THE FAIRY BANQUET
IN the next chapter of his history, William of Newbridge relates as follows:--
"In the province of the Deiri (Yorkshire), not far from my birth-place, a wonderful thing occurred, which I have known from my boyhood. There is a town a few miles distant from the Eastern Sea, near which are those celebrated waters commonly called Gipse ... A peasant of this town went once to see a friend who lived in the next town, and it was late at night when he was coming back, not very sober; when lo! from the adjoining barrow, which I have often seen, and which is not much over a quarter of a mile from the town, he heard the voices of people singing, and, as it were, joyfully feasting. He wondered who they could be that were breaking in that place, by their merriment, the silence of the dead night, and he wished to examine into the matter more closely. Seeing a door open in the side of the barrow, he went up to it, and looked in; and there he beheld a large and luminous house, full of people, women as well as men, who were reclining as at a solemn banquet. One of the attendants, seeing him standing at the door, offered him a cup. He took it, but would not drink; and pouring out the contents, kept the vessel. A great tumult arose at the banquet on account of his taking away the cup, and all the guests pursued him; but he escaped by the fleetness of the beast he rode, and got into the town with his booty. Finally, this vessel of unknown material, of unusual colour, and of extraordinary form, was presented to Henry the Elder, king of the English, as a valuable gift, and was then given to the queen's brother David, king of the Scots, and was kept for several years in the treasury of Scotland; and a few years ago (as I have heard from good authority), it was given by William, king of the Scots, to Henry the Second, who wished to see it."
The scene of this legend, we may observe, is the very country in which the Danes settled; and it is exactly the same as some of the legends current at the present day among the Danish peasantry. It is really extraordinary to observe the manner in which popular traditions and superstitions will thus exist for centuries.
Gervase of Tilbury, the Imperial Chancellor, gives the following particulars respecting the Fairy Mythology of England in the thirteenth century.