Dando and The Wild Hunt
There are many tales to explain the origin of the spectral wild hunt, this one is from the Parish of St Germans in Cornwall. It explains how a priest with low morals became a demon huntsman.
In the medieval period the priest of the parish of St Germans was called Dando. Dando was not a figure of priestly virtue but abused his powers to enjoy earthly delights.
He was not pretty to look upon, and his vices were reflected in his potbelly and his fat red face. His chief pleasures were good food, copious quantities of wine, the pleasure of the ladies of the town, and the drunken company of the more unsavoury parishioners.
The one thing that he valued above these delights was hunting, and whenever he had the chance he could be found riding with his friends, more often than not inebriated on wine and ale.
One Autumn Sunday, as the leaves where beginning to brown, he gathered around him a troop of thirty people and set out on a hunt. As usual they saw no barriers to their roaming, trampling crops, breaking fences, and crossing boundaries where they passed.
In time they rode into the bleak moorland, which surrounds the parish, and were joined by a dark stranger, who seemed to appear from out of the mist. He did not speak or acknowledge any of the men but easily rode past the front horseman and Dando.
Some time later Dando shouted for the company to stop, he was in need of ale, and the men and dogs were tired after such a long day. They halted in the middle of an open moorland, and the servants set about laying the days catch upon the floor.
Dando Bellowed for drink but a servant replied that there was none, he had quaffed the last drop that very afternoon.
“No drink” Dando roared in drunken bravado, “I shall have drink if I have to go to hell for it.”
At this the stranger stirred for the first time, and calmly drew a golden drinking horn from under his dark cloak. He offered this to Dando who quaffed the lot in one quick draught.
The golden ale still dripping from his flabby lips, Dando proclaimed that the drink was the sweetest that he had ever tasted, and that gods must drink of such.
“Gods do not drink of it but devils do” The stranger replied in a straight voice. “Then I wish that I was a devil” replied Dando. At this the stranger dismounted in one fluid movement, and quickly gathered the days game. With astonishing deftness he tied the game to his saddle and remounted.
Dando let out a furious howl. “Those are mine”, he shouted and staggered to the side of the stranger, fumbled with the game and declared again they were his game and, that the stranger had no right to touch them. “What I have I will hold”, said the stranger. Dando lurched forward again “I shall have them back if I have to ride to fiery hell to get them”.
“And so you will”, said the stranger, and with that he leaned forward, grabbed Dando by the scruff of the neck and lifted him with ease in front of him. He spurred the horse on its way, and with tremendous speed they took of across the moorland. The other men could only stand open mouthed as they sped away, but Dando’s hounds were quickly on their heels.
Over the moorland and through the valleys they rode, until finally they came to the river Lynter. Without pausing the dark rider and Dando, and all of Dando’s hounds plunged into the river, where they were swallowed up in a pall of flame, which left the river waters a bubbling mass of steam.
In the years after, Dando returned to the parish in demonic form, riding with his ember eyed pack of hounds over the moorland and valleys on dark nights. It was said that he had become an emissary of Hell, searching for souls such as his that he could claim for his master. He is still seen now and again, on stormy nights when few people venture out on to the moorland.