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Tales From The Land Of The Brave

Western Europe



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The Death Bree








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This volume, Tales from the Land of The Brave, is the Scottish collection, part of a series covering the whole of the British Isles. These tales are drawn from some of the great collectors of Celtic and Scottish storytelling, and as ever, these stories illustrate the beauty and the darkness inherent in our ancestral memories and in our “modern” interpretations of this confusing world.

Reading Scottish fairy tales and legends can be a captivating and enriching experience for several reasons:

Scottish fairy tales and legends provide a deep dive into the cultural tapestry of Scotland. They reflect the traditions, beliefs, and values of the Scottish people throughout different historical periods.

Many Scottish folktales are intertwined with historical events, providing insights into Scotland's past. They can offer a unique perspective on the country's history, folklore, and the social context in which these stories originated.

Scottish storytelling often features a distinctive literary style, characterized by a blend of vivid language, folklore, and a connection to the landscape. Exploring these tales can expose you to a unique narrative tradition.

Like fairy tales from various cultures, Scottish stories often convey moral lessons and wisdom. Themes of bravery, cunning, and the consequences of one's actions are common, providing timeless insights into human nature.

Scottish folklore introduces a variety of mythical creatures and beings such as kelpies, selkies, and the Loch Ness Monster. These fantastical elements add an element of magic and wonder to the stories.

Many Scottish myths celebrate the natural landscape, incorporating mountains, lochs, and forests into the narratives. Reading these tales can foster a deeper appreciation for the beauty of Scotland's environment.

Scottish fairy tales and legends contribute to the shaping of Scotland's national identity. They are an integral part of the cultural heritage and help preserve a sense of continuity and tradition.

At their core, Scottish fairy tales are captivating stories that entertain and engage readers. They often involve heroic quests, magical encounters, and elements of the supernatural, making them a source of enjoyment for readers of all ages.

In conclusion, exploring Scottish fairy tales and legends offers a unique opportunity to delve into the rich cultural and literary heritage of Scotland. Whether you're interested in history, mythology, or simply enjoy a good story, Scottish tales provide a fascinating and rewarding reading experience.


The Doomed Rider

The Conan is as bonny a river as we have in all the north country. There’s many a sweet sunny spot on its banks, and many a time have I waded through its shallows, when a boy, to set my little scautling-line for the trouts and the eels, or to gather the big pearl-mussels that lie so thick in the fords. But these bonny wooded banks are places for enjoying the day in - not for passing the night. I know how it is; it’s none of your wild streams that wander desolate through a deserted country, like the Aven, or that come rushing down in foam and thunder, over broken rocks, like the Foyers, or that wallow in darkness, deep, deep in the bowels of the earth, like the fearful old Graunt
And yet not one of these rivers has more frightful stories connected with it than the Conan. One can hardly saunter over half-a-mile in its course, from where it leaves Coutin till where it enters the sea, without passing over the scene of some frightful old legend of the kelpie or the water wraith. And one of the most frightful looking of these places is to be found among the woods of Conan House.
You enter a swampy meadow that waves with flags and rushes like a corn-field in harvest, and see a hillock covered with willows rising like an island in the midst. There are thick mirk-woods on either bank; the river, dark and awesome, and whirling round and round in mossy eddies, sweeps away behind it; and there is an old burying-ground, with the broken ruins of an old Papist kirk on the top. One can see among the rougher stones the rose-wrought mullions of an arched window, and the trough that once held the holy water. About two hundred years ago - a wee more maybe, or a wee bit less, for one cannot be very sure of the date of these old stories - the building was entire; and a spot near it, where the wood now grows thickest, was laid out in a corn-field. The marks of the furrows may still be seen among the trees.

A party of Highlanders were busily engaged, all day in harvest, in cutting down the corn of that field; and just about noon, when the sun shone brightest and they were busiest in the work, they heard a voice from the river exclaim, “The hour but not the man has come.”
Sure enough, on looking round, there was the kelpie standing in the ford, just in front of the old kirk. There is a deep black pool bath about and below that place, but in the ford there’s a bonny ripple, that shows, as one might think, but little depth of water; and just in the middle of that, in a place where a horse might swim, stood the kelpie, and it again repeated its words, “The hour but not the man has come,” and then flashing through the water like a drake, it disappeared in the lower pool.
When the folk stood wondering what the creature might mean, they saw a man on horseback come spurring down the hill in hot haste, making straight for the ford. They could then understand her words at once; and four of the stoutest of them sprang out from among the corn to warn him of his danger, and keep him back, and so they told him what they had seen and heard, and urged him either to turn back and take another road, or stay for an hour or so where he was.
But he just would not hear them, for he was both unbelieving and in haste, and would have taken the ford for all they could say, had not the Highlanders, determined on saving him whether he would or no, gathered round him and pulled him from his horse. To make sure of him, they locked him up in the old kirk.
Well, when the hour had gone by - the fatal hour of the kelpie - they flung open the door, and cried to him that he might now go on his journey. Ah! but there was no answer, though; and so they cried a second time, and there was no answer still; and then they went in, and found him lying stiff and cold on the floor, with his face buried in the water of the very stone trough that we may still see among the ruins. His hour had come, and he had fallen in a fit, as ’twould seem, head-foremost into the water of the trough, where he had been smothered, - and so you see, the prophecy of the kelpie availed nothing.

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