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The Red Book Of Appin






Once upon a time, there lived a man at Appin, Argyllshire, and he took
to his house an orphan boy. When the boy was grown up, he was sent to
herd; and upon a day of days, and him herding, there came a fine
gentleman where he was, who asked him to become his servant, and that he
would give him plenty to eat and drink, clothes, and great wages. The
boy told him that he would like very much to get a good suit of clothes,
but that he would not engage till he would see his master; but the fine
gentleman would have him engaged without any delay; this the boy would
not do upon any terms till he would see his master. "Well," says the
gentleman, "in the meantime write your name in this book." Saying this,
he puts his hand into his oxter pocket, and pulling out a large red
book, he told the boy to write his name in the book. This the boy would
not do; neither would he tell his name, till he would acquaint his
master first. "Now," says the gentleman, "since you will neither engage,
or tell your name, till you see your present master, be sure to meet me
about sunset to-morrow, at a certain place?" The boy promised that he
would be sure to meet him at the place about sunsetting. When the boy
came home he told his master what the gentleman said to him. "Poor boy,"
says he, "a fine master he would make; lucky for you that you neither
engaged nor wrote your name in his book; but since you promised to meet
him, you must go; but as you value your life, do as I tell you." His
master gave him a sword, and at the same time he told him to be sure to
be at the place mentioned a while before sunset, and to draw a circle
round himself with the point of the sword in the name of Trinity. "When
you do this, draw a cross in the centre of the circle, upon which you
will stand yourself; and do not move out of that position till the
rising of the sun next morning." He also told him that he would wish him
to come out of the circle to put his name in the book; but that upon no
account he was to leave the circle; "but ask the book till you would
write your name yourself, and when once you get hold of the book keep
it, he cannot touch a hair of your head, if you keep inside the circle."

So the boy was at the place long before the gentleman made his
appearance; but sure enough he came after sunset; he tried all his arts
to get the boy outside the circle, to sign his name in the red book, but
the boy would not move one foot out from where he stood; but, at the
long last, he handed the book to the boy, so as to write his name
therein. The book was no sooner inside the circle than it fell out of
the gentleman's hand inside the circle; the boy cautiously stretched out
his hand for the book, and as soon as he got hold of it, he put it in
his oxter. When the fine gentleman saw that he did not mean to give him
back the book, he got furious; and at last he transformed himself into
great many likenesses, blowing fire and brimstone out of his mouth and
nostrils; at times he would appear as a horse, other times a huge cat,
and a fearful beast (uille bbeast); he was going round the circle the
length of the night; when day was beginning to break he let out one
fearful screech; he put himself in the shape of a large raven, and he
was soon out of the boy's sight. The boy still remained where he was
till he saw the sun in the morning, which no sooner he observed, than he
took to his soles home as fast as he could. He gave the book to his
master; and this is how the far-famed red book of Appin was got.





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