“Gode’s Story” by A. S. Byatt
Card picked: Five of Hearts
From: The Djinn in the Nightengale’s Eye
Thoughts: Of all the anthologies I chose for Deal Me In in 2016, I was looking forward to this one the most. It’s a small, neat volume with the subtitle, Five Fairy Stories. All the stories were lovely and complex and not easy to write about. I feel like they all need rereading and all will reveal new subtleties over time.
“Gode’s Story” is about a young sailor who is not a good match for any of the girls in his village,
…but the young girls liked to see him go by, you can believe, and they liked most particularly to see him dance…
The miller’s daughter especially has eyes for him and he notices. After one of his sea voyages, he brings her hair ribbon. The miller’s daughter isn’t an idiot; she realizes that the young sailor gained the ribbon by promising his favors to another woman in another port. She asks him what *she* is to pay for it. Which angers him into cursing her. Sadly for her, she loves him enough to succumb to the curse, but he doesn’t get away scot-free. A child is born from the love of the miller’s daughter, whether real or only ghostly, I can’t tell. After the death of the miller’s daughter, he continues to hear its tiny dancing feet.