The Selkie that deud no’ Forget

Ae time langsine, Mansie Meur wus pickan’ lempeds i’ the ebb, on the wast side o’ Hackness i’ Sanday, whin he wus stunned tae hear some wey amang the rocks a unco’ ceurious soond. Sometimes hid was like a bothy i’ terrable pain, makin’ meen; an’ dan hid wad mak’ a lood soond like the root o’ a deean’ coo. An’ dan again de soond wad dee awa’ tae a laich an’ maist peetifu’ meen, as gin hid been a bothy ootmucht i’ a bought o’ the wark. The soond wus sae awfu’ peetifu’, hid meed Mansie think lang tae hear hid. Mansie could see naethin’ for a peerie while bit a muckle selkie closs in at the rocks, rakin’ his heed abeun de skreuf o’ the water, an’ leukan wi’ baith his een i’tae a geo a peerie bit awaí. An’ Mansie noticed that the selkie wus no f’aer’d, niver dookid, an’ niver teuk his e’e aff o’ that geo.

Mansie geed ower a muckle rock ‘at lay atween him an’ that geo; an’ there, i’ a cunyo o’ the geo, he saw a mither selkie lyan i’ a’ the trouble o’ her callowin’-pains. An’ hid wus her that meed a’ the sair meen an’ lood yowlin’; an’ the faither selkie lay i’ the sea watchin’ his marrow i’ her trouble. Mansie steud and’ watched her teu, an’ said it wus peetifu’ tae see what the peur dumb animal suffered. An’ there he steud, a bit aff, till sheu callowed twa bonnie selkie calves, that wur nae seuner on the rock or dey grippid for de pap. Mansie t’ought tae himsel’ the calf hides wad mak’ a bonnie waistco’t tae him; an’ he ran tae whar dey wur a’ t’ree lyan’. The peur mither selkie rowed hersel’ ower the face o’ de rock i’tae the sea; bit her twa birds hed no’ wit tae flee. Sae Mansie gripped dem baith. An’ dan hid wus sae winderfu’ tae see the atfares o’ the mither selkie. She teuk sic’ t’ought for her young. Sheu rowed aboot an’ aboot i’ the sea, an’ baeted hersel’ wi’ her megs, like a t’ing distracted. An’ dan sheu wad climmer ap wi’ her fore megs on de face o’ de rock, an’ glower’d i’ Mansie’s face, wi’ a luck sae terrably peetifu, hid wad hae melted a he’rt o’ steen tae see her. The faither selkie was ga’n the sam’ way, only he wad no’ come sae near Mansie.

Mansie turned tae gang awa’ wi’ the twa selkie birds i’ his erms, – dey wur sookin’ at his co’t as gin dey been at the mither’s breest, – whin he heard the selkie mither gae a groan sae dismal an’ how, an’ sae human like, that hid geed stra’cht tae his he’rt, an’ fairly owercam’ him. He luckid aboot, an’ saw the mither selkie lyan’ on her side, wi’ her heed on the rock; an’ he saw – as seur as iver he saw a t’ing on earth – the tares feeman’ fae baith her e’en. Tae see nater wirkan’ sae sair i’ the peur dumb crater, he could nae bide hid mair. Sae he looted doon an’ passed baith the peerie selkies on the rock. The mither teuk dem i’ her megs, an’ clespid dem tae her bosom, as gin sheu been a bothy wi’ a bairn. An’ sheu luckid i’ Mansie’s face; – O! sic a blithe luck the selkie gae him. Sheu deud Mansie geud tae see her. For dat day the selkie deud ivery t’ing but spaek.

Mansie wus dan a young man; an’ a while efter dat he merried. An’ a lang while efter he merried, whin his bairns wur groun-ap folk, he geed tae bide on the wast side o’ Eday. Ae bonnie e’enin’, Mansie geed tae fish sillo’s aff o’ a oot-lyan’ rock. He wus a ootflow rock, that ye could only gang tae dry-shod wi’ low water. The fish wad no’ tak’ ava’ for a peerie while; bit whin he begood tae flow, sheu set on an’ teuk brawly, sae that Mansie steud an’ hauled whill he filled his sea-cubbie. The fish teuk sae bonnie, that i’ his feurceness tae fish he forgot the gate he hed tae gang. An’ whin he cam’ tae gang heem, he wus sairly stunned tae see the trink atween him an’ the land fairly flow’d ower, an’ the sea sae deep he wad taen him abeun de heed. Mansie cried an’ better cried; bit he wus far fae ony hoose, an’ nee bothy heard his cries. The water raise an’ raise, cam’ ap abeun his knees, abeun his henches, ap tae his oxters; an’ miny a sair sich gae he, as de water cam’ aye hicher an’ nearer tae his chin. He cried whill he wus trapple-hers’ an’ he could cry nee mair. An’ dan he gae ap a hup o’ life, an’ saw naething afore him bit dismal daeth. An’ dan, as de sea wus comin’ roond his hass, an’ cominí noos an’ dans i’ peerie lippers tae his mooth, jeust as he f’and the sea beginnan’ tae lift him fae the rock – summin’ grippid him bae the neck o’ the co’t an’ whippid him aff o’ his feet. He kent no’ what hid wus, or whar he wus, till he f’and his feet at the boddam, whar he could wad ashore i’ safety. An’ whin de craeter ‘at hed haud o’ him passed him, he wadded tae the dry land. He luckid whar he cam’ fae, an’ saw a muckle selkie swiman’ tae the rock, whar sheu dookid, teuk ap his cubbie o’ fish, an’ swam wi’d tae the land. He wadded oot an’ teuk the cubbie fu’ o’ fish oot o’ her mooth; an’ he said wi’ a’ his he’rt, “Geud bliss the selkie that deus no’ forget.” An sheu luckid tae him, as gin, if sheu could hae spoken, sheu wad hae said, “Ae geud turn meets anither.”

Sheu wus the sam’ selkie that he saw callowan’ on Hackness, forty years afore. He said he wad hae kent her mitherly luck amang a thoosan’. Bit sheu wus groun a arkmae. Sae that wus the selkie that deud no’ forget. I wiss’ a’ bothy may mind on what’s geud, as weel as that selkie.