LIKE many others in the world, there was a man and a woman who were over-burdened with children, and were very poor. The man used to go to the forest every day to get wood for his family. His wife was on the point of being confined. One day he was in the forest, and a gentleman comes to him, and says:
"What are you doing, friend?"
"I am looking for wood to support my family."
"You are very poor, then?"
"If you will make me godfather to your next child according to your law, I will give you a great deal of money."
He says to him, "Yes, I will do so."
He gives him, then, a great deal of money, and he goes
home. His wife is confined shortly afterwards, and they were waiting, not knowing what to do to tell it to the godfather, since they did not know where he lived. He himself appeared from somewhere. They go to the church, and he gives him the name Malbrouk. While they were returning to the house, the godfather disappears with the child like smoke. The father and mother were distressed about it, though they had plenty of money; but in time their grief faded away.
The old Malbrouk went to his house. His wife was a witch, and they had three daughters. The little Malbrouk grew fast, and at seven years' old he was as tall as a tall man. His godfather said to him --
"Malbrouk, would you like to go to your own home?"
He said to him, "Am I not here in my own home?"
He told him, "No," and that he might go there for three days.
"Go to such a mountain, and the first house that you will see there will be yours."
He goes, then, to the mountain, and sees the house, and goes to it. He finds his two brothers at the door cutting wood. He tells them that he is their brother; but they will not believe him. They take him indoors, and he tells his father and mother that he is Malbrouk. They are astonished to see such a big man for seven years' old. They pass these three days in great delight; and he said to his brothers:
"There is plenty of room at my godfather's for you too, and you must come with me."
They go off, then, all three together. When they arrive, the witch was not at all contented. She said to her husband:
"I don't know. These three men will do us some mischief, and we must kill them."
Malbrouk did not wish to; but as the witch gave him no rest, he told her that at the end of three days he would kill them. What. does the little Malbrouk do? At night their daughters used to put crowns on their heads, and the little
[paragraph continues] Malbrouk and his brothers cotton night-caps. The little Malbrouk says to them:
"We must make an exchange; it is now our turn to have the crowns."
The girls were just as well pleased, and they gave them to them. One night (old) Malbrouk goes there, and after having felt their heads, when he perceived that they had the night-caps, he kills the three. After the little Malbrouk saw that he woke his brothers, took his godfather's seven-leagued boots, and goes off, far, far, far away. The witch said to (the old Malbrouk):
"You have taken good care whom you have killed--I am not at all satisfied that you have not done some donkey-trick."
The witch goes, and sees her three daughters dead. She was terribly angry, 1 and there was no help for it.
Malbrouk and his brothers come to a place where a king lives, and he remarks that everything is sad. He asks what it is? They tell him that the king has lost his three daughters, and that nobody can find them. Malbrouk says to them.
"I will find them."
'They tell that quickly to the king, and bring them before him, and Malbrouk tells him, too, that he will find them. All three set out. When they have gone a little way they find an old woman, who says to them:
"Where are you going to in that fashion?"
"To look for the king's three daughters."
This old woman says to them:
"Go to the king, and ask him for three hundred fathoms of new rope, a bucket, and a bell."
They go, and the king gives to them immediately what they ask for. They go, then, to the woman, and she says to them, pointing to a well, that they are in that well. 2 The eldest put himself into the bucket, and says to them:
When I am afraid, I will ring the bell."
When he has gone only a little way he is frightened, and rings. They pull him up. The second goes; and when he has gone a little farther down he is frightened, and rings. Malbrouk then gets in, and he says to them:
"When I shall give a pull at the bucket from below, then you will pull it up."
He goes down, then, and at last he sees that there is a beautiful house underground, and he sees there a beautiful young lady, who is sitting with a serpent asleep in her lap. When she sees Malbrouk, she says to him:
"Be off, I pray you, from here; he has only three-quarters of an hour to sleep, and if he wakes, it is all over with you and me."
He says to her, "No matter; lay the head of the serpent on the ground, gently, gently, without waking him."
She lays it there, and he carries off this young lady in the bucket, after having pulled the cord. He goes into another chamber, and he sees another young lady, still more beautiful, with the head of a lion asleep on her lap. She also says to him:
"Be off quickly from here. He has only half-an-hour to sleep, and if he wakes, it is all up with you and me."
Malbrouk says to her, "Place gently, gently, without waking him, the head of the lion on the ground."
She does so. Malbrouk takes her, gets into the bucket with her, and his brothers pull them both up. They write at once to the king to come and fetch them, that they have found two of his daughters. As you may suppose, the king sends a carriage directly to fetch them, and he makes great rejoicings. The king tells him to choose whichever of the two he likes for his wife. Malbrouk says to him:
"When I shall have found your third daughter she shall be my wife, and my two brothers may take these two young ladies for their wives."
They do as Malbrouk said, and he sets out to see his sweetheart. He goes on, and on, and on. All the fowls of the air know Malbrouk. As he was going along he finds
a wolf, a dog, a hawk, and an ant, and in their language they cry out:
"Oyhu! 1 Malbrouk, Malbrouk!" and saying to him, "Where are you going, Malbrouk? these three days we have been here before this sheep, and cannot agree how to divide it; but you, you shall divide it."
Malbrouk goes to them, then, trembling lest they should make a division of him, too. He cuts off the head, and gives it to the ant.
"You will have enough to eat, and for your whole household."
He gives the entrails to the hawk, and for the dog and the wolf he cuts the carcase in half. He left them all well satisfied; and Malbrouk goes on his way in silence, in silence. When he had gone a little way, the ant says:
"We have not given Malbrouk any reward."
The wolf calls to him to come back. Malbrouk comes trembling, thinking that it was his turn, and that they are going to eat him, without doubt. The ant says to him:
"We have not given you anything, after that you have made such a good division for us; but whenever you wish to become an ant, you have only to say, 'Jesus, ant!' and you will become an ant."
The hawk says to him: "When you wish to make yourself a hawk, you will say, 'Jesus, hawk!' and you will be a hawk."
The wolf says to him: "When you shall wish to become a wolf, you shall say, 'Jesus, wolf!' and you shall be a wolf."
And the dog, he said to him the same thing, too. 2 He
goes off, then, well pleased, further into the forest. A woodpecker says to him:
"Malbrouk, where are you going?"
"To fetch such a daughter of a king."
"You will not find her easily. Since they have delivered her sisters, he has carried her to the farther side of the Red Sea, 1 in an island, and keeps her there in prison, in a beautiful house, with the doors and windows so closely shut that only the ants can get into that house."
Malbrouk goes off happy at hearing this news, and that he would find the princess. He goes on, and on, and on, and he arrives opposite to this island, and remembering what the hawk had said to him, he said, "Jesus, hawk!" and immediately he becomes a hawk. 2 He flies away, and goes on until he comes to the island of which the woodpecker had told him; he sees that he can only get in there like an ant, and be says, "Jesus, ant!" and he gets through the little lattice-work. He is dazed at the sight of the beauty of this young lady. He says, "Jesus, man!" and he becomes a man again. When the young lady sees him, she says to him:
"Be off quickly from here. It is all over with your life. He is about to come, this horrible body without a soul, 3 before a quarter of an hour, and you will be done away with."
"I will become an ant again, and I will place myself in your bosom; but do not scratch yourself too hard, else you will crush me."
As soon as he has said that the monster comes. He
gives her partridges and pigeons for her dinner) but he himself eats serpents and horrible vermin. He tells her that he has a slight headache, and to take the hammer and rap him on the head. She could not lift it, it was so big; but she knocks him as well as she is able. The monster goes off. The ant comes out from where he was, and prepares to eat the partridges and pigeons with the young lady. Malbrouk said to her:
"You must ask him, as if you were in great trouble about it, what would have to be done to kill him? and you will tell him how unhappy you would be if he should be killed--that you would die of hunger in prison in this island."
The young lady says, "Yes," she will do so.
The monster comes again, and says to her:
"Ay! ay! ay! my head. Take the hammer, and hit me hard."
The young lady does it until she is tired, and then she says:
"How unfortunate I shall be if you die."
He answers, "I shall not die. He who will know that will know a great secret."
"Most certainly I would not wish you to die. I should die of hunger in this island without you, and I should get no benefit by it. You ought to tell me what would kill you."
He says to her, "No! Before this, too, a woman has deceived a man, and I will not tell you."
"You can tell it to me--yes, to me. To whom shall I tell it? I see nobody. Nobody is able to come here."
At last, at last, he tells her then:
"You must kill a terrible wolf which is in the forest, and inside him is a fox, in the fox is a pigeon; this pigeon has an egg in his head, and whoever should strike me on the forehead with this egg would kill me. 1 But who will know all that? Nobody."
The princess said to him, "Nobody, happily. I, too, I should die."
The monster goes out as before, and the ant too, as you may think, happy in knowing the secret. On the very next day he sets out for the forest. He sees a frightful wolf. He says, directly, "Jesus, wolf!" and he immediately becomes a wolf. He then goes to this wolf, and they begin to fight, and he gets him down and chokes him. He leaves him there, and goes off to the young lady in the island, and says to her:
"We have got the wolf; I have killed him, and left him in the forest."
The monster comes directly afterwards, saying
"Ay! ay! ay! my head! Strike my head quickly."
She hits his head till she is tired. He says to the princess:
"They have killed the wolf; I do not know if anything is going to happen to me. I am much afraid of it."
"You have nothing to be afraid of. To whom could I have told anything? Nobody can get in here."
When he has gone, the ant goes to the forest. He opens the wolf, and out of him comes a fox, who escapes at full speed. Malbrouk says, "Jesus, dog!" and he becomes a dog. He, too, sets off running, and catches the fox. They begin to fight, and he kills him, too. He opens him, and there comes out of him a pigeon. Malbrouk says, at once, "Jesus, hawk!" and he becomes a hawk. He flies off to catch the pigeon, seizes him in his terrible talons, and takes out of his head this precious egg, and goes proudly with it into the chamber of the young lady. He tells how he has very happily accomplished his business, and says to her:
"At present, it is your turn; act alone."
And again he makes himself an ant. Our monster comes, crying, that it is all up with him, that they have taken the egg out of the pigeon, and that he does not know what must become of him. He tells her to strike him on the head with the hammer.
The young lady says to him:
"What have you to fear? Who shall have got this egg? And how should he strike your forehead?"
He shows her how, saying, "Like that."
As the young lady had the egg in her hand, she strikes the monster as he had told her, and he falls stark dead. In an instant the ant comes out joyously (from his hiding-place), and he says to her:
"We must set out instantly for your father's house."
They open a window, and the young man makes himself a hawk, and he says to the young lady:
"Cling firmly to my neck."
And he flies off, and they arrive at the other side of the island. He writes immediately to the king his lord, to send and fetch them as quickly as possible. The king sent; and judge what joy and what feasts there were in that court. The king wished them to marry directly, but Malbrouk would not do so. (He said) that he ought to bring his dowry. The king said to him:
"You have gained enough already."
He will not hear of that, but goes off far, far, far away, to the house of his godfather.
They had there a cow with golden horns, and these horns bore fruits of diamonds. A boy used to guard her in the field. Malbrouk said to him: 1
"What! do you not hear that the master is calling you? Go, quickly, then, and learn what he wants of you."
The boy, (believing it), goes off. The master calls to him from the window:
"Where are you going to, leaving the cow? Go quickly; I see that Malbrouk is about there."
The boy sets off running back, but he cannot find the cow. Malbrouk had got off proudly with his cow, and he gives it to his future wife, who was very much pleased with it.
The king wished him, then, to marry, (saying) that he was quite rich enough. Malbrouk would not yet. He must make a present to the king. He goes again to his god. father's house. He wished to steal from him a moon, which lighted for seven leagues round. Old Malbrouk used to drink a barrel of water every night. Young Malbrouk goes and empties this barrel. When night came, Malbrouk goes to drink at his barrel, and finds it empty. He goes to find his wife, and says to her:
"I have not got a drop of water; go directly, and fetch me some. I cannot bear this thirst."
His wife said to him, "It is night, light your moon." He lights it, and puts it by the chimney, on the roof. When everyone has gone to the fountain, young Malbrouk goes and takes this moon, and carries it to the king. And he, astonished, said to him:
"Now you have done grandly; now be married."
But he would not; (he said) that he ought to bring something more. His godfather had a violin, which it was enough only to touch for it to play, no matter what beautiful music, and it would be heard seven leagues off. He goes into his godfather's house to take the violin, and as soon as he has touched it, it begins to play music. Old Malbrouk rushes off, and catches his godson in the act. He seizes him, and puts him into an iron cage. He and his wife are right well pleased. They say to him:
"This evening we are going to roast you, and eat you.
Old Malbrouk goes to the forest to fetch wood, and his wife was busy cutting some small-she was taking a great deal of trouble about it. Malbrouk says to her:
"Let me get out of here; I will cut that wood for you. You can kill me all the same this evening."
She lets him out. After having cut up some, he takes one of the largest pieces and strikes the wife of Malbrouk, and kills her. He makes a great fire, and puts her in the caldron to boil. He takes the violin, and leaves the
house. When old Malbrouk hears the violin, he says to himself:
"My wife, not being able to hold out any longer, has, doubtless, killed Malbrouk, and to show me her joy she has taken the violin."
And he does not trouble himself any more about it. When he approaches the house he stands, well pleased, looking at the caldron on the fire, but, on coming nearer, he sees some long hairs. He pulls out a little more, and perceives that it is his wife, who is there already, half-boiled. Think what a rage he was in. The young Malbrouk went to the king's house, and married his well-beloved princess. They made great rejoicings. As the king was somewhat aged, he gives his crown to Malbrouk, saying that he had well gained it. They all lived happily, and he made his two brothers kings also.
About 35 years old; learnt it from her mother.
77:1 I think this word occurs in some "Chanson de Gestes," and in the Basque "Pastorales," as a Mahommedan devil. If not, it is probably our own "Duke of Marlborough" thus transformed. Cf. the song, "Malbrouk s'en va en guerre."
79:1 This is again, "red, angry."
79:2 Cf. Campbell, "The Tale of Connal," Vol. I., p. 142.
81:1 This looks uncommonly like "Ho, you!" but it is given by Salaberry as a Basque cry, "Appel par un cri fort, par la voix élevée." "Play," as an exclamation to begin at games of ball, has no meaning in Basque, and is believed to come from the English. We have borrowed "jingo," "by jingo," from "Jinkoa," "the deity."
81:2 In Campbell's first tale, "The Young King of Easaidh Ruadh," the hero is assisted by a dog, a falcon, and an otter. Cf. the notes in the translation of this tale in Brueyre's "Contes de la Grande Bretagne;" cf. also, "The Sea-Maiden," pp. 73 and 94, for a still closer resemblance.
82:1 Cf. "Tabakiera," p. 94, and "Old Deccan Days," pp. 83-91. It is curious to hear of the Red Sea from narrators so far apart, on opposite sides, as the Lingaets of the Deccan and the Basques, neither of whom, probably, had the most distant idea of its geographical position; certainly our Basque narrators had not.
82:2 In Campbell's "Sea-Maiden," the hero has only to think of the animals, and they are at his side; but he is not transformed into them.
82:3 Campbell refers to "The Giant who had no Heart in his Body," "Norse Tales," 1859. See his references, and those in the "Contes Populaires de la Grande Bretagne," cited above. M. d'Abbadie has also communicated to us the outlines of a wild Tartaro story, told in Basque, in which the hero "fights with a body without a soul."
83:1 Cf. Campbell's "Tales," before quoted, and "Old Deccan Days" ("Punchkin"), pp. 14, 15, for the whole of this incident.
85:1 Malbrouk seems now to assume the character of "Hermes, the clever thief." If we mistake not, this cow appears also in Indian mythology.