The wood so softly singing
In a language strange to hear
And the song it sings will find you
As the twilight draws you near


Goblin Combe

There was a parcel of children picking primroses and one of them wandered off down into Goblin Combe. She were only a tot and didn’t know better. So she was lost and she cried till the tears ran down like rain and she threw herself down on the ground and her bunch of primroses struck a rock. All at once the rock opens and out comes the fairies to tend to her tears. Then they gave her a golden ball and led her safe home, on account of that she was carrying primroses.

It was the wonder of the village that she was brought home safe but the conjuror he got the notion that he could be going after a golden ball or two. So off he went with a bunch of primroses to Goblin Combe and he got to the rock not without a fright or two on the way and dashed the flowers against it. Well it wasn’t the right day, nor the right number of primroses, and he wasn’t no dear little soul either – so they took him!

Primroses, culver-keys and forget-me-nots, are all magic spring worts, but you have to have the right number in the bunch.

Collected by Ruth Tongue who heard the account from two old ladies who related it in chorus : Clevedon, Somerset 1945.



A fisherman was out with his drag-net on the lake at the dark of the night. As the moon rose, he moved his boat into the shadows. His net grew heavy, and he had trouble to pull it in. When the full moon shone out he saw that he had caught an Asrai. It was a wonderfully beautiful, gentle creature to look at. He had heard old people say these fairies only came up from their cool, deep homes below the water once in a hundred years, to look at the moon, and to grow. As this one seemed about the size of a twelve year maid, the man could not guess how very old it must be.

He spoke to it, for it did not make him afraid, and it seemed to beg him to let it go, but its speech only sounded to him like the ripples among the lake-side sedges. The fisherman had half a mind to set it free, but he wanted to show it to his children, and then he began to think how the rich folk in the castle might like to show it in their fish-ponds, and would pay him well. So he hardened his heart, and began the long row homewards.

The Asrai got one arm out of the net, and pointed again and again to the waning moon, and then laid a hand on his arm - "like cool foam, the touch was," he said later. But it seemed that his human warmth hurt it, for it shrank away from him, and huddled down in the bottom of the boat, covering itself with its long green hair. He was afraid the light of day might be too strong for it, and covered it with wet rushes. The lake was long, and the sun had risen by the time he got to his own creek.

He drew the boat ashore, and lifted the rushes away from where the Asrai had lain. His net was empty, and a damp patch was all there was left of it. But the arm that it touched was icy cold all the rest of his life, and nothing would warm it.

Ruth L. Tongue in Forgotten Folk-Tales


The Shadows

"We are the Shadows" repeated the Shadow solemnly.
"We do not often appear to men."
"Ah" said the King.
"We do not belong to the sunshine at all. We go through it unseen, and only by passing chill, do men recognise an unknown presence."
"Ah" said the King again.
"It is only in the twilight of the fire, or when one man or woman is alone with a single candle, or when any number of people are all feeling the same thing at once, making them one, that we show ourselves, and the truth of things."
"Can that be true that loves the night?" said the King
"The darkness is the nurse of light." answered the Shadow
"Can that be true which mocks at forms?" said the King
"Truth rides abroad in shapeless storms." answered the Shadow.

George Macdonald 'The Shadows' from The Fantastic Imagination