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

No. 72.--The Black Dog of the Wild Forest

There was a king and queen in the north of Ireland, and they had one son. The son had to be revoured when he came of age by the Black Dog of the Wild Forest, and his father was very fond of his son. When he came close to the time when he had to be revoured, his father took him a shorter journey every day; and one day his father saddled the best horse as he had in his stable, and gave him as much money as he liked to take with him. He galloped away as hard as ever he could till he got benighted. He rode some hundreds and hundreds of miles, and he could see a small little light a little distance off him, maybe a hundred miles off him to the best of his knowledge in the dark, and he makes for this little light. And who was living there but an old witch.

'Well, come in, 1 my king's son,' she said, 'from the North of Ireland. I know you aren't very well.'

And so when he comes in, she puts him in the ess-hole under the fire. He hadn't been in there but twenty minutes, but in comes the Black Dog of the Wild Forest, spitting fire yards away out of his mouth, th’ owd lady and her little dog named Hear-all after him. But they beat him.

'Now,' she says, 'my king's son, please to get up. You can have your tea now. We have beat him.'

So he gets up, has his tea with her, and gives a lot of

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money to the old lady, which says they have got a sister living from her three hundred miles. 'And if you can get there, ten to one she will give you her advice to get safe. I will give you my favours, the bread out of my mouth, that is Hear-all, the dog. I will give you that dog with you.'

He gallops on, gallops on, till he gets benighted. He looks behind him on the way he was going; his horse was getting very tired; and he could see the Black Dog of the Wild Forest after him. And he gallops on till he comes to t’other sister's house.

'Well, come in,' she says, 'my king's son from the North of Ireland. I know you aren't very well.'

She puts him down into the ess-hole again, sir; and she had a little dog named Spring-all. If they fought hard the first night they fought fifteen times harder with Hear-all and Spring-all and th' owd lady herself.

'Well,' she said, 'my king's son, I will do the best as ever I can for you. I will give you Spring-all, and I will give you the rod. Don't forget what I tell you to do with this rod. You follow this ball of worsted. Now it will take you right straight to a river. You will see the Black Dog of the Wild Forest, and s’ever you get to this river, you hit this rod in the water, and a fine bridge will jump up. And when you get to t’other side, just hit the water, and the bridge will fall in again, and the Black Dog of the Wild Forest cannot get you.'

He got into another wild forest over the water, and he got romping and moping about the forest by himself till he got very wild. He got moping about, and he found he got to a castle. That was the king's castle as he got over there to. He got to this castle, and the gentleman put him on to a job at this castle.

So he says to him, 'Jack, are you ony good a-shooting?'

'Yes, sir,' he says, 'I can shoot a little bit. I can shoot a long way further.'

'Well, will you go out to-day, Jack, and we will have a shot or two in the forest?'

They killed several birds and wild varmints in the forest. So him being sweet upon a daughter at this big hall, her and Jack got very great together. Jack tuck her down to the river to show her what he could do with his rod, him

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being laughing and joking with her. The king wanted a bridge made over the river, and he said there was no one as could do it.

'My dear,' says Jack, 'I could do it,' he says.

'With what?' she says.

'With my rod.'

He touched the water with his rod, and up springs as nice a bridge as ever you have seen up out of the water. Him being laughing and joking with this young girl, he come away and forgot the bridge standing. He comes home. Next day following he goes off again shooting with the king again, and the Black Dog of the Wild Forest comes to the king's house.

He says to th’ owd lady herself, 'Whatever you do to-morrow, Jack will be going out shooting again, and you get Jack to leave his two little dogs, as I am going to devour Jack. And whatever you do, you fasten ’em down in the cellar to-morrow, and I will follow Jack to the forest where he is going shooting. And if Jack kills me, he will bring me back on the top of his horse on the front of him; and you will say to him, "O Jack, what ever are you going to do with that?" "I am going to make a fire of it," he will say. And he will burn me, and when he burns me he will burn me to dust. And you get a small bit of stick--Jack will go away and leave me after--and you go and rake my dust about, and you will find a lucky-bone. And when Jack goes to his bed, you drop this lucky-bone in Jack's ear, he will never rise no more, and you can take and bury him.'

Now the old lady was against Jack a lot for being there. So the Black Dog of the Wild Forest told th' owd lady the way to kill Jack. 'So see as when Jack brings me back and burns me, you look in my dust, and you will find a lucky-bone, and you drop it when Jack goes to bed, drop it into his ear, and Jack will never rise from his bed no more, he will be dead. Take Jack and bury him.'

Jack goes to the forest a-shooting, and the Black Dog of the Wild Forest follows him, and Jack begin to cry. Now if the fire came from his mouth the first time, it came a hundred times more, and Jack begin to cry.

'Oh dear!' he cried, 'where is my little Hear-all and Spring-all?'

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He had no sooner said the words, five minutes but scarcely, comes up the two little dogs, and they’s a very terrible fight. But Jack masters him and kills him. He brings home the Black Dog of the Wild Forest on the front of his horse; he brings him back, Jack, on the front of his horse; and the king says, 'What ever are you going to do with that?'

'I'm going to burn him.'

After he burns him, he burns him to dust.

The Black Dog of the Wild Forest says to th’ owd lady, When Jack burns me to dust, you get a little stick and rake my dust about, and you will find a lucky-bone. You drop that lucky-bone in Jack's ear when he goes to bed, and Jack will never waken no more, and then you can take and bury him, and after that Jack is buried there will be no more said about him.'

Well, th’ owd woman did do so, sir. When Jack went to bed, she got this lucky-bone and did as the Black Dog of the Wild Forest told her. She did drop it in Jack's ear, and Jack was dead. They take Jack off to bury him. Jack been buried three days, and the parson wondered what these two little dogs was moping about the grave all the time. He couldn't get them away.

'I think we'll rise Jack again,' he says.

And s’ever they rise him, off opened the lid of the coffin, and little Hear-all jumped to the side of his head, and he licked the lucky-bone out of his ear. And up Jack jumped alive.

Jack says, 'Who ever put me here?'

'It was the king as had you buried here, Jack.'

Jack made his way home to his own father and mother. Going on the road Jack was riding bounded on the back of his horse's back. Hear-all says to him, 'Jack,' he says, 'come down, cut my head off.'

'Oh dear, no! Hear-all. I couldn't do that for the kindness you have done for me.'

'If you don't do it, Jack, I shall devour you.'

He comes down off his horse's back, and he kills little Hear-all. He cuts his head off, and well off timed [ofttimes] he goes crying about Hear-all, for what he done. Goes on a little further. Spring-all says to him, 'Jack, you have got to come down and serve me the same.'

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Oh dear, no!' he says, 'Spring-all, I shall take it all to heart.'

'Well,' he says, 'if you don't come down, Jack,' he says, I will devour you.'

Jack comes down, and he cuts his head off, and he goes on the road, crying very much to hisself about his two little dogs. So going on this road as he was crying, he turned his head round at the back of his horse, looking behind him, and he sees two of the handsomest young ladies coming as ever he saw in his life.

'What are you crying for?' said these ladies to him.

'I am crying,' he said, 'about two little dogs, two faithful dogs, what I had.'

'What was the name of your little dogs?'

'One was named Hear-all, and the t’other was named Spring-all.'

'Would you know them two dogs if you would see them again?'

'Oh dear, yes!' says Jack. 'Oh dear, yes!' says Jack.

'Well, I am Hear-all, and this is Spring-all.'

Away Jack goes home to his father and mother, and lives very happy there all the days of his life.

A capital and very curious story, but plainly imperfect: Jack, of course, should marry the princess. There is a very West Highland ring about it, yet I cannot match it from Campbell, nor indeed elsewhere. At the same time many of the incidents are familiar enough. For the balls of worsted and the three helpful sisters (or brothers, hermits, etc.), of. John Roberts' story of 'An Old King and his Three Sons' (No. 55, pp. 220-234). The bridge-making episode suggests a combination of the Passage of the Red Sea and the bridge-making ball of yarn in 'The Companion' (Dasent's Tales from the Fjeld, p. 73). The lucky-bone in the ear reminds one of the pin which, driven into the heroine's head, causes transformation into a bird (Maive Stokes's Indian Fairy Tales, pp. 12, 14, 253; and Laura Gonzenbach's Sicil. Märchen, i. p. 82), or of the comb, poisoned apple, etc., in Grimm's 'Snow-white' (No. 53), and its Chian, Albanian, and other variants, which produce, as in Jack's case, suspended animation. For the cutting off of the helpful animal's head, under a threat, and the consequent transformation, cf. the Scottish-Tinker story of 'The Fox' (No. 75).


267:1 A corruption probably of 'Welcome.'

Next: No. 73.--The Brown Bear of the Green Glen