You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2012.

“This,” said old Peter, “is a story against wanting more than enough.”

 

Long ago, near the shore of the blue sea, an old man lived with his old woman in a little old hut made of earth and moss and logs. They never had a rouble to spend. A rouble! they never had a kopeck. They just lived there in the little hut, and the old man caught fish out of the sea in his old net, and the old woman cooked the fish; and so they lived, poorly enough in summer and worse in winter. Sometimes they had a few fish to sell, but not often. In the summer evenings they sat outside their hut on a broken old bench, and the old man mended the holes in his ragged old net. There were holes in it a hare could jump through with his ears standing, let alone one of those little fishes that live in the sea. The old woman sat on the bench beside him, and patched his trousers and complained.

 

Well, one day the old man went fishing, as he always did. All day long he fished, and caught nothing. And then in the evening, when he was thinking he might as well give up and go home, he threw his net for the last time, and when he came to pull it in he began to think he had caught an island instead of a haul of fish, and a strong and lively island at that–the net was so heavy and pulled so hard against his feeble old arms.

 

“This time,” says he, “I have caught a hundred fish at least.”

 

Not a bit of it. The net came in as heavy as if it were full of fighting fish, but empty –.

 

“Empty?” said Maroosia.

 

“Well, not quite empty,” said old Peter, and went on with his tale.

 

Not quite empty, for when the last of the net came ashore there was something glittering in it–a golden fish, not very big and not very little, caught in the meshes. And it was this single golden fish which had made the net so heavy.

 

The old fisherman took the golden fish in his hands.

 

“At least it will be enough for supper,” said he.

 

But the golden fish lay still in his hands, and looked at him with wise eyes, and spoke–yes, my dears, it spoke, just as if it were you or I.

 

“Old man,” says the fish, “do not kill me. I beg you throw me back into the blue waters. Someday I may be able to be of use to you.”

 

“What?” says the old fisherman; “and do you talk with a human voice?”

 

“I do,” says the fish. “And my fish’s heart feels pain like yours. It would be as bitter to me to die as it would be to yourself.”

 

“And is that so?” says the old fisherman. “Well, you shall not die this time.” And he threw the golden fish back into the sea.

Old Peter and the Golden Fish

You would have thought the golden fish would have splashed with his tail, and turned head downwards, and swum away into the blue depths of the sea. Not a bit of it. It stayed there with its tail slowly flapping in the water so as to keep its head up, and it looked at the fisherman with its wise eyes, and it spoke again.

 

“You have given me my life,” says the golden fish. “Now ask anything you wish from me, and you shall have it.”

 

The old fisherman stood there on the shore, combing his beard with his old fingers, and thinking. Think as he would, he could not call to mind a single thing he wanted.

 

“No, fish,” he said at last; “I think I have everything I need,”

 

“Well, if ever you do want anything, come and ask for it,” says the fish, and turns over, flashing gold, and goes down into the blue sea.

 

The old fisherman went back to his hut, where his wife was waiting for him.

 

“What!” she screamed out; “you haven’t caught so much as one little fish for our supper?”

 

“I caught one fish, mother,” says the old man: “a golden fish it was, and it spoke to me; and I let it go, and it told me to ask for anything I wanted.”

 

“And what did you ask for? Show me.”

 

“I couldn’t think of anything to ask for; so I did not ask for anything at all.”

 

“Fool,” says his wife, “and dolt, and us with no food to put in our mouths. Go back at once, and ask for some bread.”

 

Well, the poor old fisherman got down his net, and tramped back to the seashore. And he stood on the shore of the wide blue sea, and he called out,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

And in a moment there was the golden fish with his head out of the water, flapping his tail below him in the water, and looking at the fisherman with his wise eyes.

 

“What is it?” said the fish.

 

“Be so kind,” says the fisherman; “be so kind. We have no bread in the house.”

 

“Go home,” says the fish, and turned over and went down into the sea.

 

“God be good to me,” says the old fisherman; “but what shall I say to my wife, going home like this without the bread?” And he went home very wretchedly, and slower than he came.

 

As soon as he came within sight of his hut he saw his wife, and she was waving her arms and shouting.

 

“Stir your old bones,” she screamed out. “It’s as fine a loaf as ever I’ve seen.”

 

And he hurried along, and found his old wife cutting up a huge loaf of white bread, mind you, not black–a huge loaf of white bread, nearly as big as Maroosia.

 

“You did not do so badly after all,” said his old wife as they sat there with the samovar on the table between them, dipping their bread in the hot tea.

 

But that night, as they lay sleeping on the stove, the old woman poked the old man in the ribs with her bony elbow. He groaned and woke up.

 

“I’ve been thinking,” says his wife, “your fish might have given us a trough to keep the bread in while he was about it. There is a lot left over, and without a trough it will go bad, and not be fit for anything. And our old trough is broken; besides, it’s too small. First thing in the morning off you go, and ask your fish to give us a new trough to put the bread in.”

 

 

 

————————-

From OLD PETER’S RUSSAIN TALES

ISBN: 978-1-907256-40-0

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_oprt.html

 

Old Peters Russian Tales

 

 

 

Advertisements

THE stars shine down!

The Northern Lights flash over the sky,

and the Milky Way glows white!

Listen to the song of the Wizard

of the Crystal-Lighted Cavern!

 

AH! BEAUTIFUL was Linda the lovely daughter of Uko. She showed all the skypaths to the little birds, when they came flocking home in the springtime or flew away in autumn. She cared as gently and tenderly for the little birds, as a mother cares for her children. And just as a flower bespangled with a thousand drops of dew shines and smiles in the morning sunshine, so Linda shone while caring for her little winged ones.

 

Thus it was no wonder that all the world loved Linda. Every youth wished her for his bride, and crowds of suitors came to woo her.

 

In a handsome coach with six brown horses, the Pole Star drove up, and brought ten gifts. But Linda sent him away, with hurried words:

 

“You always have to stay in the same place. You cannot move about,” said she.

 

Then came the Moon in a silver coach drawn by ten brown horses. He brought her twenty gifts. But Linda refused the Moon, saying:

 

“You change your looks too often. You run in your same old way. You do not suit me.

 

Hardly had the Moon driven sorrowfully off, before the Sun drove up. In a golden coach with twenty red-gold horses, he rattled up to the door. He brought thirty presents with him. But all his pomp, shining splendor, and fine gifts did not help him. Linda said:

 

“I do not want you. You are like the Moon. Day after day you run in the same street.”

 

So the Sun went away sorrowful.

 

Then at midnight, in a diamond coach drawn by a thousand white horses, came the Northern Lights. His coming was so magnificent, that Linda ran to the door to meet him. A whole coach-load of gold, silver, pearls and jewelled ornaments, the servants of the Northern Lights carried into the house and his gifts pleased her, and she let him woo her.

 

“You do not always travel in the same course,” said Linda. “You flash where you will, and stop when you please. Each time you appear robed in new beauty and richness, and wear each time a different garment. And each time you ride about in a new coach with new horses. You are the true bridegroom!”

 

Then they celebrated their betrothal. But the Sun, Moon, and Pole Star looked sadly on. They envied the Northern Lights his happiness.

 

The Northern Lights could not stay long in the bride’s house, for he had to hurry back to the sky. When he said farewell, he promised to return soon for the wedding, and to drive Linda back with him to his home in the North. Meanwhile, they were to prepare Linda’s bridal garments.

 

Linda made her bridal robes, and waited and waited. One day followed the other, but the bridegroom did not come to hold the joyous wedding with his beloved. The winter passed, and the lovely spring adorned the earth with fresh beauty, while Linda waited in vain for her bridegroom. Nothing was seen of him!

 

Then she began to grieve bitterly and lament, and to sorrow day and night. She put on her bridal robes and white veil, and set the wreath on her head, and sat down in a meadow by a river. From her thousand tears little brooks ran into the valleys. In her deep heart-felt sorrow she thought only of her bridegroom.

 

The little birds flew tenderly about her head, brushing her with their soft wings, to comfort her. But she did not see them, nor did she take care of them anymore. So the little birds wandered about, flying here, flying there, for they did not know what to do or where to go.

 

Uko, Linda’s father, heard of her sorrow and how the little birds were untended. He ordered his Winds to fetch his daughter to him, to rescue her from such deep grief. And while Linda was sitting alone in the meadow weeping and lamenting, the Winds sank softly down beside her, and gently lifting her, bore her up and away. They laid her down in the blue sky.

 

And there is Linda now, dwelling in a sky-tent. Her white bridal veil spreads round her. And if you look up at the Milky Way, you will see Linda in her bridal robes. There she is, showing the way to little birds who wander.

 

Linda is happy! In winter she gazes towards the North. She waves her hand at the Northern Lights flashing nearer and nearer, then he again asks her to be his bride.

 

But though he flashes very close to Linda, heart to heart, he cannot carry her off. She must stay forever in the sky, robed in white, and must spread out her veil to make the Milky Way.

 

 

————————-

From WONDER TALES FROM BALTIC WIZARDS

ISBN: 978-1-907256-58-5

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_wtbw.html

 

The Maiden of the Milky Way

 

 

Before we depart the fair shores of the Isle of Man, I have one more piece of Manx folklore to share with you from “The Phynodderree and other tales from the Isle of Man”. Actually it’s a poem titled MONA’S ISLE.

 

Ah, Mona’s isle, fair Mona’s isle,
No land so dear as thou to me;
Thy gorse and heather covered hills,
With waterfalls and sparkling rills,
Which join the bright green sea
.

 

I love to wander in solitude
By the banks of thy gurgling streams,
Or sit and muse on a mossy stone
Of fairy-lore, buggane, and gnome,
Screen’d from the sungod’s beams
.

 

’Tis sweet to ramble alone,
At eve o’er the silvery sand,
Watching the waves in the moonlight gleam,
Now here, now there, in frolic they seem
To coyley kiss the land.

 

Each valley, mountain, and glen,
Waterfall, streamlet, and sea,
Cavern, rock, harbour, and bay,
Last home of the Elfin and Fay,
Fair Mona, are all dear to me
.

 

 

 

NOTE: The ancient and traditional name for the Isle of Man is Mona’s Isle. This comes from the Old Welsh and Old Irish names for the Isle of Man which are Manau and Mano.

 

————————-

From THE PHYNODDERREE and Other Tales from the Isle of Man

ISBN: 978-1-907256-77-6

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_tp.html

 

The PHYNODDERREE

 

 

For Uddereek a different and even worse fate was in store. He was formally tried by his peers and condemned to banishment from the fairy community, to remain a lonely wanderer in Ellan Vannin till the crack of doom. His sentence was no sooner pronounced by the king than Uddereek was instantly changed from his beautiful elfin form into a figure resembling a satyr, half boy half billy-goat, from whence he derives his present name of PHYNODDERREE, or HAIRY ONE.

The PHYNODDERREE - ContemplationHe has remained in the Isle of Man ever since–at least until a very recent date; but after the introduction of railways into the island neither Phynodderree nor fairy of any kind has ever been met with by any sober man. It is currently supposed by the Manx people that the shrill, discordant blast of the railway whistle has been more than the delicate aural organs of so sensitive a race as the fairies could stand, and that, disgusted with the inventions of men and the introduction of board schools and other so-called improvements, they have taken their departure from the shores of Mona’s Isle forever, flying to some land where civilization is not so far advanced, and where life is not conducted upon such high-pressure principles as it now is in the British Isles.

The Phynodderree, before his flight from the island, delighted in good-naturedly assisting those whom he befriended, and many are the tales told of the little fellow’s beneficence.

To help an industrious farmer or fisherman was Phynodderree’s greatest pleasure. For one he would reap his crops in a single night; or if he wanted to build a wall or a cow-shed, would convey stone enough between sunset and sunrise to the required spot to enable him to complete his work. For a favoured fisherman he would repair his nets or boat whilst the owner slept.

One man, desirous of showing his gratitude to the good-natured little creature for his work of conveying stones from a quarry, with which to build a house, and remembering he was naked, thought some clothes would be acceptable, and so took a suit and laid them on a place where he was supposed to frequent. Phynodderree on finding them took them up one by one, and throwing each garment away over his shoulder as he named it, gave vent to his feelings in his native Manx, exclaimed–

Bayrn da’n choine, dy doogh da’n choine!
Cooat d’an dreeyn, dy, doogh d’an dreeyn!
Breechyn d’an toyn, dy, doogh da’n toyn!
Agh my she Chiat ooily, shoh cha nee Chiat Glen reagh Rushen
.”

The literal English translation of which is–

“Cap for the head, alas, poor head!
Coat for the back, alas, poor back!
Breeches for the breech, alas, poor breech!
If all these be thine, thine then cannot be the merry Glen of Rushen;”

and away he went with a melancholy cry that was heard far away over the glens and valleys, leaving all the fine clothes behind him.

Any man who through industry and attention to his business made good progress in the world and thrived, was said by the Manx country folk to have been favoured and helped by Phynodderree.

When badly treated or provoked, Phynodderree could be spiteful, and an instance is recorded of his having shown this side of his character to a farmer whose field he had mown for him. The ungrateful man grumbled and found fault with the way it was done, saying he could have done it better himself. This enraged Phynodderree, who waited till next year, and when the farmer set to work to mow it he came with a scythe in his hand and chased him off the field. For many years after this the grass remained uncut, every one being afraid to attempt to mow it.

During the Civil War, when the island was occupied by the Parliamentary army, a trooper, having heard the reason of the grass being left uncut, volunteered to mow it himself. He proceeded to the middle of the field and commenced mowing all round him in a circle. Phynodderree set to work as well, and with such vigour that the soldier had great difficulty to prevent him cutting his legs off. He persevered, however, keeping a sharp look out on his elfin fellow workman, till at last it was completed.

The Manx Phynodderree was evidently much the same kind of being as the Lubber Fiend mentioned by Milton in his “L’Allegro,” and also the Scottish Brownie and the Swart-Alfar of Edda in the German.

In conclusion, I will quote the words of a well-known poet in describing him and his charitable work:

“Ah, Phynodderree!
His was the wizard hand that toiled
At midnight witching hour,
That gathered the sheep from the coming storm,
Ere the shepherd saw it lour;
Yet asked no fee, save a scattered sheaf
From the peasant’s garnered hoard,
Or a cream bowl, pressed by virgin lip,
To be left on the household board.”

Again, in allusion to the sad fate of his mortal love, and the long, long lament of his true heart for poor Kitty Kerruish, the same delightful writer says:

“You may hear his voice on the desert hill,
Where the mountain winds have power
’Tis a wild lament for his buried love,
And his long-lost fairy bower.”

————————-

From THE PHYNODDERREE and Other Tales from the Isle of Man

ISBN: 978-1-907256-77-6

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_tp.html

The PHYNODDERREE

The PHYNODDERREE Chapter V

KITTY KERRUISH was true to her appointment at the blue rowan tree, and had been waiting some few minutes when Uddereek arrived. After returning his fond embrace, she began to upbraid her elfin lover for his late arrival, jestingly twitting him with his inability to tear himself away from the fair demoiselles of the fairy court; when, as he was stopping her upbraidings by tender kisses, expostulating with her for one instant doubting the sincerity of his love, a rustling was heard among the long grass and the ferns, and before escape could be even thought of they were surrounded instantly by a swarm of fairy guards.

 

The rejected and jealous Estella had but too surely followed him to the trysting-place, and there she saw enough to show her who and what her hated rival was. With all her despised and rejected love turned into the bitterest hate, and urged on by her deeply wounded pride, she determined on prompt action and most terrible revenge. Swift as the meteor’s flight did she return to the elfin revels, bounding o’er mountains, from peak to peak of North Barrule, Snaefell, Pennyphot, and Grebah, away to South Barrule, and thence down the valley to Glen Rushen, where she laid before the king and his astonished court the news that Uddereek–the noble and modest Uddereek forsooth–the pattern-good-young-man of the elfin race, had dared to love a mortal, and now, even now, at that very moment, instead of attending on his royal master at the RE-HOLLYS-VOOAR-YN-ONYR, as was his bounden duty, he was seated in her lap beneath the blue rowan tree in the Magher-Glass of Glen Aldyn, pouring fourth his forbidden vows of love.

 

Such news caused the greatest consternation and surprise. The announcement to a conclave of tonsured monks, that one of their number had been “asked in church,” could not have been received with more astonishment. Uddereek was so well known, so beloved by all, and stood so high in his sovereign’s favour, that the intelligence of his defection came like a thunderbolt among them.

 

All dancing ceased. The very minstrels suddenly hushed their strains, and the ball abruptly ended. The king and the whole court were struck dumb with horror and amazement at such an unheard-of breach of fairy etiquette, such a flagrant departure from the rules of all elfin decorum.

 

The outraged monarch gave command for the immediate pursuit, and, putting himself at the head of his fairy guards, started off on the pinions of the evening breeze to seize the culprit who had dared to so transgress the elfin laws.

 

Estella, whose jealousy was now about to have its sweet reward, and all whose “rejected addresses” were to be so amply revenged, was but too good a guide in pointing out the exact spot where to find the guilty pair.

 

Uddereek was instantly torn from the embrace of the frightened Kitty, and ruthlessly hurried off to trial.

 

The king and all his court, a least all the male portion of the retinue, could not help paying a gallant and flattering tribute to the surpassing beauty of the mortal maid who had enslaved their truant comrade, and openly expressed their admiration of the sweet Kitty Kerruish. Their openly expressed encomiums of the fair maiden were not altogether approved or endorsed by the little lady fairies; and the queen herself was seen to change colour and fan herself with more than usual vigour as she noticed how her royal spouse stood gazing all too admiringly upon poor Uddereek’s lovely enslaver.

 

As for Estella, all this undisguised admiration of her hated rival only increased her rage beyond all bounds, and she passionately entreated the fairy monarch to visit the poor girl with the most instant and horrible vengeance in the elfin power to inflict. That, however, he resolutely and gallantly refused to do; but turning from the furious fairy to the trembling mortal, he thus addressed her: “Most fair but erring mortal, my heart is too chivalrous to punish you as requested by this furious and jealous fairy. Indeed, I can quite excuse, and almost pardon, the rash Uddereek the error he has been guilty of; for never did I behold a mortal maiden so beautiful before. I wish it was within the limits of my mystic power to transform thee into a fairy maid, for I would do so.”

 

On hearing this the queen looked anything than either pleased or flattered, and her verbena-leaf fan went faster than ever, while she and also most of the ladies and beauties of the court felt very well pleased and contented that their monarch’s powers were so limited, and that they were safe from the advent amongst their ranks of so dangerous a rival.

 

“You must, however,” continued the king to Kitty, and unheeding the disapproval of his remarks expressed so plainly by his royal consort’s looks and undisguised annoyance–“you must depart from Ellan Vannin and leave the island forever, never to return, for if you are found upon its shores at the rising of the next new moon you will be at this lady’s mercy,” pointing to the fuming Estella, “and I cannot aid or protect you from her vengeful power. So farewell, and take heed; fly from her machinations and depart from hence.”

 

In a moment Kitty was alone. King, court, fairy guards, and Uddereek had all vanished. The last to disappear was the rejected but now triumphant Estella, who lingered to cast upon her fair mortal rival a look in which was concentrated the most exulting revenge and the intensest hatred.

 

*         *         *         *         *         *

 

Kitty Kerruish could not forget her elfin love, though she tried to think all a dream. She came night after night, heedless of the elfin king’s warning, to sit under the blue rowan tree in the Magher-Glass of Glen Aldyn, there to sit in hopes of Uddereek’s return.

 

The rising of the next new moon found her still true to her love at the old trysting-place, but, alas for the last time. Her spiteful elfin rival was there too; and now having poor Kitty in her power she proceeded to execute her vengeance in a most sure and subtle way. She caused noxious mist to rise from the damp ground of the Glen–a mist loaded with the vapours of nightshade, henbane, and every deadly and poisonous plant she could collect. The mist, unnoticed by poor Kitty, spread round her, and every sigh for her lost fairy lover was but the means of taking a fresh draught of the insidious poison, till, feeling chilled by what she innocently thought the evening air, she reluctantly left the Glen and slowly turned her footsteps home.

 

The fated vapour had too surely done its work. Estella was avenged. From that night the health of the tailor’s daughter was gone–her very life was sapped. Slowly she pined away till the evening of the next new moon, when poor old Billy Nell sat beside the couch of his darling child as her sweet spirit calmly took its flight.

 

*         *         *         *         *         *

 

————————-

From THE PHYNODDERREE and Other Tales from the Isle of Man

ISBN: 978-1-907256-77-6

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_tp.html

 

The PHYNODDERREE

 

 

The Phynodderree Chapter IV

GREAT were the preparations the next evening among the Elfin community for the coming feast and dance in the Magher-Glass of Glen Rushen.

 

Fairies from all parts of the island assembled to do honour to their Elfin monarch and his beauteous queen. Even the arch and naughty bugganes had to be upon their good behaviour, and for the time leave off their mischief and their pranks.

 

The feast, which was of the most récherché description, did credit to the fairy Gunters, whose successful endeavours elicited the praise of every elfin bon vivant. Unfortunately, the menu was transcribed with humming-bird quill upon a rose-leaf, which withered and curled up before the next day’s sun had reached its meridian, so that no permanent record was left of the various plats and entrées placed before the guests; but we may be sure that on so auspicious an occasion, like a Mansion House or Guildhall banquet, “every delicacy in season” was provided, together with wines of the “rarest vintages.”

 

The sparkling wine-cup passed busily and merrily round the board, well attended by jest and song. Many were the tales told that night of tricks and exploits, played by mischief-loving sprites and bugganes on such sinning mortals as had offended them, either by coming unbidden across their path, or neglecting one of the many customs and offerings which old usage had sanctified, and the wee folk considered to be their due, and in consequence had drawn down the fairy wrath upon their unlucky heads.

 

When the elfin party had done full justice to all the good things before them, and before adjourning for the festive dance, the royal healths were proposed and drank with all the honours, and the old Glen of Rushen rang again as the little voices shouted forth their homage to the toast. Seated next to Uddereek was a beauteous being who would, if seen by mortal man, have captivated him at once and completely turned his brain. Could any modern photographer but have obtained a negative of her fairy form and figure, the market for professional beauties’ cartes de visites would have simply declined to far below zero, and the happy man would have realized a fortune.

 

This fairy beauty flirted–oh, flirting is but too mild a term to apply to her attacks upon our little Uddereek. In spite, however, of her blandishments most lavishly bestowed, and the many little wilful, winning ways, so well–ah too well–known to all the sex who are on conquest bent, whether they be fairies or no, denizens in Ellan Vannin or Belgravia–Uddereek was true to his mortal love of Glen Aldyn, and remained proof against them all, confining himself only to such attentions as no gentleman, elfin or mortal, could refuse to a lady seated beside him, and especially so fair as she.

 

Had the lovely Estella been born in Mayfair she could not have displayed more perfect ton, and no young lady in her second season, placed by a judicious and worldly-wise mamma beside the most eligible parti in the room, could have been more scientific in her attacks upon him. Her most bewitching smiles, her most love-inspiring glances, darted adroitly over the rim of her fan, composed of a single leaf from a magnificent dark purple pansy, and all the arts of the most accomplished coquetry were launched forth with a ravishing abandon, but all in vain. The heart of the elfin Uddereek was true as steel.

 

The powerful battery of her expressive eyes seemed utterly to fail in obtaining the proper range and elevation. Every shot, every dart, well directed as it was, fell short of its mark, and Uddereek was unscathed. He was cool, composed, gentlemanly, and aggravatingly polite.

Uddereek and Estella

Knowing full well her own powers, she felt stung to the quick at such a failure as she had never experienced before. She was simply astonished, almost stupefied, at such a result. At first she thought she must be seated beside a fool, one of those unimpressionable dolts too frequently met with in all societies, even of the best, who have no soul, no appreciation for anything. A second glance convinced her of the folly of such a thought.

 

Besides, was not the elfin next to her, Uddereek, the wittiest, the most accomplished, and most gallant little gentleman in the elfin court?

 

Estella looked jealously around to see if there was any other fairy maid at whom she could detect him gazing. She sought in vain for any one there, she would condescend to admit for one moment to herself, could possibly be regarded as a rival. She knew full well her own transcendent beauty, and that all acknowledged her the belle of the fête. Still she was far–very far–from being satisfied, and felt confident that no heart not already bestowed upon another could resist such charms and withstand such advances as hers. Her pride was piqued, her vanity deeply wounded, her curiosity excited, and she determined to fathom the mystery.

 

The feast over, the ball began. They one and all stood up. The king and queen led off the lively reel. Uddereek handed the fair Estella through the mazes of the dance, during which, far from desisting, she renewed with, if possible, redoubled energy her attacks, tried afresh all her arts to bring him to her feet, took skilful advantage of every little incident of the dance to bewitch him, but all in vain.

 

The dance ended–even a country dance, a true Roger de Coverley, must, some time or other, come to a finish–he led her to a seat upon a moss-grown bank, shadowed over with ferns of the daintiest kind, and making some excuse, slipped hurriedly away from the glen, to meet his Kitty at the blue rowan tree, where he knew so well she would be waiting his arrival. Uddereek, hoping he had left the elfin throng unnoticed and unmissed, hied him quick as the lightning flash, upon the swift wings of hot young love, from Rushen Glen to Aldyn.

 

Estella felt mortified by her failure, and insulted by the nonchalant behaviour and indifference of Uddereek to her charms and beauty, which even her attentions to him had not prevented her from seeing had been admiringly gazed upon by many another elfin swain who had envied Uddereek his great good fortune in sitting next to her, and would have given anything, even the tips of their tiny moustaches, to have had half the sweet blandishments bestowed upon them that had been thrown away upon his unsympathizing heart. She was deeply hurt and thirsted for revenge. That there was a mystery somewhere she was certain, and that a rival who had already full possession of his heart existed, she was fully convinced, or he never could have so withstood such sweet sorcery as she had tried upon him. To discover that rival was now the work before her. She watched his every movement, and his departure, stealthy though it was, did not escape her eye. Prompted by her natural womanly curiosity, and instigated by all the jealous feelings of a revengeful heart, she swiftly followed on his trail.

 

————————-

From THE PHYNODDERREE and Other Tales from the Isle of Man

ISBN: 978-1-907256-77-6

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_tp.html

 

The PHYNODDERREE

 

 

Phynodderree - chapter 3

 

EVERY evening, punctually as the twilight hour approached, did Kitty Kerruish feel an irresistible fascination steal over her that drew her to the trysting-place under the blue rowan tree in the Magher-Glass of Glen Aldyn to meet her elfin lover; and there she would sit, listening with rapture to the passionate and extatic avowals of his love, mingled with the most eloquent praises of her beauty, which the mannikin gently whispered into her intoxicated ear, as he lay like some fair child upon her lap, with his arms encircled round her neck.

 

One evening, to tease her lover–for Kitty, like all her sex, dearly loved to tease–she told him she did not half believe his protestations of affection, and that he would not be willing to make any great sacrifice to prove them.

 

Uddereek vowed she wronged him, and called upon her to name any test, any sacrifice she wanted him to make. At that moment she either could not or would not think of any; but presently he mentioned that the following night the fairy king and queen would hold a grand court and feast in Glen Rushen, in the southern part of the island, near Ballasalla, in honour of RE-HOLLYS-VOOAR-YN-ONYR, the royal festival of the harvest moon, and that every elfin in Ellan Vannin would have to attend. He described to her wondering and delighted ear how the dancing would be kept up till the moon ceased to shine, and sank behind the head of South Barrule, and the ruddy rays of the coming sun began to show signs of rising from the eastern sea.

 

“Ah, Uddereek!” said Kitty, teasingly, “you will enjoy all that, and soon forget, for the time at any rate, all about me, or that you ever saw or thought of poor Kitty.”

 

“No, Cushla,” the little man replied. “I shall be alone amid the elfin throng, and in spite of all the feasting and the music, all the dancing in the ring, all the revels in the ferns and sweet wild flowers, I shall wish myself far away from it all, and long to be with thee, dear Kitty.”

The Magher-Glass of Glen Rushen

The Magher-Glass of Glen Rushen

“I just don’t believe one word about it,” she said, laughingly, and still intent on plaguing her little elfin lover. “Some fairy maid, whose beauty far surpasses mine, will captivate your heart, and you will soon forget your mortal love.”

 

“Never! never!” he hastily interrupted. “I swear, my darling, never! And to prove to you how false and how unjust are your suspicions, I will leave the elfin gambols, and immediately the king and queen have risen from the feast and the revels have fairly commenced,, will slip away, and meet you here, dearest Kitty, three hours after the sun has set.”

 

No woman but would have been pleased and satisfied at such a proof of her power and attractions, and Kitty Kerruish felt gratified and delighted as she laughingly replied–

 

“I will be here to meet you; and mind, sir, I shall expect you.”

 

Little did she dream, poor lass! of the dire consequences that would result from his temerity and her exactitude, or at how dear a cost to both of them this proof of his love would be obtained.

 

 

————————-

From THE PHYNODDERREE and Other Tales from the Isle of Man

ISBN: 978-1-907256-77-6

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_tp.html

 

The PHYNODDERREE

 

 

 

ONE summer evening Kitty was seated as usual under the shade of the fuchsia trees at the cottage door, her delicate fingers busy with the yarn, while her spinning-wheel whirled round and round with a pleasant and homely hum, its treadle worked with the prettiest little foot in the island. Old Kerruish had gone to the DOONEY-MOOAR, the great man of the parish of Ballaugh, to carry home some work he had just completed, and Kitty was singing to herself a sweet, plaintive air, while awaiting his return.

 

Pausing in her song, she turned her head, the better to listen for the old man’s footsteps as he came up the glen, when she suddenly saw, standing beside her, what she took to be a little child. Her first impression was that it was one of neighbour Mylrea’s children, who had wandered up the glen from the valley below, having come up the course of the stream, as the little ones frequently did, in search of trout, which they had a dexterous and somewhat unorthodox method of catching, by means  of routing about under the stones with a stick, and frightening the fish to a rudely-constructed hand-net.

 

A second glance at once showed her she was mistaken. It was not little Tommy Mylrea. What stood before her was no mortal child, but little fairy mannikin of most gallant and graceful bearing. Kitty had never before seen anything so charming or imagined aught so lovely.

 

“Sweet maid,” said he, taking her hand in his and raising it to his lips with a grace and style that would have been envied by any gentleman of the court of the “Grand Monarque,” “continue thy song, and be not in the least alarmed.”

 

“Who and what are you?” she exclaimed, withdrawing her hand from his impassioned grasp, and feeling, in spite of an inner conviction, that he was hardly a “canny” visitor, most agreeably impressed by the wee creature’s face and manner.

 

 

“Lovely Kitty–Ben-my-chree–I am your most devoted admirer, your slave. In me you see no mortal, but a fairy mannikin, whose heart has for long past been truant to his race, and devoted, oh, I cannot tell how truly and intensely fixed on thee. Nay, sweet maiden,” continued the little man, again seizing her hand, and overcoming the coy resistance she at first displayed, I would not harm thee for all the elfin world. Often and often have I watched thee here, and witnessed how thou hast heard, unheeded, the rhapsodies poured into thine ear by the mortal admirers of thy wondrous and unequalled beauty, as they have offered thee their love. I was here when Evan Christian urged his suit, and was sent away with a bitter and bad feeling in his heart, and the knowledge that only on your father’s death can he have any hopes of gaining your affection. I looked on from under yonder hart’s-tongue fern when Bob Faragher vowed he would work his fingers to the bone for you, and prayed you to become the mistress of Ballasaig. I saw his dejected look and heard his heavy sigh, as before turning down the glen by the peat-stack, he cast a parting and a longing look as you carried your spinning-wheel into the cottage. I have heard all their avowals, and seen how each one has been refused. Oh, how I chuckled as I saw them depart, baffled and disappointed; but my heart, sweet Kitty, my love, is beyond them all. Nothing that any mortal, any mere man, ever felt or can feel at all approaches the intense adoration, the worship I now offer to you, dear Kitty–Mooar-Ben-my-chree–and that love I now lay at your feet.”

Uddereek

The poor girl was utterly powerless to resist so passionate and so earnest an appeal as the handsome little mannikin poured forth with a volubility that admitted of no interruption. His presence completely fascinated and overpowered her. It seemed as if her heart, which had so long and so stoutly withstood the assaults of all her mortal swains, was suddenly captured by the coup de main of her elfin lover. She was spell-bound, and had at once to give way before his impetuous attack, and surrender at discretion. Her whole inner being was changed. She felt that now, but never before, she knew what love–fiery, intense, passionate, consuming love–really was. It took possession of her whole soul. The dart of Cupid had pierced her lovely bosom to the very haft. The tender but all-potent passion had absorbed her life and taken entire possession of her very existence. She felt a perfect agony of pleasure, as with wrapt attention to his every word and all oblivious to everything around but him, she listened while he continued to address her.

 

“Hear me, dearest maid, and let me plead my cause. I hold a high position at my elfin sovereign’s court, and the fairest of our fairy maids in vain display their beauteous charms to me. Thou, sweet Kitty, and thou alone, possess the love, the heart of Uddereek.”

 

Springing lightly up on to her spinning-wheel, the little lover threw his arms around her neck and passionately covered her sweet, rosy, pouting lips with his fervent kisses.

 

Kitty was enthralled, and unresistingly submitted to the gallant Uddereek’s love, ardent as it was, and it was with feelings akin to deep regret that after a while, when the sound of her father’s footsteps were heard coming up the glen, she saw him making preparations to depart.

 

“Hark! What sounds are those? I must now away. Kitty, Ben-my-chree, I hear thy father drawing near. No one must be a witness to our love. Should it e’er be known at the elfin court that I have dared to love, or even, Fact-y-tooil-graigh, cast a longing eye on mortal maid, I know not what dreadful fate might befall me. But, Kitty-ma-cushla (my darling Kitty), for thee and thy love I would risk all, if it were a thousandfold as much, and brave the direst vengeance of the fairy power. But the better to keep the secret, both from mortal and fairy ken, of our meetings and our love, I will await thee, my own, each evening at the twilight hour under the blue rowan tree in the Magher-Glass, Glen Aldyn (in the green field of Glen Aldyn), down there in the valley, beside where the limpid stream springs frisking o’er the rocks and dashes down into the lower Gully-Mooar.”

 

Once again clasping her in his tiny arms and impressing a passionate kiss upon her lips, and murmuring a soft, tender farewell, he vanished from before her as suddenly as he came.

 

Kitty, who thought she had fallen asleep, and that all had been a glorious and delicious dream, sat entranced and musing after he had gone, gazing intently on the spot where Uddereek had disappeared. She felt half pleased half frightened at the new, strange sensation her heart now for the first time experienced. On the morning of that day she had risen a simple girl; now she was a perfect woman, with all woman’s feelings. She felt, come weal, come woe, her whole future existence was bound up in that of her elfin lover. She sat on gazing vacantly before her, and when old Billy Nell drew near the cottage and gave the accustomed signal of his return home, he was surprised at its not being answered, and at hearing nought of Kitty’s voice. He turned into the garden, but instead of her hurrying forward to meet him as was her wont, she was sitting silent and still, looking vacantly into space. No blithesome song, no busy truddle of the spinning-wheel as usual welcomed the old man’s return. The distaff was on the ground at her feet, the wheel was overturned and lay against the house wall, where the fairy man had cast it when he sprang away in his flight; the yarn was broken and entangled, and Kitty sat utterly heedless of his approach.

 

She noticed him not, but her lips moved. He approached her and listened, as she gently murmured–

 

Ogh-cha-nee, Woe’s me. Ta-graigh-ayn, I love him.”

 

The old man listened with astonishment to her mutterings. He called her by name, and instantly she jumped up, and, passing her hands before her eyes, as if awakening out of a trance or sleep, she welcomed him home in her old fond loving way, and after relieving him of his staff and kelpie, hastened to prepare their frugal evening meal of griddle cakes made of placket meal and salt herrings, washed down with fresh butter-milk and followed by a dish of Pinjean (Anglice, curds-and-whey), for the making of which in perfection Kitty was famous.

 

 

————————-

From THE PHYNODDERREE and Other Tales from the Isle of Man

ISBN: 978-1-907256-77-6

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_tp.html

 

The PHYNODDERREE

 

“I must not think, I may not gaze

On what I am, on what I was.”

BYRON.

 

THE wide open Bay of Ramsey, on the northern coast of the Isle of Man, is the largest and safest of all the many anchorages surrounding the shores of this beautiful island. It affords a welcome shelter to vessels of all sizes, from the little coasting hooker of thirty tons to the leviathan Atlantic steamship of three thousand; and it is no uncommon sight, during the season of westerly gales, to see upwards of two hundred ships, large and small, snugly and safely riding at anchor under the lee of North Barrule and the bold headland of St Maughold.

 

North Barrule rises some eighteen hundred feet high, and pierces, with his conical sugarloaf-shaped head, the hurrying clouds as they are driven before the gale. It terminates the mountain range that forms the backbone of the Isle of Mona, or, as it is called in the native tongue, Ellan Vannin.

 

Although North Barrule always forms a grand and distinctive feature in the landscape of the northern part of the island, it is not when viewed from the shore that it is seen to its greatest advantage, but from the sea; and many a traveller, when approaching the island from the Cumberland coast, must have been struck with its resemblance in shape to Vesuvius.

 

Many are the streams that take their rise from the rocks and slopes of North Barrule, and, winding down and leaping from Craig to Craig, after uniting with each other in one or other of the lower glens, find their way at last into the sea. The largest of these is the Sulby River, which, after leaving the romantic glen of that name, becomes a considerable stream, winding for some distance at the base of the mountain dividing it from the low sandy plain that stretches away northwards, till it terminates in the Point of Ayre–the nearest approach of the island to the Scottish coast–falls into the sea, forming ere it reaches there a convenient harbour, upon which is built the northern capital of the island, Ramsey, which gives its name to the capacious bay.

 

Besides Sulby there are two other notable glens, up whose rugged ways the visitor desirous of climbing the mountain has to wend his way. One of these, Ballure, is of surpassing beauty, with its dancing, dashing stream fighting its way, jealous of its greater rival of Sulby, round about and over rocks, between the crevices of which the most exquisite ferns grow in the greatest profusion and array, to find an independent outlet to the sea. The other is the Glen of Aldyn, whither I would take my reader, while I relate to him the sad story of the Phynodderree.

 

Very many years ago, long prior to the days of parish registers, and before Manx people kept written chronicles or diaries of their daily lives, there resided in a little thatch-covered cottage about half-way up Glen Aldyn, an old man, who cultivated a small patch of ground, fed a few mountain sheep, and kept a solitary cow. In his farming avocations–in which, when not engaged with her spinning-wheel, his only daughter, Kitty, assisted him–old Billy Nell, or William Kerruish, added that of tailor; and as the best tailor for miles round Kerruish was famed. He himself imagined, in the simplicity of his heart, it was to the good quality of his work, his moderate charges, and the excellence of his materials he owed this reputation, and so much business that he had hard work to find time for that and his farming duties too. Mrs. Joughin, the wife of a tailor in Ramsey, told her neighbours “that old Kerruish was only a botcher, and knew no more about tailoring than his own cow; and that if his bold-faced girl, Kitty, didn’t encourage the young fellows with her smirks and her smiles, ne’er one of ’em would ever give him a job.”

 

Mrs. Joughin was not altogether calculated to give an unbiassed opinion on the subject, and her observations were looked upon as somewhat prejudiced. At any rate, though old Billy Nell’s style might not have been quite equal to that of the Pooles and Smallpages of Douglas and Castletown, the young men of Maughold and Lezayre were only too glad to give him their custom, if only to have an excuse to visit his cottage, and, if possible, pass a few words with, and obtain a favouring smile from, his fair daughter Kitty.

 

The old tailor-farmer was known among his neighbours by the name of Billy Nell, to distinguish him from several other William Kerruishes in the parish, his mother’s name having been Ellen; his soubriquet meaning William, the son of Ellen.

 

The innuendo against Kitty conveyed by Mrs. Joughin’s uncharitable remarks as to smirks and smiles was unjust in every way. Kitty was as good as she was beautiful. Such laughing, deep blue eyes, with long silken lashes that would have made an Eastern beauty die of envy; rich, dark-brown luxuriant tresses, well-developed pencilled eyebrows; and cheeks that rose and lily combined to render perfect, with full luscious lips and teeth that dazzled with their whiteness, together with a lithe and graceful figure, afforded a good excuse for any young man taking the longest walk to gaze upon; and when to all these were added the sweetest expression and that indefinable charm that ever attaches itself to a really good and pure-minded woman, little was the wonder she had enslaved the hearts of all the young fishermen and farmers between Kirk Maughold and the Point of Ayre. However hard the wind may have blown at night, and the young fishermen may have had to toil, before bringing their frail barques and catches of herrings safe into harbour, it was no fatigue to them to walk out to Glen Aldyn to catch a sight of fair Kitty’s face, and maybe have a few words of pleasant talk, or hear her sing, for Kitty sang sweetly, so sweetly that in the summer twilight, as she sang to her father at his work, while she plied her spinning-wheel, the fairies would come and hide themselves behind the trees or amid the tall waving corn to listen to her voice with rapt attention.

 

Sometimes when she was singing thus, surrounded by her wee and invisible listeners, a sound would strike their sensitive ears, the sound of the approaching footsteps of someone coming up the glen. They would all scatter right and left, and, though unseen by Kitty or her father, would cause such a fluttering among the graceful ferns and amid the drooping flowers of the fuchsia trees that shrouded the cottage from the roadway, as would make Kitty think it was some sudden breeze of wind from the mountain-top, the sure precursor of a change of weather. The approaching step would probably be that of Evan Christian, or Robert Faragher, the two most persevering of all her wooers; the former of whom was never too tired to trudge from Lewaigue, or the latter all the way from Ballasaig, to pay her a visit and plead his cause.

 Kitty Spinning with her Fairy Lover - from the Phynodderree

“Sometimes I saw you sit and spin;
And in the pauses of the wind,
Sometimes I heard you sin
g.”
TENNYSON

 

To both of them, as well as to all the young gallants who flocked to her father’s cottage on some pretence or other, Kitty Kerruish turned a deaf ear. A kind word and a sweet smile she always had for every- one, and would listen to their compliments and praises with a modesty that only still further inflamed their hearts; but when they ventured to speak to her of love, she would shake her head, laugh, and adroitly turn the conversation. When Evan Christian ventured once to press his suit with more than customary boldness, making profession of his love and begging for hers in return, she firmly but kindly replied: “No, Evan whilst my dear father lives, I can never leave him. At present he has all the love I have to give away.”

 

 

————————-

From THE PHYNODDERREE and Other Tales from the Isle of Man

ISBN: 978-1-907256-77-6

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_tp.html

 

The Phynodderree

 

 

The bells of the monks of Burceña were ringing for prayers, and Catharina was weeping bitterly in despair on seeing that the time was fast speeding away, and the hour approached in which Martino was to depart, perhaps never to return, and never more to see him. In vain did she look at the flowing water, waiting to discover the stones which served as a bridge; the stones remained concealed beneath the swollen currents which every moment swept down with greater power and roared with greater fury.

 

“What have I done, Holy Virgin,” she would cry out in her deep sorrow, “that Martino should thus doubt me, and be going away to die in the wars which are destroying the bravest knights and the most honoured youths of Biscay? Some dreadful misunderstanding or some calumny has no doubt taken place which has made us both wretched. A single word from me would at once undeceive Martino and dissuade him from his sad resolve, yet I cannot approach him, nor even speak to him, because the river, wild and swollen, interposes between us. Ah! I would give my life to be able to cross this furious current before the bells of Burceña chime the hour of midnight, and each stroke of the hour tells me that no longer will there be any happiness, either for Martino or myself, in this world!”

 

Thus spoke the hapless Catharina, as she wept at the foot of the chestnut tree, and looked towards the river in hopes of its subsiding, and of discovering the stones, over which she had so often merrily passed, and which now were under water, and then turning towards the house and fields of Iturrioz sought the well-known form of Martino, who, alas! did not appear as was his wont to do, frequenting the river shore to exchange a loving word with his beloved Catharina.

 

Suddenly she heard footsteps behind, and on turning round she saw coming up to her the mysterious visitor of the previous night, he who had sought a shelter at her mother’s house. A hope, wild, because it was founded on an absurdity, beamed over the soul of Catharina.

 

“From this,” she said to herself, “up to Aranguren, which is on the boundary of the valley of Salcedo, there is no bridge whatever, yet this man has crossed the river at no great distance from here. Perhaps some of the gigantic trees growing on the shores have been wrenched by the storm and fallen down across the stream, and, enabled the man to cross over as though it were a bridge.

 

Should it be so, this man can tell me, and then I shall be able to cross over and see Martino in time to prevent him from going to the wars.”

 

All this did Catharina turn over in her mind during the brief moments of surprise occasioned by the appearance of the man.

 

“By what part of the river did you cross?” she anxiously asked of the stranger.

 

“I crossed over by the bridge of Aranguren,” he replied,

 

“How could that be, for the bridge of Aranguren stands some three leagues from here?”

 

“By making prodigious efforts!” he cried.

 

“Prodigies indeed! Ah, would that I could work them as you have done!”

 

“Which would you wish to do first?”

 

“I would wish to cross the river.”

 

“In that case it would be necessary to have a bridge to be able to cross the river.”

 

“Most certainly.”

 

“I can make one.”

 

“How? perhaps by felling some of the trees and placing them across on both sides of the river?”

 

“That would be impossible: because the river is very wide, and none of the trees, however high, would reach across to the opposite shore.”

 

“How then?”

 

“By constructing a stone bridge.”

 

“That would take too long a time, for I must cross over, at latest, when the bells of Burceña strike the hour of midnight.”

 

“I can easily erect it by that hour.”

 

“Do it then.”

 

What will you give me if I do?”

 

“My life.”

 

“Your life is not enough payment for me.”

 

“What more do you require?

 

“I must have your soul!”

 

“Well, then, have it, so that you erect the bridge without delay.”

 

Catharina seemed to be under some irresponsible influence when she uttered these words, and knew not what she said. But scarcely had she spoken these wild words than reason asserted itself in her mind, and she clearly comprehended the grave import of her words, and she then wished to recall them, or at least to explain them; but the mysterious stranger had already departed far from that spot; while on the river shores, obscured by the shades of night, which was a very dark one, nothing was heard but the noise of hatchets, pickaxes, spades, saws, and hammers, as though a multitude of workmen, stonemasons, carpenters, and other artificers, were digging, sawing wood, cutting huge blocks of granite and stone, and laying the foundation, erecting the pillars, and forming the arch of the bridge.

 

The idea that this man dressed in black was the evil one began to take possession of the imagination of Catharina, and what more terrified her than the thought of losing her lover was the conviction that she was going to lose her soul. Catharina in her distress cried out to that man, “Do not erect that bridge at the expense of my soul, because I do not wish to give it to you!” But her voice was drowned in the noise of the rushing waters of the Cadagüa, and the uproar of hammers and pickaxes which continued to be heard on the river banks, as though an invisible legion of carpenters and stonemasons were working there; while amid that unearthly roar the hapless girl seemed to hear a voice rising above it all which replied to her, “It is too late! It is too late!”

 

The night advanced, and Catharina amid the gloom saw rising on either side of the river white columns, which were no doubt the base or buttress to sustain the arch of the bridge. A gleam of hope suddenly strengthened the fainting heart of Catharina, and she at once started towards the coast of Castrejana, and on reaching to the foot of the chestnut tree of Altamira, she fell on her knees, and, looking in the direction of the temple of Begoña, she invoked the protection of the Virgin, saying, “Holy Mother of God! save my soul which is in peril of losing its eternal salvation

 

The valley of Ibaizabal was as darksome as the depths of Cadagüa; but scarcely had Catharina said these words of fervent prayer, than it appeared to her that a soft resplendency illumined the valley, which for a thousand years has been protected and watched over by the Mother of God from the heights of the hills of Artagan. What light could it have been? Ah! perchance it was that of hope! Enlightened and strengthened by this light, Catharina descended the slope of Castrejana. The soft light which shone over the valley of the Ibaizabal 3 was spreading also along the valley of the Cadagüa, and by its gleams Catharina saw that the two buttresses which she had seen, or imagined she saw, rising up on both shores of the river, and the erection proceeding on either side, were meeting in the centre to form a perfect arch. Towards the side of Iturrioz there shone a light similar to a flaming torch, which began to descend to the chestnut wood and disappeared among the leafy branches. The heart of Catharina beat fast in anguish. That light appeared to her to indicate that midnight was fast approaching, and Martino must be quitting the paternal home, and was about to forsake, perhaps for ever, his native valley.

 

Catharina looked steadfastly before her, never removing her eyes from the bridge, which now was almost finished, and nothing was wanting for its completion but the key-stone. Suddenly a form was seen ascending the almost finished bridge. It was the form of a beauteous lady, who carried in her hand a branch of lovely white lilies, and as she reached to the open gap between the two sides of the arch she laid the stem across the opening and disappeared, leaving a luminous trail, which extended to a great distance, until it eventually became lost in the depths of the valley of Ibaizabal.

 

When Catharina turned her gaze away from the east, where that singular vision had disappeared, and looked towards the bridge which was constructed in such a, marvellous manner, she saw the man in the black suit holding in his hands an enormous block of stone, which he carried as easily as though it were a light ball, and running up along the arch was about to place the heavy slab in the opening and thus complete the bridge. However, in spite of all the efforts of the artificer to fix the slab or block in the opening, the slab did not fit in. The man hammered desperately at the stone, accompanying, each blow with an oath, but the stone resisted all his efforts, as though it were prevented fitting in by a strong bar of iron laid beneath. And the man in black redoubled his furious efforts as he heard the sound of the bells of the monastery of Burceña vibrating through the valley announcing the midnight hour, and on hearing the chimes he uttered a cry of desperation, and cast himself headlong into the river, and was carried away in the furious currents and disappeared altogether. At the moment when he flung himself into the seething waters a sound was heard on the bridge like the noise of a branch snapping in two, and in that instant the key-stone, or huge slab which the man in black had been unable to fit in, fell gently into its place, and the bridge remained perfect; while a huge cataract of water now descended roaring along the windings of Alonsótegui, carrying down towards the Zubileta all the scaffolding and temporary erections employed in building the bridge. Catharina then rapidly crossed over by the bridge which had been so marvellously constructed, and ran to the chestnut wood of Iturrioz.

 

Half an hour later a number of youths, clad in mail and armed with war weapons, ascended along the Cadagüa, lamenting that Martino de Iturrioz should prefer the effeminate blandishments of love to the manly and glorious exercise of war.

 

Martino, leading Catharina by the hand, accompanied her to the house of Castrejana, where he bade her an affectionate farewell, passed over the Devil’s Bridge, sped across the lands, and returned to the house of Iturrioz.

THE END

 

NOTE: Between the joints of the enormous blocks of stone which constitutes the key-stone and the lateral slabs of the bridge, there used to spring up every year some beautiful white lilies, which the damsels of the valley of Ibaizabal gathered on the morning of St. John’s Day, and these flowers were called Cataloros, a name derived from the Basque word Catalenlorac, which means “flowers of Catharina,” but owing to the great fall of rain and inundation which occurred on the 22nd of September, 1523, the foundations of the bridge were shaken and the buttresses unsafe, and it was found necessary to substitute smaller stones to replace the massive key-stone, which it was feared would fall down and destroy one of the noblest and most elegant bridges of the Basque provinces.

 

 

————————-

From LEGENDS and POPULAR TALES of the BASQUE PEOPLE by Mariana Monteiro

ISBN: 978-1-907256-32-5

URL: http://www.AbelaPublishing.com/Basque.html

 

Legends and popular tales of the Basque people

 

 

Advertisements