Near Boscastle is a place called Minster Woods and in the fields and moors around these woods, live lots and lots of piskies. The piskies are very busy beings, getting people into bother and causing mischief. They especially love to steal horses, junket and biscuit. Into the manes and tails of stolen horses, they plait stirrups and panniers. The horses gallop away with three or four piskies hanging from their tails and three or four piskies riding their manes, all the piskies shrieking with glee. At night, the piskies light lanterns near the bogs to lead poor, unsuspecting walkers into the marshy water. Piskies have a sweet tooth, they climb through keyholes to raid kitchens of their favourite foods, junket and biscuit.
These tasks the piskies did every day until one piskey thought he would like a different adventure. The piskey wore a long red riding coat, a green hat and green trousers. He had sparkly brown eyes and long whiskers. Happy with his plan, the piskey danced across the moors laughing.
‘What fun I’m going to have,’ he giggled.
Dancing off the moors, he came to Minster Woods and a road leading to Lesnewth. The piskey climbed onto a rock and waited. He watched lots of people walking past on their way to do their shopping in Boscastle. The piskey saw everybody but not one of them saw the piskey. Evening came and the piskey sat on his stone, watching the people go by, their bags full of shopping. At last, an elderly woman came, she was the one he had been waiting for. The piskey leaped off his stone, caught hold of her dress and swung himself up into her pocket.
Now the woman had been quite sure where she was going until the moment the piskey landed in her pocket, when she became instantly confused and unsure of her surroundings.
‘I came through Boscastle, up through Minster Woods...I am unable to find my way all of a sudden, I must get back before darkness.’
The woman took a wrong path through the woods, walking away from Lesnewth. ‘I must be mazed,’ she said to herself, more and more confused as to her whereabouts. As she walked, she huffed and puffed and pulled on her pocket.
The little piskey laughed, ‘This is the ride of my life.’
Darkness fell; trees cast giant shadows, boughs creaked, owls hooted and bats squeaked. The piskey enjoyed every moment of his ride. The lady became more and more lost until she sat herself down on a tree trunk.
‘Of course, how silly of me not to remember, I must turn my pockets inside out. I must have a piskey somewhere about me. I must be piskey-laden.’
Out fell the little man with the green hat, red riding britches and boots and rolled along the path. The elderly lady cried out in surprise as she saw him. She tried to work out which path to take and almost cried in frustration. All about her she heard piskey laughter. A little face peered round a tree trunk and she thought she had just as well follow him. As day broke, the piskey ran over a little bridge separating Minster and St. Juliet’s parishes. With a lovely day stretching out before her, the elderly lady went on her way home to Lesnewth.
Retold by Anna Chorlton
Illustrated by Keith Sparrow
from Enys Tregarthen The House of the Sleeping Winds
- Boscastle, Bude and Beyond