You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2013.
Once upon a time, on the edge of a mountain, lovely as the entrance to paradise, see, coming along, and descending toward the valley, three flocks of young lambs, driven by three young shepherds; one is an inhabitant of the plains of Moldau, the other is Hungarian, the third is from the Vrantcha Mountain. The Hungarian and the Vranchian have held counsel together, and have resolved that at sunset they will kill their companion, on account of his riches, for he owns more horned sheep than they do, his horses are better trained than theirs, and his dogs more vigorous. Yet, for three days past, there is in his flock a fair young sheep, with white silky wool, who will no longer eat the tender grass of the prairie, and moans all day long.
“My poor little sheep, you who were so fat and well! how is it that for three days you have done nothing but groan and moan? don’t you like the prairie grass, or are you ill, my dear little lamb?”
“Oh, my beloved shepherd, lead thy flock to that thicket, there will be grass for us, and shade for thee; master, dear master! call near you without delay, one of your best and strongest dogs, for the Hungarian and the Vranchian have resolved to kill you at sunset!”
“Dear little sheep of the mountains, if thou art a prophetess, if it is written that I am to die in the bosom of these pastures, thou wilt tell the Hungarian and the Vranchian to bury me near this spot, not far from this enclosure, so that I may always be near you, my beloved lambs,–either here, or behind the shepherd’s hut, so that I may always hear the voice of my faithful dogs. Thou wilt tell them this, and thou wilt place at the foot of nay grave a little flute of elm wood, with its accents of love; another of bone, with its harmonious sounds; another of reeds, with its passionate notes; and when the wind blows across their pipes bringing out plaintive music, then my flock will assemble round my tomb, and weep for me, tears of blood.”
“Take care thou dost not tell them of my murder! tell them I have married a beautiful Queen, that at the moment of our union, a star fell, that the sun and moon together held the crown over my head, that I exist no longer for them. But if ever thou meetest, if ever thou comest near, a poor old mother, running across the fields, weeping and asking, ‘who amongst you have seen a young shepherd, with face as fair as milk, with moustache yellow as ripe corn, with waist so slight that it would pass through a ring, with raven hair, and eyes like mulberries?’–then my little sheep, take pity on her, and tell her that I have married a daughter of the King who lives at the entrance of paradise, but say nothing to her of the falling star!” Here ends the fragment.
Once upon a time, there was once a poor Gypsy with a very beautiful daughter, whom he guarded like the apple of his eye, for he wanted to marry her to a chieftain. So he always kept her in the tent when the lads and lasses sat of an evening by the fire and told stories, or beguiled the time with play and dance. Only a dog was the constant companion of this poor maiden. No one knew whom the dog belonged to, or where he came from. He had joined the band once, and thenceforth continued the trusty companion of the poor beautiful maiden.
It befell once that her father must go to a far city, to sell there his besoms, baskets, spoons, and troughs. He left his daughter with the other women in the tents on the heath, and set out with the men for the city. This troubled the poor girl greatly, for no one would speak to her, as all the women envied her for her beauty and avoided her; in a word, they hated the sight of her. Only the dog remained true to her; and once, as she sat sorrowfully in front of the tent, he said, ‘Come, let us go out on the heath; there I will tell you who I really am.’ The girl was terrified, for she had never heard of a dog being able to speak like a man; but when the dog repeated his request, she got up and went with him out on the heath. There the dog said, ‘Kiss me, and I shall become a man.’ The girl kissed him, and lo! before her stood a man of wondrous beauty. He sat down beside her in the grass, and told how a fairy had turned him into a dog for trying to steal her golden apples, and how he could resume his human shape for but one night in the year, and only then if a girl had kissed him first. Much more had the two to tell, and they toyed in the long grass all the livelong night. When day dawned, the girl slipped back with the dog to her tent; and the two henceforth were the very best of friends.
The poor Gypsy came back from the city to the heath, merry because he had made a good bit of money. When again he must go to the city to sell his besoms and spoons, the girl remained behind with the dog in the camp, and one night she brought forth a little white puppy. In her terror and anguish she ran to the great river, and jumped into the water. When the people sought to draw her out of the water, they could not find her corpse; and the old Gypsy, her father, would have thrown himself in too, when a handsome strange gentleman came up, and said, ‘I’ll soon get you the body.’ He took a bit of bread, kissed it, and threw it into the water. The dead girl straightway emerged from the water. The people drew the corpse to land, and bore it back to the tents, in three days’ time to bury it. But the strange gentleman said, ‘I will bring my sweetheart to life.’ And he took the little white puppy, the dead girl’s son, and laid it on the bosom of the corpse. The puppy began to suck, and when it had sucked its full, the dead girl awoke, and, on seeing the handsome man, started up and flew into his arms, for he was her lover who had lived with her as a white dog.
All greatly rejoiced when they heard this marvellous story, and nobody thought of the little white puppy, the son of the beautiful Gypsy girl. All of a sudden they heard a baby cry; and when they looked round, they saw a little child lying in the grass. Then was the joy great indeed. The little puppy had vanished and taken human shape. So they celebrated marriage and baptism together, and lived in wealth and prosperity till their happy end.
Once Upon a Time THERE had been a sudden change in the weather. A cold rain was falling, and the night comes early when the clouds hang low. The children loved a bright fire, and to-night War Eagle’s lodge was light as day. Away off on the plains a wolf was howling, and the rain pattered upon the lodge as though it never intended to quit. It was a splendid night for story-telling, and War Eagle filled and lighted the great stone pipe, while the children made themselves comfortable about the fire.
A spark sprang from the burning sticks, and fell upon Fine Bow’s bare leg. They all laughed heartily at the boy’s antics to rid himself of the burning coal; and as soon as the laughing ceased War Eagle laid aside the pipe. An Indian’s pipe is large to look at, but holds little tobacco.
“See your shadows on the lodge wall?” asked the old warrior. The children said they saw them, and he continued:
“Some day I will tell you a story about them, and how they drew the arrows of our enemies, but to-night I am going to tell you of the great fire-leggings. “It was long before there were men and women on the world, but my grandfather told me what I shall now tell you.
“The gray light that hides the night-stars was creeping through the forests, and the wind the Sun sends to warn the people of his coming was among the fir tops. Flowers, on slender stems, bent their heads out of respect for the herald-wind’s Master, and from the dead top of a pine-tree the Yellowhammer beat upon his drum and called ‘the Sun is awake — all hail the Sun!’
“Then the bush-birds began to sing the song of the morning, and from alders the Robins joined, until all live things were awakened by the great music. Where the tall ferns grew, the Doe waked her Fawns, and taught them to do homage to the Great Light. In the creeks, where the water was still and clear, and where throughout the day, like a delicate damaskeen, the shadows of leaves that overhang would lie, the Speckled Trout broke the surface of the pool in his gladness of the coming day. Pine-squirrels chattered gayly, and loudly proclaimed what the wind had told; and all the shadows were preparing for a great journey to the Sand Hills, where the ghost-people dwell.
“Under a great spruce-tree — where the ground was soft and dry, Old-man slept. The joy that thrilled creation disturbed him not, although the Sun was near. The birdpeople looked at the sleeper in wonder, but the Pine squirrel climbed the great spruce-tree with a pine-cone in his mouth. Quickly he ran out on the limb that spread over Old-man, and dropped the cone on the sleeper’s face. Then he scolded Old-man, saying: ‘Get up — get up — lazy one — lazy one — get up — get up.’
“Rubbing his eyes in anger, Old-man sat up and saw the Sun coming — his hunting leggings slipping through the thickets — setting them afire, till all the Deer and Elk ran out and sought new places to hide.
“‘Ho, Sun!’ called Old-man, ‘those are mighty leggings you wear. No wonder you are a great hunter. Your leggings set fire to all the thickets, and by the light you can easily see the Deer and Elk; they cannot hide. Ho! Give them to me and I shall then be the great hunter and never be hungry.’
“‘Good,’ said the Sun, ‘take them, and let me see you wear my leggings.’
“Old-man was glad in his heart, for he was lazy, and now he thought he could kill the game without much work, and that he could be a great hunter — as great as the Sun. He put on the leggings and at once began to hunt the thickets, for he was hungry. Very soon the leggings began to burn his legs. The faster he travelled the hotter they grew, until in pain he cried out to the Sun to come and take back his leggings; but the Sun would not hear him. On and on Old-man ran. Faster and faster he flew through the country, setting fire to the brush and grass as he passed. Finally he came to a great river, and jumped in. Sizzzzzzz — the water said,
when Old-man’s legs touched it. It cried out, as it does when it is sprinkled upon hot stones in the sweat-lodge, for the leggings were very hot. But standing in the cool water Old-man took off the leggings and threw them out upon the shore, where the Sun found them later in the day.
“The Sun’s clothes were too big for Old-man, and his work too great.
“We should never ask to do the things which Manitou did not intend us to do. If we keep this always in mind we shall never get into trouble.
“Be yourselves always. That is what Manitou intended. Never blame the Wolf for what he does. He was made to do such things. Now I want you to go to your fathers’ lodges and sleep. To-morrow night I will tell you why there are so many snakes in the world. Ho!”