Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  English Folklore  Index  Previous  Next 


Click to enlarge


A WIDOW and her son, a little boy, lived together in a cottage in or near the village of Rothley, Northumberland. One winter's evening the child refused to go to bed with his mother, as he wished to sit up for a while longer, "for," said he, "I am not sleepy." The mother, finding remonstrance in vain, at last told him that if he sat up by himself the fairies would most certainly come and take him away. The boy laughed as his mother went to bed, leaving him sitting by the fire. He had not been there long, watching the fire and enjoying its cheerful warmth, till a beautiful little figure, about the size of a child's doll, descended the chimney and alighted on the hearth! The little fellow was somewhat startled at first, but its prepossessing smile as it paced to and fro before him soon overcame his fears, and he inquired familiarly: "What do they ca' thou?" "Ainsel," answered the little thing haughtily, at the same time retorting the question: "And what do they Ca' thou?" "My ainsel," answered the boy; and they commenced playing together like two children newly acquainted. Their gambols continued quite innocently until the fire began to grow dim; the boy then took up the poker to stir it, when a hot cinder accidentally fell upon the foot of his playmate. Her tiny voice was instantly raised to a most terrific roar, and the boy had scarcely time to crouch into the bed behind his mother, before the voice of the old fairy-mother was heard shouting:

"Who's done it? Who's done it?" "Oh! it was my ainsel!" answered the daughter.

"Why, then," said the mother, as she kicked her up the chimney, "what's all this noise for; there's nyon (i.e. no one) to blame."


1 T . Keightley, The Fairy Mythology, p. 313, quoting the M. A. Richardson The Local Historian's Table Book.

Next: Legend of the Rollright Stones