The Folk-Lore Journal/Volume 7/The Clever Apprentice


THE following story was given me by Mr. A. Copland, schoolmaster, Tyrie, Aberdeenshire. It is originally from Keith, a town and parish in Banffshire.

A shoemaker once engaged an apprentice. A short time after the apprenticeship began, the shoemaker asked the boy what he would call him in addressing him, "Oh, I would just call you master," answered the apprentice. "No," said the master, "you must call me master above all masters."

Continued the shoemaker, "What would you call my trousers?"

"Oh, I would call them trousers."

"No, you must call them struntifers."

"And what would you call my wife?"

"Oh, I would call her mistress."

"No, you must call her the fair Lady Permoumadam."

"And what would you call my son?"

"Oh, I would call him Johnny."

"No, you must call him John the Great."

"And what would you call the cat?"

"Oh, I would call him pussy."

"No, you must call him Great Carle Gropus."

"And what would you call the fire?"

"Oh, I would call it fire."

"No, you must call it Fire Evangelist."

"And what would you call the peatstack?"

"Oh, I would just call it peatstack."

"No, you must call it Mount Potago."

"And what would you call the well?"

"Oh, I would call it well."

"No, you must call it The Fair Fountain."

"And, last of all, what would you call the house?"

"Oh, I would call it house."

"No, you must call it The Castle of Mungo."

The shoemaker, after giving this lesson to his apprentice, told him that the first day he had occasion to use all these words at once, and was able to do so without making a mistake, the apprenticeship would be at an end.

The apprentice was not long in making an occasion for using the words.

One morning he got out of bed before his master, and lighted the fire; he then tied some bits of paper to the tail of the cat, and threw the animal into the fire. The cat ran out with the papers all in a blaze, landed in the peatstack, which caught fire.

The apprentice hurried to his master and cried out, "Master above all masters, start up and jump into your struntifers, and call upon Sir John the Great and the fair Lady Permoumadam, for Carle Gropus has caught hold of Fire Evangelist, and he is out to Mount Potāgo, and, if you don't get help from the Fair Fountain, the whole of Castle Mungo will be burned to the ground."

So ends the story of Carle Gropus.

I have heard, about Keith, the word Carle Gropus used as a bugbear to keep children quiet, and also for a big stupid man, youth, or boy.