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Story of The Piper of Windy Ha’

Story of The Piper of Windy Ha’:

A LONG TIME AGO… a young man called Peter lived in a farm, Windy Ha’, situated on the north slope of the hill of Olrig. Around noon, on “a warm and beautiful day in the leafy month of June – on one of nature's holidays“ Peter stopped to drink from the well of Sysa and soon after he felt “irresistible drowsiness, like that produced by mesmerism, stole over him, and he finally fell fast asleep till near sunset”. Peter was awoken by “a beautiful girl, dressed in green, with blue eyes and golden ringlets” . Unbeknownst to drowsy Peter, it was the legendary Faerie Queen.

Smiling at Peter kindly, “in a voice as soft and clear as a silver bell“ the maiden offered to help him make his fortune, but first and asked him to choose between a set of “magical pipes inlaid with silver” or a “gold-embossed bible“. Peter would become either; a spiritually rich but materially poor man of the church; or, a rich and famous musician but seduced by the dark fruits of the material world.

Peter chose the pipes, and on his first attempt he “played them perfectly despite never having held the instrument before.” Before the maiden departed Sysa Hillock she formed a contract with Peter and said “There is one condition, seven years from this day at the exact same hour of the evening, you must meet me here, by the well of Sysa.” Peter swore that he would return in moonlight, on the very same evening, seven years hence.

Peter returned over the hill of Olrig to Windy Ha’ and his parents strongly advised him to throw the magic pipes away and forget about the whole ordeal, firmly in the belief that the pipes had been cursed by the Queen of the Fairies. However, Peter knew better and proceeded to cash in on his new-found musical ability and gathered a small fortune performing at parties across Scotland, himself partying heartily along the way.

Seven years passed and as the sun began to set Peter and his dog headed south from Windy Ha’ over the hill of Olrig towards Sysa Hillock. Half way, Peter commanded his dog to return home and it howled loudly watching his master disappear over the crest of the hill for what would be the very last time.

The sun near its setting poured a flood of yellow radiance over the brown moor and in the succeeding moonlight, Sysa seemed to glow with more than earthly lustre.

The piper of windy Ha'

Credit: Paul Reich / Northport
Credit: Paul Reich / Northport
Credit: Paul Reich / Northport

Music performed by:

James Ross – piano

Ryan Young – fiddle

Maxwell String Quartet