Fairy Lights

Grandmother Ferris told us stories of fairies, sacred hills and wells, and giants roaming the Cornish moors.

“The lights that flicker at night, they be wanderin’ spirits searchin’ for rest ‘cause o’ some ‘arm they did, and like as not to take tha’ with ‘em in their wanderin’.”

We sat wide-eyed, open-mouthed, not daring to breathe lest one of those spirits snatch us away.

 “I see ‘em many a time. Oft times, a blue light, most unworldly. Tha’ take good care around St. Feock’s church, the saint guards it close.”

Thereafter, we took great care going through the graveyard.

#99WordStories #CarrotRanchChallenge #Prompt_ImpossiblyBlue #HighamFamilyHistory #Cornwall #Fairies #StFeock #MargaretGHanna

The back story

All I know of Mary Ferris (neé Smith), my maternal grandmother’s maternal grandmother, is derived from Ancestry documents. She was born about 1828, was illiterate (she signed her marriage certificate with an X), was married to William Ferris, a ship’s carpenter, and lived in Feock, Cornwall. Whether or not she believed in fairies or any of the giants, mermaids or other beings that supposedly once roamed Cornwall, is pure supposition on my part. But why let a few facts (or no facts, in this case) get in the way of a story?

This little snippet of imagined family history is told from the perspective of my maternal grandmother, Mary Louisa Higham (neé Appleton). Her family (father George Appleton; mother Amelia Ferris Appleton, and siblings, Amelia, George, and Clive) lived in Feock from 1891 to 1897. This would have given them ample time to hear stories not only from their grandmother but also from their grandfather. His would have been tales of the sea and the monsters that dwell in the deeps.

From time immemorial, people have told stories that explain everything from the creation of the universe to the appearance of warts. Those stories explained our relationship to Earth and to all other creatures. They set out moral standards, often as cautionary tales to show what would happen if one didn’t follow those standards. Think of all the Trickster stories told around the world.

Some stories were simply meant to keep children safe from “things that go bump in the night.” Grandma Higham certainly told such tales – the story of the Bologna Man is a legend in our own family.

“The Bologna Man?” you ask.

You’ll read about him in my grandmother’s story, Searching for Home, which will be published this summer.


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