The Folk-Lore Journal/Volume 7/Devil Stories

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The Devil in Shape of a Dog.

IT was a common belief that the devil took the shape of a beast, often that of a dog, and made his way in that shape to any spot where a great crime was to be committed or some tragic thing to take place. J— R—, farmer, in Milton of Glenbuck, was one Sunday morning strolling over his fields to view his crops, when a big black mastiff rushed past him at more than ordinary speed. The brute attracted the farmer's attention by his great sticking-out "allegrugous " eyes. He followed him as fast as he was able, never lost sight of him, and saw him enter the door of the farmhouse of Drumgarrow, where two brothers lived. At that moment he heard a shot inside. One of the brothers was shot dead. A mystery hangs over the man's death. (Told by Wm. Michie, Strathdon.)


The Devil in Shape of a Stag.

The actor in the following story was Mr. Catnach, a teacher in Corgarff —

"Weel, Mr. Catnach, did ever ye gyang (go) to Mar Forrest t' sheet (shoot) deer?"

"Weel, I did that, an I got sumthing I'll never forget. It was a bad year, an a very, very bad year. There was no meal in the laan (land, country), but there was middlin' pitaties (potatoes). So I thocht I would tack ane o' my boys and go to Mar Forest, and try and get a deer to the pitaties. We geed (went) awa the nicht afore, landing in the Forest at the screek o' day. As soon as it was clear aneuch (enough) I saw a very, very fine stag. I fired at him, and the ball played skelk on's ribs is (as) they had been a granite stane. Thinkin' I had ower little puther in I loads again, puttin' in a puckle extra (quantity). I didna travel far fan (when) I sees my lad, again fires, only to hear the ball play skelk again. Weel, I shot an shot an better nor shot, till my amunition was a' deen (done) but ae shot a (of) puther, but I had nae ball. Stoppin' at a shiel near the head a Gairn (a stream in the Forest), the boy an me made pert t' pit by the nicht; but sic (such) a nicht is (as) we pat by. About the bell hoor the terriblest noise raise (rose) that ever I heard—boorin' like a bull, lowin' like a coo, and scraapin' as they wud (would) seen (soon) scrarap the rocks oot at their foondations. I wiz feart (afraid), an the boy wiz very, very feart; but I at the lenth (length) took courage, and I cries oot in God's name if your head wud rive. It never gave anither myout nor maneer."

"An faht think ye, Mr. Catnach, it wiz?"

"I'm in nac doubts faht it wiz. I saw't wee my twa leukin een. It wiz jist aul Hornie himsel, an he geed up a rock at the back a bothy in a great flash of fire."

"An ye got nae venison, did ye?"

"Aye, did I. As I wiz cummin doon the Glacks' o'Gairn I met a decent like woman an sat doon t' hae a crack wee 'er, fan faht diz (does) she see but a fine hind comin straucht (straight) till's. ' Hae ye a shot 'i yer gun, gueedeman?' said she. 'I hae puther but nae ball t' put in,' quo' I. 'Lat me see yer gun, gueedeman.' I gyah (gave) 'er my gun. She leuket at it, saying, ' Te hae a neeper (neighbour) wee an ill ee. Dunna len' him yer gun again, but tack a shot at that hind.' Tackin a careless aim kennin there wiz nae ball in I fired. Heels ower head geed the hind shot fair throww the heart."

"But fat cam o' the woman?"

"But that's mair nor I can tell. The boy said shee geed up the brae like a bawd, but I never believe 'im. The boy an me cam hame an twa gueede birns (burdens), an I had plenty a venison till my Yeel dinner in spite o' the deal (devil), but to sure wark I got a silver cross button on for a vissie on my gun."


The Devil in Shape of a Raven.

Many years ago there lived in the wildes of Braemar a man named lane use na gergie, i.e. blood John of the fir. He stuck at nothing; murdering and stealing as it suited him. On one occasion he along with two companions went a deer-stalking to one of the wildest corries in Mar Forest. Night overtook them, and they had to take shelter in a shiel among the hills. They had not been long in the hut when John was taken suddenly ill. His companions as they sat beside him were startled by a sound like the croaking of thousands of ravens. One of the men took heart and looked out of the hut to see what might be the cause of the sound. He saw a bird of tJie shape of a raven, and so large that his wings covered the whole shieling. The two men seized their guns and attacked the bird. They spent the whole of their ammunition on the monster, but without effect. It clung to the shieling. The men then went into it and barricaded the door, and waited to see what might be the end of the matter. John grew worse and worse till midnight, when he died. As he drew the last breath the door was burst open and the devil rushed in. He had the form of half man, half beast, with tremendous horns on his head, and cloven feet covered with iron. In a voice of thunder he cried out, "I claim my own," and at the same time made a clutch at the dead body. One of the men had a stick in his hand, and with it he drew a circle round the body in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, whilst the other "sained" (made the sign of the cross over) it. The devil had no power to go within the circle. Still he would not leave what he claimed as his own; and, summoning thirteen other smaller evil spirits, he with them danced round the dead man outside the circle during the rest of the night. As the first ray of light struck the peak of the highest mountain, they all disappeared through the roof of the shieling with a roar so terrible that it rent a hole in a rock near the shieling, which is called "the Hole of Hell."

Told often to James Farquharson by an old woman from Braemar, who died in 1843 at the age of 93.


The Devil in Shape of Pan.

It was in the days of smuggling whisky. There lived in the lower part of Corgarff a wild "raffie" sort of a man called David Bertie. He was a great smuggler. He kept a horse for carrying to different parts of the south country the product of his illegal still. One very dark night he set out on a southern journey to sell his whisky, mounted between two casks. As he had to pass near where the ganger (excise officer) lived, he had to keep a sharp look-out. On turning an angle of the road near the ganger's house, he met right in the face what looked like a man riding on horseback at a most furious gallop.

"Wiz ye ony fleyt, Davie?"

"L—d, man, terrible. I thocht it wiz the gauger."

"But it wizna (was not) him, wiz't (was it)?"


"Did ye ken fah wiz't?"

"Aye, fine that."

"An fah wiz't than?"

"It wiz the devil."

"An wizna (were not) ye fleyt at him, Davie?"

"Na; I wiz relievt fin I kent it wiz him an nae the gauger."

"An faht like wiz he?"

"Ow, he wiz a gay decent-like chiel, if he hidna (had not) hid a terrible head o' horns, an fearfu' long hairy legs wee (with) great cloven feet; but L—d, man, he hid a terrible smell o' brimstane.'^ (Told by J. Farquharson, Corgarfif.)