adapted from w. m. mackenzie's the book of arran, history and folklore (1914).

Location: Arran
hiding places, gaelic culture

The wee folk on the hill

There were two brothers, Jock and Rab, who were cutting peats on the Bouguillie Road, above Lochranza.

Jock was a hard worker, but his brother Rab was lazy. One day, Rab decided to skive off and go to the pub. Jock was already at his work. It was hard toil, and Jock eventually sat down for a wee rest, only to hear some very wee voices singing "Monday, Tuesday, Monday, Tuesday, Monday, Tuesday..." It was the wee folk, and Jock was curious, so he listened for a while and then responded by adding "Wednesday" sung in the same light tone and pitch. The wee folk were delighted! "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday", they sang. So delighted were they that when Jock turned around, a huge pile of peat was cut and as if by magic, it all gently moved back down to Lochranza without Jock doing anything. Jock was amazed and heard lots of wee voices laughing with delight and thanking him (when they weren't singing "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday" that was).

That day Jock was able to finish early and headed off home, following the peat stacks down the hill. Rab came out of the pub and was astounded to see all the peats that Jock had 'cut'. Being a kindly man, Jock was honest and told Rab he'd not really done this - it was the wee folk, as a thank you for helping them with their song.

The next day, Rab got up earlier than Jock and headed up the hill - if the wee folk could cut peats so quickly - what could they offer him? He planted himself at the edge of the peat that Jock had been cutting and listened carefully.... "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday" he heard sung in light soft tones. Immediately he yelled out, "and Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday!". There was silence, then the wee folk sang out softly "Monday Tuesday Wednesday..." then they yelled harshly "...and Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday!". It didn't sound pleasant and light at all! They tried again, the samething happened. This made the wee folk very angry.

Rab, meanwhile, wanted his 'reward' and told them so in no uncertain terms. The king of the wee folk spoke harshly: "You have ruined our song, and only because you want a reward. You shall be punished for your greed. From now on, we shall make every day insufferable for you." And with that, the humpy hill that Rab stood on was taken away - and placed on his back. "Every day, you shall carry this burden on your back. You will never disrespect your brother of the wee folk again". And he never did.

This story was submitted by Sheila Gilmore

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