I know that many of you enjoyed the essays of Horatio Grin last week and I am delighted to say that Horatio has written to share some news. This is exciting and I am sure that you will enjoy the posts throughout the week. Particularly if you are like me and have a fascination for fairies and other special folk.
First a note from Horatio.
My dearest Sally,
I am most grateful for the warm reception from your readers and their kind encouragement in wanting to hear more of my work. As you know from our previous conversations, unfortunately I no longer have all the galley proofs from other chapters of my book due to the publisher having folded some years back.
Rachel, the granddaughter of my late secretary Dorothy, has been very kind in scanning two follow up chapters using Optical Character Recognition and is currently editing the mistakes the program invariably produces so that I can make any final corrections on my laptop. However she has her own work at the University to consider and I am afraid this will jeopardise our agreed deadline.
I was wondering if, while waiting for the final edited proofs to be emailed, your readers would be interested in the attached; in lieu, you might say. They are simply childhood recollections and I confess to have taken some liberties with the narrative. I hope they pass muster.
The Fairy Bride by Horatio Grin
There was a young farmer who fell in love with a fairy maid living beneath the lake on his land. Though she loved him too, his entreaties fell on deaf ears and she refused the offer of his hand. For she heard it said men could break a heart in two without a thought, and no prudent maid should trust a careless man with anything quite so precious as a heart.
The farmer was persistent as he was handsome. Each dawn and dusk found him standing beside the lake with his fiddle: sounding bright as a lark ascending or sweet as the evening nightingale. Other times he would sing in a warm tenor voice, which rose and fell like the laughter of a brook, and spoke of secrets shared. His song was always the same. He listed womanly charms, beauty chief among them; then crowned them with her name.
His tunes, though starting merry, invariably slipped into lament as the weary day yielded to night. Wrapped in purple shadow, with voice breaking between sigh and sob, no stronger than a breath snatched by the cruel east wind, he would plead with the evening stars to take pity upon a fool such as he.
In the end, I suppose he wore down her resolve; although a ready smile and the twinkle in his eye may have had something to do with it. On Mayday she came to him, dressed in green and pretty as the sunrise he watched that morn. As she walked from of the lake, her hair and clothes bone dry, she left not a ripple on the surface. To his fanciful way of thinking it looked as if she was leaving another world for him; a mirror world caught between air and water.
With eyes modestly cast to the floor so he could not see the face beneath the mantle, she said, ‘I agree to be your bride’. Then she raised her head to catch his eye and he quailed a little under her steely gaze. ‘But heed me sir, should you ever strike me three times without cause, you will never see me again.’
He nodded dumbstruck, believing he would never raise his hand to one so beautiful, even should she deserve it.
The maid had another condition. She refused to marry in church, for her people clung to the old ways. So as the day faded, he helped gather kindling for a rowan fire and hand-in-hand they jumped the flames with no witness but the stars and the fat waxy moon.
As they turned to go the maid picked a handful of flowers from the side of the lake.
Presenting them as her dowry she told her swain to cast them into the waters and call out:
Come dandelion and daisy, lace cap and moonbeam.
Come vetch, crumple horn, freckled and speckled,
Come old white face and come thee too
Proud white bull from the erlking pasture
Come all, come all and follow me home.
From the cool still waters came a soft lowing as a herd of milch-cows led by a sturdy bull appeared from beneath the lake. Fairy beasts they were, white with red eyes and ears, as fairy beasts are said to be. At the sight of them, he knew in his heart they would make him rich. The butter and cheeses from their golden milk would be creamy and rich enough to light up the darkest winter kitchen like a buttercup held to the throat. With his new-found wealth he decided to build his beloved a fine house and swore she would want for nothing. But in the meanwhile he led her to his mother’s humble cottage.
His mother anxiously looking out for her son, saw him arm-in-arm with his maid, and knowing fairy ways, laid a new broom across the threshold. A broom of stout hazel with a witch willow brush, that she kept for the day he won his true love’s heart. And seeing the boom, hand-in-hand they jumped over the brush, and thus were married in the eyes of man, if not God.
They were a loving couple, the happiest in the county it was said. After a year and a day, the fairy maid bore her love a child to bless their new house. A strong bonny laughing boy he was and no worse for being unbaptised. But the farmer’s mother was a woman who liked propriety, and thinking it bad enough her son was unwed in the eyes of God, demanded the child be christened.
The fairy bride, of course, would not set foot in church, nor could she if she wanted, so after some harsh words, it was agreed she remain at home, to prepare the Christening breakfast. Coming back from church the husband spied there was no smoke in the chimney. Giving the child to his mother he hurried ahead to see if all was as it should be. Bursting into the kitchen he found his wife staring at the cold grate, the griddle cakes raw, the bacon unsliced.
He run, poking her in the back, intending to hurry her, so she did not shame him before his mother. When his wife turned to him he was shocked to see her in tears on this joyous day.
‘Wife, why do you cry?’
‘I cry because our son is born into a world of trouble, for that was the first unwarranted blow.’
The husband stared open mouthed.
But time passes and men forget. Over the years she bore more strong handsome sons and pretty, pretty girls, and ne’re an ill word passed between them until his mother’s funeral. Again his wife refused to attend the church instead waiting patiently by the empty grave. As the coffin was lowered into the earth she began to laugh. Before the parson could look in askance, her outraged husband shook her by the arm.
‘Wife why do you laugh?’ he hissed.
‘I laugh because your poor mother’s ills are at an end. But not so our troubles: for that was the second carless blow.’
Perhaps it was from that time a canker crept between them. Maybe this was the beginning of the end. Who knows? For who really ever knows how something dies? But die love did. Murdered some might claim. For year by year a little more laughter left the house.
As he aged, as men do, his wife, as fairies do, remained lovely as the day they wed. It left him bitter and resentful of the beauty that once gave him such joy to behold. Betrayed by his own infirmity, and fearful of his end, he saw only fault in all she said and all her pretty ways.
One such day, when the wind from the east made his bones groan, he snapped at some trifle and raised his hand. Although the look in her eye caught him, he did not care. He needed someone to blame for the ache in his joints, the weight in his heart, and the stiffness in his back. For the black teeth that stole his smile, for the failing eyes that could no longer count his cows and for his sons hale and strong, who worked twice as hard and twice as long.
The fateful blow fell. His hand left an angry mark on her cheek. The sound of the slap was louder than a mad dog’s bark or a poacher’s gun at midnight. Truth be told he was glad his sons and daughter were about their work so they did not see him reduced so low.
‘Sorry,’ he mumbled. ‘I’m sorry’
She did not reply, for there was nothing to say. Instead she meekly busied herself with the evening supper as though nothing amiss occurred. Later she kissed her children as they retired to bed, as she kissed them every night. Then leaving her husband slumbering by the fire, his old body worn out from the day’s labour, she left without a backward glance.
He did not know she was gone until the mournful lowing in the meadow shook him from sleep. Rushing from the house he saw her vanish into the lake, driving her magic beasts before her through the cold dark waters.
Snatching up his fiddle, he played the whole night through. But he could not sing, and could not speak, for he no longer trusted his voice was true. As sunrise brought a cheerless morn his heart congealed, and he never smiled for the rest of his days.
A brief bio for Horatio Grin
Horatio William Grin was born 29 July 1940 in the village of Kingstone Warren, Oxfordshire, in the shadow of White Horse Hill. His parents were William George Grin, Barrister and latterly King’s Counsel and Beatrice Caroline Grin nee Lough, a younger daughter of Squire Horatio Arthur Lough of the Oxfordshire Loughs.
After matriculating from Whychwood and Rye School, where he stayed as a day boarder, Horatio Grin went up to Girton and Caius College at Cambridge to read Particulate Physics, graduating with First Class Honours. For his Masters he read Russian and Mandarin. Eschewing a career with his alma mater, he joined military intelligence at the age of 23. Little is known of him for the next twenty-five years except for small snippets from diverse sources.
H. W. Grin is credited as a Research Assistant in the abstract of a paper from a team headed by Professor Able Epstein of Cambridge University. Professor Epstein acted as a Senior Researcher at the Los Alomos Facility in New Mexico during the atomic bomb tests. The research paper is not particularly significant, a description of the projected paths of post-collision sub-atomic particles.
His latest work on fairy lore called ‘Fairies: a Hidden History, the Collected Essays of Horatio Grin’, again containing no publisher’s mark, is a series of articles rumoured to be from the Archives of the Magi Temple of Central England. The essays are remarkable for effortlessly marrying ancient mythology and fairy folklore with the latest discoveries in the scientific disciplines of archaeology, genetics and physics. They are currently the subject of controversy among different schools of occult thought.
Please follow the link to read the full biography of this remarkable man: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/smorgasbord-guest-writer-19th-june-to-27th-june-author-horatio-grin-biography/
You can read all the previous essays by Horatio Grin in this directory:https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/guest-writer-fairies-the-hidden-history-by-horatio-grin/
As always Horatio would appreciate your feedback.. thanks Sally