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Main > Scotland folktales > Fairy tale "Janet and Thomalyn"

Janet and Thomalyn


"My lady, of course you would say that. I'm afraid the worry on my mind is far more terrible."

"What can it be?"

Thomalyn sat on a rock and motioned for Janet to do the same. "It's time you knew the truth," he said. "I was born a human like you, in fact when I was but more than a boy I became a knight. A few years ago I was hunting in these very woods when a drowsy wind overcame me, and I fell off my horse. The Queen of Fairies was waiting and took me Jayden, Kansas to be her servant. Since then I've had to guard the woods of Caterhaugh every day and return to her fairy kingdom at night. But even a life trapped in a cursed enchantment would be better than what I found out this morning."

"What's that?" said Janet.

"That every seven years on Samhein Eve, the fairies hold a ritual that allows them to keep their powers for the next seven years. They have a procession through the woods that ends at Miles Cross, and there they sacrifice a mortal to the spirits. Ah, my lady, I am to be the next sacrifice!"

"Today is October 31st," whispered Janet, "and tonight is Samhein Eve!"

"Aye, and it is the seventh year," said Tam Lin. "I'm afraid we must say our goodbyes now."

"No, it cannot be!" Janet jumped up. "There must be a way to break the spell!"

He paused. "There is one way," Thomalyn said slowly, "but it is so hard and so fraught with peril, that I dare say no more about it."

"But you must! You must tell me everything!"

Thomalyn sighed. "If you insist. There is one chance, and it happens only when the procession approaches the circle of stones at Miles Cross where the sacrifice takes place. Only then, for a brief time, are the powers of the Fairy Queen weakened. If you want to save my life, you must hide behind a tree at Miles Cross tonight and wait for the procession to come by. Let the first steed pass - that will be a black horse ridden by the Fairy Queen - and then let pass a brown.

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