"Speakin' o’ fairies," quoth Robbie
Oliver (an old shepherd, who lived at Southdean in Jedwater, and died
about 1830), "I can tell ye about the vera last fairy that was seen
hereaway. When my faither, Peter Oliver, was a young man, he lived at
Hyndlee, an’ herdit the Brocklaw. Weel, it was the custom to milk the
yowes in thae days, an’ my faither was buchtin’ [folding] the Brocklaw
yowes to twae young, lish, clever hizzies ae nicht i’ the gloamin’. Nae
little daffin’ an’ gabbin’ [Romping and Chaffing] gaed on amang the
threesome, I’se warrant ye, till at last, just as it chanced to get
darkish, my faither chancit to luik alang the lea at the head o’ the bucht,
an’ what did he see but a wee little creaturje a’ clad i’ green, an’ wi’
lang hair, yellow as gowd, hingin’ round its shoulders, comin’ straight
for him, whiles gi’en a whink o’ a greet, [Whimper] an’ aye atween its
hands raisin’ a queer, unyirthly cry, ‘Hae ye seen Hewie Milburn? Oh! hae
ye seen Hewie Milburn?’ Instead of answering the creature, my faither
sprang owre the bucht flake, [Moveable gate of the fold] to be near the
lasses, saying, ‘Bliss us a’—what’s that?’ ‘Ha, ha! Patie lad,’ quo’
Bessie Elliot, a free-spoken Liddesdale hempy; ‘theer a wife com’d for ye
the nicht, Patie lad.’ ‘A wife!’ said my faither; ‘may the Lord keep me
frae sic a wife as that,’ an’ he confessed till his deem’ day, he was in
sic a fear that the hairs o’ his heed stuid up like the birses of a
hurcheon. [bristles of a hedgehog] The creature was nae bigger than a
three-yearauld lassie, but feat an’ tight, lith o’ limb, as ony grown
woman, an’ its face was the downright perfection o’ beauty, only there was
something wild an’ unyirthiy in its e’en that couldna be lookit at, faur
less describit: it didna molest them, but aye taigilt [Lingered] on about
the bucht, now an’ then repeatin’ its cry, ‘Hae ye seen Hewie Milburn?’
Sae they cam’ to nae ither conclusion than that it had tint [Lost] its
companion. When my faither an’ the lasses left the bucht, it followed them
hame to the Hyndlee kitchen, where they offered it yowe brose, but it wad
na tak’ onything, till at last a neer-do-weel callant made as if he wad
grip it wi’ a pair o’ reed-het tangs, an’ it appeared to be offendit, an’
gaed awa’ doon the burnside, cryin’ its auld cry eerier an’ waesomer than
ever, and disappeared in a bush o’ seggs."
THE FAIRY’S SONG
[The song is taken from a poem founded upon
the above story, and entitled the Gloamyne Buchte. The author was
James Telfer, Schoolmaster at Saughtree, in Liddesdale; born 1800, died
"O where is tiny Hew?
And where is little Len?
And where is bonnie Lu,
And Menie of the Glen?
And where’s the place of rest—
The ever changing hame?
Is it the gowan’s breast,
Or ‘neath the bells of faem?
Ay lu lan dil y’u.
"The fairest rose you find
May have a taint within;
The flower of womankind
May not be free from sin,—
The fox-glove cup go bring,
The tail of shooting sterne,
And round our grassy ring
We’ll pledge the pith o’ fern.
Ay lu lan dil y’u.