There once was a farmer lived up Kilmacolm way, and his name was Malcolm McPhee. He was neither a very good farmer, nor a very happy farmer. Malcolm had inherited his farm from his father and while he liked his land and his money well enough, he did not care so much for the hard work. But Malcolm was not a stupid man, and so he worked just hard enough to keep his wife and his farm and his land, and he dreamed that one day he’d find a way he’d never have to work at all.
It was a night in late November when Malcolm McPhee first heard about The Bogle, a cold night, but with no moon. There was a stranger telling stories that night in the Inn down Port Glasgow way, and all the usual folk had gathered round to listen and laugh. The stranger told them all about a mermaid who’d told his fortune at the Port Glasgow shore, about a witch he’d danced with up by Lochwinnoch, and about a ghost he met up on Duchal moor. He could spin a yarn and all were enjoying the company.
“And of course” he said “not half a mile’s walk from here lives the Bogle himself.”
A few drifted away, perhaps having heard this story before.
“Aye. He hides behind the stone at the top of the Clune Brae, and will jump out to chase folk all the way across the moor to Kilmacolm. It's said that if he catches you, he chews you up with his sharp white teeth. But I know a secret about this Bogle, told to me by an old fox who owed me a favour. The Bogle doesn’t want to catch you, he’s just trying to scare you away, for if you turn round and grab him…he’s got to give you three wishes.”
“Three wishes?” said Malcolm “Any three wishes?”
“Yes indeed.” Said the stranger. “Whatever you want.”
“With those three wishes I’d never have to work again” said Malcolm. “What does he look like this Bogle?”
“Oh you’d know him if you saw him.” Smiled the Stranger “For you’d never have seen his like before.”
“Then I shall know him soon.” Said Malcolm “For I’m going to catch that Bogle.”
So it was that the next night, Malcolm walked across the moors to the top of the Clune Brae and stood watching in case the Bogle should leap from behind the stone. He waited all night til it was light. And the Bogle didn’t come.
When he got home he was too tired to work his farm saying to his wife
“Don’t worry about the fields, for when I catch this Bogle, I’ll wish for a much biger farm and scores of labourers to work for us."
The next night, Malcolm again walked to the Bogle’s stone. And again the Bogle didn’t come. When he got home he was once again too tired to work his farm, and said to his wife
“Don’t worry, for on our new farm, I shall wish for our crop to be the best in the land."
Night after night, week after week, month after month, Malcolm stood by the stone, hoping to catch the Bogle. And the Bogle never came.
One morning he returned home, and found his home empty for his wife had gone. And he looked to his lands and he saw they were overgrown for he had not tended them. All too late Malcolm saw that his farm and his lands and his marriage were all in ruins, and he walked again to the Clune Brae and down to the Inn. He drank long and hard and when he had spent the little money he had left, he began the long wander home across the moorlands. But this night, as he passed the stone he heard a noise. A rustling, then a whistling. Malcolm turned, and there was the Bogle.
“Boo!” said The Bogle.
“Hah!” said Malcolm, who could not believe his luck.
“Aren’t you going to run?” asked the Bogle “People usually run when they see a Bogle.”
“Why would I run from you?" said Malcolm "I've been looking for you for months!"
“Go on.” Said the Bogle “I’ll give you a head start.”
At this, Malcolm grabbed the Bogle by the arm.
"Hah!" said Malcolm "I have caught the Bogle. And now you have to give me my three wishes."
But the Bogle just smiled and said
“And who told you this? A stranger? A stranger who dances with witches, talks to foxes and walks with ghosts?”
And Malcolm saw that the Bogle had tricked him all along.
“A Bogle can’t give you wishes and you must work for what you want." laughed the Bogle "You have wished your life away. And you should have run when you had the chance.”
The Bogle grinned a nasty grin with his sharp white teeth.