An old woman who lived near Tavistock had in her garden a splendid bed of tulips. To these the Pixies of the neighbourhood loved to resort, and often at midnight might they be heard singing their babes to rest among them. By their magic power they made the tulips more beautiful and more permanent than any other tulips, and. they caused them to emit a fragrance equal to that of the rose. The old woman was so fond of her tulips that she would never let one of them be plucked, and thus the Pixies were never deprived of their floral bowers.
But at length the old woman died; the tulips were taken up, and the place converted into a parsley-bed. Again, however, the power of the Pixies was shown; the parsley withered, and nothing would grow even in the other beds of the garden. On the other hand, they tended diligently the grave of the old woman, around which they were heard lamenting and singing dirges. They suffered not a weed to grow on it; they kept it always green, and evermore in sprng-time spangled with wild flowers.
Thus far for the Pixies of Devon; as for the adjoining Somerset, all we have to say is, that a good woman from that county, with whom we were acquainted, used, when making a cake, always to draw a cross upon it. This, she said, was in order to prevent the Vairies from dancing on it. She described these Vairies as being very small people, who, with the vanity natural to little personages, wear high-heeled shoes, and if a new-made cake be not duly crossed, they imprint on it in their capers the marks of their heels. Of the actual existence of the Vairies, she did not seem to entertain the shadow of a doubt.
In Dorset also, the Pixy-lore still lingers. The being is called Pexy and Colepexy; the fossil belemnitos are named Colepexies'-fingers; and the fossil echini, Colepexies'-heads. The children, when naughty, are also threatened with the Pexy, who is supposed to haunt woods and coppices. [a]
"In Hampshire," says Captain Grose, "they give the name of Colt-Pixy to a supposed spirit or fairy, which in the shape of a horse wickers, i. e. neighs, and misleads horses into bogs, etc."
The following is a Hampshire legend: [b]
[a] Brand, Popular Antiquities, ii. 513. Bohn's edit.
[b] Given in the Literary Gazette for 1825. No. 430.