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Sunday, December 21, 2014

2 More Roma Myths Again

There was once a pretty young girl with no husband, no father, no mother, no brothers, no kinsfolk: they were all dead and gone. She lived alone in a hut at the end of the village; and no one came near her, and she never went near any one. One evening a goodly wanderer came to her, opened the door, and cried, 'I am a wanderer, and have been far in the world. Here will I rest; I can no further go.' The maiden said, 'Stay here, I will give thee a mattress to sleep on, and, if thou wilt, victuals and drink too.' The goodly wanderer soon lay down and said, 'Now once again I sleep; it is long since I slept last:' 'How long?' asked the girl; and he answered, 'Dear maid, I sleep but one week in a thousand years.' The girl laughed and said, 'Thou jestest, surely? thou art a roguish fellow.' But the wanderer was sound asleep.

Early next morning he arose and said, 'Thou art a pretty young girl. If thou wilt, I will tarry here a whole week longer.' She gladly agreed, for already she loved the goodly wanderer. So once they were sleeping, and she roused him and said, 'Dear man, I dreamt such an evil dream. I dreamt thou hadst grown cold and white, and we drove in a beautiful carriage, drawn by six white birds. Thou didst blow on a mighty horn; then dead folk came up and went with us--thou wert their king.' Then answered the goodly wanderer, ' That was an evil dream.' Straightway he arose and said, 'Beloved, I must go, for not a soul has died this long while in all the world. I must off, let me go.' But the girl wept and said, 'Go not away; bide with me.' 'I must go,' he answered, 'God keep thee.' But, as he reached her his hand, she said sobbing, 'Tell me, dear man, who thou art then.' 'Who knows that dies,' said the wanderer, 'thou askest vainly; I tell thee not who I am.' Then the girl wept and said, 'I will suffer everything, only do tell me who thou art.' 'Good,' said the man,' 'then thou comest with me. I am Death.' The girl shuddered and died.

There was once a poor Gypsy with a very beautiful daughter, whom he guarded like the apple of his eye, for he wanted to marry her to a chieftain. So he always kept her in the tent when the lads and lasses sat of an evening by the fire and told stories, or beguiled the time with play and dance. Only a dog was the constant companion of this poor maiden. No one knew whom the dog belonged to, or where he came from. He had joined the band once, and thenceforth continued the trusty companion of the poor beautiful maiden.

It befell once that her father must go to a far city, to sell there his besoms, baskets, spoons, and troughs. He left his daughter with the other women in the tents on the heath, and set out with the men for the city. This troubled the poor girl greatly, for no one would speak to her, as all the women envied her for her beauty and avoided her; in a word, they hated the sight of her. Only the dog remained true to her; and once, as she sat sorrowfully in front of the tent, he said, 'Come, let us go out on the heath; there I will tell you who I really am.' The girl was terrified, for she had never heard of a dog being able to speak like a man; but when the dog repeated his request, she got up and went with him out on the heath. There the dog said, 'Kiss me, and I shall become a man.' The girl kissed him, and lo! before her stood a man of wondrous beauty. He sat down beside her in the grass, and told how a fairy had turned him into a dog for trying to steal her golden apples, and how he could resume his human shape for but one night in the year, and only then if a girl had kissed him first. Much more had the two to tell, and they toyed in the long grass all the livelong night. When day dawned, the girl slipped back with the dog to her tent; and the two henceforth were the very best of friends.

The poor Gypsy came back from the city to the heath, merry because he had made a good bit of money. When again he must go to the city to sell his besoms and spoons, the girl remained behind with the dog in the camp, and one night she brought forth a little white puppy. In her terror and anguish she ran to the great river, and jumped into the water. When the people sought to draw her out of the water, they could not find her corpse; and the old Gypsy, her father, would have thrown himself in too, when a handsome strange gentleman came up, and said, 'I'll soon get you the body.' He took a bit of bread, kissed it, and threw it into the water. The dead girl straightway emerged from the water. The people drew the corpse to land, and bore it back to the tents, in three days' time to bury it. But the strange gentleman said, 'I will bring my sweetheart to life.' And he took the little white puppy, the dead girl's son, and laid it on the bosom of the corpse. The puppy began to suck, and when it had sucked its full, the dead girl awoke, and, on seeing the handsome man, started up and flew into his arms, for he was her lover who had lived with her as a white dog.

All greatly rejoiced when they heard this marvellous story, and nobody thought of the little white puppy, the son of the beautiful Gypsy girl. All of a sudden they heard a baby cry; and when they looked round, they saw a little child lying in the grass. Then was the joy great indeed. The little puppy had vanished and taken human shape. So they celebrated marriage and baptism together, and lived in wealth and prosperity till their happy end.

A rich, mighty king once went hunting, and wandered himself in a great forest. Towards evening he came to a hut, in which lived a poor charcoal-burner. The king asked the poor man his way to the city.

The charcoal-burner answered, 'Sir, the way to the city you could not find by yourself, and to-day I cannot go with you for my wife lies sick, and this very night will bring a child into the world. Lie down here then in the side room, and to-morrow I will guide you to the city.'

The king took the offer, and lay down in the side room; but he could not close an eye for the moaning of the charcoal-burner's wife. Towards midnight she bore a beautiful boy, and now it was quiet in the hut. Yet still the king could not sleep. He got up from his couch, drew near the door, and looked through a chink into the room where the sick woman lay. He could see her sleeping in her bed; her man, fast asleep too, lay behind the stove; and in its cradle was the new-born child, with three ladies in white standing round it.

The king heard one say, 'I wish this boy a misfortune.' The second said, 'And I grant him a means to turn this misfortune to good.'

The third said, 'I will bring to pass his marriage with the daughter of the king who is now in the next room. At this very moment his wife is bringing into the world a girl of marvellous beauty.'

Thereupon the three ladies departed; and the king thought and thought how to destroy this boy. Early next morning the charcoal-burner came into the side room and said, weeping, to the king, 'My poor wife is dead. What can I do with the little child?'

The king answered, quite rejoiced, 'I am the king, and will care for the child. Only show me the way to the city, and I will send one of my servants to fetch the child.'

And so it was. The charcoal-burner guided his king to the city and was richly rewarded; and the king sent a servant back with secret instructions to fling the boy into the river and let him drown. When now the servant was returning from the forest with the child, he flung it, basket and all, into the river, and told the king, 'Most gracious king, I have done as thou hast commanded me.' The king rewarded him, and went now to his wife, who the night before had borne a girl of marvellous beauty.

The basket with the boy went floating about a long time on the water, and at last was seen by a fisherman who drew it out, and took the child home to his wife. They both rejoiced greatly at the sight of this pretty boy; and as they had no children they kept him and brought him up.

Twenty years went by; and the boy, whom his parents called Nameless, grew up a wonderfully pretty lad. Once the king passed the fisherman's hut, and saw the fair youngster. He entered the hut and asked the fisherman, 'Is this pretty youngster your son?'

'No,' said the fisherman, 'twenty years ago I fished him out of the water.'

Then the king was exceeding terrified, and said presently, I will write a letter to the queen, and this lad shall take it to her.'

So he wrote this letter: 'Dear wife, have this lad put forthwith to death, else he will undo us all.'

Nameless set out with the letter for the queen, but on his way to the city lost himself in a forest, and there met a lady in white who said to him, 'You have lost yourself. Come to my hut, and rest a bit; then I'll soon bring you to the queen.'

She led Nameless to her hut, and there he fell fast asleep. The old lady took the letter from his pocket, burnt it, and put another in its stead. When the lad awoke, to his great amazement he found himself in front of the king's house. So he went in to the queen and gave her the letter, in which stood written: 'Dear wife, at once call the pope, and let him plight this lad to our daughter. I wish him to marry her, else a great ill will befall us.'

The queen did as her husband, the king, desired. She bade call the pope, and Nameless and the king's fair daughter became man and wife. When the king came home and learnt of this wedding, he had the letter brought, and saw it was his own handwriting. Then he asked his son-in-law where he had been and whom he had spoken with; and when Nameless told him about the lady in white, the king knew that the fairy 1 had aided him. Nameless was not at all the son-in-law he wanted, and he sought to make away with him, so said, 'Go into the world and fetch me three golden hairs from the head of the Sun-King, then shall you be king along with me.'

Sorrowfully Nameless set out, for he loved his young wife, and she too loved him dearly. As he wandered on he came to a great black lake, and saw a white boat floating on the water. He cried to the old man in it, 'Boat ahoy! come and ferry me over.'

The old man answered, 'I will take you across if you'll promise to bring me word how to escape out of this boat, for only then can I die.'

Nameless promised, and the old man ferried him over the black water. Soon after Nameless came to a great city, where an old man asked him, 'Whither away?'

'To the Sun-King,' said Nameless.

'Couldn't be better. Come, I'll bring you to our king, who'll have something to say to you.'

The king, when Nameless stood before him, said, 'Twenty years ago there was in our city a spring whose water made every one that drank of it grow young. The spring has vanished, and only the Sun-King knows where it is gone to. You are journeying to him, so ask him where it is gone to, and bring us word.'

Nameless promised him to bring word on his return, and departed. Some days after he came to another city, and there another old man met him and asked, 'Whither away?'

'To the Sun-King,' said Nameless.

'That's capital. Come, I'll bring you to our king, who'll have something to say to you.'

When they came to the king, the king said, 'Twenty years ago a tree in this city bore golden apples; whoso ate of those apples grew strong and healthy, and died not. But now for twenty years this tree has put forth no more fruit, and only the Sun-King knows the reason why. So when you come to him, ask him about it, and bring us word.'

Nameless promised him to bring word on his return, and departed. Some days after he reached a great mountain, and there saw an old lady in white sitting in front of a beautiful house. She asked him, 'Whither away?'

'I seek the Sun-King,' said Nameless.

'Come in then,' said the old lady. 'I am the mother of the Sun-King, who daily flies out of this house as a little child, at mid-day becomes a man, and returns of an evening a greybeard.'

She brought Nameless into the house, and made him tell her his story. He told her of the man on the black lake, of the spring, and of the tree that used to bear golden apples.

Then said the old lady, 'I will ask my son all about that. But come, let me hide you; for if my son finds you here he'll burn you up.'

She hid Nameless in a great vessel of water, and bade him keep quiet. At evening the Sun-King came home, a feeble old man with golden head, and got victuals and drink from his mother. When he had eaten and drunk, he laid his golden head in his mother's lap and fell fast asleep. Then the old lady twitched out a golden hair, and he cried, 'Mother, why won't you let me sleep?'

The old lady answered, 'I saw in a dream a city with a tree which used to bear golden apples, and whoso ate of them grew well and healthy, and died not. For twenty years now the tree has put forth no more fruit, and the people know not what they ought to do.'

The Sun-King said, 'They should kill the serpent that gnaws at the root of the tree.'

Again he slept, and after a while his mother twitched out a second hair. Then cried the Sun-King, 'Mother, what's the meaning of this? why can't you let me sleep?'

The old lady answered, 'My dear son, I dreamed of a city with a spring, and whoso drank of it grew young again. Twenty years has this spring ceased to flow, and the people know not what they should do.'

The Sun-King said, 'A great toad is blocking the source of the spring. They should kill the toad, then the spring will flow as before.'

Again he slept, and after a while the old lady in white twitched out a third hair. Then cried the Sun-King, Mother, do let me sleep.'

The old lady answered, 'I saw in a dream a great black lake with an old man rowing about it in a boat, and he doesn't know how to escape from the boat, for only then can he die.'

The Sun-King said, 'Next time he takes any one over, let him hand him the oars and jump ashore himself; then the other must stop in the boat, and the old man can die.'

Again he slept.

Early next morning the Sun-King arose as a lovely child, and flew out of the window. The old lady gave Nameless the three hairs and said, 'Now go to your wife, and give the king the three hairs. I have done for you all that at your birth I promised my sisters. And now farewell.'

She kissed Nameless, and led him outside, and he started off homewards. When he came to the city where the spring had ceased to flow, he told the people to kill the great toad that blocked up the source. They looked, found the toad, and killed it; then the spring flowed again, and the king rewarded him richly. When Nameless came to the city where for twenty years the tree had ceased to bear golden apples, he told the people to kill the serpent that was gnawing the roots of the tree. The people dug down, found the serpent, and killed it. Then the tree again bore golden fruit, and the king rewarded him richly. When Nameless reached the black lake, the old man would not take him across. But Nameless said if he would he would tell him the secret then, so the old man took him across the black water. When he was out of the boat he told the old man to hand his oars to the next passenger and then jump ashore himself; so he would be free and at last could die, but the other would have to go rowing about on the lake.

Nameless soon got back home, and gave the king the three golden hairs; his wife rejoiced greatly, but her father was beside himself for rage. But when Nameless told of the spring and the golden apples, the king cried quite delighted, 'I too must drink of this spring; I too must eat of these golden apples.' He set out instantly, but when he reached the black lake, the old man handed him the oars and jumped ashore. And the king could not leave the boat, and had to stop there on the water. As he never came home, Nameless became king of the country, and lived henceforth with his beautiful bride in peace and prosperity.

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