THE Scottish Fairies, in like
manner, sometimes reside in subterranean abodes, in the vicinity of human
habitations, or, according to the popular phrase, under the "doorstane,"
or threshold; in which situation they sometimes establish an intercourse
with men, by borrowing and lending, and other kindly offices. In this
capacity they are termed "the good neighbours," from supplying privately
the wants of their friends, and assisting them in all their transactions,
while their favours are concealed. Of this the traditionary story of Sir
Godfrey Macculloch forms a curious example.
As this Gallovidian gentleman was
taking the air on horseback, near his own house, he was suddenly accosted
by a little old man arrayed in green, and mounted upon a white palfrey.
After mutual salutation, the old man gave Sir Godfrey to understand that
he resided under his habitation, and that he had great reason to complain
of the direction of a drain, or common sewer, which emptied itself
directly into his chamber of dais. Sir Godfrey Macculloch was a good deal
startled at this extraordinary complaint; but, guessing the nature of the
being he had to deal with, he assured the old man, with great courtesy,
that the direction of the drain should be altered; and caused it to be
done accordingly. Many years afterwards Sir Godfrey had the misfortune to
kill, in a fray, a gentleman of the neighbourhood. He was apprehended,
tried, and condemned. The scaffold upon which his head was to be struck
off was erected on the Castle Hill of Edinburgh; but hardly had he reached
the fatal spot when the old man, upon his white palfrey, pressed through
the crowd with the rapidity of lightning. Sir Godfrey, at his command,
sprung on behind him; the "good neighbour" spurred his horse down the
steep bank, and neither he nor the criminal was ever again seen.