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A folktale about the Noggle

NoggleV — There is a " trow " called a
" Neogle," somewhat akin to the water-kelpie of other
lands, who makes his appearance about mills, particularly
when grinding, in the shape of a beautiful poney \sic\
That he may attract the attention of the person who
acts the part of the miller, he seizes and holds fast the
wheel of the mill ; and, as is natural, the miller goes
out to examine into the cause of the stoppage ; when, to
his astonishment, a beautiful poney, saddled and bridled,
is standing, and ready to be mounted ; who but an old
miller could let slip such a fair opportunity for a ride }
But if he should neglect warnings, and unguardedly put
his foot in the stirrup, his fate is sealed. Neither bit or
bridle avail him anything. Off goes the poney, bog or
bank arrest not his course, till in the deep sea he throws
his rider, and himself evanishes in a flash of flame. But
some millers are proof against the temptation, having been
taught caution by the fate of others ; and instead of
taking a ride, salute his Neogleship with a fiery brand
through the lightning-tree hole, which makes him im-
mediately scamper away. — 

With regard to the legendary attributes of the Nuggle,
he was believed to be more deceitful than courageous;
and his sole bent seemed to be to play mischievous
pranks on the human race. I am not aware of any
Shetland word that connects the name with water, but
the tradition is that the Nuggle was never found at any
distance from the water ; generally frequenting a footpath
near a loch or a burn on which water-mills were built.
The object the Nuggle had in frequenting footpaths near
a loch, was to ofler his services to any unsuspecting
wayfarer who might feel disposed to take advantage of
them, in order to facilitate his progress, if likely to be
benighted. In form he was exactly like a pony, with
the exception of his tail, which was said to resemble
the rim of a wheel, but which he cunningly kept concealed
between his hind legs, when he meant to victimise any
pedestrian ; and woe be to the man who bestrode him
without examining that appendage ! It was not stated
whether he used his tail as a means of locomotion or
not ; but no sooner had he felt the weight of his victim,
than with lightning speed he flew into the water, and
the equestrian found himself submerged beyond his depth,
and if he ever gained the shore, it was no fault of the
Nuggle. He did not, however, attempt attack ; but it
is said when the rider got his head above water, he
saw him disappear in cloudy vapour or blue flame.

This was one of his pranks, the other was alleged
to be played on people grinding corn at the water-mill.
All of a sudden the mill would stand still, while the
water was running on the wheel, or " tirl " in full power.
This was very unpleasant to an individual who was alone
in the mill in the night — perhaps a mile from the nearest
habitation. The cure for this was to throw a fire-brand
down the " lighting-hole " in the " looder." It appears
the miscreant can't stand fire, for no sooner is the cure,
applied than he lets go his hold of the "tirl," and the
machinery is again in motion. Numerous instances are
recorded, illustrating both these phases of his propensity
to work mischief.

[From Mr. Laurenson Mr. Blind obtained an account
of a man who had " quite recently " seen the " Nuggle."
Mr. Laurenson says :]

"The Man is a very worthy, 'decent' man (as they
call a sensible well-behaved person here), and well known
to me from childhood. But I certainly never would have
supposed that he believed in the * Njuggle,' had we not
accidentally come on the subject. He told me that, when
a young man, one night his sister and he were coming
down by a ' burn,' each carrying a lighted brand, to show
them their way, a very common mode of lighting up
the path in the Shetland country districts in winter.
The night was very dark. Some sparks from their brands
blew into the water, and that moment *a creature like
a Shetland horse ' rose in the middle of the burn, rushed
down stream, straight out the mouth of the burn, and
away into the sea. They were then near the sea ; and
they saw it vanish therein. Then they knew it was the
* Njuggle,' because, when fire touches the water, he rushes
off. My informant had a friend who one night was
grinding in his mill. Suddenly the mill stopped. He
suspected it was the ' Njuggle,' and slipped a lighted
brand down the shaft hole of the mill. When it touched
the water, the wheel went round again, as before, the
Njuggle having let it go. He is of a grey colour."

In an account of the Nuggle obtained from another
correspondent it is stated that :

" The Water Nuggle — also called in some parts of
Shetland, the Shoepultie — resembles the Scotch Water
Kelpie strongly in almost every particular, save the tail,
. . . which he knew how ... to use on certain occasions
as a propeller."

An ancestor of George Henderson, of Burravoes, who
dwelt in Unst, was wont to rise early. One morning
he rose early, and went out for a walk. On his way
home, he was coming along the edge of a loch, and
wished that he had something to ride on. And he soon
came to a white mare, and he jumped on her, and rode
her along the loch, and she always sought towards the
loch, and he tried to keep her from it. But as they
rode along, she grew so persistent that he came off, and
she went on the loch and over the water in a blue " low."
Karl Blind, Gentleman's Magazine, 1882, p. 369.

Foula, Shetland. One noted spirit, — the " Nygel," or
" Nigle " was supposed to appear near streams of running-
water, and particularly about water-mills, where, in the
night, he seized and held fast the water-wheel with his
teeth, until he was driven away by brands of fire thrown
at him. In colour and size he varied, but behoved always
to be shaped like a quadruped, — to have glaring eyes,
terrible teeth, and a tail like the rim of an immense wheel
turned up over his back. It is said that he once entered
a dwelling and expelled the inmates, after which the
place was not occupied for thirty years. — Reid, p. 31.

[Mr. G. F. Black has been informed by a native of Foula
that until within recent years it was common for mothers
in putting their children to bed at night to caution them :
" Now be good or the Noggle will come and take you