THE FAIRY TOOLS; OR, BARKER'S KNEE.
Buccas or knockers are believed to inhabit the rocks, caves, adits, and wells of Cornwall. In the parish of Towednack there was a well where those industrious small people might every day be heard busy at their labours--digging with pickaxe and shovel. I said, every day. No; on Christmas-day--on the Jews' Sabbath--on Easter-day--and on All-Saints' day -- no work was done. Why our little friends held those days in reverence has never been told me, Any one, by placing his ear on the ground at the mouth of this well, could distinctly hear the little people at work.
There lived in the neighbourhood a great, hulking fellow, who would rather do anything than work, and who refused to believe anything he heard. He had been told of the Fairy Well--he said it was "all a dream." But since the good people around him reiterated their belief in the fairies of the well, he said he 'd find it all out. So day after day, Barker--that was this hulk's name--would lie down amidst the ferns growing around the mouth of the well, and, basking in the sunshine, listen and watch. He soon heard pick and shovel, and chit-chat, and merry laughter. Well, "he 'd see the out of all this," he told his neighbours. Day after day, and week after week, this fellow was at his post. Nothing resulted from his watching. At last he learned to distinguish the words used by the busy workers. He discovered that each set of labourers worked eight hours, and that, on leaving, they hid their tools. They made no secret of this; and one evening he heard one say, he should place his tools in a cleft in the rock; another, that he should put his under the ferns; and another said, he should leave his tools on Barker's knee. He started on hearing his own name. At that moment a heavy weight fell on the man's knee; he felt excessive pain, and roared to have the cursed things taken away. His cries were answered by laughter. To the day of his death Barker had a stiff knee; he was laughed at by all the parish; and "Barker's knee" became a proverb.