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

No. 24.--The Prince, his Comrade, and Nastasa the Fair

There was an emperor with an only son; and he put him to school, to learn to read. And he said to his father, 'Father, find me a comrade, for I'm tired of going to school.' The emperor summoned his servants, and sent them out into the world to find a boy, and gave them a carriageful of ducats, and described what he was to be like, and how old. So they traversed all the world, and found a boy, and gave a carriageful of ducats for him, and brought him to the emperor. The emperor clothed him, and put him to the school; and he was the better scholar of the two.

There was an empress, the lovely Nastasa. 1 A virgin she,

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who commanded her army. And she had a horse, which twelve men led forth from the stable; and she had a sword, which twelve more men hung on its peg. And princes came to seek her, and she said, 'He who shall mount my horse, him will I marry, and he who shall brandish my sword.' And when they led forth the steed, and the suitors beheld it, they feared, and departed home.

The emperor's son said, 'Father, I will go to Nastasa the Fair, to woo her'; and he said, 'Come with me, brother.' Their father gave them two horses, and gave them plenty of ducats; and they set out to Nastasa the Fair. And night came upon them, and they rested and made a fire.

And the emperor's son said, 'If I had Nastasa the Fair here, I would stretch myself by her side; and if her horse were here, what a rattling I'd give him; and if her sword were here, I would brandish it.'

And his brother said, 'All the same, you've got to feed swine.'

And in the morning they journey till night, and at night they rested again. Again he said, 'If I had Nastasa the Fair here, I would stretch myself by her side; and if her horse were here, I would rattle him; and if her sword were here, I would brandish it.'

'Brother, you've got to feed swine.'

He cut off his head with his sword, and went onward. And two Huculs 1 came, and put his head on again, and sprinkled the water of life. And he arose, and mounted his horse, and gave each of the Huculs a handful of ducats. And he went after his brother, and caught him up on the road. And they journeyed till night, and he said to his brother, Brother, if you will hearken to me, it will go well with you.'

'I will, brother.' He came to Nastasa the Fair.

What have you come for?'

'We have come to demand your hand.'

And she said, 'Good, but will you mount my steed?'

'I will.'

She cried to her servants, 'Bring forth the steed.'

Twelve men brought him forth; the comrade mounted him. The horse flew up aloft with him, to cast him down. And he took his club, and kept knocking him over the head.

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The horse said, 'Don't kill me.'

'Let yourself gently down with me, and fall beneath me, and I will take you by the tail and drag you along the ground, that she may see how I treat you.'

He cried aloud, 'What a poor, wretched horse you have given me. 1 Bring the sword, that I brandish it.'

Twelve men brought the sword; he brandished it, and flung it to the Ninth Region. There was Paul the Wild; he was nailed to the roof by the palms of his hands. And thither he flung the sword; it cut off his hands, and he fled away.

They summoned the prince to table to eat, and set him at table, and twelve servants ate with him. They kept squeezing him, and he said, 'I'll step outside into the fresh air.' He went out, and said to his brother, 'Come, do you sit here, for I'm off.'

So he sat there in their midst, and they kept squeezing him. And he took his club, and began to lay about with it. And he said, 'This is your way of showing one honour.' They fled and departed.

At nightfall now it grew dark, and Nastasa the Fair called the prince to her. He went to her. She set her foot on him, and picked him up, and he was like to die.

And he said, 'Let me go into the fresh air.'

She said, 'Go.'

He went out, and said to his brother, 'Stay you here, for I'm off.'

And he went and lay down beside her. She set her foot on him. He took his club and thrashed her with it, so that he left in her only the strength of a mere woman.

He went out, went to his brother. 'Well, brother, now you can go, and don't be frightened; but, when you come to her, give her a slap.'

He went to her, gave her a slap, and slept beside her. In the morning they went out for a walk, and she said to him, 'My lord, what a thrashing you gave me! yet when you came back you kissed me.' 2

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And he said to her, 'I didn't kiss you, I gave you a slap.'

'Who then was it thrashed me?'

'My brother.'

She said not a word.

The brother slept by himself in another room. And she took the sword and cut off his feet. He made himself a winged cart; it ran a mile when he gave it a shove. And he found Paul the Wild, and said, 'Where are you going to, brother?'

'I am going into the world to get my living, for I have no hands.'

'Ha! let's become Brothers of the Cross, 1 and do you yoke yourself to the cart, and draw it gently, for you have feet.'

They went a-begging, and went into the woods and found a house, and took up their abode in it. And they went into a city and begged. A girl came to give him an alms; and he caught her, and threw her into the cart, and fled with her into the forest, there where their house was. And they swore they would not commit sin with her. The devil came, and lay with her. And they heard, and arose in the morning.

And Dorohýj Kúpec 2 asked, 'You swore. Why then did you go in to her and commit sin?'

'It wasn't me, brother, for I too heard, and I thought it was you.'

'He'll come this night, and do you take me in the stumps of your hands, and fling me on to them; I'll seize him, whoever he is.'

At night he came to her, and lay with her. They heard, and Paul took him and flung him on to them. He seized the devil, and they lit the candle, and began to beat him. And he prayed them not to, 'for I will restore you your feet, and likewise him his hands.' In the morning they bound him by the neck, and led him to a spring.

'Put your feet in the spring.'

He put his feet in the spring, and his feet became as they were before. And Paul put his hands in, and his hands were likewise restored. And Dorohýj Kúpec put some of the water of life in one pail, and some of the water of death

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in another. And he came back to their house; and they made a fire, put a fagot of wood on the fire, and burnt the devil, and flung his ashes to the wind. And Dorohýj Kúpec said, 'Now, brother, do you take that girl to yourself, and live with her, for I will go to my brother.'

He set out, and went to his brother, and found his brother by the roadside feeding swine.

'Well, do you mind my telling you, brother, you'd come to feed swine? Do you put on my clothes, and give me yours, for I'll turn swineherd, and do you stay behind.'

He took and drove the swine home, and she cried, 'Why have you driven the swine home so soon?'

The swine went into the sty, and one wouldn't go; and he took a cudgel and beat it so that it died. And when Nastasa the Fair saw that, she fled into the palace, for this is Dorohýj Kúpec.'

He followed her into the palace, and said to her, 'Good day to you, sister-in-law.'

'Thanks,' said she.

He caught her by the hand and dragged her out, and cut her all in pieces, and made three heaps of them; and two heaps he gave to the dogs, and they devoured them. And the rest of her he gathered into a single heap, and made a woman, and sprinkled her with the water of death, and she joined together; and sprinkled her with the water of life, and she arose.

'Take her, brother; now you may live with her, for now she has no great strength. I will go home,' said Dorohýj Kúpec.

And home he went.

This Gypsy story is absolutely identical with the widespread Russian one of The Blind Man and the Cripple' (Ralston, pp. 240-256). The Russian version as a whole is fuller and more perfect; yet neither from it, nor, seemingly, from any of its variants, can the Gypsy tale be derived. The opening of the latter comes much. closer to that of Hahn's story from Syra (ii. 267), a variant of the Turkish-Gypsy story of 'The Dead Man's Gratitude' (No. 1), and surely itself of Gypsy origin. Here a king has an only son, and puts him to school; and the vizier, sent in quest of another lad, buys a beautiful Gypsy boy with a voice like a nightingale's. He, too, is put to school, and proves the better scholar of the two.

In Ralston, as in Hahn, ii. 268, the prince falls in love through a

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portrait (cf. supra, p. 4). In Ralston Princess Anna the Fair propounds a riddle, as in the Turkish-Gypsy story of The Riddle' (No. 3), where, too, she consults her book (cf. Ralston, p. 242). In Ralston there is no quarrel, and no cutting off of head; nothing also of the heroic sword. The squeezing by the servants is wanting in the Russian tale, but the sleeping with the bride occurs in a variant, and Ralston cites a striking parallel from the Nibelungenlied. The comrade in Ralston, after his feet are cut off, falls in with a blind hero; the devil--a late survival of the mediæval incubus--is represented by a Baba Yaga; and the prince is made a cowherd (but a swineherd in two of the variants). The finale in Ralston is extremely poor--best in the Ryazan variant, where the comrade beats the enchantress-queen with red-hot bars until he has driven out of her all her magic strength, 'leaving her only one woman's strength, and that a very poor one.' In the winged cart we seem to get a forecast of the tricycle.


90:1 Anastasia.

91:1 Ruthenian mountaineers of the Carpathians.

92:1 With this episode of the horse compare that of the pony in 'Brave Seventee Bai' (Mary Frere's Old Deccan Days, No. 3, p. 30).

92:2 That is, of course, the prince's poor little blow had seemed to her like a caress.

93:1 Cf. footnote 1 on p. 80.

93:2 This, it seems, is the comrade's name.

Next: No. 25.--The Hen that laid Diamonds