Manx Fairy Tales: The Lazy Wife

Manx Fairy Tales: The Lazy Wife

Well, there was a woman once, and she was scandalous lazy. She was that lazy she would do nothing but sit in the corner of the chiollagh warming herself, or going on the houses for newses the day long. And one day her man gives her some wool to spin for him; he was terrible badly off for clothes to wear, for she was letting them get all ragged on him. He had told her to mend them until she was tired, but all he could get out of-her was " Traa dy liooar." Time enough!

One day he comes to her, and says:

"Thou liggey my hraa, here is some wool for thee to spin, and if it is not done a month from this day, I'll throw thee out on the side of the road. Thou and thy Traa dy liooar have left me nearly bare."

Well, she was too lazy to spin, but she would be pretending to be working hard when the husband was in the house. She used to put the wheel out on the floor every night before the husband came in from work, to let on to him that she had been spinning.

The husband was asking her was the thread getting near spun, for he said he was seeing the wheel so often on the floor that he wanted to know if she had enough to take to the weaver. When it came to the last week but one ' she had only one ball spun, and that one was knotted and as coarse as gorse. When her husband says to her:

"I'm seeing the wheel middling often on the floor when I come home at night; maybe there's enough thread spun at thee now for me to take to the weaver next week?"

"I don't know, at all," says the wife.

Maybe there is let us count the balls."

Then the play began! Up she went on the lout, and flung the ball through the hole, down to him.

"Keep count thyself, and fling the balls back again to me," says she to the man. And as fast as he flung the ball up to her, so fast she flung it down to him again. When he had counted the ball, maybe, two score times, she says to him:

"That's all that's in."

"Aw, 'deed, you've spun well, woman, for all," says he; "there's plenty done at thee for the weaver."

Aw, then she was in a great fix, and didn't know in her senses what to do to save herself. She knew she would sup sorrow if she was found out, but she could think of nothing.

At last she bethought herself of the Giant that lived in a lonesome place up the mountain. for she had heard tell he was good to work, and the woman, she says to herself:

"I've a mind to go my ways to him." She took the road early next morning, she and her rolls of wool, and she walked up hills, down gills, till at last she came to the Giant's house.

"What are thou wanting here?" says the Giant.

"I'm wanting thee to help me," says she; and she up and told him about the ball of thread and everything.

"I'll spin the wool for thee," says the Giant, "if thou'll tell me my name when thou come for the balls a week from this day. Are thou satisfied?"

"Why shouldn't I be satisfied?" says the woman; for she thought to herself it would be a middling queer thing if she couldn't find out his name within a week. Well, the woman she tried every way to find out the Giant's name, but, go where she might, no one had ever heard tell of it. The time was getting over fast, and she was no nearer to the Giant's name. At last it came to the last day but one.

Now, as it happened, the husband was coming home from the mountain that day in the little evening, and as he neared the Giant's house, he saw it all in a blaze of light, and there was a great whirling and whistling coming to his ears, and along with it came singing, and laughing, and shouting.

So he drew near the window, and then he sees the big Giant inside sitting at a wheel, spinning like the wind, and his hands flying with the thread to and fro, to and fro, like the lightning, and he shouting to the whistling wheel: "Spin, wheel, spin faster; and sing, wheel, sing louder!"

And he sings, as the wheel whirls faster and faster

"Snieu queeyl, snieu; 'rane, queeyl, 'rane;
Dy aooilley clea er y thie, snieu er my skyn.
Lheeish yn ollan, lhiams y snaie,
S'beg fys t'ec yn ven litcheragh
Dy re Mollyndroat my ennym!"
Spin, wheel, spin; sing, wheel, sing;
Every beam on the house, spin overhead.
Herself's is the wool, mine is the thread,
How little she knows, the lazy wife,
That my name is Mollyndroat!

When the husband got home that evening he was late, and his wife said to him:

"Where have you been so late? Did thou hear anything new?

Then he said:

"Thou are middling good to spin thyself, ven thie; but I'm thinking there's one in that's better than thee, for all. Never in all my born days did I see such spinning, a thread as fine as a cobweb, and hear such singing as there was going on in the Giant's house to-night."

"What was he singing?" says the wife. And he sang the song to her:

Snieu, queeyl, snicu; 'rane, queeyl, 'rane.
Dy chooilley clea er y thie, snieu er my skyn.
Lheeish yn ollan, lhiams y snaie,
S'beg fys t'ec yn ven litcheragh
Dy re Mollyndroat my ennym!
Well, well, the joy the woman took when she heard the song!

"Aw, what sweet music! Sing it again, my good man," says she.

And he sang it to her again, till she knew it by heart.

Early next morning, she went as fast as her feet could carry her to the Giant's house. The road was long, and a bit lonesome under the trees, and to keep up her heart she sang to herself:

Snieu, queeyl, snieu ; snien, queeyl, snieu
Dy chooilley vangan er y vffiey, snieu er my skyn.
S'lesh hene yn ofian, as lesh my hene y snaie,
Son shenn Mollyndroat cha vow eh dy braa.'
Spin, wheel, spin; spin, wheel, spin;
Every branch on the tree, spin overhead.
The wool is Himself's, the thread is my own,
For old Mollyndroat will never get it.

When she got to the house, she found the door open before her, and in she went.

"I've come again for the thread," says she.

"Aisy, aisy, good woman," says the Giant. "If thou don't tell me my name thou won't get the thread-that was the bargain." Andsayshe: "Now, what's my name?"

"Is it Mollyrea?" says she-to let on that she didn't know it.

"No, it is not," says he.

"Are you one of the Mollyruiy ones?" says she.

"I'm not one of that clan," says he.

"Are they calling you Mollyvridey?" says she.

"They are not," says he.

"I'll warrant your name is Mollychreest?" says she.

"You are wrong, though," says he.

"Are you going by the name of Mollyvoirrey?" says she.

"Deed I am not," says he.

"Maybe your name is Mollyvartin?" says she.

"And, maybe, it's not at all," says he.

"They're saying," says she, "that there was only seven families living on the islan' at one time, and their names all began with "Molly" ; and so," says she, "if you are not a Mollycharaine, you are none of the rael, oul' Manx ones, at all."

"I am not a Mollycharaine," says he. "Now, be careful, woman; next guess is your last."

At that she pretended to be frightened, and says she, slowly, pointing her finger at him:

S'lesh hene yn ollan, as lesh my hene y snaie,
Son shenn-Moll-YN-DROAT cha vow eh dy braa.'

The wool is Himself's, and the thread is my own,
For old-Moll-YN-DROAT will never get it.

Well the Giant, he was done, and he was in a red rage, and he cries:

"Bad luck to you! You never would have found out my name unless you're mummig yn aishnee."

"Bad luck to yourself, my boy," say she, "for trying to steal a dacent woman' wool.

"Go to the Devil, yourself and you fortune-telling," shouts he, jumping up and flinging the balls at her.

Source:  Sophia Morrison - Manx Fairy Tales, London 1911