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Rosy the Cow

Cornish Legends and Myths

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18 June 2010

Cornish Legends

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Rosy was the most remarkable cow in the far west. Not only was she sleek and beautiful but also yielded twice as many buckets of milk as any other in the herd. Even so, she did not give all the milk she had for, each evening, while the creamiest still remainder in her udder, she would quietly refuse to yield more. A gentle lowing, a soft flicker of her ears, and the warm flow ceased. Anyone who tried to complete the milking was kicked head over heels, and the bucket too, while Rosy galloped away to a safe place at the bottom of the field.

   

In course of time, Rosy had a calf and this, like everything else on the farm, prospered wonderfully, until one mid-summer night. It so happened that Rosy's milkmaid arrived home very late indeed to find her cow, impatient to be milked, waiting at the field gate.

  

Fetching her bucket, the girl quickly got on with the neglected task, then placing a soft pad of grass beneath her hat to help ease the weight of the laden pail upon her head, on the homeward journey. When next she looked about her, she was astonished. Like a swarm of bees, hundreds of faeries had gathered around Rosy and her calf, gently they tickled its fluffy ears, lovingly they stroked the mother's coat and scratched the itches she had behind her horns. In return, she endeavoured to lick the little creatures as they flitted rapidly to and fro while, most surprising of all, she gently showered her creamiest milk upon the grass for the faeries' benefit. In the meadow and hedges dozens were busying themselves bringing flowers - bluebell, buttercup, speedwell and stitchwort - to catch the precious liquid, while the lazier ones sat beneath her udder contentedly sucking the milk from the grass and clover about her feet. Replete, they then each went in turn to gather the lushest grass they could find for Rosy and her calf. Even as the milkmaid watched, late arrivals were hurrying upon the scene mounted on hares. Suddenly, however, the magic of the moment was shattered by the harsh voice of the farmer's wife calling the girl to task and Rosy, the calf and the small people vanished in haste down to the bottom of the meadow.

   

Sadly ,the farmer's wife could not leave well alone when she heard about the faeries but greedily wanted all the milk for herself. She sought the advice of a neighbouring witch, who told her to scatter salt water, which she said Small People dislike, all about the farm. The results were disastrous. Rosy yielded no more milk, nor could she and the calf be caught. Together they went wild, left the farm and eventually - by now lean and sickly - vanished for good. So too did all the farmer's other animals sicken and grow thin, as well as his wife and milkmaid, while the crops failed year after year. This terrible state of affairs continued long after the farmers death, so that his son and son's son became progressively poorer until they had no land left at all - a dire warning to those who think the Small People need no consideration.

 

       

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