It was late one night and Hannah was walking home through the valley with her children. The baby in her arms kept whining and she tried to keep her cloak fastened tight around him, to keep the wind out. The two other children lagged behind.
“Keep up Sarah, not long before we get in front of a good fire. That’s it, Jim, a few more steps that’s all,” she encouraged them as they trudged along.
Hannah’s head was down, making sure every footstep was on good ground. She daren’t be laid up with a twisted ankle or worse, not with her husband away from home.
“There, there, little ‘un,” she crooned, “almost home now.” There was so little light now she was scared that they’d lose their way.
It was with a sigh of relief she found her own doorstep. “In we go, little ’uns. Sarah, get the kindling out of the box. Jim you …” Hannah looked around. She gave the baby to Sarah and looked back down the way they’d come.
No sign of Jim. Hannah called for him “Jim! Jim! Get in here now!” He didn’t come. “Have you seen him, Sarah?” she asked. The little girl shook her head. Hannah rushed round to the neighbours and banged on their doors.
“My Jim is missing. He got lost on the way home. What if he fell into the river? Or got his foot trapped by the mine workings? He could be lying dead on the moor for all I know.”
The neighbours got their lanterns and set off to search for the missing boy. They called and called. Eventually they found him, sat under the great oak tree, happy as a lark.
“Where did you go, lad?” asked a man.
“I saw a bundle of rags. It moved and I chased after it. Then there were two large bundles. They led me here. They’ve been playing me such music. Did you not hear them? They only stopped when they saw the lights coming nearer.”
The men looked around in astonishment. They scratched their heads. “Why this place has always been known as a piskey haunt but you’ve been very lucky, lad. They could have taken ’een and we’d never found you. Those bundles were piskies!”
Jim’s mouth fell open. He was glad to get home and promised his mother he wouldn’t go off chasing bundles again.
retold by Liz Berg