Page:Notes on the folk-lore of the northern counties of England and the borders.djvu/290

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268

SILKY.

and at the same moment the Radiant Boy passed him. He was a child of about eleven, with a fresh bright face. ‘Had he any clothes on, and if so what were they like?’ I asked; but John was unable to tell me. His astonishment was so great that he took no notice of particulars. The boy rode on till he came to a gate which led into a field; he stooped as if to open the gate, rode through, and all was instantly dark.”[1]

About eighty or ninety years ago, the quiet village of Black Heddon, near Stamfordham, in Northumberland, was greatly disturbed by a supernatural being, popularly called Silky, from the nature of her robes. She was remarkable for the suddenness with which she would appear to benighted travellers, breaking forth upon them, in dazzling splendour, in the darkest and most lonely parts of the road. If he were on horseback, she would seat herself behind him, “rustling in her silks,” accompany him a certain distance, and then as suddenly disappear, leaving the bewildered countryman in blank amazement.

Silky had a favourite resort at Belsay, two or three miles from Black Heddon, on a romantic crag beautifully studded with trees, under whose shadow she would wander all night. The bottom of this crag is washed by a picturesque little lake, at whose outlet is a waterfall, over which a fine old tree spreads its waving branches, forming by their intersection a sort of chair. In this Silky loved to sit, rocked to repose by the wild winds, and it is still called Silky’s Chair; Sir Charles M. L. Monck, the present proprietor of the place, preserving the tree carefully, on account of the legend.

This sprite exercised a marvellous power over the brute creation, arresting horses in their daily work, and keeping them still as long as she was so minded. Once she waylaid a waggon bringing coals to a farm near Black Heddon, and fixed the team upon a bridge, since called, after her, “Silky’s Brig.” Do what he would, the driver could not make the horses move a step, and there they would have stood all night had not another farm-servant fortunately come up with some “witch-wood” (mountain-ash) about him. He went to the horses, and

  1. Yorkshire Oddities, vol. ii. p. 105.