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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "The Big Poor People"

The Big Poor People

If you'ld even take good care never to harm them, it's likely they'ld never come near you."

"It's the fairies you're speakin' of," said Peter. "Sure I don't believe in them at all. It's old woman's nonsense that your head's full of, savin' your presence, Mrs. O'Brien. There's no fairies at all. Don't talk to me."

"You'ld better be more respectful to them, Peter," Mrs. O'Brien answered. "Say less about not believing in them and don't call them by that name, that they don't like. Call them 'the Good People' or 'the gentry.' They don't like the name that you called them, any more than they like those who disbelieve in them or those who try to know too much about them. Speak well about them and treat them well, as we do, and they'll not trouble you; maybe they'll even help you. Didn't you see, as you came in, how we left something for them to eat and drink outside the door there? We've not much, but they like fresh milk and clean water, and we always give them these, and they hold nothing but friendliness for us. Look and see now if they've taken what we left there for them after supper."

Peter went to the door and looked. "There's nothing in the dishes there," he said; "but how do we know it wasn't the pig that ate it, or some poor dog, maybe?"

"You don't know," said Mrs. O'Brien, "only as I tell you, and you'ld better be attending to them that know more than yourself. If you did chance to give a meal to some poor dog, instead of to the Good People, there'ld be no great harm done, but it's the Good People that get what we put there. We always leave it for them and they always come and take it, and it's that makes them friendly, and so they would be to you, if you did the same. But you do nothing for them, because you say you don't believe in them, and you do worse than nothing. Didn't I see Ellen the other evening throwing out some dirty water and never saying 'Take care of the water?'"

"And what if I did?" said Ellen. "Can't I throw out wather when I plase, widout talkin' about it?

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