LEGEND OF BOTTLE HILL.
"Come, listen to a tale of times of old,
Come listen to me-"
It was in the good days, when the little people
most impudently called fairies, were more fre-
quently seen than they are in these unbelieving
times, that a farmer, named Mick Purcell, rented
a few acres of barren ground in the neighbourhood
of the once celebrated preceptory of Mourne,
situated about three miles from Mallow, and thir-
teen from "the beautiful city called Cork." Mick
had a wife and family: they all did what they
could, and that was but little, for the poor man
had no child grown up big enough to help him in
his work: and all the poor woman could do was
to mind the children, and to milk the one cow,
and to boil the potatoes, and carry the eggs to
market to Mallow; but with all they could do,
was hard enough on them to pay the rent. Well,
they did manage it for a good while; but at last
came a bad year, and the little grain of oats was
all spoiled, and the chickens died of the pip, and
the pig got the measles, - she was sold in Mallow
and brought almost nothing; and poor Mick
found that he hadn't enough to half pay his rent,
and two gales were due.
"Why, then, Molly," says he, " what'll we
"Wisha, then, mavournene, what would you
do but take the cow to the fair of Cork and sell
her," says she; "and Monday is fair day, and so
you must go to-morrow, that the poor beast may
be rested again the fair."
"And what'll we do when she's gone?" says
"Never a know I know, Mick; but sure God
won't leave us without Him, Mick; and you know
how good He was to us when poor little Billy
was sick, and we had nothing at all for him to
take, that good doctor gentleman at Ballydahin
come riding and asking for a drink of milk; and
how he gave us two shillings; and how he sent
the things and bottles for the child, and gave me
my breakfast when I went over to ask a question,
so he did; and how he came to see Billy, and
never left off his goodness till he was quite well?"
"Oh ! you are always that way, Molly, and I
believe you are right after all, so I won't be sorry
for selling the cow; but I'll go to-morrow, and
you must put a needle and thread through my
coat, for you know 't is ripped under the arm."
Molly told him he should have every thing
right; and about twelve o'clock next day he left
her, getting a charge not to sell his cow except for
the highest penny. Mick promised to mind it,
and went his way along the road. He drove his
cow slowly through the little stream which crosses
it, and runs by the old walls of Mourne. As he
passed he glanced his eye upon the towers and
one of the old elder trees, which were only then
little bits of switches.
"Oh, then, if I only had half the money that's
buried in you, 't isn't driving this poor cow I'd be
now! Why, then, isn't it too bad that it should be
there covered over with earth, and many a one
besides me wanting? Well, if it's God's will, I'll
have some money myself coming back."
So saying, be moved on after his beast ; 'twas
a fine day, and the sun shone brightly on the walls
of the old abbey as he passed under them; he
then crossed an extensive mountain tract, and
and after six long miles he came to the top of that
hill -- Bottle Hill 'tis called now, but that was not
the name of it then, and, just there a man overtook
him. " Good morrow," says he. " Good mor-
row, kindly," says Mick, looking at the stranger,
who was a little man, you'd almost call him a
dwarf, only he wasn't quite so little neither : he
had a bit of an old, wrinkled, yellow face, for all
the world like a dried cauliflower, only he had a
sharp little nose, and red eyes, and white hair,
and his lips were not red, but all his face was one
colour, and his eyes never were quiet, but looking
at every thing, and although they were red, they
made Mick feel quite cold when he looked at
them. In truth he did not much like the little
man's company; and he couldn't see one bit of his
legs, nor his body; for, though the day was warm,
he was all wrapped up in a big great-coat. Mick
drove his cow something faster, but the little man
kept up with him. Mick didn't know how he
walked, for he was almost afraid to look at him,
and to cross himself; for fear the old man would
be angry. Yet he thought his fellow-traveller did
not seem to walk like other men, nor to put one
foot before the other, but to glide over the rough
road, and rough enough it was, like a shadow,
without noise and without effort. Mick's heart
trembled within him, and he said a prayer to him-
self, wishing he hadn't come out that day, or that
he was on Fair-Hill, or that he hadn't the cow to
mind, that he might run away from the bad thing
- when, in the midst of his fears, he was again
addressed by his companion.
"Where are you going with the cow, honest
"To the fair of Cork then," says Mick, trem-
bling at the shrill and piercing tones of the voice.
"Are you going to sell her?" said the stranger.
"Why, then, what else am I going for but to
"Will you sell her to me? "
Mick started - he was afraid to have any thing
to do with the little man, and he was more afraid
to say no.
"What 'll you give for her?" at last says he.
"I'll tell you what, I 'll give you this bottle,"
said the little one, pulling a bottle from under his
Mick looked at him and the bottle, and, in
spite of his terror, he could not help bursting into
a loud fit of laughter.
"Laugh if you will," said the little man, " but
I tell you this bottle is better for you than all the
money you will get for the cow in Cork -- ay, than
ten thousand times as much."
Mick laughed again. "Why then," says he,
"do you think I am such a fool as to give my
good cow for a bottle - and an empty one, too?
indeed, then, I won't."
"You had better give me the cow, and take
the bottle -- you'll not be sorry for it."
"Why, then, and what would Molly say? I'd
never hear the end of it; and how would I pay
the rent? and what would we all do without a
penny of money?"
"I tell you this bottle is better to you than
money; take it, and give me the cow. I ask you
for the last time, Mick Purcell."
"How does he know my name?" thought he.
The stranger proceeded: " Mick Purcell, I
know you, and I have a regard for you therefore
do as I warn you, or you may be sorry for it.
How do you know but your cow will die before
you get to Cork?"
Mick was going to say" God forbid!" but the
little man went on (and he was too attentive to
say any thing to stop him; for Mick was a very
civil man, and he knew better than to interrupt a
gentleman, and that's what many people, that hold
their heads higher, don't mind now).
"And how do you know but there will be much
cattle at the fair, and you will get a bad price,
or may be you might be robbed when you are
coming home? but what need I talk more to you,
when you are determined to throw away your
luck, Mick Purcell."
"Oh! no, I would not throw away my luck,
sir," said Mick; " and if I was sure the bottle
was as good as you say, though I never liked an
empty bottle, although I had drank what was in,
it, I'd give you the cow in the name--"
"Never mind names," said the stranger," but
give me the cow; I would not tell you a lie.
Here, take the bottle, and when you go home do
what I direct exactly."
"Well then, good bye, I can stay no longer:
once more, take it, and be rich; refuse it and beg
for your life, and see your children in poverty,
and your wife dying for want : that will happen
to you, Mick Purcell!" said the little man with a
malicious grin, which made him look ten times
more ugly than ever.
" May be, 't is true," said Mick, still hesitating:
he did not know what to do - he could hardly
help believing the old man, and at length in a fit
of desperation he seized the bottle -- "Take the
cow," said he, "and if you are telling a lie, the
curse of the poor will be on you. "
"I care neither for your curses nor your bless--
ings, but I have spoken truth, Mick Purcell, and
that you will find to-night, if you do what I tell
"And what 's that?" says Mick.
"When you go home, never mind if your wife
is angry, but be quiet yourself; and make her
sweep the room clean, set the table out right, and
spread a clean cloth over it; then put the bottle
on the ground, saying these words: ' Bottle, do
your duty,' and you will see the end of it."
And is this all?" says Mick.
"No more," said the stranger. " Good bye,
Mick Purcell - you are a rich man."
"God grant it !" said Mick, as the old man
moved after the cow, and Mick retraced the road
towards his cabin; but be could not help turning
back his head, to look after the purchaser of his
cow, who was nowhere to be seen.
"Lord between us and harm!" said Mick:
"He can't belong to this earth; but where is the
cow?" She too was gone, and Mick went home-
ward muttering prayers, and holding fast the
"And what would I do if it broke?" thought
he. " Oh! but I'll take care of that;" so he put
it into his bosom, and went on anxious to prove
his bottle, and doubting of the reception he should
meet from his wife; balancing his anxieties with
his expectation, his fears with his hopes, he
reached home in the evening, and surprised his
wife, sitting over the turf fire in the big chimney.
"Oh! Mick, are you come back? Sure you
weren't at Cork all the way What has happened
to you? Where is the cow? Did you sell her?
How much money did you get for her? What
news have you ? Tell us every thing about it?"
"Why then, Molly, if you'll give me time, I'll
tell you all about it. If you want to know where
the cow is, 'tisn't Mick can tell you, for the never
a know does he know where she is now.
" Oh ! then, you sold her ; and where 's the
Arrah ! stop awhile, Molly, and I'll tell you
all about it."
"But what is that bottle under your waist-
coat ?" said Molly, spying its neck sticking out.
"Why, then, be easy now, can't you," says
Mick, " till I tell it to you;" and putting the
bottle on the table, " That's all I got for the
His poor wife was thunderstruck. " All you
got! and what good is that, Mick? Oh! I never
thought you were such a fool; and what 'll we do
for the rent, and what--"
"Now, Molly," says Mick, " can't you hearken
to reason? Didn't I tell you how the old man,
or whatsomever he was, met me, -- no, he did not
meet me neither, but he was there with me - on
the big hill, and how he made me sell him the
cow, and told me the bottle was the only thing
"Yes, indeed, the only thing for you, you
fool !" said Molly, seizing the bottle to hurl it at
her poor husband's head; but Mick caught it
and quietly (for he minded the old man's advice;
loosened his wife's grasp, and placed the bottle
again in his bosom. Poor Molly sat down crying,
while Mick told her his story, with many a cross-
ing and blessing between him and harm. His
wife could not help believing him, particularly as
she had as much faith in fairies as she had in the
priest, who indeed never discouraged her belief
in the fairies ; may be, he didn't know she be-
lieved in them, and may be, he believed in them
himself. She got up, however, without saying
one word, and began to sweep the earthen floor
with a bunch of heath ; then she tidied up every
thing, and put out the long table, and spread the
clean cloth, for she had only one, upon it, and
Mick, placing the bottle on the ground, looked at
it, and said, " Bottle, do your duty."
"Look there! look there, mammy !" said his
chubby eldest son, a boy about five years old --
"look there ! look there !" and he sprang to his
mother's side, as two tiny little fellows rose like
light from the bottle, and in an instant covered
the table with dishes and plates of gold and
silver, full of the finest victuals that ever were
seen, and when all was done went into the bottle
again. Mick and his wife looked at every thing
with astonishment they had never seen such
plates and dishes before, and didn't think they
could ever admire them enough; the very sight
almost took away their appetites ; but at length
Molly said, " Come and sit down, Mick, and try
and eat a bit: sure you ought to be hungry after
such a good day's work."
"Why, then, the man told no lie about the
Mick sat down, after putting the children to
the table; and they made a hearty meal, though
they couldn't taste half the dishes.
"Now," says Molly, "I wonder will those two
good little gentlemen carry away these fine things
again ?" They waited, but no one came; so Molly
put up the dishes and plates very carefully, say-
ing, " Why, then, Mick, that was no lie sure
enough: but you 'll be a rich man yet, Mick Pur-
Mick and his wife and children went to their
bed, not to sleep, but to settle about selling the
fine things they did not want, and to take more
land. Mick went to Cork and sold his plate, and
bought a horse and cart, and began to show that
he was making money; and they did all they
could to keep the bottle a secret; but for all that,
their landlord found it out, for he came to Mick
one day, and asked him where he got all his
money -- sure it was not by the farm; and he
bothered him so much, that at last Mick told him
of the bottle. His landlord offered him a deal of
money for it, but Mick would not give it, till at
last he offered to give him all his farm for ever:
so Mick, who was very rich, thought he'd never
want any more money, and gave him the bottle:
but Mick was mistaken -- he and his family spent
money as if there was no end of it; and, to make
the story short, they became poorer and poorer,
till at last they bad nothing left but one cow; and
Mick once more drove his cow before him to sell
her at Cork fair, hoping to meet the old man and
get another bottle. It was hardly daybreak when
he left home, and he walked on at a good pace
till he reached the big hill : the mists were sleep-
ing in the valleys and curling like smoke-wreaths
upon the brown heath around him. The sun rose
on his left, and just at his feet a lark sprang from
its grassy couch and poured forth its joyous matin
song, ascending into the clear blue sky,
"Till its form like a speck in the airiness blending
And thrilling with music, was melting in light."
Mick crossed himself, listening as he advanced
to the sweet song of the lark, but thinking, not-
withstanding, all the time of the little old man ;
when, just as he reached the summit of the hill,
and cast his eyes over the extensive prospect
before and around him, he was startled and re-
joiced by the same well-known voice: - " Well,
Mick Purcell, I told you, you would be a rich
"Indeed, then, sure enough I was, that's no
lie for you, sir. Good morning to you, but it is
not rich I am now - but have you another bottle,
for I want it now as much as I did long ago; so
if you have it, sir, here is the cow for it."
"And here is the bottle," said the old man,
smiling; "you know what to do with it."
"Oh ! then, sure I do, as good right I have."
"Well, farewell for ever, Mick Purcell : I told
you, you would be a rich man."
"And good bye to you, sir," said Mick, as he
turned back; " and good luck to you, and good
luck to the big hill - it wants a name - Bottle
Hill.-Good bye, sir, good bye:" so Mick walked
back as fast as he could, never looking after the
white-faced little gentleman and the cow, so
anxious was he to bring home the bottle. Well,
he arrived with it safely enough, and called out,
as soon as he saw Molly, " Oh I sure I've an-
"Arrah ! then, have you? why, then, you're
a lucky man, Mick Purcell, that's what you are."
In an instant she put every thing right; and
Mick, looking at his bottle, exultingly cried out,
"Bottle, do your duty." In a twinkling, two
great stout men with big cudgels issued from the
bottle (I do not know how they got room in it),
and belaboured poor Mick: and his wife and all
his family, till they lay on the floor, when in they
went again. Mick, as soon as he recovered, got
up and looked about him ; he thought and thought,
and at last he took up his wife and his children;
and, leaving them to recover as well as they could,
he took the bottle under his coat, and went to his
landlord, who had a great company: he got a
servant to tell him he wanted to speak to him,
and at last he came out to Mick.
"Well, what do you want now?"
"Nothing, sir, only I have another bottle."
"Oh ! ho ! is it as good as the first ?"
"Yes, sir, and better if you like, I will show
it to you before all the ladies and gentlemen."
"Come along, then." So saying, Mick was
brought into the great hall, where he saw his old
bottle standing high up on a shelf: " Ah ! ha ! "
says he to himself, "may be I won't have you by
"Now," says his landlord, " show us your
bottle." Mick set it on the floor, and uttered
the words: in a moment the landlord was tumbled
on the floor; ladies and gentlemen, servants and
all, were running and roaring, and sprawling, and
kicking, and shrieking. Wine cups and salvers
were knocked about in every direction, until the
landlord called out, " Stop those two devils, Mick
Purcell, or I'll have you hanged!"
"They never shall stop," said Mick, " till I
get my own bottle that I see up there at top of
"Give it down to him, give it down to him,
before we are all killed!" says the landlord.
Mick put his bottle in his bosom; in jumped
the two men into the new bottle, and he carried
the bottles home. I need not lengthen my story by
telling how he got richer than ever, how his son
married his landlord's only daughter, how he and
his wife died when they were very old, and how
some of the servants, fighting at their wake, broke
the bottles; but still the hill has the name upon
it; ay, and so 't will be always Bottle Hill to the
end of the world, and so it ought, for it is a strange