Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, , at sacred-texts.com
In olden days there were twelve brothers. And the eldest brother, the carpenter Manoli, was making the long bridge. One side he makes; one side falls. The twelve brothers had one mistress, and they all had to do with her. They called her to them, 'Dear bride.' On her head was the tray; in her hands was a child. Whoseso wife came first, she will come to the twelve brothers. Manoli's wife, Lénga, will come to the twelve brothers. Said his wife, 'Thou hast not eaten bread with me. What has befallen thee that thou eatest not bread with me? My ring has fallen into the water. Go and fetch my ring.' Her husband said, 'I will fetch thy ring out of the water.' Up to his two breasts came the water in the depth of the bridge there. He came into the fountain, he was drowned. Beneath he became a talisman, the innermost foundation of the bridge. Manoli's eyes became the great open arch of the bridge. 'God send a wind to blow, that the tray may fall from the head of her who bears it in front of Lénga.' A snake crept out before Lénga, and she feared, and said, 'Now have I fear at sight of the snake, and am sick. Now is it not bad for my
children?' Another man seized her, and sought to drown her, Manoli's wife. She said, 'Drown me not in the water. I have little children.' She bowed herself over the sea, where the carpenter Manoli made the bridge. Another man called Manoli's wife; with him she went on the road. There, when they went on the road, he went to the tavern, he was weary; the man went, drank the juice of the grape, got drunk. Before getting home, he killed Manoli's wife, Lénga.
I hesitated whether to give this story; it is so hopelessly corrupt, it seems such absolute nonsense. Yet it enshrines beyond question, however confusedly, the widespread and ancient belief that to ensure one's foundation one should wall up a human victim. So St. Columba buried St. Oran alive in the foundation of his monastery; in Western folklore, however, the victim is usually an infant--a bastard sometimes, in one case (near Göttingen) a deaf-mute. But in south-eastern Europe it is almost always a woman----the wife of the master-builder, whose name, as here, is Manoli. Reinhold Köhler has treated the subject admirably in his Aufsätze über Märchen and Volkslieder (Berlin, 1894, pp. 36-47); there one finds much to enlighten the darkness of our original. 'God send a wind,' etc., is the husband's prayer as he sees his wife coming towards him, and hopes to avert her doom; 'My ring has fallen into the water,' etc., must also be his utterance, when he finds that it is hope-less, that she has to die. The Gypsy story is probably of high antiquity, for two at least of the words in it were quite or almost meaningless to the nomade Gypsy who told it (Paspati, p. 190). The masons of south-eastern Europe are, it should be noticed, largely Gypsies; and a striking Indian parallel may be pointed out in the Santal story of 'Seven Brothers and their Sister' (Campbell's Santal Folk-tales, pp. 106-110). Here seven brothers set to work to dig a tank, but find no water, so, by the advice of a yogi, give their only sister to the spirit of the tank. 'The tank was soon full to the brim, and the girl was drowned.' And then comes a curious mention of a Dom, or Indian vagrant musician, whose name is probably identical with Doum, Lom, or Rom, the Gypsy of Syria, Asia Minor, and Europe.