Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, , at sacred-texts.com
There was a young miller, who was a great gambler. Nobody could beat him. One day a man comes and challenges him. They play. Jack wins and demands a castle. There it is. They play again, and Jack loses. The man tells Jack his name is the Green Man of Noman's Land, and that unless Jack finds his castle in a year and a day he will be beheaded. The time goes by. Jack remembers his task, and sets out in cold and snow. He comes to a cottage, where an old woman gives him food and lodging. He asks her if she knows the Green Man. 'No,' she says; 'but if a quarter of the world knows I can tell you.' In the morning she mounts on the roof and blows a horn. A quarter of all the men in the world came. She asks them. They do not know the Green Man, and she dismisses them. Again she blows the horn, and the birds come. She asks them; they don't know; and she dismisses them. She sends Jack on to her elder sister, who knows more than she does. She lends Jack her horse, and gives him a ball of thread to place between the horse's ears. He comes to the second sister's house. 'It is long,' she says, 'since I saw my sister's horse.' He eats and sleeps, then asks about the Green Man. She knows not, but will tell him if half the world knows; so goes on the roof and blows a horn. Half the world come, but they do not know the Green Man. 'Go,' she says, and blows the horn again. Half the birds in the world come, but with a like result. She takes her sister's horse, and gives Jack hers, with a ball of thread, and sends him on to the eldest sister. It is the same thing there. The third sister also doesn't know, but in the morning goes on the roof and blows a horn. All the people in the world come, but do not know the Green Man. 'Go.' Again she blows, and all the birds come, but do not know. She goes down and looks in her book, and finds that the eagle is missing. She blows again; the eagle comes; and she abuses him. He explains that he has just come from the Green Man of Noman's Land. She lends Jack her horse, and bids him go till he comes to a pool and sees three white birds, to hide, and to steal the feathers of the last one
to enter the water. He does so. The bird cries and demands its feathers. Jack insists on her carrying him over to her father's castle. She denies at first that she is the Green Man's daughter, but at last carries him over, and when across becomes a young lady. Jack goes up to the castle and knocks. The Green Man comes out: 'So you've found the house, Jack.' 'Yes.' The Green Man sets him tasks, the loss of his head the penalty of failure. The first task is to clean the stable. As fast as he throws out a shovelful of dirt, three return. So Jack gives it up, and the girl, coming with his dinner, does it for him. The Green Man accuses him of receiving help; he denies it. The second task is to fell a forest before mid-day. Jack cuts down three trees and weeps. The girl brings his dinner, and does it for him, warning him not to tell her father. The same accusation is met with the same denial. The third task is to thatch a barn with a single feather only of each bird. Jack catches a robin, pulls a feather from it, lets it go then, and sits down despairing. The girl brings his food, and performs his task for him, warning him of the next task, the fourth one. This is to climb a glass mountain in the middle of a lake and to bring from the top of it the egg of a bird that lays one egg only. The girl meets him at the edge of the lake, and by her suggestion he wishes her shoe a boat. They reach the mountain. He wishes her fingers a ladder. She warns him to tread on every step and not miss one. He forgets, steps over the last rung, and gets the egg; but the girl's finger is broken. She warns him to deny having had any help. The fifth task is to guess which daughter is which, as in the shape of birds they fly thrice over the castle. Forewarned by the girl, Jack names them correctly. The Green Man thereupon gives in, and Jack weds his daughter.
For the ball of thread, see pp. 221, 233; and for looking in the book, p. 12. Blowing a blast and summoning all the birds, occurs in the Roumanian-Gypsy story of 'The Three Princesses and the Unclean Spirit,' p. 38 (cf. the Welsh-Gypsy 'Jack and his Golden Snuff-box,' p. 214, where likewise the eagle comes last). So too in Dasent's 'Three Princesses of Whiteland' (cf. Folklore for December 1890, p. 496, and note on p. 17 of Georgeakis and Pineau's Folklore de Lesbos). The 'Green Man of Noman's Land' offers close analogies to the Polish-Gypsy story of 'The Witch' (No. 50), and is identical with Campbell's West Highland tale, 'The Battle of the Birds' (No. 2), in a variant of which the hero plays
cards with a dog, loses, so has to serve him. Reinhold Köhler has treated Campbell's story very fully in Orient and Occident, ii. 1864, pp. 103-114, where he gives Irish, Norse, Swedish, German, and Indian variants. The Indian variant, from the Sanskrit verse Kathá Sarit Sagara of Somadeva (eleventh century A.D.) is of high interest. In it the hero, by the help of his beloved, performs tasks set by her father, a cannibal Râkshasa; one of those tasks is the picking out of the beloved from among her sisters, as in 'The Green Man of Noman's Land.' Then, as in 'The Witch,' we get the pursuit, with transformations and final victory. What Köhler does not point out is that the two birds in Campbell's story correspond very closely to the two birds that figure so often in Indian folk-tales, e.g. in 'The Bēl Princess' (Maive Stokes's Indian Fairy-tales, p. 149).