A Gaelic word meaning ‘‘water horse.’’ The Ech-uisque was
a goblin of Scottish Highland folklore, understood to be a favorite
form assumed by the kelpie in order to lure souls to his
master, the Devil. In the disguise of a fine steed, beautifully accoutered,
the kelpie grazed innocently by the wayside. The
weary traveler, passing by and believing this splendid animal
to have strayed from his master, would be tempted to make use
of him to help him on his way. The deceitful kelpie, remaining
quiet as a lamb until the traveler was mounted, would then, with
a fiendish yell of triumph, plunge headlong into an adjacent
It was believed that the soul of the unfortunate man, who
had no time to prepare for death, would thus be safely secured
to the Evil One, while the kelpie received the body in payment
for his trouble.