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The Small People’s Fair
In the same parish where Jan Brewer was Piskey-laden on Constantine Common there is a beautiful lane called Tresallyn. It has high mossy hedges, where ferns grow in abundance, and where speedwells love to display their multitude of blue blossoms.

This lane is said to be a regular Piskeys’ haunt, where all the Wee Folk in the neighbourhood meet. People who have passed through this lane in the evening or late at night have heard the Piskeys laughing; but nobody, as far as we know, except one young fellow, ever had the good fortune to see them, and he, like Jan Brewer, had the gift of seeing what others could not.

Hender Bennett was the name of this young fellow, and he lived at a farm near Tresallyn Lane. One night, after he had been over to Towan, a village about a mile and a half away, to see a young girl whom he was courting, he was returning home through this beautiful old lane, when he was startled by a burst of music quite close to him. The music was so sweet and yet so stirring that he wanted to dance to the tune. He looked about to see whence the sound was coming, but he could see nothing unusual. [162]

It was a glorious night, and the big moon floated like a silver ball in the cloudless blue of the midnight sky, and shone so brightly that he could even see fronds of the ferns standing out quite clearly from the mossy hedge-banks.

As he was looking around, the music grew louder, sweeter, and more stirring, and sending his gaze down the lane to where the trees arched it, he saw a big crowd of Small People holding a fair.

He had heard of Little People’s fairs from his great-grannie, but had never hoped to see one, and he was as glad as a bird that he happened to be going down Tresallyn Lane when they were holding one.

The Wee Folk were holding their fair near a gate about a dozen yards or so from where he was standing. As the moon was just then floating over the gate, he could see all the Little People quite plainly, and what they were doing.

The Little Men and the Little Women were all dressed up to the nines in the way of clothes, and although he could not have described the cut of their coats or the style of their gowns, he knew that all the Little Women were lovely, that dear little faces peeped out of quaint bonnets, that they carried frails in their hands, and that Piskey-purses hung by their sides in the same way that his great-grannie’s big cotton purse bag hung under her gown.

There were ever so many little standings or stalls on the grass—one here and one there, like [163]currants in his mother’s buns, Hender told himself. Every standing was laid out with all sorts of tempting things pleasing to Small People, on which they gazed with evident delight. They asked the price of this thing and that of the little standing women behind the stalls; and to see the Little People opening their tiny brown Piskey-purses and taking out their fairy money to pay for their purchases was as good as a play.

But what delighted the young fellow most were the Tiny Fiddlers and Pipers; and to watch the way the Fiddlers elbowed their fiddle-sticks and fiddled was worth walking twelve miles any night to see, he said, to say nothing of watching the Little Men and the Little Women dancing to the tunes the Fiddlers fiddled and the Pipers piped. It was merrymaking with a vengeance, he told himself, and the fiddling, the piping, and the merrymaking at Summercourt Fair were nothing to it!

The fair itself was held a few feet away from the standings and the merrymaking, and when Hender could turn away his gaze for a few minutes to look at the Little People’s Fair Park, he saw a sight he feared he should never see again. There were scores of fairy horses, and as many bullocks and cows, and flocks of sheep and goats, none of them much bigger than those quaint little animals in toy farmyards; but these were all alive, he could tell, by the prancing of the horses! The sheep were confined within hurdles. There were pigs there as well, only to Hender’s eyes [164]they looked exactly like very large sow-pigs,1 all of which were in small stone enclosures. Moving about among the animals were Little Men who were dressed like farmers, but whether they were farmers or not he could not tell.

It was all so wonderfully interesting to Hender that he stood still like one in a dream, till one of the Little Men in a smart green coat went over to a very pretty Little Lady, who reminded him of his own sweetheart whom he had not very long kissed good-night, and asked her if he might treat her to some fairing, and he took hold of her little hand and led her up to the standing. And when he opened his purse to pay for what he bought for his lady-love Hender had to give vent to his feelings, and he cried out: ‘I could not have done it better—no, not even if I had bought a fairing for my own little sweetheart! No fy! I couldn’t.’

The words were no sooner spoken when the Small People’s fair vanished, Little People and all, and the only thing left to show that a fair had been held were a dozen sow-pigs in a stone enclosure!


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