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  1. The Lost Axe
  2. Lazy Jack
  3. The Two Humpbacks and the Fairies

The Lost Axe

A MAN lost his axe and suspected that the son of his neighbour had stolen it. He watched the youth closely and his suspicion brewed increasingly.

"Doesn't he walk the way a thief does? And his appearance, manner, the way he talks, all are a robber's."

But a few days later, the axe was recovered in the valley where the man once worked with it. Obviously he had lost the axe there by great carelessness.

"So I've blamed the young man wrongly," he thought.

When he next met his neighbour's son, things seemed different. The youth did not look like a thief at all any more: his walk, his looks, his behaviour and talk were all innocent.

The man sighed.



Lazy Jack

ONCE there was a boy named Jack, and he lived with his mother on a dreary common. They were very poor, and the old woman got her living by spinning, but Jack was so lazy that he would do nothing but bask in the sun in the hot weather, and sit by the corner of the hearth in the winter time. His mother could not persuade him to do anything for her, and at last had to tell him that if he did not begin to work for his porridge she would turn him out to get his living as be could.

This threat at length roused Jack, and he went out and hired himself for the day to a neighbouring farmer for a penny; but as he was coming home, never having had any money before, he lost it in passing over a brook.

"You stupid boy," said his mother, "you should have put it in your pocket."

"I'll do so another time," said Jack.

Next day Jack went out again and hired himself to a cow-keeper, who gave him a jar of milk for his day's work. Jack took the jar and put it into the large pocket of his jacket, spilling it all long before he got home.

"Dear me!" said the old woman; "you should have carried it on your head."

"I'll do so another time," said Jack.

The following day Jack hired himself again to a farmer, who agreed to give him a cream cheese for his services.

In the evening Jack took the cheese, and went home with it on his head. By the time he got home the cheese was completely spoilt, part of it being lost, and part matted with his hair.

"Oh no," said his mother, "you should have carried it very carefully in your hands."

"I'll do so another time," said Jack.

The day after this Jack again went out, and hired himself to a baker, who would give him nothing for his work but a large tom-cat. Jack took the cat, and began carrying it very carefully in his hands, but in a short time pussy scratched him so much that he had to let it go. When he got home, his mother said to him:

"Shucks, you should have tied it with a string, and dragged it along after you."

"I'll do so another time," said Jack.

The next day Jack hired himself to a butcher, who rewarded his labours by a shoulder of mutton. Jack took the mutton, tied it to a string, and trailed it along after him in the dirt, so that by the time he had got home the meat was completely spoilt. His mother was this time quite out of patience with him, for the next day was Sunday, and she had to content herself with cabbage for her dinner.

"It is difficult for me," she groaned to her son, "you should have carried it on your shoulder."

"I'll do so another time," said Jack.

On Monday Jack went once more, and hired himself to a cattle-keeper, who gave him a donkey for his trouble. Although Jack was very strong, he found some difficulty in hoisting the donkey on his shoulders, but at last he succeeded, and began walking slowly home with his prize. Now it happened that along the way there lived a rich man with his only daughter, a beautiful girl, but unfortunately deaf and dumb; she had never laughed in her life, and the doctors said she would never recover till somebody made her laugh.

This young lady happened to be looking out of the window when Jack was passing with the donkey on his shoulders, the legs sticking up in the air. The sight was so comical and strange that she burst out into a great fit of laughter, and at once recovered her speech and hearing. Her father was overjoyed, and fulfilled his promise by marrying her to Jack, who was thus made a rich gentleman. They lived in a large house, and Jack's mother lived with them in great happiness till she died.


The Two Humpbacks and the Fairies

TWO HUMPBACK cobblers, Billy Beg and Tom Beg, lived together on a lonely croft not far from Dalby. Billy Beg was sharper and cleverer than Tom Beg, who was always at his command. One day Billy Beg gave Tom a staff, and said:

"Tom Beg, go to the mountain and fetch home the white sheep."

Tom Beg took the staff and went to the mountain, but he could not find the white sheep. At last, when he was far from home and dusk was coming on, he began to think that he had best go back. The night was fine, and stars and a small crescent moon were in the sky. No sound was heard but the curlew's sharp whistle. Tom was hastening home, and had almost reached Glen Rushen when a grey mist gathered and he lost his way. But it was not long before the mist cleared, and Tom Beg found himself in a green glen such as he had never seen before, though he thought he knew every glen within five miles of him, for he was born and reared in the neighbourhood. He was marvelling and wondering where he could be, when he heard a far-away sound drawing nearer to him.

"Aw," said he to himself, "I'll have company."

The sound grew louder. First, it was like the humming of bees, then like the rushing of Glen Meay waterfall, and last it was like the marching and the murmur of a crowd. It was the fairy host. Of a sudden the glen was full of fine horses and of Little People riding on them, with the lights on their red caps, shining like the stars above, and making the night as bright as day. Horns were blown, flags were waved, fair tunes were played, and many little dogs were barking. Tom Beg thought that he had never seen anything so splendid as all he saw there. In the middle of the drilling and dancing and singing one of them spied Tom, and then Tom saw coming towards him the grandest Little Man he had ever set eyes on, dressed in gold and silver, and silk shining like a raven's wing.

"It is a bad time you have chosen to come this way," said the Little Man, who was the king.

"Yes; but it is not here that I'm wishing to be, though," said Tom.

Then said the king, "Are you one of us tonight, Tom?"

"I am surely," said Tom.

"Then," said the king, " it will be your duty to take the password. You must stand at the foot of the glen, and as each regiment goes by, you must take the password: it is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday."

"I'll do that with a heart and a half," said Tom.

At daybreak the fiddlers took up their fiddles, the fairy army set itself in order, the fiddlers played before them out of the glen, and that music was sweet. Each regiment gave the password to Tom as it went by - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; and last of all came the king, and he, too, gave it: "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday." Then he called to one of his men:

"Take the hump from this fellow's back," and before the words were out of his mouth the hump was whisked off Tom Beg's back and thrown into the hedge. How proud now was Tom, who so found himself the straightest man in the Isle of Man! He went down the mountain and came home early in the morning with light heart and eager step. Billy Beg wondered greatly when he saw Tom Beg so straight and strong, and when Tom Beg had rested and refreshed himself he told his story: how he had met the fairies who came every night to Glen Rushen to drill.

Next night Billy Beg set off along the mountain road and came at last to the green glen. About midnight he heard the trampling of horses, the lashing of whips, the barking of dogs, and a great hullabaloo, and, behold, the fairies and their king, their dogs and their horses, all at drill in the glen as Tom Beg had said.

When they saw the humpback they all stopped, and one came forward and very crossly asked his business.

"I am one of yourselves for the night, and should be glad to do you some service," said Billy Beg.

So he was set to take the password "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday." And at daybreak the King said:

"It's time for us to be off," and up came regiment after regiment giving Billy Beg the password - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Last of all came the king with his men and gave the password also - "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday," "and Sunday," says Billy Beg thinking himself clever. Then there was a great outcry.

"Get the hump that was taken off the other fellow's back last night and put it on this man's back," said the King, with flashing eyes, pointing to the hump that lay under the hedge.

Before the words were well out of his mouth the hump was clapt on to Billy Beg's back.

"Now," said the King, "be off, and if ever I find you here again, I will clap another hump onto your front!"

And on that they all marched away with one great shout, and left poor Billy Beg standing where they had found him, with a hump growing on each shoulder. And he came home next day dragging one foot after another, with a wizened face and as cross as two sticks, with his two humps on his back, and if they are not off they are there still.


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