Thursday, 18 August 2011

Deep in the Woods

Hundreds of years ago there lived a man called Jacob Jones. He was a handsome if lazy youth and was often found in the village flirting with the maidens there. All would have been well if he had left it at chat, but a young man is frequently the most capable of fools and his foolish flirting led to him leaving a lovely young woman pregnant. She was much chastised for giving up her virtue to such a foolish man who had never any inclination to work. Nor was he ever in money save what he could come by stealing or gambling.

The young woman's mother despaired of her daughter, but said that she would stand by her for there was only her and the girl's grandmother. The young woman's father had died in a riding accident some years after she had been born but the mother and grandmother were intelligent women and hard working. They had worked all the hours they could, the very opposite of Jacob Jones. The grandmother, strong and defiant told everyone who the erring father of the child was and suddenly Jacob found himself ignored by the women. He plotted to revenge himself on the old woman and as is often the case, his plans came to encompass the young woman's mother and the woman herself. No matter that she was pregnant with his child.

One night he decided, inflamed by drink and stupidity to set fire to the women's house. He staggered along the street chuckling cruelly to himself at the thought of the revenge he would have, but the grandmother at her bedchamber window saw him and guessing his intent she whispered a word.

That word fell from her lips out of the window and into the air where it flew towards the woods. A little later, a horse was heard galloping along the street and Jacob turned at the sound of it's coming to see a finely dressed and beautiful young woman riding towards him.

Her dress was long and red as the holly berry, bound at the waist by a sash as green as the oak leaf. Her hair was red as a flame and her eyes green and dark like the laurel. Her skin was pale as snow and her smile was gentle and gracious. She smiled upon Jacob and asked him if he would ride with her. Her tone was suggestive and he smiled wolfishly and said that he would be honoured to ride with such beauty. He mounted up in the saddle behind her and put his strong arms about her slim waist. The beauty guided the horse along the road through the village and out at speed into the woods. Jacob suddenly found that he could not get off the horse. He seemed stuck to the saddle and his arms about the woman's waist. 

Faster they went towards the great barrow at the centre of the wood and to his shock the barrow opened up and they entered into it suddenly descending as if into hell itself. He murmured the Lords Prayer as they went and the woman laughed at the sound of it. The earth, dark and rich full of the roots of the trees above flew past them as they continued down and Jacob whispered in terror,

"Will I never see my home again?"

"You'll not want to Jacob my love, for at my side among the Fair Folk in our lands and demesnes you will find great happiness," the woman told him.

Some three hundred years later, while walking in the woods a young woman beheld an old man on a horse who asked after a young woman. The young woman herself laughed and answered that was but a legend and that the woman had died a long time ago, her son too.

The old man murmured, "If I get off this horse I too shall die, for I may not set foot on the earth if I am to return home."

The young woman misunderstanding said that she would help him off his horse. He need not be afraid of falling. He sighed and asked what the year was. When the young woman told him, he lowered his old head and wept. 

"Then Jacob Jones is but a forgotten man and I am out of my rightful time," he said through his tears.

He bound the horse's reins about the saddle and slowly dismounted. You may imagine the young woman's shock when his foot touched the ground and he suddenly turned to dust that was swept away by the autumnal breeze. The horse raised its head and seemed to sigh before turning away and galloping through the forest out of the woman's sight. She ran home to her family and told them of what had happened and now, many hundreds of years later, if you walk in the forest you may come across the grave of Jacob Jones whom time has reclaimed as its own.


Freyalyn said...

Well done for tying so many threads into such a pretty bright bow!

Griffin said...

Phew! Thank you... I think actually tying a bow might have been easier!