In the days of yore, the proprietors of Colzean, in Ayrshire (ancestors of the Marquis of Ailsa), were known in that country by the title of Lairds o’ Co’, a name bestowed on Colzean from some co’s (or coves) in the rock beneath the castle.
One morning, a very little boy, carrying a small wooden can, addressed the Laird near the castle gate, begging for a little ale for his mother, who was sick. The Laird directed him to go to the butler and get his can filled; so away he went as ordered. The butler had a barrel of ale on tap, but about half full, out of which he proceeded to fill the boy’s can; but to his extreme surprise he emptied the cask, and still the little can was not nearly full. The butler was unwilling to broach another barrel, but the little fellow insisted on the fulfilment of the Laird’s order, and a reference was made to the Laird by the butler, who stated the miraculous capacity of the tiny can, and received instant orders to fill it if all the ale in the cellar would suffice. Obedient to this command, he broached another cask, but had scarcely drawn a drop when the can was full, and the dwarf departed with expressions of gratitude.
Some years afterwards the Laird being at the wars in Flanders was taken prisoner, and for some reason or other (probably as a spy) condemned to die a felon’s death. The night prior to the day for his execution, being confined in a dungeon strongly barricaded, the doors suddenly flew open, and the dwarf reappeared, saying—
“Laird o’ Co’,
Rise an’ go.”
a summons too welcome to require repetition.
On emerging from prison, the boy caused him to mount on his shoulders, and in a short time set him down at his own gate, on the very spot where they had formerly met, saying—
“Ae gude turn deserves anither—
Tak’ ye that for being sae kin’ to my auld mither,”
Notes: Contains 33 Scottish folktales.
Author: Charles John Tibbitts
Publisher: W. W. Gibbings, London