Thursday’s Tale: The Boy and the Dancing Fairy

canada

There aren’t many actual fairies in traditional fairy tales, so I though I’d feature one today. “The Boy and the Dancing Fairy” is from Canadian Wonder Tales by Cyrus MacMillan, published in 1918.

Two Indian boys lived in the forest with their parents. The boy of the title was of course the younger brother. His older brother was bigger, stronger and meaner. He beat up his younger brother regularly and made him do all the difficult chores, so the younger brother decided to run away. He left with a bow and arrows and an extra pair of moccasins and, in true fairy tale fashion, headed out to make his own way in the world.

The boy could run very fast and by the time night arrived he was far from home, lonely, and afraid of all the sounds. He met an old man who gave him a box that would be useful on his travels and would help him in times of need. When the boy opened the box, inside was a tiny man who was dancing. When the box was opened the little man stopped dancing and asked what the boy wanted. The boy then knew that the old man had given him a fairy. The boy closed the box and said he wanted to be carried away to a distant beautiful land where he can meet a lovely girl. He fell asleep and when he woke up he was on the outskirts of a village, but inside the first house he came to was a weeping woman. The woman said,  “I know why you have come here. I knew from a dream that you were coming. You have come to seek a very lovely girl as your wife and comrade. She lives in the village. Her father is very rich. He is a great Chief. He asks that each man who seeks to win his daughter must do very hard and dangerous and impossible tasks. If they fail they  are put to death. The girl has had many suitors, but all have failed to do her father’s tasks and all have been killed. You too will fail and you will surely die.”

Of course, the boy went to the Chief and with the help of the fairy accomplished the Chief’s tasks: moving a mountain, and destroying a village and driving all the people away.  The Chief gave the boy his daughter’s hand in marriage.

All was well for a while, but one day  the boy went hunting and left his box behind. A servant who disliked the boy found it and told the fairy he wanted the house and all that is in it moved far away. When the boy got home he found his home, his wife and everything gone, but happily he had a magic bow and arrow, so he shot an arrow into the woods and ran after it. Remember, he was a remarkably quick runner, and the arrow took him straight to his house where everyone was asleep. He slipped inside, found the box, and told the little man he wanted the house returned to the village, which was promptly done. He also asked the fairy to punish the servant. “And the servant was sent far away to be a wanderer on the face of the earth; and he wanders about to this day, and he is always looking for something that never comes, and he has always beautiful dreams that never come true.”

The boy and his wife lived happily ever after.

I think the servant’s punishment is actually one of the worst I’ve read, maybe not the most physically painful, but can imagine always wandering, never finding a home, always dreaming and wishing for things that will never happen. How sad.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.

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