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Here is a tale from Yaqui Myths and Legends which I have yet to replublish as a book. The Yaqui are an American Indian people.

It is titled THE KU BIRD.

AMONG the Yaquis there was once a bird who, from birth, was very poor. So poor was this little one that he had not one single feather on his whole body. Often he sighed, especially in the winter time, because of his lack of protecting feathers. Many years passed, until one day he spoke to the Owl, saying,
“My brother, do me a favor and I will help you as long as I live. Help me to dress myself by lending me just a few of your feathers, even if they should cover only a part of my body. With the cold weather, I suffer.”
And the Owl answered him. “Have no worry about my helping you. I am going to ask all the birds to lend you one feather. In that way, you may clothe your whole body.”
“You speak well,” said the Ku Bird to the Owl. “When I have many feathers, I shall return a feather to each who lent me one.”
“Good,” said the Owl, “I shall send messengers to all the birds both large and small, to every single bird, in order that not one shall fail to attend the council. By early tomorrow morning we shall all be gathered to consider the matter of your clothes.”
“Many, many thanks,” answered the Ku Bird.
“Good-by for a while,” said the Owl. And he went away to make arrangements with the other birds.

Immediately they all wanted to see Ku Bird. At their petition, although with great shame, he presented himself.
Everyone was very sorry for him. And each bird presented him with one feather. Everyone contributed until Ku’s costume, was complete.
After thanking them all, Ku said, “To brother Owl I shall return all of the loaned feathers. He will return them to each of you in one year.”
A few days later the Ku Bird visited a spring filled with crystal-clear water. Here, many birds with beautiful plumes often came to visit. When the Ku Bird arrived all the birds surrounded him and looked at him in admiration and joy. They believed that he was a prince, and all rendered him homage. They did not recognize him beneath his beautiful, unusual plumage. He looked like a garden of flowers. Some called him the bird of a thousand colors, for he was wonderfully colorful with all his many feathers.

But within a year Ku was lost completely. He was never again seen, although all the birds searched for him, even in distant regions. Never again did he appear.
To this day, the Owl is still hunting for him. He searches and he calls. That is why Owl sings: “Ku, Ku, Ku, Ku,” nothing more. He is not able to say Ku Bird, but he can sing “Ku Ku Ku.”

Many centuries have passed and no one has ever heard anything about Ku. It is said that he is enchanted, that he now dwells in a waterhole which lies west of Potam near the sea. Yaquis say they have been there and heard him singing.
Ku never paid for his shirt, the Ku Bird, the bird of a thousand colors.

So ends the tale.

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There was once a poor lad. He took the road, went to find himself a master. He met a priest on the road. Where are you going, my lad?’

 

‘I am going to find myself a master.’

 

‘Mine’s the very place for you, my lad, for I’ve another lad like you, and I have six oxen and a plough. Do you enter my service and plough all this field.’

 

The lad arose, and took the plough and the oxen, and went into the fields and ploughed two days. Luck and the Ogre came to him. And the Ogre said to Luck, ‘Go for him.’ Luck didn’t want to go for him; only the Ogre went. When the Ogre went for him, he laid himself down on his back, and unlaced his boots, and took to flight across the plain.

 

The other lad shouted after him, ‘Don’t go, brother; don’t go, brother.’

 

‘Bah! God blast your plough and you as well.’

 

Then he came to a city of the size of Bucharest. Presently he arrived at a watchmaker’s shop. And he leaned his elbows on the shop-board and watched the prentices at their work. Then one of them asked him, ‘Why do you sit there hungry?’

 

‘He said, ‘Because I like to watch you working.’

 

Then the master came out and said, ‘Here, my lad, I will hire you for three years, and will show you all that I am master of. For a year and a day,’ he continued, ‘you will have nothing to do but chop wood, and feed the oven fire, and sit with your elbows on the table, and watch the prentices at their work.’

 

Now the watchmaker had had a clock of the emperor’s fifteen years, and no one could be found to repair it; he had fetched watchmakers from Paris and Vienna, and not one of them had managed it. The time came when the emperor offered the half of his kingdom to whoso should repair it; one and all they failed. The clock had twenty-four tunes in it. And as it played, the emperor grew young again. Easter Sunday came; and the watchmaker went to church with his prentices. Only the old wife and the lad stayed behind. The lad chopped the wood up quickly, and went back to the table that they did their work at. He never touched one of the little watches, but he took the big clock, and set it on the table. He took out two of its pipes, and cleaned them, and put them back in their place; then the four-and-twenty tunes began to play, and the clock to go. Then the lad hid himself for fear; and all the people came out of the church when they heard the tunes playing.

 

The watchmaker, too, came home, and said, ‘Mother, who did me this kindness, and repaired the clock?’

 

His mother said, ‘Only the lad, dear, went near the table.’

 

And he sought him and found him sitting in the stable. He took him in his arms: ‘My lad, you were my master, and I never knew it, but set you to chop wood on Easter Day.’ Then he sent for three tailors, and they made him three fine suits of clothes. Next day he ordered a carriage with four fine horses; and he took the clock in his arms, and went off to the emperor. The emperor, when he heard it, came down from his throne, and took his clock in his arms and grew young. Then he said to the watchmaker, ‘Bring me him who mended the clock.’

 

He said, ‘I mended it.’

 

‘Don’t tell me it was you. Go and bring me him who mended it.’

 

He went then and brought the lad.

 

The emperor said, ‘Go, give the watchmaker three purses of ducats; but the lad you shall have no more, for I mean to give him ten thousand ducats a year, just to stay here and mind the clock and repair it when it goes wrong.’

 

So the lad dwelt there thirteen years.

 

The emperor had a grown-up daughter, and he proposed to find a husband for her. She wrote a letter, and gave it to her father. And what did she put in the letter? She put this: ‘Father, I am minded to feign to be dumb; and whoso is able to make me speak, I will be his.’

 

Then the emperor made a proclamation throughout the world: ‘He who is able to make my daughter speak shall get her to wife; and whoso fails him will I kill.’

 

Then many suitors came, but not one of them made her speak. And the emperor killed them all, and by and by no one more came.

 

Now the lad, the watchmaker, went to the emperor, and said, ‘Emperor, let me also go to the maiden, to see if I cannot make her speak.’

 

‘Well, this is how it stands, my lad. Haven’t you seen the proclamation on the table, how I have sworn to kill whoever fails to make her speak?’

 

‘Well, kill me also, Emperor, if I too fail.’

 

‘In that case, go to her.’

 

The lad dressed himself bravely, and went into her chamber. She was sewing at her frame. When the lad entered, he said, ‘Good-day, you rogue.’

 

Thank you, watchmaker. Well, sit you down since you have come, and take a bite.’

 

‘Well, all right, you rogue.’

 

He only was speaking. Then he tarried no longer, but came out and said, ‘Good-night, rogue.’

 

‘Farewell, watchmaker.’

 

Next evening the emperor summoned him, to kill him. But the lad said, ‘Let me go one more night.’ Then the lad went again, and said, ‘Good-evening, rogue.’

 

‘Welcome, watchmaker. And since you have come, brother, pray sit down to table.’

 

Only he spoke, so at last he said, ‘Good-night, rogue.’

 

‘Farewell, watchmaker.’

 

Next night the emperor summoned him. ‘I must kill you now, for you have reached your allotted term.’

 

Then said the lad, ‘Do you know, emperor, that there is thrice forgiveness for a man?’

 

‘Then go to-night, too.’

 

Then the lad went that night, and said, ‘How do you do, rogue?’

 

‘Thank you, watchmaker. Since you have come, sit at table.’

 

‘So I will, rogue. And see you this knife in my hand? I mean to cut you in pieces if you will not answer my question.’ And why should I not answer it, watchmaker?’

 

‘Well, rogue, know you the princess?’

 

‘And how should I not know her?’

 

‘And the three princes, know you them?’

 

‘I know them, watchmaker.’

 

‘Well and good, if you know them. The three brothers had an intrigue with the princess. They knew not that the three had to do with her. But what did the maiden? She knew they were brothers. The eldest came at nightfall, and she set him down to table and he ate. Then she lay with him and shut him up in a chamber. The middle one came at midnight, and she lay with him also and shut him up in another chamber. And that same night came the youngest, and she lay with him too. Then at daybreak she let them all out, and they sprang to slay one another, the three brothers. The maiden said, “Hold, brothers, do not slay one another, but go home and take each of you to himself ten thousand ducats, and go into three cities; and his I will become who brings me the finest piece of workmanship.” So the eldest journeyed to Bucharest, and there found a beautiful mirror. Now look you what kind of mirror it was. “Here, merchant, what is the price of your mirror?” “Ten thousand ducats, my lad.” “Indeed, is that not very dear, brother?” “But mark you what kind of mirror it is. You look in it and you can see both the dead and the living therein.” Now let’s have a look at the middle brother. He went to another city and found a robe. “You, merchant, what is the price of this robe?” “Ten thousand ducats, my son.”‘

 

‘What are you talking about, watchmaker? A robe cost ten thousand ducats!’

 

‘But look you, you rogue, what sort of robe it is. For when you step on it, it will carry you whither you will. So you may fancy he cries “Done!” Meanwhile the youngest also arrived in a city and found a Jew, and bought an apple from him. And the apple was such that when a dead man ate it he revived. He took it and came to his brothers. And when they were all come home they saw their sweet-heart dead. And they gave her the apple to eat and she arose. And whom then did she choose? She chose the youngest. What do you say?’

 

And the emperor’s daughter finally spoke. And the watchmaker took her to wife. And they made a marriage.

 

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From Gypsy Folk Tales (1899) compiled by Francis Hindes Groome

ISBN: 978-0-956584-47-8

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

 

The illustrated edition of this book will be published during the summer of 2012. The illustrations are currently being worked on by Dutch illustrator Maggie Gunzel.

 

Gypsy Folk Tales Book 1

 

 

Phynodderree - chapter 3

 

EVERY evening, punctually as the twilight hour approached, did Kitty Kerruish feel an irresistible fascination steal over her that drew her to the trysting-place under the blue rowan tree in the Magher-Glass of Glen Aldyn to meet her elfin lover; and there she would sit, listening with rapture to the passionate and extatic avowals of his love, mingled with the most eloquent praises of her beauty, which the mannikin gently whispered into her intoxicated ear, as he lay like some fair child upon her lap, with his arms encircled round her neck.

 

One evening, to tease her lover–for Kitty, like all her sex, dearly loved to tease–she told him she did not half believe his protestations of affection, and that he would not be willing to make any great sacrifice to prove them.

 

Uddereek vowed she wronged him, and called upon her to name any test, any sacrifice she wanted him to make. At that moment she either could not or would not think of any; but presently he mentioned that the following night the fairy king and queen would hold a grand court and feast in Glen Rushen, in the southern part of the island, near Ballasalla, in honour of RE-HOLLYS-VOOAR-YN-ONYR, the royal festival of the harvest moon, and that every elfin in Ellan Vannin would have to attend. He described to her wondering and delighted ear how the dancing would be kept up till the moon ceased to shine, and sank behind the head of South Barrule, and the ruddy rays of the coming sun began to show signs of rising from the eastern sea.

 

“Ah, Uddereek!” said Kitty, teasingly, “you will enjoy all that, and soon forget, for the time at any rate, all about me, or that you ever saw or thought of poor Kitty.”

 

“No, Cushla,” the little man replied. “I shall be alone amid the elfin throng, and in spite of all the feasting and the music, all the dancing in the ring, all the revels in the ferns and sweet wild flowers, I shall wish myself far away from it all, and long to be with thee, dear Kitty.”

The Magher-Glass of Glen Rushen

The Magher-Glass of Glen Rushen

“I just don’t believe one word about it,” she said, laughingly, and still intent on plaguing her little elfin lover. “Some fairy maid, whose beauty far surpasses mine, will captivate your heart, and you will soon forget your mortal love.”

 

“Never! never!” he hastily interrupted. “I swear, my darling, never! And to prove to you how false and how unjust are your suspicions, I will leave the elfin gambols, and immediately the king and queen have risen from the feast and the revels have fairly commenced,, will slip away, and meet you here, dearest Kitty, three hours after the sun has set.”

 

No woman but would have been pleased and satisfied at such a proof of her power and attractions, and Kitty Kerruish felt gratified and delighted as she laughingly replied–

 

“I will be here to meet you; and mind, sir, I shall expect you.”

 

Little did she dream, poor lass! of the dire consequences that would result from his temerity and her exactitude, or at how dear a cost to both of them this proof of his love would be obtained.

 

 

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From THE PHYNODDERREE and Other Tales from the Isle of Man

ISBN: 978-1-907256-77-6

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

 

The PHYNODDERREE

 

 

The bells of the monks of Burceña were ringing for prayers, and Catharina was weeping bitterly in despair on seeing that the time was fast speeding away, and the hour approached in which Martino was to depart, perhaps never to return, and never more to see him. In vain did she look at the flowing water, waiting to discover the stones which served as a bridge; the stones remained concealed beneath the swollen currents which every moment swept down with greater power and roared with greater fury.

 

“What have I done, Holy Virgin,” she would cry out in her deep sorrow, “that Martino should thus doubt me, and be going away to die in the wars which are destroying the bravest knights and the most honoured youths of Biscay? Some dreadful misunderstanding or some calumny has no doubt taken place which has made us both wretched. A single word from me would at once undeceive Martino and dissuade him from his sad resolve, yet I cannot approach him, nor even speak to him, because the river, wild and swollen, interposes between us. Ah! I would give my life to be able to cross this furious current before the bells of Burceña chime the hour of midnight, and each stroke of the hour tells me that no longer will there be any happiness, either for Martino or myself, in this world!”

 

Thus spoke the hapless Catharina, as she wept at the foot of the chestnut tree, and looked towards the river in hopes of its subsiding, and of discovering the stones, over which she had so often merrily passed, and which now were under water, and then turning towards the house and fields of Iturrioz sought the well-known form of Martino, who, alas! did not appear as was his wont to do, frequenting the river shore to exchange a loving word with his beloved Catharina.

 

Suddenly she heard footsteps behind, and on turning round she saw coming up to her the mysterious visitor of the previous night, he who had sought a shelter at her mother’s house. A hope, wild, because it was founded on an absurdity, beamed over the soul of Catharina.

 

“From this,” she said to herself, “up to Aranguren, which is on the boundary of the valley of Salcedo, there is no bridge whatever, yet this man has crossed the river at no great distance from here. Perhaps some of the gigantic trees growing on the shores have been wrenched by the storm and fallen down across the stream, and, enabled the man to cross over as though it were a bridge.

 

Should it be so, this man can tell me, and then I shall be able to cross over and see Martino in time to prevent him from going to the wars.”

 

All this did Catharina turn over in her mind during the brief moments of surprise occasioned by the appearance of the man.

 

“By what part of the river did you cross?” she anxiously asked of the stranger.

 

“I crossed over by the bridge of Aranguren,” he replied,

 

“How could that be, for the bridge of Aranguren stands some three leagues from here?”

 

“By making prodigious efforts!” he cried.

 

“Prodigies indeed! Ah, would that I could work them as you have done!”

 

“Which would you wish to do first?”

 

“I would wish to cross the river.”

 

“In that case it would be necessary to have a bridge to be able to cross the river.”

 

“Most certainly.”

 

“I can make one.”

 

“How? perhaps by felling some of the trees and placing them across on both sides of the river?”

 

“That would be impossible: because the river is very wide, and none of the trees, however high, would reach across to the opposite shore.”

 

“How then?”

 

“By constructing a stone bridge.”

 

“That would take too long a time, for I must cross over, at latest, when the bells of Burceña strike the hour of midnight.”

 

“I can easily erect it by that hour.”

 

“Do it then.”

 

What will you give me if I do?”

 

“My life.”

 

“Your life is not enough payment for me.”

 

“What more do you require?

 

“I must have your soul!”

 

“Well, then, have it, so that you erect the bridge without delay.”

 

Catharina seemed to be under some irresponsible influence when she uttered these words, and knew not what she said. But scarcely had she spoken these wild words than reason asserted itself in her mind, and she clearly comprehended the grave import of her words, and she then wished to recall them, or at least to explain them; but the mysterious stranger had already departed far from that spot; while on the river shores, obscured by the shades of night, which was a very dark one, nothing was heard but the noise of hatchets, pickaxes, spades, saws, and hammers, as though a multitude of workmen, stonemasons, carpenters, and other artificers, were digging, sawing wood, cutting huge blocks of granite and stone, and laying the foundation, erecting the pillars, and forming the arch of the bridge.

 

The idea that this man dressed in black was the evil one began to take possession of the imagination of Catharina, and what more terrified her than the thought of losing her lover was the conviction that she was going to lose her soul. Catharina in her distress cried out to that man, “Do not erect that bridge at the expense of my soul, because I do not wish to give it to you!” But her voice was drowned in the noise of the rushing waters of the Cadagüa, and the uproar of hammers and pickaxes which continued to be heard on the river banks, as though an invisible legion of carpenters and stonemasons were working there; while amid that unearthly roar the hapless girl seemed to hear a voice rising above it all which replied to her, “It is too late! It is too late!”

 

The night advanced, and Catharina amid the gloom saw rising on either side of the river white columns, which were no doubt the base or buttress to sustain the arch of the bridge. A gleam of hope suddenly strengthened the fainting heart of Catharina, and she at once started towards the coast of Castrejana, and on reaching to the foot of the chestnut tree of Altamira, she fell on her knees, and, looking in the direction of the temple of Begoña, she invoked the protection of the Virgin, saying, “Holy Mother of God! save my soul which is in peril of losing its eternal salvation

 

The valley of Ibaizabal was as darksome as the depths of Cadagüa; but scarcely had Catharina said these words of fervent prayer, than it appeared to her that a soft resplendency illumined the valley, which for a thousand years has been protected and watched over by the Mother of God from the heights of the hills of Artagan. What light could it have been? Ah! perchance it was that of hope! Enlightened and strengthened by this light, Catharina descended the slope of Castrejana. The soft light which shone over the valley of the Ibaizabal 3 was spreading also along the valley of the Cadagüa, and by its gleams Catharina saw that the two buttresses which she had seen, or imagined she saw, rising up on both shores of the river, and the erection proceeding on either side, were meeting in the centre to form a perfect arch. Towards the side of Iturrioz there shone a light similar to a flaming torch, which began to descend to the chestnut wood and disappeared among the leafy branches. The heart of Catharina beat fast in anguish. That light appeared to her to indicate that midnight was fast approaching, and Martino must be quitting the paternal home, and was about to forsake, perhaps for ever, his native valley.

 

Catharina looked steadfastly before her, never removing her eyes from the bridge, which now was almost finished, and nothing was wanting for its completion but the key-stone. Suddenly a form was seen ascending the almost finished bridge. It was the form of a beauteous lady, who carried in her hand a branch of lovely white lilies, and as she reached to the open gap between the two sides of the arch she laid the stem across the opening and disappeared, leaving a luminous trail, which extended to a great distance, until it eventually became lost in the depths of the valley of Ibaizabal.

 

When Catharina turned her gaze away from the east, where that singular vision had disappeared, and looked towards the bridge which was constructed in such a, marvellous manner, she saw the man in the black suit holding in his hands an enormous block of stone, which he carried as easily as though it were a light ball, and running up along the arch was about to place the heavy slab in the opening and thus complete the bridge. However, in spite of all the efforts of the artificer to fix the slab or block in the opening, the slab did not fit in. The man hammered desperately at the stone, accompanying, each blow with an oath, but the stone resisted all his efforts, as though it were prevented fitting in by a strong bar of iron laid beneath. And the man in black redoubled his furious efforts as he heard the sound of the bells of the monastery of Burceña vibrating through the valley announcing the midnight hour, and on hearing the chimes he uttered a cry of desperation, and cast himself headlong into the river, and was carried away in the furious currents and disappeared altogether. At the moment when he flung himself into the seething waters a sound was heard on the bridge like the noise of a branch snapping in two, and in that instant the key-stone, or huge slab which the man in black had been unable to fit in, fell gently into its place, and the bridge remained perfect; while a huge cataract of water now descended roaring along the windings of Alonsótegui, carrying down towards the Zubileta all the scaffolding and temporary erections employed in building the bridge. Catharina then rapidly crossed over by the bridge which had been so marvellously constructed, and ran to the chestnut wood of Iturrioz.

 

Half an hour later a number of youths, clad in mail and armed with war weapons, ascended along the Cadagüa, lamenting that Martino de Iturrioz should prefer the effeminate blandishments of love to the manly and glorious exercise of war.

 

Martino, leading Catharina by the hand, accompanied her to the house of Castrejana, where he bade her an affectionate farewell, passed over the Devil’s Bridge, sped across the lands, and returned to the house of Iturrioz.

THE END

 

NOTE: Between the joints of the enormous blocks of stone which constitutes the key-stone and the lateral slabs of the bridge, there used to spring up every year some beautiful white lilies, which the damsels of the valley of Ibaizabal gathered on the morning of St. John’s Day, and these flowers were called Cataloros, a name derived from the Basque word Catalenlorac, which means “flowers of Catharina,” but owing to the great fall of rain and inundation which occurred on the 22nd of September, 1523, the foundations of the bridge were shaken and the buttresses unsafe, and it was found necessary to substitute smaller stones to replace the massive key-stone, which it was feared would fall down and destroy one of the noblest and most elegant bridges of the Basque provinces.

 

 

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From LEGENDS and POPULAR TALES of the BASQUE PEOPLE by Mariana Monteiro

ISBN: 978-1-907256-32-5

URL: http://www.AbelaPublishing.com/Basque.html

 

Legends and popular tales of the Basque people

 

 

The rain, which had partly subsided during the night, quite ceased at daybreak, and the traveller rose early, saying that he must try and cross the river before the currents should swell it, and he be unable to cross over. Catharina had a great wish to ask him why he had attempted to destroy her beautiful lily, but she did not dare to do so, as there was something in the face and looks and voice of the stranger which instilled fear and terror–she knew not why. Catharina and her mother besought him to stay a few moments until they prepared breakfast for him, but he insisted on departing at once and asked what he was indebted to them for the supper and accommodation.

 

“You owe us nothing but a good will,” both the women replied.

 

“Very well, I am much obliged to you, and wish you very good health,” said the stranger, and he departed, fording the Cadagüa along some enormous stones laid across, which then stood in the place of a bridge, and on the very spot where at the present day stands the bridge of Castrejana.

 

The fears of the stranger were well founded that he might find the river quickly impassable, for when he forded it the water was already beginning to cover the huge stones.

 

Catharina looked out from the side of the house which faced the river, and divided her attention between the traveller, who was hastening to take the road to Iturrioz, and Martino, who was mending a broken paling at the further end of the garden, and through which some goats had made their way into the field. This paling was on the side of the high road along which the stranger had to pass. This unknown visitor stopped to speak to Martino as he passed him. The distance and the noise of the river rushing down prevented Catharina from hearing what they said, but she noticed that Martino grew wrathful, and looked towards the house of Castrejana with menacing gestures. We know not whether it was from want of water in the house, or to have a chat with Martino, that Catharina lifted a pitcher to her head, and, telling her mother that she was going for water before the river should become so swollen that it would be impossible to cross it, she started off; but on reaching to the bank she had to turn back, as the water completely hid the stones, and the current was fearfully rapid.

 

A little later, Catharina, with a basket of vegetables on her head and the branch of white lilies in her hand started from home, taking the road to Bilbao, as she did every morning, to sell her goods in the market; but this morning she did not trip along with a light heart, nor did she sing as usual, but went her way silently and sad. In going and returning from Bilbao, on passing Altamira, she always stopped singing and knelt at the foot of the giant chestnut tree from whence could be descried the church of Begoña. On that morning she knelt as usual, and prayed more fervently than ever, and she even wept while she prayed. What change was this that had been worked in poor Catharina? She could not tell; but she felt in her heart a deep sadness as though some great misfortune was threatening her.

 

She reached the market-place of Bilbao, and while she sold her vegetables she watched her lily so that no one should break her branch. Many persons, charmed by the lovely flowers, wanted to purchase them, but Catharina would reply that she could not part with her flowers at any price, because she had brought them with her, not for sale, but to take them to the church of Begoña and deck the Virgin’s altar with them as her offering.

 

When she had finished her sale, she went to the church, placed her beautiful lilies on the altar of Our Lady, and crossing again the Ibaizabal by the only bridge which then existed–which is the one called now the bridge of Saint Anthony–she went towards Castrejana. The river Cadagüa continued rising, because during the morning it had rained in torrents all over the Encartaciones.

 

Catharina kept looking towards the fields and house of Iturrioz, but did not see Martino. What was her surprise and terror, when the sun was sinking behind the mountains, to perceive the youth ascending the slope towards Baracaldo, above Zubileta, which is on the opposite bank of the Cadagüa, and that he was furnished with weapons, and clad in a coat of mail such as was worn by warriors in that epoch by various bands.

 

The bands called Onhacino and Gamboino were not then devastating the seigniority of Biscay and the Encartaciones, but were contending without ceasing against the districts of Castile, particularly on all the land along the Ebro from Puentelarra to Valdivielso, commanded by the Salazares and Velascos, and they had constantly in Biscay agents who were charged to enlist men, who, allured with flattering promises of much glory and renown, had found to their cost nothing certain but a probable grave amid the rocks.

 

Catharina ran to the river shore and waited for Martino to reach the opposite margin; and in truth Martino did arrive, but it was to fling a folded parchment fastened to a stone across the water to Catharina, and continued to walk towards the house of Iturrioz, while Catharina in dismay read the following lines which had been written by Martino upon the folded parchment:

 

“I would sooner die far from hence, fighting against the enemies of the Salazares, than die here combating against your faithlessness and want of love. At midnight I join other young men beneath the chestnut tree of Iturrioz, and with them shall depart to the suburbs of Castile, where I hope death or absence will make me forget you.”

 

Tomorrow Chapter IV – the final chapter in this story…………………

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From LEGENDS and POPULAR TALES of the BASQUE PEOPLE by Mariana Monteiro

ISBN: 978-1-907256-32-5

URL: http://www.AbelaPublishing.com/Basque.html

 

Popular Legends and Tales of the Basque People

 

 

There once lived a merchant whose name was Mark, and whom people called ‘Mark the Rich.’ He was a very hard-hearted man, for he could not bear poor people, and if he caught sight of a beggar anywhere near his house, he would order the servants to drive him away, or would set the dogs at him.

 

One day three very poor old men came begging to the door, and just as he was going to let the fierce dogs loose on them, his little daughter, Anastasia, crept close up to him and said:

 

‘Dear daddy, let the poor old men sleep here to-night, do—to please me.’

 

Her father could not bear to refuse her, and the three beggars were allowed to sleep in a loft, and at night, when everyone in the house was fast asleep, little Anastasia got up, climbed up to the loft, and peeped in.

 

The three old men stood in the middle of the loft, leaning on their sticks, with their long grey beards flowing down over their hands, and were talking together in low voices.

 

‘What news is there?’ asked the eldest.

 

‘In the next village the peasant Ivan has just had his seventh son. What shall we name him, and what fortune shall we give him?’ said the second.

 

The third whispered, ‘Call him Vassili, and give him all the property of the hard-hearted man in whose loft we stand, and who wanted to drive us from his door.’

 

After a little more talk the three made themselves ready and crept softly away.

 

Anastasia, who had heard every word, ran straight to her father, and told him all.

 

Mark was very much surprised; he thought, and thought, and in the morning he drove to the next village to try and find out if such a child really had been born. He went first to the priest, and asked him about the children in his parish.

 

‘Yesterday,’ said the priest, ‘a boy was born in the poorest house in the village. I named the unlucky little thing “Vassili.” He is the seventh son, and the eldest is only seven years old, and they hardly have a mouthful amongst them all. Who can be got to stand godfather to such a little beggar boy?’

 

The merchant’s heart beat fast, and his mind was full of bad thoughts about that poor little baby. He would be godfather himself, he said, and he ordered a fine christening feast; so the child was brought and christened, and Mark was very friendly to its father. After the ceremony was over he took Ivan aside and said:

 

‘Look here, my friend, you are a poor man. How can you afford to bring up the boy? Give him to me and I’ll make something of him, and I’ll give you a present of a thousand crowns. Is that a bargain?’

 

Ivan scratched his head, and thought, and thought, and then he agreed. Mark counted out the money, wrapped the baby up in a fox skin, laid it in the sledge beside him, and drove back towards home. When he had driven some miles he drew up, carried the child to the edge of a steep precipice and threw it over, muttering, ‘There, now try to take my property!’

 

Very soon after this some foreign merchants travelled along that same road on the way to see Mark and to pay the twelve thousand crowns which they owed him.

 

As they were passing near the precipice they heard a sound of crying, and on looking over they saw a little green meadow wedged in between two great heaps of snow, and on the meadow lay a baby amongst the flowers.

 

The merchants picked up the child, wrapped it up carefully, and drove on. When they saw Mark they told him what a strange thing they had found. Mark guessed at once that the child must be his godson, asked to see him, and said:

 

‘That’s a nice little fellow; I should like to keep him. If you will make him over to me, I will let you off your debt.’

 

The merchants were very pleased to make so good a bargain, left the child with Mark, and drove off.

 

At night Mark took the child, put it in a barrel, fastened the lid tight down, and threw it into the sea. The barrel floated away to a great distance, and at last it floated close up to a monastery. The monks were just spreading out their nets to dry on the shore, when they heard the sound of crying. It seemed to come from the barrel which was bobbing about near the water’s edge. They drew it to land and opened it, and there was a little child! When the abbot heard the news, he decided to bring up the boy, and named him ‘Vassili.’

 

The boy lived on with the monks, and grew up to be a clever, gentle, and handsome young man. No one could read, write, or sing better than he, and he did everything so well that the abbot made him wardrobe keeper.

 

Now, it happened about this time that the merchant, Mark, came to the monastery in the course of a journey. The monks were very polite to him and showed him their house and church and all they had. When he went into the church the choir was singing, and one voice was so clear and beautiful, that he asked who it belonged to. Then the abbot told him of the wonderful way in which Vassili had come to them, and Mark saw clearly that this must be his godson whom he had twice tried to kill.

 

He said to the abbot: ‘I can’t tell you how much I enjoy that young man’s singing. If he could only come to me I would make him overseer of all my business. As you say, he is so good and clever. Do spare him to me. I will make his fortune, and will present your monastery with twenty thousand crowns.’

 

The abbot hesitated a good deal, but he consulted all the other monks, and at last they decided that they ought not to stand in the way of Vassili’s good fortune.

 

Then Mark wrote a letter to his wife and gave it to Vassili to take to her, and this was what was in the letter: ‘When the bearer of this arrives, take him into the soap factory, and when you pass near the great boiler, push him in. If you don’t obey my orders I shall be very angry, for this young man is a bad fellow who is sure to ruin us all if he lives.’

 

Vassili had a good voyage, and on landing set off on foot for Mark’s home. On the way he met three beggars, who asked him: ‘Where are you going, Vassili?’

 

‘I am going to the house of Mark the Merchant, and have a letter for his wife,’ replied Vassili.

 

‘Show us the letter.’

 

Vassili handed them the letter. They blew on it and gave it back to him, saying: ‘Now go and give the letter to Mark’s wife. You will not be forsaken.’

 

Vassili reached the house and gave the letter. When the mistress read it she could hardly believe her eyes and called for her daughter. In the letter was written, quite plainly: ‘When you receive this letter, get ready for a wedding, and let the bearer be married next day to my daughter, Anastasia. If you don’t obey my orders I shall be very angry.’

 

Anastasia saw the bearer of the letter and he pleased her very much. They dressed Vassili in fine clothes and next day he was married to Anastasia.

 

In due time, Mark returned from his travels. His wife, daughter, and son-in-law all went out to meet him. When Mark saw Vassili he flew into a terrible rage with his wife. ‘How dared you marry my daughter without my consent?’ he asked.

 

‘I only carried out your orders,’ said she. ‘Here is your letter.’

 

Mark read it. It certainly was his handwriting, but by no means his wishes.

 

‘Well,’ thought he, ‘you’ve escaped me three times, but I think I shall get the better of you now.’ And he waited a month and was very kind and pleasant to his daughter and her husband.

 

At the end of that time he said to Vassili one day, ‘I want you to go for me to my friend the Serpent King, in his beautiful country at the world’s end. Twelve years ago he built a castle on some land of mine. I want you to ask for the rent for those twelve years and also to find out from him what has become of my twelve ships which sailed for his country three years ago.’

 

Vassili dared not disobey. He said good-bye to his young wife, who cried bitterly at parting, hung a bag of biscuits over his shoulders, and set out.

 

I really cannot tell you whether the journey was long or short. As he tramped along he suddenly heard a voice saying: ‘Vassili! where are you going?’

 

Vassili looked about him, and, seeing no one, called out: ‘Who spoke to me?’

 

‘I did; this old wide-spreading oak. Tell me where you are going.’

 

‘I am going to the Serpent King to receive twelve years’ rent from him.’

 

‘When the time comes, remember me and ask the king: “Rotten to the roots, half dead but still green, stands the old oak. Is it to stand much longer on the earth?” ‘

 

Vassili went on further. He came to a river and got into the ferryboat. The old ferryman asked: ‘Are you going far, my friend?’

 

‘I am going to the Serpent King.’

 

‘Then think of me and say to the king: “For thirty years the ferryman has rowed to and fro. Will the tired old man have to row much longer?” ‘

 

‘Very well,’ said Vassili; ‘I’ll ask him.’

 

And he walked on. In time he came to a narrow strait of the sea and across it lay a great whale over whose back people walked and drove as if it had been a bridge or a road. As he stepped on it the whale said, ‘Do tell me where you are going.’

 

‘I am going to the Serpent King.’

 

And the whale begged: ‘Think of me and say to the king: “The poor whale has been lying three years across the strait, and men and horses have nearly trampled his back into his ribs. Is he to lie there much longer?” ‘

 

‘I will remember,’ said Vassili, and he went on.

 

He walked, and walked, and walked, till he came to a great green meadow. In the meadow stood a large and splendid castle. Its white marble walls sparkled in the light, the roof was covered with mother o’ pearl, which shone like a rainbow, and the sun glowed like fire on the crystal windows. Vassili walked in, and went from one room to another astonished at all the splendour he saw.

 

When he reached the last room of all, he found a beautiful girl sitting on a bed.

 

As soon as she saw him she said: ‘Oh, Vassili, what brings you to this accursed place?’

 

Vassili told her why he had come, and all he had seen and heard on the way.

 

The girl said: ‘You have not been sent here to collect rents, but for your own destruction, and that the serpent may devour you.’

 

She had not time to say more, when the whole castle shook, and a rustling, hissing, groaning sound was heard. The girl quickly pushed Vassili into a chest under the bed, locked it and whispered: ‘Listen to what the serpent and I talk about.’

 

Then she rose up to receive the Serpent King.

 

The monster rushed into the room, and threw itself panting on the bed, crying: ‘I’ve flown half over the world. I’m tired, VERY tired, and want to sleep—scratch my head.’

 

The beautiful girl sat down near him, stroking his hideous head, and said in a sweet coaxing voice: ‘You know everything in the world. After you left, I had such a wonderful dream. Will you tell me what it means?’

 

‘Out with it then, quick! What was it?’

 

‘I dreamt I was walking on a wide road, and an oak tree said to me: “Ask the king this: Rotten at the roots, half dead, and yet green stands the old oak. Is it to stand much longer on the earth?” ‘

 

‘It must stand till someone comes and pushes it down with his foot. Then it will fall, and under its roots will be found more gold and silver than even Mark the Rich has got.’

 

‘Then I dreamt I came to a river, and the old ferryman said to me: “For thirty year’s the ferryman has rowed to and fro. Will the tired old man have to row much longer?” ‘

 

‘That depends on himself. If someone gets into the boat to be ferried across, the old man has only to push the boat off, and go his way without looking back. The man in the boat will then have to take his place.’

 

‘And at last I dreamt that I was walking over a bridge made of a whale’s back, and the living bridge spoke to me and said: “Here have I been stretched out these three years, and men and horses have trampled my back down into my ribs. Must I lie here much longer?” ‘

 

‘He will have to lie there till he has thrown up the twelve ships of Mark the Rich which he swallowed. Then he may plunge back into the sea and heal his back.’

 

And the Serpent King closed his eyes, turned round on his other side, and began to snore so loud that the windows rattled.

 

In all haste the lovely girl helped Vassili out of the chest, and showed him part of his way back. He thanked her very politely, and hurried off.

 

When he reached the strait the whale asked: ‘Have you thought of me?’

 

‘Yes, as soon as I am on the other side I will tell you what you want to know.’

 

When he was on the other side Vassili said to the whale: ‘Throw up those twelve ships of Mark’s which you swallowed three years ago.’

 

The great fish heaved itself up and threw up all the twelve ships and their crews. Then he shook himself for joy, and plunged into the sea.

 

Vassili went on further till he reached the ferry, where the old man asked: ‘Did you think of me?’

 

‘Yes, and as soon as you have ferried me across I will tell you what you want to know.’

 

When they had crossed over, Vassili said: ‘Let the next man who comes stay in the boat, but do you step on shore, push the boat off, and you will be free, and the other man must take your place.

 

Then Vassili went on further still, and soon came to the old oak tree, pushed it with his foot, and it fell over. There, at the roots, was more gold and silver than even Mark the Rich had.

 

And now the twelve ships which the whale had thrown up came sailing along and anchored close by. On the deck of the first ship stood the three beggars whom Vassili had met formerly, and they said: ‘Heaven has blessed you, Vassili.’ Then they vanished away and he never saw them again.

 

The sailors carried all the gold and silver into the ship, and then they set sail for home with Vassili on board.

 

Mark was more furious than ever. He had his horses harnessed and drove off himself to see the Serpent King and to complain of the way in which he had been betrayed. When he reached the river he sprang into the ferryboat. The ferryman, however, did not get in but pushed the boat off………

 

Vassili led a good and happy life with his dear wife, and his kind mother-in-law lived with them. He helped the poor and fed and clothed the hungry and naked and all Mark’s riches became his.

 

For many years Mark has been ferrying people across the river. His face is wrinkled, his hair and beard are snow white, and his eyes are dim; but still he rows on.

 

 

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

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

 

The Violet Fairy Book

 

 

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