The Faerie Doctor : Another Tall Tale by Francesca Quarto
Tis but a wee bit 'o rattle in me chest, thet's stealin' me sleep away! Me dear new wife is haggard wit' it, she claims, an' needs ta sleep apart. I been keepin' company wit ta cows an goats in ta barn o' nights."
Collin McFadden was sitting atop a ruggedly fashioned fence that encircled his prized herd of goats. There was a clean baker's dozen, but they served little purpose now, except for the occasional mutton dinner he supplied to the village priest during the Yule Season.
Collin was remarking to his best mate, Peter Crenshaw,how his sole male goat was faring these days, explaining the shortage of kids to the nannies.
"Sad, but true 'tis! Ol' Billy ain't been gettin' any more ta' comforts of a female, den I 'ave these past days, an' ta weather be settin' in chill now with ta nights."
His pal shook a full head of fiery red hair, the tight curls springing around his face like angry red snakes.
"Tsk, tsk...ye poor sot! 'En yer Mary sech a dear soul she were. I ken recall 'er bakin' dose luvly cakes, en sittin at er loom, weavin' them fine woolens fer ye. She weren't no prettier then yer Billy, but sech a fine mate she were to ye."
Now all this rambling on about his first, now deceased wife, was rather off-putting to the, newly wed, Collin McFadden. True as it was, that his Mary was as homely as the tufted Billy goat browsing in the sparse grasses of the paddock, it was still hurtful to be reminded.
He studied the shaggy beast more closely, snuffling loudly when he remembered his Mary even had a sprinkling of wiry hairs on her chin. Oh, she could cook, bake, sew, keep their cottage as clean as the Priest's vestments, but she was plain, stout and ugly.
They were only married a few years when a sickness swept through the village and Mary was swept along with it. Collin was not so bereft of her marital company in their bed, but he sorely missed the cooking, cleaning, baking and other domestic miracles she could work.
And then, he met Tessa! Slim of limb and fair of skin, her hair a golden honey hue, her eyes, blue as the summer skies. She stole his heart at first glance and he offered her the comforts of his sturdy cottage and the steady income he made from his holding.
He credited the new light in her eyes, to having such a fine proposal come her way, and her, only a poor potato farmers youngest daughter. Her father had already married off three such beautiful girls and was delighted Collin McFadden had made himself available so quickly after becoming a widower.
Tessa was everything his Mary wasn't...a bad cook, a poor seamstress, a horrid baker and never took notice of the dirt and cobwebs gathering in dark corners. in short, she was lazy.
But smitten to the quick with her scintillating beauty, Collin kept any complaints to himself and went about the cottage in a constant state of lust.
And this became something of an annoyance to the young Tessa.
When Collin came to their marital bed of an evening, he laid his head on the pillow his Mary had stuffed with goose down, snuggled under the warm wool blankets she had woven, and taking in a deep, satisfied breath, fell to coughing until his face turned an unhealthy shade of red.
This rampaging wheeze, brought tears to his eyes, shutters to his body and a wide-eyed look of disapproval to Tessa's lovely face.
"Well, ye can't stay 'ere, ken ye? I'll not be gettin' me sleep wit all that hawkin' en chokin' like a rabbit in a snare! Ye need ta take yerself ta the bern. It'll do ye, wit a blanket to trow down on ta hay."
This same routine went on for several nights and then for several weeks. Collin, exhausted from lack of sleep, stressed by his enforced separation from his beautiful wife, took it in his head to fix his problem before he died of exposure and loneliness.
He'd been aware of the neighboring hamlet's claim to a Faerie Doctor; a man claiming close ties to a Faerie clan living in woodlands nearby. He took his old dray, hitching the plow horse to it and set off to consult with the one who knew something never mentioned aloud...Magic.
"En I tell ye sir, these bouts o cough and chokin' the breath from me body, cums only when me head is laid upon me pillow of a night. Me wife can't bare ta hear me hacking me guts out, en banned me to sleep wit the goats en cows."
The doctor was listening very carefully to this lament and felt an unnatural state had befallen poor Collin. He suggested he go home and after he was sure his Tessa thought him asleep in the barn, as she would be in the cottage, he needed to creep back into their bedroom.
"It seems ta me ye are sufferin' from some unnatural trickery, me lad. Follow me advise this night."
That evening, Collin kissed his wife on the forehead since she forbade his lips, as he might carry some sickness. He took himself off to the barn and made to settle in upon his rough hay bedding and watched for the candle to be blown out by Tessa's head.
He moved as silently as a shadow and crept back into his cottage. Just as he was beginning to move toward the tiny bedroom in the back, he heard an unlikely sound. Moaning and groaning and deep sighs tickled his ears until he was nearly faint with dread.
Going forward on ghostly feet, he peered into the moonlit room and looking down on the bed spied his best mate, Peter Crenshaw, tussling about with his lovely wife.
He listened to them as they laughed low into their pillows about how poor Collin never suspected his beautiful Tessa put a charmed black pepper into his pillow each night to bring on his racking cough and choking.
"Ta Faerie Doctor is a wit, e is!" Peter snickered at the joke played night after night to clear her husband from Tessa's bed.
Collin crept back out to the barn, picked out his favorite pitchfork and returned to the moaning couple. They were too distracted to hear him, until he fell upon them with such a vengeance, even he was shocked at the result.
With the first light of day, Collin took his prize herd of goats to the neighboring farm and traded the lot of them for two brutish pigs; one sow and one boar.
You may be wondering why he would divest himself of his goats for these two less noble creatures, but then, you must remember, pigs eat anything.
From the east coast, moved to mid-west where I've made my home for over 30 years. I proudly claim my Italian heritage while writing books about an Irish Wizard. Go figure! I started with Nancy Drew and moved quickly into Edgar Allen Poe. Loving mysteries is part of my DNA. Words are the bridges we use everyday, to cross over to understanding this world and I want to keep making those passages over into what I see as a fuller life.