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The Trows take their revenge

Trowie Revenge: Art by Sigurd TowrieAt one time, a long time ago, there were two married brothers who lived in the same old croft.

The wife of one of the brother's was heavily pregnant and expected to give birth any day, so her brother-in-law, after being ushered out of the house by the local spaewife, took up his fishing rod and turned towards the Craigs for some solitude.

On his route to the cliffs, the brother had to pass a plantiecrüe, the favorite haunt of many trows, and when he reached it, saw a number of the uncanny creatures scurrying along, heading in the direction of his house.

Cold, icy fear gripped the brother's heart, for he knew well what the trows were planning. They had power at such times, and when the child was born the saining might be neglected.

Dropping his fishing gear, he sped of home, where he slammed shut the door. Ignoring the "tutting" of the spaewife, who sat poking at the fire, the brother went to his trunk and removed his Bible.

He laid the Holy Book near the door, left the key in the lock and made certain that no door or box in their dwelling was locked - that angers the trows and they have power when a key is turned. After instructing the assembled women not to allow their patient to go past the fireplace, the brother left the house again. This time, however, he planned on visiting a neighbour instead to venturing near the plantiecrue again.

But by this time, the trows were close to the house and they realised that the brother had guarded the way to their coveted treasure. Angered, they took all power from him before he had taken a few steps from his own front door.

At the place where he had to cross a stile, the unfortunate man found that after getting one leg over, he could get no farther.

There he stood robbed of the power to move.

And there he stood for hours, paralysed astride the dyke until finally, the old spaewife came out of the house. Seeing the man sitting like that, she shouted out: "Jeemie, Geud be aboot dee! Whit's dee sitting yonder for a' this time?"

As soon as she uttered "God be about thee", the magical paralysis was lifted and the brother was able to come home to join in the blythe feast.

But he had not escaped the wrath of the trows.

That same night one of his children took to crying. It howled and bawled for exactly eight days, and then it lay as if sleeping for eight days. All the whilem the grief-stricken man wrung his hands over the lifeless form of his infant night and day, while the folk around about said that it appeared to be another child.

Then the man knew it had to be a changeling, so he set the cradle outside the house-door, beyond the shadow of the lintel, and the changeling was no more.

There was just a pale image left lifeless in the little wooden cradle.