You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘old man’ tag.

Two San Bushman Tales

Two San Bushman Tales

ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 46

 
In Issue 46 of the Baba Indaba Children’s Stories, Baba Indaba narrates two legends from the bushmen of the Namib Desert. The stories are “How the Coming of a Snake Announces a Death in the Family” and “The Resurrection of the Ostrich.” Both legends are a mix of Bushmen folklore and customs and show how intertwined everyday life in the Namib is with the bush-lore by which the bushmen live.
 
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”.
 
46-bushman-rock-art46-snake-clear
Advertisements

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 had been a sudden change in the weather. A cold rain was falling, and the night comes early when the clouds hang low. The children loved a bright fire, and to-night War Eagle’s lodge was light as day. Away off on the plains a wolf was howling, and the rain pattered upon the lodge as though it never intended to quit. It was a splendid night for story-telling, and War Eagle filled and lighted the great stone pipe, while the children made themselves comfortable about the fire.

 

A spark sprang from the burning sticks, and fell upon Fine Bow’s bare leg. They all laughed heartily at the boy’s antics to rid himself of the burning coal; and as soon as the laughing ceased War Eagle laid aside the pipe. An Indian’s pipe is large to look at, but holds little tobacco.

 

“See your shadows on the lodge wall?” asked the old warrior. The children said they saw them, and he continued:

 

“Some day I will tell you a story about them, and how they drew the arrows of our enemies, but to-night I am going to tell you of the great fire-leggings. “It was long before there were men and women on the world, but my grandfather told me what I shall now tell you.

 

“The gray light that hides the night-stars was creeping through the forests, and the wind the Sun sends to warn the people of his coming was among the fir tops. Flowers, on slender stems, bent their heads out of respect for the herald-wind’s Master, and from the dead top of a pine-tree the Yellowhammer beat upon his drum and called ‘the Sun is awake — all hail the Sun!’

 

“Then the bush-birds began to sing the song of the morning, and from alders the Robins joined, until all live things were awakened by the great music. Where the tall ferns grew, the Doe waked her Fawns, and taught them to do homage to the Great Light. In the creeks, where the water was still and clear, and where throughout the day, like a delicate damaskeen, the shadows of leaves that overhang would lie, the Speckled Trout broke the surface of the pool in his gladness of the coming day. Pine-squirrels chattered gayly, and loudly proclaimed what the wind had told; and all the shadows were preparing for a great journey to the Sand Hills, where the ghost-people dwell.

 

“Under a great spruce-tree — where the ground was soft and dry, Old-man slept. The joy that thrilled creation disturbed him not, although the Sun was near. The birdpeople looked at the sleeper in wonder, but the Pine squirrel climbed the great spruce-tree with a pine-cone in his mouth. Quickly he ran out on the limb that spread over Old-man, and dropped the cone on the sleeper’s face. Then he scolded Old-man, saying: ‘Get up — get up — lazy one — lazy one — get up — get up.’

 

“Rubbing his eyes in anger, Old-man sat up and saw the Sun coming — his hunting leggings slipping through the thickets — setting them afire, till all the Deer and Elk ran out and sought new places to hide.

 

“‘Ho, Sun!’ called Old-man, ‘those are mighty leggings you wear. No wonder you are a great hunter. Your leggings set fire to all the thickets, and by the light you can easily see the Deer and Elk; they cannot hide. Ho! Give them to me and I shall then be the great hunter and never be hungry.’

 

“‘Good,’ said the Sun, ‘take them, and let me see you wear my leggings.’

“Old-man was glad in his heart, for he was lazy, and now he thought he could kill the game without much work, and that he could be a great hunter — as great as the Sun. He put on the leggings and at once began to hunt the thickets, for he was hungry. Very soon the leggings began to burn his legs. The faster he travelled the hotter they grew, until in pain he cried out to the Sun to come and take back his leggings; but the Sun would not hear him. On and on Old-man ran. Faster and faster he flew through the country, setting fire to the brush and grass as he passed. Finally he came to a great river, and jumped in. Sizzzzzzz — the water said,

when Old-man’s legs touched it. It cried out, as it does when it is sprinkled upon hot stones in the sweat-lodge, for the leggings were very hot. But standing in the cool water Old-man took off the leggings and threw them out upon the shore, where the Sun found them later in the day.

 

“The Sun’s clothes were too big for Old-man, and his work too great.

 

“We should never ask to do the things which Manitou did not intend us to do. If we keep this always in mind we shall never get into trouble.

 

“Be yourselves always. That is what Manitou intended. Never blame the Wolf for what he does. He was made to do such things. Now I want you to go to your fathers’ lodges and sleep. To-morrow night I will tell you why there are so many snakes in the world. Ho!”

 

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/old-indian-legends–stories-from-the-dakotas_p23332645.htm

ISBN: 978-1-907256-26-4

There was an old man with a multitude of children. He had an underground cave in the forest. He said, ‘Make me a honey-cake, for I will go and earn something.’ He went into the forest, and found a well. By the well was a table. He laid the cake on the table. The crows came and ate it. He slept by the well. He arose and saw the flies eating the crumbs. He struck a blow and killed a hundred flies. He wrote that he had killed a hundred souls with one blow. And he lay down and slept.

 

A dragon came with a buffalo’s skin to draw water. He saw what was written on the table, that he had killed a hundred souls. When he saw the old man, he feared. The old man awoke, and he too feared.

 

The dragon said, ‘Let’s become brothers.’

 

And they swore that they would be Brothers of the Cross. The dragon drew water. ‘Come with me, brother, to my palace.’

 

They went along a footpath, the old man first. When the dragon panted, he drove the old man forward; when he drew in his breath, he pulled him back. The dragon said, ‘Brother, why do you sometimes run forward and sometimes come back?’

 

‘I am thinking whether to kill you.’

 

‘Stay, brother, I will go first and you behind; maybe you will change your mind.’

 

They came to a cherry-tree. ‘Here, brother, have some cherries.’

 

The dragon climbed up, and the old man was eating below. The dragon said, ‘Come up, they’re better here.’

The deluded dragon from “Gypsy Folk Tales Book One – Illustrated Edition”

The old man said, ‘No, they aren’t, for the birds have defiled them.’

 

‘Catch hold of this bough.’

 

The old man did so. The dragon let go of it, and jerked the old man up, and he fell on a hare and caught it.

 

The dragon said, ‘What’s the matter, brother? Was the bough too strong for you?’

 

‘I sprang of my own accord, and caught this hare. I hadn’t time to run round, so up I sprang.’

 

The dragon came down and went home. The old man said, ‘Would you like a present, sister-in-law?’ [seemingly offering the hare to the dragon’s wife].

 

‘Thanks, brother-in-law.’

 

The dragon said to her aside, ‘Don’t say a word to him, else he’ll kill us, for he has killed a hundred souls with one blow.’ He sent him to fetch water: ‘Go for water, brother.’

 

He took the spade and the buffalo’s hide, dragged it after him, and went to the well, and was digging all round the well.

 

The dragon went to him. ‘What are you doing, brother?’

 

‘I am digging the whole well to carry it home.’

 

‘Don’t destroy the spring; I’ll draw the water myself.’

 

The dragon drew the water, and took the old man by the hand, and led him home. He sent him to the forest to fetch a tree. He stripped off bark, and made himself a rope, and bound the trees.

 

The dragon came. ‘What are you doing, brother?’

 

‘I am going to take the whole forest and carry it home.’

 

‘Don’t destroy my forest, brother. I’ll carry it myself.’ The dragon took a tree on his shoulders, and went home.

 

He said to his wife, ‘What shall we do, wife, for he will kill us if we anger him?’

 

She said, ‘Take uncle’s big club, and hit him on the head.’

 

The old man heard. He slept of a night on a bench. And he took the beetle, put it on the bench, dressed it up in his coat, and put his cap on the top of it. And he lay down under the bench. The dragon took the club, and felt the cap, and struck with the club. The old man arose, removed the beetle, put it under the bench, and lay down on the bench. He scratched his head. ‘God will punish you, brother, and your household, for a flea has bitten me on the head.’

 

‘There! do you hear, wife? I hit him on the head with the club, and he says a mere flea has bitten him. What shall we do with him, wife?’

 

Give him a sackful of money to go away.’

 

‘What will you take to go, brother? I’ll give you a sackful of money.’

 

‘Give it me.’

 

He gave it. ‘Take it, brother, and be gone.’

 

‘I brought my present myself; do you carry yours yourself.’

 

The dragon took it on his shoulders and carried it. They drew near to the underground cavern. The old man said, ‘Stay here, brother, whilst I go home and tie up the dogs, else they’ll wholly devour you.’ The old man went home to his children, and made them wooden knives, and told them to say when they saw the dragon, ‘Mother, father’s bringing a dragon; we’ll eat his flesh.’

 

The dragon heard them, and flung down the sack, and fled. And he met a fox.

 

‘Where are you flying to, dragon?’

 

‘The old man will kill me.’

 

‘Fear not; come along with me. I’ll kill him, he’s so weak.’

 

The children came outside and cried, ‘Mother, the fox is bringing us the dragon skin he owes us, to cover the cave with.’

 

The dragon took to flight, and caught the fox, and dashed him to the earth; and the fox died. The old man went to the town, and got a cart, and put the money in it. Then he went to the town, and built himself houses, and bought himself oxen and cows.

 

————————-

From: GYPSY FOLK TALES BOOK ONE – Illustrated Edition

ISBN: 978-1-907256-XX-X

http://www.abelapublishing.com/gypsytales1-ill.html

 

A percentage of the profits will be donated to THE RELIEF FUND for ROMANIA

 

Gypsy Folk Tales Book One - Illustrated Edition

 

 

Time went on, and the old woman grew tired of being only a lady. And at last there came a day when she sent into the yard to tell the old man to come before her. The poor old man combed his hair and cleaned his boots, and came into the house, and bowed low before the old woman.

 

“Be off with you, you old good-for-nothing!” says she. “Go and find your golden fish, and tell him from me that I am tired of being a lady. I want to be Tzaritza, with generals and courtiers and men of state to do whatever I tell them.”

 

The old man went along to the seashore, glad enough to be out of the courtyard and out of reach of the stablemen with their whips. He came to the shore, and cried out in his windy old voice,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

And there was the golden fish looking at him with its wise eyes.

 

“What’s the matter now, old man?” says the fish.

 

“My old woman is going on worse than ever,” says the old fisherman. “My back is sore with the whips of her grooms. And now she says it isn’t enough for her to be a lady; she wants to be a Tzaritza.”

 

“Never you worry about it,” says the fish. “Go home and praise God;” and with that the fish turned over and went down into the sea.

 

The old man went home slowly, for he did not know what his wife would do to him if the golden fish did not make her into a Tzaritza.

 

But as soon as he came near he heard the noise of trumpets and the beating of drums, and there where the fine stone house had been was now a great palace with a golden roof. Behind it was a big garden of flowers, that are fair to look at but have no fruit, and before it was a meadow of fine green grass. And on the meadow was an army of soldiers drawn up in squares and all dressed alike. And suddenly the fisherman saw his old woman in the gold and silver dress of a Tzaritza come stalking out on the balcony with her generals and boyars to hold a review of her troops. And the drums beat and the trumpets sounded, and the soldiers cried “Hurrah!” And the poor old fisherman found a dark corner in one of the barns, and lay down in the straw.

 

Time went on, and at last the old woman was tired of being Tzaritza.

 

She thought she was made for something better. And one day she said to her chamberlain,–

 

“Find me that ragged old beggar who is always hanging about in the courtyard. Find him, and bring him here.”

 

The chamberlain told his officers, and the officers told the servants, and the servants looked for the old man, and found him at last asleep on the straw in the corner of one of the barns. They took some of the dirt off him, and brought him before the Tzaritza, sitting proudly on her golden throne.

 

“Listen, old fool!” says she. “Be off to your golden fish, and tell it I am tired of being Tzaritza. Anybody can be Tzaritza. I want to be the ruler of the seas, so that all the waters shall obey me, and all the fishes shall be my servants.”

 

“I don’t like to ask that,” said the old man, trembling.

 

“What’s that?” she screamed at him. “Do you dare to answer the Tzaritza? If you do not set off this minute, I’ll have your head cut off and your body thrown to the dogs.”

 

Unwillingly the old man hobbled off. He came to the shore, and cried out with a windy, quavering old voice,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

Nothing happened.

 

The old man thought of his wife, and what would happen to him if she were still Tzaritza when he came home. Again he called out,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

Nothing happened, nothing at all.

 

A third time, with the tears running down his face, he called out in his windy, creaky, quavering old voice,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

Suddenly there was a loud noise, louder and louder over the sea. The sun hid itself. The sea broke into waves, and the waves piled themselves one upon another. The sky and the sea turned black, and there was a great roaring wind that lifted the white crests of the waves and tossed them abroad over the waters. The golden fish came up out of the storm and spoke out of the sea.

 

“What is it now?” says he, in a voice more terrible than the voice of the storm itself.

 

“O fish,” says the old man, trembling like a reed shaken by the storm, “my old woman is worse than before. She is tired of being Tzaritza. She wants to be the ruler of the seas, so that all the waters shall obey her and all the fishes be her servants.”

 

The golden fish said nothing, nothing at all. He turned over and went down into the deep seas. And the wind from the sea was so strong that the old man could hardly stand against it. For a long time he waited, afraid to go home; but at last the storm calmed, and it grew towards evening, and he hobbled back, thinking to creep in and hide amongst the straw.

 

As he came near, he listened for the trumpets and the drums. He heard nothing except the wind from the sea rustling the little leaves of birch trees. He looked for the palace. It was gone, and where it had been was a little tumbledown hut of earth and logs. It seemed to the old fisherman that he knew the little hut, and he looked at it with joy. And he went to the door of the hut, and there was sitting his old woman in a ragged dress, cleaning out a saucepan, and singing in a creaky old voice. And this time she was glad to see him, and they sat down together on the bench and drank tea without sugar, because they had not any money.

 

They began to live again as they used to live, and the old man grew happier every day. He fished and fished, and many were the fish that he caught, and of many kinds; but never again did he catch another golden fish that could talk like a human being. I doubt whether he would have said anything to his wife about it, even if he had caught one every day.

 

————————-

From OLD PETER’S RUSSAIN TALES

ISBN: 978-1-907256-40-0

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

 

Old Peter's Russian Tales

 

 

 

Early in the morning she woke the old man again, and he had to get up and go down to the seashore. He was very much afraid, because he thought the fish would not take it kindly. But at dawn, just as the red sun was rising out of the sea, he stood on the shore, and called out in his windy old voice,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

And there in the morning sunlight was the golden fish, looking at him with its wise eyes.

“I beg your pardon,” says the old man, “but could you, just to oblige my wife, give us some sort of trough to put the bread in?”

 

“Go home,” says the fish; and down it goes into the blue sea.

 

The old man went home, and there, outside the hut, was the old woman, looking at the handsomest bread trough that ever was seen on earth. Painted it was, with little flowers, in three colours, and there were strips of gilding about its handles.

 

“Look at this,” grumbled the old woman. “This is far too fine a trough for a tumble-down hut like ours. Why, there is scarcely a place in the roof where the rain does not come through. If we were to keep this trough in such a hut, it would be spoiled in a month. You must go back to your fish and ask it for a new hut.”

 

“I hardly like to do that,” says the old man.

 

“Get along with you,” says his wife. “If the fish can make a trough like this, a hut will be no trouble to him. And, after all, you must not forget he owes his life to you.”

 

“I suppose that is true,” says the old man; but he went back to the shore with a heavy heart. He stood on the edge of the sea and called out, doubtfully,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

Instantly there was a ripple in the water, and the golden fish was looking at him with its wise eyes.

 

“Well?” says the fish.

 

“My old woman is so pleased with the trough that she wants a new hut to keep it in, because ours, if you could only see it, is really falling to pieces, and the rain comes in and –.”

 

“Go home,” says the fish.

 

The old fisherman went home, but he could not find his old hut at all. At first he thought he had lost his way. But then he saw his wife. And she was walking about, first one way and then the other, looking at the finest hut that God ever gave a poor moujik to keep him from the rain and the cold, and the too great heat of the sun. It was built of sound logs, neatly finished at the ends and carved. And the overhanging of the roof was cut in patterns, so neat, so pretty, you could never think how they had been done. The old woman looked at it from all sides. And the old man stood, wondering. Then they went in together. And everything within the hut was new and clean. There were a fine big stove, and strong wooden benches, and a good table, and a fire lit in the stove, and logs ready to put in, and a samovar already on the boil–a fine new samovar of glittering brass.

 

You would have thought the old woman would have been satisfied with that. Not a bit of it.

 

“You don’t know how to lift your eyes from the ground,” says she. “You don’t know what to ask. I am tired of being a peasant woman and a moujik’s wife. I was made for something better. I want to be a lady, and have good people to do the work, and see folk bow and curtsy to me when I meet them walking abroad. Go back at once to the fish, you old fool, and ask him for that, instead of bothering him for little trifles like bread troughs and moujiks’ huts. Off with you.”

 

The old fisherman went back to the shore with a sad heart; but he was afraid of his wife, and he dared not disobey her. He stood on the shore, and called out in his windy old voice,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

Instantly there was the golden fish looking at him with its wise eyes.

 

“Well?” says the fish.

 

“My old woman won’t give me a moment’s peace,” says the old man; “and since she has the new hut–which is a fine one, I must say; as good a hut as ever I saw–she won’t be content at all. She is tired of being a peasant’s wife, and wants to be a lady with a house and servants, and to see the good folk curtsy to her when she meets them walking abroad.”

 

“Go home,” says the fish.

 

The old man went home, thinking about the hut, and how pleasant it would be to live in it, even if his wife were a lady.

 

But when he got home the hut had gone, and in its place there was a fine brick house, three stories high. There were servants running this way and that in the courtyard. There was a cook in the kitchen, and there was his old woman, in a dress of rich brocade, sitting idle in a tall carved chair, and giving orders right and left.

 

“Good health to you, wife,” says the old man.

 

“Ah, you, clown that you are, how dare you call me your wife! Can’t you see that I’m a lady? Here! Off with this fellow to the stables, and see that he gets a beating he won’t forget in a hurry.”

 

Instantly the servants seized the old man by the collar and lugged him along to the stables. There the grooms treated him to such a whipping that he could hardly stand on his feet. After that the old woman made him doorkeeper. She ordered that a besom should be given him to clean up the courtyard, and said that he was to have his meals in the kitchen. A wretched life the old man lived. All day long he was sweeping up the courtyard, and if there was a speck of dirt to be seen in it anywhere, he paid for it at once in the stable under the whips of the grooms.

 

 

————————-

From OLD PETER’S RUSSAIN TALES

ISBN: 978-1-907256-40-0

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

 

Old Peter's Russian Tales

 

 

“This,” said old Peter, “is a story against wanting more than enough.”

 

Long ago, near the shore of the blue sea, an old man lived with his old woman in a little old hut made of earth and moss and logs. They never had a rouble to spend. A rouble! they never had a kopeck. They just lived there in the little hut, and the old man caught fish out of the sea in his old net, and the old woman cooked the fish; and so they lived, poorly enough in summer and worse in winter. Sometimes they had a few fish to sell, but not often. In the summer evenings they sat outside their hut on a broken old bench, and the old man mended the holes in his ragged old net. There were holes in it a hare could jump through with his ears standing, let alone one of those little fishes that live in the sea. The old woman sat on the bench beside him, and patched his trousers and complained.

 

Well, one day the old man went fishing, as he always did. All day long he fished, and caught nothing. And then in the evening, when he was thinking he might as well give up and go home, he threw his net for the last time, and when he came to pull it in he began to think he had caught an island instead of a haul of fish, and a strong and lively island at that–the net was so heavy and pulled so hard against his feeble old arms.

 

“This time,” says he, “I have caught a hundred fish at least.”

 

Not a bit of it. The net came in as heavy as if it were full of fighting fish, but empty –.

 

“Empty?” said Maroosia.

 

“Well, not quite empty,” said old Peter, and went on with his tale.

 

Not quite empty, for when the last of the net came ashore there was something glittering in it–a golden fish, not very big and not very little, caught in the meshes. And it was this single golden fish which had made the net so heavy.

 

The old fisherman took the golden fish in his hands.

 

“At least it will be enough for supper,” said he.

 

But the golden fish lay still in his hands, and looked at him with wise eyes, and spoke–yes, my dears, it spoke, just as if it were you or I.

 

“Old man,” says the fish, “do not kill me. I beg you throw me back into the blue waters. Someday I may be able to be of use to you.”

 

“What?” says the old fisherman; “and do you talk with a human voice?”

 

“I do,” says the fish. “And my fish’s heart feels pain like yours. It would be as bitter to me to die as it would be to yourself.”

 

“And is that so?” says the old fisherman. “Well, you shall not die this time.” And he threw the golden fish back into the sea.

Old Peter and the Golden Fish

You would have thought the golden fish would have splashed with his tail, and turned head downwards, and swum away into the blue depths of the sea. Not a bit of it. It stayed there with its tail slowly flapping in the water so as to keep its head up, and it looked at the fisherman with its wise eyes, and it spoke again.

 

“You have given me my life,” says the golden fish. “Now ask anything you wish from me, and you shall have it.”

 

The old fisherman stood there on the shore, combing his beard with his old fingers, and thinking. Think as he would, he could not call to mind a single thing he wanted.

 

“No, fish,” he said at last; “I think I have everything I need,”

 

“Well, if ever you do want anything, come and ask for it,” says the fish, and turns over, flashing gold, and goes down into the blue sea.

 

The old fisherman went back to his hut, where his wife was waiting for him.

 

“What!” she screamed out; “you haven’t caught so much as one little fish for our supper?”

 

“I caught one fish, mother,” says the old man: “a golden fish it was, and it spoke to me; and I let it go, and it told me to ask for anything I wanted.”

 

“And what did you ask for? Show me.”

 

“I couldn’t think of anything to ask for; so I did not ask for anything at all.”

 

“Fool,” says his wife, “and dolt, and us with no food to put in our mouths. Go back at once, and ask for some bread.”

 

Well, the poor old fisherman got down his net, and tramped back to the seashore. And he stood on the shore of the wide blue sea, and he called out,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

And in a moment there was the golden fish with his head out of the water, flapping his tail below him in the water, and looking at the fisherman with his wise eyes.

 

“What is it?” said the fish.

 

“Be so kind,” says the fisherman; “be so kind. We have no bread in the house.”

 

“Go home,” says the fish, and turned over and went down into the sea.

 

“God be good to me,” says the old fisherman; “but what shall I say to my wife, going home like this without the bread?” And he went home very wretchedly, and slower than he came.

 

As soon as he came within sight of his hut he saw his wife, and she was waving her arms and shouting.

 

“Stir your old bones,” she screamed out. “It’s as fine a loaf as ever I’ve seen.”

 

And he hurried along, and found his old wife cutting up a huge loaf of white bread, mind you, not black–a huge loaf of white bread, nearly as big as Maroosia.

 

“You did not do so badly after all,” said his old wife as they sat there with the samovar on the table between them, dipping their bread in the hot tea.

 

But that night, as they lay sleeping on the stove, the old woman poked the old man in the ribs with her bony elbow. He groaned and woke up.

 

“I’ve been thinking,” says his wife, “your fish might have given us a trough to keep the bread in while he was about it. There is a lot left over, and without a trough it will go bad, and not be fit for anything. And our old trough is broken; besides, it’s too small. First thing in the morning off you go, and ask your fish to give us a new trough to put the bread in.”

 

 

 

————————-

From OLD PETER’S RUSSAIN TALES

ISBN: 978-1-907256-40-0

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

 

Old Peters Russian Tales

 

 

 

AUTUMN nights on the upper Missouri river in Montana are indescribably beautiful, and under their spell imagination is a constant companion to him who lives in wilderness, lending strange, weird echoes to the voice of man or wolf, and unnatural shapes in shadow to commonplace forms.

 

The moon had not yet climbed the distant mountain range to look down on the humbler lands when I started for War Eagle’s lodge; and dimming the stars in its course, the milky-way stretched across the jewelled sky. “The wolf’s trail,” the Indians call this filmy streak that foretells fair weather, and to-night it promised much, for it seemed plainer and brighter than ever before.

 

“How — how!” greeted War Eagle, making the sign for me to be seated near him, as I entered his lodge. Then he passed me his pipe and together we smoked until the children came.

 

Entering quietly, they seated themselves in exactly the same positions they had occupied on the previous evenings, and patiently waited in silence. Finally War Eagle laid the pipe away and said: “Ho! Little Buffalo Calf, throw a big stick on the fire and I will tell you why the Kingfisher wears a war-bonnet.”

 

The boy did as he was bidden. The sparks jumped toward the smoke-hole and the blaze lighted up the lodge until it was bright as daytime, when War Eagle continued:

 

“You have often seen Kingfisher at his fishing along the rivers, I know; and you have heard him laugh in his queer way, for he laughs a good deal when he flies. That same laugh nearly cost him his life once, as you will see. I am sure none could see the Kingfisher without noticing his great head-dress, but not many know how he came by it because it happened so long ago that most men have forgotten.

 

“It was one day in the winter-time when Old-man and the Wolf were hunting. The snow covered the land and ice was on all of the rivers. It was so cold that Old-man wrapped his robe close about himself and his breath showed white in the air. Of course the Wolf was not cold; wolves never get cold as men do. Both Old-man and the Wolf were hungry for they had travelled far and had killed no meat. Old-man was complaining and grumbling, for his heart is not very good. It is never well to grumble when we are doing our best, because it will do no good and makes us weak in our hearts. When our hearts are weak our heads sicken and our strength goes away. Yes, it is bad to grumble.

 

“When the sun was getting low Old-man and the Wolf came to a great river. On the ice that covered the water, they saw four fat Otters playing.

 

“‘There is meat,’ said the Wolf; ‘wait here and I will try to catch one of those fellows.’

 

“‘No! — No!’ cried Old-man, ‘do not run after the Otter on the ice, because there are air-holes in all ice that covers rivers, and you may fall in the water and die.’ Old-man didn’t care much if the Wolf did drown. He was afraid to be left alone and hungry in the snow — that was all.

 

“‘Ho!’ said the Wolf, ‘I am swift of foot and my teeth are white and sharp. What chance has an Otter against me? Yes, I will go,’ and he did.

 

“Away ran the Otters with the Wolf after them, while Old-man stood on the bank and shivered with fright and cold. Of course the Wolf was faster than the Otter, but he was running on the ice, remember, and slipping a good deal. Nearer and nearer ran the Wolf. In fact he was just about to seize an Otter, when SPLASH! — into an air-hole all the Otters went. Ho ! the Wolf was going so fast he couldn’t stop, and SWOW! into the airhole he went like a badger after mice, and the current carried him under the ice. The Otters knew that hole was there. That was their country and they were running to reach that same hole all the time, but the Wolf didn’t know that.

 

“Old-man saw it all and began to cry and wail as women do. Ho! but he made a great fuss. He ran along the bank of the river, stumbling in the snowdrifts, and crying like a woman whose child is dead; but it was because he didn’t want to be left in that country alone that he cried — not because he loved his brother, the Wolf. On and on he ran until he came to a place where the water was too swift to freeze, and there he waited and watched for the Wolf to come out from under the ice, crying and wailing and making an awful noise, for a man.

 

“Well — right there is where the thing happened. You see, Kingfisher can’t fish through the ice and he knows it, too; so he always finds places like the one Old-man found. He was there that day, sitting on the limb of a birch-tree, watching for fishes, and when Old-man came near to Kingfisher’s tree, crying like an old woman, it tickled the Fisher so much that he laughed that queer, chattering laugh.

 

“Old-man heard him and — Ho! but he was angry. He looked about to see who was laughing at him and that made Kingfisher laugh again, longer and louder than before. This time Old-man saw him and SWOW! he threw his war-club at Kingfisher; tried to kill the bird for laughing. Kingfisher ducked so quickly that Old-man’s club just grazed the feathers on his head, making them stand up straight.

 

“‘There,’ said Old-man, ‘I’ll teach you to laugh at me when I’m sad. Your feathers are standing up on the top of your head now and they will stay that way, too. As long as you live you must wear a head-dress, to pay for your laughing, and all your children must do the same.

 

“This was long, long ago, but the Kingfishers have not forgotten, and they all wear war-bonnets, and always will as long as there are Kingfishers.

 

“Now I will say good night, and when the sun sleeps again I will tell you another story. Ho!”

 

From “Indian Why Stories”

ISBN: 978-1-907256-26-4

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

 

 

 

In the north, it is said, there were many first people. One house was full of people, and they went hunting. One man went off and did not return by night. Then next day his brother went to look for him. And he went off, going along the ridge; and in the morning, again he had not come back. Then again someone went to look for him; and he, not returning, they ceased (going off).

 

“I don’t know what is the trouble! I again (also) will go and look for him,” said one. And he, in the morning, after he had had his breakfast and made ready his bow, went off. And he did not return. “What can be the trouble?” said one. “Do you go and look for him, taking good care.” Then (another) went.

 

Again he did not come back. “They are trying to destroy us,” they said; and again one went to search, and did not return at night. Then, “You must be careful,” said his father. Again one went off, and did not return at night. The people were half gone.

 

“Do the best you can, live through it,” said he. “Whatever can be the trouble? I will go and see,” he said. “If I do not get back, do the best you can, ye people. What can be the trouble? While we are out hunting for food, for game, (someone) I don’t know who it is, sees us, and troubles us. What man can it be?” he said.

 

So he went off, and did not return. Another one went off afterwards, and he also did not return. Then the old man said, “I will go last. Do you go first,” said he. So the last and only one left alive went. And at night again he was not apparent. Then again the old man went. “Do ye stay,” said he. “Don’t let the child run about.” So (the latter) and his elder sister staid there. The old man did not come back. Then they two remained there alone. “You must remain without crawling outside,” said she. “What is it that is destroying us people? Do you know “Do not go out! You must play about close by here, not going far away,” said she. Then be replied, “Very well.”

 

Then she said, “Bring some wood!” and he went to bring it. By and by he brought some back. He carried a large piece, although he was small, he carried a large piece. She sent him again. “You must not carry a large piece! It might hurt you,” she said.

 

Then he went for wood. “Do not go far,” she said. But he went a little farther, and brought back a very large, very pitchy (log). “Didn’t I tell you not to carry (such a large one)?” said she. “You might hurt yourself in the chest. That is what I told you,” she said.

 

He had big eyes, they say; and, “Although (I am) small, I am going to see,” he thought. “What, I wonder, does this!” he said. “Look here, my sister! I want to go and look.”–“I have told you not to say such things,” she said. Next morning she sent him to get wood, and he went. He brought back a pitch stump, a whole one. Then, “I wonder how it is that carrying such loads . . .,” thought his sister. “Although he is indeed very small, (yet) he carries great loads,” she thought.

 

Next morning he went off. He went, going along the ridge, and came to a great flat place. And human bones were many there. Standing there, he looked all about. By and by a man approached. “What are you doing?” said he. “Nothing,” (the boy) replied. “Do you want to fight?” said he. “Yes,” said the boy. Thereupon they two wrestled, and the boy killed Lizard-Man.

 

Thereupon he returned, and arrived at the house. He bathed in warm water, and then spoke. “I am going off above,” said he. “You must remain, you must stay here. Rising from here, I shall go over up to the Above-Valley; and when I reach there, I will thunder,” said he. “I shall roar, and you shall hear me.”

 

Whereupon, having finished speaking to his sister, he started and went off. And a while after he had gone, it thundered. He was roaring, they say. He it was who was to be the Thunder-Man. His sister recognized him again. At that time he said, “I shall have my country there. You must remain here. Meanwhile I shall be continually travelling about in the Above-Valley.” So he spoke. That is all. “There are many squinting women gathering tules.” 1

 

 

 


Footnotes

1 This is a common way of ending a tale. The sentence has no application to the rest of the story.


 

From “Maidu Texts” – Maidu folklore and legends

The Maidu are an American Indian tribe who traditionally live in the central Sierra Nevada of California, to the north of Yosemite.

 

URL – http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_mt.html

 

Advertisements