THE BROWNIE OF BLEDNOCH
OLD MADGE’S TALE
Have you ever heard of the Brownie Aiken-Drum? No? Well, I will tell you how he came to Blednoch. It was in the Autume time. The red sun was setting, When through our town he passed crying, oh! So wearily:-
“Have ye work for Aiken-Drum?
Have ye work for Aiken-Drum?”
He tirled at the pin and entered in. I trow the boldest there stood back. You should have heard the children scream
The black dog barked, the lasses shrieked at the sight of Aiken-Drum.
His matted head lay on his breast. A long blue beard fell to his waist. Around his hairy form was wrapped a cloth of woven rushes green. His long thin arms trailed on the ground. His hands were claws, his feet had no toes. Oh fearful to see was Aiken-Drum! And all the time he cried so wearily, so drearily:-
“Have ye work for Aiken Drum?
Have ye work for Aiken Drum?”
Then the brave goodman stood forth, and said: “What would you do? Whence come you by land or sea?” Then what a groan gave Aiken-Drum! “I come from a land where I never saw the sky!
But now I’ll bide with you, if ye have work for Aiken-Drum! I’ll watch your sheep and tend your kine, each night till day. I’ll thresh your grain by the light of the moon. I’ll sing strange songs to your bonny bairns, if ye’ll but keep poor Aiken-Drum! I’ll churn the cream, I’ll knead the bread,I’ll tame the wildest colts ye have, if ye’ll but keep poor Aiken-Drum! No clothes nor gold is wage for me. A bowl of porridge on the warm hearthstone is wage enough for Aiken-Drum!” “The Brownie speaks well,” said the old housewife. “Our workers are scarce. We have much to do. Let us try this Aiken-Drum.” Then should you have seen the Brownie work! By night he swept the kitchen clean. He scoured the pots until they shone. By the light of the moon he threshed the grain. He gathered the crops into the barn. He watched the sheep and tended the kine. By day he played with the bonny bairns, and sang them strange songs of the land without sky. So passed the months away, and all farm-things throve for the goodman and the old housewife. But when the cold night winds blew hard, a lass, who saw the Brownie’s clothes woven all of rushes green, made him a suit of sheep’s wool warm .. She placed it by his porridge bowl. And that night was heard a wailing cry so weary and so dreary:-
“Long, long may I now weep and groan!
Wages of clothes are now my own!
O luckless Aiken-Drum!”
And down the street and through the town his voice came back upon the wind:-
“Farewell to Blednoch!
And never again in all the land was seen the Brownie Aiken Drum!
Maybe he will show up for some porridge.