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


The Shepherd and the Child of Fortune

THERE was and there was not at all, there was a man who had a wife. They possessed great wealth, but had no child. Once the woman said to her husband: 'Come, let us place young bullocks in our churches, and at night let some one watch, perhaps God will look down upon us and give us a child.' The husband approved of this idea, and placed bullocks in five churches.

Then they went into one of the churches, kilted a bullock, gave it to their shepherd, and said: 'Go, take this bullock's flesh and give it to the poor; do thou remain in the church all night and watch. Listen very carefully.' The shepherd went away and gave the bullock's flesh to the poor; then he went into the church, and remained the whole night watching, but he heard not a word relating to his master's childlessness.

Day dawned, and the shepherd went and told his master: 'I have watched the whole night, and have not

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heard a sound.' Then this man went into the second chapel. He killed the bullock there, and gave it to his shepherd, who distributed it even as he had the first. In the morning, when he went home, he brought the same answer as before. Then they went to the third and fourth chapels, but still they learnt nothing.

Only the fifth chapel remained. Here also the shepherd distributed bullock's flesh to the poor, and hid himself in the church. In the middle of the night, behold there flew down the five angels of the churches, and began to talk together. They said: 'We must do something for this man. He is childless; let us give him a son.' 'Yes,' said the first angel, 'but when he reaches the age of twenty let him die and return to us.' 'No,' said the second angel, 'when the priest shall lead him into the cathedral and place a crown on his head, then he shall die.' 'When he has a wife and children, then he shall die,' said the third. He shall live a long time, he shall grow old, but shall be a worthless fellow,' said the fourth. 'If we are to give the man a child, let us give him something better,' said the fifth angel. 'We have spoken, now it is thy turn; what dost thou say?' answered the others. 'Then,' said the fifth angel, 'let him be endowed with immortal youth, and whatever he asks of God may it come to pass.' 'Good, good!' assented the others, and they went away each to his own place.

The shepherd heard all this. At daybreak he came back to his master, who inquired of him: 'Well, didst thou hear nothing last night?' The shepherd replied: 'The five angels of the churches assembled, and they said that thou shouldst have a son at the end of a year, but it is ordained that thy shepherd shall be present at the birth.' 'Thank

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the Lord! If we have a son thou mayst be present,' answered the husband and wife.

After this the shepherd went to his sheep, and the man and woman went in. A year passed; the shepherd delayed some time, put in his pocket a little goat, and went away. The woman was in bed, and the shepherd put her child in his pocket, and wrapped the young goat up in the bedclothes. Then the shepherd opened the bedroom door and went away. When he had gone for one or two weeks the child would not stay in his pocket any longer, and asked to be put down. The shepherd put him down, and he walked by himself.

They went on and on, and at last they became hungry. The shepherd said to himself: 'Come, I will try if the prophecy of the angels be true or not,' and he said to the boy: 'Wish that God will give us bread, that we may eat.' The boy wished, and God gave them bread. They sat down and ate, but they had no water. He wished for water, and, by their side, there murmured a beautiful spring.

The shepherd now believed in his heart that all his desires would be fulfilled, and said: 'Wish that in this plain a house completely furnished may arise, and that outside there may be a village over which I may rule, and that I may have such and such a princess for my wife.' The boy wished this, and everything was according to his desire.

Some time passed. Once the princess asked the shepherd, saying: 'How has it happened that an illustrious princess like me has married a simple shepherd?' Her husband replied: 'Heat the spit and put it on the sole of the boy's foot to see if he is asleep. If he is, then I will

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tell thee all.' The child heard this conversation, and wished in his heart: 'O God! may my foot be hardened, so that I cannot feel anything.' The woman heated the spit, put it on the sole of the boy's foot, but he did not move. The shepherd thought that he was really asleep, and told his wife everything in detail. The child lay quiet and listened. He now learnt for the first time whose son he was, and how he had fallen into the hands of the shepherd.

Next morning at daybreak he arose and went to seek his parents. He went on and on, and everywhere asked news of his village. He came to his father's house, and said: 'Do you want a guest?' 'Truly, child, a guest is of God!' And they led him in. Then the boy asked them: 'Have you lost anything?' The master of the house replied: 'Well, child, I have lost a shepherd, and I still owe him four years' wages.' 'I saw him just now coming to you with great wealth, and with a wife and family,' said the boy.

At night, when all were asleep, the boy wished in his heart: 'O God! may the shepherd, with his house, his family, and his town, be in our courtyard to-night.'

The next morning the master of the house came to the door, and was struck with surprise. 'My God!' said he, 'how was this town built in our courtyard?' His wife said: 'What art thou talking about, husband? This our courtyard, indeed! We are somewhere else.' The man replied: 'No, wife, this is our own home; that is our house, but these are certainly not the usual surroundings.' 'Well, let me look inside; if there is a boy sleeping there it must be our house.' The boy was awake, but pretended to be asleep.

The man and woman went in and saw the boy sleeping

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there. They awoke him and said: 'Who art thou who hast appeared here? We pray thee to tell us what thou hast done that we no longer know our own house.' The boy smiled and said: 'I told you yesterday that your shepherd was coming to you with his possessions. Behold I he came yesterday, and has taken up his abode in your courtyard. Let us call this your shepherd here.'

At that moment the shepherd awoke. When he jumped out of bed and saw the courtyard, he said to himself: 'Great art thou, O Lord! I was settled in my home, and now I am here!' He went in to his master, bent his knee, and said: 'Thus and thus have I done; I have done evil, and now I am in thy hands, do to me as thou wilt.' When the man and woman heard this tale they did not know what to do to show their joy. First one embraced the child, then the other. At length the boy said: 'I am in truth your son, but this man is also your child. He has done wrong, but you will forgive all, and give him his hire.' His father gave the shepherd his hire, and forgave him.

But still the boy was not satisfied. He said to his parents: 'This shepherd, at least, left a goat in exchange for me; if my mother brought up the goat, he brought me up. If you wish, keep the goat and I will go with him; if, however, you keep me, you ought to give him back his goat.' 'Not only will I do that, but I will also give him half of my flocks,' said the boy's father. He divided his flocks into two parts and gave one to his shepherd, and took him into his house. The boy remained with his father and mother, and they lived happily together.

Next: XIV. The Two Thieves