Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/411

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Old- World Survivals in Ross-shire. 369

superstitions to strangers, I (being lucky enough to possess two sides to ?ny tongue) have never had much difficulty in getting as much information as I want about old lore. To be sure, one old crony of mine once said to me, " Nach bu tu ghliachd^ ag iarridh sgeulachdan colach ris a chloinne bhig,^' (are you not a silly asking for stories, just like the bairns!). Nevertheless, many are the interminable yarns with which we wiled away the time together ; yarns of the second sight, fairy lore, ghosts and banshees, and other such sprites. For these are matters that still enter largely into our calculations in this region of magic and glamour. Here the little people with the green kirtles still hold high revel in the moonlight.^ Here are exercised spells, incantations, and other picturesque if sometimes gruesome relics of a primitive people. In our midst, too, are yet to be found dreamers of dreams and seers of visions, whose advice is frequently sought by those who are about to take any serious step. Among the people also there linger many customs quaint and curious, or grim and gruesome, which have long ago become extinct in those places civilised out of all primitive ways.

It was a popular belief among the old people that a suicide buried within sight of the sea drove away the herrings for seven years. Any person who came by his or her death in this way was invariably buried behind the Church. I well remember as a child hearing a discussion about the burial of a woman who " put herself aside," as it is expressed in Gaelic. Her people, who were by way of being superior to such beliefs, were anxious that she should

• The Highlanders most certainly speak of the fairies as Little Folks (Wee People). In Niel Munro's Sheiling Stories, which simply teem with Gaelic idiom literally translated, he makes constant allusion to the Wee Folks, show- ing that in Argj-leshire at any rate they are so designated. In our part, though of course the common name is Sithichan (the peaceful folks), I have constantly heard them described as wee folks with large heads. They are always asso- ciated with green clothes. " Kirtle " is not a Gaelic word. "Green coats" would perhaps be a better translation. I have heard them described as "a lot of lassies with preen petticoats," by a man who pretended to have seen them. VOL. XIV. 2 B