Out on the fens, one mornin’ chilled,
Where fog trailed fingers low,
Upon wood walkways men did build
A young maid she did go.
She tripped along, ta berries seek,
This maiden known as Nancy.
For she knew this landscape bleak
Had nibbles for ‘er fancy.
Nah long she’d followed that straight road
‘Til heard she a strange sound…
A suckin’ squelch… and so she slowed
And cautious, turned around.
A sight o’ horror met ‘er eyes –
A monster o’ the bog!
A man o’ mud did steady rise
All drippin’ in the fog.
She screamed an’ turned, this frightened lass,
To run fast from the beast.
But ‘ere she did, she heard: ‘Alas!
I’ll never be released!’
The woeful pain within the voice
Made Nancy stop and look.
The mud man stood, all brown an’ moist –
His head forlornly shook.
She tentatively took a pace
Towards the muddy mess.
He sadly raised his sloppy face
And sobs did he suppress.
‘Dear miss,’ said he, ‘I doesn’t try
Ta frighten merry folk.
I only wants ‘em ta come by
And friendly talk an’ joke.’
Young Nancy listened to him moan
And muttered ‘Ye poor fellow…’
And he explained an aged crone
(with skin all wrinkly yellow)
Had told him ‘e could twist ‘is fate
If ‘e could find a maid
Who’d nah look upon ‘im in hate
But kiss him, unafraid.
He’d transform to a strappin’ male,
All ‘andsome, kind an’ smart.
Nancy listened to ‘is tale
And felt it in ‘er heart…
She said: ‘I’ll grant ye a true kiss,
Nah gave in fear, but free.’
The mud man cried, ‘Oh bless ye miss!
Ye’s filled this beast wi’ glee!’
So stood she up, upon toe-tips,
To kiss the mud man’s face.
She grimaced as she suffered sips
O’ mud an’ earthy taste.
And as she felt she needed air
Amid the runny slop
She found her lips were glued fast there:
She found she could nah stop…
She screamed out muffled as her head
Was getting sucked in too…
She wriggled, kicked as the monster fed
All gulpin’ without chew.
And in due time, she was all ate…
‘er legs an’ feet an’ toes.
The monster cackled at her fate
‘That’s ‘ow the maids all goes!’
‘Fool they be but feast for me,
All falls fer my smart trick!’
They’s all soft-heart an’ nah does see
Or uses wit so quick!’
And so ‘e slopped along the planks
All built by men in’t fog.
Heavy with lunch, he crossed the banks
An’ sank into the bog.
(Illustration – Nøkken by Theodor Kittelsen)