Fairy Ointment – Elementary Level
Dame Goody was a nurse. She looked after sick people, and helped to take care of sick people’s babies. One night, someone came to her door around midnight. When she went to see who it was, she saw a strange looking old man. He was very short, and had an ugly face with eyes which appeared to always be partly closed. He asked her to come to help his wife, who was very ill and could not take care of their baby. Dame Goody didn’t like the look of this man, but business is business and she needed the money. So she got dressed and went outside.
The little old man was sitting on a big black horse with eyes like fire. He lifted Dame Goody up onto the horse behind him. Soon, they were going so quickly that she had to cling to the old man so that she would not fall off.
They rode, and they rode, until at last they stopped in front of a farmhouse. They got down and went inside. Although the old man’s family appeared to be very poor, Dame Goody saw that the house was neat and clean. The man’s wife was in bed, with older children playing quietly on the floor. The baby, a fine healthy looking boy, was on the bed next to its mother. When Dame Goody picked him up, the mother gave her a box of ointment. She told her to put some on the baby’s eyelids as soon as his eyes opened.
After a while, the baby began to open his eyes. Dame Goody saw that it had strange eyes just like its father. She opened the box of ointment and put some on the baby’s eyelids. She had never been asked to do such a thing before, and couldn’t help wondering what the ointment was for. She carefully looked to see what the others in the room were doing. When they were all looking the other way, she put some of the ointment on her own right eyelid.
No sooner had she done this than things seemed to change around her. The farmhouse took the shape of a rich man’s house, with everything inside looking like it had cost a lot of money. The mother in the bed changed into a beautiful woman, wearing a fine white nightdress. The baby was even better looking than before, and its clothes were now made of a thin golden cloth. Its brothers and sisters had grown pointed noses and ears and wore funny looking pointed hats. They then began to be very naughty. They started making faces at one another, and pulled at their sick mother’s ears with long, hairy fingers. Dame Goody knew at once that she was in a pixie house. She said nothing, but as soon as the woman was able to take care of the baby herself she asked the little old man to take her home. He met her at the door with the same big black horse with eyes like fire. Soon they were off and rode as fast as before, or perhaps a little faster, till they came to Dame Goody’s house. The little old man lifted her down and thanked her kindly. He then paid her more for her services than she had ever been paid before.
Now next day happened to be market day. As Dame Goody had been away from home, she needed many things for the house. So, she went off to get them. As she was buying the things she wanted, she stooped in surprise. There in front of her was the same little old man who had brought her home from his farmhouse the night before. And what do you think he was doing? He was going about from stall to stall taking things without paying for them. He took some fruit from here, some eggs from there, and so on. But strangely, no one seemed to take any notice of him.
Dame Goody did not think it her place to say anything to the little old man about taking things without paying. But she thought that she should say something to him, as he had paid her so much money for her services. So she went up to him and said: “Good day, sir, I hope your good wife and the little one are as well as…”
But she couldn’t finish what she was saying, for the little old man stepped back in surprise and said to her, “What! Can you see me today?”
“See you,” she said, “why, of course I can, as clearly as the sun in the sky. And what’s more,” she said, “I see that you are very busy here in the market.”
“Ah, you see too much,” he said. “Now tell me, with which eye do you see all this?”
“With the right eye to be sure,” said she, as happy as can be to tell him what she saw.
“The ointment!” cried the old pixie. “You used the ointment! Take that for sticking your nose into other people’s business,” he said, hitting her on the right eye. “From now on you shall see me no more.”
True to the little old man’s words, Dame Goody could no longer see him. But sadly, it more than the little old man that she was unable to see. She could see nothing at all out of her right eye from that moment until the day she died.