The departure of fairies

Patrick Logan writes of the opinions on fairies in our own century:

Whatever took place, or was imagined, round about the year 1790, descriptions of it recorded as far apart as Nithsdale and Caithness are detailed, vivid and surprisingly alike.

Invested with a curious atmosphere of mystery and regret, it is known as the Fairies’ Farewell.

ONE evening, after sunset, there came a strange man to the ferry of Sund. He engaged all the ferry-boats there to go backwards and forwards the whole night long between that place and Vendsyssel, without the people’s knowing what lading they had. He told them that they should take their freight on board half a mile to the east of Sund, near the alehouse at the bridge of Lange.

At the appointed time the man was at that place, and the ferrymen, though unable to see anything, perceived very clearly that the boats sunk deeper and deeper, so that they easily concluded that they had gotten a very heavy freight on board. The ferry-boats passed in this manner to and fro the whole night long; and though they got every trip a fresh cargo, the strange man never left them, but staid to have everything regulated by his directions. When morning was breaking they received the payment they had agreed for, and they then ventured to inquire what it was they had been bringing over, but on that head their employer would give them no satisfaction.

But there happened to be among the ferrymen a smart fellow who knew more about these matters than the others. He jumped on shore, took the clay from under his right foot, and put it into his cap, and when he had set it on his head he perceived that all the sand-hills east of Aalborg were completely covered with little Troll-people, who had all pointed red caps.