THE OLD WOMAN WHO TURNED HER SHIFT
IN a lone house--situated not far from the hill on which now stands Knill's Steeple, as it is called--which was then known as Chyanwheal, or the House on the Mine, lived a lone woman, the widow of a miner, said to have been killed in one of the very ancient "coffens," as the open mine-workings existing in this hill are termed. A village now bears this name, but it has derived it from this lone house. Whether it was that they presumed upon her solitude, or whether the old lady had given them some inducement, is not now known, but the spriggans of Trencrom Hill were in the habit of meeting almost every night in her cottage to divide their plunder. The old woman usually slept, or at least she pretended to sleep, during the visit of the spriggans. When they left, they always placed a small coin on the table by her bedside, and with this indeed the old woman was enabled to provide herself with not merely the necessaries of life, but to add thereto a few of those things which were luxuries to one iii her position. The old lady, however, was not satisfied with this. She resolved to bide her time, and when the spriggans had an unusually large amount of plunder, to make herself rich at once and for ever at their expense. Such a time at last arrived. The spriggans had gathered, we know not how much valuable gold and jewellery. It gleamed and glistened on the floor, and the old woman in bed looked on with a most covetous eye. After a while, it appears, the spriggans were not able to settle the question of division with their usual amicability. The little thieves began to quarrel amongst themselves.
Now, thought the old woman, is my time. Therefore huddling herself up under the bedclothes, she very adroitly contrived to turn her shift, and having completed the unfailing charm, she jumped from her bed, placed her hand on a gold cup, and exclaimed, "Thee shusn't hae one on 'em!"
In affright the spriggans all scampered away, leaving their stolen treasure behind them. The last and boldest of the spriggans, however, swept his hand over the old woman's only garment as he left the house. The old woman, now wealthy, removed in a little time from Chyanwheal to St Ives, and, to the surprise of every one, purchased property and lived like a gentlewoman. Whenever, however, she put on the shift which had secured her her wealth, she was tortured beyond endurance. The doctors and all the learned people used hard names to describe her pains, but the wise women knew all along that they came of the spriggans.