Wednesday, 9 September 2009
In Search of a Coat
It was a long time ago, but then it usually is. Anyway, it seems that a young man went down to a river to fish. He had plenty of knowledge about the faery folk and about how to make his living. He had been well brought up and taught up by the women in his family and occasionally the men. His father had taught him to fish and how to sail his boat upon the lake. He had taught him to work his land and bring up his sheep and horses. The women had taught him the rest and his grandmother had told him all he needed to know about the faeries.
Now it happened that while he was waiting for a fish to be accommodating enough to be caught, the sun was warm and the bank where he lay was comfortable. So he fell to dreaming and then to sleep, but he was awoken by a light tinkling sound and taking a deep breath, he opened his eyes a little and saw hanging from a branch nearby, a long coat of leaves, stitched with the finest gossamer. The leaves were both red and green and straight away he knew that he was looking at a faery coat.
The man was no fool, he knew that if he took the coat, the faery would have to either wed him or give him what he wished for in return for the coat. Fair return is no robbery after all. So he looked about and saw that in the centre of the river, the light tinkling that he had heard was the laughter of a beautiful faery. Looking upon her immaculate beauty he forgot all about 'faery glamour' and instantly fell in love with her. It was the matter of an instant to rise and take hold of the coat and so pleased with himself was he that he could not help himself. He exclaimed softly when he took the delicate coat in his hands and felt the light breeze change direction. The faery, bathing in the river turned and seeing him took flight across the flowing waters and over the land as if she were a deer pursued by hounds.
The man called out after her but she did not return to her coat. He returned home dejected with the coat amazed at it's exquisite quality but sadly lacking in the owner of it. For years he kept the coat and would not sell it, but over time his luck seemed to leave him. He did not mention the coat to anyone, instead he watched those he loved die away and his farm grow poorer and weaker. His sheep died of the croup, his horses stampeded one night and never returned. When they stampeded they trampled his crops and his farm never quite recovered.
What of the faery? She had fled from the man and taking up feathers, leaves, the skins of dead bumblebees and cobwebs, she made herself a new set of clothes. She found that she could not forget her coat however and began to pine over it at first. Slowly her grief became annoyance and then like a flame fanned, she became very angry. She sat upon an oak branch and watched the humans in the nearby town of Snorkham. After a while, as her anger cooled and then froze, she came into town and using her faery glamour gained herself money and bought a shop. Here she bought old clothes and stitched them up new so that they took on new lives. Even shoes were renewed by her, for the faeries are cunning workers and know a thing or ten.
She put a sign on the window - 'Suit, Cardigan, stiletto, coat, hat, blazer, belt, bearskin hat, cape, all clothes reborn here' and people began to talk and pass their words around. She was a marvel, a wonder, such beautiful work, so fine the stitches they might almost be done by mice. They were of course done by mice under her strict supervision. Slowly she began to make a great deal of money and enchanting the mice, she sent them out in the night to find her coat. For many a night they came back weary after their search with no news. Still she sent them out, night after night. She sent the birds out to look during the day, a cheery robin here, a sparrow there, a wren round about, but still the coat eluded her.
Then one morning to her surprise a tattered weary poor man entered the shop. He had known such sorrows and lost everything so that now he was forced to beg for a crust of stale bread. He offered her the coat, but did not recognise her - why would he, she was under her own glamour?
He told her how he had come by the coat and she asked him softly with a dangerous look in her green eyes what he had expected from the faery. He smiled sadly and answered that he wanted to ask her if he might ever find his heart's love and if she might help him.
"But she fled and all that I once had is lost. Now I have nothing but this coat and the very clothes I stand in. Nobody loves a poor man for he is unable to take part in society and he seems like one cursed. All avoid him for fear that his taint of poverty might touch them too. I beg you mistress, give me a little money for the coat that I might eat and survive another day," he said.
The faery looked upon him and saw through to his heart and the truth that lay within it. She took the coat and murmured a word. It is said there were lights and sweet sounds, but I know nothing of that. It is said that trees on the high street shook their branches and their very roots did stretch and create something new. But I know nothing of that. Some people will believe anything. What I do know is that the faery kissed him and all his poverty fled from him and his hunger too. He was made whole and strong again and she gave him her hand and bid him marry her. He did and their children's children have carried on the business so I'm told, though mice no longer stitch the clothes.