Thursday 25 August 2016

The Kindness of Fairy Children

Today, we take our last visit to the pages of  The Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany, Volume 82 (1818). This time, the mysterious CTCS shares the tale of a sickening girl whose life was saved by the kindness of fairy children.

Many, indeed, are the traditionary stories afloat in Clydesdale, which prove that the fairies are not to be looked upon as uniformly malignant, but rather that there are two orders, the members of the one distinguished for their goodness, generosity, and loving kindness towards man, while those of the other are no less remarkable for their irritableness, peevishness, and malignity. 

An old woman in the moors of Avondale, who lived with her only daughter, a lively lass of twenty-two, was entirely dependent upon the industry of her child for bread. A wasting seized the industrious girl, and, after consultations had been held with every medical gentleman in the neighbourhood, her case was given up as hopeless, and her aged and helpless parent was plunged into the utmost distress. In her extreme necessity she applied to the only never-failing source or consolation, and besought the Father of mercies “that he would not leave her when she was old and grey-headed, but that he would yet spare her beloved bairn to close her auld an’ feeble sen, whilk had lang sensyne been shut to all the vanities of this wearie world.” 

The prayers, says the story, of the waefu’ widow, are always accepted. A coagful of loaf and milk was placed at her door every morning, and a little phial, of a reddish liquid, and a small loaf, as white as snow, which she rightly conjectured were for her daughter. Upon this diet she lived sparely, but was contented and thankful, and her daughter recovered slowly, but surely. Anxious to behold the immediate hand that blessed her in so extraordinary a manner, the old woman watched one morning and saw two beautiful children, a boy and a girl, bring the food, and place it on the threshold, the girl carrying the medicine for the daughter, and the boy the provisions for the mother. Having carefully performed this operation, their eyes were thrown upwards for a moment, with an expression of great devotion. 

As they were turning to depart, the old woman, who, as the story goes, declared that “they war sae unco bonnie, an’ sweet-lukan, that she couldnae be fleyit,” could not help exclaiming, “fair fa’ ye, my bonnie bairns, may ye be as gude as ye’re bonnie, an’ as happy as ye’ve made me.” 

The boy looked on her with an evanescent frown, mixed with pity. “Was it not aneuch, wanweirdit woman, that ye sould hae been servit wi’ meat and drink, but ye boud alsae pry into things on whilk ye maun na turn your ee? Nevertheless, lest ye sould imagine an evil thocht agains the hand that feeds, I will tell you that we are Gude Fairies an’ live for ever mare in happiness an’ bliss.” The fairies instaritly vanished, and the old woman continued to receive her daily supply of provisions till her daughter recovered when it ceased. 

There are innumerable stories remaining in this country, illustrative of the peculiarities of the fairy mythology; but, as I have not Scott's Essay on that superstition by me, I am afraid to mention any more at present, lest I should perhaps transmit to you some which are already contained in that curious and valuable performance. 

I shall, therefore, in the meanwhile, conclude with saying, that, if this be deemed worthy of a place in your valuable Miscellany, I shall as soon as possible transmit you several more stories of the Scottish fairies hitherto unpublished, and likewise some account of the Clydesdale belief concerning Wraiths. 

I remain your obedient servant,



Anonymous said...

That was a charming story.

Catherine Curzon said...

Thank you!