Once on a time there lived at the bottom end of Cornah gill a family of the name of Sayle, and the Mermaid who had her haunt up Bulgham way was a friend to them. They were always in luck’s way and never seemed to be short of anything. Sure enough they were full of thrift, and to fill in odds of spare time they made lobster pots from the osier that grew around in plenty, and they always found a ready market. They kept a cow and a few sheep, just to give work to the women in the long winter nights, but their living was mostly got by the sea.
It was well known that Sayle had a strong liking for apples, and that he would often bring some with him out in the boat, but when he got well up in years he would be leaving a lot of the boat-work for the boys, and then the luck began to get less, and many a time one of them had to take a gun to keep something in the pot. Then the bigger ones took to the herrings. One, Evan, however, had to stay about to keep things going, and it happened that one day, after he had the creels set, just at Bulgham, that he pulled the boat in and went up the brow after eggs. On coming back to the boat he heard some one calling to him, and, looking round, he saw a fine-looking woman sitting on the edge of a rock.
‘And how’s your father ? ‘ said she. ‘It’s seldom he’s coming this way now.’
Young Sayle was a bit frightened at first, but seeing a pleasant look on her face, he took courage and told her how things were at home. Then, saying she hoped to see him again, she slipped into the water and disappeared.
On getting home he told what had taken place, and the father, his face lighting up, declared:
‘There will be luck on the house yet.’
And he said:
‘Take some apples with you the next time you go up that way, an’ we’ll see.’
The very next time the young chap went, he took some apples with him, and when he got to the place where he had seen the beautiful woman, he went, as usual, on the hunt among the rocks. Then he heard sweet singing, and when he turned round what should he see but the Mermaid leaning over the boat and smiling pleasantly. She took an apple and began to eat and chant:
“The luck o’ the sea be with you, but don’t forgetful be of bringing some sweet land eggs for the children of the sea.”
From that time he was nearly living on the water until, at last, he was taken to task for being idle. Then he made up his mind to go sailing in foreign parts. The Mermaid was in great distress, so to please her, he went and planted an apple tree on the brow above her haunt, telling her that when he would be far away this tree would grow land-eggs which, when they would be sweet and ready for eating, would come of themselves to the water for her. And, sure enough, the luck of the family remained, though the boy was gone.
She seemed to bear up well for a long time and would often be seen sitting on the rocks in the evening, singing sad songs, and casting longing glances up to the apple tree above. She kept very shy of everyone coming her way, and at last, finding the apples slow in coming, made up her mind to go in search of young Sayle, hoping the apples would be ready for taking when they would come back.
But neither, of them ever came back, though for many a long year the apple tree bore fruit and marked the little creek where the Mermaid used to live.
(source Manx Fairy Tales by Sophie Morrison (1911); artwork by unknown artist)