The Sea-Morgan's Baby
From Ruth Tongue's Forgotten Folk-Tales
of the English Counties,
told by a woman "in a Watchet teashop
on a wet day in about 1916".
There was a fisherman come down in the owl-light
into St Audries Bay. He'd heard someone singing
down there in the dark and he were curious.
So he come down by all a tip-toe.
But he couldn't be quiet enough if he tried
and the sea-morgans was all away off the rocks
and into the tide, but in their hurry they
left a baby-morgan a-kicking and chuckling
under the cliff waterfall and the fisherman found her.
His heart was sore for a little daughter
he'd just left in Watchet churchyard
and his wife's heart were abroke.
So he takes the baby morgan home up over
to the farm and puts her in the empty cradle,
and his wife took to her at once though
she couldn't ever get the little creature's
hair dry--not properly dry even in sun
and hill wind and it smelled of the sea.
The baby grew up like they all do, and,
except that she would be forever paddling
and dabbling in the spring-pond and the trout
stream, she made 'en a real good daughter
till a neighbour came pushing her nose in.
"Dear, dear, how wet your hair be.
Go and dry it like a Christian!"
But the girl just laughed. Then she had
to go and say, "A girl girl like you
a-paddling in the spring-pond an't
Christian at all. You go down to the sea
and have a swim there."
The old couple bustled her out and as she
went she heard a queer song coming from
the far-away sea. "What ever be that?"
she asked, but they wouldn't say and she
heard it again behind her and it was the girl
singing. "That's my song," she says.
"Someone wants me. There will be a storm tonight."
Well, that meddler ran and roused the Doniford
and Staple men to chase away this witch--
out the girl ran away from them all, laughing.
They couldn't catch up with her,
and then they heard the song and the waves
was thundering on the rocks and they bided
where they was up on the cart-track.
They heard her singing as she ran out along
the rocks and then a great wave took her
and no one ever saw her again.
From Lady Wilde's Ancient
Legends of Ireland, pp 56-59.
The Leprehauns are merry, industrious, tricksy
little sprites, who do all the shoemaker's work
and the tailor's and the cobbler's for the
fairy gentry, and are often seen at sunset under
the hedge singing and stitching. They know all
the secrets of hidden treasure, and if they take
a fancy to a person will guide him to the spot
in the fairy rath where the pot of gold lies buried.
It is believed that a family now living near
Castlerea came by their riches in a strange way,
all though the good offices of a friendly Leprechaun.
And the legend has been handed down through many
generations as an established fact.
There was a poor boy once, one of their forefathers,
who used to drive his cart of turf daily back
and forward, and make what money he could
by the sale; but he was a strange boy,
very silent and moody, and the people said he
was a fairy changeling, for he joined in no sports
and scarcely ever spoke to any one, but spent,
the nights reading all the old bits of books
he picked up in his rambles. The one thing
he longed for above all others was to get rich,
and to be able to give up the old weary turf cart,
and live in peace and quietness all alone,
with nothing but books round him, in a
beautiful house and garden all by himself.
Now he had read in the old books how the
Leprechauns knew all the secret places where
gold lay hid, and day by day he watched for
a sight of the little cobbler, and listened
for the click, click of his hammer, as he sat
under the hedge mending the shoes.
At last, one evening just as the sun set,
he saw a little fellow under a dock leaf,
working away, dressed all in green, with
a cocked hat on his head. So the boy jumped
down from the cart and seized him by the neck.
"Now, you don't stir from this," he cried,
"till you tell me where to find the hidden gold."
"Easy now," said the Leprechaun, "don't hurt me,
and I will tell you all about it. But mind you,
I could hurt you if I chose, for I have the
power; but I won't do it, for we
are cousins once removed. So as we are near
relations I'll just be good, and show you the
place of the secret gold that none can have
or keep except those of fairy blood and race.
Come along with me, then, to the old fort of
Lipenshaw, for there it lies. But make haste,
for when the last red glow of the sun vanishes
the gold will disappear also, and you will
never find it again."
"Come off, then," said the boy, and he carried
the Leprechaun into the turf cart, and drove off.
In a second they were at the old fort, and went
in through a door made in the stone wall.
"Now, look round," said the Leprechaun;
and the boy saw the whole ground covered with
gold pieces, and there were vessels of silver
lying about in such plenty that all the riches
of all the world seemed gathered there.
"Now take what you want," said the Leprechaun,
"but hasten, for if that door shuts you will
never leave this place as long as you live."
So the boy gathered up his arms full of gold
and silver, and flung them into the cart,
and was on his way back for more when the door
shut with a clap like thunder, and all the
place became dark as night. And he saw no
more of the Leprechaun, and had not time
even to thank him.
So he thought it best to drive home at once
with his treasure, and when he arrived and
was all alone by himself he counted his riches,
and all the bright yellow gold pieces,
enough for a king's ransom.
And he was very wise and told no one;
but went off next day to Dublin and put
all his treasures into the bank, and found
that he was now indeed as rich as a lord.
So he ordered a fine house to be build with
spacious gardens, and he had servants and
carriages and books to his heart's content.
And he gathered all the wise men round him
to give him the learning of a gentleman;
and he became a great and powerful man
in the country, where his memory is still
held in high honour, and his descendants are
living to this day rich and prosperous;
for their wealth has never decreased though
they have ever given largely to the poor,
and are noted above all things for the
friendly heart and the liberal hand.