What ‘appened was, back in the halcyon days when Queen Victoria ruled the empire there lived a very prosperous family. Their home was a huge mansion on the edge of the northern moor. The husband of the house was a hard working businessman who lived with his wife, who we will call Mrs Prissy, and their two daughters. The reason the man had to work so hard was that his wife insisted on only the best of everything, her passion was the finest and latest fashions his money could buy and to this end she excelled.
As her wardrobe grew her vanity kept pace until it got to the state that wherever she went she expected, nay demanded, compliments and affirmation. Heaven help the servant who forgot to remark how elegant she looked when their paths crossed and boy did she have a stinging slap. As time passed the woman began to lose what few friends she had because they simply got sick of her vanity and flagrant self importance.
Sadly for the local shopkeepers who she deigned to patronise they had to either put up with her arrogance or lose a great deal of profit and as we all know, money comes first. The local spinsters and cloth makers received a continual stream of abuse and criticism, nothing they ever produced was good enough and nine times out of ten would be returned as in Mrs Prissy’s eyes it was shoddy work. This meant the poor women had worked for nothing as a rejection meant no payment. Her reputation began to spread far and wide as she gradually exhausted the supply of spinsters, cloth makers and seamstresses who were willing to work for her. Eventually even the lace makers of Honiton came to feel the lash of her tongue and loss of earnings.
However, it is best to remember that all this was happening on the edge of Dartmoor and there were tiny, all seeing yet unseen eyes watching Mrs Prissy very carefully. They noted that the spinsters who would often leave bowls of milk out for them at night were becoming poorer and poorer. The little folk frequently heard the weeping of the unfortunate seamstresses who had just received a tongue lashing from Mrs Prissy. When the piskies were frolicking on the moor they often saw the dim flickering of a midnight candle as some poor lace maker desperately tried to get a garment finished for when Mrs Prissy came around to collect it the following day..
Eventually the little folk had had enough and decided to intervene on the moorfolk’s behalf. The piskie council was summoned and sat in great debate for hours, the matter in question was how to punish Mrs Prissy. Some wanted to poke her eyes out so she would be unable to admire herself in the myriad of mirrors that hung in her mansion. Others thought maybe they could turn her into a big fat ‘Devon Dumpling’ of a woman and cover her face in warts. But the general consensus was that both options were a bit lenient but finally a sentence was arrived at. It was decided that all the piskies should congregate on the lawn outside Mrs Prissy’s bedroom window late the following night.
Midnight came and the little folk assembled at the assigned place, the moon was high in a cloudless sky and the immaculate dewy lawn was bathed in its milky beams. One of the piskies crept up to Mrs Prissy’s window and began gently tapping on the glass. It did not take long for the light of a flickering candle to glide across the room. The woman open the large sash and peered out but was somewhat bemused to see an empty lawn. Just as she was about to close the window she heard a voice, “Pretty lady, Pretty Lady we have brought you a coat of the finest, richest and silkiest fur and you can be assured it will fit you like a glove. It can never be stained or soiled and will shine forever. We can promise you that no living soul UPON this earth has such a coat, Why not come down and try it on?”
Mrs Prissy had heard enough, like a pony out of the starting gates at Bellever Races she shot through the house and onto the lawn. No sooner had she set foot on the immaculate grassy blanket than she was immediately turned into a mole and set burrowing down deep into the bowels of the earth where she spent the rest of her living days.
Well, the Piskies weren’t telling lies, she did have a soft velvety coat that fitted her like a glove and there was no other living soul that had such a coat UPON this earth!