Ceud Mìle Fàilte!
|Home||3 September 1939||The Kingcough Well||The Smiddy|
One of my first memories is of sitting up in bed and looking out the window of my parents' bedroom. I was three years old, and I had whooping cough. My bed had been moved so that my mother could attend to me during the night.
I was quite happy looking at the flowers my father loved to grow, seeing bakery and dairy vans coming past, and watching the postman deliver letters and parcels. The neighbors went about their business, the men going to work and the women attending to the house and shopping. Sometimes, they would wave to me.
But then the coughing would start. And once started, it went on and on until I couldn't catch my breath. I whooped and whooped and finally vomited. Then I could breathe, but I was exhausted and fell back against the pillows. My mother cleaned up and tucked me in to rest until the next spasm of coughing came.
By the time I was cured, I was apparently just a pale wisp of a child, and the decision was made to take me to Comrie for some good, fresh, country air. We lived in Edinburgh, a large city whose air did not have the same freshness and health of the air in Comrie.
When we arrived in Comrie, everyone clucked and exclaimed, "Oh, the poor wee lass! Just look at her, so pale and shilpit. (shilpit•describes someone who is pale and sickly looking) She's needing to be away from the town, and get some good fresh air."
This implied that nobody in their right mind would stay in a city. (My mother was the only member of her family to do so.)
After a few days to let me recover from the journey, my grandfather said, "Aye, we'll take her to the kingcough well." And off we set.
We walked up the Balloch and through the wood, with someone always willing to carry me when I grew tired, then out onto the road to Glen Lednock. Finally, past the Monument, Grandpa stopped and walked a few steps over the moor then stopped. He bent down and looked carefully in a certain spot and said, "Aye, here it is." And sure enough, there was a small spring bubbling through the heather. Nell produced a small cup and filled it, then handed it me saying, "Now, drink it all. It will make you better."
I drank it willingly. After all, a well that could produce water to cure whoopingcough had to be magic, and I believed in magic. The water was clear and cold and tasted wonderful. Like all magic wells, its water cured me. And, like all magic wells, it vanished. I have tried many times to find it but have always failed.