The Song and Dance of the Gypsy Davy

Posted: March 10, 2013 in Stories

Once upon a time, there was a young couple that loved each other very much. He was handsome, caring, and worked hard at a job so that money was never an issue. She was beautiful, intelligent, and had a laugh so pure that even the birds in the trees would stop their songs to hear it. Their love was famous all through the town where they lived.

One bright morning, as the snows on the nearby mountaintop began to melt and the forest around the town became tinted with green, the young couple followed a path through the woods they had taken many times before. They brought a few sandwiches with them in a wicker basket, and picked the small berries that grew only in the winter, and which only they knew the location of. Some time later, they reached the grove where the sun always seemed to be directly overhead, but it was never so hot that they would have to cool down in the shadows. After they sat and talked and ate, he took her hand and they danced with their eyes closed to the sound of the other’s breath (for again, they were in love, so they always heard music and they always saw each other when they closed their eyes.) She threw her head back and laughed as he stopped dancing and pulled her in close so it felt as though the two heartbeats were one. The birds stopped singing and he said all what he could think, “I love you. Marry me.”

She said, “Yes. Of course, yes. Because all I fear in this world is not knowing you, not being a part of you, and having to face these cold, cold winter nights without you. Yes. Always yes. Forever yes.” When they returned to the town, the news made everyone very happy, and preparations were made for a magnificent wedding. He vowed to her that she would never want for anything ever again.


They were married in the summer, and a year to the day from their engagement in the forest, they welcomed a son into the world. Everyone in the town agreed that he was the most beautiful baby they had ever seen, with striking green eyes that only his parents recognized as being the same color as their secret winterberry bush. That summer, the husband’s wealth multiplied, and just as he had vowed, everything the family wanted, they had. They moved to a large house away from the village, just inside the woods, so they could raise their child in peace. They slept on a fine feather bed and the husband bought his wife beautiful red and gold high-heeled boots, made from the very best Spanish leather. They even had servants tend to the household duties; one to cook, one to clean, and one to care for the baby boy.

But as the summer began to fade, the husband became concerned for his love. No longer did she laugh, and no longer did they dance with their eyes closed to the sound of each other’s breath. When he rose one morning, he wondered if he had been awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of his wife crying next to him, or if it had just been a dream.

When the snows on the mountaintop began to seep down to the golden-red forest, the cook stopped the husband on his way out the door and warned him, “Your wife, sir. I’m worried for her. She wanders through the house all day whispering frantically about the snow on the peak! Yesterday, she scolded me for not cooking soup hot enough to melt it away! I don’t know what I’m supposed to say to her. She’s not well. I thought you should know.”

The husband became angry with the cook for saying such things about his wife, and threw him out of the house. Yet, the next month, when the snows covered the mountaintop, the cleaning servant came forward and said, “Sir, I mean no disrespect, but your wife isn’t well. While you are gone, she has been asking me if I can sweep up all the leaves around the house and put them back up on the trees. When I said I couldn’t, she went into a frenzy, screaming how she was fearful of the woods. Please, sir. I think you should get a doctor.”

Again, the husband became enraged, and threw this servant from the house. The next month, on the day when the last leaf fell, the husband met the servant who took care of his baby on the road to his house, walking in the opposite direction. When the husband asked where the servant was going, the servant replied, “Your wife threw me out, sir. She has been sitting on the porch all day, staring into the forest. I gave her blankets to stay warm, but she didn’t say anything. Finally, I brought your son to her. She didn’t look at him. She just closed her eyes and asked me if I could hear the music coming from the trees. I told her I didn’t, and she told me to put the baby back in his crib, and then to leave your house and never return. I think you should get her a doctor, sir. She is very, very sick.”

The husband ran the rest of the way home to find what the servant had said was true: there sat his wife, covered in blankets, shivering as she stared out into the woods. He urged her to come to bed with him and their baby, and she silently agreed. She changed out of her Spanish leather boots and the rest of her fine clothing and lay next to her son and husband. The next morning, the husband left the house, promising his wife that he would return soon with a doctor.


After the husband left on his fastest horse, the wife returned to the porch and watched as the bare branches cast shadows on one another and the wind opened and closed paths throughout the forest. She closed her eyes for a while. She saw blackness and wind. Then the music came to her like a face in a dream – nebulous, terrifying. She shook as the notes echoed around her, their meaning lost.

As the source drew closer, she heard the song more clearly. She stopped shivering and began to make out some words, “They call me Gypsy Davy oh, they call me The Gypsy Laddie. So you better hide your daughter from me, be she single or be she married.” It began to come into focus. This face had bright green eyes. Or were they black? Was that a banjo? A guitar? A fiddle? A drum? Could it all be coming from one man? She stood up, enchanted by what she heard. “Oh will you go with me, my pretty little miss, will you go with my honey oh? I’ll take you ‘cross the deep blue sea, and you’ll never want for money oh. No, you’ll never want for money oh.”

The song opened a path through the woods and let the noonday sun shine in. The wife pulled the blanket from her shoulders and sailed into the forest. She laughed, and the birds fell silent.

The husband raced to the village to find the doctor. As he rode down the winding road, he felt a strange tickling in his nostrils. Small stacks of leaves, evenly spaced, lined the path, smoldering. He thought it odd, but carried on, determined to help his sick love. As the small stacks became small piles, and those small piles into large piles, the tickling smoke turned into a thick haze. The horse panted and the husband’s eyes watered. He closed them, and only saw his wife. He had to go on. The horse became too frightened to continue, so the husband dismounted, grabbed the reins and led the animal through the fires.

He didn’t know what time it was when he reached the village; thick smoke and ash blocked out the sun. He was cold. He knocked on the doctor’s door, but no one answered. No one walked in the streets. All he could hear was the sound of burning leaves coming closer and closer. The wind came down from the mountain, fed the flames, and blew them towards the abandoned village, the smoke filling every space, from alley to drain, into the husband’s lungs which cried out in desperation. He felt a fire surrounding him and he fainted next to a drained fountain with sculpted cherubim. The leaves inside burned.

When he came to, the smoke was gone. The leaves were gone. His horse was gone. The sun was gone. The people were still gone. He stood up and followed the trail of charcoal back to his wife and child.

The trees near the house were untouched and the woods were silent. The husband breathed heavily when he climbed up the porch and past a pair of red and gold Spanish leather boots and coughed black soot as he rushed to find his son asleep on a fine feather bed. He sighed, and immediately muffled his cough so he wouldn’t disturb the slumber. He stepped outside into the cold, cold winter night and ran to where he knew his wife would be.


Once upon a time, there was a young couple that had loved each other very much, and they found each other again in the woods one cold, cold winter’s night.

There was no moon, and the night sky had closed its thousands of eyes.

“Come home, my dear. Come home. Our baby boy is keeping our bed warm. Come home.”

“Home? My baby boy?” She laughed in a way he had never heard before, dark pulpy masses gushing from her mouth. The juices seeped through her dress and dripped on her skin. Her bare feet tickled padded-down grass and she shivered, but not because of the cold. Her head fell to face where her husband’s voice had come from. She could not see him. “No. No, I am happy here in the grove. What care I for your fine feather bed when I have Gypsy Davy to keep me warm? Now leave. It makes me so sad to see you.”

“Please, my love. I want to dance like we used to. I miss hearing our music. Please come home.”

When she finished chewing, she retorted, “I don’t need your music. I don’t need to dance with you. Gypsy Davy plays a much better song. Can’t you hear it? It’s such a wonderful song. Just the best song I’ve ever heard. I can’t stop dancing to it. I like it so much more than your song.” She shivered again. “Can’t you hear it?”

He didn’t know. “I’m so sorry…” he sobbed.

“Don’t apologize. You did nothing wrong.”

“Are you cold?”

“No. The cold has passed. I don’t feel anything anymore.” She was chewing again.

“Let me hold you. Let me warm you. Let me embrace you, sing to you, save you on this cold, cold winter night.”

She didn’t respond.

“I’ll go mad without you!” He screamed, more to himself than to her. He felt naked. Drunk. Mad. Helpless. Childish. Terrified. Mad.

She didn’t respond.

The husband waited to see if perhaps he could find her dancing in the darkness and shadows so he could take her by the hand and hold her close and feel her heartbeat and they could be happy again but he couldn’t and when the sun began to rise he knew that she had left and he began his walk back home.

He heard his son crying when he got near the house. He watched the mountaintop as he rocked his boy to sleep, singing, “Last night she slept on a fine feather bed, her laugh so loud and merry oh. Tonight she rode to the wide world’s door by the side of a gypsy laddie, oh. By the side of the Gypsy Davy oh…”

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