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Old 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.

One 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 the way.

She'd 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 Mylchreest.'

The 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.

At 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.

Old 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.

'What 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 wheel.

The 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.