Sadly, many popular legends are now disappearing from our landscape, but a new book aims to preserve some of Lancashire's most famous tales. Bygones has been given exclusive access to the Illustrated Tales of Lancashire and is publishing five such legends. Here is the fourth in the series, the Rescue of Moonbeam.

THE legend of the rescue of Moonbeam took place in the shadow of Pendle.

One night a young man named Reuben Oswaldwistle was making his way across the horseshoe meadow, towards the bend of the stream under Red Scar.

His aim was to catch some fish for the next day’s meal. After casting his lines, he sat down and enjoyed the grandeur of the surrounding countryside. As he relaxed he dozed

off, but his senses were soon awakened when he heard footsteps.

Much to his surprise, Reuben saw a little figure in front of him dressed in green, wearing a bright red cap and pulling behind him a large flat-topped mushroom.

The dwarf cried out, ‘Dewdrop, Dewdrop!’ and another dwarf appeared from behind the trees.

‘What’s the matter Moonbeam?’ cried the newcomer. ‘This table is too much for me to cart and if the king’s dinner is not ready in time then I’ll have some explaining to do.’

Dewdrop immediately rendered assistance and the two marched off, taking the ‘table’ with them. As the dwarfs continued on their way, Moonbeam was heard to say, ‘I’m about tired of this.

Every night the table is stolen and I’ve to find a new one for each dinner, and no thanks for it either. I shall emigrate if this continues.’

They then heard the bell announcing dinner but they hadn’t even got the table set. They darted off, leaving the mushroom where it was. Less than two minutes later they returned with plates and cutlery and placed them on the improvised table.

Next, Reuben saw an elegantly dressed dwarf walking from behind a tree. His clothes were quite regal: a bright green vest, smart white shirt and a hat as bright as a red poppy.

He was leading a beautiful lady with golden hair and wearing dress of damask rose. Behind this regal couple there followed a number of gaily clad attendants and a small group of musicians.

The royal couple then enjoyed the festive board, which included ladybird soup, baked stickleback, roasted leg of nightingale and numerous other delicacies. The band played throughout the feast.

The king then made an announcement, saying that everything had been very enjoyable. But no sooner had he uttered these words, than the queen questioned why her chickweed wine had not been served during the dinner.

In a matter of seconds Moonbeam was in the king’s presence, lying prostrate on the floor and pleading for forgiveness. He was grabbed by the executioner, fastened to a stake and a bee was pressed against him, ready to sting.

Upon seeing this Reuben was so incensed that he said if any more pain was inflicted upon Moonbeam he would knock off the king’s head!

Nobody took any notice, until Reuben’s fist came down on the king’s head. When Reuben lifted his fist, all he could see was crushed grass under it.

The king, queen, all of their courtiers and even Moonbeam himself had disappeared.

As nothing was left, Reuben thought that at least he’d keep the mushroom.

When he arrived home he told his wife of the happening, but she said that he’d been asleep rather than catching fish for their dinner. Smiling, she said she’d make a mushroom soup instead.