1887, September (pre): The Far Too Convenient Horse

As part of a study of legends of the Scottish lake monster known as 'ech-uisge' ("water-horses") published in 1887, Alexander Macbain made note of a strange experience a Scotsman he knew had once had. Briefly put, just know that just touching a water-horse would doom a person to be drowned and eaten; so Scots had to be wary of being tricked.

        As Macbain tells the story, the man in question came from a family who was famous for their supernatural visions and second sight (ability to see invisible spirits). The man went one snowy night to a plantation beside Tromie Bridge, in Badenoch, Scotland, to fell a tree for firewood, though it was against the rules of the estate. The snow was deep, and he was rolling the log onto the road to make his way home with it when he discovered in the middle of the road a horse that was completely set out for sledging firewood, "with traces and everything complete." He was a bit perplexed at this very convenient find, and stood a moment looking the strange animal over... when it flashed into his head that this could very well be the local water-horse tempting him. The man uttered an invocation to the Holy Trinity and left as fast as he could, leaving the log behind him.

Interpreting the Events

        While Macbain assured his readers that the story was an accurate description of events he was told, it was clear that Macbain felt that the account was an illustration of how the Scottish belief in the dangers of the water-horse had, in this particular case, prevented a Scotsman from taking advantage of a very convenient horse when it would have really helped him.

        On the other hand, it was very strange for such a horse so conveniently decked out to appear from nowhere at just the right time; so maybe it was a water-horse, which appeared when the Scotsman had committed a crime (felling a tree), and the Scotsman got away alive because he recognized the danger.

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