The Folk-Lore Journal/Volume 1/Kelpie Stories

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Kelpie as useful.

A MAN in carting home his peats for winter fuel was in the habit of seeing a big black horse grazing on the banks of the Ugie, at Inverugie Castle, near Peterhead, each morning as he passed to the "moss." He told some of his neighbours. They suspected what the horse was, and advised the man to get a "waith-horse" bridle, approach the animal with all care and caution, and cast the bridle over his head. The man now knew the nature of the creature, and followed the advice. Kelpie was secured, and did good work in carrying stones to build the bridge over the Ugie at Inverugie. When his services were no longer needed he was set at liberty. As he left he said:—

"Sehr back an sehr behns
Cairryt a' the Brig o' Innerugie's stehns."

The old man, who handed down this story to his children, from one of whom I have now got it, used to say to any of them that complained of being tired after a hard day's work: "Oh, aye, ye're like the kelpie that cairryt the stehns to big the brig o' Innerugie, 'sehr back an sehr behns.'"

Kelpie as hurtful.

A miller was annoyed by a kelpie entering his mill during night and playing havoc among the grain and meal. One night he shut up in the mill his boar, for a miller generally kept a good many pigs and a breeding sow or two. As usual kelpie entered the mill. The boar stood on his defence, and fought the kelpie. Next night the creature appeared at the miller's window, and called to him, "Is there a chattie i' the mill the nicht?" "Aye, there is a chattie i' the mill, an will be for ever mair," was the answer. Kelpie returned no more to the mill.

"A lad and a lass" were taking a journey together. They came to a stream, which they had to cross by a ford. Seeing a white horse grazing on the bank they thought it would be easier to cross on horseback, if they could but catch the animal, than by wading. They found no difficulty in getting hold of the horse. They mounted, and entered the ford. Everything seemed to be going well, till they reached the middle of the ford. Then the animal started off at full gallop down the stream. He rushed along with loud haw-hawing, and kept shouting now and again:

"Sit sicker, Jenny Milne; ride fest Davie,
Till we win t' the pots o' Balrehvie.",

Kelpie is commonly spoken of as a black horse.

There is a deep pool in the Burn of Strichen, near the farm of Braco, Aberdeenshire. It was the home of a kelpie. One evening, a man, on his journey home, had to cross the stream. It was in flood, and the man was brought to a standstill. He saw a horse grazing on the bank. He conceived the idea of mounting him, and thus crossing the flooded waters. He went up to the animal, that submitted quite gently, and mounted. No sooner was he seated than off the creature ran, plunging along to the deepest part of the pool, and dragging his victim with him below the water.

Kelpie in Human Form.

Kelpie sometimes takes the form of a grey wrinkled old man.

A man was crossing the Burn of Strichen, at the same place, the farm of Braco. On approaching a dyke he had to pass over, he heard, as he thought, some one speaking. He walked quietly towards the spot from which the sound of words came, and peeped over the dyke. He saw an old man mending his trowsers, and, as he was mending, he kept saying, "That clout 'ill dee here; and this ane 'ill dee there." The man looked, and listened for a little. At last he inflicted a blow on the old man's head, saying, "An this clout 'ill dee there." In a moment the kelpie was in his true form, and off with loud neighing to his deep pool.

Kelpie seeking Human Companionship.

A young woman was on a journey. Night came down, and she lost her way. After wandering a little, she came to a place which seemed likely to give her shelter for the night. She entered, and composed herself to such rest as she could draw out of her resting-place. By-and-bye a little dog came, and lay down by her side. Shortly after kelpie made his appearance, and said to her, "Mack bed, bonnie lass, a'll lie wi' you the nicht." She was at a loss what to say or do to keep kelpie away. The doggie came to her help, and told her to say she had no blankets wherewith to make a bed. She said, "I hive nithing t' mack a bed wi'." Kelpie disappeared, but returned after a little, and threw into the place, where the woman and the dog were, a quantity of bedding, and repeated his former words: "Mack bed, bonnie lass, for a'll lie wi' you the nicht." What was now to be done? The doggie again came to the rescue. "Tell him y're thirsty, an bid him fess a drink in sieve an rivven dish," said the cunning animal. She did so, and kelpie set off to fetch the water. He soon came back with the complaint: "They winna baud in." "Then stop them wi' fog." Away went kelpie to gather fog (mosses), and to stop up the meshes of the riddle, and the crack in "te rivven dish." Hard did kelpie toil, but still the water escaped. By the time he came back, day had dawned, and the maiden was free.