The Goblin Pony

: The Grey Fairy Book

‘Don't stir from the fireplace to-night,' said old Peggy, ‘for

the wind is blowing so violently that the house shakes; besides,

this is Hallow-e'en, when the witches are abroad, and the

goblins, who are their servants, are wandering about in all sorts

of disguises, doing harm to the children of men.'

‘Why should I stay here?' said the eldest of the young people.

‘No, I must go and see what the dau
hter of old Jacob, the rope-

maker, is doing. She wouldn't close her blue eyes all night if I

didn't visit her father before the moon had gone down.'

‘I must go and catch lobsters and crabs' said the second, ‘and

not all the witches and goblins in the world shall hinder me.'

So they all determined to go on their business or pleasure, and

scorned the wise advice of old Peggy. Only the youngest child

hesitated a minute, when she said to him, ‘You stay here, my

little Richard, and I will tell you beautiful stories.'

But he wanted to pick a bunch of wild thyme and some blackberries

by moonlight, and ran out after the others. When they got outside

the house they said: ‘The old woman talks of wind and storm, but

never was the weather finer or the sky more clear; see how

majestically the moon stalks through the transparent clouds!'

Then all of a sudden they noticed a little black pony close

beside them.

‘Oh, ho!' they said, ‘that is old Valentine's pony; it must have

escaped from its stable, and is going down to drink at the horse-


‘My pretty little pony,' said the eldest, patting the creature

with his hand, ‘you mustn't run too far; I'll take you to the

pond myself.'

With these words he jumped on the pony's back and was quickly

followed by his second brother, then by the third, and so on,

till at last they were all astride the little beast, down to the

small Richard, who didn't like to be left behind.

On the way to the pond they met several of their companions, and

they invited them all to mount the pony, which they did, and the

little creature did not seem to mind the extra weight, but

trotted merrily along.

The quicker it trotted the more the young people enjoyed the fun;

they dug their heels into the pony's sides and called out,

‘Gallop, little horse, you have never had such brave riders on

your back before!'

In the meantime the wind had risen again, and the waves began to

howl; but the pony did not seem to mind the noise, and instead of

going to the pond, cantered gaily towards the sea-shore.

Richard began to regret his thyme and blackberries, and the

eldest brother seized the pony by the mane and tried to make it

turn round, for he remembered the blue eyes of Jacob the rope-

maker's daughter. But he tugged and pulled in vain, for the pony

galloped straight on into the sea, till the waves met its

forefeet. As soon as it felt the water it neighed lustily and

capered about with glee, advancing quickly into the foaming

billows. When the waves had covered the children's legs they

repented their careless behaviour, and cried out: ‘The cursed

little black pony is bewitched. If we had only listened to old

Peggy's advice we shouldn't have been lost.'

The further the pony advanced, the higher rose the sea; at last

the waves covered the children's heads and they were all drowned.

Towards morning old Peggy went out, for she was anxious about the

fate of her grandchildren. She sought them high and low, but

could not find them anywhere. She asked all the neighbours if

they had seen the children, but no one knew anything about them,

except that the eldest had not been with the blue-eyed daughter

of Jacob the rope-maker.

As she was going home, bowed with grief, she saw a little black

pony coming towards her, springing and curveting in every

direction. When it got quite near her it neighed loudly, and

galloped past her so quickly that in a moment it was out of her