The doomed tale of Florrie & the Faerie

English essayist in the 1800’s, Maurice Henry Hewlett, wrote Lore of Posperine, which features an account of the strangest of doll-like ‘creatures’ and the sinister results of it’s appearance.

“The facts were as follows. A Mr Stephen Mortimer Beckwith, 28, clerk in the Wiltshire & Dorset Bank at Salisbury was living in Wishford. He was married with one child.

At approximately 10 pm on the 30th November, 1887, he was going home after spending the evening at a friend’s house. It was a mild night, with rain and a wind was blowing. There was a quarter moon and it was not completely dark. Accompanied by his dog, he was riding a bicycle. He stated that he had no difficulty seeing the road nor the stones on it nor the sheep in the hillside. He recalled quite clearly seeing an owl flying.

A mile or so along and his terrier dog ran through the hedge and ran barking up the hill. The man imagined he was after a hare and called him, but the dog took no notice and ran to a gorse bush then stopped, paw uplifted and watching it intensely.

The man watched him for some minutes, dismounting from his bicycle. He could see nothing up there himself but the dog was in a state of excitement. It was whimpering and trembling, and his master decided to take a look at what was causing this behaviour in his dog. The dog would not take his eyes off whatever was up there.

Now standing just behind the dog, the man looked but could see nothing there. He had no stick and imagining it could be a drunk man in there in need of help or a rabbit caught in a trap, he urged his dog inward, but the dog wouldn’t move and eventually it began to howl.

It shook his owner, who because of the isolated location and a ‘mysterious shroud of darkness,’ wanted nothing more than to leave the spot, but he now couldn’t get his dog to leave. Finally, he braved it and put his two hands inside the bush to try to feel for what was in there. It was during this fumbling that he suddenly saw a bright pair of eyes staring back at him, and a pale face.

He found his voice and asked who they were, what was wrong, why they were in there, but no answer came back. He tried to reassure them that he meant no harm to them.

There was no movement at all of the features of the face. It was a very small face, “about as big as a large wax doll’s. It was longish and oval and very pale. I could see its neck and it was no thicker than my wrist. I would have said it was a girl had it not been for the size of her and her face. It was, in fact, neither fish, flesh, nor fowl. Strap my dog had known that from the beginning, and now I was of Strap’s opinion myself.”

In his mind he called her ‘a foreigner;’ for he had no other word for it. To him she was something he could not define. Her face was that of an older girl, a late teenager at least but her size was under three foot. She couldn’t seem to understand what he said to her and said nothing back to him. Her clothing was odd too. It seemed almost like it was made of cobwebs.

It was all of this that made him suspect her of being ‘something outside experience,’ but this was just the beginning. Suddenly he heard footsteps and a torch coming up the hill toward him and it was the local policeman. The man told the policeman immediately that there seemed to be some kind of foul play at hand, because he had found this tiny girl and didn’t know what else to say. The policeman followed the direction the man’s head went in, as the man indicated the girl he now had in his arms, having pulled her out of the gorse, but the policeman couldn’t appear to see anything in his arms. In fact, he made a joke and walked back down the hill.

Now the man really did know something was wrong. However, he didn’t feel he could just leave her there in the rain and darkness and so he took her back home with him.

When he got home his wife was waiting anxiously at the front door looking out into the dark, worried that he was so late. When he began to explain what had happened, it became evident that just like the policeman, his wife also could not see the girl. In fact, she placed her hand on the handlebars of the bicycle where he had propped up the girl to ride home with her. His wife’s arm went straight through the girl.

“It was as if my wife had drilled a hole clean through the middle of her back. Her hand went through the skin and bone and dress; how I do not know.”

He could not bring himself to take this invisible creature into the house with them, so he put her in the dog’s kennel.

“I blame myself for it, myself only,” he was later to say.

He kept the small ‘child’ in the kennel for almost six months. She shared the kennel with his other dog. He fed her though she never ate any of it. She spent her time dancing and playing with the two dogs; then later she would play with his own child, a four year old girl. The little girl would never tell him that she was playing with the other strange girl, but it was evident they were playing together, though the four year old denied it. She too could see the strange girl, though his wife never did.

“We might have been spared if, on the night I brought her home, I had told my wife the whole truth. And yet, how could I? Is not that an absurdity? Yes, but the sequel was no absurdity.”

In the Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, Volume V, Issue 231, 5 October 1909, his tale continues.

‘Now I come to the tragic part of my story and wish I could leave it out, but beyond the full confession I have made to the police and the newspapers, I am to blame. On the 13th of May, she and my daughter disappeared.”

The search party covered a radius of miles, searching every fold of the hills, every hedgerow. He told his wife, the Reverend, and the police about the strange girl he had been harbouring. He told the newspapers.

“In spite of my wife’s absolute incredulity, and scorn, I repeated the tale to the Chief Inspector and details soon got into the local newspaper and the London journals.”

Neither the Newspapers nor the police at the time accused him of any involvement in his daughter’s disappearance; They believed his testimony.

“I don’t doubt now that she was bewitching my daughter. She had been crowning her with a wreath of flowers she had made for her.”

His daughter was never seen again.

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