THE DANCE AND SONG OF THE KORRED
THE valley of Goel was a celebrated haunt of the Korred. [a] It was thought dangerous to pass through it at night lest one should be forced to join in their dances, and thus perhaps lose his life. One evening, however, a peasant and his wife thoughtlessly did so, and they soon found themselves enveloped by the dancing sprites, who kept singing--
Lez y, Lez hon,
Bas an arer zo gant hon;
Lez on, Lez y,
Bas an arer zo gant y.
Let him go, let him go,
For he has the wand of the plough;
Let her go, let her go,
For she has the wand of the plough.
It seems the man had in his band the fourche, or short stick, which is used. as a plough-paddle in Brittany, and this was a protection, for the dancers made way for them to go out of the ring.
When this became known, many persons having fortified themselves with a fourche, gratified their curiosity by witnessing the dance of the Korred. Among the rest were two tailors, Peric and Jean, who, being merry fellows, dared each other to join in the dance. They drew lots, and the lot fell upon Peric, a humpbacked red-haired, but bold stout little fellow. He went up to the Korred and asked permission to take share in their dance. They granted it, and all went whirling round and round, singing
Dilun, Dimeurs, Dimerc'her.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
Perle, weary of the monotony, when there was a slight pause at the last word, added
Ha Diriaou, ha Digwener.
And Thursday and Friday.
Mat!,mat!(good! good!) cried they, and gathering round him, they offered him his choice of beauty, rank, or riches. He laughed, and only asked them to remove his hump and change the colour of his hair. They forthwith took hold of him and tossed him up into the air, throwing him from hand to hand till at last he lighted on his feet with a flat back and fine long black hair.
When Jean saw and heard of the change he resolved to try what he could get from the potent Korred, so a few evenings after he went and was admitted to the dance, which
now went to the words as enlarged by Peric. To make his addition he shouted out,
Ha Disadarn, ha Disul
And Saturday and Sunday.
"What more? what more?" cried the Korred, but he only went on repeating the words. They then asked him what he would have, and he replied riches. They tossed him up, and kept bandying him about till he cried for mercy, and on coming to the ground, he found he had got Peric's hump and red hair.
It seems that the Korred were condemned to this continual dancing, which was never to cease till a mortal should join in their dance, and after naming all the days of the week, should add, Ha cetu chu er sizun, "And now the week is ended." They punished Jean for coming so near the end and then disappointing them. [b]
We add the following circumstances from other authorities:
At Carnac, near Quiberon, says M. de Cambry, in the department of Morbihan, on the sea-shore, is the Temple of Carnac, called in Breton "Ti Goriquet" (House of the Gorics), one of the most remarkable Celtic monuments extant. It is composed of more than four thousand large stones, standing erect in an arid plain, where neither tree nor shrub is to be seen, and not even a pebble is to be found in the soil on which they stand. If the inhabitants are asked concerning, this wonderful monument, they say it is an old camp of Caesar's, an army turned into stone, or that it is the work of the Crions or Gorics. These they describe as little men between two and three feet high, who carried these enormous masses on their hands; for, though little, they are stronger than giants. Every night they dance around the stones; and woe betide the traveller who approaches within their reach! he is forced to join in the dance, where he is whirled about till, breathless and exhausted, he falls down, amidst the peals of laughter of the Crions. All vanish with the break of day. [c]
In the ruins of Tresmaiouen dwell the Courils. [d] They are of a malignant disposition, but great lovers of dancing. At night they sport around the Druidical monuments. The unfortunate shepherd that approaches them must dance their rounds with them till cock-crow; and the instances are not few of persons thus ensnared who have been found next morning dead with exhaustion and fatigue. Woe also to the ill-fated maiden who draws near the Couril dance! nine months after, the family counts one member more. Yet so great is the power and cunning of these Dwarfs, that the young stranger bears no resemblance to them, but they impart to it the features of some lad of the village.
A number of little men, not more than a foot high, dwell under the castle of Morlaix. They live in holes in the ground, whither they may often be seen going, and beating on basins. They possess great treasures, which they sometimes bring out; and if any one pass by at the time, allow him to take one handful, but no more. Should any one attempt to fill his pockets, the money vanishes, and he is instantly assailed by a shower of boxes in the ear from invisible hands.
The Bretons also say that there are spirits who silently skim the milk-pans in the dairies. They likewise speak of Sand Yan y Tad (St. John and Father), who carry five lights at their finger-ends, which they make spin round and round like a wheel. [e]
There is a species of malignant beings, called Night-washers (Eur cunnerez noz), who appear on the banks of streams, and call on the passers-by to aid them to wash the linen of the dead. If any one refuses, they drag him into the water and break his arms.
About Morlaix the people are afraid of evil beings they call Teurst. One of these, called Teursapouliet, appears in the likeness of some domestic animal. [f] In the district of Vannes is a colossal spirit called Teus, or Bugelnoz, who appears clothed in white between midnight and two in the morning. His office is to rescue victims from the Devil. He spreads his mantle over them, and they are secure. The Devil comes over the ocean; but, unable to endure the look of the good spirit, he sinks down again, and, the object of the spirit accomplished, he vanishes.
[a] In the original the word is Korrigan.
[b] From an article signed H--Y in a cheap publication called Tracts for the People. The writer says he heard it in the neighbourhood of the Vale of Goel, and it has every appearance of being genuine. Villemarqué (i. 61) mentions the last circumstance as to the end of the penance of the Korred.
[c] Monumens Celtiques, p. 2. An old sailor told M. de Cambry, that one of these stones covers an immense treasure, and that these thousands of them have been set up the better to conceal it. He added that a calculation, the key to which was to be found in the Tower of London, would alone indicate the spot where the treasure lies.
[d] For what follows we are indebted to the MS. communication of Dr. W. Grimm. He quotes as his authority the Zeitung der Gesellschafter for 1826.
[e] The former seems to be a house spirit, the Goblin, Follet, or Lutin of the, north of France; the latter is apparently the Ignis Fatuus.
[f] So the Yorkshire Bar-guest,