Once in the days when everyone knew that the fair folk lived in the land, there was a fairy who was in the habit of helping a family every evening by putting the children to bed.
“Shh! Shhh. Shhhh…go to sleep, little ones. Go to sleep. I’ll sprinkle fairy dust on your eyelids and soon you’ll be asleep.”
She would sing them fairy songs until they were fast asleep. What does a fairy song sound like? Perhaps she sang it like this…. (hummm)
Poor fairy, her clothes were in rags, but she never seemed to notice. Every night the children would stay awake til she came, and every night the fairy would fly through their open window and settle on their bedpillows.
“How are you?” she would ask. And “Are you ready to go to sleep now?” And she would sing to them, soft and low and sweet.
Their mother happened to walk by the bedroom in her slippers one night, and I suppose the fairy did not hear her because she didn’t hide, she only sat their singing to the little children, whose eyes were drifting shut. The mother felt sorry for the fairy, in her poor ragged dress.
So one night she left a silken gown on the bedpillow for the fairy to thank her for all her help. But fairies do not like rewards.
“What’s this? What’s this? It must be your mother doesn’t want me to come anymore. She should know, as all folks know, that fairy folk don’t accept gifts.”
The very next day the fairy was gone, and the gown was found out by the fence, torn to bits and trompled by tiny fairy feet.
The children missed their friend, and you know, I think the fairy missed them too. They were old enough by now to go to sleep by themselves, though, and each night they would sing each other to sleep. And each night they would dream of their friend, the fairy who sprinkled the fairy dust on their eyelids as they drifted off to sleep.
I've had this story in my files for several years, with no note as to the source except "Welsh tale." If you know the source for this story, please let me know. It's a charming tale.
For many more Welsh fairy tales that are in the public domain, the Welsh Fairy Book is online, with lovely pen-and-ink illustrations.
Then there is The Fairy Mythology, also available online at Sacred Texts. It's incredible that so many of the old collections of stories are now available to us online. It's like finding treasure each time I discover another book that someone has graciously put out there for the rest of us to enjoy.