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Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, [1899], at

No. 2.--Baldpate

In those days there was a man built a galleon; he manned her; he would go from the White Sea to the Black Sea. He landed at a village to take in water; there he saw four or five boys playing. One of them was bald. He called him. 'Where's the water?' he asked. Baldpate showed him; he took in water.

'Wilt come with me?'

'I will, but I've a mother.'

'Let's go to your mother.' They went to her.

'Will you give me this boy?'

'I will.'

The captain paid a month's wages; he took the lad. They weighed anchor; they came to a large village; they landed to take in water.

The king's son went out for a walk, and he sees a dervish with a girl's portrait for sale. The king's son bought it; it was very lovely. The girl's father had been working at it for seven years. The king's son set it on the fountain, thinking, Some one of those who come to drink the water will say, 'I've seen that girl.' The captain came ashore; he took in water; he lifted up his eyes, and saw the portrait. 'What a beauty!' He went aboard, and said to his crew, 'There's a beauty yonder, I've never seen her like.'

Baldpate said, 'I'm going to see.'

Baldpate went. The moment he saw the portrait, he burst out laughing. 'It's the dervish's daughter. How do they come by her?'

Hardly had he said it when they seized him and brought him to the palace. Baldpate lost his head the moment they seized him. But two days later they came to him: 'This girl, do you know her?'

'Know her? why, we were brought up together. Her mother is dead; she suckled both her and me.'

p. 5

'If they bring you before the king, fear not.'

He came before the king.

'This girl, do you know her, my lad?'

'I do, we grew up together.'

'Will you bring her here?'

'I will. Build me a gilded galleon; give me twenty musicians; let me take your son with me; and let no one gainsay whatever I do. Then I will go. I shall take seven years to go and come.'

They took their bread, their water for seven years; they set out. They went to the maiden's country. At break of day Baldpate brought the galleon near the maiden's house; the maiden's house was close to the sea. Baldpate said, 'I'll go upon deck for a turn; don't any of you show yourselves.' He went up; he paced the deck.

The dervish's daughter arose from her sleep. The sun struck on the galleon; it struck, too, on the house. The girl went out, rubs her eyes. A man pacing up and down. She bowed forward and saw our Baldpate. She knew him: 'What wants he here?'

'What seek you here?'

'I've come for you, come to see you; it is so many years since I've seen you. Come aboard. Your father, where's he gone to?'

'Don't you know that my father has been painting my portrait? He's gone to sell it; I'm expecting him these last few days.'

'Come here, and let's have a little talk.'

The girl went to dress. Baldpate went to his crew. Hide yourselves; don't let a soul be seen; but the moment I get her into the cabin, do you cut the ropes; I shall be talking with her.'

She came into the cabin; they seated themselves; they talk; the galleon gets under weigh. He privily brought in the king's son.

'Who is this?' said the girl. 'I am off.'

'Are you daft, my sister? Let's have some sweetmeats.' He gave her some; they intoxicated the girl.

'A little music to play to you,' said Baldpate.

He went, brought the musicians; they began to play. The girl said, 'I'm up, I'm off; my father's coming.'

p. 6

'Sit down a bit, and let them play to you.' They play their music; she hears not the departure of the galleon.

'I'm off,' said the girl to Baldpate.

She went on deck and saw where her home was. 'Ah! my brother, what have you done to me?'

'Done to you! he who sits by you is the son of the king, and I'm come to fetch you for him.'

She wept and said, 'What shall I do? shall I fling myself into the sea?' No, she went and sat down by the king's son. Plenty of music and victuals and drink. Baldpate is sitting up aloft by himself; he is captain. They eat, they drink; he stirred not from his post.

Two or three days remained ere they landed. At break of dawn three birds perched on the galleon; no one was near him. The birds began talking: 'O bird, O bird, what is it, O bird? The dervish's daughter eats, drinks with the son of the king; she knows not what will befall them.'

'What will?' the other birds asked.

'As soon as he arrives, a little boat will come to take them off. The boat will upset, and the dervish's daughter and the king's son will be drowned; and whoever hears it and tells will be turned into stone to his knees.'

Baldpate listens; he is alone.

Early next morning the birds came back again. They began talking together: 'O bird, O bird, what is it, O bird? The dervish's daughter and the king's son eat, drink; they know not what will befall them. As soon as they land, as soon as they enter the gate, the gate will tumble down, it will crush them and kill them; and whoever hears it and tells will be turned into stone to the back.'

Day broke; the birds came back. 'O bird, O bird, what is it, O bird? The dervish's daughter eats, drinks; she knows not what will befall her.'

'What will?' the other birds asked.

'The marriage night a seven-headed dragon will come forth, and he will devour the king's son and the dervish's daughter; and whoever hears it and tells them will be turned into stone to the head.'

Baldpate says, all to himself, 'I shan't let any boats come.' He arose; he came opposite the palace; some boats came to take off the maiden.

p. 7

'I want no boats.' Instead he spread his sails. The galleon backed, the galleon went ahead. One and all looked: 'Why, he will strand the galleon!'

'Let him be,' said the king, 'let him strand her.'

He stranded the galleon.

Baldpate said to the king, 'When I started to fetch this girl, did I not tell you you must let me do as I would? No one must interfere.'

He took the girl and the prince; he came to the gate. 'Pull it down.'

'Pull it down, why?' they asked.

'Did I not tell you no one must interfere?'

They set to and pulled it down. They went up, sat down, ate, drank, laugh, and talk.

The worm gnaws Baldpate within.

Night fell; they will bed the pair. Baldpate said; 'Where you sleep I also will sleep there.'

'The bridegroom and bride will sleep there; you can't.'

'What's our bargain?'

'Thou knowest.'

They went, they lay down; Baldpate took his sword, he lay down, he covered his head. At midnight he hears a dragon coming. He draws his sword; he cuts off its heads; he puts them beneath his pillow. The king's son awoke, and sees his sword in his hands. He cried, 'Baldpate will kill us.'

The father came and asked, 'What made you call out, my son?'

'Baldpate will kill us,' he answered.

They took and bound Baldpate's arms.

Day broke; the king summoned him. 'Why have you acted thus? Seven years you have gone, you have journeyed, and brought the maiden; and now you have risen to slay them.'

'What could I do?'

'You would kill my son, then will I kill you.'

'Thou knowest.'

They bind his arms, they lead him to cut off his head. As he went, Baldpate said to himself; 'They will cut off my head. If I tell, I shall be turned into stone. Come, bring me to the king; I have a couple of words to say to him.'

p. 8

They brought him to the king.

'Why have you brought him here?'

'He has a couple of words to say to you.'

'Say them, my lad.'

'I, when I went to fetch the dervish's daughter, I was sitting alone on the galleon; your son was eating, drinking with the maiden. One morning three birds came; they began talking: "O bird, O bird, what is it, O bird? The dervish's daughter eats, drinks with the son of the king; she knows not what will befall her. And whoever hears it and tells will be turned into stone to his knees." No one but I was there; I heard it.'

As soon as Baldpate had said it, he was turned into stone to his knees. The king, seeing he was turned into stone, said, 'Prithee, my lad, say no more.'

'But I will,' Baldpate answered, and went on to tell of the gate; he was turned into stone to his back.

'The third time the birds came and talked together again, and I heard (that was why I wished to sleep with them): "A seven-headed dragon will come forth; he will devour them." And if you believe it not, look under the pillow.'

They went there; they saw the heads.

'It was I who killed him. Your son saw the sword in my hands, and he thought I would kill them. I could not tell him the truth.'

He was turned into stone to his head, They made a tomb for him.

The king's son arose; he took the road; he departed. 'Seven years has he wandered for me, I am going to wander seven years for him.'

The king's son went walking, walking. In a certain place there was water; he drank of it; he lay down. Baldpate came to him in a dream: 'Take a little earth from here, and go and sprinkle it on the tomb. He will rise from the stone.'

The king's son slept and slept. He arose; he takes some of the earth; he went to the tomb; he sprinkled the earth on it. Baldpate arose. 'How sound I've been sleeping!' he said.

'Seven years hast thou wandered for me, and seven years I have wandered for thee.'

p. 9

He takes him, he brings him to the palace, he makes him a great one.

Miklosich's Bukowina-Gypsy story, 'The Prince, his Comrade, and Nastasa the Fair' (No. 24) presents analogies; but 'Baldpate' is identical with Grimm's No. 6, 'Faithful John,' i. pp. 23 and 38, where in the variant the third peril is a seven-headed dragon. Cf. also Wolf's Hausmärchen (Gött. 1851), p. 383; Basile's Pentamerone (1637), iv. 9; Hahn, i. 201-208, and ii. 267-277; and especially the Rev. Lal Behari Day's Folk-tales of Bengal (London, 1883), pp. 39-52, the latter half of 'Phakir Chand.' Here two immortal birds warn the minister's son of four perils threatening the king's son:--(1) riding an elephant; (2) from fall of gate; (3) choking by fish-head; (4) cobra. Penalty of telling, to be turned into statue. Another Indian version is 'Rama and Luxman; or, the Learned Owl,' in Mary Frere's Old Deccan Days, No. 5, pp. 66-78, whose ending is very feeble. See also Reinhold Köhler's Aufsätze über Märchen and Volkslieder (Berlin, 1894), pp. 24-35.

Next: No. 3.--The Riddle