Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, , at sacred-texts.com
THERE was an old woman in a village. And grown-up maidens met and span, and made a 'bee.' 1 And the young sparks came and laid hold of the girls, and pulled them about and kissed them. But one girl had no sweetheart to lay hold of her and kiss her. And she was a strapping lass, the daughter of wealthy peasants; but three whole days no one came near her. And she looked at the big girls, her comrades. And no one troubled himself with her. Yet she was a pretty girl, a prettier was not to be found. Then came a fine young spark, and took her in his arms and kissed her, and stayed with her until cock-crow. And when the cock crowed at dawn he departed. The old woman saw he had cock's feet. 2 And she kept looking at the lad's feet, and she said, 'Nita, my lass, did you see anything?'
'I didn't notice.'
'Then didn't I see he had cock's feet?'
'Let be, mother, I didn't see it.'
And the girl went home and slept; and she arose and went off to the spinning, where many more girls were holding a 'bee.' And the young sparks came, and took each one his sweetheart. And they kissed them, and stayed a while, and went home. And the girl's handsome young
spark came and took her in his arms and kissed her and pulled her about, and stayed with her till midnight. And the cock began to crow. The young spark heard the cock crowing, and departed. What said the old woman who was in the hut, 'Nita, did you notice that he had horse's hoofs?'
'And if he had, I didn't see.'
Then the girl departed to her home. And she slept and arose in the morning, and did her work that she had to do. And night came, and she took her spindle and went to the old woman in the hut. And the other girls came, and the young sparks came, and each laid hold of his sweetheart. But the pretty girl looks at them. Then the young sparks gave over and departed home. And only the girl remained neither a long time nor a short time. Then came the girl's young spark. Then what will the girl do? She took heed, and stuck a needle and thread in his back. And he departed when the cock crew, and she knew not where he had gone to. Then the girl arose in the morning and took the thread, and followed up the thread, and saw him in a grave where he was sitting. Then the girl trembled and went back home. At night the young spark that was in the grave came to the old woman's house and saw that the girl was not there. He asked the old woman, 'Where's Nita?'
'She has not come.'
Then he went to Nita's house, where she lived, and called, 'Nita, are you at home?'
Nita answered, ['I am'].
'Tell me what you saw when you came to the church. For if you don't tell me I will kill your father.'
'I didn't see anything.'
Then he looked, 1 and he killed her father, and departed to his grave.
Next night he came back. 'Nita, tell me what you saw.' I didn't see anything.'
'Tell me, or I will kill your mother, as I killed your father. Tell me what you saw.'
'I didn't see anything.'
Then he killed her mother, and departed to his grave. Then the girl arose in the morning. And she had twelve
servants. And she said to them, 'See, I have much money and many oxen and many sheep; and they shall come to the twelve of you as a gift, for I shall die to-night. And it will fare ill with you if you bury me not in the forest at the foot of an apple-tree.'
At night came the young spark from the grave and asked, Nita, are you at home?'
'Tell me, Nita, what you saw three days ago, or I will kill you, as I killed your parents.'
'I have nothing to tell you.'
Then he took and killed her. Then, casting a look, he departed to his grave.
So the servants, when they arose in the morning, found Nita dead. The servants took her and laid her out decently. They sat and made a hole in the wall and passed her through the hole, and carried her, as she had bidden, and buried her in the forest by the apple-tree.
And half a year passed by, and a prince went to go and course hares with greyhounds and other dogs. And he went to hunt, and the hounds ranged the forest and came to the maiden's grave. And a flower grew out of it, the like of which for beauty there was not in the whole kingdom. 1 So the hounds came on her monument, where she was buried, and they began to bark and scratched at the maiden's grave. Then the prince took and called the dogs with his horn, and the dogs came not. The prince said, 'Go quickly thither.'
Four huntsmen arose and came and saw the flower burning like a candle. They returned to the prince, and he asked them, 'What is it?'
'It is a flower, the like was never seen.'
Then the lad heard, and came to the maiden's grave, and saw the flower and plucked it. And he came home and showed it to his father and mother. Then he took and put it in a vase at his bed-head where he slept. Then the flower arose from the vase and turned a somersault, 2 and became
a full-grown maiden. And she took the lad and kissed him, and bit him and pulled him about, and slept with him in her arms, and put her hand under his head. And he knew it not. When the dawn came she became a flower again.
In the morning the lad rose up sick, and complained to his father and mother, 'Mammy, my shoulders hurt me, and my head hurts me.'
His mother went and brought a wise woman and tended him. He asked for something to eat and drink. And he waited a bit, and then went to his business that he had to do. And he went home again at night. And he ate and drank and lay down on his couch, and sleep seized him. Then the flower arose and again became a full-grown maiden. And she took him again in her arms, and slept with him, and sat with him in her arms. And he slept. And she went back to the vase. And he arose, and his bones hurt him, and he told his mother and his father. Then his father said to his wife, 'It began with the coming of the flower. Something must be the matter, for the boy is quite ill. Let us watch to-night, and post ourselves on one side, and see who comes to our son.'
Night came, and the prince laid himself in his bed to sleep. Then the maiden arose from the vase, and became there was never anything more fair--as burns the flame of a candle. And his mother and his father, the king, saw the maiden, and laid hands on her. Then the prince arose out of his sleep, and saw the maiden that she was fair. Then he took her in his arms and kissed her, and lay down in his bed, slept till day.
And they made a marriage and ate and drank. The folk marvelled, for a being so fair as that maiden was not to be found in all the realm. And he dwelt with her half a year, and she bore a golden boy, two apples in his hand. 1 And it pleased the prince well.
Then her old sweetheart heard it, the vampire who had made love to her, and had killed her. He arose and came to her and asked her, 'Nita, tell me, what did you see me doing?'
'I didn't see anything.'
'Tell me truly, or I will kill your child, your little boy, as I killed your father and mother. Tell me truly.'
'I have nothing to tell you.'
And he killed her boy. And she arose and carried him to the church and buried him.
At night the vampire came again and asked her, 'Tell me, Nita, what you saw.'
'I didn't see anything.'
'Tell me, or I will kill the lord whom you have wedded.'
Then Nita arose and said, 'It shall not happen that you kill my lord. God send you burst.' 1
The vampire heard what Nita said, and burst. Ay, he died, and burst for very rage. In the morning Nita arose and saw the floor swimming two hand's-breadth deep in blood. Then Nita bade her father-in-law take out the vampire's heart with all speed. Her father-in-law, the king, hearkened, and opened him and took out his heart, and gave it into Nita's hand. And she went to the grave of her boy and dug the boy up, applied the heart, and the boy arose. And Nita went to her father and to her mother, and anointed them with the blood, and they arose. Then, looking on them, Nita told all the troubles she had borne, and what she had suffered at the hands of the vampire.
The word cĭohanó, which throughout I have rendered 'vampire,' is of course identical with Paspati's Turkish-Rómani tchovekhano, a 'revenant' or spectre, which, according to Miklosich, is an Armenian loan-word, and in other Gypsy dialects of Europe means 'wizard, witch.' This vampire story is a connecting link between the two meanings 2; but whether the story itself is of Gypsy or of non-Gypsy origin is a difficult question. We have four versions of it--two of them Gypsy, viz., this from Roumania, and one in Friedrich Müller's Beiträge; and two non-Gypsy, viz., Ralston's 'The Fiend' (Russian Folk-tales, pp. 10-17), and one from Croatia (Krauss's Sagen and Märchen der Sudslaven, i. 293). Hahn's 'Lemonitza' (ii. 27) also offers analogies. Krauss's and Müller's are both much inferior to Ralston's and our Roumanian-Gypsy one; and of them, although Ralston's opens best, yet its close is immeasurably inferior. For in it, as in the Hungarian-Gypsy variant, the flower transforms itself merely to eat and drink. But Ralston's story, it will
probably be urged, as a typical Russian story, so must needs be of Russian origin. To which I answer, Irish-wise, with the question, How then did it travel to Croatia, to the Gypsies of Hungary and Roumania? That the Gypsies, with never a church, should make church bells might seem unlikely, did we not know that at Edzell, in Forfarshire, there is a church bell that was cast by Gypsies in 1726. So Gypsy story-tellers may well have devised some domestic narratives for their auditors, not for themselves. And this story is possibly theirs who tell it best.
The merest glance at Ralston or Krauss will suffice to show that the Gypsy and Gentile stories are identical, that the likeness between them is no chance one, but that there has been transmission--either the Gypsies have borrowed from the Gentiles, or the, Gentiles have borrowed from the Gypsies. Ralston and Krauss are readily accessible to the general folklorist; of Friedrich Müller's version I append this brief résumé. It is compounded of the first half of his No. 4, which drifts off into quite another story about a dove and a soldier, and of the second half of his number No. 2, which opens with a variant of
Grimm's 'Robber Bridegroom' (cf. infra, No. 47, notes):--
The Holy Maid will not marry. The devil creeps in at window. '"Now, thou fair maiden, wilt thou come to me or no?" "No"--this said the maiden--"to a dead one say I it, but to a living one No."' Devil kills first her father, next her mother; lastly threatens herself. She tells the gravedigger, ' Bear me not over the door [this supplies a lacuna in the Roumanian-Gypsy version], but bury me in a grave under the threshold, and take me not out from there.' The girl then dies and is buried. Flower grows out of grave. King sees it and sends coachman to pluck it. He cannot [supplies lacuna], but king does, and takes it home. At night the flower turns into a girl and eats. Servant sees and tells. King watches next night. The girl bids him pluck the flower with a clean white cloth with the left hand, 1 then she will never change back into a rose, but remain a maiden [supplies lacuna]. King does so, and she marries him on condition he will never force her to go to church [supplies lacuna]. He rues his promise when he sees the other kings going to church with their wives. She consents: 'But now, as thou wilt, I go. Thy God shall be also my God.' When she comes into church, there are the twelve robbers [story reverts here to the first half of No. 2]. The robber cuts her throat and she dies. ' If she is not dead, she is still alive.'
It will be seen 'that, rude and corrupt as these two fragments are, they supply some details wanting in the Roumanian-Gypsy version. They cannot, then, be borrowed from it, but it and they are clearly alike derived from some older, more perfect original.
14:1 Kláka. 'Claca,' says Grenville Murray, 'signifies a species of assembly very popular in Wallachia. If any family has some particular work to do on any particular account, they invite the neighbourhood to come and work for them. When the work is completed there is high glee, singing and dancing, and story-telling.'--Doine; or, Songs and Legends of Roumania (Lond. 1854), p. 109 n.
14:2 In Wlislocki, p. 104 note, the devil has a duck's foot. In F. A. Steel's Indian Wide-awake Stories, p. 54, the hero detects a ghost by her feet being set on hind part before.
15:1 On p. 110 Dr. Barbu Constantinescu gives a long and terrific formula for bewitching with the evil eye.
16:1 The notion of a dead girl turning into a flower is very common in Indian folk-tales. Cf. Maive Stokes's Indian Fairy Tales, pp. 145, 149, 244, 247, 248, 252, etc.; and Mary Frere's Old Deccan Days, No. 6, 'Little Surya Bai,' pp. 79-93.
16:2 Dá pes pe sherésti, lit. gave, or threw, herself on her head. In Gypsy stories this undignified proceeding almost invariably precedes every transformation. Cf. p. 17'The Red King and the Witch,' 'The Snake who became the King's Son-in-law,' 'Tropsyn,' etc.
17:1 For golden boy cf. Dr. Barbu Constantinescu's own ' The Golden Children,' No. 18, also Hahn, ii. 293. The two apples seem to be birth-marks.
18:1 For the bursting of monsters, cf. Dasent's Tales from the Norse, pp. 27, 240; and Ralston, p. 130.
18:2 Our queen's great-great-great-grandfather, George I., was a firm believer in the vampire superstition (Horace Walpole's Letters, vol. i. p. cix.).
19:1 Cf. Grimm, No. 56, 'Sweetheart Roland,' i. 226.