Pixies on the Border (Cornwall/Devon)

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john o london's with fairies


One of your correspondents asks (March 7) for first-hand accounts of ‘fairies’ seen in this country, and proceeds to relate two very interesting stories of what West-countrymen would, I think, call Piskies.

A few years ago on the Cornish-Devonian border, I was surprised to see on the cliff above me the figure of a tiny man, dressed in black, strutting round in a rather vain-looking way. So incredulous was I of the existence of the ‘pisky’ people that I said to myself, ‘In a minute I shall see what he really is – a bird, or a shadow.’ But no, he went on being a tiny man – until he changed into a quite indescribable thing (are not piskies’ Irish cousins known as the ‘shape-changers’?); something with the appearance of a long, furry black roll, which gambolled about on the grass and then disappeared. A few minutes later, however, to more little shapes became visible – slightly larger and much rounder than the first pisky-man. They were sitting one on either side of a gorse bush, making movements similar to those made in sawing with a two-handled saw. Curiosity impelled closer investigation – but the short cut  I took up the cliff ended in unclimbable steepness and rubble, and I was obliged to return to the shore. By the time I had reached the gorse-bush by the usual path the pisky-sawyers were gone. Nothing except a form of air, though, could have sat on air as the sawer on the seaside must have been doing – for the bush hung some inches over the cliff edge.

There was a somewhat amusing sequel a few days later when I again saw and tried to come near to a group of ‘good’ (?) people – but my letter is already too long.

London W1                                                                           Joyce Chadwick

Chadwick, Joyce ‘Fairies Are not Dead!’, John O’London Weekly (21 March 1936), 986: for other John O’London fairy letters follow the link.

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