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Changelings In The Borders


Edwin Sidney Hartland gives the following account of Dumfries and Galloway Changelings in his ‘The Science of Fairy Tales’ (1891). ‘A Kirkcudbrightshire tale represents a child as once left in charge of a tailor, who "commenced a discourse" with him. "'Will, hae ye your pipes?' says the tailor. 'They're below my head,' says the tenant of the cradle. 'Play me a spring,' says the tailor. Like thought, the. little man, jumping from the cradle, played round the room with great glee. A curious noise was heard meantime outside; and the tailor asked what it meant. The little elf called out: 'It's my folk wanting me,' and away he fled up the chimney, leaving the tailor more dead than alive." in the neighbouring county of Dumfries the story is told with more gusto. The gudewife goes to the hump-backed tailor, and says: "Wullie, I maun awa' to Dunse about my wab, and I dinna ken what to do wi' the bairn till I come back: ye ken it's but a whingin', screechin',' skirlin' wallidreg--but we maun bear wi' dispensations. I wad wuss ye,' quoth she, 'to tak tent till't till I come hame--ye sail hae a roosin' ingle, and a blast o' the goodman's tobacco-pipe forbye.' Wullie was naething laith, and back they gaed thegither. Wullie sits down at the fire, and awa' wi' her yarn gaes the wife; but scarce had she steekit the door, and wan half-way down the close, when the bairn cocks up on its doup in the cradle, and rounds in Wullie's lug: 'Wullie Tylor, an' ye winna tell my mither when she comes back, I'se play ye a bonny spring on the bag-pipes.' I wat Wullie's heart was like to loup the hool--for tylors, ye ken, are aye timorsome--but he thinks to himsel': 'Fair fashions are still best,' an' 'It's better to fleetch fules than to flyte wi' them'; so he rounds again in the bairn's lug: 'Play up, my doo, an' I'se tell naebody.' Wi' that the fairy ripes amang tke cradle strae, and pu's oot a pair o' pipes, sic as tylor Wullie ne'er had seen in a' his days--muntit wi' ivory, and gold, and silver, and dymonts, and what not. I dinna ken what spring the fairy played, but this I ken weel, that Wullie had nae great goo o' his performance; so he sits thinkin' to himsel': 'This maun be a deil's get, Auld Waughorn himsel' may come to rock his son's cradle, and play me some foul prank;' so he catches the bairn by the cuff o' the neck, and whupt him into the fire, bagpipes and a'! "



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