The Barcroft Boggart

 

From Memories of Hurstwood Lancashire, 1889, by Tattersall Wilkinson

The following tale is a very ancient one, and probably dates to a time long before the present Barcroft Hall was built.

It is said that the farmerís wife at Barcroft on rising in the morning would often find the house clean swept, the fire lighted, other household matters attended to by unseen hands. One cold winter's night the farmer called out from his bed-room to his son to rise and fetch in the sheep into the barn for shelter, when a small squeaking voice called up the stairs, "Iíll do it!" After a short time the small voice was again heard, crying out, "Iíve done it! but there was a little brown one that gave me more trouble than all the others! " On examination the following morning, the farmer found that a fine hare had been housed with the sheep. Mortal eyes had as yet never seen the boggart who had proved himself so useful to the household, till the farmerís son, filled with curiosity to see him, bored a hole through the oaken boards of the ceiling above the chamber where the boggart appeared. Peeping through the hole early one morning he saw a little shrivelled old man, barefooted, sweeping up the floor.

Thinking to perform an act of kindness, the boy got a pair of small clogs made for the old man, and placing them by the fireside at night, he rose early in the morning on purpose to look through the hole and see how his well-meant gift was accepted. The elf walked up to the clogs and took them in its hand, and looking at them carefully, it said, "New clogs, new wood, Tíhob Thurs will never do any more good!". After this everything went wrong in the household. Mischief of every kind was found each morning - pots broken - cows sick - and, to crown all, the bull was found across the ridging of the house when the farmer rose early one morning for his dayís work. His patience gave way at this last signal proof of the boggartís malevolence, and packing up his goods, he determined to leave the luckless house. Having loaded a cart with furniture, he proceeded on his way across a small bridge at the bottom of the dough, when he heard a small voice from beneath calling out, "Stop while Iíve tied my clogs, and Iíll go with you!"

"Nay!" replied the farmer; "If thaíat going with me, Iíll go back again!"