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THE DIGGERS – The Australians in France during WWI

Patrick MacGill

In this small ebook, are but nine chapters which give an Australian perspective of their time spent on the Western Front in France.
The imperishable deeds of the Commonwealth’s glorious soldiers, least of all the Australians, or Diggers, have carved for themselves a deep niche in the topmost towers of the Temple of the Immortals. The story of the valour of the Diggers will live throughout the ages, and future generations of Australians will speak of them as we do of all the heroic figures of antiquity. Their valour has covered Australia with a lustre that shines throughout the world, so that her name, which in 1914 was little known, by 1918 had become a household word in the mouths of all the peoples of the earth.

The Great War made Australia—a young community without traditions—a nation, acutely and proudly conscious of its nationality. Upon that day some hundred years gone, when in the grey of early dawn the first Australian soldier leapt upon an unknown shore and in the face of a murderous fire scaled the heights of Gaba Tepe—a feat of arms almost unparalleled in the history of war—the young Australian Community put on the toga of nationhood, and in one stride entered on a footing equal to any other nation in the family of free nations of the earth. Gallipoli—scene of that most glorious attempt which though falling short of the promised success, lost nothing of its greatness—thy name is and forever will be held sacred to all!

When Gallipoli had been given up as a forlorn hope, the soldiers of the Commonwealth were relocated to Europe’s Western Front, when in the Spring of 1918 the great German offensive pressed back and by force of numbers broke through the sorely tried British line, the Australian divisions were hurried down from the North and rushed up to stem the German armies.

The story of the battles fought by the Australians before Amiens is amongst the most thrilling in the history of this great world conflict. Here the fate of civilization was decided. The great German army, marching along the road in column of route, like the armies of Napoleon a hundred years before,  reached the crest of high land overlooking Amiens, and with but a few miles between them and the key to Paris, were held up by a veritable handful of Australians, later reinforced as the rest of the Divisions came to hand. It was the turning of the tide; the fighting raged around Villers-Bretonneux, but the car of the German Juggernaut rolled forward no more. An impassable barrier had been set up beyond which the enemy could not pass. But the young soldiers of Australia, not satisfied with arresting his onward march, began to force the Hun back; at first slowly, and then faster and faster, until in the great offensive of August 8, when along with four Divisions of Canadians and two British, they swept him back in headlong rout, nor gave him pause until breaking through the vaunted Hindenburg line they stood victorious at Beaurevoir.

The deeds of these brave men will remain forever fresh in the minds of the Commonwealth and Allied nations. Australia has reason to be proud of her war effort; she has done great things; but she has paid a great price. That a small community of just five million recruited and sent 330,000 men twelve thousand miles across the seas, is a great thing. The number dead—57,000—with total casualties—289,723—show how great the price Australia paid for Liberty.

Indeed, it was the “new” colonies of South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Canada which paid a heavy price in war dead. But it would only be another 21 years before they would be asked to pay yet again.

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An excerpt from THE CHINESE FAIRY BOOK

IN the dim ages of the past there once was an old man who went on a journey. No one remained at home save his only daughter and a white stallion. The daughter fed the horse day by day, but she was lonely and yearned for her father.

So it happened that one day she said in jest to the horse: If you will bring back my father to me then I will marry you!

No sooner had the horse heard her say this, than he broke loose and ran away. He ran until he came to the place where her father was. When her father saw the horse, he was pleasantly surprised, caught him and seated himself on his back. And the horse turned back the way he had come, neighing without a pause.

What can be the matter with the horse? thought the father. Something must have surely gone wrong at home! So he dropped the reins and rode back. And he fed the horse liberally because he had been so intelligent; but the horse ate nothing, and when he saw the girl, he struck out at her with his hoofs and tried to bite her. This surprised the father; he questioned his daughter, and she told him the truth, just as it had occurred.

You must not say a word about it to anyone, spoke her father, or else people will talk about us.

And he took down his crossbow, shot the horse, and hung up his skin in the yard to dry. Then he went on his travels again.

One day his daughter went out walking with the daughter of a neighbor. When they entered the yard, she pushed the horse-hide with her foot and said: What an unreasonable animal you werewanting to marry a human being! What happened to you served you right!

But before she had finished her speech, the horse-hide moved, rose up, wrapped itself about the girl and ran off.

Horrified, her companion ran home to her father and told him what had happened. The neighbors looked for the girl everywhere, but she could not be found.

At last, some days afterward, they saw the girl hanging from the branches of a tree, still wrapped in the horse-hide; and gradually she turned into a silkworm and wove a cocoon. And the threads which she spun were strong and thick. Her girl friend then took down the cocoon and let her slip out of it; and then she spun the silk and sold it at a large profit.

But the girls relatives longed for her greatly. So one day the girl appeared riding in the clouds on her horse, followed by a great company and said: In heaven I have been assigned to the task of watching over the growing of silkworms. You must yearn for me no longer! And thereupon they built temples to her in her native land, and every year, at the silkworm season, sacrifices are offered to her and her protection is implored. And the Silkworm Goddess is also known as the girl with the Horses Head.

Note: This tale is placed in the times of the Emperor Hau, and the legend seems to have originated in Setchuan. The stallion is the sign of the zodiac which rules the springtime, the season when the silkworms are cultivated. Hence she is called the Goddess with the Horses Head. The legend itself tells a different tale. In addition to this goddess, the spouse of Schen Nung, the Divine Husbandman, is also worshiped as the goddess of silkworm culture. The Goddess with the Horses Head is more of a totemic representation of the silkworm as such; while the wife of Schen Nung is regarded as the protecting goddess of silk culture, and is supposed to have been the first to teach women its details. The spouse of the Yellow Lord is mentioned in the same connection. The popular belief distinguishes three goddesses who protect the silkworm culture in turn. The second is the best of the three, and when it is her year the silk turns out well.

http://abelapublishing.com/the-chinese-fairy-book–73-chinese-folk-and-fairy-tales_p26541728.htm

Chinese-Fairy-Book-Cover-w-Persp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Images from THE CHINESE FAIRY BOOK

cfb04 THE CROWS COME FLYING AND FORM A BRIDGE cfb05 BESIDE IT STOOD A CASSIA-TREE cfb06 AND I CROSSED THE WATER ON THE SHOE cfb07 A FISHERBOY DIVED INTO THE WATER cfb08 TSIAN TANG BROUGHT OUT A PLATTER OF RED AMBER cfb09 THEN HE TOOK HIS MASTER AND ROSE-RED UPON HIS BACK

ONCE upon a time there was a mother who had three daughters. There was to be a market in the next town, and she said she would go to it. She asked the daughters what she should bring them back. Two of them named a great number of things; she must buy all of them, they said. You know the sort of women, and the sort of things they would want. Well, when they had asked for more than enough, the mother asked the third daughter:
“And you, don’t you want anything?” “No, I don’t want anything; but, if you like, you can bring me three roses, please.”
If she wanted no more than that, her mother was ready to bring them.
When the mother knew all she wanted, she went off to market. She bought all she could, piled it all on her back, and started for home. But she was overtaken by nightfall, and the poor mother completely lost her way and could go no farther. She wandered through the forest till she was quite worn out, and at last she came to a palace, though she had never before heard of any palace there. There was a large garden full of roses, so beautiful that no painter alive could paint them, and all the roses were smiling at her. So she remembered her youngest daughter, who had wished for just such roses. She had forgotten it entirely till then. Surely that was because she was so old! Now she thought: “There are plenty of roses here, so I will take these three.”

So she went into the garden and took the roses. At once a basilisk came and demanded her daughter in exchange for the roses. The mother was terrified and wanted to throw the flowers away. But the basilisk said that wouldn’t be any use, and he threatened to tear her to pieces. So she had to promise him her daughter. There was no help for it, and so she went home.

She took the three roses to her daughter and said: “Here are the roses, but I had to pay dearly for them. You must go to yonder castle in payment for them, and I don’t even know whether you will ever come back.”

You must go yonder to the palace

You must go yonder to the palace

 

But Mary seemed as though she didn’t mind at all, and she said she would go. So the mother took her to the castle. There was everything she wanted there. Soon the basilisk appeared and told Mary that she must nurse him in her lap for three hours every day. There was no way out, do it she must, and so the basilisk came and she nursed him for three hours. Then he went out, but he came next day and the day after that. On the third day he brought a sword and told poor Mary to cut his head off.
She protested that she wasn’t used to doing things like that, and do it she could not. But the basilisk said in a rage that, if that was so, he would tear her to pieces. As there was no choice, she went up to him and cut his head off. And as the basilisk’s head rolled on the ground, there came forth from his body a long serpent, hissing horribly. He asked her to cut his head off again. Mary did not hesitate this time, but cut his head off at once.

The serpent (by the way, he held the golden keys of that palace in his mouth) was immediately changed into a beautiful youth, and he said in a pleasant voice: “This castle belongs to me, and, as you have delivered me, there is no help for it: I must marry you.”
So there was a great wedding, the castle was full of their attendants, and they all had to play and dance. But the floor was of paper, so I fell through it, and here I am now.

From: The Key of Gold – 23 Czech folk tales
URL: http://abelapublishing.com/the-key-of-gold–23-czech-folk-tales_p24894512.htm

Currently available in ePub, Mobi/Kindle and PDF eBook formats
Paperback out during the week of 6 Jan 2014

The Tsarevna Frog - from FOLK TALES FROM THE RUSSIAN

 

 

Vassilissa, when she came back, searched for the skin, and when she could not find it her beautiful face grew sad and her bright eyes filled with tears. She said to Tsarevitch Ivan, her husband:

 

“Oh, dear Tsarevitch, what hast thou done? There was but a short time left for me to wear the ugly frogskin. The moment was near when we could have been happy together forever. Now I must bid thee good-by. Look for me in a far-away country to which no one knows the roads, at the palace of Kostshei the Deathless;” and Vassilissa turned into a white swan and flew away through the window.

 

Tsarevitch Ivan wept bitterly. Then he prayed to the almighty God, and making the sign of the cross northward, southward, eastward, and westward, he went on a mysterious journey.

 

No one knows how long his journey was, but one day he met an old, old man. He bowed to the old man, who said:

 

“Good-day, brave fellow. What art thou searching for, and whither art thou going?”

 

Tsarevitch Ivan answered sincerely, telling all about his misfortune without hiding anything.

 

“And why didst thou burn the frogskin? It was wrong to do so. Listen now to me. Vassilissa was born wiser than her own father, and as he envied his daughter’s wisdom he condemned her to be a frog for three long years. But I pity thee and want to help thee. Here is a magic ball. In whatever direction this ball rolls, follow without fear.”

 

Ivan Tsarevitch thanked the good old man, and followed his new guide, the ball. Long, very long, was his road. One day in a wide, flowery field he met a bear, a big Russian bear. Ivan Tsarevitch took his bow and was ready to shoot the bear.

 

“Do not kill me, kind Tsarevitch,” said the bear. “Who knows but that I may be useful to thee?” And Ivan did not shoot the bear.

 

Above in the sunny air there flew a duck, a lovely white duck. Again the Tsarevitch drew his bow to shoot it. But the duck said to him:

 

“Do not kill me, good Tsarevitch. I certainly shall be useful to thee some day.”

 

And this time he obeyed the command of the duck and passed by. Continuing his way he saw a blinking hare. The Tsarevitch prepared an arrow to shoot it, but the gray, blinking hare said:

 

“Do not kill me, brave Tsarevitch. I shall prove myself grateful to thee in a very short time.”

 

The Tsarevitch did not shoot the hare, but passed by. He walked farther and farther after the rolling ball, and came to the deep blue sea. On the sand there lay a fish. I do not remember the name of the fish, but it was a big fish, almost dying on the dry sand.

 

“O Tsarevitch Ivan!” prayed the fish, “have mercy upon me and push me back into the cool sea.”

 

The Tsarevitch did so, and walked along the shore. The ball, rolling all the time, brought Ivan to a hut, a queer, tiny hut standing on tiny hen’s feet.

 

“Izboushka! Izboushka!”—for so in Russia do they name small huts—”Izboushka, I want thee to turn thy front to me,” cried Ivan, and lo! the tiny hut turned its front at once. Ivan stepped in and saw a witch, one of the ugliest witches he could imagine.

 

“Ho! Ivan Tsarevitch! What brings thee here?” was his greeting from the witch.

 

“O, thou old mischief!” shouted Ivan with anger. “Is it the way in holy Russia to ask questions before the tired guest gets something to eat, something to drink, and some hot water to wash the dust off?”

 

Baba Yaga, the witch, gave the Tsarevitch plenty to eat and drink, besides hot water to wash the dust off. Tsarevitch Ivan felt refreshed. Soon he became talkative, and related the wonderful story of his marriage. He told how he had lost his dear wife, and that his only desire was to find her.

 

“I know all about it,” answered the witch. “She is now at the palace of Kostshei the Deathless, and thou must understand that Kostshei is terrible. He watches her day and night and no one can ever conquer him. His death depends on a magic needle. That needle is within a hare; that hare is within a large trunk; that trunk is hidden in the branches of an old oak tree; and that oak tree is watched by Kostshei as closely as Vassilissa herself, which means closer than any treasure he has.”

 

Then the witch told Ivan Tsarevitch how and where to find the oak tree. Ivan hastily went to the place. But when he perceived the oak tree he was much discouraged, not knowing what to do or how to begin the work. Lo and behold! that old acquaintance of his, the Russian bear, came running along, approached the tree, uprooted it, and the trunk fell and broke. A hare jumped out of the trunk and began to run fast; but another hare, Ivan’s friend, came running after, caught it and tore it to pieces. Out of the hare there flew a duck, a gray one which flew very high and was almost invisible, but the beautiful white duck followed the bird and struck its gray enemy, which lost an egg. That egg fell into the deep sea. Ivan meanwhile was anxiously watching his faithful friends helping him. But when the egg disappeared in the blue waters he could not help weeping. All of a sudden a big fish came swimming up, the same fish he had saved, and brought the egg in his mouth. How happy Ivan was when he took it! He broke it and found the needle inside, the magic needle upon which everything depended.

 

At the same moment Kostshei lost his strength and power forever. Ivan Tsarevitch entered his vast dominions, killed him with the magic needle, and in one of the palaces found his own dear wife, his beautiful Vassilissa. He took her home and they were very happy ever after.

 

 

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From folk tales from the russian

Format: Currently only in PDF ebook format

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

 

Folktales from the Russian

 

 

 

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.

 

 

————————-

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

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

 

The Violet Fairy Book

 

 

I don’t usually post on Sundays but overnight I received a “like” from a Canadian/Armenian  – Tamar Najarian. Not having much to do on a Sunday morning, I followed the link to her post and read with great interest about how she felt that, despite having grown up in Canada, she had “come home” the minute she stepped onto Armenian soil.

 

I grew up in South Africa and even as a child knew that South Africa would not be my home. This feeling of “not belonging” was intensified through my teenage years especially during my post-high school period when I completed 2 years national service.

 

Immediately after national service I toured Europe and on landing in Luxembourg and travelling into Germany, I knew that my future lay somewhere other than South Africa. I ended up working in London and did many backpacking mini-tours into European countries, but none really felt like “home”.

 

I returned to South Africa, trained as a computer programmer, but always had a sense that my future lay elsewhere.

In 1987 I married a Kiwi (New Zealand) Occupational Therapist on assignment to the South African Leprosy Mission. Even though married we never “put down roots” in South Africa and when her contract ran out it was an easy decision to “up sticks” and move to New Zealand.

 

Our route to New Zealand took us via London, where we had both worked in earlier days, New York, Los Angeles and eventually Auckland. The USA was stimulating but did not have that “this is where I’m meant to be” factor. On disembarking in Auckland in May 1988, I knew straight away that I was “home”. This was where I was meant to be. Why or how did I know this? Don’t ask me, I just knew.

 

I currently work and live in London (again) but we still have our family home in Papkowhai just North of Wellington, New Zealand.

 

Here’s a poem from Zabelle Boyan’s “Armenian Poetry and Legends” especially for you Tamar – and all those who have a feeling in their gut that their future lies somewhere beyond the end of their street……

 

THE TEARS OF ARAXES

BY RAPHAEL PATKANIAN

I WALK by Mother Arax
With faltering steps and slow,
And memories of past ages
Seek in the waters’ flow.

But they run dark and turbid,
And beat upon the shore
In grief and bitter sorrow,
Lamenting evermore.

“Araxes! with the fishes
Why dost not dance in glee?
The sea is still far distant,
Yet thou art sad, like me.

“From thy proud eyes, O Mother,
Why do the tears downpour?
Why dost thou haste so swiftly
Past thy familiar shore?

“Make not thy current turbid;
Flow calm and joyously.
Thy youth is short, fair river;
Thou soon wilt reach the sea.

“Let sweet rose-hedges brighten
Thy hospitable shore,
And nightingales among them
Till morn their music pour.

“Let ever-verdant willows
Lave in thy waves their feet,
And with their bending branches
Refresh the noonday heat.

“Let shepherds on thy margin
Walk singing, without fear;
Let lambs and kids seek freely
Thy waters cool and clear.”

Araxes swelled her current,
Tossed high her foaming tide,
And in a voice of thunder
Thus from her depths replied:–

“Rash, thoughtless youth, why com’st thou
My age-long sleep to break,
And memories of my myriad griefs
Within my breast to wake?

“When hast thou seen a widow,
After her true-love died,
From head to foot resplendent
With ornaments of pride?

“For whom should I adorn me?
Whose eyes shall I delight?
The stranger hordes that tread my banks
Are hateful in my sight.

“My kindred stream, impetuous Kur,
Is widowed, like to me,
But bows beneath the tyrant’s yoke,
And wears it slavishly.

“But I, who am Armenian,
My own Armenians know;
I want no stranger bridegroom;
A widowed stream I flow.

“Once I, too, moved in splendour,
Adorned as is a bride
With myriad precious jewels,
My smiling banks beside.

“My waves were pure and limpid,
And curled in rippling play;
The morning star within them
Was mirrored till the day.

“What from that time remaineth?
All, all has passed away.
Which of my prosperous cities
Stands near my waves to-day?

“Mount Ararat doth pour me,
As with a mother’s care,
From out her sacred bosom
Pure water, cool and fair.

“Shall I her holy bounty
To hated aliens fling?
Shall strangers’ fields be watered
From good Saint Jacob’s spring?

“For filthy Turk or Persian
Shall I my waters pour,
That they may heathen rites perform
Upon my very shore,

“While my own sons, defenceless,
Are exiled from their home,
And, faint with thirst and hunger,
In distant countries roam?

“My own Armenian nation
Is banished far away;
A godless, barbarous people
Dwells on my banks to-day.

“Shall I my hospitable shores
Adorn in festive guise
For them, or gladden with fair looks
Their wild and evil eyes?

“Still, while my sons are exiled,
Shall I be sad, as now.
This is my heart’s deep utterance,
My true and holy vow.”

No more spake Mother Arax;
She foamed up mightily,
And, coiling like a serpent,
Wound sorrowing toward the sea.

Translated by Alice Stone Blackwell.

If you haven’t worked it out or looked it up, the Araxes is a river that rises in northeastern Turkey (near the source of the Euphrates) and flows generally eastward through Armenia emptying into the Caspian Sea.

 

From “Armenian Poetry and Legends”  compiled and illustrated by Zabelle Boyajian

ISBN 978-1-907256-18-9

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

 

Armenian Poetry and Legends