The Small People


Cornwall and London.


This story is steeped in ambiguity. It is about a girl who was an intimate of the piskies, the original inhabitants of Cornwall who have progressively shrunk since the coming of Christ and who have now, apparently, disappeared altogether. The girl went to London where she fell into poverty as a needlewoman. With death approaching she completed a gown, with the help, as she imagined, of the piskies. But she was mistaken and had to be removed to a hospital. The story was told to the narrator by a hospital surgeon.


The hospital surgeon could well have been Dr. Thomas Q. Couch, Q’s father, and the hospital would have been Guy’s.

Turning the coat inside-out is still recommended as an antidote to being pisky-led (or –laden). What causes this phenomenon, which still occurs, is unknown.