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Sunday, December 21, 2014

AWESOME Roma Myth: The Gypsy and the Preist

There was a very poor Gypsy, and he had many little children. And his wife went to the town, begged herself a few potatoes and a little flour. And she had no fat.

All right,' she thought; 'wait a bit. The priest has killed a pig; I'll go and beg myself a bit of fat.'

When she got there, the priest came out, took his whip, thrashed her soundly. She came home, said to her husband,' O my God, I did just get a thrashing!'

And the Gypsy is at work. Straightway the hammer fell from his hand. 'Now, wait a bit till I show him a trick, and teach him a lesson.'

The Gypsy went to the church, and took a look at the door, how to make the key to the tower. He came home, sat down at his anvil, set to work at once on the key. When he had made it, he went back to try to open the door. It opened it as though it had been made for it.

'Wait a bit, now,' he thinks to himself; 'what shall I need next?'

He went straight off to the shop, and bought himself some fine paper, just like the fine clothes the priests wear for high mass. When he had bought it, he went to the tailor, told him to make him clothes like an angel's; he looked in them just like a priest. He came home, told his son (he was twenty years old), 'Hark’ee, mate, come along with me, and bring the pot. Catch about a hundred crabs. Ha! they shall see what I'll do this night; the priest won't escape with his life.'

All right!

Midnight came. The Gypsy went to the church, lit all the lights that were in the church. The cook goes to look out. 'My God! what's the matter? the whole church is lighted up.'

She goes to the priest, wakes him up. 'Get up! Let's go and see what it is. The whole church is blazing inside. What ever is it?'

The priest was in a great fright. He pulled on his vestment, and went to the church to see. The Gypsy chants like a priest performing service in the great church where the greatest folks go to service. 'Oh!' the Gypsy was chanting, 'O God, he who is a sinful man, for him am I come; him who takes so much money with him will I fetch to Paradise, and there it shall be well with him.'

When the gentleman heard that, he went home, and got all the money he had in the house.

All right!

The priest came back to the church. The Gypsy chants to him to make haste, for sooner or later the end of all things approaches. Straightway the Gypsy opened the sack, and the priest got into it. The Gypsy took all the priest's money, and hid it in his pocket.

'Good! now you are mine.'

When he closed the sack, the priest was in a great fright. 'My God! what will become of me? I know not what sort of a being that is, whether God Himself or an angel.'

The Gypsy straightway drags the priest down the steps. The priest cries that it hurts him, that he should go gently with him, for he is all broken already; that half an hour of that will kill him, for his bones are all broken already.

Well, he dragged him along the nave of the church, and pitched him down before the door; and he put a lot of thorns there to run into the priest's flesh. He dragged him backwards and forwards through the thorns, and the thorns stuck into him. When the Gypsy saw that the priest was more dead than alive, he opened the sack, and left him there.

The Gypsy went home, and threw off his disguise, and put it on the fire, that no one might say he had done the deed. The Gypsy had more than eight hundred silver pieces. So he and his wife and his children were glad that they had such a lot of money; and if the Gypsy has not died with his wife and his children, perhaps he is living still.

In the morning when the sexton comes to ring the bell, he sees a sack in front of the church. The priest was quite dead. When he opened it and saw the priest, he was in a great fright. 'What on earth took our priest in there?' He runs into the town, made a great outcry, that so and so has happened. The poor folks came and the gentry to see what was up: all the candles in the church were burning. So they buried the parson decently. If he is not rotten he is whole. May the devils still be eating him. I was there, and heard everything that happened.'

There was a time when there was. There were two thieves. One was a country thief, and one a town thief. So the time came that the two met, and they asked one another whence they are and what they are.

Then the country thief said to the town one, 'Well, if you're such a clever thief as to be able to steal the eggs from under a crow, then I shall know that you are a thief.'

He said, 'See me, how I'll steal them.'

And he climbed lightly up the tree, and put his hand under the crow, and stole the eggs from her, and the crow never felt it. Whilst he is stealing the crow's eggs, the country thief stole his breeches, and the town thief never felt him. And when he came down and saw that he was naked, he said, 'Brother, I never felt you stealing my breeches; let's become brothers.'

So they became brothers.

Then what are they to do? They went into the city, and took one wife between them. And the town thief said, 'Brother, it is a sin for two brothers to have one wife. It were better for her to be yours.'

He said, 'Mine be she.'

'But, come now, where I shall take you, that we may get money.'

'Come on, brother, since you know.'

So they took and departed. Then they came to the king's, and considered how to get into his palace. And what did they devise?

Said the town thief, 'Come, brother, and let us break into the palace, and let ourselves down one after the other.' 'Come on.'

So they got on the palace, and broke through the roof; and the country thief lowered himself, and took two hundred purses of money, and came out. And they went home.

Then the king arose in the morning, and looked at his money, and saw that two hundred purses of money were missing. Straightway he arose and went to the prison, where was an old thief. And when he came to him, he asked him, 'Old thief, I know not who has come into my palace, and stolen from me two hundred purses of money. And I know not where they went out by, for there is no hole anywhere in the palace.'

The old thief said, 'There must be one, O king, only you don't see it. But go and make a fire in the palace, and come out and watch the palace; and where you see smoke issuing, that was where the thieves entered. And do you put a cask of molasses just there at that hole, for the thief will come again who stole the money.'

Then the king went and made a fire, and saw the hole where the smoke issues in the roof of the palace. And he went and got a cask of molasses, and put it there at the hole. Then the thieves came again there at night to that hole. And the thief from the country let himself down again; and as he did so he fell into the cask of molasses. And he said to his brother, 'Brother, it is all over with me. But, not to do the king's pleasure, come and cut off my head, for I am as good as dead.'

So his comrade lowered himself down, and cut off his head, and went and buried it in a wood.

So, when the king arose, he arose early, and went there, where the thief had fallen, and sees the thief there in the cask of molasses, and with no head. Then what is he to do? He took and went to the old thief, and told him, 'Look you, old thief, I caught the thief, and he has no head.'

Then the old thief said, 'There! O king, this is a cunning thief. But what are you to do? Why, take the corpse, and hang it up outside at the city gate. And he who stole his head will come to steal him too. And do you set soldiers to watch him.'

So the king went and took the corpse, and hung it up, and set soldiers to watch it.

Then the thief took and bought a white mare and a cart, and took a jar of twenty measures of wine. And he put it in the cart, and drove straight to the place where his comrade was hanging. He made himself very old, and pretended the cart had broken down, and the jar had fallen out. And he began to weep and tear his hair, and he made himself to cry aloud, that he was a poor man, and his master would kill him. The soldiers guarding the corpse said one to another, 'Let's help to put this old fellow's jar in the cart, mates, for it's a pity to hear him.'

So they went to help him, and said to him, 'Hullo! old chap, we'll put your jar in the cart; will you give us a, drop to drink?'

'That I will, deary.'

So they went and put the jar in the cart. And the old fellow took and said to them, 'Take a pull, deary, for I have nothing to give it you in.'

So the soldiers took and drank till they could drink no more. And the old fellow made himself to ask, 'And who is this?'

The soldiers said, 'That is a thief.'

Then the old man said, 'Hullo! deary, I shan't spend the night here, else that thief will steal my mare.'

Then the soldiers said, 'What a silly you are, old fellow! How will he come and steal your mare?'

'He will, though, deary. Isn't he a thief?'

'Shut up, old fellow. He won't steal your mare; and if he does, we'll pay you for her.'

'He will steal her, deary; he's a thief.'

'Why, old boy, he's dead. We'll give you our written word that if he steals your mare we will pay you three hundred groats for her.'

Then the old man said, 'All right, deary, if that's the case.'

So he stayed there. He placed himself near the fire, and a drowsy fit took him, and he pretended to sleep. The soldiers kept going to the jar of wine, and drank every drop of the wine, and got drunk. And where they fell there they slept, and took no thought. The old chap, the thief, who pretended to sleep, arose and stole the corpse from the gallows, and put it on his mare, and carried it into the forest and buried it. And he left his mare there and went back to the fire, and pretended to sleep.

And when the soldiers arose, and saw that neither the corpse was there nor the old man's mare, they marvelled, and said, 'There! my comrades, the old man said rightly the thief would steal his mare. Let's make it up to him.'

So by the time the old man arose they gave him four hundred groats, and begged him to say no more about it.

Then when the king arose, and saw there was no thief on the gallows, he went to the old thief in the prison, and said to him, 'There! they have stolen the thief from the gallows, old thief. What am I to do?'

'Did not I tell you, O king, that this is a cunning thief? But do you go and buy up all the joints of meat in the city. And charge a ducat the two pounds, so that no one will care to buy any, unless he has come into a lot of money. But that thief won't be able to hold out three days.'

Then the king went and bought up all the joints, and left one joint and that one he priced at a ducat the pound. So nobody came to buy that day. Next day the thief would stay no longer. He took a cart and put a horse in it, and drove to the meat-market. And he pretended he had damaged his cart, and lamented he had not an axe to repair it with. Then a butcher said to him, 'Here, take my axe, and mend your cart.' The axe was close to the meat. As he passed to take the axe, he picked up a big piece of meat, and stuck it under his coat. And he handed the axe back to the butcher, and departed home.

The same day comes the king, and asks the butchers, 'Have you sold any meat to any one?' They said, 'We have not sold to any one.'

So the king weighed the meat, and found it twenty pounds short. And he went to the old thief in prison, and said to him, 'He has stolen twenty pounds of meat, and no one saw him.'

'Didn't I tell you, O king, that this is a cunning thief?'

'Well, what am I to do, old thief?'

'What are you to do? Whys make a proclamation, and offer in it all the money you possess, and say he shall become king in your stead, merely to tell who he is.'

Then the king went and wrote the proclamation, just as the old thief had told him. And he posted it outside by the gate. And the thief comes and reads it, and thought how he should act. And he took his heart in his teeth and went to the king, and said, 'O king, I am the thief.'

'You are?'

'I am.'

Then the king said, 'If you it be, that I may believe you are really the man, do you see this peasant coming? Well, you must steal the ox from under the yoke without his seeing you.'

Then the thief said, 'I'll steal it, O king; watch me.' And he went before the peasant, and began to cry aloud, 'Comedy of Comedies!'

Then the peasant said, 'See there, God! Many a time have I been in the city, and have often heard "Comedy of Comedies," and have never gone to see what it is like.'

And he left his cart, and went off to the other end of the city; and the thief kept crying out till he had got the peasant some distance from the oxen. Then the thief returns, and takes the ox, and cuts off its tail, and sticks it in the mouth of the other ox, and came away with the first ox to the king. Then the king laughed fit to kill himself. The peasant, when he came back, began to weep; and the king called him and asked, 'What are you weeping for, my man?'

'Why, O king, whilst I was away to see the play, one of the oxen has gone and eaten up the other.'

When the king heard that, he laughed fit to kill himself, and he told his servant to give him two good oxen. And he gave him also his own ox, and asked him, 'Do you recognise your ox, my man?'

'I do, O king.'

'Well, away you go home.'

And he went to the thief. 'Well, my fine fellow, I will give you my daughter, and you shall become king in my stead, if you will steal the priest for me out of the church.'

Then the thief went into the town, and got three hundred crabs and three hundred candles, and went to the church, and stood up on the pavement. And as the priest chanted, the thief let out the crabs one by one, each with a candle fastened to its claw; he let it out.

And the priest said, 'So righteous am I in the sight of God that He sends His saints for me.'

The thief let out all the crabs, each with a candle fastened to its claw, and he said, 'Come, O priest, for God calls thee by His messengers to Himself, for thou art righteous.'

The priest said, 'And how am I to go?'

'Get into this sack.'

And he let down the sack; and the priest got in; and he lifted him up, and dragged him down the steps. And the priest's head went tronk, tronk. And he took him on his back, and carried him to the king, and tumbled him down. And the king burst out laughing. And straightway he gave his daughter to the thief, and made him king in his stead.

There was a king; and from youth to old age he had no son. In his old age three daughters were born to him. And the very morning of their birth the Unclean Spirit came and took them, the three maidens. And he fought to win a woman, the Serpent-Maiden; and half his moustache turned white, and half all the hair on his head, for the sake of the Serpent-Maiden. Time passed by, and he had no son; and his daughters the Unclean Spirit had carried away.

Then he took and thought. 'What am I to do, wife? I will go for three years (sic); and, when I return, let me find a son born of you. If in a year's time I find not one, I will kill you.'

He went and journeyed a year and a day. His wife took and thought. As she was a-thinking, a man went by with apples: whoso eats one of his apples shall conceive. Then she went, and took an apple, and ate the apple, and she conceived. The time came that she should bring forth. And she brought forth a son, and called his name Cosmas. So her king came that night, and sent a messenger to ask his wife.

She said, 'Your bidding is fulfilled.'

Then he went in, and, when he saw the lad, his heart was full.

And the time came when the lad grew big, and he looked the very picture of his father. The time came that his father died. By that time he felt himself a man, and he put forth his little finger, and lifted the palace up. Then he came back from hunting, and he lifted the foundation of the palace, and told his mother to place her breast beneath it. Then his mother placed her breast beneath the foundation, and he left it pressing upon her. Then she cried aloud.

The lad said to her, 'Mother, tell me, why was my father's moustache half white?'

Then she said to him, 'Why, darling, your father fought nine years to win the Serpent-Maiden, and never won her.'

Then he asked, 'And have I no brother?'

'No,' she said; 'but you have three sisters, and the Unclean Spirit carried them away.'

And he asked, 'Whither did he carry them?'

Then she said he had carried them to the Land of the Setting Sun.

Then he took his father's saddle and his bridle and likewise his father's colt, and set out in quest of his sisters, and arrived at his sister's house, and hurled his mace, and smashed the plum-trees.

Then his sister came out and said to him, 'Why have you smashed the plum-trees? For the Unclean Spirit will come and kill you.'

Then he said, 'I would not have you think ill of me; but kindly come and give me a draught of wine and a morsel of bread.'

Then she brought bread and wine. As she was handing him the bread and wine, she noticed her father's colt, and recognised it. Then she said, 'This must be my father's horse.'

Take notice then that I also am his.'

Then she fell on his neck, and he on hers.

Then she said to him, 'My brother, the Unclean Spirit will come from the Twelfth Region. And he will come and destroy you.'

Then the Unclean Spirit came, and hurled his mace; and it opened twelve doors, and hung itself on its peg. Then Cosmas took it, and hurled it twelve regions away from him. Then the Unclean Spirit took it, and came home with it in his hand, and asked, 'Wife, I smell mortal man?'

(Meanwhile she had turned her brother into an ear-ring, and put him in her ear.)

Then she said, 'You're for ever eating corpses, and are meaning to eat me, too, for I also am mortal.'

Then he said to her, 'Don't tell lies; my brother-in-law has come.'

'Well, then, and if your brother-in-law has come, will you eat him?'

Then he said, 'I will not.'

'Swear it on your sword that you will not eat him.'

Then she took him out of her ear, and set him at table. He ate at table with the Unclean Spirit.

Then the lad went outside, 1 and creeps into the fetlock of his colt, and hid himself there. Then the Unclean Spirit arose, and hunted everywhere, and failed to light on him. And he set his bugle to his mouth, and blew a blast, and summoned all the birds upon the horse, and they searched every hair of the horse. And just as he was coming to the fetlock, then the cocks crowed, and he fell.

Cosmas came forth, and went to him. 'Good day, brother-in-law.'

Then he asked him, 'Where were you?'

'Why, I was in the hay, before the horse.'

Then Cosmas took leave of them, and went to his other sisters, and did with them just as with this one.

Then his little sister asked him, 'Where are you going, my brother?'

'I am going to tend the white mare, and get one of her colts, and I am going to win the Serpent-Maiden.'

Then she said to him, 'Go, my brother, and if you get the colt, come to me.'

He went.

Now some peasants were hunting a wolf to slay it. The wolf said, 'Cosmas, don't abandon me. Send the peasants the wrong way, that they may not kill me; and take one of my hairs, 2 and put it in your pocket. And whenever you think of me, there I am, wherever you may be.'

Going further, he came on a crow that had broken its wing, and it said, 'Don't pass me by, Cosmas; bind my wing up; and I will give you a feather to put in your pocket, and whenever you are in any difficulty, I'll be with you.'

Going still further, he came on a fish, which said, 'Cosmas, don't pass me by. Tie me to your horse's tail, and put me in the water, for I will do you much good.'

He did so, and put it in the water.

Then he came to the old woman who owned the white mare; and she sat before her door; and he said to her, 'Will you give me a colt of the white mare, old one?'

The old wife said, 'If you can find her three days running, one of her colts is yours. But if you can't find her, I will cut off your head, and stick it on yonder stake.'

'I'll find her,' he said.

And she gave him the white mare, and away he went with her to try and find her. So the mare ran in among the sheep, and took and hid herself in the earth. And the lad arose and searched for the mare, and failed to light on her. And the wolf came into his mind; and he thought of him.

And the wolf came and asked him, 'What's the matter, lad?'

He said, 'I can't find the white mare.'

The wolf said, 'Do you see this. one, the biggest of the sheep? that is she. Go, and give her a taste of the stick.'

So the lad took and called her, and she became a horse. And he went with her to the old woman.

And the old woman said, You have two more days.'

'All right, old lady,' said the lad.

So next day also he took and went off with the mare, to try and find her. (The old woman had thrashed the mare for not hiding herself properly, so that he could not have found her. And the white mare had said, 'Forgive me, old woman. This time I will hide in the clouds, and he never will find me.')

So the lad went off with her, to try and find her; and she went into the clouds. So the lad set to work, and searched from morning till noon. And the crow came into his mind; and, as he thought of it, the crow came and asked him, 'What's the matter, lad?'

'Why, I have lost the white mare, and cannot light on her.'

So the crow summoned all the crows, and they searched upon every side, till they lighted on her. So they took her in their beaks, and brought her to the lad. So the lad took her, and led her to the old woman.

'You have one day more,' said the old woman.

So the day came when the lad had to find the mare once more. (That night the old woman had thrashed the white mare and pretty nigh killed it. And the mare had said to the old woman, 'If he lights on me this time, old woman, you may know I have burst, for I will go right into the sea.)

So when the lad departed with her, she went into the sea. And the lad searched for her, and. it wanted but little of night. And the fish came into his mind. So the fish emerged before him and said, 'What's the matter, lad?'

'I don't know where the white mare has gone to.'

And the fish went and summoned all the fishes; and they gave up the white mare with her colt behind her. And the lad took her. He went with her to the old wife, and she said to him, 'Take, deary, whichever pleases you.'

The lad chose the youngest colt.

And the old wife said, 'Don't take that one, my lad; it isn't a good one. Take a handsomer.'

And the lad said, 'Let be.'

And the lad went further; and the colt turned a somersault, 1 and became golden, with twenty-and-four wings. And the Serpent had none like his. And he went to his sisters, and took the three of them, and took too the Serpent-Maiden, and went with them home. Neither the Unclean Spirit nor the dragon could catch him. And he went home. So he made a marriage; and they ate and drank. And I left them there, and came and told my tale to your lordships.

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