By Mona Darden
The following article appeared in the January 1963 edition of FATE.
This is a true fairy tale. Each time one of my youngsters lost a tooth over the years I played fairy without ever a slip-up. Then in 1950, a real fairy took over.
Three-year-old Dixie had lost her tooth so early in the day that by night time I had forgotten it. However, she placed the tooth under her pillow.
Early the next morning I went to investigate a slight noise in her room. Sitting up in her bed, Dixie was grabbing wildly at the air, as if trying to catch a mosquito. I was staring at her in blank astonishment when she burst out, “Mother! I caught the fairy!”
“The fairy? Oh, the fairy!” And I remembered; the big fairy that was I had shirked her duty last night! I search frantically in my mind for some way to cover up my unprecedented oversight. And there probably wasn’t a round dime in the house! To disguise my discomfort I said, “Dixie you’re dreaming! You couldn’t have caught the fairy! That’s impossible!”
But Dixie was enchanted. Ignoring me, she let out a mournful wail, “Oh-o-o-o, he got away . . . but I’ve still got his wing! I’ve got it in my hand!”
She held up a small fist, tightly clenched. Her blue-gray eyes were round with ecstasy. Without having solved my own fairy problem, I sat down on the bed and shook her gently.
“Dixie, wake up,” I pleaded. “You only dreamed you caught the fairy. People don’t catch fairies. They can’t see them.”
But Dixie was only exasperated. “I am awake, Mother!” she expostulated. “See, my eyes are open. And I did see the fairy. I’ve still got his wing!!”
Her fist was still shut tight. Her face told of absolute belief in fairies. It was definitely not the time to tell her there was no such thing, but I hit on a glowing idea.
“I guess you frightened the fairy away,” I told her, “before he had time to leave the dime and get your tooth.”
“I did!” she almost shouted. “I had already looked under my pillow and there wasn’t any dime and my tooth was still there. See, I’ll show you.” She picked up her pillow and in doing so, knocked the baby tooth rolling to the floor. I stood up and she jumped out of bed. We searched but failed to find the tooth.
Finally Dixie gave up. “I bet that fairy found it,” she said.
But I wanted to get back to the more urgent matter of finding out what sort of supernatural competition I was up against.
“Dixie,” I began, “if you have the fairy’s wing open your hand and let me see.”
“It might get away,” she said. She looked up at me earnestly, seeming to wonder that I needed convincing. “But I can feel it in my hand,” she said wisely.
“Dixie,” I said patiently, “if it’s only a wing it can’t get away. Now . . . open your hand and let me see.”
Looking down she cracked her hand open a bit at a time, slowly, carefully; stared into her upturned palm for a breathless second.
“Oh, oh, I dropped it,” she said matter-of-factly.
In the dim light of dawn, I had seen nothing. But Dixie was still enchanted. She made a quick dive for the rug at my feet, as I laughed condescendingly. “See, darling, I told you. You didn’t catch the fairy. You couldn’t have! It was only your imagination.”
But she came up from the floor with something so ethereal held between her fingers that it was hard for the naked eye to see. I took it from her to examine it more closely. The faintest hint of goose-bumps played up and down my spine.
The object was about three-quarters of an inch long, a quarter inch wide and appeared to be a thin sliver of glass. But it was so thin that it would have broken before its edges would have cut. It was a perfectly shaped wing, or as nearly so as any artistic glass-cutter could have fashioned from sheer glass. Miraculously, it had a series of tiny stripes that reflected light like the markings of an insect’s wing. I was dumbfounded!
Silently I summoned sound reasoning. Maybe a glass had been broken in the bedroom without my knowing it, but it hadn’t happened. Then how did that sliver happen to be at that spot, at that time, in that shape?
Dixie was so sure she caught it in her hand out of thin air. She was so sure, in fact, that I am sure — and when she opened her hand I didn’t see it because I wasn’t expecting to see it.
Later I went back and found the baby tooth where it had rolled out of sight under the open door. Maybe the fairy had pushed it there. But the dime Dixie found under her pillow when she made her bed couldn’t have been put there by the fairy — for he was minus a wing!
Since then the “fairy’s wing” has been kept in a safe place. It’s something to substantiate, this fairy tale. I’ll never cease to marvel at the power in believing. It’s magic.
Find more fascinating true accounts of faeries, Little People, devas, and nature spirits in the FATE books Our Faerie Best or Along the Faery Way available in the FATE Store.