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A Fairy Cup? November 30, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval , trackback

Another of these almost forgotten fairy stories recorded in the early fourteenth century. Fairy clues include the mound (fairies live in hills or is this a grave?), the benevolent fairy and the human attempt to steal a prize from fairyland. Rather you than me.

Here is another thing, no less wonderful and quite widely known, which happened in Great Britain. There was a hunting-forest in Gloucestershire teeming with boars, stags, and every kind of game commonly found in England. In a leafy glade in this forest was a hillock, which rose to a man’s height at its highest point. Knights and other hunters used to climb up on top of this hillock whenver, worn out with heat and thirst, they sought some relief for their discomfort. Now given the right combination of place and circumstance, if anyone strayed a long way from his companions and climbed it alone, and then, though alone, said ‘I’m thirsty’, as if he were speaking to someone else, at once, to his surprise, there would be a cupbearer standing at his side, in rich attire, with a merry face, and holding in his outstretched hand a large horn, adorned with gold and jewels, such as is used by the old English as a drinking-vessel. Some nectar of an unfamiliar but delicious taste would be offered to him. When he had drunk it, all the heat and weariness of his sweating body would leave him, so that anyone would believe, not that he had just been engaged in action, but that he was eager to start. When he had consumed the nectar, the server would provide him with a napkin with which to wipe his lips; and then, his ministrations completed, he would disappear without waiting for a reward or for conversation to satisfy curiosity. This came to be of well-known and daily occurrence among the old population, for many cycles of the years gone by. Then one day, when a knight from that vicinity was out hunting, he came to the place and having asked for a drink and taken the horn, he did not restore it to the cupbearer, as custom and manners demanded, but kept it for his own use. However, when his lord, the illustrious earl of Gloucester, discovered the truth of the matter, he condemned the thief; and he presented the horn to your excellent great-great-grandfather, King Henry the Elder, lest he should be deemed to have connived at such a great wrong if he had added another’s stole goods to the treasure of his own household property.

Accedit aliud non minus mirandum in Britannia maiori, satis diuulgatum. Erat in comitatu Claudii Cestrie, silua uenatoria, apris, ceruis, omnique uenatione secundum Anglie condicionem copiosa. In huius nemoroso saltu erat monticulus, ad staturam hominis in apicem exurgens, in quem milites aliique uenatores ascendere consueuerunt cum, estu ac siti faticati, aliquod instancie sue querebant remedium. Uerum ex loci ac rei conditione, relictis a longe sociis solus quiuis ascendit, cumque solus quasi ad alterum loquens diceret ‘Sitio’, statim ex improuiso e latere propinator astabat, celebri cultu, uultu yllari, manu exposita cornu grande gestans, auro gemmisque ornatum, sicut apud antiquissimos Anglos usus habet uice calcis. Nectar ignoti set suauissimi saporis offerebatur; quo fausto, totus calescentis corporis estus et lassitudo fugiebat, ut non laborasse, sed laborem arridere uelle quis crederetur. Sed et sumpto nectare, minister mantile ad ora siccanda porrigebat, et espleto suo ministerio disparens, nec mercedem pro obsequio nec colloquium pro inquisitione expectabat. Hoc multis annositatis antique curriculis apud uetustissimos celeberrimum ac cotidianum agebatur, cum uno aliquo die miles e uicinitate illa uenator illuc accessit et, postulato potu et sumpto cornu, non illud ut consuetudinis ac urbanitatis erat pincerne restituit, sed ad proprium usum retinuit. Uerum dominus eius, comes illustris Claudii Castri, comperta rei ueritate, dampnauit predonem; et cornu illud excellentissimo proavo tuo, regi Henrico uetustiori, donauit, ne tanti mali fautor fuisse censeretur si domestice proprietatis thesauro rapinam alienam congessisset.

Any other fairy symptoms in this account? Drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com