[Notes by LKG]
This story is part of the Welsh (Emerson) unit. Story source: Welsh Fairy-Tales and Other Stories by Peter H. Emerson (1894).
Two black crows, good luck for me.
Three black crows, a son shall be born in the family.
Four black crows, a daughter shall be born in the family.
Five black crows shall be a funeral in the family.
Six black crows, if they fly head on, a sudden death.
Seven black crows with their tails towards you, death within seven years.
There was a young man, not so very long ago, who had been to sea for years. He was married, but had no children. He was one of the most spirited men you ever saw.
He used to complain of his dreams. He said, "All at once last Sunday I was up in the air, and I saw the vessel I was in going at great speed, making for a mountain, and I tried as hard as I could to keep her from the mountain. I don't believe I was asleep at all, I could see it so plainly. I went along in the air, looking at seven black crows all the time. I got dizzy, and the vessel seemed to lower on to the earth. The vessel lowered within a few hundred feet of the earth, and I saw what I thought were fairies. I thought I had been there for days; in truth, it seemed to me I had been up there for three days, and that I could hear the fairies with mournful sounds drawing a coffin. I watched and watched, and saw seven crows on the coffin. It seemed as if they were going to bury someone. Whilst the coffin was going, the seven crows flew up and bursted, and the heavens were illuminated more strongly than by the sun. Then I lost sight of the fairies, but saw some big giants in white walking about, and there was a big throne with a roof to it. And all at once I was in total darkness, but I could hear things flapping about, flying through the air. Then I saw the moon rising and all the stars, and all sorts of objects flying through the air. And one came to me and put his hand upon my shoulder, saying: 'Prepare to meet us tomorrow.' After that everything went dark again. The first thing I knew I was in a ship steering, and the seven black crows were in front of me. I had a great trouble to steer my vessel. And as I went on the vessel struck a steeple, and exploded, and I awoke. Whereupon I jumped out of bed, looking very pale."
I left him on the beach at 11.30, after he told me this, when he went home. When he got home, he could see seven black crows on the house. Other people could see the crows, but could not count them. He saw them all perched head on. He went into the house, and said, "There is something in these crows, Jane; see them on the roof."
She cried out and ran out and looked, but could not see the seven. After that he didn't seem to be himself, though there was nothing the matter with him. A week afterwards, I went out on the Sunday morning after breakfast, and there was a seat on the beach, and on it sat this man, Johnny, and another man.
"Why, Johnny, you look very pale," I said.
"Do I?" he said.
"Yes! indeed you do," I replied.
"Well, I don't know, I have had such dreams."
"What will they have been, then?" I asked.
"That I was in a full-rigged ship, with all sails set; I was all alone, but could see nothing, only seven black crows. I counted them, but my wife could see nothing, but she could hear something."
That same day, when he went home, he said to his wife: "Ah, Jane, there is something coming over me," and he fell down dead.
Next: The Fairy of the Dell