Many were the difficulties the builders of this church had to contend against in its construction, for the vicious little buggane had not forgotten either his bruises, when Saint Trinion pitched him neck and crop out of the Irish baron's ship on to the rocks, and disappointed him of his intention of wrecking the vessel, or of the oath he had sworn that "The sainted bishop should never have a whole church in Ellan Vannin."
All the vengeful little elf could do to thwart the efforts of the workmen he did. The horses that drew the stone from the quarry were lamed in various ways. The quarrymen were continually being hurt by stones falling on them, pushed out of their places by the naughty sprite. These were his works by day. During the night he was still more active; and frequently, when the workmen came to renew their labours in the morning, they would find the greater part of the work done on the previous day all destroyed and cast down to the ground.
At last, so palpable was it that some unseen hand was at work frustrating their efforts, and that the accidents and mischief were caused by some supernatural power, that the head man of the work, getting quite disheartened at seeing day after day his own and his fellow workmen's labours so frustrated, bethought him to apply to the leaden image of saint Trinion, which Brodar Merune had set up in a shrine close by, and ask the holy man what he had better do. It was the identical image of the saint that Brodar so luckily had in his pocket on the night of the storm.
The saint soon heard the petitions addressed to him, and immediately making his appearance, informed the suppliant foreman that it was the work of the buggane, and gave him the following instructions how to act in order to prevent any further mischief.
In the first place, the building and works must never be left at night but so soon as the workmen had finished their days work, some one must mount guard to watch and keep up a blazing fire of wood from the rowan tree, the fumes of which, when burning, would render powerless all fairies, bugganes, or evil spirits of every description. In the daytime
every man was to wear in his hat or cap a sprig of the rowan tree, a bunch of wormwood, and a feather from a sea gull's wing, tied together with a strip of the skin taken from the belly of a conger eel. The same charm was to be fixed in the headgear of each of the horses.
This advice of the saint was followed, and both plans adopted with perfect success, the buggane's power being completely checkmated thereby, as promised by the holy man. The building of the church from this time forth made great and rapid progress.
The buggane, possessed of an energy and perseverance worthy of a better cause, never for one instant ceased watching; but while the men and the horses were protected by the charm in their hats and headgear they were safe against his designs.
Sometimes a man grew careless and laid aside his hat and its protecting sprigs, and so surely as any one did so some fatality would happen to him. After some time the men, learning by experience the consequences of neglect, took care to keep their charms always in their hats, and their hats always on their heads. At night the smoke and fumes of the burning rowan-tree wood drove him far from the building, for he could not approach or come in contact with its mystic odours.
Night after night did the persevering little buggane hover round and round the now rapidly progressing church, keeping a sharp eye upon his enemy the watchman. At last, after a long while, and just as the church was on the point of completion, his vigilance and pertinacity were rewarded. One night an opportunity presented itself, which he lost not one moment in taking advantage of. Great efforts had been made by all hands to get the building completed by a certain time, as Brodar Merune had sent word that he intended to come specially to the Isle of Man to be present at the opening and consecration of the church when finished; and the day being fixed, the work was hurried on at the last so as to have all ready by the day of his expected arrival. Every one had been very hard at work all one day to get the roof covered in, and at nightfall it was very nearly completed; only some very trifling matters being left
undone, which the foreman himself intended to come early the next morning, and finish before the arrival of the abbot and priests from Saint Germains and Rushen Abbey, with Brodar Merune and many other nobles, for the consecration ceremonies.
The watchman on duty that night had been one of those engaged hard at work all day, for every man that could be got had been employed in the finishing of the church, and the preparations for the morrow's services. The poor fellow was quite tired out with his labours, so after making up a roaring fire of the rowan-tree wood, he thought he might safely take a short nap--just a few winks and a nod--to recruit exhausted nature. He lay down near the fire, and made himself as comfortable as circumstances would permit. He was soon sound asleep and snoring. Now at last the buggane's opportunity had arrived, and all his patience was about to receive its reward in success.
The watchful little sprite had been closely eyeing his enemy, regarding every movement of the man. No sooner did he lie down and fall asleep than the buggane hastened to summon a number of his brother elves, and proceeded, with their help to work out his own long-cherished revenge.
As long as the fire burned they could do nothing, so their first efforts were directed to extinguish it. One little buggane, more knowing than the others, raised a great wind, which blew the flames and made the fire burn briskly, and the dreaded rowan-tree wood was quickly consumed, all the elfin throng taking care to keep at a respectful distance, and on the windward side of the fire, so as not to get within reach of its magic vapours. The watchman was tired, and slept soundly in spite of the wind and the crackling and roaring of the fierce-burning fire, and not waking up to add more fuel, it soon burnt itself out. As the fire got lower and lower, the bugganes drew nearer and nearer, and became more daring. At last all was out except a few dying embers. The elves warily approached quite close, and, following the example of the knowing little fellow who raised the wind, they all began spitting on the ashes till every spark was quenched.
The moment the last spark died out they gave a loud unearthly yell, which awoke the sleeping watchman, who was frightened out of his wits at seeing himself surrounded by such a number of horrid-looking little bugganes, dancing, leaping, shouting, and turning somersaults, that would have made a modern acrobat or music-hall gymnast give up his profession in despair of ever being able to equal. He looked all round for a way to escape, but before the poor fellow could gain the door and rush out of the building, they all together lifted the roof off the church and dashed it to the ground in ten thousand pieces, burying the unlucky watchman in the ruins.
The zealous foreman of the works was the first to arrive at the church in the early morning, and when he drew near he soon discovered what the bugganes had done, and that Saint Trinion's foe had been as good as his word.
Not seeing anything of the watchman, he shouted his name, and was answered by a groan from beneath the ruin of the shattered roof. He immediately ran off to hasten the arrival of the workmen, with whose assistance he proceeded to extricate their unfortunate comrade from his very unpleasant predicament. The poor man, though sadly bruised and battered, besides having what few wits he ever possessed frightened out of him, was not killed, and, fortunately, not seriously hurt, having been protected by two large beams, which in falling had done so crosswise (it was supposed by the intervention of Saint Trinion), and formed a shield that prevented the other timbers and materials from crushing or suffocating him. After some delay and much exertion he was extricated, and having partaken of a refreshing and invigorating cordial, he told them all that had happened, and how the whole church had been filled with "wee folk," who had lifted the roof and destroyed it.
Intelligence of the disaster was immediately despatched to Peel, where Brodar Merune with the monks and abbot of St. Germain's cathedral were preparing to set out in solemn procession to the new church to perform the ceremonies of opening and consecration.
On hearing the news the hot-headed Irish baron swore terribly, and greatly shocked the holy monks and abbot with his very strong language. Calling for a horse, he mounted, set off at full gallop, and soon arrived on the spot, where he saw for himself the devastation that had been committed by his old tormentor the buggane and his helpmates.
After going round the building and hearing from the bruised watchman and others the full particulars, he turned to the abbot, who, with some of the less corpulent friars, had by that time arrived at the ruined church, and said, addressing his reverence-
"Well, and shure it isn't me that's to blame at all. I've kept my word, your riverence, honour bright. Neither the holy Saint Trinion, nor your own Saint Germain, nor Ould Nick himself; can say I haven't fulfilled me vow. Sorry it is that I am, that so fine and illigant a new chur-uch should be so spoiled intirely; but there it is, and so it must remain for me, as I've no more putty jewels to sell nor money to spind for new roofs."
"Ah but, my son," solemnly rejoined the abbot, who had promised the living of St. Trinion's church to a special friend of his, and had no desire to lose his little bit of patronage, "I cannot consecrate a church with no roof on it, and the blessed Saint Trinion of holy memory expects you to complete him a proper church and shrine in accordance with your vow."
"Faith, so I did," replied Brodar; "and if that holy and sainted individual cannot look after his own interests sharp enough to prevent a dirty lot of little spalpeen Manx bugganes from playing such divarshions with it when it is done, it's no fault of mine, and bad cess to the groat more that I'll spind on it at all. If he wants a roof to cover his shrine he had better put one on himself; for I shan't."
So saying he remounted his horse and rode towards Peel, leaving the abbot and the monks all contemplating the ruined building.
"Och! but if iver they make a saint of me," he muttered as he rode along--"and it's small chance of that same, I'm thinking--but if iver they do, I'll take better care of the church that may be built for me than to let a blackguard little buggane play such bedivilment with it as that, indade."
Brodar Merune was quite inexorable on the subject of restoring the roof of the church, therefore the abbot, desirous both of pleasing Saint Trinion and saving his protégé from disappointment on the matter of his expectant living, applied to Jarl Haco, asking him to do the necessary work, promising him a large amount of indulgences and dispensations; but the lord of Grebah loved his money too well, and turned a deaf ear to the venerable man's request.
The building was consequently left in its unfinished state, and so remained for some centuries, going gradually to ruin and decay.