The Hillman and the Housewife
Juliana Horatia Ewing,
Old Fashioned Fairy Tales
It is well known that the Fairy People
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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