Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Lutey & the Mermaid" from, "The Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, & Other Supernatural Creatures"

The story of Lutey & the Mermaid, as told by Katharine Briggs in her wonderfully delicious book, The Encyclopedia of Fairies.  Have I been redundant enough?

     Long ago Lutey of Cury, near Lizard Point, a Cornish fisherman & wrecker, was combing the beach for jetsam when he found a beautiful mermaid stranded in a pool by the receding tide.  She persuaded him to carry her down to the sea.  As they went she offered him three wishes, & he chose those he thought would do good: the power to break the spells of witchcraft & to compel familiar spirits for the good of others, & that these powers should descend in his family.  She granted these, & because he had wished unselfishly said that none of his family should come to want, & gave him her comb by which he could summon her.  Then, as they grew near the sea, the more sinister side of her nature showed itself.  She began to allure him to go with her, & tightened her grasp on his neck.  So great were her allurements that he would have gone with her, but his dog howled to him from the shore, & he saw his own cottage where his wife & children lived, & told her to let him go.  Even so she clung to him, & would have pulled him down, but he flashed his knife in her face, &, presumably repelled by the iron, she plunged into the sea, calling, 'Farewell my sweet, for nine long years, then I'll come for thee my love.'
      The mermaid was as good as her word, & for generations the Luteys of Cury were famous healers, & prospered by their art.  The first Lutey, however, only enjoyed his powers for nine years, for at the end of that time, when he was out in his boat with one of his sons, a beautiful woman rose out of the sea & called him.  'My hour is come,' he said, & he plunged into the water, never to be seen again.  And they say that ever after, every nine years, one of his descendants was lost in the sea.

     No copyright infringement intended.  If you would like to buy Katharine Brigg's ponderously detailed, plethora of fairy knowledge you can do so here: "The Encyclopedia of Fairies" by Katharine Briggs, this is the full volume & the copy that I own.  It is out of print so, oftentimes, it is expensive.  However this next version is cheaper (although, I do believe this one is condensed): "Abbey Lubbers, Banshees, & Boggarts" by Katharine Briggs.
     Beware mermaids who promise too much.  ;D

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