht tae the Fairy Knowe. He could hardly believe fit he saa. It wis jist as aabody hid said. The tap o the hill wis open an the licht wis streamin oot o it.

The loon jist couldna stop himsel. Afore he took time tae think he climmed intae the hole on the tap an slippit inside the Knowe. He foon himsel in a muckle ha that wis lit by hunners o wee cannles. Sittin at tables in the middle o the ha wir hunners o the wee fowk. Eemocks aa wye in aa sorts o colours that if ye lookit at ower lang ye micht hae wint blin wi the lowe o't.

The loon wis jist staunin at the back waatchin the ongyans fin aa o a sudden a voice rang oot, “Fetch the siller tassie!” an at that twa wee eemocks, dressed in bricht reed claes, wir aff at a rin an can back cairryin the bonniest siller cup that ivver ye saa. It wis a fair size o a tassie an they hid a gey job cairryin it.

Then something gey queer took place. Aa the eemocks began tae drink oot o the tassie, but the level nivver wint doon, it wis aye fu! Mair nor that, he saa that forbye the cup wis fu o reed wine fin the first eemock drunk, it wisna aye the same wine. Ilka eemock, fan he graspit the edge o the tassie tae drink, wished for the wine he likit best an he’d nae seener said it than, jingies! The cup wis fu o the wine he’d spiert for!

The loon kent that a tassie like that wid be the verra thing for the castle for the laird affen hid freens in aboot an affen they aa likit different wine. But the loon kent he couldna be ower hastie sae he jist sat an waatched an bade his time.

Syne een o the eemocks spied the loon sittin in the pit mirk in the corner an cried oot tae him, “Come awa ben an hae some wine,” said the eemock, “We’ve plenty for aabody.” The loon got a bitttie o a start tae see that the eemocks werna roused that he wis there. Jist the opposite. They seemed richt pleased tae see him.
But eence he’d sat doon amang them things began tae chynge. They began tae say orra things aboot his freen the butler, an aboot the laird. They said the castle wis an affa placie tae bide an that the maet in the castle wis nae gweed for ye an maist o’t wis aul rotten bitties that naebody else wid ait. “Grumphies ait better an sleep better nor you eens at the castle,” said een o the eemocks. “Aye, an they’re cleaner, as weel!” said anither. “Ye dinna ken fit gweed maet an drink is,” said a third.

The loon could see that things wir getting oot o haun an he’d need tae dee something if he wis tae get the tassie an mak a gweed escape. Sae suddenly he stood tae his feet, syne graspit the tassie. “I’ll tell ye fit,” said the loon, “I’ll drink tae yir gweed health, but nae in wine, but in waater!”
As he said it the wine in the tassie turnt tae waater. He raised the tassie in the air, but didna drink fae it. Wi a quick yark he chucked the waater up in the air an it cam doon on top o aa the cannles an pit them oot. The ha wis noo pitch bleck an the loon raced tae the openin on the tap o the hill that he could jist mak oot for the starns wir twinklin in the sky abeen it.

He got oot jist in time for the tap o the Knowe cam doon wi siccan a dunt jist as he louped oot o the hole in the tap. He set aff throwe the muir as fest as his legs wid tak him an richt on his heels wir hunners o eemocks aa skirlin thir heids aff an in sic a bin that the loon kent thir widna be muckle o him left if they catcht up wi him.

But it wis a lang wye tae the castle fan yir bein chased an the loon some thocht he wis in trouble, fan he heard a soond come oot o the pit mirk:
“If ye wint tae get tae the castle door
Keep tae the fite steens on the shore!”
It wis some peer cratur fa’d been taen by the eemocks an held prisoner an he didna wint somebody else tae fa intae thir hauns, but the loon didna ken this. He did ken, though, that fowk hid tellt him afore that the eemocks widna touch onybody fa hid waakt ower sand on the shore that wis still weet fae the waater o the waves. Ye’ll hae seen yersel that if ye waak on a beach fin it’s weet yir fit-prints leave a fite circle in the sand.

Sae the loon turnt roon an wint stracht for the shore, trippin ower heath an heather but jist bidin aheid o the eemocks. But he wis rinnin oot o breath an jist as the leadin eemocks wir awa tae grab his fit he fell ower anither lump o muirlan girss. He wis richt on the edge o the cliff an he tummelt ower – heelster-gowdie he wint tummlin doon the cliff side. Luckily for him thir wis eneuch girss an moss on the cliff tae stop him getting ower mony bruises but he landit safely at the bottom jist yairds fae the sandy beach. He loupit tae his feet, eemocks still nae aa that far ahin, an raced on tae the sand jist as a wave wint back an he kent he wis safe. The eemocks couldna follow him on the wave-weet sand. They made an affa din aboot it but there wis naething they could dee.

The servin-loon strode alang the shore, keepin tae the weet sand till he cam tae the steps that led up tae the back door o the castle. He wint rinnin up them, the tassie unner his airm, in throwe the door an back tae his bed.
For lang years efter, fan the servin-loon hid become chief servant o the castle, the bonnie tassie bade in the castle an aabody that veesited the castle wis tellt the tale o how the eemocks’ tassie fae the Fairy Knowe cam tae be kept in pride o place in the castle ha.

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