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Main > English folktales > Fairy tale "Yallery Brown"

Yallery Brown

I want none of thy help, and I'll have nought more to do with thee—see now."

The horrid thing broke into a screeching laugh, and pointed its brown finger at Tom. "Ho, ho, Tom!" says he. "Thou 'st thanked me, my lad, and I told thee not, I told thee not!"

"I don't want thy help, I tell thee," Tom yelled at him—"I only want never to see thee again, and to have nought more to do with 'ee—thou can go."

The thing only laughed and screeched and mocked, as long as Tom went on swearing, but so soon as his breath gave out—

"Tom, my lad," he said with a grin, "I'll tell 'ee summat, Tom. True's true I'll never help thee again, and call as thou wilt, thou 'lt never see me after to-day; but I never said that I'd leave thee alone, Tom, and I never will, my lad! I was nice and safe under the stone, Tom, and could do no harm; but thou let me out thyself, and thou can't put me back again! I would have been thy friend and worked for thee if thou had been wise; but since thou bee'st no more than a born fool I'll give 'ee no more than a born fool's luck; and when all goes vicey-varsy, and everything agee—thou 'lt mind that it's Yallery Brown's doing though m'appen thou doesn't see him. Mark my words, will 'ee?"

And he began to sing, dancing round Tom, like a bairn with his yellow hair, but looking older than ever with his grinning wrinkled bit of a face:

"Work as thou will

Thou 'lt never do well;

Work as thou mayst

Thou 'lt never gain grist;

For harm and mischance and Yallery Brown

Thou 'st let out thyself from under the stone."

Tom could never rightly mind what he said next. 'T was all cussing and calling down misfortune on him; but he was so mazed in fright that he could only stand there shaking all over, and staring down at the horrid thing; and if he'd gone on long, Tom would have tumbled down in a fit. But by-and-by, his yaller shining hair rose up in the air, and wrapt itself round him till he looked for all the world like a great dandelion puff; and it floated away on the wind over the wall and out o' sight, with a parting skirl of wicked voice and sneering laugh.

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