Smorgasbord Guest Writer – The Fairy Wife by Horatio Grin

My thanks to Horatio Grin for his wonderful contribution from his now out of print book Fairies – A Hidden History.. He is currently beging persuaded to perhaps publish in Ebook version and that would be very well received I am sure.

Yesterday we were treated to the story of the Fairy bride and that essay can be found in the directory linked at the bottom of the post today.

But that tale is not an end, for there is another story. And perhaps even one more to follow. But that is for you to decide when the time comes.

The Fairy Wife by Horatio Grin

When the fairy wife’s children had grown old and grey, they would sit in front of the winter fire with grandchildren huddled at their knee and would oft fall into reverie speaking of their beautiful mother who watched over them all their lives.

With rheumy eyes locked in the past, they would tell of glimpsing their mother’s face in the shadow of the woodland glade by the churchyard or through the bracken of the moors as they took the high pass to market. At other times, while fishing, or washing clothes in the lake, half dreaming in the languid summer heat, they would catch a reflection in the limpid water of a face as young as they remembered from when they themselves were no older than those before them now. And they would laugh at the round eyed children as if they made no more than an idle jest.

Thus the stories passed through generations. Grandchildren becoming old would tell their grandchildren the same tales. For over their long lives they had often seen a strange beautiful woman with red hair and green eyes, shyly watching. Sometimes they would call out to her, good morrow mistress, or some such words, in the hope she might be tempted to speak. But always she would vanish. The light suddenly fading, like a cloud on the face of the sun, though the day was bright as bright could be, and as the shadow passed she was gone; gone in the blink of an eye.

Then sometimes there is further tale, different but the same. By now many, many years have passed and a new child is born to the family. When the stout old midwife sees the child’s head covered by the caul, she moves like a kitchen maid when the cook comes to box her ears. The midwife has to remove the caul to prevent the new born suffocating. That evening there is muttering in the village as the midwife tells all over a pint pot of porter. For everyone knows what the caul portends. The child has the sight, with one foot in this world and one in the next.

On the way to the church to have the babe christened the proud parents meet a pale young woman in the glade by the churchyard. She is willowy tall wearing a green cloak the exact same shade as her startling eyes. Beneath her hood poke tangled curls of hair, red as a squirrel’s tail. They know who she is but they do not know what to do.

She asks to see the child, and truth be told, they have not the courage to deny her. The mother passes over her new born with reluctance. For though you can never tell what a fairy might do, she knows full well it is better to humour one than cause a quarrel. The woman sings softly to the child, who gurgles and laughs in her arms.

She breaks off her song to tell the mother the child will grow good, blithe, bonny and gay, and be the most beautiful girl in the country. Suddenly a fury crosses the fairy’s face, swift as a summer storm on a blistering afternoon. The frightened woman hastily snatches back her child. Behind them comes the voice of the fat pastor. Annoyed his flock should keep him waiting, he has come to discover their reason for tardiness. In the instant it takes for the parents to turn to the rector and turn back, the fairy wife has gone.

When they got home, in the crib was a folded shawl of shimmering green silk woven with strange designs. They knew it to be a christening gift from the fairy wife. Without a word an understanding passed between two of them. The husband went outside to smoke his pipe. The wife laid her daughter on the bed, picked up the folded shawl and hit it away never to be spoken of.

The child grew as the fairy wife predicted, tall and willowy and blessed with such beauty and goodness of spirit it seemed as if she lit the room upon entering. On her sixteenth birthday, the girl discovered a shimmering green silk shawl in a chest; concealed beneath some old sheets meant to be torn up for dusters that somehow never were.

It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Sure, she thought, it was a coming of age present from her beloved parents. She knew she should put it back in the chest and let her parents surprise her at supper. But it was so beautiful, the very colour of her eyes. Simply trying it on could not hurt, not if she was careful to hide it back away.

She shook out the length of cloth and draped it over her tangled auburn locks. The pleasant thought of catching Tom Dunn’s eye after Sunday service completely vanished from her mind; replaced by strange imaginings she barely comprehended. As in a trance, she walked down the stairs and into the kitchen.

A cry escaped her mother’s lips. This was the curse of fairy gifts. She should have been brave enough to burn the shawl and risk the good wife’s wrath. But it was too late for idle wishes now.

‘I am leaving mother,’ the girl said simply.

‘Stay!’ her mother pleaded.

If only she could run to the door, call her man and her sons to lend their entreaties to her argument, but she was afraid if she broke her gaze her girl would simply vanish. She had no idea how long the two of them stood locked in a wordless battle of wills. At twilight, shadow crept across the kitchen. The mother heard a commotion in the courtyard. There was the click of the latch on the door. A sound like a beast in pain fell from her husband’s lips. It was so hard to hear she turned to him, just for a single moment.

Sweeping past her mother, the girl paused to kiss her cheek, and whisper: ‘She needs me now. But I will never be far away’. Her voice was light, like a bride on a wedding day Swift as the breeze she moved to kiss her father and the cheeks of each of her brothers standing dumbfounded on the threshold.

A chill crept in their hearts as they heard her pass through the courtyard. Later each swore she took the lane to the tarn on the hill. As her footsteps faded her father once more roared in anguish. The noise brought the household to life. Dazed, they stared about stupidly as if shaking off some torpor. One by one they snatched lanterns, as Mother lit a reed taper from the fire for to light the candles. They ran outside after their sister.

As the gloom swallowed each tiny flickering light their mother’s heart sank in her breast. She fretted she would never see any one of them again. As the dawn broke, wan and sullen, the dispirited men drifted back to the house. They had searched high and low, but their sister was gone, never to be seen again.

©HoratioGrin 2017


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:

You can read all the previous essays by Horatio Grin in this directory:

As always Horatio would appreciate your feedback.. thanks Sally

This entry was posted in It is a Wonderful Life. and tagged by Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.. Bookmark the permalink.

About Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

My name is Sally Cronin and I am doing what I love.. Writing. Books, short stories, Haiku and blog posts. My previous jobs are only relevant in as much as they have gifted me with a wonderful filing cabinet of memories and experiences which are very useful when putting pen to paper. I move between non-fiction health books and posts and fairy stories, romance and humour. I love variety which is why I called my blog Smorgasbord Invitation and you will find a wide range of subjects. You can find the whole story here. Find out more at

12 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Guest Writer – The Fairy Wife by Horatio Grin

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Guest Writer – The Fairy Wife by Horatio Grin | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  2. Wonderful and sad at the same time. Why would the family have to be afraid of fairies, other than because they knew their daughter would leave some day? I think this story isn’t over. 🙂 I await! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Magic, Music and Master storytellers oh and a bit of a laugh | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

I would be delighted to receive your feedback. Thanks Sally

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