Thursday, December 25, 2008

Belling the Cat

Long ago, the mice held a general council to consider what measures they could take to outwit their common enemy, the cat. Some said this, and some said that; but at last a young mouse got up and said he had a proposal to make, which he though would meet the case.

"You will all agree," said he, "that our chief danger consists in the sly and treacherous manner in which the enemy approaches us. Now, if we could receive some signal of her approach, we could easily escape from her. I venture, therefore, to propose that a small bell be procured, and attached by a ribbon round the neck of the cat. By this means we should always know when she was about, and could easily retire while she was in the neighborhood."

This proposal met with general applause, until an old mouse got up and said, "That is all very well, but who is to bell the cat?"

The mice looked at one another and nobody spoke. Then the old mouse said, "It is easy to propose impossible remedies."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Cat Who Became a Queen

"Ah me! Ah me! What availeth my marriage with all these women? Never a son has the Deity vouchsafed me. Must I die, and my name be altogether forgotten in the land?" Thus soliloquized one of the greatest monarchs that ever reigned in Kashmir, and then went to his zanána [the apartment where his wives lived], and threatened his numerous wives with banishment if they did not bear him a son within the next year.

The women prayed most earnestly to the god Shiva to help them to fulfil the king's desire, and waited most anxiously for several months, hoping against hope, till at last they knew that it was all in vain, and that they must dissemble matters if they wished to remain in the royal household.

Accordingly, on an appointed time, word was sent to the king that one of his wives was enciente, and a little while afterwards the news was spread abroad that a little princess was born. But this, as we have said, was not so. Nothing of the kind had happened. The truth was, that a cat had given birth to a lot of kittens, one of which had been appropriated by the king's wives.

When his majesty heard the news he was exceedingly glad, and ordered the child to be brought to him -- a very natural request, which the king's wives had anticipated, and therefore were quite prepared with a reply. "Go and tell the king," said they to the messenger, "that the Brahmans have declared that the child must not be seen by her father until she is married." Thus the matter was hushed for a time.

Constantly did the king inquire after his daughter, and received wonderful accounts of her beauty and cleverness; so that his joy was great. Of course he would like to have had a son, but since the Deity had not condescended to fulfil his desire, he comforted himself with the thought of marrying his daughter to some person worthy of her, and capable of ruling the country after him. Accordingly, at the proper time he commissioned his counselors to find a suitable match for his daughter. A clever, good, and handsome prince was soon found, and arrangements for the marriage were quickly concluded.

What were the king's wives to do now? It was of no use for them to attempt to carry on their deceit any longer. The bridegroom would come and would wish to see his wife, and the king, too, would expect to see her.

"Better," said they, "that we send for this prince and reveal everything to him, and take our chance of the rest. Never mind the king. Some answer can be made to satisfy him for a while."

So they sent for the prince and told him everything, having previously made him swear that he would keep the secret, and not reveal it even to his father or mother. The marriage was celebrated in grand style, as became such great and wealthy kings, and the king was easily prevailed on to allow the palanquin containing the bride to leave the palace without looking at her. The cat only was in the palanquin, which reached the prince's country in safety. The prince took great care of the animal, which he kept locked up in his own private room, and would not allow anyone, not even his mother, to enter it.

One day, however, while the prince was away, his mother thought that she would go and speak to her daughter-in-law from outside the door. "O daughter-in-law," she cried, "I am very sorry that you are shut up in this room and not permitted to see anybody. It must be very dull for you. However, I am going out today; so you can leave the room without fear of seeing anyone. Will you come out?"

The cat understood everything, and wept much, just like a human being. Oh those bitter tears! They pierced the mother's heart, so that she determined to speak very strictly to her son on the matter as soon as he should return. They also reached the ears of Párvatí [the wife of Shiva], who at once went to her lord and entreated him to have mercy on the poor helpless cat.

"Tell her," said Shiva, "to rub some oil over her fur, and she will became a beautiful woman. She will find the oil in the room where she now is."

Párvatí lost no time in disclosing this glad news to the cat, who quickly rubbed the oil over its body, and was changed into the most lovely woman that ever lived. But she left a little spot on one of her shoulders which remained covered with cat's fur, lest her husband should suspect some trickery and deny her.

In the evening the prince returned and saw his beautiful wife, and was delighted. Then all anxiety as to what he should reply to his mother's earnest solicitations fled. She had only to see the happy, smiling, beautiful bride to know that her fears were altogether needless.

In a few weeks the prince, accompanied by his wife, visited his father-in-law, who, of course, believed the princess to be his own daughter, and was glad beyond measure. His wives too rejoiced, because their prayer had been heard and their lives saved. In due time the king settled his country on the prince, who eventually ruled over both countries, his father's and his father-in-law's, and thus became the most illustrious and wealthy monarch in the world.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Little Nut Twig

Once upon a time there was a rich merchant whose business required him to travel abroad. Taking leave, he said to his three daughters, "Dear daughters, I would like to have something nice for you when I return. What should I bring home for you?"

The oldest one said, "Father dear, a beautiful pearl necklace for me!"

The second one said, "I would like a finger ring with a diamond stone."

The youngest one cuddled up to her father and whispered, "Daddy, a pretty green nut twig for me."

"Good, my dear daughters," said the merchant, "I will remember. Farewell."

The merchant traveled far and purchased many goods, but he also faithfully remembered his daughters' wishes. To please his eldest he had packed a costly pearl necklace into his baggage, and he had also purchased an equally valuable diamond ring for the middle daughter. But, however much he tried, he could not find a green nut twig. For this reason he went on foot a good distance on his homeward journey. His way led him in large part through the woods, and he hoped thus finally to find a nut twig. However, he did not succeed, and the good father became very depressed that he had not been able to fulfill the harmless request of his youngest and dearest child.

Finally, as he was sadly making his way down a path that led through a dark forest and next to a dense thicket, his hat rubbed against a twig, and it made a sound like hailstones falling on it. Looking up he saw that it was a pretty green nut twig, from which was hanging a cluster of golden nuts. The man was delighted. He reached his hand up and plucked the magnificent twig. But in that same instant, a wild bear shot out from the thicket and stood up on his back paws, growling fiercely, as though he were about to tear the merchant to pieces.

With a terrible voice he bellowed, "Why did you pick my nut twig, you? Why? I will eat you up!"

Shaking and trembling with fear the merchant said, "Dear bear, don't eat me. Let me go on my way with the little nut twig. I'll give you a large ham and many sausages for it!"

But the bear bellowed again, "Keep your ham and your sausages! I will not eat you, only if you will promise to give me the first thing that meets you upon your arrival home."

The merchant gladly agreed to this, for he recalled how his poodle usually ran out to greet him, and he would gladly sacrifice the poodle in order to save his own life.

Following a crude handshake the bear lumbered back into the thicket. The merchant, breathing a sigh of relief, went hurriedly and happily on his way.

The golden nut twig decorated the merchant's had splendidly as he hurried homeward. Filled with joy, the youngest girl ran to greet her dear father. The poodle followed her with bold leaps. The oldest daughters and the mother were not quite so fast to step out the door and greet home-comer.

The merchant was horrified to see that the first one to greet him was his youngest daughter. Concerned and saddened, he withdrew from the happy child's embrace, and -- following the initial greetings -- told them all that had happened with the nut twig.

They all cried and were very sad, but the youngest daughter showed the most courage, and she resolved to fulfill her father's promise.

The mother soon thought up a good plan. She said, "Dear ones, let's not be afraid. If the bear should come to hold you to your promise, dear husband, instead of giving him our youngest daughter, let's give him the herdsman's daughter. He will be satisfied with her."

This proposal was accepted. The daughters were happy once again, and they were very pleased with their beautiful presents. The youngest one always kept her nut twig with her, and she soon forgot the bear and her father's promise.

But one day a dark carriage rattled through the street and up to the front of the merchant's house. The ugly bear climbed out and walked into the house growling. He went up to the startled man and asked that his promise be fulfilled. Quickly and secretly they fetched the herdsman's daughter, who was very ugly, dressed her in good clothes, and put her in the bear's carriage.

The journey began. Once outside the town, the bear laid his wild shaggy head in the shepherd girl's lap and growled,

Tussle me, scuffle me
Soft and gentle, behind my ears,
Or I will eat you, skin and bone

The girl began to do so, but she did not do it the way the bear wanted her to, and he realized that he had been deceived. He was about to eat the disguised shepherd girl, but in her fright she quickly fled from the carriage.

Then the bear rode back to the merchant's house and, with terrible threats, demanded the right bride. So the dear maiden had to come forward, and -- following a bitterly sorrowful farewell -- she rode away with the ugly bridegroom.

Once outside the town, he laid his coarse head in the girl's lap and growled again,

Tussle me, scuffle me
Soft and gentle, behind my ears,
Or I will eat you, skin and bone

And the girl did just that, and she did it so softly that it pacified him, and his terrible bearish expression became friendly. Gradually the bear's poor bride began to gain some trust toward him. The journey did not last long, for the carriage traveled extremely fast, like a windstorm through the air. They soon came to a very dark forest, and the carriage suddenly stopped in front of a dark and yawning cave. This was where the bear lived. Oh, how the girl trembled!

The bear embraced her with his claw-arms and said to her with a friendly growl, "This is where you will live, my little bride; and you will be happy, as long as you behave yourself here, otherwise my wild animals will tear you apart."

As soon as they had gone a few steps inside the dark cave, he unlocked an iron door and stepped with his bride into a room that was filled with poisonous worms. They hissed at them rapaciously. The bear growled into his little bride's ear,

Do not look around!
Neither right nor left,
Straight ahead, and you'll be safe!

Then the girl did indeed walk through the room without looking around, and all the while not a single worm stirred or moved. And in this manner they went through ten more rooms, and the last one was filled with the most terrible creatures: dragons and snakes, toads swollen with poison, basilisks and lindorms. And in each room the bear growled,

Do not look around!
Neither right nor left,
Straight ahead, and you'll be safe!

The girl trembled and quaked with fear, like the leaves of an aspen, but she remained steadfast and did not look around, neither right nor left. When the door to the twelfth room opened up, a glistening stream of light shone toward the two of them. The most beautiful music sounded from within, and everywhere there were cries of joy.

Before the bride could comprehend this -- she was still trembling from seeing such horrible things, and now this surprising loveliness -- there was a terrible clap of thunder, and she thought that earth and heaven were breaking apart.

It was soon quiet once again. The forest, the cave, the poisonous animals, and the bear had all disappeared. In their place stood a splendid castle with rooms decorated in gold and with beautifully dressed servants. And the bear had been transformed into a handsome young man. He was the prince of this magnificent castle, and he pressed his little bride to his heart, thanking her a thousand times that she had redeemed him and his servants -- the wild animals -- from their enchantment.

She was now a high and wealthy princess, but she always wore the beautiful nut twig on her breast. It never wilted, and she especially liked to wear it, because it had been the key to her good fortune.

Her parents and sisters were soon informed of this happy turn of events. The bear prince had them brought to the castle, where they lived in splendid happiness forever after.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Kind Stepdaughter and the Frog

There was a stepmother who was very unkind to her stepdaughter and very kind to her own daughter; and used to send her stepdaughter to do all the dirty work. One day she sent her to the pump for some water when a little frog came up through the sink and asked her not to pour dirty water down, as his drawing room was there. So she did not; and as a reward, he said pearls and diamonds should drop from her mouth when she spoke.

When she returned home it happened as he said; and the stepmother, learning how it had come about, sent her own daughter to the pump. When she got there the little frog spoke to her and asked her not to throw dirty water down, and she replied, "Oh! you nasty, dirty little thing, I won't do as you ask me."

Then the frog said, "Whenever you speak, frogs, and toads, and snakes shall drop from your mouth."

She went home and it happened as the frog had said. At night when they were sitting at the table a little voice was heard singing outside:

Come bring me my supper,
My own sweet, sweet one.

When the stepdaughter went to the door, there was the little frog. She brought him in in spite of her stepmother, took him on her knee, and fed him with bits from her plate. After a while he sang:

Come, let us go to bed,
My own sweet, sweet one.

So, unknown to her stepmother, she laid him at the foot of her bed, as she said he was a poor, harmless thing. Then she fell asleep and forgot all about him.

Next morning there stood a beautiful prince, who said he had been enchanted by a wicked fairy and was to be a frog till a girl would let him sleep with her. They were married, and lived happily in his beautiful castle ever after.

This is one of the few folk stories I have been able to collect from the lips of a living storyteller in England.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Shadow Puppets

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in Han times, the favorite wife of the emperor became ill and died. Her husband, the emperor, loved his wife very much. He missed her company. He missed hearing stories about her day. He missed hearing stories of their life together. Everyone in the land thought time would heal his heavy heart. But as time went on, the emperor cared less and less about the activities of the court and of his people.

Everyone wanted to help the emperor, but nothing seemed to work.

One day, a priest in the palace passed some children playing with dolls. The dolls made shadows on the floor, shadows that seemed to dance as the children played. The dancing shadows gave the priest an idea. He hurried away to work on his idea.

First, he made a puppet from cotton balls. He painted the puppet to look somewhat like the emperor's wife. When his puppet was ready, he invited the emperor to a special puppet show.

The emperor appreciated all the things his court had done to cheer him up, but really, all the emperor wanted was to be left alone. He knew the priest would be insistent. The priest was a old friend. With a sigh, a very deep sigh, the emperor agreed to attend the show.

That evening, the priest placed a light behind a curtain, along with himself and his puppet. As he moved the puppet behind the curtain, it cast a dancing shadow. The priest told stories of the emperor's wife. They were wonderful stories, wonderful memories. Even though the priest was there, and the puppet was there, it seemed as if the shadow was telling the story.

The emperor was delighted. He clapped his hands in joy. Every night, after a busy day of taking care of the business of being emperor, the emperor looked forward to hearing "shadow stories" about his wife, and her day, and of their life together.

And that, according to legend, is how shadow puppets were born.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jamie Freel and the Young Lady

Down in Fannet, in times gone by, lived Jamie Freel and his mother. Jamie was the widow's sole support; his strong arm worked for her untiringly, and as each Saturday night came round, he poured his wages into her lap, thanking her dutifully for the halfpence which she returned him for tobacco.

He was extolled by his neighbours as the best son ever known or heard of. But he had neighbours, of whose opinion he was ignorant—neighbours who lived pretty close to him, whom he had never seen, who are, indeed, rarely seen by mortals, except on May eves and Halloweens.

An old ruined castle, about a quarter of a mile from his cabin, was said to be the abode of the "wee folk." Every Halloween were the ancient windows lighted up, and passers-by saw little figures flitting to and fro inside the building, while they heard the music of pipes and flutes.

It was well known that fairy revels took place; but nobody had the courage to intrude on them.

Jamie had often watched the little figures from a distance, and listened to the charming music, wondering what the inside of the castle was like; but one Halloween he got up and took his cap, saying to his mother, "I'm awa' to the castle to seek my fortune."

"What!" cried she, "would you venture there? you that's the poor widow's one son! Dinna be sae venturesome an' foolitch, Jamie! They'll kill you, an' then what'll come o' me?"

"Never fear, mother; nae harm 'ill happen me, but I maun gae."

He set out, and as he crossed the potato field, came in sight of the castle, whose windows were ablaze with light, that seemed to turn the russet leaves, still clinging to the crab tree branches, into gold.

Halting in the grove at one side of the ruin, he listened to the elfin revelry, and the laughter and singing made him all the more determined to proceed.

Numbers of little people, the largest about the size of a child of five years old, were dancing to the music of flutes and fiddles, while others drank and feasted.

"Welcome, Jamie Freel! welcome, welcome, Jamie!" cried the company, perceiving their visitor. The word "Welcome" was caught up and repeated by every voice in the castle.

Time flew, and Jamie was enjoying himself very much, when his hosts said, "We're going to ride to Dublin tonight to steal a young lady. Will you come too, Jamie Freel?"

"Ay, that will I!" cried the rash youth, thirsting for adventure.

A troop of horses stood at the door. Jamie mounted, and his steed rose with him into the air. He was presently flying over his mother's cottage, surrounded by the elfin troop, and on and on they went, over bold mountains, over little hills, over the deep Lough Swilley, over towns and cottages, when people were burning nuts, and eating apples, and keeping merry Halloween. It seemed to Jamie that they flew all round Ireland before they got to Dublin.

"This is Derry," said the fairies, flying over the cathedral spire; and what was said by one voice was repeated by all the rest, till fifty little voices were crying out, "Deny! Derry! Derry!"

In like manner was Jamie informed as they passed over each town on the rout, and at length he heard the silvery voices cry, "Dublin! Dublin!"

It was no mean dwelling that was to be honoured by the fairy visit, but one of the finest houses in Stephen's Green.

The troop dismounted near a window, and Jamie saw a beautiful face, on a pillow in a splendid bed. He saw the young lady lifted and carried away, while the stick which was dropped in her place on the bed took her exact form.

The lady was placed before one rider and carried a short way, then given another, and the names of the towns were cried out as before.

They were approaching home. Jamie heard "Rathmullan," "Milford," "Tamney," and then he knew they were near his own house.

"You've all had your turn at carrying the young lady," said he. "Why wouldn't I get her for a wee piece?"

"Ay, Jamie," replied they, pleasantly, "you may take your turn at carrying her, to be sure."

Holding his prize very tightly, he dropped down near his mother's door.

"Jamie Freel, Jamie Freel! is that the way you treat us?" cried they, and they too dropped down near the door.

Jamie held fast, though he knew not what he was holding, for the little folk turned the lady into all sorts of strange shapes. At one moment she was a black dog, barking and trying to bite; at another, a glowing bar of iron, which yet had no heat; then, again, a sack of wool.

But still Jamie held her, and the baffled elves were turning away, when a tiny woman, the smallest of the party, exclaimed, "Jamie Freel has her awa' frae us, but he sall hae nae gude o' her, for I'll mak' her deaf and dumb," and she threw something over the young girl.

While they rode off disappointed, Jamie lifted the latch and went in.

"Jamie, man!" cried "his mother, "you've been awa' all night; what have they done on you?"

"Naething bad, mother; I ha' the very best of gude luck. Here's a beautiful young lady I ha' brought you for company.

"Bless us an' save us!" exclaimed the mother, and for some minutes she was so astonished that she could not think of anything else to say.

Jamie told his story of the night's adventure, ending, by saying, "Surely you wouldna have allowed me to let her gang with them to be lost forever?"

"But a lady, Jamie! How can a lady eat we'er poor diet, and live in we'er poor way? I ax you that, you foolitch fellow?"

"Weel, mother, sure it's better for her to be here nor over yonder," and he pointed in the direction of the castle.

Meanwhile, the deaf and dumb girl shivered in her light clothing, stepping close to the humble turf fire.

"Poor crathur, she's quare and handsome! Nae wonder they set their hearts on her," said the old woman, gazing at her guest with pity and admiration. "We maun dress her first; but what, in the name o' fortune, hae I fit for the likes o' her to wear?"

She went to her press in "the room," and took out her Sunday gown of brown drugget; she then opened a drawer, and drew forth a pair of white stockings, a long snowy garment of fine linen, and a cap, her "dead dress," as she called it.

These articles of attire had long been ready for a certain triste ceremony, in which she would some day fill the chief part, and only saw the light occasionally, when they were hung out to air; but she was willing to give even these to the fair trembling visitor, who was turning in dumb sorrow and wonder from her to Jamie, and from Jamie back to her.

The poor girl suffered herself to be dressed, and then sat down on a "creepie" in the chimney corner, and buried her face in her hands.

"What'll we do to keep up a lady like thou?" cried the old woman.

"I'll work for you both, mother," replied the son.

"An' how could a lady live on we'er poor diet?" she repeated.

"I'll work for her," was all Jamie's answer.

He kept his word. The young lady was very sad for a long time, and tears stole down her cheeks many an evening while the old woman spun by the fire, and Jamie made salmon nets, an accomplishment lately acquired by him, in hopes of adding to the comfort of his guest.

But she was always gentle, and tried to smile when she perceived them looking at her; and by degrees she adapted herself to their ways and mode of life. It was not very long before she began to feed the pig, mash potatoes and meal for the fowls, and knit blue worsted socks.

So a year passed, and Halloween came round again. "Mother," said Jamie, taking down his cap, "I'm off to the ould castle to seek my fortune."

"Are you mad, Jamie?" cried his mother, in terror; "sure they'll kill you this time for what you done on them last year."

Jamie made light of her fears and went his way.

As he reached the crab tree grove, he saw bright lights in the castle windows as before, and heard loud talking. Creeping under the window, he heard the wee folk say, "That was a poor trick Jamie Freel played us this night last year, when he stole the nice young lady from us."

"Ay," said the tiny woman, "an' I punished him for it, for there she sits, a dumb image by his hearth; but he does na' know that three drops out o' this glass I hold in my hand wad gie her her hearing and her speeches back again."

Jamie's heart beat fast as he entered the hall. Again he was greeted by a chorus of welcomes from the company: "Here comes Jamie Freel! welcome, welcome, Jamie!"

As soon as the tumult subsided, the little woman said, "You be to drink our health, Jamie, out o' this glass in my hand."

Jamie snatched the glass from her and darted to the door. He never knew how he reached his cabin, but he arrived there breathless, and sank on a stove by the fire.

"You're kilt surely this time, my poor boy," said his mother.

"No, indeed, better luck than ever this time!" and he gave the lady three drops of the liquid that still remained at the bottom of the glass, notwithstanding his mad race over the potato field.

The lady began to speak, and her first words were words of thanks to Jamie.

The three inmates of the cabin had so much to say to one another, that long after cock-crow, when the fairy music had quite ceased, they were talking round the fire.

"Jamie," said the lady, "be pleased to get me paper and pen and ink, that I may write to my father, and tell him what has become of me."

She wrote, but weeks passed, and she received no answer. Again and again she wrote, and still no answer.

At length she said, "You must come with me to Dublin, Jamie, to find my father."

"I ha' no money to hire a car for you," he replied, "an' how can you travel to Dublin on your foot?"

But she implored him so much that he consented to set out with her, and walk all the way from Fannet to Dublin. It was not as easy as the fairy journey; but at last they rang the bell at the door of the house in Stephen's Green.

"Tell my father that his daughter is here," said she to the servant who opened the door.

"The gentleman that lives here has no daughter, my girl. He had one, but she died better nor a year ago."

"Do you not know me, Sullivan?"

"No, poor girl, I do not."

"Let me see the gentleman. I only ask to see him."

"Well, that's not much to ax; we'll see what can be done."

In a few moments the lady's father came to the door.

"Dear father," said she, "don't you know me?"

"How dare you call me your father?" cried the old gentleman, angrily. "You are an impostor. I have no daughter."

"Look in my face, father, and surely you'll remember me."

"My daughter is dead and buried. She died a long, long time ago." The old gentleman's voice changed from anger to sorrow. "You can go," he concluded.

"Stop, dear father, till you look at this ring on my finger. Look at your name and mine engraved on it."

"It certainly is my daughter's ring; but I do not know how you came by it. I fear in no honest way."

"Call my mother, she will be sure to know me," said the poor girl, who, by this time, was crying bitterly.

"My poor wife is beginning to forget her sorrow. She seldom speaks of her daughter now. Why should I renew her grief by reminding her of her loss?"

But the young lady persevered, till at last the mother was sent for.

"Mother," she began, when the old lady came to the door, "don't you know your daughter?"

"I have no daughter; my daughter died and was buried a long, long time ago."

"Only look in my face, and surely you'll know me."

The old lady shook her head. "You have all forgotten me; but look at this mole on my neck. Surely, mother, you know me now?"

"Yes, yes," said the mother, " my Gracie had a mole on her neck like that; but then I saw her in her coffin, and saw the lid shut down upon her."

It became Jamie's turn to speak, and he gave the history of the fairy journey, of the theft of the young lady, of the figure he had seen laid in its place, of her life with his mother in Fannet, of last Halloween, and of the three drops that had released her from her enchantment.

She took up the story when he paused, and told how kind the mother and son had been to her.

The parents could not make enough of Jamie. They treated him with every distinction, and when he expressed his wish to return to Fannet, said they did not know what to do to show their gratitude.

But an awkward complication arose. The daughter would not let him go without her. "If Jamie goes, I'll go too," she said. "He saved me from the fairies, and has worked for me ever since. If it had not been for him, dear father and mother, you would never have seen me again. If he goes, I'll go too."

This being her resolution, the old gentleman said that Jamie should become his son-in-law. The mother was brought from Fannet in a coach and four, and there was a splendid wedding.

They all lived together in the grand Dublin house, and Jamie was heir to untold wealth at his father-in-law's death.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cat and Mouse

Once upon a time a cat and a mouse went for a walk together, and the cat bit off the mouse's tail.

So the mouse said to the cat, "Give me back my tail."

The cat said to the mouse, "If you will get me some cheese."

So the mouse went to the innkeeper and said:

Innkeeper, give me some cheese! I'll give it to the cat,
And the cat will give me back my tail.

The innkeeper said, "If you will fetch me a knife."

So the mouse went to the blacksmith and said:

Blacksmith, give me a knife! I'll give it to the innkeeper,
And the innkeeper will give me cheese for the cat,
And the cat will give me back my tail.

The blacksmith said, "If you will fetch me a horn."

So the mouse went to the goat and said:

Goat, give me a horn! I'll give it to the blacksmith,
And the blacksmith will give me a knife for the innkeeper,
And the innkeeper will give me cheese for the cat,
And the cat will give me back my tail.

The goat said, "If you will fetch me some hay."

So the mouse went to the farmer and said:

Farmer, give me hay! I'll give it to the goat,
And the goat will give me a horn for the blacksmith,
And the blacksmith will give me a knife for the innkeeper,
And the innkeeper will give me cheese for the cat,
And the cat will give me back my tail.

The farmer said, "If you will fetch me some soup."

So the mouse went to the cook and said:

Cook, give me soup! I'll give it to the farmer,
And the farmer will give me hay for the goat,
And the goat will give me a horn for the blacksmith,
And the blacksmith will give me a knife for the innkeeper,
And the innkeeper will give me cheese for the cat,
And the cat will give me back my tail.

The cook said, "If you will fetch me some slippers."

So the mouse went to the shoemaker and said:

Shoemaker, give me slippers! I'll give them to the cook,
And the cook will give me soup for the farmer,
And the farmer will give me hay for the goat,
And the goat will give me a horn for the blacksmith,
And the blacksmith will give me a knife for the innkeeper,
And the innkeeper will give me cheese for the cat,
And the cat will give me back my tail.

The shoemaker said, "If you will fetch me some bristles."

So the mouse went to the sow and said:

Sow, give me bristles! I'll give them to the shoemaker,
And the shoemaker will give me slippers for the cook,
And the cook will give me soup for the farmer,
And the farmer will give me hay for the goat,
And the goat will give me a horn for the blacksmith,
And the blacksmith will give me a knife for the innkeeper,
And the innkeeper will give me cheese for the cat,
And the cat will give me back my tail.

The sow said, "If you will fetch me some bran."

So the mouse went to the miller and said:

Miller, give me bran! I'll give it to the sow,
And the sow will give me bristles for the shoemaker,
And the shoemaker will give me slippers for the cook,
And the cook will give me soup for the farmer,
And the farmer will give me hay for the goat,
And the goat will give me a horn for the blacksmith,
And the blacksmith will give me a knife for the innkeeper,
And the innkeeper will give me cheese for the cat,
And the cat will give me back my tail.

The miller said, "If you will fetch me some water."

So the mouse went to the brook in order to fetch water. But she fell in and drowned.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Magic Moneybag

Long, long ago there was a young couple who lived in a small thatched hut in a gully. They were so poor that every day they had to cut two bundles of firewood and carry them to market on their backs.

One day, the young couple came back from the mountain carrying the firewood. They put one bundle in the courtyard and planned to sell it at the market the next day to buy rice. The other bundle they kept in the kitchen for their own use. When they woke up the following morning, the bundle in the courtyard had mysteriously disappeared. There was nothing to do but to sell the bundle which they had kept for themselves.

That same day, they cut another two bundles of firewood as usual. They put one bundle in the courtyard for market and kept the other bundle for their own use. But the following morning, the bundle in the courtyard had vanished again. The same thing happened on the third and fourth day as well, and the husband began to think there was something strange going on.

On the fifth day, he made a hollow in the bundle of firewood in the courtyard and hid himself inside it. From the outside it looked just the same as before. At midnight an enormous rope descended from the sky, attached itself to the bundle and lifted it up into the sky, with the woodcutter still inside it.

On his arrival in heaven, he saw a kindly looking, white-haired old man coming in his direction. The old man untied the bundle and when he found the man inside it, he asked, "Other people only cut one bundle of firewood a day. Why do you cut two?"

The woodcutter made a bow and replied, "We are penniless. That's why my wife and I cut two bundles of firewood a day. One bundle is for our own use and the other we carry to the market. With it we can buy rice to make porridge."

The old man chuckled and said to the woodcutter in a warmhearted tone of voice, "I've known for a long time that you are a decent couple and lead a frugal and hardworking life. I shall give you a piece of treasure. Take it back with you and it will provide you with your livelihood."

As soon as he had finished speaking, there came seven fairies who led the young man into a magnificent palace. Its golden eaves and gleaming roof tiles shone so brightly that the moment he entered, he could no longer open his eyes. Inside the palace there were many kinds of rare objects on display that he had never seen before. Moneybags of all shapes and sizes hung in one room. The fairies asked him, "Which one do you like best? Choose whichever you please, and take it home."

The woodcutter was beside himself with joy, "I'd like that moneybag, the one full of precious things. Give me that round, bulging one." He chose the biggest one and took it down.

Just at this moment, the white-haired old man came in and, with a stern expression on his face, said to the young man, "You cannot take that one. I'll give you an empty one. Every day you can take one tael of silver out of it, and no more." The woodcutter reluctantly agreed. He took the empty moneybag and, clinging onto the enormous rope, he was lowered to the ground.

Once home, he gave the moneybag to his wife and told her the whole story. She was most excited. In the daytime they went as usual to cut firewood. But from then on, whenever they returned home after dark, they would close the door and open the moneybag. Instantly, a lump of silver would roll jingling out. When they weighed it on the palm of their hand, they found it to be exactly one tael. Every day one tael of silver and no more came rolling out of the bag. The wife saved them up one by one.

Time went slowly by. One day the husband suggested, "Let's buy an ox."

The wife didn't agree. A few days later, the husband suggested again, "How about buying a few acres of land?"

His wife didn't agree with that either. A few more days elapsed, and the wife herself proposed, "Let's build a little thatched cottage."

The husband was itching to spend all the money they had saved and said, "Since we have so much money in hand, why don't we build a big brick house?"

The wife could not dissuade her husband and reluctantly went along with his idea.

The husband spent the money on bricks, tiles and timber and on hiring carpenters and masons. From that time on, neither of them went into the mountain to cut firewood any more. The day came when their pile of silver was almost exhausted, but the new house was still unfinished. It had long been in the back of the husband's mind to ask the moneybag to produce more silver. So without his wife's knowledge, he opened the bag for a second time that day. Instantly, another lump of snow-white silver rolled jingling out of the bag onto the ground. He opened it a third time and received a third lump.

He thought to himself, "If I go on like this, I can get the house finished in no time!" He quite forgot the old man's warning. But when he opened the bag for the fourth time, it was absolutely empty. This time not a scrap of silver came out of it. It was just an old cloth bag. When he turned to look at his unfinished brick house, that was gone as well. There before him was his old thatched hut.

The woodcutter felt very sad. His wife came over and consoled him, "We can't depend on the magic moneybag from heaven. Let's go back to the mountain to cut firewood as we did before. That's a more dependable way of earning a living."

From that day on, the young couple once again went up to the mountain to cut firewood and led their old, hardworking life.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Frog's Skin

There were once three brothers who wished to marry. They said, "Let us each shoot an arrow, and each shall take his wife from the place where the arrow falls." They shot their arrows; those of the two elder brothers fell on noblemen's houses, while the youngest brother's arrow fell in a lake. The two elder brothers led home their noble wives, and the youngest went to the shore of the lake. He saw a frog creep out of the lake and sit down upon a stone. He took it up and carried it back to the house. All the brothers came home with what fate had given them; the elder brothers with the noble maidens, and the youngest with a frog.

The brothers went out to work. The wives prepared the dinner and attended to all their household duties. The frog sat by the fire croaking, and its eyes glittered. Thus they lived together a long time in love and harmony.

At last the sisters-in-law wearied of the sight of the frog. When they swept the house, they threw out the frog with the dust. If the youngest brother found it, he took it up in his hand; if not, the frog would leap back to its place by the fire and begin to croak. The noble sisters did not like this, and said to their husbands, "Drive this frog out, and get a real wife for your brother." Every day the brothers bothered the youngest.

He replied, saying, "This frog is certainly my fate. I am worthy of no better. I must be faithful to it." His sisters-in-law persisted in telling their husbands that the brother and his frog must be sent away, and at last they agreed.

The young brother was now left quite desolate. There was no one to make his food, no one to stand watching at the door. For a short time a neighboring woman came to wait upon him, but she had not time, so he was left alone. The man became very melancholy.

Once when he was thinking sadly of his loneliness, he went to work. When he had finished his day's labor, he went home. He looked into his house and was struck with amazement. The sideboard was well replenished; in one place was spread a cloth, and on the cloth were many different kinds of tempting dishes. He looked and saw the frog in its place croaking. He said to himself that his sisters-in-law must have done this for him, and went to his work again. He was out all day working, and when he came home he always found everything prepared for him.

Once he said to himself, "I will see for once who is this unseen benefactor, who comes to do good to me and look after me." That day he stayed at home; he seated himself on the roof of the house and watched. In a short time the frog leaped out of the fireplace, jumped over to the doors, and all around the room. Seeing no one there, it went back and took off the frog's skin, put it near the fire, and came forth a beautiful maiden, fair as the sun; so lovely was she that the man could not imagine anything prettier. In the twinkling of an eye she had tidied everything, prepared the food, and cooked it. When everything was ready, she went to the fire, put on the skin again, and began to croak. When the man saw this he was very much astonished; he rejoiced exceedingly that God had granted him such happiness. He descended from the roof, went in, caressed his frog tenderly, and then sat down to his tasty supper.

The next day the man hid himself in the place where he had been the day before. The frog, having satisfied itself that nobody was there, stripped off its skin and began its good work. This time the man stole silently into the house, seized the frog's skin in his hand and threw it into the fire. When the maiden saw this she entreated him, she wept, and she said, "Do not burn it, or you shall surely be destroyed," but the man had burned it in a moment. "Now, if your happiness be turned to misery, it is not my fault," said the sorrow-stricken woman.

In a very short time the whole countryside knew that the man who had a frog now possessed in its place a lovely woman, who had come to him from heaven.

The lord of the country heard of this, and wished to take her from him. He called the beautiful woman's husband to him and said, "Sow a barnful of wheat in a day, or give me your wife." When he had spoken thus, the man was obliged to consent, and he went home melancholy.

When he went in he told his wife what had taken place. She reproached him, saying, "I told you what would happen if you did burn the skin, and you did not heed me; but I will not blame you. Be not sad; go in the morning to the edge of the lake from which I came, and call out, 'Mother and Father! I pray you, lend me your swift bullocks.' Lead them away with you, and the bullocks will in one day plow the fields and sow the grain." The husband did this.

He went to the edge of the lake and called out, "Mother and Father! I entreat you, lend me your swift bullocks today." There came forth from the lake such a team of oxen as was never seen on sea or land.

The youth drove the bullocks away, came to his lord's field, and plowed and sowed them in one day.

His lord was very much surprised. He did not know if there was anything impossible to this man, whose wife he wanted. He called him a second time, and said, "Go and gather up the wheat you have sown, that not a grain may be wanting, and that the barn may be full. If you do not do this, your wife is mine."

"This is impossible," said the man to himself. He went home to his wife, who again reproached him, and then said, "Go to the lake's edge and ask for the jackdaws."

The husband went to the edge of the lake and called out, "Mother and Father! I beg you to lend me your jackdaws today." From the lake came forth flocks of jackdaws; they flew to the plowed ground, each gathered up a seed and put it into the barn.

The lord came and cried out, "There is one seed short; I know each one, and one is missing." At that moment a jackdaw's caw was heard; it came with the missing seed, but owing to a lame foot it was a little late.

The lord was very angry that even the impossible was possible to this man, and could not think what to give him to do.

He puzzled his brain until he thought of the following plan. He called the man and said to him, "My mother, who died in this village, took with her a ring. If you go to the other world and bring that ring back to me, it is well; if not, I shall take away your wife."

The man said to himself, "This is quite impossible." He went home and complained to his wife. She reproached him, and then said, "Go to the lake and ask for the ram."

The husband went to the lake and called out, "Mother and Father! Give me your ram today, I pray you." From the lake there came forth a ram with twisted horns; from its mouth issued a flame of fire. It said to the man, "Mount on my back!"

The man sat down, and, quick as lightning, the ram descended towards the lower regions. It went on and shot like an arrow through the earth.

They traveled on, and saw in one place a man and woman sitting on a bullock's skin, which was not big enough for them, and they were like to fall off. The man called out to them, "What can be the meaning of this, that this bullock skin is not big enough for two people?"

They said, "We have seen many pass by like you, but none has returned. When you come back we shall answer your question."

They went on their way and saw a man and woman sitting on an ax handle, and they were not afraid of falling. The man called out to them, "Are you not afraid of falling from the handle of an ax?"

They said to him, "We have seen many pass by like you, but none has returned. When you come back we shall answer your question."

They went on their way again, until they came to a place where they saw a priest feeding cattle. This priest had such a long beard that it spread over the ground, and the cattle, instead of eating grass, fed on the priest's beard, and he could not prevent it. The man called out, "Priest, what is the meaning of this? Why is your beard pasture for these cattle?"

The priest replied, "I have seen many pass by like you, but none has returned. When you come back I shall answer your question."

They journeyed on again until they came to a place where they saw nothing but boiling pitch, and a flame came forth from it -- and this was hell. The ram said, "Sit firmly on my back, for we must pass through this fire." The man held fast. The ram gave a leap, and they escaped through the fire unhurt.

There they saw a melancholy woman seated on a golden throne. She said; "What is it, my child? What troubles you? What has brought you here?" He told her everything that had happened to him. She said, "I must punish this very wicked child of mine, and you must take him a casket from me." She gave him a casket, and said, "Whatever you do, do not open this casket yourself. Take it with you, give it to your lord, and run quickly away from him."

The man took the casket and went away. He came to the place where the priest was feeding the cattle. The priest said, "I promised you an answer. Hearken unto my words: In life I loved nothing but myself; I cared for nothing else. My flocks I fed on other pastures than my own, and the neighboring cattle died of starvation. Now I am paying the penalty."

Then he went on to the place where the man and woman were sitting on the handle of the ax. They said, "We promised you an answer. Hearken unto our words: We loved each other too well on earth, and it is the same with us here."

Then he came to the two seated on the bullock skin, which was not big enough for them. They said, "We promised you an answer. Hearken unto our words: We despised each other in life, and we equally despise each other here."

At last the man came up on earth, descended from the ram, and went to his lord. He gave him the casket and quickly ran away. The lord opened the casket, and there came forth fire, which swallowed him up. Our brother was thus victorious over his enemy, and no one took his wife from him. They lived lovingly together, and blessed God as their deliverer.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Clinking Clanking Lowesleaf

Once upon a time there was a king who had three daughters. The youngest was his pride and joy. One day he wanted to go to the fair to buy something, and he asked his three daughters what he should bring home for them. The first one asked for a golden spinning wheel. The second one a golden yarn reel, and the third one a clinking clanking lowesleaf. The king promised to bring these things and rode away. At the fair he bought the golden spinning wheel and the golden yarn reel, but no one had a clinking clanking lowesleaf for sale. He looked everywhere, but could not find one. This saddened him, because the youngest daughter was the joy of his life, and he wanted to please her ever so much.

As he sorrowfully made his way homeward, he came to a great, great forest and to a large birch tree. Under the birch tree there lay a large black poodle dog. Because the king looked so sad, the dog asked him what was the matter. "Oh," answered the king, "I was supposed to bring a clinking clanking lowesleaf to my youngest daughter, whom I love above anything else, but I cannot find one anywhere, and that is why I am so sad."

"I can help you," said the poodle. "The clinking clanking lowesleaf grows in this tree. If a year and a day from now you will give me that which first greets you upon your arrival home today, then you can have it."

At first the king did not want to agree, but he thought about it long and hard, then said to himself, "What could it be but our dog? Go ahead and make the promise." And he made the promise.

The poodle wagged his tail, climbed up into the birch, broke off the leaf with his frizzy-haired paw, and gave it to the king, saying, "You had better keep your word, or you will wish that you had!" The king repeated his promise, took the leaf, and rode on joyfully.

As he approached home, his youngest daughter jumped out with joy to greet him. The king was horrified. His heart was so filled with grief that he pushed her aside. She started to cry, thinking, "What does this mean, that father is pushing me away?" and she went inside and complained to her mother. Soon the king came in. He gave the oldest girl the golden spinning wheel, the middle one the golden yarn reel, and the youngest one the clinking clanking lowesleaf, and he was quiet and sad. Then the queen asked him was wrong with him, and why he had pushed the youngest daughter away; but he said nothing.

He grieved the entire year. He lamented and mourned and became thin and pale, so concerned was he. Whenever the queen asked him what was wrong, he only shook his head or walked away. Finally, when the year was nearly at its end, he could not longer keep still, and he told her about his misfortune, and thought that his wife would die of shock. She too was horrified, but she soon took hold of herself and said, "You men don't think of anything! After all, don't we have the goose herder's daughter? Let's dress her up and give her to the poodle. A stupid poodle will never know the difference."

The day arrived, and they dressed up the goose girl in their youngest daughter's clothes until she looked just perfect. They had scarcely finished when they heard a bark outside, and a scratching sound at the gate. They looked out, and sure enough, it was the large black poodle dog. They wondered who had taught him to count. After all, a year has more than three hundred days, and even a human can lose count, to say nothing of a dog! But he had not lost count. He had come to take away the princess.

The king and queen greeted him in a friendly manner, then led him outside to the goose girl. He wagged his tail and pawed at her, then he lay down on his belly and said,

Sit upon my tail,
And I'll take you away!

She sat down on him, and he took off across the heath. Soon they came to a great, great forest. When they came to the large birch tree, the poodle stopped to rest a while, for it was a hot day, and it was cool and shady here. Around and about there were many daisies [called Gänseblümchen -- goose flowers -- in German] poking up their white heads from the beautiful grass, and the girl thought about her parents, and sighed, "Oh, if only my father were here. He could graze the geese so nicely here in this beautiful, lush meadow."

The poodle stood up, shook himself, and said, "Just what kind of a girl are you?"

"I am a goose girl, and my father tends geese," she answered. She would have liked to say what the queen had told her to say, but it was impossible for anyone to tell a lie under this tree. She could not, and she could not.

He jumped up abruptly, looked at her threateningly, and said, "You are not the right one. I have no use for you:"

Sit upon my tail,
And I'll take you away!

They were not far from the king's house, when the queen saw them and realized which way the wind was blowing. Therefore she took the broom binder's daughter, dressed her up in even more beautiful clothes. When the poodle arrived and made nasty threats, she brought the broom girl out to him, saying, "This is the right girl!"

"We shall see," responded the poodle dog. The queen became very uneasy, and the king's throat tightened, but the poodle wagged his tail and scratched, then lay down on his belly, saying,

Sit upon my tail,
And I'll take you away!

The broom girl sat down on him, and he took off across the heath. Soon they too came to the great forest and to the large birch tree. As they sat there resting, the girl thought about her parents, and sighed, "Oh, if only my father were here. He could make brooms so easily, for here there are masses of thin twigs!"

The poodle stood up, shook himself, and said, "Just what kind of a girl are you?"

She wanted to lie, for the queen had ordered her to, and she was a very strict mistress, but she could not, because she was under this tree, and she answered, "I am a broom girl, and my father makes brooms."

He jumped up as though he were mad, looked at her threateningly, and said, "You are not the right one. I have no use for you:"

Sit upon my tail,
And I'll take you away!

They approached the king's house, and the king and queen, who had been steadily looking out the window, began to moan and cry, especially the king, for the youngest daughter was the apple of his eye. The court officials cried and sobbed as well, and there was nothing but mourning everywhere. But it was to no avail. The poodle arrived and said, "This time give me the right girl, or you will wish that you had!" He spoke with such a frightful voice and made such angry gestures, that everyone's heart stood still, and their skin shuddered. Then they led out the youngest daughter, dressed in white, and as pale as snow. It was as though the moon had just come out from behind dark clouds. The poodle knew that she was the right one, and said with a caressing voice,

Sit upon my tail,
And I'll take you away!

He ran much more gently this time, and did not stop in the great forest under the birch tree, but hurried deeper and deeper into the woods until they finally reached a small house, where he quietly lay the princess, who had fallen asleep, onto a soft bed. She slumbered on and dreamed about her parents, and about the strange ride, and she laughed and cried in her sleep. The poodle lay down in his hut and kept watch over the little house and the princess.

When she awoke the next morning and found herself soul alone, she cried and grieved and wanted to run away, but she could not, because the house was enchanted. It let people enter, but no one could leave. There was plenty there to eat and drink, everything that even a princess could desire, but she did not want anything and did not take a single bite. She could neither see nor hear the poodle, but the birds sang wonderfully. There were deer grazing around and about, and they looked at the princess with their large eyes. The morning wind curled her golden locks and poured fresh color over her face. The princess sighed and said, "Oh, if only someone were here, even if it were the most miserable, dirty beggar woman. I would kiss her and hug her and love her and honor her!"

"Is that true?" screeched a harsh voice close behind her, startling the princess. She looked around, and there stood a bleary-eyed woman as old as the hills. She glared at the princess and said, "You called for a beggar woman, and a beggar woman is here! In the future do not despise beggar women. Now listen well! The poodle dog is an enchanted prince, this hut an enchanted castle, the forest an enchanted city, and all the animals enchanted people. If you are a genuine princess and are also kind to poor people, then you can redeem them all and become rich and happy. The poodle goes away every morning, because he has to, and every evening he returns home, because he wants to. At midnight he pulls off his rough hide and becomes an ordinary man. If he knocks on your bedroom door, do not let him in, however much he asks and begs, not the first night, not the second night, and especially not the third night. During the third night, after he has tired himself out talking and has fallen asleep, take the hide, make a large fire, and burn it. But first lock your bedroom door securely, so that he cannot get in, and do not open it when he scratches on the door, if you cherish your life. And on your wedding day say three times, don't forget it now, say three times:

Old tongues,
Old lungs!

and I will see you again." The princess took very careful notice of everything, and the old woman disappeared.

The first night the prince asked and begged her to open her door, but she answered, "No, I'll not do it," and she did not do it. The second night he asked her even more sweetly, but she did not answer at all. She buried her head in her pillow, and she did not open the door. The third night he asked her so touchingly and sang such beautiful melodies to her, that she wanted to jump up and open the door for him, but fortunately she remembered the old woman and her mother and father. She pulled the bedcovers over her head, and did not open the door. Complaining, the prince walked away, but she did not hear him leave. While he slept she built up the fire, crept out on tiptoe, picked up the rough hide from the corner where the poodle always put it, barred the bedroom door, and threw it into the flames. The poodle jumped up howling, gnawed and clawed at the door, threatened, begged, growled, and howled again. But she did not open the door, and he could not open the door, however fiercely he threw himself against it.

The fire flamed up brightly one last time, and there was an enormous bang, as if heaven and hell had exploded. Standing before her was the most handsome prince in the world. The hut was now a magnificent castle, the forest a great city full of palaces, and the animals were all kinds of people.

At their wedding ceremony, the prince and the princess were seated at the table with the old king and the old queen and the two sisters and many rich and important people, when the bride called out three times,

Old tongues,
Old lungs!

and the tattered old woman came in. The old queen scolded, and the two princesses scolded, and they wanted to chase her away, but the young queen stood up and let the old woman sit down at her place, eat from her plate, and drink from her goblet. When the old woman had eaten and drunk her fill, she looked at the old queen and the evil daughters, and they became crooked and lame. But she blessed the young queen, and she became seven times more beautiful, and no one ever saw or heard from the old woman again.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Robbers and the Farm Animals

Once upon a time there was a miller's servant who had served his master faithfully and diligently for many years. He had grown old in the mill, and the heavy work that he had to do there finally surpassed his strength. So one day he said to his master: "I can no longer serve you; I am too weak. I am therefore asking you for my dismissal and my wages."

The miller said: "The time of wandering servants has passed. You are free to leave if you wish, but you will receive no wages.

Now the old servant would sooner give up his wages than to continue to be tormented in the mill, so he took leave from his master.

Before leaving home he went to the animals that until now he had fed and tended, in order to bid them farewell. While taking leave from the horse, it said to him: "Where are you going?"

"I have to leave," he said. "I cannot take it here any longer." And when he set forth, the horse followed along after him.

He then went to the ox, stroked him once again, and said: "God be with you, old fellow!"

"Where are you going?" spoke the ox.

"Oh, I must leave. I cannot take it here any longer," said the miller's servant and sadly went on his way to take leave from the dog. The ox followed along behind, just as the horse had done. And the other animals to whom he said farewell -- the dog, the cat, and the goose -- all did the same thing.

He made his way out into the country, where he first noticed that the faithful animals were following him. He spoke to them in a friendly manner, asking them to turn around and return home. "I have nothing more for myself," he said, "and I can no longer care for you." But the animals told him that they would not abandon him, and they contentedly followed along behind.

After several days they came to a great forest. Here the horse and the ox found good grass, which the goose and the rooster enjoyed as well. However, the other animals -- the cat and the dog -- had to suffer hunger, as did the old miller's servant; but they did not grumble and complain. Finally, after having gone very deep into the forest, they suddenly saw a large, beautiful house before them. It was locked up securely. Only an empty stall was open, and from here they could go through the barn into the house itself.

Because no one could be seen in the house, the servant decided to stay there with his animals, and he assigned each one to a place. He put the horse up front in the stall. He led the ox to the other side. The rooster was given a place on the roof, the dog on the manure pile, the cat on the hearth, and the goose behind the stove. Then he gave each one his feed, which was plentifully stored in the house. He himself ate and drank all he wanted, then fell asleep in a good bed, which was all made up in the bedroom.

During the night, while he was fast asleep, the robber -- who owned the forest house -- returned. As he stepped into yard, the dog jumped on him furiously, and barked at him. The rooster cried down from the roof: "Cock-a-doodle-doo, cock-a-doodle-doo!" All this terrified the robber, for he had never seen farm animals that live with people, knowing instead only the wild animals of the forest. He fled hurriedly into the stall, but there the horse kicked out from behind, hitting him in the side. He staggered around and around, and only with difficulty could he retreat into the back part of the stall. He scarcely arrived there when the ox turned around and tried to pick him up on his horns. This frightened him anew, and he ran as fast as he could through the barn and into the kitchen, where he wanted to strike a light and see what was there. Feeling around the hearth, he touched the cat, which jumped on him and scratched him with its claws until jumped away head over heels, and tried to hide behind the stove in the main room. The goose jumped up, screaming and beating its wings. The terrified robber fled into the bedroom. There the miller's servant was snoring mightily like a purring spinning wheel, and the robber thought the entire room was filled with strangers. You had better believe that he was overcome by a terrible fear. He rushed out of the house and ran into the woods, not stopping until until he had found his fellow robbers.

He began talking: "I don't know what has happened in our house. Some strange people are living there. When I stepped into the yard a large wildman jumped at me, yelling and bellowing so terribly that I thought he would kill me. An another one cheered him on, calling down from the roof: 'Hit him for me too! Hit him for me too!' The first one was bad enough; I wasn't going to wait for more of them to jump me, so I fled into the stall. There a shoemaker threw a last at my side, and I can still feel where it hit. I ran to the back of the stall. A pitchfork maker was standing there who tried to impale me on his pitchfork. I ran into the kitchen, where a hackle maker beat me with his hackle [a sharp-toothed tool for combing flax]. I tried to hide behind the stove, but there was a shovel maker there who beat me with his shovel. Finally I ran into the bedroom, but there were so many others snoring in there that was happy to escape with my life."

When the robbers heard this, they were so horrified that not a one of them had any desire to enter the house. To the contrary, they believed that the entire region was threatened by these strange people. That same night they departed for another country, and they never returned.

The miller's servant lived in peace in the robbers' house with his faithful animals. He no longer had to suffer in his old age, for the beautiful garden next to the house produced more fruit, vegetables, and all kinds of food every year than he and his animals could eat.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cat and Mouse in Partnership

A cat and a mouse wanted to live together and keep house as a partnership. They prepared for winter by buying a pot of fat, and because they had no safer spot for it, they placed it under the alter in the church until such time that they would need it. However, one day the cat took a longing for it, and approached the mouse. "Listen, little mouse, my cousin has invited me to serve as godfather. She has given birth to a brown and white spotted little son, and I am supposed to carry him to his baptism. Is it all right for me to leave you home alone with the housework today?"

"Go ahead," said the mouse, "and if they serve you something good, just think of me. I would certainly welcome a drop of good red christening wine." But the cat went straight to the church and ate the top off the fat and then went strolling about the town and did not return home until evening.

"You must have had a good time," said the mouse. "What name did they give the child?"

"Top-Off," answered the cat.

"Top-Off? That's a strange name, one that I've not yet heard."

Soon afterward the cat took another longing, went to the mouse, and said, "I've been asked to serve as godfather once again. The child has a white ring around its body. I can't say no. You'll have to do me a favor and take care of the house by yourself today."

The mouse agreed, and the cat went and ate up half the fat. When she returned home, the mouse asked, "What name did this godchild receive?"


"Half-Gone? What are you telling me? I've never heard that name. It certainly isn't in the almanac."

Now the cat could not take his mind off the pot of fat. "I've been invited to serve as godfather for a third time," he said. "The child is black and has white paws, but not another white hair on his entire body. That only happens once in a few years. You will let me go, won't you?"

"Top-Off, Half-Gone," said the mouse. "Those names are so curious that it makes me a bit suspicious, but go ahead."

The mouse took care of the house and cleaned up everything, while the cat finished off the pot of fat. Round and full, she did not return until nighttime.

"What is the third child's name?"


"All-Gone! That is a worrisome name!" said the mouse. "All-Gone. Just what does this mean? I've never seen that name in print," and she shook her head and went to bed.

No one invited the cat to serve as godfather a fourth time. Winter soon came, and when they could no longer find anything to eat outside, the mouse said to the cat, "Let's get the provisions that we've hid in the church under the altar." They went there, but the pot was empty.

"Now I see!" said the mouse. "You came here when you said you were invited to be a godfather. First came Top-Off, then it was Half-Gone, and then..."

"Be still," said the cat. "I'll eat you up, if you say another word."

"All-Gone" was already in the poor mouse's mouth, and she had scarcely said it before the cat jumped on her and swallowed her down.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Frog Prince

At a city there is a certain king; a widow lives at a house near his palace. She subsists by going to this royal palace and pounding rice there; having handed it over, she takes away the rice powders and lives on it.

During the time while she was getting a living in this way, she bore a frog, which she reared there. When it was grown up, the king of that city caused this proclamation to be made by beat of tom-toms, "I will give half my kingdom, and goods amounting to an elephant's load to the person who brings the Jeweled Golden Cock that is at the house of the Rakshasi (ogress).

The frog took the bundle of rice, and hanging it from his shoulder, went to an indi (wild date) tree, scraped the leaf off a date spike (the mid-rib of the leaf), and strung the rice on it. While going away after stringing it, the frog then became like a very good-looking royal prince, and a horse and clothing for him made their appearance there. Putting on the clothes he mounted the horse, and making it bound along he went on till he came to a city.

Hearing that he had arrived, the king of that city prepared quarters for this prince to stay at, and having given him ample food and drink, asked, "Where art thou going?"

Then the prince said, "The king of our city has made a proclamation by beat of tom-toms, that he will give half his kingdom and an elephant's load of gold to the person who brings him the Jeweled Golden Cock that is at the Rakshasi's house. Because of it I am going to fetch the Jeweled Golden Cock."

The king, being pleased with the prince on account of it, gave him a piece of charcoal. "Should you be unable to escape from the Rakshasi while returning after taking the Jeweled Golden Cock, tell this piece of charcoal to be created a fire-fence, and cast it down," he said. Taking it, he went to another city.

The king of that city in that very manner having prepared quarters, and made ready and given him food and drink, asked, "Where art thou going?" The prince replied in the same words, "I am going to bring the Jeweled Golden Cock that is at the house of the Rakshasi." That king also being pleased on account of it, gave him a stone, "Should you be unable to escape from the Rakshasi, tell this stone to be created a mountain, and cast it down," he said.

Taking the charcoal and the stone which those two kings gave him, he went to yet another city. The king also in that very manner having given him quarters, and food and drink, asked, "Where art thou going?" The prince in that very way said, "I am going to bring the Jeweled Golden Cock." That king also being greatly pleased gave him a thorn. "Should you be unable to escape from the Rakshasi, tell a thorn fence to be created, and cast down this thorn," he said.

On the next day he went to the house of the Rakshasi. She was not at home; the Rakshasi's daughter was there. That girl having seen the prince coming and not knowing him, asked "Elder brother, elder brother, where are you going?"

The prince said, "Younger sister, I am not going anywhere whatever. I came to beg at your hands the Jeweled Golden Cock which you have got."

To that she replied, "Elder brother, today indeed I am unable to give it. Tomorrow I can. Should my mother come now she will eat you; for that reason come and hide yourself."

Calling him into the house, she put him in a large trunk at the bottom of seven trunks, and shut him up in it.

After a little time had passed, the Rakshasi came back. Having come and seen that the prince's horse was there, she asked her daughter, "Whose is this horse?"

Then the Rakshasi's daughter replied, "Nobody's whatever. It came out of the jungle, and I caught it to ride on."

The Rakshasi having said, "If so, it is good," came in. While lying down to sleep at night, the sweet odor of the prince having reached the Rakshasi, she said to her daughter, "What is this, Bola? A smell of a fresh human body is coming to me."

Then the Rakshasi's daughter said, "What, mother! Do you say so? You are constantly eating fresh bodies; how can there not be an odor of them?"

After that, the Rakshasi, taking those words for the truth, went to sleep.

At dawn on the following day, as soon as she arose, the Rakshasi went to seek human flesh for food. After she had gone, the Rakshasa-daughter, taking out the prince who was shut up in the box, told that prince a. device on going away with the Jeweled Golden Cock: "Elder brother, if you. are going away with the cock, take some cords and fasten them round my shoulders. Having put them round me, take the cock, and having mounted the horse, go off, making him bound quickly. When you have gone, I shall cry out. Mother comes when I give three calls. After she has come, loosening me will occupy much time; then you will be able to get away."

In the way she said, the prince tied the Rakshasa-daughter, and taking the Jeweled Golden Cock mounted the horse, and making it bound quickly came away.

As that Rakshasa-daughter said, while she was calling out, the Rakshasi came. Having come, after she looked about (she found that) the Rakshasa-daughter was tied, and the Jeweled Golden Cock had been taken away. After she had asked, "Who was it? Who took it?" the Rakshasa-daughter said, "I don't know who it was." After that, she very quickly unfastened the Rakshasa-daughter, and both of them came running to eat that prince.

The prince was unable to go quickly. While going, the prince turned round, and on looking back saw that this Rakshasi and the Rakshasa-daughter were coming running to eat that prince.

After that, he cast down the thorn which the above-mentioned king of the third city gave him, having told a thorn fence to be created. A thorn fence was created. Having jumped over it, they came on.

After that, when he had put down the piece of stone which the king of the second city gave him, and told a mountain to be created a mountain was created. They sprang over that mountain also, and came on.

After that, he cast down the charcoal which the king of the first city gave him, having told a fire fence to be created. In that very manner, a fire fence was created. Having come to it, while jumping over it, both of them were burnt and died.

From that place, the prince came along. While coming, he arrived at the Indi tree on which he had threaded the rice, and having taken off it all that dried-up rice, he began to eat it. On coming to the end of it, the person who was like that prince again became a frog.

After he became a frog, the clothes that he was wearing, and the horse, and the Jeweled Golden Cock vanished. Out of grief on that account, that frog died at that very place.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Frog for a Husband

Off in a valley, among very stony mountains, lived an old farmer named Pak We and his wife. His land was poor and he had to toil from sunrise to sunset and often in the night, when the moon was shining, to get food. No child had ever come to his home and he was in too great straits of poverty to adopt a son. So he took his amusement in fishing in the pond higher up on the hills that fed the stream which watered his millet and rice fields. Being very skilful, he often caught a good string of fish and these he sold in the village nearby to get for himself and his wife the few comforts they needed. Thus the old couple kept themselves happy, despite their cheerless life, though they often wondered what would become of them when they got too old to work.

But one summer Pak noticed that there were fewer fish in the pond, and that every day they seemed to be less in number. Where he used to catch a stringful in an hour, he could hardly get half that many during a whole day.

What was the matter? Was he getting less skilful? Was the bait poor? Not at all! His worms were as fat, his hooks and lines in as good order, and his eyesight was as keen as ever.

When Pak noticed also that the water was getting shallower, he was startled. Could it be that the pond was drying up? Things grew worse day by day until at last there were no fish.

Where once sparkled the wavelets of a pond was now an arid waste of earth and stones, over which trickled hardly more than a narrow rill, which he could jump over. No fish and no pond meant no water for his rice fields. In horror at the idea of starving, or having to move away from his old home and become a pauper, Pak looked down from what had been the banks of the pond to find the cause of all this trouble. There in the mud among the pebbles he saw a bullfrog, nearly as big as an elephant, blinking at him with its huge round eyes.

In a rage the farmer Pak burst out, charging the frog with cruelty in eating up all the fish and drinking up all the water, threatening starvation to man and wife. Then Pak proceeded to curse the whole line of the frog's ancestors and relatives, especially in the female line, for eight generations back, as Koreans usually do.

But instead of being sorry, or showing any anger at such a scolding, the bullfrog only blinked and bowed, saying, "Don't worry, Farmer Pak. You'll be glad of it, by and by. Besides, I want to go home with you and live in your house."

"What! Occupy my home, you clammy reptile! No you won't," said Pak.

"Oh! but I have news to tell you and you won't be sorry, for you see what I can do. Better take me in."

Old Pak thought it over. How should he face his wife with such a guest? But then, the frog had news to tell and that might please the old lady, who was fond of gossip. Since her husband was not very talkative, she might be willing to harbor so strange a guest. So they started down the valley. Pak shuffled along as fast as his old shins could move, but the bullfrog covered the distance in a few leaps, for his hind legs were three feet long.

Arrived at his door, Mrs. Pak was horrified at the prospect of boarding such a guest. But when the husband told her that Froggie knew all about everybody and could chat interestingly by the hour, she changed her manner and bade him welcome. Indeed, she so warmed in friendliness that she gave him one of her best rooms. All the leaves, grass, and brushwood that had been gathered in the woodshed to supply the kitchen fire and house flues, was carried into the room. There it was doused with tubs of water to make a nice soft place such as bullfrogs like. After this he was fed all the worms he wanted.

Then after his dinner and a nap, Mrs. Pak and Mr. Pak donned their best clothes and went in to make a formal call on their guest. Mr. Pak put on his horsehair hat and long white coat, as white as snow, which had been starched and beaten by his loving wife, until it glistened all over like hoar frost.

Mr. Bullfrog was so affable and charming in conversation, besides telling so many good stories and serving up so many dainty bits of gossip, that Mrs. Pak was delighted beyond expression. Indeed, she felt almost like adopting Froggie as her son.

The night passed quietly away, but when the first rays of light appeared, Froggie was out on the porch singing a most melodious tune to the rising sun. When Mr. and Mrs. Pak rose up to greet their guest and to hear his song, they were amazed to find that the music was bringing them blessings. Everything they had wished for, during their whole lives, seemed now at hand, with more undreamed of coming in troops. In the yard stood oxen, donkeys, and horses loaded with every kind of box, bale, and bundle, waiting to be unloaded, and more were coming; stout men porters appeared and began to unpack, while troops of lovely girls in shining white took from the men's hands beautiful things made of jade, gold, and silver. There were fine clothes and hats for Mr. Pak, jade-tipped hairpins, tortoise-shell and ivory combs, silk gowns, embroidered and jeweled girdles, and every sort of frocks and woman's garments for Mrs. Pak, besides inlaid cabinets, clothes racks, and wardrobes. Above all, was a polished metal mirror that looked like the full autumn moon, over which Mrs. Pak was now tempted to spend every minute of her time.

Four or five of the prettiest maidens they had ever seen in all their lives danced, sang and played sweetest music. The unpacking of boxes, bales, and bundles continued. Tables of jade and finest sandalwood were spread with the richest foods and wines. Soon, under the skilful hands of carpenters and decorators, instead of oiled paper on the floors, covering old bricks and broken flat stones set over the flues, and smoky rafters and mud walls poorly papered, there rose a new house. It had elegant wide halls and large rooms with partitions made of choicest joiner work. It was furnished with growing flowers, game boards for chess, and had everything in it like a palace.

As for the riches of the larder and the good things to eat daily laid on the table, no pen but a Korean's can tell of them all. In the new storehouse were piles of dried fish, edible seaweed, bags of rice, bins of millet, tubs of kim-chee made of various sorts of the pepper-hash, and Korean hot pickle in which the natives delight, to say nothing of peaches, pears, persimmons, chestnuts, honey, barley, sugar, candy, cake, and pastry, all arranged in high piles and gay colors.

The old couple seemed able to eat and enjoy twice as big dinners as formerly, for all the while the adopted bullfrog was very entertaining. Mr. and Mrs. Pak laughed continually, declaring they had never heard such good stories as he told. The good wife was, however, quite equal to her guest in retailing gossip. One of her favorite subjects, of which she never tired, was the beauty and charm of Miss Peach. She was the accomplished daughter of the big Yang-ban, or nobleman, Mr. Poom, who lived in a great house, with a host of servants and retainers in the next village, and Mrs. Pak insisted there was no young woman in the world like her. It was noticed that Mr. Bullfrog was particularly interested when Miss Peach Poom was the subject of the old lady's praises.

After a week of such luxury, during which Mr. and Mrs. Pak seemed to dwell in the Nirvana, or Paradise, which the good priests often talked about, Mr. Pak's full cup of joy was dashed to earth when the bullfrog informed him that he intended to marry, and that Mr. Pak must get him a wife. Still worse than that, Pak was informed by the frog that he would have no one but Miss Peach, the daughter of Poom, so renowned for her beauty and graces.

At this, old Pak nearly went wild. He begged to be excused from the task, but the bullfrog was inexorable. So, after imprecating his wife's tongue, for her ever putting it into the frog's head to marry Miss Peach, he donned his fine clothes and set out to see Mr. Poom. He expected to be beaten to death for his brazen effrontery in asking a noble lady to marry a frog.

Now this Mr. Poom had long been the magistrate of a district, who had squeezed much money wrongly from the poor people over whom he ruled, and having won great wealth, had retired and come back to his native place to live. Yet to keep up his old habits, he still kept a cross bench on which common people who offended him were thrown and beaten with paddles, until often they went away bleeding cripples. This man had two daughters married, but the third, the youngest and most beautiful, Miss Peach, now eighteen years old, was the only one Mr. Bullfrog would have for his bride.

Arriving at the Pooms' grand mansion, Mr. Pak told of the suitor's wealth, power and fame, high position and promise, and how he had made the old couple happy.

Old Poom had pricked up his ears from the first mention of riches and power, and became highly interested as Pak went on sounding the praises of his prospective son-in-law.

"And what is his name?" asked Mr. Poom.

Here Pak was in a quandary. He knew that the frog family was the oldest and most numerous in the world and was famous for fine voices. He fell into a brown study for a few minutes. Then, looking up, he declared that he had so long thought of the suitor's graces and accomplishments, that he had forgotten his name and could not then recall it.

So Mr. Poom, in order to help Pak out, ran over the list of famous families in Korea, reciting the names of the Kims, Sims, Mins, the Hos, Chos, Kos, Quongs, and Hongs, etc., etc., for Mr. Poom was an authority on the Korean peerage.

"It is none of these," said Pak. "I deeply regret that I cannot recall the name."

"Strange," said Mr. Poom. "I have named all the families of any standing in the kingdom. What is his office or rank and where do his relations live?"

Pak was pressed so hard by Mr. Poom's searching questions that at last he had to confess that the suitor for the beautiful maiden was not a man but a frog.

"What! Do you want me to marry my daughter to a pond-croaker? You shall suffer for thus insulting me in my own house. Slaves, bring the cross bench and give this wretch twenty blows."

Forthwith, while four men brought out the whipping bench, three others seized poor Pak, stripped off his coat, and bound him with feet and arms stretched out to the bench. Then a tall, stalwart fellow raised the huge paddle of wood to let fall with all his might on the bare flesh of the old man. But all this while the sky was darkening, and, before the first blow was given, the lightning flashed, the thunder rolled, and floods of rain fell that threatened to overwhelm house, garden, and all in a deluge. The hail, which began to pelt the cattle, was first the size of an egg and then of stones, like cannon balls.

"Hold," cried the frightened Mr. Poom. "I'll wait and ask further."

Thereupon the lightning and thunder ceased, the sun burst out in splendor.

Mightily impress by this, Mr. Poom at last agreed to let his daughter become the bride of the frog, not telling her who her husband was to be. Within an hour, while she was getting ready, a string of fine horses and donkeys with palanquins loaded with presents for the bride and her family appeared. Besides boxes of silk dresses and perfumes, headgear and articles for a lady's boudoir, there were troops of maidens to wait on the bride. Arraying Miss Peach in the loveliest of robes, they also dressed her hair, until, what with satin puffs and frame, jade-tipped silver hairpins, rosettes, and flowers, her headgear stood over a foot high above her forehead, on which was the bride's red round spot.

Then, when the happy maiden had sufficiently admired herself in the metal mirror and heard the praises of her attendant virgins, she entered the bridal palanquin -- a gorgeous mass of splendor. According to custom, her eyes were sealed shut and covered with wax, for a Korean bride sees nothing of her husband until the end of the feast, when she meets him in the bridal chamber.

So to his house she was carried in great pomp and with gay attendance of brilliantly arrayed maidens. The marriage ceremony and the grand supper were happy affairs for all the guests, even though the bride, according to Korean etiquette, was as if blind, quietly and patiently waiting sightless throughout the whole joyful occasion. The actual ceremony was witnessed only by the foster parents and the bridegroom.

When in the bridal chamber, the bride having unsealed her eyes, and her vision being clear, she looked up at the one she had married and found not a man, but a frog, she was furiously angry. She burst out into a protest against having such a bridegroom. Gently and in tenderest tones the bridegroom attempted first to comfort her. Then, handing her a pair of scissors, he begged her to rip open the skin along his back from shoulder to thigh, for it was very tight and he was suffering pain from it. In her bitter disappointment at being married to a frog, she seized the scissors and almost viciously began to cut from nape to waist. Her surprise was great to find what seemed to be silk underneath the speckled skin.

When she had slit down two yards or so, her husband the frog stood upon his hind legs. He twisted himself about as if in a convulsion, pulled his whole speckled hide hard with his front paws, and then jumping out of his skin, stood before his bride a prince. Fair, tall, of superb figure, and gorgeously arrayed, he was the ideal of her dreams. A jeweled baldric bound his waist, embroidery of golden dragons on his shoulders and breast told of his rank, while on his head was the cap of royalty with a sparkling diamond in the centre. Yet no clothes, handsome as they were, could compare in beauty with his glorious manhood. Never had she seen so fair a mortal.

Happy was the bride whose feelings were thus changed in a moment from repulsion and horror to warmest affection and strongest veneration. The next morning when, to the amazement of his foster father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Pak, the prince presented himself and his bride at breakfast, he told the story of his life. As son of the King of the Stars he had committed some offense, in punishment for which his father condemned him to live upon the earth in the form of a frog. Furthermore he had laid upon his son the duty of performing three tasks. These must be done before he should be allowed to come back and live in Star Land. These were, to drink up all the water in the lake, to eat all the fish, and to win a human bride, the handsomest woman in the world.

All the precious things which he had presented to Pak and his wife to make their old days comfortable, and the gifts sent to the bride's house before her wedding day, had come by power from the skies. Now, leaving his foster parents on earth to enjoy their gifts, he must return home to his father, taking his bride with him. Scarcely had he spoken these words than a chariot and horses, silver bright, appeared at the door of the house. Bowing low to his foster parents, and stepping in with his bride, the pair disappeared beyond the clouds. From this time forth a new double star was seen in the sky.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Dog Bride

Once upon a time there was a youth who used to herd buffaloes; and as he watched his animals graze he noticed that exactly at noon every day a she-dog used to make its way to a ravine, in which there were some pools of water. This made him curious and he wondered to whom it belonged and what it did in the ravine. So he decided to watch, and one day when the dog came he hid himself and saw that when it got to the water, it shed its dog skin, and out stepped a beautiful maiden and began to bathe. And when she had finished bathing she put on the skin and became a dog again, and went off to the village. The herdboy followed her and watched into what house she entered, and he inquired to whom the house belonged. Having found out all about it, he went back to his work.

That year the herdboy's father and mother decided that it was time for him to marry and began to look about for a wife for him. But he announced that he had made up his mind to have a dog for his wife, and he would never marry a human girl.

Everyone laughed at him for such an extraordinary idea, but he could not be moved. So at last they concluded that he must really have the soul of a dog in him, and that it was best to let him have his own way. So his father and mother asked him whether there was any particular dog he would like to have for his bride, and then he gave the name of the man into whose house he had tracked the dog that he had seen going to the ravine. The master of the dog laughed at the idea that anyone should wish to marry her, and gladly accepted a bride's price for her. So a day was fixed for the wedding and the booth built for the ceremony, and the bridegroom's party went to the bride's house, and the marriage took place in due form, and the bride was escorted to her husband's house.

Every night when her husband was asleep, the bride used to come out of the dog's skin and go out of the house. And when her husband found out this, he one night only pretended to go to sleep and lay watching her. And when she was about to leave the room he jumped up and caught hold of her and seizing the dog skin, threw it into the fire, where it was burnt to ashes. So his bride remained a woman, but she was of more than human beauty. This soon became known in the village, and everyone congratulated the herdboy on his wisdom in marrying a dog.

Now the herdboy had a friend named Jitu, and when Jitu saw what a prize his friend had got, he thought that he could not do better than marry a dog himself. His relations made no objection, and a bride was selected, and the marriage took place, but when they were putting vermilion on the bride's forehead she began to growl; but in spite of her growling they dragged her to the bridegroom's house, and forcibly anointed her with oil and turmeric. But when the bride's party set off home, the dog broke loose and ran after them. Then everyone shouted to Jitu to run after his bride and bring her back, but she only growled and bit at him, so that he had at last to give it up.

Then everyone laughed at him so much that he was too ashamed to speak, and two or three days later he hanged himself.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Zelinda and the Monster

There was once a poor man who had three daughters; and as the youngest was the fairest and most civil, and had the best disposition, her other two sisters envied her with a deadly envy, although her father, on the contrary, loved her dearly. It happened that in a neighboring town, in the month of January, there was a great fair, and that poor man was obliged to go there to lay in the provisions necessary for the support of his family; and before departing he asked his three daughters if they would like some small presents in proportion, you understand, to his means. Rosina wished a dress, Marietta asked him for a shawl, but Zelinda was satisfied with a handsome rose.

The poor man set out on his journey early the next day, and when he arrived at the fair quickly bought what he needed, and afterward easily found Rosina's dress and Marietta's shawl; but at that season he could not find a rose for his Zelinda, although he took great pains in looking everywhere for one. However, anxious to please his dear Zelinda, he took the first road he came to, and after journeying a while arrived at a handsome garden enclosed by high walls; but as the gate was partly open he entered softly. He found the garden filled with every kind of flowers and plants, and in a corner was a tall rosebush full of beautiful rosebuds. Wherever he looked no living soul appeared from whom he might ask a rose as a gift or for money, so the poor man, without thinking, stretched out his hand, and picked a rose for his Zelinda.

Mercy! Scarcely had he pulled the flower from the stalk when there arose a great noise, and flames darted from the earth, and all at once there appeared a terrible monster with the figure of a dragon, and hissed with all his might, and cried out, enraged at that poor Christian, "Rash man! what have you done? Now you must die at once, for you have had the audacity to touch and destroy my rosebush."

The poor man, more than half dead with terror, began to weep and beg for mercy on his knees, asking pardon for the fault he had committed, and told why he had picked the rose; and then he added, "Let me depart; I have a family, and if I am killed they will go to destruction"

But the monster, more wicked than ever, responded, "Listen; one must die. Either bring me the girl that asked for the rose or I will kill you this very moment." It was impossible to move him by prayers or lamentations; the monster persisted in his decision, and did not let the poor man go until he had sworn to bring him there in the garden his daughter Zelinda.

Imagine how downhearted that poor man returned home! He gave his oldest daughters their presents and Zelinda her rose; but his face was distorted and as white as though he had arisen from the dead; so that the girls, in terror, asked him what had happened and whether he had met with any misfortune. They were urgent, and at last the poor man, weeping bitterly, related the misfortunes of that unhappy journey and on what condition he had been able finally to return home. "In short," he exclaimed, "either Zelinda or I must be eaten alive by the monster."

Then the two sisters emptied the vials of their wrath on Zelinda. "Just see," they said, "that affected, capricious girl! She shall go to the monster! She who wanted roses at this season. No, indeed! Papa must stay with us. The stupid creature!"

At all these taunts Zelinda, without growing angry, simply said, "It is right that the one who has caused the misfortune should pay for it. I will go to the monster's. Yes, Papa, take me to the garden, and the Lord's will be done."

The next day Zelinda and her sorrowful father began their journey and at nightfall arrived at the garden gate. When they entered they saw as usual no one, but they beheld a lordly palace all lighted and the doors wide open. When the two travelers entered the vestibule, suddenly four marble statues, with lighted torches in their hands, descended from their pedestals, and accompanied them up the stairs to a large hall where a table was lavishly spread. The travelers, who were very hungry, sat down and began to eat without ceremony; and when they had finished, the same statues conducted them to two handsome chambers for the night. Zelinda and her father were so weary that they slept like dormice all night.

At daybreak Zelinda and her father arose, and were served with everything for breakfast by invisible hands. Then they descended to the garden, and began to seek the monster. When they came to the rosebush he appeared in all his frightful ugliness. Zelinda, on seeing him, became pale with fear, and her limbs trembled, but the monster regarded her attentively with his great fiery eyes, and afterward said to the poor man, "Very well; you have kept your word, and I am satisfied. Now depart and leave me alone here with the young girl."

At this command the old man thought he should die; and Zelinda, too, stood there half stupefied and her eyes full of tears; but entreaties were of no avail; the monster remained as obdurate as a stone, and the poor man was obliged to depart, leaving his dear Zelinda in the monster's power.

When the monster was alone with Zelinda he began to caress her, and make loving speeches to her, and managed to appear quite civil. There was no danger of his forgetting her, and he saw that she wanted nothing, and every day, talking with her in the garden, he asked her, "Do you love me, Zelinda? Will you be my wife?"

The young girl always answered him in the same way, "I like you, sir, but I will never be your wife."

Then the monster appeared very sorrowful, and redoubled his caresses and attentions, and, sighing deeply, said, "But you see, Zelinda, if you should marry me wonderful things would happen. What they are I cannot tell you until you will be my wife."

Zelinda, although in her heart not dissatisfied with that beautiful place and with being treated like a queen, still did not feel at all like marrying the monster, because he was too ugly and looked like a beast, and always answered his requests in the same manner.

One day, however, the monster called Zelinda in haste, and said, "Listen, Zelinda; if you do not consent to marry me it is fated that your father must die. He is ill and near the end of his life, and you will not be able even to see him again. See whether I am telling you the truth." And, drawing out an enchanted mirror, the monster showed Zelinda her father on his deathbed.

At that spectacle Zelinda, in despair and half mad with grief, cried, "Oh, save my father, for mercy's sake! Let me be able to embrace him once more before he dies. Yes, yes, I promise you I will be your faithful and constant wife, and that without delay. But save my father from death."

Scarcely had Zelinda uttered these words when suddenly the monster was transformed into a very handsome youth. Zelinda was astounded by this unexpected change, and the young man took her by the hand, and said, "Know, dear Zelinda, that I am the son of the King of the Oranges. An old witch, touching me, changed me into the terrible monster I was, and condemned me to be hidden in this rosebush until a beautiful girl consented to become my wife."