Georgian Folk Tales, by Marjory Wardrop , at sacred-texts.com
THERE was once a king who had three sons and three daughters. When the day of his death was come, he called all his children, and said to his sons: 'Hearken to my will, and see that ye fulfil it. When I die, let each of you watch my tomb for one week, give these maidens to the suitors who ask for their hands.' After he had said farewell, the king died.
He was buried, and on the first night the eldest brother went to guard the grave. But in a short time something
began to approach with a mighty noise, and when it came near, it was so strong that it drove the prince out of the enclosure. From a distance, the prince saw how the being that had come with noise went to the king's grave, dug up the corpse, and wept over it till morning; when morning came, it buried the corpse in the earth again, and went away. When the prince reached home, he was ashamed to say anything about what had happened.
At that time, both the elder brothers set out for the chase; the youngest brother was left at home, he heard a voice and looked round. It turned out to be a suitor for the hand of his sister. He took and gave him the eldest sister. Soon after, he again heard a voice. The prince looked round--another suitor had come. The absence of his brothers somewhat disturbed him, but, according to his father's will, he married his second sister also. A little later, a third voice was heard, and to him he gave his third sister.
In the evening, when the two elder brothers came home, they did not see their sisters; they asked the youngest, and he told them what had happened. They were not pleased, and sent him out to feed the sheep. That night the middle brother went to guard the king's grave; the same thing happened to him as to his elder brother, but he too was silent on the subject. When he reached home, the youngest brother began to entreat his elder brothers, saying: 'Be just, let me also watch my father's grave.' But they were angry, and answered: 'Get thee gone, how couldst thou guard the grave when we are not able to do it!' But afterwards they said one to the other: 'Let us allow him to go.'
So the youth went, came to the tomb of his father, lighted a candle, and, as soon as he sat down, an uproar
began, but he was not affrighted. At the approach of the monster an earthquake began, but the youth was not afraid, he swung his sword round his head, and cleft the monster in twain, but the monster's blood put out the candle. Looking round, the youth saw, some way off; the blaze of a fire. He arose and went thither. On his way he said to the cock: 'Crow not, so that dawn break not till I come back again, or I shall slay thee.' When he came near, he met with a vast river like a sea. When he had swum over and reached the other side, the youth saw that the fire was burning among the demis, 1 who were sitting round it--so he stopped and bethought himself seriously; but, at last, he took a leap, jumped into the middle of them, seized a burning brand, and ran away.
The burning cinders and ashes were showered over the demis, but they did not see the youth. The youth went back, but as he crossed the river the burning log went out. He was angry at this, but what could he do? He went back again, and when he threw himself upon the fire the demis caught him, and asked what he wanted. He told them. The demis said to him: 'In yonder castle there dwell three maidens unseen by the sun, 2 thou must bring them to us or we will not let thee go.' The youth asked
them: 'Is there a ladder up to the castle?' They answered: 'Yes.' 'Then let us go,' said he.
He took all the demis with him, and said: 'I shall climb up first, then you must come one by one.' They agreed. The youth went up, one demi came after him. As soon as the first demi reached the top, the youth brandished his sword, slew him, and laid down his body. When the second came up, he did likewise unto him. Thus he slew them all, one by one, and left their bodies there.
Then he went in, saluted the maidens, and gave each of them a ring--to the youngest for himself, to the others for his brothers. The youth went out, thrust his sword into a stone, and left it there, took fire with him, and went back. When he had crossed the river, he cried to the cock: 'Now crow!' Then he went to his father's grave. Till dawn he stayed there, and then he went home.
The beautiful maidens told the king what had happened. The king ordered all his subjects to be summoned, and asked: 'Who is able to draw this sword out of the stone?' But nobody could draw it out. Then the king made a proclamation: 'To him that can draw out this sword I will give my daughter.' The princes, as soon as they heard of this, decided to go thither. When they were making ready for the journey, the youngest asked his brothers to take him too. At last they consented to take him. When they arrived, they found a great uproar: people from all parts of the world were, in turn, laying hold of the sword, but could not draw it out. Last of all, the youngest brother came up, pulled out his sword, put it in the scabbard, and said to the king: 'All three daughters are ours now, for I have two brothers.' He called his brothers, and they took the three maidens to wife. Great merry-making began.
The king gave to the wife of the youngest prince a flying carpet, which carried away any one who sat on it. The princess sat on it, and followed her suite. The groomsmen and youths set out with them. When they had gone half way, a monster swooped down on the princess and carried her off. A sad uproar began, but what was to be done? The young prince said to his brothers: 'Farewell! I must perish with her,' and went away.
He went, he went, he went, he went as far as he could, and in a field he found a spring, beside which he lay down. There came a boy with a water jug. The prince asked: 'Whose village is this?' The boy replied: 'Here dwell three brother demis, all married to daughters of one king.'
When the youth heard this he was glad, for it turned out that his sisters dwelt here. When he came near, the sisters went out to meet him. It is easy to imagine how glad they were to see him. When it was dark, the three demis returned. One of the sisters went out to meet them, and said: 'My brother is come.' The demis answered: 'If the elder brothers are come, we can make roast meat of them, if it be the youngest, we shall know how to do him honour.' The demis went in, and kissed the youth for joy at meeting him.
As they were all sitting round the hearth, the demis began to sigh deeply. The youth asked them: 'Why do you sigh?' 'Why?--we are sorry for that poor damsel! Kazha-Ndii-Kerkun (i.e. the swift, flint-like demi) was carrying through the air a golden-haired woman; we pursued, but only succeeded in pulling off a lock of the woman's hair.' They showed the hair to the youth. As soon as he saw it he fainted, crying: 'Ah! woe is me! woe is me!' The demis asked him what was wrong. He told them all.
[paragraph continues] As soon as day dawned, the youth arose, and made ready to depart. The demis were very sorry at this, but what could they do? They gave him a horse and a little dog.
The youth set out, and came to the house of Kazha-Ndii; but Kazha-Ndii was not at home. He dismounted, and went in to the princess; when they saw each other, their joy was so great that they fell to the ground. The princess said to him: 'O youth, why hast thou sought thy doom? Against Kazha-Ndii thou canst do nothing.' But the young man would not hearken, and lifted her on to his horse.
As soon as they reached the gate, it creaked so loudly that a star fell from heaven. The door cried: 'Kazha-Ndii-Kerkun, where art thou? they have carried off thy wife.' Kazha-Ndii heard this, and pursued them. When he was overtaking them, Kazha-Ndii's horse neighed so loudly that it stopped the princess's horse. The princess said to him: 'O youth, did I not tell thee how it would be? Save thyself at least.' Then Kazha-Ndii rode up, cut the youth into pieces, and carried his wife back. The little dog came up, gathered the scattered fragments of the young man's body, put them in a bag, tied it to the saddle, mounted the horse, and took the body to the demis.
When the demis saw it they wept greatly, but their youngest brother blew the soul back into the pieces, and raised the youth to life. The prince arose, and again made ready to depart; the youngest demi said to him: 'Here is my three-legged horse, 1 take him with thee; if he do not help thee there is no help to hope for.' The youth mounted the horse, came again to his princess, took her and put her on the horse. When he was riding out of the gate it creaked more loudly than before. Kazha-Ndii heard it and pursued
them. As he was overtaking them, Kazha-Ndii's horse neighed, and the youth's horse slackened its speed. The young prince said to his horse: 'Why doest thou this?' 'What can I do? If I had a fourth leg I might be victorious.' When Kazha-Ndii came near, the three-legged horse neighed so loudly that it stopped Kazha-Ndii's horse. Then the youth came up to him, brandished his sword, cut Kazha- Ndii into halves, put the princess on his horse, and they rode merrily away. They visited the Bemis and then went home.
114:1 demi, dii, ndii in Mingrelian, devi, mdevi in Georgian (connected with Pers. div), a representative of the principle of evil, but with certain limitations, neither incorporeal nor immortal, but half demon half man, i.e. an unclean spirit in the form of a giant. He is subject to death, even a man can kill, cheat, terrify him; he can marry a woman, etc.
114:2 This phrase is continually applied to beautiful girls in Georgian poetry. It has three meanings: (1) A girl strictly kept, and not seen out of doors; (2) One who is not sunburnt, fair complexioned; (3) A maiden such as the sun has never seen the like of for beauty. The last meaning is the most frequent.
117:1 Cf. No. III. 'Geria's faithful dog and three-legged horse.'