[From Manx Fairy Tales, 1911]


A LONG time ago there came some monks to the broad, rough meadow which is between dark Greeba Mountain and the high road, and they chose a nice place and set up a church to St. Trinian on it. But they reckoned without the power of the Buggane, who had his haunt in the mountain. The Buggane was mighty angry, and he said to himself :

' I'll have no peace night or day with their jingling bells if I let them finish the building.' And, as he had nothing else to do, he took it into his head to amuse himself by tossing off the roof.

So when the roof of the church was first put on, there was heard that very night a dreadful sound in it, and when the people of Greeba got up early next morning they found their church roofless, and planks and broken beams all around the place. After a time, and with great effort, the roof was put on again. But when it was on, a great storm arose in the night and it was blown down from the walls, exactly as had happened before. This fall put fear in the people, for they were sure now that it was the evil, destructive Buggane himself that was doing the mischief. But, though they were terrified, they resolved to make one more attempt; and the third roof was nearly finished.

Now there was a brave little tailor living about a mile from. Greeba, and because he had not too much worldly gear, he made a wager that when the new roof was on, he would not only spend the first night in the church, but also make a pair of breeches there. The wager was taken up eagerly, as they hoped that if the roof was one night up, it would be left on.

So Timothy-that was the name of the little tailor-went to the church on the very first evening after the new roof had been put on. He started just when the shadow was beginning to get grey by the hedges. He took with him cloth, needle and thread, thimble and scissors. He entered the church boldly, lit a couple of big candles, and looked all over the building to se; that everything was right. Then he locked the door so that there was no way to get in. He cut out the cloth, and, seating himself cross-legged in the chancel, he put on his thimble and set to work at the breeches. He paid no heed to the darkness of the lonely church at dead of night, but with long thread and needle he bent low over his work, his fingers, moving backwards and forwards rapidly, casting strange, beckoning shadows on the walls. The breeches had got to be finished, or he would lose his wager, so he stitched away as fast as he could, thinking about the good money the people would have to give him.

The wind was beginning to rise, and trees scutched their arms against the windows. The tailor looked cautiously up and down and round about. Nothing strange came in sight and he took courage. Then he threaded his needle and began his work again. He gave another sharp glance around, but saw nothing at all except the glinuner of the place near the candles, and empty, deep darkness away beyond them. So his courage rose high, and he said to himself

' It's all foolishness that 's at the people about the Buggane, for, after all, the like isn't in.'

But at that very minute the ground heaved under him and rumbling sounds came up from below. The sounds grew louder underneath and Timothy glanced quickly up. All of a sudden a great big head broke a hole through the pavement just before him, and came slowly rising up through the hole. It was covered with a mane of coarse, black hair; it had eyes like torches, and glittering sharp tusks. And when the head had risen above the pavement, the fiery eyes glared fiercely at Tim; the big, ugly, red mouth opened wide, and a dreadful voice said:

'Thou rascal, what business hast thou here ? '

Tim paid no heed, but worked harder still, for he knew he had no time to lose.

' Dost thou see this big head of mine?' yelled the Buggane.

'I see, I see!' replied Tim, mockingly.

Up came a big broad pair of shoulders, then a thick arm shot out and a great fist shook in the Tailor's face.

' Dost thou see my long arms?' roared the voice.

' I see, I see! ' answered Tim, boldly, and he stopped his tailoring to snuff one of the guttering candles, and he threw the burning snuff in the scowling face before him. Then he went on with his tailoring.

The Buggane kept rising and rising up through the hole until the horrible form, black as ebony, and covered with wrinkles like the leather of a blacksmith's bellows, had risen quite out of the ground.

Dost thou see this big body of mine ?

roared the Buggane, angry that Tim showed no fear of him.

'I see, I see!' replied the Tailor, at the same time stitching with all his might at the breeches.

'Dost thou see my sharp claws?' roared the Buggane in a more angry voice than before.

' I see, I see! ' answered again the little Tailor, without raising his eyes, and continuing to pull out with all his might.

' Dost thou see my cloven foot? thundered the Buggane, drawing up one big foot and planking it down on the pavement with a thud that made the walls shake.

I see, I see! ' replied the little Tailor, as before, stitching hard at the breeches and taking long stitches.

Lifting up his other foot, the Buggane, in a furious rage, yelled:

' Dost thou see my rough arms, my bony fingers, my hard fists, my- ? '

Before he could utter another syllable, or pull the other foot out of the ground, the little Tailor quickly jumped up, and made two stitches together. The breeches were at last finished, then with one spring he made a leap through the nearest window. But scarcely was he outside the walls when down fell the new roof with a terrible crash, that made Tim jump a great deal more nimbly than he ever did before. Hearing the Buggane's fiendish guffaws of laughter behind him, he took to his heels and sped hot-foot along the Douglas road, the breeches under his arms and the furious Buggane in full chase. The Tailor made for Marown Church, only a little distance away, and knew he would be safe if he could only reach the churchyard. He ran faster still, he reached the wall, he leaped over it like a hunted hare, and fell weary and spent upon the grass, under the shadow of the church, where the Buggane had not power to follow.

So furious was the monster at this that he seized his own head with his two hands, tore it off his body and sent it flying over the wall after the Tailor. It burst at his feet with a terrific explosion, and with that the Buggane vanished, and was never seen or heard of afterwards. Wonderful to relate, the Tailor was not hurt, and he won the wager, for no person grumbled at the few long stitches put into the breeches.

And as for St. Trinian's Church, there is no name on it from that day till this but Keeill Vrisht-Broken Church, for its roof was never replaced. There it stands in the green meadow under the shadow of rocky Greeba Mountain, and there its grey roofless ruins are to be found now.


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