THE FAIRIES NURSE
THE Fairies have a great fondness for getting their babes suckled by comely, healthy young women. A fine young woman of Nithsdale was one day spinning and rocking her first-born child. A pretty little lady in a green mantle, and bearing a beautiful babe, came into 'the cottage and said, "Gie my bonny thing a suck." The young woman did so, and the lady left her babe and disappeared, saying, "Nurse kin' and ne'er want." The young woman nursed the two children, and was astonished to find every morning, when she awoke, rich clothes for the children, and food of a most delicious flavour. Tradition says this food tasted like wheaten-bread, mixed with wine and honey.
When summer came, the Fairy lady came to see her child. She was delighted to see how it had thriven, and, taking it in her arms, desired the nurse to follow her. They passed through some scroggy woods skirting the side of a beautiful green hill, which they ascended half way. A door opened on the sunny side--they went in, and the sod closed after them. The Fairy then dropped three drops of a precious liquid on her companion's left eyelid, and she beheld a most delicious country, whose fields were yellow with ripening corn, watered by looping burnies, and bordered by trees laden with fruit. She was presented with webs of the finest cloth, and with boxes of precious ointments. The Fairy then moistened her right eye with a 'green fluid, and bid her look. She looked, and saw several of her friends and acquaintances at work, reaping the corn and gathering the fruit. "This," said the Fairy, "is the punishment of evil deeds!" She then passed her hand over the woman's eye, and restored it to its natural power. Leading her to the porch at which she had entered, she dismissed her; but the woman had, secured the wonderful salve. From this time she possessed the faculty of discerning the Fairy people as they went about invisibly; till one day, happening to meet the Fairy-lady, she attempted to shake hands with her. "What ee d'ye see me wi'?" whispered she. "Wi' them baith," said the woman. The Fairy breathed on her eyes, and the salve lost its efficacy, and could never more endow her eyes with their preternatural power. [a]
[a] Graham also relates this legend in his Picturesque Sketches of Perthshire.