Notes on the folk-lore of the northern counties of England and the borders/Appendix
The following remarkable story, communicated to me by Mr. Joseph Crawhall, was taken down from the lips of an old inhabitant of Newcastle-on-Tyne. The old man said he had known it all his life, and there can be little doubt that it is an ancient tale of that place. I have never met with the story before, but it bears a resemblance to some of Mr. Ralston’s Russian Folk-Lore stories, and, like the nursery tale of Toads and Diamonds, it shows the good results of courtesy and kindness:
There was once an old woman who hired a servant-girl to keep her house clean and tidy. She told the girl to rise early and sweep out every corner, but to be sure not to sweep the chimney, and every night she went through the same, saying she was never to put her brush, up the chimney. One morning, however, the servant thought she would put the brush up the chimney; she did so, and down fell a bag of money. She took it up and ran away.
As she went along she came to a gate, which spoke, and said to her, “Pretty maiden, will you open me, for I have not been opened for many a year?” “Open yourself,” said the girl, “I have no time to open you.” So she went on, and came to a cow, and the cow said, “Pretty maiden, stop and milk me, for I have not been milked for many a day.” “Milk yourself,” said the girl, “I have no time to milk you.” So she went on, and came to a mill, and the mill said, “Pretty maiden, will you turn me, for I have not been turned for many a day.” “Turn yourself,” said the girl, “I have no time to turn you.” By this time the girl began to get tired, so she hid the bag in the mill-hopper.
When the old woman got up in the morning, and missed the girl, she went straight to the chimney, and found her money was gone. So she set off directly after the girl, and when she came to the gate she said, “Gate o’ mine, gate o’ mine, have you seen a maid o’ mine, with a ji-jaller bag, and a long leather bag, with all the money in that ever I had?” and the gate said, “Further on.”
Then she went on and came to the cow, of whom she asked the same question, and got the same answer. And she went on and came to the mill, and said, “Mill o’ mine, mill o’ mine, have you seen a maid o’ mine, with a ji-jaller bag, and a long leather bag, with all the money in it that e’er I had?” and the mill said, “Down the mill-hopper.” So the old woman got her money again, and soon she hired a new girl, and told her the very same things she had told the first. The new girl did just like the first, and ran away; but when she came to the gate she opened it, and when she came to the cow she milked it, and when she came to the mill she turned it. So when the old woman went after the girl, and asked the gate, the cow, and the mill whether they had seen her, there was no answer, and the girl got away with the bag of money.