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ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 50
In Issue 50 of the Baba Indaba Children’s Stories, Baba Indaba narrates the Celtic story about how a hard-hearted woman shoos away a stray dog and how another woman shows kindness and compasion to another. The tale tells of which of the two women the fairies rewarded and whom they did not.
This issue also has a “Where in the World – Look it Up” section, where young readers are challenged to look up a place on a map somewhere in the world. The place, town or city is relevant to the story, on map. HINT – use Google maps.
Baba Indaba is a fictitious Zulu storyteller who narrates children’s stories from around the world. Baba Indaba translates as “Father of Stories”.
 
A Fairy Dog

A Fairy Dog

 

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ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 49
In Issue 49 of the Baba Indaba Children’s Stories, Baba Indaba narrates the story about the fairies who borrow household items from an old woman but who always leave a gift in payment. The old woman comes up with plan to outfox the fairies and get them to use their magic to achieve her own selfish ambitions, but with disastrous consequences – for we all know you can’t outfox a fairy. Look out for the moral in the tale.
This issue also has a “Where in the World – Look it Up” section, where young readers are challenged to look up a place on a map somewhere in the world. The place, town or city is relevant to the story, on map. HINT – use Google maps.
Baba Indaba is a fictitious Zulu storyteller who narrates children’s stories from around the world. Baba Indaba translates as “Father of Stories”.
 
A Fairy Borrowing / When Fairies Borrow

A Fairy Borrowing / When Fairies Borrow

The Wind Rider - Baba Indaba Children's Stories Issue 41

The Wind Rider – Baba Indaba Children’s Stories Issue 41

ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 41

In Issue 41 of the Baba Indaba Children’s Stories, Baba Indaba narrates the Norse legend of The Wind Rider – A long, time ago, in a land far, far away, a magician was once upon a time much put out with a young countryman. In a fit of rage and spite he curses the young man to ride the wind of the storm for seven years. But these things have a way of backfiring on those with evil intent. Read the story to find out what happens.

This issue also has a “Where in the World – Look it Up” section, where young readers are challenged to look up a place on a map somewhere in the world. The place, town or city is relevant to the story, on map. HINT – use Google maps.

Baba Indaba is a fictitious Zulu storyteller who narrates children’s stories from around the world. Baba Indaba translates as “Father of Stories”.

It is believed that folklore and tales are believed to have originated in India and made their way overland along the Silk and Spice routes and through Central Asia before arriving in Europe. Even so, this does not cover all folklore from all four corners of the world. Indeed folklore, legends and myths from Africa, Australia, Polynesia, and some from Asia too, are altogether quite different and seem to have originated on the whole from separate reservoirs of lore, legend and culture.

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Anon_E_Mouse_THE_WIND_RIDER_A_Norse_tale?id=WvIEDAAAQBAJ

Books Yellow, Red, and Green and Blue,
All true, or just as good as true,
And now here’s the Pink Book just for YOU!

Hard is the path from A to Z,
And puzzling to a curly head,
Yet leads to Books—Green, Blue, and Red.

For every child should understand
That letters from the first were planned
To guide us into Fairy Land

So labour at your Alphabet,
For by that learning shall you get
To lands where Fairies may be met.

And going where this pathway goes,
You too, at last, may find, who knows?
The Garden of the Singing Rose.

Penned by Andrew Lang as an introduction to his Pink Fairy Books – now part of a 3 book set.

URL: http://abelapublishing.com/andrew-langs-coloured-fairy-tales-3-book-set_p24618764.htm

Andrew Lang's Coloured Fairy Tales 3 Book Set

 

 

Believed to be Indian in origin – An Excerpt from Oriental Folklore and Legends

Once Upon a Time, During the reign of a mighty rajah named Guddeh Sing, a celebrated, and as it is now supposed, deified priest, or hutteet, called Dhurrumnath, came, and in all the characteristic humility of his sect established a primitive and temporary resting-place within a few miles of the rajah’s residence at Runn, near Mandavie. He was accompanied by his adopted son, Ghurreeb Nath.

From this spot Dhurrumnath despatched his son to seek for charitable contributions from the inhabitants of the town. To this end Ghurreeb Nath made several visits; but being unsuccessful,
and at the same time unwilling that his father should know of the want of liberality in the city, he at each visit purchased food out of some limited funds of his own. At length, his little hoard failing, on the sixth day he was obliged to confess the deceit he had practised.

Dhurrumnath, on being acquainted with this, became extremely vexed, and vowed that from that day all the rajah’s putteen cities should become desolate and ruined. The tradition goes on to state that in due time these cities were destroyed; Dhurrumnath, accompanied by his son, left the neighbourhood, and proceeded to Denodur. Finding it a desirable place, he determined on performing Tupseeah, or penance, for twelve years, and chose the form of standing on his head.

On commencing to carry out this determination, he dismissed his son, who established his Doonee in the jungles, about twenty miles to the north-west of Bhooj. After Dhurrumnath had remained Tupseeah for twelve years, he was visited by all the angels from heaven, who besought him to rise; to which he replied, that if he did so, the portion of the country on which his sight would first rest would become barren: if villages, they would disappear; if woods or fields, they would equally be
destroyed. The angels then told him to turn his head to the north-east, where flowed the sea. Upon this he resumed his natural position, and, turning his head in the direction he was told, opened his eyes, when immediately the sea disappeared, the stately ships became wrecks, and their crews were destroyed, leaving nothing behind but a barren, unbroken desert, known as the Runn.

Dhurrumnath, too pure to remain on the earth, partook of an immediate and glorious immortality, being at once absorbed into the spiritual nature of the creating, the finishing, the indivisible, all-pervading Brum.
* * * * * * *
This self-imposed penance of Dhurrumnath has shed a halo of sanctity around the hill of Denodur, and was doubtless the occasion of its having been selected as a fitting site for a Jogie establishment, the members of which, it is probable, were originally the attendants on a small temple that had been erected, and which still remains, on the highest point of the hill, on the spot where the holy Dhurrumnath is said to have performed his painful Tupseeah.

ISBN: 978-1-907256-10-3
URL: http://abelapublishing.com/oriental-folklore-and-legends_p23332648.htm

Oriental Folklore and Legends cover

Oriental Folklore and Legends cover

An excerpt from “Myths and Folklore of Ireland”

Once upon a time, it was the custom with Fin MacCumhail and the Fenians of Erin, when a stranger from any part of the world came to their castle, not to ask him a question for a year and a day.
On a time, a champion came to Fin and his men, and remained with them. He was not at all pleasant or agreeable.

At last Fin and his men took counsel together; they were much annoyed because their guest was so dull and morose, never saying a word, always silent.

While discussing what kind of man he was, Diarmuid Duivne offered to try him; so one evening when they were eating together, Diarmuid came and snatched from his mouth the hind-quarter of a bullock, which he was picking.

Diarmuid pulled at one part of the quarter, – pulled with all his strength, but only took the part that he seized, while the other kept the part he held. All laughed; the stranger laughed too, as heartily as any. It was the first laugh they had heard from him.
The strange champion saw all their feats of arms and practised with them, till the year and a day were over. Then he said to Fin and his men:
“I have spent a pleasant year in your company; you gave me good treatment, and the least I can do now is to give you a feast at my own castle.”

No one had asked what his name was up to that time. Fin now asked his name. He answered:
“My name is Fear Dubh, of Alba.”

Fin accepted the invitation; and they appointed the day for the feast, which was to be in Erin, since Fear Dubh did not wish to trouble them to go to Alban. He took leave of his host and started for home.

When the day for the feast came, Fin and the chief men of the Fenians of Erin set out for the castle of Fear Dubh.
They went, a glen at a step, a hill at a leap, and thirty-two miles at a running leap, till they came to the grand castle where the feast was to be given.

They went in; everything was ready, seats at the table, and every man’s name at his seat in the same order as at Fin’s castle. Diarmuid, who was always very sportive, – fond of hunting, and paying court to women, was not with them; he had gone to the mountains with his dogs.

All sat down, except Conan Maol MacMorna (never a man spoke well of him); no seat was ready for him, for he used to lie on the flat of his back on the floor, at Fin’s castle.

When all were seated the door of the castle closed of itself. Fin then asked the man nearest the door, to rise and open it. The man tried to rise; he pulled this way and that, over and hither, but he couldn’t get up. Then the next man tried, and the next, and so on, till the turn came to Fin himself, who tried in vain.

Now, whenever Fin and his men were in trouble and great danger it was their custom to raise a cry of distress (a voice of howling), heard all over Erin. Then all men knew that they were in peril of death; for they never raised this cry except in the last extremity.
Fin’s son, Fialan, who was three years old and in the cradle, heard the cry, was roused, and jumped up.

“Get me a sword! “ said he to the nurse. “My father and his men are in distress; I must go to aid them.”
“What could you do, poor little child.”
Fialan looked around, saw an old rusty sword-blade laid aside for ages. He took it down, gave it a snap; it sprang up so as to hit his arm, and all the rust dropped off; the blade was pure as shining silver.

“This will do,” said he; and then he set out towards the place where he heard the cry, going a glen at a step, a hill at a leap, and thirty-two miles at a running leap, till he came to the door of the castle, and cried out.
Fin answered from inside, “Is that you, my child?”
“It is,” said Fialan.
“Why did you come?”
“I heard your cry, and how could I stay at home, hearing the cry of my father and the Fenians of Erin!”
“Oh, my child, you cannot help us much.”

Fialan struck the door powerfully with his sword, but no use. Then, one of the men inside asked Fin to chew his thumb, to know what was keeping them in, and why they were bound.
Fin chewed his thumb, from skin to blood, from blood to bone, from bone to marrow, and discovered that Fear Dubh had built the castle by magic, and that he was coming himself with a great force to cut the head off each one of them. (These men from Alba had always a grudge against the champions of Erin.)

Said Fin to Fialan: “Do you go now, and stand at the ford near the castle, and meet Fear Dubh.”

Fialan went and stood in the middle of the ford. He wasn’t long there when he saw Fear Dubh coming with a great army.
“Leave the ford, my child,” said Fear Dubh, who knew him at once. “I have not come to harm your father. I spent a pleasant year at his castle. I’ve only come to show him honour.”

“I know why you have come,” answered Fialan. You’ve come to destroy my father and all his men, and I’ll not leave this ford while I can hold it.”

“Leave the ford; I don’t want to harm your father, I want to do him honour. If you don’t let us pass my men will kill you,” said Fear Dubh.

“I will not let you pass so long as I ‘m alive before you,” said Fialan.

The men faced him; and if they did Fialan kept his place, and a battle commenced, the like of which was never seen before that day. Fialan went through the army as a hawk through a flock of sparrows on a March morning, till he killed every man except Fear Dubh. Fear Dubh told him again to leave the ford, he didn’t want to harm his father.

“Oh!” said Fialan, “I know well what you want.”
“If you don’t leave that place I’ll make you leave it” said Fear Dubh. Then they closed in combat; and such a combat was never seen before between any two warriors. They made springs to rise through the centre of hard gray rocks, cows to cast their calves whether they had them or not. All the horses of the country were racing about and neighing in dread and fear, and all created things were terrified at the sound and clamour of the fight till the weapons of Fear Dubh went to pieces in the struggle, and Fialan made two halves of his own sword.

Now they closed in wrestling. In the first round Fialan put Fear Dubh to his knees in the hard bottom of the river; the second round he put him to his hips, and the third, to his shoulders.
“Now,” said he, “I have you,” giving him a stroke of the half of his sword, which cut the head off him.

Then Fialan went to the door of the castle and told his father what he had done.

Fin chewed his thumb again, and knew what other danger was coming. “My son,” said he to Fialan, “Fear Dubh has a younger brother more powerful than he was; that brother is coming against us now with greater forces than those which you have destroyed.”

As soon as Fialan heard these words he hurried to the ford, and waited till the second army came up. He destroyed this army as he had the other, and closed with the second brother in a fight fiercer and more terrible than the first; but at last he thrust him to his armpits in the hard bottom of the river and cut off his head.
Then he went to the castle, and told his father what he had done. A third time Fin chewed his thumb, and said: “My son, a third army more to be dreaded than the other two is coming now to destroy us, and at the head of it is the youngest brother of Fear Dubh, the most desperate and powerful of the three.”

Again Fialan rushed off to the ford; and, though the work was greater than before, he left not a man of the army alive. Then he closed with the youngest brother of Fear Dubh, and if the first and second battles were terrible this was more terrible by far; but at last he planted the youngest brother up to his armpits in the hard bottom of the river, and swept the head off him.

Now, after the heat and struggle of combat Fialan was in such a rage that he lost his mind from fury, not having any one to fight against; and if the whole world had been there before him he would have gone through it and conquered it all.

But having no one to face him he rushed along the river-bank, tearing the flesh from his own body. Never had such madness been seen in any created being before that day.

Diarmuid came now and knocked at the door of the castle, having the dog Bran with him, and asked Fin what had caused him to raise the cry of distress.

“Oh, Diarmuid,” said Fin, “we are all fastened in here to be killed. Fialan has destroyed three armies and Fear Dubh with his two brothers. He is raging now along the bank of the river; you must not go near him, for he would tear you limb from limb. At this moment he wouldn’t spare me, his own father; but after a while he will cease from raging and die down; then you can go. The mother of Fear Dubh is coming, and will soon be at the ford. She is more violent, more venomous, more to be dreaded, a greater warrior than her sons. The chief weapon she has are the nails on her fingers; each nail is seven perches long, of the hardest steel on earth. She is coming in the air at this moment with the speed of a hawk, and she has a kŭŕan (a small vessel), with liquor in it, which has such power that if she puts three drops of it on the mouths of her sons they will rise up as well as ever; and if she brings them to life there is nothing to save us.

Go to the ford; she will be hovering over the corpses of the three armies to know can she find her sons, and as soon as she sees them she will dart down and give them the liquor. You must rise with a mighty bound upon her, dash the kŭŕan out of her hand and spill the liquor.

“If you can kill her save her blood, for nothing in the world can free us from this place and open the door of the castle but the blood of the old hag. I’m in dread you’ll not succeed, for she is far more terrible than all her sons together. Go now; Fialan is dying away, and the old woman is coming; make no delay.”

Diarmuid hurried to the ford, stood watching a while; then he saw high in the air something no larger than a hawk. As it came nearer and nearer he saw it was the old woman. She hovered high in the air over the ford. At last she saw her sons, and was swooping down, when Diarmuid rose with a bound into the air and struck the vial a league out of her hand.

The old hag gave a shriek that was heard to the eastern world, and screamed: “Who has dared to interfere with me or my sons?”
“I,” answered Diarmuid; “and you’ll not go further till I do to you what has been done to your sons.”

The fight began; and if there ever was a fight, before or since, it could not he more terrible than this one; but great as was the power of Diarmuid he never could have conquered but for Bran the dog.

The old woman with her nails stripped the skin and flesh from Diarmuid almost to the vitals. But Bran tore the skin and flesh off the old woman’s back from her head to her heels.
From the dint of blood-loss and fighting, Diarmuid was growing faint. Despair came on him, and he was on the point of giving way, when a little robin flew near to him, and sitting on a bush, spoke, saying:

“Oh, Diarmuid, take strength; rise and sweep the head off the old hag, or Fin and the Fenians of Erin are no more.”
Diarmuid took courage, and with his last strength made one great effort, swept the head off the old hag and caught her blood in a vessel. He rubbed some on his own wounds, – they were cured; then he cured Bran.

Straightway he took the blood to the castle, rubbed drops of it on the door, which opened, and he went in.
All laughed with joy at the rescue. He freed Fin and his men by rubbing the blood on the chairs; hut when he came as far as Conan Maol the blood gave out.

All were going away. “Why should you leave me here after you;” cried Conan Maol, “I would rather die at once than stay here for a lingering death. Why don’t you, Oscar, and you, Gol MacMorna, come and tear me out of this place; anyhow you’ll be able to drag the arms out of me and kill me at once; better that than leave me to die alone.”
Oscar and Gol took each a hand, braced their feet against his feet, put forth all their strength and brought him standing; but if they did, he left all the skin and much of the flesh from the back of his head to his heels on the floor behind him. He was covered with blood, and by all accounts was in a terrible condition, bleeding and wounded.

Now there were sheep grazing near the castle. The Fenians ran out, killed and skinned the largest and best of the flock, and clapped the fresh skin on Conan’s back; and such was the healing power in the sheep, and the wound very fresh, that Conan’s back healed, and he marched home with the rest of the men, and soon got well; and if he did, they sheared off his back wool enough every year to make a pair of stockings for each one of the Fenians of Erin, and for Fin himself.

And that was a great thing to do and useful, for wool was scarce in Erin in those days. Fin and his men lived pleasantly and joyously for some time; and if they didn’t, may we.
——————
URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/myths-and-folklore-of-ireland_p23332640.htm
ISBN: 978-1-907256-08-0

No. 18.–The Golden Children

Once Upon a Time, There were three princesses, and they vaunted themselves before the three princes. One vaunted that she will make him a golden boy and girl. And one vaunted that she will feed his army with one crust of bread. And one vaunted that she will clothe the whole army with a single spindleful of thread. The time came that the princes took the three maidens. So she who had vaunted that she will bear the golden boy and girl, the time came that she grew big with child, and she fell on the hearth in the birth-pangs. The midwife came and his mother, and she brought forth a golden boy and girl. And her man was not there. And the midwife and his mother took a dog and a bitch, and put them beneath her. And they took the boy and the girl, and the midwife threw them into the river. And they went floating on the river, and a monk found them.

So their father went a-hunting, and their father found the lad. ‘Let me kiss you.’ For, he thought, My wife said she would bear a golden lad and girl like this. And he came home and fell sick; and the midwife noticed it and his mother.

The midwife asked him, ‘What ails you?’

He said, ‘I am sick, because I have seen a lad like my wife said she would bear me.’

Then she sent for the children, did his mother; and the monk brought them; and she asked him, ‘Where did you get those children?’

He said, ‘I found them both floating on the river.’

And the king saw it must be his children; his heart yearned towards them. So the king called the monk, and asked him, ‘Where did you get those children?’

He said, ‘I found them floating on the river.’

He brought the monk to his mother and the midwife, and said, ‘Behold, mother, my children.’

She repented and said, ‘So it is.’ She said, ‘Yes, darling, the midwife put them in a box, and threw them into the water.’

Then he kindled the furnace, and cast both his mother and also the midwife into the furnace. And he burnt them; and so they made atonement. He gathered all the kings together, for joy that he had found his children. Away I came, the tale have told.

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/gypsy-folk-tales–book-one–illustrated-edition_p23332621.htm

ISBN: 978-1-907256-07-3

Cover Art

Once upon a time, Tommy Grimes was sometimes a good boy, and sometimes a bad boy; and when he was a bad boy, he was a very bad boy. Now his mother used to say to him: ‘Tommy, Tommy, be a good boy, and don’t go out of the street, or else Mr Miacca will take you.’ But still when he was a bad boy he would go out of the street; and one day, sure enough, he had scarcely got round the corner, when Mr Miacca did catch him and popped him into a bag upside down, and took him off to his house.

When Mr Miacca got Tommy inside, he pulled him out of the bag and sat him down, and felt his arms and legs. ‘You’re rather tough,’ says he; ‘but you’re all I’ve got for supper, and you’ll not taste bad boiled. But body o’ me, I’ve forgot the herbs, and it’s bitter you’ll taste without herbs. Sally! Here, I say, Sally!’ and he called Mrs Miacca.

So Mrs Miacca came out of another room and said: ‘What d’ye want, my dear?’

‘Oh, here’s a little boy for supper,’ said Mr Miacca, ‘and I’ve forgot the herbs. Mind him, will ye, while I go for them.’

‘All right, my love,’ says Mrs Miacca, and off he goes.

Then Tommy Grimes said to Mrs Miacca: ‘Does Mr Miacca always have little boys for supper?’

‘Mostly, my dear,’ said Mrs Miacca, ‘if little boys are bad enough, and get in his way.’

‘And don’t you have anything else but boy-meat? No pudding?’ asked Tommy.

‘Ah, I loves pudding,’ says Mrs Miacca. ‘But it’s not often the likes of me gets pudding.’

‘Why, my mother is making a pudding this very day,’ said Tommy Grimes, ‘and I am sure she’d give you some, if I ask her. Shall I run and get some?’

‘Now, that’s a thoughtful boy,’ said Mrs Miacca, ‘only don’t be long and be sure to be back for supper.’

So off Tommy pelted, and right glad he was to get off so cheap; and for many a long day he was as good as good could be, and never went round the corner of the street. But he couldn’t always be good; and one day he went round the corner, and as luck would have it, he hadn’t scarcely got round it when Mr Miacca grabbed him up, popped him in his bag, and took him home.

When he got him there, Mr Miacca dropped him out; and when he saw him, he said: ‘Ah, you’re the youngster that served me and my missus such a shabby trick, leaving us without any supper. Well, you shan’t do it again. I’ll watch over you myself. Here, get under the sofa, and I’ll set on it and watch the pot boil for you.’

So poor Tommy Grimes had to creep under the sofa, and Mr Miacca sat on it and waited for the pot to boil. And they waited and they waited, but still the pot didn’t boil, till at last Mr

Miacca got tired of waiting, and he said: ‘Here, you under there, I’m not going to wait any longer; put out your leg, and I’ll stop your giving us the slip.’

 

So Tommy put out a leg and Mr Miacca got a chopper, and chopped it off, and pops it in the pot.

Suddenly he calls out: ‘Sally, my dear, Sally!’ and nobody answered. So he went into the next room to look out for Mrs Miacca, and while he was there Tommy crept out from under the sofa and ran out of the door. For it was a leg of the sofa that he had put out.

So Tommy Grimes ran home, and he never went round the corner again till he was old enough to go alone.

 

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/english-fairy-tales_p23332613.htm

ISBN: 978-1-907256-04-2

There once lived a merchant whose name was Mark, and whom people called ‘Mark the Rich.’ He was a very hard-hearted man, for he could not bear poor people, and if he caught sight of a beggar anywhere near his house, he would order the servants to drive him away, or would set the dogs at him.

 

One day three very poor old men came begging to the door, and just as he was going to let the fierce dogs loose on them, his little daughter, Anastasia, crept close up to him and said:

 

‘Dear daddy, let the poor old men sleep here to-night, do—to please me.’

 

Her father could not bear to refuse her, and the three beggars were allowed to sleep in a loft, and at night, when everyone in the house was fast asleep, little Anastasia got up, climbed up to the loft, and peeped in.

 

The three old men stood in the middle of the loft, leaning on their sticks, with their long grey beards flowing down over their hands, and were talking together in low voices.

 

‘What news is there?’ asked the eldest.

 

‘In the next village the peasant Ivan has just had his seventh son. What shall we name him, and what fortune shall we give him?’ said the second.

 

The third whispered, ‘Call him Vassili, and give him all the property of the hard-hearted man in whose loft we stand, and who wanted to drive us from his door.’

 

After a little more talk the three made themselves ready and crept softly away.

 

Anastasia, who had heard every word, ran straight to her father, and told him all.

 

Mark was very much surprised; he thought, and thought, and in the morning he drove to the next village to try and find out if such a child really had been born. He went first to the priest, and asked him about the children in his parish.

 

‘Yesterday,’ said the priest, ‘a boy was born in the poorest house in the village. I named the unlucky little thing “Vassili.” He is the seventh son, and the eldest is only seven years old, and they hardly have a mouthful amongst them all. Who can be got to stand godfather to such a little beggar boy?’

 

The merchant’s heart beat fast, and his mind was full of bad thoughts about that poor little baby. He would be godfather himself, he said, and he ordered a fine christening feast; so the child was brought and christened, and Mark was very friendly to its father. After the ceremony was over he took Ivan aside and said:

 

‘Look here, my friend, you are a poor man. How can you afford to bring up the boy? Give him to me and I’ll make something of him, and I’ll give you a present of a thousand crowns. Is that a bargain?’

 

Ivan scratched his head, and thought, and thought, and then he agreed. Mark counted out the money, wrapped the baby up in a fox skin, laid it in the sledge beside him, and drove back towards home. When he had driven some miles he drew up, carried the child to the edge of a steep precipice and threw it over, muttering, ‘There, now try to take my property!’

 

Very soon after this some foreign merchants travelled along that same road on the way to see Mark and to pay the twelve thousand crowns which they owed him.

 

As they were passing near the precipice they heard a sound of crying, and on looking over they saw a little green meadow wedged in between two great heaps of snow, and on the meadow lay a baby amongst the flowers.

 

The merchants picked up the child, wrapped it up carefully, and drove on. When they saw Mark they told him what a strange thing they had found. Mark guessed at once that the child must be his godson, asked to see him, and said:

 

‘That’s a nice little fellow; I should like to keep him. If you will make him over to me, I will let you off your debt.’

 

The merchants were very pleased to make so good a bargain, left the child with Mark, and drove off.

 

At night Mark took the child, put it in a barrel, fastened the lid tight down, and threw it into the sea. The barrel floated away to a great distance, and at last it floated close up to a monastery. The monks were just spreading out their nets to dry on the shore, when they heard the sound of crying. It seemed to come from the barrel which was bobbing about near the water’s edge. They drew it to land and opened it, and there was a little child! When the abbot heard the news, he decided to bring up the boy, and named him ‘Vassili.’

 

The boy lived on with the monks, and grew up to be a clever, gentle, and handsome young man. No one could read, write, or sing better than he, and he did everything so well that the abbot made him wardrobe keeper.

 

Now, it happened about this time that the merchant, Mark, came to the monastery in the course of a journey. The monks were very polite to him and showed him their house and church and all they had. When he went into the church the choir was singing, and one voice was so clear and beautiful, that he asked who it belonged to. Then the abbot told him of the wonderful way in which Vassili had come to them, and Mark saw clearly that this must be his godson whom he had twice tried to kill.

 

He said to the abbot: ‘I can’t tell you how much I enjoy that young man’s singing. If he could only come to me I would make him overseer of all my business. As you say, he is so good and clever. Do spare him to me. I will make his fortune, and will present your monastery with twenty thousand crowns.’

 

The abbot hesitated a good deal, but he consulted all the other monks, and at last they decided that they ought not to stand in the way of Vassili’s good fortune.

 

Then Mark wrote a letter to his wife and gave it to Vassili to take to her, and this was what was in the letter: ‘When the bearer of this arrives, take him into the soap factory, and when you pass near the great boiler, push him in. If you don’t obey my orders I shall be very angry, for this young man is a bad fellow who is sure to ruin us all if he lives.’

 

Vassili had a good voyage, and on landing set off on foot for Mark’s home. On the way he met three beggars, who asked him: ‘Where are you going, Vassili?’

 

‘I am going to the house of Mark the Merchant, and have a letter for his wife,’ replied Vassili.

 

‘Show us the letter.’

 

Vassili handed them the letter. They blew on it and gave it back to him, saying: ‘Now go and give the letter to Mark’s wife. You will not be forsaken.’

 

Vassili reached the house and gave the letter. When the mistress read it she could hardly believe her eyes and called for her daughter. In the letter was written, quite plainly: ‘When you receive this letter, get ready for a wedding, and let the bearer be married next day to my daughter, Anastasia. If you don’t obey my orders I shall be very angry.’

 

Anastasia saw the bearer of the letter and he pleased her very much. They dressed Vassili in fine clothes and next day he was married to Anastasia.

 

In due time, Mark returned from his travels. His wife, daughter, and son-in-law all went out to meet him. When Mark saw Vassili he flew into a terrible rage with his wife. ‘How dared you marry my daughter without my consent?’ he asked.

 

‘I only carried out your orders,’ said she. ‘Here is your letter.’

 

Mark read it. It certainly was his handwriting, but by no means his wishes.

 

‘Well,’ thought he, ‘you’ve escaped me three times, but I think I shall get the better of you now.’ And he waited a month and was very kind and pleasant to his daughter and her husband.

 

At the end of that time he said to Vassili one day, ‘I want you to go for me to my friend the Serpent King, in his beautiful country at the world’s end. Twelve years ago he built a castle on some land of mine. I want you to ask for the rent for those twelve years and also to find out from him what has become of my twelve ships which sailed for his country three years ago.’

 

Vassili dared not disobey. He said good-bye to his young wife, who cried bitterly at parting, hung a bag of biscuits over his shoulders, and set out.

 

I really cannot tell you whether the journey was long or short. As he tramped along he suddenly heard a voice saying: ‘Vassili! where are you going?’

 

Vassili looked about him, and, seeing no one, called out: ‘Who spoke to me?’

 

‘I did; this old wide-spreading oak. Tell me where you are going.’

 

‘I am going to the Serpent King to receive twelve years’ rent from him.’

 

‘When the time comes, remember me and ask the king: “Rotten to the roots, half dead but still green, stands the old oak. Is it to stand much longer on the earth?” ‘

 

Vassili went on further. He came to a river and got into the ferryboat. The old ferryman asked: ‘Are you going far, my friend?’

 

‘I am going to the Serpent King.’

 

‘Then think of me and say to the king: “For thirty years the ferryman has rowed to and fro. Will the tired old man have to row much longer?” ‘

 

‘Very well,’ said Vassili; ‘I’ll ask him.’

 

And he walked on. In time he came to a narrow strait of the sea and across it lay a great whale over whose back people walked and drove as if it had been a bridge or a road. As he stepped on it the whale said, ‘Do tell me where you are going.’

 

‘I am going to the Serpent King.’

 

And the whale begged: ‘Think of me and say to the king: “The poor whale has been lying three years across the strait, and men and horses have nearly trampled his back into his ribs. Is he to lie there much longer?” ‘

 

‘I will remember,’ said Vassili, and he went on.

 

He walked, and walked, and walked, till he came to a great green meadow. In the meadow stood a large and splendid castle. Its white marble walls sparkled in the light, the roof was covered with mother o’ pearl, which shone like a rainbow, and the sun glowed like fire on the crystal windows. Vassili walked in, and went from one room to another astonished at all the splendour he saw.

 

When he reached the last room of all, he found a beautiful girl sitting on a bed.

 

As soon as she saw him she said: ‘Oh, Vassili, what brings you to this accursed place?’

 

Vassili told her why he had come, and all he had seen and heard on the way.

 

The girl said: ‘You have not been sent here to collect rents, but for your own destruction, and that the serpent may devour you.’

 

She had not time to say more, when the whole castle shook, and a rustling, hissing, groaning sound was heard. The girl quickly pushed Vassili into a chest under the bed, locked it and whispered: ‘Listen to what the serpent and I talk about.’

 

Then she rose up to receive the Serpent King.

 

The monster rushed into the room, and threw itself panting on the bed, crying: ‘I’ve flown half over the world. I’m tired, VERY tired, and want to sleep—scratch my head.’

 

The beautiful girl sat down near him, stroking his hideous head, and said in a sweet coaxing voice: ‘You know everything in the world. After you left, I had such a wonderful dream. Will you tell me what it means?’

 

‘Out with it then, quick! What was it?’

 

‘I dreamt I was walking on a wide road, and an oak tree said to me: “Ask the king this: Rotten at the roots, half dead, and yet green stands the old oak. Is it to stand much longer on the earth?” ‘

 

‘It must stand till someone comes and pushes it down with his foot. Then it will fall, and under its roots will be found more gold and silver than even Mark the Rich has got.’

 

‘Then I dreamt I came to a river, and the old ferryman said to me: “For thirty year’s the ferryman has rowed to and fro. Will the tired old man have to row much longer?” ‘

 

‘That depends on himself. If someone gets into the boat to be ferried across, the old man has only to push the boat off, and go his way without looking back. The man in the boat will then have to take his place.’

 

‘And at last I dreamt that I was walking over a bridge made of a whale’s back, and the living bridge spoke to me and said: “Here have I been stretched out these three years, and men and horses have trampled my back down into my ribs. Must I lie here much longer?” ‘

 

‘He will have to lie there till he has thrown up the twelve ships of Mark the Rich which he swallowed. Then he may plunge back into the sea and heal his back.’

 

And the Serpent King closed his eyes, turned round on his other side, and began to snore so loud that the windows rattled.

 

In all haste the lovely girl helped Vassili out of the chest, and showed him part of his way back. He thanked her very politely, and hurried off.

 

When he reached the strait the whale asked: ‘Have you thought of me?’

 

‘Yes, as soon as I am on the other side I will tell you what you want to know.’

 

When he was on the other side Vassili said to the whale: ‘Throw up those twelve ships of Mark’s which you swallowed three years ago.’

 

The great fish heaved itself up and threw up all the twelve ships and their crews. Then he shook himself for joy, and plunged into the sea.

 

Vassili went on further till he reached the ferry, where the old man asked: ‘Did you think of me?’

 

‘Yes, and as soon as you have ferried me across I will tell you what you want to know.’

 

When they had crossed over, Vassili said: ‘Let the next man who comes stay in the boat, but do you step on shore, push the boat off, and you will be free, and the other man must take your place.

 

Then Vassili went on further still, and soon came to the old oak tree, pushed it with his foot, and it fell over. There, at the roots, was more gold and silver than even Mark the Rich had.

 

And now the twelve ships which the whale had thrown up came sailing along and anchored close by. On the deck of the first ship stood the three beggars whom Vassili had met formerly, and they said: ‘Heaven has blessed you, Vassili.’ Then they vanished away and he never saw them again.

 

The sailors carried all the gold and silver into the ship, and then they set sail for home with Vassili on board.

 

Mark was more furious than ever. He had his horses harnessed and drove off himself to see the Serpent King and to complain of the way in which he had been betrayed. When he reached the river he sprang into the ferryboat. The ferryman, however, did not get in but pushed the boat off………

 

Vassili led a good and happy life with his dear wife, and his kind mother-in-law lived with them. He helped the poor and fed and clothed the hungry and naked and all Mark’s riches became his.

 

For many years Mark has been ferrying people across the river. His face is wrinkled, his hair and beard are snow white, and his eyes are dim; but still he rows on.

 

 

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From THE VIOLET FAIRY BOOK – compiled and edited by Andrew Lang

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_violet.html

 

The Violet Fairy Book

 

 

There was once a king’s son who told his father that he wished to marry.

‘No, no!’ said the king; ‘you must not be in such a hurry. Wait till you have done some great deed. My father did not let me marry till I had won the golden sword you see me wear.’

 

The prince was much disappointed, but he never dreamed of disobeying his father, and he began to think with all his might what he could do. It was no use staying at home, so one day he wandered out into the world to try his luck, and as he walked along he came to a little hut in which he found an old woman crouching over the fire.

 

‘Good evening, mother. I see you have lived long in this world; do you know anything about the three bulrushes?’

 

‘Yes, indeed, I’ve lived long and been much about in the world, but I have never seen or heard anything of what you ask. Still, if you will wait till to-morrow I may be able to tell you something.’

 

Well, he waited till the morning, and quite early the old woman appeared and took out a little pipe and blew in it, and in a moment all the crows in the world were flying about her. Not one was missing. Then she asked if they knew anything about the three bulrushes, but not one of them did.

 

The prince went on his way, and a little further on he found another hut in which lived an old man. On being questioned the old man said he knew nothing, but begged the prince to stay overnight, and the next morning the old man called all the ravens together, but they too had nothing to tell.

 

The prince bade him farewell and set out. He wandered so far that he crossed seven kingdoms, and at last, one evening, he came to a little house in which was an old woman.

 

‘Good evening, dear mother,’ said he politely.

 

‘Good evening to you, my dear son,’ answered the old woman. ‘It is lucky for you that you spoke to me or you would have met with a horrible death. But may I ask where are you going?’

 

‘I am seeking the three bulrushes. Do you know anything about them?’

 

‘I don’t know anything myself, but wait till to-morrow. Perhaps I can tell you then.’ So the next morning she blew on her pipe, and lo! and behold every magpie in the world flew up. That is to say, all the magpies except one who had broken a leg and a wing. The old woman sent after it at once, and when she questioned the magpies the crippled one was the only one who knew where the three bulrushes were.

 

Then the prince started off with the lame magpie. They went on and on till they reached a great stone wall, many, many feet high.

 

‘Now, prince,’ said the magpie, ‘the three bulrushes are behind that wall.’

 

The prince wasted no time. He set his horse at the wall and leaped over it. Then he looked about for the three bulrushes, pulled them up and set off with them on his way home. As he rode along one of the bulrushes happened to knock against something. It split open and, only think! out sprang a lovely girl, who said: ‘My heart’s love, you are mine and I am yours; do give me a glass of water.’

 

But how could the prince give it her when there was no water at hand? So the lovely maiden flew away. He split the second bulrush as an experiment and just the same thing happened.

 

How careful he was of the third bulrush! He waited till he came to a well, and there he split it open, and out sprang a maiden seven times lovelier than either of the others, and she too said: ‘My heart’s love, I am yours and you are mine; do give me a glass of water.’

 

This time the water was ready and the girl did not fly away, but she and the prince promised to love each other always. Then they set out for home.

 

They soon reached the prince’s country, and as he wished to bring his promised bride back in a fine coach he went on to the town to fetch one. In the field where the well was, the king’s swineherds and cowherds were feeding their droves, and the prince left Ilonka (for that was her name) in their care.

 

Unluckily the chief swineherd had an ugly old daughter, and whilst the prince was away he dressed her up in fine clothes, and threw Ilonka into the well.

 

The prince returned before long, bringing with him his father and mother and a great train of courtiers to escort Ilonka home. But how they all stared when they saw the swineherd’s ugly daughter!  However, there was nothing for it but to take her home; and, two days later, the prince married her, and his father gave up the crown to him.

 

But he had no peace! He knew very well he had been cheated, though he could not think how. Once he desired to have some water brought him from the well into which Ilonka had been thrown. The coachman went for it and, in the bucket he pulled up, a pretty little duck was swimming. He looked wonderingly at it, and all of a sudden it disappeared and he found a dirty looking girl standing near him. The girl returned with him and managed to get a place as housemaid in the palace.

 

Of course she was very busy all day long, but whenever she had a little spare time she sat down to spin. Her distaff turned of itself and her spindle span by itself and the flax wound itself off; and however much she might use there was always plenty left.

 

When the queen—or, rather, the swineherd’s daughter—heard of this, she very much wished to have the distaff, but the girl flatly refused to give it to her. However, at last she consented on condition that she might sleep one night in the king’s room. The queen was very angry, and scolded her well; but as she longed to have the distaff she consented, though she gave the king a sleeping draught at supper.

 

Then the girl went to the king’s room looking seven times lovelier than ever. She bent over the sleeper and said: ‘My heart’s love, I am yours and you are mine. Speak to me but once; I am your Ilonka.’ But the king was so sound asleep he neither heard nor spoke, and Ilonka left the room, sadly thinking he was ashamed to own her.

 

Soon after the queen again sent to say that she wanted to buy the spindle. The girl agreed to let her have it on the same conditions as before; but this time, also, the queen took care to give the king a sleeping draught. And once more Ilonka went to the king’s room and spoke to him; whisper as sweetly as she might she could get no answer.

Now some of the king’s servants had taken note of the matter, and warned their master not to eat and drink anything that the queen offered him, as for two nights running she had given him a sleeping draught. The queen had no idea that her doings had been discovered; and when, a few days later, she wanted the flax, and had to pay the same price for it, she felt no fears at all.

 

At supper that night the queen offered the king all sorts of nice things to eat and drink, but he declared he was not hungry, and went early to bed.

 

The queen repented bitterly her promise to the girl, but it was too late to recall it; for Ilonka had already entered the king’s room, where he lay anxiously waiting for something, he knew not what. All of a sudden he saw a lovely maiden who bent over him and said: ‘My dearest love, I am yours and you are mine. Speak to me, for I am your Ilonka.’

 

At these words the king’s heart bounded within him. He sprang up and embraced and kissed her, and she told him all her adventures since the moment he had left her. And when he heard all that Ilonka had suffered, and how he had been deceived, he vowed he would be revenged; so he gave orders that the swineherd, his wife and daughter should all be hanged; and so they were.

 

The next day the king was married, with great rejoicings, to the fair Ilonka; and if they are not yet dead—why, they are still living.

 

 

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From THE CRIMSON FAIRY BOOK – compiled and edited by Andrew Lang

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_crimson.html

 

The Crimson Fairy Book

 

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