Sunday, 5 October 2008
The Faerie Trapper
There was a man called Snodgrass. His father had been turned into a starling when Snodgrass was but a boy. His father had thought it would be 'fun' to go into the bluebell woods. That was bad enough, but when Snodgrass' father had decided to pick some of the bluebells, the faeries drew the line. First they warned him off by making him lose his way. That didn't work, so the faeries started whispering threats. Snodgrass heard the threats and wanted to go home, but his father did not listen.
So one moment his father was picking bluebells and the next, the bluebells lay on the earth. The starling fell over on its back in surprise before righting itself, glancing at Snodgrass and flying away. Snodgrass was so angry that he stamped on the bluebells and it is lucky that the faeries saw the angry child and whisked him home. It was remarkably unlike the faeries to be quite that compassionate, usually they would have turned both man and boy into starlings. It may well be that the small iron crucifix his grandma had insisted he wore protected him too.
In any case, Snodgrass grew up a bitter man. His mother had not believed him when he'd returned. When he persisted she took him to various psychologists who all said various things, none of which made sense to her. Snodgrass learned to keep his mouth shut fast. Especially when 'treatments' were mentioned. Through school he became very quiet and reserved, even though he was quite a handsome boy. He kept to the library and read all he could on folklore and especially faerie-lore. It did not occur to him that seeking to avenge his father's metamorphosis on the faeries was a bad idea at all. Possibly it ought to have. It would have saved an awful lot of bother later.
Before long, his interest got out and a bully began to bait him on it. When Snodgrass challenged the bully to go pick bluebells in the wood, a more perceptive court might have called it incitement. The bully called it 'sissy' and a few other things too. He went into the bluebell wood one weekend and never came out again. After that, nobody teased Snodgrass - though this was because they thought he'd killed the bully, not because they actually believed in faeries.
Snodgrass went on to university and did well, getting a first class degree in English Literature. His thesis on the faeries in literature was favourably remarked. But all that time he never forgot his one aim, to avenge his father. Unlike Hamlet, he had no problem with vengeance. Snodgrass was enchanted however by the illustrations of the faeries he had seen in books. These were all small creatures, usually female and with dragonfly wings. He forgot that faeries can appear in whatever shape they choose.
One morning, after the sun had risen, he went into the bluebell woods. It was autumn, when all the earth sleeps awaiting spring. There were no bluebells, only leaves that had fallen from the trees and decayed. It was cold and damp. Snodgrass found a tree and laid out small jars - traps for the faeries. Then he went home with a smile on his face. For about six months he waited for the faeries to fall into his traps. He checked the traps every month, but nothing.
Then, one morning in early spring, he found that all the jars were full, the faeries drunk on the nectar he had put in the traps. He screwed on the traps tightly and began to pack them up, when the faeries awoke from their sleep. They began to flutter their tiny wings and sounded like a host of extremely angry bees. Snodgrass held up one of the jars and stuck his tongue out at the faerie in the jar. Then he noticed that the faery wasn't angry, but laughing. Only then did it occur to him to be afraid. He dropped the jars on the ground and fled. The faeries did not chase him, they did not need to. They had taught him a lesson and that was enough. Snodgrass never went near a bluebell wood, or any other wood again. Later, with Professor Gaskin... but that's another story.