HILTON HALL, in the vale of the Wear, was in former times the resort of a Brownie or House-spirit, called The Cauld Lad. Every night the servants who slept in the great hail heard him at work in the kitchen, knocking the things about if they had been set in order, arranging them if otherwise, which was more frequently the case. They were resolved to banish him if they could, and the spirit, who seemed to have an inkling of their design, was often heard singing in a melancholy tone:
"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."
The servants, however, resorted to the usual mode of banishing a Brownie: they left a green cloak and hood for him by the kitchen fire, and remained on the watch. They saw him come in, gaze at the new clothes, try them on, and, apparently in great delight, go jumping and frisking about the kitchen. But at the first crow of the cock he vanished, crying:
"Here's a cloak, and here's a hood!
The Cauld Lad of Hilton will do no more good;"
and he never again returned to the kitchen; yet it was said that he might still be heard at midnight singing those lines in a tone of melancholy.
There was a room in the castle long called the Cauld Lad's Room, which was never occupied unless the castle was full of company, and within the last century many persons of credit had heard of the midnight wailing of the Cauld Lad, who some maintained was the spirit of a servant whom one of the barons of Hilton had killed unintentionally in a fit of passion.
1 T . Keightley, The Fairy Mythology, p. 296, quoting M. A. Richardson The Local Historian's Table Book.