Fairy Gifts

folktales and legends of type 503
translated and/or edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 1998-2019

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  1. The Fairies and the Hump-Back (Scotland).

  2. The Hunchback of Willow Brake (Scotland).

  3. The Legend of Knockgrafton (Ireland).

  4. The Palace in the Rath (Ireland).

  5. A Fairy Tale in the Ancient English Style (Thomas Parnell).

  6. Billy Beg, Tom Beg, and the Fairies (Isle of Man).

  7. The Fairies and the Two Hunchbacks: A Story of Picardy (France).

  8. The Tailor on the Brocken (Germany).

  9. The Gifts of the Mountain Spirits (Germany).

  10. The Gifts of the Little People (Germany).

  11. The Two Hunchbacked Brothers (Italy).

  12. The Two Humpbacks (Italy).

  13. The Elves and the Envious Neighbor (Japan).

  14. How an Old Man Lost His Wen (Japan).

  15. The Old Man with the Wen (Japan).

  16. The Story of Hok Lee and the Dwarfs (China).

The Fairies and the Hump-Back


A man who was a hump-back once met the fairies dancing, and danced with their queen; and he sang with them, "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday," so well that they took off his hump, and he returned home a straight-bodied man.

Then a tailor went past the same place, and was also admitted by the fairies to their dance. He caught the fairy queen by the waist, and she resented his familiarity. And in singing he added "Thursday" to their song and spoilt it. To pay the tailor for his rudeness and ill manners, the dancers took up the hump they had just removed from the first man and clapped it on his back, and the conceited fellow went home a hump-back.


The Hunchback of Willow Brake


Little Hunchback was but a poor, melancholy creature, an object of pity to the compassionate, and a laughing-stock to the thoughtless and foolish. He was deformed from the day of his birth, with his weak knees that bent under him, and a large lump between his shoulders.

When he reached boyhood, he was uglier and more deformed than he had been even in his childhood. He never went out of doors but a crowd of naughty children followed, laughing at him and mocking him. Their cruel conduct made him so shy and unsociable that he avoided their company, and he passed his time day after day alone in the Willow Brake, which stood at a short distance from his mother's house. His neighbors noticed where he was accustomed to go, and nicknamed him the Hunchback of the Willow Brake.

On a certain evening, after suffering much ridicule from the children of the town where he lived, he fled with a sore heart and weeping eyes to the Willow Brake for shelter. He had not gone far into the wood, when he was met by the very prettiest little babe he had ever seen. The babe was a fairy woman, but he could not afterwards give a full description of her appearance, nor had he any recollection of her attire, beyond this, that about her shoulders was a green mantle, which was bound with a golden girdle about her waist, and that on her head was a green cap, with a tuft of silver feathers waving from its crown.

"Where are you going?" said the fairy.

"I am going to pass the evening in the Willow Brake," replied Hunchback.

"Have you no companion at all with whom you can play?" said she then.

"No; none will keep company with me, since I am not like other children," said Hunchback.

At last she asked his name, and he told her it was Hunchback.

"Hunchback!" she exclaimed. "It is long since we expected to meet you. I am Play of Sunbeam, and my joy is making the world merry. Come with me, my people are expecting you, and pass the night with us, and in the morning you will have neither disability nor defect."

He went cheerfully with her, until they arrived at the back of the Big Fairy Knoll.

"Shut your eyes, and give me your hand," said the fairy.

He did as she told him, and presently they were in the very grandest mansion he had ever seen. She dragged him up through the midst of the company, singing merrily:

Silence, all ye!
Sunbeam's back hither.
Hunchback and she
Have come together.
"Success and happiness attend Play of Sunbeam!" said a handsome maiden, who was more finely dressed than the rest, and who wore on her head a gold crown full of jewels.

"What does she wish us to do for poor Hunchback?"

For pain to give him lustihead,
And, good man's wish, a thriving trade.
And Play of Sunbeam will be merry and glad.
And then away she went dancing, and without casting another look on Hunchback.

"When is Play of Sunbeam otherwise?" said the Queen, "and according to her request let it be."

The other fairies seized him, and when he thought that they had pulled him to pieces among them they let him go, and he was as straight and active as he behoved to be. Then he heard the sweetest music he had ever listened to, and joy filled his heart, and he began to dance with the little people that were on the floor, and stopped not until he fell, unable to stand with fatigue. He had not lain but a short time on the floor, till sleep crept over him, and he felt the fairies carrying him away through the air, and the soft, sad music receding further and further from him.

At length he awoke, and on looking round, he found himself lying in the Willow Brake. He rose, and returned home. He had been away a year and a day; and in that time so great a change had come over him that it was with difficulty that his own mother knew him. She rejoiced at his coming, and after that found him a great help, for now he had a hand for every trade.

Among the youngsters who used to mock at him was a boy that bore the nickname of Punchy. Punchy was a little ugly creature, with hands and feet like the paws of a frog, and a big hump between his shoulders. When he saw how Hunchback had returned, as straight as a rush and as gay as a calf-herd, he made friends with him, and rested not until Hunchback had told him everything that had happened, from the evening he went to the Willow Brake, till he came back again.

He laid a vow, however, on Punchy, not to tell it to a living being, because he himself was under a promise to the fairies to keep it secret. Punchy promised to do as was requested of him.

On that very evening Punchy went to the Willow Brake, expecting to meet one of the fairies who would heal him as Hunchback was healed; but he saw none. Evening after evening he continued going to the same place, until at last he saw a small manikin, sitting at the root of a holly bush, and gazing with a mocking smile on his countenance.

"Are you Play of Sunbeam?" said Punchy.

"I am not, but I am Never-Mind-Who," replied the manikin. "What is your business with Play of Sunbeam?"

"O, that she will take this hump off me, as she took the hunch off Hunchback," said Punchy. "Will you take me to the place where she dwells?"

"I will do that," said Never-Mind-Who, "but you will get leave to come out of it as you like."

"I do not care how I get out, if I get in, and if this ugly hump is taken off me."

The little manikin gave a loud laugh, and then went away with Punchy to the Big Fairy Knoll, and took him in, as Hunchback was taken.

"Who is this come to us without invitation or tryst?" cried the Queen, looking sternly at Punchy.

"It is a toad named Punchy whom Hunchback has sent on a chance journey, in the hope that his hump will be taken off him," replied Never-Mind-Who.

"Did Hunchback break his vow and his promise, that never of his own accord would he tell any one how it fared with him here?" said the Queen, turning towards Punchy with wrath in her countenance.

"No," replied Punchy, "for he told me nothing until I first prayed and entreated him."

"You impudent fellow," said she, "you will get your deserts," and immediately she cried to the other fairies: "Throw the hunch on the hump, and the one load will take them home."

"The hunch on the hump, the hunch on the hump," screamed all the fairies; and then they laid hold of Punchy by his hands and his feet, and tossed him up and down, to this side and that, till he lost all consciousness.

When he came to himself, he lay in the Willow Brake, the hump twice its former size, and his bones so tired and bruised that he could scarcely move. With a great effort he got to his feet, and then crept home; but to the day of his death he told no one except Hunchback what happened to him in the Big Fairy Knoll.

The Legend of Knockgrafton


There was once a poor man who lived in the fertile glen of Aherlow, at the foot of the gloomy Galtee mountains, and he had a great hump on his back: he looked just as if his body had been rolled up and placed upon his shoulders; and his head was pressed down with the weight so much that his chin, when he was sitting, used to rest upon his knees for support.

The country people were rather shy of meeting him in any lonesome place, for though, poor creature, he was as harmless and as inoffensive as a new-born infant, yet his deformity was so great that he scarcely appeared to be a human creature, and some ill-minded persons had set strange stories about him afloat. He was said to have a great knowledge of herbs and charms; but certain it was that he had a mighty skillful hand in plaiting straw and rushes into hats and baskets, which was the way he made his livelihood.

Lusmore, for that was the nickname put upon him by reason of his always wearing a sprig of the fairy cap, or lusmore (the foxglove), in his little straw hat, would ever get a higher penny for his plaited work than any one else, and perhaps that was the reason why some one, out of envy, had circulated the strange stories about him. Be that as it may, it happened that he was returning one evening from the pretty town of Cahir towards Cappagh, and as little Lusmore walked very slowly, on account of the great hump upon his back, it was quite dark when he came to the old moat of Knockgrafton, which stood on the right-hand side of his road. Tired and weary was he, and noways comfortable in his own mind at thinking how much farther he had to travel, and that he should be walking all the night; so he sat down under the moat to rest himself, and began looking mournfully enough upon the moon.

Presently there rose a wild strain of unearthly melody upon the ear of little Lusmore; he listened, and he thought that he had never heard such ravishing music before. It was like the sound of many voices, each mingling and blending with the other so strangely that they seemed to be one, though all singing different strains, and the words of the song were these: "Da Luan, Da Mort, Da Luan, Da Mort, Da Luan, Da Mort"; when there would be a moment's pause, and then the round of melody went on again.

Lusmore listened attentively, scarcely drawing his breath lest he might lose the slightest note. He now plainly perceived that the singing was within the moat; and though at first it had charmed him so much, he began to get tired of hearing the same round sung over and over so often without any change; so availing himself of the pause when the "Da Luan, Da Mort" had been sung three times, he took up the tune, and raised it with the words "augus Da Cadine," and then went on singing with the voices inside of the moat, "Da Luan, Da Mort," finishing the melody, when the pause again came, with "augus Da Cadine."

The fairies within Knockgrafton, for the song was a fairy melody, when they heard this addition to the tune, were so much delighted that, with instant resolve, it was determined to bring the mortal among them, whose musical skill so far exceeded theirs, and little Lusmore was conveyed into their company with the eddying speed of a whirlwind.

Glorious to behold was the sight that burst upon him as he came down through the moat, twirling round and round, with the lightness of a straw, to the sweetest music that kept time to his motion. The greatest honor was then paid him, for he was put above all the musicians, and he had servants tending upon him, and everything to his heart's content, and a hearty welcome to all; and, in short, he was made as much of as if he had been the first man in the land.

Presently Lusmore saw a great consultation going forward among the fairies, and, notwithstanding all their civility, he felt very much frightened, until one stepping out from the rest came up to him and said:

Lusmore! Lusmore!
Doubt not, nor deplore,
For the hump which you bore
On your back is no more;
Look down on the floor, And view it, Lusmore!

When these words were said, poor little Lusmore felt himself so light, and so happy, that he thought he could have bounded at one jump over the moon, like the cow in the history of the cat and the fiddle; and he saw, with inexpressible pleasure, his hump tumble down upon the ground from his shoulders. He then tried to lift up his head, and he did so with becoming caution, fearing that he might knock it against the ceiling of the grand hall, where he was; he looked round and round again with greatest wonder and delight upon everything, which appeared more and more beautiful; and, overpowered at beholding such a resplendent scene, his head grew dizzy, and his eyesight became dim.

At last he fell into a sound sleep, and when he awoke he found that it was broad daylight, the sun shining brightly, and the birds singing sweetly; and that he was lying just at the foot of the moat of Knockgrafton, with the cows and sheep grazing peacefully round about him. The first thing Lusmore did, after saying his prayers, was to put his hand behind to feel for his hump, but no sign of one was there on his back, and he looked at himself with great pride, for he had now become a well-shaped dapper little fellow, and more than that, found himself in a full suit of new clothes, which he concluded the fairies had made for him.

Towards Cappagh he went, stepping out as lightly, and springing up at every step as if he had been all his life a dancing-master. Not a creature who met Lusmore knew him without his hump, and he had a great work to persuade every one that he was the same man -- in truth he was not, so far as outward appearance went.

Of course it was not long before the story of Lusmore's hump got about, and a great wonder was made of it. Through the country, for miles round, it was the talk of every one, high and low.

One morning, as Lusmore was sitting contented enough, at his cabin door, up came an old woman to him, and asked him if he could direct her to Cappagh.

"I need give you no directions, my good woman," said Lusmore, "for this is Cappagh; and whom may you want here?"

"I have come," said the woman," out of Decie's country, in the county of Waterford looking after one Lusmore, who, I have heard tell, had his hump taken off by the fairies; for there is a son of a gossip of mine who has got a hump on him that will be his death; and maybe if he could use the same charm as Lusmore, the hump may be taken off him. And now I have told you the reason of my coming so far: 'tis to find out about this charm, if I can."

Lusmore, who was ever a good-natured little fellow, told the woman all the particulars, how he had raised the tune for the fairies at Knockgrafton, how his hump had been removed from his shoulders, and how he had got a new suit of clothes into the bargain.

The woman thanked him very much, and then went away quite happy and easy in her own mind. When she came back to her gossip's house, in the county of Waterford, she told her everything that Lusmore had said, and they put the little hump-backed man, who was a peevish and cunning creature from his birth, upon a car, and took him all the way across the country. It was a long journey, but they did not care for that, so the hump was taken from off him; and they brought him, just at nightfall, and left him under the old moat of Knockgrafton.

Jack Madden, for that was the humpy man's name, had not been sitting there long when he heard the tune going on within the moat much sweeter than before; for the fairies were singing it the way Lusmore had settled their music for them, and the song was going on; "Da Luan, Da Mort, Da Luan, Da Mort, Da Luan, Da Mort, augus Da Cadine," without ever stopping.

Jack Madden, who was in a great hurry to get quit of his hump, never thought of waiting until the fairies had done, or watching for a fit opportunity to raise the tune higher again than Lusmore had; so having heard them sing it over seven times without stopping, out he bawls, never minding the time or the humor of the tune, or how he could bring his words in properly, augus Da Cadine, augus Da Hena, thinking that if one day was good, two were better; and that if Lusmore had one new suit of clothes given him, he should have two.

No sooner had the words passed his lips than he was taken up and whisked into the moat with prodigious force; and the fairies came crowding round about him with great anger, screeching, and screaming, and roaring out, "Who spoiled our tune? who spoiled our tune?" and one stepped up to him, above all the rest and said:

Jack Madden! Jack Madden!
Your words came so bad in
The tune we felt glad in;
This castle you're had in,
That your life we may sadden;
Here's two humps for Jack Madden!

And twenty of the strongest fairies brought Lusmore's hump and put it down upon poor Jack's back, over his own, where it became fixed as firmly as if it was nailed on with twelve-penny nails, by the best carpenter that ever drove one. Out of their castle they then kicked him; and, in the morning, when Jack Madden's mother and her gossip came to look after their little man, they found him half dead, lying at the foot of the moat, with the other hump upon his back. Well to be sure, how they did look at each other! But they were afraid to say anything, lest a hump might be put upon their own shoulders. Home they brought the unlucky Jack Madden with them, as downcast in their hearts and their looks as ever two gossips were; and what through the weight of his other hump, and the long journey, he died soon after, leaving they say his heavy curse to anyone who would go to listen to fairy tunes again.


The Palace in the Rath


Everyone from Bunclody to Enniscorthy knows the rath {footnote 1} between Tombrick and Munfin. Well, there was a poor, honest, quiet little creature, that lived just at the pass of Glanamoin, between the hill of Coolgarrow and Kilachdiarmid. His back was broken when he was a child, and he earned his bread by making cradles, and bosses, and chairs, and beehives, out of straw and briers. No one in the barony of Bantry of Scarawalsh could equal him at these.

Well, he was a sober little fellow enough, but the best of us may be overtaken. He was coming from the fair of Enniscorthy one fine summer evening, up along the beautiful shady road of Munfin; and when he came near the stream that bounds Tombrick, he turned into the fields to make his road short. He was singing merrily enough, but by degrees he got a little stupefied; and when he was passing the dry, grassy ditch that surrounds the rath, he felt an inclination to sit and rest himself.

It is hard to sit awhile, and have your eyes a little glassy, and the things seeming to turn round you, without falling off asleep; and asleep my poor little man of straw was in a few minutes. Things like droves of cattle, or soldiers marching, or big flakes of foam on a flooded river, were pushing on though his brain, and he thought the drums were playing a march, when up he woke, and there in the face of the steep bank that was overgrown with bushes and blackthorn, a passage was open between nice pillars, and inside was a great vaulted room, with arches crossing each other, a hundred lamps hanging from the vault, and thousands of nice little gentlemen and ladies, with green coats and gowns, and red sugar-loaf caps, curled at the tops like old Irish birredhs, dancing and singing, and nice little pipers and fiddlers, perched up in a little gallery by themselves, and playing music to help out the singing.

He was a little cowed at first, but as he found no one taking notice of him, he stole in, and sat in a corner, and thought he'd never be tired looking at the fine little people figuring, and cutting capers, and singing. But at last he began to find the singing and music a little tedious. It was nothing but two short bars and four words, and this was the style:

Yae Luan, yae Morth --
Yae Luan, yae Morth.

The longer he looked on, the bolder he grew, and at last he shouted at the end of the verse:

Agus Dha Haed-yeen.

Oh, such cries of delight as rose up among the merry little gentry! They began the improved song, and shouted it till the vault rang:

Yae Luan, yae Morth --
Yae Luan, yae Morth --
Yae Luan, yae Morth,
Agus Dha Haed-yeen. {footnote 2}

After a few minutes, they all left off the dance, and gathered round the boss maker, and thanked him for improving their tune. "Now," said the chief, "if you with for anything, only say the word, and, if it is in our power, it must be done."

"I thank you, ladies and gentlemen," says he; "and if you would only remove this hump from my back, I'd be the happiest man in the Duffrey."

"Oh, easy done, easy done!" said they. "Go on again with the dance, and you come along with us." So on they went with:

Monday, Tuesday --
Monday, Tuesday --
Monday, Tuesday.
And Wednesday too.

One fairy taking their new friend by the heel, shot him in a curve to the very roof, and down he came the other side of the hall. Another gave him a shove, and up he flew back again. He felt as if he had wings; and one time when his back touched the roof, he found a sudden delightful change in himself; and just as he touched the ground, he lost all memory of everything around him.

Next morning he was awakened by the sun shining on his face from over Slieve Buie, and he had a delightful feel down along his body instead of the disagreeable cruith he was accustomed to. He felt as if he could go from that to the other side of the stream at one step, and he burned little daylight till he reached Glanamoin. He had some trouble to persuade the neighbors of the truth of what had happened; but the wonder held only nine days; and he had like to lose his health along with his hump, for if he only made his appearance in Ballycarney, Castle-Dockrell, Ballindaggin, Kilmeashil, or Bunclody, ten people would be inviting him to a share of a tumbler of punch, or a quart of mulled beer.

The news of the wonderful cure was talked of high and low, and even went as far as Ballynocrish, in Bantry, where another poor angashore of a humpback lived. But he was very unlike the Duffrey man in his disposition: he was as cross as a brier, and almost begrudged his right hand to help his left. His poor old aunt and a neighbor of hers set out one day, along with him, along the Bunclody road, passing by Killanne and the old place of the Colcloughs at Duffrey Hall, till they reached Temple-shambo. Then they kept along the hilly by-road till they reached the little man's house near the pass.

So they up and told their business, and he gave them a kind welcome, and explained all the ins and outs of his adventure; and the end was, the four went together in the heel of the evening to the rath, and left the little lord in his glory in the dry, brown grass of the round dyke, where the other met his good fortune. The little ounkran never once thanked them for all the trouble they were taking for him. He only whimpered about being left in that lonesome place, and bade them to be sure to be with him at the flight of night, because he did not know what way to take from it.

At last, the poor cross creature fell asleep; and after dreaming about falling down from rocks, and being held over the sea by his hump, and then that a lion had him by the same hump, and was running away with him, and then that it was put up for a target for soldiers to shoot at, the first volley they gave awoke him, and what was it but the music of the fairies in full career. The melody was the same as it was left them by the hivemaker, and the tune and dancing was twice as good as it was at first. This is the way it went:

Yae Luan, yae Morth --
Yae Luan, yae Morth --
Yae Luan, yae Morth,
Agus Dha Haed-yeen.

But the new visitor had neither taste nor discretion; so when they came about the third time to the last line, he croaked out:

Agus Dha Yærd-yeen
Agus Dha Haen-ya. {footnote 3}

It was the same as a cross fiddler that finds nobody going to give him anything, and makes a harsh back-screak of his bow along one of the strings. A thousand voices cried out, "Who stops our dance? Who stops our dance?" And all gathered round the poor fellow. He could do nothing but stare at them with his poor, cross, frightened face; and they screamed and laughed till he thought it was all over with him.

But it was not over with him.

"Bring down that hump," says the king; and before you could kiss your hand it was clapped on, as fast as the knocker of Newgate, over the other hump. The music was over now, the lights went out, and the poor creature lay till morning in a nightmare; and there the two women found him, at daybreak, more dead than alive.

It was a dismal return they had to Ballynocrish; and the moral of my story is, that you should never drive till you first try the virtue of leading.

A Fairy Tale in the Ancient English Style

Thomas Parnell

In Britain's Isle and Arthur's days,
When Midnight Faeries daunc'd the Maze,
Liv'd Edwin of the Green;
Edwin, I wis, a gentle Youth,
Endow'd with Courage, Sense and Truth,
Tho' badly Shap'd he been.

His Mountain Back mote well be said
To measure heigth against his Head,
And lift it self above:
Yet spite of all that Nature did
To make his uncouth Form forbid,
This Creature dar'd to love.

He felt the Charms of Edith's Eyes,
Nor wanted Hope to gain the Prize,
Cou'd Ladies took within;
But one Sir Topaz dress'd with Art,
And, if a Shape cou'd win a Heart,
He had a Shape to win.

Edwin (if right I read my Song)
With slighted Passion pac'd along
All in the Moony Light:
'Twas near an old enchaunted Court,
Where sportive Faeries made Resort
To revel out the Night.

His Heart was drear, his Hope was cross'd,
'Twas late, 'twas farr, the Path was lost
That reach'd the Neighbour-Town;
With weary Steps he quits the Shades,
Resolv'd the darkling Dome he treads,
And drops his Limbs adown.

But scant he lays him on the Floor,
When hollow Winds remove the Door,
A trembling rocks the Ground:
And (well I ween to count aright)
At once an hundred Tapers light
On all the Walls around.

Now sounding Tongues assail his Ear,
Now sounding Feet approachen near,
And now the Sounds encrease:
And from the Corner where he lay
He sees a Train profusely gay
Come pranckling o'er the Place.

But (trust me Gentles!) never yet
Was dight a Masquing half so neat,
Or half so rich before; The Country lent the sweet Perfumes,
The Sea the Pearl, the Sky the Plumes,
The Town its silken Store.

Now whilst he gaz'd, a Gallant drest
In flaunting Robes above the rest,
With awfull Accent cry'd;
What Mortall of a wretched Mind,
Whose Sighs infect the balmy Wind,
Has here presum'd to hide?

At this the Swain whose vent'rous Soul
No Fears of Magick Art controul,
Advanc'd in open sight;
"Nor have I Cause of Dreed," he said,
"Who view by no Presumption led
Your Revels of the Night."

"'Twas Grief, for Scorn of faithful Love,
Which made my Steps unweeting rove
Amid the nightly Dew."
'Tis well, the Gallant crys again,
We Faeries never injure Men
Who dare to tell us true.

Exalt thy Love-dejected Heart,
Be mine the Task, or e'er we part,
To make thee Grief resign;
Now take the Pleasure of thy Chaunce;
Whilst I with Mab my part'ner daunce,
Be little Mable thine.

He spoke, and all a sudden there
Light Musick floats in wanton Air;
The Monarch leads the Queen:
The rest their Faerie Partners found,
And Mable trimly tript the Ground
With Edwin of the Green.

The Dauncing past, the Board was laid,
And siker such a Feast was made
As Heart and Lip desire;
Withouten Hands the Dishes fly,
The Glasses with a Wish come nigh,
And with a Wish retire.

But now to please the Faerie King,
Full ev'ry deal they laugh and sing,
And antick Feats devise;
Some wind and tumble like an Ape,
And other-some transmute their Shape
In Edwin's wond'ring Eyes.

'Till one at last that Robin hight,
(Renown'd for pinching Maids by Night)
Has hent him up aloof;
And full against the Beam he flung,
Where by the Back the Youth he hung
To spraul unneath the Roof.

From thence, "Reverse my Charm," he crys,
"And let it fairely now suffice
The Gambol has been shown."
But Oberon answers with a Smile,
Content thee Edwin for a while,
The Vantage is thine own.

Here ended all the Phantome-play;
They smelt the fresh Approach of Day,
And heard a Cock to crow;
The whirling Wind that bore the Crowd
Has clap'd the Door, and whistled loud,
To warn them all to go.

Then screaming all at once they fly,
And all at once the Tapers dy;
Poor Edwin falls to Floor;
Forlorn his State, and dark the Place,
Was never Wight in sike a Case
Through all the Land before.

But soon as Dan Apollo rose,
Full Jolly Creature home he goes,
He feels his Back the less;
His honest Tongue and steady Mind
Han rid him of the Lump behind
Which made him want Success.

With lusty livelyhed he talks,
He seems a dauncing as he walks,
His Story soon took wind;
And beautious Edith sees the Youth,
Endow'd with Courage, Sense and Truth,
Without a Bunch behind.

The Story told, Sir Topaz mov'd,
(The Youth of Edith erst approv'd)
To see the Revel Scene:
At close of Eve he leaves his home,
And wends to find the ruin'd Dome
All on the gloomy Plain.

As there he bides, it so befell,
The Wind came rustling down a Dell,
A shaking seiz'd the Wall:
Up spring the Tapers as before,
The Faeries bragly foot the Floor,
And Musick fills the Hall.

But certes sorely sunk with woe
Sir Topaz sees the Elphin show,
His Spirits in him dy:
When Oberon crys, "a Man is near,
A mortall Passion, cleeped Fear,
Hangs flagging in the Sky."

With that Sir Topaz (Hapless Youth!)
In Accents fault'ring ay for Ruth
Intreats them Pity graunt;
For als he been a mister Wight
Betray'd by wand'ring in the Night
To tread the circled Haunt;

"Ah Losell Vile, at once they roar!
And little skill'd of Faerie lore,
Thy Cause to come we know:
Now has thy Kestrell Courage fell;
And Faeries, since a Ly you tell,
Are free to work thee Woe."

Then Will, who bears the wispy Fire
To trail the Swains among the Mire,
The Caitive upward flung;
There like a Tortoise in a Shop
He dangled from the Chamber-top,
Where whilome Edwin hung.

The Revel now proceeds apace,
Deffly they frisk it o'er the Place,
They sit, they drink, and eat;
The time with frolick Mirth beguile,
And poor Sir Topaz hangs the while
'Till all the Rout retreat.

By this the Starrs began to wink,
They skriek, they fly, the Tapers sink,
And down ydrops the Knight.
For never Spell by Faerie laid
With strong Enchantment bound a Glade
Beyond the length of Night.

Chill, dark, alone, adreed, he lay,
'Till up the Welkin rose the Day,
Then deem'd the Dole was o'er:
But wot ye well his harder Lot?
His seely Back the Bunch has got
Which Edwin lost afore.

This Tale a Sybil-Nurse ared;
She softly strok'd my youngling Head,
And when the Tale was done,
"Thus some are born, my Son (she cries)
With base Impediments to rise,
And some are born with none.

"But Virtue can it self advance
To what the Fav'rite Fools of Chance
By Fortune seem'd design'd;
Virtue can gain the Odds of Fate,
And from it self shake off the Weight
Upon th' unworthy Mind."

Billy Beg, Tom Beg, and the Fairies

Isle of Man

Not far from Dalby, Billy Beg and Tom Beg, two humpback cobblers, lived together on a lonely croft. Billy Beg was sharper and cleverer than Tom Beg, who was always at his command. One day Billy Beg gave Tom a staff, and quoth he, "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 to be 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 neighborhood. He was marveling and wondering where he could be, when he heard a far-away sound drawing nearer to him.

"Aw," said he to himself, "there's more than myself afoot on the mountains tonight; 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. There was the blowing of horns, the waving of flags, the playing of music, and the barking of many little dogs. Tom Beg thought that he had never seen anything so splendid as all he saw there. In the midst 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 upon, 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 sweet that music was. 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 in Manx 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.

The 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 that 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 clapped onto Billy Beg's back.

"Now," said the King, "be off, and if ever I find you here again, I will clap another hump on to 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.

The Fairies and the Two Hunchbacks: A Story of Picardy


Once there were three fairies who used to amuse themselves by dancing round and round, and singing, "Sunday, Monday; Sunday, Monday."

One day a little hunchback surprised them at this sport, and without being afraid, he took them by the hand and began to dance with them, repeating also, "Sunday, Monday; Sunday, Monday."

He danced so prettily that the fairies were charmed, and to reward him took away his hunch. Perfectly happy, he returned home, constantly singing as he went, "Sunday, Monday; Sunday, Monday."

On the road he met another little hunchback whom he knew. The latter was greatly astonished to see his friend relieved of his hunch, and said, "How did you manage it? Your hunch is gone."

"It is all very easy," replied the other. "You have only to go to a certain wood, when you will find some fairies. You must dance with them and sing, 'Sunday, Monday; Sunday, Monday,' and they will take away your hunch."

"I will go, I will go at once," cried the little hunchback, and started immediately for the wood to which he had been directed, where, sure enough, he found the three fairies. Without hesitating, he took them by the hand and danced with them, repeating, "Sunday, Monday." But unhappily for him, he added, "Tuesday, Wednesday."

The fairies, indignant, added to his hunch that of the first hunchback, so that he was a fright to behold, so frightful that if you had seen him you would have run away from him.

And then ? -- And then the cock crew, and it was day.

Told by Auguste Gourdin, miller, aged 63, at Warloy-Baillon (Somme).

Henri Carnoy.

The Tailor on the Brocken


A tailor heard that during the night between the last of April and the first of May witches gather on Glocker Mountain and there perform incredible dances. Being curious, on the preceding day he set forth and climbed Glocker Mountain. He hid himself among the branches of a willow tree and then saw how many hundred witches flew there through the air, had a lovely feast, and then danced joyfully.

One of the witches noticed him and shouted to another one, "See what a large burl that willow branch has. I'm going to drive my ax into it, so I can find it again next year." And she drove her ax into his back.

He only felt a single stab, but from that moment onward his back was very heavy, and when the sun came up he saw with terror from his shadow that he was now a hunchback.

Nevertheless, the following year when the first of May was approaching he could not restrain his desire to return to Glocker Mountain, because the dances had pleased him so much. Seated once again in the willow tree, the witch saw him, as before, and said, "I want to pull my ax out of the willow burl, so I won't lose it."

She reached for his back, and he felt a light stab. From that time onward his hump was gone. When the witch pulled her hand back, she was holding an ax.

The Gifts of the Mountain Spirits


A tailor and a goldsmith were journeying together, and as evening approached they heard wonderful lovely music. It was so beautiful that they forgot how tired they were and took longer and longer steps to see who the musicians were. When they listened it was at first like the wind softly blowing in the linden trees along the pathway, then it was as though the bluebells in the meadow were ringing as they nodded in the wind.

The tailor thought about his dear fiancée, whom he had left at home, and sighed because he was so poor that the musicians would not be playing at their wedding dance.

As they walked along the music sounded nearer and nearer, and at last on a hill they saw many small figures, little men and little women, holding hands and dancing in a circle around an old man. They were singing (that was the music), and one after the other they bowed before the old man.

The old man was somewhat larger than the others, had a long ice-gray beard that hung down low over his chest, had a majestic appearance, and was magnificently dressed. The tailor and the goldsmith stood there amazed and could not see enough. Then the old man motioned to them; the dancers opened their circle; and the goldsmith, who was a small hunchbacked fellow, stepped inside. The frightened tailor stayed where he was, but when he saw how the little men and women welcomed his companion, he took heart and followed him into the circle. With the circle now closed, the little people continued to dance and to sing.

The old man took a long, broad knife, whetted it until it glistened brightly, and then shaved off the hair and the beards of the tailor and the goldsmith. They shook with fear that their heads would be next, but the old man patted them friendly on their shoulders, as if to say that it was good that they had not resisted. Afterward he pointed to a pile of coal that lay nearby, indicating to them with gestures that they should fill their pockets with it. The goldsmith, who was greedy by nature, took much more than did the tailor, even though the coal had no value.

Then the two of them walked down the hill to seek shelter for the night, looking back repeatedly at the tiny dancers. The music sounded more distant and more softly. The monastery bell in the valley struck twelve, and suddenly the hill was empty. Everything had disappeared.

Once at the inn the two wanderers covered themselves with their jackets, and because they were very tired, they forgot to take the coal out of their pockets. They awakened earlier than usual, because their jackets were pushing down on them like lead.

They reached into the pockets and could not believe their eyes when they saw that they contained pure gold instead of coal. The goldsmith estimated that his was worth thirty thousand thalers, and the tailor's fifteen thousand. Furthermore, their hair and beards had been restored as well.

They praised the old man on the mountain, and the goldsmith said, "Do you know what? Let's go back this evening and fill our pockets clear full."

But the tailor did not want to do this. "I have enough," he said, "and am satisfied. Now I can become a master tailor and marry my Margaret. We will manage beautifully."

The goldsmith did not want to journey onward, and because they had traveled together for a long time, as a favor the tailor spent the day with him at the inn. As evening approached, the goldsmith hung several bags over his shoulders and went back to the hill. He heard the music, as they had before, and saw the little dancers with the old man in the middle. And the old man again motioned to him, shaved him, indicating that he should take some coal. He gathered up as much as he could carry away, hurried back to the village inn, covered himself with his jacket, and could not fall asleep in anticipation that the pockets and bags, now filled with light coal, would be getting heavier and heavier.

But on earth not everything happens the way foolish people think it will. The pockets and bags remained light. As dawn approached he went to the window and looked at each piece of coal. It was ordinary coal, and it made his fingers black. Frightened, he fetched the gold from the previous day, but it no longer glistened. Everything had turned back into coal.

Then he awakened the tailor in order to share his sorrow with him. When the tailor saw him he was horrified. Only now did the goldsmith discover his entire misfortune. His hair and his beard had been shaved off completely, and they never grew back. But the worst thing was this: he had had a hump on his back, but now he had one of the same size on his chest, and would be unable to work.

He recognized this as punishment for his greed, and began to cry bitterly. However, the tailor comforted him, saying, "Since we have been good traveling companions for so long, and since we found the treasure together, from now on you can live with me and share my treasure."

The tailor soon became a master and married his Margaret. He had many pious children and always enough work; and he is still taking care of the goldsmith with the two humps and no hair.

The Gifts of the Little People


A tailor and a goldsmith were journeying together when one evening, just as the sun had sunk behind the mountains, they heard the sound of distant music. It grew more and more distinct. It had a strange sound, but was so pleasing that they forgot their fatigue and walked speedily ahead. The moon had already risen when they arrived at a hill, upon which they viewed a large number of small men and women who were holding hands and dancing around and cheerfully singing with the greatest pleasure and happiness. That was the music that the wanderers had heard.

An old man, somewhat larger than the others, sat in their midst. He wore a brightly colored jacket, and his ice-gray beard hung down over his chest. Filled with amazement, the two wanderers stopped and watched the dance. The old man motioned to them that they too should join in, and the little people voluntarily opened their circle.

The goldsmith, who had a hump on his back, and -- like all hunchbacks -- was forward enough, stepped right up. The tailor was at first a little shy and held back, but as soon as he saw what fun it was, he too took heart and joined in.

They closed the circle again, and the little people sang and danced wildly forth. However, the old man took a broad knife, that had been hanging from his belt, sharpened it, and as soon as it was sufficiently sharpened, looked at the strangers. They were frightened, but they did not have to worry for long. The old man grabbed the goldsmith and with the greatest speed smoothly shaved off his beard and the hair from his head. Then the same thing happened to the tailor.

Their fear disappeared when the old man patted them friendly on their shoulders as if he wanted to say that they had done well by letting it all happen without resisting. With his finger he pointed toward a pile of coal that lay nearby, and indicated to them through gestures that they should fill their pockets with it. They both obeyed, although they did not know of what use the coal would be to them. Then they went on their way to seek out a place to spend the night.

They had just arrived in the valley when the bell from a neighboring monastery struck twelve. The singing ceased instantly. Everyone disappeared, and the hill lay in lonely moonlight.

The two wanderers found shelter. Lying on beds of straw, they covered themselves with their jackets. They were so tired that they forgot to take the coal out of their pockets first.

They were awakened earlier than normal by a heavy weight pressing down on their limbs. They reached into their pockets, and could hardly believe their eyes when they saw that they were not filled with coal, but with pure gold. Further, their hair and their beards had also been fully restored.

Now they were rich. However, the goldsmith had twice as much as the tailor, because -- true to his greedy nature -- he had filled his pockets better. However much a greedy person has, he always wants more, so the goldsmith proposed to the tailor that they stay there another day in order to be able to gain even more wealth from the old man on the mountain that evening.

The tailor did not want to do this, and said: "I have enough and am satisfied. I am going to become a master, marry my pleasant object (as he called his sweetheart), and be a happy man."

However, to please the goldsmith, he agreed to stay one more day. That evening the goldsmith hung several bags over his shoulders in order to be able to carry everything, and set off for the hill.

As had happened the night before, he found the little people dancing and singing. The old man shaved him smooth once again, and indicated that he should take some coal. Without hesitating he packed away as much as his pockets and bags would hold, and then happily returned home. Covering himself with his jacket he said: "I can bear it, if the gold presses down on me." With the sweet premonition that he would awaken tomorrow as a very rich man, he fell asleep.

When he opened his eyes, he got up quickly in order to examine his pockets and bags. How astounded he was, that he pulled out nothing but black coal, however often he reached inside. "Anyway, I still have the gold from the night before," he thought, and reached for it. Horrified, he saw that it too had turned back into coal. He struck himself on the forehead with his grimy hand, and felt that his entire head was as bald and smooth as his beardless chin.

Nor was that the end of his misfortune. Only now did he notice that in addition the hump on his back, a second one, of the same size, had grown onto his chest. Now he recognized the punishment for his greed and began to cry aloud.

The good tailor, who had been awakened by all this, consoled the unhappy man as best he could, saying: "You were my traveling companion, and you can stay with me now and live from my treasure."

He kept his word, but the poor goldsmith had to bear two humps and cover his bald head with a cap as long as he lived.

The Two Hunchbacked Brothers


There was once a man who had one son, who married a widow who also had one son, and both were hunchbacks. The wife took very good care of her own son, but the son of her husband she used to put to hard work and gave him scarcely anything to eat. Her son, too, used to imitate, his mother, and sadly ill-treat his stepbrother.

After treating him ill for a long time, she at last sent him away from the house altogether. The poor little hunchback wandered away without knowing where to go.

On, on, on he went, till at last he came to a lonely hut on a wide moor. At his approach a whole host of little hunchbacks came out and danced round him, chanting plaintively:

a great number of times. At last our little hunchback felt his courage stirred, and, taking up the note of their chant, chimed in with:
Instantly the dancing ceased, all the little hunchback dwarfs became full-grown, well-formed men, and, what was better still, his own hump was gone too, and he felt that he, too, was a well-grown lad.

"Good people," said our hunchback -- now hunchbacked no more -- ''I thank you much for ridding me of my hump and making me a well-grown lad. Give me now some work to do among you, and let me live with you."

But the chief of the strange people answered him and said: "This favour we owe to you, not you to us; for it was your chiming in with the right word on the right note which destroyed the spell that held us all. And in testimony of our gratitude we give you further this little wand, and you will not need to work with us. Go back and live at home, and if ever anyone beats you as heretofore, you have only to say to it, 'At 'em, good stick!' and you will see what it will do for you."

Then all disappeared, and the boy went home.

"So you've come back, have you?" said the stepmother. "What, and without your hump, too! Where have you left that?"

Then the good boy told her all that had happened, without hiding anything.

"Do you hear that?" said the stepmother to her own son. "Now go you and get rid of your hump in the same way."

So the second hunchback went forth, and journeyed on till he came to the lonely hut on the moor. A tribe of hunchbacks came out and danced round him, and sung"

to which the bad son of the stepmother added in his rough voice, all out of tune:
Immediately all the hunchbacks came round him and gave him a drubbing, and the chief of them stuck on him a hump in front as well as behind.

Thus they sent him home to his mother.

When his mother saw him come home in this plight, she turned upon the stepson and abused him for having misled her son to injure him; and both mother and son set upon him and belaboured him after their wont. But he had only told the truth, without intention to deceive; and the stepmother's son had incurred the anger of the dwarfs by his discordant addition to their chant.

So the first hero took out his wand and said, "At' em, good stick!" and the wand flew out of his hand and administered on mother and son a sounder drubbing than that they had themselves been administering.

Ever after that he was able to live at home in peace, for everyone was afraid to injure him because of the power of his stick.

The Two Humpbacks


There were once two companions who were humpbacks, but one more so than the other. They were both so poor that they had not a penny to their names. One of them said: "I will go out into the world, for here there is nothing to eat; we are dying of hunger. I want to see whether I can make my fortune."

"Go," said the other. "If you make your fortune, return, and I will go and see if I can make mine." So the humpback set off on his journey. Now these two humpbacks were from Parma. When the humpback had gone a long way, he came to a square where there was a fair, at which everything was sold.

There was a person selling cheese, who cried out: "Eat the little Parmesan!" The poor humpback thought he meant him, so he ran away and hid himself in a courtyard. When it was one o'clock, he heard a clanking of chains and the words "Saturday and Sunday" repeated several times.

Then he answered: "And Monday."

"Oh, heavens!" said they who were singing. "Who is this who has harmonized with our choir?"

They searched and found the poor humpback hidden. "O gentlemen!" he said, "I have not come here to do any harm, you know!"

"Well! we have come to reward you; you have harmonized our choir; come with us!" They put him on a table and removed his hump, healed him, and gave him two bags of money.

"Now," they said, "you can go." He thanked them and went away without his hump. He liked it better, you can believe! He returned to his place at Parma, and when the other humpback saw him he exclaimed: "Does not that look just like my friend? But he had a hump! It is not he! Listen! You are not my friend so and so, are you?"

"Yes, I am," he replied.

"Listen! Were you not a humpback?"

"Yes. They have removed my hump and given me two bags of money. I will tell you why. I reached," he continued, "such and such a place, and I heard them beginning to say, 'Eat the little Parmesan! Eat the little Parmesan!' I was so frightened that I hid myself." (He mentioned the place -- in a courtyard.) "At a certain hour, I heard a noise of chains and a chorus singing: 'Saturday and Sunday.' After two or three times, I said: 'And Monday.' They came and found me, saying that I had harmonized their chorus, and they wanted to reward me. They took me, removed my hump, and gave me two bags of money."

"Oh, heavens!" said the other humpback. "I want to go there, too!"

"Go, poor fellow, go! Farewell!"

The humpback reached the place, and hid himself precisely where his companion had. After a while he heard a noise of chains, and the chorus: "Saturday and Sunday!" Then another chorus: "And Monday!" After the humpback had heard them repeat: "Saturday and Sunday, and Monday!" several times, he added: "And Tuesday!"

"Where," they exclaimed, "is he who has spoiled our chorus? If we find him, we will tear him in pieces." Just think! they struck and beat this poor humpback until they were tired; then they put him on the same table on which they had placed his companion, and said: "Take that hump and put it on him in front."

So they took the other's hump and fastened it to his breast, and then drove him away with blows. He went home and found his friend, who cried: "Mercy! Is not that my friend? But it cannot be, for this one is humpbacked in front. Listen," he said, "are you not my friend?"

"The same," he answered, weeping. "I did not want to bear my own hump, and now I have to carry mine and yours! and so beaten and reduced, you see!"

"Come," said his friend, "come home with me, and we will eat a mouthful together; and don't be disheartened."

And so, every day, he dined with his friend, and afterward they died, I imagine.

The Elves and the Envious Neighbor


Once upon a time there was a certain man, who, being overtaken by darkness among the mountains, was driven to seek shelter in the trunk of a hollow tree. In the middle of the night, a large company of elves assembled at the place; and the man, peeping out from his hiding place, was frightened out of his wits. After a while, however, the elves began to feast and drink wine, and to amuse themselves by singing and dancing, until at last the man, caught by the infection of the fun, forgot all about his fright, and crept out of his hollow tree to join in the revels.

When the day was about to dawn, the elves said to the man, "You're a very jolly companion, and must come out and have a dance with us again. You must make us a promise, and keep it."

So the elves, thinking to bind the man over to return, took a large wen that grew on his forehead and kept it in pawn; upon this they all left the place, and went home.

The man walked off to his own house in high glee at having passed a jovial night, and got rid of his wen into the bargain. So he told the story to all his friends, who congratulated him warmly on being cured of his wen. But there was a neighbor of his who was also troubled with a wen of long standing, and, when he heard of his friend's luck, he was smitten with envy, and went off to hunt for the hollow tree, in which, when he had found it, he passed the night.

Elves, mistaking him for their former boon-companion, were delighted to see him, and said, "You're a good fellow to recollect your promise, and we'll give you back your pledge."

So one of the elves, pulling the pawned wen out of his pocket, stuck it onto the man's forehead, on the top of the other wen which he already had. So the envious neighbor went home weeping, with two wens instead of one.

This is a good lesson to people who cannot see the good luck of others, without coveting it for themselves.

How an Old Man Lost His Wen


There was once an old man who had a wen on his right cheek. This disfigurement caused him a good deal of annoyance, and he had spent a considerable sum of money in trying to get rid of it. He took various medicines and applied many lotions, but instead of the wen disappearing or even diminishing, it increased in size.

One night, while the old man was returning home laden with firewood, he was overtaken by a terrible thunderstorm, and was forced to seek shelter in a hollow tree. When the storm had abated, and just as he was about to proceed on his journey, he was surprised to hear a sound of merriment close at hand. On peeping out from his place of retreat, he was amazed to see a number of demons dancing and singing and drinking. Their dancing was so strange that the old man, forgetting caution, began to laugh, and eventually left the tree in order that he might see the performance better. As he stood watching, he saw that a demon was dancing by himself, and, moreover, that the chief of the company was none too pleased with his very clumsy antics. At length the leader of the demons said: "Enough! Is there no one who can dance better than this fellow?"

When the old man heard these words, it seemed that his youth returned to him again, and having at one time been an expert dancer, he offered to show his skill. So the old man danced before that strange gathering of demons, who congratulated him on his performance, offered him a cup of sak, and begged that he would give them the pleasure of several other dances.

The old man was extremely gratified by the way he had been received, and when the chief of the demons asked him to dance before them on the following night, he readily complied. "That is well," said the chief, "but you must leave some pledge behind you. I see that you have a wen on your right cheek, and that will make an excellent pledge. Allow me to take it off for you." Without inflicting any pain, the chief removed the wen, and having accomplished this extraordinary feat, he and his companions suddenly vanished.

The old man, as he walked towards his home, kept on feeling his right cheek with his hand, and could scarcely realize that after many years of disfigurement he had at last the good fortune to lose his troublesome and unsightly wen. At length he entered his humble abode, wife was none the less pleased with what had taken place.

A wicked and cantankerous old man lived next door to this good old couple. For many years he had been afflicted with a wen on his left cheek, which had failed to yield to all manner of medical treatment. When he heard of his neighbor's good fortune, he called upon him and listened to the strange adventures with the demons. The good old man told his neighbor where he might find the hollow tree, and advised him to hide in it just before sunset.

The wicked old man found the hollow tree and entered it. He had not remained concealed more than a few minutes when he rejoiced to see the demons. Presently one of the company said: "The old man is a long time coming. I made sure he would keep his promise."

At these words the old man crept out of his hiding-place, flourished his fan, and began to dance; but, unfortunately, he knew nothing about dancing, and his extraordinary antics caused the demons to express considerable dissatisfaction. "You dance extremely ill," said one of the company, "and the sooner you stop the better we shall be pleased; but before you depart we will return the pledge you left with us last night." Having uttered these words, the demon flung the wen at the right cheek of the old man, where it remained firmly fixed, and could not be removed. So the wicked old man, who had tried to deceive the demons, went away with a wen on either side of his face.

The Old Man with the Wen


Long ago, in the far west of Japan, there lived an old man who was kind and good. He was always very bright and happy, but he had some thing which often caused him a lot of trouble, and this was a large wen or lump on the side of his face.

He had tried all sorts of remedies and cures, but the wen only grew bigger and bigger.

One day the old man was out on the mountain side gathering sticks and pieces of wood when a. heavy storm came on. The sky became dark and gloomy-looking, the lightning ?ashed, the thunder roared, and the raindrops came pattering down one after another. The old man looked about for some means of shelter, and after a little while found a large hollow in the trunk of a very big tree. He was so glad at having found it; so, putting his bundle of sticks under another tree near by, he crept into the hollow.

The rain came down in torrents and the peals of thunder were deafening, whilst the vivid ?ashes of lightning were most terrifying. The poor old man was ?lled with fear, and prayed that the storm would soon cease. It was late in the afternooon, however, when the storm went over, and very soon the sky was again blue, and the rays of the setting sun were seen spreading out far and wide in the west.

The old man thought he had better return home as quickly as possible, as his good wife would be wondering how he had fared in the storm; so he was just about to creep out of the hollow when he heard the tramp, tramp, tramp of many feet.

The sound came nearer and nearer, and the old man, wondering whatever it could be, thrust his head out of the hollow tree. Oh! what a scare he got! Marching towards him in a long line came a great number of dreadful-looking goblins, headed by a small man with a heavy spiked club in his hand. The old man crouched back in the hollow, hardly daring to breathe.

Nearer and nearer they came until, having arrived at the hollow tree, they stopped in front of it, and began to make merry. Soon the younger goblins began to dance and sing, while all the older goblins sat laughing and clapping their hands. So far, they had not seen the old man, who lay curled up in the darkest corner of the tree.

After a time the old man became a little braver, and said to himself, "I'll just peep out, and see what they are doing. I suppose it's some kind of a goblins' concert they are having, for it sounds so very, very funny."

Saying this, the old man seemed to entirely forget his fear, and ventured out farther and farther.

Presently he saw one of the oldest and ugliest-looking goblins get up and say, "Listen to me, brother goblins! You have danced very cleverly, and sang very sweetly, but for all that your dances and songs are very, very old. Do any of you know a new dance? If so, let him come forward and perform it."

The old man, on hearing these words, determined to join the company, so, with a loud yell, he jumped out from the hollow tree, and began dancing and clapping his hands. The goblins were much startled at this sudden and unexpected appearance of the old man, and they almost fell over each other in alarm. Still the old man kept on dancing, for he knew that his whole life depended on that single dance.

The goblins sat dumbfounded, watching every movement of the old man. "Excellent!" said one goblin; "Simply marvellous!" said many others; and one and all of the goblins praised the old man's dancing very highly.

At last the old man stopped and apologised for his gross rudeness in interrupting their honourable feast.

"Oh! my dearest man," replied the leader of the goblins, "we all feel indeed grateful to you for your very worthy performance -- it was simply wonderful for so old a man. You have indeed honoured us very much by your presence. Please do us the favour of coming again and dancing for us."

The aged dancer was very delighted on hearing these words, and promised to come again.

"When will you come again?" asked one of the goblins. "Tomorrow?"

"Yes -- very well, I shall come again tomorrow and dance many times for you," replied the old man.

"But you must give us some pledge that you will indeed come tomorrow," said the leader of the goblins. "Look here! give us that wen of yours, for I believe a wen on the side of the face is a sign of good luck, and if we take that you will be certain to come again in order to get it back."

"Yes! yes!" cried all the goblins, "let us take his wen!"

Now this was just what the old man had long wished for, that some goblin or fairy would take from him that troublesome lump, as it had always been a great nuisance to him, and had also caused him much pain. So, without waiting for the old man to make any reply, they seized the wen from the cheek of the delighted old man, and disappeared from sight.

Oh! how glad he now felt, for that horrid lump had been taken from him, so with a light heart he began to set out for home. How glad his poor aged wife was to see him, but how much gladder she was to hear the strange story of how her husband had lost his wen.

"It is quite a blessing," she said joyfully. "You have indeed been favoured by the gods, and so we ought to be very thankful."

Now it happened that in the very next house lived another man who also had a wen on his right cheek, so when he heard the old man's story he felt very envious, and longed to get rid of his troublesome wen also. So he asked his kind old neighbour where he could ?nd the goblins, as he intended to set out the very next day. The kind old man told his neighbour the very place and time in which he could ?nd the goblins; so thanking the kind old man, the neighbour set out.

On and on he went until he came to the hollow tree in which his neighbour, the kind old man, had taken refuge from the storm the day before. Towards evening the goblins came, and there they found whom they supposed to be the old man already waiting for them. The neighbour had taken care to conceal his wen behind a fan which he carried in his hand until he began to dance.

"Oh, how glad we are to see you!" cried all the goblins.

"Do make haste and begin to dance for us again."

So the neighbour, who was also an old man, began to dance, holding the fan and singing as loudly as he could. Now this old man could not dance half so well as the other old man, and he began to hop and jump all over the place.

"Here, stop that foolish dancing," cried the goblins; "dance as you did yesterday! You are dancing very badly today. Do something better or else stop."

But the old man kept on with his clumsy style of dancing, until the goblins got quite angry, and, taking the wen which they took from the other old man the day before, one of the goblins threw it at the old man's left check, where it stuck and began growing at once.

Oh! how sorry was this old man then, for, instead of losing the wen on his right cheek, he had gained one on his left.

The goblins then quickly disappeared into the woods of the mountain; and the old man was left alone -- a pitiful sight -- with a big wen on each side of his face.

The Story of Hok Lee and the Dwarfs


There once lived in a small town in China a man named Hok Lee. He was a steady industrious man, who not only worked hard at his trade, but did all his own housework as well, for he had no wife to do it for him.

"What an excellent industrious man is this Hok Lee!" said his neighbors; "how hard he works: he never leaves his house to amuse himself or to take a holiday as others do!"

But Hok Lee was by no means the virtuous person his neighbors thought him. True, he worked hard enough by day, but at night, when all respectable folk were fast asleep, he used to steal out and join a dangerous band of robbers, who broke into rich people's houses and carried off all they could lay hands on. This state of things went on for some time, and, though a thief was caught now and then and punished, no suspicion ever fell on Hok Lee, he was such a very respectable, hardworking man.

Hok Lee had already amassed a good store of money as his share of the proceeds of these robberies when it happened one morning on going to market that a neighbor said to him: "Why, Hok Lee, what is the matter with your face? One side of it is all swelled up." True enough, Hok Lee's right cheek was twice the size of his left, and it soon began to feel very uncomfortable.

"I will bind up my face," said Hok Lee; "doubtless the warmth will cure the swelling." But no such thing. Next day it was worse, and day by day it grew bigger and bigger till it was nearly as large as his head and became very painful. Hok Lee was at his wits' ends what to do. Not only was his cheek unsightly and painful, but his neighbors began to jeer and make fun of him, which hurt his feelings very much indeed. One day, as luck would have it, a traveling doctor came to the town. He sold not only all kinds of medicine, but also dealt in many strange charms against witches and evil spirits.

Hok Lee determined to consult him, and asked him into his house.

After the doctor had examined him carefully, he spoke thus: "This, O Hok Lee, is no ordinary swelled face. I strongly suspect you have been doing some wrong deed which has called down the anger of the spirits on you. None of my drugs will avail to cure you, but, if you are willing to pay me handsomely, I can tell you how you may be cured."

Then Hok Lee and the doctor began to bargain together, and it was a long time before they could come to terms. However, the doctor got the better of it in the end, for he was determined not to part with his secret under a certain price, and Hok Lee had no mind to carry his huge cheek about with him to the end of his days. So he was obliged to part with the greater portion of his ill-gotten gains.

When the Doctor had pocketed the money, he told Hok Lee to go on the first night of the full moon to a certain wood and there to watch by a particular tree. After a time he would see the dwarfs and little sprites who live underground come out to dance. When they saw him they would be sure to make him dance too.

"And mind you dance your very best," added the doctor. "If you dance well and please them they will grant you a petition and you can then beg to be cured; but if you dance badly they will most likely do you some mischief out of spite." With that he took leave and departed.

Happily the first night of the full moon was near, and at the proper time Hok Lee set out for the wood. With a little trouble he found the tree the doctor had described, and, feeling nervous, he climbed up into it.

He had hardly settled himself on a branch when he saw the little dwarfs assembling in the moonlight. They came from all sides, till at length there appeared to be hundreds of them. They seemed in high glee, and danced and skipped and capered about, whilst Hok Lee grew so eager watching them that he crept further and further along his branch till at length it gave a loud crack. All the dwarfs stood still, and Hok Lee felt as if his heart stood still also.

Then one of the dwarfs called out, "Someone is up in that tree. Come down at once, whoever you are, or we must come and fetch you."

In great terror, Hok Lee proceeded to come down; but he was so nervous that he tripped near the ground and came rolling down in the most absurd manner. When he had picked himself up, he came forward with a low bow, and the dwarf who had first spoken and who appeared to be the leader, said, "Now, then, who art thou, and what brings thee here?"

So Hok Lee told him the sad story of his swelled cheek, and how he had been advised to come to the forest and beg the dwarfs to cure him.

"It is well," replied the dwarf. "We will see about that. First, however, thou must dance before us. Should thy dancing please us, perhaps we may be able to do something; but shouldst thou dance badly, we shall assuredly punish thee, so now take warning and dance away."

With that, he and all the other dwarfs sat down in a large ring, leaving Hok Lee to dance alone in the middle. He felt half frightened to death, and besides was a good deal shaken by his fall from the tree and did not feel at all inclined to dance. But the dwarfs were not to be trifled with.

"Begin!" cried their leader, and "Begin!" shouted the rest in chorus.

So in despair Hok Lee began. First he hopped on one foot and then on the other, but he was so stiff and so nervous that he made but a poor attempt, and after a time sank down on the ground and vowed he could dance no more.

The dwarfs were very angry. They crowded round Hok Lee and abused him. "Thou to come here to be cured, indeed!" they cried, "thou hast brought one big cheek with thee, but thou shalt take away two." And with that they ran off and disappeared, leaving Hok Lee to find his way home as best he might.

He hobbled away, weary and depressed, and not a little anxious on account of the dwarfs' threat.

Nor were his fears unfounded, for when he rose next morning his left cheek was swelled up as big as his right, and he could hardly see out of his eyes. Hok Lee felt in despair, and his neighbors jeered at him more than ever. The doctor, too, had disappeared, so there was nothing for it but to try the dwarfs once more.

He waited a month till the first night of the full moon came round again, and then he trudged back to the forest, and sat down under the tree from which he had fallen. He had not long to wait. Ere long the dwarfs came trooping out till all were assembled.

"I don't feel quite easy," said one; "I feel as if some horrid human being were near us."

When Hok Lee heard this he came forward and bent down to the ground before the dwarfs, who came crowding round, and laughed heartily at his comical appearance with his two big cheeks.

"What dost thou want?" they asked; and Hok Lee proceeded to tell them of his fresh misfortunes, and begged so hard to be allowed one more trial at dancing that the dwarfs consented, for there is nothing they love so much as being amused.

Now, Hok Lee knew how much depended on his dancing well, so he plucked up a good spirit and began, first quite slowly, and faster by degrees, and he danced so well and gracefully, and made such new and wonderful steps, that the dwarfs were quite delighted with him.

They clapped their tiny hands, and shouted, "Well done, Hok Lee, well done, go on, dance more, for we are pleased."

And Hok Lee danced on and on, till he really could dance no more, and was obliged to stop.

Then the leader of the dwarfs said, "We are well pleased, Hok Lee, and as a recompense for thy dancing thy face shall be cured. Farewell."

With these words he and the other dwarfs vanished, and Hok Lee, putting his hands to his face, found to his great joy that his cheeks were reduced to their natural size. The way home seemed short and easy to him, and he went to bed happy, and resolved never to go out robbing again.

Next day the whole town was full of the news of Hok's sudden cure. His neighbors questioned him, but could get nothing from him, except the fact that he had discovered a wonderful cure for all kinds of diseases.

After a time a rich neighbor, who had been ill for some years, came, and offered to give Hok Lee a large sum of money if he would tell him how he might get cured. Hok Lee consented on condition that he swore to keep the secret. He did so, and Hok Lee told him of the dwarfs and their dances.

The neighbor went off, carefully obeyed Hok Lee's directions, and was duly cured by the dwarfs. Then another and another came to Hok Lee to beg his secret, and from each he extracted a vow of secrecy and a large sum of money. This went on for some years, so that at length Hok Lee became a very wealthy man, and ended his days in peace and prosperity.

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Revised March 25, 2019.