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Dun Borve



An old man in Borve was very much later than his neighbours in cutting his corn. One day he was standing looking at it, and he said aloud, "This corn is ready to be cut." Waking next morning this easy-going old gentleman saw, to his amazement, his corn cut and put up in stooks.

The next morning he was met by a man about four feet high and dressed in blue clothes. (This probably meant for green, as my informant, Donald Murchison, while working in the garden always called grass "that blue sing.") The old man asked the stranger where he had come from. "From Dun Borve," answered the little man, "and want pay for cutting the corn."
"What pay?" queried the old crofter.
"A few potatoes and a little pot," was the reply.
This seems a floating reminiscence of the demands of the much-dreaded tinkers, for, of course, potatoes were entirely unknown in the days when this story was first told. However that may be, the demands in this case were acceded to, and now hardly a day passed without the little man or his still less wife appearing with new requests.

The nuisance became quite intolerable, and the old man beat his brains for a means whereby he might put a stop to it. He at last hit on a plan. One day, when his troublesome visitors were as usual asking for something, he suddenly called out, "Dun Borve is on fire with all in it, dog or man." Instantly the fairy disappeared and from that time troubled the ingenious old man no more.

But at Portree Market he once more saw the little man. Unwisely, he spoke to him, and the fairy said, "How will you be seeing me?"
"With this eye," said the old man.
Instantly the fairy put spittle in the eye indicated, and, though the old man retained the normal use of it, the supernormal power disappeared.
p205-6 in
Folk-Lore of the Isle of Skye
Mary Julia MacCulloch
Folklore, Vol. 33, No. 2. (Jun. 30, 1922), pp. 201-214.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
3rd May 2007ce

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