Down on the south coast of Devon, in a small town called Dawlish, is an imposing sandstone column, reaching into the sky, called Langstone Rock. For many years now, passers-by have wondered how this rock came to be. Listen in and I will tell you this old Devonian tale.
Centuries ago, in old Dawlish town, lived a tall, fierce looking man called Langstone. Langstone the Fisherman was wild and untamed with unkempt hair and a scraggly grey beard. He sailed the seas up and down the coast, scouring the water for fish. He was famed for his luck with a net and he never returned to shore without his quarry.
However, this was all about to change. One day, Langstone was out in his boat when he spied a colony of gulls up ahead. Anticipating an outstanding catch, he set his boat to cut through the waves and set out his net. The sea was rough, the inky black waves crashing over onto the deck, and the sky forecasted rain to come.
What Langstone wasn’t to know, was that fish were not the only things inhabiting the water below. Unseen to Langstone, underneath the churning water, a group of mermaids were gathered. As Langstone reeled in his net, two of the mermaids became tangled in its grasp. Thrashing and flailing, the mermaids desperately tried to free themselves to return to their friends. They screeched and howled for freedom, spitting words at their captor.
‘Release us you scoundrel!’ They cried at the top of their voices, their words hurling themselves violently at Bowerman like stones. Bowerman only laughed. For a moment, he left them there, dangling in the air as they writhed in his net, then, laughing louder, he released them onto the deck. They cursed him again and then flung themselves back into the water, promising vengeance as they went.
Weeks passed and Langstone saw not a hair of the mermaids, but all the while they were planning their revenge. Deep beneath the ocean’s surface, they were plotting. One well kept secret about mermaids that you might not know is that they are shapeshifters. With only a few, well-chosen words, they can transform into any creature they desire. One stormy night, Langstone caught sight of gulls up ahead - a sure sign that fish would be plentiful. What he didn’t know was that the gulls were not gulls, but in fact mermaids transformed. They were luring him closer…
When he got close, Langstone began to feel a tingle, first in his feet, then rising up through his body. Suddenly, the mermaids appeared shouting their cursed spells. Langstone began to scream as he felt the coldness in his immovable feet gradually pass up his body, as if the ground were reaching for him. Agonisingly slowly, Langstone turned to stone.
He remains there today, on the shores of Dawlish, a caution against the callousness of men.
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