|These notes are based on those written by Donald Mackenzie for the OXFORD WORLD'S CLASSICS edition of Puck of Pook's Hill and Rewards and Fairies (1995) with the kind permission of Oxford University Press. Except where stated otherwise, the page numbers below refer to the Macmillan Uniform Edition of Rewards and Fairies (1910, and frequently reprinted since).||
The return of Harold... involves separate tests for King Henry, Brother Hugh, Rahere the King's jester, and even, in a minor way, for De Aquila. It occurs at a moment of tension, when the Saxons are driving game for their Norman masters... King Henry is not tested to the full, for Harold dies. Hugh's response is self-forgetful service and an anguish that is the measure of the tragic fall.
... Rahere has protected Harold, knowing who he was and keeping his secret, while he `can make shift to bide his doom under the open sky'. Now he offers him to Henry and his court, partly under compulsion and partly in a bold game to deflect the trouble that has arisen between Norman and Saxon at the beat.
But, deeper than this, we are to remember the 'halfpriest', who brings his man to confession, knowing his death is near. Harold's long penance for his broken oath is over; no man in the King's court, baron or bishop, dares judge him. He takes good comfort, and dies on the breast of the truest knight of his house.
The dominant image of the tree of justice appears first as a reinforcement of the conception of Norman rule. Sir Richard finds the keeper's victims nailed to a beech, and says that in his time that sort of tree bore heavier fruit. The threat of the gallows hangs over the countryside during the King's sport. When Harold is exposed in the King's court, he too is nailed to the tree of justice, though he is not judged. Nails and the tree bring in, by more than a verbal association, the thought of crucifixion, and suggest the long crucifixion of Harold's sufferings.
“Ride to Sir John Pelham’s,” I said. “He’s the only one that ever stood by me.” We rode to Brightling, and past Sir John’s lodges, where the keepers would have shot at us for deer-stealers.[Verse 4 line 2] a man with a green lantern In the Puck stories, green lanterns are signs of fairies, 'the People of the Hills'. See the chorus of "Brookland Road":
Low down-low down![Verse 5 line 4] the Folk of the Hill Puck uses the expression 'People of the Hills' for 'fairies', because of the sentimental and misleading Victorian associations of the latter word.
Where the liddle green lanterns shine...
“Ah, but you’re a fairy”, said Dan.[Verse 13 line 4] Lewes Gaol If they had been caught they would have been sent to gaol as poachers.
“Have you ever heard me use that word yet?” said Puck quickly.
“No, You talk about “the People of the Hills” but you never say “fairies.”
..."Besides, what you call them are made-up things the People of the hills have never heard of—little buzzflies with butterfly wings and gauze petticoats, and shiny stars in their hair and a wand like a schoolteacher's cane ..."