24th July

The Cat, the Laird and the Teller of Tales

It is never wise to question the comings and goings of a cat. A cat has a life secret from humans, as a dog never does. Let the cat come and go as it will.

There was an old laird of Pitfodels, when the Menzies had possession of that estate in lower Deeside, a mile or two from Aberdeen. The troubles of this family are too numerous to describe, and this particular laird was no luckier than the others, but he had a favourite cat whose company, when it deigned to grace him with its presence, distracted him from his worries.

One day he saw this cat scampering through the Clash, a piece of boggy
ground by the Two Mile Cross, not far from the Brig o’ Dee. When the cat came in and, as was her custom, jumped up onto the table, the laird gave her a quizzical look and asked what business she had been about when he had seen her earlier.

‘Whaur ye saw me aince, ye sall see me nae mair,’ the cat answered, and leaping upon his throat she throttled the life from him.

There is no historical basis for any part of this story, even after ruling out the likelihood of the cat having such a good command of the Scots tongue. Perhaps it was a story told by another man of that locality, whose unmarked grave in a lonely spot used to be pointed out to the curious. This fellow had a reputation for telling the most unlikely tales. He would stress the veracity of his word by wishing that he might be buried out of sight of kirk or kirkyard if he was lying. To say such a thing in those times was a serious matter and few would have wanted to challenge him.

Eventually the man died. As his coffin was being taken to the usual place of burial, the corpse gradually became heavier and heavier till the mourners could carry it no further, and were forced to dig a grave right there and put him in it. Thus was his wish fulfilled and thus was he revealed as a liar of great capacity and boldness.

Reader: Gerda Stevenson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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