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

No. 8.--The Bad Mother

There was an emperor. He had been married ten years, but had no children. And God granted that his empress conceived and bore a son. Now that son was heroic; there was none other found like him. And the father lived half a year longer, and died. Then what is the lad to do? He took and departed in quest of heroic achievements. And he journeyed a long while, and took no heed, and came into a great forest. In that forest there was a certain house, and in that house were twelve dragons. Then the lad went straight thither, and saw that there was no one. He opened the door and went in, and he saw a sabre on a nail and took it, and posted himself behind the door, and waited for the

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coming of the dragons. They, when they came, did not go in all at once, but went in one by one. The lad waited, sabre in hand; and as each one went in, he cut off his head, flung it on the floor. So the lad killed eleven dragons, and the youngest dragon remained. And the lad went out to him, and took and fought with him, and fought half a day. And the lad vanquished the dragon, and took him and put him in a jar, and fastened it securely.

And the lad went to walk, and came on another house, where there was only a maiden. And when he saw the maiden, how did she please his heart. As for the maiden, the lad pleased her just as well. And the maiden was yet more heroic than the lad. And they formed a strong love. And the lad told the maiden how he had killed eleven dragons, and one he had left alive and put in a jar.

The maiden said, 'You did ill not to kill it; but now let it be.'

And the lad said to the maiden, 'I will go and fetch my mother, for she is alone at home.'

Then the maiden said, 'Fetch her, but you will rue it. But go and fetch her, and dwell with her.'

So the lad departed to fetch his mother. He took his mother, and brought her into the house of the dragons whom he had slain. And he said to his mother, 'Go into every room; only into this chamber do not go.'

His mother said, 'I will not, darling.'

And the lad departed into the forest to hunt.

And his mother went into the room where he had told her not to go. And when she opened the door, the dragon saw her and said to her, 'Empress, give me a little water, and I will do you much good.'

She went and gave him water and he said to her, 'Dost love me, then will I take thee, and thou shalt be mine empress.'

'I love thee,' she said.

Then the dragon said to her, 'What will you do, to get rid of your son, that we may be left to ourselves? Make yourself ill, 1 and say you have seen a dream, that he must bring you a porker of the sow in the other world; that, if he does not

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bring it you, you will die; but that, if he brings it you, you will recover.'

Then she went into the house, and tied up her head, and made herself ill. And when the lad came home and saw her head tied up, he asked her, 'What's the matter, mother?'

She said, 'I am ill, darling. I shall die. But I have seen a dream, to eat a porker of the sow in the other world.'

Then the lad began to weep, for his mother will die. And he took 1 and departed. Then he went to his sweetheart, and told her. 'Maiden, my mother will die. And she has seen a dream, that I must bring her a porker from the other world.'

The maiden said, 'Go, and be prudent; and come to me as you return. Take my horse with the twelve wings, and mind the sow does not seize you, else she 'Il eat both you and the horse.'

So the lad took the horse and departed. He came there, and when the sun was midway in his course he went to the little pigs, and took one, and fled. Then the sow heard him, and hurried after him to devour him. And at the very brink (of the other world), just as he was leaping out, the sow bit off half of the horse's tail. So the lad went to the maiden. And the maiden came out, and took the little pig, and hid it, and put another in its stead. Then he went home to his mother, and gave her that little pig, and she dressed it and ate, and said that she was well.

Three or four days later she made herself ill again, as the dragon had shown her.

When the lad came, he asked her, 'What's the matter now, mother?

'I am ill again, darling, and I have seen a dream that you must bring me an apple from the golden apple-tree in the other world.'

So the lad took and departed to the maiden; and when the maiden saw him so troubled, she asked him, 'What's the matter, lad?'

'What's the matter! my mother is ill again. And she has seen a dream that I am to bring her an apple from the apple-tree in the other world.'

Then the maiden knew that his mother was compassing

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his destruction (lit. 'was walking to eat his head'), and she said to the lad, 'Take my horse and go, but be careful the apple-tree does not seize you there. Come to me, as you return.'

And the lad took and departed, and came to the brink of the world. And he let himself in, and went to the apple-tree at mid-day when the apples were resting. And he took an apple and ran away. Then the leaves perceived it and began to scream; and the apple-tree took itself after him to lay its hand on him and kill him. And the lad came out from the brink, and arrived in our world, and went to the maiden. Then the maiden took the apple, stole it from him, and hid it, and put another in its stead. And the lad stayed a little longer with her, and departed to his mother. Then his mother, when she saw him, asked him, 'Have you brought it, darling?'

'I've brought it, mother.'

So she took the apple and ate, and said there was nothing more the matter with her.

In a week's time the dragon told her to make herself ill again, and to ask for water from the great mountains. So she made herself ill.

When the lad saw her ill, he began to weep and said, 'My mother will die, God. She's always ill.' Then he went to her and asked her, 'What's the matter, mother?'

'I am like to die, darling. But I shall recover if you will bring me water from the great mountains.'

Then the lad tarried no longer. He went to the maiden and said to her, 'My mother is ill again; and she has seen a dream that I must fetch her water from the great mountains.'

The maiden said, 'Go, lad; but I fear the clouds will catch you, and the mountains there, and will kill you. But do you take my horse with twenty-and-four wings; and when you get there, wait afar off till mid-day, for at mid-day the mountains and the clouds set themselves at table and eat. Then do you go with the pitcher, and draw water quickly, and fly.'

Then the lad took the pitcher, and departed thither to the mountains, and waited till the sun had reached the middle of his course. And he went and drew water and fled. And

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the clouds and the mountains perceived him, and took themselves after him, but they could not catch him. And the lad came to the maiden. Then the maiden went and took the pitcher with the water, and put another in its stead without his knowing it. And the lad arose and went home, and gave water to his mother, and she recovered.

Then the lad departed into the forest to hunt. His mother went to the dragon and told him, 'He has brought me the water. What am I to do now with him?'

'What are you to do! why, take and play cards with him. You must say, "For a wager, as I used to play with your father."'

So the lad came home and found his mother merry: it pleased him well. And she said to him at table, as they were eating, 'Darling, when your father was alive, what did we do? When we had eaten and risen up, we took and played cards for a wager.'

Then the lad: 'If you like, play with me, mother.'

So they took and played cards; and his mother beat him. And she took silken cords, and bound his two hands so tight that the cord cut into his hands.

And the lad began to weep, and said to his mother, 'Mother, release me or I die.'

She said, 'That is just what I was wanting to do to you.' And she called the dragon, 'Come forth, dragon, come and kill him.'

Then the dragon came forth, and took him, and cut him in pieces, and put him in the saddle-bags, and placed him on his horse, and let him go, and said to the horse, 'Carry him, horse, dead, whence thou didst carry him alive.'

Then the horse hurried to the lad's sweetheart, and went straight to her there. Then, when the maiden saw him, she began to weep, and she took him and put piece to piece; where one was missing, she cut the porker, and supplied flesh from the porker. So she put all the pieces of him in their place. And she took the water and poured it on him, and he became whole. And she squeezed the apple in his mouth, and brought him to life.

So when the lad arose, he went home to his mother, and drove a stake into the earth, and placed both her and the dragon on one great pile of straw. And he set it alight, and

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they were consumed. And he departed thence, and took the maiden, and made a marriage, and kept up the marriage three months day and night. And I came away and told the story.

Of this Roumanian-Gypsy story Miklosich furnishes a Gypsy variant from the Bukowina, which I will give in full at the risk of seeming repetition, italicising such words and phrases as show the most marked correspondence:--


25:1 i.e. Pretend to be ill. English Gypsies employ the same phrase alike in Rómani and in English.

26:1 Lit. 'put himself.'

Next: No. 9.--The Mother's Chastisement