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The Wild Hunt, A Tale From Devon


This particularly sinister folktale of the wild hunt is from Devon, and is based in the Dartmoor area, a place full of tales of the supernatural, especially the wild hunt.

One wild stormy night a farmer was returning home from Widecombe, somewhat worse the wear from the strong local beverages brewed on-site. The wind raged, and the rain beat down on him, forcing him to pull his hood over his face, and to wrap his jacket tight around him.

As he pressed on his journey, he heard the soft thudding of hoofs, and the baying of a huntsman's pack, and found himself surrounded by many large black hounds. A black clad huntsman came up from the rear, a broad rimmed hat casting dark shadows over his face, hiding his features. A bundle of bulging sacks were tied to his saddle, no doubt carrying the fruits of his hunt.

The farmer, filled with drunken bravado shouted over the storm: "Share with me some of your game!" The huntsman let out a laugh, and threw a heavy sack at the farmer's feet. In a moment he and his hounds were gone, riding as wild as the storm over the moors and into the darkness.

The farmer bent down and fumbled with the sinews that tied the sacking, at last his drunken fingers released the contents of the sack onto the water soaked pathway. The farmer choked back his breath, for before him was the crumpled and bruised body of his own infant son.

He turned away for a moment, and when he had the courage to return his gaze, the terrible vision had gone, leaving only the empty pathway before him. Sober now he hurried the last part of his journey, to be met at his cottage by his wife who was crooning in grief, for their son had died during the storm.



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