The King of the Fairies
From J. Bowker, Goblin Tales of Lancashire, p. 52.
On the high road from Manchester to Stockport, where Levenshulme Church now stands, there lived many years ago an old man named Daniel Burton. (His grandson was afterwards for many years Rector of All Souls' Manchester.)
"Old Daniel" was amazingly lucky. All that he did turned out well, so that in time it began to be said that he must be in league with the Devil. Some of the younger men, jealous of his prosperity, were bold enough to tax him with this, but Daniel settled that argument with the use of a gold, tough, black-thorn.
In fact, as some of the neighbors suspected, it was not the Devil, but Puck himself who was the mysterious helper, though Daniel would never say how he had come to win his help. But the farm-labourers, and dairy-maids, and the women in the house were never tired of boasting how all their work used to be done for them. They were not in the least afraid of him, and for many years Puck, the King of the Fairies, continued with his willing services.
Early one morning, as Daniel sat at breakfast, a labourer rushed into the room and cried out that all the corn had been "housed" during the night. Sure enough, when Daneil went out to see, the field was clear, and there was Puck coming to meet him across the field. But instead of thanks, the farmer greeted him with an anxious, "Puck, I doubt thou'st spoiled yon horses!" The fairy went pale with anger, and shouted in a shrill voice:
"Sheaf to field and horse to stall,
I, the Fairy King, recall!
Never more shall drudge of mine
Stir a horse or sheaf of thine."
Next morning, when Daniel was again at his breakfast, he was again disturbed by a messenger, who cried, "Master, the corn's all back in the field!"
And so it was; from that time no work was done for Daniel on the farm, though indoors the maids found their helper as willing as ever. The envious neighbors rejoiced that Daniel had fallen out with his fairy, and Daniel himself grew sad and dejected. One day he met a neighbor, who asked the reason for his sorrow. "You miss your night-man?" he said. At that moment Daniel caught sight of the fairy crouching behind a hedge, as though to overhear what was being said.
Eager to make his peace with him, he cried out, "Aye, I do, Abrum, and may God bless Puck, the King of the Fairies."
There was a startled cry from behind the hedge, but when they looked the fairy had vanished, and no one on the farm, indoors or out, ever saw him again.
The Fairies as Fallen Angels
Lady Wilde, Ancient Legends of Ireland, pages 48-49.
The Islanders, like all the Irish, believe that the fairies are the fallen angels who were cast down by the Lord God out of heaven for their sinful pride. And some fell into the sea, and some on the dry land, and some fell deep down into hell, and the devil gives to these knowledge and power, and sends them on earth where they work much evil. But the fairies of the earth and the sea are mostly gentle and beautiful creatures, who will do no harm if they are let alone, and allowed to dance on the fairy raths in the moonlight to their own sweet music, undisturbed by the presence of mortals.
As a rule, the people look on fire as the great preservative against witchcraft, for the devil has no power except in the dark. So they put a live coal under the churn, and they wave a lighted wisp of straw above the cow's head if the beast seems sickly. But as to the pigs, they take no trouble, for they say the devil has no longer any power over them now. When they light a candle they cross themselves, because the evil spirits are then clearing out of the house in fear of the light. Fire and Holy Water they hold to be sacred, and are powerful; and the best safeguard against all things evil, and the surest test in case of suspected witchcraft.