More minutely pressed upon the subject of her familiar, she said she had never known him while among the living, but was aware that the person so calling himself was one who had, in his lifetime, actually been known in middle earth as Thome Reid, officer to the Laird of Blair, and who died at Pinkie.
Of this she was made certain, because he sent her on errands to his son, who had succeeded in his office, and to others his relatives, whom he named, and commanded them to amend certain trespasses which he had done while alive, furnishing her with sure tokens by which they should know that it was he who had sent her. One of these errands was somewhat remarkable. She was to remind a neighbour of some particular which she was to recall to his memory by the token, that Thome Reid and he had set out together to go to the battle which took place on the Black Saturday ; that the person to whom the message was sent, was inclined rather to move in a different direction, but that Thome Reid heartened him to pursue his journey, and brought him to the Kirk of Dairy, where he bought a parcel of figs, and made a present of them to his companion, tying them in his handkerchief; after which they kept company till they came to the field upon the fatal Black Saturday, as the battle of Pinkie was long called.
Of Thome's other habits, she said that he always behaved with the strictest propriety, only that he pressed her to go to Elfland with him, and took hold of her apron as if to pull her along. Again, she said, she had seen him in public places, both in the churchyard at Dairy and on the street of Edinburgh, where he walked about among other people, and handled goods that were exposed to sale, without attracting any notice. She herself did not then speak to him ; for it was his command that upon such occasions she should never address him unless he spoke first to her. In his theological opinions Mr. Reid appeared to lean to the Church of Rome, which, indeed, was most indulgent to the fairy folk. He said that the new law, i. e. the Reformation, was not good, and that the old faith should return again, but not exactly as it had been before. Being questioned why this visionary sage attached himself to her more than to others, the accused person replied, that when she was confined in childbirth of one of her boys, a stout woman came into her hut, and sate down on a bench by her bed, like a mere earthly gossip ; that she demanded a drink, and was accommodated accordingly ; and thereafter told the invalid that the child should die, but that her husband, who was then ailing, should recover. This visit seems to have been previous to her meeting Thome Reid near Monk-castle garden, for that worthy explained to her that her stout visitant was Queen of Fairies, and that he had since attended her by the express command of that lady, his queen and mistress. This reminds us of the extreme doting attachment which the Queen of the Fairies is represented to have taken for Dapper in the Alchymist. Thome Reid attended her, it would seem, on being summoned thrice, and appeared to her very often within four years. He often requested her to go with him on his return to fairyland, and when she refused, he shook his head and said she would repent it.
If the delicacy of the reader's imagination be a little hurt at imagining the elegant Titania in the disguise of a stout woman, a heavy burden for a clumsy bench, drinking what Christopher Sly would have called very sufficient small-beer with a peasant's wife, the following description of the fairy host may come more near the idea he has formed of that invisible company. Bessie Dunlop declared that as she went to tether her nag by the side of Restalrig Loch (Lochend, near the eastern port of Edinburgh), she heard a tremendous sound of a body of riders rushing past her, with such a noise as if heaven and earth would come together. That the sound swept past her, and seemed to rush into the lake with a hideous rumbling noise. All this while she saw nothing; but Thome Reid showed her that the noise was occasioned by the wights, who were performing one of their cavalcades upon earth.
The intervention of Thome Reid as a partner in her trade of petty sorcery did not avail poor Bessie Dunlop, although his affection to her was apparently entirely Platonic—the greatest familiarity on which he ventured was taking hold of her gown as he pressed her to go with him to Elfland. Neither did it avail her that the petty sorcery which she practised was directed to venial or even beneficial purposes. The sad words on the margin of the record, " Convict and burnt," sufficiently express the tragic conclusion of a curious tale.
Alison Pearson, in Byrehill, was, 28th May, 1588, tried for invocation of the spirits of the devil, specially in the vision of one Mr. William Sympson, her cousin, and her mother's brother's son, who, she affirmed, was a great scholar, and doctor of medicine, dealing with charms, and abusing the ignorant people. Against this poor woman, her own confession, as in the case of Bessie Dunlop, was the principal evidence.
As Bessie Dunlop had Thome Reid, Alison Pearson had also a familiar in the court of Elfland. This was her relative, William Sympson aforesaid, born in Stirling, whose father was king's smith in that town. William had been taken away, she said, by a man of Egypt, (a gipsy,) who carried him to Egypt along with him. That he remained there twelve years, and that his father died in the meantime, for opening a priest's book, and looking upon it. She declared that she had renewed her acquaintance with her kinsman, so soon as he returned. She further confessed, that one day, as she passed through Grange Muir, she lay down, in a fit of sickness, and that a green man came to her and said, if she would be faithful, he might do her good. In reply, she charged him, in the name of God, and by the law he lived upon, if he came for her soul's good, to tell his errand. On this the green man departed. But he afterwards appeared to her, with many men and women with him; and, against her will, she was obliged to pass with him farther than she could tell, with piping, mirth, and good cheer ; also, that she accompanied them into Lothian, where she saw puncheons of wine, with tasses, or drinking cups. She declared, that when she told of these things, she was sorely tormented, and received a blow that took away the power of her left side, and left on it an ugly mark, which had no feeling. She also confessed that she had seen, before sunrise, the Good Neighbours make their salves with pans and fires. Sometimes, she said, they came in such fearful forms as frightened her very much. At other times they spoke her fair, and promised her that she should never want, if faithful; but if she told of them and their doings, they threatened to martyr her. She also boasted of her favour with the Queen of Elfland, and the good friends she had at that court, notwithstanding that she was sometimes in disgrace there, and had not seen the queen for seven years. She said William Sympson was with the fairies, and that he let her know when they were coming ; and that he taught her what remedies to use, and how to apply them. She declared that when a whirlwind blew, the fairies were commonly there, and that her cousin, Sympson, confessed that every year the tithe of them were taken away to hell. The celebrated Patrick Adamson, an excellent divine, and accomplished scholar, created by James VI. Archbishop of St. Andrews, swallowed the prescriptions of this poor hypochondriac, with good faith and will, eating a stewed fowl, and drinking out at two draughts a quart of claret, medicated with the drugs she recommended. According to the belief of the time, this Alison Pearson transferred the bishop's indisposition from himself to a white palfrey, which died in consequence. There is a very severe libel on him for this and other things unbecoming his order, with which he was charged, and from which we learn that Lethington and Buccleuch were seen by Dame Pearson in the fairyland.* This poor woman's kinsman, Sympson, did not give better shelter to her than Thome Eeid had done to her predecessor. The margin of the court-book again bears the melancholy and brief record, " Convicta et combusta."