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 unfastened,
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
Rouge—another 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)