Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, , at sacred-texts.com
There was a rich man, and he went into the forest, and fell into a bog with his carriage. And his wife brought forth a
son, and he knew it not. And the Devil came forth, and said, 'What will you give me if I pull you out?'
I will give you what you want.'
'Give me what you have at home.'
'I have horses, oxen.'
'Give me that which you have not seen.'
'Make a covenant with me.'
He made a covenant with him, and the Devil pulled him out of the mud, and the man went home. By the time he got home he had forgotten the covenant.
The boy was twenty years old. 'Make me a cake, mother, for I'm off to the place my father pledged me to.' And he went far over the mountains, and came to the Devil's house. There was an old woman in the house, and a daughter of the Devil's, and she asked him, 'Whither art going, lad?'
'I have come to the lord here, to serve.'
And the girl saw him, and he pleased her. 'I may tell you that he is my father. My father will turn himself into a horse, and will tell you to mount him and traverse the world. And do you make yourself an iron club and an iron curry-comb, and hit him with the club, for he will not stoop, and get on his back, and as you go keep hitting him on the head.'
He traversed the world, and came home, put him in the stable, and went to the maiden.
'My father didn't fling you?'
'No, for I kept hitting him on the head.'
The Devil called him, and took a jar of poppy-seed, and poured it out on the grass, and told him to gather it all up, and fill the jar, for, 'If you don't, I will cut off your head.'
He went to the maiden, and wept.
'What are you weeping for?'
'Your father has told me to fill the jar with poppy-seed; and if I don't, he will cut off my head.'
She said, 'Fear not.' She went outside and gave a whistle, and the mice came as many as all the blades of grass and the leaves.
And they asked, 'What do you want, mistress?'
'Gather the poppy-seed and fill the jar.'
And the mice came and picked up the grains of poppy-seed one by one, and filled the jar.
The Devil saw it. 'You're a clever chap. Here is one more task for you: drain the marsh, and plough it, and sow it, and to-morrow bring me roasted maize. And if you do not, I shall cut your head off.'
He went to the maiden and wept. 'Your father has told me to drain the marsh, and give him roasted maize to-morrow.'
She went outside, and took the fiery whip. And she struck the marsh once, and it was dried up; a second time she struck, and it was ploughed; the third time she struck, it was sowed; the fourth time she struck, and the maize was roasted; and in the morning he gave him roasted maize.
She said to him, 'We are three maidens. He will make us all alike, will call you to guess which is the eldest, which is the middle one, and which the youngest; and you will not be able to guess, for we shall be all just alike. I shall be at the top, and notice my feet, for I shall keep tapping one foot on the other; the middle one will be in the middle, and the eldest fronting you, and so you will know.'
The Devil said to him, 'One more task I will give you. Fell the whole forest, and stack it by to-morrow.'
He went to the maiden, and the maiden asked him, 'Have you a father and mother?'
'Ah! let us fly, for my father will kill you. Take the whetstone, and take a comb; I have a towel.'
They set out and fled. The Devil arose, saw that the forest is not felled. ' Go and call him to me.'
Ho, ho! there is neither the lad nor the maiden.
'Hah! go after them.'
They went, and the two saw them coming after them. And she said to him, 'I will make myself a field of wheat, and do you make yourself to be looking at the wheat, and they will ask you, "Didn't a maiden and a lad pass by?" "Bah! they passed when I was sowing the wheat."'
'Go back, for we shall not catch them.'
They went back. 'We did not catch them.'
'On the road did not you find anything?'
'We found a field of wheat and a peasant.'
'Go back, for the field of wheat was she, and he was the peasant.'
They saw them again. She said to the lad, 'I will turn a somersault and make myself an old church, and do you turn a somersault and make yourself an old monk, and they will ask you, "Didn't a maiden and a lad pass by?" "They passed just as I began the church."'
'Ah! go back, for we shall never catch them. When he was beginning the church! It is old now.'
'Did you not find anything on the road?'
'We found a church and a monk.'
'The church was she, and he was the monk. I will go myself.'
They saw him. 'Now my father is coming; we shall not escape. Fling the comb.'
He flung the comb, and it became a forest from earth to sky. Whilst he was gnawing away the forest, they got a long way ahead. He was catching them up; she cried, Fling the whetstone.'
He flung the whetstone, and it became a rock of stone from earth even to heaven. Whilst he, the Devil, was making a hole in the rock, they got a long way ahead. Again he is catching them up. 'Father is catching us up.' She flung the towel, and it became a great water and a mill. They halted on the bank.
And he cried, 'Harlot, how did you cross the water?'
'Fasten the millstone to your neck, and jump into the water.'
He fastened the millstone to his neck, and jumped into the water, and was choked.
She said, 'Fear not, for my father is choked.'
He went to his father with the maiden. His father rejoiced; but the maiden said to the lad, 'I will go to expiate my father's sins, for I choked him. I go for three years.'
She took her ring, and broke it in half, and gave one half to him. 'Keep that, and do not lose it.' She departed for three years.
He forgot her, and made preparations to marry. He was holding his wedding. She came, and he knew her not.
'Drink a glass of brandy.'
She drank out of his glass, and flung the half of the ring into the glass, and gave it to him. When he drank, he got it into his mouth, and he took it in his hand and looked at it, and he took his half and fitted the two together. 'Hah! this is my wife; this one saved me from death.'
And he quashed that marriage, and took his first wife and lived with her.
There are several obvious lacunæ in this story, one that the poppy-seed must have been mixed with some other seed, else the task would have been far too easy. The Polish-Gypsy story of 'The Witch' (No. 50), corresponds pretty closely; and for the roasted maize task compare the Roumanian-Gypsy story of The Snake who became the King's Son-in-law' (No. 7). For a multitude of non-Gypsy variants see Ralston's The Water-King and Vasilissa the Wise' (pp. 120-133), especially the Indian story at the end. Cf. also Cosquin, ii. 9, and i. 103, 106, 139, 141. The ring episode recurs in the Bohemian-Gypsy story, The Three Dragons' (No. 44, p. 154). The fiery whip in the Gypsy story is, to the best of my knowledge, unique.