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Penelope

They say fairies used to gather and dance in fair moonlight nights in a meadow by the river that falls from Cwellyn Lake. One evening a young man, who was the heir of the farm that the meadow belonged to, hid himself in a thicket close to the spot where they used to gather. After some time they appeared, and when they were in a merry mood, he bounced out among them and seized one of the females. The rest of the company disappeared in a moment.

Despite her struggles and screams, he hauled her to his home, where he treated her so very kindly that she became contented to live with him as his maid-servant, but he could not make her tell him her name. Some time after he happened to see the fairies on the same spot again, and heard one of them saying, "The last time we met here, our sister Penelope was snatched away from us by one of the mortals."

The man rejoiced that he now knew the name of his beautiful and vigorous maid-servant, and returned home and asked her to marry him. For a long time she would not, but at last she gave in, on this condition, "That if ever he should strike her with iron, she would leave him, and never return to him again."

They lived happy together for many years, and he had a son and a daughter by her. Also, by her industry and prudent management as a housewife he became one of the richest men in the country. He farmed, besides his own freehold, lands to the top of Snowdon and much else.

One day Penélope followed her husband into the field to catch a horse that ran away from him. In a rage he threw the bridle that was in his hand, at the running animal. Unluckily it fell on Penelope. She disappeared in an instant, and he never saw her again, but heard her voice asking him to take well care of their children.

[Emerson 1894, p. 44-46. Retold]

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Mushrooms

One moonlit night as Daniel Cooper was returning from Kilnsay to Burnsall, he took a footpath across the fields. There he came upon a number of fairies dancing in a field occupied by himself as a market-garden. He took care not to interrupt them or in any way disturb them. In conseqence, they did not discover him.

Next morning he went to the same spot, and there he found the ground covered with beautiful mushrooms. Daniel thought the matter over, and remembered that there was a slight breeze at the time he thought he saw the elfin band on the previous evening, and there were some hawthorn bushes slightly overshadowing the place.

"What," he thought, "my fairies may have been only the mushrooms, after all. They seemed only to move because of the moonlight shadows of the wavering branches of the bushes were falling on them."

This he told to his wife, who was a firmer believer in the green folk than her husband. She would not accept his explanation, but exclaimed, "No, Daniel, you saw the fairies, and the mushrooms are a gift to you because you were so good and did not disturb them in their dance."

[Parkinson 1889, p. 93. Retold]

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Wrestling at the 'Hooting Stones'

Carn
Carn Kenidjack, also called Carn Kenidzhek

Two miners passed by Carn Kenidjach one dark night and though the night was not a windy one, they heard from the Carn a moaning noise that arose into a hoooot.

They believed they could see lights coming from the cairn and huge dark figures between the rocks. They learnt that a wrestling match at the Carn was about to take place. However, at the Carn strange figures had gathered for the match. Some looked as if they had grown out of the very rocks themselves, with huge shapes and painted faces.

Two figures came forward and entered the circle that was to be the wrestling area. As the match progressed, the miners found they were watching the best wrestling match they had ever seen. Then, when the match was over, the rocks shook as if struck by a thunderbolt and the night became as black as pitch with a strange rushing sound, and then of a sudden all the spectators and wrestlers disappeared.

[Hunt 1865, 241-45, 'The Hooting Cairn'. Much abridged. Also appearing in Keding and Douglas 2005, p. 60-64]

Notes

  1. Carn Kenidjack, a natural rock formation on Land's End, is also known as the Hooting Carn because of noises the wind can sometimes make when whistling through crags and crevices among the stones.
  2. Cairn: a heap of stones piled up as a memorial or as a landmark (Merriam-Webster)

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