THE WHITE SNAKE

Frae: R. De Bruce Trotter, Galloway Gossip (1901), pp. 228-231

MAIST o thae Moats is on a knowe or risin grun, an commonly naur a water or the sea shore. Some o’ them’s no – Balmaclellan Moat, for instance, is on the tap o’ a knowe aside the kirk, an Rockele Moat’s on the tap o’ a hill atween Lochar Moss and Annandale.

The Moat o’ Dalry, like mony another yin, ’s on the edge o’ a slopin bank, on the tap o’ a bit scar on the Water o’ Ken, an richt ower a deep pule they ca the Boat-Weel.

The aul’ road frae St. John’s Clachan tae New Gallawa, the Water o’ Dee, Minnigaff, an Dalmellinton, gaed doon atween the Moat an the Aul’ Kirk, an cross’t the water at the ford, an through by Craiggubble; an there wus a ferry-boat on the weil for fit-folk.

They said there wus a muckle bress pot fu o’ goold at the buddum o’ the weil, wi a deil sittin on’t tae keep folk aff; but if there wus, it’s no there noo, nor the pot o’ goold aither.

They’re no the folk yonner tae let sic a thing bide, deil or nae deil.

The Moat’s an extra big yin, an there’s a road tae the tap o’t on the yae side, but a gude bit o’ the tap haes been taen awa, as weel as a pairt o’ the ditch next the water; only the ditch never haes gane a’ roon’t, the side neist the water no needin ony.

They say yt in the aul’ auncient times there wus a oak forrest a’ roon’t, an a maist desperate muckle White Snake had possession o’ the ditch, an lay in’t, an its tail waggle’t amang the water at the fit’ the scar at the yae en o’ the ditch, an its heid whiles floatit in the Boat-Weil at the ither, an whiles rase up on the tap o’ the Moat looking oot for something tae eat.

The natives had tae feed it wi milk every mornin, an if the forgat it, it didna forget them, but joost took a dauner up the Clachan, an ett a dizzen or twa o’ them, or a wheen kye; an sae they gat tae be kin’ o’ carefu aboot the feedin o’t.

It’s no joost certain yt it wus a Snake, for some accoonts ca’s ’t a Beast, some ca’s ’t a Dragon. An some ca’s ’t a Worm; but whatever it wuss, it had a serious appetite, an the natives gat tae be raither serious aboot it, an offer’t great rewards tae onybuddy yt wud kill’t. Plenty try’t, but it joost cransh’t them up like as mony carrots, an that wus the end o’ them. Efter a while it tire’t eatin them, an took tae swalla’in them haill, an wudna chow ocht weer nor a stot.

Weel, there wus a smith in the Clachan they ca’t Michael Fleming, an the Snake had hokit his wife oot o’ the Kirkyaird an made a brekfast o’ her, an the man wus mad aboot it, an thocht nae yin had a richt tae ill-use her but hissel; sae he set his wuts tae work tae fin som wey o’ murderin the puir innocent Snake; an he made hissel a coat o’ airmour, a’ cover’t wi knife blades, an they lay close tae the airmour as lang as he keepit quait, but whunever he begood tae warsel they stuck oot a’ ower him like the proggles o’ a hurcheon.

Yae mornin whun he thocht the brute wud be hungry, he gaed his wa’s doon tae the Moat, a’ close’t up in his airmour, an a weel-shepren’t gully in every han, tae try an get the Snake tae swalla him.

Hooever it wus sleepin whun he gaed doon, an he had thae jag it atween the scales wi a gully tae wauken’t. The minute it saw whut wus kittlin’t, it loot an awfu gulder, an made a dab at him, an afore he ken’t whuten en o’ him wus up, he wus sprauchlin in its inside, half chokit for want o’ breath.

Than he thraw’t hissel every wey he could think o’, an gart the knifes stick oot, an slash’t at it wi the gullies, till at last he kill’t it, an cut a wey oot for hissel, an raise’t the natives, an they cut it up in bits, an sent it doon the water in a spate; an than he gaed an claim’t the reward. They say there’s some o’ its banes aboot Loch Ken yet.

There wus a great history o’t publish’t in “Lowran Castle.”

THE SECKYBAN

MOATS

Note

Lowran Castle, or the Wild Boar of Curridoo: with other tales, illustrative of the superstitions, manners, and customs of Galloway by Robert Trotter ‘Student of Medicine’ wus published in 1822. Ye can get a sense o the style fae the openin paragraph o The White Snake of Dalry Moat:

“BARSKEOGH wood is celebrated in storied tale as the beloved haunt of the gay knights and fair young damsels of fairyland, who ever danced merrily along, beneath the broad oak’s spreading shade, to sounds sweeter than the sweetest music that ever met the ear or mortal man.” [Lowran Castle at Google Books]

Partial Glossar

Definitions frae DSL (links are tae the relevant entries).

  • Scar ‘A sheer rock, crag, precipice, cliff, a steep hill from which the soil has been washed away.’ [SCAUR]
  • Weil ‘A deep pool in a stream or river; an eddy, whirlpool.’ [WEEL]
  • Whiles ‘Sometimes, at times, occasionally.’ [WHILES]
  • Wheen ‘A few, a small number, several.’ [WHEEN]
  • Kye ‘Cows, cattle.’ [KYE]
  • Ocht ‘Anything.’ [OCHT]
  • Stot ‘A young castrated ox, a steer, bullock, gen. one of the second year and upwards.’ [STOT]
  • Begood ‘past tense of begin’ [BEGOOD]
  • Warsel ‘To wrestle.’ Here sense 4 ‘to toss and tumble about’ seems appropriate. [WARSLE]
  • Proggle ‘diminutive of Prog: ‘A piercing weapon or instrument, a barb, dart, arrow; thorn, spine, prickle.” [PROG]
  • Hurcheon ‘A hedgehog.’ [HURCHEON]
  • Gully ‘A large knife, often one blunted by use.’ [GULLIE]
  • Kittle ‘To tickle, to irritate by tickling.’ [KITTLE]
  • Gulder ‘A shout, a roar, a suppressed yell; growl, a howl, of a dog.’ [GOLLER]
  • Whuten ‘Which, of two or more.’ [WHATTEN]
  • Sprauchle ‘To move or make one’s way laboriously or in a hasty, clumsy manner, esp. in an upward direction, to scramble, clamber, flounder about, to struggle to extricate oneself from a restricted position, to sprawl, flail about with the limbs.’ [SPRAUCHLE]