The Ghillie Dhu is a dark-haired tree sprite that lives in woods or thickets, with a preference for birch. Scotland’s forests were once heavily populated by these fairies, but they are now rare and confined to the are surrounding Loch Gairloch. They are shy creatures and dress in foliage and mosses to camouflage themselves from the human eye, though they do love the company of children, as evidenced in the story of Jessie Macrae and the Ghillie Dhu.
Back in the days when the world was young and men and animals spoke the same language, there was a king and a queen, and they lived happily together and had a much-beloved son, Brian, but the queen fell ill and passed away, and so the king devoted himself to his boy and brought him up to be wise in all the ways of the world.
Long, long ago, in the lands to the north, a prosperous farmer lived with his wife and their children: seven sons, and a daughter. The youngest of their sons was named Assipattle. He was a lazy boy, held in great contempt by his brothers whose toil on the farm was increased by his refusal to work the land. Instead, his mother made him sweep the floors, fetch peat for the fire, and all the other menial tasks around the farmhouse that she could persuade him to do, though he would much rather have been lying in the ash pit, daydreaming of adventure.