Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, , at sacred-texts.com
THERE was once a poor peasant who had three sons, two of them wise and one foolish. One day the king gave a feast, to which everybody was invited, rich and poor. These two wise brothers set out for the feast like the rest, leaving the poor fool at home, crouching over the stove. He thereupon besought his mother to allow him to go after his brothers. But the mother answered, 'Fool that thou art! thy brothers go thither to tell tales, whilst thou, thou knowest nothing. What then couldst thou tell?' Still the fool continues to beg his mother to let him go, but still she refuses. 'Very well! if thou wilt not let me go there, with the help of God I shall know what to do.'
Well, one day the king contrived a certain tower. He then placed his daughter on' the second story, and issued a proclamation that whoever should kiss his daughter there should have her in marriage. Well, various princes and nobles hastened to the place; not one of them could reach her. The king then decreed that the peasants were to come. This order reached the house where dwelt the peasant who had three sons, two wise and one foolish. The two wise brothers arose and set out. The fool feigned to go in search of water, but he went to a bush and struck it three times with a stick. Whereupon a fairy appeared, who demanded, 'What wouldst thou?' 'I wish to have a horse of silver, garments of silver, and a sum of money.'
After he had received all these things, he set out on his way. Whom should he happen to overtake on the road but his two wise brothers.
'Whither are you going?' he asked of them.
'We are going to a king's palace--his who has contrived this tower, upon the second story of which he has placed his daughter; and he has proclaimed that whoever kisses her shall become her husband.'
The fool got off his horse, cut himself a cudgel, and began to beat his two brothers; finally he gave them each three ducats. The two brothers did not recognise him, and so he went on by himself, unknown. When he had come to the king's palace all the great lords looked with admiration at this prince, mounted on a silver steed, and clad in garments of silver. He leapt up with a great spring towards the princess, and almost got near enough to kiss her. He fell back again, and then, with the help of the good God, he took his departure. These noblemen then asked of one another, 'What is the meaning of this? He had scarcely arrived when he all but succeeded in kissing the princess.'
The fool then returned home, and went to the bush, and struck it thrice. The fairy again appeared, and asked of him, 'What is thy will?' He commanded her to hide his horse and his clothes. He took his buckets filled with water and went back into the house.
'Where hast thou been?' asked his mother of him.
'Mother, I have been outside, and I stripped myself, and (pardon me for saying so) I have been hunting lice in my shirt.'
'That is well,' said his mother, and she gave him some food. On the return of the two wise brothers their mother desired them to tell her what they had seen.
'Mother, we saw there a prince mounted on a silver steed, and himself clad in silver. He had overtaken us by the way, and asked us whither we were going. We told him the truth, that we were going to the palace of the king who had contrived this tower, on the second story of which he had placed his daughter, decreeing that whosoever should get near enough to give her a kiss should marry her. The prince dismounted, cut himself a cudgel, and gave us a sound beating, and then gave us each three ducats.'
The mother was very well pleased to get this money; for she was poor, and she could now buy herself something to eat.
Next day these two brothers again set out. The mother cried to her foolish son, 'Go and fetch me some water.' He
went out to get the water, laid down his pails beside the well, and went to the bush; he struck it thrice, and the fairy appeared to him. 'What is thy will?'
'I wish to have a horse of gold and golden garments.'
The fairy brought him a horse of gold, golden garments, and a sum of money. Off he set, and once more he over-took his brothers on the road. This time he did not dismount, but, cudgel in hand, he charged upon his brothers, beat them severely, and gave them ten ducats apiece. He then betook himself to the king. The nobles gazed admiringly on him, seated on his horse of gold, himself attired in a golden garb. With a single bound he reached the second story, and gave the princess a kiss. Well, they wished to detain him, but he sprang away, and fled like the wind, with the help of the good God. He came back to his bush, out of which the fairy issued, and asked him, 'What wilt thou?'
'Hide my horse and my clothes.'
He dressed himself in his wretched clothes, and went into the house again.
'Where hast thou been?' asked his mother.
'I have been sitting in the sun, and (excuse me for saying it) I have been hunting lice in my shirt.'
She answered nothing, but gave him some food. He went and squatted down behind the stove in idiot fashion. The two wise brothers arrived. Their mother saw how severely they had been beaten, and she asked them, 'Who has mauled you so terribly?'
'It was that prince, mother.'
'And why have you not laid a complaint against him before the king?'
'But he gave us ten ducats apiece.'
'I will not send you any more to the king,' said the mother to them.
'Mother, they have posted sentinels all over the town to arrest him, the prince; for he has already kissed the king's daughter, after doing which he took to flight. Then the sentinels were posted. We are certain to catch this prince.'
The fool then said to them, 'How will you be able to seize him, since evidently he knows a trick or two?'
'Thou art a fool,' said the two wise brothers to him; 'we are bound to capture him.'
'Capture away, with the help of the good God,' replied the fool.
Three days later the two wise brothers set out, leaving the fool cowering behind the stove.
'Go and fetch some wood,' called his mother to him.
He roused himself and went, with the good God. He came to the bush, and struck it three times. The fairy issued out of it and asked, 'What dost thou demand?'
'I demand a horse of diamonds, garments of diamonds, and some money.'
He arrayed himself and set out. He overtook his two brothers, but this time he did not beat them; only he gave them each twenty ducats. He reached the king's city, and the nobles tried to seize him. He sprang up on to the second story, and for the second time he kissed the princess, who gave him her gold ring. Well, they wished to take him, but he said to them, 'If you had all the wit in the world you could not catch me.' But they were determined to seize him. He fled away like the wind. He came to the bush; he struck it thrice; the fairy issued from it and came to him, and took his horse and his clothes. He gathered some wood, and returned to the house; his mother is pleased with him and says, 'There, now! that is how thou shouldst always behave'; and she gave him something to eat. He went and crouched behind the stove. His two brothers arrived; the mother questioned them.
'Mother,' they answered, 'this prince could not be taken.'
'And has he not given you a beating?'
'No, mother; on the contrary, he gave us each twenty ducats more.'
'To-morrow,' said the mother, 'you shall not go there again.' And the two brothers answered, 'No, we will go there no more.'
Aha! so much the better.
This king gave yet another feast, and he decreed that 'All the princes, as many as there shall be of them, shall come to my palace so that my daughter may identify her husband among them.' This feast lasted four days, but the husband of the princess was not there. What did this king do? He ordained a third feast for beggars and poor country-folk, and he decreed that 'Every one come, be he
blind or halt, let him not be ashamed, but come.' This feast lasted for a week, but the husband of the princess was not there. What then did the king do? He sent his servants with the order to go from house to house, and to bring to him the man upon whom should be found the princess's ring. 'Be he blind or halt, let him be brought to me,' said the king.
Well, the servants went from house to house for a week, and all who were found in each house they called together, in order to make the search. At last they came to this same house in which dwelt the fool. As soon as the fool saw them he went and lay down upon the stove. In came the king's servants, gathered the people of the house together, and asked the fool, 'What art thou doing there?'
'What does that matter to you?' replied the fool.
And his mother said to them, 'Sirs, he is a fool.'
'No matter,' said they, 'fool or blind, we gather together all whom we see, for so the king has commanded us.'
They make the fool come down from the stove; they look; the gold ring is on his finger.
'So, then, it is thou that art so clever.'
'It is I.'
He made ready and set out with them. He had nothing upon him, this fool, but a miserable shirt and a cloak all tattered and torn. He came to the king, to whom the servants said, 'Sire, we bring him to you.'
'Is this really he?'
'The very man.'
They show the ring.
'Well, this is he.'
The king commanded that sumptuous garments be made for him as quickly as possible. In these clothes he presented a very comely appearance. The king is well pleased; the wedding comes off; and they live happily, with the help of the good God.
Some time after, another king declared war against this one: 'Since thou hast not given thy daughter in marriage to my son, I will make war against thee.' But this king, the fool's father-in-law, had two sons. The fool also made preparations, and went to the war. His two brothers-in-law went in advance; the fool set out after them. He took a short cut, and, having placed himself on their line of march
he sat down on the edge of a pond, and amused himself hunting frogs. These two wise brothers-in-law came up.
Just look at him, see what he is doing; he is not thinking of the war, but only amusing himself hunting frogs.'
These two brothers went on, and this fool mounted his horse, and went to his bush; he struck it thrice, and the fairy appeared before him.
What demandest thou?'
'I demand a magnificent horse and a sabre with which I may be able to exterminate the entire army, and some of the most beautiful clothes.'
He speedily dressed himself; he girded on this sabre; he mounted his horse, and set forth with the help of God. Having overtaken these two brothers-in-law by the way, he asked them, 'Whither are you bound?'
'We are going to the war.'
'So am I; let us all three go together.'
He reached the field of battle; he cut all his enemies to pieces; not a single one of them escaped.
He returned home, this fool, with his horse and all the rest; he hid his horse and his sabre and all the rest, so that nobody would know anything of them. These two brothers arrived after the fool had returned. The king asked them, Were you at the war, my children?'
'Yes, father, we were there, but thy son-in-law was not there.'
'And what was he about?'
'He! he was amusing himself hunting frogs; but a prince came and cut the whole army to pieces; not a soul of them has escaped.'
Then the king reproached his daughter thus: 'What, then, hast thou done to marry a husband who amuses himself catching frogs?'
'Is the fault mine, father? Even as God has given him to me, so will I keep him.'
The next day those two sons of the king did not go to the war, but the king himself went there with his son-in-law. But the fool mounted his horse the quickest and set out first; the king came after, not knowing where his son-in-law. had gone. The king arrived at the war, and found that his son-in-law had already cut to pieces the whole of the
enemy's army. And therefore the other king said to this one that henceforth he would no more war against him. They shook hands with each other, these two kings. The fool was wounded in his great toe. His father-in-law noticed it, he tore his own handkerchief and dressed the wounded foot; and this handkerchief was marked with the king's name. The fool got home quickest, before his father-in-law; he pulled off his boots and lay down to sleep, for his foot pained him. The king came home, and his sons asked him, 'Father, was our brother-in-law at the war?'
'No, I saw nothing of him, he was not there; but a prince was there who has exterminated the whole army. Then this king and I shook hands in token that never more should there be war between us.'
Then his daughter said, 'My husband has my father's handkerchief round his foot.'
The king bounded forth; he looked at the handkerchief: it is his! it bears his name.
'So, then, it is thou who art so clever?'
'Yes, father, it is I.'
The king is very joyful; so are his sons and the queen, and the wife of this fool--all are filled with joy. Well, they made the wedding over again, and they lived together with the help of the good, golden God.
Cf. Ralston's 'Princess Helena the Fair' (Afanasief, from Kursk Government), pp. 256-9; and Dasent's 'Princess on the Glass Hill' (Pop. Tales from the Norse), pp., 89-103. The latter half, however, closely resembles the latter half of Dasent's 'The Widow's Son' (ib. pp. 400-404), as also that of Gonzenbach's Sicilian story, 'Von Paperarello,' No. 67 (ii. 67), whose opening suggests our No. 9, 'The Mother's Chastisement.' Matthew Wood's Welsh-Gipsy story, 'The Dragon' (No. 61), offers analogies. There Jack gets (1) black horse and black clothes, (2) white horse and white clothes, (3) red horse and red clothes. The Polish-Gypsy story is strikingly identical with 'The Monkey Prince' in Maive Stokes's Indian Fairy Tales, No. 10, p. 41.