Manx Fairy Tales | Annotated Tale

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John-y-Chiarn's Journey

JOHN-y-Chiarn took the biggest journey in his life without meaning to do it at all.

               One night he was going towards Ballaquirk, taking his time and thinking of his younger days, when all of a sudden he heard a great murmur of people coming up behind him, and, before he had time to look round him, he felt himself getting jostled and a voice asked him--middling sharp, too:

               'What business have you here in our way at this hour of the night?'

               'I am sorry to give anyone trouble,' said John; 'I'll get over the hedge out of the road.'

               Then the leader came and touched him with the little stick he was carrying, and said to the others:

               'We'll take him with us; he'll be useful enough among the rest.'

               At that there was a big titter and John felt himself all altered like, and a thing like a load came on to his back. Then they all went on together, Themselves talking and laughing away. As soon as they came near the Ballaragh Chapel though, all was as silent as the grave. The houses were dark and the only thing they saw stirring was Quilleash's dog, and as soon as he smelt Themselves he took to his heels with his tail between his legs.

               It was a fine easy night with just a touch of soft fog on, and a little air coming down from the mountain as we got to Dreem-y-Cuschaage. There the leader sounded his big ram's horn, and as they went galloping down to the Dhoon, out came some more of the Lil Fellas from the gill and joined them, and more talking and laughing went on. He blew another blast at Ballellin, for there they could see the fog rolling down from Creg-ny-Molt.

               Again he blew at Ballagorry and they slacked down a bit, and you would have thought the whole glen would have wakened up with the echoes. Down at the bridge they could see the lights going about like will-o'-the-wisps. Then the leader shouted:

               'Get into your lines there, my boys,' and the Maughold Lil Fellas put themselves in rows on the walls of the bridge, just under the big cherry trees, holding their coloured lanthorns on the points of their sticks to give light round that dirty turn; then when all had passed, they joined in and followed behind. Away they all went, down Slieu Lewaige, fit to break their necks. They slackened off a bit as they got to Folieu and then took their time as far as Ballure's Bridge, where there was a big lanthorn hanging up in a tree over the old mill. As soon as they saw this, two of Themselves blew horns and then a host of riders came out of the mill, blowing horns too. They turned up the gill and all of a sudden the whole crowd, with John among them, were right in the middle of a big camp of the Lil People. There were lights hanging all about in the trees, and fires blazing under the cowree pots, and musicians playing fine music. Oh, the taking joy there was! Some were going round, giving horn-spoons for the cowree and binjean, and then handing round the oatbread and cheese, and the tramman wine. Then the little fiddlers and fluters and reed-fellows and the drummers got upon the top of a big rock, and the Lil Fellas began to dance, till John's head took the reel watching them. It was a grand sight to see the nice little girls in their red petticoats, and white stockings and shoes with silver buckles on, and little bells all tinkling in their hair; and the Lil Men in their white knee breeches, loghtan stockings and spotted carranes. In the middle of it all, up came the Lil Captain and----

               'John,' says he. 'What do you think of this sight, boy?'

               'It's mortal grand,' says John. 'Far before any of the carnivals I've seen before; an' how long will it last?'

               'Maybe a fortnight,' said he, laughing heartily. 'And maybe more, so you would better go back to your own people.'

               'How'll I get back at all, at all, an' in the dark, too?' says John.

               'Tchut, man,' he said, tipping John on the head with his little stick again.

               John didn't remember any more till he wakened at the break of day close to his own house, and little the worse for his long journey.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: John-y-Chiarn's Journey
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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