LIKE many of us who are, have been, and shall be in the world, there was a king, and his wife, and three sons. The king went out hunting one day, and caught a Tartaro. He brings him home, and shuts him up in prison in a stable, and proclaims, by sound of trumpet, that all his court should meet the next day at his house, that he would give them a grand dinner, and afterwards would show them an animal such as they had never seen before.
The next day the two sons of the king were playing at ball against (the wall of) the stable where the Tartaro was confined, and the ball went into the stable. One of the boys goes and asks the Tartaro--
"Throw me back my ball, I beg you."
He says to him, "Yes, if you will deliver me."
He replies, "Yes, yes," and he threw him the ball.
A moment after, the ball goes again to the Tartaro. He asks for it again; and the Tartaro says:
"If you will deliver me, I will give it you."
The boy says, "Yes, yes," takes his ball, and goes off.
The ball goes there for the third time, but the Tartaro will not give it before he is let out. The boy says that he has not the key. The Tartaro says to him:
"Go to your mother, and tell her to look in your right ear, because something hurts you there. Your mother will have the key in her left pocket, and take it out."
The boy goes, and does as the Tartaro had told him. He takes the key from his mother, and delivers the Tartaro. When he was letting him go, he said to him:--
"What shall I do with the key now? I am undone."
The Tartaro says to him:
"Go again to your mother, and tell her that your left ear hurts you, and ask her to look, and you will slip the key into her pocket."
The Tartaro tells him, too, that he will soon have need of him, and that he will only have to call him, and he will be his servant for ever.
He puts the key back; and everyone came to the dinner. When they had eaten well, the king said to them that they must go and see this curious thing. He takes them all with him. When they are come to the stable, he finds it empty. Judge of the anger of this king, and of his shame. He said:
"I should like to eat the heart, half cooked, and without salt, of him who has let my beast go."
Some time afterwards the two brothers quarreled in presence of their mother, and one said to the other:
"I will tell our father about the affair of the Tartaro."
When the mother heard that, she was afraid for her son, and said to him:
"Take as much money as you wish."
And she gave him the Fleur-de-lis. 1 "By this you will be known everywhere as the son of a king."
Petit Yorge 2 goes off, then, far, far, far away. He spends and squanders all his money, and does not know what to do more. He remembers the Tartaro, and calls him directly. He comes, and Petit Yorge tells him all his misfortunes; that he has not a penny left, and that he does not know what will become of him. The Tartaro says to him:
"When you have gone a short way from here you will come to a city. A king lives there. You will go to his house, and they will take you as gardener. You will pull up everything that there is in the garden, and the next day everything will come up more beautiful than before. Also, three beautiful flowers will spring up, and you will carry them to the three daughters of the king, and you will give the most beautiful to the youngest daughter." 3
He goes off, then, as he had told him, and he asks them if they want a gardener. They say, "Yes, indeed, very much." He goes to the garden, and pulls up the fine cabbages, and the beautiful leeks as well. The youngest of the king's daughters sees him, and she tells it to her father, and her father says to her:
"Let him alone, we will see what he will do afterwards." And, indeed, the next day he sees cabbages and leeks such as he had never seen before. Petit Yorge takes a flower to each of the young ladies. The eldest said:
"I have a flower that the gardener has brought me, which has not its equal in the world."
And the second says that she has one, too, and that no one has ever seen one so beautiful. And the youngest said that hers was still more beautiful than theirs, and the others
confess it, too. The youngest of the young ladies found the gardener very much to her taste. Every day she used to bring him his dinner. After a certain time she said to him,
"You must marry me."
The lad says to her,
"That is impossible. The king would not like such a marriage."
The young girl says, too,
"Well, indeed, it is hardly worth while. In eight days I shall be eaten by the serpent."
For eight days she brought him his dinner again. In the evening she tells him that it is for the last time that she brought it. The young man tells her, "No," that she will bring it again; that somebody will help her.
The next day Petit Yorge goes off at eight o'clock to call the Tartaro. He tells him what has happened. The Tartaro gives him a fine horse, a handsome dress, and a sword, and tells him to go to such a spot, and to open the carriage door with his sword, and that he will cut off two of the serpent's heads. Petit Yorge goes off to the said spot. He finds the young lady in the carriage. He bids her open the door. The young lady says that she cannot open it--that there are seven doors, and that he had better go away; that it is enough for one person to be eaten.
Petit Yorge opens the doors with his sword, and sat down by the young lady's side. He tells her that he has hurt his ear, and asks her to look at it; 1 and at the same time he cuts off seven pieces of the seven robes which she wore, without the young lady seeing him. At the same instant comes the serpent, and says to him,
"Instead of one, I shall have three to eat."
Petit Yorge leaps on his horse, and says to him,
"You will not touch one; you shall not have one of us."
And they begin to fight. With his sword he cuts off one head, and the horse with his feet another; 1 and the serpent asks quarter till the next day. Petit Yorge leaves the young lady there. The young lady is full of joy; she wishes to take the young man home with her. He will not go by any means (he says); that he cannot; that he has made a vow to go to Rome; but he tells her that "to-morrow my brother will come, and he will be able to do something, too." The young lady goes home, and Petit Yorge to his garden. At noon she comes to him with the dinner, and Petit Yorge says to her,
"You see that it has really happened as I told you--he has not eaten you."
"No, but to-morrow he will eat me. How can it be otherwise?"
"No, no! To-morrow you will bring me my dinner again. Some help will come to you."
The next day Petit Yorge goes off at eight o'clock to the Tartaro, who gives him a new horse, a different dress, and a fine sword. At ten o'clock he arrives where the young lady is. He bids her open the door. But she says to him that she cannot in any way open fourteen doors; she is there, and that she cannot open them, and he should go away; that it is enough for one to be eaten; that she is grieved to see him there. As soon as he has touched them with his sword, the fourteen doors fly open. He sits down by the side of the young lady, and tells her to look behind his ear, for it hurts him. At the same time he cuts off fourteen bits of the fourteen dresses she was wearing. As
soon as he had done that, the serpent comes, saying joyfully,
"I shall eat not one, but three."
Petit Yorge says to him, "Not even one of us."
He leaps on his horse, and begins to fight with the serpent. The serpent makes some terrible bounds. After having fought a long time, at last Petit Yorge is the conqueror. He cuts off one head, and the horse another with his foot. The serpent begs quarter till the next day. Petit Yorge grants it, and the serpent goes away.
The young lady wishes to take the young man home, to show him to her father; but he will not go by any means.
He tells her that he must go to Rome, and set off that very day; that he has made a vow, but that to-morrow he will send his cousin, who is very bold, and is afraid of nothing.
The young lady goes to her father's, Petit Yorge to his garden. Her father is delighted, and cannot comprehend it at all. The young lady goes again with the dinner. The gardener says to her,
"You see you have come again to-day, as I told you. To-morrow you will come again, just the same."
"I should be very glad of it."
On the morrow Petit Yorge went off at eight o'clock to the Tartaro. He said to him that the serpent had. still three heads to be cut off, and that he had still need of all his help. The Tartaro said to him,
"Keep quiet, keep quiet; you will conquer him."
He gives him a new dress, finer than the others, a more spirited horse, a terrible dog, 1 a sword, and a bottle of good scented water. 2 He said to him,
"The serpent will say to you, 'Ah! if I had a spark between my head and my tail, how I would burn you and your lady, and your horse and your dog.' And you, you will say to him then, 'I, if I had the good-scented water to
smell, I would cut off a head from thee, the horse another, and the dog another.' You will give this bottle to the young lady, who will place it in her bosom, and, at the very moment you shall say that, she must throw some in your face, and on the horse and on the dog as well."
He goes off then without fear, because the Tartaro had given him this assurance. He comes then to the carriage. The young lady says to him,
"Where are you going? The serpent will be here directly. It is enough if he eats me."
He says to her, "Open the door."
She tells him that it is impossible; that there are twenty-one doors. This young man touches them with his sword, and they open of themselves. This young man says to her, giving her the bottle,
"When the serpent shall say, 'If I had a spark between my head and my tail, I would burn you,' I shall say to him, 'If I had a drop of the good-scented water under my nose;' you will take the bottle, and throw some over me in a moment."
He then makes her look into his ear, and, while she is looking, he cuts off twenty-one pieces from her twenty-one dresses that she was wearing. At the same moment comes the serpent, saying, with joy,
"Instead of one, I shall have four to eat."
The young man said to him,
"And you shall not touch one of us, at any rate."
He leaps on his spirited horse, and they fight more fiercely than ever. The horse leaped as high as a house, and the serpent, in a rage, says to him,
"If I had a spark of fire between my tail and my head, I would burn you and your lady, and this horse and this terrible dog."
The young man says,
"I, if I had the good-scented water under my nose, I would cut off one of your heads, and the horse another, and the dog another."
As he said that, the young lady jumps up, opens the bottle, and very cleverly throws the water just where it was wanted. The young man cuts off a head with his sword, his horse another, and the dog another; and thus they make an end of the serpent. This young man takes the seven tongues with him, and throws away the heads. Judge of the joy of this young lady. She wanted to go straight to her father with her preserver (she says), that her father must thank him too; that he owes his daughter to him. But the young man says to her that it is altogether impossible for him; that he must go and meet his cousin at Rome; that they have made a vow, and that, on their return, all three will come to her father's house.
The young lady is vexed, but she goes off without losing time to tell her father what has happened. The father is very glad that the serpent was utterly destroyed; and he proclaims in all the country that he who has killed the serpent should come forward with the proofs of it.
The young lady goes again with the dinner to the gardener. He says to her,
"I told you true, then, that you would not be eaten?
Something has, then, killed the serpent?"
She relates to him what had taken place.
But, lo! some days afterwards there appeared a black charcoal-burner, who said that he had killed the serpent, and was come to claim the reward. When the young lady saw the charcoal -burner, she said immediately, that most certainly it was not he; that it was a fine gentleman, on horseback, and not a pest of a man like him. The charcoal-burner shows the heads of the serpent; and the king says that, in truth, this must be the man. The king had only one word to say, she must marry him. The young lady says, she will not at all; and the father began to compel her, (saying) that no other man came forward. But, as the daughter would not consent, to make a delay, the king proclaims in all the country, that he who killed the serpent would be capable of doing something else, too, and that, on
such a day, all the young men should assemble, that he would hang a diamond ring from a bell, and that whosoever riding under it should pierce the ring with his sword, should certainly have his daughter. 1
From all sides arrive the young men. Our Petit Yorge goes off to the Tartaro, and tells him what has happened, and that he has again need of him. The Tartaro gives him a handsome horse, a superb dress, and a splendid sword. Equipped thus, Petit Yorge goes with the others. He gets ready. The young lady recognizes him immediately, and says so to her father. He has the good luck to carry off the ring on his sword; but he does not stop at all, but goes off galloping as hard as his horse can go. The king and his daughter were in a balcony, looking on at all these gentlemen. They saw that he still went on. The young lady says to her father:
"Papa, call him!"
The father says to her, in an angry tone,
"He is going off, because apparently he has no desire to have you." And he hurls his lance at him. It strikes him on the leg. He still rides on. You can well imagine what chagrin for the young lady.
The next day she goes with the gardener's dinner. She sees him with his leg bandaged. She asks him what it is.
The young lady begins to suspect something, and goes to tell to her father how the gardener had his leg tied up, and that he must go and ask him what is the matter. That he had told her that it was nothing.
The king did not want to go, (and said) that she must get it out of the gardener; but to please his daughter, he says he will go there. He goes then, and asks him, "What is the matter?" He tells him that a blackthorn has run into him. The king gets angry, and says "that there is not a blackthorn in all his garden, and that he is telling him a lie."
The daughter says to him,
"Tell him to show it us."
He shows it to them, and they are astonished to see that the lance is still there. The king did not know what to think of it all. This gardener has deceived him, and he must give him his daughter. But Petit Yorge, uncovering his. bosom, shows the "fleur-de-lis" there. The king did not know what to say; but the daughter said to him,
"This is my preserver, and I will marry no one else than him."
Petit Yorge asks the king to send for five dressmakers, the best in the town, and five butchers. The king sends for them.
Petit Yorge asks the dressmakers if they have ever made any new dresses which had a piece out; and on the dressmakers saying "No," he counts out the pieces and gives them to the dressmakers, asking if it was like that that they had given the dresses to the princess. They say, "Certainly not."
He goes, then, to the butchers, and asks them, if they have ever killed animals without tongues? They say, "No!" He tells them, then, to look in the heads of the serpent. They see that the tongues are not there, and then he takes out the tongues he has.
The king, having seen all that, has nothing more to say. He gives him his daughter. Petit Yorge says to him, that he must invite his father to the wedding, but on the part of the young lady's father; and that they must serve him up at dinner a sheep's heart, half cooked, and without salt. They make a great feast, and place this heart before this
father. They make him carve it himself, and he is very indignant at that. The son then says to him:
"I expected that;" and he adds, "Ah! my poor father, have you forgotten how you said that you wished to eat the heart, half cooked, and without salt, of him who let the Tartaro go? That is not my heart, but a sheep's heart. I have done this to recal to your memory what you said, and to make you, recognize me."
They embrace each other, and tell each other all their news, and what services the Tartaro had done him. The father returned happy to his house, and Petit Yorge lived very happily with his young lady at the king's house; and they wanted nothing, because they had always the Tartaro at their service.
24:1 This Fleur-de-lys was supposed by our narrator to be some mark tattooed or impressed upon the breast of all kings' sons.
24:2 This, of course, is "Little George," and makes one suspect that the whole tale is borrowed from the French; though it is just possible that only the names, and some of the incidents, may be.
24:3 Cf. "Ezkabi Fidel," 112, below.
25:1 In Campbell's "Tale of the Sea-Maiden," instead of looking in his ear, the king's daughter put one of her earrings in his ear, the last two days, in order to wake him; and it is by these earrings and her ring that she recognises him afterwards, instead of by the pieces of dress and the serpent's tongues.
26:1 Campbell, Vol. I., lxxxvii., 8, has some most valuable remarks on the Keltic Legends, showing the Kelts to be a horse-loving, and not a seafaring race--a race of hunters and herdsmen, not of sailors. The contrary is the case with these Basque tales. The reader will observe that the ships do nothing extraordinary, while the horses behave as no horse ever did. It is vice versâ in the Gaelic Tales, even when the legends are identical in many particulars.
27:1 The three days' fight, and the dog, appear in Campbell's "Tale of the Sea-Maiden," Vol. I., pp. 77-79.
27:2 The Basque word usually means "Eau de Cologne."
30:1 This is a much better game than the ordinary one of tilting at a ring with a lance, and is a much more severe test of horsemanship. The ring, an ordinary lady's ring, is suspended by a thread from a cross-bar, at such a height that a man can just reach it by standing in his stirrups. Whoever, starting from a given point, can put a porcupine's quill, or a small reed, through the ring, and thus carry it off at a hand-gallop, becomes possessor of the ring. We have seen this game played at Monte Video, in South America; and even the Guachos considered it a test of good horsemanship. Formerly, it seems, the ring was suspended from the tongue of a bell, which would be set ringing when the ring was carried away. The sword, of course, was the finest rapier.