Running Water

Fairy Folklore

Sure, I’ll leave you past the stream,” said an old man to a friend of mine who was leaving my house one night.

Oh, don’t annoy yourself, Eddie,” my friend replied, laughing; “the night’s a clear one, and I won’t be afraid.

Sure, he’s not afraid of ghosts, Eddie? ” said I, when my friend had left.

Och, God bless you! He isn’t afraid?” smiled Eddie, “well, I don’t think you know him very long or you wouldn’t be saying that.

Do you tell me he is afraid of ghosts!” I exclaimed.

I do,” replied Ned emphatically, “that is unless he has changed greatly this last while.”

And what good would it do him if you escorted him over the stream?” I asked.

Ah! For goodness sake, do you know nothing at all?

I can assure you, Eddie, I, for one, am not well versed in those things. But I am very willing to learn.

And did you never hear that nothing bad can follow you past running water?” asked Eddie, astonished by my admission of ignorance.

Honestly, no,” I  replied. “Is that the truth?

Indeed, it is,” answered Eddie. ” Sure, I thought everybody knew that.”

Well, no, Eddie! In that part of the country where I come from, the people believe in ghosts alright, but I don’t think any ever heard of that.

Well, now, isn’t that a quare thing,” said Eddie, looking down at the floor thoughtfully.

And what would you do,” he asked, “if you were walking about at night, and, without hearing or seeing anything anywhere around you, you were to get a blow, very suddenly, on the back of your head?

By God! I suppose I’d turn around and strike back,” I answered and laughed.

Ha ha! Well, that is where you’d be entirely wrong. Indeed, that would be a move that would do you little good. Damn the bit harm your fists would be doing, for you’d only be beating the air. And, at the same time, you’d be getting such a thrashing yourself that if you ever survived it, you’d be a lucky man, and be thankful for some good person’s prayers.”

Well, tell me, what should I be doing then?” I inquired with great interest.

What should you be doing? Is that what you’re asking me?

Yes.”

You should be walking on you should, until you cross a stream of running water, and whatever it is that would be trying to do you harm couldn’t follow you past it.

“Oh, I see!” I replied, rather deflated by the answer he gave me, but to keep him encouraged I said, “That’s why you spoke about the stream a few  moments ago.

Aye, that’s the very way son,

Then there must be some magic charm in running water?

To be sure there is, and why wouldn’t there be?” he exclaimed earnestly as if I doubted his word.

Running Water

“Wait! I’ll leave you past the stream,” said Old Ned to my friend, Jimmy, who was leaving my house one night.

“Oh, don’t mind Ned,” replied Jimmy, laughing, “the night’s clear and I won’t be afraid.”

“Sure, Jimmy’s not afraid of ghosts, Ned,” I said when my friend had left.

“Och, dear boy, God bless you! Isn’t he thin?” said Ned, “you don’t know him long or you wouldn’t say that.”

“Is that right!” I asked.

“Indeed, I do,” replied Ned emphatically, “that is, unless he has changed greatly of late.”

“And what good would it do him if you escorted him over the stream? I inquired.

“Ah, dear boy, you don’t know much, do you?”

“I can tell you, Ned, that I know nothing about such things, but I am eager to learn.”

“And did you not know that nothing bad can follow you past running water?” asked an astonished Ned.

“No, by God, I didn’t know,” I told him. “Is it true?”

“Of course, it is,” replied Ned. “Sure, I thought everyone knew that.”

“Well, no, Ned. In the part of the country I come from, although the people believe in ghosts, I never heard it.”

“Well, now, that’s odd,” said Ned as he looked down at the floor thoughtfully. “And what would you do,” he asked abruptly, “If you’re walking out at night, and, without hearing or seeing anything around you nowhere, you were to get a sudden blow on the back of your head?”

“By God! I suppose I would turn around and strike back,” I answered, laughing.

“Then, I tell you, that’s were you would be entirely wrong. By Jesus, it is little good it would do you. You wouldn’t be doing much harm with your blows, for you would be just beating the air. But you would get such a beating that, if you ever got over it you would be a lucky man, and have some good people praying for you.”

“What should I do, then?” I inquired with much interested.

“What would you do? Is that what you’re asking me?”

“Yes”.

“Well, then, you should walk on as quickly as you can until you cross a stream of running water, and whatever it would be that would be trying to harm you could not follow you past it.”

“Oh, I see! That’s why you spoke about the stream a few moments ago.”

“Aye, that’s the reason.”

“Then, there must be some charm in running water?”

“Of course, there is! Sure, why wouldn’t there be!” Ned exclaimed earnestly.