The Midwife’s Tale

View of misty cottages in Polperro

Beth the local midwife was tucked up in her best blue blanket where she had fallen asleep in her chair when there was a knocking at the door. A stranger stood on her doorstep, a tiny man. He told her his wife was heavily pregnant she was in need of Beth's immediate help. Beth was very uncertain about helping as the stranger reached only to the top of her socks and it wasn't usual for her to help those she didn't know. Her visitor had come prepared for Beth's unwillingness and handed over a pouch of gold coins. Gold was not to be refused. The man seemed to have a horse with him and he motioned for Beth mount behind him. They galloped off into the night.

Dutifully Beth delivered the baby of its tiny mother. She was just giving it a good wash with some soapy water when a bit of soap flicked in her eye and she saw all around her were piskies celebrating the birth of the piskey child. Beth held her tongue, and rode home again on the little man’s horse.

She didn’t think more of the tiny man and his wife and child until the day of the fair. The little man whose baby she had delivered was moving between the stalls taking anything and everything he wanted without offering a hint of gold. When he came past Beth she chided him about it in a stern but friendly manner. He asked her which eye she had seen him with. Beth pointed to the eye had filled with soap and he leapt up and punched at her eye. Not only did Beth loose her piskey sight that day but she lost her sight in that eye for ever, and she wished very much she had not questioned the piskey’s pilfering at the fair.


retold by Anna Chorlton

Reference – The History of Polperro by Jonathan Couch

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