The Lutin

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The Lutin

The Lutin of Normandy in many respects resembled Robin Goodfellow, the mischievous sprite also identified with Puck. Like Robin, he had many names and also the power of assuming many forms, but the Lutin's pranks were usually of a more serious nature than those of the tricky spirit of Merrie England. Many a man ascribed his ruin to the malice of the Lutin, although some neighbors were uncharitable enough to say that the Lutin had less to do with it than habits of want-of-thrift and self-indulgence.

Thus, on market days, when a farmer lingered late over his ale, whether in driving a close bargain or in enjoying the society of a boon companion, he declared the Lutin was sure to play him some spiteful trick on his way home: his horse would stumble and he would be thrown, or he would lose his purse or else his way. If the farmer persisted in these habits, the tricks of the Lutin would become more serious: the sheep pens would be un-fastened, the cowhouse and stable doors left open, and the flocks and cattle found moving among the standing corn and unmown hay, while every servant on the farm would swear to his own innocence, and unhesitatingly lay the blame on the Lutin.

Similar tricks were played on the fishermen by the Nain Rougeanother name of the Lutin. He opened the meshes of the nets and set the fish free. He removed the floats and let the nets sink to the bottom, or let the nets float away on the retiring tide. True, if closely questioned, the fishermen would confess that on these occasions, the night was dark and stormy, the cottage warm, and the grog plentiful, and that instead of drawing their nets at the proper time, they had delayed until morning.

Again, the Lutin might appear like a black nag, already bridled and saddled, quietly feeding by the wayside. Unless the nag was mounted for some charitable or holy purpose, he was borne with the speed of the wind to his destination. In this form the Lutin played his wildest pranks and was called Le Cheval Bayard.

(See also fairies ; Kaboutermannekens )