You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘rich’ tag.

Now there was once a farmer who had but one daughter of whom he was very proud because she was so clever. So whenever he was in any difficulty he would go to her and ask her what he should do. It happened that he had a dispute with one of his neighbours, and the matter came before the King, and he, after hearing from both of them, did not know how to decide and said:

“You both seem to be right and you both seem to be wrong, and I do not know how to decide; so I will leave it to yourselves in this way: whichever of you can answer best the three questions I am about to ask shall win this trial. What is the most beautiful thing? What is the strongest thing? and, What is the richest thing? Now go home and think over your answers and bring them to me to-morrow morning.”

So the farmer went home and told his daughter what had happened, and she told him what to answer next day.

So when the matter came up for trial before the King he asked first the farmer’s neighbour,

“What is the most beautiful thing?”

And he answered, “My wife.”

Then he asked him, “What is the strongest thing?”

“My ox.”

“And what is the richest?”

And he answered, “Myself.”

Then he turned to the farmer and asked him,

“What is the most beautiful thing?”

And the farmer answered, “Spring.”

Then he asked him, “What is the strongest?”

“The earth.”

Then he asked, “What is the richest thing?”

He answered, “The harvest.”

Then the King decided that the farmer had answered best, and gave judgment in his favour. But he had noticed that the farmer had hesitated in his answers and seemed to be trying to remember things. So he called him up to him and said,

“I fancy those arrows did not come from your quiver. Who told you how to answer so cleverly?”

Then the farmer said, “Please your Majesty, it was my daughter who is the cleverest girl in all the world.”

“Is that so?” said the King. “I should like to test that.”

Shortly afterwards the King sent one of his servants to the farmer’s daughter with a round cake and thirty small biscuits and a roast capon, and told him to ask her whether the moon was full, and what day of the month it was, and whether the rooster had crowed in the night. On the way the servant ate half the cake and half of the biscuits and hid the capon away for his supper. And when he had delivered the rest to the Clever Girl and told his message she gave this reply to be brought back to the King:

“It is only half-moon and the th of the month and the rooster has flown away to the mill; but spare the pheasant for the sake of the partridge.”

And when the servant had brought back this message to the King, he cried out,

“You have eaten half the cake and fifteen of the biscuits and didn’t hand over the capon at all.”

Then the servant confessed that this was all true, and the King said,

“I would have punished you severely but that this Clever Girl begs me to forgive the pheasant, by which she meant you, for the sake of the partridge, by which she meant herself. So you may go unpunished.”

The King was so delighted with the cleverness of the girl that he determined to marry her.

But, wishing to test her once more before doing so, he sent her a message that she should come to him clothed, yet unclothed, neither walking, nor driving, nor riding, neither in shadow nor in sun, and with a gift which is no gift.

When the farmer’s daughter received this message she went near the King’s palace, and having undressed herself wrapped herself up in her long hair, and then had herself placed in a net which was attached to the tail of a horse. With one hand she held a sieve over her head to shield herself from the sun; and in the other she held a platter covered with another platter.

Thus she came to the King neither clothed nor unclothed, neither walking, nor riding, nor driving, neither in sun nor in shadow.

Now when she was released from the net and a mantle had been placed over her she handed the platter to the King, who took the top platter off, whereupon a little bird that had been between the two platters flew away. This was the gift that was no gift.

The King was so delighted at the way in which the farmer’s daughter had solved the riddle that he immediately married her and made her his Queen. And they lived very happily together though no children came to them. The King depended upon her for advice in all his affairs and would often have her seated by him when he was giving judgment in law matters.

Now it happened that one day at the end of all the other cases there came two peasants, each of whom claimed a foal that had been born in a stable where they had both left their carts, one with a horse and the other with a mare. The King was tired with the day’s pleadings, and without thinking and without consulting his Queen who sat by his side, he said,

“Let the first man have it,” who happened to be the peasant whose cart was drawn by the horse.

Now the Queen was vexed that her husband should have decided so unjustly, and when the court was over she went to the other peasant and told him how he could convince the King that he had made a rash judgment. So the next day he took a stool outside the King’s window and commenced fishing with a fishing-rod in the road.

The King looking out of his window saw this and began to laugh and called out to the man,

“You won’t find many fish on a dry road,” to which the peasant answered,

“As many as foals that come from a horse.”

Then the King remembered his judgment of yesterday and, calling the men before him, decided that the foal should belong to the man who had the mare and who had fished in front of his windows. But he said to him as he dismissed them,

“That arrow never came from your quiver.”

Then he went to his Queen in a towering rage and said to her,

“How dare you interfere in my judgments?”

And she said, “I did not like my dear husband to do what was unjust.” But the King said,

“Then you ought to have spoken to me, not shamed me before my people. That is too much. You shall go back to your father who is so proud of you. And the only favour I can grant you will be that you can take with you from the palace whatever you love best.”

“Your Majesty’s wish shall be my law,” said the Queen, “but let us at least not part in anger. Let me have my last dinner as Queen in your company.”

When they dined together the Queen put a sleeping potion in the King’s cup, and when he fell asleep she directed the servants to put him in the carriage that was waiting to take her home, and carried him into her bed. When he woke up next morning he asked,

“Where am I, and why are you still with me?”

Then the Queen said, “You allowed me to take with me that which I loved best in the palace, and so I took you.”

Then the King recognized the love his Queen had for him, and brought her back to his palace, and they lived together there forever afterwards

http://abelapublishing.com/europas-fairy-book_p24104597.htm

EFB-Cover-W-Perspective

Advertisements

Some years rolled by and still Bar Shalmon thought of his native land. One day the princess found him weeping quietly.

 

“Why art thou sad, husband mine?” she asked. “Dost thou no longer love me, and am I not beautiful now?”

 

“No, it is not that,” he said, but for a long time he refused to say more. At last he confessed that he had an intense longing to see his home again.

 

“But thou art bound to me by an oath,” said the princess.

 

“I know,” replied Bar Shalmon, “and I shall not break it. Permit me to visit my home for a brief while, and I will return and prove myself more devoted to thee than ever.”

 

On these conditions, the princess agreed that he should take leave for a whole year. A big, black demon flew swiftly with him to his native city.

 

No sooner had Bar Shalmon placed his feet on the ground than he determined not to return to the land of Ergetz.

 

“Tell thy royal mistress,” he said to the demon, “that I shall never return to her.”

 

He tore his clothes to make himself look poor, but his wife was overjoyed to see him. She had mourned him as dead. He did not tell of his adventures, but merely said he had been ship-wrecked and had worked his way back as a poor sailor. He was delighted to be among human beings again, to hear his own language and to see solid buildings that did not appear and disappear just when they pleased, and as the days passed he began to think his adventures in fairyland were but a dream.

 

Meanwhile, the princess waited patiently until the year was ended.

 

Then she sent the big, black demon to bring Bar Shalmon back.

 

Bar Shalmon met the messenger one night when walking alone in his garden.

 

“I have come to take thee back,” said the demon.

 

Bar Shalmon was startled. He had forgotten that the year was up. He felt that he was lost, but as the demon did not seize him by force, he saw that there was a possibility of escape.

 

“Return and tell thy mistress I refuse,” he said.

 

“I will take thee by force,” said the demon. “Thou canst not,” Bar Shalmon said, “for I am the son-in-law of the king.”

 

The demon was helpless and returned to Ergetz alone.

 

King Ashmedai was very angry, but the princess counselled patience.

 

“I will devise means to bring my husband back,” she said. “I will send other messengers.”

 

Thus it was that Bar Shalmon found a troupe of beautiful fairies in the garden the next evening.

 

They tried their utmost to induce him to return with them, but he would not listen. Every day different messengers came–big, ugly demons who threatened, pretty fairies who tried to coax him, and troublesome sprites and goblins who only annoyed him. Bar Shalmon could not move without encountering messengers from the princess in all manner of queer places. Nobody else could see them, and often he was heard talking to invisible people. His friends began to regard him as strange in his behavior.

 

King Ashmedai grew angrier every day, and he threatened to go for Bar Shalmon himself.

 

“Nay, I will go,” said the princess; “it will be impossible for my husband to resist me.”

 

She selected a large number of attendants, and the swift flight of the princess and her retinue through the air caused a violent storm to rage over the lands they crossed. Like a thick black cloud they swooped down on the land where Bar Shalmon dwelt, and their weird cries seemed like the wild shrieking of a mighty hurricane. Down they swept in a tremendous storm such as the city had never known. Then, as quickly as it came, the storm ceased, and the people who had fled into their houses, ventured forth again.

 

The little son of Bar Shalmon went out into the garden, but quickly rushed back into the house.

 

“Father, come forth and see,” he cried. “The garden is full of strange creatures brought by the storm. All manner of creeping, crawling things have invaded the garden–lizards, toads, and myriads of insects. The trees, the shrubs, the paths are covered, and some shine in the twilight like tiny lanterns.”

 

Bar Shalmon went out into the garden, but he did not see toads and lizards. What he beheld was a vast array of demons and goblins and sprites, and in a rose-bush the princess, his wife, shining like a star, surrounded by her attendant fairies. She stretched forth her arms to him.

 

“Husband mine,” she pleaded, “I have come to implore thee to return to the land of Ergetz with me. Sadly have I missed thee; long have I waited for thy coming, and difficult has it been to appease my father’s anger. Come, husband mine, return with me; a great welcome awaits thee.”

 

“I will not return,” said Bar Shalmon.

 

“Kill him, kill him,” shrieked the demons, and they surrounded him, gesticulating fiercely. “Nay, harm him not,” commanded the princess.

 

“Think well, Bar Shalmon, ere you answer again. The sun has set and night is upon us. Think well, until sunrise. Come to me, return, and all shall be well. Refuse, and thou shalt be dealt with as thou hast merited. Think well before the sunrise.”

 

“And what will happen at sunrise, if I refuse?” asked Bar Shalmon.

 

“Thou shalt see,” returned the princess. “Bethink thee well, and remember, I await thee here until the sunrise.”

 

“I have answered; I defy thee,” said Bar Shalmon, and he went indoors.

 

Night passed with strange, mournful music in the garden, and the sun rose in its glory and spread its golden beams over the city. And with the coming of the light, more strange sounds woke the people of the city. A wondrous sight met their gaze in the market place. It was filled with hundreds upon hundreds of the queerest creatures they had ever seen, goblins and brownies, demons and fairies. Dainty little elves ran about the square to the delight of the children, and quaint sprites clambered up the lampposts and squatted on the gables of the council house. On the steps of that building was a glittering array of fairies and attendant genii, and in their midst stood the princess, a dazzling vision, radiant as the dawn.

 

The mayor of the city knew not what to do. He put on his chain of office and made a long speech of welcome to the princess.

 

“Thank you for your cordial welcome,” said the princess, in reply, “and you the mayor,. and ye the good people of this city of mortals, hearken unto me. I am the princess of the Fairyland of Ergetz where my father, Ashmedai, rules as king. There is one among ye who is my husband.”

 

“Who is he?” the crowd asked in astonishment.

 

“Bar Shalmon is his name,” replied the princess, “and to him am I bound by vows that may not be broken.”

 

“’Tis false,” cried Bar Shalmon from the crowd.

 

“’Tis true. Behold our son,” answered the princess, and there stepped forward a dainty elfin boy whose face was the image of Bar Shalmon.

 

“I ask of you mortals of the city,” the princess continued, “but one thing, justice–that same justice which we in the land of Ergetz did give unto Bar Shalmon when, after breaking his oath unto his father, he set sail for a foreign land and was delivered into our hands. We spared his life; we granted his petition for a new trial. I but ask that ye should grant me the same petition. Hear me in your Court of Justice.”

 

“Thy request is but reasonable, princess,” said the mayor. “It shall not be said that strangers here are refused justice. Bar Shalmon, follow me.”

 

He led the way into the Chamber of Justice, and the magistrates of the city heard all that the princess and her witnesses, among whom was the rabbi, and also all that Bar Shalmon, had to say.

 

“’Tis plain,” said the mayor, delivering judgment, “that her royal highness, the princess of the Fairyland of Ergetz, has spoken that which is true. But Bar Shalmon has in this city wife and child to whom he is bound by ties that may not be broken. Bar Shalmon must divorce the princess and return unto her the dowry received by him on their marriage.”

 

“If such be your law, I am content,” said the princess.

 

“What sayest thou, Bar Shalmon?” asked the mayor.

 

“Oh! I’m content,” he answered gruffly. “I agree to anything that will rid me of the demon princess.”

 

The princess flushed crimson with shame and rage at these cruel words.

 

“These words I have not deserved,” she exclaimed, proudly. “I have loved thee, and have been faithful unto thee, Bar Shalmon. I accept the decree of your laws and shall return to the land of Ergetz a widow. I ask not for your pity. I ask but for that which is my right, one last kiss.”

 

“Very well,” said Bar Shalmon, still more gruffly, “anything to have done with thee.”

 

The princess stepped proudly forward to him and kissed him on the lips.

 

Bar Shalmon turned deadly pale and would have fallen had not his friends caught him.

 

“Take thy punishment for all thy sins,” cried the princess, haughtily, “for thy broken vows and thy false promises–thy perjury to thy God, to thy father, to my father and to me.”

 

As she spoke Bar Shalmon fell dead at her feet. At a sign from the princess, her retinue of fairies and demons flew out of the building and up into the air with their royal mistress in their midst and vanished.

 

 

————————-

From: JEWISH FAIRY TALES AND LEGENDS

ISBN: 978-1-907256-14-1

http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_jftl.html

 

A percentage of the profits will be donated to the CHRISTCHURCH EARTHQUAKE APPEAL.

 

Jewish Fairy Tales and Legends

 

 

Bar Shalmon found himself on the outskirts of the city, and cautiously he crept forward. To his intense relief, he saw that the first building was a synagogue. The door, however, was locked. Weary, sore, and weak with long fasting, Bar Shalmon sank down on the steps and sobbed like a child.

 

Something touched him on the arm. He looked up. By the light of the moon he saw a boy standing before him. Such a queer boy he was, too. He had cloven feet, and his coat, if it was a coat, seemed to be made in the shape of wings.

 

“Ivri Onochi,” said Bar Shalmon, “I am a Hebrew.”

 

“So am I,” said the boy. “Follow me.”

 

He walked in front with a strange hobble, and when they reached a house at the back of the synagogue, he leaped from the ground, spreading his coat wings as he did so, to a window about twenty feet from the ground. The next moment a door opened, and Bar Shalmon, to his surprise, saw that the boy had jumped straight through the window down to the door which he had unfastened from the inside. The boy motioned him to enter a room. He did so. An aged man, who he saw was a rabbi, rose to greet him.

 

“Peace be with you,” said the rabbi, and pointed to a seat. He clapped his hand and immediately a table with food appeared before Bar Shalmon. The latter was far too hungry to ask any questions just then, and the rabbi was silent, too, while he ate. When he had finished, the rabbi clapped his hands and the table vanished.

 

“Now tell me your story,” said the rabbi. Bar Shalmon did so.

 

“Alas! I am an unhappy man,” he concluded. “I have been punished for breaking my vow. Help me to return to my home. I will reward thee well, and will atone for my sin.”

 

“Thy story is indeed sad,” said the rabbi, gravely, “but thou knowest not the full extent of thy unfortunate plight. Art thou aware what land it is into which thou hast been cast?”

 

“No,” said Bar Shalmon, becoming afraid again.

 

“Know then,” said the rabbi, “thou art not in a land of human beings. Thou hast fallen into Ergetz, the land of demons, of djinns, and of fairies.”

 

“But art thou not a Jew?” asked Bar Shalmon, in astonishment.

 

“Truly,” replied the rabbi. “Even in this realm we have all manner of religions just as you mortals have.”

 

“What will happen to me?” asked Bar Shalmon, in a whisper.

 

“I know not,” replied the rabbi. “Few mortals come here, and mostly, I fear they are put to death. The demons love them not.”

 

“Woe, woe is me,” cried Bar Shalmon, “I am undone.”

 

“Weep not,” said the rabbi. “I, as a Jew, love not death by violence and torture, and will endeavor to save thee.”

 

“I thank thee,” cried Bar Shalmon.

 

“Let thy thanks wait,” said the rabbi, kindly. “There is human blood in my veins. My great-grandfather was a mortal who fell into this land and was not put to death. Being of mortal descent, I have been made rabbi. Perhaps thou wilt find favour here and be permitted to live and settle in this land.”

 

“But I desire to return home,” said Bar Shalmon.

 

The rabbi shook his head.

 

“Thou must sleep now,” he said.

 

He passed his hands over Bar Shalmon’s eyes and he fell into a profound slumber. When he awoke it was daylight, and the boy stood by his couch. He made a sign to Bar Shalmon to follow, and through an underground passage he conducted him into the synagogue and placed him near the rabbi.

 

“Thy presence has become known,” whispered the rabbi, and even as he spoke a great noise was heard. It was like the wild chattering of many high-pitched voices. Through all the windows and the doors a strange crowd poured into the synagogue. There were demons of all shapes and sizes. Some had big bodies with tiny heads, others huge heads and quaint little bodies. Some had great staring eyes, others had long wide mouths, and many had only one leg each. They surrounded Bar Shalmon with threatening gestures and noises. The rabbi ascended the pulpit.

 

The Fairy Princess of Ergetz from Jewish Fairy Tales and Legends

A strange crowd of demons of all shapes and sizes poured into the synagogue with threatening gestures.

 

“Silence!” he commanded, and immediately the noise ceased. “Ye who thirst for mortal blood, desecrate not this holy building wherein I am master. What ye have to say must wait until after the morning service.”

 

Silently and patiently they waited, sitting in all manner of queer places. Some of them perched on the backs of the seats, a few clung like great big flies to the pillars, others sat on the window-sills, and several of the tiniest hung from the rafters in the ceiling. As soon as the service was over, the clamor broke out anew.

 

“Give to us the perjurer,” screamed the demons. “He is not fit to live.”

 

With some difficulty, the rabbi stilled the tumult, and said:

 

“Listen unto me, ye demons and sprites of the land of Ergetz. This man has fallen into my hands, and I am responsible for him. Our king, Ashmedai, must know of his arrival. We must not condemn a man unheard. Let us petition the king to grant him a fair trial.”

 

After some demur, the demons agreed to this proposal, and they trooped out of the synagogue in the same peculiar manner in which they came.

 

Each was compelled to leave by the same door or window at which he entered.

 

Bar Shalmon was carried off to the palace of King Ashmedai, preceded and followed by a noisy crowd of demons and fairies. There seemed to be millions of them, all clattering and pointing at him. They hobbled and hopped over the ground, jumped into the air, sprang from housetop to housetop, made sudden appearances from holes in the ground and vanished through solid walls.

 

The palace was a vast building of white marble that seemed as delicate as lace work. It stood in a magnificent square where many beautiful fountains spouted jets of crystal water. King Ashmedai came forth on the balcony, and at his appearance all the demons and fairies became silent and went down on their knees.

 

“What will ye with me?” he cried, in a voice of thunder, and the rabbi approached and bowed before his majesty.

 

“A mortal, a Jew, has fallen into my hands,” he said, “and thy subjects crave for his blood. He is a perjurer, they say. Gracious majesty, I would petition for a trial.”

 

“What manner of mortal is he?” asked Ashmedai.

 

Bar Shalmon stepped forward.

 

“Jump up here so I may see thee,” commanded the king.

 

“Jump, jump,” cried the crowd.

 

“I cannot,” said Bar Shalmon, as he looked up at the balcony thirty feet above the ground. “Try,” said the rabbi.

 

Bar Shalmon did try, and found, the moment he lifted his feet from the ground, that he was standing on the balcony.

 

“Neatly done,” said the king. “I see thou art quick at learning.”

 

“So my teachers always said,” replied Bar Shalmon.

 

“A proper answer,” said the king. “Thou art, then, a scholar.”

 

“In my own land,” returned Bar Shalmon, “men said I was great among the learned.”

 

“So,” said the king. “And canst thou impart the wisdom of man and of the human world to others?”

 

“I can,” said Bar Shalmon.

 

“We shall see,” said the king. “I have a son with a desire for such knowledge. If thou canst make him acquainted with thy store of learning, thy life shall be spared. The petition for a trial is granted.”

 

The king waved his scepter and two slaves seized Bar Shalmon by the arms. He felt himself lifted from the balcony and carried swiftly through the air. Across the vast square the slaves flew with him, and when over the largest of the fountains they loosened their hold. Bar Shalmon thought he would fall into the fountain, but to his amazement he found himself standing on the roof of a building. By his side was the rabbi.

 

“Where are we?” asked Bar Shalmon. “I feel bewildered.”

 

“We are at the Court of Justice, one hundred miles from the palace,” replied the rabbi.

 

A door appeared before them. They stepped through, and found themselves in a beautiful hall. Three judges in red robes and purple wigs were seated on a platform, and an immense crowd filled the galleries in the same queer way as in the synagogue. Bar Shalmon was placed on a small platform in front of the judges. A tiny sprite, only about six inches high, stood on another small platform at his right hand and commenced to read from a scroll that seemed to have no ending. He read the whole account of Bar Shalmon’s life. Not one little event was missing.

 

“The charge against Bar Shalmon, the mortal,” the sprite concluded, “is that he has violated the solemn oath sworn at his father’s death-bed.”

 

Then the rabbi pleaded for him and declared that the oath was not binding because Bar Shalmon’s father had not informed him of his treasures abroad and could not therefore have been in his right senses. Further, he added, Bar Shalmon was a scholar and the king desired him to teach his wisdom to the crown prince.

 

The chief justice rose to pronounce sentence.

 

“Bar Shalmon,” he said, “rightly thou shouldst die for thy broken oath. It is a grievous sin. But there is the doubt that thy father may not have been in his right mind. Therefore, thy life shall be spared.”

 

Bar Shalmon expressed his thanks.

 

“When may I return to my home?” he asked. “Never,” replied the chief justice.

 

Bar Shalmon left the court, feeling very downhearted. He was safe now. The demons dared not molest him, but he longed to return to his home.

 

“How am I to get back to the palace?” he asked the rabbi. “Perhaps after I have imparted my learning to the crown prince, the king will allow me to return to my native land.”

 

“That I cannot say. Come, fly with me,” said the rabbi.

 

“Fly!”

 

“Yes; see thou hast wings.”

 

Bar Shalmon noticed that he was now wearing a garment just like all the demons. When he spread his arms, he found he could fly, and he sailed swiftly through the air to the palace. With these wings, he thought, he would be able to fly home.

 

“Think not that,” said the rabbi, who seemed to be able to read his thoughts, “for thy wings are useless beyond this land.”

 

Bar Shalmon found that it would be best for him to carry out his instructions for the present, and he set himself diligently to teach the crown prince. The prince was an apt pupil, and the two became great friends. King Ashmedai was delighted and made Bar Shalmon one of his favourites.

 

One day the king said to him: “I am about to leave the city for a while to undertake a campaign against a rebellious tribe of demons thousands of miles away. I must take the crown prince with me. I leave thee in charge of the palace.”

 

The king gave him a huge bunch of keys.

 

“These,” he said, “will admit into all but one of the thousand rooms in the palace. For that one there is no key, and thou must not enter it. Beware.”

 

For several days Bar Shalmon amused himself by examining the hundreds of rooms in the vast palace until one day he came to the door for which he had no key. He forgot the king’s warning and his promise to obey.

 

“Open this door for me,” he said to his attendants, but they replied that they could not.

 

“You must,” he said angrily, “burst it open.”

 

“We do not know how to burst open a door,” they said. “We are not mortal. If we were permitted to enter the room we should just walk through the walls.”

 

Bar Shalmon could not do this, so he put his shoulder to the door and it yielded quite easily.

 

A strange sight met his gaze. A beautiful woman, the most beautiful he had ever seen, was seated on a throne of gold, surrounded by fairy attendants who vanished the moment he entered.

 

“Who art thou?” asked Bar Shalmon, in great astonishment.

 

“The daughter of the king,” replied the princess, “and thy future wife.”

 

“Indeed! How know you that?” he asked.

 

“Thou hast broken thy promise to my father, the king, not to enter this room,” she replied. “Therefore, thou must die, unless–”

 

“Tell me quickly,” interrupted Bar Shalmon, turning pale, “how my life can be saved.”

 

“Thou must ask my father for my hand,” replied the princess. “Only by becoming my husband canst thou be saved.”

 

“But I have a wife and child in my native land,” said Bar Shalmon, sorely troubled.

 

“Thou hast now forfeited thy hopes of return,” said the princess, slowly. “Once more hast thou broken a promise. It seems to come easy to thee now.”

 

Bar Shalmon had no wish to die, and he waited, in fear and trembling for the king’s re-turn. Immediately he heard of King Ashmedai’s approach, he hastened to meet him and flung himself on the ground at his majesty’s feet.

 

“O King,” he cried, “I have seen thy daughter, the princess, and I desire to make her my wife.”

 

“I cannot refuse,” returned the king. “Such is our law–that he who first sees the princess must become her husband, or die. But, have a care, Bar Shalmon. Thou must swear to love and be faithful ever.”

 

“I swear,” said Bar Shalmon.

 

The wedding took place with much ceremony. The princess was attended by a thousand fairy bridesmaids, and the whole city was brilliantly decorated and illuminated until Bar Shalmon was almost blinded by the dazzling spectacle.

 

The rabbi performed the marriage ceremony, and Bar Shalmon had to swear an oath by word of mouth and in writing that he loved the princess and would never desert her. He was given a beautiful palace full of jewels as a dowry, and the wedding festivities lasted six months. All the fairies and demons invited them in turn; they had to attend banquets and parties and dances in grottoes and caves and in the depths of the fairy fountains in the square. Never before in Ergetz had there been such elaborate rejoicings.

 

————————-

From: JEWISH FAIRY TALES AND LEGENDS

ISBN: 978-1-907256-14-1

http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_jftl.html

 

A percentage of the profits will be donated to the CHRISTCHURCH EARTHQUAKE APPEAL.

 

Jewish Fairy Tales and Legends

In a great and beautiful city that stood by the sea, an old man lay dying. Mar Shalmon was his name, and he was the richest man in the land. Propped up with pillows on a richly decorated bed in a luxurious chamber, he gazed, with tears in his eyes, through the open window at the setting sun. Like a ball of fire it sank lower and lower until it almost seemed to rest on the tranquil waters beyond the harbour. Suddenly, Mar Shalmon roused himself.

 

“Where is my son, Bar Shalmon?” he asked in a feeble voice, and his hand crept tremblingly along the silken coverlet of the bed as if in search of something.

 

“I am here, my father,” replied his son who was standing by the side of his bed. His eyes were moist with tears, but his voice was steady.

 

“My son,” said the old man, slowly, and with some difficulty, “I am about to leave this world.

 

My soul will take flight from this frail body when the sun has sunk behind the horizon. I have lived long and have amassed great wealth which will soon be thine. Use it well, as I have taught thee, for thou, my son, art a man of learning, as befits our noble Jewish faith. One thing I must ask thee to promise me.”

 

“I will, my father,” returned Bar Shalmon, sobbing.

 

“Nay, weep not, my son,” said the old man. “My day is ended; my life has not been ill-spent. I would spare thee the pain that was mine in my early days, when, as a merchant, I garnered my fortune. The sea out there that will soon swallow up the sun is calm now. But beware of it, my son, for it is treacherous. Promise me–nay, swear unto me–that never wilt thou cross it to foreign lands.”

 

Bar Shalmon placed his hands on those of his father.

 

“Solemnly I swear,” he said, in a broken voice, “to do thy wish–never to journey on the sea, but to remain here in this, my native land. ’Tis a vow before thee, my father.”

 

“’Tis an oath before heaven,” said the old man. “Guard it, keep it, and heaven will bless thee. Remember! See, the sun is sinking.”

 

Mar Shalmon fell back upon his pillows and spoke no more. Bar Shalmon stood gazing out of the window until the sun had disappeared, and then, silently sobbing, he left the chamber of death.

 

The whole city wept when the sad news was made known, for Mar Shalmon was a man of great charity, and almost all the inhabitants followed the remains to the grave. Then Bar Shalmon, his son, took his father’s place of honour in the city, and in him, too, the poor and needy found a friend whose purse was ever open and whose counsel was ever wisdom.

 

Thus years passed away.

 

One day there arrived in the harbour of the city a strange ship from a distant land. Its captain spoke a tongue unknown, and Bar Shalmon, being a man of profound knowledge, was sent for. He alone in the city could under-stand the language of the captain. To his astonishment, he learned that the cargo of the vessel was for Mar Shalmon, his father.

 

“I am the son of Mar Shalmon,” he said. “My father is dead, and all his possessions he left to me.”

 

“Then, verily, art thou the most fortunate mortal, and the richest, on earth,” answered the captain. “My good ship is filled with a vast store of jewels, precious stones and other treasures. And know you, O most favoured son of Mar Shalmon, this cargo is but a small portion of the wealth that is thine in a land across the sea.”

 

“’Tis strange,” said Bar Shalmon, in surprise; “my father said nought of this to me. I knew that in his younger days he had traded with distant lands, but nothing did he ever say of possessions there. And, moreover, he warned me never to leave this shore.”

 

The captain looked perplexed.

 

“I understand it not,” he said. “I am but performing my father’s bidding. He was thy father’s servant, and long years did he wait for Mar Shalmon’s return to claim his riches. On his death-bed he bade me vow that I would seek his master, or his son, and this have I done.”

 

He produced documents, and there could be no doubt that the vast wealth mentioned in them belonged now to Bar Shalmon.

 

“Thou art now my master,” said the captain, “and must return with me to the land across the sea to claim thine inheritance. In another year it will be too late, for by the laws of the country it will be forfeit.”

 

“I cannot return with thee,” said Bar Shalmon. “I have a vow before heaven never to voyage on the sea.”

 

The captain laughed.

 

“In very truth, I understand thee not, as my father understood not thine,” he replied. “My father was wont to say that Mar Shalmon was strange and peradventure not possessed of all his senses to neglect his store of wealth and treasure.”

 

With an angry gesture Bar Shalmon stopped the captain, but he was sorely troubled. He re-called now that his father had often spoken mysteriously of foreign lands, and he wondered, indeed, whether Mar Shalmon could have been in his proper senses not to have breathed a word of his riches abroad. For days he discussed the matter with the captain, who at last persuaded him to make the journey.

 

“Fear not thy vow,” said the captain. “Thy worthy father must, of a truth, have been bereft of reason in failing to tell thee of his full estate, and an oath to a man of mind unsound is not binding. That is the law in our land.”

 

“So it is here,” returned Bar Shalmon, and with this remark his last scruple vanished.

 

He bade a tender farewell to his wife, his child, and his friends, and set sail on the strange ship to the land beyond the sea.

 

For three days all went well, but on the fourth the ship was becalmed and the sails flapped lazily against the masts. The sailors had nothing to do but lie on deck and wait for a breeze, and Bar Shalmon took advantage of the occasion to treat them to a feast.

 

Suddenly, in the midst of the feasting, they felt the ship begin to move. There was no wind, but the vessel sped along very swiftly. The captain himself rushed to the helm. To his alarm he found the vessel beyond control.

 

“The ship is bewitched,” he exclaimed. “There is no wind, and no current, and yet we are being borne along as if driven before a storm. We shall be lost.”

 

Panic seized the sailors, and Bar Shalmon was unable to pacify them.

 

“Someone on board has brought us ill-luck,” said the boatswain, looking pointedly at Bar Shalmon; “we shall have to heave him over-board.”

 

His comrades assented and rushed toward Bar Shalmon.

 

Just at that moment, however, the look-out in the bow cried excitedly, “Land ahead!”

 

The ship still refused to answer the helm and grounded on a sandbank. She shivered from stem to stern but did not break up. No rocks were visible, only a desolate tract of desert land was to be seen, with here and there a solitary tree.

 

“We seem to have sustained no damage,” said the captain, when he had recovered from his first astonishment, “but how we are going to get afloat again I do not know. This land is quite strange to me.”

He could not find it marked on any of his charts or maps, and the sailors stood looking gloomily at the mysterious shore.

 

“Had we not better explore the land?” said Bar Shalmon.

 

“No, no,” exclaimed the boatswain, excitedly. “See, no breakers strike on the shore. This is not a

human land. This is a domain of demons. We are lost unless we cast overboard the one who has brought on us this ill-luck.”

 

Said Bar Shalmon, “I will land, and I will give fifty silver crowns to all who land with me.”

 

Not one of the sailors moved, however, even when he offered fifty golden crowns, and at last Bar Shalmon said he would land alone, although the captain strongly urged him not to do so.

 

Bar Shalmon sprang lightly to the shore, and as he did so the ship shook violently.

 

“What did I tell you?” shouted the boat-swain. “Bar Shalmon is the one who has brought us this misfortune. Now we shall re-float the ship.”

 

But it still remained firmly fixed on the sand. Bar Shalmon walked towards a tree and climbed it. In a few moments he returned, holding a twig in his hand.

 

“The land stretches away for miles just as you see it here,” he called to the captain. “There is no sign of man or habitation.”

 

He prepared to board the vessel again, but the sailors would not allow him. The boatswain stood in the bow and threatened him with a sword. Bar Shalmon raised the twig to ward off the blow and struck the ship which shivered from stem to stern again.

 

“Is not this proof that the vessel is bewitched?” cried the sailors, and when the captain sternly bade them remember that Bar Shalmon was their master, they threatened him too.

 

Bar Shalmon, amused at the fears of the men, again struck the vessel with the twig. Once more it trembled. A third time he raised the twig.

 

“If the ship is bewitched,” he said, “something will happen after the third blow.”

 

“Swish” sounded the branch through the air, and the third blow fell on the vessel’s bow. Something did happen. The ship almost leaped from the sand, and before Bar Shalmon could realize what had happened it was speeding swiftly away.

 

“Come back, come back,” he screamed, and he could see the captain struggling with the helm. But the vessel refused to answer, and Bar Shalmon saw it grow smaller and smaller and finally disappear. He was alone on an uninhabited desert land.

 

“What a wretched plight for the richest man in the world,” he said to himself, and the next moment he realized that he was in danger indeed.

 

A terrible roar made him look around. To his horror he saw a lion making toward him. As quick as a flash Bar Shalmon ran to the tree and hastily scrambled into the branches. The lion dashed itself furiously against the trunk of the tree, but, for the present, Bar Shalmon was safe. Night, however, was coming on, and the lion squatted at the foot of the tree, evidently intending to wait for him. All night the lion remained, roaring at intervals, and Bar Shalmon clung to one of the upper branches afraid to sleep lest he should fall off and be devoured. When morning broke, a new danger threatened him. A huge eagle flew round the tree and darted at him with its cruel beak. Then the great bird settled on the thickest branch, and Bar Shalmon moved stealthily forward with a knife which he drew from his belt. He crept behind the bird, but as he approached it spread its big wings, and Bar Shalmon, to prevent himself being swept from the tree, dropped the knife and clutched at the bird’s feathers. Immediately, to his dismay, the bird rose from the tree. Bar Shalmon clung to its back with all his might.

 

Higher and higher soared the eagle until the trees below looked like mere dots on the land. Swiftly flew the eagle over miles and miles of desert until Bar Shalmon began to feel giddy. He was faint with hunger and feared that he would not be able to retain his hold. All day the bird flew without resting, across island and sea. No houses, no ships, no human beings could be seen. Toward night, however, Bar Shalmon, to his great joy, beheld the lights of a city surrounded by trees, and as the eagle came near, he made a bold dive to the earth. Headlong he plunged downward. He seemed to be hours in falling. At last he struck a tree. The branches broke beneath the weight and force of his falling body, and he continued to plunge downward. The branches tore his clothes to shreds and bruised his body, but they broke his terrible fall, and when at last he reached the ground he was not much hurt.

 

————————-

From: JEWISH FAIRY TALES AND LEGENDS

ISBN: 978-1-907256-14-1

http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_jftl.html

 

A percentage of the profits will be donated to the CHRISTCHURCH EARTHQUAKE APPEAL.

 

Jewish Fairy Tales and Legends

THERE was and there was not at all (of God’s best may it be!), there was a king. When the day of his death was drawing nigh, he called his son to him, and said: ‘In the day when thou goest to hunt in the east, take this coffer, but only open it when thou art in dire distress.’

 

The king died, and was buried in the manner he had wished. The prince fell into a state of grief, and would not go outside the door. At last the ministers of state came to the new king, and proposed to him that he should go out hunting. The king was delighted with the idea, and set out for the chase with his suite.

 

They went eastwards, and killed a great quantity of game. On their way home, the young monarch saw a tower near the road, and wished to know what was in it. He asked one of his viziers to go and try to find out about it. He obeyed, but first said:

 

‘I hope to return in three days, and if I do not I shall be dead.’

 

Three days passed, and the vizier did not return. The king sent a second, a third, a fourth, but not one of them came back. Then he rose and went himself. When he arrived, he saw written over the door: ‘Enter and thou wilt repent; enter not and thou wilt repent.’

 

‘I must do one or the other,’ said the king to himself, ‘so I shall go in.’

 

He opened the door and went in. Behold! there stood twelve men with drawn swords. They took his hand and led him into twelve rooms. When he was come into the twelfth, he saw a golden couch, on which was stretched a boy of eight or nine years of age. His eyes were closed, and he did not utter a word. The king was told:

 

‘Thou mayst ask him three questions, but if he does not understand and answer all of them, thou must lose thy head.’

 

The king became very sad, but at last remembered the coffer his father had given him. ‘What greater misfortune can I have than to lose my head?’ said he to himself. He took out the coffer and opened it; from it there fell out an apple, which rolled towards the couch. ‘What help can this be to me?’ said the king.

 

But the apple began to speak, and told the following tale to the boy:–‘A certain man was travelling with his wife and brother, when night fell, and they had no food. The woman’s brother-in-law went into a neighbouring village to buy bread; on the way he met brigands, who robbed him and cut off his head. When his brother did not return, the man went to look for him; he met the same fate. The next day the unhappy woman went to seek them, and there she saw her husband and brother-in-law lying in one place with their heads cut off; around was a pool of blood. The woman sat down, tore her hair, and began to weep bitterly. At that moment there jumped out a little mouse. It began to lick the blood, but the woman took a stone, threw it at the mouse, and killed it. Then the mouse’s mother came out and said: “Look at me, I can bring my child back to life, but what canst thou do for thy husband and his brother?” She pulled up an herb, applied it to the little mouse, and it was restored to life. Then they both disappeared in their hole. The woman rejoiced greatly when she saw this; she also plucked of the same herb, put the heads on the bodies, and applied it to them. Her husband and brother-in-law both came back to life, but alas! she had put the wrong heads on the bodies. Now, my sage youth! tell me, which was the woman’s husband?’ concluded the apple.

 

He opened his eyes, and said: ‘Certainly it was he who had the right head.’

 

The king was very glad.

 

‘A joiner, a tailor, and a priest were travelling together at one time,’ began the apple. ‘Night came on when they were in a wood; they lighted a huge fire, had their supper, and then said: “Do not let us be deprived of employment, each of us shall in turn watch, and do something in his trade.” The joiner’s turn came first. He cut down a tree, and out of it he fashioned a man. Then he lay down, and went to sleep, while the tailor mounted guard. When he saw the wooden man, he took off his clothes and put them on it. Last of all, the priest acted as sentinel. When he saw the man he said: “I will pray to God that He may give this man a soul.” He prayed, and his wish was granted.’

 

‘Now, my boy, canst thou tell me who made the man?’

 

‘He who gave him the soul.’

 

The king was pleased, and said to himself: ‘That is two.’ The apple again went on: ‘There were a diviner, a physician, and a swift runner. The diviner said: “There is a certain prince who is ill with such and such a disease.” The physician said: “I know a cure for it.” “I will run with it,” said the swift runner. The physician prepared the medicine, and the man ran with it. Now tell me who cured the king’s son?’ said the apple.

 

‘He who made the medicine,’ replied the boy. When he had given the three answers, the apple rolled back into the casket, and the king put it in his pocket. The boy arose, embraced the king, and kissed him: ‘Many men have been here, but I have not been able to speak before: now tell me what thou wishest, and I will do it.’ The king asked that his viziers might be restored to life, and they all went away with rich presents.

 

————————-

From Georgian Folk Tales (1894) compiled and translated by Marjory Wardrop

ISBN: 978-1-907256-12-7

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

 

Click on the URL for more info, a table of contents and to order in USD or GBP.

 

Georgian Folk Tales 1894

 

 

THE VAMPIRE AND ST MICHAEL Part II – from COSSACK FAIRY TALES AND FOLK TALES

 

When night came, he took up his laths and boards and a basket of pears, and went to the church. He entrenched himself behind his boards, stood there and began to read. At dead of night there was a rustling and a rattling. O Lord! what was that? There was a shaking of the bier––bang! bang!––and the Tsarivna arose from her coffin and came straight toward him. She leaped upon the boards and made a grab at him and fell back. Then she leaped at him again, and again she fell back. Then he took his basket and scattered the pears. All through the church they rolled, she after them, and she tried to pick them up till cockcrow, and at the very first “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” she got into her bier again and lay still.

 

When God’s bright day dawned, the people came to clean out the church and sweep away his bones; but there he was reading his prayers, and the rumour of it went through the town and they were all filled with joy.

 

Next night it was the turn of the second uncle, and he began to beg and pray, “Go thou, simpleton, in my stead! Look now, thou hast already passed a night there, thou mayst very well pass another, and I’ll give thee all my ship.”––But he said, “I won’t go, I am afraid.”––But then St Michael said to him again, “Fear not, but go! Fence thee all about with thy boards, and take with thee a basket of nuts. When she rushes at thee, scatter thy nuts, and the nuts will go rolling all about the church, and it will take her till cockcrow to gather them all up. But do thou go on reading thy prayers, nor look thou up, whatever may happen.”

 

And he did so. He took his boards and the basket of nuts, and went to the church at nightfall and read. A little after midnight there was a rustling and an uproar, and the whole church shook. Then came a fumbling round about the coffin––bang! bang!––up she started, and made straight for him. She leaped and plunged, she very nearly got through the boards. She hissed, like seething pitch, and her eyes glared at him like coals of fire, but it was of no use. He read on and on, and didn’t once look at her. Besides, he scattered his nuts, and she went after them and tried to pick them all up till cockcrow. And at the first “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” she leaped into her coffin again and pulled down the lid. In the morning the people came to sweep away his bones, and lo! they found him alive.

 

The next night he had to go again in the third uncle’s stead. Then he sat down and cried and wailed, “Alas, alas! what shall I do? ’Twere better I had never been born!”––But St Michael said to him, “Weep not, ’twill all end happily. Fence thyself about with thy boards, sprinkle thyself all about with holy water, incense thyself with holy incense, and take me with thee. She shall not have thee. And the moment she leaves her coffin, do thou jump quickly into it. And whatever she may say to thee, and however she may implore thee, let her not get into it again until she says to thee, ‘My consort!’”

 

So he went. There he stood in the middle of the church, fenced himself about with his boards, strewed consecrated poppy-seed around him, incensed himself with holy incense, and read and read. About the middle of the night a tempest arose outside, and there was a rustling and a roaring, a hissing and a wailing. The church shook, the altar candelabra were thrown down, the holy images fell on their faces. O Lord, how awful! Then came a bang! bang! from the coffin, and again the Tsarivna started up. She left her coffin and fluttered about the church. She rushed at the boards and made a snatch at him, and fell back; she rushed at him again, and again she fell back. She foamed at the mouth, and her fury every instant grew worse and worse. She dashed herself about, and darted madly from one corner of the church to the other, seeking him everywhere. But he skipped into the coffin, with the image of St Michael by his side. She ran all over the church seeking him. “He was here––and now he is not here!” cried she. Then she ran farther on, felt all about her, and cried again, “He was here––and now he’s not here!” At last she sprang up to the coffin, and there he was. Then she began to beg and pray him, “Come down, come down! I’ll try and catch thee no more, only come down, come down!” But he only prayed to God, and answered her never a word. Then the cock crew once, “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”––“Alas! come down, come down, my consort!” cried she. Then he came down, and they both fell on their knees and began praying to God, and wept sore and gave thanks to God because He had had mercy on them both.

They Were on Both Knees - from Cossack Folk Tales and Fairy Tales

And at dawn of day crowds of people, with the Tsar at the head of them, came to the church. “Shall we find him reading prayers, or shall we only find his bones?” said they. And lo! there they both were on their knees praying fervently to God. Then the Tsar rejoiced greatly, and embraced both him and her. After that they had a grand service in the church, and sprinkled her with holy water, and baptized her again, and the unclean spirit departed from her. Then the Tsar gave the young man half his power and half his kingdom, but the merchants departed in their ships, with their nephew on board.

 

They lived together, and time went on and the young man still remained a bachelor, and was so handsome that words cannot describe it. But the Tsar lived alone with his daughter. She, however, grew sadder and sadder, and was no longer like her former self, so sorrowful was she. And the Tsar asked her, saying, “Wherefore art thou so sorrowful?”––“I am not sorrowful, father,” said she. But the Tsar watched her, and saw that she was sorrowful, and there was no help for it. Then he asked her again, “Art thou ill?”––“Nay, dear dad,” said she. “I myself know not what is the matter with me.”

 

And so it went on, till the Tsar dreamt a dream, and in this dream it was said to him, “Thy daughter grieves because she loves so much the youth who drove the unclean spirit out of her.” Then the Tsar asked her, “Dost thou love this youth?”––And she answered, “I do, dear father.”––“Then why didst thou not tell me before, my daughter?” said he. Then he sent for his heyducks and commanded them, saying, “Go this instant to such and such a kingdom, and there ye will find the youth who cured my daughter; bring him to me.” Then they went on and on until they found him, and he took just the same laths and boards that he had had before, and went with them. The Tsar met him, and bought all his boards, and when they split them in pieces, lo! they were full of precious stones. Then the Tsar took him to his own house and gave him his daughter. And they lived right merrily together.

 

————————-

From COSSACK FAIRY TALES AND FOLK TALES

Format: Currently only in PDF ebook format

ISBN: 978-1-907256-30-1

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

 

Cossack Folk Tales and Fairy Tales

 

 

Once upon a time in a certain village there lived two neighbours; one was rich, very rich, and the other so poor that he had nothing in the world but a little hut, and that was tumbling about his ears. At length things came to such a pass with the poor man that he had nothing to eat, and could get work nowhere. Full of grief, he bethought him what he should do. He thought and thought, and at last he said, “Look ye, wife! I’ll go to my rich neighbour. Perchance he will lend me a silver rouble; that, at any rate, will be enough to buy bread with.” So he went.

 

He came to the rich man. “Good health to my lord!” cried he.––“Good health!”––“I have come on an errand to thee, dear little master!”––“What may thine errand be?” inquired the rich man.––“Alas! would to God that I had no need to say it. It has come to such a pass with us that there’s not a crust of bread nor a farthing of money in the house. So I have come to thee, dear little master; lend us but a silver rouble and we will be ever thankful to thee, and I’ll work myself old to pay it back.”––“But who will stand surety for thee?” asked the rich man.––“I know not if any man will, I am so poor. Yet, perchance, God and St Michael will be my sureties,” and he pointed at the ikon in the corner. Then the ikon of St Michael spoke to the rich man from the niche and said, “Come now! lend it him, and put it down to my account. God will repay thee!”––“Well,” said the rich man, “I’ll lend it to thee.” So he lent it, and the poor man thanked him and returned to his home full of joy.

 

But the rich man was not content that God should give him back his loan by blessing him in his flocks and herds, and in his children, and in his health, and in the blessed fruits of the earth. He waited and waited for the poor man to come and pay him back his rouble, and at last he went to seek him. “Thou son of a dog,” he shouted, before the house, “why hast thou not brought me back my money? Thou knowest how to borrow, but thou forgettest to repay!” Then the wife of the poor man burst into tears. “He would repay thee indeed if he were in this world,” said she, “but lo now! he died but a little while ago!” The rich man snarled at her and departed, but when he got home he said to the ikon, “A pretty surety thou art!” Then he took St Michael down from the niche, dug out his eyes, and began beating him.

 

He beat St Michael again and again, and at last he flung him into a puddle and trampled on him. “I’ll give it thee for standing me surety so scurvily,” said he. While he was thus abusing St Michael, a young fellow about twenty years old came along that way, and said to him, “What art thou doing, my father?”––“I am beating him because he stood surety and has played me false. He took upon himself the repayment of a silver rouble, which I lent to the son of a pig, who has since gone away and died. That is why I am beating him now.”––“Beat him not, my father! I’ll give thee a silver rouble, but do thou give me this holy image!”––“Take him if thou wilt, but see that thou bring me the silver rouble first.”

 

Then the young man ran home and said to his father, “Dad, give me a silver rouble!”––“Wherefore, my son?”––“I would buy a holy image,” said he, and he told his father how he had seen that heathen beating St Michael.––“Nay, my son, whence shall we who are poor find a silver rouble to give to him who is so rich?”––“Nay, but give it me, dad!” and he begged and prayed till he got it. Then he ran back as quickly as he could, paid the silver rouble to the rich man, and got the holy image. He washed it clean and placed it in the midst of sweet-smelling flowers. And so they lived on as before.

 

Now this youth had three uncles, rich merchants, who sold all manner of merchandise, and went in ships to foreign lands, where they sold their goods and made their gains. One day, when his uncles were again making ready to depart into foreign lands, he said to them, “Take me with you!”––“Why shouldst thou go?” said they; “we have wares to sell, but what hast thou?”––“Yet take me,” said he.––“But thou hast nothing.”––“I will make me laths and boards and take them with me,” said he.––His uncles laughed at him for imagining such wares as these, but he begged and prayed them till they were wearied. “Well, come,” they said, “though there is naught for thee to do; only take not much of these wares of thine with thee, for our ships are already full.”––Then he made him laths and boards, put them on board the ship, took St Michael with him, and they departed.

 

They went on and on. They sailed a short distance and they sailed a long distance, till at last they came to another tsardom and another empire. And the Tsar of this tsardom had an only daughter, so lovely that the like of her is neither to be imagined nor divined in God’s fair world, neither may it be told in tales. Now this Tsarivna one day went down to the river to bathe, and plunged into the water without first crossing herself, whereupon the Evil Spirit took possession of her. The Tsarivna got out of the water, and straightway fell ill of so terrible a disease that it may not be told of. Do what they would––and the wise men and the wise women did their utmost––it was of no avail. In a few days she grew worse and died. Then the Tsar, her father, made a proclamation that people should come and read the prayers for the dead over her dead body, and so exorcise the evil spirit, and whosoever delivered her was to have half his power and half his tsardom.

 

And the people came in crowds––but none of them could read the prayers for the dead over her, it was impossible. Every evening a man went into the church, and every morning they swept out his bones, for there was naught else of him remaining. And the Tsar was very wrath. “All my people will be devoured,” cried he. And he commanded that all the foreign merchants passing through his realm should be made to read prayers for the dead over his daughter’s body. “And if they will not read,” said he, “they shall not depart from my kingdom.”

The Tsarivna Arose from her coffin

The Tsarivna arose from her coffin

So the foreign merchants went one by one. In the evening a merchant was shut up in the church, and in the early morning they came and found and swept away his bones. At last it came to the turn of the young man’s uncles to read the prayers for the dead in the church. They wept and lamented and cried, “We are lost! we are lost! Heaven help us!” Then the eldest uncle said to the lad, “Listen, good simpleton! It has now come to my turn to read prayers over the Tsarivna. Do thou go in my stead and pass the night in the church, and I’ll give thee all my ship.”––“Nay, but,” said the simpleton, “what if she tear me to pieces too? I won’t go!”––But then St Michael said to him, “Go and fear not! Stand in the very middle of the church, fenced round about with thy laths and boards, and take with thee a basket full of pears. When she rushes at thee, take and scatter the pears, and it will take her till cockcrow to pick them all up. But do thou go on reading thy prayers all the time, and look not up, whatever she may do.”

 

————————-

From COSSACK FAIRY TALES AND FOLK TALES

Format: Currently only in PDF ebook format

ISBN: 978-1-907256-30-1

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

 

Cossack Folk Tales and Fairy Tales

 

 

Advertisements