|Marjorie Bowen (1922)|
Kecksies is a horror short story by Marjorie Bowen (1885-1952), who was a prolific author. It was written in the 1940s but not published until the collection Kecksies and Other Twilight Tales was released in 1976. You can read it online here. It begins,
Two young esquires were riding from Canterbury, jolly and drunk, they shouted and trolled and rolled in their saddles as they followed the winding road across the downs.
A dim sky was overhead and shut in the wide expanse of open country that one side stretched to the sea and the other to the Kentish Weald.
The primroses grew in thick posies in the ditches, the hedges were full of fresh hawthorn green, and the new grey leaves of eglantine and honeysuckle, the long boughs of ash with the hard black buds, and the wand-like shoots of sallow willow hung with catkins and the smaller red tassels of the nut and birch; little the two young men heeded of any of these things, for they were in their own country that was thrice familiar; but Nick Bateup blinked across to the distant purple hills, and cursed the gathering rain. “Ten miles more of the open,” he muttered, “and a great storm blackening upon us.”
Young Crediton, who was more full of wine, laughed drowsily. “We’ll lie at a cottage on the way, Nick — think you I’ve never a tenant who’ll let me share board and bed?”
He maundered into singing,
“There’s a light in the old mill, Where the witch weaves her charms; But dark is the chamber, Where you sleep in my arms. Now came you by magic, by trick or by spell, I have you and hold you, And love you right well!”
The clouds overtook them like an advancing army; the wayside green looked livid under the purplish threat of the heavens, and the birds were all still and silent.