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Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 2, by William Bottrell, [1873], at

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The Small People's Cow.

They are fairies; he that speaks to them shall die.
I'll wink and couch; no man their works must eye.
                                                  Merry Wives of Windsor.

THERE is a story connected with the Pendars which says that, when this family was on its wane, the owner of Baranhual had a fine red cow, called Rosy, which gave twice as much milk as an ordinary one.

She retained her milk-yielding power all the year through, and kept in good condition, even in winter, when other cattle on better food were reduced to skin and bone. Rosy would yield all her morning's milk, but every evening when much—and that the richest—still remained in her udder, she would stop chewing her cud, cock her ears, low gently as if calling a calf, and the "shower" of milk would cease. If the maid attempted to renew her milking Molly would kick the bucket and gallop away to a remote part of the field.

Dame Pendar, thinking the milkmaid didn't shake Rosy's bag and coax her enough, tried, one evening, what she could do, but when she thought by "visting" Molly's teats to get more milk, after the cow's usual signal to cease, she up foot and smashed the wooden pail to pieces, tossed Dame Pendar over her back, and, bellowing, raced away—tail on end.

Though Rosy kept in milk when all other cows were "gone to sew" (dry), yet, because there was something strange about her and as she was always fit for the butchers, an attempt was made, soon after the dame's tossing, to get her to market; but all the people on Baranhual couldn't drive her off the farm.

Over a while Rosy had a heifer calf, and when it had sucked its fill, its dam gave her usual quantity of milk into the bucket, and then enough remained to fill another. Stranger still, in a few weeks the calf could eat herbage, and its dam weaned it gradually, but it could never be separated from her.

Everything prospered with Mr. Pendar. His cattle and crops throve wonderfully, till one Midsummer's night. His milkmaid

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having gone to games held at Penberth, or some place near it, only returned when the stars began to blink. Rosy, impatient to be milked, came to meet her in the field, stood still, placed back her leg, chewed her cud, and showered her milk into the bucket till she had yielded more than usual: then she stretched herself, looked around, and gently lowed whilst the maid, without rising from her milking-stool, pulled up a handful of grass, rolled it into a pad and placed it inside her hat, that she might carry her bucket the steadier. Having put on her hat she was surprised to see hundreds of "Small People" (fairies) around the cow, and on her back, neck, and head. A great number of little beings—as many as could get under Rosy's udder at once—held butter-cups, and other handy flowers or leaves, twisted into drinking vessels, to catch the shower of milk that fell among them, and some sucked it from clover-blossoms. As one set walked off satisfied, others took their places. They moved about so quickly that the milkmaid's head got almost "light" whilst she looked at them. "You should have seen," said the maid afterwards, how pleased Rosy looked, as she tried to lick those on her neck who scratched her behind her horns, or picked ticks from her ears; whilst others, on her back smoothed down every hair of her coat. They made much of the calf, too; and, when they had their fill of milk, one and all in turn brought their little arms full of herbs to Rosy and her calf,—how they licked ail up and looked for more!"

Some little folks, who came late, were mounted on hares, which they left to graze a few yards from the cow.

For a good while the milkmaid stood, with the bucket on her head, like one spell-bound, looking at the Small People; and she would have continued much longer to admire them, but, just as some came within a yard of her, Dame Pendar suddenly stood up on the field-hedge and called to know how she was so long about Rosy, and had all the rest still to milk, and how she hadn't brought in a bucket-full yet?

At the first sound of old Dame Pendar's voice, the Small People pointed their fingers and made wry faces at her; then off galloped Rosy and the troop of small folks with her—all out of sight in a wink.

The maid hastened in, and told her mistress, and master too, what she had seen.

"Ah! fax, I knowed," said Dame Pendar to her husband, "and didn't I always tell ’e something was the matter that Rosy wouldn't yield half her milk. And surely," she continued to the milkmaid, "thou must have a four-leaved-clover, about thee; give me the wad in thy hat that I may look through it."

She examined it, and sure enough, found a stem of white

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clover, or three-leaved grass, with four leaves on it.

The mistress asked how big the Small People were, and how dressed.

"But few of them are more than half a yard or so high," the maid replied; "the women not so tall, yet they looked beautiful, all dressed like gentry; the women wore gowns as gay as a flower-garden in summer; their flaxen hair fell, in long curls, on their necks; and the men were very smart, all like sodjers or huntsmen, so it seemed to me. But they made frightful faces at you, and glared as if they would be the death of ’e. I shouldn't' like to be in your shoes."

"Our best cow is as bad as bewitched," said Dame Pendar to her husband, "and what shall we do to drive the plagues of sprites?"

Her husband told her not to be so greedy; for old folks said that the Small People always brought good luck when unmolested and their doings were not pried into by curious fools; for his part, he was content to leave well alone. She made no reply, but—determined to have her way, next morning, betimes, unknown to her good man—she trotted off to Penberth, or Treen, and consulted a red-haired woman that Mr. Pendar couldn't "abide," because she was reputed, and truly, to be a witch.

"I'll drive them from our best cow, and from Baranhual, too, if it can be done," said Dame Pendar to the hag. Nothing easier," replied she, "for they can't endure the sea, nor anything that comes therefrom, and, above all, they abhor salt; so you have only to scatter it over your cow, wash her udder in brine or sea-water, and sprinkle it about your place."

Dame Pendar hastened home, and, without delay, powdered Rosy with salt, bathed her udder in brine and sprinkled it about the fields and town-place.

In the evening, betimes, she went herself to milk her best cow, and carried two buckets, thinking they would both be filled. Rosy, without budging, let her be seated and milk a little; but feeling her udder thumped, "visted," and roughly shakened, when she withheld her flow, she kicked the pail to shivers, laid Dame Pendar sprawling, then tossed her greedy mistress heels over head, and galloped off, "belving" like a mad thing.

All the people in Baranhual couldn't stop her in a corner, and, from that day, not a drop of milk did they get from her.

For days and nights she would roam about the farm, followed by her heifer—no hedges stopped them—and both "belying," all the time, like cows that had lost their calves. Before Christmas they became hair-pitched, lean, and lousy; and all the other cattle on Baranhual were as bad.

Mr. Pendar, being ignorant of what his wife had done, sought

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aid from, and brought to his farm, all the most noted conjurers, pellars, and white witches in the West Country to arrest the run of bad luck that pursued everything belonging to him. They bled his diseased cattle on straw, burned the straw and blood, carried flaming torches of a night, around the folds. Fire was also borne—with the sun's course—around sown fields. Bonfires were lit, and his cattle forced through their flame. Other rites were performed according to old usages only known to pellars. Even his finest calf was burnt alive. But all was of no avail.

To leave nothing undone, they cut down or rooted up all barberry bushes, that grew about on orchard hedges and elsewhere; but Mr. Pendar's crops were blighted all the same. In the meantime Rosy and her heifer were seldom seen, but often heard bellowing about Pednsawnack, over Porguarnon, or in other dangerous cloves and unfrequented places: they couldn't be brought into the town-place to undergo spells or counter-spells. But when more than a year had passed, and the next Buryan fair came round, Mr. Pendar made up his mind to sell Rosy and her heifer. All Baranhual men and boys, with many neighbours mustered, and after a much trouble, drove them on to the churchtown road. But they could neither be got to fair nor home again. After following them on horseback till night, Mr. Pendar caught a glimpse of Rosy and her heifer racing over Sennen Green toward Genvor Sands, and they were nevermore seen. Dame Pendar, from the time she got kicked and tossed, was rickety till the day of her death. The milkmaid, too, from a spanking damsel who had her choice of sweethearts, in less than a year became a doudy that no young man cared for or would look at. From that time everything went wrong with the Pendars, and, in a few generations, those of the name Who remained in Buryan hadn't an inch of land to call their own.

There are two or three versions of this story, which differ but little from the above, except in locating the Small People's Cow on other farms that were dwelling-places of the Pendars in olden times.

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