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the seal-folk
Children of the Mermaid.
Once there lived among the sea-tangled caverns of north-
western Scotland a people called the Children of the
Mermaid. Tradition in the remote sea-clachans of
Sutherland maintains that the Children of the Mermaid
were the offspring of a fisherman by a mermaid who, having
forfeited the fish-tail-shaped seal-skin covering the lower
part of her body, made it possible for her admirer to capture
her and take her to his home.
But there came a day when the Children of the Mermaid,
while playing in the barn, chanced to discover among the
rafters a seal-skin with a fish-like tail. This they instantly
brought to their mother, who recognised it to be her long
lost coat. Before their eyes she donned the seal-skin, and,
without even bidding them good-bye, rushed away to the
sea. Not since that day has the mermaid been seen by the
shores of Sutherland, nor have the natives heard tell of her.
But they declare that her descendants have derived from
the sea richer and fuller harvests than have the ordinary
inhabitants of these parts.
The Mermaid of Kessock.
Of similar nature is a story told in the locality of
Inverness and the Black Isle about a mermaid known
traditionally as the Mermaid of Kessock. One Paterson to
name, when strolling along the shore by the Kessock Ferry,
came upon a mermaid, whom he sought to detain. Paterson
proceeded to remove some of the scales from her tail, in
conformity with the old belief that, by so doing, a mermaid
was compelled to assume human form. No sooner had he
removed the scales than, lo ! there stood before him a
beautiful woman, whom he immediately married, and by
whom he begat children. The mermaid's scales Paterson
carefully wrapped up, and concealed in an outhouse.
The day came, however, when one of his children
discovered the scales, and took them to his mother, who
thereupon made for the shore, returned to her mermaid
state, and was never seen again.
It is said, moreover, that Paterson's wife, long before she

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