Friday, May 18, 2007

The Green Children

You might not have heard about this one, even though it is a real classic in the annals of "The Unknown" and has always held a particular fascination for me, a devout D&D kid. It also speaks to the issue of secondhand sources so prominent within the field(s) that I spoke about before on the Sources post, since the story many of us may have heard is not exactly accurate, as I'm about to lay out.

As the story goes traditionally, two children - one male, one female - completely green in color of skin and wearing oddly-colored clothes of unknown material, were found weeping inconsolably by farmers near Suffolk, England. They were taken and held at a local man's house, where neighbors came to gawk. They refused all food brought to them, but when they were brought bean pods and stalks, they took them and opened the stalks, expecting the fruits to be inside. Seeing none, they began weeping again, until the townspeople showed them the beans lay in the pod. After that, they ate the beans and nothing but for some time. eventually, the young boy weakened and died, but the girl survived. Eventually, she became accustomed to other foods, her "regular" skin color "returned" and she apparently later married and lived out her life as normal, though one local said she was "rather loose and wanton in her conduct."

The children claimed to have come from a place called St. Martin's Land and said their people were Christian. Their land did not have a sun, but enjoyed a general light something like dusk or dawn. The had been following their flock when they came upon a cavern and, coming out the other side, were stunned by the brightness of the light and the temperature of the atmosphere, so they lie for a while and wanted to flee when approached, but were too weak to do so.

- Unexplained, pp. 391-392

Some retellings of this story are written (or told) in such a way that the cavern becomes central to the issue, going so far as to state that they were found, "at the mouth of a cave." This made me think that they had come from within the cave. To these ends, luminescent lichens and so forth exist underground, a steady diet of carrots will turn your skin orange, and a change in Oxygen and possibly pressure could have been the cause of their weakened state. But this was not the case.

Still, there is no St. Martin's Land (at least not back then) and this concept smacks highly, to me, of suggesting another Dimension. This, along with some of the other concepts involved, suggest to discerning readers (like myself) that more of these children's people may have appeared here from time to time and given rise to the concept of Elfs. Now, before you laugh yourself out of your chair, you need a primer in actual Medieval beliefs concerning Elfs, most of which are Celtic, Welsh, and Irish, come from across the world - France, Scandinavia, and just all over.

To put it succinctly, the Elfen realm (Alfheim) exists at all times kind of overlaying our own. From time to time, the two realms somehow collide, allowing one to pass between the two. There are all sorts of "known" "gateways" where this can occur, including specific times of night, two points grown over by certain plants, and a host of others. Alfheim is said to be smaller than our own geography, allowing those who travel there to cross great distances on our own world in a short time.

But how much of this story itself is actually true?

Quite a bit, according to the documentation and one of our greatest sources, Eyewitness to History, they did emerge from one of these caves, having been 'entranced by a sound we heard not unlike we hear now in St. Edmund's when the chime rings, and found ourselves among you in the fields where you were reaping' (paraphrased from the girl's own words). The girl did marry, at Lynne, no less, and was still living when William of Newburgh wrote his account, c. 1150. She also said a bright land was always visible from St. Martin, but it was across a great river.

Today, a sign in Wolfpit, Suffolk, bears an image of the two children.

This is, by far, nowhere near the only recorded case of "weird," "odd," or "Unknown" people simply appearing throughout time. Sometimes, entire groups of people. Many of them did not speak any known language and at least one even carried a book written in an unknown language. Charles Fort was a great collector of these stories and I'll bring you more in time.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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