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Twenty-Tales-from-along-the-Amber-road-Whilrwind

Twenty-Tales-from-along-the-Amber-road-In a far-off country, beyond the sea and the mountains, there lived a king and queen, with a beautiful daughter, who was called Princess Ladna.

A great many princes came to woo her; but she liked only one of them, called Prince Dobrotek; so they confessed their love for one another to the king, who gave his consent, and the wedding-day was fixed.

Now among the princess’s rejected suitors there was one, who though he had changed himself into the shape of a prince, in order to come to court and make love to her, really was an ugly dwarf, only seven inches high, but with a beard more than seven feet long, and a great hump on his back. He was so offended with the princess for refusing him, that he determined to carry her off; so he watched his opportunity.

As the young couple, with all their followers and their guests, were leaving the palace to go to church, a violent wind began to blow, a regular whirlwind, raising a column of sand, and lifting the princess off her feet. She was carried up over the clouds, to the top of some inaccessible mountains, and dropped down into a magnificent palace, with a golden roof, and a high wall all round.

After a while the princess woke up from the fainting-fit into which she had fallen. She looked round the splendid apartment in which she was, and came to the conclusion that some young and handsome prince must have carried her off.

In the room there was a table ready spread; all the plates and dishes, as well as the knives, forks, and spoons, were of silver and gold; and the dinner itself was so good, that in spite of her grief and terror, she could not refrain from tasting it; and she had no sooner tasted, than she ate, till her appetite was appeased.

Then the doors opened, and there came in a company of negroes, bearing a great chair, in which sat the ugly dwarf, with the long beard and the great hump.

The dwarf now began to pay his court to the princess, and explain how he had carried her off in the guise of the whirlwind, because he loved her so much. But she would not listen to him, and gave him a sounding slap with her open hand right in his face, so that sparks danced before his eyes. Of course he was in a great passion; but for love of her he managed to keep his temper, and turned round to leave the room. But in his haste he caught his feet in his long beard, and was thrown down on the threshold, and in his fall he dropped his cap, which he was holding in one hand.

The negroes helped him again into the chair, and carried him out; but the princess jumped up, locked the door, and took up the cap that was lying on the ground. She put it on; and went to the glass to see how she looked in it. But what was her surprise to find that she could not see herself, till she took it off! So she came to the wise conclusion that this was an invisible cap; at which she was highly delighted; she put on the cap again, and began to walk about the room.

The door opened once more with a loud noise, and the dwarf came in with his long beard thrown back and twisted all round his hump, to be out of the way. But not seeing either his cap, or the princess, he guessed what had happened; so full of wild despair he began to rush madly about the room, knocking himself against the tables and chairs, while the princess made her escape through the door, and ran out into the garden.

The garden was very extensive, and full of beautiful fruit-trees; so she lived upon these fruits, and drank the water of a spring in the garden for some time. She used to make fun of the dwarf’s impotent rage. Sometimes when he rushed wildly about the garden, she would tease him by taking off the invisible cap, so that he saw her before him, in all her beauty; but when he made a rush after her she would put it on again, and become invisible to him; she would then throw cherry-stones at him, come close to him, and laugh loudly: and then run away again.

One day, when she was playing about in this manner, her cap got caught in the boughs of a tree, and fell upon a gooseberry bush. The dwarf saw it, and seized hold of the princess with one hand, and of the cap with the other. But just then—from the summit of the mountain, above the garden itself, was heard the sound of a trumpet-challenge, three times repeated.

At this the dwarf trembled with rage; but first breathing upon the princess, he put her to sleep with his breath, then placed his invisible cap on her head. Having done this he seized his two-edged sword, and flew up into the clouds, so as to strike the knight who had challenged him from above, and destroy him at one stroke.

But where did this knight come from?

When Princess Ladna had been carried off on her wedding-day by the whirlwind, there was the greatest consternation among all the bystanders. Her distracted father and her bridegroom rushed about in all directions, and sent courtiers everywhere in search of her; but the princess had been neither seen nor heard of, nor was any trace left of her.

The king (very unnecessarily) told Prince Dobrotek that if he did not get back his daughter, the princess, he would not only put him to death, but would reduce his whole country to ashes. He also told all the princes there that whoever should bring back his daughter should have her to wife, and receive half of his kingdom into the bargain.

When they heard this they all got to horse, and galloped in various directions; among them Prince Dobrotek.

He went on for three days, never stopping for food or rest; but on the fourth day, at dusk, he felt overcome by sleep; so he let his horse go free in a meadow, and himself lay down on the grass. Then all at once he heard a piercing shriek, and straight before him beheld a hare, and an owl perched upon it—its claws digging into the poor creature’s side.

The prince caught up the first thing that lay near him, and aimed at the screech-owl, so truly that he killed it on the spot, and the hare ran up to him, like a tame creature, licked his hands, and ran away.

Then the prince saw that the thing he had thrown at the owl was a human skull. And it spoke to him, in these words:

“Prince Dobrotek, I thank you for what you have done for me. When I was alive I committed suicide, and was therefore condemned to lie unburied at this cross-way, till I should be the means of saving life. I have lain here for seven hundred and seventy-seven years; and Heaven knows how much longer I should have had to remain, if you had not chanced to throw me at the screech-owl, and so saved the life of the poor hare. Now bury me, so that I may lie peacefully in the ground at this same place, and I will tell you how to summon the Grey Seer-horse, with the golden mane, who will always help you in case of need. Go out into a plain, and without looking behind you, call out:

“Grey Seer-horse, with golden mane!

Like a bird—and not like steed,

On the blast—and not the mead,

Fly thou hither unto me!”

Thus having spoken, the head was silent; but a blue light shot up from it towards the sky; it was the soul of the deceased, which having now expiated its sin by its long imprisonment in the skull, had attained heaven.

The prince then dug a grave, and buried the skull. He then called out:

“Grey Seer-horse, with golden mane! Like a bird—and not like steed, On the blast—and not the mead, Do thou hither fly to me!”

The wind rose, the lightning flashed, the thunder roared, and the wonderful horse with the golden mane appeared. He flew as fast as the storm-wind, flames shot from his nostrils, sparks from his eyes, and clouds of smoke from his mouth. He stood still, and said in human tones:

“What are your commands, Prince Dobrotek?”

“I am in trouble; I wish you to help me.”

And he told him all that had occurred.

“Creep in at my left ear,” said the horse, “and creep out again at the right.”

So the prince crept in at the horse’s left ear, and came out again at the right one, all clad in golden armour. He also found himself miraculously increased in strength, so that when he stamped on the ground it trembled; and when he shouted a storm arose, which shook the leaves from the trees.

Then he asked the horse:

“What is to be done next?”

“Your betrothed, Princess Ladna,” said the horse, “was carried off by the seven-inch-high dwarf, with the seven-foot-long beard; he is a powerful magician; he dwells beyond the seven seas, among inaccessible mountains. He can only be conquered by the All-Cutting Sword, which sword is jealously guarded by his own brother, the Giant-Head, with basilisk eye. To this Giant-Head we must therefore go.”

Prince Dobrotek mounted on horseback, and they flew like an arrow, over lands and seas, high mountains and wide oceans. They stopped at length upon a wide plain strewn with bones, before a moving mountain. And the horse said:

“This moving mountain, which you see before you, is the giant’s head with the basilisk eyes; and the bones strewn so thickly hereabouts prove how deadly his looks are—so be careful. He is now asleep from the heat of the sun; but only two steps before him lies the sword, with which alone you can conquer your enemy. Lie down along my back, so that his glance cannot reach you through my neck and mane; but when you get near to it, lay hold of the sword; when you have it you will not only be safe from his basilisk glances, but you will even have the giant’s head at your mercy.”

Twenty tales from the amber road - the horse appeared in the stormThe horse appears in the storm

And the horse drew near lightly, and the prince bent down, and secured the wonderful sword; but he shouted so loud that the Giant-Head woke up, sniffed hard, and looked about with his bloodshot eyes; and seeing the wonderful sword in the prince’s hand, he called out:

“Sir knight! are you weary of the world, that you court speedy death?”

“You need not boast like that, you empty head!” replied Prince Dobrotek. “Your looks cannot hurt me now; and you shall die by this All-Cutting Sword! But I would first know who, and what you are.”

“Then I confess, prince,” replied the head; “that I am in your power; but be merciful to me, for I am worthy of pity. I am a knight of the race of giants, and were it not for the envy of my brother, I should still have been happy. He was the black sheep of our family, and was born an ugly dwarf, with a long beard; and my handsome giant-like proportions caused him to hate me bitterly. His only good point is his great strength, and it all resides in his long beard, and so long as it is not cut he cannot be conquered, and this can only be done by that sword, which you now hold.

“One day, being bent upon my destruction, he said to me:

“‘Brother, do not refuse to help me. I have read in my books of magic that beyond the mountains, on a plain lies buried a certain sword, whereby a knight, seeking for his betrothed, shall compass the destruction of us both; let us therefore go and dig it up, so that we shall escape the threatened doom!’

“To this I agreed. I took a hundred-year-old pine—torn up from its roots—on one arm, and carried my brother on my other. We set out; he showed me the spot, and I dug up the sword, on this same plain. Then we began to quarrel about who should possess it. After a long dispute he said:

“‘We were best decide it by lot, brother. Let each of us lay his ear to the ground, and whoever first hears the sound of the evening bell shall have the sword.’

“So he laid his ear to the ground, and I mine. I listened; but heard nothing; and he meantime, having got hold of the sword, crept up to me, and cut my head from my shoulders.

“My headless trunk, left unburied, rotted away, and the grass grew over it; but my head, endowed with supernatural life by the malicious dwarf, my brother, was left here, with charge to guard this sword, and kill everyone who came near with my deadly glance. After many centuries you have won it; so I implore you to cut off his seven-foot beard, and make him into mince-meat; and avenge me.”

“You shall be avenged,” said the prince; “and at once. Grey Seer-Horse, carry me to the kingdom of the dwarf magician, with the seven-foot-long beard.”

So they set off at once, flying with lightning speed through the air, over the seas and over the forests. In an hour or two they halted on the summit of a high mountain, and the horse said:

“These mountains are the kingdom of the dwarf magician, who carried off your betrothed, and they are both now in the garden; challenge him to fight.”

Prince Dobrotek sounded a challenge three times, and the dwarf, as we have seen, flew up into the air, so as to swoop down upon his antagonist, unperceived of him.

All at once the prince heard a murmuring sound above him, and he saw when he looked up, the dwarf soaring above him, like an eagle in the clouds—for he had the magic power of increasing his size and strength—with his sword drawn, ready to fall upon him.

The prince sprang aside, and the dwarf came down, with such an impetus, that his head and neck were rammed into the ground.

The prince dismounted, seized the dwarf by the beard, wound it about his left hand, and began to sever it with the All-Cutting Sword.

The dwarf saw that he had to do with no feather-bed knight; so he tugged with all his strength, and flew up again into the clouds; but the prince, holding fast with his left hand to the beard, kept on severing it with his sword, so that he had nearly cut half of it through; and the dwarf became weaker and weaker the more hair he lost, so he began to cry for mercy.

“Drop down to the ground, off which you took me,” said the prince.

The dwarf dropped down slowly, but the prince cut off the remainder of his beard and threw him—when thus deprived of his charms and his strength alike—on to the ground, wreathed the severed beard round his own helmet, and entered the palace.

The invisible servants of the dwarf, seeing their master’s beard, wreathed about the prince’s helmet, threw open all the doors to him at once.

He went through all the rooms; but not finding his princess anywhere, went into the garden, traversing all the paths and lawns, and calling her name. He could find her nowhere.

But thus running from one place to another he chanced to touch the invisible cap; he caught hold of it, and pulled it away from where it was, on the head of the princess, and saw her at once in all her loveliness, but fast asleep.

Overcome with joy, he called her by her name; but she had been cast into such a deep sleep by the dwarf’s poisonous breath, that he could not rouse her.

He took her up in his arms, put the invisible cap into his pocket, also picking up the wicked dwarf, whom he carried along with him. He then mounted his horse, flew like an arrow, and in a few minutes stood before the Giant-Head, with the basilisk eyes.

He threw the dwarf into its open jaws, where he was ground at once into powder; the prince then cut up the monstrous head into small pieces, and scattered them all over the plain.

Thus having got rid of both the dwarf and the giant, the prince rode on with the sleeping princess, upon the Golden-Mane horse, and at sunset they came to the same cross-roads, where he had first summoned him.

“Here, prince, we must part,” said the Golden-Mane; “but here in the meadow is your own horse, and it is not far to your own home, so creep into my right ear, and come out at my left.”

The prince did as he was told, and came out as he was before. His own horse recognized him, and came running with a joyful neigh to meet his master.

The prince was tired out with the long journey, so, having laid down his betrothed wife, still sleeping, on the soft grass, and covered her up from the cold, he laid down himself and went to sleep.

But that very night, one of Princess Ladna’s rejected suitors, riding that way, saw by the light of the moon those two asleep, and he recognized in them the princess, and the prince, his fortunate rival. So first stabbing the latter through with his sabre, he carried off the princess, and bore her on horseback before him to her father.

The king welcomed him rapturously, as his daughter’s deliverer. But when he found, to his dismay, that he could not awake her, with all his caresses, he asked the supposed rescuer what this meant.

“I do not know, Sir King,” replied the knight. “After I had overtaken and slain the great enchanter, who was carrying off the princess, I found her as she is now, sound asleep.”

Twenty-Tales-from-along-the-Amber-road-The Dwarf DefeatedThe dwarf defeated

Prince Dobrotek meanwhile, mortally wounded, had just strength enough left to summon the Wonderful Grey Horse, who came instantly; and seeing what was the matter, flew off to the top of the mountain of Everlasting Life. On its summit were three springs—the Water of Loosening, the Water of Healing, and the Water of Life. He sprinkled the dead prince with all three; Prince Dobrotek opened his eyes, and exclaimed:

“Oh! how well I have slept!”

“You were sleeping the sleep of death,” returned the Golden-Mane; “one of your rivals killed you sleeping, and carried off your princess home to her father, pretending to be her deliverer, in the hope of gaining her hand. But do not be afraid; she is still asleep, and only you can awaken her, by touching her forehead with the beard of the dwarf, which you have with you. Go then to her; I must be elsewhere.”

The Golden-Mane vanished, and the prince, calling his own horse, and taking with him his invisible cap, betook himself to the court of his loved one’s father.

But when he drew near he found that the city was all surrounded by enemies, who had already mastered the outer defences, and were threatening the town itself; and half of its defenders being slain, the rest were thinking of surrender.

Prince Dobrotek put on his invisible cap, and drawing his All-Cutting Sword, fell upon the enemy.

They fell to right and left as the sword smote them on each side, till one half of them were slain, and the rest ran away into the forest.

Unseen by anyone the prince entered the city, and arrived at the royal palace, where the king, surrounded by his knights, was hearing the account of this sudden attack, whereby his foes had been discomfited; but by whom no one could inform him.

Then Prince Dobrotek took off his invisible cap, and appearing suddenly in the midst of the assembly, said:

“King and father! it was I who beat your enemies. But where is my betrothed, Princess Ladna, whom I rescued from the wizard dwarf, with the seven-foot beard? whom one of your knights treacherously stole from me? Let me see her, that I may waken her from her magic sleep.”

When the traitor knight heard this he took to his heels; Prince Dobrotek touched the sleeping princess’s forehead with the beard, she woke up directly, gazed at him fondly with her lovely eyes, but could not at first understand where she was, or what had happened to her.

Twenty-Tales-from-along-the-Amber-road-The Ferryman Captures the Mermaid

The good ferryman captures the mermaid

The king caught her in his arms, pressed her to his heart, and that very evening he married her to Prince Dobrotek. He gave them half his kingdom, and there was a splendid wedding, such as had never been seen or heard of before.

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TWENTY FOLK AND FAIRY TALES FROM ALONG THE AMBER ROAD

The twenty tales in this volume originate from countries along the European Amber Road. Perhaps less well known than it’s cousins, the Silk Route and the Spice Route, the Amber Road traveled North to South across Europe passing through:

Russia

Latvia

Lithuania

Poland

Germany

The Czech Republic

Slovakia

Austria

Slovenia, and

Italy

In old times the Amber Road was an ancient trade route for the transfer of amber from coastal areas of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.

9781910882641 Twenty Tales from Along The Amber Road - centralised

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONTENTS

THE AMBER WIZARD – A poem

RUSSIA

BABA YAGA AND THE LITTLE GIRL WITH THE KIND HEART

THE THREE MEN OF POWER–EVENING, MIDNIGHT, AND SUNRISE

LATVIA

THE GOLD AXE

THE DUCKLING WITH GOLDEN FEATHERS

LITHUANIA

LUCK, LUCK IN THE RED COAT!

MANNIKIN LONG BEARD

POLAND

THE FROG PRINCESS

THE WHIRLWIND

GERMANY

THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN

THE NIXY

CZECH REPUBLIC

THE THREE CITRONS

THE TWELVE MONTHS: The Story of Marushka and the Wicked Holena

SLOVAKIA

PRINCE BAYAYA

VITAZKO THE VICTORIOUS

AUSTRIA

BIENER’S WIFE

BINDER-HANSL

THE GLUNKEZER GIANT

SLOVENIA

BEAUTY AND THE HORNS

ITALY

THE MYRTLE

THE SERPENT

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There was an emperor. He had been married ten years, but had no children. And God granted that his empress conceived and bore a son. Now that son was heroic; there was none other found like him. And the father lived half a year longer, and died. Then what is the lad to do? He took and departed in quest of heroic achievements. And he journeyed a long while, and took no heed, and came into a great forest. In that forest there was a certain house, and in that house were twelve dragons. Then the lad went straight thither, and saw that there was no one. He opened the door and went in, and he saw a sabre on a nail and took it, and posted himself behind the door, and waited for the coming of the dragons. They, when they came, did not go in all at once, but went in one by one. The lad waited, sabre in hand; and as each one went in, he cut off his head, flung it on the floor. So the lad killed eleven dragons, and the youngest dragon remained. And the lad went out to him, and took and fought with him, and fought half a day. And the lad vanquished the dragon, and took him and put him in a jar, and fastened it securely.

 

And the lad went to walk, and came on another house, where there was only a maiden. And when he saw the maiden, how did she please his heart. As for the maiden, the lad pleased her just as well. And the maiden was yet more heroic than the lad. And they formed a strong love. And the lad told the maiden how he had killed eleven dragons, and one he had left alive and put in a jar.

 

The maiden said, ‘You did ill not to kill it; but now let it be.’

 

And the lad said to the maiden, ‘I will go and fetch my mother, for she is alone at home.’

 

Then the maiden said, ‘Fetch her, but you will rue it. But go and fetch her, and dwell with her.’

 

So the lad departed to fetch his mother. He took his mother, and brought her into the house of the dragons whom he had slain. And he said to his mother, ‘Go into every room; only into this chamber do not go.’

 

His mother said, ‘I will not, darling.’

 

And the lad departed into the forest to hunt.

 

And his mother went into the room where he had told her not to go. And when she opened the door, the dragon saw her and said to her, ‘Empress, give me a little water, and I will do you much good.’

 

She went and gave him water and he said to her, ‘Dost love me, then will I take thee, and thou shalt be mine empress.’

 

‘I love thee,’ she said.

 

Then the dragon said to her, ‘What will you do, to get rid of your son, that we may be left to ourselves? Make yourself ill, and say you have seen a dream, that he must bring you a porker of the sow in the other world; that, if he does not bring it you, you will die; but that, if he brings it you, you will recover.’

 

Then she went into the house, and tied up her head, and made herself ill. And when the lad came home and saw her head tied up, he asked her, ‘What’s the matter, mother?’

 

She said, ‘I am ill, darling. I shall die. But I have seen a dream, to eat a porker of the sow in the other world.’

 

Then the lad began to weep, for his mother will die. And he took and departed. Then he went to his sweetheart, and told her. ‘Maiden, my mother will die. And she has seen a dream, that I must bring her a porker from the other world.’

 

The maiden said, ‘Go, and be prudent; and come to me as you return. Take my horse with the twelve wings, and mind the sow does not seize you, else she ‘Il eat both you and the horse.’

The bad mother - from Gypsy Folk Tales Book One

One of the new illustrations by Maggie Gunzel

So the lad took the horse and departed. He came there, and when the sun was midway in his course he went to the little pigs, and took one, and fled. Then the sow heard him, and hurried after him to devour him. And at the very brink (of the other world), just as he was leaping out, the sow bit off half of the horse’s tail. So the lad went to the maiden. And the maiden came out, and took the little pig, and hid it, and put another in its stead. Then he went home to his mother, and gave her that little pig, and she dressed it and ate, and said that she was well.

 

Three or four days later she made herself ill again, as the dragon had shown her.

 

When the lad came, he asked her, ‘What’s the matter now, mother?

 

‘I am ill again, darling, and I have seen a dream that you must bring me an apple from the golden apple-tree in the other world.’

 

So the lad took and departed to the maiden; and when the maiden saw him so troubled, she asked him, ‘What’s the matter, lad?’

 

‘What’s the matter! my mother is ill again. And she has seen a dream that I am to bring her an apple from the apple-tree in the other world.’

 

Then the maiden knew that his mother was compassing his destruction (lit. ‘was walking to eat his head’), and she said to the lad, ‘Take my horse and go, but be careful the apple-tree does not seize you there. Come to me, as you return.’

 

And the lad took and departed, and came to the brink of the world. And he let himself in, and went to the apple-tree at mid-day when the apples were resting. And he took an apple and ran away. Then the leaves perceived it and began to scream; and the apple-tree took itself after him to lay its hand on him and kill him. And the lad came out from the brink, and arrived in our world, and went to the maiden. Then the maiden took the apple, stole it from him, and hid it, and put another in its stead. And the lad stayed a little longer with her, and departed to his mother. Then his mother, when she saw him, asked him, ‘Have you brought it, darling?’

 

‘I’ve brought it, mother.’

 

So she took the apple and ate, and said there was nothing more the matter with her.

 

In a week’s time the dragon told her to make herself ill again, and to ask for water from the great mountains. So she made herself ill.

 

When the lad saw her ill, he began to weep and said, ‘My mother will die, God. She’s always ill.’ Then he went to her and asked her, ‘What’s the matter, mother?’

 

‘I am like to die, darling. But I shall recover if you will bring me water from the great mountains.’

 

Then the lad tarried no longer. He went to the maiden and said to her, ‘My mother is ill again; and she has seen a dream that I must fetch her water from the great mountains.’

 

The maiden said, ‘Go, lad; but I fear the clouds will catch you, and the mountains there, and will kill you. But do you take my horse with twenty-and-four wings; and when you get there, wait afar off till mid-day, for at mid-day the mountains and the clouds set themselves at table and eat. Then do you go with the pitcher, and draw water quickly, and fly.’

 

Then the lad took the pitcher, and departed thither to the mountains, and waited till the sun had reached the middle of his course. And he went and drew water and fled. And the clouds and the mountains perceived him, and took themselves after him, but they could not catch him. And the lad came to the maiden. Then the maiden went and took the pitcher with the water, and put another in its stead without his knowing it. And the lad arose and went home, and gave water to his mother, and she recovered.

 

Then the lad departed into the forest to hunt. His mother went to the dragon and told him, ‘He has brought me the water. What am I to do now with him?’

 

‘What are you to do! why, take and play cards with him. You must say, “For a wager, as I used to play with your father.”‘

 

So the lad came home and found his mother merry: it pleased him well. And she said to him at table, as they were eating, ‘Darling, when your father was alive, what did we do? When we had eaten and risen up, we took and played cards for a wager.’

 

Then the lad: ‘If you like, play with me, mother.’

 

So they took and played cards; and his mother beat him. And she took silken cords, and bound his two hands so tight that the cord cut into his hands.

 

And the lad began to weep, and said to his mother, ‘Mother, release me or I die.’

 

She said, ‘That is just what I was wanting to do to you.’ And she called the dragon, ‘Come forth, dragon, come and kill him.’

 

Then the dragon came forth, and took him, and cut him in pieces, and put him in the saddle-bags, and placed him on his horse, and let him go, and said to the horse, ‘Carry him, horse, dead, whence thou didst carry him alive.’

 

Then the horse hurried to the lad’s sweetheart, and went straight to her there. Then, when the maiden saw him, she began to weep, and she took him and put piece to piece; where one was missing, she cut the porker, and supplied flesh from the porker. So she put all the pieces of him in their place. And she took the water and poured it on him, and he became whole. And she squeezed the apple in his mouth, and brought him to life.

 

So when the lad arose, he went home to his mother, and drove a stake into the earth, and placed both her and the dragon on one great pile of straw. And he set it alight, and they were consumed. And he departed thence, and took the maiden, and made a marriage, and kept up the marriage three months day and night. And I came away and told the story.

 

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From Gypsy Folk Tales Book One

NOTE: New illustrated edition due out in Summer 2012 with illustrations by Maggie Gunzel

ISBN: 978-0-956058-47-8

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_gft1.html

 

Gypsy Folk Tales Book One

 

 

Once upon a time a lot of fairies lived in Mona.

 

One day the queen fairy’s daughter, who was now fifteen years of age, told her mother she wished to go out and see the world. The queen consented, allowing her to go for a day, and to change from a fairy to a bird, or from a bird to a fairy, as she wished.

 

When she returned one night she said:

“I’ve been to a gentleman’s house, and as I stood listening, I heard the gentleman was witched: he was very ill, and crying out with pain.”

 

“Oh, I must look into that,” said the queen.

 

So the next day she went through her process and found that he was bewitched by an old witch. So the following day she set out with six other fairies, and when they came to the gentleman’s house she found he was very ill.

 

Going into the room, bearing a small blue pot they had brought with them, the queen asked him:

 

“Would you like to be cured?”

 

“Oh, bless you; yes, indeed.”

 

Whereupon the queen put the little blue pot of perfume on the centre of the table, and lit it, when the room was instantly filled with the most delicious odour.

 

Whilst the perfume was burning, the six fairies formed in line behind her, and she leading, they walked round the table three times, chanting in chorus:

 

“Round and round three times three,

We have come to cure thee.”

 

At the end of the third round she touched the burning perfume with her wand, and then touched the gentleman on the head, saying:

 

“Be thou made whole.”

 

No sooner had she said the words than he jumped up hale and hearty, and said:

 

“Oh, dear queen, what shall I do for you? I’ll do anything you wish.”

 

“Money I do not wish for,” said the queen, “but there’s a little plot of ground on the sea-cliff I want you to lend me, for I wish to make a ring there, and the grass will die when I make the ring. Then I want you to build three walls round the ring, but leave the sea-side open, so that we may be able to come and go easily.”

 

“With the greatest of pleasure,” said the gentleman; and he built the three stone walls at once, at the spot indicated.

 

II.

 

Near the gentleman lived the old witch, and she had the power of turning at will into a hare. The gentleman was a great hare hunter, but the hounds could never catch this hare; it always disappeared in a mill, running between the wings and jumping in at an open window, though they stationed two men and a dog at the spot, when it immediately turned into the old witch. And the old miller never suspected, for the old woman used to take him a peck of corn to grind a few days before any hunt, telling him she would call for it on the afternoon of the day of the hunt. So that when she arrived she was expected.

 

One day she had been taunting the gentleman as he returned from a hunt, that he could never catch the hare, and he struck her with his whip, saying “Get away, you witchcraft!”

 

Whereupon she witched him, and he fell ill, and was cured as we have seen.

 

When he got well he watched the old witch, and saw she often visited the house of an old miser who lived nearby with his beautiful niece. Now all the people in the village touched their hats most respectfully to this old miser, for they knew he had dealings with the witch, and they were as much afraid of him as of her; but everyone loved the miser’s kind and beautiful niece.

 

III.

 

When the fairies got home the queen told her daughter:

 

“I have no power over the old witch for twelve months from to-day, and then I have no power over her life. She must lose that by the arm of a man.”

 

So the next day the daughter was sent out again to see whether she could find a person suited to that purpose.

 

In the village lived a small crofter, who was afraid of nothing; he

was the boldest man thereabouts; and one day he passed the miser without saluting him. The old fellow went off at once and told the witch.

 

“Oh, I’ll settle his cows to-night!” said she, and they were taken

sick, and gave no milk that night.

 

The fairy’s daughter arrived at his croft-yard after the cows were

taken ill, and she heard him say to his son, a bright lad:

 

“It must be the old witch!”

 

When she heard this, she sent him to the queen.

 

So next day the fairy queen took six fairies and went to the croft,

taking her blue pot of perfume. When she got there she asked the crofter if he would like his cows cured?

 

“God bless you, yes!” he said.

 

The queen made him bring a round table into the yard, whereon she placed the blue pot of perfume, and having lit it, as before, they formed in line and walked round thrice, chanting the words:

 

“Round and round three times three,

We have come to cure thee.”

 

Then she dipped the end of her wand into the perfume, and touched the cows on the forehead, saying to each one:

 

“Be thou whole.”

 

Whereupon they jumped up cured.

 

The little farmer was overjoyed, and cried:

 

“Oh, what can I do for you? What can I do for you?”

 

“Money I care not for,” said the queen, “all I want is your son to avenge you and me.”

 

The lad jumped up and said:

 

“What I can do I’ll do it for you, my lady fairy.”

 

She told him to be at the walled plot the following day at noon, and left.

 

IV.

 

The next day at noon, the queen and her daughter and three hundred other fairies came up the cliff to the green grass plot, and they carried a pole, and a tape, and a mirror. When they reached the plot they planted the pole in the ground, and hung the mirror on the pole. The queen took the tape, which measured ten yards and was fastened to the top of the pole, and walked round in a circle, and wherever she set her feet the grass withered and died. Then the fairies followed up behind the queen, and each fairy carried a harebell in her left-hand, and a little blue cup of burning perfume in her right. When they had formed up the queen called the lad to her side, and told him to walk by her throughout. They then started off, all singing in chorus:

 

“Round and round three times three,

Tell me what you see.”

 

When they finished the first round, the queen and lad stopped before the mirror, and she asked the lad what he saw?

 

“I see, I see, the mirror tells me,

It is the witch that I see,”

said the lad. So they marched round again, singing the same words as before, and when they stopped a second time before the mirror the queen again asked him what he saw?

 

“I see, I see, the mirror tells me,

It is a hare that I see,”

said the lad.

 

A third time the ceremony and question were repeated.

 

“I see, I see, the mirror tells me,

The hares run up the hill to the mill.”

 

“Now”, said the queen, “there is to be a hare-hunting this day week; be at the mill at noon, and I will meet you there.”

 

And then the fairies, pole, mirror, and all, vanished and only the empty ring on the green was left.

 

V.

 

Upon the appointed day the lad went to his tryst, and at noon the Fairy Queen appeared, and gave him a sling, and a smooth pebble from the beach, saying:

 

“I have blessed your arms, and I have blessed the sling and the

stone.

 

“Now as the clock strikes three,

Go up the hill near the mill,

And in the ring stand still

Till you hear the click of the mill.

Then with thy arm, with power and might,

You shall strike and smite

The devil of a witch called Jezabel light,

And you shall see an awful sight.”

 

The lad did as he was bidden, and presently he heard the huntsman’s horn and the hue and cry, and saw the hare running down the opposite hill-side, where the hounds seemed to gain on her, but as she breasted the hill on which he stood she gained on them. As she came towards the mill he threw his stone, and it lodged in her skull, and when he ran up he found he had killed the old witch. As the huntsmen came up they crowded round him, and praised him; and then they fastened the witch’s body to a horse by ropes, and dragged her to the bottom of the valley, where they buried her in a ditch. That night, when the miser heard of her death, he dropped down dead on the spot.

 

As the lad was going home the queen appeared to him, and told him to be at the ring the following day at noon.

 

VI.

 

Next day all the fairies came with the pole and mirror, each

carrying a harebell in her left-hand, and a blue cup of burning

perfume in her right, and they formed up as before, the lad walking beside the queen. They marched round and repeated the old words, when the queen stopped before the mirror, and said:

 

“What do you see?”

 

“I see, I see, the mirror tells me,

It is an old plate-cupboard that I see.”

 

A second time they went round, and the question, was repeated.

 

“I see, I see, the mirror tells me,

The back is turned to me.”

 

A third time was the ceremony fulfilled, and the lad answered

 

“I see, I see, the mirror tells me,

A spring-door is open to me.”

 

“Buy that plate-cupboard at the miser’s sale,” said the queen, and she and her companions disappeared as before.

 

VII.

 

Upon the day of the sale all the things were brought out in the

road, and the plate-cupboard was put up, the lad recognising it and bidding up for it till it was sold to him. When he had paid for it he took it home in a cart, and when he got in and examined it, he found the secret drawer behind was full of gold. The following week the house and land, thirty acres, was put up for sale, and the lad bought both, and married the miser’s niece, and they lived happily till they died.

 

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From “Welsh Fairy Tales and Other Stories”

ISBN: 978-1-907256-03-5

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

 

 

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