This tale is as old as time itself, and I can confirm that yes, something special, full of surprise and benevolence does live in the depths of that enchanted body of water that we call Loch Ness, and tis far from the realms of make believe. It might not be the size of a double decker tour bus, or look like a dinosaur under the water, but some say it is capabable of magic nonetheless. And tis of that grand magic with which I'll regail ye all today!
I was on my way from Urquhart Castle to Whitebridge, for there was to be a grand feast in the highlands that night, I -- being the bread winner of not only my family, but primarily of my clan as well--, needed to show up not only with something in hand but with enough to make my family and clan proud of their son. My clan in and of itself was rather geriatric, I was the first to be born in my clan in nearly 60 years. Some said it was the curse of the English scurvy, but I always had a feeling it had more to do with the extremely sulfuric bog which our clan had established as a living place and a place of natural defense; twas indeed a place of natural defense, no clan or animal in their right mind would ever wander within 10 stones throw of the place, this natural defense also made it nigh impossible for me ever to wed. My now wife, was a resident of Urquhart Castle, I met her on a quest that would de-stink me filffy sulfured skin, and it was rumored that in Urquhart Castle such a pumice grew on the west bank of the Loch Ness. Thankfully said rumor twas true. I was born to a woman named Aengus, whose name means unusually strong and that she was; indeed only hours after giving birth to me she was back to the fields digging out big rocks, getting ready to plow. From birth I was fed a steady diet of mothers milk and horse hoof. My father was a man of cunning whit, and true love, but he passed only days after my birth. His name was Lachlan, meaning from the lakes, and mother always told me quite simply when I asked her where papa went, "that he had gone to the lakes to fish" and that "he'd be back soon". I guess it was eaiser to put off then to explain to a now 25 year old man. Back to the story at hand. I knew that within hours if I didn't come home with plenty of fish, aye so much fish that not even me extra pockets sewn into my britches could hold them, that not only would we be the laughing stock of the other clans, but that my two children would likely never be accepted by the others thus making it impossible to marry. They were already at a distinct disadvantage, that is being beset by a thin brown green crust about their skin caused by the sulferic bog stank, I did not want them to have to marry the sea witch, come to think of it, I'm not sure she exists, however, my mother always assured me that if I could not find a suitable mate, that I could always marry the sea witch. Whatsmore the salty sods of my clan depended on that food, for sweet oh so sweet life giving sustenance, without it undoubtedly wee little shrivled Duncan and Alistar would not make it through the next week. Times were tough and we'd been living off of potatoe water and filth. Not the best tasting, but those of us who were young enough had the strength and acid left in our bellys to break it all down, as for those pushing 90 and 100, they'd long ago traded the acid in their stomaches for the salt in the sea's air.
I was getting ready to abandon all hope when I heard a voice on the wind tell me to check my pockets and remove my belt. Who was that voice and why should I take off my belt? It'd been there so long that it was now more of an adornement on my burlap britches than it was an apperatus to hold up my many pocketed leg and waist warmer. With nothing to lose, except maybe the ability to keep me pants up I obeyed the voice. Digging into one after the other finding nothing after checking all but my last pocket, I all but abandoned hope, and there twas in pocket number 18 down by my ankle, I first felt it, it was sticky, then I smelled it and it was sweet, like mothers onion candy. As I produced it before mine eye I realized that it was a piece of copper coinage full of luster and light, but indeed no regular piece, for one end was bent up, fashioned as it were in the form of an anglers aide, but this I knew was a special hook.
My eyes started to well up with filffy sulfer tears, but I caught myself, I now knew what I had to do, I peeled the belt from me waist and threaded together six pieces of the sinewy yarn and then cast off, I just knew that the coin was sticky, shiney and sweet smelling for a reason.
Not a thern had gone by, (in your modern reckoning that woud be 30 seconds) and I pulled up a pike, and as quick as I put it back in, I landed a char, and then a brown trout, and then a salmon, and then an eel. I could not believe my eyes, I actually poked them both several times to make sure I was seeing things right, (my eyes were much stronger than those of a normal man, I guess living next to a bog of stank has its pros) alas I was. This process was repeated nigh up to five more times. On the last cast I heard that voice again and it told me to leave the coin in the in the mouth of the next fish so that someday others might be served by its good fortune. That I did, and on that next toss, the fish or blessed repository of the sweet, sticky, and shiney anglers aide surfaced and on his back I swore I saw a man, not of great height, but of grand moral stature and a benevolent heart of gold. What he said was simple, and to this day I'm not sure I understand it with my mind, but with my heart it was understood instantaneously. He said, shiney, sticky, and sweet always purified and made ones clan more neat". and with that, and a wink from both him and his might aquatic steede, he cried mightly YAHHHR Nessy, and Nessy YAHHHRED back with "aye Penny" and they disappered back into the depths of the Loch Ness.
Could it have truly been? For as long as I live I will remeber what I heard, and now know, Penny lives and not only in our hearts.
Never in his life had a Scotish lad listed to obey the wind but I knew the times were changing and that no one would poke fun at me or my family for this tall tale, for on this night, not only did I come to the feast with my pocket laden britches bursting at the seems with fish, but with the pride of knowing that my clan would no longer be the laughing stock of all the other clans. On that night, I was blessed with many gifts. Primarily, both of my children would not have to marry the filffy sea witch; I found out that the brownish green filth acts as a great adhesive and in the abscense of a belt you could rub it on the brim of your britches and they were nigh impossible to take off, but more so than that, I was blessed with the affirmation of Sir Penny Fathringtons benevolence and his reality!
Long live that Penny!