The Wheat-Beater French folktale

Some three thousand years ago, our neighbour had a lot of wheat in his barn, and every morning he found a portion of this wheat beaten and some sheaves prepared for the next day. He did not know how to explain it.

One evening, after he had hid himself in a corner of the barn, he saw a small man come in and begin to beat the corn. The farmer said to himself, "I must give him a fine coat for his efforts," for the little man was stark naked. As soon as the little man had left the barn, the farmer went to tell his wife. He said, "It is a small, naked man who comes to beat our wheat. We have to make him a little coat to repay him."

The next day the woman took all sorts of pieces of cloth and sowed a little coat of them. Her husband placed the little coat on a heap of wheat.

The brownie returned the next night, and when he was beating the wheat, he found the coat. In his joy he began to jump merrily around, saying, "It pays to serve a good master."

Then he put on the coat and found himself very handsome. "Since I am paid for my work, let whoever want to beat the wheat!" That said, he left and did not return.

NOTE on threshing: When the wheat is beaten with a wooden staff with a short heavy stick swinging from it, it is to get the eatable kernel loosened and separated from the scaly chaff surrounding it. It is hard work.