A Fairy Enchantment

: Irish Fairy Tales

Story-teller--MICHAEL HART

Recorder--W. B. YEATS

In the times when we used to travel by canal I was coming down from

Dublin. When we came to Mullingar the canal ended, and I began to

walk, and stiff and fatigued I was after the slowness. I had some

friends with me, and now and then we walked, now and then we rode in a

cart. So on till we saw some girls milking a cow, and stoppe
to joke

with them. After a while we asked them for a drink of milk. 'We have

nothing to put it in here,' they said, 'but come to the house with

us.' We went home with them and sat round the fire talking. After a

while the others went, and left me, loath to stir from the good fire.

I asked the girls for something to eat. There was a pot on the fire,

and they took the meat out and put it on a plate and told me to eat

only the meat that came from the head. When I had eaten, the girls

went out and I did not see them again.

It grew darker and darker, and there I still sat, loath as ever to

leave the good fire; and after a while two men came in, carrying

between them a corpse. When I saw them I hid behind the door. Says one

to the other, 'Who'll turn the spit?' Says the other, 'Michael Hart,

come out of that and turn the meat!' I came out in a tremble and began

turning the spit. 'Michael Hart,' says the one who spoke first, 'if

you let it burn we will have to put you on the spit instead,' and on

that they went out. I sat there trembling and turning the corpse until

midnight. The men came again, and the one said it was burnt, and the

other said it was done right, but having fallen out over it, they both

said they would do me no harm that time; and sitting by the fire one

of them cried out, 'Michael Hart, can you tell a story?' 'Never a

one,' said I. On that he caught me by the shoulders and put me out

like a shot.

It was a wild, blowing night; never in all my born days did I see such

a night--the darkest night that ever came out of the heavens. I did

not know where I was for the life of me. So when one of the men came

after me and touched me on the shoulder with a 'Michael Hart, can you

tell a story now?'--'I can,' says I. In he brought me, and, putting me

by the fire, says 'Begin.' 'I have no story but the one,' says I,

'that I was sitting here, and that you two men brought in a corpse

and put it on the spit and set me turning it.' 'That will do,' says

he; 'you may go in there and lie down on the bed.' And in I went,

nothing loath, and in the morning where was I but in the middle of a

green field.