|It might be best not to speak to anyone you meet up here.
A long time ago there was a servant lassie, who worked for the Minister at Little Dunkeld. She was a quiet lass, who had no mind for dances and such follies, and she liked fine to go for long walks on Birnam Hill.The Minister thought he'd better meet this man, so he was asked to the Manse. He looked very grand, and spoke very nicely, but when the Minister looked down at his feet - the blood ran cold in his veins, 'for he saw that he had cloven hoofs, and he knew that there was just one person that had that.' The girl couldn't seem to see them - she just saw a shiny pair of boots.
After a time she told the Minister that she had met a grand gentleman there, who used to walk and talk with her, and he was courting her.
She wasn't to be put off, and eventually they were to be married. The Minister was not very happy but got her to agree to one condition - that if they were to be wed, he would do the ceremony himself.
On the big day the Fine Gentleman turned up in his carriage drawn by six black horses. Everyone was very impressed but the Minister could still see his cloven hoofs as plain as anything. Before the ceremony the Minister got a candle and lit it at both ends - "Now when this candle is burnt out I'll marry you, and not a minute before." The bride and groom were most put out, but everyone stood there waiting. When it had burnt down to a couple of inches, the Minister popped it into his mouth and swallowed it - "Now it'll never burn out and you'll never be married!" Upon this theatricality the stranger gave an enormous shriek, leapt out the window and disappeared into the ground. They say no grass will grow on that spot to this day.
The story was collected by K M Briggs from a Mary Crerer who lived in Dunkeld in 1926. It's printed in Briggs' 'Dictionary of British Folktales'.
Posted by Rhiannon
28th May 2009ce
Edited 28th May 2009ce