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THERE was once a king, who was very old; but he had three grown-up sons. So he called them to him, and said:
“My dear sons, I am very old, and the cares of government press heavily upon me. I must therefore give them over to one of you. But as it is the law among us, that no unmarried prince may be King, I wish you all to get married, and whoever chooses the best wife shall be my successor.”
So they determined each to go a different way, and settled it thus. They went to the top of a very high tower, and each one at a given signal shot an arrow in a different direction to the others. Wherever their arrows fell they were to go in search of their future wives.
The eldest prince’s arrow fell on a palace in the city, where lived a senator, who had a beautiful daughter; so he went there, and married her.
The second prince’s arrow struck upon a country-house, where a very pretty young lady, the daughter of a rich gentleman, was sitting; so he went there, and proposed to her, and they were married.
But the youngest prince’s arrow shot through a green wood, and fell into a lake. He saw his arrow floating among the reeds, and a frog sitting thereon, looking fixedly at him.
But the marshy ground was so unsafe that he could not venture upon it; so he sat down in despair.
“What is the matter, prince?” asked the frog.
“What is the matter? Why, I cannot reach that arrow on which you are sitting.”
“Take me for your wife, and I will give it to you.”
“But how can you be my wife, little frog?”
“That is just what has got to be. You know that you shot your arrow from the tower, thinking that where it fell, you would find a loving wife; so you will have her in me.”
“You are very wise, I see, little frog. But tell me, how can I marry you, or introduce you to my father? And what will the world say?”
“Take me home with you, and let nobody see me. Tell them that you have married an Eastern lady, who must not be seen by any man, except her husband, nor even by another woman.”
The prince considered a little. The arrow had now floated to the margin of the lake; he took the arrow from the little frog, put her in his pocket, carried her home, and then went to bed, sighing very deeply.
Next morning the king was told that all his sons had got married; so he called them all together, and said:
“Well children, are you all pleased with your wives?”
“Very pleased indeed, father and king.”
“Well, we shall see who has chosen best. Let each of my daughters-in-law weave me a carpet by to-morrow, and the one whose carpet is the most beautiful shall be queen.”
The elder princes hastened at once to their ladies; but the youngest, when he reached home, was in despair.
“What is the matter, prince?” asked the frog.
“What is the matter? My father has ordered that each of his daughters-in-law shall weave him a carpet, and the one whose carpet proves the most beautiful shall be first in rank. My brothers’ wives are most likely working at their looms already. But you, little frog, although you can give back an arrow, and talk like a human being, will not be able to weave a carpet, as far as I can see.”
“Don’t be afraid,” she said; “go to sleep, and before you wake the carpet shall be ready.”
So he lay down, and went to sleep.
But the little frog stood on her hind-legs in the window and sang:
“Ye breezes that blow, ye winds that sigh,
Come hither on airy wing;
And all of you straight to my dwelling hie,
And various treasures bring.
Two fleeces I crave of the finest wool,
And of the loveliest flowers a basketful;
From the depths of the ocean bring sands of gold,
And pearl-drops of lustre manifold;
That so I may fashion a carpet bright,
Adorned with fair flow’rets and gems of light,
And weave it in one short day and night,
When my true love’s hands must the treasure hold.”
There was a gentle murmur of the breezes, and from the sunbeams descended seven lovely maidens, who floated into the room, carrying baskets of various coloured wools, pearls, and flowers. They curtsied deeply to the little frog, and in a few minutes they wove a wonderfully beautiful carpet; then they curtsied again, and flew away.
Meanwhile the wives of the other princes bought the most beautifully coloured wools, and the best designs they could find, and worked hard at their looms all the next day.
Then all the princes came before the king, and spread out their carpets before him.
The king looked at the first and the second; but when he came to the third, he exclaimed:
“That’s the carpet for me! I give the first place to my youngest son’s wife; but there must be another trial yet.”
And he ordered that each of his daughters-in-law should make him a cake next day; and the husband of the one whose cake proved the best should be his successor.
The youngest prince came back to his frog wife; he looked very thoughtful, and sighed deeply.
THE FAIRY GIRLS MAKE THE CARPET
“What is the matter, prince?” she asked.
“My father demands another proof of skill; and I am not so sure that we shall succeed so well as before; for how can you bake a cake?”
“Do not be afraid,” she said: “Lie down, and sleep; and when you wake you will be in a happier frame of mind.”
The prince went to sleep; and the frog sprang up to the window, and sang:
“Ye breezes that blow, ye winds that sigh,
Come hither on airy wing;
And all of you straight to my dwelling hie,
These various gifts to bring.
From the sunbeams bright
Bring me heat and light;
And soft waters distil
From the pure flowing rill.
From the flowers of the field
The sweet odours they yield.
From the wheatfields obtain
Five full measures of grain,
That so I may bake In the night-time a cake,
For my true love’s sake.”
The winds began to rise, and the seven beautiful maidens floated down into the room, carrying baskets, with flour, water, sweetmeats, and all sorts of dainties. They curtsied to the little frog, and got the cake ready in a few minutes; curtsied again, and flew away.
The next day the three princes brought their cakes to the king. They were all very good; but when he tasted the one made by his youngest son’s wife, he exclaimed:
“That is the cake for me! light, floury, white, and delicious! I see, my son, you have made the best choice; but we must wait a little longer.”
The two elder sons went away much depressed; but the youngest greatly elated. When he reached home he took up his little frog, stroked and kissed her, and said:
“Tell me, my love, how it was that you, being only a little frog, could weave such a beautiful carpet, or make such a delicious cake?”
“Because, my prince, I am not what I seem. I am a princess, and my mother is the renowned Queen of Light, and a great enchantress. But she has many enemies, who, as they could not injure her, were always seeking to destroy me. To conceal me from them she was obliged to turn me into a frog; and for seven years I have been forced to stay in the marsh where you found me. But under this frog-skin I am really more beautiful than you can imagine; yet until my mother has conquered all her enemies I must wear this disguise; after that takes place you shall see me as I really am.”
While they were talking two courtiers entered, with the king’s orders to the young prince, to come to a banquet at the king’s palace, and bring his wife with him, as his brothers were doing by theirs.
He knew not what to do; but the little frog said:
“Do not be afraid, my prince. Go to your father alone; and when he asks for me, it will begin to rain. You must then say that your wife will follow you; but she is now bathing in May-dew. When it lightens say that I am dressing; and when it thunders, that I am coming.”
The prince, trusting to her word, set out for the palace; and the frog jumped up to the window, and standing on her hind-legs, began to sing:
“Ye breezes that blow,
ye winds that sigh,
Come hither on airy wing;
And all of you straight to my dwelling hie,
These several gifts to bring.
My beauty of yore;
And my bright youth once more;
All my dresses so fair;
And my jewels so rare;
And let me delight
My dear love by the sight.”
Then the seven beautiful damsels, who were the handmaidens of the princess—when she lived with her mother—floated on the sunbeams into the room. They curtsied, walked three times round her, and pronounced some magical words.
Then the frog-skin fell off her, and she stood among them a miracle of beauty, and the lovely princess she was.
Meanwhile the prince, her husband, had arrived at the royal banquet-hall, which was already full of guests. The old king welcomed him warmly, and asked him:
“Where is your wife, my son?”
Then a light rain began to fall, and the prince said:
“She will not be long; she is now bathing herself in May-dew.”
Then came a flash of lightning, which illuminated all the palace, and he said:
“She is now adorning herself.”
But when it thundered, he ran to the door exclaiming:
“Here she is!”
And the lovely princess came in, seeming to bring the sunshine with her. They all stood amazed at her beauty. The king could not contain his delight; and she seemed to him all the more beautiful, because he thought her the very image of his long-deceased queen. The prince himself was no less astonished and overjoyed to find such loveliness in her, whom he had only as yet seen in the shape of a little frog.
“Tell me, my son,” said the king, “why you did not let me know what a fortunate choice you had made?”
The prince told him everything in a whisper; and the king said:
“Go home then, my son, at once, and pick up that frog-skin of hers; throw it in the fire, and come back here as fast as you can. Then she will have to remain just as she is now.”
The prince did as his father told him, went home, and threw the frog-skin into the fire, where it was at once consumed.
But things did not turn out as they expected; for the lovely princess, on coming home, sought for her frog-skin, and not finding it, began to cry bitterly. When the prince confessed the truth, she shrieked aloud, and taking out a green poppy-head, threw it at him. He went to sleep at once; but she sprang up to the window, sang her songs to the winds; upon which she was changed into a duck, and flew away.
The prince woke up in the morning, and grieved sadly, when he found his beautiful princess gone.
Then he got on horseback, and set out to find her, inquiring everywhere for the kingdom of the Queen of Light—his princess’s mother—to whom he supposed she must have fled.
He rode on for a very, very long time, till one day he came into a wide plain, all covered with poppies in full flower, the odour of which so overpowered him, that he could scarce keep upright in his saddle. Then he saw a queer little house, supported on four crooked legs. There was no door to the house; but knowing what he ought to do, he said:
“Little house, move On your crooked legs free; Turn your back to the wood, And your front door to me.”
The hut with the crooked legs made a creaking noise, and turned round, with its door towards the prince. He went straight in, and found an old fury, whose name was Jandza, inside she was spinning from a distaff, and singing.
NOTE: Jandza pronounced Yen-jar.
“How are you, prince?” she said, “what brings you here?”
So the prince told her, and she said:
“You have done wisely to tell me the truth. I know your bride, the beautiful daughter of the Queen of Light; she flies to my house daily, in the shape of a duck, and this is where she sits. Hide yourself under the table, and watch your opportunity to lay hold of her. Hold her fast, whatever shapes she assumes; when she is tired she will turn into a spindle; you must then break the spindle in two, and you will find that which you are seeking.”
Presently the duck flew in, sat down beside the old fury, and began to preen her feathers with her beak. The prince seized her by the wing. The duck quacked, fluttered, and struggled to get loose. But seeing this was useless she changed herself into a pigeon, then into a hawk, and then into a serpent, which so frightened the prince, that he let her go; on which she became a duck again, quacked aloud, and flew out of the window.
The prince saw his mistake, and the old woman cried aloud: “What have you done, you careless fellow! you have frightened her away from me forever.
But as she is your bride, I must find some other way to help you. Take this ball of thread, throw it before you, and wherever it goes follow after it; you will then come to my sister’s house, and she will tell you what to do next.”
So the prince went on day and night, following the ball of thread, till he came to another queer little house, like the first, to which he said the same rhyme, and going in, found the second old fury, and told her his story.
“Hide under the bench,” she exclaimed; “your bride is just coming in.”
The duck flew in, as before, and the prince caught her by the wing; she quacked, and tried to get away.
Then she changed herself into a turkey, then into a dog, then into a cat, then into an eel, so that she slipped through his hands, and glided out of the window.
THE LITTLE HOUSE TURNS
The prince was in despair; but the old woman gave him another ball of thread, and he again followed it, determining not to let the princess escape again so easily. So going on after the thread, as it kept unwinding, he came to a funny little house, like the two first, and said:
“Little house, move On your crooked legs free; Turn your back to the wood, And your front door to me.”
The little house turned round, so that he could go in, and he found a third old fury inside; much older than her sisters, and having white hair. He told her his story, and begged for help.
“Why did you go against the wishes of your clever and sensible wife?” said the old woman. “You see she knew better than you what her frog-skin was good for; but you must needs be in such a hurry to display her beauty, to gain the world’s applause, that you have lost her; and she was forced to fly away from you.”
The prince hid himself under the bench: the duck flew in and sat at the old woman’s feet; on which he caught her by the wings.
She struggled hard; but she felt his strength was too great for her to resist; so she turned herself into a spindle at once. He broke it across his knee…. And lo! and behold! instead of the two halves of the spindle he held the hands of his beautiful princess, who looked at him lovingly with her beautiful eyes, and smiled sweetly.
And she promised him that she would always remain as she was then, for since her mother’s enemies were all dead she had nothing to fear.
They embraced each other, and went out of the old fury’s hut. Then the princess spoke some magical spells; and in the twinkling of an eye there appeared a wonderful bridge, reaching from where they stood hundreds of miles, up to the very gallery of the palace, belonging to the prince’s father. It was all made of crystal, with golden hand-rails, and diamond bosses upon them.
The princess spoke some more magical words, and a golden coach appeared, drawn by eight horses, and a coachman, and two tall footmen, all in golden liveries.
THE WAY HOME
And there were four outriders on splendid horses, riding by the side of the coach, and an equerry, riding in front, and blowing a brazen trumpet. And a long procession of followers, in splendid dresses, came after them.
Then the prince and princess got into the golden coach, and drove away, thus accompanied, along the crystal bridge, till they reached home, when the old king came out to meet them, and embraced them both tenderly. He appointed the prince his successor; and such magnificent festivities were held on the occasion, as never were seen or heard of before.
In this 200 page volume, with 20 exquisite and beautiful colour plates by CECILE WALTON, you will find the stories of THE FROG PRINCESS, PRINCESS MIRANDA AND PRINCE HERO, THE EAGLES, THE WHIRLWIND, THE GOOD FERRYMAN AND THE WATER NYMPHS, THE PRINCESS OF THE BRAZEN MOUNTAIN and the THE BEAR IN THE FOREST HUT.
There were six falcons living in a nest, five of whom were still too young to fly, when it so happened that both the parent birds were shot in one day. The young brood waited anxiously for their return; but night came, and they were left without parents and without food.
Gray Eagle, the eldest, and the only one whose feathers had become stout enough to enable him to leave the nest, took his place at the head of the family, and assumed the duty of stifling their cries and providing the little household with food, in which he was very successful. But, after a short time had passed, by an unlucky mischance, while out on a foraging excursion, he got one of his wings broken. This was the more to be regretted, as the season had arrived when they were soon to go to a southern country to pass the winter, and the children were only waiting to become a little stronger and more expert on the wing to set out on the journey.
Finding that their elder brother did not return, they resolved to go in search of him. After beating up and down the country for the better part of a whole day, they at last found him, sorely wounded and unable to fly, lodged in the upper branches of a sycamore-tree.
“Brothers,” said Gray Eagle, as soon as they were gathered around, and questioned him as to the extent of his injuries, “an accident has befallen me, but let not this prevent your going to a warmer climate. Winter is rapidly approaching, and you cannot remain here. It is better that I alone should die, than for you all to suffer on my account.”
“No, no,” they replied, with one voice. “We will not forsake you. We will share your sufferings; we will abandon our journey, and take care of you as you did of us before we were able to take care of ourselves. If the chill climate kills you, it shall kill us. Do you think we can so soon forget your brotherly care, which has equalled a father’s, and even a mother’s kindness? Whether you live or die, we will live or die with you.”
They sought out a hollow tree to winter in, and contrived to carry their wounded nest-mate thither; and before the rigor of the season had set in, they had, by diligence and economy, stored up food enough to carry them through the winter months.
To make the provisions they had laid in last the better, it was agreed among them that two of their number should go south; leaving the other three to watch over, feed, and protect their wounded brother. The travelers set forth, sorry to leave home, but resolved that the first promise of spring should bring them back again. At the close of day, the three brothers who remained, mounting to the very peak of the tree, and bearing Gray Eagle in their arms, watched them, as they vanished away southward, till their forms blended with the air and were wholly lost to sight.
Their next business was to set the household in order, and this, with the judicious direction of Gray Eagle, who was propped up in a snug fork, with soft cushions of dry moss, they speedily accomplished. One of the sisters, for there were two of these, took upon herself the charge of nursing Gray Eagle, preparing his food, bringing him water, and changing his pillows when he grew tired of one position. She also looked to it that the house itself was kept in a tidy condition, and that the pantry was supplied with food. The second brother was assigned the duty of physician, and he was to prescribe such herbs and other medicines as the state of the health of Gray Eagle seemed to require. As the second brother had no other invalid on his visiting-list, he devoted the time not given to the cure of his patient, to the killing of game wherewith to stock the house-keeper’s larder; so that, whatever he did, he was always busy in the line of professional dutykilling or curing. On his hunting excursions, Doctor Falcon carried with him his youngest brother, who, being a foolish young fellow, and inexperienced in the ways of the world, it was not thought safe to trust alone.
In due time, what with good nursing, and good feeding, and good air, Gray Eagle recovered from his wound, and he repaid the kindness of his brothers by giving them such advice and instruction in the art of hunting as his age and experience qualified him to impart. As spring advanced, they began to look about for the means of replenishing their store-house, whose supplies were running low; and they were all quite successful in their quest except the youngest, whose name was Peepi, or the Pigeon-Hawk, and who had of late begun to set up for himself.
Being small and foolish, and feather-headed, flying hither and yonder without any set purpose, it so happened that Peepi always came home, so to phrase it, with an empty game-bag, and his pinions terribly rumpled.
At last Gray Eagle spoke to him, and demanded the cause of his ill-luck.
“It is not my smallness nor weakness of body,” Peepi answered, “that prevents my bringing home provender as well as my brothers. I am all the time on the wing, hither and thither. I kill ducks and other birds every time I go out; but just as I get to the woods, on my way home, I am met by a large ko-ko-ho, who robs me of my prey; and,” added Peepi, with great energy, “it’s my settled opinion that the villain lies in wait for the very purpose of doing so.”
“I have no doubt you are right, Brother Peepi,” rejoined Gray Eagle. “I know this pirate his name is White Owl; and now that I feel my strength fully recovered, I will go out with you to-morrow and help you look after this greedy bush-ranger.”
The next day they went forth in company, and arrived at a fine fresh-water lake. Gray Eagle seated himself hard by, while Peepi started out, and soon pounced upon a duck.
“Well done!” thought his brother, who saw his success; but just as little Peepi was getting to land with his prize, up sailed a large white owl from a tree where he, too, had been watching, and laid claim to it. He was on the point of wresting it from Peepi, when Gray Eagle, calling out to the intruder to desist, rushed up, and, fixing his talons in both sides of the owl, without further introduction or ceremony, flew away with him.
The little Pigeon-Hawk followed closely, with the duck under his wing, rejoiced and happy to think that he had something to carry home at last. He was naturally much vexed with the owl, and had no sooner delivered over the duck to his sister, the housekeeper, than he flew in the owl’s face, and, venting an abundance of reproachful terms, would, in his passion, have torn the very eyes out of the White Owl’s head.
“Softly, Peepi,” said the Gray Eagle, stepping in between them. “Don’t be in such a huff, my little brother, nor exhibit so revengeful a temper. Do you not know that we are to forgive our enemies? White Owl, you may go; but let this be a lesson to you, not to play the tyrant over those who may chance to be weaker than yourself.”
So, after adding to this much more good advice, and telling him what kind of herbs would cure his wounds, Gray Eagle dismissed White Owl, and the four brothers and sisters sat down to supper.
The next day, betimes, in the morning, before the household had fairly rubbed the cobwebs out of the corners of their eyes, there came a knock at the front doorwhich was a dry branch that lay down before the hollow of the tree in which they lodgedand being called to come in, who should make their appearance but the two nest-mates, who had just returned from the South, where they had been wintering. There was great rejoicing over their return, and now that they were all happily re-united, each one soon chose a mate and began to keep house in the woods for himself.
Spring had now revisited the North. The cold winds had all blown themselves away, the ice had melted, the streams were open, and smiled as they looked at the blue sky once more; and the forests, far and wide, in their green mantle, echoed every cheerful sound.
But it is in vain that spring returns, and that the heart of Nature is opened in bounty, if we are not thankful to the Master of Life, who has preserved us through the winter. Nor does that man answer the end for which he was made who does not show a kind and charitable feeling to all who are in want or sickness, especially to his blood relations.
The love and harmony of Gray Eagle and his brothers continued. They never forgot each other. Every week, on the fourth afternoon of the week (for that was the time when they had found their wounded elder brother), they had a meeting in the hollow of the old sycamore-tree, when they talked over family matters, and advised with each other, as brothers should, about their affairs.
The 26 American Indian stories herein, have been, time out of mind, in their original form, recited around the lodge-fires and under the trees, by the Indian story-tellers, for the entertainment of the Native American children of the West. <br>
Here you will find the stories of The Celestial Sisters, The Boy Who Set A Snare For The Sun, Strong Desire And The Red Sorcerer, Wunzh. The Father Of Indian Corn, White Feather And The Six Giants, Sheem, The Forsaken Boy and many, many more.
They were originally interpreted from the old tales and legends by the late Henry R. Schoolcraft, and then re-interpreted and developed by the Editor, so as to enable them, as far as worthy, to take their place amongst classics like the Arabian Nights, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and other world-renowned tales of Europe and the East, to which, in their original conception, they bear a resemblance in romantic interest and quaint extravagance of fancy.
The Editor hopes that these beautiful and sprightly legends of the West will repay, in part at least, the glorious debt which we have incurred to the Eastern World for her magical gifts of the same kind.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. THE CELESTIAL SISTERS
II. THE BOY WHO SET A SNARE FOR THE SUN
III. STRONG DESIRE, AND THE RED SORCERER
IV. THE WONDERFUL EXPLOITS OF GRASSHOPPER
V. THE TWO JEEBI
VI. OSSEO, THE SON OF THE EVENING STAR
VII. GRAY EAGLE AND HIS FIVE BROTHERS
VIII. THE TOAD-WOMAN
IX. THE ORIGIN OF THE ROBIN
X. WHITE FEATHER AND THE SIX GIANTS
XI. SHEEM, THE FORSAKEN BOY
XII. THE MAGIC BUNDLE
XIII. THE RED SWAN
XIV. THE MAN WITH HIS LEG TIED UP
XV. THE LITTLE SPIRIT, OR BOY-MAN
XVI. THE ENCHANTED MOCCASINS
XVII. HE OF THE LITTLE SHELL
XVIII. MANABOZHO, THE MISCHIEF-MAKER
XIX. LEELINAU, THE LOST DAUGHTER
XX. THE WINTER-SPIRIT AND HIS VISITOR
XXI. THE FIRE-PLUME
XXII. WEENDIGOES AND THE BONE-DWARF
XXIII. THE BIRD LOVER
XXIV. BOKWEWA, THE HUMPBACK
XXV. THE CRANE THAT CROSSED THE RIVER
XXVI. WUNZH. THE FATHER OF INDIAN CORN
(by George Parkes, Mandeville)
A man plant a big field of gub-gub (black eyed) peas. He got a watchman put there. This watchman can’t read. The peas grow lovely an’ bear lovely; everybody pass by, in love with the peas. Anansi himself pass an’ want to have some. He beg the watchman, but the watchman refuse to give him. He went an’ pick up an’ old envelope, present it to the watchman an’ say the master say to give the watchman. The watchman say, “The master know that I cannot read an’ he sen’ this thing come an’ give me?” Anansi say, “I will read it for you.” He said, “Hear what it say! The master say, ‘You mus’ tie Mr. Anansi at the fattest part of the gub-gub peas an’ when the belly full, let him go.'” The watchman did so; when Anansi belly full, Anansi call to the watchman, an’ the watchman let him go.
After Anansi gone, the master of the peas come an’ ask the watchman what was the matter with the peas. The watchman tol’ him. Master say he see no man, no man came to him an’ he send no letter, an’ if a man come to him like that, he mus’ tie him in the peas but no let him away till he come. The nex’ day, Anansi come back with the same letter an’ say, “Master say, give you this.” Anansi read the same letter, an’ watchman tie Anansi in the peas. An’ when Anansi belly full, him call to the watchman to let him go, but watchman refuse. Anansi call out a second time, “Come, let me go!” The watchman say, “No, you don’ go!” Anansi say, ‘If you don’ let me go, I spit on the groun’ an’ you rotten!” Watchman get frighten an’ untie him.
Few minutes after that the master came; an’ tol’ him if he come back the nex’ time, no matter what he say, hol’ him. The nex’ day, Anansi came back with the same letter an’ read the same story to the man. The man tie him in the peas, an’, after him belly full, he call to the man to let him go; but the man refuse,–all that he say he refuse until the master arrive.
The master take Anansi an’ carry him to his yard an’ tie him up to a tree, take a big iron an’ put it in the fire to hot. Now while the iron was heating, Anansi was crying. Lion was passing then, see Anansi tie up underneath the tree, ask him what cause him to be tied there. Anansi said to Lion from since him born he never hol’ knife an’ fork, an’ de people wan’ him now to hol’ knife an’ fork. Lion said to Anansi, “You too wort’less man! me can hol’ it. I will loose you and then you tie me there.” So Lion loose Anansi an’ Anansi tied Lion to the tree. So Anansi went away, now, far into the bush an’ climb upon a tree to see what taking place. When the master came out, instead of seeing Anansi he see Lion. He took out the hot iron out of the fire an’ shove it in in Lion ear. An Lion make a plunge an’ pop the rope an’ away gallop in the bush an’ stan’ up underneath the same tree where Anansi was. Anansi got frighten an’ begin to tremble an’ shake the tree, Lion then hol’ up his head an’ see Anansi. He called for Anansi to come down. Anansi shout to the people, “See de man who you lookin’ fe! see de man underneat’ de tree!” An’ Lion gallop away an’ live in the bush until now, an’ Anansi get free.
THE STORIES in this collection were recorded from the lips of over sixty negro story-tellers in the remote country districts of Jamaica during two visits to the island in the summer of 1919 and the winter of 1921. The role of Anansi, the trickster spider, is akin to the Native American Coyote and the (Southern African) Bantu Hare.
Herein you will find 149 Anansi tales and a further 18 Witticisms. The stories are categorised into ANIMAL STORIES, OLD STORIES (CHIEFLY OF SORCERY), DANCE AND SONG and WITTICISMS. You will find stories as varied in title and content as THE FISH-BASKET, THE STORM, THE KING’S TWO DAUGHTERS, THE GUB-GUB PEAS, SIMON TOOTOOS, THE TREE-WIFE and many, many more unique tales.
In some instances, Martha Warren Beckwith was able to record musical notation to accompany the stories. As such you will find these scattered throughout the book. In this way the original style of the story-telling, which in some instances mingles story, song and dance, is as nearly as possible preserved.
Two influences have dominated story-telling in Jamaica, the first an absorbing interest in the magical effect of song which far surpasses that in the action of the story; the second, the conception of the spider Anansi as the trickster hero among a group of animal figures. “Anansi stories” regularly form the entertainment during wake-nights, and it is difficult not to believe that the vividness with which these animal actors take part in the story springs from the idea that they really represent the dead in the underworld whose spirits have the power, according to the native belief, of taking animal form. In the local culture, magic songs are often used in communicating with the dead, and the obeah-man who sets a ghost upon an enemy often sends it in the form of some animal; hence there are animals which must be carefully handled lest they be something other than they appear. The importance of animal stories is further illustrated by the fact that animal stories form the greater part of this volume.
33% of the net profit from the sale of this book will be donated to SENTEBALE, a charity supporting children orphaned by AIDS in Lesotho.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
A The Fish-Basket
B The Storm
Tiger As Substitute
A The King’s Two Daughters
B The Gub-Gub Peas
Tiger As Riding-Horse
Tiger’s Sheep-Skin Suit
Tiger Catching The Sheep-Thief
A The Escape
B The Substitute
C In The House-Top
Eggs And Scorpions
Eating Tiger’s Guts
A The Tell-Tale
B The Monkeys’ Song
Throwing Away Knives
A Tiger And Anansi
B Sheep And Anansi
Grace Before Meat
A Monkey And Anansi
B Goat And Anansi
A Rabbit And Anansi
B Rat And Anansi
C Goat And Anansi
Shut Up In The Pot
House In The Air
A Tracking Anansi
B Rabbit And Children Going Up To Heaven
C Duppy’s House In The Air
D Carencro’s House With A Key
Goat On The Hill-Side
Dog And Dog-Head
Anansi And The Tar-Baby
A The Escape From Tiger
B The Substitute
C The Grave
Inside The Cow
The Duckano Tree
Food And Cudgel
A The Handsome Packey
B The Knife And Fork
Anansi And Brother Dead
A Brother Dead’s Wife
B Goat And Plantain
Brother Dead And The Brindle Puppy
The Cowitch And Mr Foolman
Dry-Head And Anansi
C Brother Dead
The Law Against Back-Biting
A Duck’s Dream
C Dry-Head At The Barber’s
But-But And Anansi
Tumble-Bug And Anansi
Horse And Anansi
Anansi In Monkey Country
B Christen Christen
Curing The Sick
A The Fishes
B The Six Children
Anansi, White-Belly And Fish
A The Rain
B The Dance (1)
B The Dance (2)
Fire And Anansi
Quit-Quit And Anansi
A Tailors And Fiddlers
Spider Marries Monkey’s Daughter
The Chain Of Victims
Why Tumble-Bug Rolls In The Dung
Why John-Crow Has A Bald Head
A The Baptism
B The Dance
Why Dog Is Always Looking
Why Rocks At The River Are Covered With Moss
Why Ground-Dove Complains
Why Hog Is Always Grunting
Why Toad Croaks
Why Woodpecker Bores Wood
Why Crab Is Afraid After Dark
Why Mice Are No Bigger
A Cock’s Breakfast
B Feigning Sick (1)
B Feigning Sick (2)
C The Drum
Hunter, Guinea-Hen And Fish
A The Tar Baby
B Saying Grace
C Pretending Dead
The Animal Race
A Horse And Turtle
B Pigeon And Parrot
The Fasting Trial (Fragment)
Man Is Stronger
OLD STORIES, CHIEFLY OF SORCERY
The Pea That Made A Fortune
Settling The Father’s Debt
Mr Lenaman’s Corn-Field
Sammy The Comferee
A Moses Hendricks, Mandeville
B Julia Gentle, Malvern, Santa Cruz Mountains
Jack And Harry
Pea-Fowl As Messenger
A John Studee
The Barking Puppy
The Singing Bird
A Fine Waiting Boy
B The Golden Cage
The Greedy Child
A Crossing The River
B The Plantain
Alimoty And Aliminty
The Fish Lover
A Timbo Limbo
B Fish Fish Fish
C Dear Old Juna
Juggin Straw Blue
The Witch And The Grain Of Peas
The Three Dogs
A Boy And Witch Woman
B Lucy And Janet
Andrew And His Sisters
A The Bull Turned Courter
B The Cow Turned Woman
Man-Snake As Bridegroom
A The Rescue (1)
A The Rescue (2)
B Snake Swallows The Bride
The Girls Who Married The Devil
A The Devil-Husband
B The Snake-Husband
Bull As Bridegroom
B The Play-Song
C Gracie And Miles
The Two Bulls
Tiger Softens His Voice
A Anansi And Mosquito
B Anansi Plays Baby (1)
B Anansi Plays Baby (2)
B Anansi Plays Baby (3)
Anansi And Mr Able
The King’s Three Daughters
The Dumb Child
The Dumb Wife
Leap, Timber, Leap
A Old Conch
B Grass-Quit (Fragment)
The Boy Fools Anansi
The Water Crayfish
DANCE & SONG
In Come Murray
Tacoomah Makes A Dance
Anansi Makes A Dance
Fowl And Pretty Poll
John-Crow And Fowl At Court
Wooden Ping-Ping And Cock
Old-Time Fools I, II & III
Duppy Stories IV, V, VI, VII & VIII
Animal Jests IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV
Lies XVI & XVII
An excerpt from TALES OF FOLK AND FAIRIES – 14 children’s tales from around the world – A NEW RELEASE
THERE was once a girl who was wiser than the King and all his Councillors; there never was anything like it. Her father was so proud of her that he boasted about her cleverness at home and abroad. He could not keep his tongue still about it. One day he was boasting to one of his neighbors, and he said, The girl is so clever that not even the King himself could ask her a question she couldn’t answer, or read her a riddle she couldn’t unravel.
Now it so chanced the King was sitting at a window nearby, and he overheard what the girls father was saying. The next day he sent for the man to come before him. I hear you have a daughter who is so clever that no one in the kingdom can equal her; and is that so? asked the King.
Yes, it was no more than the truth. Too much could not be said of her wit and cleverness.
That was well, and the King was glad to hear it. He had thirty eggs; they were fresh and good, but it would take a clever person to hatch chickens out of them. He then bade his chancellor get the eggs and give them to the man.
Take these home to your daughter, said the King, and bid her hatch them out for me. If she succeeds she shall have a bag of money for her pains, but if she fails you shall be beaten as a vain boaster.
The man was troubled when he heard this. Still his daughter was so clever he was almost sure she could hatch out the eggs. He carried them home to her and told her exactly what the King had said, and it did not take the girl long to find out that the eggs had been boiled.
When she told her father that, he made a great to-do. That was a pretty trick for the King to have played upon him. Now he would have to take a beating and all the neighbors would hear about it. Would to Heaven he had never had a daughter at all if that was what came of it.
The girl, however, bade him be of good cheer. Go to bed and sleep quietly, said she. I will think of some way out of the trouble. No harm shall come to you, even though I have to go to the palace myself and take the beating in your place.
The next day the girl gave her father a bag of boiled beans and bade him take them out to a certain place where the King rode by every day. Wait until you see him coming, said she, and then begin to sow the beans. At the same time he was to call out this, that, and the other so loudly that the King could not help but hear him.
The man took the bag of beans and went out to the field his daughter had spoken of. He waited until he saw the King coming, and then he began to sow the beans, and at the same time to cry aloud, Come sun, come rain! Heaven grant that these boiled beans may yield me a good crop.
The King was surprised that any one should be so stupid as to think boiled beans would grow and yield a crop. He did not recognize the man, for he had only seen him once, and he stopped his horse to speak to him. My poor man, said he, how can you expect boiled beans to grow? Do you not know that that is impossible?
Whatever the King commands should be possible, answered the man, and if chickens can hatch from boiled eggs why should not boiled beans yield a crop?
When the King heard this he looked at the man more closely, and then he recognized him as the father of the clever daughter.
You have indeed a clever daughter, said he. Take your beans home and bring me back the eggs I gave you.
The man was very glad when he heard that, and made haste to obey. He carried the beans home and then took the eggs and brought them back to the palace of the King.
After the King had received the eggs he gave the man a handful of flax. Take this to your clever daughter, he said, and bid her make for me within the week a full set of sails for a large ship. If she does this she shall receive the half of my kingdom as a reward, but if she fails you shall have a drubbing that you will not soon forget.
The man returned to his home, loudly lamenting his hard lot.
What is the matter? asked his daughter. Has the King set another task that I must do?
Yes, that he had; and her father showed her the flax the King had sent her and gave her the message.
Do not be troubled, said the girl. No harm shall come to you. Go to bed and sleep quietly, and to-morrow I will send the King an answer that will satisfy him.
The man believed what his daughter said. He went to bed and slept quietly.
The next day the girl gave her father a small piece of wood. Carry this to the King, said she. Tell him I am ready to make the sails, but first let him make me of this wood a large ship that I may fit the sails to it.
The father did as the girl bade him, and the King was surprised at the cleverness of the girl in returning him such an answer.
That is all very well, said he, and I will excuse her from this task. But here! Here is a glass mug. Take it home to your clever daughter. Tell her it is my command that she dip out the waters from the ocean bed so that I can ride over the bottom dry shod. If she does this, I will take her for my wife, but if she fails you shall be beaten within an inch of your life.
The man took the mug and hastened home, weeping aloud and bemoaning his fate.
Well, and what is it? asked his daughter. What does the King demand of me now?
The man gave her the glass mug and told her what the King had said.
Do not be troubled, said the girl. Go to bed and sleep in peace. You shall not be beaten, and soon I shall be reigning as Queen over all this land.
The man had trust in her. He went to bed and slept and dreamed he saw her sitting by the King with a crown on her head.
The next day the girl gave her father a bunch of tow. Take this to the King, she said. Tell him you have given me the mug, and I am willing to dip the sea dry, but first let him take this tow and stop up all the rivers that flow into the ocean.
The man did as his daughter bade him. He took the tow to the King and told him exactly what the girl had said.
Then the King saw that the girl was indeed a clever one, and he sent for her to come before him.
She came just as she was, in her homespun dress and her rough shoes and with a cap on her head, but for all her mean clothing she was as pretty and fine as a flower, and the King was not slow to see it. Still he wanted to make sure for himself that she was as clever as her messages had been.
Tell me, said he, what sound can be heard the farthest throughout the world?
The thunder that echoes through heaven and earth, answered the girl, and your own royal commands that go from lip to lip.
This reply pleased the King greatly. And now tell me, said he, exactly what is my royal sceptre worth?
It is worth exactly as much as the power for which it stands, the girl replied.
The King was so well satisfied with the way the girl answered that he no longer hesitated; he determined that she should be his Queen, and that they should be married at once.
The girl had something to say to this, however. I am but a poor girl, said she, and my ways are not your ways. It may well be that you will tire of me, or that you may be angry with me sometime, and send me back to my fathers house to live. Promise that if this should happen you will allow me to carry back with me from the castle the thing that has grown most precious to me.
The King was willing to agree to this, but the girl was not satisfied until he had written down his promise and signed it with his own royal hand. Then she and the King were married with the greatest magnificence, and she came to live in the palace and reign over the land.
Now while the girl was still only a peasant she had been well content to dress in homespun and live as a peasant should, but after she became Queen she would wear nothing but the most magnificent robes and jewels and ornaments, for that seemed to her only right and proper for a Queen. But the King, who was of a very jealous nature, thought his wife did not care at all for him, but only for the fine things he could give her.
One time the King and Queen were to ride abroad together, and the Queen spent so much time in dressing herself that the King was kept waiting, and he became very angry. When she appeared before him, he would not even look at her. You care nothing for me, but only for the jewels and fine clothes you wear, he cried. Take with you those that are the most precious to you, as I promised you, and return to your father’s house. I will no longer have a wife who cares only for my possessions and not at all for me.
Very well; the girl was willing to go. And I will be happier in my father’s house than I was when I first met you, said she. Nevertheless she begged that she might spend one more night in the palace, and that she and the King might sup together once again before she returned home.
To this the King agreed, for he still loved her, even though he was so angry with her.
So he and his wife supped together that evening, and just at the last the Queen took a golden cup and filled it with wine. Then, when the King was not looking, she put a sleeping potion in the wine and gave it to him to drink.
He took it and drank to the very last drop, suspecting nothing, but soon after he sank down among the cushions in a deep sleep. Then the Queen caused him to be carried to her fathers house and laid in the bed there.
When the King awoke the next morning he was very much surprised to find himself in the peasants cottage. He raised himself upon his elbow to look about him, and at once the girl came to the bedside, and she was again dressed in the coarse and common clothes she had worn before she was married.
What means this? asked the King, and how came I here?
My dear husband, said the girl, your promise was that if you ever sent me back to my fathers house I might carry with me the thing that had become most precious to me in the castle. You are that most precious thing, and I care for nothing else except as it makes me pleasing in your sight.
Then the King could no longer feel jealous or angry with her. He clasped her in his arms, and they kissed each other tenderly. That same day they returned to the palace, and from that time on the King and his peasant Queen lived together in the greatest love and happiness.
Herein are 14 tales and childrens stories from around the world – Scotland, Louisiana, Scandinavia, Serbia, Arabia, Russia, Persia and Bengal. There is even a Cossack tale, a Norse tale and a Hindu tale.
Of note is the tale THE HISTORY OF ALI COGIA from the Arabian Nights and the Scandinavian tale of THE MAGIC PIPE. Importantly, as in any good collection of fairy tales and folklore, there is also the story of THE TRIUMPH OF TRUTH, as the truth will always be told in the end. Unusually there is the Russian tale of THE FROG PRINCESS – usually such marchen have a Frog Prince. But you will have to read this story to see if there is a happy ending. And what would an anthology of fairy tales and folklore be without a story about fairies. The volume is completed with the story of DAME PRIDGETT AND THE FAIRIES which carries a warning to all NEVER TRY AND OUTSMART A FAIRY!
Nowhere in this volume will you find one of the perennial favourites, which makes this volume even more interesting and unique, for these stories have not been seen or read for many a year, except, maybe, by members of our older generations who may have had them read to them by their Grandparents when they were children.
So sit back and enjoy this eclectic volume of fairy tales and folklore and know that in buying this volume you will have also donated to a charity somewhere in the world, for the publisher donates 33% of the net profit from every copy sold to charities.
Yesterdays Books Raising Funds For Todays Charities
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Meester Stoorworm
Jean Malin And The Bull-Man
The Widows Son
The Wise Girl
The History Of Ali Cogia
The Talking Eggs
The Frog Princess
The Magic Turban, The Magic Sword And The Magic Carpet
The Three Silver Citrons
The Magic Pipe
The Triumph Of Truth
Dame Pridgett And The Fairies
An excerpt from THE CHINESE FAIRY BOOK
IN the dim ages of the past there once was an old man who went on a journey. No one remained at home save his only daughter and a white stallion. The daughter fed the horse day by day, but she was lonely and yearned for her father.
So it happened that one day she said in jest to the horse: If you will bring back my father to me then I will marry you!
No sooner had the horse heard her say this, than he broke loose and ran away. He ran until he came to the place where her father was. When her father saw the horse, he was pleasantly surprised, caught him and seated himself on his back. And the horse turned back the way he had come, neighing without a pause.
What can be the matter with the horse? thought the father. Something must have surely gone wrong at home! So he dropped the reins and rode back. And he fed the horse liberally because he had been so intelligent; but the horse ate nothing, and when he saw the girl, he struck out at her with his hoofs and tried to bite her. This surprised the father; he questioned his daughter, and she told him the truth, just as it had occurred.
You must not say a word about it to anyone, spoke her father, or else people will talk about us.
And he took down his crossbow, shot the horse, and hung up his skin in the yard to dry. Then he went on his travels again.
One day his daughter went out walking with the daughter of a neighbor. When they entered the yard, she pushed the horse-hide with her foot and said: What an unreasonable animal you werewanting to marry a human being! What happened to you served you right!
But before she had finished her speech, the horse-hide moved, rose up, wrapped itself about the girl and ran off.
Horrified, her companion ran home to her father and told him what had happened. The neighbors looked for the girl everywhere, but she could not be found.
At last, some days afterward, they saw the girl hanging from the branches of a tree, still wrapped in the horse-hide; and gradually she turned into a silkworm and wove a cocoon. And the threads which she spun were strong and thick. Her girl friend then took down the cocoon and let her slip out of it; and then she spun the silk and sold it at a large profit.
But the girls relatives longed for her greatly. So one day the girl appeared riding in the clouds on her horse, followed by a great company and said: In heaven I have been assigned to the task of watching over the growing of silkworms. You must yearn for me no longer! And thereupon they built temples to her in her native land, and every year, at the silkworm season, sacrifices are offered to her and her protection is implored. And the Silkworm Goddess is also known as the girl with the Horses Head.
Note: This tale is placed in the times of the Emperor Hau, and the legend seems to have originated in Setchuan. The stallion is the sign of the zodiac which rules the springtime, the season when the silkworms are cultivated. Hence she is called the Goddess with the Horses Head. The legend itself tells a different tale. In addition to this goddess, the spouse of Schen Nung, the Divine Husbandman, is also worshiped as the goddess of silkworm culture. The Goddess with the Horses Head is more of a totemic representation of the silkworm as such; while the wife of Schen Nung is regarded as the protecting goddess of silk culture, and is supposed to have been the first to teach women its details. The spouse of the Yellow Lord is mentioned in the same connection. The popular belief distinguishes three goddesses who protect the silkworm culture in turn. The second is the best of the three, and when it is her year the silk turns out well.
Other Images from THE CHINESE FAIRY BOOK