The Goblin Pony
by Andrew Lang
'Don't stir from the fireplace to-night,' said old Peggy, 'for the
wind is blowing so violently that the house shakes; besides, this is
Hallow-e'en, when the witches are abroad, and the goblins, who are
their servants, are wandering about in all sorts of disguises, doing
harm to the children of men.'
'Why should I stay here?' said the eldest of the young people. 'No,
I must go and see what the daughter of old Jacob, the rope- maker, is
doing. She wouldn't close her blue eyes all night if I didn't visit her
father before the moon had gone down.'
'I must go and catch lobsters and crabs' said the second, 'and not
all the witches and goblins in the world shall hinder me.'
So they all determined to go on their business or pleasure, and
scorned the wise advice of old Peggy. Only the youngest child hesitated
a minute, when she said to him, 'You stay here, my little Richard, and
I will tell you beautiful stories.'
But he wanted to pick a bunch of wild thyme and some blackberries by
moonlight, and ran out after the others. When they got outside the
house they said: 'The old woman talks of wind and storm, but never was
the weather finer or the sky more clear; see how majestically the moon
stalks through the transparent clouds!'
Then all of a sudden they noticed a little black pony close beside
'Oh, ho!' they said, 'that is old Valentine's pony; it must have
escaped from its stable, and is going down to drink at the horse-pond.'
'My pretty little pony,' said the eldest, patting the creature with
his hand, 'you mustn't run too far; I'll take you to the pond myself.'
With these words he jumped on the pony's back and was quickly
followed by his second brother, then by the third, and so on, till at
last they were all astride the little beast, down to the small Richard,
who didn't like to be left behind.
On the way to the pond they met several of their companions, and
they invited them all to mount the pony, which they did, and the little
creature did not seem to mind the extra weight, but trotted merrily
The quicker it trotted the more the young people enjoyed the fun;
they dug their heels into the pony's sides and called out, 'Gallop,
little horse, you have never had such brave riders on your back
In the meantime the wind had risen again, and the waves began to
howl; but the pony did not seem to mind the noise, and instead of going
to the pond, cantered gaily towards the sea-shore.
Richard began to regret his thyme and blackberries, and the eldest
brother seized the pony by the mane and tried to make it turn round,
for he remembered the blue eyes of Jacob the rope- maker's daughter.
But he tugged and pulled in vain, for the pony galloped straight on
into the sea, till the waves met its forefeet. As soon as it felt the
water it neighed lustily and capered about with glee, advancing quickly
into the foaming billows. When the waves had covered the children's
legs they repented their careless behaviour, and cried out: 'The cursed
little black pony is bewitched. If we had only listened to old Peggy's
advice we shouldn't have been lost.'
The further the pony advanced, the higher rose the sea; at last the
waves covered the children's heads and they were all drowned.
Towards morning old Peggy went out, for she was anxious about the
fate of her grandchildren. She sought them high and low, but could not
find them anywhere. She asked all the neighbours if they had seen the
children, but no one knew anything about them, except that the eldest
had not been with the blue-eyed daughter of Jacob the rope-maker.
As she was going home, bowed with grief, she saw a little black pony
coming towards her, springing and curveting in every direction. When it
got quite near her it neighed loudly, and galloped past her so quickly
that in a moment it was out of her sight.
[From the French, Kletke.]