Manx Fairy Tales | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in August 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.



THERE was a man once in the Isle of Mann who met one of the Little Fellows, and the Little Fellow told him that if he would go to London Bridge and dig, he would find a fortune. So he went, and when he got there he began to dig, and another man came to him and said:

               'What are you doing?'

               'One of Themselves told me to come to London Bridge and I would get a fortune,' says he. And the other man said:

               'I dreamed that I was back in the lil' islan' an' I was at a house with a thorn-tree at the chimley of it, and if I would dig there I would find a fortune. But I wouldn' go, for it was only foolishness.'

               Then he told him so plainly about the house that the first man knew it was his own, so he went back to the Island. When he got home he dug under the little thorn-tree by the chimney and he found an iron box. He opened the box and it was full of gold, and there was a letter in it, but he could not read the letter because it was in a foreign language. So he put it in the smithy window and challenged any scholar who went by to read it. None of them could, but at last one big boy said it was Latin and it meant:

               'Dig again and you'll find another.'

               So the man dug again under the thorn-tree, and what did he find but another iron box full of gold!

               And from that day till the day of his death, that man used to open the front door before going to bed, and call out: 'My blessing with the Little Fellows!'


               Here is a true story that was told me by a man named James Moore when I was sitting with him by the fire one evening. He said:

                'I'm not much of a believer in most of the stories some ones is telling, but after all a body can't help believing a thing they happen to see for themselves.

               'I remember one winter's night--we were living in a house at the time that was pulled down for the building of the Big Wheel. It was a thatched house with two rooms, and a wall about six foot high dividing them, and from that it was open to the scrahs, or turfs, that were laid across the rafters. My Mother was sitting at the fire busy spinning, and my Father was sitting in the big chair at the end of the table taking a chapter for us out of the Manx Bible. My brother was busy winding a spool and I was working with a bunch of ling, trying to make two or three pegs.

               '"There's a terrible glisther on to-night," my Mother said, looking at the fire. "An' the rain comin' peltin' down the chimley!"

               '"Yes," said my Father, shutting the Bible; "an' we better get to bed middlin' soon and let the Lil' Ones in to a bit of shelter."

               'So we all got ready and went to bed.

               'Some time in the night my brother wakened me with a:

               '"Sh--ish! Listen boy, an' look at the big light tha's in the kitchen!" Then he rubbed his eyes a bit and whispered:

               '"What's mother doin' now at all?"

               '"Listen!" I said. "An' you'll hear mother in bed, it's not her at all; it must be the Little Ones that's agate of the wheel!"

               'And both of us got frightened, and down with our heads under the clothes and fell asleep. In the morning when we got up we told them what we had seen, first thing.

               '"Aw, like enough, like enough," my Father said, looking at the wheel. "It seems your mother forgot to take the band off last night, a thing people should be careful about, for it's givin' Themselves power over the wheel, an' though their meanin's well enough, the spinnin' they're doin' is nothin' to brag about. The weaver is always shoutin' about their work an' the bad joinin' they're makin' in the rolls."

               '"I remember it as well as yesterday--the big light that was at them, and the whirring that was going on. And let anybody say what they like, that's a thing I've seen and heard for myself."'


               One evening a young man who was serving his time as a weaver was walking home late from Douglas to Glen Meay. He had often been boasting that he had never seen any of the Little People. Well, this night he was coming along the St. John's Road, and when he got near to the river a big, big bull stood across the road before him. He took his stick and gave it one big knock. It went into the river and he never saw it any more.

               After that, when he got to the Parson's Bridge, he met a little thing just like a spinning wheel and there was a little, little body sitting where the spool is. Well, he lifted his stick again and struck the little body that was sitting on the spool a hard knock with his stick. The little body said to him:

               'Ny jean shen arragh!' which means, 'Don't do that again!'

               He walked on then till he got to Glen Meay and told what he had seen in a house there. Then another man said he had seen the little old woman sitting on the top of the spool of the spinning wheel and coming down Raby Hill at dark. So it took her a long time, for the first man met her at six and the second at eleven, and there isn't two miles between the two places.

               So they were saying, when the cycles came in, that the Little People had been before them! And this is a true story.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Themselves
Tale Author/Editor: Morrison, Sophia
Book Title: Manx Fairy Tales
Book Author/Editor: Morrison, Sophia
Publisher: David Nutt
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1911
Country of Origin: Isle of Man
Classification: unclassified

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