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Rhys, Ernest, ed. (1859–1946). The Haunters and the Haunted. 1921.

LIV. The Red Book of Appin

CAMPBELL’S “Tales of the West Highlands”

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.