The Trows Steal a Child

G. F. Black, Examples of Printed Folk-Lore Concerning the Orkney & Shetland Islands

Two married brothers were living in one house, and the wife of one was expecting to become a mother. Her brother-in-law, being informed of what was going on, took up a fishing rod and set off to the Craigs (crag-fishing) to be out of the way.

He had to pass a plantiecrü, the favorite haunt of many Trows, and when he got there he saw a number of them going as if towards his house.

Jaimie instantly turned back, for he knew that they had power at such times, and the saining might be neglected. Hurrying home he went and opened his trunk, took out a Bible, laid it near the door, and left the key in the lock. Making sure that no door or box was locked in the house (for that angers the Trows and they have power when a key is turned), and exhorting the güde wives assembled not to allow their patient to go past the fireplace, Jaimie walked off, intending to visit a neighbor instead of venturing near the plantiecrü again.

But by that time the Trows had got near and found out that he had guarded the way to their coveted treasure, so they took all power from him as soon as he got a stone's throw from his own door. At that place he had to cross a stile and when he had got one leg over the stile, he found he could get no farther. There he sat without power to move; and he sat for hours astride the wall. By-and-by one of the güde wives came out, and seeing Jaimie sitting like that, she cried, "Jaimie, güde be aboot de! What's do sitting yonder for a' this time?"

As soon as she said "Güde be aboot de" the power to move came back and Jamie came home to share in the blythe feast. But that very night a child of his took a crying. It cried and cried for exactly eight days, then it lay as if sleeping for eight days, and all folk said that it appeared to be another child. Then Jaimie knew it was 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 an image left lifeless in the cradle.

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