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Sunday, December 21, 2014

More Roma Myths Again

There was a very old soldier; he was twelve years in military service. Then the colonel asked him, 'My good man, what do you want for having served me so many years here? Whatever you want I will give you, for you have served me well so many years. I will give you a beautiful white horse, and I will give you three big tobacco-pipes, so that you'll smoke like a gentleman. I will give you three rolls for your journey. The whole company never served as well as you have served me. I left everything to you; you have performed every sentry.'

'If I went home on furlough, I should weep bitterly. How can I leave you, my good comrades? Now I go home, shall never see you more; I have none but my God and good comrades. I was a good soldier, the sergeant over the entire company. The major has given me a beautiful white horse to go home on. O God, I am going; but I have not much money, only a little.'

When he had come into great forests, there came a beggar and begs of the soldier. He said to him, did the soldier, 'O God! what can I give you? I am, you see, a poor soldier, and I have far to go, yet my heart is not heavy. But, wait a bit, O beggar, I will give you a roll.' Then he bade him farewell.

Afterwards the same beggar came again to the soldier, and begs of him, 'O my soldier, give me something, make me a present.'

'How can I make you a present, seeing I have given already to four beggars? But wait, here I'll give you these couple of kreutzers, to get a drink of brandy with.'

Well, he went further. Again a third beggar met him; again .he begs of him. 'My God!' he said to him, 'I am a poor soldier; I have no one but God and myself. I shall have no money; I shall have nothing for myself; I'm giving you everything. My God! what am I to do? I'm an old soldier, a poor man; and, being so poor, where shall I now get anything? I gave you everything--bread, money, and my white horse. Now I must tramp on alone on my old legs. No one ever will know that I was a soldier. But my Golden God be with you, farewell.'

Then the beggar said to the soldier, 'Old soldier, I permit you to ask whatever you will. For I am God.'

The soldier answered, 'I want nothing but a stick that when I say "Beat" will beat every one and fear nobody.'

God gave it him. 'Tell me now what do you want besides.'

'Give me further a sack that if I say to a man "Get in" he must forthwith get into it.'

'Good, but you still may ask for a third gift. Only think well, so that God in your old days may succour you.'

'I want nothing but a sack that will let fall money when shaken.'

God gave him that too, and went off. The old soldier goes further, comes to a city, comes into an inn. There were many country-folk and other people of all sorts. He sits down to table, and orders victuals and drink. Straight-way the gentleman brought him something to eat. When he had eaten and drunk, he asks him to pay. He takes the sack, shakes it; golden pieces come tumbling out. He paid them all to the gentleman, and went away. The gentleman was right glad that he had given him all that money.

He goes further, came into a vast forest. There were four-and-twenty robbers; they kept an inn there, and sold what one required. He went in, and orders victuals to eat and brandy to drink; forthwith they brought him brandy strong as iron. He drank; he got drunk. 'Now pay.' He takes the sack, and shook out golden pieces, and hands them over. He paid the robbers, 'but he did not know that they were robbers. When he had paid up, they marvel to see him shake a sack like that and the money come falling out. They took him, take the sack, and go into another room. There four of them held him down, whilst two shake the sack; the money came tumbling out to their hearts' desire. They told their chief, seize the soldier, and kill him, and cut him in pieces; then they hung up his body like an ox on a peg. Let us leave them and come to the soldier. When he got to paradise, my Golden God let him be, but not long. 'Do you, Peter, go to that old soldier, and ask him what he wants here.' Good, Peter came. 'What are you wanting?' 'I just want the peace of God.' 'Hah! I'll ask God if he will let you stay here.' Peter went to my God and asks him, 'God, that old soldier is wanting your peace.' 'Go to the devils; tell them all to lay hold of him, tear him in pieces, and put as much wood as possible beneath the pot, so as to roast him thoroughly.' Well, they cooked him to shreds; but after all had to chuck him out, for he knocked them about so that he broke their bones. A second time my God sent Death for him, and him too the old soldier thrashed. But now he is dead and rotten, and we are alive.

A lord, his wife, and his daughter live at a great castle. A poor lad is engaged to mind the sheep. The daughter gives him bread and beer in a basket for lunch. The old lord explains that previous servants have always come back with one cow short. In the field a little man comes to Jack. Jack gives him as much as he can eat; and the little man gives Jack a plum. The little man explains that a giant in a neighbouring castle steals a cow daily. He gives Jack a pennyworth of pins, and bids him put them in the giant's drink. Jack goes to the giant, and asks for work. The giant goes to get drinks, and Jack mixes up the pins in the giant's glass. The giant drinks, falls ill, and dies. Jack tells the little man how he has fared, and returns with the full tale of cows. The master is surprised. Presently his daughter comes in. She tells Jack that to-morrow she is to be killed by a dragon, and would like him to be there to see. Jack refuses, but gives the girl a plum, which she eats.

Next morning she gives him his food, and off he goes. He shares it as before with the little man, who bids him take a key, unlock a large door, and take out a black horse and black clothes, with a sword he will find there. Then, having watered his horse, he is to go and fight the dragon. He goes, and knocks the dragon about with his sword. The dragon shoots fire from his mouth, but the horse throws up the water he has drunk, and quenches it. Jack puts back the horse, changes his clothes, and goes home with the cows. He gives another plum to the girl, who has to meet the dragon again next day, and asks Jack to be there. He refuses. Next morning she gives Jack his food, and Jack at the little man's suggestion asks for more. He gets it, goes, and shares it with the little man. It is the same as before, only this time he gets a white horse and white clothes. The little man tells Jack that to-morrow is the last day of the fight, and bids him rise early, and ask the young lady to send more food. Jack gives her another plum. This time she prepares the food over-night, as she has to meet the dragon at daybreak. She wants Jack to come and see, but he refuses--'must see after the cows.' He gets a red horse and red clothes this time, and the horse drinks the water dry. The fire from the dragon burns the lady's hair, but the horse's flood of water quenches it; and between them they kill the dragon. The lady cuts off a lock of Jack's hair with a golden scissors. He returns to the castle, and there the girl tells him about the fight and gets another plum. Then there is the usual dinner. Every guest has to lay his head in the lady's lap to let her see whether the lock matches, Jack having meanwhile gone off as usual with his cows, and shared his food with the little man. They fail to match the hair, so they bring up the servants--Jack last of all, wearing the red clothes underneath his own rags. He marries the young lady, and they live first in the dead giant's castle, and then, the parents having died, in her father's.

There was a young miller, who was a great gambler. Nobody could beat him. One day a man comes and challenges him. They play. Jack wins and demands a castle. There it is. They play again, and Jack loses. The man tells Jack his name is the Green Man of Noman's Land, and that unless Jack finds his castle in a year and a day he will be beheaded. The time goes by. Jack remembers his task, and sets out in cold and snow. He comes to a cottage, where an old woman gives him food and lodging. He asks her if she knows the Green Man. 'No,' she says; 'but if a quarter of the world knows I can tell you.' In the morning she mounts on the roof and blows a horn. A quarter of all the men in the world came. She asks them. They do not know the Green Man, and she dismisses them. Again she blows the horn, and the birds come. She asks them; they don't know; and she dismisses them. She sends Jack on to her elder sister, who knows more than she does. She lends Jack her horse, and gives him a ball of thread to place between the horse's ears. He comes to the second sister's house. 'It is long,' she says, 'since I saw my sister's horse.' He eats and sleeps, then asks about the Green Man. She knows not, but will tell him if half the world knows; so goes on the roof and blows a horn. Half the world come, but they do not know the Green Man. 'Go,' she says, and blows the horn again. Half the birds in the world come, but with a like result. She takes her sister's horse, and gives Jack hers, with a ball of thread, and sends him on to the eldest sister. It is the same thing there. The third sister also doesn't know, but in the morning goes on the roof and blows a horn. All the people in the world come, but do not know the Green Man. 'Go.' Again she blows, and all the birds come, but do not know. She goes down and looks in her book, and finds that the eagle is missing. She blows again; the eagle comes; and she abuses him. He explains that he has just come from the Green Man of Noman's Land. She lends Jack her horse, and bids him go till he comes to a pool and sees three white birds, to hide, and to steal the feathers of the last one to enter the water. He does so. The bird cries and demands its feathers. Jack insists on her carrying him over to her father's castle. She denies at first that she is the Green Man's daughter, but at last carries him over, and when across becomes a young lady. Jack goes up to the castle and knocks. The Green Man comes out: 'So you've found the house, Jack.' 'Yes.' The Green Man sets him tasks, the loss of his head the penalty of failure. The first task is to clean the stable. As fast as he throws out a shovelful of dirt, three return. So Jack gives it up, and the girl, coming with his dinner, does it for him. The Green Man accuses him of receiving help; he denies it. The second task is to fell a forest before mid-day. Jack cuts down three trees and weeps. The girl brings his dinner, and does it for him, warning him not to tell her father. The same accusation is met with the same denial. The third task is to thatch a barn with a single feather only of each bird. Jack catches a robin, pulls a feather from it, lets it go then, and sits down despairing. The girl brings his food, and performs his task for him, warning him of the next task, the fourth one. This is to climb a glass mountain in the middle of a lake and to bring from the top of it the egg of a bird that lays one egg only. The girl meets him at the edge of the lake, and by her suggestion he wishes her shoe a boat. They reach the mountain. He wishes her fingers a ladder. She warns him to tread on every step and not miss one. He forgets, steps over the last rung, and gets the egg; but the girl's finger is broken. She warns him to deny having had any help. The fifth task is to guess which daughter is which, as in the shape of birds they fly thrice over the castle. Forewarned by the girl, Jack names them correctly. The Green Man thereupon gives in, and Jack weds his daughter.

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