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Main > Scotland folktales > Fairy tale "The Fairies of Merlin's Craig"

The Fairies of Merlin's Craig

Early in the seventeenth century, John Smith, a barn-man at a farm, was sent by his master to cast divots (turf) on the green immediately behind Merlin’s Craig. After having laboured for a considerable time, there came round from the front of the rock a little woman, about eighteen inches in height, clad in a green gown and red stockings, with long yellow hair hanging down to her waist, who asked the astonished operator how he would feel were she to send her husband to tir (uncover) his house, at the same time commanding him to place every divot he had cast in statu quo. John obeyed with fear and trembling, and, returning to his master, told what had happened. The farmer laughed at his credulity, and, anxious to cure him of such idle superstition, ordered him to take a cart and fetch home the divots immediately.

John obeyed, although with much reluctance. Nothing happened to him in consequence till that day twelve months, when he left his master’s work at the usual hour in the evening, with a small stoup of milk in his hand, but he did not reach home, nor was he ever heard of for years (I have forgotten how many), when, upon the anniversary of that unfortunate day, John walked into his house at the usual hour, with the milk-stoup in his hand.

The account that he gave of his captivity was that, on the evening of that eventful day, returning home from his labour, when passing Merlin’s Craig, he felt himself suddenly taken ill, and sat down to rest a little. Soon after he fell asleep, and awoke, as he supposed, about midnight, when there was a troop of male and female fairies dancing round him. They insisted upon his joining in the sport, and gave him the finest girl in the company as a partner. She took him by the hand; they danced three times round in a fairy ring, after which he became so happy that he felt no inclination to leave his new associates. Their amusements were protracted till he heard his master’s cock crow, when the whole troop immediately rushed forward to the front of the craig, hurrying him along with them.

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