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Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 2, by William Bottrell, [1873], at

Betty Stogs's Baby.

LITTLE more than twenty years ago, there lived in a lonely cot on a moor in Towednack a man and his wife with one child. The woman—from her slatternly habits—was known by the name of Betty Stogs; she had been married about a year and had a baby six months old or so; when, almost every day, whilst her husband was away 'to bal,' she would pass best part of the time 'courseying' from house to house in the nearest village.

The child would mostly be left in the house alone or with nothing but the cat for company. One seldom saw the colour of the bantling's skin for dirt. When anyone asked Betty why she didn't wash it oftener, "The moor es a cold place," she'd reply, "and a good layer of dirt will help keep ’n hot."

One afternoon about Midsummer she went to get milk for the child and stayed away gossiping till dusk; it was so dark when she entered her dwelling that she could scarcely see anything within it.

She went to the cradle and found it empty; the child was nowhere to be seen; nor yet the cat that always slept with it,

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shared its pap, and cleaned the skillet in which the 'child's-meat,' was cooked. Whilst Betty was searching about the house her husband came home from work-last core by day,—he was in a great rage with his wife and greater grief for the loss of his 'crume of a cheeld,' as he called it.

After hours spent in fruitless search Betty sat down and cried bitterly, whilst the father went away and told the neighbours what had happened.

Everybody turned out to look for the child; they examined moors and crofts for a good distance round till after daybreak without seeing sight or sign of it; but, when it was near sunrise, Betty spied the cat coming towards her, then it went back mewling into a brake of furze. She followed it and came to a plot of mossy grass, surrounded by thickets and ferns, where she saw, amongst heath and wortleberry plants, a bundle of old fashioned chintz; she opened it and there was her child, sleeping like a nut. It was wrapped in several gay old gowns, with mint, balm, and all sorts of sweet herbs and flowers that are found on moors or in gardens; but otherwise it was as naked as when born, yet clean and sweet as a rose.

All the old folks said it was carried there by small-people, who intended to bear it away to the hills or cares; but it took them so long to clean it first that daylight surprised them ere they had done it to their mind; so they left it there meaning to fetch it the next night.

The fright, however, that Betty had undergone, did her good and the child too, for she passed less time in courseying, and took more care of her babe for fear it might be stolen again. She made lots of frocks for it out of the old chintz; and it throve so well after the small folks’ cleansing that he made as stout a man as his dad, who was usually called Jan the Maunster (monster) from his bulky form.

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