Nance and The Buggane
There was once an old woman living at Laxey, and her name was
Nance Corlett. Clean and neat her house was, with the thatch all
trim and trig against the winter storms, the tramman (elder) tree
by the door, to keep off witches, and the little red cocks and
hens wandering in and out of the open door. There wasn't a word
going a-speaking against old Nance, in all the Island.
Saturday, she set out for Doolish, to buy the week's groceries
at Kelly's and to hear the newses. She meant to walk part of the
way, and meet the carrier, who would give her a lift to Doolish.
She wore her blue and yellow gingham, and the bonnet she'd had
this forty years, and carried her basket, and the old green umbrella
tied round the middle. A lovely day it was, with a blue sky, violets
and primroses on the banks, and the streams running tinkling beside
gone about halfway to meet the carrier, when she saw Mylchreest
the farmer coming. 'What's doin' on you, Nance,' said he, 'that
you're so far from home?' 'Goin' to Doolish I am,' said Nance,
'an' the carrier will give me a bit of a lift on the way. An'
how's the worl' usin' you, Masthar?' 'Middlin' bad, for all,'
said he, ' 'tis that old Buggane from Gob-na-Scuit. A scutch of
a fella he is. Tearin' the thatch off the hay-stacks, puffin'
the smook down chimleys, an' pushin' the sheep over the edge of
the brooghs. I'm off to Onchan to see can I put a sight on him,
for 'tis said he was last heard of at Clay Head.' 'Aw, the oul
villain,' said Nance. 'Good-day, an' good luck to yer, Masthar
carrier's cart came round the bend, and old Nance climbed in.
'Good day to ye, Tom Quinney,' she said, 'theer's fine weather
doin' in.' 'Fine enough, fine enough,' said the carrier, 'if 'twasn't
for the fact that I can't get no peace at home.' 'Thou are not
tellin' me thou have married a joushag, a scold, Tom Quinney?'
said Nance. 'Aw, no, no,' said Tom, 'theer's not a batthar tempered
woman till Margid in all the Islan', if it wasn' for that dirt
of a Buggane. Puffin' the smook down the chimley he is, an' the
childher cryin', an' the house all through-others, an' lumps of
soot in the porridge.' 'Thou should larn him a lesson,' said Nance. "Tis easy catchin' the spider when thou have houl' of his leg,'
said Tom. 'Up on the top of the mountain the Buggane is, whirlin'
like a spinnin' queel, an' laughin' tremendous.' 'He's middlin'
sharp, that fella,' said Nance, 'but he's needin' a lesson in
manners, the big stupid.' 'Deed, an' he is, that,' said Tom Quinney.
last they came to Doolish, and Tom Quinney set her down outside
Kelly's shop. 'Good-day to you misthress,' said Mr Kelly, smiling
as sweetly as the shining glass bottles with the ginger-snaps
and Manx knobs in them. 'You'll take a cup of tay, won't yer,
for Misthress Kelly has the kettle boilin'?' ' "A cup of tay is
worth a pint of talkin'," as the sayin' is,' said old Nance, untying
her bonnet strings. 'Now what's all this I'm hearin' about the
Buggane of Gob-na-Scuit?' And she settled herself comfortably
beside the counter. Well you may say so, Misthress,' said Mr Kelly.
'A wickad oul fella he is, though I'd not let him hear me say
it.' And he looked behind the flour bags, and under the counter,
to make sure the Buggane wasn't there. 'Aw, the oul villain,'
said Nance, 'you let me catch him at his tricks, an' I'll larn
him. 'Puffin' the smook down the chimleys, the dirt.' 'Yes, yes,'
said Mr Kelly, 'it's a lesson he's needin', I'm sayin'.' And he
wiped the bacon knife, and absent-mindedly stuck it into the treacle.
Nance finished her shopping, and Tom the carrier set her down
at the cross-roads half-way home. The moon had risen, though it
was still not quite dark, and the primroses on the banks shone
like silver. The old woman plodded along, thinking of her Shopping
and of Mr Kelly, and of the Buggane, shaking her head now and
then as she remembered the Buggane s villainy. 'Yes, yes,' she
murmured, tis a lesson he's needin' immadjut.' Suddenly, as she
neared the darkest bit of the lane, down came the Buggane with
a terrible whirring sound, like an enormous spinning wheel, swooped
on the old woman, and carried her off to the top of the mountain.
There he set her down, and sitting cross-legged on the ground
in front of her, grinned at her with a row of teeth like iron
railings. 'Ho! Ho!' said he. 'So you're the l'il craythur would
larn me manners. The bold you are, an' the clever, I'm thinkin'.'
And he laughed, till the echoes rang. 'Deed, an' I'm not afraid
of yer at all,' said old Nance, setting her arms akimbo, 'for
all you're so big an' high an' mighty. 'Tis poor work puffin'
the smook down chimleys, an' tearin' the haystacks, an' pushin'
the l'il sheep over the brooghs.' 'I'll not be told be no man,'
said the Buggane, looking as black as a thundercloud, 'nor be
no woman, either. Meetin' Mylchreest the farmer I was, jus' now,
an' he tryin' to put a curse on me. But I blew him home faster
till he came out,' said he, laughing.
would ye be doin' with an oul woman like me, Buggane bogh?' said
Nance, looking innocent. 'Theer's nothin' I could cook for ye
here, on the coul' mountain-side, but if I was in me own house
it's a grand meal I'd be givin' ye.' 'What would ye give me, then?'
said the Buggane. 'Let me think now,' said Nance. 'Let me think
a bit. Theer's a hen, a good fat hen, an' theer's priddhas an'
buttharmilk, an' maybe a basin of pinjane - that's curds, thou
knows, an' I could bake thee a bonnag.' 'If thou try to play tricks
on me, oul woman,' said the Buggane, 'I'll tear the thatch off
thy house.' 'How could a poor oul woman like me be playin' tricks
on a high an' mighty Buggane?' said old Nance. The Buggane thought
this and that, but at last he whipped the old woman up, and away
with her down the mountain and set her in her own garden, where
the polyanthus and Pretty Nancies grew, and where Deemster the
collie stood growling and showing his teeth at the Buggane, and
wagging his tail at old Nance. 'At him! At him, Deemster!' cried
Nance, and running inside the house, she slammed the door. The
Buggane came rushing after her, but suddenly he ran bang against
the tramman tree, which was planted to keep off witchcraft. He
let out a terrible yell, so you could hear him from there to Ramsey.
Up he flew in the air, and began tearing at the thatch, but 'twas
so well tied down against the winter storms, that he couldn't
pull it off, try as he would. His claws caught in the rope - for
he never would keep his nails well trimmed - and there he hung,
dangling, with the old dog jumping at his heels. What a cursing
and swearing and spitting there was, like twelve thousand cats
gone mad. 'Let me go, let me go,' he cried, 'or I'll pull your
chimley down.' 'Aw, the dear, dear me,' said old Nance, coming
to the door. 'What's doin' on ye, Buggane bogh? Wondharful fas'
thou have tied theeself up.' 'Let me go, let me go,' cried the
Buggane, 'me claws is hurtin' shockin'.' 'If I let yer go,' said
old Nance, yer'll not be puffin' smook down chimleys no more 'No,
no,' said the Buggane. 'Nor tearin' the thatch from the haystacks?'
said old Nance, 'nor pushin' the l'il sheep over the brooghs ?'
'I'll not put a sight on them,' said the Buggane. 'Well, well,'
said old Nance, 'I'm wondharin' can I trus' thee at all?' She
went into the house and fetched a knife. Then she cut the rope,
and away went the Buggane, whirling up the mountainside like a
next time she went into Doolish, she told the story to Mr Kelly.
'Thou are sayin',' said Mr Kelly, leaning over the counter with
one hand on the bacon knife, ' "talk's cheap, but it takes money
to buy land," as the sayin' goes. A promise is a promise,' said
Mr Kelly, looking over his shoulder to see that no one was listening,
'but a Buggane's a Buggane, an' will be, to the end.' And I'm
not saying Mr Kelly wasn't right, too.