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ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 32

In Issue 32 of the Baba Indaba Children’s Stories, Baba Indaba narrates the American Indian Hopi legend of the Kachina and Coyote. Just before dawn one day, the Kachina bets the Coyote he can’t sing a certain song before the sun rises. Payment for the loser is extreme. So who won the bet? Well you’ll just have to read the story to find out. Look out for the moral in the story.

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

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

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

A Bet Between the Coyote and the Kachina - Cover

A Bet Between the Coyote and the Kachina – Cover

FOLLOW THIS LINK: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Anon_E_Mouse_A_BET_BETWEEN_THE_COYOTE_AND_THE_KACH?id=DqX7CwAAQBAJ

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ONCE upon a time, a wise raven lived in the top of the Giralda, the Moorish bell tower of the cathedral in Seville, Spain. The raven was old, so old that his head was not black, but gray. The tower, too, is old, and is crowned by the large, bronze figure of Faith which serves as a weather vane. For four centuries, el Girandello, the weather vane, has turned with the wind; and it was four centuries ago, that the raven was living in the tower. All day, he would sit on his perch, with his learned head cocked on one side as he sleepily studied the stonework of the belfry, or alertly discussed weighty matters with his bird comrades and with the wind. At night, he was often deep in talk with his special friend, the owl, who, when tired of roaming through the tops of the giant palm trees or of prowling into out-of-the-way nooks in the cathedral roof, liked to tell of his adventures. For, in night wanderings, the owl sometimes flew near the quiet Guadalquiver which flowed by Seville, and he heard the river murmur tales of the Tower of Gold on its bank; or he peered into the gardens of the Alcazar where Spanish kings had long had their palace, and heard, from the moonbeams, tales which, when repeated, made even the raven’s sober thoughts turn sprightly. What the raven liked best to hear was what the owl, or any one else, could tell of the Giralda itself or of the mighty Cathedral below the tower. For the raven cared for nothing in the world so much as he cared for this tall tower, up whose winding passage, of three hundred feet, men had ridden on horseback, almost to the very top. Yes, with his own eyes he had seen those riders. Before the days of the riders, in the time when the bells of the Giralda summoned the Moors to prayer, there had been, on the spire, four large, gilded, copper balls that shone like golden apples. After an earthquake had thrown down the copper balls, el Girandello was placed on the top of the dome. The raven considered himself the owner of el Girandello and, in truth, of all the Giralda. Who, but himself, had perched on the sills of the twin windows that looked out, high in the tower, over the white-roofed Seville? Who, but himself, had stood upon the helmet on the head of el Girandello? Not the owl!–the raven saw to that! And not another bird of his acquaintance, surely! He knew himself to be the oldest raven in the world; he knew himself to be the wisest raven in the world;–and he certainly owned the whole of the Giralda!

The raven, in short, was entirely satisfied with his belfry and its bells. It was a rectangular belfry, and on the four faces of the rectangular stage, high up, were inscribed the four words: Turris . . . Fortissima . . . Nomen . . . Domini1 The great bells, each christened with holy oil, had their own names. There were Santa Maria and San Juan; there was la Gorda, or The Fat; there was brave San Miguel; there was el Cantor, or The Singer; and there was many another. At times, the bells rang softly through the still air that hovered over the flat-roofed city. At other times, they rang out with such noisy clamor that the vibration penetrated the houses farthest away, and the raven of the Giralda clung to his stone perch as closely as the leaves of the cocoa tree cling to their twigs. The raven liked el Cantor better than all the other bells. He couldn’t sing a note himself, but he liked this singing bell, with its especially clear tone. On spring evenings when the fragrance of orange blossoms and acacias filled the air, The Singer would peal forth such a glad note that the people down in the street would say, “El Cantor is feeling fine tonight”; and the raven, up in the tower, would croak loudly with him, though he never croaked with any other bell.

Now it happened that the wind, even more than the owl, was a friend of the raven. This was not only because the wind was usually a gentle, lovable, sunny-hearted fellow, but because he was always around the tower, day and night, whereas the owl hid all day.

RAVEN OF THE GIRALDA - Raven Ringing the Bell

When the raven felt like talking, the wind was always on hand to listen. That was a friend worth having! The wind, too, often told capital stories.

One afternoon, the wind told the raven an astonishing tale. The wind had it from the owl who, in turn, had it from the passarinno–that small, gray bird who sings like an angel. To this passarinno, the story had come down from his ancestor, of a much earlier time. That ancestor had told it to the wind of his day, who wafted it to the ears of King Alfonso, the Sage. Perhaps, in the later days, it had grown by traveling (passarinno to owl, owl to wind, wind to raven); for, when Alfonso, in the thirteenth century, wrote the tale in his big book of Cantigas, it wasn’t just like the passarinno’s story to the owl three centuries later. Would you like to hear the tale? Anyone may hear it. To believe the tale as it should be believed, and to understand it aright, you must be able to know the power of melodious sounds, as truly as the blind organist of Seville Cathedral knew that power. If you do not know anything about the music of the trees, or the music of the birds, or the music of the air, you may as well stop reading this story and gather nuts instead. Listen to the tale, if you will; here it is, as the wind told it to the raven.

“For, sir,” began the wind,” it was a passarinno who told the owl and the owl told me. The owl had been praising the voice of the passarinno, but the passarinno protested and said,

‘My voice is nothing compared to the voice of my ancestress–the passarinna 2 who entranced the monk.’ Now, pray, explain your words,’ said the owl. The passarinno answered, pleasantly, ‘Sit comfortably and I will tell you all.’ They were in the garden of the Alcazar and were perched on a tall cocoa tree. The owl settled himself on a wide, sweeping leaf, and the passarinno perched himself on a leaf above.

‘My ancestress,’ the passarinno went on, ‘was the most marvelous singer ever known. Her home was in the garden, just outside the Court of Oranges beside the Giralda, and when she was singing she would look up at the tower. But she rarely was heard by anyone, because she chose to live in the unfrequented part of the great garden. One morning a monk came, very slowly, along the path that led to the shrubbery where the passarinna lived, and my ancestress knew at once three things about that monk: first, that he was good; second, that he was old; third, that he was weary. The monk sat down, rather heavily, beside the fountain that was sending a cool, orange-scented, shimmering spray of water into the air. Leaning over the edge of the pool, he bathed his hands in the clear water and bathed his face. The passarinna could plainly see how refreshing, to the tired monk, the water felt; for there came into his face a look like the look on a parched tree when a shower renews it. The weary lines on the monk’s brow passed away, as cloud-bars vanish from the evening sky, leaving fairness and tranquillity. He sat, for some time, with a smile on his face, looking up at the tree tops and at the Giralda beyond. Then, kneeling down–and his knees were not as stiff as when he entered the garden–he prayed aloud that he might be permitted to know what the happiness of Paradise would be like. It was at that moment the passarinna–marvelous ancestress of mine–began to sing.

RAVEN OF THE GIRALDA - The Monk rose from his knees

‘The monk rose from his knees, and, with a smile on his face, seated himself in the thickest part of the shrubbery, where he could see the passarinna and where the passarinna could see him. That bird of birds sang on and on, now softly, now triumphantly, now wistfully, now ecstatically. There was such charm in her singing, all the leaves forgot to rustle. There was such charm in the melody, the water in the fountain ceased moving–the breezy air was hushed and wondering–the day faded imperceptibly into night, and the stars came nearer earth to hear the song. Still the passarinna sang on and on and on. Still the monk listened happily, with an exalted look in his eyes, and was unaware of the passing of hours or of days. As the passarinna continued her heavenly song, time itself stopped, though life went on. . . . The monk listened, listened in rapture, while joyous satisfaction held his whole being . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

RAVEN OF THE GIRALDA - There came to the door of the monastery

‘Late one afternoon,’ went on the passarinno, ‘there came to the door of the monastery near the Giralda, an aged, worn-looking man, long-bearded, and in shabby monk’s dress. The prior himself answered his knock and said, “Who are you, poor stranger, and what do you want?”

‘The monk stammered in much confusion, “Good father, I belong here . . . I left the monastery this morning for a walk. . . . I come back–all is changed. I do not understand. The trees look different . . . the monastery is larger . . . you are not my prior . . . nothing is the same. Where am I? . . . What has happened since morning? . .

I heard a bird sing, and I was so entranced with the song I may have stayed away too long.”

‘The prior and the brother monks who had now come to the door looked at one another in surprise, and said, in low tones, “He is evidently not himself. . . . The man does not know what he says.”

‘The prior then spoke to the man, kindly, saying, “What is your name?”

“I am Brother Jubilo,” the monk replied; “I mean, . . . he stammered, “that was my name in the monastery . . . that was what I was called this morning.”

‘The oldest monk among those at the door now looked thoughtful. It was to him that the others always turned whenever any knowledge of the past was wanted. “Attend my words,” he suddenly said to the prior. “Three hundred years ago a brother monk, named Jubilo, wandered off and was never again seen. My Father–my brother monks—I am of the opinion that we have before us, this day, a true marvel! I am sure this poor monk and that Jubilo, of three hundred years ago, are the same!”

‘Then the prior, believing, took the monk warmly by the hand and brought him into the monastery, and all rejoiced.’

‘That, ‘said the passarinno to the owl, ‘is the story of my ancestress, the passarinna of long ago. The Giralda knows I speak truth.’

And the wind, as he finished the tale, remarked, “That’s all the story, sir; but the passarinno does speak truth.”

“Truth it is,” replied the raven, “and I’ll keep the story going.”

Then the sunny wind brushed the tail feathers of the raven and blew along his leisurely way, through the streets of Seville.

The raven sat stolidly in his niche, gazing with keen eyes at the city spread out below the Giralda–its flat-roofed houses gleaming in soft colours, from blue and gray to palest pink. He watched the women watering their carnations on the roofs. He saw the motionless, dusky Guadalquiver, in the late afternoon light. His eyes followed the group of boys coming to the Cathedral to practice their solemn dance. Turning his wise, old head, he looked toward the gardens of the Alcazar, then down at the Court of Oranges, and at the roof of the vast Cathedral below him–its parapets, and buttresses. His roving gaze went all over the city until sundown. The bells of the Giralda sent out their evening peal, and el Cantor’s vibrating tone fell softly on the waiting breeze. The raven sturdily croaked, croaked, until el Cantor stopped singing; then, humping himself into a ball, he tucked his head under his feathers and went to sleep.

RAVEN OF THE GIRALDA - The Raven Sings

From: TOWER LEGENDS

ISBN: 9781907256349

URL: http://abelapublishing.com/tower-legends_p27279490.htm

Also available as an eBook in PDF and ePub

Footnotes

1 The name of the Lord a most steadfast tower.

2 Passarinna (the feminine form of passarinno) is the diminutive of the Old Spanish pasara (in modern Spanish, pajara). The nearest equivalent today is Passerina (sparrow), the painted finch.

Raven of the Giralda - Sevilla_La_Giralda

THERE was once a king, who was very old; but he had three grown-up sons. So he called them to him, and said:

“My dear sons, I am very old, and the cares of government press heavily upon me. I must therefore give them over to one of you. But as it is the law among us, that no unmarried prince may be King, I wish you all to get married, and whoever chooses the best wife shall be my successor.”

So they determined each to go a different way, and settled it thus. They went to the top of a very high tower, and each one at a given signal shot an arrow in a different direction to the others. Wherever their arrows fell they were to go in search of their future wives.

The eldest prince’s arrow fell on a palace in the city, where lived a senator, who had a beautiful daughter; so he went there, and married her.

The second prince’s arrow struck upon a country-house, where a very pretty young lady, the daughter of a rich gentleman, was sitting; so he went there, and proposed to her, and they were married.

But the youngest prince’s arrow shot through a green wood, and fell into a lake. He saw his arrow floating among the reeds, and a frog sitting thereon, looking fixedly at him.

But the marshy ground was so unsafe that he could not venture upon it; so he sat down in despair.

“What is the matter, prince?” asked the frog.

“What is the matter? Why, I cannot reach that arrow on which you are sitting.”

“Take me for your wife, and I will give it to you.”

“But how can you be my wife, little frog?”

“That is just what has got to be. You know that you shot your arrow from the tower, thinking that where it fell, you would find a loving wife; so you will have her in me.”

“You are very wise, I see, little frog. But tell me, how can I marry you, or introduce you to my father? And what will the world say?”

“Take me home with you, and let nobody see me. Tell them that you have married an Eastern lady, who must not be seen by any man, except her husband, nor even by another woman.”

The prince considered a little. The arrow had now floated to the margin of the lake; he took the arrow from the little frog, put her in his pocket, carried her home, and then went to bed, sighing very deeply.

Next morning the king was told that all his sons had got married; so he called them all together, and said:

“Well children, are you all pleased with your wives?”

“Very pleased indeed, father and king.”

“Well, we shall see who has chosen best. Let each of my daughters-in-law weave me a carpet by to-morrow, and the one whose carpet is the most beautiful shall be queen.”

The elder princes hastened at once to their ladies; but the youngest, when he reached home, was in despair.

“What is the matter, prince?” asked the frog.

“What is the matter? My father has ordered that each of his daughters-in-law shall weave him a carpet, and the one whose carpet proves the most beautiful shall be first in rank. My brothers’ wives are most likely working at their looms already. But you, little frog, although you can give back an arrow, and talk like a human being, will not be able to weave a carpet, as far as I can see.”

“Don’t be afraid,” she said; “go to sleep, and before you wake the carpet shall be ready.”

So he lay down, and went to sleep.

But the little frog stood on her hind-legs in the window and sang:

“Ye breezes that blow, ye winds that sigh,

Come hither on airy wing;

And all of you straight to my dwelling hie,

And various treasures bring.

Two fleeces I crave of the finest wool,

And of the loveliest flowers a basketful;

From the depths of the ocean bring sands of gold,

And pearl-drops of lustre manifold;

That so I may fashion a carpet bright,

Adorned with fair flow’rets and gems of light,

And weave it in one short day and night,

When my true love’s hands must the treasure hold.”

 

There was a gentle murmur of the breezes, and from the sunbeams descended seven lovely maidens, who floated into the room, carrying baskets of various coloured wools, pearls, and flowers. They curtsied deeply to the little frog, and in a few minutes they wove a wonderfully beautiful carpet; then they curtsied again, and flew away.

Meanwhile the wives of the other princes bought the most beautifully coloured wools, and the best designs they could find, and worked hard at their looms all the next day.

Then all the princes came before the king, and spread out their carpets before him.

The king looked at the first and the second; but when he came to the third, he exclaimed:

“That’s the carpet for me! I give the first place to my youngest son’s wife; but there must be another trial yet.”

And he ordered that each of his daughters-in-law should make him a cake next day; and the husband of the one whose cake proved the best should be his successor.

The youngest prince came back to his frog wife; he looked very thoughtful, and sighed deeply.

 Polish Fairy Tales -  THE FAIRY GIRLS MAKE THE CARPET

THE FAIRY GIRLS MAKE THE CARPET

 

 

 

 

 

“What is the matter, prince?” she asked.

 

“My father demands another proof of skill; and I am not so sure that we shall succeed so well as before; for how can you bake a cake?”

 

“Do not be afraid,” she said: “Lie down, and sleep; and when you wake you will be in a happier frame of mind.”

 

The prince went to sleep; and the frog sprang up to the window, and sang:

 

“Ye breezes that blow, ye winds that sigh,

Come hither on airy wing;

And all of you straight to my dwelling hie,

These various gifts to bring.

From the sunbeams bright

Bring me heat and light;

And soft waters distil

From the pure flowing rill.

From the flowers of the field

The sweet odours they yield.

From the wheatfields obtain

Five full measures of grain,

That so I may bake In the night-time a cake,

For my true love’s sake.”

The winds began to rise, and the seven beautiful maidens floated down into the room, carrying baskets, with flour, water, sweetmeats, and all sorts of dainties. They curtsied to the little frog, and got the cake ready in a few minutes; curtsied again, and flew away.

The next day the three princes brought their cakes to the king. They were all very good; but when he tasted the one made by his youngest son’s wife, he exclaimed:

“That is the cake for me! light, floury, white, and delicious! I see, my son, you have made the best choice; but we must wait a little longer.”

The two elder sons went away much depressed; but the youngest greatly elated. When he reached home he took up his little frog, stroked and kissed her, and said:

“Tell me, my love, how it was that you, being only a little frog, could weave such a beautiful carpet, or make such a delicious cake?”

“Because, my prince, I am not what I seem. I am a princess, and my mother is the renowned Queen of Light, and a great enchantress. But she has many enemies, who, as they could not injure her, were always seeking to destroy me. To conceal me from them she was obliged to turn me into a frog; and for seven years I have been forced to stay in the marsh where you found me. But under this frog-skin I am really more beautiful than you can imagine; yet until my mother has conquered all her enemies I must wear this disguise; after that takes place you shall see me as I really am.”

While they were talking two courtiers entered, with the king’s orders to the young prince, to come to a banquet at the king’s palace, and bring his wife with him, as his brothers were doing by theirs.

He knew not what to do; but the little frog said:

“Do not be afraid, my prince. Go to your father alone; and when he asks for me, it will begin to rain. You must then say that your wife will follow you; but she is now bathing in May-dew. When it lightens say that I am dressing; and when it thunders, that I am coming.”

The prince, trusting to her word, set out for the palace; and the frog jumped up to the window, and standing on her hind-legs, began to sing:

 

“Ye breezes that blow,

ye winds that sigh,

Come hither on airy wing;

And all of you straight to my dwelling hie,

These several gifts to bring.

My beauty of yore;

And my bright youth once more;

All my dresses so fair;

And my jewels so rare;

And let me delight

My dear love by the sight.”

 

Then the seven beautiful damsels, who were the handmaidens of the princess—when she lived with her mother—floated on the sunbeams into the room. They curtsied, walked three times round her, and pronounced some magical words.

Then the frog-skin fell off her, and she stood among them a miracle of beauty, and the lovely princess she was.

Meanwhile the prince, her husband, had arrived at the royal banquet-hall, which was already full of guests. The old king welcomed him warmly, and asked him:

“Where is your wife, my son?”

Then a light rain began to fall, and the prince said:

“She will not be long; she is now bathing herself in May-dew.”

Then came a flash of lightning, which illuminated all the palace, and he said:

“She is now adorning herself.”

But when it thundered, he ran to the door exclaiming:

“Here she is!”

And the lovely princess came in, seeming to bring the sunshine with her. They all stood amazed at her beauty. The king could not contain his delight; and she seemed to him all the more beautiful, because he thought her the very image of his long-deceased queen. The prince himself was no less astonished and overjoyed to find such loveliness in her, whom he had only as yet seen in the shape of a little frog.

“Tell me, my son,” said the king, “why you did not let me know what a fortunate choice you had made?”

The prince told him everything in a whisper; and the king said:

“Go home then, my son, at once, and pick up that frog-skin of hers; throw it in the fire, and come back here as fast as you can. Then she will have to remain just as she is now.”

The prince did as his father told him, went home, and threw the frog-skin into the fire, where it was at once consumed.

But things did not turn out as they expected; for the lovely princess, on coming home, sought for her frog-skin, and not finding it, began to cry bitterly. When the prince confessed the truth, she shrieked aloud, and taking out a green poppy-head, threw it at him. He went to sleep at once; but she sprang up to the window, sang her songs to the winds; upon which she was changed into a duck, and flew away.

The prince woke up in the morning, and grieved sadly, when he found his beautiful princess gone.

Then he got on horseback, and set out to find her, inquiring everywhere for the kingdom of the Queen of Light—his princess’s mother—to whom he supposed she must have fled.

He rode on for a very, very long time, till one day he came into a wide plain, all covered with poppies in full flower, the odour of which so overpowered him, that he could scarce keep upright in his saddle. Then he saw a queer little house, supported on four crooked legs. There was no door to the house; but knowing what he ought to do, he said:

“Little house, move On your crooked legs free; Turn your back to the wood, And your front door to me.”

The hut with the crooked legs made a creaking noise, and turned round, with its door towards the prince. He went straight in, and found an old fury, whose name was Jandza, inside  she was spinning from a distaff, and singing.

NOTE: Jandza pronounced Yen-jar.

“How are you, prince?” she said, “what brings you here?”

So the prince told her, and she said:

“You have done wisely to tell me the truth. I know your bride, the beautiful daughter of the Queen of Light; she flies to my house daily, in the shape of a duck, and this is where she sits. Hide yourself under the table, and watch your opportunity to lay hold of her. Hold her fast, whatever shapes she assumes; when she is tired she will turn into a spindle; you must then break the spindle in two, and you will find that which you are seeking.”

Presently the duck flew in, sat down beside the old fury, and began to preen her feathers with her beak. The prince seized her by the wing. The duck quacked, fluttered, and struggled to get loose. But seeing this was useless she changed herself into a pigeon, then into a hawk, and then into a serpent, which so frightened the prince, that he let her go; on which she became a duck again, quacked aloud, and flew out of the window.

The prince saw his mistake, and the old woman cried aloud: “What have you done, you careless fellow! you have frightened her away from me forever.

But as she is your bride, I must find some other way to help you. Take this ball of thread, throw it before you, and wherever it goes follow after it; you will then come to my sister’s house, and she will tell you what to do next.”

So the prince went on day and night, following the ball of thread, till he came to another queer little house, like the first, to which he said the same rhyme, and going in, found the second old fury, and told her his story.

“Hide under the bench,” she exclaimed; “your bride is just coming in.”

The duck flew in, as before, and the prince caught her by the wing; she quacked, and tried to get away.

Then she changed herself into a turkey, then into a dog, then into a cat, then into an eel, so that she slipped through his hands, and glided out of the window.

Polish Fairy Tales -  THE LITTLE HOUSE TURNS

 

 

THE LITTLE HOUSE TURNS

 

 

 

 

 

 

The prince was in despair; but the old woman gave him another ball of thread, and he again followed it, determining not to let the princess escape again so easily. So going on after the thread, as it kept unwinding, he came to a funny little house, like the two first, and said:

“Little house, move On your crooked legs free; Turn your back to the wood, And your front door to me.”

The little house turned round, so that he could go in, and he found a third old fury inside; much older than her sisters, and having white hair. He told her his story, and begged for help.

“Why did you go against the wishes of your clever and sensible wife?” said the old woman. “You see she knew better than you what her frog-skin was good for; but you must needs be in such a hurry to display her beauty, to gain the world’s applause, that you have lost her; and she was forced to fly away from you.”

The prince hid himself under the bench: the duck flew in and sat at the old woman’s feet; on which he caught her by the wings.

She struggled hard; but she felt his strength was too great for her to resist; so she turned herself into a spindle at once. He broke it across his knee…. And lo! and behold! instead of the two halves of the spindle he held the hands of his beautiful princess, who looked at him lovingly with her beautiful eyes, and smiled sweetly.

And she promised him that she would always remain as she was then, for since her mother’s enemies were all dead she had nothing to fear.

They embraced each other, and went out of the old fury’s hut. Then the princess spoke some magical spells; and in the twinkling of an eye there appeared a wonderful bridge, reaching from where they stood hundreds of miles, up to the very gallery of the palace, belonging to the prince’s father. It was all made of crystal, with golden hand-rails, and diamond bosses upon them.

The princess spoke some more magical words, and a golden coach appeared, drawn by eight horses, and a coachman, and two tall footmen, all in golden liveries.

 

Polish Fairy Tales - THE WAY HOME

 

 

THE WAY HOME

 

 

 

 

 

 

And there were four outriders on splendid horses, riding by the side of the coach, and an equerry, riding in front, and blowing a brazen trumpet. And a long procession of followers, in splendid dresses, came after them.

Then the prince and princess got into the golden coach, and drove away, thus accompanied, along the crystal bridge, till they reached home, when the old king came out to meet them, and embraced them both tenderly. He appointed the prince his successor; and such magnificent festivities were held on the occasion, as never were seen or heard of before.

 

 

Polish_Fairy_Tales_Cover_tight

Once Upon a Time there were two king’s daughters who lived in a bower near the bonny mill-dams of Binnorie.

And Sir William came wooing the elder and won her love,

and plighted troth with glove and with ring. But after a time he looked upon the younger sister, with her cherry cheeks and golden hair, and his love went out to her till he cared no longer for the elder one. So she hated her sister for taking away Sir William’s love, and day by day her hate grew and grew and she plotted add she planned how to get rid of her.

So one fine morning, fair and clear, she said to her sister, ‘Let us go and see our father’s boats come in at the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie.’ So they went there hand in hand. And when they came to the river’s bank, the younger one got upon a stone to watch for the beaching of the boats. And her sister, coming behind her, caught her round the waist and dashed her into the rushing mill-stream of Binnorie.

‘O sister, sister, reach me your hand !’ she cried, as she floated away, ‘and you shall have half of all I’ve got or shall get.’

‘No, sister, I’ll reach you no hand of mine, for I am the heir to all your land. Shame on me if I touch her hand that has come ‘twixt me and my own heart’s love.’

‘O sister, O sister, then reach me your glove !’ she cried, as she floated further away, ‘and you shall have your William again.’

‘Sink on,’ cried the cruel princess, ‘no hand or glove of mine you’ll touch. Sweet William will be all mine when you are sunk beneath the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie.’ And she turned and went home to the king’s castle.

And the princess floated down the mill-stream, sometimes swimming and sometimes sinking, till she came near the mill. Now, the miller’s daughter was cooking that day, and needed water for her cooking. And as she went to draw it from the stream, she saw something floating towards the mill-dam, and she called out, ‘Father ! father ! draw your dam. There’s something white — a merrymaid or a milk-white swan–coming down the stream.’ So the miller hastened to the dam and stopped the heavy, cruel mill-wheels. And then they took out the princess and laid her on the bank.

There Binnorie Lay

There Binnorie Lay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fair and beautiful she looked as she lay there. In her golden hair were pearls and precious stones; you could not see her waist for her golden girdle, and the golden fringe of her white dress came down over her lily feet. But she was drowned, drowned !

And as she lay there in her beauty a famous harper passed by the mill-dam of Binnorie, and saw her sweet pale face. And though he travelled on far away, he never forgot that face, and after many days he came back to the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie. But then all he could find of her where they had put her to rest were her bones and her golden hair. So he made a harp out of her breast-bone and her hair, and travelled on up the hill from the mill-dam of Binnorie till he came to the castle of the king her father.

The Harper finds Binnorie and carries her to her father's castle

The Harper finds Binnorie and carries her to her father’s castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That night they were all gathered in the castle hall to hear the great harper–king and queen, their daughter and son, Sir William, and all their Court. And first the harper sang to his old harp, making them joy and be glad, or sorrow and weep, just as he liked. But while he sang, he put the harp he had made that day on a stone in the hall. And presently it began to sing by itself, low and clear, and the harper stopped and all were hushed.

And this is what the harp sung:

‘O yonder sits my father, the king,
Binnorie, O Binnorie;
And yonder sits my mother, the queen;
By the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie.

‘And yonder stands my brother Hugh,
Binnorie, O Binnone;
And by him my William, false and true;
By the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie.’

Then they all wondered, and the harper told them how he had seen the princess lying drowned on the bank near the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie, and how he had afterwards made his harp out of her hair and breast-bone. Just then the harp began singing again, and this is what it sang out loud and clear:

‘And there sits my sister who drowned me
By the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie.’

And the harp snapped and broke, and never sang more.


Originally published in: English Fairy Tales

ISBN:  978-1-907256-04-2

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


There once lived a king and a queen as many a one has been. They were long married and had no children; but at last a baby boy came to the queen when the king was away in the far countries. The queen would not christen the boy till the king came back, and she said: ‘We will just call him Nix Nought Nothing until his father comes home.’ But it was long before he came home, and the boy had grown a fine, bonny laddie. At length the king was on his way back; but he had a big river to cross, and there was a whirlpool, and he could not get over the water. But a giant came up to him, and said: ‘I’ll carry you over.’ But the king said: ‘What’s your pay?’ ‘Oh, give me Nix, Nought, Nothing, and I will carry you over the water on my back.’ The king had never heard that his son was called Nix Nought Nothing, and so he said: ‘Oh, I’ll give you that and my thanks into the bargain.’ When the king got home again, he was very happy to see his wife again, and his young son. She told him that she had not given the child any name, but just Nix Nought Nothing, until he should come home again himself. The poor king was in a terrible case. He said: ‘What have I done? I promised to give the giant who carried me over the river on his back Nix Nought Nothing.’ The king and the queen were sad and sorry, but they said: ‘When the giant comes we will give him the hen-wife’s boy; he will never know the difference.’ The next day the giant came to claim the king’s promise, and he sent for the hen-wife’s boy; and the giant went away with the boy on his back. He travelled till he came to a big stone, and there he sat down to rest. He said: ‘Hidge, Hodge, on my back, what time of day is that?’

 

The poor little lad said: ‘It is the time that my mother, the hen-wife, takes up the eggs for the queen’s breakfast.’

 

Then the giant was very angry, and dashed the boy on the stone and killed him.

 

Back he went in a tower of a temper and this time they gave him the gardener’s boy. He went off with him on his back till they got to the stone again when the giant sat down to rest. And he said: ‘Hidge, Hodge, on my back, what time of day do you make that?’

 

The gardener’s boy said: ‘Surely, it’s the time that my mother takes up the vegetables for the queen’s dinner.’

 

Then the giant was as wild as could be, and killed him, too.

 

Then the giant went back to the king’s house in a terrible temper and said he would destroy them all if they did not give him Nix Nought Nothing this time. They had to do it; and when he came to the big stone, the giant said: ‘What time of day is that?’ Nix Nought Nothing said: ‘It is the time that my father the king will be sitting down to supper.’ The giant said: ‘I’ve got the right one now’; and took Nix Nought Nothing to his own house and brought him up till he was a man.

 

The giant had a bonny daughter, and she and the lad grew very fond of each other. The giant said one day to Nix Nought Nothing: ‘I’ve work for you tomorrow. There is a stable seven miles long and seven miles broad, and it has not been cleaned for seven years, and you must clean it tomorrow, or I will have you for my supper.’

 

The giant’s daughter went out next morning with the lad’s breakfast, and found him in a terrible state, for always as he cleaned out a bit, it just fell in again. The giant’s daughter said she would help him, and she cried all the beasts in the field, and all the fowls in the air, and in a minute they all came, and carried away everything that was in the stable and made it all clean before the giant came home. He said: ‘Shame on the wit that helped you; but I have a worse job for you tomorrow.’ Then he said to Nix Nought Nothing: ‘There is a lake seven miles long, and seven miles deep, and seven miles broad, and you must drain it tomorrow by nightfall, or else I’ll have you for my supper.’ Nix Nought Nothing began early next morning and tried to lave the water with his pail, but the lake was never getting any less, and he didn’t know what to do; but the giant’s daughter called on all the fish in the sea to come and drink the water, and very soon they drank it dry. When the giant saw the work done he was in a rage, and said: ‘I’ve a worse job for you tomorrow; there is a tree, seven miles high, and no branch on it, till you get to the top, and there is a nest with seven eggs in it, and you must bring down all the eggs without breaking one, or else I’ll have you for my supper.’ At first the giant’s daughter did not know how to help Nix Nought Nothing; but she cut off first her fingers and then her toes, and made steps of them, and he climb the tree and got all the eggs safe till he came just to the bottom, and then one was broken. So they determined to run away together, and after the giant’s daughter had gone back to her room and got her magic flask, they set out together as fast as they could run. And they hadn’t got but three fields away when they looked back and saw the giant walking along at full speed after them. ‘Quick! quick!’ called out the giant’s daughter, ‘take my comb from my hair and throw it down.’ Nix Nought Nothing took her comb from her hair and threw it down, and out of every one of its prongs there sprung up a fine thick briar in the way of the giant. You may be sure it took him a long time to work his way through the briar bush, and by the time he was well through, Nix Nought Nothing and his sweetheart had run far, far away from him. But he soon came along after them, and was just like to catch ’em up when the giant’s daughter called out to Nix Nought Nothing, ‘Take my hair dagger and throw it down, quick, quick!’ So Nix Nought Nothing threw down the hair dagger and out of it grew as quick as lightning a thick hedge of sharp razors placed cuss-cross. The giant had to tread very cautiously to get through all this and meanwhile they both ran hard, and on, and on, and on, till they were nearly out of sight. But at last the giant was through, and it wasn’t ‘long before he was like to catch them up. But just as he was stretching out his hand to catch Nix Nought Nothing his daughter took out her magic flask and dashed it on the ground. And as it broke, out of it welled a big, big wave that grew, and that grew, till it reached the giant’s waist and then his neck, and when it got to his head, he was drowned dead, and dead, and dead indeed.

 

But Nix Nought Nothing fled on till where do you think they came to? Why, to near the castle of Nix Nought Nothing’s father and mother. But the giant’s daughter was so weary that she couldn’t move a step further. So Nix Nought Nothing told her to wait there while he went and found out a lodging for the night. And he went on towards the lights of the castle, and on the way he came to the cottage of the hen-wife whose boy, you’ll remember, had been killed by the giant. Now she knew Nix Nought Nothing in a moment, and hated him because he was the cause of her son’s death. So when he asked his way to the castle, she put a spell upon him, and when he got to the castle, no sooner was he let in than he fell down dead asleep upon a bench in the hail. The king and queen tried all they could do to wake him up, but all in vain, So the king promised that if any maiden could wake him she could marry him.

 

Meanwhile the giant’s daughter was waiting and waiting for him to come back. And she went up into a tree to watch for him. The gardener’s daughter, going to draw water in the well, saw the shadow of the lady in the water and thought it was herself, and said: ‘If I’m so bonny, if I’m so brave, why do you send me to draw water?’ So she threw down her pail and went to see if she could wed the sleeping stranger. And she went to the hen-wife, who taught her an unspelling charm which would keep Nix Nought Nothing awake as long as the gardener’s daughter liked. So she went up to the castle and sang her charm and Nix Nought Nothing was wakened for a while and they promised to wed him to the gardener’s daughter. Meanwhile the gardener went down to draw water from the well and saw the shadow of the lady in the water. So he looked up and found her, and he brought the lady from the tree, and led her into his house. And he told her that a stranger was to marry his daughter, and took her up to the castle and showed her the man: and it was Nix Nought Nothing asleep in a chair. And she saw him, and she cried to him: ‘Waken, waken, and speak to me!’ But he would not waken, and soon she cried: ‘I cleaned the stable, I laved the lake, and I clomb the tree, And all for the love of thee, And thou wilt not waken and speak to me.’

 

The king and queen heard this, and came to the bonny young lady, and she said: ‘I cannot get Nix Nought Nothing to speak to me, for all that I can do.’

 

Then were they greatly astonished when she spoke of Nix Nought Nothing, and asked where he was, and she said: ‘He that sits there in that chair.’ Then they ran to him and kissed him and called him their own dear son; so they called for the gardener’s daughter and made her sing her charm, and he wakened, and told them all that the giant’s daughter had done for him, and of all her kindness. Then they took her in their arms and kissed her, and said she should now be their daughter, for their son should marry her. But as for the hen-wife, she was put to death. And they lived happy all their days.

 

———————-

From English Fairy Tales

ISBN: 978-1-907256-04-2

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

 

 

 

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