Sacred Texts  Sagas and Legends  Basque  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at


ONCE upon a time there was a woman who had three daughters. One day the youngest said to her that she must go out to service. And going from town to town, she met at last a fairy who asked her:

"Where are you going to, my child?"

And she answered, "Do you know a place for a servant?"

"Yes; if you will come to my house I will take you."

She said, "Yes."

She gave her her morning's work to do, and said to her:

"We are fairies. I must go from home, but your work is in the kitchen; s mash the pitcher, break all the plates, pound the children, give them breakfast (by themselves), dirty their faces, and rumple their hair."  1

While she was at breakfast with the children, a little dog comes to her and says:

"Tchau, tchau, tchow; I too, I want something."

"Be off from here, silly little dog; I will give you a kick."

But the dog did not go away; and at last she gave him something to eat--a little, not much.

"And now," says he, "I will tell you what the mistress has told you to do. She told you to sweep the kitchen, to fill the pitcher, and to wash all the plates, and that if it is all well done she will give you the choice of a sack of charcoal

p. 54

or of a bag of gold; of a. beautiful star on your forehead, or of a donkey's tail hanging from it. You must answer, 'A sack of charcoal and a donkey's tail.'"

The mistress comes. The new servant had done all the work, and she was very well satisfied with her. So she said to her:

"Choose which you would like, a sack of charcoal or a bag of gold?"

"A sack of charcoal is the same to me."

"A star for your forehead, or a donkey's tail?"

"A donkey's tail would be the same to me."

Then she gives her a bag of gold, and a beautiful star on her forehead. 1 Then the servant goes home. She was so pretty with this star, and this bag of gold on her shoulders, the whole family was astonished at her. The eldest daughter says to her mother:

"Mother, I will go and be a servant too."

And she says to her, "No, my child, you shall not do so."

But as she would not leave her in peace (she assented), and she goes off like her sister. She comes into the city of the fairies, and meets the same fairy as her sister did. She says to her:

"Where are you going, my girl?"

"To be a servant."

"Come to us."

And she takes her as servant. She tells her like the first one:

"You will dig up the kitchen, break the plates, smash the pitcher, give the children their breakfasts by themselves, and dirty their faces."

There was some of the breakfast left over, and the little dog comes in, and he went:

"Tchow! tchow! tchow! I too, I should like something."

And he follows her everywhere, and she gives him

p. 55

nothing; and at last she drove him off with kicks. The mistress comes home, and she finds the kitchen all dug up, the pitcher and all the plates broken. And she asks the servant:

"What do you ask for wages? A bag of gold or a sack of charcoal? a star on your forehead, or a donkey's tail there?"

She chose the bag of gold and a star on her forehead; but she gave her a sack of charcoal, and a donkey's tail for her forehead. She goes away crying, and tells her mother that she comes back very sorry. And the second daughter also asks permission to go.

"No! no!" (says the mother), and she stops at home.




53:1 Basque Lamiñak always say exactly the contrary to what they mean.

54:1 Cf. Bladé's "Contes Agenais," "Les Deux Filles," and Köhler's "Notes Comparatives" on the tale, p. 149.

Next: The Fairy in the House