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Folk Lore in Lowland Scotland
Chapter IV - Fairies


"Up the airy mountain
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a hunting
For fear of little men,
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together,
Green jacket, red cap
And white owl's feather."
WM. ALLINGHAM.

GIPSIES, to the novelist, have proved themselves invaluable allies, helping them to work the machinery of their plots by guiding heroes successfully through woods or wastes, protecting them from robbers, and extracting them from seemingly impregnable prisons. To the teller of tales by the fireside the fairies take the gipsies' place, and become the helpers and unravellers of the webs the fates have woven round the central figures of their story. The fairies in the annals of folk lore are a host in themselves. They have remained pre-eminent in the popular creed for centuries, and as Sir Walter Scott says: "They are a most pleasing legacy of fancy." The giants who walked the earth in days of old, as centuries rolled on grew too monstrous to associate with human beings, but their antitheses, the fairies, obtained an entrance into people's hearts and homes long lingered, nay, still remain there, welcome guests, for there is no doubt that the fairies who won their way deep into the affections of mortals, and had a seat by every hearthstone when the world was young, still dwell with us. They have been the companions and delight of countless generations of children. Fairy lore and its moral teaching has remained indelibly fixed on their memories from youth to second childhood. Giants live only in fable. Fairies, as in the days of yore, are our intimate friends. Their gifts are treasured by the descendants of the receivers of these fairy favours, and there are amongst us some who still believe in the existence of the little people. We have heard a man, holding a responsible public position, telling a well known American publisher of a sweet melody his aunt had heard played around her at a burn side in his native county, in the North of Scotland. The harmony of sound dwelt in her mind, so she returned home lilting the cadence of this weirdly-beautiful music, and jotted it down and rendered it to her family circle.

"Do you mean to tell me you believe in fairies? " asked the American, gazing in astonishment at the learned Scotsman. The Highlander replied as gravely as if his confession of faith had been challenged, "Of course I do." So it is not only in the Ultima Thules of our coasts, removed from the advance of civilisation, fairies still are credited with existing, but men in all the stir of this twentieth-century life, with its accumulated wealth of scientific knowledge, still maintain that we are within sight and sound of the denizens of Elfinland.

Northern fable explains to us how the gay wee folk and gnomes were turned into a useful path, when the world was young. Odin had spied from his high seat wicked dwarfs and sprites in mischief. He sent Hermod, the Flying Wind, to hid them speak with him. The "light elves were surprised at the summons, not quite knowing whether to feel honoured or afraid. However, they put on their prettiest manners and went clustering after Hermod like a swarm of lady birds." They were very inquisitive, but became awed when they saw Odin in the Judgment Hall, and hung back in the doorway, peeping over their comrades' shoulders. They had to be beckoned to, two or three times, and finally shoving one another, and whispering timidly, they reached his footstool. "Then Odin spoke to them in calm, low, serious tones about the wickedness of their mischievous propensities. Some of the very worst of them only laughed in a forward, hardened manner, but a great many looked up surprised and a little pleased at the novelty of serious words, whilst the light elves all wept, for they were tender-hearted little things." Odin named the two dwarfs whom he had seen murdering the wise man, and so pleased were they at their fame they leapt up and danced and boasted of their misdeeds. Then Odin thundered with disapproval at them, condemned the wicked dwarfs to live far underground from henceforth, and throw fuel upon the earth's fire; those who had only been impishly mischievous were to hammer in the gold and diamond mines, and only at night return to breathe the upper air. Chattering with fear and rage they departed, but the light elves stood with their joyous faces be-dimmed with tears and begged Odin to forgive them, as they had done no one any harm. Sage Odin asked if they had ever done anybody any good, and they confessed, with innocent candour, that they had never done anything at all. "You may go then," said Odin, "to live amongst the flowers and play with the wild bees and summer insects, but you must find something to do or you will work mischief like the dwarfs from idleness."

The elves explained they were such foolish little people and had no one to guide them, so Frey, the genius of clouds and sunshine, was sent for, and promised to teach the brainless, useless elves to burst the folded buds, to set the blossoms, to pour sweetness into the swelling fruit, to lead the bees through the honey passages of the flowers, to make the single ear a stalk of wheat, to hatch the birds' eggs and teach the young to sing. Delighted were the elves at the course of study that Frey suggested, and away they went with him to Aitheim, and so the frivolous elves became our tricksy, pretty fairies, who, like Puck, sing merrily:—

"In the cowslip's bell I lie,
Where the bee lurks there lurk I."

Oberon and Titania and all their mimic train dance lightsomely before us in poetry and romance, for they have been made into familiar spirits for us by pen and brush. These are the inconsequent fairies of northern fable, but those denizens of Elfinland who live in Scotland have been described by the people preserved in folk lore, and also ministers of the gospel have written what they believe to be facts about these fairies. The Rev. Mr. Kirk of Aberfoyle, at the beginning of last century, published a book describing these contrairy sylvan pigmies. He says: "They are a kind of astral spirits between angels and humanity, being like men and women in appearance and similar in many of their habits. They live in subterranean habitations, and in an invisible condition attend very constantly on men. They are very fond of human children and pretty women, both of which they will steal if not protected by some superior influence. When people offend them they shoot flint-tipped arrows, and by this means kill either the persons who have offended them or their cattle. They cause these arrows to strike the most vital part, but the stroke does not visibly break the skin, only a blae mark is the result visible on the body after death. These flint arrow heads are occasionally found, and the possession of one of these will protect the possessor against the power of these astral beings and at the same time enable him or her to cure diseases in cattle and women."

Another divine in 1670, Lucas Jacobsen Debes, in his description written from Thorshaven in the Faroes, complains "of the fairies disturbing his congregation and sometimes carrying off his hearers." The Rev. Lucas must have surely delivered very spiritual discourses when he drew around him those teasing elves, who could lend their aid when they listed as a choir invisible. Perhaps his congregation were not averse to these fairy visits, or did not object to being lifted from out of hearing of the good man's lengthy discourse. We must bear in mind that the people of previous times led less artificial lives than we do. As a modern writer says: "When we were children we did not say at such a distance from the post-office or so far from the butcher's or the grocer's, but measured things from the covered well in the wood, or by the burrow of the fox in the hill. We belonged then to God and His works and to things come down from the ancient days. We would not have been greatly surprised had we met the shining feet of an angel among the white mushrooms upon the mountains—for we knew in those days immense despair, unfathomed love, every eternal mood— but now the draw-net is about our feet."

As we have grown in civilisation we have lost many instincts once granted to mortals. We have undoubtedly acquired knowledge, and thereby power, on many subjects, but our progenitors, along with untamed races and animals, had faculties of sight, smell, and hearing which education and indoor life has blotted out from our list of attainments. They lived close to nature, who was a kind old nurse to the children who cuddled close to her, and she gifted them with a keener range of vision than we possess. They therefore may, for aught we know, have seen face to face their good neighbours of whom so much has been said and sung.

To account for the deep-rooted belief still extant that fairies appeared on this earth, the theory grew that the tradition of existence arose from their likeness to the dwarfish Lapps who were forced by conquering tribes to seek shelter in the remote fringes of our country. This ancient race of swart Lapps, to judge by the remnant left, had many tastes and habits in common with the fairies. "They are always represented as living in green mounds. They pop up their heads when disturbed by people treading on their houses. They steal children. They seem to live on familiar terms with the people about them when they treat them well. A Lapp is such a man," says J. F. Campbell in his Popular Tales of the West Highlands. The Lapps who survive in the Far North set great store on their deer for food and drink and clothes, and for motive power. The merry brown fairies had an aversion to the killers of deer, and they milked the hinds and lived on familiar terms with their cherished four-feeted people as do the Lapps.

Another Mr. Campbell (J. S.) in his Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, mentions that in an account of Gaelic superstition and belief the first and most popular place is to be assigned to the fairy or elfin people, or as they are called in both Irish and Scottish Gaelic, the sith people, that is the people of peace—the still folk, or the silently-moving people. The antiquity of the belief is shown by its being found among all branches of the Celtic and Teutonic families, and in countries which have not within historical times had any communication with one another. Of all beings with which fear or fancy peopled the supernatural, the fairies were the most intimately associated with men's daily life. In the present day, when popular poetical ideas are extinguished in the universal call for "fads," and by cold material laws, it is hard to understand how firm a hold a belief like this had upon men in a more primitive state of society, and how unwillingly it is surrendered. Sound is a natural adjunct of the motions of men, and its entire absence is unearthly, and unnatural, and not human. The name sith without doubt refers to the "peace" or silence of fairy motion, as contrasted with the stir and noise accompanying the movements and actions of men. The German "still folk" is a name of corresponding import. The fairies come and go with noiseless steps, and their thefts or abductions are done silently. "Sometimes, indeed, the elves make a rustling noise like that of a gust of wind, or a silk gown, or a sword drawn sharply through the air, and their coming and going has been indicated by frightful and unearthly shrieks, a pattering as of a flock of sheep, or the louder trampling of a troop of horses. Generally, however, their presence is indicated at most by the cloud of dust raised by the eddy wind, or by some other curious natural phenomenon, by the illumination of their dwellings, the sound of their musical instruments, songs, or speech." Our conventional modern idea of fairies is something very brisk and active, but the little folk who moved without disturbance, though they darted hither and thither full of pranksome mischief, journeyed so silently, the only trace of their progress heard by the plodding wayfarer being the jingling of their bejewelled bridles. These restless but still people evidently glided, for there is a verse of a Gaelic song describing the triumphant progress of a ship:—

"Onward past Greenock,
Like the deer of the cold high hills.
Breasting the rugged ground
With the hunter in pursuit,
She sailed with fairy motion."

This shows how with what graceful quietness the sylvan pigmies skimmed along. Their title of "good neighbours" reminds us of Border parlance when the key of the East of Scotland was Berwick. It was well to he on good terms with the powers that he. The red-roofed borough by Tweedmouth changed hands frequently, so with diplomatic 'blarney it was styled "our good town of Berwick." "Never speak ill of the deil" is a proverbial maxim, for mortal man never knew when his Satanic majesty might be within earshot. The invisible and alert fairies for the same reason were always mentioned with a honeyed tongue. The wily, knowing not where they might be lurking, were careful to call them "the good neighbours," "the honest folk," "the little folk," "the gentry," "the hill folk," and "the forgetful people," the "men of peace." Klippe is the Forfarshire name for a fairy. A well-known minister of the Church of Scotland related, this century, at a dinner in Edinburgh, how his father had met a klippe in a bare moorland in Forfarshire, a little brown-faced elf who started up on the path before him, walked before him awhile and then vanished.

It was the poets who gave the "still people" the epithet of "the crew that never rest." Our good neighbours from pigmyland seem to have been divided into various classes or degrees. There were trows or drows, which derivation Scott explains " being a corruption of duergar or dwarf, and who may, in most respects, be identified with the Caledonian fairies." it was the skow or Biergen trold that Lucas Jacobsen Debes complained of disturbing his congregation. They belonged to the woods and wilds and appeared in caverns and subterranean haunts like the German kobold. Belonging specially to Scotland was the bogle, a mixture of the friendly fairy with a dwarfish grotesqueness of figure and nature. Then also there was the Pan-like ourisk of the Highlands, a hairy lubber, who hanging about homesteads watching the humans at work, wished to emulate them and became harnessed for mortals' use. He was trained and bribed by food, becoming readily a hewer of wood and carrier of water. His undulled savage instincts allowed him to foresee coming events, so he was credited with repaying his patrons by giving timely warning. He worked hard for small reward, for the wages he craved for most was the milk of human kindness. He was easily offended and strong in his likes and dislikes. It became in ancient days a fashion for the great houses to encourage an ourisk to attach himself to them, and in course of time he became part of their entourage and grew into the banshee, the spirit who wailed to them of coming evil. All is fair in love and war, and knowing that the hairy ourisk was both liked and feared, Scott mentions that the celebrated freebooter, Rob Roy, once gained a victory by disguising a part of his men with goat skins so as to resemble the ourisk, or Highland satyr.

The kelpie, the water-witch, who lurked by Border water-sides, and took the toll, ever and anon, of a human life, was a Caledonian spirit. The kobolds, common in German lore, like the duergar Sir Walter tells us of, haunted the dark and solitary places and were seen often in the mines, where they seemed to imitate the labours of the miners and sometimes took pleasure in frustrating their objects and rendering their toil unfruitful. Sometimes they were malignant, especially if neglected and insulted; but sometimes also they were indulgent to individuals whom they took under their protection. These trows and bogies, kobolds and kelpies alluded to, were more of the goblin kind than the merrymaking, aerial people we connect with the name and nature of fairy. These lightsome, tricksy folk were again sub-divided. There was the English pixie, the Scottish brownie and spunkie, full of merriment and teasing propensities. Mr. Campbell, in his Superstitions of the Scottish Highlands, explains a difference of size as well as of name has led to these being described as separate beings, but they all have so much in common with the Celtic fairies that we must conclude they were originally the same." The true belief is that the fairies are a small race, the men about four feet or so in height, the women in many cases not taller than a little girl. At one time the elves are small enough to creep through keyholes, and a single potato is as much as one of them can carry; at another they resemble mankind, with whom they form alliances and to whom they hire themselves as servants." These honest folk, by whatever name they were known, could be helpful to the mortals around them if so minded. They liked to earn their title of good neighbours, though whimsical and capricious in their friendship. When they arrived at a new place of residence they were wont to bless their new home, repeating the following couplet full of sweet content, a hopeful motto for mortals who change their dwelling:—

"Though good the haven we have left,
Better be the haven we have found."

Even in the glaring, uncompromising light of to-day, in the westmost British Isle there are those who believe in the existence of "the crew that never rest," for in The Celtic Twilight Mr. Yeats tells how he himself has seen the inhabitants of the "dim country." He went with one who had the second sight to "a notable haunt of the forgetful people, a shallow cave amidst black rocks, with its reflection under it in the wet sea sand." There he was granted a sight of the tall queen in gleaming garments. In the Celtic gloamin', now as in the light of other days, the fairies have changed little in their dress--green as a rule being their favourite colour. There is also a grey called the fairies' grey, a glaucous green like the leaves of the eucaliptus. It is the women who adhere mostly to the verdant hues, for the men in some places are called the little red men, their clothes being dyed with crotal from the lichen, and their cowl-like hats were scarlet. They love showy splendour, and the gorgeousness of their apparel in their pageants impressed beholders.

The following information concerning the government, etc., of fairyland is taken from Aytoun. "The queen of fairyland was a kind of feudatory sovereign under Satan, to whom she was obliged to pay kane or tithe in kind, and as her own fairy subjects strongly objected to transfer their allegiance, the quota was usually made up in children who had been stolen before the rite of baptism was administered to them. This belief was at one time universal throughout all Scotland and still prevalent at the beginning of this century. There was also a king of elf- land. From the accounts extracted from or volunteered by witches, etc., preserved to us in justiciary and presbyterial records he appears to have been a peaceable, luxurious, indolent personage who intrusted the whole business, including the recruiting department, to his wife. We get a glimpse of both their majesties in the confessions of Isabella Gowdie in Aulderne, a parish in Nairnshire, who was indicted for witchcraft in 1662. She said, I was in Downie Hills and got meat there from the queen of the fairies, more than I could eat. The queen is bravely clothed in white linen and in white and brown cloth, and the king is a braw man well favoured and broad faced. There were plenty of elf bulls rioting and skoyling up and down, which affrighted me."

The Rev. Mr. Kirk, who seems to have had intimate knowledge of the wee folk, states "that in fairyland they also have books of various kinds—history, travel, novels, and plays—but no sermons, no Bible, nor any book of a religious kind."

Despite their endeavours to be useful the fairies, from all accounts, only succeeded for all their fussing in hampering work. They seem by some tales to stand for a personification of busybodies. Little good ever came of having the fairies for helpers. No wise man will either desire company or their kindness. When they come to a house to assist at any work the sooner they are got rid of the better. If hired as servants their wages at first appear trifling, but will ultimately ruin their employer. The benefit of their gifts goes ultimately to the fairies themselves or (as it is put in the Gaelic expression) the fruit of it goes into their own bodies.'

This statement seems ungrateful and thankless, for there are stories of fairies repaying debts in truly generous fashion: not only is the loan of meal returned, but the fairy bowl of ground grain returned never grows less, till some discontented member of the family grumblingly asks if they are never to have aught but barley meal to the end of their days, and when next the goodwife dips her hand into the barrel, behold, it is empty, for the invisible host around had hearkened to the malcontent and withdrew their favour. The fairies, with these alert ears and easily-offended natures of theirs, proved stern monitors. If mortals were not grateful and content they listened to their fretful repinings and gave them some cause to complain. When people grudgingly said that their healthy children might be even rosier, or disparaged their crops and herds and complained they might be still better, the fairies heard, and the apple-cheeked children paled and grew weakly, the heavy grain was shaken, a murrain fell on the beasts in their fields. It was reported that the fairies who blighted the enviable things mortals had despised reaped the benefits that the human beings were deprived of. Their kine grew fat, while those of the grumblers were wasted and lean. Their harvests were safely garnered and the farmers' full ears of corn were winnowed by the winds. The fairies, naturally, when such rich prize-money fell to their share, eavesdropped muchly. Fairies seemed, out of a spirit of mischief, not that they needed food, to have a fancy to raid dwellings and take what they liked. Handmills they were partial to, and when their women ground the corn, they sang at the task so blithely, mortals who walked over the green mound where they dwelt paused and listened and learned their songs. Friday was a day on which the fairies seemed to hold revel above ground, raid houses in open daylight, and investigate the very dishes preparing for dinner. No wise person named Friday but called it " the day of yonder town," for the fairies preferred it so, and it was well to curry favour with these tricky good neighbours. When they journeyed in companies they took advantage of the wings of the wind to speed them and so wheel them past the plodding traveller, who heard the laughter of the still folk go and the jangle of the bridles of their caprisoned steeds as they glided by. They are perverse pigmies-they arrive from the west. Usually invaders borne on the tide of conquest have come from the other side of the compass, but, on the contrary, soulless men of peace journey withershins about, and come from the sunset land. There is a verse of an old song bidding mortals—

"Shut the North window
And quickly close the window to the South,
And shut the window facing West—
Evil never came from the East."

The god of light and warmth rose in the east —the Star of the East guided the Magi, and as Christianity grew the direction from whence the dawn arose was looked on as sacred and safe. Although fairies in the tales we love with their opportune gifts invariably prove valuable friends, their help and comradeship were not sought after. Mortals dreaded to meet them on the "day of yonder town" flitting along on the eddy. of wind. Firm was the belief that they would capture a mortal and take him prisoner to their bloodless, soulless kingdom. Music and meat and dancing they had, but these did not tempt prince or peasant. A Mayo woman in this young century of ours has told the gifted young writer of to-day, Mr. Yeats, how she has seen the denizens of Elfinland. "Her thoughts and her sights of the people of faery are pleasant and beautiful too, and I never heard her call them the fallen angels. They are people like ourselves, only better-looking, and many and many a time she has gone to the window to watch them drive their wagons through the sky, wagon behind wagon in long line, or to the door to hear them singing and dancing. They sing chiefly, it seems, a song called 'The Distant Waterfall.' They are always good to the poor, she said. If you do good to them they will do good to you, but they don't like you to be on their path." This path was the track they pursued when taking an earthly journey. More than one traveller has returned from their realm, and the story of Thomas the Rhymer's visit to Elfiand is specially worth recording, for as Scott says, he dwelt on Thomas of Erceldoune's history as the "oldest tradition of the kind which has reached us in detail, and as pretending to show the fate of the first Scotch poet whose existence and its date are established both by history and records. But the legend is still more curious from its being the first and most distinguished instance of a man alleged to have obtained supernatural knowledge by means of the fairies." Thomas the Rhymer, one of the earliest of Scotland's versifiers, lived at Erceldoune, by the Leader. Owing to his love of lonely wanderings and communing with nature, lie acquired the reputation of being a master of magic. Divested of fable," says Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, "we should probably find him standing forth as a very prominent figure amidst the worth and talent of our countrymen." There, by the bogle-haunted Huntly burn, under the shade of the Eildon tree (now gone, but a cairn marks the spot where it grew and flourished), the Laird of Learmont lay ruminating one day when there appeared before him a wondrously beautiful lady. An ancient ballad tells us—

"Her skirt was o' the grass green silk,
Her mantle o' the velvet fine;
At ilka tett of her horse's mane
Hung fifty silver bells and nine."

She informed him she was the queen of fair Elfland, and looking on her, True Thomas doffed his cap "and louted down to his knee," and she carried the learned poet away there and then from the magically-cloven Eildon's slope, showing him many strange sights as they journeyed and many devious routes, till the queen drew his attention—

"......to that bonny road
That winds about the fernie brae?
That is the road to fair Elfiand
Where thou and I this night maun gae."

"It was mirk mirk night, and there was nae stern light,
And they waded through red blood to the knee;
 For a' the blude that's shed on earth
Rins through the springs o' that countrie."

They came at last to the fairy kingdom where revelry and dancing were the order of the day. Thomas passed so delectable a time that when the queen asked him how long he thought he had been there, he calculated some seven days had been passed chasing the golden hours with flying feet. He could scarce believe the beautiful sovereign when she assured him he had been gone from earth five years and two. Every seventh year the fairies had to pay to Satan a life, and the clever little people preferred that this debt should be paid by a mortal. Thomas of Erceldoune being a well-favoured-looking man, the queen advised him to flee, sure that the devil's ambassadors would claim so comely a captive. As a parting token of goodwill the elfish queen bestowed upon him a gift which he fain would have declined—namely, with a tongue which could not lie. The Rhymer protested that such a present would be highly inconvenient, explaining blunt veracity at market, kirk, court, or ladies' bower, would make him unfit to bargain successfully, or appear well before his neighbours in church and finish his career as a courtier. But the queen pressed this honest-tongued favour upon him, and so for ever after he spoke with unflinching candour, earning for himself the title of True Thomas. He was also invested with a supernatural discernment which penetrated the veil of the far-off future. Thomas returned safe from the incessant beguiling revelry of Fairyland, and with his tongue of truth he uttered prophecies still quoted. Many other people have declared that they too had dwelt with the fairies, but none were men of outstanding ability and importance like the Laird of Learmont.

The speed with which time in fairyland flies was not only Thomas the Rhymer's experience. A miller, so folks tell to-day, fell asleep on a grassy mound in a peaceful strath in the north. The little folk took him off, and on the anniversary of his capture, when the elves danced again of a June night among the nodding grass and the bluebells, his friends reclaimed him. He awoke as from a pleasant dream, shouldered his sack, and went off towards home. None of his neighbours could persuade him he had been asleep for twelve months. He thought they were jesting till, nearing his cottage, his wife met him with a child clinging to her skirts. He had left a year- old baby when he went to fetch the sack of meal home. He returned to find the baby a prattling, toddling wee thing, and not till then did he realise that the fairies had held him a twelvemonth in thrall.

Gifts received, or spoil acquired by mortals from the little people, are treasured amongst us. The elves were hospitable. They liked their human neighbours to eat, drink, and be merry with them. Endless tales are told of them biding their big neighbours, who strayed in among them while they were carousing, to partake of their feast. A goblet in which they were drinking a "richt gude willie waught" in their sovereign's honour roused the envy of a Musgrave. He rushed in, seized the glass, mounted in hot haste and galloped away with his stolen trophy. Some authorities hold that the good folk are not averse to crossing running water. It is only a wicked class of them whose powers are blunted by traversing flowing streams. But legend tells us Musgrave pressed his steed towards the brook, for he knew if once he forded it, the rain of fairy flints showered at him, and all pursuit, would cease. His terrified courser, spurred by steel and fear, leapt the water. Safe across the river he paused, and borne on the breeze, Musgrave heard his despoiled pursuers forgivingly sing—

"Joy to thy banner, bold Sir Knight,
But if yon goblet break or fall.
Farewell thy vantage in the fight,
Farewell the luck of Eden Hall."

In the Musgraves' Cumberland home the illicitly - obtained "luck" - a glass goblet - remains intact, carefully preserved.

The Macleod clan appear to have been specially favoured by the fairies. One of their name entered an elfin brugh when a banquet was in progress. He was warmly welcomed. "Here's to you, Hugh," I drink to thee, Hugh," they cried, bowing to him and quaffing from a glittering cup. When the bowl was passed to him, instead of proposing a toast, Hugh bolted with it, eluding the elusive little folk, who loosed their dogs to overtake the thief, but he escaped. He had a narrow escape. He heard the hound called Farvann shouted for. If this four-footed guardian of the fairies had captured the false Macleod it would have gone ill with him, for the spunkies' dogs, from all accounts, resembled Sherlock Holmes's baffling quadruped enemy, the Hound of the Baskervilles. The elfish tyke, like themselves, was green of coat and as large as a two-year-old stirk. Its tail was sometimes curled over its back like a pig's, sometimes plaited into a long wisp. The fairy hound was either kept tied as a watch in the brugh, or escorted the women on their search for cows to milk. Sometimes it was allowed to roam alone, making its lair in clefts. Like the fairies, it moved silently, but for all its gliding gait, the print of its paws, as big as a human hand, were found on mud or sand or snow. Its voice was sonorous and far- reaching, being heard even by those sailing on the seas. It paused between each bark and at a time gave vent to only three roars. Its baying struck terror into the pursued, who was invariably overtaken and destroyed after the third bark if lie had not hidden himself from his unearthly pursuer. Hugh Macleod, we learn, escaped from Farvann, and the goblet he had stolen long glittered at Raasay. To Macleod of Dunvegan was given by an elfin mistress the green fairy banner still preserved in the hoary castle in Skye. It is a useful possession, swaying even the tide of battle, gaining the victory, not for the strong, but for the weaker, oppressed side, by the supernatural power in its folds. Three times in dire emergencies it may be waved with success. Twice it has been flung to the breeze, and its third miracle has yet to be wrought. Meanwhile, to-day, it lies secure in the Macleod's thousand-year-old stronghold, awaiting to flutter once more in some great strait, when its owner is fighting back to the wall. Perhaps its third charmed wave may be kept till the long-prophesied battle on the Clyde is fought, the battle which Thomas the Rhymer awaits, when he will rouse from his slumber, and ballad story tells how-

"When Thomas comes with his heroes
The day of spoils will be on the Clyde.
Nine thousand good men will be slain
And a new King will be set upon the throne."

In bygone times, when fairies were seen by the people, or wheeled in invisible, aerial armies around, doughty warriors faced these uncanny, supernatural little folk with unflinching bravery, deeming them foemen worthy of their steel. The number of the host of fairy enemies made up for their small size, and a regiment of pigmies armed with deadly weapons might well make the stoutest knight quail.

The fairies, like the gipsies, though they were said to have many bairns of their own, had a longing to steal human babies. To guard the infant and even its mother from being borne off from the humblest of cottages to the fairies' palace, cautious and incessant watchfulness was needed. Cold iron fairies misliked, and the newborn babe and its mother were protected from the elves by iron. The fairies were so far honest that when they abducted an infant they left in the cradle one of their own. This changeling never throve; it became an ill-conditioned, weird child. When it grew up its ease and grace in dancing, and sometimes its musical excellence betrayed its origin. Music was a gift the fairies possess—one they sometimes gave to mortals. The strains of pipes and songs were ofttirnes heard by men, though they saw no player, and this bears out the idea of the Rev. Mr. Kirk that the elves were astral beings who floated around invisible, or appeared as they willed to the dull- eyed inhabitants of this world. Those who have ears to let them hear can execute tunes, curious and uncommon, which they say they learned from the spirits. For instance, there is the it of the Hillock " which was heard by a woman who, noticing her dog with ears cocked, transfixed on a knowe, followed him and hearkened. The fairies were butter-making, and as they churned, lilted. The woman remembered the rune, and "for three generations, i.e., till our Victorian era, it was chanted." Macrimnmon, a piper to Macleod, acquired his skill from the good neighbours. He was going across the mountains to a pipers' competition and stumbled into a fairy dwelling. The dance-loving "men of peace " were kindly disposed towards the eager boy-musician and gave him a magic black chanter, which remained an heirloom in his family, and their skill was such they outrivalled all pipers, so that " their fame will last while wind is blown into sheepskin."

The fairies were fickle in their bestowal and withdrawal of favours, and changeable as an April day.

"......Rain and sun,
Little people at their meat;"

says one adage, but from all the lore regarding them (and there is no small measure thereof) they seemingly have given many benefits to man —some trophies, as the cup at Raasay and the luck of Eden Hall had been filched from them— but the priceless fairy banner remains at Dunvegan as a visible proof of their goodwill, besides the Macrimmon's musical talent, and sweet melodies they taught us. Except the indictment that they stole children and lifted also older mortals, the fairies were truly good neighbours—freakish, and sometimes interfering, but as a choir invisible beguiling the road, hospitable, repaying what they had borrowed with lasting lavishness, although their offerings might be in a curious guise, or handicapped by some seemingly whimsical restriction. Then we all are indebted to the fairies for the tales they bequeathed to us, for their legends are a rich possession. It has added a joy to childhood, and fairy lore has entwined itself from nursery days about our hearts in ever-green sprays. Its teaching has borne good fruit in after life, impressing goodness and mercy upon us more than many sermons. In fairy literature we learn that the presumptuous are brought low, while those whose gentleness and kindness of heart have made them side with the weak and oppressed are exalted and rewarded. Little deeds of kindness, little words of love, like bread cast upon the waters, return to the heroes and heroines of fairy story, not even after many days, but is immediately garnered. The fairy tales teach us to be considerate and well disposed to bird and beast. The saying, a little bird whispered to me, is a relic of those times when the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air spoke in a language intelligible even to human beings. The feathered, winged creatures were the swift and sure messengers in an age before post and telegrams.

Fairy godmothers have become proverbial for their ways of pleasantness. They could, with a wave of their wand, bridge over difficulties and assist their favourites. They lent prompt aid to the helpless and needy, encouraged the sat-upon but deserving ugly ducklings of the flock, and gave them fine feathers. Fairy lore teaches the child to be friendly and generous to the feeble and despised. The decrepit crone, helped over a slough, casts off the weather-worn cloak and stands in sparkling raiment beautiful to behold, ready to fulfil the wishes and load with favours the mortal who did not despise her in her wrap and wrinkles. The proud girl spurns and ill- uses the four-footed creatures, while another, rich in heart if not in goods, bestows sympathy and assistance on some timorous beastie. Soon the purse-proud, arrogant lass is brought low and the kindly one exalted. The heroine of the fairy tale shares her crust with the hungry, makes them welcome to her few possessions, and in the end finds her gifts are returned with a thousandfold interest. This sharing their all was the symbol of a truly generous disposition. The wealthy might scatter largesse and think they had done nobly, though their well-filled pockets were not perceptibly lighter, but the it mite " given by those who owned but a mite was taken in good stead. Sir Launthal set forth in search of the Holy Grail, and rode far afield in his pursuit all gaily bedight in his golden armour. He gave from his well-filled coffers with a liberal hand, but no heavenly blessing fell upon him. Only when returning, stripped of his wealth, humble of heart at his failure, the knight, wearied and saddened by his fruitless search, near to his own gate gave to a diseased beggar half of his remaining bite and sup:-

"He parted in twain his single crust,
He broke the ice on the stream let's brink,
And he gave to the leper to eat and drink."

The cup of cold water he received back was the long-sought-for Holy Grail. While he stared amazed, he heard from the whilom beggar's sacred lips that it is not what we give, but what we share with another's need that is doing His will:—

"Who gives himself with his alms feeds three—
Himself, his hungering neighbour, and Me."

In the fairy stories which Grimm and Hans Andersen have written for us, we learn this simple creed—that the gift without the giver is bare. The fairies see the sham through all the cheap outward show, and they teach in their tales what cost Sir Launthal a toilsome journey to realise. Impishly mischievous, fickle as April weather, were fairies, if the tales be true told by those who aver they had met with them; but in Grimm or Hans Andersen their capriciousness disappears, their helpful services shine forth in no uncertain, will o' the wisp gleams, but with a steady brilliance which lights the way through seductive snares. The fairy lore shows the benefit of sweet content as well as strict observance of the given word and punctual fulfilment of promises. Cinderella, dazzled by the brilliance of the ball, forgot to leave at midnight as her godmother had commanded, and lo! her regal trappings began to fade, but she made haste to redeem her promise, and was requited. People had to consider well who was to be bidden to the feast in the days fairies flew around. They must leave out no one, however shabby or old, or despise the seemingly worthless gifts. The neglected one might have some friend in the court at Elfinland, and the seemingly small offering brought to christening or marriage might be magnet to wealth and honour to the receiver, talisman worth more than the bejewelled donation the wealthy brought.

To fairies in times past mortals were indebted for valuable service rendered—and whether it was dull-headed human beings, or the sprites themselves who bequeathed to us fairy tales, their lore has been and still is a goodly heritage we all enjoy and can profit by the lesson their tales teach. "Those that see the people of faery most often, and so have the most of their wisdom, are often very poor," says a writer of our century. And, after all, can we come to so great evil if we keep a little fire on our hearths and in our souls, and welcome with open hand whatever comes to warm itself by our hearth, and whether it be man or phantom, do not say too fiercely, even to the dhouls themselves, "Be ye gone."


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