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SPRÈ NA SKILLENAGH*.
Where the bee sucks, there suck I;
“ Now, my fine fellow," said Malony to my son, with more brogue than he naturally had, and with a playful approach to vulgar life, “ I have told you my story; will you be pleased to be after returning me the favour, which your honour knows is nothing at all at all in Ireland but right justice. You are not without the “good people” here, I suppose, any more than we in the South.--Pray, have you seen any fairies, benshees, brownies, changelings,
* Or the Leather purse, or Shilling fortune; vide Fairy LEGENDS, page 175
crookbacks, shefros, cluricauries, phookas, witches, or ghosts ?”
“ Sir,” answered my boy, assuming an air of importance, and drawing himself up to a respectable height, “ we do not believe in old-women-tales of that description. I have never expected to see a fairy, and, therefore, none rose to my imagination ; but the common people think they are in every glen and Danish fort about us. The big thorn you were looking at to-day in our Paddy's garden-and it takes up a good part of his potatoe bed—he will not root up for fear of disturbing the red-capped gentry under it. But I will tell you what fun I had with our Barney the other night.”
“ Well, I am all ear for your adventure and Barney's behaviour,” said Malony.
“ I had been spending the day at Fathom,” replied my boy, “and Barney brought Bess (his pony) for me in the evening. We had had a pleasant match at bagatelle, and it was rather late when we separated. On coming up the hill, just near the gravel hole, the moon being obscured by a cloud, Barney catches me by the leg, and says, trembling in every bone-Master, dear, for the
love of God, go round by the school ; I see the little man who works so much mischief; he will do for us in less than no time.'-I must confess I felt very
cold from head to foot for a moment.- . Where Barney,' said I, is he? I can see nothing. '--'0 murder !' said Barney, and won't you believe a body ?-Look under that whin on the bank. So saying, Barney got behind Bess's tail. My mind was relieved immediately, for I saw that Barney had been frightened by a dinner-stone, off which one of the road-men had been eating his potatoes. The skins were upon it in a heap like a cap, and two or three spills of thick buttermilk had given it an appearance which Barney's fancy worked into the shape of the little man. I convinced Barney of his error ; but if I had been cowed, and gone round, why Barney would have sworn all his life that he had seen the little man."
“ Well,” said Malony, " you hear lots of fairy tales in your neighbourhood. Though you do not believe them, you may amuse yourself with hearing them sometimes. Be good enough, therefore, to relate one of those you have been told, in return for The Oyster, to which I treated you.”
“ What shall I tell ?" asked he, appealing to bis sisters, one after another : “ Would you like to hear how Sally M'Cauvre got back her own child, which the fairies had taken away, by attempting to burn off the nose, with a pair of red-hot tongs, of the crooked, ricketty, yowling, squalling thing that had been left with her ?”
6 Oh! that's too common,” answered Malony.
“ You have heard of Calla O’Bir, who lives in a cave on the top of Slievegubion ? She that always hid Redmond O'Hanlon from the king's soldiers, when he was hunted past Carrickasticken ?"
“ Oh! yes--I know all about her.-She was chased in the form of a white hare to the bottom of the mountain, where she changed into an old woman, and the dogs would have torn her to pieces if Redmond had not prevented them. Sure, the. people yet show you the pad she makes from her cave to the lough for water every night, as she dares not go in the day-time ; for her appearance is so monstrous that it would frighten man and beast to death.-O give us something else !"
“ I have a great mind to tell you how Mick Magiveragin and Molly Magiveragin, , his wife,
and Kitty Magiveragin, and Juddy Magiveragin, and Shelah Magiveragin, and all the twelve sons and daughters of Mick and Molly, fell into luck, and grew rich by a snatch that Molly made at a Cluricaune's Sprè na Skillenagh, about fifty years ago, at the back of the nut wood, under the old thorn near Big Rock.”
“ That will do excellently well," said Malony ; “ the Cluricaune can be very good when he pleases, but he must be forced to show where his money is buried; and the people say that he always works mischief to those who have not courage to hold him fast, and squeeze him till he does good. He has his Sprè na Skillenagh, or his little leathern
purse with only one shilling in it, constantly about him ; but though every body knows it would be a fortune to get it, scarcely any one has resolution enough to rob such a wild-looking fellow."
“ About fifty years ago," said my boy, commencing his tale, “there lived among the rocks a very merry, but remarkably poor man, called Mick Magiveragin. He had only a small one-roomed cabin, built of dry stone, and thatched with potatoe stalks, for himself and his wife Molly, and twelve