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ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 54

 

In Issue 54 of the Baba Indaba Children’s Stories, Baba Indaba narrates an old English tale that occurred during the 1860’s.

While the Manchester and Milford railway was being constructed (1860 – 1864), many a frugal farmer added to his earnings by boarding and lodging the navvies (labourers) who were constructing the line. Several of these sturdy workers stayed at a farm called Penderlwyngoch. One night when the moon was full, the dogs started barking, strangers were seen in the farmyard, footsteps were heard approaching and the door swung open……

You are invited to download this story to find out what happened after the door swung open.

33% of the profit from the sale of this book will be donated to charities.

This issue also has a “Where in the World – Look it Up” section, where young readers are challenged to look up a place on a map somewhere in the world. The place, town or city is relevant to the story, on map. HINT – use Google maps.

INCLUDES LINKS TO 8 FREE DOWNLOADS

Baba Indaba is a fictitious Zulu storyteller who narrates children’s stories from around the world. Baba Indaba translates as “Father of Stories”.

 

Download here -> URL: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Anon_E_Mouse_A_GHOSTLY_REHEARSAL_A_ghost_story_fro?id=SNMIDAAAQBAJ

 

A Ghostly Rehearsal - Cover

A Ghostly Rehearsal – Cover

YALLERY BROWN from MORE ENGLISH FAIRY TALES (1894)

ONCE UPON A TIME, and a very good time it was, though it wasn’t in my time, nor in your time, nor anyone else’s time, there was a young lad of eighteen or so named Tom Tiver working on the Hall Farm. One Sunday he was walking across the west field ’twas a beautiful July night, warm and still and the air was full of little sounds as though the trees and grass were chattering to themselves. And all at once there came a bit ahead of him the pitifullest greetings ever he heard, sob, sobbing, like a bairn spent with fear, and nigh heart-broken; breaking off into a moan and then rising again in a long whimpering wailing that made him feel sick to hark to it. He began to look everywhere for the poor creature. ‘It must be Sally Bratton’s child,’ he thought to himself; ‘she was always a flighty thing, and never looked after it. Like as not, she’s flaunting about the lanes, and has clean forgot the babby.’ But though he looked and looked, he could see naught. And presently the whimpering got louder and stronger in the quietness, and he thought he could make out words of some sort. He hearkened with all his ears, and the sorry thing was saying words all mixed up with sobbing —

 

‘Ooh! the stone, the great big stone! ooh! the stones on top!’

 

Naturally he wondered where the stone might be, and he looked again, and there by the hedge bottom was a great flat stone, nigh buried in the mools, and hid in the cotted grass and weeds. One of the stones was called the ‘Strangers’ Table’. However, down he fell on his knee-bones by that stone, and hearkened again. Clearer than ever, but tired and spent with greeting came the little sobbing voice — ‘Ooh! ooh! the stone, the stone on top.’ He was gey, and misliking to meddle with the thing, but he couldn’t stand the whimpering babby, and he tore like mad at the stone, till he felt it lifting from the mools, and all at once it came with a sough out o’ the damp earth and the tangled grass and growing things. And there in the hole lay a tiddy thing on its back, blinking up at the moon and at him. ‘Twas no bigger than a year-old baby, but it had long cotted hair and beard, twisted round and round its body so that you couldn’t see its clothes; and the hair was all yaller and shining and silky, like a bairn’s; but the face of it was old and as if ’twere hundreds of years since ’twas young and smooth. Just a heap of wrinkles, and two bright black eyne in the midst, set in a lot of shining yaller hair; and the skin was the colour of the fresh-turned earth in the spring — brown as brown could be, and its bare hands and feet were brown like the face of it. The greeting had stopped, but the tears were standing on its cheek, and the tiddy thing looked mazed like in the moonshine and the night air.

 

The creature’s eyne got used like to the moonlight, and presently he looked up in Tom’s face as bold as ever was; ‘Tom,’ says he, ‘thou’rt a good lad!’ as cool as thou can think, says he, ‘Tom, thou’rt a good lad!’ and his voice was soft and high and piping like a little bird twittering.

 

Tom touched his hat, and began to think what he ought to say. ‘Houts!’ says the thing again, ‘thou needn’t be feared o’ me; thou’st done me a better turn than thou know’st, my lad, and I’ll do as much for thee.’ Tom couldn’t speak yet, but he thought, ‘Lord! for sure ’tis a bogle!’

 

‘No!’ says he as quick as quick, ‘I am no bogle, but ye’d best not ask me what I be; anyways I be a good friend o’ thine.’ Tom’s very knee-bones struck, for certainly an ordinary body couldn’t have known what he’d been thinking to himself, but he looked so kind like, and spoke so fair, that he made bold to get out, a bit quavery like –‘Might I be axing to know your honour’s name?’

 

‘H’m,’ says he, pulling his beard; ‘as for that’ — and he thought a bit — ‘aye so,’ he went on at last, ‘Yallery Brown thou mayst call me, Yallery Brown; ’tis my nature seest thou, and as for a name ’twill do as any other. Yallery Brown, Tom, Yallery Brown’s thy friend, my lad.’

 

‘Thankee, master,’ says Tom, quite meek like.

 

‘And now,’ he says, ‘I’m in a hurry tonight, but tell me quick, what’ll I do far thee? Wilt have a wife? I can give thee the finest lass in the town. Wilt be rich? I’ll give thee gold as much as thou can carry. Or wilt have help wi’ thy work? Only say the word.’

 

Tom scratched his head. ‘Well, as for a wife, I have no hankering after such; they’re but bothersome bodies, and I have women folk at home as’ll mend my clouts; and for gold that’s as may be, but for work, there, I can’t abide work, and if thou’lt give me a helpin’ hand in it I’ll thank –‘

 

‘Stop,’ says he, quick as lightning. ‘I’ll help thee and welcome, but if ever thou sayest that to me — if ever thou thankest me, see’st thou, thou’lt never see me more. Mind that now; I want no thanks, I’ll have no thanks’; and he stampt his tiddy foot on the earth and looked as wicked as a raging bull.

 

‘Mind that now, great lump that thou be,’ he went on, calming down a bit, ‘and if ever thou need’st help, or get’st into trouble, call on me and just say, “Yallery Brown, come from the mools, I want thee!” and I’ll be wi’ thee at once; and now,’ says he, picking a dandelion puff, ‘good night to thee’, and he blowed it up, and it all came into Tom’s eyne and ears. Soon as Tom could see again the tiddy creature was gone, and but for the stone on end and the hole at his feet, he’d have thought he’d been dreaming.

 

Well, Tom went home and to bed; and by the morning he’d nigh forgot all about it. But when he went to the work, there was none to do! All was done already, the horses seen to, the stables cleaned out, everything in its proper place, and he’d nothing to do but sit with his hands in his pockets. And so it went on day after day, all the work done by Yallery Brown, and better done, too, than he could have done it himself. And if the master gave him more work, he sat down, and the work did itself, the singeing irons, or the broom, or what not, set to, and with ne’er a hand put to it would get through in no time. For he never saw Yallery Brown in daylight; only in the darklins he saw him hopping about, like a Will-o-th’-wyke without his lanthorn.

 

At first ’twas mighty fine for Tom; he’d naught to do and good pay for it; but by and by things began to grow vicey-varsy. If the work was done for Tom, ’twas undone for the other lads; if his buckets were filled, theirs were upset; if his tools were sharpened, theirs were blunted and spoiled; if his horses were clean as daisies, theirs were splashed with muck, and so on; day in and day out, ’twas the same. And the lads saw Yallery Brown flitting about o’ nights, and they saw the things working without hands o’ days, and they saw that Tom’s work was done for him, and theirs undone for them; and naturally they began to look shy on him, and they wouldn’t speak or come nigh him, and they carried tales to the master and so things went from bad to worse.

 

For Tom could do nothing himself; the brooms wouldn’t stay in his hand, the plough ran away from him, the hoe kept out of his grip. He thought that he’d do his own work after all, so that Yallery Brown would leave him and his neighbours alone. But he couldn’t — true as death he couldn’t. He could only sit by and look on, and have the cold shoulder turned on him, while the unnatural thing was meddling with the others, and working for him.

 

At last, things got so bad that the master gave Tom the sack, and if he hadn’t, all the rest of the lads would have sacked him, for they swore they’d not stay on the same garth with Tom. Well, naturally Tom felt bad; ’twas a very good place, and good pay too; and he was fair mad with Yallery Brown, as’d got him into such a trouble. So Tom shook his fist in the air and called out as loud as he could, ‘Yallery Brown, come from the mools; thou scamp, I want thee!’

 

You’ll scarce believe it, but he’d hardly brought out the words but he felt something tweaking his leg behind, while he jumped with the smart of it; and soon as he looked down, there was the tiddy thing, with his shining hair, and wrinkled face, and wicked glinting black eyne.

 

Tom was in a fine rage, and he would have liked to have kicked him, but ’twas no good, there wasn’t enough of it to get his boot against; but he said, ‘Look here, master, I’ll thank thee to leave me alone after this, dost hear? I want none of thy help, and I’ll have naught more to do with thee — see now.’

 

The horrid thing broke into a screeching laugh, and pointed its brown finger at Tom. ‘Ho, ho, Tom!’ says he. ‘Thou’st thanked me, my lad, and I told thee not, I told thee not!’

 

‘I don’t want thy help, I tell thee,’ Tom yelled at him — ‘I only want never to see thee again, and to have naught more to do with ‘ee –thou can go.’

 

The thing only laughed and screeched and mocked, as long as Tom went on swearing, but so soon as his breath gave out — ‘Tom, my lad,’ he said with a grin, ‘I’ll tell ‘ee summat, Tom. True’s true I’ll never help thee again, and call as thou wilt, thou’lt never see me after today; but I never said that I’d leave thee alone, Tom, and I never will, my lad! I was nice and safe under the stone, Tom, and could do no harm; but thou let me out thyself, and thou can’t put me back again! I would have been thy friend and worked for thee if thou had been wise; but since thou bee’st no more than a born fool I’ll give ‘ee no more than a born fool’s luck; and when all goes vicey-varsy, and everything agee — thou’lt mind that it’s Yallery Brown’s doing though m’appen thou doesn’t see him. Mark my words, will ‘ee?’

 

And he began to sing, dancing round Tom, like a bairn with his yellow hair, but looking older than ever with his grinning wrinkled bit of a face:

 

‘Work as thou will
Thou’lt never do well;
Work as thou mayst
Thou’ It never gain grist;
For harm and mischance and Yallery Brown
Thou’ st let out thyself from under the stone.’

 

Tom could never rightly mind what he said next. ‘Twas all cussing and calling down misfortune on him; but he was so mazed in fright that he could only stand there shaking all over, and staring down at the horrid thing; and if he’d gone on long, Tom would have tumbled down in a fit. But by and by, his yaller shining hair rose up in the air, and wrapt itself round him till he looked for all the world like a great dandelion puff; and it floated away on the wind over the wall and out o’ sight, with a parting skirl of wicked voice and sneering laugh.

 

And did it come true, sayst thou? My word! but it did, sure as death! He worked here and he worked there, and turned his hand to this and to that, but it always went agee, and ’twas all Yallery Brown’s doing. And the children died, and the crops rotted — the beasts never fatted, and nothing ever did well with him; and till he was dead and buried, and m’appen even afterwards, there was no end to Yallery Brown’s spite at him; day in and day out he used to hear him saying —

 

‘Work as thou will
Thou’ It never do well;
Work as thou mayst
Thou’ It never gain grist;
For harm and mischance and Yallery Brown
Thou’st let out thyself from under the stone.’

 

 

————————-

From MORE ENGLISH FAIRY TALES compiled by Joseph Jacobs

Illustrated by John D. Batten

ISBN: 978-1-907256-09-7

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_meft.html

Click on the URL for more info, a table of contents and to order in USD or GBP.

A percentage of the profits from the sale of this book will be donated to the Prince’s Trust.

 

More English Fairy Tales cover

 

 

There once lived a king and a queen as many a one has been. They were long married and had no children; but at last a baby boy came to the queen when the king was away in the far countries. The queen would not christen the boy till the king came back, and she said: ‘We will just call him Nix Nought Nothing until his father comes home.’ But it was long before he came home, and the boy had grown a fine, bonny laddie. At length the king was on his way back; but he had a big river to cross, and there was a whirlpool, and he could not get over the water. But a giant came up to him, and said: ‘I’ll carry you over.’ But the king said: ‘What’s your pay?’ ‘Oh, give me Nix, Nought, Nothing, and I will carry you over the water on my back.’ The king had never heard that his son was called Nix Nought Nothing, and so he said: ‘Oh, I’ll give you that and my thanks into the bargain.’ When the king got home again, he was very happy to see his wife again, and his young son. She told him that she had not given the child any name, but just Nix Nought Nothing, until he should come home again himself. The poor king was in a terrible case. He said: ‘What have I done? I promised to give the giant who carried me over the river on his back Nix Nought Nothing.’ The king and the queen were sad and sorry, but they said: ‘When the giant comes we will give him the hen-wife’s boy; he will never know the difference.’ The next day the giant came to claim the king’s promise, and he sent for the hen-wife’s boy; and the giant went away with the boy on his back. He travelled till he came to a big stone, and there he sat down to rest. He said: ‘Hidge, Hodge, on my back, what time of day is that?’

 

The poor little lad said: ‘It is the time that my mother, the hen-wife, takes up the eggs for the queen’s breakfast.’

 

Then the giant was very angry, and dashed the boy on the stone and killed him.

 

Back he went in a tower of a temper and this time they gave him the gardener’s boy. He went off with him on his back till they got to the stone again when the giant sat down to rest. And he said: ‘Hidge, Hodge, on my back, what time of day do you make that?’

 

The gardener’s boy said: ‘Surely, it’s the time that my mother takes up the vegetables for the queen’s dinner.’

 

Then the giant was as wild as could be, and killed him, too.

 

Then the giant went back to the king’s house in a terrible temper and said he would destroy them all if they did not give him Nix Nought Nothing this time. They had to do it; and when he came to the big stone, the giant said: ‘What time of day is that?’ Nix Nought Nothing said: ‘It is the time that my father the king will be sitting down to supper.’ The giant said: ‘I’ve got the right one now’; and took Nix Nought Nothing to his own house and brought him up till he was a man.

 

The giant had a bonny daughter, and she and the lad grew very fond of each other. The giant said one day to Nix Nought Nothing: ‘I’ve work for you tomorrow. There is a stable seven miles long and seven miles broad, and it has not been cleaned for seven years, and you must clean it tomorrow, or I will have you for my supper.’

 

The giant’s daughter went out next morning with the lad’s breakfast, and found him in a terrible state, for always as he cleaned out a bit, it just fell in again. The giant’s daughter said she would help him, and she cried all the beasts in the field, and all the fowls in the air, and in a minute they all came, and carried away everything that was in the stable and made it all clean before the giant came home. He said: ‘Shame on the wit that helped you; but I have a worse job for you tomorrow.’ Then he said to Nix Nought Nothing: ‘There is a lake seven miles long, and seven miles deep, and seven miles broad, and you must drain it tomorrow by nightfall, or else I’ll have you for my supper.’ Nix Nought Nothing began early next morning and tried to lave the water with his pail, but the lake was never getting any less, and he didn’t know what to do; but the giant’s daughter called on all the fish in the sea to come and drink the water, and very soon they drank it dry. When the giant saw the work done he was in a rage, and said: ‘I’ve a worse job for you tomorrow; there is a tree, seven miles high, and no branch on it, till you get to the top, and there is a nest with seven eggs in it, and you must bring down all the eggs without breaking one, or else I’ll have you for my supper.’ At first the giant’s daughter did not know how to help Nix Nought Nothing; but she cut off first her fingers and then her toes, and made steps of them, and he climb the tree and got all the eggs safe till he came just to the bottom, and then one was broken. So they determined to run away together, and after the giant’s daughter had gone back to her room and got her magic flask, they set out together as fast as they could run. And they hadn’t got but three fields away when they looked back and saw the giant walking along at full speed after them. ‘Quick! quick!’ called out the giant’s daughter, ‘take my comb from my hair and throw it down.’ Nix Nought Nothing took her comb from her hair and threw it down, and out of every one of its prongs there sprung up a fine thick briar in the way of the giant. You may be sure it took him a long time to work his way through the briar bush, and by the time he was well through, Nix Nought Nothing and his sweetheart had run far, far away from him. But he soon came along after them, and was just like to catch ’em up when the giant’s daughter called out to Nix Nought Nothing, ‘Take my hair dagger and throw it down, quick, quick!’ So Nix Nought Nothing threw down the hair dagger and out of it grew as quick as lightning a thick hedge of sharp razors placed cuss-cross. The giant had to tread very cautiously to get through all this and meanwhile they both ran hard, and on, and on, and on, till they were nearly out of sight. But at last the giant was through, and it wasn’t ‘long before he was like to catch them up. But just as he was stretching out his hand to catch Nix Nought Nothing his daughter took out her magic flask and dashed it on the ground. And as it broke, out of it welled a big, big wave that grew, and that grew, till it reached the giant’s waist and then his neck, and when it got to his head, he was drowned dead, and dead, and dead indeed.

 

But Nix Nought Nothing fled on till where do you think they came to? Why, to near the castle of Nix Nought Nothing’s father and mother. But the giant’s daughter was so weary that she couldn’t move a step further. So Nix Nought Nothing told her to wait there while he went and found out a lodging for the night. And he went on towards the lights of the castle, and on the way he came to the cottage of the hen-wife whose boy, you’ll remember, had been killed by the giant. Now she knew Nix Nought Nothing in a moment, and hated him because he was the cause of her son’s death. So when he asked his way to the castle, she put a spell upon him, and when he got to the castle, no sooner was he let in than he fell down dead asleep upon a bench in the hail. The king and queen tried all they could do to wake him up, but all in vain, So the king promised that if any maiden could wake him she could marry him.

 

Meanwhile the giant’s daughter was waiting and waiting for him to come back. And she went up into a tree to watch for him. The gardener’s daughter, going to draw water in the well, saw the shadow of the lady in the water and thought it was herself, and said: ‘If I’m so bonny, if I’m so brave, why do you send me to draw water?’ So she threw down her pail and went to see if she could wed the sleeping stranger. And she went to the hen-wife, who taught her an unspelling charm which would keep Nix Nought Nothing awake as long as the gardener’s daughter liked. So she went up to the castle and sang her charm and Nix Nought Nothing was wakened for a while and they promised to wed him to the gardener’s daughter. Meanwhile the gardener went down to draw water from the well and saw the shadow of the lady in the water. So he looked up and found her, and he brought the lady from the tree, and led her into his house. And he told her that a stranger was to marry his daughter, and took her up to the castle and showed her the man: and it was Nix Nought Nothing asleep in a chair. And she saw him, and she cried to him: ‘Waken, waken, and speak to me!’ But he would not waken, and soon she cried: ‘I cleaned the stable, I laved the lake, and I clomb the tree, And all for the love of thee, And thou wilt not waken and speak to me.’

 

The king and queen heard this, and came to the bonny young lady, and she said: ‘I cannot get Nix Nought Nothing to speak to me, for all that I can do.’

 

Then were they greatly astonished when she spoke of Nix Nought Nothing, and asked where he was, and she said: ‘He that sits there in that chair.’ Then they ran to him and kissed him and called him their own dear son; so they called for the gardener’s daughter and made her sing her charm, and he wakened, and told them all that the giant’s daughter had done for him, and of all her kindness. Then they took her in their arms and kissed her, and said she should now be their daughter, for their son should marry her. But as for the hen-wife, she was put to death. And they lived happy all their days.

 

———————-

From English Fairy Tales

ISBN: 978-1-907256-04-2

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_eft.html

 

 

 

There was an old woman, as I’ve heard tell,
She went to the market her eggs for to sell;
She went to the market, all on a market-day,
And she fell asleep on the king’s highway.

There came by a pedlar, whose name was Stout,
He cut her petticoats round about;
He cut her petticoats up to the knees,
Which made the old woman to shiver and freeze.

When this old woman first did wake,
She began to shiver, and she began to shake;
She began to wonder, and she began to cry —
‘Lawkamercyme, this is none of I!

‘But if it bet, as I do hope it be,
I’ve a little dog at home, and he’ll know me;
If it be I, he’ll wag his little tail,
And if it be not I, he’ll loudly bark and wail.’

Home went the little woman, all in the dark;
Up got the little dog, and he began to bark;
He began to bark, so she began to cry —
‘Lawkamercyme, this is none of I !’

– – –

From “More English Fairy Tales” – ISBN 978-1-907256-09-7

http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_meft.htm

Joseph Jacob’s first volume—English Fairy Tales [1890]—did not exhaust the scanty remains of traditional English folktales. Most of the forty-four tales that appear in “More English Fairy Tales” had never before appeared in print.

Lawkamercyme (page 58) is local slang for “Lord Have Mercy on Me”. Exactly which part of England it was taken from is unfortunately unknown.

In compiling More English Fairy Tales [1894], Joseph Jacobs flouted the Florklorist’s creed, choosing to present stories that would fill children’s imaginations “with bright trains of images”. Vividly painted princesses, Pied Pipers, pots of gold, giants, speaking cats, Kings, Hoybahs, wise men, washerwomen, and more overflow from this volume, all bound by the
common threads of basic moral lessons. You might say that these are the classic fairy tales of Olde England.

Many of the tales were recorded verbatim from storytellers as was Lawkamercyme. They are by no means in an authorised form, and even touch on the “vulgar” using archaic and colloquial English. In the times following Jacob’s original printing, the literary establishment objected to the use of such archaic colloquialisms.

Becuase these tales were told for generations in a form that used these dialects and “vulgar” words for effect.  Jacobs chose to stick with the vernacular. In my opinion the traditional form makes these stories all the richer in a modern setting.

The Folklore Society of the day, considered this to be vulgar and unsuitable. Yet Jacobs, Campbell and Lang all chose to follow their hearts and put their publications to the test letting the public decide who was correct. Fortunately for us the Victorians decided for the folklorists and not the society.

More English Fairy Tales