My Own Self
a tiny house in the North Countrie, far away from any town or village,
there lived not long ago, a poor widow all alone with her little son, a
The house-door opened straight on to the
hill-side and all round about were moorlands and huge stones, and
swampy hollows; never a house nor a sign of life wherever you might
look, for their nearest neighbours were the "ferlies" in the glen
below, and the "will-o'-the-wisps" in the long grass along the pathside.
many a tale she could tell of the "good folk" calling to each other in
the oak-trees, and the twinkling lights hopping on to the very window
sill, on dark nights; but in spite of the loneliness, she lived on from
year to year in the little house, perhaps because she was never asked
to pay any rent for it.
But she did not care to sit up late,
when the fire burnt low, and no one knew what might be about; so, when
they had had their supper she would make up a good fire and go off to
bed, so that if anything terrible did happen, she could always hide her
head under the bed-clothes.
This, however, was far too early to
please her little son; so when she called him to bed, he would go on
playing beside the fire, as if he did not hear her.
always been bad to do with since the day he was born, and his mother
did not often care to cross him; indeed, the more she tried to make him
obey her, the less heed he paid to anything she said, so it usually
ended by his taking his own way.
But one night, just at the
fore-end of winter, the widow could not make up her mind to go off to
bed, and leave him playing by the fireside; for the wind was tugging at
the door, and rattling the window-panes, and well she knew that on such
a night, fairies and such like were bound to be out and about, and bent
on mischief. So she tried to coax the boy into going at once to bed:
"The safest bed to bide in, such a night as this!" she said: but no, he wouldn't.
Then she threatened to "give him the stick," but it was no use.
more she begged and scolded, the more he shook his head; and when at
last she lost patience and cried that the fairies would surely come and
fetch him away, he only laughed and said he wished they would, for he
would like one to play with.
At that his mother burst into
tears, and went off to bed in despair, certain that after such words
something dreadful would happen; while her naughty little son sat on
his stool by the fire, not at all put out by her crying.
had not long been sitting there alone, when he heard a fluttering sound
near him in the chimney and presently down by his side dropped the
tiniest wee girl you could think of; she was not a span high, and had
hair like spun silver, eyes as green as grass, and cheeks red as June
roses. The little boy looked at her with surprise.
"Oh!" said he; "what do they call ye?"
"My own self," she said in a shrill but sweet little voice, and she looked at him too. "And what do they call ye?"
"Just my own self too!" he answered cautiously; and with that they began to play together.
certainly showed him some fine games. She made animals out of the ashes
that looked and moved like life; and trees with green leaves waving
over tiny houses, with men and women an inch high in them, who, when
she breathed on them, fell to walking and talking quite properly.
the fire was getting low, and the light dim, and presently the little
boy stirred the coals with a stick to make them blaze; when out jumped
a red-hot cinder, and where should it fall, but on the fairy child's
Thereupon she set up such a squeal, that the boy
dropped the stick, and clapped his hands to his ears but it grew to so
shrill a screech, that it was like all the wind in the world whistling
through one tiny keyhole.
There was a sound in the chimney
again, but this time the little boy did not wait to see what it was,
but bolted off to bed, where he hid under the blankets and listened in
fear and trembling to what went on.
A voice came from the chimney speaking sharply:
"Who's there, and what's wrong?" it said.
"It's my own self," sobbed the fairy-child; "and my foot's burnt sore. O-o-h!"
did it?" said the voice angrily; this time it sounded nearer, and the
boy, peeping from under the clothes, could see a white face looking out
from the chimney-opening.
"Just my own self too!" said the fairy-child again.
if ye did it your own self," cried the elf-mother shrilly, "what's the
use o' making all this fash about it?"—and with that she stretched out
a long thin arm, and caught the creature by its ear, and, shaking it
roughly, pulled it after her, out of sight up the chimney.
little boy lay awake a long time, listening, in case the fairy-mother
should come back after all; and next evening after supper, his mother
was surprised to find that he was willing to go to bed whenever she
"He's taking a turn for the better at last!" she said to
herself; but he was thinking just then that, when next a fairy came to
play with him, he might not get off quite so easily as he had done this
|All English Fairy Tales
THE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
JACK THE GIANT-KILLER
THE PIED PIPER OF FRANCHVILLE
THE STORY OF THE THREE BEARS
TOM TIT TOT
THE THREE SILLIES
THE OLD WOMAN AND HER PIG
HOW JACK WENT TO SEEK HIS FORTUNE
NIX NOUGHT NOTHING
MOUSE AND MOUSER
CAP O' RUSHES
THE MASTER AND HIS PUPIL
TITTY MOUSE ND TATTY MOUSE
JACK AND HIS GOLDEN SNUFF-BOX
THE RED ETTIN
MASTER OF ALL MASTERS.
THE GOLDEN ARM
THE HISTORY OF TOM THUMB
EARL MAR'S DAUGHTER
WHITTINGTON AND HIS CAT
THE STRANGE VISITOR
THE LAIDLY WORM OF SPINDLESTON HEUGH
THE CAT AND THE MOUSE.
THE FISH AND THE RING.
THE MAGPIE'S NEST
THE CAULD LAD OF HILTON
THE ASS, THE TABLE, AND THE STICK
THE WELL OF THE WORLD'S END.
THE THREE HEADS OF THE WELL