Fairy Horsemen

From Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Coming of the Faeries‘ 1921

The wide distribution of the fairies may
be judged by the following extremely inter-
esting narrative from Mrs. Hardy, the wife
of a settler in the Maori districts of New
Zealand :

*’ After reading about what others have
seen I am encouraged to give you an experi-
ence of my own, which happened about five
years ago. Will you please excuse my men*
tioning a few domestic details connected
with the story?

Our home is built on the
top of a ridge. The ground was levelled for
some distance to allow for sites for the house,
buildings, lawns, etc. The ground on either
side slopes steeplj^ down to an orchard on
the left, and shrubbery and paddock on the
right, bounded by the main road.

One evening when it was getting dusk I went into
the yard to hang the tea-towels on the
clothes-line. As I stepped off the verandah,
I heard a sound of soft galloping coming
from the direction of the orchard. I thought
I must be mistaken, and that the sound came
from the road, where the Maoris often gal-
lop their horses.

I crossed the yard to get the pegs,
and heard the galloping coming
nearer. I walked to the clothes-line, and
stood under it with my arms uplifted to peg
the towel on the line, when I was aware of
the galloping close behind me, and suddenly
a little figure, riding a tiny pony, rode right
under my uplifted arms.

I looked round, to see that I was surrounded by eight or ten
tiny figures on tiny ponies like dwarf Shet-
lands. The little figure who came so close
to me stood out quite clearly in the light that
came from the window, but he had his back
to it, and I could not see his face. The faces
of the others were quite brown, also the
ponies were brown. If they wore clothes
they were close-fitting like a child’s jersey
suit. They were like tiny dwarfs, or chil-
dren of about two years of age.

I was very startled, and called out, ‘Goodness! what is
this’ I think I must have frightened them,
for at the sound of my voice they all rode
through the rose trellis across the drive, and
down the shrubbery. I heard the soft gal-
loping dying away into the distance, and lis-
tened until the sound was gone, then went
into the house.

My daughter, who has had
several psychic experiences, said to me:
* Mother, how white and startled you look!
What have you seen? And who were you
speaking to just now in the yard?’ I said,
*I have seen the fairies ride!’ ”

The little fairy horses are mentioned by
several writers, and yet it must be admitted
that their presence makes the whole situa-
tion far more complicated and difficult to
understand. If horses, why not dogs ? And
we find ourselves in a whole new world upon
the fairy scale. I have convinced myself
that there is overwhelming evidence for the
fairies, but I have by no means been able to
assure myself of these adjuncts.

As Doyle mentions the concept of fairy riders is not without precedent, as in these examples from early Japanese literature.

fairy riders

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