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

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No. 26.--The Winged Hero

There was a certain great craftsman, and he was rich. He took to drinking and gambling, and drank away all his wealth, and grew poor, so that he had nothing to eat. He saw a dream, that he should make himself wings; and he made himself wings, and screwed them on, and flew to the Ninth Region, to the emperor's castle, and lighted down And the emperor's son went forth to meet him, and asked him, 'Where do you come from, my man?'

'I come from afar.'

'Sell me your wings.'

'I will.'

'What do you want for them?'

'A thousand gold pieces.'

And he gave him them, and said to him, 'Go home with the wings, and come back in a month's time.'

He flew home, and came back in a month; and the prince said to him, 'Screw the wings on to me.'

And he screwed them on, and wrote down for the prince which peg he was to turn to fly, and which peg he was to turn to alight. The prince flew a little, and let himself down on the ground, and gave him another thousand florins more, and gave him also a horse, that he might ride home. The prince screwed on the wings, and flew to the south. A wind arose from the south, and tossed the trees, and drove him to the north. In the north dwelt the wind, drove him to the Ninth Region. And a fire was shining in the city. And he lighted down on the earth, and unscrewed his wings, and folded them by his side, and came into the house. There was an old woman, and he asked for food. She gave him a dry crust, and he ate it not. He lay down and slept. And in the morning he wrote a letter for her, and gave her money, and sent her to a cookshop with a letter to the cookshop to give him good food. And the old woman came home, and gave him to eat, and he also gave to the old woman. He went outside, and saw the emperor's palace with three stories of stone and the fourth of glass. And he asked the old woman, 'Who lives in the palace? and who lives in the fourth story?'

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'The emperor's daughter lives there. He won't let her go out. He gives her her food there by a rope.'

And the maid-servant lowered the rope, and they fastened the victuals to it, and she drew them up by the rope. And the maid-servant had a bedchamber apart, where she slept only of a night, and the day she passed with the princess.

And that emperor's son screwed on his wings and flew up, flew to the glass house, and he looked to see how the bars opened, and opened them, and let himself in. And she was lying lifeless on the bed. And he shakes her, and she never speaks. And he took the candle from her head; and she arose, and embraced him, and said to him, 'Since you are come to me, you are mine, and I am yours.' They loved one another till daybreak; then he went out, placed the candle at her head, and she was dead. And he closed the bars again, and flew back to the old woman.

Half a year he visited the princess. She fell with child. The maid-servant noticed that she was growing big, and her clothes did not fit her. She wrote a letter to the emperor: 'What will this be, that your daughter is big?' The emperor wrote back a letter to her: 'Smear the floor at night with dough, and whoever comes will leave his mark on the floor.' She placed the candle at her head, and the girl lay dead. And she smeared the floor with dough, and went to her chamber. The emperor's son came again to her, and let himself in to her, and never noticed they had smeared the floor, and made footprints with his shoes, and the dough stuck to his shoes, but he never noticed it, and went home to the old woman, and lay down and slept. The servant-maid went to the emperor's daughter, and saw the footprints, and wrote a letter to the emperor, and took the measure of the footprints, and sent it to the emperor. The emperor summoned two servants, and gave them a letter, and gave them the measure of the footprints. 'Whose shoes the measure shall fit, bring him to me.' They traversed the whole city, and found nothing.

And one said, 'Let's try the old woman's.'

And another said, 'No, there's nobody there.'

'Stay here. I'll go.'

And he saw him sleeping, and applied the measure to his shoes. They summoned him. 'Come to the emperor.'

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'All right.'

He bought himself a great cloak, and put it on, so that his wings might not be noticed, and went to the emperor. The emperor asked him, 'Have you been going to my daughter?'

'I have.'

'With what purpose have you done so?'

'I want to marry her.'

The emperor said, 'Bah! you'll not marry her, for I'll burn you both with thorns.'

The emperor commanded his servants, and they gathered three loads of thorns, and set them on fire, and lowered her down, to put them both on the fire. The emperor's son asked, 'Allow us to say a pater noster.' He said to the girl, 'When I fall on my knees, do you creep under the cloak and clasp me round the neck, for I'll fly upwards with you.'

She clasped him round the neck, and quickly he screwed the wings, and flew upwards. The cloak flew off, the soldiers fired their guns at it; on he flew. She cried, 'Let yourself down, for I shall bear a child.'

He said, 'Hold out.'

He flew further, and alighted on a rock on a mountain, and she brought forth a child there. She said, 'Make a fire.' He saw a fire in a field afar off. He screwed his wings, and flew to the fire, and took a brand of it, and returned. And a spark fell on one wing, and the wing caught fire. Just as he was under the mountain the wing fell off, and he flung away the other one as well. And he walked round the mountain, and could not ascend it.

And God came to him and said, 'Why weepest thou?' Ah! how should I not weep? for I cannot ascend the mountain, and my wife has brought forth a child.'

'What will you give me if I carry you up to the top?'

'I will give you whatever you want.'

'Will you give me what is dearest to you?'

'I will.'

'Let us make an agreement.'

They made one. God cast him into a deep sleep, and her as well, and God bore them home to his father's, to his own bed, and left them there, and departed. And the child cried. The warders heard a child crying in the bedchamber.

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[paragraph continues] They went and opened the door, and recognised him, the emperor's son. And they went to the emperor and told him, Your son has come, O emperor.'

'Call him to me.'

They came to the emperor; they bowed themselves before him; they tarried there a year. The boy grew big, and was playing one day. The emperor and the empress went to church, and his nurse too went to the church. God came, disguised like a beggar. The emperor's son said to the little lad, 'Take a handful of money, and give it to the beggar.'

The beggar said, 'I don't want this money; it's bad. Tell your father to give me what he vowed he would.'

The emperor's son was angry, and he took his sword in his hand, and went to the old man to kill him. The old man took the sword into his own hand and said, 'Give me what you swore to me--the child, you know--when you were weeping under the mountain.'

'I will give you money, I will not give you the child.'

God took the child by the head, and the father took him by the feet, and they tugged, and God cut the child in half.

'One half for you, and one half for me.'

'Now you've killed him, I don't want him. Take him and be hanged to you.'

God took him, and went outside, and put him together; and he was healed, and lived again.

'Do you take him now.'

For God cut off his sins.

Of this story, widely familiar through H. C. Andersen's 'Flying Trunk,' Wlislocki furnishes a Transylvanian-Gypsy variant, 'The Wooden Bird,' in his 'Beiträge zu Benfey's Pantschatantra' (Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenl. Gesellschaft, vol. xxxii. 1888, part i. p. 119). For that variant and many others--Persian, Hindu, Modern Greek, etc., including 'Der Weber als Wischnu' from Benfey, i. 159-163, ii. 48-56, see W. A. Clouston's Notes on the Magical Elements in Chaucer's 'Squire's Tale,' and Analogues (Chaucer Soc. 1890, pp. 413-471). Cf. also Grimm's 'Blue Light,' No. 116; Hahn, No. 15, and ii. 269, for tower of glass or crystal; Cosquin, No. 31; and Hahn, ii. 186, for a king who governs nine kingdoms. With the princess lying lifeless on the bed compare the lady sleeping on a golden bedstead in Lal Behari Day's Folk-tales of Bengal, p. 251. In 'The Demon and the King's Son' (Maive Stokes's Indian Fairy Tales, p. 186), the demon every day makes his daughter lie on her bed, and covers her with a sheet, and

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places a thick stick at her head, and another at her feet. Then she dies till he comes home in the evening and changes the sticks. This brings her to life again. Cf. also notes to our Welsh-Gypsy story of 'An Old King and his three Sons' (No. 55).

Next: No. 27.--Tropsyn