VARIANTS OF TOM TIT TOT
THERE would be only profitless monotony in printing the full texts, or even in giving abstracts, of the numerous variants of this story which have been collected. A list of these, with such comment as may perchance be useful to a special class of readers, is supplied in the Appendix. Here it suffices to remark that in all of them the plot centres round the discovery of the name of the maleficent actor in the little drama, and to give a summary of a few of the most widely spread stories in which, as might be expected, a certain variety of incident occurs. These are chosen from Scotland, Tyrol, the Basque provinces, and the Far East, the variants from this last containing the fundamental idea in an entirely different plot. To these follow a Welsh variant in which our joy at the defeat of the demon or witch in most of the stories is changed into sorrow for the fairy.
The Scotch 'Whuppity Stoorie' tells of a man who 'gaed to a fair ae day,' and was never more heard of. His widow was left with a 'sookin' lad bairn,' and a sow that 'was soon to farra.' Going to the sty one day, she saw, to her distress, the sow ready 'to gi'e up the ghost,' and as she sat down with her bairn and 'grat sairer than ever she did for the loss o' her am goodman,' there came an old woman dressed in green, who asked what she would give her for curing the sow. Then they 'watted thooms' on the bargain, by which the woman promised to give the green fairy anything she liked, and the sow was thereupon made well. To the mother's dismay the fairy then said that she would have the bairn. 'But, said she, 'this I'll let ye to wut, I canna by the law we leeve on take your bairn till the third day after this day; and no' then, if ye can tell me my right name.' For two days the poor woman wandered, 'cuddlin' her bairn,' when, as she came near an old quarry-hole, she heard the 'burring of a lint-wheel, and a voice lilting a song,' and then saw the green fairy at her wheel, 'singing like ony precentor '--
'Little kens our guid dame at hame
That Whuppity Stoorie is my name.'
Speeding home glad-hearted, she awaited the fairy's coming; and, being a 'jokus woman,' pulled a long face, begging that the bairn might be spared and the sow taken, and when this was spurned, offering herself. 'The deil 's in the daft jad,' quo' the fairy, 'wha in a' the earthly wand wad ever meddle wi' the likes o' thee?' Then the woman threw off her mask of grief, and, making 'a curchie down to the ground,' quo' she, 'I might hae had the wit to ken that the likes o' me is na fit to tie the warst shoe-strings o' the heich and mighty princess, Whuppity Stoorie.' 'Gin a fluff o' gunpouder had come out o' the grund, it couldna hae gart the fairy loup heicher nor she did; syne doun she came again, dump on her shoe-heels, and, whurlin' round, she ran
down the brae, scraichin' for rage, like a houlet chased wi' the witches.' [a]
In the Tyrolese story, a count, while hunting in a forest, is suddenly confronted by a dwarf with fiery red eyes and a beard down to his knees, who rolls his eyes in fury, and tells the count that he must pay for trespassing on the mannikin's territory either with his life or the surrender of his wife. The count pleads for pardon, and the dwarf so far modifies his terms as to agree that if within a month the countess cannot find out his name, she is to be his. Then, escorting the count to the forest bounds where stood an ancient fir-tree, it is bargained that the dwarf will there await the countess, who shall have three guesses three times, nine in all. The month expires, and she then repairs to the rendezvous to make her first round of guesses, giving the names, 'Janne,' 'Fichte,' and 'Fohre.' The dwarf shrieks with merriment over her failure, and when she returns to the castle she enters the chapel and offers earnest prayers for help in guessing the right name. But the next day, when she gives the names 'Hafer,' 'Pleuten,' and 'Turken,' repeats the failure, and calls forth the dwarf's unholy glee. When she comes to the tree on the third day, he is not there. So she wandered from the spot till she reached a lovely valley, and, seeing a tiny house, went on tiptoe, and peeping in at the window heard the dwarf singing his name in a verse as he hopped gaily on the hearth. The countess hurries back to the tree in high spirits, and when the dwarf appears she artfully withholds the secret she has learned till the last chance is hers. 'Pur,' she guesses, and the dwarf chortles; 'Ziege,'t then he bounds in the air; 'Purzinigele,' she shouts derisively, and then the dwarf rolling his red eyes in rage, doubles his fist, and disappears for ever in the darkness. [b]
In Basque folk-tale, a mother is beating her lazy girl, when the lord of a castle hard by, who is passing at the time, asks what all the pother is about, and is told that the girl's beauty makes her saucy and indolent. Then follow the usual incidents, with the exception that a witch, instead of a demon, comes to aid the girl, to whom the lord then offers marriage if she can get a certain amount of work done within a given time, the witch's bargain being that the girl must remember her name, Marie Kirikitoun, a year and a day hence. The wedding takes place, and as the year end draws near, sadness falls on the bride, despite the holding of grand festivals to gladden her spirits. For she had forgotten the witch's name. At one of the feastings an old woman knocks at the door, and when a servant tells her that all the high jinks are kept up to make her mistress cheerful, the beldame says that if the lady had seen what she had seen, her laughter would run free enough. So the servant bids her come in, and then she tells how she had seen an old witch leaping and bounding from one ditch to another, and singing all the time, 'Houpa, houpa, Marie Kirikitoun, nobody will remember my name.' Whereupon the bride became merry-hearted, rewarded the old woman, and told the enraged witch her name when she came for fulfilment of the bargain.
In Sagas from the Far East, a king sends his son on travel that he may gain all kinds of knowledge. The prince takes, as his favourite companion, the son of the prime minister, who, on their return journey, burning with envy at the superior wisdom of his royal comrade, entices him into a forest and kills him. As the prince dies, he utters the word, 'Abaraschika.' When the murderer reaches the palace, he tells the sorrowing king how the prince fell sick unto death, and that he had time to speak only the above word. Thereupon the king summoned his seers and magicians, and threatened them with death if they did not, within seven days, interpret the meaning of 'Abaraschika.' That time had well-nigh expired when a student came beckoning to them, bidding them not despair, for, while sleeping beneath a tree, he had heard a bird telling his young ones not to cry for food, since the Khan would slay a thousand men on the morrow because they could not find out the meaning of 'Abaraschika.' And the meaning, said the bird, was this:--'My bosom friend hath enticed me into a thick grove, and hath taken away my life.' So the seers and magicians hastened to reporl what they had heard to the king, who thereupon put the murderer to death. [c]
The Welsh story (one of several closely allied in detail) tells that once upon a Lime the youth. ful heir of Ystrad, on adventure bent, wandered by the banks of the Gwyrfai stream that issues from Quellyn's lake. As night fell he hid him. self by a bush near the spot where the 'Tywyth Teg,' or 'Fair Family' (the 'Folk of the Re~ Coat'), held their revels. The moon shone in r cloudless sky, and the youth had not long to wait before he saw the 'little people' trool forth to the dance. Among these was one who straightway kindled his love, for never mort graceful maiden or light-footed dancer had h seen. The longer he watched her, the hotter grew his desire, till, making resolve to seize her, he 'sprang like a lion into the middle of the circle' just when the fairies were most enjoying the swing of the dance, and carried her off in hii arms to Ystrad. 'Her companions vanished like a breath in July as they heard the shrill voice of their sister crying for help.' When the youth reached home he strove by every gentle art in his power to make the fairy happy, and she served him well in return, being obdurate only in one thing. 'He could in nowise prevail on her to tell him her name,' and vain were all his efforts to discover it, till one evening, as he was driving two of his cows to the meadow, he came again to the spot where he had captured the fairy. He hid himself, as before, in the thicket, and when the troop of the Red-coated appeared, he heard them saying to one another that when they last came thither a mortal had carried off their sister Penelope.[d] Glad-hearted, the youth hurried' home and called the fairy by her name, whereupon grief clouded her face. Her beauty and distress moved him the more to urge that she who had been his faithful serving-maid would become his wife; and although she long refused him, she at last consented, but only on his promising that if ever he struck her with iron she should be free to leave him. For years he kept his word, but, one day, as they went together to catch a wild horse in the field, he threw the bridle at him, and by mischance struck his fairy wife with the iron bit, whereupon she straightway vanished. [e]
[a] Chambers's Popular Rhymes of Scotland, pp. 72-75.
[b] Tirolo Kinder- und Hauasmärchen, pp. 225-232. Innsbruck,1852.
[c] Sagas from the Far East, translated by R. H. Busk, p. 157.
[d] "Icannot satisfactorily account for the introduction of this name into the story.'--Letter from Professor Rhys to the author.
[e] Cymmodor, iv. 189.