THE SECOND MARRIAGE

A woman died, and left her husband sorrowing with a baby boy. His grief was terrible, but quick and sudden, like as such griefs sometimes are. Before his wife was long settled in the old burial-ground of Creggan, his fancy was captured by another, and in a short time he was again before the altar. This second marriage was not so happy as his first, because of Mrs Number Two's jealousy, and the son of the first marriage fared badly at the hands of the stepmother.

This went on until one evening his first wife appeared to him, and told him she was with the fairies, but so unhappy about her boy that she wished to return, and that he alone could help her. He, poor man, was greatly flustered, for what was he to do with two wives, even if they did agree, which was far from likely. However, he promised to rescue her, upon her saying she would be a servant to him and Mrs Number Two all her days, if allowed to look after her boy, and that she would never trouble either of them in any way. There was but one plan of rescue, and that was by aid of the milk of a particular cow in the byre. This milk, too, had to be gathered in a can free from water, as the least drop would prevent the escape, and prove fatal to her. To these conditions her husband agreed, and gave his promise not to mention the subject to a living soul.

This promise he did not keep, though, for he told his wife, and in the byre, when he was not looking, she spilled some water in. This was on Hallow Eve, and he was to know his wife as the fairies rode past that night, because she would be riding on the third grey horse. He waited with the milk on the kitchen dresser, and sure enough, he soon heard them coming, and out he went to the gable of the house, and threw the milk over the lady on the third grey horse. She fell off at once, and there was a great commotion, and in the morning the roadside was covered with blood. The fairies had murdered her, as she said they would if water should be in the milk, and they found out that she had spoken of them to mortals.

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Revised: October 31, 1998.