Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, , at sacred-texts.com
In my copy of this book several letters are missing from the right edge of each line on page 110. I have silently reconstructed the effaced text.--JBH
There was a widow lady, and she had an only son. An he stuck his ring in the wall, and said, 'Mother, when blood flows from the ring, then I am dead.'
And he was called Peter Pretty-face.
He took the road, and the dragon with six heads came, and he drew his sword and killed him, and made three heaps of him, and planted a red flag, and went further. And a dragon with twelve heads came, and he drew his sword, and killed him also, and made twelve heaps, and planted a black flag, and went further. And there came one with twenty-four heads, and he killed him also, and made twenty-four heaps, and planted a white flag.
Behold! the dragons carried off an emperor's daughter--there were twelve dragons--and shut her up in their castle. And they went and fought from morning even till noon; he who shall prove himself strongest, he shall marry the maiden.
And his mother had said to him, 'If you will go, your death will not be by a hero, but your death will be by cripple.'
So he went to that castle, and saw the maiden at the window, and he asked her, 'What are you doing there?'
'The dragons carried me off, and shut me up here.'
'And where are they gone to?'
'They are gone to fight for me.'
'And when will they come home?'
'They will come at noon to dine. And they will hurl their club, and it will strike the door, that I may have the food ready.'
He opened the door and went in to her. The dragon hurled the club, and struck the door; and he took the club and hurled it back, and killed them all.
'Now have no fear; they are dead.'
He married the emperor's daughter.
And the emperor heard that the dragons had carried off his daughter; and the emperor said, 'He who shall free her from the dragons, he shall marry her.' The emperor knew not that Peter Pretty-face had married her. He thought that the dragons had carried her off.
And there was one Chutilla the Handless, and he went to the emperor. 'I, O emperor, will rescue your daughter from the dragons.'
'Well, if you do, she shall be yours.'
So he, Chutilla, went to Peter Pretty-face. And night came upon him, and he had nowhere to sleep, and he crept into the hen-house. In the morning Peter Pretty-face arose, and washed his face, and looked out of the window, and Chutilla came forth from the hen-house.
And Peter Pretty-face saw him. ' By him is my death.' Chutilla came indoors and said, 'Good-morning, Peter Pretty-face.'
'Come, Peter Pretty-face, give me the emperor's daughter.'
He said, 'I will not.'
Chutilla caught him by the throat, and placed his head on the threshold. 1 'Give me, Peter Pretty-face, the maiden, else I will cut off your head.'
'Cut it off; I will not give her.'
Chutilla cut off his head, and took the girl and departed.
Blood began to flow from the ring. His mother saw it. 'Now my son is dead.' She went after him, to seek for him, and came to the red flag. His mother said, 'My son went this way.' She went further, and came to the black flag. 'My son went this way.' She went further, and came to the white flag. 'My son went this way.' She came to the castle, found her son dead; and two serpents were licking the blood. And she struck one serpent, and it died. And the other serpent brought a leaf in its mouth, and went to the first serpent, and it also arose. And the lady saw, and killed it also, and took the leaf, and placed her son's head again on the trunk, and touched it with the leaf, and he arose.
'Mother, I was sleeping soundly.'
'You would have slept for ever if I had not come.'
'Mother, I will go to my lady.'
'Go not, mother's darling.'
'Bah! I will go, mother.'
'If go you will, God aid you.'
He went, and went straight to Chutilla, and seized Chutilla,
and cut him all in little pieces, till he had cut him up, and cast him to the dogs, and they devoured him. And he took the emperor's daughter, and went with her to the emperor.
And the maiden said, 'Father, this is he that saved me from the dragons.'
The emperor joined them in marriage, and made him king. And they live, perhaps they are living even now.
I know no variant, Gypsy or Gentile, of this story, though Chutilla recalls the 'Halber Mensch' of Hahn, ii. 274. The three flags, red, black, and white, are seemingly unique. For casting the club to announce one's coming, cf. supra, pp. 37, 40; and Denton's Serbian Folklore, p. 124. For snake-leaf in Hungarian-Gypsy tale, cf. supra, p. 99. And for 'Mother, I was sleeping soundly,' cf. supra, p. 33. If the story of 'Peter Pretty-face' is complete, his easy victory at the end may be due to God's help, invoked by the mother.
111:1 As a kind of block evidently. I do not remember this elsewhere.