The Hillman And The Housewife





BY JULIANA HORATIA EWING (ADAPTED)



It is well known that the Fairy People cannot abide meanness. They like

to be liberally dealt with when they beg or borrow of the human race;

and, on the other hand, to those who come to them in need, they are

invariably generous.



Now there once lived a certain housewife who had a sharp eye to her own

interests, and gave alms of what she had no use for, hoping to get some

reward in return. One day a Hillman knocked at her door.



"Can you lend us a saucepan, good mother?" said he. "There's a wedding

in the hill, and all the pots are in use."



"Is he to have one?" asked the servant lass who had opened the door.



"Aye, to be sure," answered the housewife; "one must be neighborly."



But when the maid was taking a saucepan from the shelf, the housewife

pinched her arm and whispered sharply: "Not that, you good-for-nothing!

Get the old one out of the cupboard. It leaks, and the Hillmen are so

neat, and such nimble workers, that they are sure to mend it before they

send it home. So one obliges the Fairy People, and saves sixpence in

tinkering!"



Thus bidden the maid fetched the saucepan, which had been laid by until

the tinker's next visit, and gave it to the Hillman, who thanked her and

went away.



In due time the saucepan was returned, and, as the housewife had

foreseen, it was neatly mended and ready for use.



At supper-time the maid filled the pan with milk, and set it on the fire

for the children's supper. But in a few minutes the milk was so burnt

and smoked that no one could touch it, and even the pigs refused to

drink it.



"Ah, good-for-nothing hussy!" cried the housewife, as she refilled the

pan herself, "you would ruin the richest with your carelessness! There's

a whole quart of good milk wasted at once!"



"AND THAT'S TWOPENCE!" cried a voice that seemed to come from the

chimney, in a whining tone, like some discontented old body going over

her grievances.



The housewife had not left the saucepan for two minutes, when the milk

boiled over, and it was all burnt and smoked as before.



"The pan must be dirty," muttered the good woman in vexation, "and there

are two full quarts of milk as good as thrown to the dogs."



"AND THAT'S FOURPENCE!" added the voice in the chimney.



After a thorough cleaning the saucepan was once more filled and set on

the fire, but with no better success. The milk boiled over again, and

was hopelessly spoiled. The housewife shed tears of anger at the waste

and cried: "Never before did such a thing befall me since I kept house!

Three quarts of new milk burnt for one meal."



"AND THAT'S SIXPENCE!" cried the voice in the chimney. "You didn't save

the tinkering after all, mother!"



With that the Hillman himself came tumbling down from the chimney, and

went off laughing through the door.



But from then on the saucepan was as good as any other.





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