Will-o’-the’wisps are the strange phosporescent lights which dance in marshes and fens. It is said that they are elves and fairies, set to lead travellers astray.
In days gone by there was a land where the nights were always dark, and the sky spread over it like a black cloth, for there the moon never rose, and no star shone in the gloom.
There was once upon a time a woman who had an only daughter. When the child was about seven years old she used to pass every day, on her way to school, an orchard where there was a wild plum tree, with delicious ripe plums hanging from the branches. Each morning the child would pick one, and put it into her pocket to eat at school. For this reason she was called Prunella.
When the Norsemen came to Scotland and lay claim to the land, they were famous for every manner of cruel spoliation, and slaughter of the people wherever they landed. They were a bold, courageous, hardy, rough, peremptory and unscrupulous race. More than that, it was attributed to them that they practiced witchcraft, charms, and enchantments, and had much of other unhallowed learning among them.
A story is told of an inhabitant of Unst, who, in walking on the sandy margin of a voe, saw a number of mermen and mermaids dancing by moonlight, and several sealskins strewed beside them on the ground. At his approach they immediately fled to secure their garbs, and, taking upon themselves the form of seals, plunged immediately into the sea. But as the Shetlander perceived that one skin lay close to his feet, he snatched it up, bore it swiftly away, and placed it in concealment.
An old man named Takahama lived in a little house behind the cemetery of the temple of Sozanji. He was extremely amiable and generally liked by his neighbors, though most of them considered him to be a little mad. His madness, it would appear, entirely rested upon the fact that he had never married or evinced desire for intimate companionship with women.
There was a king who ruled over Albania, and he was very sad, for his wife had died. He kept by himself, and would not be comforted; but at last his courtiers coaxed him to go a-hunting, and so dearly did he love the chase that he forgot his grief.
Mosaku and his apprentice Minokichi journeyed to a forest, some little distance from their village. It was a bitterly cold night when they neared their destination, and saw in front of them a cold sweep of water. They desired to cross this river, but the ferryman had gone away, leaving his boat on the other side of the water, and as the weather was too inclement to admit of swimming across the river they were glad to take shelter in the ferryman’s little hut.
Maid Maleen was the daughter of a wealthy and powerful king, and lived in a grand palace in their realm. She desperately wanted to marry her love Hans, a prince from a neighboring region, but her father refused. She tried for months to convince her father, to no avail.
There was a lonely young fisherman who lived on the shore of Gollerus, in Smerwick harbor. Instead of cavorting in the pubs with his neighbors, he would walk along the sea shore, listening to the birds and watching the waves lap on the shoreline.
Once, not long ago, there was a poor man who had twelve children. He worked day and night to keep them fed, and could not even provide them with enough clothing to stay warm. When his thirteenth child was born, he was desperate, and fearful for the fate of his family. In despair he ran out into the highway, intending to ask the first person he met to be his baby’s godparent.
Once upon a time there was a miller and his wife who had a lovely daughter named Letta. Not long after she came of age, a suitor arrived at the mill, asking for Letta to be his wife. The suitor appeared very rich, and the millers could find no fault with him, so they gladly promised their daughter to him. They were a poor family, and the millers wanted their daughter to be well provided for.