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Georgian Folk Tales, by Marjory Wardrop [1894], at


The Good-for-nothing

THERE was once a good-for-nothing man, who had a shrewish wife. This wife would give him no rest. She importuned him, saying: 'Thou must go away, travel forth and seek for something; thou seest how poor we are.' At last the husband could no longer bear her reproaches, so he arose and went.

He went forth, he himself knew not whither he was going.

He travelled on, and when he had ascended the ninth mountain from where he started, he saw a large house, and in this house devis dwelt. He came near and saw in the middle of the room a fire, round which the devis were sitting, warming their hands. He went in and spoke in a friendly manner to them, and sat down by the fire. The devis treated him well, for he had spoken them fair. He stayed with them by day and by night; he ate with them, he drank with them, he slept with them; he was like their youngest brother.

These devis possessed a wishing-stone. When they were

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assembled together, they took out the stone: if they wished for dinner, dinner appeared; if they wanted supper, they wished for supper, and lo! what they wished for heartily appeared before their eyes. They lived thus without care, they had no kind of sorrow, and this was just what our good-for-nothing liked; he approved of this life, and wanted to steal the wishing-stone.

Once when the devis were in a deep sleep, the good-for-nothing silently stole out of the bedroom, took the wishing-stone, and came to the door. He wished the door to open, and sure enough it began to creak. It creaked and called out: 'The guest has stolen the wishing-stone.' The good-for-nothing turned back, put the stone in its place, went into the bedroom, and pretended to be asleep. The creaking of the door awoke the devis; they jumped up and looked; they found the wishing-stone in its place, and the good-for-nothing in a sweet slumber. They rejoiced, closed the door, and went to sleep again. When they had fallen into a profound sleep, the good-for-nothing rose up, took the stone, came to the door, and, when he wished it to open, it began to creak out: 'The guest has stolen the wishing-stone.' The good-for-nothing turned back, again put the wishing-stone in its place, went into the bedroom and began to snore as if he were asleep. The devis awoke and looked, but the stone was in its place, and the good-for-nothing snoring. They were surprised, but shut the door, and went to sleep. The good-for-nothing did this trick over and over again. The devis were angry, and furiously jumped up, pulled down the door, and put it in the fire. When the door was burned, and the devis slept again, the good-for-nothing rose up, put the wishing-stone in his pocket, and left the house. The next morning, when

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the devis awoke, they saw that neither the good-for-nothing nor the wishing-stone was there any longer. They looked everywhere, but could not tell whether heaven or earth had swallowed them, so they learnt nothing.

The good-for-nothing went on his way joyfully; he no longer had any care or thought; he rejoiced that now he could live without trouble. He went on, and met on the road a man with a big stick. This man said: 'Brother, give me something to eat.' The good-for-nothing put his hand in his pocket, and took out the wishing-stone. He wished, and there appeared before them everything ready for eating. When they had finished their meal, the man with the stick said: 'Come, I will exchange my stick with thee for this stone.' 'What is the use of thy stick?' inquired the good-for-nothing. 'If any one stretches out his hand and calls, "Out, stick!" the stick will fall upon the person in front of its master.' The good-for-nothing made the exchange, and went away a short distance; then he said, 'Out, stick!' and stretched it out towards its former master. It struck him until all his bones were made soft. When he had been well beaten, the good-for-nothing came, took his stone, and went on his way with the stick.

He went on and saw a man with a sword, who said: 'Brother, give me something to eat.' The good-for-nothing took out his wishing-stone, and immediately meat and drink appeared before them. When he had eaten sufficiently, the man said: 'Come, I will give thee this sword in exchange for the stone.' 'What is the use of thy sword?' inquired the good-for-nothing. 'Whoever possesses it can, if he choose, cut off a hundred thousand heads.'

He exchanged his wishing-stone for the sword, and went away. After waiting a short time, he said, 'Out, stick!'

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and pointed to the former owner of the sword. The stick approached and beat the man mercilessly. Then the good-for-nothing took the wishing-stone and went away.

He went on again until he met a man with a piece of felt, who said: 'Brother, give me something to eat.' The good-for-nothing man took out his wishing-stone, wished, and immediately a delicious repast appeared. When he had eaten all he wanted, the man said: 'Come, I will give thee my felt in exchange for this stone.' 'What is the use of thy felt?' inquired the good-for-nothing. 'If a man's head is cut off, one only has to take a piece of this felt and apply it; his head will stick on again, and he will live.' The good-for-nothing gave him the stone, took the felt, and went away. When he had gone a little way, he said, 'Out, stick!' and the stick beat the man till he was like a wrinkled quince. The good-for-nothing took his stone and travelled on.

At last he came to his home. He placed the stick behind the door, greeted his wife and spoke thus: 'Wife, see what I have brought,' and he showed her the sword, felt, and wishing-stone. His wife looked on him with contempt, opened her mouth, and cast all the dirt in the world on his head. The good-for-nothing bore it till he could bear it no longer, so he called, 'Out, stick!' The stick beat her wofully. Then he made his little children sit down, took out his wishing-stone, wished the table to be laid, and the rarest delicacies were placed on the cloth. They enjoyed their dinner, while the beaten wife silently looked down and sulked. She bore it for a time, but at last she could bear it no longer, and came and embraced her husband's knees. Her husband forgave her, and they caressed one another lovingly.

After some time, this wishing-stone made him quite rich,

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so that all their dishes were made of gold. Once the wife said to her husband: 'Thou must invite the king and give him a great banquet.' Her husband said: 'Dost thou not know, the king is an envious man; when he sees these things, he will take them from us, and put us in prison.' His wife pleaded and whined until her husband consented.

They invited the king, and made ready a magnificent banquet. When the feast was finished, the king demanded the wishing-stone. The good-for-nothing said he could not spare it. The king was enraged, and sent his whole army to take it away by force. 'This will not do at all,' said the good-for-nothing to himself; 'since they are going to try and force me, I shall show my strength.' While he spoke, he pointed the sword at the army, and the stick at the king. The heads of all the army were cut off, and the stick beat the envious king.

The king begged and prayed for mercy: 'Only bring my soldiers back to life again, and I swear I will leave thee in peace.' Then the good-for-nothing arose, took the felt and laid a piece on the neck of each soldier, and the army was restored to life. The king no longer dared to show his enmity, the good-for-nothing's wife obeyed him in everything, and they lived happily ever afterwards.

Next: IV. The Frog's Skin