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A Midnight Dance
by Grainne Rowland

"Let go of me!" screamed Sean as thin, bony fingers grabbed for him. But they were only tree branches caught in his jacket. I should never have taken that shortcut through the forest at night, he thought.

It was Samhain Eve, and Sean had stayed at his friend Patrick's house telling ghost stories. Now it was late, and Sean was lost in the forest.

"I'll never get home now! I'll never get home!" gasped Sean. "The ghosts and devils are out tonight. Oh, I'll never get home!"

Sean felt as if giant arms were wrapped around him again. He couldn't breathe. His arms and legs didn't want to go where he wanted them to go. They felt tingly. His mouth felt as if it was filled with dry moss. Sean's thoughts were scattering like leaves in a whirlwind.

The black, gnarly trees seemed to march beside Sean like soldiers guarding a prisoner. They seemed to block his path. The only light came from the few smoky fingers of moonlight able to twist through the tree tops. Sean felt icy cold as the mist rose from the ground.

"What's that?" Sean listened. There was music. It came from in front of Sean. Suddenly the trees opened up a path. The only way Sean could move was forward. He stumbled toward the clearing.

"What took you so long?" cried a deep, threatening voice. "I've been waiting for you all night!"

Sean looked around for the voice. He saw nothing!

Then, a man stood in front of Sean. He held a fiddle in one hand and the fiddle's bow in the other. He was dressed in black clothing with a red cape thrown around his shoulders. His beard was black and came to a point on his chin. Sparks seemed to fly from his reddish eyes.

"Now dance!" ordered the man. At that, his hands seemed to fly over the fiddle's strings. The bow moved so fast it could scarcely be seen. Sean's feet danced to the music with a life of their own.
"Stop!" yelled Sean. "Stop this music!"

But the music went on. Sean danced. His feet would not stop. They could not stop.

The fiddler played faster. Sean felt as if his arms and legs were being pulled apart. His hands clapped to the music while his feet danced on. His body jerked this way and that.

"Make it stop! Please stop the music!" Sean begged. But the music did not stop.

As the first rays of morning drove away the dark, the music stopped. Sean fell to the ground.

When he awoke, it was mid-afternoon. Sean was lying on a pile of hay just in front of his own small, thatched-roof cottage. His shoes had holes in the soles. His feet were blistered.

Images: Woods & Fiddler from Barewalls Prints.

Index of All Children's Stories


Fri, Nov 3, 2017

Instructions of King Cormac, King of Cashel

Be not too wise, nor too foolish
Be not too conceited, nor diffident
Be not too haughty, nor too humble
Be not too talkative, nor too silent
Be not too hard, nor too feeble.

If you be too wise, men will expect too much of you
If you be too foolish, you will be deceived
If you be conceited, you will be thought difficult
If you be too humble, you will be without honour
If you be too talkative, you will not be heeded
If you be silent, you will not be regarded
If you be too hard, you will be broken
If you be too feeble, you will be crushed.

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