Fairy Wiles

When the fairies steal away a beautiful mortal child they leave an ugly, wizened little creature in its place. And these fairy changelings grow up malicious and wicked, and have voracious appetites. The unhappy parents often try the test of fire for the child, in this wise—placing it in the centre of the cabin, they light a fire round it, and fully expect to see it changed into a sod of turf. But if the child survives the ordeal it is accepted as one of the family, though very grudgingly; and it is generally hated by all the neighbours for its impish ways. But the children of the Sidhe and a mortal mother are always clever and beautiful, and specially excel in music and dancing. They are, however, passionate and wilful, and have strange, moody fits, when they desire solitude above all things, and seem to hold converse with unseen spiritual beings.

Fine young peasant women are often carried off by the fairies to nurse their little fairy progeny. But. the woman is allowed to come back to her own infant after sunset. However, on entering the house, the husband must at once throw holy water over her in the name of God, when she will be restored to her own shape. For sometimes she comes with a hissing noise like a serpent; then she appears black, and shrouded like one from the dead; and, lastly, in her own shape, when she takes her old place by the fire and nurses her baby; and the husband must ask no questions, but give her food in silence. If she falls asleep the third night, all will be well, for the husband at once ties a red thread across the door to prevent the fairies coming in to carry her off, and if the third night passes over safely the fairies have lost their power over her for evermore.