Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 2, by William Bottrell, , at sacred-texts.com
No repares en eso, Sancho, que como estas cosas y estas volaterías van fuera de los cursos ordinarios, de mil leguas verás y oiras lo que quisieres, y no me aprietes tanto, que me derribas; y en verdad que no sé de qué te turbas ni te espantas, que osaré jurar que en todos los dias de mi vida he subido en cabalgadura de paso mas llano: no parence sino que no nos movemos de un lugar. Destierra, amigo, el miedo, que en efecto la cosa va como ha de ir, y el viento llevamos en popa.
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Bein es verdad que sentí que pasaba por la region del aire, y aun que tocaba á la del fuego; pero que pasásemos de allí no lo puedo creer.
We know a man called Jackey—never mind his surname—who had long been a sober character, and was so particularly veracious that he prefaced all his stories by saying, "I won't tell ’e a word of a lie, and know it!" Indeed this common affirmation of his has become an every-day saying, when anything
doubtful is related. Well, Jackey has often told us, and many others, that, when a young man, and not so good as he might have been, he dwelt in the north of St. Just, and courted a girl who lived in Tardinney with her parents, who either rented a few acres or some dairy cows. One Sunday afternoon he went early to see his sweetheart. Whilst she was out milking, and he with her, the old woman, her mother, made a nice heavy currant-cake for tea. All was ready on the board when they returned from milking. Jackey made a hearty tea, or supper, as we should say; but, when that was over, the old woman said, "I've made a junket for thee, Jackey, as it's the first Sunday in May; it's in the dairy, 'runn’d' by this time; I'll bring it to thee in a minute."
"Don't think I can find room for it," said he; "I'm as full as a tick."
"Hold thy tongue," said she; "go thee wayst out and take a few jumps down from the heaping-stock, and pack the tea and trade away! Junket is no fillan, any more than drink; it will only quaff (puff) one for a bit."
Jackey went out and exercised himself a few minutes, by leaping over a stile; came in and found on the table a basin of junket well spread with thick cream and honey. It was no shabby allowance either, for the bowl held a quart or more. Whilst Jackey dispatched his junket his sweetheart rigged herself in her best, and then away they went down to Sennen Church-town to Methodist meeting. There they met several of his comrades with their sweethearts. Preaching over, they all went into the "First and Last" for a drop of something to drink. Santusters are always free enough in treating the women—and everybody else for that matter so each of the fair ones had a glass of gin-and-peppermint or of brandy and cloves, or both if they liked, and most of them did like to taste both cordials and a glass of shrub besides. The men had a few mugs of shenackrum (gin and beer) with a dram of rum all around to finish off. They were a score or more going to St. Just; and all kept together till they came to the Burying-place Downs, where they parted company, and all the Santusters went Brea way, singing snatches of some well-known revival hymns to lively song tunes, except Jackey, who had to put his sweetheart home by the other road.
It was between ten and eleven o'clock when they got to Tardinney, and found the old folks gone to bed. A glowing turf-fire burned on the hearth, and they stayed courting till about one in the morning. But before Jackey left, his kind-hearted dear had tempted him to a slight supper of half a dozen eggs that she had saved up during the week unknown to the "old ’oman," and which were a boiled over the turfy-fire. Jackey ate them with some bread and butter, then he had a good piece of cold
cake, left from tea, with a bowl of milk; kissed; said good-night and started for home.
Jackey had been tramping about nearly all day. He had a tiresome walk before him of nearly four miles; and to foot it, all alone, seemed doubly wearisome. He walked on pretty fast till he came half-way over Kelynack Downs. There he sat down to rest a minute and felt tired enough to sleep in a pool of water. He couldn't help wishing, when he rose to proceed, that an old horse might come in his way,—there were generally plenty of them on the common. He hadn't gone more than a hundred yards, when he saw what appeared to be an old black horse standing stock-still, as if asleep, close by the road. Jackey untied and took the halter it was spanned (hobbled) with from its legs, placed it over its head, mounted, and did his utmost to keep if on the road. But, in spite of all he could do, it took off westward over the Downs, going slowly at first, but soon quickened its pace till it went like the wind, and. he was nearly blown off sometimes, with the rush of air occasioned by their speed, for there was no wind to speak of.
The night was so clear that he saw the Longships light nearly all the time, till they came to the cliff near the Land's End, to the best of his judgment, He felt no fear to speak of. The thing he bestrode took him over cliff—not right down, but sloping away gently. It went off through the air—just skimming the sea—strait to Scilly, and arrived there very quickly:—he thought it might be in a quarter of an hour or thereaway, from the time he left the Longships behind his back till they came to St. Agnes flashing light.
There was no stay when it came to the islands; for away it went all around and across them so high up that he saw all Scilly isles spread out like a map, and so plainly that he always remembered their position. Then without any control from the rider, Jackey's steed turned tail on Scilly and brought him back—about daybreak—to Kelynack Downs again, within a stone's throw of the rock where he mounted, shook him off pretty gently, and vanished in flame and smoke—as usual.
The Devil carried Jackey easy enough; but, for nearly a week after his ride, he felt very stiff and sore all over.
If any doubting body questioned the truth of this story or hinted that perhaps he fell asleep on Kelynack Downs and had "stag," or got "hilla-rodden," (night-mare) he would reply,
Don't ’e believe it, my dear; not sure nuf; and as a proof that what I tell ’e is true, if you will give me a piece of chalk I'll mark out all the islands as I you them and as correct as anyone who had lived there all his time. Yet I had never been to Scilly before, nor have I since that night. Bless the Lord, I had a
narrow escape; but didn't stay so late a-courting any more, and a few months after that night's ride, Mally and me—we got married."
One can't see what motive Old Nick had in this case, to take such trouble, unless it were for a mere freak, because he never seemed to claim any recompense from his rider.
To be "hilla-ridden," and to have the "stag," are the only names known to old country folks for the "night-mare," which is a word one never hears among them. There is, however, some difference in the signification of our two local terms. The former means to pass the time in an agony of tormenting dreams; the latter is used for obstructed respiration, or a feeling of weight on the chest, that prevents a person from moving.
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