The centipede, the fairies and the deadnettles

My walk in the bluebells woods reminded me of a story from my childhood, something my grandfather told me on our walks in the woods years ago.

Long ago when the world was far less complicated than it is today the fairies were up to mischief. The fair folk have always loved tricks and they love to cause trouble so it should come as no surprise that they took great delight in teasing the centipede.

The centipede struggled each morning to put on all of his shoes, it took him until nearly lunchtime to even be ready to go out for morning tea with his lady friend, what with sorting all the shoes and lacing them all onto his little feet. So the fairies thought it was terribly funny to hide his shoes!

They hid them at first all over his little centipede house, but later they went as far as the stream, making the poor centipede have to walk all in the damp mud in his stocking feet! They were such bad fairies, and how they giggled when they watched him from behind the bluebells.

One particular morning the centipede woke after staying up late to polish each and every shoe, he wanted to look especially smart because he planned to ask his lady love to marry him, only to find all his shoes gone! Oh those fairies, they had gone too far this time, it took him until after noon to find all the shoes and some were so muddy he had to clean them all over again.


He was hot and bothered when he finally met his love. Luckily she was a very sweet natured centipede herself, and she accepted his proposal to be married, (even though in his haste he had put at least two shoes on the wrong feet). She also told him how to stop the fairies’ tricks.

“Hide your shoes yourself!” she told him, “pop a pair or two of your shoes under each dead nettle flower, the dead nettles look like stinging nettles but they don’t sting! The fairies are so silly they won’t know that, and they will be far to afraid of being stung to look for your shoes there!”

white deadnettle
White Deadnettle
And so that is what he did, and do you know it worked! The centipedes went on to have many children and grandchildren and they told them all their secret.

Story of why there are shoes in the white deadnettle flowers
White Deadnettle...with shoes!
If you don’t believe me you have only to peep inside the White Deadnettle flowers to see, there will be the centipede’s best shoes, hidden away from those bad fairies.
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  1. Hahaha.....that's ace. I love that. I have never nooiced the shoes before, but I always will now :)

  2. It's a great story to tell little kids because you can 'prove' it's true!!

  3. Hahaha heck yeah :D


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