Monday, November 19, 2012

Will-o'-the-Wisp - English Fairy Tale

All Our English Fairy Tales

Once upon a time there came to a blacksmith name Will's shop late one night a traveller whose horse had cast a shoe, and he wanted the blacksmith to put it on for him. Will did this quickly. Now the traveler was none other than the Apostle Saint Peter himself, going about to preach the Gosple; and before he went away he told the blacksmith to wish a wish, whatever he chose and it should be granted him.
"I wish, that I might live my life over again," Will said.
So it was granted him and he lived his life over again, and spent it in drinking and gambling and all manner of wild pranks. At last his time came and he was forced to set out for the other world, thinking of course to find a place in hell made ready for him; but when he came to the gates the Devil would not let him in. No, he said, by this time Will had learnt so much wickedness that he would be more than a match for him, and he dared not let him come in. So away went the smith to Heaven, to see if St. Peter, who had been a good friend to him before would find him a place there. But St. Peter would not, it wasn't very likely he would! and Will was forced to go back to the Old Lad again and beg and pray for a place in Hell. But the Devil would not be persuaded even then. Will had spent two liftimes in learning wickeness, and now he knew too much to be welcom anywhere. All that the Devil would do for him was to give him a lighted coal from Hell-fire to keep himself warm, and that is how he comes to be called Will-'o-the-Wisp. So he goes wandering up and down the moors and mosses with his light, whenever he can find a bit of boggy ground that he can tice folks to lose their way in and bring them to a bad end, for he is not a bit less wicked and deceitful now than when he was a blackmisth.

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