The shoemaker now had enough money to buy leather for two pairs of shoes. That evening he cut them out, intending to continue his work the next morning with good cheer. But he did not need to do so, because when he got up they were already finished. Customers soon bought them, paying him enough that he now could buy leather for four pairs of shoes. Early the next morning he found the four pairs finished. And so it continued; whatever he cut out in the evening was always finished the following morning. He now had a respectable income and with time became a wealthy man.
One evening shortly before Christmas, just before going to bed, and having already cut out a number of shoes, he said to his wife, "Why don't we stay up tonight and see who is giving us this helping hand."
His wife agreed to this and lit a candle. Then they hid themselves behind some clothes that were hanging in a corner of the room. At midnight two cute little naked men appeared. Sitting down at the workbench, they picked up the cut-out pieces and worked so unbelievable quickly and nimbly that the amazed shoemaker could not take his eyes from them. They did not stop until they had finished everything. They placed the completed shoes on the workbench, then quickly ran away.
The next morning the wife said, "The little men have made us wealthy. We must show them our thanks. They are running around with nothing on, freezing. Do you know what? I want to sew some shirts, jackets, undershirts, and trousers for them, and knit a pair of stockings for each of them, and you should make a pair of shoes for each of them."
The husband said, "I agree," and that evening, when everything was finished, they set the presents out instead of the unfinished work. Then they hid themselves in order to see what the little men would do. At midnight they came skipping up, intending to start work immediately. When they saw the little clothes instead of the cut-out leather, they at first seemed puzzled, but then delighted. They quickly put them on, then stroking the beautiful clothes on their bodies they sang:
Sind wir nicht Knaben glatt und fein?
Are we not boys, neat and fine?
Then they hopped and danced about, jumping over chairs and benches. Finally they danced out of the house. They never returned, but the shoemaker prospered, succeeding in everything that he did.
One evening Shoemaker Jobst was sitting sadly in his workroom. His wife, burdened with sorrow, had fallen asleep next to their poor children. A cricket was chirping in corner by the stove, and the moon cast its pale light through the old, round window panes onto their pale faces.
Jobst thought, "If only I could fall asleep with you, and then wake up to a carefree life with you poor little ones!"
Then he prayed to God in heaven and stretched out on his hard bed. Concerns about the next day and new worries kept him awake.
As midnight approached he thought that he heard light footsteps in his little cottage. Trip, trap, and a company of elves came inside. They quickly moved to the leather. One of them did the cutting while another one did the stitching. In a short time they had used up all the leather, and beautiful shoes stood there on his workbench. How Jobst now looked forward to the next day. It finally arrived, and when the streets came to life, many people looked in at the shoes. They bought what was there and ordered new shoes as well.
Jobst bought more leather, and when midnight came the elves returned. They worked busily, and the next morning his workbench was filled with new shoes. Jobst became famous. Everyone wanted to buy from him. Joy and prosperity now came to his household.
Jobst wanted to make his benefactors happy. He counted the elves and had nice clothes made for them, laying them out in a row for them. How this did please the elves! They immediately put on their new clothes. But with this they became proud and no longer wanted to make shoes, saying to themselves:
Come now and look at meWithin the hour they disappeared from Jobst's house, never again to return.
Why should I a cobbler be?
The shoemaker grew ever more curious and wanted to know who was making the shoes. Therefore he bored a hole in the workroom door. That night he kept watch by looking through the hole. To his great surprise he saw a dwarf enter the room and begin sewing busily; however, the dwarf kept looking up at the hole, which he apparently had noticed.
After finishing a few pair of shoes he went to the stove and ate the food that was there, and then disappeared. Observing the same thing for some time, the shoemaker decided to do something for the dwarf, so he laid a suit of clothes on the workbench for him. The next night the dwarf came again and found the clothes. He finished the shoes and put on the clothes.
Then he cut out a pair of boots for himself, sewed them up, put them on, and said, "Why do I have to make shoes for peasants. I can now serve the King of the Dwarfs!"
With that he disappeared and never returned.
"Yes," said the dwarf. It was a lot of money, but his work would be worth it. Each week would be able to make twenty-four pair of tall riding boots. So the shoemaker hired him.
The next morning the dwarf did not begin to work but instead made himself comfortable and walked around in the house. The shoemaker reminded him of his promise, and the dwarf answered that he would keep it, but did nothing. Saturday arrived, and this day passed as well with the dwarf doing no work.
That night at eleven o'clock there arose a commotion in the house, and suddenly it was full of dwarfs. The shoemaker, who had already gone to bed with his wife, heard the noise and became curious. He looked through the keyhole and saw a roomful of dwarfs. Some were cutting and some were stitching while the journeyman sat comfortably in their midst and smoked.
Suddenly one of the dwarfs said, "Master, he's looking!"
"Let him look!" was the answer.
The dwarf repeated this three times, and the fourth time the answer was, "Then poke his eye out!"
With that the dwarf poked out the shoemaker's eye with an awl.
The latter went to his wife and told her what he had seen and what had happened to him. His wife advised him to not go back.
The dwarfs' work lasted until one o'clock, and then everything was quiet.
The next morning the wife got up and gave the journeyman his twenty-four thalers and told him he could go. The latter asked where the master was; he wanted to speak with him.
The wife answered that that was not possible, for the master was ill.
The dwarf asked, "What is wrong with him?"
"I don't know," she answered.
The dwarf insisted that she call her husband. Perhaps he could help him. So finally she fetched her husband.
The dwarf asked the shoemaker what was wrong with him, and he answered that he had seen the dwarfs at work and told what had happened to him.
With that the dwarf blew into his eye, with the words, "Next time don't look!"
And in that instant the shoemaker could again see with his eye.
One of them befriended the people at the Seeben Farm (which lies next to a hill three quarters of an hour down from the lake). He would awaken them every morning and stay with them until evening, when he returned to the lake. He did chores for them all day, and was especially helpful with their livestock, which flourished better than ever before.
However, whenever they gave him a task they always had to say, "Not too little and not too much!" otherwise he would do too little or too much.
Every day at the farmhouse they gave him his breakfast, noon meal, and evening meal, which they placed under the steps, where he sat by himself and ate. Although his clothes, including his floppy hat, were sorely worn out, and his jacket was badly ripped, the farmers at the Seeben Farm refrained from providing him with new clothes. However when winter came they secretly had a new jacket made for him, which they gave to him one evening.
To this the merman said, "When one has been paid, then one must leave. From tomorrow onward I'll not come back to you."
The farmer tried to assure him that the jacket was a gift and not a loan, but he could not dissuade the merman from his intention.
Angered at this, the maid-servant did not give the merman his evening meal, and he went away with an empty stomach. The next morning they found the maid-servant dead in front of the house. She was upside down, her head having been buried in the ground.
The merman was never again seen at the Seeben Farm.
However, the underground people cannot tolerate this, and upon receiving the jacket he immediately went away, saying, "Master, you have paid me in full; now I am finished with the work!"
And he never returned.
In the same manner, the Pixies of Dartmoor, notwithstanding their darker character, aided occasionally in household work. A cottage at Belstone, near Oakhampton, is pointed out as having been a favourite scene of their labours. It was common to find great additions made to the "web" of cloth, morning after morning; and the Pixies were frequently heard working at the loom all through the night. Plates of honey and cream, but especially a basin of pure water, must be regularly placed for them in such houses as they frequent; and it is not safe to add a more valuable reward.
A washerwoman was one morning greatly surprised on coming down stairs to ?nd all her clothes neatly washed and folded. She watched the next evening, and observed a Pixy in the act of performing this kind office for her; but she was ragged and mean in appearance, and Betty's gratitude was sufficiently great to induce her to prepare a yellow petticoat and a red cap for the obliging Pixy. She placed them, accordingly, by the side of the basin of water; and watched for the result. The Pixy, after putting them on, disappeared through the window, apparently in great delight. But Betty was ever afterwards obliged to wash all her clothes herself.
At another farm on the borders of the moor, the inhabitants were disturbed at dead of night by the loud noise of a flail at work in the barn; and in the morning a quantity of corn, which had been left in ear, was found threshed. On the ensuing night, watch was kept by the farmer, who perceived six "sprites," of the smallest imaginable size, enter the barn, and perform the same kind office as before. Their dress, however, was ragged and dirty -- and the farmer had better clothes prepared for them, which he placed where they might readily ?nd them.
In the meantime, he told his neighbours of his good luck -- who, less kind-hearted than himself, stationed themselves in the barn with their guns, behind some unthreshed corn. They had not watched long when the Pixies entered; and, delighted with their new clothes, commenced their usual dance all song -- in the midst of which the farmers who were in watch fired on them.
But they were to be harmed by no weapon of "middle earth," and they departed for ever, singing as they went:
Now the pixies' work is done,
We take our clothes and off we run.
But it was quite different when I began to ask her if in her youth she had had any knowledge of the Hart Hall "Hob." On this topic she was herself again.
Why, when she was a bit of a lass, everybody knew about Hart Hall in Glaisdale, and t' Hob there, and the work that he did, and how he came to leave, and all about it.
Had she ever seen him, or any of the work he had done?
"Seen him, saidst 'ee? Neea, naebody had ever seen him, leastwise, mair nor yance. And that was how he coomed to flit."
"How was that?" I asked.
"Wheea, everybody kenned at sikan a mak' o' creatur as yon never tholed being spied efter."
"And did they spy upon him?" I inquired.
"Ay, marry, that did they. Yah moonleeght neeght, when they beared his swipple (the striking part of the flail) gannan' wiv a strange quick bat (stroke) o' t' lathe fleear (on the barn floor) -- ye ken he wad dee mair i' yah neeght than a' t' men o' t' farm cou'd dee iv a deea -- yan o' t' lads gat hissel' croppen oop close anenst lathe-deear, an' leeak'd in thruff a lahtle hole i' t' boards, an' he seen a lahtle brown man, a' covered wi' hair, spangin' about wiv fleeal lahk yan wud (striking around with the flail as if he was beside himself). He'd getten a haill dess 0' shafts (a whole layer of sheaves) doon o' t' fleear, and my wo'd! ommost afore ye cou'd tell ten, he had tonned (turned) oot t' strae, an' sided away t' coorn, and was rife for another dess. He had nae claes on to speak of, and t' lad, he cou'd na see at he had any mak' or mander o' duds by an au'd ragg'd soort ov a sark."
And she went on to tell how the lad crept away as quietly as he had gone on his expedition of espial, and on getting indoors, undiscovered by the unconscious Hob, had related what he had seen, and described the marvellous energy of "t' lahtle hairy man, amaist as nakt as when he wur boorn."
But the winter nights were cold, and the Hart Hall folks thought he must get strange and warm working "sikan a bat as yon, an' it wad be sair an' cau'd for him, gannan' oot iv lathe wiv nobbut thae au'd rags. Seear, they'd mak' him something to hap hissel' wiv."
And so they did. They made it as near like what the boy had described him as wearing a sort of a coarse sark, or shirt, with a belt or girdle to confine it round his middle. And when it was done, it was taken before nightfall and laid in the barn, "gay and handy for t' lahtle chap to notish" when next he came to resume his nocturnal labours.
In due course he came, espied the garment, turned it round and round, and -- contrary to the usual termination of such legends, which represents the uncanny, albeit efficient, worker as displeased at the espionage practised upon him -- Hart Hall Hob, more mercenary than punctilious as to considerations of privacy, broke out with the following couplet:
Gin Hob mun hae nowght but a hardin' hamp [shirt],
He'll coom nae mair, nowther to berry [harvest] nor stamp [thresh].
Harmless as he seemed, the servants got tired of him; so they laid a green cloak and hood before the kitchen fire, and set themselves to watch the result. At midnight the Cauld Lad glided in, surveyed the garments, put them on, frisked about, and when the cock crew, disappeared, saying:
Here's a cloak, and there's a hood,
The Cauld Lad of Hilton will do no more good.
Pisky fine and pisky gay,And they say he never returned.
Pisky now will fly away.
During the short space of his absence, the Tweed, which they must necessarily ford, rose to a dangerous height. Brownie, who transported his charge with all the rapidity of the ghostly lover of Lenoré, was not to be stopped by this obstacle. He plunged in with the terri?ed old lady, and landed her in safety where her services were wanted.
Having put the horse into the stable (where it was afterwards found in a woeful plight), he proceeded to the room of the servant, whose duty he had discharged; and, ?nding him just in the act of drawing on his boots, he administered to him a most merciless drubbing with his own horse-whip.
Such an important service excited the gratitude of the laird; who, understanding that Brownie had been heard to express a wish to have a green coat, ordered a vestment of that colour to be made and left in his haunts.
Brownie took away the green coat, but was never seen more. We may suppose, that, tired of his domestic drudgery, he went in his new livery to join the fairies.
It was customary for the mistress of the house to leave out work for him, such as the supper dishes to be washed, or the churn to be prepared, and he never failed to have the whole done in the morning.
This drudgery he performed quite gratuitously. He was a most disinterested spirit. To have offered him wages, or even to present him with an occasional boon, would have insured his anger, and perhaps caused him to abandon the establishment altogether.
Numerous stories are told of his resentment in cases of his being thus affronted. For instance, on the goodman of a farmhouse in the parish of Glendevon leaving out some clothes one night for the brownie, he was heard during the night to depart, saying, in a highly offended tone:
Gi'e brownie coat, gi'e brownie sark,
ye'se get nae mair o' brownie's wark!
One day a farmer's son was minding cattle in the field when something rushed past him like the wind; but he was not frightened, for he knew it was the Phouka on his way to the old mill by the moat where the fairies met every night.
So he called out, "Phouka, Phouka! show me what you are like, and I'll give you my big coat to keep you warm."
Then a young bull came to him lashing his tail like mad; but Phadrig threw the coat over him, and in a moment he was quiet as a lamb, and told the boy to come to the mill that night when the moon was up, and he would have good luck. So Phadrig went, but saw nothing except sacks of corn all lying about on the ground, for the men had fallen asleep, and no work was done. Then he lay down also and slept, for he was very tired; and when he woke up early in the morning there was all the meal ground, though certainly the men had not done it, for they still slept. And this happened for three nights, after which Phadrig determined to keep awake and watch.
Now there was an old chest in the mill, and he crept into this to hide, and just looked through the keyhole to see what would happen. And exactly at midnight six little fellows came in, each carrying a sack of corn upon his back; and after them came an old man in tattered rags of clothes, and he bade them turn the mill, and they turned and turned till all was ground. Then Phadrig ran to tell his father, and the miller determined to watch the next night with his son, and both together saw the same thing happen.
"Now," said the farmer, "I see it is the Phouka's work, and let him work if it pleases him, for the men are idle and lazy and only sleep. So I'll pack the whole set off tomorrow, and leave the grinding of the corn to this excellent old Phouka."
After this the farmer grew so rich that there was no end to his money, for he had no men to pay, and all his corn was ground without his spending a penny. Of course the people wondered much over his riches, but he never told them about the Phouka, or their curiosity would have spoiled the luck.
Now Phadrig went often to the mill and hid in the chest that he might watch the fairies at work; but he had great pity for the poor old Phouka in his tattered clothes, who yet directed everything and had hard work of it sometimes keeping the little Phoukas in order. So Phadrig, out of love and gratitude, bought a fine suit of cloth and silk and laid it one night on the floor of the mill just where the old Phouka always stood to give his orders to the little men, and then he crept into the chest to watch.
"How is this?" said the Phouka when he saw the clothes. "Are these for me? I shall be turned into a fine gentleman."
And he put them on, and then began to walk up and down admiring himself.
But suddenly he remembered the corn and went to grind as usual, then stopped and cried out, "No, no. No more work for me. Fine gentlemen don't grind corn. I'll go out and see a little of the world and show my fine clothes."
And he kicked away the old rags into a corner, and went out.
No corn was ground that night, nor the next, nor the next; all the little Phoukas ran away, and not a sound was heard in the mill.
Then Phadrig grew very sorry for the loss of his old friend, and used to go out into the fields and call out, "Phouka, Phouka! come back to me. Let me see your face."
But the old Phouka never came back, and all his life long Phadrig never looked on the face of his friend again.
However, the farmer had made so much money that he wanted no more help; and he sold the mill, and reared up Phadrig to be a great scholar and a gentleman, who had his own house and land and servants. And in time he married a beautiful lady, so beautiful that the people said she must be daughter to the king of the fairies.
A strange thing happened at the wedding, for when they all stood up to drink the bride's health, Phadrig saw beside him a golden cup filled with wine. And no one knew how the golden cup had come to his hand; but Phadrig guessed it was the Phouka's gift, and he drank the wine without fear and made his bride drink also. And ever after their lives were happy and prosperous, and the golden cup was kept as a treasure in the family, and the descendants of Phadrig have it in their possession to this day.
Wishing to find out who it was that did them such a service, they hid themselves one night and watched. They beheld a very little fairy, dressed like a friar, but with his clothes all old and ragged. So they made a new suit of clothes for him and left it in the kitchen.
When the fairy came and saw the new garments placed there for him, he went off with them, singing:
The little friar, when his clothes are new,and never came back any more.
Does not want kneading or baking to do;
This proves, my dear children, that there are many who, like the little friar, are compliant and useful until they receive a benefit, but that when that is once received, they do not return to repay the person whom they are indebted to for it.
Revised April 28, 2018.