Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Story of Jan Tregeagle


Tregeagle is the Cornish Faust. The story took a few centuries to develop, and there is nothing to be added now to heighten its dramatic effect. Tregeagle was a young man of ambition with a vein of discontent running through his composition. One day, when brooding over what he was and what he would be, seeing all things in false perspective, Old Artful made his acquaintance, and there was the usual bargain: signed, sealed and delivered. 

"This is my act and deed," said Tregeagle, putting his finger on the red seal drawn from his own veins. 

Tregeagle was to live in airy-fairy palaces and have the run of every man's preserves until such time as Old Artful chose; and then - well, what was left of his tissue-paper soul would be wanted in another place. Old Artful behaved in the handsomest manner, and Mr.Tregeagle lived in a palace in up-to-date splendour, with men-servants and maidservants, and everyone took off his hat or curtsied as he passed. He was as hard to the poor as any landlord's agent, and rode rough-shod over whom he would. In fact, there couldn't have been a greater man-about-town before the days of motors. All went gaily with him, until, one day, he consulted his diary and found that his lease, under the contract, had nearly expired. He then he became "hurried" in his mind, and lost all appetite, and cast about to see if he could save himself and pay no forfeit. 

Now, Old Artful was a good judge of character and knew his man, so, when the time was up, he let the fairy palace, with all its beautiful gardens and stables and greenhouses, sink into the earth. He covered them over with water so deep that some said no plummet could find the bottom. Having trapped his man so nicely, Old Artful was in good humour, and gave Tregeagle a limpet-shell with a hole in it, telling him he might work out his redemption by emptying the lake; for, said he, "you can't expect to have all the good things of this World without paying for them, either in money or marbles." 

Tregeagle looked at the limpet-shell, so small that a thimbleful of water would overflow it, and then at the hole in the bottom, but he cared little for that as he could stop it up with his finger. It was a hopeless task, yet he was comforted by the thought that, in the matter of the hole, by stopping it with his finger, he would score points off Old Artful. Then he commenced baling the water from the lake. When he wished to rest, however, Old Artful's imps spurred him on and on until he shrieked and roared so that all the people round about him shook in their shoes. "To roar like Tregeagle" became a saying when one was groaning under deserved punishment. The unhappy man is still working at his task, and it is said there is not so much water in the lake - Dozmary Pool - as aforetime. 

Not far away there was, once upon a time, the holy well of St. Roche and young people even now drop bent pins into it and wish. It is very simple, and costs nothing. Then there is the saint's cell in which he lived until his death. His apartment there, being light and airy and 680 feet above the sea, was then occupied by successive saints. At present the apartment is unoccupied, but the parish is taking care of it. This is the cell wherein the damned soul of Treageagle tried to find sanctuary when pursued by the fiends from Dozmary Pool. The inhabitants of the wild and desolate region between Roche and Dozmary hear the hell-hounds pursuing the shrieking soul on dark tempestuous nights, and on Christmas Eve the hunt is said to be on a grand scale. The inhabitants of the moors keep indoors after dark. The story is told in the Ballad of the Haunted Moor.

The Ballad of the Haunted Moor

When the snow lay on the moor, brown moor,
And frost hung crystals on bracken and tree,
Gehenna and Sheol and Blackman's whelp
Shook themselves free with deep-mouthed bay
To hunt a poor soul in pain.
A soul in pain, a notable soul,
The soul of Tregeagle, a deathless soul,
Burning in winter in Dozmary Pool,
The soul of Tregeagle in Pain.

The Black hunter's horn rang clear, rang clear,
And the pack gave music, yap, yap, yap;
Gehenna and Sheol led straight to the Pool,
Followed hot-foot by Blackman's whelp.
The wonderful pack runs strong in the night
To hunt a poor soul in pain.
The soul Tregeagle, a deathless soul,
Flies from the Pool with a shriek, a shriek;
In terror there flies with a shriek
The soul of Tregeagle in pain.
The Black Hunter's horn rings clear, rings clear,
And the hungry pack, the hellish pack,
Gehenna and Sheol and Blackman's whelp,
Scent the poor soul now from the Pool,
Free from the pool on the snow-clad moor,
free to escape its terrible doom.
Tally-ho! A soul in pain, in pain!
The dark soul of Tregeagle in pain,
Flies in black night across the moor,
The desolate moor in snow and ice,
The soul of Tregeagle in pain.
Runs the Hunter's horse with hoofs on fire,
The terrible, howling pack breathe fire,
And yap, yap, yap, along the white track,
Follow the poor soul in pain, in pain -
Race the poor soul in terror and pain -
Gehenna still leading the pack.
To a light! a light! the hunted soul,
The soul of Tregeagle in pain,
Flies to a light on a rock, a rock -
Flies to a light on Roche Rock,
The soul of Tregeagle in pain.
The scent, the fiendish scent, lies well,
On snow-white moor and frosted fern;
The keen wind blows it back to the pack,
The Black hunter's pack with eyes of fire -
Gehenna and Sheol and Blackman's whelp,
Yap, Yap, yap! Hunting a soul in pain.
Mile upon mile, o'er cairn and crag,
O'er perilous ways in coombe and hill;
In sight of dead spectres abroad to-night
Flies the sacred soul in pitiless pain,
The soul of Tregeagle in pain.
A holy saint, a saint prays there:
He hears the cry of a soul in pain;
He knows the bark of the hellish pack,
Gehenna and sheol and Blackman's whelp
Hunting a soul in pain,
Hunting a soul in deathless pin.
The window is shut: no room, no room!
Gehenna and sheol and Blackman's whelp
Breathe liquid fire with nostrils wide;
The saint prays lusty himself,
Not for Tregeagle in pain.
Back o'er the moor, the frozen moor,
Flies the cursed soul to Dozmary Pool.
With gleaming fangs and eyes aflame,
The pack, the pack, the hellish pack
Race by his side, yap, yap, yap -
Race by the side of the soul in pain.
Back to the Pool, the frozen pool,
The burning soul, the notable soul,
Flies to its prison of tears, hot tears,
Flies to its cursed prison of tears,
The soul of Tregeagle in pain.
And the pack, the loathsome, hellish pack,
Gehenna and Sheol and Blackman's whelp,
Were balked of their prey this time, this time.
But still they wait on the loathsome moor,
To hunt the poor soul in pain, in pain -
The soul of Tregeagle in pain.

 from "Cornish Saints & Sinners" (1906) by J. Henry Harris

Trevose Head Pixies

An intersting piece of folklore, re-told by Enys Tregarthen.

Picture © Alex Langstone

At Trevose Head in Cornwall 600 pixies were said to have gathered dancing and laughing in a circle that had appeared upon the turf until one of their number, named Omfra, lost his laugh. After searching amongst the barrows of the ancient kings of Cornwall on nearby St Breock Downs, he heads to Bodmin Moor and wades through the bottomless Dozmary Pool until his laugh is restored by King Arthur in the form of a Chough.

The Mermaids Vengeance

IN one of the deep valleys of the parish of Perranzabuloe, which are remarkable for their fertility, and especially for the abundance of fruit which the orchards produce, lived in days long ago, amidst a rudely-civilised people, a farmer's labourer, his wife, with one child, a daughter. The man and woman were equally industrious. The neatly white-washed walls of their mud-built cottage, the well-kept gravelled paths, and carefully-weeded beds of their small garden, in which flowers were cultivated for ornament, and vegetables for use, proclaimed at once the character of the inmates. In contrast with the neighbouring cottages, this one, although smaller than many others, had a superior aspect, and the occupiers of it exhibited a strong contrast to those peasants and miners amidst whom they dwelt.

Pennaluna, as the man was called, or Penna the Proud, as he was, in no very friendly spirit, named by his less thoughtful and more impulsive fellows, was, as we have said, a farmer's labourer.

His master was a wealthy yeoman, and he, after many years' experience, was so convinced of the exceeding industry and sterling honesty of Penna, that he made him the manager of an outlying farm in this parish, under the hind (or hine--the Saxon pronunciation is still retained in the West of England), or general supervisor of this and numerous other extensive farms.

Penna was too great a favourite with the Squire to be a favourite of the hind's; he was evidently jealous of him, and from not being himself a man of very strict principles, he hated the unobtrusive goodness of his underling, and was constantly on the watch to discover some cause of complaint. It was not, however, often that he was successful in this. Every task committed to the care of Penna,--and he was often purposely overtasked, -- was executed with great care and despatch. With the wife of Penna, however, the case was unfortunately different. Honour Penna was as industrious as her husband, and to him she was in all respects a helpmate. She had, however, naturally a proud spirit, and this had been encouraged in her youth by her parents. Honour was very pretty as a girl, and, indeed, she retained much beauty as a woman. The only education she received was the wild one of experience, and this within a very narrow circle. She grew an ignorant girl, amongst ignorant men and women, few of them being able to write their names, and scarcely any of them to read. There was much native grace about her, and she was flattered by the young men, and envied by the young women, of the village,--the envy and the flattery being equally pleasant to her. In the same village was born, and brought up, Tom Chenalls, who had, in the course of years, become hind to the Squire. Tom, as a young man, had often expressed himself fond of Honour, but he was always distasteful to the village maiden, and eventually, while yet young, she was married to Pennaluna, who came from the southern coast, bringing with him the recommendation of being a stranger, and an exceedingly hard-working man, who was certain to earn bread, and something more, for his wife and family. In the relations in which these people were now placed towards each other, Chenalls had the opportunity of acting ungenerously towards the Pennas. The man bore this uncomplainingly, but the woman frequently quarrelled with him whom she felt was an enemy, and whom she still regarded but as her equal. Chenalls was a skilled farmer, and hence was of considerable value to the Squire; but although he was endured for his farming knowledge and his business habits, he was never a favourite with his employer. Penna, on the contrary, was an especial favourite, and the evidences of this were so often brought strikingly under the observation of Chenalls, that it increased the irritation of his hate, for it amounted to that. For years things went on thus. There was the tranquil suffering of an oppressed spirit manifested in Penna--the angry words and actions of his wife towards the oppressor, .-- and, at the same time, as she with much fondness studied to make their humble home comfortable for her husband, she reviled him not unfrequently for the meek spirit with which he endured his petty, but still trying, wrongs. The hind dared not venture on any positive act of wrong towards those people, yet he lost no chance of annoying them, knowing that the Squire's partiality for Penna would not allow him to venture beyond certain bounds, even in this direction.

Penna's solace was his daughter. She had now reached her eighteenth year, and with the well-developed form of a woman, she united the simplicity of a child. Selina, as she was named, was in many respects beautiful. Her features were regular, and had they been lighted up with more mental fire, they would have been beautiful; but the constant repose, the want of animation, left her face merely a pretty one. Her skin was beautifully white, and transparent to the blue veins which traced their ways beneath it, to the verge of that delicacy which indicates disease; but it did not pass that verge. Selina was full of health, as her well moulded form at once showed, and her clear blue eye distinctly told. At times there was a lovely tint upon the cheek--not the hectic of consumptive beauty,--but a pure rosy dye, suffused by the healthy life stream, when it flowed the fastest.
The village gossips, who were always busy with their neighbours, said strange things of this girl. Indeed, it was commonly reported that the real child of the Pennas was a remarkably plain child, in every respect a different being from Selina. The striking difference between the infant and the woman was variously explained by the knowing ones. Two stories were, however, current for miles around the country. One was, that Selina's mother was constantly seen gathering dew in the morning, with which to wash her child, and that the fairies on the Towens had, in pure malice, aided her in giving a temporary beauty to the girl, that it might lead to her betrayal into crime. Why this malice, was never clearly made out.

The other story was, that Honour Penna constantly bathed the child in a certain pool, amidst the arched rocks of Perran, which was a favourite resort of the mermaids; that on one occasion the child, as if in a paroxysm of joy, leapt from her arms into the water, and disappeared. The mother, as may well be supposed, suffered a momentary agony of terror; but presently the babe swam up to the surface of the water, its little face more bright and beautiful than it had ever been before. Great was the mother's joy, and also--as the gossips say -- great her surprise at the sudden change in the appearance of her offspring. The mother knew no difference in the child whom she pressed lovingly to her bosom, but all the aged crones in the parish declared it to be a changeling. This tale lived its day; but, as the girl grew on to womanhood, and showed none of the special qualifications belonging either to fairies or mermaids, it was almost forgotten. The uncomplaining father had solace for all his sufferings in wandering over the beautiful sands with his daughter. Whether it was when the summer seas fell in musical undulations on the shore, or when, stirred by the winter tempests, the great Atlantic waves came up in grandeur, and lashed the resisting sands in giant rage, those two enjoyed the solitude. Hour after hour, from the setting sun time, until the clear cold moon flooded the ocean with her smiles of light, would the father and child walk these sands. They seemed never to weary of them and the ocean.

Almost every morning, throughout the milder seasons, Selina was in the habit of bathing, and wild tales were told of the frantic joy with which she would play with the breaking billows. Sometimes floating over, and almost dancing on the crests of the waves, at other times rushing under them, and allowing the breaking waters to beat her to the sands, as though they were loving arms, endeavouring to encircle her form. Certain it is, that Selina greatly enjoyed her bath, but all the rest must be regarded as the creations of the imagination. The most eager to give a construction unfavourable to the simple mortality of the maiden was, however, compelled to acknowledge that there was no evidence in her general conduct to support their surmises. Selina, as an only child, fared the fate of others who are unfortunately so placed, and was, as the phrase is, spoiled. She certainly was allowed to follow her own inclinations without any check. Still her inclinations were bounded to working in the garden, and to leading her father to the sea-shore. Honour Penna, sometimes, it is true, did complain that Selina could not be trusted with the most ordinary domestic duty. Beyond this, there was one other cause of grief, that was, the increasing dislike which Selina exhibited towards entering a church. The girl, notwithstanding the constant excuses of being sick, suffering from headache, having a pain in her side, and the like, was often taken, notwithstanding, by her mother to the church. It is said that she always shuddered as she passed the church-stile, and again on stepping from the porch into the church itself. When once within the house of prayer she evinced no peculiar liking or disliking, observing respectfully all the rules during the performance of the church-service, and generally sleeping, or seeming to sleep, during the sermon. Selina Pennaluna had reached her eighteenth year; she was admired by many of the young men of the parish, but, as if surrounded by a spell, she appeared to keep them all at a distance from her. About this time, a nephew to the Squire, a young soldier, -- who had been wounded in the wars,--came into Cornwall to heal his wounds, and recover health, which had suffered in a trying campaign.

This young man, Walter Trewoofe, was a rare specimen of manhood. Even now, shattered as he was by the combined influences of wounds, an unhealthy climate, and dissipation, he could not but be admired for fineness of form, dignity of carriage, and masculine beauty. It was, however, but too evident, that this young man was his own idol, and that he expected every one to bow down with him, and worship it. His uncle was proud of Walter, and although the old gentleman could not fail to see many faults, yet he regarded them as the follies of youth, and trusted to their correction with the increase of years and experience. Walter, who was really suffering severely, was ordered by his surgeon, at first, to take short walks on the sea-shore, and, as he gained strength, to bathe. He was usually driven in his uncle's pony-carriage to the edge of the sands. Then dismounting he would walk for a short time, and quickly wearing, return in his carriage to the luxuriant couches at the manor-house.

On some of those occasions Walter had observed the father and daughter taking their solitary ramble. He was struck with the quiet beauty of the girl, and seized an early opportunity of stopping Penna to make some general inquiry respecting the bold and beautiful coast. From time to time they thus met, and it would have been evident to any observer that Walter did not so soon weary of the sands as formerly, and that Selina was not displeased with the flattering things he said to her. Although the young soldier had hitherto led a wild life, it would appear as if for a considerable period the presence of goodness had repressed every tendency to evil in his ill-regulated heart. He continued, therefore, for some time playing with his own feelings and those of the childlike being who presented so much of romance, combined with the most homely tameness, of character. Selina, it is true, had never yet seen Walter except in the presence of her father, and it is questionable if she had ever for one moment had a warmer feeling than that of the mere pleasure--a silent pride--that a gentleman, at once so handsome, so refined, and the nephew of her father's master, should pay her any attention. Evil eyes were watching with wicked earnestness the growth of passion, and designing hearts were beating quicker with a consciousness that they should eventually rejoice in the downfall of innocence. Tom Chenalls hoped that he might achieve a triumph, if he could but once asperse the character of Selina. He took his measures accordingly. Having noticed the change in the general conduct of his master's nephew, he argued that this was due to the refining influence of a pure mind, acting on one more than ordinarily impressionable to either evil or good.

Walter rapidly recovered health, and with renewed strength the manly energy of his character began to develop itself. He delighted in horse-exercise, and Chenalls had always the best horse on the farms at his disposal. He was a good shot, and Chenalls was his guide to the best shooting-grounds. He sometimes fished, and Chenalls knew exactly where the choicest trout and the richest salmon were to be found. In fact, Chenalls entered so fully into the tastes of the young man, that Walter found him absolutely necessary to him to secure the enjoyments of a country life.

Having established this close intimacy, Chenalls never lost an opportunity of talking with Walter respecting Selina Penna. He soon satisfied himself that Walter, like most other young men who had led a dissipated life, had but a very low estimate of women generally. Acting upon this, he at first insinuated that Selina's innocence was but a mask, and at length he boldly assured Walter that the cottage girl was to be won by him with a few words, and that then he might put her aside at any time as a prize to some low-born peasant. Chenalls never failed to impress on Walter the necessity of keeping his uncle in the most perfect darkness, and of blinding the eyes of Selina's parents. Penna was,--so thought Chenalls,--easily managed, but there was more to be feared from the wife. Walter, however, with much artifice, having introduced himself to Honour Penna, employed the magic of that flattery, which, being properly applied, seldom fails to work its way to the heart of a weak-minded woman. He became an especial favourite with Honour, and the blinded mother was ever pleased at the attention bestowed with so little assumption,--as she thought,--of pride, on her daughter, by one so much above them. Walter eventually succeeded in separating occasionally, though not often, Penna and his daughter. The witching whispers of unholy love were poured into the trusting ear. Guileless herself, this child-woman suspected no guile in others, least of all in one whom she had been taught to look upon as a superior being to herself. Amongst the villagers, the constant attention of Walter Trewoofe was the subject of gossip, and many an old proverb was quoted by the elder women, ill-naturedly, and implying that evil must come of this intimacy, Tom Chenalls was now employed by WaIter to contrive some means by which he could remove Penna for a period from home. He was not long in doing this. He lent every power of his wicked nature to aid the evil designs of the young soldier, and thus he brought about that separation of father and child which ended in her ruin.

Near the Land's End the squire possessed some farms, and one of them was reported to be in such a state of extreme neglect, through the drunkenness and consequent idleness of the tenant, that Chenalls soon obtained permission to take the farm from this occupier, which he did in the most unscrupulous disregard for law or right. It was then suggested that the only plan by which a desirable occupier could be found, would be to get the farm and farm-buildings into good condition, and that Penna, of all men, would be the man to bring this quickly about. The squire was pleased with the plan. Penna was sent for by him, and was proud of the confidence which his master reposed in him. There was some sorrow on his leaving home. He subsequently said that he had had many warnings not to go, but he felt that he dared not disoblige a master who had trusted him so far--so he went.

Walter needed not any urging on the part of Chenalls, though he was always ready to apply the spur when there was the least evidence of the sense of right asserting itself in the young man's bosom. Week after week passed on. Walter had rendered himself a necessity to Selina. Without her admirer the world was cold and colourless. With him all was sunshine and glowing tints.

Three months passed thus away, and during that period it had only been possible for Penna to visit his home twice. The father felt that something like a spirit of evil stood between him and his daughter. There was no outward evidence of any change, but there was an inward sense--undefined, yet deeply felt--like an overpowering fear--that some wrong had been done. On parting, Penna silently but earnestly prayed that the deep dread might be removed from his mind. There was an aged fisherman, who resided in a small cottage built on the sands, who possessed all the superstitions of his class. This old man had formed a father's liking for the simple-hearted maiden, and he had persuaded himself that there really was some foundation for the tales which the gossips told. To the fisherman, Walter Trewoofe was an evil genius. He declared that no good ever came to him, if he met Walter when he was about to go to sea. With this feeling he curiously watched the young man and maiden, and he, in after days, stated his conviction that he had seen "merry maidens rising from the depth of the waters, and floating under the billows to watch Selina and her lover. He has also been heard to say that on more than one occasion Walter himself had been terrified by sights and sounds. Certain, however, it is, these were insufficient and the might of evil passions were more powerful than any of the protecting influences of the unseen world.

Another three months had gone by, and Walter Trewoofe had disappeared from Perranzabuloe. He had launched into the gay world of the metropolis, and rarely, if ever, dreamed of the deep sorrow which was weighing down the heart he had betrayed Penna returned home--his task was done--and Chenalls had no reason for keeping him any longer from his wife and daughter Clouds gathered slowly but unremittingly around him. His daughter retired into herself no longer as of old reposing her whole soul on her father's heart. His wife was somewhat changed too--she had some secret in her heart which she feared to tell The home he had left was not the home to which he had returned It soon became evident that some shock had shaken the delicate frame of his daughter. She pined rapidly; and Penna was awakened to a knowledge of the cause by the rude rejoicing of Chenalls, who declared "that all people who kept themselves so much above other people were sure to be pulled down." On one occasion he so far tempted Penna with sneers, at his having hope to secure the young squire for a son-in-law, that the long-enduring man broke forth and administered a severe blow upon his tormentor. This was duly reported to the squire, and added thereto was a magnified story of a trap which had been set by the Penna to catch young Walter; it was represented that even now they in tended to press their claims, on account of grievous wrongs upon them, whereas it could be proved that Walter was guiltless--that he was indeed the innocent victim of designing people, who though to make money out of their assumed misfortune. The squire made his inquiries, and there were not a few who eagerly seized the opportunity to gain the friendship of Chenalls by representing this family to have been hypocrites of the deepest dye; and the poor girl especially was now loaded with a weight of iniquities of which she had no knowledge. All this ended in the dismissal of Penna from the Squire's service, and in his being deprived of the cottage in which he had taken so much pride. Although thrown out upon the world a disgraced man, Penna faced his difficulties manfully. He cast off, as it were, the primitive simplicity of his character, and evidently worked with a firm resolve to beat down his sorrows. He was too good a workman to remain long unemployed; and although his new home was not his happy home as of old, there was no repining heard from his lips. Weaker and weaker grew Selina, and it soon became evident to all, that if she came from a spirit-world, to a spirit-world she must soon return. Grief filled the hearts of her parents--it prostrated her mother, but the effects of severe labour, and the efforts of a settled mind, appeared to tranquillise the breast of her father. Time passed on, the wounds of the soul grew deeper, and there lay, on a low bed, from which she had not strength to move, the fragile form of youth with the countenance of age. The body was almot powerless, but there beamed from the eye the evidences of a spirit getting free from the chains of clay.
The dying girl was sensible of the presence of creations other than mortal, and with these she appeared to hold converse, and to derive solace from the communion. Penna and his wife alternately watched through the night hours by the side of their loved child, and anxiously did they mark the moment when the tide turned, in the full belief that she would be taken from them when the waters of the ocean began to recede from the shore. Thus days passed on, and eventually the sunlight of a summer morning shone in through the small window of this humble cottage,--on a dead mother--and a living babe.

The dead was buried in the churchyard on the sands, and the living went on their ways, some rejoicingly and some in sorrow.

Once more Walter Trewoofe appeared in Perran-on-the-sands. Penna would have sacrificed him to his hatred; he emphatically protested that he had lived only to do so; but the good priest of the Oratory contrived to lay the devil who had possession, and to convince Penna that the Lord would, in His own good time, and in His own way, avenge the bitter wrong. Tom Chenalls had his hour of triumph; but from the day on which Selina died everything went wrong. The crops failed, the cattle died, hay-stacks and corn-ricks caught fire, cows slipped their calves, horses fell lame, or stumbled and broke their knees,--a succession of evils steadily pursued him. Trials find but a short resting-place with the good; they may be bowed to the earth with the weight of a sudden sorrow, but they look to heaven, and their elasticity is restored. The evil-minded are crushed at once, and grovel on the ground in irremediable misery. That Chenalls fled to drink in his troubles appeared but the natural result to a man of his character. This unfitted him for his duties, and he was eventually dismissed from his situation. Notwithstanding that the Squire refused to listen to the appeals in favour of Chenalls, which were urged upon him by Walter, and that indeed he forbade his nephew to countenance "the scoundrel" in any way, Walter still continued his friend. By his means Tom Chenalls secured a small cottage on the cliff, and around it a little cultivated ground, the produce of which was his only visible means of support. That lonely cottage was the scene, however, of drunken carousals, and there the vicious young men, and the no less vicious young women, of the district, went after nightfall, and kept "high carnival" of sin. Walter Trewoofe came frequently amongst them; and as his purse usually defrayed the costs of a debauch, he was regarded by all with especial favour.

One midnight, Walter, who had been dancing and drinking for some hours, left the cottage wearied with his excesses, and although not drunk, he was much excited with- wine. His pathway lay along the edge of the cliffs, amidst bushes of furze and heath, and through several irregular, zigzag ways. There were lateral paths striking off from one side of the main path, and leading down to the sea-shore. Although it was moonlight, without being actually aware of the error, Walter wandered into one of those; and before he was awake to his mistake, he found himself on the sands. He cursed his stupidity, and, uttering a blasphemous oath, he turned to retrace his steps.

The most exquisite music which ever flowed from human ups fell on his ear; he paused to listen, and collecting his unbalanced thoughts, he discovered that it was the voice of a woman singing a melancholy dirge

"The stars are beautiful, when bright
They are mirror'd in the sea;
But they are pale beside that light
Which was so beautiful to me.
My angel child, my earth-born girl,
From all your kindred riven,
By the base deeds of a selfish churl,
And to a sand-grave driven!
How shall I win thee back to ocean?
How canst thou quit thy grave,
To share again the sweet emotion
Of gliding through the wave?"

Walter, led by the melancholy song, advanced slowly along the sands. He discovered that the sweet, soft sounds proceeded from the other side of a mass of rocks, which project far out over the sands, and that now, at low-water, there was no difficulty in walking around it. Without hesitation he did so, and he beheld, sitting at the mouth of a cavern, one of the most beautiful women he had ever beheld. She continued her song, looking upwards to the stars, not appearing to notice the intrusion of a stranger. Walter stopped, and gazed on the lovely image before him with admiration and wonder, mingled with something of terror. He dared not speak, but fixed, as if by magic, he stood gazing on. After a few minutes, the maiden, suddenly perceiving that a man was near her, uttered a piercing shriek, and made as if to fly into the cavern. Walter sprang forward and seized her by the arm, exclaiming, "Not yet, my pretty maiden, not yet." She stood still in the position of flight, with her arm behind her, grasped by Walter, and turning round her head, her dark eyes beamed with unnatural lustre upon him. Impressionable he had ever been, but never had he experienced anything so entrancing, and at the same time so painful, as that gaze. It was Selina's face looking lovingly upon him, but it seemed to possess some new power--a might of mind from which he felt it was impossible for him to escape. Walter slackened his hold, and slowly allowed the arm to fall from his hand. The maiden turned fully round upon him. "Go!" she said. He could not move. "Go, man!" she repeated. He was powerless.

"Go to the grave where the sinless one sleepeth!
Bring her cold corse where her guarding one weepeth;
Look on her, love her again, ay! betray her,
And wreath with false smiles the pale face of her slayer!
Go, go! now, and feel the full force of my sorrow!
For the glut of my vengeance there cometh a morrow."

Walter was statue-like, and he awoke from this trance-like state only when the waves washed his feet, and he became aware that even now it was only by wading through the waters that he could return around the point of rocks. He was alone. He called; no one answered. He sought wildly, as far as he now dared, amidst the rocks, but the lovely woman was nowhere to be discovered.

There was no real danger on such a night as this; therefore Walter walked fearlessly through the gentle waves, and recovered the pathway up from the sands. More than once he thought he heard a rejoicing laugh, which was echoed in the rocks, but no one was to be seen. Walter reached his home and bed, but he found no sleep; and in the morning he arose with a sense of wretchedness which was entirely new to him. He feared to make any one of his rough companions a confidant, although he felt this would have relieved his heart. He therefore nursed the wound which he now felt, until a bitter remorse clouded his existence. After some days, he was impelled to visit the grave - of the lost one, and in the fullness of the most selfish sorrow, he sat on the sands and shed tears. The priest of the Oratory observed him, and knowing Walter Trewoofe, hesitated not to inquire into his cause of sorrow. His heart was opened to the holy man, and the strange tale was told--the only result being, that the priest felt satisfied it was but a vivid dream, which had resulted from a brain over-excited by drink. He, however, counselled the young man, giving him some religious instruction, and dismissed him with his blessing. There was relief in this. For some days Walter did not venture to visit his old haunt, the cottage of Chenalls. Since he could not be lost to his companions without greatly curtailing their vicious enjoyments, he was hunted up by Chenalls, and again enticed within the circle. His absence was explained on the plea of illness. Walter was, however, an altered man; there was not the same boisterous hilarity as formerly. He no longer abandoned himself without restraint to the enjoyments of the time. If he ever, led on by his thoughtless and rough-natured friends, assumed for a moment his usual mirth, it was checked by some invisible power. On such occasions he would turn deadly pale, look anxiously around, and fail back, as if ready to faint, on the nearest seat. Under these influences, he lost health. His uncle, who was really attached to his nephew, although he regretted his dissolute conduct, became now seriously alarmed. Physicians were consulted in vain; the young man pined, and the old gossips came to the conclusion that Walter Trewoofe was ill-wished, and there was a general feeling that Penna or his wife was at the bottom of it. Walter, living really on one idea, and that one the beautiful face which was, and yet was not, that of Selina, resolved again to explore the spot on which he had met this strange being, of whom nothing could be learned by any of the covert inquiries he made. He lingered long ere he could resolve on the task; but wearied, worn by the oppression of one undefined idea, in which an intensity of love was mixed with a shuddering fear, he at last gathered sufficient courage to seize an opportunity for again going to the cavern. On this occasion, there being no moon, the night was dark, but the stars shone brightly from a sky, cloudless, save a dark mist which hung heavily over the western horizon. Every spot of ground being familiar to him, who, boy and man, had traced it over many times, the partial darkness presented no difficulty. Walter had scarcely reached the level sands, which were left hard by the retiring tide, than he heard again the same magical voice as before. But now the song was a joyous one, the burthen of it being --

"Join all hands--
Might and main,
Weave the sands,
Form a chain,
He, my lover,
Comes again!"

He could not entirely dissuade himself but that he heard this repeated by many voices; but he put the thought aside, referring it, as well he might, to the numerous echoes from the cavernous openings in the cliffs.

He reached the eastern side of the dark mass of rocks, from the point of which the tide was slowly subsiding. The song had ceased, and a low moaning sound - the soughing of the wind--passed along the shore. Walter trembled with fear, and was on the point of returning, when a most flute-like murmur rose from the other side of the rocky barrier, which was presently moulded into words

"From your couch of glistering pearl,
Slowly, softly, come away;
Our sweet earth-child, lovely girl,
Died this day,--died this day."

Memory told Walter that truly was it the anniversary of Selina Pennaluna's death, and to him every gentle wave falling on the shore sang, or murmured --

"Died this day,--died this day."

The sand was left dry around the- point of the rocks, and Walter impelled by a power which he could not control, walked onward. The moment he appeared on the western side of the rock, a wild laugh burst into the air, as if from the deep cavern before him, at the entrance of which sat the same beautiful being whom he had formerly met. There was now an expression of rare joy on her face, her eyes glistened with delight, and she extended her arms. as if to welcome him.

"Was it ever your wont to move so slowly towards your loved one?"

Walter heard it was Selina's voice. He saw it was Selina's features; but he was conscious it was not Selina's form.

"Come, sit beside me, Walter, and let us talk of love." He sat down without a word, and looked into the maiden's face with a vacant expression of fondness. Presently she placed her hand upon his heart; a shudder passed through his frame; but having passed, he felt no more pain, but a rare intensity of delight. The maiden wreathed her arm around his neck, drew Walter towards her, and then he remembered how often he had acted thus towards Selina. She bent over him and looked into his eyes. In his mind's mirror he saw himself looking thus into the eyes of his betrayed one.

"You loved her once?" said the maiden.

"I did indeed," answered Walter, with a sigh.

"As you loved her, so I love you," said the maiden, with a smile which shot like a poisoned dart through Walter's heart. She lifted the young man's head lovingly between her hands, and bending over him, pressed her lips upon and kissed his forehead, Walter curiously felt that although he was the kissed, yet that he was the kisser.
"Kisses," she said, "are as true at sea as they are false on land. You men kiss the earth-born maidens to betray them. The kiss of a sea-child is the seal of constancy. You are mine till death."

"Death!" almost shrieked Walter.

A full consciousness of his situation now broke upon Walter. He had heard the tales of the gossips respecting the mermaid origin of Selina; but he had laughed at them as an idle fancy. he now felt they were true. For hours Walter was compelled to sit by the side of his beautiful tormentor, every word of assumed love and rapture being a torture of the most exquisite kind to him. He could not escape from the arms which were wound around him. He saw the tide rising rapidly. He heard the deep voice of the winds coming over the sea from the far west. He saw that which appeared at first as a dark mist, shape itself into a dense black mass of cloud, and rise rapidly over the star-bedecked space above him. He saw by the brilliant edge of light which occasionally fringed the clouds that they were deeply charged with thunder. There was something sublime in the steady motion of the storm; and now the roll of the waves, which had been disturbed in the Atlantic, reached our shores, and the breakers fell thunderingly within a few feet of Walter and his companion. Paroxysms of terror shook him, and with each convulsion he felt himself grasped with still more ardour, and pressed so closely to the maiden's bosom, that he heard her heart dancing of joy.

At length his terrors gave birth to words, and he implored her to let him go.

"The kiss of the sea-child is the seal of constancy." Walter vehemently implored forgiveness. He confessed his deep iniquity. He promised a life of penitence.

"Give me back the dead," said the maiden bitterly, and she planted another kiss, which seemed to pierce his brain by its coldness, upon his forehead.

The waves rolled around the rock on which;they sat; they washed their seat. Walter was still in the female's grasp, and she lifted him to a higher ledge. The storm approached. Lightnings struck down from the heavens into the sands; and thunders roared along the iron cliffs. The mighty waves grew yet more rash, and washed up to this strange pair, who now sat on the highest pinnacle of the pile of rocks. Walter's terrors nearly overcame him; but he was roused by a liquid stream of fire, which positively hissed by him, followed immediately by a crash of thunder, which shook the solid earth. Tom Chenall's cottage on the cliff burst into a blaze, and Walter saw, from his place amidst the raging waters, a crowd of male and female roisterers rush terrified out upon the heath, to be driven back by the pelting storm. The climax of horrors appeared to surround Walter. He longed to end it in death, but he could not die. His senses were quickened. He saw his wicked companion and evil adviser struck to the ground, a blasted heap of ashes, by a lightning stroke, and at the same moment he and his companion were borne off the rock on the top of a mountainous wave, on which he floated; the woman holding him by the hair of his head, and singing in a rejoicing voice, which was like a silver bell heard amidst the deep base bellowings of the storm--

"Come away, come away,
O'er the waters wild!
Our earth-born child
Died this day, died this day.
"Come away, come away!
The tempest loud
Weaves the shroud
For him who did betray.
"Come away, come away!
Beneath the wave
Lieth the grave
Of him we slay, him we slay.
"Come away, come away!
He shall not rest
In earth's own breast
For many a day, many a day.
"Come away, come away!
By billows to
From coast to coast,
Like deserted boat
His corse shall float
Around the bay, around the bay."

Myriads of voices on that wretched night were heard amidst the roar of the storm. The waves were seen covered with a multitudinous host, who were tossing from one to the other the dying Walter Trewoofe, whose false heart thus endured the vengeance of the mermaid, who had, in the fondness of her soul, made the innocent child of humble parents the child of her adoption.

Appendix M.
[a] Several versions of the following story have been given me. The general idea of the tale belongs to the north coast; but the fact of mermaidens taking innocents under their charge was common around the Lizard, and in some of the coves near the Land's End.

From Popular Romances of the West of England by Robert Hunt

The Ghost Layer

We don't know if An Jenny Hendy's ghost went to rest of its own free will, or whether any divine assisted in binding the troubled spirit to the grave. There need, however, be no difficulty about getting a ghost laid.

We have just heard of a local preacher, living in the district between Camborne and Helston, who, according to his own account, has put many troublesome spirits to rest, generally by settling for them their mundane affairs, about which they were troubled, by reasoning with and advising them to stay below, bear their punishment with a good heart, make the best of a bad matter, and hope for better times. He allowed that sometimes he was merely deluding the ghosts; yet, no matter, the end sought was attained—anything to get rid of them!

As he had a rather uncommon adventure in laying one ghost, we give his account, somewhat abridged, of this enterprise.

From some triflling cause the spirit got back again, to its late abode, before the mourners had quitted the public-house, in church-town, where, as is customary, they stopped a while to treat and take leave of their friends, who had come to the funeral from a distance.

The ghost became, at once, so annoying, that none could rest in the house with it, and, a few nights after the burial, the family of the deceased, not knowing what to do to obtain any quiet, fetched the preacher, who was believed to possess extraordinary knowledge of spiritual matters and power over the ghostly world and its inhabitants. He entered the haunted house alone. After many hours passed in prayer and expostulation with the obstinate spirit, it at last consented to return to its grave and stay there, if the exorcist and preacher would accompany it to the churchyard, to see it safely landed there.

And now happened the most remarkable part of this affair. About midnight the ghost-layer bound the spirit with a piece of new rope, and fastened the other end of it round his own waist, that the spirit mightn't give him the slip. The spirit, gentle as a lamb, was then led out of the house; but it had no sooner crossed the doorsill then the dwelling was surrounded by a pack of yelping hounds, of which the town-place was full, and the old one riding up the lane in a blaze of fire.

The spirit, to save itself from being caught by hounds and huntsman, mounted high up in the air, taking the man (hanging by the middle) with it. Away they went, over trees, hills, and water. In less than a minute they passed over some miles, and alighted in the churchyard, close by the spirit's grave, which the man saw open and blue sulphurous flames issuing therefrom, and he heard, coming from below, most horrid shrieks and moans.

The ghost, knowing it was no use contending with the man of faith, only stopped to say farewell, and then descended into its grave, which immediately closed. The man—overcome, by being borne, with lightning speed, through the air, or by the infernal fumes rising from the open grave—fell down in a fit, from which he didn't recover till daybreak, and then he was scarcely able to leave the churchyard. When near the town-place, which he had left with the spirit, in the branch of a tree he found his hat, that must have fallen from his head on first mounting through the air.

The most probable solution of this story, (told in good faith and firmly believed) is that the ghost-layer, after taking too much spirit in the public-house, rambled into the churchyard, there fell asleep, and dreamed the rest.

From: Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 1, by William Bottrell

Anne Jefferies and the Fairies

ANNE JEFFERIES was the daughter of a poor labouring man, who lived in the parish of St Teath. She was born in 1626, and is supposed to have died in 1698.
When she was nineteen years old, Anne, who was a remarkably sharp and clever girl, went to live as a servant in the family of Mr Moses Pitt. Anne was an unusually bold girl, and would do things which even boys feared to attempt. Of course, in those days every one believed in fairies, and everybody feared those little airy beings. They were constantly the talk of the people, and this set Anne longing anxiously to have an interview with some of them. So Anne was often abroad after sundown, turning up the fern leaves, and looking into the bells of the foxglove to find a fairy, singing all the time--
"Fairy fair and fairy bright;
Come and be my chosen sprite."
She never allowed a moonlight night to pass without going down into the valley, and walking against the stream, singing--
"Moon shines bright, waters run clear,
I am here, but where's my fairy dear?"
The fairies were a long time trying this poor girl; for, as they told her afterwards, they never lost sight of her; but there they would be, looking on when she was seeking them, and they would run from frond to frond of the ferns, when she was turning them up its her anxious search.
One day Anne, having finished her morning's work, was sitting in the arbour in her master's garden, when she fancied she heard some one moving aside the branches, as though endeavouring to look in upon her; and she thought it must be her sweetheart, so she resolved to take no notice. Anne went on steadily with her work, no sound was heard but the regular beat of the knitting-needles one upon the other. Presently she heard a suppressed laugh, and then again a rustle amidst the branches. The back of the arbour was towards the lane, and to enter the garden it was necessary to walk down the lane to the gate, which was, however, not many yards off.
Click, click went the needles, click, click, click. At last Anne began to feel vexed that the intruder did not show himself, and she pettishly said, half aloud --
"You may stay there till the kueney grows on the gate, ere I 'll come to 'ee."
There was immediately a peculiar ringing and very music laugh. Anne knew this was not her lover's laugh, and she felt afraid. But it was bright day, and she assured herself that no one would do her any mischief, as she knew herself to be a general favourite in the parish. Presently Anne felt assured that the garden gate had been carefully opened and again closed, so she wait anxiously the result. In a few moments she perceived at the entrance of the arbour six little men, all clothed very handsome in green. They were beautiful little figures, and had very charming faces, and such bright eyes. The grandest of these little visitors, who wore a red feather in his cap, advanced in front the others, and, making a most polite bow to Anne, addressed her familiarly in the kindest words.
This gentleman looked so sweetly on Anne that she was charmed beyond measure, and she put down her hand as if shake hands with her little friend, when he jumped into her palm and she lifted him into her lap. He then, without any more ad clambered upon her bosom and neck, and began kissing her. Anne never felt so charmed in her life as while this one little gentleman was playing with her; but presently he called his companion and they all clambered up by her dress as best they could, and kissed her neck, her lips, and her eyes. One of them ran his fingers over her eyes, and she felt as if they had been pricked with a pin. Suddenly Anne became blind, and she felt herself whirled through the air at a great rate. By and by, one of her little companions said something which sounded like "Tear away," and lo! Anne had her sight at once restored. She was in one of the most beautiful places -- temples and palaces of gold and silver. Trees laden with fruits and flowers. Lakes full of gold and silver fish and the air full of birds of the sweetest song, and the more brilliant colours. Hundreds of ladies and gentlemen were walking about. Hundreds more were idling in the most luxurious bowers, the fragrance of the flowers oppressing them with sense of delicious repose. Hundreds were also dancing, engaged in sports of various kinds. Anne was, however, surprised to find that these happy people were no longer the small people she had previously seen. There was now no more than the difference usually seen in a crowd, between their height and her own. Anne found herself arrayed in the most highly-decorated clothes. So grand, indeed, did she appear, that she doubted her identity. Anne was constantly attended by her six friends; but the finest gentleman, who was the first to address her, continued her favourite, at which the others appeared to be very jealous. Eventually Anne and her favourite contrived to separate themselves, and they retired into some most lovely gardens, where they were hidden by the luxuriance of the flowers. Lovingly did they pass the time, and Anne desired that this should continue for ever. However, when they were at the happiest, there was heard a great noise, and presently the five other fairies at the head of a great crowd came after them in a violent rage. Her lover drew his sword to defend her, but this was soon beaten down, and he lay wounded at her feet. Then the fairy who had blinded her again placed his hands upon her eyes, and all was dark. She heard strange noises, and felt herself whirled about and about, and as if a thousand flies were buzzing around her.
At length her eyes were opened, and Anne found herself on the ground in the arbour where she had been sitting in the morning, and many anxious faces were around her, all conceiving that she was recovering from a convulsion fit.
From 'Popular Romances of the West of England' by Robert Hunt. 


More than two hundred years ago there lived in the parish of St. Teath,
a poor labouring man called Jefferies, and this man had one daughter,
called Anne.  Anne was a sweetly pretty girl, and a very intelligent one,
too; but she was a terrible hoyden.  She shocked all the old ladies in the
village, and all the prim people, dreadfully, and instead of being
ashamed, she seemed to glory in it.

Everyone wondered how she came to have such a spirit, and whom she took
after, for her mother was as quiet and meek a little woman as ever was
born, and always had been; while her father was a stern, silent man, who
looked upon his flighty daughter as a thorn in his side, a cross laid upon
him for his good.  But the fact remains that Anne was the most daring of
all the young people in the parish, doing things that even the boys were
afraid to do, for she had no fear, nothing awed her, and there was nothing
she would not attempt.

In those days the fairies and piskies, witches and goblins of all sorts
were all over the land, and everyone knew it, and was more or less in awe
of them.  The young people appealed to the fairies for everything, to be
helped in their work, to get love-draughts, to be made beautiful, and to
know their fortunes.  At the same time they all, except Anne, would have
been scared to death if they had caught sight of one.  Anne, indeed, often
boldly declared that she longed to see them, and would love to have a talk
with them; and she made up her mind that she would, too, and when once
Anne had got an idea into her head, she generally managed to carry it out.

So, without saying anything to anyone, she went out every evening as soon
as the sun was gone down, and wandered about looking into the fox-glove
bells, and under the ferns, examining the Fairy Rings and every other
likely spot, singing:--

     Fairy fair and fairy bright,
     Come and be my chosen sprite!

For though she had got a very good and true sweetheart, named Tom, she had
a great fancy for a fairy one.  Perhaps she was thinking of the lovely
presents that people said the fairies gave, or perhaps she thought that
she would like to live in a palace, and be dressed in silks and velvet,
none of which things could poor Tom give her, of course.

On moonlight nights Anne crept away by herself to the banks of the stream
which ran through the valley, and here, walking against the current, she
would sing:--

     Moon shines bright, water runs clear,
     I am here, but where's my fairy dear?

She sang it wistfully enough to touch the heart of any fairy, but though
she went on for a long time repeating all the charms she knew, and trying,
by every means she could think of, to please the Little People, and though
she often nearly put her hand on one during her searches, the Little
People never showed themselves to her.

They noticed her, though, and were only biding their time.

One beautiful warm summer's day, Anne, having finished her housework
early, took her knitting and went and sat in an arbour at the foot of the
garden, for she never could bear to be cooped up indoors if she could
possibly get out.  She had not been sitting there very long when she heard
a rustling amongst the bushes, but she took no notice of it, for she felt
it was sure to be her lover, coming to have a talk with her; and now that
she was so possessed with the thought of a fairy lover, she had ceased to
care for poor Tom, and was extremely cool and off-hand with him.

So, at the sound of the rustling, even when it was repeated, she did not
even raise her eyes from her knitting, or turn her head.

Presently, though, the bushes were rustled more violently, and then
someone gave a little laugh.  Anne moved this time, for the laugh was
certainly not Tom's laugh.

A lane ran along at the back of the arbour, a lane which one had to pass
down to get to the garden gate, and it was from here that the laugh came.
Anne peeped carefully out through the trellis-work and bushes to try to
see who it was who was laughing at her, but not a sign of any living being
could she see.  She felt annoyed, for it is extremely unpleasant to feel
that someone is looking at you through a peep-hole, and making game of

Anne grew so vexed she could not keep her vexation to herself.
"Well," she said aloud, feeling sure it was Tom who was trying to tease
her, "you may stay there till the moss grows over you, before ever I'll
come out to you."

A burst of laughter, peculiarly sweet and ringing, greeted her words.
"Oh," she thought to herself, "whoever can it be?  I'm certain sure Tom
could never laugh like that.  Who can it be, I wonder?"

She felt really nervous now, for there was something unnatural about it
all, but she tried to reassure herself by thinking that nothing could
happen to her in broad daylight such as it was then.  Besides which, she
did not know of anyone who wished to harm her, for she was a favourite
with everyone in the village.  She waited anxiously, though, to see what
would happen next.

She went on with her knitting, seemingly paying no heed to anything, but
her ears were strained to catch the least sound, and when, after a little
while, the garden gate was softly opened and closed again, she heard it
distinctly, and glancing up to see who was coming, she saw to her
astonishment, not Tom, or anyone else she knew, but six little pisky
gentlemen, handsome little creatures, with pleasant smiles and brilliantly
shining eyes.

To her astonishment they did not seem at all disturbed at seeing her, but
came up and ranged themselves in a row before her and bowed to the ground.
They were all dressed alike in green knickerbockers and tunics, edged with
scarlet, and tiny green caps, and one, the handsomest of the lot, had a
beautiful red waving feather at one side of his.  They stood and looked at
Anne and smiled, and Anne, not at all frightened now, but pleased, smiled
back at them.  Then he with the red feather stepped in front of the
others, and bowing to her in the most courtly manner, addressed her with a
charming friendliness which set her at ease at once.

Whether this strange little gentleman was really attracted by her charms,
or whether he acted in the same way to every pretty girl he met, one
cannot say, but he certainly looked at Anne very affectionately and
admiringly, and poor Anne's heart was captured at once.  She was certain
there never had been such a charming little gentleman before, nor ever
could be again, nor one with such good taste.

Stooping down she held out her hand, whereupon the little gentleman
stepped into it, and Anne lifted him to her lap.  From her lap he soon
climbed to her shoulder, and then he kissed her, and not only kissed her
once, but many times, and Anne thought him more charming than ever.
Presently he called his companions, and they climbed up and kissed Anne,
too, and patted her rosy cheeks, and smoothed her hair.  But while one of
them was patting her cheek, he ran his finger across her eyes, and Anne
gave a terrible scream, for with his touch she felt as though a needle had
been run through her eyeballs, and when she tried to open them again she
found she was blind.

At the same moment she felt herself caught up in the air, and for what
seemed to her a very long time she was carried through it at a tremendous
rate.  At last they came to a stop, whereupon one of the Little Men said
something which Anne could not understand, and, behold, her eyesight at
once came back!

And now, indeed, she had something to use it on, for she found herself in
what seemed to be a perfectly gorgeous palace, or rather two or three
palaces joined together, all built of gold and silver, with arches and
pillars of crystal, large halls with walls of burnished copper, and
beautiful rooms inlaid with precious marbles.  Outside was a perfect
paradise of a garden, filled with lovely flowers, and trees laden with
fruit or blossom.  Birds were singing everywhere, such rare birds, too!
Some were all blue and gold, others a bright scarlet, then again others
shone like silver or steel.  There were large lakes full of gold and
silver fish, and marble fountains throwing jets of water high into the
air.  Here and there were dainty bowers covered with roses, and filled
within with soft moss carpets and luxurious couches.  Walking about
everywhere in this lovely place were scores of little ladies and
gentlemen, dressed in rich silks and velvets, and with precious stones
sparkling and flashing from their fingers, their hair, their shoes, indeed
they seemed to sparkle all over, like flowers covered with dewdrops.
Some strolled along the walks, others reclined in the bowers, some floated
in little scarlet or ivory boats on the lakes, others sat under the
blossoming trees.  There seemed, indeed, no end to them, and to Anne's
great astonishment, neither they nor her six companions seemed small now,
also, to her great delight, she was dressed as beautifully as any of them,
and wore as beautiful jewels.  Though she did not know it, she had shrunk
to their size, and a very lovely little fairy she made.

Her gown was of white silk, with a long train bordered all round with
trails of green ivy, and over her shoulders she wore a long green silk
cloak with a little scarlet hood.  Her hair looked as though it had been
dressed by a Court hairdresser, and amidst the puffs and curls sparkled
emeralds and diamonds, like trembling stars.  Her little green slippers
had silver heels, and diamond buckles on the toes, round her waist hung a
diamond girdle, on her neck, too, and fingers gems sparkled and flashed
with every movement.

Oh, how proud and delighted Anne did feel, and how eagerly she hoped that
she might always live like this!  Instead of having one cavalier as most
of the ladies had, she had six, but the one with the red feather was her
favourite, and hour by hour he and Anne grew more deeply in love with one

Unfortunately, though, the other five began to grow very jealous, and they
kept such a watch on Anne and her friend, that the poor lovers had no
chance to get away and talk by themselves, or exchange even a look, or a
kiss, or a handclasp.

However, when people are determined they usually succeed in the end,
and one day Anne and her handsome lover managed to slip away unobserved.
Hand in hand they ran to a garden which lay at some little distance from
the others, one that was seldom used, too, and where the flowers grew so
tall and in such profusion that they soon were completely hidden amongst

Here they made their home, and here they lived for a time as happily as
any two people could who loved each other more than all the world beside.

Alas, though, their happiness was too great to last!  They had not been in
their beautiful retreat very long, when one day they heard a great noise
and disturbance, and to Anne's dismay the five little men followed by a
crowd of fairies, equally angered, burst in on them.  They had traced the
lovers to the garden, and even to the lily-bell in which they had made
their home.  With drawn swords and faces full of anger, they surrounded
the lily and commanded the lovers to come down.  Nearly mad with jealousy
as they were, they heaped the most cruel and insulting speeches on the
poor little pair.

Furious with indignation Anne's lover sprang down, sword in hand, and
faced his attackers, but what could one do against such odds?  His sword
was knocked out of his hand, he himself was overpowered by the numbers who
hurled themselves on him.  For a while he fought desperately, his back to
the wall, his courage unfailing, but the blows fell on him so fast and
furious, that in a few minutes he lay bleeding and lifeless at poor Anne's

What happened next Anne never knew.  She remembered looking down on her
dead lover through eyes almost blind with tears, she remembered seeing his
blood staining her dainty green slippers, and splashing her gown, then
someone passed a hand over her eyes, and she could see nothing.  She was
as blind as she had been once before.

All about her she heard strange noises, like the whirring and buzzing of
numberless insects; she felt herself being carried through the air at a
terrific rate, until her breath was quite taken away,--then she was placed
on a seat, and in a moment her sight came back to her.

She was back in the arbour where she had first seen the fairies, but,
instead of six little men, she now saw about six-and-twenty big men and
women all staring at her with frightened eyes and open mouths.

"She's very bad," they were whispering, "poor maid, she do look ill!
'Tis a fit she's had, and no mistake!"  Then seeing her open her eyes and
look about her, they crowded nearer.  "Why, Anne, child, you've been in a
fit, haven't 'ee?"

Anne lifted her arm and looked at it and her hand; there was not a
single jewel on either.  She glanced down over her gown,--it was of
linsey-woolsey, not silk or velvet.  She closed her eyes again that they
might not see the tears that sprang to them.

"I don't know if I've been in a fit," she said wearily, but to herself she 
added sadly, "I know, though, that I've been in love."
 from  Cornwall's Wonderland, by Mabel Quiller-Couch
"AN account of Anne Jefferies, now living in the county of Cornwall, who was fed for six months by a small sort of airy people, called fairies; and of the strange and wonderful cures she performed with salves and medicines she received from them, for which she never took one penny of her patients.
- In a letter from Moses Pitt to the Right Reverend Father in God, Dr. Edward Fowler, Lord Bishop of Gloucester."
Anne Jefferies, who was afterwards married to one William Warren, was born in the parish of St Teath in December 1626, "and she is still living, 1696, being now in the 70th year of her age." From the published narrative, we learn that Mr Humphrey Martin was requested by Mr Moses Pitt to see and examine Anne in 1693. Mr Martin writes, "As for Anne Jefferies, I have been with her the greater part of one day, and did react to her all that you wrote to me; but site would not own anything of it, as concerning the fairies, neither of any of the cures that she did. She answered, that if her own father were now alive, she would not discover to him those things which did happen then to her. I asked her the reason why she would not do it; she replied, that if she should discover it to you, that you would make books or ballads of it; and she said, that she would not have her name spread about the country in books or ballads of such things, if she might have five hundred pounds for it."
Mr Pitt's correspondent goes on to say that Anne was so frightened by the visitors she had in the arbour "that she fell into a kind of convulsion fit. But when we found her in this condition we brought her into the house and put her to bed, and took great care of her. As soon as she recovered out of her fit, she cried out, 'They are just gone out of the window--they are just gone out of the window. Do you not see them?'" Anne recovered, and "as soon as she recovered a little strength, she constantly went to church." "She took mighty delight in devotion, and in hearing the Word of God read and preached, although she herself could not read."
Anne eventually tells some portions of her story, and cures numerous diseases amongst the people, by the powers site had derived from the fairy world. "People of all distempers, sicknesses, sores, and ages, came not only so far off as the Land's End, but also from London, and were cured by her. Site took no moneys of them, nor any reward that ever I knew or heard of, yet had she moneys at all times sufficient to supply her wants. She neither made nor bought any medicines or salves that ever I saw or heard of, yet wanted them not as she had occasion. She forsook eating our victuals, and was fed by these fairies from that harvest time to the next Christmas day; upon which day she came to our table and said, because it was that day, she would eat some roast beef with us, the which she did--I myself being then at the table."
The fairies constantly attended upon Anne, and they appear to have vied with each other to win her favour. They feel her, as we have been already told ; and the writer says that on one occasion site "gave me a piece of her bread, which I did eat, and I think it was the most delicious bread that ever I did eat, either before or since." Anne could render herself invisible at will. The fairies would come and dance with her in the orchard. She had a silver cup, given at her wish by the fairies to Mary Martyn, when she was about four years of age.
At last, "one John Tregeagle, Esq., who was steward to John Earl of Radnor, being a justice of peace in Cornwall, sent his warrant for Anne, and sent her to Bodmin jail, and there kept her a long time." The fairies had previously given her notice that she would be apprehended.
"She asked them if she should hide herself. They answered no; she should fear nothing, but go with the constable. So she went with the constable to the justice, and he sent her to Bodmin jail, and ordered the prison keeper that she should be kept without victuals, and she was so kept, and yet she lived, and that without complaining. But poor Anne lay in jail for a considerable time after; and also Justice Tregeagle, who was her great prosecutor, kept her in his house some time as a prisoner, and that without victuals."
We have a curious example of the fairies quoting Scripture. I am not aware of another instance of this. Anne, when seated with the family was called three times. "Of all these three calls of the fairies, none heard them but Anne. After she had been in her chamber some time, she came to us again, with a Bible in her hand, and tells us that when she came to the fairies, they said to her, 'What ! has there been some magistrates and ministers' with you, and dissuaded you from coming any more to us, saying, we are evil spirits, and that it was all a delusion of the devil? Pray, desire them to read that place of Scripture, in the First Epistle of St. John, chap. iv. ver. I, "Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God;" and this place of Scripture was turned down so in the said Bible. I told your lordship before, Anne could not read."
Anne was at length liberated from confinement. She lived in service near Padstow, and in process of time married William Warren.
How honestly and simply does Moses conclude his story!
"And now, my lord, if your lordship expects that I should give you an account when, and upon what occasion, these fairies forsook our Anne, I must tell your lordship I am ignorant of that. She herself can best tell, if she would be prevailed upon to do so; and the history of it, and the rest of the passages of her life, would be very acceptable and useful to the most curious and inquisitive part of mankind." [a]
[a] "An Historical Survey of the County of Cornwall." C. S. Gilbert 1817.
from Popular Romances of the West of England by Robert Hunt

The Fisherman and the Piskeys

The Fisherman and the Piskeys by Jonathan Couch

John Taprail, long since dead, moored his boat one evening beside a barge of much larger size, in which his neighbour, John Rundle, traded between Polperro and Plymouth; and as the wind, though gusty, was not sufficient to cause any apprehension, he went to bed and slept soundly. In the middle of the night, he was awoke by a voice from without, bidding him to get up, and "shift his rope over Rundle's", as his boat was in danger. Now as all Taprail's capital was in his boat and gear, we may be sure that he was not long in putting on his sea clothes, and going to its rescue. To his great chagrin he found that a joke had been played upon him, for the boat and the barge were both riding quietly at their ropes. On his way back again, when within a few yards of his home, he observed a crowd of little people congregated under the shelter of a boat that was lying high and dry upon the beach. They were sitting in a semi circle holding their hats towards oneo f the number, who was engaged in distributing a heap of money, pitching a gold piece into each hat in succession. Now John had a covetous heart , and the sight of so much cash made him forget the respect due to an assemblage of piskeys, and that they were not slow to punish any intrusion on their privacy: so he crept slily towards them, hidden by the boat, and reaching round, managed to introduce his hat without exciting any notice. When the heap was getting low, and Taprail was awakening to the dangers of detection, he craftily withdrew his hat and made off with the prize. He had got a fair start before the trick was discovered; but but the defrauded piskies were soon on his heels, and he barely managed to reach his house and to close the doors upon his pursuers. So narrow indeed was his escape that he left the tails of his sea coat in their hands.

Fron "History of Polperro" by Jonathan Couch. Collected during the 1860's and published shortly after his death in 1871. Artwork by Frank Varty from the same publication.

How Jan Brewer was Piskey-laden

How Jan Brewer was Piskey-laden by Enys Tregarthen

THE moon was near her setting as a tall, broad-shouldered man called Jan Brewer was walking home to Constantine Bay to his cottage on the edge of a cliff.

He was singing an old song to himself as he went along, and he sang till he drew near the ruins of Constantine Church, standing on a sandy common near the bay. As he grew near the remains of this ancient church, which were clearly seen in the moon-
shine, he thought he heard someone laughing, but he was not quite sure, for the sea was roaring on the beach below the common, and the waves were making a loud noise as they dashed up the great headland of Trevose.

' I was mistaken ; 'twas nobody laughing,' said Jan to himself, and he walked on again, singing as before ; and he sang till he came near a gate, which opened into a field leading to his cottage, but when he got there he could not see the gate or the gateway.

' I was so taken up with singing the old song, that I must have missed my way,' he said again to himself. ' I'll go back to the head of the common and start afresh,' which he did ; and when he got to the place where his gate ought to have been, he could not find it to save his life.

' I must be clean mazed,' he cried. ' I have never got out of my reckoning before, nor missed finding my way to our gate, even when the night has been as dark as pitch. It isn't at all dark to-night ; I can see Trevose Head '-looking across the bay 'and yet I can't see my own little gate ! But I en't a-going to be done ; I'll go round and round this common till I do find my gate.'

And round and round the common he went, but find his gate he could not.

Every time he passed the ruins of the church a laugh came up from the pool below the ruins, and once he thought he saw a dancing light on the edge of the pool, where a lot of reeds and rushes were growing.

' The Little Man in the Lantern is about to-night he said to himself, as he glanced at the pool. ' But I never knew he was given to laughing before.'

Once more he went round the common, and when he had passed the ruins he heard giggling and laughing, this time quite close to him ; and looking down on the grass, he saw to his astonishment hundreds of Little Men and Little Women with tiny lights in
their hands, which they were Sinking t about as they laughed and giggled.

The Little Men wore stocking-caps, the colour of ripe briar berries, and grass-green coats, and the Little Women had on old grandmother cloaks of the same vivid hue as the Wee Men's coats, and they also wore fascinating little scarlet hoods.

' I believe the great big chap sees us,' said one of the Little Men, catching sight of Jan's astonished face. ' He must be Piskey-eyed, and we did not know it.'

' Is he really?' cried one of the Dinky Women. ' Tis a pity,' as the Little Man nodded. ' But we'll have our game over him all the same.'

' That we will,' cried all the Little Men and Little Women in one voice : and, forming a ring round the great tall fellow, they began to dance round him, laughing, giggling, tehoing, and flashing up their lights as they danced.

They went round him so fast that poor Jan was quite bewildered, and whichever way he looked there were these Little Men and Little Women giggling up into his bearded face. And when he tried to break through their ring they went before him and behind him, making a game over him, he said !

He was at their mercy and they knew it ; and when they saw the great fellow's misery, they only laughed and giggled the more.

' We've got him !' they cried to each other, and they said it with such gusto and with such a comical expression on their tiny brown faces, that Jan, bewildered as he was, and tired with going round the common so many times, could not help laughing, they looked so very funny, particularly when the Little Women winked up at him from under their little scarlet hoods.

The Piskeys for they were Piskeys hurried him down the common, dancing round him all the time ; and when he got there he felt so mizzy-mazey with those tiny whirling figures going round and round him like a whirligig, that he did not know whether he was standing on his head or his heels. He was also in a bath of perspiration ' sweating leaking,' he expressed it and, putting his hand in his pocket to take out a handkerchief to mop his face, he remembered having been told that, if ever he got Piskey-laden, he must turn his coat pockets inside out, when he would be free at once from his Piskey tormentors. He immediately acted on this suggestion, and in a minute or less his coat-pockets were hanging out, and all the Little Men and the Little Women had vanished, and there, right in front of him, he saw his own gate ! He lost no time in opening it, and in a very short time was in his thatched cottage on the cliff.