7. ‘Strangers' Share’

This man heard the tale from his grandparents.

The Strangers', or tiddy people were the size of new born babies. They were also called Greencoaties (for their green jackets), or Yarthkin (as lived in the mools). They had arms and legs as thin as threads, but great big feet and hands, and heads rolling about on their shoulders. They wore grass green jackets an breeches, and yellow bonnets like toadstools on their heads and queer faces with long tongues. People in the old days believed that if you were good to the tiddy folk they would be good to you.

In summer, the tiddy folk would dance on great flat stones, on which people would light fires in the old days, and smear the stones with blood. In winter the tiddy folk danced by the fire-place indoors. They also helped the harvest by making the tree buds come open and tweaking the flower buds. People believed that they helped make things grow and so that they kept them happy they would give them the first fruits of the garden and the field and the first of any meal they were about to eat.

But as time went by people forgot to make the offerings and eventually the tiddy folk became angered by this. They made the harvest fail, the beasts become sick, the fever grow worse, the children die and everything go arsy-varsy. This carried on for summer after summer and the people took to opium or drink to take their minds of off their troubles. Until one day the wise-women got together and recalled the old ways. They got the people to start the old ways again and to tell the old stories and slowly, slowly things returned to the way they were.