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Sunday, December 21, 2014

2 More Roma Myths

Sonewhere there was a king who had three daughters, princesses. Those three sisters used to go to meet the devils, and the father knew not where they went to. But there was one called Jankos; Halenka aided him.

The king asks Jankos, 'Don't you know where my daughters go? Not one single night are they at home, and they are always wearing out new shoes.'

Then Jankos lay down in front of the door, and kept watch to see where they went to. But Halenka told him everything; she aided him. 'They will, when they come, fling fire on you, and prick you with needles.' Halenka told him he must not stir, but be like a corpse.

They came, those devils, for the girls, and straightway the girls set out with them to hell. On; on, they walked, but he stuck close to them. As the girls went to hell he followed close behind, but so that they knew it not. He went through the diamond forest; when he came there he cut himself a diamond twig from the forest. He follows; straightway they, those girls, cried, 'Jankos is coming behind us.' For when he broke it, he made a great noise. The girls heard it. 'Jankos is coming behind us.'

But the devils said, 'What does it matter if he is?'

Next they went through the forest of glass, and once more he cut off a twig; now he had two tokens. Then they went through the golden forest, and once more he cut off a twig; so now he had three. Then Halenka tells him, 'I shall change you into a fly, and when you come into hell, creep under the bed, hide yourself there, and see what will happen.'

Then the devils danced with the girls, who tore their shoes all to pieces, for they danced upon blades of knives, and so they must tear them. Then they flung the shoes under the bed, where Jankos took them, so that he might show them at home. When the devils had danced with the girls, each of them threw his girl upon the bed and lay with her; thus did they with two of them, but the third would not yield herself. Then Jankos, having got all he wanted, returned home and lay down again in front of the door, 'that the girls may know I am lying here.'

The girls returned after midnight, and went to bed in their room as if nothing had happened. But Jankos knew well what had happened, and straightway he went to their father, the king, and showed him the tokens. 'I know where your daughters go--to hell. The three girls must own they were there, in the fire. Isn't it true? weren't you there? And if you believe me not, I will show you the tokens. See, here is one token from the diamond forest; then here is one from the forest of glass; a third from the golden forest; and the fourth is the shoes which you tore dancing with the devils. And two of you lay with the devils, but that third one not, she would not yield herself.'

Straightway the king seized his rifle, and straightway he shot them dead. Then he seized a knife, and slit up their bellies, and straightway the devils were scattered out from their bellies. Then he buried them in the church, and laid each coffin in front of the altar, and every night a soldier stood guard over them. But every night those two used to rend the soldier in pieces; more than a hundred were rent thus. At last it fell to a new soldier, a recruit, to stand guard; when he went upon guard he was weeping. But a little old man came to him--it was my God; and Jankos was there with the soldier. And the old man tells him, 'When the twelfth hour strikes and they come out of their coffins, straightway jump in and lie down in-the coffin, and don't leave the coffin, for if you do they will rend you. So don't you go out, even if they beg you and fling fire on you, for they will beg you hard to come out.'

Thus then till morning he lay in the coffin. In the morning those two were alive again, and both kneeling in front of the altar. They were lovelier than ever. Then the soldier took one to wife, and Jankos took the other. Then when they came home with them their father was very glad. Then Jankos and the soldier got married, and if they are not dead they are still alive.

There was a great city. In that city was great mourning; every day it was hung with black cloth and with red. There was in a cave a great dragon; it had four-and-twenty heads. Every day must he eat a woman--ah! God! what can be done in such a case? It is clean impossible every day to find food for that dragon. There was but one girl left. Her father was a very wealthy man; he was a king; over all kings he was lord. And there came a certain wanderer, came into the city, and asked what's new there.

They said to him, 'Here is very great mourning.'

'Why so? any one dead?'

'Every day we must feed the dragon with twenty-four heads. If we failed to feed him, he would crush all our city underneath his feet.'

'I'll help you out of that. It is just twelve o'clock; I will go there alone with my dog.'

He had such a big dog: whatever a man just thought of, that dog immediately knew. It would have striven with the very devil. When the wanderer came to the cave, he kept crying, 'Dragon, come out here with your blind mother. Bread and men you have eaten, but will eat no more. I'll see if you are any good.'

The dragon called him into his cave, and the wanderer said to him, 'Now give me whatever I ask for to eat and to drink, and swear to me always to give that city peace, and never to eat men, no, not one. For if ever I hear of your doing so I shall come back and cut your throat.'

'My good man, fear not; I swear to you. For I see you're a proper man. If you weren't, I should long since have eaten up you and your dog. Then tell me what you want of me.'

'I only want you to bring me the finest wine to drink, and meat such as no man has ever eaten. If you don't, you will see I shall destroy everything that is yours, shall shut you up here, and you will never come out of this cave.'

'Good, I will fetch a basket of meat, and forthwith cook it for you.'

He went and brought him such meat as no man ever had eaten. When he had eaten and drunk his fill, then the dragon must swear to him never to eat anybody, but sooner to die of hunger.

'Good, so let us leave it.'

He went back, that man, who thus had delivered the city, so that it had peace. Then all the gentlemen asked him what he wanted for doing so well. The dragon from that hour never ate any one. And if they are not dead they are still alive.

Somewhere or other there lived a forester. He ill-used his wife and his children, and often got drunk. Then the mother said, 'My children, the father is always beating us, so we'll get our things together and leave him. We will wander out into the world, whither our eyes lead us.'

They took their things, and followed the road through a great forest. They journeyed two days and two nights without reaching any place, so the eldest son said to his mother, 'Mother, dear, night has come on us, let us sleep here.'

'My children,' said the mother, 'pluck moss, make a resting-place, and we will lie down here to sleep.'

The elder son said to his brother, 'Go for wood.'

They made a fire, and seated themselves by it.

Then said the elder son to his brother, 'Now, you must keep watch, for there are wild beasts about, so that we be not devoured. Do you sleep first; then you'll get up, I lie down to sleep, then you will watch again.'

So the younger brother lay down near his mother to sleep; the elder kept watch with his gun. Then he thought within himself, and said, 'Great God! wherever are we in these great forests? Surely we soon must perish.' He climbed up a high tree, and looked all round, till a light flashed in his eyes. When he saw the light, he took his hat from his head, and let it drop. 1 Then he climbed down, and looked to see if his mother was all right. From the spot where his hat lay he walked straight forward for a good distance, a whole half hour. Then he observed a fire. Who were there but four-and-twenty robbers, cooking and drinking? He went through the wood, keeping out of their sight, and loaded his gun; and, just as one of them was taking a drink of wine, he shot the jug right from his lips, so that only the handle was left in his hand. And his gun was so constructed that it made no report.

Then the robber said to his comrade, 'Comrade, why won't you let me alone, but knock the jug out of my mouth?' You fool, I never touched you.'

He took a pull out of another jug, and the lad loaded again. He sat on a tree, and again shot the jug--shot it away from his mouth, so that the handle remained in his hand.

Then the first robber said, 'Will you leave me alone, else I'll pay you out with this knife?'

But his comrade stepped up to him, looking just like a fool; at last he said, 'My good fellow, I am not touching you. See, it is twice that has happened; maybe it is some one in the forest. Take your gun, and let's go and look if there is not some one there.'

They went and they hunted, searched every tree, and found him, the forester's son, sitting on a tree at the very top. They said to him, 'You earth-devil, come down. If you won't, we'll shoot at you till you fall down from the tree.'

But he would not come. Again they ordered him. What was the poor fellow to do? He had to come. When he was down, they each seized him by an arm, and he thought to himself, 'Things look bad with me. I shall never see my mother and brother again. They'll either kill me, or tie me up to a tree.'

They brought him to the fire and asked him, 'What are you?--are you a craftsman?'

'I am one of your trade.'

'If you are of our trade, eat, drink, and smoke as much as your heart desires.'

When he had eaten and drunk, they said, 'Since you are such a clever chap, and such a good shot, there is a castle with a princess in it, whom we went after, but could not come at her anyhow, this princess. Maybe, as you are so smart, there's a big dog yonder that made us run, but as you are such a good shot, and your gun makes no report, you'll kill this dog, and then we'll make you our captain.'

Then they broke up camp, took something to eat and to drink, and came to the castle. When they reached the castle the dog made a great noise. They lifted him up, the forester's son; he aimed his gun, and, as the dog sprang at him, he fired and hit him. The dog made ten more paces, and fell to the earth. As he fell, the lad said to the robbers, 'Comrades, the dog is dead.'

'Brave fellow,' said they, 'now you shall be our captain, for killing the dog; but one thing more you must do. We will make a hole for you in the wall. When we have done that, then--you are so slender--you will creep through the hole.' 1

They made the hole, and he crept through it. Then the robbers said to him, 'Here you, you have to go up a flight of steps, and at the fourth flight you will come to a door. There is one door, two doors, three doors.'

So through each door he passed; then he passed through the third, there were a quantity of swords. He saw they were very fine swords, and took one of them. Then he went to the fourth, opened it slowly; it did not stop him, for the keys were there. Through the keyhole he saw a bed. Then he opened it, and went in. There he saw a princess lying, quite naked, but 1 covered with a cloth of gold. At her feet stood a table, on which lay a pair of golden scissors. There were golden clasps, and there were two rings, and her name was engraved inside one of them. And when he sees her sleeping thus, he thought, 'O great God, what if I were to lie down beside her! Do, my God, as thou wilt.' So he took the scissors, and cut off half the cloth of gold, and lay down beside her; and she could not awake. Then he arose, and took to himself the half of the coverlet and one of the rings and one of her slippers, and went out, taking the sword with him, and shutting the door. As he passed through the fourth door he said to himself, 'I must open it carefully, so as not to waken her mother and father.' He got out safely, then he went through the courtyard to the robbers. When he reached the hole he said to them, 'My dear men, I know where she is. Come, we'll soon have the princess, but you must creep through the hole one after the other.' Then he drew his sword, and, as one came through after the other, he seized him by the head, cut off his head, and cast him aside. When he had done so to the twenty-fourth, he cast away the sword, and returned by the way that he had come to his mother, where they had slept. (He had thought never again to see his mother and his brother.) When he came to his mother, he said, 'Mother, how do you find yourself? you must be sleepy.'

His mother asked him, 'My dear son, how have you managed to do with so little sleep?'

His younger brother said, 'Why didn't you wake me up?' You were so sleepy, I let you sleep.'

Then they made a fire, ate and drank, and wandered on again through the forest. They arrived in a town, and sought employment. The mother said to her eldest son, 'My son, we will stay at least a year here.' She fortunately got a place at a big house as cook, and the two lads went as servants to an innkeeper. When they had been a year there, the mother said to her two sons, 'Just see how well off we were at home, and here we have to work, and I an old body.

You are young folk, and can stick to it, but I am old, and can't stand it any longer. The father ill-used us; still, let us return home, if the Lord God gives us health and strength to do so.'

So they made ready; the landlord paid them their wages; and they set out. They went by the very way that he had gone by to the castle where he killed the twenty-four robbers.

But how had they got on there since the year when he did that to her? The princess had borne a child, but she knew not who was the father. She had a tavern built not far from the castle, and said to her mother, ' Mother dear, see what has befallen me, and how I now am. But I know not whom the child is by. You have let me have the tavern built. Whoever comes there I will entertain gratis, and ask him what he has learned in the world--whether he has any story to tell me, or whether he has had any strange experiences. Perhaps the man will turn up by whom I had the child.'

As luck would have it, the two brothers came through the village where the tavern was. There was a large sign-board, on which was written, 'Every man may eat and drink to his heart's desire, and smoke, only he must relate his experiences that he has gone through in the world.' The elder lad said to his brother, 'Brother dear, where are we? I don't myself know.' But right well he knew whom the tavern belonged to. They halted. Then he looked at the notice, and said to his mother, 'See, mother dear, see what that is. See there is written that the victuals and drink are gratis.'

'Let us go in, my son; we are very hungry, anyhow. Sure, we'll find something to tell her, if only she'll give us to eat and to drink.'

They went into the tavern. Straightway the hostess greeted them, and said, 'Good-day, where do you come from?'

'We come from a town out yonder. We have been working there; now we want to return home, where my husband is.'

She said, 'Good. What might you drink, what will you eat? I will give you just what you want.'

'Ah, my God! ' said she, 'kind lady, if you would be so good as to give us something. We know you are a kind lady.'

So she said to her women-servants, 'Bring wine here, bring beer here, bring food here, and for the two men bring something to smoke.'

When they brought it, they ate and drank.

'Now,' said the princess--the seeming hostess, but they knew not that she was a princess; only the elder brother knew it--'oh! if only you would tell me something. Come, you, old wife, what have you seen in your time?'

'Why, my good lady, I have gone through plenty. When I was at home, my man drank much, ran through my money. When he got drunk, he'd come home, scold and knock me about, smash everything that came to hand, and as for his children, he couldn't bear the sight of them. He scolded and knocked them about till they didn't know where they were. At last I said to my children, "My children, since I can't get on with my man, and he uses us so badly, let us take our few things, and go off into the world."'

The hostess listened, brought the old wife a mug of beer, and gave it her. When she had drunk, the hostess said, Speak on.'

'Well, we set off and journeyed through the great forests, where we must go on and on, two whole days, without ever lighting on town or village. Never a peasant was to be seen, and night,' she said, 'came upon us, when we could go no further, and I was so weak that I could not take another step. There, poor soul, I had to bide, lying in the great forest under a great tree. It rained, and we crouched close under so as not to get wet. Forthwith I gathered wood, made a big fire, plucked moss, and made a resting-place for us. It was dark, and my sons said, "We must mind and not be eaten by wild beasts." And my elder son said to his brother, " I will think what must be done. You, too, have a couple of guns; if anything attacks us, you will shoot." But he said to his elder brother, "Do you, my brother, sleep first, and when you have had your sleep out, then you will watch again." 1 As they all slept under that great tree, he thought to himself, "I will sling my gun round my neck and climb a tree." He climbed a tree, reached its top, for he wondered whether he might not see something--a village or a town or a light. As it was, he did see a light. He took the hat from his head, and threw it in the direction of the light.'

Then she said, 'Ah! hostess, believe him not. Mark you, that is not true,' said his mother.

But she went and brought them beer, and said, 'Tell on.' And he said, 'I climbed down the tree to look where my hat was.'

'Ah! believe him not, hostess, believe him not; mark you, that is not true.'

'Nay, let him go on with his story. What was there?'

'Twenty-four robbers. There was a bright light that dazzled my eyes. Not far from them was a tree.' [At this point the story-teller forgot that the elder son is the narrator, so resumed the third person, repeating his former words almost verbatim till he came to the passage where the robbers send the lad into the castle.]

Then said the old mother to the hostess, 'Believe him not, believe him not, for that is not true which he tells you.'

'Let him proceed. What have you then done?' the hostess asked him.

'I--have done nothing.'

'You must have done something.'

'Well then, I have lain with you. I took away the ring; I took half the cloth of gold; a slipper I took from you--that I carried off. And I took me a sword, and went out, shut the door behind me. Then I went to where the robbers were, called to them to step through the hole one after another. As they came through the hole, I cut off each one's head, and flung him aside.'

Then the hostess saw it was true. 'Then you will be my man.'

And he drew the things out, and showed them to her. And they straightway embraced, and kissed one another. And she went into the little room, fetched the boy. 'See, that is your child; I am your wife.'

Forthwith she bids them harness two horses to the carriage; they drove to the castle. When they reached it, she said to her father, 'Father dear, see, I have soon found my husband.'

Forthwith they made a feast, invited everybody. Forthwith the banns were proclaimed, and they were married. The floor there was made of paper, and I came away here.

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