“In a friendly manner as is my fashion I decided to call by Betty’s on the way to market but on hearing voices within the cottage I had a peep through the key hole whereupon I saw Betty taking ointment from a shell which she rubbed over her husband Tom’s eyes whilst mumbling some strange verse of a charm.
“As I opened the door Tom was edgy as a ferret and quickly disappeared so me and Betty decided to have a nice cup of rum washed down with brandy to keep the cold off our backs and our spirits high. Off Betty went to get the liquor, which gave me a moment to have a closer look at the ointment. Being of a curious disposition I placed some of the green substance in my left eye. Immediately it was as if a rod of fire or needles and pins had been thrust in it!
“I quickly pulled my hat down over my tear-filled eye as Betty returned and we proceeded to drink to each other’s health four times over with some excellent French brandy. Having drunk to the health of her children and the mermaids of the sea I was able at last to open my stinging eye and I beheld before me all kinds of spriggans and men dressed in green with their ladies wearing flowing robes with silver bells on the hems! I was with great effort able to retain my composure until I at last bade farewell to Betty and I was very relieved to leave that enchanted cottage!
It was late afternoon by the time I reached the market and having bought some essentials I stopped for some beer at the public house which I drank with the Christmas cake I had in my pocket. Dusk was beginning to fall as I returned to the market to pick up some spices I’d previously forgotten to purchase and there I happened upon Tom who was pocketing all manner of things without anyone noticing a thing! Unperturbed I strode right up to him.
“Aren’t ye ashamed to be carrying on such a game, Tom?” He turned of a sudden and seemed full of shock that I could see him.
“So, Joan, which eye can thou see me with?” So I closed my left then my right eye and replied,
“Why Tom, I can see you with my left eye.” He then poked me hard in the very same eye saying,
“Thou cursed old spy-
Thou shall see me no more
Nor peep nor pry
“And my sight in that eye was gone in an instant! I called to the market sellers to catch the thief but he was completely invisible to them and in such a rude manner they called me drunken old baggage! I was so bewildered and tossicated I staggered to the public house once more for a horn of beer to deaden the pain before I began my journey home afoot.
“The only light was from a few fishermen’s cottages and on numerous occasions I fell in the ditch at the side of the road but awhile on I knew it must be dawn as the maids were in the fields milking the cows and one of the boys who was bringing out hay helped me along the track to smithy’s where I had a good glass of new-fashioned cordial called shrub which did my stomach much good.
He kindly helped me across the stream and I continued onwards until I fell into a pit of muddy water. Scrambling out like a toad I espied a horse which I managed to place myself astride. The beast took off at a trot which soon became the gallop of the Devil’s charger and I clung on to the mane and tail whilst being thrown about on the back till I landed on a bunch of rushes in a bog!
“Hobbling down the moor bare-footed I then heard the sound of a bugle-horn and a galloping horse, it must be the Old One himself come to get me for good, I thought. I prayed hard for deliverance as I crawled into an old barn and fell amongst the straw in a state of exhaustion but I was soon awoken from my fitful slumber by the barking of dogs and the tramping of hooves. A moment later I had another fit as the squire himself was leaning over me!
“Well, look who’s here among the straw, dead drunk!” Said he.
“They took me to the mill nearby for a drop of brandy and covered me with blankets and flour sacks, but not over my head as I wouldn’t have my best bonnet covered with sacks. They wheeled me back to the manor in a barrow and I do believe that that last drop of brandy saved my life. Before long I was sat in front of the blazing fire in the old hall whereupon I told of the night’s strange happenings and finally, exhausted, closed my eyes. Though to be honest it was a fox’s sleep with eyes closed and ears open, which is how I overheard the devilish miller say to the squire that it was merely the liquor I had drunk with Betty that’d caused my Otherworldly visions and that the apparitions old women see are merely the vapours of spirits taken in their drink!
“I was most upset by this cruel insult and one day I may forget and then forgive but that, believe me, will be a long way off!”