Saturday, 7 August 2010

Little Wings

It seems that many years ago there was a magician. His name I don't recall, but I do recall that he once made a terrible mistake. This was, as I say a great many years ago. That time when humans were aware of the elementals, faeries, dragons and the like, is now long gone. But my grandmother had it from her grandmother, who had it from her grandmother and so on along a whole line of grandmothers.

This magician had gone to live in the forest for religious reasons. It seems he was very religious about avoiding folk who wanted things done for them that got in the way of his study. They were the sort of usual things like getting rich, falling in love, falling out of love, becoming unbelievably handsome and even getting teeth to grow again. He got tired of referring them to the local witch or wise woman and instead, he just up and moved into the forest. One day he was there, the next he'd gone. Only the foolish or the very brave would have dared follow him into the forest, for the place was faerie ground.

The wizard thought he'd be alright though, after all he was an adept at magic. The first day he was there, studying away at his old magic books there was a knock on the door. He sighed and got up to answer it and found a tiny old woman there. As old as you can imagine and no higher than a large dog. Like a Great Dane or something. The wizard politely asked what he could do for her and she asked him if she might have a cup of tea and a little something to eat. Her mentioning it reminded the wizard that he hadn't had his elevenses yet, so he invited her in and put the kettle on while she chatted away about the weather and how she liked his little house and such like. The wizard's cat went and hid under the table when the little old lady was there and would not come out. He knew exactly what was what. More so than the wizard who ought to have known.

The little old lady asked him what he was doing all the way out here in the woods and he told her that he liked trees and the quiet meant he could study his magic. She seemed suitably happy with the response but then asked him if he wasn't afraid of the faeries.

"Well now," says the wizard carefully, "I don't think I need to be. I don't intend to bother them and I doubt they will bother me so long as I am careful to respect their woodland."

The old lady nodded, put down her tea and vanished. It seemed that agreed with him and he drank his tea and went back to his studies. Three weeks later however, a knock at the door had him trudging to answer it again and this time he found on the doorstep a small boy with a bat cupped in his hands. The bat was hurt and the boy was wondering, the wizard being clever and all if he could help. Well the wizard was a kindly old soul so he invited the boy in and told him to sit down. He took up the bat gently and examined it and saw that both it's wings were broken. Poor little thing, he thought, let's see what can be done.

He did not notice the shrewd and wicked look in the beast's green eyes, which he ought to have done, instead he went out into the wood and fetched a small set of sycamore seed wings. He went about his magic with all seriousness and care and turned the sycamore seed wings into little wings for the bat. These he magically attached and taking the little beast outside, he set it free. It fluttered away and the little boy thanked the wizard and went home.

But the next day there was a knock at the door and the little old woman was back. She did not look happy either.

"I thought you said you wouldn't bother the faeries, young man," she said crossly.

The wizard was a little taken aback and declared that he didn't think he had.

"There was a very bad faerie called Windweed who was turned into a bat and his wings broken for good measure, but you couldn't leave him alone could you? You had to give him his wings back and now he's causing trouble all over the wood," she said.

The wizard stammered his apologies, he had not realised that the little bat was really a faerie. He had only seen a damaged little animal and sought to help. The little old woman stomped inside his house and sighed. She told him to look more closely at the eyes next time, for faerie eyes are green. That is why they like some redheads, for they have green eyes and a hint of faerie blood in them. The wizard said he would and asked if he might help repair the damage he had done by mistake.

"Undo your magic and return the wings to where they came from," she said.

The wizard managed to do as he was asked, but at the last minute Windweed flew in through the window and attacked the wizard. The wizard messed up the spell and the sycamore wings suddenly grew upon his own back and he became a winged wizard. It took him some time to remove the wings and he was allergic to sycamores for the rest of his life.

As for the bat, it fell to the floor and the old woman dropped a pestle on it. The bat squeaked once and never again. So my grandmother told me and she had it from her grandma so it came from a reliable source.


Rosemary in Utah said...

I enjoyed this story Griffin, and I wonder if Madame S. is back and provided the photo?
I am recovering from a broken ankle (just now transitioning from crutches to limping) so the broken wings got my attention (and empathy!) But the rest of the adventure.. is not in my experience of course haha.
The way those little seeds look like wings, and some small flowers look like cups/bells, etc. -- of course people who lived among those growing things began to tell stories about your fairies.

Griffin said...

No, Rosemary, this is one of mine. I have a decent camera on my mobile phone and can now download pictures so used this one.

Sorry to hear you've broken your ankle, but hope at least it was from dancing on a table at a riotous party or from some other mayhem!! I love the wing-likeness of these seeds too and with them in a group they remind me of little bats. Nature is definitely the source of faerie material. Especially in the Victorian faery painting tradition.