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

Janet and Thomalyn

But run to the next horse, a milk-white steed, and pull the rider down. I will be the rider and when I fall, you must hold me fast. No matter what terrors happen next, your grip on me must last. But this will be terribly hard to do, dear Janet, because to break your grip the Fairy Queen is likely to turn me into beast after horrible beast in your arms. Yet if you can hold tight and not let me go, then no harm will come to you and I'll be mortal again forever. If you can do this, once the spell is broken, wrap me with your green mantle and cover me out of sight." He held his breath for a moment. "My lady, that's the only way."

Anxiously, they parted. That night, in a gloomy and dark eerie stillness in the air, Janet made her way to Miles Cross and there she hid behind a large oak tree. Just before midnight, she heard the tinkling of bridles and knew the fairies were on the move. From behind the tree, she watched the first black steed pass, a horse ridden by the proud Fairy Queen, then a brown. Quickly she ran to the milk-white steed and pulled the rider down.

Thunder rolled across the sky and the stars flashed as bright as day. Confusion reigned amongst the fairies. The Fairy Queen threw her outstretched finger to the fallen rider and called loudly: "Thomalyn!"

That moment, in Janet's arms Thomalyn turned into a monstrous bear snarling at her and frothing at the mouth. The maiden turned her head from its hot, angry breath but held on with all her might. A moment later the bear became a scaly lizard, slippery and venomous, its red tongue flicking about her face. Then what seemed like a lifetime later, the lizard was an ice-cold snake dripping with slime. Green slime oozed down Janet's hair and back while the snake coiled around her, tightening its grip and choking her. Then in an instant, the snake became a red-hot cinder. Janet's arms and hands were on fire, but somehow she held on.

Then... it was over.

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