The Cauld Lad Of Hilton

: Popular Rhymes And Nursery Tales

This fairy or goblin was seldom seen, but his gambols were heard nightly

in the hall of the great house. He overturned everything in the kitchen

after the servants had gone to bed, and was, in short, one of the most

mischievous sprites you could imagine. One night, however, the kitchen

happened to be left in great confusion, and the goblin, who did

everything by contraries, set it completely to rights; and the next

ing it was in perfect apple-pie order. We may be quite sure that,

after this occurrence, the kitchen was not again made orderly by the


Notwithstanding, however, the service thus nightly rendered by the Cauld

Lad, the servants did not like it. They preferred to do their own work

without preternatural agency, and accordingly resolved to do their best

to drive him from their haunts. The goblin soon understood what was

going on, and he was heard in the dead of night to warble the following

lines in a melancholy strain:

Wae's me! wae's me!

The acorn is not yet

Fallen from the tree,

That's to grow the wood,

That's to make the cradle,

That's to rock the bairn,

That's to grow to a man,

That's to lay me.

He was, however, deceived in this prediction; for one night, being

colder than usual, he complained in moving verse of his condition.

Accordingly, on the following evening, a cloak and hood were placed for

him near the fire. The servants had unconsciously accomplished their

deliverance, for present gifts to fairies, and they for ever disappear.

On the next morning the following lines were found inscribed on the


I've taken your cloak, I've taken your hood;

The Cauld Lad of Hilton will do no more good!

A great variety of stories in which fairies are frightened away by

presents, are still to be heard in the rural districts of England.

Another narrative, by Mr. Longstaffe, relates that on one occasion a

woman found her washing and ironing regularly performed for her every

night by the fairies. In gratitude to the "good people," she placed

green mantles for their acceptance, and the next night the fairies

departed, exclaiming--

Now the pixies' work is done!

We take our clothes, and off we run.

Mrs. Bray tells a similar story of a Devonshire pixy, who helped an old

woman to spin. One evening she spied the fairy jumping out of her door,

and observed that it was very raggedly dressed; so the next day she

thought to win the services of the elf further by placing some smart new

clothes, as big as those made for a doll, by the side of her wheel. The

pixy came, put on the clothes, and clapping its hands with delight,

vanished, saying these lines:

Pixy fine, pixy gay,

Pixy now will run away.

Fairies always talk in rhyme. Mr. Allies mentions a Worcestershire fairy

legend which says that, upon one occasion, a pixy came to a ploughman in

a field, and exclaimed:

Oh, lend a hammer and a nail,

Which we want to mend our pail.