Yallery Brown, evil fairy
Yallery Brown (or ‘Yellowy Brown’) is an evil fairy, possibly one of the Yarthkin (‘Little Earth Men’), the East Anglian Earth Fairies of the Fen Country. A tiny sprite, the size of a year-old infant, but with an ugly, wizened, adult face almost obscured by his long golden hair and matching long beard, Yallery is so malevolent it is dangerous to befriend him.
One night, a young farmworker named Tom Tiver, was coming home from work when he heard a cry like a baby’s from the side of the road. The cry came from underneath a flat stone known as the Stranger’s Stone. When Tom lifted it up, he found a small creature all wrinked and tangled up in its hair and beard which were twisted around his body so his clothes could not be seem. His hair was all yellow (‘yaller’) and shone like a child’s, but his face was very old, looking as if he were aged about two hundred, with many wrinkles and two black eyes, His skin was the colour of ‘fresh turned earth in the spring, brown as brown could be.’
Thanking Tom for freeing him, the little man offered him gifts of money or a beautiful wife in exchange. Tom said he wasn’t interested in either but that his job at the farm was hard and he would thank him if he would help him with his work. The little man agreed to help but warned Tom never to thank him. “If you want me, just call, ‘Yallery Brown, from out of the mools come to help me’,” said the little man, then picked a dandelion clock, blew the seeds into Tom’s eyes, and disappeared.
The next morning and for many mornings after that, Tom arrived at the farm to find that all his work had been done. At first, the young farm worker thought he was in heaven, since he never had to do a stroke of work. But gradually he discovered that, while his work was being done, the work of all the other farm workers was being destroyed. They began to blame Tom for it, so he decided to do the work himself and no longer by beholden to Yallery Brown. However, he could not do any of the work, the other men complained about him, and the farmer dismissed him.
Unhappy and bewildered, Tom went home and called out, “Yallery Brown, from out of the mools come to help me,” and immediately Yallery appeared. Tom told the little man, “It’s an ill you’ve done to me and no good. I’ll thank you to go away and leave me to work for myself.” But Yallery laughed at him and jeered, “You thanked me, you fool! You thanked me and I warned you not to! You’ll get no more help from me, but if I can’t help, I’ll hinder!” Then he began singing:
“Work as thou will
Thou’lt never do well;
Work as thou may’st
Thou’lt never gain grist;
For harm and mischance and Yallery Brown
Thou’st let out thyself from under the stone.”
And from that moment on, poor Tom Tiver was never free of Yallery Brown. No matter what he did or how hard he worked, he could never do good or prosper, for Yallery’s hounding and malice brought him misery and misfortune for the rest of his life.
Yallery Brown appears as a character in the Fata Morgana Series. He is a Piskie who was once a human child. Morgan encounters him in Books I and III.