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Title: Rumanian Bird and Beast Stories
       Rendered into English

Author: Anonymous

Translator: Moses Gaster

Release Date: June 29, 2013 [EBook #43059]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Jeroen Hellingman and the Online Distributed
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Newly Designed Front Cover.

Original Title Page of Series.
The Folk-Lore Society


Original Title Page.

“But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee;

And the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee.”

Job xii. 7.
Published for the Folk-Lore Society by

Her Majesty
Queen Elisabeth of Rumania
“Carmen Sylva”
To Whom the Soul of the Rumanian People is as an Open Book
A Page of that Book
By Gracious Permission
Dedicated [vii]



“Neither can men hear the voice of the cattle; both the fowl of the heavens and the beast are fled, they are gone.” The forests are silent, over hill and dale hangs a black pall; beast and bird are in hiding; the voices are hushed. But before they have disappeared, following in the track of others, I have endeavoured to catch the hum of the bee, the twitter of the bird, the chirp of the cricket, the song of the dying swan, and all the tales which beasts and birds and little beetles tell their young before they go to sleep ere the flash of the glow-worm flits across the darkness of the forest.

I have followed up to their lairs the ferocious wolf, the cantankerous dog, the sly fox and the wise hedgehog, have listened to the lark and to the nightingale, and paid homage to little king wren. Who knows how much longer they will disport themselves in the fields and forests of Rumania, where the hoofs of the horses, the feet of the marching men, the shout of battle and the thunder of the guns have silenced—let us hope only for a while—the voice of the dumb creatures, who still speak so eloquently to him who knows their language and understands the cunning spell of their hidden wisdom. It is as if I had gathered flowers from the field of the Rumanian popular imagination. They are fresh from the field, and the dew still hangs upon them like so many diamonds, flashing in the light of popular poetry; nay, sometimes a few specks of [viii]the original soil are still clinging to the roots. I have not pressed them between the leaves of this book. I have handled them tenderly. It has been a work of love, the dreamy fancies of youth, the solace of maturer age. Peradventure one or the other may be taken out and planted anew in the nurseries of the West, where they may blossom and grow afresh. They might bring with them the breath of the open field, the perfume of the forest. They might conjure up the time when the nations were still young and lived in the great Nursery of Nature. If one could only bring to the nations of the West for awhile a glimpse of the time of their youth! In my wanderings through these enchanted fields I have tried to find whence the seeds have come, whose hands have sown them, and what spiritual wind and weather have fostered their growth, whether the rain of heaven or the fountains of the deep have watered the roots, what sun has shone upon them, what fiery blast has made these flowers wither and die.

Such as they are, then, they are offered in love to the English people.

I have to thank Mr. S. L. Bensusan, who in true friendship, with admirable skill and with untiring zeal has helped me to remove the boulders, to level the ground, to plan the beds and to trim the edges; Miss C. S. Burne, whose keen sympathy, unerring eye and deft hand have helped to weed the tares and group the flowers; my son Vivian, who with loving care and gentle touch has brushed away the dead leaves that had fallen on the green sward, and last, but not least, the Folk-Lore Society, which has granted me a niche in its great Pantheon. It is indeed no small honour to be in the company of the gods.

M. G.

In the month when

“smale fowles maken melodie.”





Introduction      1


Why is the Bee black, and why is it making Honey? How did the Bee outwit the Devil?      61

I. B.

How did the Bee outwit the Mole?      67


Why is the Bee busy and the Spider sullen?      69


Why is the Bee black, and why has it a Narrow Waist?      71


Why does the Little Worm glow?      73


Why does the Little Worm glow?      75


Why does the Little Worm glow?      76


Why is the Wolf ferocious?      79


Why do the Eyes of the Wolf glow and his Hair bristle?      82


Why does the Wolf run after the Devil?      84 [x]


Why the Goat’s Knees are bare      86


Why did Noah get drunk?      90


God and the Lamb      94


The Hart and the making of the World      95


Why is the Fly called the Devil’s Horse?      97


The Devil stealing the Sun      99


Why is it called the Bull-Fly?      102


Why is the Saw-Fly red?      104


Why does the Saw-Fly live in Stables?      108


Why is the Lady-Bird dainty?      110


Why does the Gad-Fly sting the Cattle?      114


Why does the Fly of Kolumbatsh poison the Cattle?      117


Why is there a Worm in the Apple?      122


Why are the Locusts voracious?      124


Why does the Grasshopper run to and fro?      127 [xi]


Another Story of the Grasshopper      129


Why does the Nun Beetle cover its Face?      130


Why is the Beetle called the Nun?      134


Why is the Wasp the Gipsies’ Bee?      135


Another Version of the Wasp Legend      137


Why does the Hornet live in Smoky Places?      138


Why is the Hornet so spiteful?      139


Hornet Charm      140


Why has the Woodpecker such a Long Beak and why does it peck at the Trees?      141


Why has the Pelican a Big Pouch under its Beak?      143


Why does the Titmouse get into the Pumpkin?      146


Why has the Nightingale a Drab Colour?      148


Why has the Nightingale Twelve Tunes and why does the Turtle-Dove coo?      149


Why is the Nightingale the Songster of the King?      151 [xii]


Why does the Thrush hide in the Tree?      153


Why has the Partridge a Mottled Colour?      155


Why has the Thistle-Finch Ruffled Feathers?      156


Why has the Bullfinch a Red Breast and a Big Mouth?      158


Why does the Hoopoe feed on Droppings?      160


Why is the Wagtail called the Gipsies’ Bird?      161


Why is the Hoopoe such a Dirty Bird?      162


Why does the Cuckoo lead a Restless Life?      164


Why is the Cuckoo silent in the Winter?      168


The Story of the Crow and its Ugly Fledglings      170


Why is there enmity between the Crow and the Hawk?      172


Crow Charms      175


Why does the Heron drink only Rain-Water?      176


Why does the Kite cry in Dry Weather?      178 [xiii]


Why can the Mole not come out on the High Road?      179


Why has the Tortoise a Round Back?      180


Why have the Fish no Feet?      182


Why do the Plover fly singly?      183


Why does the Spider hang on a Thread?      184


Why are the Spider and the Mouse accursed?      186


Why has the Swallow a Forked Tail and a Red Spot on its Breast?      188


Why does the Frog shrivel up at Death?      190


Why does the Silkworm spin a Thin Thread?      192


Why is it right to kill a Sparrow?      195


Why should the Oak Tree not boast?      196


Why does the Mosquito live in the Well?      199


Why does the Mosquito feed on Blood?      200


Why does the Fly eat the Cherry?      202 [xiv]


Why has the Butterfly Rings on its Wings?      203


Why does the Cricket chirp?      205


Why do the Ants feed the Cricket?      206


Why do Cats and Dogs fight?      208


Why do Cats eat Mice?      210


Another Version      213


Why does a Cat sit on the Doorstep in the Sun?      214


Why does the Fly settle on the Dead?      215


Why is the Foot of Man arched?      216


Why has a Snake no Tail? and why do Fleas suck Human Blood?      218


Charms against Fleas and other House Vermin      221


Charms against Bugs      223


Why does the Cuckoo call “Cuckoo”?      225


Why does a Wagtail wag its Tail?      228


Why has the Hoopoe a Tuft?      229 [xv]


Why does the Eagle live on Raw Meat?      231


Why has the Lark a Tuft?      236


Why is the Tuft of the Lark dishevelled?      238


Why do Larks fly towards the Sun?      240


The Story of the Lark      243


The Wooing of the Sister of the Sun      245


The Wooing of a Fairy      247


Where did the Swan come from?      249


The Swan Maiden, the Bird of Heaven and the Crown of Paradise      256


Why does the Duck feed on Refuse?      259


Why has the Stork no Tail?      263


Why has the Swallow a Forked Tail and a Red Spot on its Breast?      267


Why does the Swallow live in Hot Places?      273


Why is the Dove a Homing Bird?      275 [xvi]


Why does the Raven feed on Carcases?      278


Why is the Ant cut in the Middle?      281


Why does the Cuckoo call “Cuckoo”?      284


Why does the Armenian love the Dirty Hoopoe?      288


The Story of the Partridge, the Fox and the Hound      290


The Story of the Partridge and her Young      294


The Story of the Lark and the taming of Women      296


The Story of the Turtle Dove and its love for its Mate      299


Why does the Wren hide himself?      300


Why is there no King over the Birds?      302


The Story of King Log and King Stork      304


The Story of the Stork and Little Tomtit      305


The Story of the Flea and the Gnat      306


The Story of the Gnat, the Lion, and the Man      307 [xvii]


The Story of the Gnat and the Buffalo      310


The Story of the Town Mouse and the Field Mouse      311


The Story of the Hare and the Frogs      314


Why does the Buffalo walk slowly and tread gently?      315


The Story of the Pointer and the Setter      317


The Story of the Rat and his Journey to God      318


The Story of the Seven-Witted Fox and the One-Witted Owl      320


The Story of the Fox and his Bagful of Wits and the One-Witted Hedgehog      322


The Story of the Peasant, the Snake, and King Solomon      325


The Story of the Dog and the Snake and the cure of Headache      327


The Story of the Horse, the Lion, and the Wolf      329


The Marriage of Tom and the Vixen      332 [xviii]


The Story of Man and his Years      336


The Judgment of the Soul of Man, accused and defended by Beast and Birds      339


The Pilgrimage of the Soul after Death      341


The Reward of the Good Man      346




Against the Illness of Poultry      349


Charm for a Cow against the Evil Eye      350


Charm for a Suckling Calf      350


Charm for a Cow against Snake-Bite      351


Charm against Evil Eye      351


Charm against Evil Eye      351


Charm against Worms in Beasts      352


Against Worms      353 [xix]


Charm against Snake-Bite      353


Charm if bitten by a Weasel      354



The Rumanian Version of the Story of Ahikar      355




Why were Flies created which live only One Day?      357


Why did God create Wasps and Spiders which are of no use?      357


Why has the Ox no Hair on his Nose?      359


Why does the Cat eat Mice more than any other Creeping Thing?      359


Why does the Ass mix his Water with that of other Asses, and smell the Dung?      360


Why does the Dog fight the Cat?      360 [xx]


Why is it that the Dog recognises his Master and the Cat does not?      362


Why is there a Seam in the Mouth of the Mouse?      362


Why does the Raven hop in its Walk?      363


Why does the Raven mate differently from any other Bird?      364


Why are there no Counterpart to the Fox and the Weasel among the Creatures of the Sea? and the Story of the Fox’s Heart and the Fishes      365

Index      369 [1]



The Rumanian animal tales, which appear here for the first time outside Rumania, are so weird, so different from any known to the folk-lore of the West, that they arrest our attention and invite close examination. They are, for the most part, not only beautiful in themselves, but by reason of a peculiar flight of fancy and a powerful imagination are so unlike anything known in other collections of folk-lore that they raise problems far reaching, and, I venture to think, of the highest importance to the study of popular literature. We are moving in a religious atmosphere. Many of the tales start, as it were, from the beginning of creation. God, the Apostles, the Evil One seem to take a hand in the work and to rejoice more or less in the labour of their hands. We have, besides, animal fables pure and simple, tales designed for enjoyment, tales of fancy in which the nimble and small creatures outwit the burly and heavy ones. We have also fairy tales like those known to us in the West and made familiar to us by numerous collections. A prominent characteristic is the childlike simplicity of all the stories, the absence of any dualistic element. No “moral” has been tacked on to these tales, and probably they were not even intended to teach one. The questions which the study of folk-lore has raised, whether anthropological, psychological, or historical will be raised with a renewed force. I shall endeavour, however briefly, to deal with some of the problems in the light which this collection of Rumanian tales is able to shed upon the study of folk-lore. [2]

The anthropological, historical and psychological problems underlying our studies must be attacked—I venture to think—from a fresh point of view. The view I hold is that the European nations form one spiritual unit, and that within that unit the various degrees of development through which one or the other has passed are still preserved. I believe that we must study the manifestations of the human spirit from a geographical angle of vision, that this development has spread directly from one group of men to another, and that, before going to the extreme ends of the earth for doubtful clues, we must first try to find them, and perhaps we shall succeed in finding them more easily and satisfactorily, among some of the European nations whose folk-lore has not yet been sufficiently investigated. We can find in Europe various stages of “culture,” and these we must trace by slow descent to the lowest rung of the ladder. At a certain stage of our descent we may strike the stratum of Asiatic folk-lore which may lead us further in our comparative study. Let me give some practical examples of my meaning. The relation between man and animal has been the subject of numerous highly speculative but none the less extremely interesting and acute investigations. We have had Totemism, we have had Animism and many other explanations, which by their number became simply bewildering. Students have gone to the Bushmen of Australia, and to the Red Indians of America for parallels and explanations, or for proofs of their highly ingenious theories. But are there no animal and bird stories in Europe which would show us how, to this day, the people understand the relations between man and other living creatures, what views they hold of birds and beasts and insects? Are the animals humanised—using the word in the sense of impersonating a human being? Do the people see any fundamental difference between the created things? In the fairy tale, at any rate, no such definite clear-cut distinction between man and animal can be discerned.

But at the root of many anthropological myths the animal is only a disguised human being. The worth of these [3]Rumanian stories—culled as they are from the mouth of the people—is their ability to show how to this very day the people look upon the animal world. Perhaps another view will ultimately find its way among the students of folk-lore. What I am anxious to emphasise is the fact that there are, for the investigation of folk-lore students, mines of untold wealth that have hitherto not been sufficiently worked.

These tales represent one or more of the earlier stages of European folk-lore. The elements, not yet quite closely moulded together, allow us at times to lay bare the sources and thus trace the inner history of this part of folk-lore. The people are confronted by a world filled with weird and mysterious animals, birds, insects, each with their own peculiarities to invite question.

Almost everything that is not of daily occurrence excites the people’s curiosity, and they ask for an explanation of it; where does this or that animal come from, and why has it this or that peculiarity in its habits, colours, form and other matters? They are very grateful for instruction. But it must be of a kind adapted to their understanding. It must be plausible, even if it puts some strain on their imagination. The more wonderful and weird that explanation, the more easily it is accepted by the people, and the more firmly is it believed. This question of “belief” has often been raised in connection with fairy tales. It is asked whether the people believe in the existence of fairies, monsters, marvellous and wonder-working animals, in short, in all the mechanism of the fairy tale.

To this an unhesitating answer can be given in so far as these Rumanian tales and legends are concerned. They are believed in implicitly. They form an integral part—I feel almost inclined to say they form an exclusive part—of the popular religious beliefs of the folk. The people are neither too squeamish, nor too sophistical in their faith, nor do they enquire too closely into the dogmatic character of such beliefs or into the sources from which they have come. [4]

In the East too the people, as a rule, are good-natured, and a good story remains a good story, whether told by a believer or an infidel.

The study of these tales promises to exceed by far in interest the study of mere “fairy tales.” We are moving in a spiritual world, which appears to be much more primitive in the animal tale than in the fairy tale. We are getting much nearer to the very soul of the people, to its power of imagination and abstraction. We can see more clearly the manner of its working.

The comparative study of fairy lore has led to the surprising recognition of the world-wide range of these tales. In spite of investigations carried on for close upon a century, no satisfactory solution has yet been found which would explain the appearance of one and the same fairy tale at such widely separate parts of the world as India and England. Various answers have been advanced in order to explain this surprising similarity. And the same problem arises here. This collection of tales, as already mentioned, contains two groups. The larger group consists of the legend or creation stories—in which, however, one section contains fairy tales though used also as creation stories—and the other group consists of fables pure and simple. It would be unscientific, I hold, to treat these groups on one plane as if they were all contemporary in their origin. They may represent various degrees either of local evolution, and if so, that may be found to be the best solution, or they may have come in various stages of transmission. The theory of migration has been applied hitherto to the fairy tale. I am not aware that the history of the popular fable has been attempted, still less that of the creation legends, which have remained almost unknown until quite recently. I will deal with each of these groups as far as possible separately, and the conclusions drawn from each group will afterwards be merged into one final conclusion established by the fact of their actual presence in Rumanian popular lore.

Migration, no doubt, offers the best solution of the riddle set by the fairy tale. No one, unless he solves the riddle of [5]the heroine in the fairy tale, can win her. But still the opinion of scholars is divided. The mistake, I venture to think, has been that all the tales called by this title, and even culled from the mouth of the people, have been treated on one general principle, without recognising the possibility that there may be divers layers, some older, some of a more recent date. This probability seems to have been entirely overlooked. That which holds good for one cycle need not hold equally good for all the rest. But the question of the central origin of tales must not be confused with that of their transmission. Thus a tale may originate in India or Egypt, but once it has started on a journey of its own it will be carried, chiefly by word of mouth, from country to country. And as its structure is loose, a mere framework with a very simple plot, it will assimilate other elements and undergo those manifold changes, the investigation of which is the delight and despair of the folk-lorist.

We are now faced by a new set of stories, some of which are mere tales, while others are of a more legendary character. I class under the latter heading all those in which the religious element stands out prominently. They have assumed their actual form no doubt probably under the powerful sway of some religious influence. The peculiar shade of religious teaching which has moulded the actual form of these legendary stories, and which is of decisive importance in our investigation, will be discussed more fully later on, after we have been able to dispose of other solutions offered by the explanation of the origin of these tales. It will then be possible to approach the question of the fairy tales from the coign of vantage gained.

Within this class of tales there are some in which the legendary character is not so pronounced, where the tale is intended to explain certain peculiarities of animals. These seem to be of so primitive a character that the closest parallels can only be found among primitive nations. Here a new problem sets in—the problem of origins. For curiously enough a striking similarity cannot be denied to the [6]Rumanian, Indian, African and possibly American tales. But the similarity is only in the aim. The other nations ask precisely the same questions about the animals with which they are familiar, and they endeavour to give an answer to their query. The parallelism is in the question. Are we, then, to treat these tales in the same manner as the “fairy tales” and account for that similarity in the same manner as that of fairy tales gathered from distant regions? Or, in other words, have we here another set of tales which have been carried chiefly by word of mouth from one country to another? Are these stories also new witnesses to the process of “migration”? And are we, then, to assume that this theory of migration should be applied to these animal tales, as it has been to the fairy tale? Or, are we to assume that the unity of the human soul works on parallel lines in divers countries among divers nations not otherwise connected with one another? If not, how is this similarity to be explained? True, the parallelism between Rumanian and Indian tales is not so close as it is between the “fairy tales.” For the animals are often not the same. They are everywhere local beasts. This change in the animals chosen may be due to different circumstances and local assimilation. It is quite natural that for a tiger and jackal, a wolf and a fox might have been substituted when the animal tale reached Europe, for the tale had to be localised in order to preserve its interest in a new atmosphere. One need not go very far to find the same change taking place even in written literature. The jackals in the frame story of the Panchatantra become “foxes” in Kalila Wa Dimna in the European versions. Or, to take another example, in the famous parable of the “man in the pit” in the Barlaam Josaphat legend the furious elephant becomes a camel, however incongruous the substitution may appear. If such changes could take place in the written literature in which the incidents are fixed, how much more easily could it take place when a story is carried only by word of mouth? Then the substitution of a familiar animal for one unknown would be quite natural. The people want to know the reason [7]for the peculiarities of those animals that they know. They are not likely to care much for unknown fauna. Unless those other animals are of a purely mythical and fantastical character, and as such appeal to the universal imagination, there is no room in the popular mythology for animals of foreign countries.

If, then, we admit that these animal fables have been brought to Europe in the same manner as the fairy tales, by means of oral transmission, then they have preserved their original character and their primitive form less modified than has happened in the case of the fairy tale, for reasons which would have to be explained. The only other suggestion is that these legends and animal tales are of a local origin, the product of the poetical imagination of the Rumanian peasant, and as such quite independent of any other source. If this is not acceptable we must admit a continuous stream of popular tradition, setting in at a time not yet determined and spreading from East to West or from South to North, the direction of the stream having been determined by the presumable centre of origin in Asia, before or contemporary with the spread of the real fairy tales.

But, it might be argued, as has been also done in the case of the fairy tales, that these stories are the product of individual efforts of local myth-makers and popular poets, that they are purely indigenous in origin. One cannot deny that the people could invent such stories. Some one must have invented them, and why could they not have been invented by the Rumanian peasant independently of the Indian story teller?

The cosmogonic setting invalidates this suggestion. Such a setting presupposes a definite set of ideas about the beginnings of things which are neither spontaneous nor indigenous. All that can be said is that, once the impulse had been given, the imagination of the people followed the lead and worked in its own way on the given lines. This is the general trend of real popular lore. Each nation mints in its own fashion the gold brought from elsewhere, and places its own imprint upon it. [8]

This view I find myself unable to accept. It could be entertained only and solely if no parallels whatsoever could be found anywhere to some at least of the more important and characteristic creation tales, fairy tales and fables.

The question then remains, Where do these tales come from? Are they indeed the expression of the primitive mind, and if so, have we to recognise these specific Rumanian beast tales as so many indigenous products of the primitive Rumanian mind?

Tylor, in his Primitive Culture (i. 3 ed. 410 ff.), discusses at some length the beast tales found among primitive peoples, tales that as yet are not the excuse for a moral and have not been reduced to the background of an allegory. He takes his examples from the North Indians of America, from the Kamtchadals of Kamtchatka and from the inhabitants of Guinea. These stories are thus, as it were, the primitive expression of the myth-making imagination of peoples in which the animal stands in as close a relation as any human being. Be this as it may, the conclusions drawn by Tylor rest on this evidence gathered only from so-called dark ages. He is not aware of any such tales among the nations of Europe, who certainly cannot be classed among the primitive peoples. And on the other hand he is fully alive to the fact that a number of such beast tales have been worked up in the eleventh and twelfth centuries in the famous epic of Reynard the Fox.

The question arises, Whence came some of the incidents believed to be more ancient? They lead us straight to the supposition that such animal tales in a primitive form must have existed among the peoples of Europe, even as far west as Flanders and France. They were afterwards woven into one consecutive narrative, conceived in a spirit of satire on existing social and clerical conditions. A “moral” has thus been introduced into a set of more ancient tales. But of this anon. In view of these Rumanian tales we can no longer be content to leave the question of the compilation of Reynard where Tylor has left it. The new materials now [9]at our disposal allow us to follow it much further and to arrive at conclusions differing from those of Tylor. From the moment that we find in Europe similar beast tales to those found among primitive peoples in other parts of the world, we are confronted by a new problem. We may recognise the same spiritual agency at work: we may see the same action of the mind, asking everywhere for an explanation of the phenomena from beast and bird, from sky and sea. Thus far the minds of all the nations run on parallel lines. The differentiation begins with the answer, and here, then, the problem sets in. How many nations give the same answer, and in so doing form, as it were, a group by themselves? How old is this or that answer or the tale that contains it? And what is the form in which it is given? Is it a fable or has it a religious colouring? In endeavouring to reply to these queries we find ourselves face to face with the problems of indigenous character, primitive origin, independent evolution and question of survival. We are thus brought face to face with yet another theory—the theory of survivals—the most important of all, which sways the trend of the study of modern folk-lore. I must deal with it here at some greater length. I mean, of course, the theory that sees in every manifestation of the popular spirit, in every story, in every ballad or song, a survival from hoary antiquity, a remnant of prehistoric times, to which the people have clung with a marvellous tenacity, although they have entirely forgotten its meaning. Out of an unconscious antiquarian weakness they are supposed to have preserved every fossil even if and when it had become burdensome to them. But it must not be forgotten that the people retain only those practices and beliefs by means of which they hope to obtain health, wealth and power, and they will take care not to jeopardise such benefits by any neglect. So long as these results are expected, the people will cling tenaciously to the beliefs which promise them the greater gifts. It is not impossible that such beliefs, being too deeply rooted, might survive local political changes. [10]

But in order to survive, two conditions are essential, continuity of place and continuity of ethnical unity. The religious continuity is also an important condition, though not by any means so essential. The clash of two or more religious doctrines causes on the one hand the destruction of the official system of religious ceremonies and practices, and on the other drives to the bottom that mass of ceremonies from the observance of which benefits to health and wealth are expected. In the moment when the belief in their efficacy has gone they disappear without leaving a trace. Very little, if anything, survives. It is a fallacy to believe, as is now the fashion, that without such continuity any real survival can take place. This theory has been carried to extreme lengths, without the slightest justification. It all rests on finely spun hypotheses in which time and space have entirely disappeared.

No connecting link has been brought forward to bind the present to the past. However plausible some aspects of the “vegetation god” may appear, one must remember the essential fact, that there is now not a single nation in Europe living on the soil where such practices as the slaying of an annual king god has been practised, if, indeed, they have ever been practised, beyond a very strictly limited area in Asia Minor and possibly in Sicily or Italy. With whom could such practices survive, for example, in Bulgaria or even in Thrace? It is known that the population there has changed its character many times, even within the last eight hundred years. There is such a medley of races, some old, some new, that it would be impossible to expect survivals from the Pelasgian or Dacian past. Nor would they have anything in common. The Rumanians of Latin origin are certainly not the oldest inhabitants of Rumania. If, then, each of these ethnical unities had separate practices or, to come nearer to our subject, separate tales and stories marked with its own individuality, it might perhaps be argued that these stories and popular beliefs are survivals from prehistoric times, remnants of a past long forgotten, embodying a folk-lore and popular psychology which date back to remote antiquity. [11]None of these nations, and, in fact, none of the modern nations of Europe, reach back to any extreme antiquity, nor are they homogeneous in their ethnical character nor the descendants of the autochthonous inhabitants. There may be a few rare strains of other blood in the modern admixture, but not of any decisive character, certainly it is not strong enough to have preserved any survivals.

True, many of the modern practices are no more of yesterday than these tales and stories are, but again, they are certainly not so old as a modern school of thought endeavours to make out. Comparatively modern nations, often alien to the soil which they inhabit, none of them of a pure unmixed origin, cannot have retained beliefs, tales, etc., of which their forefathers knew nothing. They could not have laid stress on things which had disappeared with the nations whom their successors or victors had destroyed. If, then, we find that these nations of diverse origins and of diverse times possess a certain stock of folk-lore in common, it follows naturally that they must have obtained it in common at a certain definite period, when in spite of their ethnical and possibly political differences they were all subjected together to one pervading influence. A great spiritual force moulded them at one and the same time, and this produced one common result, which, in spite of its genetic unity, would have allowed a certain latitude for individual development. If, as I assume, it was the all-pervading influence of religious sects which stretched from far East to extreme West and embraced all the cultured nations of Europe, impressing them with the same seal—a certain popularly modified Christianity embellished with legends and tales appealing to the imagination, containing a strong didactic and ethical strain, propounding a new solution of the world’s problem suited to the understanding of the people, accounting satisfactorily for the evil in the world, warding off the effects of these spirits of evil—then it is small wonder that their teaching sunk deeper into the heart of the people and brought about that surprising spiritual unification in the religion of the masses which survives in folk-lore. [12]

They would thus date from more or less the same period, when the whole of Europe felt the influence of teachings which lasted two to three centuries at least, quite long enough to leave indelible traces.

It is not to be denied that among these tales some may belong to an anterior period. The newer facts had in some cases been grafted on older ones. Some remnants of ancient myths had survived the first process of forcible Christianisation. But only there where ancient paganism can be shown to have flourished when this new wave of proselytism set in, only there might one be able to discover such traces. These are the local incidents, the local colouring, which give to each tale its own popular character without changing its substance. Such process of assimilation is akin to the other before mentioned, viz. the substitution of the European fauna for Asiatic or Indian animals. Though references to ancient Greek myths occur in these stories, yet in spite of that the Rumanian versions approximate more closely to the later Byzantine than the ancient classical forms. The transformation sets in practically where the Middle Ages part from antiquity. Here is yet another proof for the more recent phase of this popular literature.

A grave danger threatens the scientific character of folk-lore, if a wrong method of investigation be persisted in much longer. I refer to the system of haphazard comparisons arising out of the view that everything done and every rite kept by the folk must of necessity be a survival from extreme antiquity and belong to a period anterior to our modern civilization—a fossil from the age of man’s childhood embedded in layers of more recent date. For proof of this theory parallels are sought and found among primitive nations, or those who we believe have not yet left the rude stage of primitive culture. If, then, something is found among them which resembles closely or remotely any of the customs, tales, and beliefs, in our own midst, we are convinced that these customs, tales or beliefs are really remnants of an older stage, through which the modern nations have passed before they reached the present [13]stage of development, and which they have cherished and kept unchanged throughout the ages. The history of comparative philology offers the best analogy for the demonstration of the futility of such reasoning. Nothing contributed so much to make the study of comparative philology a laughing-stock as this endeavour to build up theories of the origin of the language on such arbitrary foundations.

How deceptive such haphazard similarities can be is best demonstrated by the endeavours to derive all the European languages from the Hebrew. This was believed to have been the original language which Adam spoke. Nothing more natural, then, than to trace all the languages back to the Hebrew, which moreover was a holy language. Much ingenuity and immense learning were spent—nay wasted—for centuries in this undertaking. The most trifling incident, the most superficial identity in sound or meaning was looked upon as complete evidence. It has taken close upon half a century to demolish this fabric of philological fallacy, and to place comparative philology on a sound basis. We know now that similarities in different languages may be the result of independent evolution.

The similarities are often quite superficial. No one would, for example, compare a modern English word with an old Latin or Greek stem or with any archaic dialect of these languages, without showing the gradual development of our modern word. He would take it back step by step, and then compare the oldest English form with a contemporary form. Most of the European languages, as we now see, are derived from one common stock, more archaic than any of them. No one would now trace a French word directly to that old Indo-European root, without going first to the Latin; and so with every other language belonging to the same group. Each nation has put the seal of its own individuality on its language, which it has moulded and shaped according to its own physiological and psychical faculties. The one will have retained more primitive forms; for example, local and historical as well as ethnical continuity have kept the Italian much closer [14]to the Latin than Spanish or Portuguese. No one dreams to-day of reducing a French word to a Hebrew root, despite any similarity of form which they might have in common.

We can go now one step further and suggest a common origin for the Indo-European and Semitic groups of languages, a unity which lies beyond the time of their separation, and it is the dream and aim of comparative philology to attain this goal.

Returning now to our science of folk-lore, we have a perfect analogy in the study of comparative philology briefly sketched above. The analogy is so complete that it is almost unnecessary to elaborate it in detail. It is obvious that safety and scholarship lie in the following line of investigation. A European group of folk-lore must first be established, and the dependence on an earlier common stock demonstrated. But the historical connection stands foremost, and the fixing, more or less definitely, of the time of its appearance in the form in which it now exists. In adopting this line of investigation, it will then become unscientific to postulate early survivals for elements that may date from a comparatively recent period, and for which an explanation can be found by this historical and comparative study. And just as it has happened in the case of the study of comparative philology, so it will happen that we shall be in a much better position to separate and to appreciate the individual character of the folk-lore of each nation, the form which the common stock assumes under the psychical and cultural conditions which characterise its spiritual life. This method will give us also the key to the ethno-psychology, the ultimate aim and goal of folk-lore studies. No doubt some higher unity may possibly emerge out of this historical investigation, for which again the study of comparative philology offers us the best parallel. Separate groups may be formed of European and Asiatic folk-lore. The artificial geographical division need not form the separating barrier either in folk-lore, or, as has been proved, in the study of language. But to continue the method of haphazard parallelism and indiscriminate comparison [15]between old and new will be indefensible. It will be found that even in the so-called immutable East continual changes have taken place which do not allow us to assume favourable conditions of continuity and “survivals.” Still less is this the case with the peoples who concern us more directly, the inhabitants of the south-eastern part of Europe. One has only to cast a glance at the medley of nationalities inhabiting the Balkan Peninsula and the neighbourhood to realise the profound differences of faith, origin and language of Greeks and Albanians, Slavs and Rumanians, Hungarians and Saxons, and one is forced to the conclusion that whatever these may possess in common is not a survival from olden times, but must have come to them at a time when they were all living together in that part of Europe, subject to one common influence strong enough to leave an indelible impression on their imagination.

This result is unavoidable if we remember also the past history of these countries. They have been swept over by nations, one more barbarous than another, one more ruthless than another, and none remaining there long enough to become a decisive factor in the formation of the existing nationalities. Dacians and Pelasgians, Romans and Goths, Petchenegs and Cumans, Alans and Huns, Tartars and Hungarians, Bulgars, Slavs and Turks have succeeded one another with great rapidity, not to mention the numerous colonies of Armenians, Syrians and Gipsies planted in the heart of the Byzantine Empire by the foreign rulers on the throne of Byzantium. It would be a sheer miracle if anything of ancient times could have survived. Assuming even the theoretical possibility of such a miracle—and those who hold strongly to such a theory of unqualified survivals evidently do believe in such miracles—even then it will remain to be shown, with whom these ancient beliefs and tales originated and survived. The romantic legend may have, and practically has, been forgotten in its entirety. Out of one of the episodes have grown the popular Rumanian poems of the Wanderer. [16]

If folk-lore is to become an exact science I venture to think that the problem of survivals will have to undergo a serious re-examination. We shall have to revise our views and try to define more precisely the method according to which we ought to label certain practices, customs and tales as survivals, and also to determine the period to which such survivals may be ascribed. A primary condition consists in establishing historical continuity and ethnical unity.

If nations of diverse origin and of different ages possess the same tales and practices, it follows that this common property cannot be a survival, but each must have received all these at a certain fixed date simultaneously, quite independent of their own ethnical or historical and local past. All of them must have been standing under one and the same levelling influence. This new influence may have brought with it some older elements belonging to different traditions and to a different past, and introduced them among these nations, as in the case of the Barlaam legend or that of the legend of St. George and the Dragon; but though locally accepted and assimilated they are not original constituent elements of the local folk-lore of these nations. These were only adopted and assimilated materials brought from elsewhere. They are not local survivals.

The analogy between the study of folk-lore and that of comparative philology can be pursued profitably much further. It may prove of decisive importance. It is not an indifferent question as to whether language and ethnic character are interchangeable terms. Russified Tartars, Magyarised Rumanians, Anglicised Hindoos will speak Russian, Hungarian or English as the case may be, but this will not change their ethnical character. They will remain what they were: Tartars, Rumanians or Hindoos. Thus also nothing can be proved for the specific origins of folk-lore if found among any one of these nations; it may be just as much Tartar as Russian, Rumanian or Hungarian, etc., for it can easily have been taken over with the language.

The fact that these tales are found in Rumania and are told by Rumanian peasants is in itself not yet sufficient proof of [17]their indigenous origin. We are taken out of the region of hypothetical speculation into that of concrete facts by modern philology. In the first place, it is put on record, on the irrefutable evidence of the modern languages themselves, that there is no nation in Europe which speaks a language of its own so pure as to be free from admixture with foreign elements. All owe their very origin, in fact, to this clash of languages, which was the determining factor in their creation and form. English is typical in that respect in the west, and Rumanian in the east of Europe. Both languages have been born through the combined forces of at least two different languages. In England, through the violent Norman conquest, French was superimposed upon Anglo-Saxon. In Rumania, through peaceful penetration and religious influence, Slavonic became part of the Rumanian language.

If, then, we should examine each of the European languages to find the various elements of which they are composed, we should be able to trace the origin of much that is also the spiritual property of these nations. Every word borrowed from another language represents a new idea, a fresh notion taken from elsewhere and embodied. We can study the history of nations from their vocabulary. We can trace the migrations of the Gipsies by the foreign words now in their language. The proportion of these alien elements helps us to determine the period which elapsed since they went from one nation to another. The large number of Rumanian words in the Gipsy language shows that the Gipsies must have lived a long time peaceably among the Rumanians, and the Rumanian words in all the dialects of the Gipsy, from Spain to Siberia, are conclusive evidence for the fact that Rumania was a centre of diffusion for the European Gipsy. And yet step by step one can follow up a modification; small at the confines of the Balkans, it grows greater the further it is carried westwards.

The conclusion is obvious. In Rumanian, the language is preponderantly of a Latin origin, but other tongues come in to make up its present character. A comparatively large [18]proportion of the popular language—which alone is of importance—is Slavonic; then follow in decreasing proportions Hungarian, modern Greek, Turkish and Albanian elements, but scarcely any trace of a more ancient local language. In the Hungarian language there is a large proportion of Slavonic, then of Rumanian and German elements. The other languages of the Balkans show a similar mixture of heterogeneous influences. So thorough has been this process of assimilation that the original Tartarian language of the Bulgars, who hailed from the Volga—hence their name—has entirely disappeared. The same has happened with the Cumans in Hungary. If there is anything tenacious it is undoubtedly the human language, the means of satisfying one’s daily wants. And yet there is constant change and assimilation going on all the time, one nation borrows freely from its neighbour and enriches its own treasury with the possessions of the others. How easily, then, could a philologist of the eighteenth century, who wanted to compare these languages among themselves, by collecting similar words haphazard prove that Rumanian was Turkish, that Hungarian was Slavonic and that Bulgarian was Greek, or on finding some Albanian words in Rumanian and Bulgarian how easily could he declare these languages to be survivals of the ancient mythical Pelasgians with whom the Albanians were connected. Thanks to our modern comparative science these languages are placed on their proper basis, and the words and elements are sifted and separated from one another. Each one by the form in which it appears in the other languages yields to the scholar the secret of the time when it was adopted. Having got thus far, we may now apply these results to the question which is before us, viz. the origin of these tales and apologues.

It is obvious that where new words went, stories could also go, and very likely did go. It is clear that the presence of a large number of foreign elements in the language denotes a peaceful intercourse between these nations, long enough and intimate enough to make them borrow freely from one another and to become fixed into one spiritual unity. [19]

If a language contains a large number of foreign elements, no one can deny the direct influence which the latter has exercised upon the former. Words, then, are not a mere combination of sounds, they are the outward expression of the mind. They are the materialised spirit of the nation, and whither they go that spirit also goes. Spirit communes thus with spirit. There is and there has always been such a give and take. And it is for us to follow up this constant barter, in which the richer unhesitatingly parted with their treasures to the poor, for the more they gave the more was left with them, as is meet in the charmed realm of folk-lore.

These nations learn from one another not only words, but the thoughts and ideas expressed in words. The proportion of these linguistic elements in the vocabulary connotes the proportion of influence upon the other people. It must not be forgotten that we are dealing with illiterate nations, and with “oral” literature. It takes less time and it requires less influence to disseminate a tale than to disseminate a language and cause it to be acquired. The difficulty of borrowing is thus obviously eliminated. We have the fact that even the language had been borrowed and thoroughly assimilated. No archaic linguistic element has been found in these languages. And it is therefore not possible to postulate for the tales and apologues survivals of such antiquity as is now so often assumed.

Two more points stand out clearly from this investigation into the history of the language: First, the existence of numerous layers in the modern languages, some elements being older, others of a more recent origin. There is no uniformity either in language or in literature, no contemporary unity of all the elements, but as far as can be seen none are very old, except a few stray elements of an older period which may have survived, always subject to the two fundamental conditions, ethnical and geographical continuity.

The second point is the principle of concentric investigation. If tales and apologues are borrowed, then those nearest the centre will preserve the original form less changed; and the [20]further a tale travels—always by word of mouth—the more it will lose of its original character and the more it will become mixed up and contaminated with other tales which have undergone a similar emaciating and attenuating process.

Following up, then, this line of investigation, our first endeavour is to find out whether there are parallels to these Rumanian animal tales among the nations round about, and if so, how far they agree with the Rumanian, and how far they differ. The fact itself that parallels exist would be an additional proof that we are dealing here with matter introduced from elsewhere, matter that has been transmitted from nation to nation and possibly may have also reached the west of Europe, although very few traces have been preserved to this day. This is not yet a question of origin, but the next step towards the solution of the problem. For obviously, if these tales had been imported, their origin must be sought elsewhere. If we then compare Rumanian tales with those of the ancient Byzantine Empire and especially with those of the modern Greeks, then, in our case, it might be argued that the Greeks were the repositories of ancient folk-lore. The logical conclusion would be that these tales must be found most profusely and in a more archaic form in the folk-lore of modern Greece, and that the variants and parallels among the other nations must show a distinct falling away from the original types. Literary tradition or written folk-lore is, of course, excluded from this investigation, for once folk-lore becomes fixed by being written in a book it is no longer subject to any appreciable change.

We are dealing here exclusively with the oral folk-lore of illiterate peoples. The relation between written and oral folk-lore and the mutual influence of one upon another will be incidentally touched upon in connection with the tales themselves. But, curiously enough, a comparison of these stories with the known and published tales of modern Greece is thoroughly disappointing. Only very few bird tales—no insect or beast tales—seem to have been preserved, and these mostly in Macedonia, the population of which is overwhelmingly [21]Slavonic, but scarcely any from among the Greeks proper inhabiting European Greece. On the other hand, those few tales, which have been mentioned by Abbott and Hahn, are very significant. They show the profound difference which separates these modern bird tales from the “Metamorphoses” known in ancient Greek mythology. A goodly number of changes into animals are recorded in ancient Greek literature.—The story of Philomela and Halcyon is sufficiently well known.—All these are, with perhaps a few exceptions, the results of the wrath of an offended god, rewards for acts of personal kindness or for steps taken to assuage physical pain. They are all strictly individual in character, and while none of them is intended to explain the origin of bird, beast or insect, still less are they of the “creation” type, in which each animal stands as the beginning of its species. And even in those few tales in which supernatural beings are mentioned, very little of the “Moirai” or goddesses of fate appears in the Greek form, though the belief in them is now very strong among modern Greeks. Even then these “Moirai” differ considerably from those of ancient Greek mythology. Their attributes differ and their appearance and shape have nothing in common with those of classical antiquity. The name also has assumed a peculiar significance, different from that of ancient times. This, then, is all which the modern Greeks have retained of the ancient goddesses of fate; none of the other neighbouring nations knows the “Moirai” by name. They have other goddesses of fate, Vilas or Zanas, etc. Charon, who is now the angel of death among modern Greeks, is remembered by them also as the boatman who carries the souls over the waters of forgetfulness. The boatman alone may still be found in one tale or another retaining something of the Greek local colour. But no other direct parallels are found among the animal tales of modern Greece. Much greater, on the contrary, is the approximation with the Slavonic nations south and north of Rumania.

Turning, then, from the Greek to the Slavonic tales, we shall find a much larger number of parallels between them and the [22]Rumanian. In the collection of South Slavonic tales and fables published by Krauss only one or two real “creation” tales are found, and others are pure and simple animal tales of the type of the “Gnat and the Lion,” “The Wedding Feast of Tom,” etc., agreeing more or less with the Rumanian versions. They prove thereby the popular character of the Rumanian tales; yet they differ sufficiently from them—as is shown later on,—when they are quoted in connection with the above. One of the creation stories is that of the sheep which, according to the South Slavonic tale, was made by the Evil One, when he boasted that he could improve on God’s creation.

Incidentally I may mention the collection of tales from the Saxon colony in Transylvania, collected by Haltrich. There is not one single “creation” tale among them. Only two of the Rumanian animal fables find their parallels in that collection. Turning to the Russian tales, notably the great collection of Afanasiev, we shall find a large number of animal tales, including also a number of “creation” tales. In the former the central figures are, as in the South Slavonic, Rumanian, Saxon, etc., the fox, the bear, the wolf, the hedgehog and sometimes domestic animals, the dog, the cock, the hen, the duck, etc. The same can be said also of tales collected from the Lithuanians, Letts and Ruthenians, and to a smaller degree of those from the Poles and Czechs. All, however, have retained definite traces of such animal tales and legends. The animal character has been thoroughly preserved. The fox is generally the “clever” animal, but is, as often as not, outwitted by smaller animals or by man. The general trend of these animal tales is to pit the cunning of the smaller and weaker against that of the more powerful animal and to secure the victory for the former. It is so natural for the people, who live under the despotism of the mighty and powerful, to rejoice in seeing the discomfiture of the great and stupid brought about by the wit and cunning of the small and despised, and answers so aptly to their feelings.

In these tales, which belong to the group of animal fables, we are in a different atmosphere, far removed from that of the [23]creation legend. We are approaching that phase in the evolution in which the animal stands for a disguised human being, which, in spite of its appellation, speaks and acts entirely in accordance with human ways and notions. These have not yet been found among the Rumanians and those nations whose folk-lore shows close affinity with theirs.

Having thus far established that these animal tales, fables and creation legends are neither of a local nor an indigenous origin, nor survivals from a remote past, and also that the Rumanian tales do not stand isolated, but form part of a group of tales and legends common to most of the nations surrounding Rumania in a more or less complete degree, it behoves us to endeavour to trace these tales to their probable origin, and also to account for the shape which they have assumed, as shown in the course of this investigation. These tales among the Eastern nations of Europe are so much akin to one another that they must have reached these nations almost simultaneously. All must have stood under the same influence, which must have been powerful and lasting enough to leave such indelible traces in the belief and in the imagination of the people.

A great difficulty arises, when we attempt to define the influence which brought these stories and fables to the nations of the near East and thence to the West. Some have connected them with the invasion of the Mongols. If similar tales could be found among them, such a date might fit also the introduction of the animal tales into Eastern Europe, especially if they had originally a Buddhist background. Nothing, in fact, could apparently harmonise better with the Buddhist teaching of Metempsychosis and the principle of man’s transformation into beast in order to expiate for sins committed than some of these tales.—Of course, Egyptian influences cannot be overlooked in this connection. I may refer to them later on.—The burden of the majority is indeed that the birds and insects are, in fact, nothing else than human beings transformed into ungainly shapes for some wrong which they have done. [24]

Many theories have been put forward on the mediation, among them also the theory of transmission by the Gipsies. These came first to Thrace, and lived long enough among the nations of the Balkans, in Rumania and Russia, to have exercised a possible influence upon them. But this theory can be dismissed briefly. The Gipsies are not likely carriers of folk-tales. They came too late, and their march through Europe is nothing if not a long-drawn agony of suspicion, hatred, persecution.

Some occult practices may have been taken over by some adepts of the lower forms of magic, and possibly Playing Cards, originally an oracle of divining the future, may have been brought by the Gipsies to Europe, but popular tales, though they possess a good number, have certainly not been communicated to Europe by them. They never had the favourable occasion for meeting the people on a footing of equality, or of entering with them into any intimate intercourse.

The Gipsy of the Rumanian fairy tale is mostly a villain, and is merely the local substitute for the Arab or Negro of the Eastern parallels. In the Rumanian popular jests the Gipsy is always the fool. From such as these the people would have nothing to learn.

Next the Mongolian theory has long been put forward as a plausible explanation, for it has been believed that Russia formed one of the channels of transmission. This latter assumption, however, rests on a geographical misconception, and also on a want of historical knowledge. Up to comparatively modern times, the whole of the South of Russia was inhabited by Tartars, and the Mongolian influence upon Russia could not pass the border of the so-called White Russia. Nor can a temporary invasion of Europe by the Mongolians, who left ruin and desolation behind them, have been the means by which such tales could be introduced. They are told at the peaceful fireside or in the spinning-rooms, and are not carried by the wings of the arrow sped from the enemy’s bow, nor are they accepted if presented on the point of the sword. They [25]are frightened away by the din of battle. Years must pass ere the blood is staunched, the wounds healed, and only after peaceable concord and social harmony have been established, can a spiritual interchange take place; this was impossible between Russians or Mongols. We must look elsewhere, then, for a possible channel of transmission, always subject to the theory of “migration.”

Besides, to Kieff, the centre of Russian inspiration, the place hallowed by the minstrels and poets, the Mongols never came. The only influence which prevailed there was that of Byzance, and to that we shall have to look as the channel of transmission and the centre of dissemination of these tales and legends. These had come from Asia, carried on the crest of the wave of that religious movement known as Manichaeism and Bogomilism, and from there they started their triumphant course throughout Europe. They came along with other religious legends, carried by the current of thought which also taught the doctrine of Dualism and Metempsychosis. This is the only possible source for most of the legends and tales found among the Rumanians and Slavs, and, as will be seen, it must have been the primary source for such tales in the West of Europe.

A dualistic heterodox teaching with such a background reached from the confines of India far into the South of France across central Europe. It was probably the same agency which transformed the life of Buddha into the legends of the saints Barlaam and Josaphat.

Nor is this the only legend invented, manipulated and circulated by the numerous Gnostic sects. Those who have studied the history of the apocryphal literature are fully aware of the apocryphal Gospels, Acts of the Apostles and of the rest of the apocryphal tales which were already put on the “Index,” in the first centuries of the common era.

Some of the cosmogonic tales of the dualistic origin of the world, of the influence of the Evil Spirit, of the origin of the Bee, the Glow-worm, the Wolf and others show unmistakably such a Gnostic origin. [26]

It is therefore not too much to assume that they have been brought to Europe and disseminated by the same agency. These sectaries alone came into direct contact with the masses of the people. They preached their doctrines to the lowly and the poor. They were known themselves as the pure (Cathars) and the poor (Pobres). They alone reached the heart of the people, and were able to influence them to a far higher degree than the murderous Mongols, or other nations that ravaged the country.

The dualistic tales connected with the story of the Creation are found also among other nations, especially among those in Russia and in the countries which belonged to the ancient Persian Empire. Dähnhardt, who has made the investigation of such legends and tales the object of special study (Natursagen, i.; Berlin 1907), comes to the same conclusion that they rest ultimately on the Iranian dualism of the Avesta. He believes that Zoroastrian teaching has penetrated far into the North and West, and has produced these peculiar dualistic cosmogonic legends.

The point to bear in mind in this investigation of the origin of the Rumanian tales and legends is not so much to trace the remote possible source of dualism, but the immediate influences which have been brought to bear upon the shape which these legends have taken. This is the salient problem. Dähnhardt, of course, discusses the further development of the dualistic conception, through Manichaeism and Bogomilism, and thus far is helpful in establishing the connection between Iran and Thrace, and in strengthening the argument that we must trace a number of these “creation” legends to the propaganda of these sects.

It must be remembered that these tales in the European versions have a thoroughly Christian aspect. They presuppose the existence of God and His saints; nay, they show a close acquaintance with apocryphal narratives, which have gathered round the canonical biblical stories and episodes. The Evil Spirit is a clearly-defined personality, and his antagonism to God is not of the pronounced acute controversial [27]type as is the Angromainya who, in the teaching of the Avesta, is the direct opponent and almost negative of God.

A complete transformation had taken place ere these tales became the property of the Rumanian peasants, and for that, also, of the Russian and other North-Eastern peoples, who also have similar tales akin to certain of the cosmogonic legends—to which reference will be made at the proper place in the short notes to the stories themselves. It will not be disputed that some of them are imported, i.e. belong to the circulating stock of popular literature. Mongolian influence—as already remarked above—is entirely excluded, in spite of Dähnhardt. The Mongols never came in direct contact either with the Rumanians or with the nations of the Balkans, who also possess a number of similar tales, and must have derived them from another source, more direct and, as will be seen, more complete than the versions published by Dähnhardt from Russia, Lithuania, Finland and Esthonia, not to speak of Northern Asiatic nations. Of real animal tales there are only a few among those studied by Dähnhardt, such as a peculiar version of “the Bee and Creation,” very much shorter than the Rumanian version; then a version of the creation of the Wolf and the Lamb, and of the Goat’s knees. These are all taken by Dähnhardt from South-Slavonic and Albanian collections, again corroborating the view that we have to look to the Balkans as the immediate centre of this class of “creation” tales, and then further back to Asia Minor.

The appearance of the “Creation” legends in a compilation of the seventh or eighth century is not to be taken as the date of their origin. They may be very much older, and no doubt are, and may have formed part of a primitive Physiologus in which the origin as well as the peculiarities of the various birds and beasts were described. This is not the place to discuss the remarkable history of the Physiologus. The only point to be noted is that the symbolical and allegorical interpretation of the tales contained in the Physiologus is of a strictly religious Christian character. [28]

The absence from the popular literature of such bird and beast tales as are found in the Physiologus—the Bestiaires of the West—is not surprising, for the Physiologus deals mostly with animals and birds which are of an outlandish character. Very few have any reference to the animals with which the people are familiar, and in which alone they take an interest.

Though the book was known also among the Rumanians, only a faint trace of it could be detected among the popular tales in the present collection. The oldest Fathers of the Church made use of this Physiologus in their homilies, and the other sects have no doubt done the same. Some of the creation legends may have found their way into the old legendary homiletical interpretation of the creation, like the Hexameron of Basil, and other kindred compilations. All these tales form part of a wider cycle of allegorised animal fables. In Jewish literature a collection of Fox fables is mentioned as early as the second or third century.

Indian literature is full of such animal tales, approximating often to some of the Rumanian fables. The collections of Frere, Temple, Steele, Skeat, and Parker abound in such animal tales, in which the more nimble and quick-witted, though small and weak, animal regularly gets the best of the bigger and stronger, yet duller and slower rival. No moral lesson is squeezed out of the tales, and the animal is not a thinly-disguised human being. Yet there can be no greater fallacy than, guided by this similarity, to assume a direct Indian origin for the Rumanian fables.

None of these animal tales finish with the usual “moral,” known to us from Aesop onward. Nor do the people seem to be influenced by these artificial fables. In the literary European fable the animal is merely a disguised human being. The animals are performing acts which have nothing of the animal in them. The Indian and Oriental fable differs in this respect from the European, inasmuch as in a good number of them the animal character of the performing beasts is faithfully preserved. Exactly the same happens with the Rumanian animal fables. The cat [29]does not play the rôle of the queen, and the fox is not a sly courtier. Cat is cat, and fox is fox. And yet they were not unaware of the fables of Aesop. I have found these fables in many old Rumanian manuscripts, and one of the first printed popular books of the country was the Collection of Aesop.

Unquestionably a good many proverbs are intimately connected with tales. The “moral” in Aesop has often dwindled down to a simple proverb, or has expanded out of it. These proverbs are, as it were, succinct conclusions drawn out by the people. Anton Pann (in the middle of the last century)—to whom the Rumanian popular literature will for ever remain indebted—therefore calls his Collection of Proverbs and Tales “Povestea vorbii,” i.e. “The tale which hangs by the Proverb.” One and all of the hundred tales found in the second and last edition of this book are mostly of a purely popular origin. The process throughout is not to invent a story for the moral, but the “moral,” such as it is, is to flow naturally from the story.

This is not the place to discuss the origin of the animal fable in general. But one cannot overlook the fact that all the Indian fables—with the exception of some embodied in the Panchatantra—are found in modern collections. All that we know of them is that they live actually in the mouth of the modern people. They may be old, they may be of more recent date.

Against these modern collections must be set now the story of Ahikar, which carries us back at least to the fifth century B.C., and is thus far the oldest record of animal tales. It has become one of the popular stories which circulated in a written form, and became the source of many a quaint proverb, as probably also of some animal tales.

The recent discovery among the Papyri of Elephantine in Southern Egypt of the Story of Ahikar has carried back the knowledge of allegorical beast fables to at least the fifth century B.C. For not only do we find in that story the prototype of the life of Aesop, but also a number of maxims [30]and saws, and not a few beast tales, which are mentioned by Ahikar in order to teach his ungrateful nephew Nadan. We find there, e.g. the prototype of “pious” wolf, who appears in the Ahikar story as an innocent student, but who cannot take in the lesson given to him, his mind wandering to the sheep. There are other wolf, fox, rat and bird fables in the Rumanian and, still more so, in the Oriental and other versions. Ahikar himself relates the beast tales, allowing Nadan to draw the lesson. By the manner in which these tales are referred to, it is obvious that they must have been well known tales current among the people.

The real importance of this discovery lies in the fact that we have here a number of cleverly-used popular animal tales, more than two thousand years old, whose home was in all probability Syria or Egypt, embedded in a collection which has deeply influenced the apocryphal Book of Tobit, and to a certain degree even the writers of the New Testament, as shown by Professors Rendel Harris and Conybeare in the Introduction to their edition of the Story of Ahikar (second edition). The claim for an Indian origin of these fables will have to be abandoned, unless someone could show older writings from India, and the possible road by which these fables could have reached the Western shore of Asia Minor and been taken up by the peoples of Syria and Egypt at such an early date. It is not at all unlikely that some of the fables, just as they travelled westwards, also travelled eastwards and found a home in India as they found a home in Rumania and Russia. If one remembers now that the fabulous “Life” of Aesop ascribed to Planudes is almost identical with part of that of Ahikar, as I have shown, as far back as 1883 in my History of the Rumanian Popular Literature (Bucharest 1883, p. 104 ff.), it will not be difficult to account for the West-Asiatic origin of the fables themselves.

From a Rumanian MS. of the eighteenth century, I have since published the fuller narrative of that version in an English translation (the Journal of the Royal As. Soc., 1900, pp. 301–319). The two tales contained therein have also been [31]reprinted here at the end of the collection, especially as they vary somewhat from the other ancient and mediæval recensions of the Story of Ahikar. This story has become one of the Rumanian popular chap-books in the shortened version of Anton Pann. The practical application of the fable, the “moralisation,” is a second stage, limited, as it seems, to the purely literary composition. The people put their own interpretations upon the fables and often dispensed with any such interpretations.

We are brought back again to the same centre, Syria and Byzance, for the dissemination of these fables. Such tales were then within the reach of the teaching of the various sects, such as Manichaeans, Bogomils, Cathars, etc., and travelled with them from East to West, where they met the other current of the Aesopian fables transmitted to the West through Latin and Arabic sources. According to this theory the religious sectarians made deft use also of animal tales, for the purpose of inculcating a moral, of drawing a lesson, of holding up the Church and State to the ridicule and contempt of the masses, and thus creating the animal satire, the best type of which is the cycle of Reynard the Fox. I am not oblivious of the fact that an allegorical use has been made of animal tales in the Arabic literature, such as the “Judgment of the Animals,” under the title of Hai ben Yokdhan, written in Arabic by Ibn Tophail, translated into English by Simon Ockley in 1711, in which the lion holds a court, and animal after animal appears to accuse man; or the collection of Sahula (thirteenth cent.) in his ancient apologue Mashal ha-kadmoni. But there is no real connection between this cycle and that of Reynard the Fox.

Any reference to the epic of Reynard the Fox must be incidental. It can only be alluded to here, and not followed up in detail. A real Western origin for these tales, taking them separately or as “branches,” as they appear in the old French versions, has not been found, nor any explanation for their sudden appearance in the eleventh or twelfth century. [32]

There are two or three points in connection with this cycle which have to be kept steadily in view. In the first place its almost complete independence of the purely Aesopian fable with its polished form, with its thinly-disguised human attributes, and with its stilted and stiff “moral.” Though modified somehow in Babrius, Avianus, even Marie de France and Berachya, this latter cycle belongs more to the literary class. The “clerks” could not take umbrage at them. Not so the tales in the Reynard cycle. They are thoroughly popular. The animals retain their natural attributes, they act as they are expected to do, and they are utilised in the same manner as “political broadsides” were in later times. The human beings represented in these “satirical sheets” are disguised as animals, and not the animals disguised as human beings. There lies the profound difference between these two sets of beast tales.

And because of their animal propensity, the human beings are ridiculed and lampooned in the form of animals and held up to the scorn and laughter of the reader. The bad man, as in the old story of Ahikar, is likened to the beast, and chastised accordingly. The popular origin and character of this kind of satire is self-evident. Courtiers and clerks would not attempt such persiflage of their superiors, and certainly not in so sustained a manner.

Of the men thus ridiculed none are so virulently assailed as the Clergy. People do not mind occasionally a slight skit on priests and other privileged classes, and there are abundant fabliaux which leave very little to be desired from the point of view of ridicule. But to have singled out the Clergy for such unmeasured vituperation shows a deliberate attempt to lower and destroy the influence and authority of the Church in general and of its ministers in particular. Only partisans of heterodox teaching could find pleasure and profit in applying the beast tales to break down the walls of the Church. Only men in contact with the masses could throw that leaven of critical examination into the hearts of the people and open their eyes by means of animal [33]tales to the weaknesses and vices of their official clergy. Such outspoken criticism seldom comes from within. It is often imported wholesale from without, or at least comes from an opposing quarter. In their polemical propaganda these heterodox teachers brought and used also some of those fox tales for which, significantly enough, parallels are to be found mostly in Slavonic tales from Russia and the Balkans.

If such be the partial origin of these Reynard tales, one can easily understand why they appeared in the eleventh or twelfth century, and notably in the countries then the very centres of such heterodox teaching: South of France, Flanders and elsewhere. A very remarkable fact seems to corroborate this hypothesis. One of the presumed authors of a “branch” of the French Reynard cycle, Pierre Cloot, was burnt in Paris in 1208 for heresy. Here we have a man who paid with his life for his heretic faith, actually working on these tales. It may be a mere coincidence, still some connection between the Reynard poem and “heretics” cannot be denied.

With the victory of the Church, Reynard nearly disappeared, yet that satirical leaven has continued to work in those political animal broadsides, which stretch from the “Who killed Cock Robin?” in England to “Who killed the Cat?” in Russia among the Russian broadsides.

There remains now still one section of these Rumanian tales to be considered, that in which the origin of the animal is closely connected with what is commonly known as the fairy tale. It is just in this fact that the pre-eminence of these tales can be found. It is like a window through which the East is looking westwards. It is noteworthy that the “fairy tales” found here connected with the origin of the birds and beasts do not stand so isolated as the legends. To more than one of them parallels may be adduced from other than Eastern collections. In spite of similarity, they differ, however, in many points so profoundly that they lead to a very serious question. It cannot be passed over, though [34]it cannot be treated here at such length as the problem raised would demand. To put it briefly, the difference between these fairy tales and those of the West, is that in these versions of the former a “moral” or perhaps a plausible reason is given to the fairy tale which is often missing in the general form of the fairy tales.

The question has been asked repeatedly, “What is the meaning of such and such a tale,” e.g. the “Cinderella” tales or “Bluebeard”? To Miss Cox’s indefatigable labour we owe a monumental investigation of the first-mentioned tale, and yet for all that the main question has remained unanswered. This is but one example out of many.

Every collection of fairy tales teems with them. Of course, the æsthetic pleasure of seeing innocence triumphant and virtue rewarded might be a sufficient motive, and no doubt often is. The people like to see, in the imaginary tale, a vindication of the justice which they often miss in real life. The adventurous hero will also appeal to the chivalrous instincts of the people, and especially to the young. Such tales as the epic romances of old require no further explanation. Still there are a good many fairy tales the reason and meaning of which are anything but clear. If it can now be shown that there is a cosmogonic background, or one which gives the clue to it, inasmuch as it tells the “origin” of certain creatures, such a tale is at once its own explanation and justification: if e.g. the final development of “Cinderella” is not that she becomes the wife of a prince, but that she becomes the “dove” or the “sparrow,” then “Cinderella” assumes a definite meaning. Under other influences, when such heterodox teachings cannot be tolerated by the powers that be, obviously the creation tales, with this specific character, had to lose their “tail,” as the stork does in the story, and hence the fairy tale became partly meaningless. Thus, if the “Bluebeard” could no longer be “a cannibal,” as in the tale No. 83, such a person not being tolerated in a modern state, except as a wizard, lycanthropos, or werwolf, he had to be changed into what he is now. The modern [35]“Bluebeard” is a mere pale reflex of the original monster. He does not even make the flesh creep sufficiently. This watering down may have taken place also in other tales which appear to us without any sense. They have lost that decisive part which gave point to the story.

I am fully aware of the objection which could be raised against this view of the original character of some of our fairy tales. It might be urged with some show of plausibility that the process might have been an inverse one, that the popular story-teller used a fairy tale to tack on his moral, that the question of the origin of the bird or insect was an “after-thought,” and did not belong originally to the tale. Theoretically, such an objection could be urged, and it might even gain in force if applied to the fairy tales of the West. Andersen, not to speak of minor poets, would supply a proof of it. But we must bear in mind that we are dealing with the unsophisticated people, who would not use the folk-lore material in the manner of the literary artist. They have no preconceived idea to which a tale or legend is made artificially to fit. Moreover, these tales and legends are believed in implicitly. They bear the stamp of their primitiveness. They do not represent a later degree of development, such as the parallels from the West often show. The existence side by side with them of other creation tales of animals is an additional support of the view that the fairy tales have not been “edited” or adapted to cosmogonic purposes to explain the origin of beast and bird.

Fairy tales are, as a rule, taken out of the range of the survival theory. The similarity of fairy tales, so striking among a large number of nations, precludes the possibility of seeing in them local survivals, and yet it appears unscientific to separate one section of oral literature from the other. The line of demarcation between creation legend and creation fairy tale is so thin that it is often indistinguishable. Both spring from the same root, and the theory that endeavours to explain the origin of the one must also be applicable to the other. [36]

In the theory of survivals, however, no attempt is made to deal at the same time with the question of origins. It has not yet been made clear, by any of the more prominent representatives of the theory of survivals, how the similarity in customs and ceremonies is to be explained, in tales and fables, between the most diverse nations living separated from one another. If these survivals represent local tradition, which has persisted throughout the ages, how, then, does it come to pass that they should resemble so closely other ceremonies and customs observed by different nations also as local traditions? Is it to be inferred that at some distant time, far back in the prehistoric ages, some such ceremonies were used, that, in spite of evolution and separation, they have survived everywhere almost unchanged, in spite of the profound modifications of the nations in their ethnical, political and religious status? Either they are local inventions, in which case they could not resemble any other, or they all go back to one common stock, and have survived in such a miraculous manner contrary to every law of human nature. The only explanation feasible and satisfactory is, I believe, the theory of transmission from nation to nation; those resembling one another closely in modern Europe are not of so early an age as has hitherto been assumed, but have come at a certain time from one definite centre, and were propagated among the nations, and disseminated by means of a great religious movement at a time when the political and national consolidation of the peoples of Europe had already assumed a definite shape.

To this conclusion we are forced by the examination of these Rumanian animal tales in their manifold aspect, “creation” tales, fables, fairy tales. They are all more or less of comparatively recent origin. They owe their actual shape to the dualistic teaching of the Manichaeans and Bogomils. They have come by these intermediaries of the religious sects from Syria and the Balkans. These tales stopped first among the nations in the Near East, and then by the same agency were carried to the extreme West. Only in such wise can we [37]explain the appearance of these tales—whatever their archaic character may be—among nations of comparatively recent origin like those now under consideration, Rumanians, Bulgars, Russians and even Saxons and Hungarians. This is the only possible explanation of the very remarkable dualistic character, and of the peculiar teachings embodied in these tales. For, whatever these nations have in common, there cannot be any question of survivals, for the reasons advanced above. All the nations are comparatively modern. It is impossible to assume that what might be a Latin survival among the Rumanians could be so closely connected with what might be a Turanian survival among the Bulgars or a Pelasgian survival among the Albanians. There might be found among these tales traces of more ancient beliefs, myths and customs, just as it is possible to find similar traces among the folk-lore of the nations of the West. But what I contend is that these are not local survivals—that, whatever their primitive character may be, they need not originally belong to the nations among whom they are found now. They were brought by the same movement that brought the tales and legends, customs and ceremonies. The new and the old were carried along by the same stream of tradition and religious influence. An adjustment and readjustment of materials, the placing of layer upon layer, localisation and assimilation then took place. But these are rocks swept along by the stream and deposited far away from the place of origin, or, to take another simile, that of the insect and the amber. The amber has been carried from the North Sea many centuries ago, nay, thousands of years ago, along the trade routes from North to South, and has found its way also to ancient Egypt. Embedded in the amber we have here and there a North European insect which was caught at the time when the amber was still a liquid, and, imprisoned in it, became fossilised, and was carried a long distance. If found, then, among the beads in the tombs of the ancient Pharaohs, no one could say that that insect was of Egyptian origin, or that fly a remnant of the local [38]fauna. It had come thither together with the amber that carried it, and may have remained there if the amber had decayed.

In the same manner ancient customs, ancient beliefs and ancient tradition have been caught in the liquid tales, apologues and legends, like the fly in the amber, and carried along with them from East to West. In this manner they may perhaps be termed survivals, but survivals of a different kind than has been assumed hitherto. They have survived only as long as they were tolerated in the lore of the people.

Hand in hand with dissemination go the assimilation and localisation of these diverse elements. It is impossible to do more within the compass of this introduction than merely touch the fringe of a far-reaching problem which arises from the examination of these peculiar beast and bird tales. One of the most instructive examples of this religious syncretism, of the manner in which it has influenced the people, and the form in which it has been preserved, localised, and assimilated, among them, is shown to advantage in the stories of the origin of the Glow-worm and in the stories of the Bee. Some of the cosmogonic legends of the Rumanians are also found among the Balkan people. They are a fragmentary reflex of a great conception of the world. If I may use the mystical and symbolical language of the legends, they are also sparks from a great light that had fallen down from heaven. The creation of man, the fall of the angels, are here curiously blended together. They represent part of the teaching that went under many names but, in essence, was one. That is, of course, the belief in the dualism of the creative powers, the good God and the wicked one, styled Satan.

From these tales and legends, which are derived from well-known apocryphal writings, we can see how deeply the latter have entered the life of nations which have not yet fallen under the unifying sway of strict dogmatism, and how unable the people are to grasp the higher spiritual interpretations of the dogmas and practices of the Church. [39]

From a purely dogmatic point of view, all these tales are rank heresy; but who among the simple folk knows the distinction between orthodox and heretical teaching? The people are more easily disposed towards a simple philosophy which explains satisfactorily the phenomena of life. They listen with pleasure to tales of imagination. One of the fundamental theories of Gnosticism or, rather later, of dualism, is this peculiar conception of the creation. The world is divided between the power of light and the power of darkness. The latter is anxious to participate in the possession of light, and for that reason steals some, which it breaks up into sparks and covers over with thick matter so that it may not escape. These sparks are the human soul deeply embedded in human clay, anxious always to be reunited with the ancient glory.

In this Gnostic teaching we have the very source of the legend of these angelic sparks now relegated to glow-worms, originally placed in other “earthly worms”—the human race. We hear, moreover, the faint echo of the fall of the angels and of the angels of a lower rank inhabiting (and ruling) the planets and the stars. We even have the legend, found in the Book of Enoch, of the angels who fell in love with a woman and remain upon earth as evil spirits, whilst she is translated to heaven and becomes a star. The interest lies not only in the fact that these ancient religious conceptions have been so faithfully preserved among the people, but also in the manner of their preservation. They have been adapted to the understanding of the folk, and, from dogmatic teachings, they have become beautiful popular legends. But the inner meaning has been entirely lost. The old sparks have been embedded in very thick clay indeed, as can be seen in the treatment meted out to God, Christ, the Virgin, the Apostles and Saints. They are greeted with an apparent lack of reverence and respect that must disturb the equanimity of people of a Puritanic mind. The gods could not have been put on a footing of greater familiarity; it almost borders on the burlesque. Primitive nations show the same apparent [40]want of respect to their gods, idols or fetishes, and we are inclined to put them on a lower scale of faith and reverence than the peoples of Europe.

A better knowledge of the life and religion of the peoples in the East and of the Eastern part of Europe would soon change such a view. In fact, I believe, that if we could descend to the lower depths of the masses of Western Europe, and especially of those in Catholic countries, and get a peep into their innermost soul, we should not find it very different from that of the Slav and the Rumanian. The Saints are not treated differently in Spain and in Italy on the one hand, or in Rumania and in Bulgaria, or even Russia, on the other. They have all the same essential conditions in common, viz. all have a Pantheon of Saints of various degrees and of both sexes. In Protestant countries the people have been impoverished. All the saints have been driven away; a cold abstract spirituality has taken their place, and yet depth of fervour and strength of belief cannot be denied to these Eastern peoples. There is, moreover, a sufficient fund of humour and innate rectitude to keep them at a certain level of morality and albeit free from the hypocrisy of the so-called higher civilization. So that, if the Rumanians take liberties with God and the Church and the Saints, and pay homage to the Devil by mocking and laughing at the jokes which God performs for his confusion, it is all done more in the spirit of good-natured banter, not in that of polemical or fanatical intolerance. Why should the poor Devil not also occasionally have a good time? He is always sure to be outwitted in the long run.

I am fully aware of the objection that may be raised against attributing so much influence to the activity and propaganda of the heretical sects. It may be argued, that their influence was not in any way commensurate with the results ascribed to them, that they did not carry the masses with them to such an extent as to leave indelible traces on their religious life and popular imagery. Some may go so far as to look upon their activity as similar to that of some of [41]the mendicant friars during the Middle Ages. Yet the mendicant friars were able to exercise a tremendous influence upon the people and, helped by other political powers, they were able to create a movement which led up to the Crusades. It seized upon the masses of Europe with an irresistible force. In a minor, yet no less effective manner, the same agencies were able to arm the Kings of France against the Albigenses in Provence. Church history, however, shows very clearly that the power of the Manichaeans was so great that it has taken the Church many centuries to bring the fight to a satisfactory close.—The Cathars (pure) have given the name Ketzer to the German heretics, and every language in Europe shows traces of this heretic nomenclature.—The struggle was a terrible and a long one, and if it had not been for the secular arm which placed itself at the service of the Church for political reasons, who knows whether the Romish Church would have come out victorious in the struggle?

The question may be asked, How did it come about, that the teaching of an obscure sect could be propagated from the Black Sea to the Atlantic and could win the support of so many peoples? The answer lies in a fact which has hitherto been entirely ignored. The connection between Arianism and Manichaeism in Europe has to my mind not yet been even hinted at; yet there must have been a very close and intimate one. Arianism, in fact, prepared the ground for the new wave of heretical teaching which, a few centuries after the former’s official extinction, followed in its wake. No one has, as yet, endeavoured to trace the effect which the Arian teaching has had in Europe when it became the national faith of the Goths. In them we have a nation which, from the third century to the end of the sixth, practically dominated central Europe. It established more than one kingdom between the Black Sea and the Atlantic, in Illyricum, in Northern Italy, one of might and strength in the South of France in Provence, with its headquarters in Toulouse. It had overflowed into Spain, and broke down only after the invasion of the Arabs. These Goths are described as rude barbarians, because [42]they differed in their life, and probably in their original forms of faith, from the Greeks and the Romans. The modern idea is that their original home was somewhere in the North-West of Europe, that they came along the Vistula, and then migrated to the country between the Don and the Ural.

This is not the place to discuss the question of their original home, yet the whole history of the migration of the nations shows that the movement came also from the same direction as that of the other nations which followed upon one another from east to west, and that these migrations were prompted by tremendous political changes among the nations of Central Asia. It is therefore probable that the Goths migrated from the western shore of the Caspian Sea, somewhere near Lake Ascanius—hence the confusion—then to the countries between the Ural and Don, and thence by slow degrees southwards and westwards. This would explain many obscure points in the migration of the Goths. Be it as it may, we find them in the second century settled in those very countries in which we now find the Ruthenians and the Rumanians, and stretching further into Pannonia. The Goths are said to have adopted Christianity towards the end of the third century, as it is alleged, by priests and lay Christians brought as captives from Cappadocia and other parts of Asia Minor. As early as the Council of Nicæa, 325, a Gothic bishop is mentioned among the signatories to the decrees. An outstanding figure of the Gothic Christians was Ulfilas, who, owing to pressure from the non-converted section of the Goths, crossed the Danube and settled at the foot of Mount Haemus (the Balkans) in the middle of the fourth century. He had become converted to the Arian doctrine, and took part in the Council under the Emperor Valens, which was held in Constantinople in 358.

Theodosius, who became the Great after his recantation of Arianism, towards the end of the fourth century, promulgated decree after decree, one more drastic than the other, for the persecution and extirpation of this heresy; in fact, he was the very first to establish an inquisition of faith. The example [43]set by Theodosius was followed afterwards by the Catholic Emperors and Kings of the West, even down to the Holy Office, as the Inquisition was afterwards called. But, in spite of this, Arianism spread among the Goths, and, whatever were their political vicissitudes, they kept staunch to this peculiar form of Christianity, the greatest and most powerful enemy of the orthodox and Catholic Church. They spread eastwards and westwards, partly as vassals of the Huns and partly acting quite independently under their own kings and rulers. They overran the Balkan peninsula, destroying every heathen temple, and not sparing Catholic churches. They then sacked Rome, entered Gaul, and occupied the South of France, with Toulouse as the capital. They spread into Burgundy and conquered Spain. It took many battles and many centuries to break the political power of the Goths. It was rather the subtle influences of the Catholic women than religious conviction that brought about the conversion to Catholicism of the Gothic rulers in Spain and Italy. The Catholic Church, in the year 507, armed the Frankish King Clovis—who adopted Catholicism—against the Gothic Arian King Alaric, and thus brought about the first “crusade” between Catholics and heretics in the country north of the Pyrenees. A crusade was to be renewed hereafter for a second time against the Albigenses in the very same country and against the very same cities. Unfortunately very little is known of the beliefs and practices of the half-heathen, half-Christian Goths. The fact, however, remains that they held on to their faith for many centuries in spite of the official conversion of the leaders. In Burgundy, Arianism persisted down to the sixth century, and among the Lombards (merely another tribal name for Goths) in Northern Italy, it persisted to the eighth century.

Meanwhile, other nations poured into the Balkans. Whether they entirely annihilated the Goths, or whether they assimilated with them, will remain a problem unsolved. Very few Gothic words can, however, be traced among the nations of the Balkans. The Slavs, probably coming from Pannonia, [44]are first noticed in large numbers in the fifth and the sixth centuries. The Bulgars from the old haunts of the Goths near the Volga came in the seventh century. The last heathen king was Boris, who was converted to Christianity in the middle of the ninth century. No sooner has Christianity an official status among the Bulgars than we hear of the heresy of the Bogomils and Cathars spreading among them to such an extent that they almost overthrew the orthodox Church. The break between the eastern and western Churches—between Constantinople and Rome—at the end of the ninth century also contributed, in a way, to weaken the allegiance of the faithful to the orthodox Church, and the manner in which the Orthodox vilified the Catholics must have been quite sufficient to reconcile the people to heterodox doctrines. Manichaeans and Bogomils took advantage of the schism and the violence of the two parties to win the people over to their tenets. Bogomilism in a slightly varied form, as Cathars and Albigenses, etc., spread henceforth from east to west, following exactly the same course as that taken by the Goths in their migration from east to west. The ground had been prepared for them, the seed had been sown, and the work was made easy for them by the preceding Arians.

There is one feature in this schismatic movement, the importance of which cannot be appraised too highly. The Word of God was taught in the vernacular, the Bible and, along with it, uncanonical writings, were translated into the vernacular. While the Orthodox and Catholic Churches kept strictly to Greek and Latin as the language of Scripture and Service, the Arians no doubt, on the contrary, allowed the people to pray and to learn in their own language. It was the outstanding merit of Ulfilas that he translated the Bible into Gothic. This practice of translating the word of God into the vernacular remained a distinctive characteristic of the schismatic Arians and other sectaries. They were thus able to reach the heart of the people much more easily than the Catholic and Greek clergy, and to exercise a lasting influence upon the masses, far deeper than that of the representatives [45]of a creed taught in a foreign tongue. This also continued to keep the Arian-Goths away from the Catholic Church for many centuries. The change, which came later on, was due to two causes—the conversion of the kings and rulers, and, to a far larger degree than has hitherto been recognised, the loss of the Teutonic language. The Goths slowly forgot their own language and adopted that of the nations in whose midst they lived as a minority.

This explains much more satisfactorily than has hitherto been attempted the mysterious disappearance of the Goths after the official conversion of Recared in Spain, and the overthrow of Alaric by Clovis in the beginning of the sixth century in the South of France. In Italy they kept to their Arianism under the name of Lombards, down to the eighth century. It must not, however, be assumed that with the public disappearance of Arianism and that of the Goths as a ruling nation, the Arian heresy and all that it brought to the people had also disappeared. That teaching could not easily be uprooted. It was merely driven underground. The Catholic Church was satisfied with having obtained an official public victory. Then followed a slow process of extirpation. The writings of the schismatics were hunted up and destroyed, and thus the wells of heresy were dried up. The people were weaned from their errors by the convincing power of sword and faggot. But so long as these sinners did not belong to the higher classes, the Church winked at their aberrations, especially when they kept quiet and were not aggressive in their action.

Thus the fire of heresy smouldered on under the ashes of the autos-da-fé until it was fanned again into a mighty blaze through the Cathars and Albigenses. The ground was prepared for their reception by the Arianism of the Goths, and by the Manichaean propaganda, which had penetrated into Europe from the West as early as the fourth century.

It is important in this connection to refer, however briefly, to the Priscillianites in Spain, who flourished from the middle of the fourth to the second half of the sixth century, close [46]upon two hundred years. The founder was Priscillianus (d. 385) a man of noble birth and great achievement. He was a great scholar, and had become acquainted with Gnostic and Manichaean doctrines. He was accused of heresy, and was the first Christian who was executed by Christians for preaching a different form of creed. The accusations made against him and his followers were precisely the same which were raised centuries afterwards against the Cathars and Albigenses, and no doubt just as false. From them we learn, however, that he had apocryphal books and mystical oriental legends, which he used for his teaching, and which were believed by his followers. It took two, or close upon three centuries, before the public traces of Priscillianism disappeared from Spain and Gaul. The followers, probably, shared the fate of the Gothic Arians settled in these countries. Then the conquest of Spain by the Arabs or Moors prevented the Catholic Church from further sifting the chaff from the grain. No doubt a good number of so-called heretics, who could not enter the bosom of the Catholic Church, embraced Islam, just as a good number of prominent Cathars in Dalmatia and Bosnia preferred to become Mohammedans after the conquest of the country by the Turks rather than become united with the Orthodox Church. When the Cathars started their propaganda, they followed, as it were, in the track of the Goths. They occupy exactly the same tracts of land as those held for so many centuries by the former, and without a doubt they found there remnants of the old heresy, popular legends and beliefs, even tales and mystical as well as mythical songs, all so many welcome pegs on which to hang their own teaching. It may in a way have been a kind of revival, in which what had been preserved by the descendants from the Goths of old was blended with the new matter brought afresh from the East. Unfortunately—as already remarked—too little is known of the beliefs and practices of the Goths in their pagan state and afterwards as Arian Christians. That they, in spite of being “rude barbarians,” had also some theological treatises is evident from Anathema No. 16 of the [47]Council of Toledo (589), when Recared forswore his Arianism and became a fervent Catholic. The anathema runs against “the abominable treatises which we composed to seduce the provincials into the Arian heresy.” Many such compositions, especially in the vernacular, must be meant here; they all fell under the ban.

The Cathars followed the same practice and were zealous propagators and translators of the Bible and Apocrypha into the vernacular. They knew the Bible so well that in disputations with the Catholic clergy the latter were easily beaten. Almost every one of the “forbidden” books, i.e. forbidden by the Orthodox and Catholic Church, was preserved in old Slavonian (and Rumanian) translations, and some are to be found this very day among the holy books of the Russian schismatics. Nay, even the oldest French translation of the Bible was the work of Albigenses. So much did this affect the Catholic Church that she excommunicated it, and forbade the people to read the Bible at the Council of Toulouse in 1229; the Bible in the vernacular having before been ordered to be burned publicly by the decree of the Church.

No wonder, therefore, at the popularity of these sectaries and the immense influence they wielded upon the popular mind and imagination. And if it be true that Arius set forth his religious views in doggerel rhymes to be sung to popular tunes by the sailors and labourers, then he initiated a movement which has continued ever since in religious minstrelsy, and is practised amongst others, by the Russian blind beggar-minstrels and other popular ballad singers on festive occasions among the Rumanians and southern Slavs. Nothing, in fact, could better serve the purpose of propaganda than such songs. They would appeal at once to the primitive, unlettered nations, specially amongst those who had such mythological epics of their own. The rude barbarians would be deeply impressed, and they would very easily adopt such songs and the teaching they contained. We can then easily understand a Volsunga Saga or a similar [48]saga originating under such influences, or moulded in accordance with such new models. Neither the Orthodox nor the Catholic Church knows of such popular religious songs of an epic character, filled with the mysteries of the Holy Writ, much less of any filled with mysteries from the apocryphal and legendary writings. They have no more than Church hymns sung in the Church, only on special occasions, together with a certain psalmody chanted by the officiating clergy. And when these Greek (or Syriac) hymns were translated into Slavonic or Rumanian, they practically lost their tune and their inspiration, and they were recited with a peculiar monotonous cantilation. Quite otherwise were the popular carols, and the popular epic ballads with a distinctive religious background and full of wonderful incidents from the life of the saints. Unlike the former, they are not congregational litanies, but purely popular songs and ballads, devoid of any official or liturgical character. This may also explain the origin of the so-called Ambrosian chant as an attempt on the part of St. Ambrose of Milan to counteract the other popular chants by introducing, as it were, congregational singing into the Church. But there it remained, whilst the other spread and has retained its original popular character. Thus, through Gothic Arianism, a certain continuity of the dualistic and peculiar schismatic form of religious teaching has been established.

Moreover, an historic explanation has been found for the origin and spread of these doctrines, tales and fables. Put to the test, these beast tales yield a dogmatic system which approximates in many points to such heterodox teaching. The old Ebionite conception of Jesus, taken up by Arius and afterwards adopted by the Manichaeans, sees in him only a deified human being, and very little more can be found in these tales. Jesus is seldom mentioned, and even then is more like a deified all-powerful human being. God Himself is often treated as a simple human being, almost like the Ialdabaoth of the Gnostics or the inferior God of the Manichaean doctrine. With this, agrees also the notion of the dualism in [49]the creation of the world, i.e. that the evil creatures, wolves, poisonous snakes, etc., are the work of the Evil One. This was also the view held by the Priscillianites. There seem to be, also, reminiscences of such myths as “the world tree,” the wolf, etc., which are found in Teutonic mythology and which may also be of an Oriental origin. The Rumanian tales are almost a running commentary on Grimm’s German Mythology (Germ. 4th ed. 1876, ch. xxiii. pp. 539–581), which ought to be read in conjunction with the present volume. The legend of the Cuckoo, the hoopoe referred to by Grimm, can be read here under No. 43.

It is significant that there is not a trace of Mariolatry in these tales and fables. If anything, St. Mary appears in a character far from loveable. She is easily offended, she does not spare her curses, she takes umbrage easily at the slightest mishap. She is altogether very disagreeable, just as in the apocryphal literature, where there is not much room for her. Her intercession is invoked only in some Rumanian charms and spells in a peculiar stereotyped form. But of real worship there is scarcely any trace. Quite different is the position which the Catholic Church assigned afterwards to St. Mary. She has become there second to none outside the Trinity.

More prominently almost than any of these points, stands out the fact that, underlying these creation and other tales, is the belief in the transmigration of the human soul into an animal body—the well-known belief in Metempsychosis, or change of human beings into animals, so important a feature of Manichaean teaching, in which all the heretical sects seem to have shared.

It is impossible now to follow this question further. I am satisfied to have indicated the rôle which the Goths may have played in the preparation for the dissemination of special myths and legends, branded as heretical, which other sectaries had brought from the East and propagated in the West of Europe.

As to possible ethnical and geographical continuity, it [50]may be remarked that the places where these tales are found were also the homesteads of the Goths, in which they dwelt for at least two or three hundred years. They were then after a short interval almost supplanted by the Slavs. It is a moot point how long the Rumanians have dwelt there, and when they were converted to Christianity. Not a single old Teutonic word has hitherto been found in the Rumanian language. Any direct contact or convivium of any length of time is thus excluded. The tales may have been remnants carried along from Illyricum across the Danube by the new missionaries of the dualistic doctrine. The problem would be less intricate if we only knew anything definite about Gothic heathen and Christian mythology.

With the Cathars and Bogomils we are on more solid ground. This new stream of similar traditions was brought by a similar religious movement and was propagated by identical means—viz. writings and songs in the language of the people, legends and tales and a simple creed understood by all.

It may be asked, if this theory is correct, if these tales and legends were brought first into Thrace and then spread from that country to the other nations, how does it come to pass that so few traces of them can be found in Greek folk-lore? Paradoxical as it may sound, the absence of such creation and other legends and tales from the Greek folk-lore is, if anything, a further proof of the accuracy of the theory advanced. It must be remembered that there was no more ruthless persecution of ancient paganism, idolatry, ceremonies and legends than that carried out by the Greek Church against anything that reminded them of the Hellenic or pagan past. Nothing was spared, neither shrines nor books. The Greek’s subtle mind devised the first thorough system of heresy-hunting and persecution. It ranged from polemical and harmless dialogues to the handing over of the so-called heretics to fire and sword. The secular power was there more than anywhere else the representative of the religious power, and justified its existence, as it were, only as the executor of the Church’s mandate. [51]

One has only to read about the innumerable decrees of councils and synods, to see the way in which Manichaeism, Arianism and Gnosticism in every shape and form were mercilessly uprooted, and to understand that this fight did not stop at Bogomilism. The polemics were carried out even down to the time of Eutemios Zygabenos and even the Emperors on the throne of Byzance did not consider it below their dignity to combat heretical teaching, the followers of which were given no pardon. There was also another factor which militated against the success of the Gnostic teaching—the literary past of the Greeks. To the circulation of apocryphal books and legendary tales, the Greeks were able to oppose a vast literary array. In Greece the Bogomils did not deal with simple-minded, illiterate folk at the beginning of whose literature they stood; on the contrary, they had to fight against an ancient influential literature, and against minds trained in the subtlest dialectics. They could not, therefore, succeed so easily, if at all.

Quite different were the conditions of the other nations with which they came in contact. None of these had yet more than the very beginnings of a literature. They were rude, simple-minded folk, and wherever the Greek Church or Greek Emperors did not wield any influence at all, as it happened in the Bulgaro-Vallachian kingdom established by Peter and Asan (1185 to 1257), the Bogomils had an easy task. For centuries, then, the Rumanians formed with the Bulgarians not only a religious, but also a political unity. The Bulgaro-Vallachian kingdom stretched from the Haemus to the Carpathians, and down to the end of the seventeenth century Slavonic was the official language of State and Church in Rumania. There could not have been a more close intimacy than between these two nations, despite the difference of the language which each of them spoke. They had their literature in common, and no doubt shared the same traditions. Bogomilism was just as rife in Vallachia as it was in Bulgaria. Even the written literature of Rumania shows how profound its influence has been: still more [52]so does the oral literature of tales and legends, of fables and beliefs. Though the Bogomils did not bring Christianity to these peoples, for they were Christians, they brought at any rate a kind of religion to the mass of the folk. It was one of their own making and in their own image. It was clothed in beautiful tales, and answered the expectations of the rank and file, satisfied their curiosity, and gave them a glimpse of the moral beauty underlying the work of creation. In a way, it tended to purify the heart and to elevate the soul by allegories, parables and apologues, and thus it found ready acceptance, and struck deep root in the heart of the people, unaffected by decrees of Councils and by the fanatical intolerance of the established Church.

Not so successful, therefore, if successful at all, was the fight of the Greek Church against the heretical sects even in the Balkan Peninsula, where they were so numerous and so powerful. They persisted down to the time of the capture of Constantinople and the Turkish rule. A large number of the aristocracy in Bosnia and Dalmatia still adhered to the teaching of the Cathars, and when the Turks occupied the country in the sixteenth century, the majority of them embraced Islam, instead of entering either the Catholic or the Greek Church. A whole mass of apocryphal and spurious literature placed on the Index, has been preserved in Slavonic and Rumanian texts with outspoken dualistic views. Many of them have found their way into the Lucidaria, or “Questions and Answers,” a kind of catechism, very popular among the nations of the Balkans, the Rumanians and the Russians. Similar Lucidaria were known in the West, but there they have been thoroughly expurgated, whilst, in the above-mentioned “questions,” many an answer is found to which no orthodox Church would subscribe, but which form now a popular living belief among these nations. The political lethargy which settled upon most of these nations after the Turkish conquest created a happy brooding-place for such tales, and thus it can easily be understood why they have [53]lived to this very day practically undisturbed and little changed.

To those who have followed the history of the religious development of the Russians, it will therefore not be surprising to find among their popular tales a number of variants closely allied to the Rumanian animal tales, and, what is of the utmost importance in this connection, not a few of the “creation” tales. No country perhaps has been so much torn by religious discussions and sects as Russia. The number of sects is legion. The most extraordinary notions, extreme views on dogma and practice, heterodox principles expressed in worship, belief and popular song or tale are all found in Russia: unadulterated Dualism, Bogomilism, Manichaean teaching are openly professed by a number of the sects persecuted and condemned by the Orthodox Church. Almost all the books condemned as heretical in the early Indices Expurgatoria put forth by Councils and Church Assemblies, have been preserved almost intact in the old Slavonic and Russian language, and the religious and epic songs of the “blind” minstrels of Russia are full of the legendary lore of those heterodox sects. This fact has been established beyond doubt by the researches of Russian scholars, and notably by Wesselofsky. Among the Russians, then, we find the nearest parallels to the Rumanian “creation” stories; a clear evidence of common origin, both drawing upon the same source of information; the religious in the form of apologues, legends and tales, so prominent a feature of heterodox propaganda.

The weapons used by the Catholic Church in its persecution of heretical sects are, almost every one of them, borrowed from the Greek armoury. One learns to know this fact more and more from a closer enquiry into the inner history of Byzance, its laws, decrees, administration and practice. And, precisely the same influence destroyed later the heretical teaching in the West as it destroyed it among the Greeks. The power of the Church and the secular arm were both used ruthlessly for exterminating any idea or any belief that ran counter to the doctrines taught by the established Church. [54]The Cathars had also a much more difficult task in converting the East of Europe, inasmuch as they were also confronted there by some amount of literary tradition. Illiterate as were the masses, there were still among them and among their clerics, men of ability, men of learning, men trained in the scholastic schools, able, if not to refute, at any rate to confuse, the strange doctrine.

All these forces combined, produced in the East the same result as they have produced among the Greeks. We are thus on the track of one of the most important sources of Western European folk-lore, always remembering that the medium in which this propaganda flourished differed considerably in the West from that in the East. In the former such propaganda met with a more ancient layer of well-established literary tradition. The Catholic Church, as mentioned above, was first in possession. It was not a tabula rasa on which the new teaching could be written, but yet that which existed was profoundly modified and a new fund of highly poetic yet popular material was added to the small store of knowledge possessed by the common people. But in time the Church took up the challenge, and remorselessly hunted down the apostles of popular heterodox teaching, just as the Greeks had done, going even further. It punished with sword and fire the followers of unauthorised practices, and branded every deviation from the strait path as rank heresy. The books containing legends and tales were burnt, and their possessors were often treated in like fashion.

Inquisition, Church and other influences helped, as already mentioned, to destroy them. In the tragedy of heresy-hunting and burning of witches, the charge of devil worship was the basic principle, the chief head of accusation. It was clearly devised against the followers of the dualistic teaching. To tell a tale like any of these Rumanian “creation” tales, would have been inviting the heaviest punishment—to believe in it would have meant sure death. No wonder that they disappeared quickly, or were changed into harmless satires, as in the Reynard Cycle, or were even used for political cartoons, [55]in broadsides, like the Cock Robin Cycle in the time of Charles II., which, when transplanted to Russia, became a political lampoon on Peter and his Court.

Heresy-hunting becomes a popular distraction only when the official clergy find it profitable to make it so, and when the people are made to trace their own ills and troubles, their losses in field and stable, to the evil machinations of these tools of the devil. So long as they are not suffering in body or purse, the folk are absolutely indifferent to dogmas, and they will eagerly accept anything that pleases them. It will therefore not come as a surprise, in view of what has been stated, if we find some weird conceptions among the Rumanian peasantry.

Studied from the point of view of heresiology or rather of popular psychology, some of these tales will appear to us as so many living records of the great spiritual movement, which for centuries dominated Europe, and which has since died out.

Too little attention has been given hitherto to the influence of those numerous sects, which stretched from Asia Minor to the south of France, and overflowed even into England. Their dualism, the strong belief in the Power of Evil, Satan and his host, the consequent duty of the faithful to banish him or to subdue him, thus developed into belief in sorcery and witchcraft, with the attending horrors of the Inquisition.

Then came a period of wider education still less tolerant of old women’s superstition and nursery tales. What was left still standing has been, and is being, finally destroyed by our modern schools and schoolmasters. From this dire fate, the folk-lore of the nearer East has as yet been preserved. The importance of the study of folk-lore has happily been recognised in those countries, early enough to stop the blight which had set in and which threatened to destroy it more ruthlessly than even in the West. The modern “man of science” is a more relentless iconoclast than the religious fanatic. He starts from the mind in his attempt to destroy folk-lore, using to this end cold reasoning, logical conclusions, spiritual [56]prepossession and intolerance. The religious fanatic starts from the heart, with overwhelming passion, fiery zeal, unreasoning hatred, from which there is a possible escape for mysticism and mythical lore, whilst from the former there is none. Happily, our science of folk-lore with its deep sympathy and profound appreciation of these manifestations of the popular psyche has come in the nick of time to rescue from total extinction what the schoolmaster and the heresy-hunter have not yet annihilated.

I turn now to another aspect of these bird and beast tales. If, as I believe, they show us what is at the back of the mind of the people, they are of invaluable service to the student of anthropology, above all to him who seeks enlightenment in the grave problems of education and civilization; and they are not without importance for the solution of political problems.

Attempts are made—well meant, no doubt—to foist that state of culture which the West calls “modern civilization,” or “civilization” pure and simple, upon the reluctant people of the Near and Far East. We are forgetful of the fact that these nations have had a civilization of their own, and that something more important is included in this forcible change than the change of a dress.

As the outcome of a long-drawn battle between feudalism and modern society, as a result of political and economic evolutions, the civilization of the West, when introduced among nations that have not gone through the same experience, acts like the Juggernaut car, which crushes under its wheels the worshippers of this new god and destroys at the same time the foundations of the old order of things. Only students of folk-lore, those who try to reach the hidden depths, nay, to penetrate the inner soul of the people, are in a position to judge of the results of these civilizing attempts. They can compare the past with the present, and draw a proper balance between gain and loss. Are the people happier, more contented, more moral, and even more religious after the change, than they were before it? Surely not. [57]And if not, why not? The answer is very simple: because in this violent change no tenderness is shown to those beliefs and practices which are dear to the people and which help to lighten the burden of life by innocent mirth and the wholesome play of fancy. Wire brooms may sweep well; but they may do it too well, and they can sweep everything away, leaving the home bare and the gardens stripped of every leaf and flower.

A few words concerning the order and grouping of these tales. They have been arranged in three main groups. The first comprises those tales which I have characterised as creation legends. In them the origin of birds, beasts and insects is explained as the result of some direct act of God, or the Saints, or the Devil. An attempt has been made to follow a certain chronological order. Those tales stand first in which God is acting at the beginning of the creation. Then, following the Biblical order, the legends connected with the persons of sacred history from Adam to the Apostles, including St. Mary and St. Anne. Mystical Christmas carols or rather epic ballads, in which similar subjects are treated, have been inserted between the legends. The second section comprises such legends as are more like fairy tales. The mythical personages are no longer those known through the Scriptures. On the contrary, there are in these tales reminiscences of ancient heathen gods and heroes, chief among them being Alexander the Great.

In the third section the animal fables are grouped together. It is the literature of the apologues without any framework or moral setting. The parallels, as far as could be found, are given briefly at the end of each legend, tale or fable. I have striven to be concise in my references to the best-known collections of tales, such as Grimm, Hahn, Cosquin, and Gonzenbach, where the student of fairy tales can easily find the whole comparative literature.

For the genuine and unadulterated popular origin of these tales I can vouch absolutely. Some I have heard in my early youth, but the majority have been culled from the works [58]of S. Fl. Marian (Ornitologia poporană Română, 2 vols., Cernăuţĭ 1883; and Insectele, Bucharest 1903), than whom a more painstaking trustworthy collector could not be imagined. Some have been taken from the Folk-lore reviews, Şezatoarea, ed. by A. Gorovei (i.–xii., Fălticeni 1892 to 1912), and Ion Creanga, published by the Society of that name (i.–viii., Barlad 1908–1915). Anton Pann (Poveste si istoriaire, Bucharest 1836) has given us a few stories, as well as A. and A. Schott (Walachische Maehrchen, Stuttgart and Tübingen 1845). The Pilgrimage of the Soul is from S. Mangiuca, Călindariu, pe. 1882, Braşiovu 1881 and the Story of Man and his Years, No. 113, from M. Gaster, Chrestomatie Romăna, vol. ii., Bucharest 1891. These tales have been collected from every country where Rumanians live, not only in the Kingdom of Rumania, but also from the Rumanians of Transylvania and Bukovina, as well as from the Kutzo-Vlachs of Macedonia.

I have added a few charms and also a few more mystical religious songs and carols, which throw light on some of the beliefs underlying the tales and legends, taken mostly from the great collection of G. Dem. Teodorescu (Poesii Popularare Romăne, Bucharest 1885).

In some cases I have given also variants of the same tale.

I have endeavoured to render the stories as faithfully as the spirit of the Rumanian and English languages allows, and I fear that I have on sundry occasions forced the latter in my desire to preserve as far as possible the quaintness and the flavour of the Rumanian original.

There is one characteristic feature in the collection of animal tales and legends given here, upon which I should like to lay great stress, and that is the complete purity which pervades them all. There is no playing with moral principles. No double meaning is attached to any story: and this, to my mind, is the best proof of their popular origin. These tales are not sullied by a morbid imagination, nor contaminated by sexual problems. The people are pure at heart and in the stories their simplicity and purity appear most beautifully. [59]

In these tales and legends we have syncretism in full swing. It is not a picture of the past which we have to piece laboriously together from half-forgotten records, from writing half obliterated by the action of time and by changes which have swept over those nations of the past, whose life and thought we are endeavouring to conjure up and to understand. In our midst, at our door, under our own eyes, this process of mixing and adjusting, of change and evolution, of differentiation, combination and assimilation is still going on. It is a wonderful picture for any one who is able to discover the forces that are at work, who can trace every strand of the webbing, every thread in the woof and warp, to its immediate and to its remoter source. We see the shuttle of human imagination, of human belief, flying busily through the loom, charged at one time with one thread, at another with a different one. Many of the ways of the human mind meet here, cross one another, and new roads are thus created by busy wayfarers. And thus paganism sustains a busy and robust life. The old Pantheon is still peopled with the old gods, or, shall we better say, the Pandaemonium in its highest and best sense is displaying itself with unexpected vigour. The heathen gods, the Christian saints, God and the devil legends, fairy tales, oriental imagery, mystical traditions and astrological lore are all inextricably blended together. The line of demarcation between man and animal has not been clearly drawn, or it has not yet been attempted. These multifarious elements have not yet been combined into one homogeneous structure. The problem arises whether other nations have also passed through a similar mental and psychical process; whether they have had a similar Pandaemonic mixture, out of which their more colourless folk-lore had been distilled in the crucible of “civilization.”

Primitive people can often hear the footfall of men by putting the ear to the ground. We may, by putting an ear to the ground, hear the footfalls of the Past, and listen to the echo before it dies away into eternity. [61]





In the beginning only water and God and the devil existed. These two were all the time moving about upon the surface of the waters. After some time God, feeling rather tired of this flitting about without rest or peace, said to the devil, “Go down to the bottom of the sea and bring up in my name a handful of the seed of the earth.” The devil did as he was told, but whilst he was plunging in the depths he said to himself, “Why shall I bring up the seed in his name? I will take it in my own.” And so he did. When he came up God asked him, “Hast thou brought the seed?” The devil replied, “Yes, here it is.” But when he opened his hand to show the seed to God, lo, it was quite empty. The water had wasted the seed away.

Then God told him to plunge again and bring up the seed of the earth in his name. The devil, however, again took the seed from the bottom of the sea in his own name, and when he opened his hand to give the seed to God the waters had again washed his hand clean. For a third time God sent him down to the bottom of the sea to bring up seed. This time the devil bethought himself, and instead of taking the seed in his own name as he had determined, now took it in God’s name and in his own. He would not do it in God’s name alone. When he came up the waters had this time also washed everything away that he had taken in his hand. Only a few grains, however, remained under the nails of his fingers. God asked [62]him whether he had brought the seed up, and he replied “To be sure.” But when he opened his hand it was again empty. Still, there were the few grains which had stuck under the nails. God greatly rejoiced at these few, which he carefully scraped out from under the nails, and made of them a small cake which he put upon the water, where it floated, and God sat upon it to rest. Being now very tired, God fell asleep on that little cake of earth. When the devil saw God fast asleep, what did the unclean one think? “What a lucky thing that is for me,” he said to himself, “I can now drown him.” And so he tried to turn the cake over, so that God should fall into the water. But what happened? In whatever direction God rolled, the cake of earth expanded and stretched under him. He first rolled him towards the east, and the earth grew under God. The devil then tried to upset the cake towards the west, and again the earth stretched under God. Now, said the devil, “Now there is also room for me to rest,” and he sat down on the opposite side where the earth had grown bigger. There again he endeavoured with all his weight to press down the earth, so as to make the earth turn turtle, once towards the north, once towards the south; and God rolled towards them and the earth grew in all directions.

Now by this continual rolling the earth grew so big that it became wider and larger than the waters. When God awoke and saw what the devil had done he did not know what to do with this huge earth, which had become far too big. The devil, seeing what he had done, and being afraid of God’s wrath, ran away and hid himself in one of the clefts of the earth. God then decided to ask the devil what he was to do with this earth, which had become so big.

Now, of all the beasts and creatures which God had made, none was more pleasing in his sight than the bee, which was then playing in Paradise.

The bee was white, and not black as she is now, and I will tell you presently how it came about that she changed her colour. [63]

God sent the bee to ask the devil what he was to do and what good advice he could give him. The bee, at once, went as she was commanded, and came to the place where the devil lived.

“Good morning, uncle,” said the bee.

“Good morning, sister,” said the devil. “What has brought thee to me?”

“Well, you see, God has sent me to ask what he was to do with this huge earth.”

But the devil grumpily and sneeringly replied, “If he is God he ought to know better than to ask a poor devil for advice. I am not going to tell him. Let him find it out for himself.”

The bee, who was a clever little thing—it was not for nothing that God’s choice had fallen upon her—pretended to fly away. But she soon crept back quite stealthily and settled noiselessly on the upper beam of the door. She knew that the devil cannot keep any secrets, and he would surely speak out. So, indeed, it happened. No sooner did he believe himself alone, than he started muttering to himself, chuckling all the time.

“A clever man that God really is. He asks me what to do. Why does he not think of mountains and valleys?” You must know that the earth when first made was quite flat, like a pancake.

“Let him take the earth in his arms and squeeze it a bit, and it will fit all right.”

The bee overheard what he said, for he spoke loud enough, and rejoicing that she had got the answer, spread out her wings and started flying away. The buzzing of her wings betrayed her, and the devil, hearing the noise, rushed out of his cave with his whip in his hand and said: “O you thief! So that is the way you have cheated me. Mayst thou feed on what comes out of thy body.” And he struck the bee with his whip.

This changed her white colour into black. Moreover, he hit her so badly that he nearly cut her in two. That is why [64]the bee has such a narrow waist, that she looks as if she were cut in two and barely hanging together by a thread.

Limping and sore, the bee came back to God and told him what she had overheard from the devil. God was greatly pleased and, squeezing the earth in his arms, he made mountains and valleys, and the earth grew smaller.

Then turning to the bee he said, “Out of thy body henceforth shall come only honey to sweeten the life of man and he shall bless thee for that gift; also shalt thou bring forth wax for candles on the altar.”

And God went on to ask the bee what reward she would claim for the errand which she had so well fulfilled. The bee, impudent and greedy, replied: “Why should man share in my gift and have my honey? Give me the power to kill with my sting.”

And God was angry at the impudence of the bee, and replied: “All the honey shall be thine alone, if thou art able to make a gallon of it during the summer: if not, man may share it with thee. And because thou hast asked for the power of killing with thy sting, meaning to kill man by it, thine own death shall be by thy sting.”

This is the reason why the bees work so industriously and indefatigably during the summer. Each hopes to make a gallon of honey, but they can never succeed. And this, too, is the reason why the bee dies when it stings anyone.

There is another variant of the cosmogonic part.

The place of the devil is taken by the mole1 whom the Rumanians believe to be a very deep fellow.

The story then runs as follows:

When God had made the heavens there was as yet no earth. So God took a ball of string and measured the span of heaven. Then he called the mole and told him to keep the ball whilst [65]he was busy making the earth, according to the measure which he had taken. But whilst God went on measuring by the string which he had rolled off the ball, the mole very slyly let the ball roll on whilst God was tugging at the string. And so it came to pass that the earth made thus by God was larger than the span of heaven, and could not be got under it.

The mole, seeing what he had done, went away and hid himself in his earth. Hither the bee was sent to get the secret from him how the earth could be made smaller.

The story then runs on like the one just told, without the explanation of the dark colour and of the narrow waist. Nor is any reference made in that version to the sting and the gallon of honey.

The dualistic conception of the creation of the world is here clearly set out. The people believe in it. In the formation of the earth the devil has his full, nay an equal share, though he always is fooled in the end and is cheated even by a little bee.

To this creation story a few variants can be found among the Bulgarians and Letts, but they are neither so full nor so complete as the Rumanian version.

They are given by Dähnhardt, Natursagen, i. pp. 127–128 (Leipzig and Berlin 1907). The first part of the story of the devil being sent down to bring up seed from the bottom, and only that part, is found among the Gipsy tales from Transylvania, published by Wlislocki, Zigeuner-märchen aus Transylvania, p. 1, No. 1.

Among the Russians, Ralston gives a short variant in which only God and the devil are mentioned, nothing of the bee, and even the first part is extremely short. (Russian Folk Tales, p. 329, London 1873.)

The existence of hills is accounted for by legendary lore in this wise. When the Lord was about to fashion the face of the earth he ordered the devil to dive into the watery depths and bring thence a handful of the soil he found at the bottom. The devil obeyed, but when he filled his hand he filled his [66]mouth also. The Lord took the soil, sprinkled it around, and the earth appeared, all perfectly flat. The devil, whose mouth was quite full, looked on for some time in silence. At last he tried to speak, but choked, and fled in terror. After him followed the thunder and lightning, and so he rushed over the whole face of the earth, hills springing up where he coughed, and sky-cleaving mountains where he leaped. [67]

1 The Rumanian word used here is “ariciu,” literally hedgehog, but no doubt the mole who burrows under the ground is meant. It is for this reason that I have substituted mole for hedgehog. In the Bulgarian legend it is the hedgehog, where probably the two animals are also confused with one another.


I. B.


Another Version.

When the Lord made the heavens he took a ball and spanned the heavens, and after he had finished spanning the heavens he started making the earth. The mole, cunning little beast, came to him and said: “O Lord, let me help thee in making the earth”; and the Lord, who is always good, said in the goodness of his heart: “Very well,” and he gave the ball to the mole to keep it.

The Lord started working, and was busy weaving and working making the earth. But the sly mole let just a little bit of the thread go from time to time, and the Lord worked on without noticing it. When he had finished, how great was his astonishment when he found that the earth was greater than the heavens. What was he to do? how could he fit them together? He turned to the mole, but the mole was not there; he knew what was coming and had buried himself deep down in the earth. So the Lord walked up and down the earth, but could not find him. What was he to do? At last he sent the bee to discover the mole and to find out from him what was to be done. The bee flew away alone, and, buzzing about, at last came to the hole where the mole was sitting buried in the earth.

The bee came to him and said, “Good morning, uncle.”

“What brings thee to me, my sister?”

“Well,” she said, “the Lord God has sent me to ask thee what is to be done. The earth is so big and the heavens so small.”

The mole, a sly beast, chuckled and said to himself, “The [68]Lord ought to know better than I. I am not going to tell him, though I know what ought to be done.”

The bee would not take this answer. She pretended to fly away, and then went stealthily and settled herself in a flower which was near to the mole’s burrow. She knew that the mole would talk to himself, and hoped to overhear what he would say.

So in sooth it happened. The bee overheard him chuckling and laughing and saying to himself: “Oh what a clever fellow I am! if I had to do it, I would take the earth in my arms and squeeze it tightly, and then mountains would be pressed out and valleys would be sunk, and then the earth would get small enough to fit under the heavens.”

No sooner had the bee heard what the mole had said, than she started flying away. The mole, who heard her buzzing, ran after her and said: “O sister, is that the way thou art dealing with me? Very well then, now take my curse. Henceforth thou shalt feed on thyself.”

But the bee never listened, and flew straight to the Lord and told him what she had heard when the mole muttered to himself. And the Lord took the earth in his hands and squeezed it, and from the flat that it was, mountains rose up and valleys were cut, and it fitted the heavens which God had spanned. And God, hearing of the curse with which the mole has cursed the bee, turned it into a blessing. That is why the bee makes honey and feeds on itself, whilst the mole always lives underground and is frightened to see the sky. [69]




The Story of the Widow and her two Children.

There is still another story about the origin of the bee, totally different from those told hitherto.

Once upon a time there lived a very poor widow. She had only two children, a son and a daughter. When they had grown up, seeing that their mother could no longer provide for them, they left her house and went each one his or her way to find work. The girl went to a place where they were building houses, and there she worked day and night carrying bricks and mortar to the builders. The son went to a weaver and learnt there to weave clothes.

Not long after that, the mother grew very ill, and knowing that her end was approaching, she sent for her children to come to her. When the message reached the daughter, she was carrying a heavy load of bricks in her apron.

She did not hesitate for a moment, and saying, “I must not leave my poor mother alone,” she dropped the load of bricks and ran home as fast as she could, and there she found her mother on the point of death.

When the message reached the son, he was sitting at his weaving. He said, “Let her die. I cannot give up my work. Here I am, and here I stay.”

And there he stayed quite alone, working away, surly and grumbling all the time.

When the mother saw her daughter, who had left everything and had come to her, she raised herself on her bed and, kissing her on the forehead, blessed her, saying: “Daughter, thou [70]hast been sweet to me and a joy in my last hour. Mayst thou always be sweet to all.”

When she heard what her son had said, and why he had not come, she cursed him and said: “As thou hast said so shall it go with thee. Day and night shalt thou be weaving incessantly and never see the joy of it: what thou doest, others shall destroy. In a corner shalt thou sit, far away from everybody, and hated by everybody.”

And with these words she died, and her blessing and curse both came true. The girl was changed into the busy active bee, whose honey sweetens everything, and of whose wax candles are made to be lit before the ikons of the saints and in the churches, and put by the head of the dying and the dead. The brother was changed into the spider, who sits alone and sullen and spiteful in the corner and weaves his webs, never finishing: whoever sees a web brushes it away, and whoever can, kills the spider.

To this story I have not been able to find a parallel. A different kind of curse seems to rest on the spider, according to the legend of the “Lady Mary and the Spider,” No. 54. [71]




The Story of the Bee and the Devil.

When God created the bee she was white of colour, hence her name albina, the white one. One day, however, God sent the bee to the Evil One to ask him for his advice, whether God should make one sun or several. The bee went to the Evil One and told him God’s message. Then she slyly hid herself in his bushy hair, for the bee knew that he would talk to himself aloud, and she would be able to find out his true thought. And so it happened: for no sooner did he think that the bee was not within earshot, than he started talking aloud to himself and said:

“One sun is better than a number of suns, for if there were a number of suns the heat would be much greater than my fire and I should not be able to torture and to burn. Then, too, if there were several suns, they would shine all day and all night, and the people would not be able to fall into my power. One sun would be best.”

When the bee had heard his reasoning and the conclusion to which he had come, she started flying back to God. As she started, the Evil One heard her buzz and, filled with anger at the trick which the bee had played him, he struck her across the body with his whip. The white colour was then turned black and the body of the bee nearly cut in twain. The waist became as thin as a thread. In the beginning it was white, and hence the name. It is due to the merit of the bee that there is only one sun now in the heavens and not many. [72]

In the Bulgarian parallel it is not a question as to how many suns were to be created but whether the sun is to get married. The story is as follows (Dähnhardt, Natursagen, Leipzig u. Berlin 1907, i. p. 127):

When God grew old he wanted to marry the sun. He invited all the creatures. Among them also the devil, but he saddled his ass and rode away angrily. Then God sent the bee to find out the thought of the devil. The bee settled on his head and heard him mumble to himself:

“Oh yes, it is a long time since God had remembered me, who helped him in the making of the world, but he does not know what he is doing now. If he marries the sun he will destroy mankind and burn up the world.”

The bee heard it, and flying away went to God. The devil noticed her and, thinking that she had overheard what he was saying, wanted to kill her. He ran after her and shot at her. The bee hid herself in a willow tree. After trying many times, he at last hit her and cut her in two. With difficulty she reached God and told him what had happened.

The Lord blessed her and said, “The lower part shall be thy best and the upper part may remain as it is;” and he joined the two parts together. God thereupon stopped the wedding, and the sun has remained an unmarried maiden to this very day, whilst the bee is making honey even now.

The story of the marriage of the sun does not concern us here. In a different form it occurs in Rumanian Fairy Tales, where we are told that sun and moon were a brother and sister. They wished to woo one another, but God forbade it, and therefore God put them in the heavens and changed them into sun and moon, which never meet. When one rises the other sets. (L. Saineanu, Basmele Române, Bucur 1895, p. 398.) Other mythical references to sun and moon, and the way in which the devil tries to steal them from Paradise, will be found in the Carol given below, No. 15. [73]




The Story of the Fallen Angel and the Maiden.

When God had created the world, men multiplied. There were then towns and hamlets and gardens and fields. So one day a band of angels came to the Lord and said: “O Lord, let us see the world which we now see only from afar. Grant us in thy infinite mercy that we may go down and see it more closely.”

And the Lord in his infinite love granted their request, although he who knows everything knew what would happen to them hereafter. And the angels came down and mixed with the men and women and rejoiced at everything they saw. After a time God Almighty came down to them and told them that the time for their return to heaven had come. The angels gathered together in a joyful band and went up to heaven. But there was one angel who did not share in their joy. He walked sadly and alone.

God asked every one of the angels what they had seen. And one told him of the flowers and their sweet smell, and another one told of the fruit and a third of the singing birds. Everyone had a pleasant tale to tell. When the turn came of that angel who was walking sadly in that joyful company, the Lord asked him whether he had anything to tell, and whether he would like to return to heaven as his companions did, to which he replied that he would prefer to remain on earth, for he would not like to go back to heaven. And the good God asked him why he was so sad and why he would prefer to remain in this world. The angel hesitated for a while, and then he said that he had looked too far into the [74]eyes of a girl, eyes which were as the blue of heaven, and he could not bear to go away from her. And the Lord asked who she was, and the angel replied, “A shepherdess feeding her flock on a mountain.” And the Lord asked him, “Hast thou spoken to her?” and he said, “I could not forbear doing so.” And the Lord asked him, “What didst thou tell her?” and he replied, “I said I would forego my angelic station rather than leave her.”

The Lord, who had up till then looked very young, suddenly turned very old and careworn, and, after looking at him for a long time, walked on slowly and silently with the band of angels. When they reached the Gates of Heaven the Lord stopped short and, turning to the angels, said:

“You can no longer enter the heavenly abode. You are bringing tidings of the ways of the world which must not be heard by the other angels. And as you liked the world, you shall continue to look at the soul’s doings.” Thereupon the Lord changed the angels and made them into stars, which he scattered all over the heavens, and from there they smile joyfully and kindly upon the earth.

But the angel who wished to return did not turn into a pleasant, twinkling little star. He turned into a fiery star that, always blazing and unsteady, looked angrily at the other stars. At last the Lord, fearing that there would be strife between them, cast the red star down to the earth, and it came down on the meadow where the shepherdess was; it came down as a shower over the whole field. But the sparks never died out. The glow-worms carry them still. [75]




The Story of the Devil hurled down from Heaven.

Another legend about the origin of the glow-worm is of a similar character. I will discuss later the possible origin, which will lead us to the same remarkable results.

The time of separation between the good and the evil angels had come. The good ones gathered to the right, and the evil ones, under the leadership of the devil, gathered to the left. You can imagine what a confusion and uproar there was, for they could not easily disentangle themselves.

Whilst that confusion went on, there was a little devil who, after all, did not like parting with the bliss of heaven. So what did he do? He stole away from his own companions and hid himself among the good angels, hoping that, by one way or another, he would get into heaven. But he had not reckoned with St. Peter, who stands at the gate of heaven and examines and searches every one asking leave of entrance. Each angel had to present his pass, duly signed. St. Peter examined the signature, and when he found it correct he allowed the angel to enter heaven. So, one by one, they passed on, until the turn of the little devil came. In vain did he protest that he was a good angel. He had to produce his papers, and when St. Peter came to the end, there was no proper signature. So St. Peter got very angry, and without much ado, got hold of the little devil and cast him down to earth. He came down with such violence that he broke up in millions of luminous sparks, and these are the lights of the glow-worm. [76]




The Story of St. Peter and the Cuckoo.

The tale of the glow-worm tells us that in olden times the people were better and the earth cleaner than to-day. It was on this account that God’s saints used to walk about upon the earth. The saints and the apostles had also their establishments just as we have them now, house, table, cattle, children and everything that appertains to the house of man. The most important of the saints was St. Peter. He used to walk about with God more than any of the others, but, like every Rumanian, he also had his house and all that belongs to it, just as beseems one of God’s saints. The tale from our forefathers tells us that, among other things, he also had a stable full of beautiful horses; black of skin like the raven’s wing, and quick as the flame, they were eating up the clouds, so fleet were they. In those times, unfortunately, as in our times, besides saints, there were also wicked people, thieves and the like, for the devil has had and will always have his share in this world. But in those times there were only a very few thieves, and they were very much ashamed of their doings. They used to live in forests to which no one else went except evil spirits. To-day—for our sins—the thieves are so numerous that there is not a spot which is free of them. They rob you everywhere; in the very midst of the town and in the open light of day.

In those days, there lived a great thief, whose name was Cuckoo. I do not know how it came to pass, but he heard of St. Peter’s horses and made up his mind to steal them. One day St. Peter had gone on one of his usual journeys to a [77]distant part of the country. Cuckoo, who had learned of it, came in the night and stole the horses and drove them into the forest. On the morrow, by a mere chance, St. Peter came home from his journey and asked about the horses. They were nowhere to be found. Do what he might, he could not find them; they were gone. But who had taken them, and whither had he gone with them? St. Peter asked God to give him some powerful dogs to go with him to the forest. God gave him the wolves, and from that time they have remained St. Peter’s dogs.

He went with them into the forest and searched high and low, but all in vain. All through the day they hunted, but could find no trace of the thief or of the horses. Night fell, and it was one of those dark nights in which you can put your finger into your eye and yet not see it. It was blacker and darker than the blackness and darkness of hell. St. Peter did not know which way to turn, and he asked God to perform some miracle for him to light up his way. God heard his prayer, and before one could wipe one’s eyes the whole forest was full of glow-worms. St. Peter greatly rejoiced, and by the light of the glow-worms he searched the forest all the night through, but returned home with empty hands. Then St. Peter cursed the thief Cuckoo, that he should be changed into a black, ill-omened bird, and wherever he should find himself he was to call out his name. Since then the cuckoo became a black and accursed bird, and when it sings (calls) at the back of the house or in the courtyard it betokens death. It speaks nothing else, but calls its own name, Cuckoo. The cuckoo is frightened of the glow-worms, and, as soon as he sees them in the forest he stops calling, for he thinks St. Peter is looking out for him to catch him for stealing his horses. At the same time the glow-worms were blessed by St. Peter and made the guides of the wanderers through the forest. They come out about St. Peter’s day. Then the cuckoo keeps silence.

In these glow-worm stories, much of the apocryphal literature concerning the fall of the angels has been preserved. It is not, [78]however, the pride of Satan that causes his downfall, but it is the love of the earthly woman which causes the angel to fall. The story in this form is found in the Hebrew versions preserved in the Chronicles of Jerahmeel (my ed. London 1899, ch. xxv. p. 52 ff.), and in other kindred books, from which it has passed through the Greek into the Slavonic apocryphal literature. The contest between the devil and angels is, however, not unknown. It is referred to here rather humorously in the story of the little devil who wanted to steal slily into heaven in the rush and is detected by the wily Peter. It is also referred to in the Dragon-fly story, No. 14. Curiously enough, very little of it seems to have been preserved in Slavonic literature. In Albanian literature a faint trace is recorded by Hahn (ii. No. 107), where the connection with the Wolf story is entirely missing, and therefore inexplicable there. But the fragmentary Albanian tale is fully set out here in the Rumanian version about the creation of the wolf, Nos. 7, 8, 9. [79]




The Story of God, St. Peter and the Devil.

Once upon a time God was walking with St. Peter. On the way they met a dog who came close to them and frolicked round them, and God stroked the animal. St. Peter looked at God questioningly, and God said, “I know what is in thy mind, but since thou art he who keeps the key of heaven it is meet that thou shouldst know everything, and I will therefore tell thee the story of the dog and the wolf, for thou must know whom to let into heaven and whom to shut out. Thou seest, Peter, what that brother of mine—”

“You mean the devil?” interposed St. Peter.

“Yes,” said God, “I mean him. You see what he has done to me with Adam and Eve, and how he made me drive them out of Paradise. What was I to do? When the poor man was starving I had to help him, so I gave him the sheep to feed him and to clothe him. But dost thou think the devil will give them peace?—no, not he!”

“Yes,” said Peter, “all very well, but what about the dog? I know all that about Adam and Eve.”

“Do not be in such a hurry,” replied God, “I will tell thee everything; bide thy time.”

“Now, where was I? It was when I made the sheep, and the devil then must again try and do something to hurt Adam, so he is now making the wolf, who will destroy the sheep and bring Adam and Eve to grief. For that reason I have made the dog, and he will drive the wolf away and protect the flocks of sheep, and will be friendly to man, whose property he will guard with faithfulness.” [80]

St. Peter said, “I know that in thy goodness thou art going again to help the devil, as thou hast done aforetime.”

The devil had made many things aforetime, but could not give them life or movement, and it was always God who helped and completed the work. Thus the devil made a car, but built it inside the house, and did not know how to take it out and use it until God widened the door and took it out, and as the devil was pulling away at it he broke the hind wheels, so God took the first part of the car and put it in the heavens, and it forms the constellation known as the Great Bear (in Rumanian, the Great Car).

Then the devil made the mill, but he could not start it, so God did. Then he made a house, but put no light into it, so God had to make the windows. Then the devil made a fire, but did not know how to kindle it.

He was now working away at moulding the wolf from clay. He worked so hard that the perspiration ran down his face. Scratching his head, he pulled out three hairs, but would not throw anything away—they were much too precious—so he stuck them in the head of the wolf between the eyes.

When he thought he had finished, he turned to God and said, “See what I have done.”

“Yes,” replied God, “I see, but what is it?”

“Thou shalt know more about it soon,” replied the devil; and, turning to the wolf, which lay there lifeless, he said, “Up, wolf, and go for him.” But the wolf never stirred.

Then God turned to St. Peter and said, “Just wait and see how I will pay him out,” and, waving his hand over the wolf, he said, “Up, wolf, and go for the devil.”

The devil can run fast, but never ran faster than on that day when the wolf jumped up and ran after him. In running he jumped into the lake. He dipped under the waters and saved himself from the fangs of the wolf. And ever since that time, the wolf has power over the devil: when he catches him, he eats him up. All the year round the devils are hiding in pools and bogs, but, from the night of St. Basil (1st January) until the Feast of Epiphany, the waters are holy, being sanctified [81]through the Baptism. The devil can no longer stay in the water, and he must get on to the land, where the wolf lies in wait for him, and woe unto the devils who get too near the wolf.

When God and St. Peter saw the flight of the devil, they laughed until the tears ran down their cheeks. Then God turned to St. Peter and said to him, “I give these wolves now into thy care.” Poor St. Peter trembled from head to foot when he heard the charge that was given to him, but God reassured him and said, “Never fear, Peter, they will not harm thee; on the contrary, they will follow thee and listen to thy command, as if they were friendly dogs.” And so it has remained. Once every year, on the day of the Feast of St. Peter, in the winter-time, all the wolves come together to an appointed place to meet St. Peter. Thither he comes with a huge book in his hand, in which are written the names of all the persons who had given themselves over to the devil, and he tells the wolves whom they are to eat.

The three hairs which the devil had put on the wolf are of a green colour, and make the wolf look ferocious, for they are the devil’s hairs, and it is from them that the devil’s fire got into the wolves’ eyes, which are lit up by it. [82]




The Story of the Wolf, God and the Devil.

When God had finished the creation of the world, and had made all the good animals and beasts, the devil thought he would also make some creatures. He took some of the clay and made the wolf. When he had finished God came to see what he had done. When he saw the brute he asked the devil what it was.

“Ho, thou wilt soon see what it is. Up, wolf, and go for him.” But the wolf did not stir. There he lay where the devil had fashioned him. When the devil saw that the wolf did not move, that there was no life in him, he turned to God and said:

“Just make him go.”

And God said, “Very well.”

But before he made him go, he chipped the wolf about, and moulded him and fashioned him a bit better than the devil had done. Out of these chippings came the snakes and the toads. When he had finished shaping him, God cried:

“Up, wolf, and go for him.”

Up jumped the wolf and went for the devil, who got so frightened that he ran away as fast as his feet would carry him.

When the devil saw that the wolf was running him close he pulled out three hairs from his body and threw them behind him on to the wolf. The wolf, who up to that time was hairless and smooth, was suddenly covered with thick bristles, which, in one way or another, were to prevent him from running so fast after the devil. It is for that reason that the wolf has such thick bristles, and his eyes glisten in the dark. [83]They are the hair of the devil and the sparks which have got into him through the devil’s hair. And since that time when he hears the wolves howling the devil takes to his heels, lest they catch him as God commanded them to do.

Polish, Lettish and other Slavonic variations of the legend concerning the creation of the wolf by the devil are given by Dähnhardt (l.c. pp. 147 ff.), yet none so full as the Rumanian version. According to one, the devil had made the wolf so as to have a creature of his own. But he endeavoured in vain to call his creature to life, for he would persistently say to it, “Arise, for I have made thee.” Only, however, when he whispered into his ear, “Arise, God has made thee,” did the wolf spring to his feet. Then he attacked the devil, who ran away and escaped with difficulty. [84]




The Story of God, the Devil and the Stone.

According to a curious Rumanian version from Transylvania (in Archiv. f. Siebenburg Landeskunde, 23, pp. 4–8, abbreviated by Dähnhardt, pp. 152–3), the devil went to God and said to him, “O Lord, thou hast created man and so many other creatures, but thou hast not yet created the wolf.” And God replied, “Very well,” and, showing him a huge boulder near a forest, told him to go and say to the stone, “Devil, eat the stone.” The devil went and said, “Stone, eat the wolf.” The boulder did not move. The devil went to God and said, “The stone does not move.” “What didst thou say?” “Stone, eat the wolf.” “But thou must say, ‘Devil, eat the stone.’” The devil went again to the stone and said, “Stone, eat the devil.” Whereupon the stone moved and ate the devil, and in its place there stood a wolf with the face of the devil. Since then there are no more devils in the world, but wolves too many.

This story, as here abbreviated, is undoubtedly corrupted. The real form must have been at the beginning, “Stone, eat the devil,” but the devil changed it into, “Devil, eat the stone,” until he spoke exactly as he was told, and the stone turned into a wolf.

The wolf is dreaded as the most savage beast, and could therefore only be conceived by the popular imagination as the creation of the devil.

In the northern mythology there occurs the wolf Fenrir, whose father is Loki, the God of Fire, who will play such a [85]decisive rôle at Doomsday. Hahn (No. 105) contains the following version:

After the creation of man, the devil boasted that he could create something better. God allowed him to do so. He took some clay and moulded it and made the wolf. Then God said to him, “Give him life, as I have done.” The devil started blowing into the wolf until he got red and blue in the face, but all in vain. Then God took a cane and smote the wolf on his back, and that is why the back of the wolf looks broken in the middle, and he said, “Creature, eat thy maker.” Up jumped the wolf and ate the devil. (Cf. Grimm, 148.) [86]




The Story of God, the Fire and the Devil.

In the beginning the goats had wings, and used to fly about eating up the tops of the trees. They did it so thoroughly that they left no leaf or bud, and never allowed a tree to grow up. When God saw what mischief they were doing, and how they were destroying all the trees, he cursed them, and, taking away their wings, he said that henceforth they should only be able to climb up crooked trees. And so they do.

When they came down upon earth, finding themselves without wings, they went and made a pact with the devil, that they should henceforth help one another. The devil willingly entered into an agreement with them. It so happened that the devil’s fire went out, and he was not able to rekindle it himself, so he sent the two goats to God to steal the fire from him. God had lit his fire, he had put the tripod over the fire, and had hung on it the bowl to cook his food in. Then he sat down quietly, watching the wood crackle and burn up. When the goats came they started a conversation with God, speaking of this and speaking of that, so that God should not see that they had come for the purpose of stealing fire. When they saw they could not get on, they decided to make a rush upon the fire, and to snatch a brand from it.

So they ran towards the tripod trying to snatch the fire. God, who knew what they were bent upon, took the ladle which was sticking in the food, and with the hot stuff on it he smote the goats on their knees. The goats started running, and they shrieked from the pain of the burning food on their knees, which burned the skin so that all the hair fell out, and [87]from that time the goats have no hair on their knees, and the devil’s beasts they have remained to this very day.

In other South-Slavonian versions (Dähnhardt, i. 142 f.) it is the Evil One who invents the fire, and God is anxious to obtain it from him in order to give it to mankind. The Evil One had deprived them of it. God sends St. Peter to the Evil One with an iron rod in his hands. This he was to poke in the fire until it got white hot; then he was to touch some wood and the fire would leap up. Pursued by the Evil One, who perceived the ruse, St. Peter struck the flint before the rod had got cold, and thus got the spark inside the flint. Thus it is that sparks fly when the flint is struck by iron.

As for the goats, the following variants and parallels are of interest:

According to an Armenian legend of Transylvania (Dähnhardt, 154; Wlislocki, 12), the goat is the very work of the Evil One. Jealous of God, who has made all the creatures, he boasted that he also would make a creature of his own. When he saw how God fashioned the lamb, one of the last of God’s creatures, he set to work to make an animal in the likeness of the lamb. So he made a goat. But he wanted to make it more beautiful, so he added a beard and planted some pointed horns on its head. Then he asked God to give life to his creation. God did so, and thus made for man two new animals, the good, useful and meek lamb, and the mischievous goat. God then took a vase, in which he had put the intelligence of the animals, and, finding in it only a few drops of the liquid at the bottom of the vase, he said to the devil that he must be careful in the use of these drops. So he dropped a few on the head of the lamb, but when he was going to pour some on that of the goat the devil shook the vase, and thus many more drops fell on the head of the goat than on that of the lamb. The devil laughed and said, “My creature is cleverer than thine.” To which God replied, “That may be, but thy creature shall play the fool and live on scanty food.” [88]

In a Polish version (Dähnhardt, i. 162), the goat is made by the devil almost in the same manner as he made the wolf in the tales Nos. 8, 9. And the goat comes to life only when, after saying “get up,” he whispers, “by the power of God.” When the goat rises, the devil in his fury gets hold of its tail and pulls it off; and ever since the goats have had no tails.

In the South-Slavonic tale, curiously enough, the sheep take the place of the goat and are made by the devil, which, in the light of the above version, is due to some confusion made by the story-teller between the ram and the goat. (Krauss, Sud-slav. Sagen, Leipzig 1883, No. 29, p. 109.)

In a modern Greek legend, the devil made the goat, but he made the knees stiff, and the goats perished from hunger. One day Christ was walking upon earth, and he met the devil, who showed him the goats, and said to him: “I have also made something, but I cannot make it sit down; its knees are so stiff; so the goats die off.” Whereupon Christ took his seal and placed it upon the goats’ knees. Afterwards they could easily bend them. Hence the sign of the seal upon the goats’ knees. (Politis, No. 842; Dähnhardt, pp. 153–4.)

In these two tales we have peculiar variants to some of the incidents in the Rumanian version, only so far as the connection of the goat with the Evil One and the bareness of the goats’ knees are concerned, though the explanation is totally different from—nay, opposite to—that given in the Rumanian version, where the bareness is the sign of God’s punishment of the goats.

A German tale (Grimm, 148) tells us: God made all the animals, even the wolves, which were his dogs. The devil made the goats, which destroyed the vines, the young trees, etc. The wolves then went and killed the goats, and God offered to pay the devil the price of his destroyed creatures, but only when all the oaks should lose their leaves. But the devil was told that one oak in Constantinople keeps its leaves all the year. He went in search of it for six months, and could not find it. When he returned, the other oaks had got their leaves again, and he got nothing. He poked out the eyes [89]of the goats, and put his own in instead, and therefore they have the devil’s eyes, and so the devil sometimes assumes their form.

These stories of the goat and the devil are probably one chapter of the larger and yet unwritten book on the goat-devil in popular beliefs and customs. It must suffice merely to mention the “scape-goat,” the goat-demons (seirim of the Bible), the Greek fauns and satyrs. Satan, worshipped under the guise of a goat in the alleged orgies of the witches, is found in the record of the Inquisition in medieval accusations against the heretics. Is not the devil himself depicted in medieval imagery with the cloven hoof—of the goat and with the horns of the goat? The why and wherefore is another story. It is not here and now the place to enter upon it. The mischievous character of the goat, the amorous inclinations, the offensive smell, may to a certain extent have contributed later on to justify this equation of goat and devil, but there must be some other reason for making the goat, if not a type, at least the friend of Satan. [90]




The Story of the Goat, Noah and the Vine.

It is said that the vine did not exist before the flood, and of course, therefore, there was no wine. The giants, whatever mischief they may have done, and however wicked may have been their ways, at any rate were never drunk. They only drank water, which is the eternal beverage for man and beast. When the flood came the giants and all the living creatures, except those whom Noah saved in the ark, were destroyed. When the flood had subsided, the animals went out, spread themselves over the earth, and multiplied very quickly.

Thus from the few head of cattle, sheep and goats there grew up soon a large number, and Noah was able to live by his cattle and his goats.

Of all these animals, Noah loved the goats best, especially when he saw them climbing about everywhere up the trees and up the rocks, going freely in all directions. One day Noah saw that one of the he-goats left the rest alone and went his own way, and when the evening came he came down dancing and jumping, quite jolly; this he repeated many days, and every evening he came home jumping and dancing, and frolicking like a madman. Noah, anxious to find out what was the reason of this peculiar behaviour of the goat, followed him quietly one day, and he found out what it was. There, on one of the hillsides, he saw a tree with very huge grapes, each one as big as a bucket. The goat went straight to these and ate his fill. Getting drunk, he laid himself down to sleep. When he woke up he started the game again, and so until the evening, when he returned home quite jolly. [91]

Old Noah was greatly surprised at this sight, for he had never seen before any grapes; and so, climbing up as best he could, he plucked a bunch in order to take it home and show his family.

On his way home the heat grew unbearable, and he got very thirsty. He turned to the right, he turned to the left; nowhere a drop of water to be seen. I do not know what he thought; but, having the grapes in his hand, he put one in his mouth, and sucked at it. He found the juice very sweet and refreshing, so he took the other grapes and squeezed the juice into his mouth. Not satisfied with that, as his thirst was not yet quenched, he went back to the vine tree, and taking a whole cluster, he sucked it dry. When he returned, he felt somehow that his head had got rather heavier than usual, and his legs, on the contrary, were much lighter than before. Altogether he felt in a merry mood, and though old and advanced in years, he started singing a song. Getting near his house, the goat overtook him, frolicking and jumping as it had done every day.

What should enter Noah’s head but to follow the example of the goat, frolicking and jumping, and in that state of high merriment both reached the house. When Noah got near the house, he looked at himself, and he could not make out what had happened to him, for he had lost almost all his clothes. They had fallen off him on the way. He could not get into the house, but, dropping down in front of it, he fell fast asleep. There his sons found him, and thinking that he was dangerously ill, put him on his bed and began wailing over him, for they were sure he was at death’s door.

The next morning, to their astonishment, he woke hale and hearty, and there and then he told them all about the goat and the vine and the grape and the sweet juice. Then Noah gave orders that the vine should be taken from the hills and planted in his garden. Before he did so, he killed the goat and poured the blood of it on to the roots in remembrance of the fact that it was through the goat that he discovered the vine. [92]

Thus far the Rumanian story, which, however, requires completion. As far as it goes it agrees almost verbatim with a story found in a very ancient Hebrew collection of legends (Midrash Abkhir); the sequel there is as follows: When Noah started planting the vine, the devil came and asked to be allowed to take a part in it. Noah willingly agreed. After killing the goat, the devil brought a lion, whose blood was also used to water the roots of the vine, and finally brought a swine, and his blood was also poured over the roots of the vine.

For this reason it comes to pass that, when a man drinks a little wine he gets merry and jumps and frolics like a young kid; and if he drinks a little more, he becomes hot and roars like the lion; and his last stage is reached when he wallows in the mire like the pig, for he has drunk the blood of all of them.

Here, then, we have a tale which shows how a man can become a beast without changing his human form, not like all the other tales, in which he remains a bird or a beetle to the end of his days.

A peculiar transformation of this legend is found in the following variant, in which the bones of the animals are substituted for their blood. The whole setting is different from the more primitive type preserved in the Rumanian.

When Saint Dionysios was still young, he once made a journey through Greece, in order to go to Naxia (the isle of Naxos), but the way being very long, he got tired and sat down on a stone to rest. While he was sitting, and looking down in front of himself, he saw at his feet a little plant sprouting from the earth, which seemed to him so beautiful that he resolved at once to take it with him and to plant it. He took the plant out of the ground and carried it away; but, as the sun was very hot just then, he feared that it might dry up before his arrival in Naxia. Then he found the small bone of a bird, and put the plant into it and went on. In his holy hand, however, the plant grew so quickly that it peeped forth from both sides of the bone. Then he again feared that it would dry up, and thought of a remedy. He [93]found the bone of a lion, which was thicker than the bird’s bone, and he put the bird’s bone, together with the plant, into the bone of the lion. But the plant quickly grew, even out of the lion’s bone. Then he found the bone of a donkey, which was still thicker, and he put the plant, together with the bird’s and lion’s bones, into the donkey’s bone, and so he came to Naxia. When he was planting it, he saw that the roots had wound thickly round the bones of the bird, the lion and the donkey; and, as he could not take it out without injuring the roots, he planted it in the ground as it was, and it quickly grew up and produced, to his delight, the finest grapes, from which he made the first wine, which he gave to men to drink. But what a wonder did he see now! When men drank of it, they sang in the beginning like merry little birds; drinking more of it, they became strong as lions; and drinking still more, they became stupid like donkeys. (Hahn, Albn. Märchen, ii. 76; v. also Thumb, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, Manchester, vol. ii. No. 1, Oct. 1914, p. 38 and note 50).

I add here a Christmas carol about the shepherd and the sheep, for it seems that at the basis of it lies the idea of God giving a special blessing to the sheep. It is a second stage after the idea of creation of the sheep by God. [94]




A Christmas Carol.

On the flowery mountain,

O Lord, good Lord,

Nica feeds his flock.

He feeds them,

He drives them,

He touches the foremost,

He gathers the hindmost,

And leads them into the pasture.

But where has he fixed the pasture?

On the top of the mountains,

Under the yellow plane tree.

A summer breeze is blowing,

Shaking the leaves,

And scattering them over the plain.

The sheep grew excited,

And they made a great noise.

They bleated, and the bleating reached the heaven and the earth.

The Holy God heard them,

And he came down to them,

And thus he spake with his mouth:

“Halloo, brave Nica, whose are these sheep,

Which bleat so beautifully,

So beautifully and devoutly?”

Nica the brave replied:

“O dear merciful God,

As thou hast come and askest me,

I will answer truly

To whom these sheep belong:

They are thine,

As well as mine.

I feed them;

Thou guardest them.

I milk them;

Thou multipliest them.

I shear them;

Thou makest them grow.”

The good God replied

And said to Nica the brave:

“May they be given to thee

From me as a gift—

From a good father

To a clever son—

For thou art sweet of tongue.

But thou shalt give me,

On St. John’s day,

Two lambs;

On St. George’s day

One suckling lamb;

And on Ascension day

A cake of cheese.”

Nica the brave

May live in health,

He and his brothers

And his parents.

May God keep you all.

This refers no doubt to the creation of the sheep by God—as mentioned before—and the manner in which the sheep were expected to help Adam after the fall. (v. Wolf Story No. 7.) [95]




A Christmas Carol.

Slowly, slowly, O Lord,

The little river Olt

Has grown big,

So big

That the borders cannot be seen.

But what is coming

Down the Olt?

Tall pines

And dry fir trees.

Among the pines,

Among the fir trees,

A three-year-old stag

Is swimming.

The stag swims,

And lifts up its horns.

On the top of his horns

A cradle is hanging and swinging,

A green cradle made of silk,

Woven in six strands.

But who sits in the cradle?

The maiden, the young girl,

With her tresses hanging down the back,


Like the holy sun.

She sits and sews,

And embroiders

A collar for her father,

A kerchief for her brother.

But she stops and does not sew,

Nor does her mouth keep quiet,

For she is singing:

“Slowly, slowly,

Old stag,

Slowly, slowly be thou swimming.

Do not hinder my work.

And the waves are rising;

They might wash me off and carry me off thy horns.

Slowly, slowly,

Dear old stag,

For I have three brothers at court,

Where they learn many things.

All the three are noted hunters,

And good falconers.

They will discover thee,

And run after me.

With their falcons they will pursue thee.

With their dogs they will worry thee.

With their lances they will prick thee.

Slowly, slowly,

Dear old stag—

For if my brothers find thee,

They will make my wedding feast

With thy poor flesh.

With thy bones

They will build

My little house.

With thy skin

They will cover [96]

My little home.

With thy blood

They will paint

My little courts.

And with thy head

They will celebrate

The holy feast.

They will place it

Over the gate,

At the entrance of the little garden.

Of thy hoofs

They will make

Crystal cups,

Out of which

Nobles drink.

On rare occasions—

On Christmas day and Epiphany—

When the whole world rejoices,

I drink to the health of these houses

For many years.

The mythical stag carrying on his horns a girl who is like the sun is similar to the bull of Mithras and to the bull in the Avesta, out of which the world was created. The stag provides here all the elements for the building of a house and for the merriment of the nobles. Each part of its body is accounted for. [97]




The Fight of St. George and the Devil.

In Rumania, the dragon-fly is known as the devil’s horse or perhaps the dragon’s horse. It is also known as St. George’s horse. The following legends explain this peculiar name.

We are told that in olden times there was continual strife between God and the devil. God, however, who is peacefully inclined, let the devil play his game as long as possible. He thought that perhaps after some time the devil might become better behaved. But what can you expect of the devil? He is what he is, and neither good nor bad treatment will change him. And so it proved even to God. He waited a very long time to see him quiet down and become more satisfied. But no sooner had God granted him one thing, than the devil asked for another, and so he went on asking continually. When at last God saw that nothing could be done with Satan, he armed his host of angels and gave each one a beautiful horse to ride on. One morning, at early dawn, they all mounted their horses and, led by St. George, who was riding at the head of the host, they started the fight with the devil.

After a time St. George—who rode a horse, which was like unto none of the others, wondrously beautiful—felt suddenly that his horse was backing instead of going ahead. So St. George found himself involved among his own host, and some other horses following his example, started moving backwards and hitting those who were riding behind them. He then [98]suddenly heard the voice of God telling him to dismount, for his horse had been bewitched by the devil. “If that is the case,” said St. George, “then be it the devil’s own,” and he let it go. And so it happened. Scarcely had it made three steps when it was changed into a flying insect, which we, upon this earth, call the devil’s horse (libellula depressa).

A similar legend must have been current in West Europe and in England, as otherwise the English name of Dragon-fly could not be explained. At the root of it there must be some legend of St. George and the Dragon, in addition to the fight between the hosts of heaven and the army of Satan. This part must have entirely dropped out, and the knowledge and recollection of the part which St. George played was connected either with the worm, i.e. dragon probably transformed into an insect, or the horse of St. George, believed to have been a winged horse. To us here, however, the first part of the legend is of the utmost interest, for it is nothing less than the Biblical legend of the rebellion of Satan which led to the combat and to the fall. Satan had lost Paradise, and ever since then he had been yearning for the light of Paradise, either by attempting to steal the heavenly fire, as in the Goat stories, or by stealing the sun and moon as in some of the Christmas carols. Thereby he entered into a contest with the heavenly power. Though these variants do not contain much of the legendary fauna, they form an important part in the mythological conception which lies at the root of many of these creation-tales and legends. [99]




A Christmas Carol.

In the glory of the heavens,

On the outskirts of Paradise,

Close to the throne of God—

The throne of Judgment—

Where the whole world gathers,

Tables are decked,

And the saints sit round the table.

John St. John,

Ilie St. Ilie,

Peter St. Peter,

With all the other saints,

Are feasting joyously.

The Lord came then to the table,

Sat down at the table,

Blessed the bread,

And began

To eat.

They were eating,

Or not eating,

For on a sudden

They lifted their eyes,

And whom should they see from afar?

The archangel Gabriel

And the angel Michael,

Who were coming, always coming,

Drawing nearer and nearer, and then they reached the table.

They bent their knees before the Lord,

Bent their knees and prayed.

And said the following:

“Dost thou know, O Lord, or dost thou not know,

What has happened in Paradise?

What we have seen and what has been done?

No sooner had St. Peter gone,

And Ilie followed suit,

And St. John had left us,

When the heathen gods, realising it,

Stormed Paradise,

Entered inside,

Robbed it and

Have taken away the crown of Paradise.

They have taken the moon,

With its light.

They have taken the twilight,

With its glimmer.

They have taken the stars,

With their flowers.

They have taken the sun,

With its treasures.

The heathen gods have further taken away

The throne of judgment,

Before which the whole world must appear.

They have carried it all away into hell. [100]

Paradise is darkened,

Whilst hell is lit up.

We have fought as much as we could fight,

But they overpowered us.

They refuse to give up the spoil.

We have now come to tell you,

To bring our prayer as a sacrifice,

That you may render us help,

And come back with us to Paradise.”

When the Lord heard it,

He made a sign to the saints,

And turned his eyes upon the angels,

And went with them

To bear them company.

First St. Ilie,

Who is the most powerful saint;

And second to him St. Peter,

To smite the heathen gods with drought.

They followed him.

They started,

John baptising,

St. Ilie striking with his lightning flashes,

St. Peter drenching with rains and downpours.

When they arrived at hell

St. Ilie struck with his lightning;

St. Peter cursed them;

St. John baptised them.

The idols were seized with trembling.

They fell on their knees,

And submitted to St. John.

The archangel Gabriel,

Together with the angel Michael,

Entered hell,

Took everything

In their arms,

And brought them back to Paradise.

Holy moon with its light,

The twilight

With its rays,

The stars

With their flowers,

The sun

With its treasures,

The throne of judgment,

Before which all men must appear,

They brought them back to Paradise,

And Paradise again shone brightly.

Hell was darkened.

They turned to the Lord,

And prayed:

“May, O Lord, thy will

And thy kingdom last forever.

To your health for many years to come.”

This carol is full of apocryphal reminiscences and mythical elements. The contest between Satan and God, and between the evil and good powers is here described under the form of Satan, stealing the sun from heaven and plunging the world into darkness, but the angels, with the prophet Ilie (Elijah) at their head, are able to defeat the machinations of Satan, and to restore the sun to Paradise. Cf. among others the English [101]poem, “The Harrowing of Hell,” and the literature connected with the Gospel of Nicodemus. Wesselofsky has studied the transformation of the prophet Elijah into the Ilie of the popular faith, who rides the heavens with a thunderbolt in his hands, and smites the devil wherever he finds him. It is a combination of the prophet Elijah with a modified form of the Greek Helias. The archangels Gabriel and Michael are here in their proper place, whilst in the story of the dragon-fly they have been supplanted by St. George. We shall find the same saint disguised as a knight and almost forgotten as a saint in the legend of the Fly of Kolumbatsh, No. 21. [102]




The Story of God, the Sun and the Bulls.

In those days when God used to walk through fields and lanes carrying his knapsack on his back and feeding his herds and flocks, his oxen and cows, his sheep and goats, it is told that, once upon a time, feeling very tired, he went to sleep with his head upon a hillock of earth. He slept for a long while, and woke up very late. Before lying down, he told the older and stronger oxen to take care to behave themselves well, and also to look after the younger ones, so that there should not be any fight or trouble among them. But no sooner had he closed his eyes, when such a shouting and bellowing was started that one might think that the hills were falling and the earth was breaking up. The Lord sprang upon his feet as if he had been touched by fire, for the holy sun had come to him, and waking him up had said:—“O Lord, these creatures of yours have bellowed all night long so loud and so vigorously that you might have thought that they intended driving me away from the face of the earth. Look and see what they have done to me. They have fought against me so long that they have well-nigh torn my clothes into shreds and tatters, and with great difficulty I saved myself behind that flower-bed.”

“What beetles are you speaking of?” asked the Lord.

“I mean your oxen which have behaved so badly. They are not worthy to be anything else but horned beetles.”

“Let it be so! But I must first look into the matter, and if I find them guilty, I will punish them just as you wish.”

And as the Lord had said, so he did. For, finding them guilty, he drove them away into the forest. There they [103]climbed up the oak-trees, and suddenly they all became horned beetles, bull-flies, with larger and smaller horns, viz. the cows became cow-flies with smaller horns and the oxen bull-flies with larger horns, through God’s punishment. That is why they are called the Lord’s bulls and cows (Lucanus cervus).

According to another legend, the bull-flies were originally the angels who refused to help St. Elias in fastening the felloes to his fiery chariot. Therefore their mouths have been closed as with a vice, for ever, so that they be no longer able to speak, and that is why they are also called wheelwrights.

The horns of these bull-flies are used by women, who tie them into their hair against the evil eye. The sharp points of these horns have the same magical properties as the sharp points of the coral, or of the horns, fingers, etc., which figure so largely in the magical charms and amulets against the workings of the evil eye. [104]




The Story of Ileana, Voinic and the Archangel Gabriel.

The following legend is told of this little beetle.

I do not know how long ago it was that Ileana Cosinziana (Ileana the fay) walked about with her young, beautiful, and brave hero (Voinic inflorit), and, singing with a loud voice, they filled mountain and valleys with their music. It must have been long ago, for at that time the archangel Gabriel also walked the earth in the form of a very old man, leaning on iron crutches. He went about warning the people that God would send upon them a new flood of foreign tongues and wild nations, if they would not stop their quarrels and put an end to their curses. After having travelled through many countries and empires, St. Gabriel found himself one day at the top of a cliff, so high that it made your head turn when you looked down. There he met Ileana Cosinziana, who was weeping and singing a doleful tune. With her was Voinic inflorit, whom she had met in the land of the fairies, just as God makes men meet in their journeys. “How far art thou going?” asked Voinic, seeing the old man. “Much farther than thou wilt go,” replied the archangel Gabriel. The young man looked up, feeling wroth with the answer. And quite naturally so, when he heard a very old man boasting that he was going much farther than he. Was he not a young sturdy man, and more likely to walk ever so much further than a bent-down old fellow grey of hair? “O old man, you must take me for a weakling, when you say that I cannot walk as far as you do.” [105]

“Young man, your sweet, strong voice will not be heard any more a year hence.”

“And why?”

“Because such is the will of God.”

“Yes, that might be so if you were the brother of Christ,” replied the young man, sneering.

“I may not be the brother of Christ, but that of St. Peter I may well be. If you do not believe me, let us enter a wager that a year hence we will meet here again. But you will be weak and broken, much more so than you think me to be now.”

“Well, be it so, but woe betide thee if I win the wager.”

“So it shall be.”

And wishing one another good-bye, each went his own way, bent on winning the wager.

“Who was that daring old man?” asked the Ileana; “it seems to me that he is not so old as his grey hair betokens. He is a valiant man. God knows who he may be, but one thing is certain, he is not an old man.”

“How did you know it?”

“Well, when he put out his hand, he gripped mine with so much strength that he very nigh burnt my soul out of me with the fire of his hand.”

When the young Voinic heard it, he got so angry that he was more like a wild beast than a human being, and being overpowered by his fury, got hold of her by the hair of her head and hurled her down the cliff so that she broke into a thousand pieces. He then began to run away so fast that the earth seemed to fly away under his feet. And thus he continued running through many lands and many countries, until the year had come round when he was to meet the old man again. On the last day of the year, Voinic remembered the wager, and looking into the water at the bottom of a well, he saw himself much weaker and older than the old man had looked a year ago. In his anger he threw himself into the well. But, in accordance with the will of God, the water would not keep him, and cast him out. [106]He had got very old indeed, for the thoughts and worries had cut deep furrows into his face; his hair from black, turned white as the snow. This was because in his fury and in an unlucky hour he had killed his beloved Ileana by throwing her down the cliff.

The archangel Gabriel, who knew all that had happened, changed into a young man beautiful as the sun, valiant as a king and brave as a lion. He was mounted on a charger black as the night and swift as the wind. Thus arrayed, he came to the cliff where they had arranged to meet. Voinic noticed that against his will he had also come to that spot. How great then was his fright when, instead of a decrepit old man, he found there so valiant a knight.

“Good morning, Voinic.”

“All hail! I am no longer a hero full of sap; I am now an old weak man.”

“He, he, seest thou now that what I had told thee has come to pass? I have grown young and thou hast grown old. So it is, for who can alter the will of God? He can do what he likes, and man must submit to his decrees. So it is, indeed, but how now about our wager? Where is that beautiful maiden of thine, in whom thou didst believe more than in God?”

“She died soon after we met.”

“True, she is dead, for thou, O wretch, hast killed her.”

“I assuredly did not; she died by the will of God.”

“Oh no, thou hast thrown her down the cliff. I know it well, for I have seen the rut on the cliff she fell down.”

“That is not true, for I have buried her with the assistance of the priest of the next village. If thou dost not believe, come with me, and I will show thee the grave.”

“This is an infamous lie. Thou hast murdered her. Thou come and I will show thee her real grave and her blood.”

And, getting hold of him, he took him down and showed him a place which seemed covered with red blood. But it was no blood. It was a vast number of small red beetles. [107]“Out of the blood of Ileana, seest thou, have come these little flies.”

When Voinic heard this, he was seized with such a great fright that he became changed from the old bent man that he was into a small black insect, which unto this very day cries for his lost beloved Ileana. The people call it the little cricket, or rather the bull or cow of the Lord (Lygaeus equestris). The little red beetles which come out of the blood of Ileana they also call Easter beetle, for it was on Easter Day that she was thrown down the cliff. [108]




The Story of St. Mary and the Miserly Farmer.

Another legend of a totally different character is also told of this little beetle.

When the Holy Mother gave birth to Jesus, she had not enough milk in her breasts to suckle the child. Next to her on the right lived a very rich farmer who had a large number of cows. So the mother Mary sent to him, and asked him to give her a little milk, as much as was necessary to feed her little baby. But rich farmers are, as a rule, very stingy. So he replied, “I am not going to give my good milk to a witch to bewitch my cows and take away their gift.”

The Holy Mother, on hearing his words, got very angry, especially when she heard that he had called her a witch. But she kept her counsel, and went to the neighbour on the left, who had only one cow. He was a kind-hearted man, and gave her at once a bowl full of milk. When she left, she blessed him and said: “On the morrow thou shalt not know what to do with the milk,” i.e. he would have so much milk that he would not know how to handle it. And so it happened. When, on the next morning, he entered the stables he found them full of beautiful fat kine, from which the milk was running, so rich were they.

But the stingy neighbour the Holy Mother cursed, and said: “On the morrow thy stable shall be empty, and in lieu of cows, beetles shall be there.” And so also it happened. When he entered the stables the next morning, he found them empty, and instead of the cows, which were no longer [109]there, the stables were full of little red flies with black spots on their backs, crawling up the walls and filling the manger. And that is why they are called the cows and oxen of the Lord.

To obtain abundance of milk peasant women in the Bukovina go on a Tuesday evening to a place where there are a number of these insects. The next morning, before sunrise, they go there again and, taking a number of them, bring them home, chop them up with their choppers and, mixing them with the food, give them to the cows to eat. The cows will then yield much milk. [110]




The Story of the Wicked Maiden and the Archangel Michael.

In olden times, when the men were not yet so wicked and bad, there was no hell, for the good God saw that it would remain empty, as there would be no one to go there. The people were happy and grateful, and satisfied with whatever God gave them. It did not enter their minds to complain of God’s wisdom and love. After a time the people multiplied so much that they could no longer have enough of anything. So they began to quarrel with one another. Those who had nothing, without knowing that they were doing anything wrong, began to demand whatever they wanted from the wealthy ones. They did not know that it was forbidden to take another man’s property. For up till then no one knew what sin was. The Allmerciful God, who sees and knows everything, noting that strife and quarrels increased more and more among men, sent his trusty servant, the archangel Michael, to awaken mankind to the sense of sin, and to train them to good deeds. The archangel went among the people, enlightened their minds, and told them all about sin and wrong-doing, and what they had to do in order to avoid sin. That was just the knowledge that the people were lacking; but no sooner did they know what evil was, than, curiously enough, they took to wrong-doing. Jealousy, greed, strife, and murder were born among them. When God saw the obstinacy and perverseness of mankind, he let them go their own way to do whatever they liked, even if they acted against his wishes. In order to punish them, however, he decided not [111]to allow them to get into Paradise. At the edge of the garden he made a deep well; so deep that it was very dark, almost black. He then took a fiery morning star, and cast him into the depth of the well, thus filling it with burning coals. And then he turned every wicked man into that fire so that he might repent. He called that place Hell: and so it has remained to this day. In order that men should know that God knows how to reward them, he at times left the gate of Paradise open, so that everyone, if he liked, could enter into it and see how beautiful it was. He also opened the gates of Hell, so that they might also see the tortures and hear the cries of the wicked.

Many people went and looked, and when they looked into Paradise, their hearts swelled with joy; but when they went and looked into Hell, their hearts got as small as a flea on account of the great fright they got, when they saw how severely God punished the sinner. They all repented of their evil ways, all of them, great and small, except one single person, who on no account would repent. This one was a girl as beautiful as an angel, and clever beyond comparison. She was strong, with a fine body, round and sleek as no other, and she had a head so beautiful that you might believe it was a picture. Her long black hair, soft like silk, shone like the feathers of a raven. Her eyes were black and sparkling—she could almost burn you up with her look—her mouth had lips as red as the berries of the field—her cheeks were white and smooth as snow lit up with two blood-red roses. I do not know—by God I do not—where there is anyone who would not have fallen in love with her. God sent the archangel Michael to take her out of this world and put her in Hell, there to repent of her sins of obstinacy and perversity. He went, but when he looked at her, he could not utter a single word. He felt as though he had a knot in his throat when he was to tell her that she must prepare for the journey. For he knew how terrible it is in Hell. So he returned to Heaven without taking the girl with him to throw her into the abysmal depths. When God saw him so sad, he asked him what was the cause of it. [112]

“O Lord,” said the archangel, “I have fulfilled all thy commands except one, which I could not fulfil; I had pity on the beauty of that girl. She is so beautiful that you cannot help feeling full of pity, and to feel a sweet shiver passing through you when you behold her. If it be possible, O Lord, let her live on for a while, perchance she will repent.”

“O my son Michael, thou dost not know that thy pity will cause me much trouble and worry. Just look down and see. Since thou hast left her, she has increased the number of the wicked and sinful. For whoever looks at her is seized with lust. Everyone thinks only of her eyes and her face. When I sent thee, she was the only one left who was wicked, for she alone was possessed of pride, obstinacy and perverseness. Now the number has grown.”

“O, Lord, if it be only possible, do not uproot that example of womankind, for she is beautiful, and it is not likely that another like her will ever be born.”

“Very well, then, I will let her live on, perchance she will repent and get better; but if she does not grow better at the end of one year, I will send thee again, and then thou wilt throw her down into the depths of Hell.”

“Well, let thy will be done.”

And with these words they separated, God going to mend the hinges of the world, and the archangel to teach and to enlighten the mortals. So, going through many countries, walking on foot or riding in a car, when a year had past he came at last again to the house of the beautiful maiden. There was a vast multitude assembled before her house. He pushed his way among the people to see at what they were looking. The beautiful maiden was enticing the people to follow only pleasure and pride.

“It is not good,” so she spoke, “to believe only in what God and his counsellors tell us. We must do what we think best, for no evil will happen to us.”

When the archangel Michael heard these words, he grew very furious, and, with a mighty effort, he got near her, so as to seize her and hurl her into the fire of Hell. [113]

“Do not carry her to Hell,” said the voice of God; “for she might start fresh mischief and wickedness there also, and engender strife: she had better be changed into some insignificant insect.”

When the archangel heard the command, he got hold of her by the hair of her head, and he whirled her round so many times that she became as small as a speck; and then, throwing her away, she turned into a small red insect with black points on her wings, which was called Bubureaza (Coccinella septempundata). To this very day, when you put her on your finger, she will show you the way you are to go, but it is better for men to do the reverse and go in the opposite direction; for she leads one only to evil. [114]




The Story of God, St. Peter and the Lazy Shepherd.

In olden times God and St. Peter used to walk about in the world, to see what was happening, and how the world was going on. And after they had seen what happened in one province, they used to go to another.

Once upon a time, after leaving a certain village, they got into a deep and dark forest. Walking along for a while, they lost their way, and did not know how to get out of it. Tired and hungry, they walked on, lost in that thick and gloomy wood, when suddenly before them they saw a field, in which grass and flowers were growing and herds of cattle were feeding. The cowherd lay fast asleep under the shadow of a tree. He could take it easily, for the cattle were not suffering from flies, and were wandering quietly about the field. God and St. Peter rejoiced greatly when they saw a man lying there. They went up to him and woke him, and asked him to tell them the way which would take them out of the forest. The cowherd, being asked by God which was the quickest road, did not even lift up his head to give a polite answer. But lying outstretched on the grass, he merely moved his right leg and, half asleep and lazy as he was, and pointing in one direction, said, “If you wish to get out to the world of men, just go that way and you will get there.” Then, turning over on the other side, he again fell asleep.

God and St. Peter, resenting the rudeness of the cowherd, said, “Are these, then, thy manners? Very well, thou wilt no longer be lazy from this day onwards. Thy cattle will no longer feed quietly; the gad-fly, which I am sending, will [115]sting them, and they will run like mad whither their feet and their eyes will carry them.” And so it happened. The gad-fly came and the cows and oxen suddenly started running like mad in all directions, and so it has remained to this very day.

The cowherd, when he saw the cattle running like mad things with their tails in the air, jumped up like one stung to madness, and started running after them to bring them back. But in vain, for the cattle, which had run away as quickly as you strike a spark from the flint, entered into a swamp.

After they had thus punished the cowherd, God and St. Peter went on walking without knowing whither they were going. So again, after a long walk in that same forest, they came to another meadow, where a shepherd tended his flock of sheep. But the sheep were running all the time so fast that you could not see their legs. Hither and thither they went, and the shepherd after them, out of breath, and the sweat running down his face, hoping that he might get them together. But the sheep were as if they had been bewitched, so fast did they run. And whilst the shepherd could scarcely keep on his legs, and the sweat was standing on his forehead like beads, God and St. Peter approached him and asked him which was the way they were to go to come back to this world. Although he was dead tired and hot, the shepherd none the less stopped still and, wiping his face with the sleeve of his shirt, said:

“Please, take that way, for if you follow that road, you will soon get to the end of the forest.”

They took the way he showed them, and soon they found themselves in this world. And God said to his companion:

“From this day onward, the flock of this shepherd, who has given us good advice, so courteously, shall no longer suffer from the gad-fly (and the running madness), and they shall only run at times of rain and wind. They will henceforth feed quietly, and the shepherd also will be able to sit down and play his pipe.” And from that day on the sheep feed quietly, and the shepherd can tend them in peace and comfort, for the sheep do not suffer from the gad-fly (Hypoderma bovis), whilst [116]the cowherds must weary their legs, as otherwise their cattle would disappear.

There is a Macedonian variation:

Once upon a time God changed into a very old man. Walking one day in a terrific heat, he met a cowherd and asked him for a drop of water, for he said he would die of thirst. “Die,” replied the cowboy, and would neither give him a drop of water nor tell him where to find it.

God found afterwards a shepherd hotly pursuing his sheep, and the perspiration running down him. “Give me a drop of water, for I die,” said God.

“I give you willingly, but my sheep have run away and I do not know how to gather them”; and going to a fountain at the foot of a hill he took some in his fur cap and gave him to drink. God gathered the sheep, and blessed them to be God’s flock, who should never henceforth separate on the road or be scattered. Remembering the cowherd, he cursed him and said: “The gad-fly is always to scatter his herd just when the heat is greatest, so that he may run like mad.”

Therefore the sheep always walk together in flocks, and gather together in hot summer weather in the shade. And for that reason the oxen are driven mad by the fly in the hot season, and they run like mad as if they were ridden by devils. The cowherd has to run after them, and there are but few fountains in Thessaly from which to slacken his thirst. [117]




The Ballad of the Knight and the Dragon.

Numerous ballads recount the same story of the origin of the Poison-fly of Kolumbatsh, with slight variations, of which the most complete is the following:

High up in the green forest

What does appear?

High up in the forest of Cerna,

At the ford of Rushava,

Have gone forth, verily gone forth,

From some village nigh,

Very early in the morning,

Through dew and mist,

Three sisters,

Beautiful maidens.

The elder sister,

Dressed sweetly,

Fair like a pink flower,

Surpassing a fairy,

When you espy her breast,

White like a lily.

The younger sister,

Darling Maria,

Full of pride

In her eyebrows,

In her eyes and lashes,

And when you look into her eyes,

You are like one smitten by the evil eye.

The youngest sister,

Like unto a dove,

Ana Ghirosana,

Like the fairy Sanziana,

Surpassed them all.

She is like the evening star,

And the star of morn,

The flower of flowers.

They played and frolicked,

And gathered flowers.

They made wreaths,

And while they twisted them they sang.

Through the forest the singing was heard.

Thus they went on,

Until, overcome,

The youngest lay down,

And went to sleep.

The elder two,

The sisters twain,

When night arrived,

To their home they turned.

They left the youngest behind,

Who was fast asleep,

Until the dawn appeared,

When she called for them.

But none heard her,

Except the little cuckoo,

Beautiful and brave, [118]

Who flitted among the trees,

And sang with a loud voice.

“Dear Cuckoo mine,

Listen to me, you brave one!

Lead me out into the open,

To the road of carriages,

That I find my sisters,

For I will be unto thee a cousin!”

“My sweet one!

I do not know

Whether I will lead thee into the open or not,

For I have many cousins,

As many as there are flowers on the mountain!”

“Cuckoo, cuckoo, listen, O brave one!

Lead me into the open,

To the road of cars.

I will be a sister unto thee.”

The cuckoo replied:

“No, my child, no,

For I have sisters as many

As flowers that bloom in spring.”

“Cuckoo, cuckoo, listen, O brave one!

Lead me into the open,

That I may find my sisters,

For I will be a wife unto thee

As long as I live.”

“O no, for I am not a young man

Able to wed.

I am only a little bird,

And I know not of a beloved one.”

Then suddenly appeared from a rock

The most horrible fright,

Gruesome and cruel—

Twisting and crawling across the path—

A terrible dragon.

Running after her,

He coiled himself round her,

Twisted his tail

Round her waist; he encircled her.

She was seized with terror,

And shrieked aloud.

The forest resounded.

High up the Cerna,

Very high up the river,

Many a brave has passed,

And all were laid low.

A valiant Ruman,

Ioan Iorgovan,

Whose arms were like clubs,

Was riding upon a horse,

Swift as the eagle,

Followed by two little dogs,

Keen and quick.

He was riding gaily,

Walking up the Cerna

Quite quickly,

His horse prancing,

Encouraging his dogs,

And waving his lance.

He suddenly heard a noise,

But he did not understand,

However much he strained,

Whether it was the voice of a man

Or that of a woman.

For the waves of the Cerna raged,

Sounding loud through the forest.

So he turned himself back,

And said to the Cerna:

“O my clean Cerna,

Stop, I pray thee, stop,

For I will throw

Into thy bed,

And I will give thee a silver lamprey,

And a golden distaff,

With dragon’s eyes,

Which will spin and turn by itself.” [119]

The Cerna heard him,

And at once stood still.

Then Ioan Iorgovan,

With arms like clubs,

At once heard

And knew the voice,

That it was not that of a man,

But that of a woman.

Then he got angry,

Spurred on his horse,

And, striking it hard,

He roared like a lion,

Splitting the air.

The dragon got sight of him,

And, seized with fear, it ran away.

But he followed it,

And jumped across the Cerna,

And approached it.

The dragon waited for him,

And asked him:

“Ioan Iorgovan,

With arms like clubs.

With what kind of a good message

Dost thou come this day to me?

Or hast thou the thought

To destroy me?

I pray thee, grant me peace,

And turn back to thy home.

I swear on my head

That, dead, I shall be worse.

For, if thou killest me,

My head will rot.

Worms will breed;

Flies will swarm,

Who will bite thy horse.

It will burst of the poison,

The oxen will run mad,

The plough will come to a standstill!”

“Accursed snake!

Thou still bandiest words.

I will teach the country,

And the people will hearken to me.

They will raise the smoke,

And thy flies they will choke.

My horse will not die,

But thou shalt perish,

For I have heard

That thou hast killed

A beautiful maid

With thy robber’s jaw.”

“Ioan Iorgovan,

When I heard thy approach,

Thy horse’s trot,

Roaring like a dragon,

I at once left the maid

Safe and unhurt.

I pray thee,

Leave me alone,

And turn back to thy home.

I swear on my head,

Worse shall I be dead.”

Ioan Iorgovan,

With arms like clubs,

Brandished his sword,

Hit the snake,

And cut it up in pieces.

The maid looked on

Until he had finished it,

Then she showed herself,

And thus she spake:

“Ioan Iorgovan,

With arms like clubs,

Lead me out in the open,

To the carriage road,

That I may meet my sisters,

For I shall be unto thee a wife

As long as I be alive.”

When he beheld her,

Wonder seized him

Of her beauty and of her youth.

“Ho, my beautiful flower,

Who art like a young fairy,

Be then to me a wife

As long as you be alive.”

He then embraced her [120]

And kissed her.

He then looked on—

May it burst—

There was the dragon’s head

Running away,

Painting the Cerna red with his blood.

And it ran across the Danube,

Until it hid itself in the dark cave.

There it rotted.

The worms bred

And flies swarmed.

And so it is to this very day;

When the fly comes out

It bites the horses,

It poisons the oxen,

And stops the plough.

Thus far this, the most complete version.

There are a number of other variants, but the central idea is the same, that the poison-fly (Musca Columbaca) comes from the head of the dragon, slain by the knight Ioan Iorgovan.

The people show the imprint of the hoofs and the traces of Iorgovan’s dogs on the high cliff overhanging the banks of the Danube.

This legend, localised in Rumania on the borders of Servia, is of special interest for hagiography. It is nothing else but a variant of the legend of St. George and the Dragon. It has assumed a peculiar form, differing greatly from the other versions of that fight, which is known all over the East and West, and lives in many forms and versions. In the Rumanian hagiography there are at least two or three versions of the legend as found in the Vitae Sanctorum and the Synaxarium of the Greek and Slavonic Church. Thus it is found in one of the oldest Rumanian prints, the Homiliary of 1646, the very first book printed at Jasi, in Moldavia, in the Rumanian language. It occurs also in part in the Lives of the Saints by the Archbishop Dositheus, who used MS. collections for his book, printed also in Jasi, in 1682. An elaborate version is to be found in the great collection of the Lives of the Saints in twelve volumes, by Bishop Benjamin of Moldavia, and then reprinted in Bucharest in 1836. All these collections are full of apocryphal matter, and the Life of St. George makes no exception. There is one point more to which attention must be drawn in this connection, viz. the influence of the Genoese and Venetian traders who had established emporia along the [121]Danube and the Black Sea, among them one which to this very day has retained the name of St. George. Along the Danube, on the left bank, on what is now Rumania, stands that place, called Giurgiu in honour of the patron saint of the Genoese who found it. Thus, from many quarters, one or the other version became known to the folk, and was localised at that point where the Carpathian mountains seem to dip into the Danube, to emerge again on the other side and continue rising and forming the chain of the Balkans. From a philological point of view the name Iorgu Iorgovan denotes Servian influences. [122]




The Story of God and the False Teachers.

Before God came upon the earth there were a number of men who were very clever, and who followed the rule of the devil. They claimed that they could change themselves into dogs and cats, for the devil, who took much pleasure in his clever people, helped them. Those who saw them, believed them to be gods, and worshipped them and brought them gifts. The devil almost jumped out of his skin with delight, for he hoped that all the nations would do likewise, and soon God would be forgotten. But God was watching the doings of the devil quietly from above, until at last, seeing to what lengths he was going, he said:

“By God! it is no good sitting here with my hands in my lap. I must go down and put matters straight.”

So God took on the form of man, and went down among the people, going from country to country and from village to village. At last, one day, he made it known through all the land that all the clever men should come together at a certain place to perform their arts, and whoever would win in that competition, he would give him a sackful of gold.

On the appointed day, all the clever men came together in a big hall which God had prepared. It was surrounded by numerous apple-trees on all sides. The clever men did what they could, each one more clever than the other. They changed themselves into cats and dogs. At last God said to them:

“You have all done very well, but I would ask you to make me an apple like those on the trees here around.” [123]

In vain did they try to make an apple, but they could not succeed. So God sent lightning among them, which so terrified them that they crawled into the apples to hide themselves there. And God turned them into caterpillars that can only live in apples. This is the origin of the worm (Carpocapsa pomonella) which infests the orchards of apples and pears. In order to protect them from this pest the Rumanians of Bukovina keep a special Day of the worms, on the Tuesday in the first week of the month of May. On it, it is strictly forbidden to work, and it is good to give away a cake and other good things in alms for the benefit (of the souls) of these men turned into flies. It is also good to bring into the orchard a red Easter egg, which has been taken to Church.

Whoever catches an orchard worm and spits on its head, he spits on the devil between the horns.

Whoever throws any of these worms into the fire throws into it the devil’s servant.

If we should call the “clever” men by the name of “Perfecti,” of which the former is an excellent translation, we might find in this legend a slightly changed report of an act of accusation raised by the Inquisition against the Albigenses and Cathars whose teachers went by the name of “Perfecti.” These men were accused of being the servants and tools of the devil, and of possessing the power of changing themselves into animals, the cat being the special animal of the devil. It was said, moreover, that they enticed the world to the worship of the devil, and that they had almost succeeded in turning whole nations away from the true worship of God, so that it required his own interposition in order to save the world from the machinations of these men. He turned them into worms, which at any rate continued to exist in apples and pears—the Inquisition has turned them into dust and ashes. And yet their memory is preserved, in spite of persecution and lives on in the memory of the people. [124]




The Story of the Arrogant King and the Monks.

It is related that when the Emperor Por married his daughter he made a great banquet, as big as had never been done before, for he called all the kings and governors, and so many guests came together that one might have thought that they would eat up even Por’s ears.

But Por the emperor knew what he had to do, and he prepared food for all. He opened casks of wine, which had been kept closed for a thousand years, and he spread tables in a field as large as a country, and he brought musicians who were so skilled that one would have liked to listen to them for ever.

Everything had he prepared, only one thing had he forgotten. He did not call the priests and the nuns. The priests he left out just because he wanted to insult them, and he did not think of having the marriage service performed in a Church.

“What do I want them for?” he said, “all this can be done without their blessing, and to have popas (priests) always about you in your house, by God, is not quite a lucky thing, for it is well known if you meet a popa in your way you are sure to have no luck, for you have met the devil.”

The priests, seeing that Por had mocked at them, and the mothers of the Church (the nuns) got very angry. They began ringing the bells and praying, and they fasted three days on end, hoping that God would hearken to their prayer and would punish the Emperor Por in such signal manner as God alone in his wisdom could do.

And God, as it seems, hearkened to their prayer, for while the tables were laden with meat and drink, and all the guests [125]had sat themselves down to eat and drink, suddenly the heavens grew dark, a mighty wind arose, and out of the sky came down a thick black cloud of winged things with large mouths, voracious and hungry.

They settled on the tables and devoured every bit of food that could be found, and drank every drop of wine. The guests turned sick at this horrible sight, and, falling ill, they all died there and then. From a wedding feast it became a huge burial, the fame of which spread throughout the lands. No one knew why this misfortune had befallen them, only Por understood what had happened, and before his death he said:

“Nothing can be done without the mercy and grace of God. And this has been my punishment.”

These were the locusts (Pachytylus migratorius) which God sends upon men when they forget the true God.

The rôle assigned here to the official priests, the “popa” of the orthodox religion, is in perfect harmony with that sectarian teaching which could not find words strong and opprobrious enough against the “official” Church and its ministers. The belief is still alive in Rumania that to meet a “popa,” as he is called, is an evil omen, and the people will often desist from some enterprise if a popa has met them. There are practices by which the evil consequences of such a meeting could be averted; but they belong to those of primitive society. This story seems also to have been originally a satire against these popas. They were the original locusts who descended upon the tables of the rich and mighty, but now the point has been blunted and the lesson deliberately turned round, making the locusts the means of punishment for ignoring the priests. The man who told this tale must have had a mischievous twinkle in his eye, not lost on his hearers, but evidently lost upon him who wrote it down afterwards.

The Emperor Por is none else than the Indian King Porus who plays so important a part in the legendary history of Alexander the Great. This is one of the most popular Rumanian chap-books—probably the oldest in Rumanian [126]folk-lore. There are a number of traces of this legendary history in the Rumanian popular literature. We shall meet another reference to it in the history of the cricket, No. 65, and of the cuckoo, No. 91.

This story evidently belongs to the cycle of legends in which an emperor tries to invite God and his host to dine with him, boasting that he would be able to feed them. He decks tables along the sea shore and waits for God to come to the banquet. But a wind rises and blows everything into the sea. A sage explains to the emperor that thus far only one of the servants of God—the wind—has partaken of his banquet. (v. Gaster, Exempla of the Rabbis, No. 12.) [127]




The Story of Jesus and the Unkind Reaper.

Another large kind of locust or grasshopper is also known by the name of “little horse” or “mower.” For the explanation of the last name the following legend is told:

Once upon a time when Jesus and St. Joseph hid themselves for fear of the heathen in some very high grass which reached to their waist, it is told that a giant came there to cut the grass, and he carried a huge scythe, and with each stroke he cut down a large swath. Christ and St. Joseph, seeing the work of that man and fearing lest they should be discovered by the heathen if all the grass were cut down, asked him not to cut any more. But when he heard that Christ begged him to stop, he just went on with his work more furiously, full of spite, for was not he also a heathen who wanted to catch him? When Christ saw this he prayed to God to put as many obstacles in the giant’s way as possible, for it was still some time before the sun would set, and he would otherwise quickly finish the cutting of the whole field. God heard him, and he sent a heat so fierce that it dried up even the tongue in the man’s mouth. The mower, however, did not care. He only cast off all his clothes and went on with his work in his shirt. When God saw that the giant would not stop he changed the weather and made it so bad that you would not have allowed a dog to leave the house. But the mower went on with his work undisturbed. The only thing which he did was to pick up the clothes which he had cast off and to [128]put them on again, and he made swaths as wide as the high road.

When Christ saw the progress which he made he trembled like a reed. He feared lest the heathen would catch him. Angrily, he knelt down, and cursing the giant, he said: “Cursed shalt thou be, thou disobedient and callous mower, all thy life henceforth thou shalt be always only mowing and never gain any benefit from it. As long as the world stands thou shalt always be running to and fro among the reapers, who will cut thy legs as a punishment for not having listened to me.” No sooner was this curse uttered, when the giant was turned into a small green insect with long legs, which to this very day is seen hopping between the blades of grass on meadows and fields, running in front of the scythes of cutters of grass. This insect is called the mower (Locusta viridissima). [129]




St. Mary and the Wicked Innkeeper.

There is another legend of the origin of the grasshopper.

When Christ was born in the stable, the animals which were there were starved to death by the owner. There was no one who would as much as put a handful of hay into the manger. The Holy Mother, full of pity for the poor animals, asked the master of the house to give them at least a forkful of hay. The master, however, shrugging his shoulders said that all that he had, was gone and he could not give her even as little as a handful. “If that be so, why did not you provide more hay last summer?” asked the Holy Mother.

“Why? just because I was too lazy to cut more.”

“If that be so,” replied the Holy Mother, angrily, “then thou shalt become a mower, and all thy life thou shalt not do anything else, but from early morning to late at night thou shalt cut grass and yet have no benefit therefrom.”

No sooner had she uttered these words than the master was turned into the grasshopper called the “mower,” and such has he remained to this very day. [130]




The Story of St. Peter and the Girl Messenger.

In the time of the Holy Apostles, there was great trouble among the heathen giants, as they did not know whom to elect as ruler. The heathen then came in large numbers to the Christians, asking for their vote, and came even to St. Peter, who was then the headman of the Apostles. St. Peter, realising the importance of this election, took counsel with his brothers the Apostles. They decided to call together all the Christians in an Assembly to decide which part they were to take. A good number came together. But as at that time the Christians were scattered far and wide, and lived a good way distant one from another, and also were afraid of the heathen, the greater number stayed at home.

For in such troublous times who would have liked to leave his wife and children alone at home? Moreover, at that time Christians were not permitted to meet, for when the heathen caught them speaking to one another, they poured oil upon them and burned them like torches. Still, when St. Peter had got a few counsellors together, they discussed what was best to be done. The one said one thing, the other another, as people do even to-day when talking in council, but if you think you are getting on any further, you are waiting in vain, for nothing comes out of it.

St. Peter, who was more learned than the rest, saw that no good was coming out of their deliberations, and as he was the headman, he got up from his seat and said, “If we are to give our people good and sound advice, we all know that as for battle, good and strong men are wanted, so we must also have [131]clever men. Unfortunately, however, there are no such men in our midst. We also know that if the heathen see us going from house to house, and find out our intentions, it might go very ill with us. We must therefore find out other means, so that our enemies should not even suspect our action. I, as the oldest among you, have come to the conclusion that we must get some very clever women. We might then possibly win our case. Let us make a list of all such women and instruct them carefully. We can then send them to the houses of the Christians to advise them what to do.”

“Excellent,” replied the other learned men, and they called out all the clever women from the list which they had made, and by teaching them day and night, they fitted them for their work and sent them to the houses of the Christians. Before they left, however, they were told that they were neither to turn back and look at anything, nor were they to look straight into the eyes of strangers, for their eyes were bewitched by the devil, nor should they speak to strangers, who would pour poison into their souls. After receiving these instructions, they all covered their faces and left only holes for their eyes. Then they took food for the journey, taking care to fast regularly for two days and eating only on the third. One of them, called “Nun,” going into a town where the people were dressed up more richly than in any other town, met a young man, tall as a reed, white as foam, with a crisp upturned moustache, a small well-proportioned mouth, and eyes glittering like those of a snake. He stood quite alone! The young man, cunning as the young men of our days are, no sooner set eyes on the young woman, when he began to tell her of all that is in the heavens and upon earth, and made her forget her errand and the instructions which she had received. So she unveiled her face, and began to talk in such a manner that no man would have stopped her from going on. In the end she told him even of the intentions of the Christians and of the teaching of St. Peter. As soon as he had heard all she had to tell him, the young man disappeared, for he was none else than the son of Satan. St. Peter, who knew all that had happened, for the [132]angel of God had told him, started after the young woman in order that he might stop her from revealing to others the intentions of the Christians. He found her in a meadow playing with some children.

“Thy name is nun, thy name shall remain nun (Mantissa religiosa), but thou shalt not have any longer a human shape, as thou hast thrown away the veil, and has denied thy beautiful face.”

When the nun beheld St. Peter she got frightened, and tried to pull the veil over her face, which was uncovered, but she could not do it, for God had changed her into a little green beetle which to this very day joins its front legs, and it looks as if it intended to cover its face with them.

This legend has been turned into a charm against a bad wife. Put the nun under her head at night, and say three nights consecutively the following charm:

“Faithless Nun, St. Peter had taught thee;

St. Peter has sent thee to do good to the Christians, to give them good teaching; to the ignorant thou hast given instruction.

But thy conduct was bad,

For thou hast spoken to the enemies,

And hast shown thy uncovered face;

And God has punished thee.

I now have also a wife, like unto a spark, with bad tongue and evil speech—

Evil in every way—

Bad, envious, cheating,


Always in motion, with a heart full of sin.

Thou, O faithless Nun, smitten by God,

Condemned by men,

Make my wife to become good.

From bad and faithless, make her good and faithful.

From cheating and envious, make her good and loving.

Otherwise, woe unto her.

Woe unto thy kind,

For I will set upon it and utterly destroy it.

I will fall upon it and annihilate it.

She will then repent of her evil ways. This charm is only to be used in the case when the wife is younger than the husband.

In the charm we have the “historical” or narrative element, [133]in the legend we have the symbolical in the application which is assumed to run on parallel lines—the woman must also be faithful, obedient, chaste, must not look into other people’s eyes nor talk to strangers—a grave danger for her soul. And finally the “threat” that unless the “nun” will do the bidding, she will be severely chastised, just like the demons in older conjurations, who are first cajoled and then threatened. It is thoroughly typical, and shows the depths of belief in the power of even the little insect which is, however, still seen as a “nun” in a human form well instructed and powerful, in spite of its actual “disguise.” No real line of demarcation is drawn between the human being and the meanest creature. In popular belief and imagination they all live and move on the same plane.

There is another tale told about this insect, which seems to be another attempt to explain its name Nun. [134]




The Story of the Devil’s Daughter in the Cloister.

It is said that the devil—may he go into the wild desert and remain there—had a very bad-tempered daughter. She was so bad that in the whole world there was none other like her to make a couple of them. When the devil saw that, devil though he was, he was yet no match for his daughter, he slyly got her into a convent and made a nun of her, in the hope that she might perchance repent and change for the better. But the daughter remained what she was; ill-tempered and bad. She kept making mischief without end. God, who could not tolerate a daughter of the devil in a convent, and seeing also that the daughter of the unclean was doing all kinds of mischief, changed her into an insect. The other sisters, seeing what had happened, called it Nun, and this has remained its name to our very days.

It is curious that this insect should bear the name “nun” in almost all European languages. I am not aware, however, of any legend except the Rumanian explaining the name. [135]




The Story of the Wasp, the Gipsies and the Rumanians.

In the beginning the wasp belonged to the Rumanians, and the bee to the Gipsies. When the former saw how useless, nay, dangerous, the wasps were, and how useful the bees, they cheated the Gipsies into changing with them.

Those of aforetime tell us that when God made the living creatures which move with the sun, he made the bee first. The Gipsy, impudent and greedy, as he has remained to this very day, stole the bee from the hand of God saying, “Give it to me, O Lord, that I may eat of its honey, I and my little ones. And of the wax—I will make candles to light them up for thee in the Church.” God did not say anything, but kept silent and looked angrily at the Gipsy, for he was annoyed at the Gipsy’s impudence. He made up his mind to punish him. He therefore at once made the big wasp, and, after he had made it, he gave it to the Rumanians, saying, “Take this, for the bee has been ordained for the Gipsy, and he has taken his share.” The Rumanian took the wasp, and thanked God. Sometime afterwards the Gipsy met the Rumanian, and he asked him whether his bee had brought him much honey. The Rumanian, smart as ever, replied, “My bee has filled many barrels, for this bee carries the honey in bagfuls, as it was big and strong.”

“Oh,” cried the Gipsy, “I see that he has deceived me; my bee has not filled a cup with honey, and my duckies have not even rubbed their lips with honey. Let us exchange our bees, my little Rumanian.” [136]

“But what do you give in addition?”

“What shall I give you? By God, I have nothing. I will make an axe of my iron and give it to you.”

“Well, then, let it be so. Bring here your hive and I will bring you mine.”

“I will do so,” and the Gipsy went with the Rumanian to the hut and gave him the hive. The Rumanian took it home, and when they reached the forest the Rumanian showed him a big tree, as thick as a barrel and high as the heavens, where the Rumanian had put before the wasps and where they had grown to a very large number.

“Here, you Gipsy, are my bees in this hollow tree. It is full of honey enough to satisfy your whole nation of Gipsies and some to remain over.”

“Thank you. May God bless you,” replied the Gipsy.

The Rumanian went home to look after the bees. The Gipsy gathered his whole nation together. They brought copper pans and pots and ladders, and came to the tree to eat of the honey to their fill. Arrived there, they leaned the ladder just against the hole by which the wasps went out and came in. Full of courage, as the Gipsy is by nature, he took a pot for the honey and climbed up the ladder. No sooner had he got there when a wasp thrust its sting into him. Another stung him on the nose, and another, and again another, and the Gipsy could not see out of his eyes because of the pain, and he began howling there on the top of the tree. He forgot the honey and everything, and cried, “Keep the ladder, keep the pot, keep me also, for we are falling,” and down he came with a thud. How long he lay there with broken bones I do not know, but I do know that he had had enough of wasps’ honey to last him to the end of his days. Since then the bees belong to the Rumanians, and the wasps are the Gipsies’ bees. [137]




Another legend which omits the first part of the story does not mention anything about the Gipsy stealing the bee from God, but simply tells of a Gipsy who found a hive in the forest, and taking it home, went about bragging of his wonderful hive and of the honey. A clever Rumanian, finding a wasp nest, told the Gipsy that his bees were making gold, and induced him to change with him. Since then the bees belong to the Rumanians. [138]




The Story of God and the Odd Present.

When God had finished making the trees and grass, the sun and moon, and all that lives and moves, he sat down on his seat and ordered all the creatures to come to him that he might bless them. Every one came and brought a gift according to its best, and God blessed each one according to its nature. The sheep brought wool and milk, and the Lord blessed it, and bade it clothe the house of the Rumanians with its wool and feed the babies with its milk. The bee brought sweet honey and wax with the perfume of all the flowers. God blessed it, so that with the honey man’s food should be sweetened, and the wax should light the Church at the Holy Office. Thus each creature got the blessing according to its ways. Now came the turn of the hornet, by nature lazy and accustomed to live by theft. What could she bring? and again, how could she come with empty hands before the throne of the Almighty? So, finding a piece of cardboard, she picked it up and brought it to God. The Lord understood the trick which the hornet wanted to play on him, and how lazy she was. He, therefore, cursed her that all her work should be as brittle as bits of cardboard, and she should live only by theft. Her habitation should be the chimney, and her nest should be broken by everybody. So has it remained to this very day. The nests look as if they had been made of cardboard, they hang down from the smoky chimneys of houses, as if they were to be smoked; she lives by theft and even upon dead bodies, and her nest is always broken up. [139]




The Story of the Children of Cain.

It is told that one of the descendants of Cain had many children, one worse than the other. When sent on an errand to bring one thing, out of spite they would bring another; they were of no good to anyone. Their mother, who was a wicked and stingy bird (eagle), did nothing else from morning to evening but curse and shout and peck at them. The youngest, who was the worst, finding his mother in a violent temper, started quarrelling with her so loudly that the noise could be heard at the other end of the country. They even went so far as to fight one another. The mother, who was a strong woman, got the best of her son at first, but the youngster, biting her in the throat, drank all her blood until she died. Before dying, however, the mother cursed him that none of his children should ever be prosperous, though they should be very numerous. They should live in the hollows of trees and feed on dead human bodies. They should become flies with poisonous stings, and their blood should change into poison. When he heard his mother’s curse the youth ran into the forest, and the quicker he ran the more it appeared to him that he became smaller and lighter, until one morning he found himself changed into a hornet with a yellow body. [140]




The hornet is used for the following charm:

If people wish a dog to become savage, they take some hornets, and mixing them with the food, give it to the puppies to eat, and say the following words: “Just as the hornet is burning and unbearable, so shalt thou become hot and savage and intolerable, and thou shalt not tolerate any one else besides me and those of this household....”

The hornet’s nest in the stubble indicates the strength of the winter and the depth of the snow, according as it is built high or low. [141]




The Story of God and the Inquisitive Woman.

Know that the woodpecker was originally not a bird but an old woman with a very long nose, which she put into everybody’s pots and pans, sniffing about, eavesdropping, inquisitive and curious about everything whether it belonged to her or not, adding a little in her tale-bearing and taking off a bit from another tale, and so making mischief among her neighbours. When God saw her doings, he took a huge sack and filled it with midges, beetles, ants, and all kinds of insects, and, tying it tightly, gave it to the old woman, and said to her: “Now take this sack and carry it home, but beware of opening it, for if your curiosity makes you put your nose into it you will find more than you care for, and you will have trouble without end.”

“Heaven forbid,” replied the old hag, “that I should do such a thing; I am not going against the will of God. I shall be careful.” So she took the sack on her back and started trotting home, but whilst she was carrying it her fingers were already twitching, and she could scarcely restrain herself, so no sooner did she find herself a short distance away than she sat down in a meadow and opened the sack. That was just what the insects wanted, for no sooner did she open it than they started scrambling out and scampered about the field, each one running his own way as fast as its little legs would carry it. Some hid themselves in the earth, others scrambled under the grass, others, again, went up the trees, and all ran away as fast as they could. [142]

When the old woman saw what had happened, she got mightily frightened, and tried to gather the insects to pack them up again, and put them back into the sack. But the insects did not wait for her. They knew what to do, and a good number escaped into the field. Some she was able to catch, and these she packed into the sack, and tied it up. Then came the Voice of God, who asked her what she had done, and if that was the way she kept her promise.

“Where are the insects, beetles and midges, which I gave you to carry? From this moment you shall change into a bird and go about picking up all these insects until you get my sack full again, and only then can you become a human being again.”

And so she changed into a woodpecker; the long beak is the long nose of the old woman, and she goes about hunting for these midges, beetles and ants in the hope of filling up the sack, when she would again resume her human shape. But to this very day she has not completed her task, and has remained the woodpecker. [143]




The Story of God and the Disobedient Man.

The story of the woodpecker finds its closest parallel in the story of the pelican. It is difficult to say which of the two is the original, and which has been borrowed from the other. Certain legends have been adapted to more than one subject, in the same manner as ballads and tales and legends are often transferred from one hero or another. It is that elasticity of adaptation, which to a certain extent gives them the popularity which they enjoy. It is the very essence of the tale not to be too much localised, but on the contrary to be able to pass from one country to another, and to be fitted to the most diverse circumstances and persons, so long as the general framework has been retained. Popular imagination has no patience, and, in fact, no room, for rigid forms or for mathematical formulae. The material which it handles must be soft as wax to be moulded and kneaded, and thin like gossamer to be woven into many strands. Of course, the work of it can be seen in the variations in the theme and in its adaptation to the new purpose. Thus in the following story:

God and St. Peter were once upon a time walking upon the earth. There came a great swarm of creeping things like rats, snakes, scorpions and other vermin of this kind, as well as beetles, insects, ants and so on. They crowded round them, and with great impudence worried them, nay, even tried to bite them. St. Peter, who felt annoyed by the constant worry of the vermin, said at last to God: [144]

“What is the good of keeping all these vermin upon the earth? see how impudent, how aggressive they are! They molest even us, and try to bite us, what then must the poor human beings be suffering through them?”

“Very well,” said God, “if it is thy wish, and thou thinkest to save mankind of the attacks and molestations of these animals, I will try to do as thou desirest.”

So he gathered them all together and put them in a huge sack, and tied it carefully by the mouth, and he said to St. Peter, “Let us go and throw it into the sea.”

On the way they fell in with a man, who was going in the same direction. And God said to him, “Whither art thou going?”

“I am going to the sea for fishing.”

“I will pay thee well,” said God, “if you will take this sack and take it to the sea and empty it into it. But mind, you must not open it before you reach the shore; there, turning the sack upside down, loosen it gently and let everything fall straight into the water. Be careful and carry out my orders exactly, otherwise instead of obtaining a reward you will get yourself into serious trouble.”

“For sure,” replied the man, “I know how to carry out orders, you may rely on me, I will do exactly as I am bidden.” Then, shouldering the sack, he went on his way to the sea. The sack was somewhat heavy and the way to the sea rather long. Tired by the weight of the sack, he sat down in the midst of his journey and rested. Then he asked himself:

“What can be in that sack? why should those old men want me to empty it into the sea? I will just loosen it a little and see.” And so he did. But no sooner had he loosened it a little when the animals, which were all squeezed by God into the sack, pressed forward, and, before the man could count two, out they were running, each one wherever his eyes would lead him and his legs would carry him. Before he had time to recover from his astonishment, he saw the two old men standing by his side, and, pointing to the sack, God said to him: [145]

“Is that the way thou hast kept thy promise? As a punishment thou shalt no longer be a human being, but a bird with long legs to be able to run quickly after all these animals, and with a long beak to pick them up, and under thy throat I will fasten the empty sack to fill it with the animals caught.”

And thus he has remained to this very day, walking about on his long legs, looking round with his keen eyes, and trying to pick up all possible vermin which he espies crawling upon the earth. [146]




The Story of God and the Food of the Titmouse.

When God had made all the creatures, he called every one of them and told them what their food should be. Among the birds was the titmouse. To her God turned and said, “Thy food shall be the seed of the pumpkin.”

The titmouse, knowing that the seed of the pumpkin was very sweet, did not wait to hear whether God said anything more, but, greedy and impatient, ran as fast as she could, relishing beforehand the delightful food which God had given her. So coming down to the earth, she alighted on a field in which maize was growing, and among it a large number of pumpkins.

“Here, now, I have the food ready for me, and I am going to have a good time.” But she had made a wrong calculation. When she got up to the pumpkins, she found to her dismay that the skin of the pumpkin was as hard as bone. So she tried to pick a hole in it. She went round and round, but wherever she tapped it with her little beak, she found the shell too hard for her.

Bitterly disappointed, she went away and tried to feed as best she could by catching flies and beetles. So she eked out a miserable livelihood only and solely because she was greedy, and had not waited to hear what God had to say to her when he gave her that food.

The time came when God was walking upon the earth. The titmouse heard of it, and knowing the loving-kindness and mercy of God, and that he would have pity if he heard of her miserable life, she took courage and went to meet him, [147]and told him how hard it was for her, that after having had a gift from God, she could not enjoy it. She asked God, therefore, that he would at least make a soft part in the skin of the pumpkin that would become a hole, by which she could get inside the pumpkin and eat the pips which were given to her for food. God took pity on the little creature, who begged so piteously, and so, taking a pumpkin, God made a hole in it. The titmouse got into it, and did not leave the pumpkin until she had picked all the seeds. From that time onwards the titmouse, whenever she sees a field of pumpkins, will go round and round each pumpkin trying to find one with a hole, by which to get into it and eat the pips.

The titmouse was too quick again this time, for it did not ask God to make two holes, to get in by one and out by the other, so now the pumpkin often becomes a snare and a prison. Boys have only to make a hole in the pumpkin for the titmouse to get into it and then they catch it without any trouble. [148]




When God created the world he made all the living creatures of one colour, or rather with none, for no one had any colouring on its wings, feathers, or skin. So, one day, God called all his creatures to paint them with different colours as he chose. All the birds and beasts and creeping things came, and God gave every one a different coat to wear. Only the nightingale did not come, as she had not heard of God’s command. At last some birds, seeing her, told her what had happened. So she hastened to come to God. But when the nightingale appeared before God, the paint-pot was quite empty, and no trace of any paint (colour) was left. It had all been spent on those who had come before. Thus nothing could be done, and the nightingale remained with her drab colour. God, however, wanted to compensate the nightingale for the lack of any colour, so he gave her a very beautiful voice. [149]




Once upon a time the nightingale met the turtle-dove. After greeting one another, the nightingale said, “Sister, let us keep awake during the night and learn some tunes to sing.”

“Quite agreeable,” said the turtle-dove, “and in the morning we shall see what each one of us has learned.”

In the following night the nightingale kept awake and listened attentively to all the sounds that could be heard. She heard the shepherd playing on his pipe, and the wind whistling, and the dogs barking, and lambs calling, and many more sounds, and thus learned no less than twelve tunes. The turtle-dove, lazy as she is by nature, did not keep awake, but went to sleep as soon as the night grew dark. She slept almost the whole night through, and awoke only at the break of dawn. There was no sound to be heard. It was all quiet. Suddenly she heard a man driving his horses to the fields shouting “trr, trr.” This sound she picked up, and no other. In the morning she went to find her sister the nightingale, and asked her whether she had heard anything, and whether she had learned any tunes. If so, would she mind singing to her?

The nightingale replied, “Oh, I have heard many songs, and have learned many tunes.” And without waiting any longer, she began to warble her songs. The turtle-dove sat listening, lost in admiration at the beautiful singing of the nightingale. When the latter had finished her songs, she asked the turtle-dove: “And what have you learned, sister mine?” [150]

The turtle-dove, full of shame over her laziness, owned that she had not kept awake, but had gone to sleep, and that the only sound and song she had learned was “trr, trr,” which she had picked up from the man who was driving his horses to the field. And so it has remained to this very day. The nightingale sings all the night through and stops towards the morning, when the turtle-dove awakens and starts its “trr, trr.” [151]




The Story of the Nightingale, the Blackbird and the Thrush.

The king of the birds, feeling one day in a good humour, wanted to find out which of his subjects could sing best. So he sent an order to his birds to select from amongst themselves those whom they thought to be the best singers. All the birds came together, and, after having heard many of the birds who said they could sing, they selected three from amongst them and sent up, as the best singers for the king to choose from, the yellow thrush, the blackbird, and the nightingale. The thrush, with his beautiful golden feathers which glow in the light of the sun, was allowed to go first as the most beautiful of them; nay, he put himself at the head and walked first. The blackbird, which has a yellow beak, and whose feathers are shining like silk, walked immediately behind, whilst the little nightingale, small of build, with the drab-coloured feathers, followed meekly in the rear. When they reached the palace, the king, seeing how beautiful the thrush looked with his golden feathers, received him affably and placed him at the head of the table. The thrush, swelling with pride, began its song. The king listened attentively, and being pleased with the song he praised the thrush very much. Then came the turn of the blackbird; when the king saw it, he welcomed it and ordered a chair to be brought near the table. The blackbird took its place and started singing. It sang much more beautifully than the thrush. The king was very pleased, and he expressed his delight. [152]The last to come in was the nightingale. When it entered the hall, it bowed down meekly to the earth before the king, touching the floor with its little beak. When the king saw that little ungainly bird, so small and meek and skinny and of no appearance, he wondered what that bird wanted at the court, and somewhat angrily he asked:

“What do you want?” without even offering her a seat, as he had done to the other guests.

“May it please your majesty, do not be angry with your servant; I have been selected by the other birds to sing here before your majesty.”

“Very well then; sing, I will just see what you can do.”

The nightingale, which did not even dare to look at the king, just cleared her voice and started singing as she alone knows how to sing, not like the others. When the king heard her singing, he was quite taken aback with the beauty and sweetness of her voice; he was full of admiration, for the nightingale had thrown the other birds into the shade (lit. had put them under the bushel).

When the nightingale had finished her song, the king did not allow her to stop in the doorway where she had been standing any longer, but called her up to the head of the table, and gave her the seat of the thrush, and, when the meal was over and all the guests rose from the table, it was the nightingale who walked first, and the blackbird, which sang better than the thrush, walked immediately behind, whilst the thrush, in spite of his grand array, now came third, feeling abashed and ashamed by his failure. And from that time onward the nightingale has been recognised as the best singer amongst them all, and all the birds must bow their heads before her.

There are a few more tales about the origin of the nightingale, but they are somewhat confused. They do not seem to account either for the beauty of its voice or for the simplicity of its appearance. [153]




The Story of the Boastful Thrush and St. Peter.

It was in the month of March, when Christ was walking on the earth with St. Peter. Going through a forest they saw a thrush strutting about on the top of a tree.

“Good morning, Mr. Thrush,” said St. Peter.

“I have no time for you,” replied the thrush.

“And why not, prithee?”

“Oh, you see, I am just now making summer, and I am busy. To-day I am going to be married, and to-morrow a brother of mine has a wedding,” he said, turning his back upon them proudly.

St. Peter and Christ said nothing, but went on their way. In that afternoon there came a cold and heavy rain. It came down in torrents all the afternoon, and during the night there came a frost from God which made the stones crack, and it snowed heavily also. The next morning, after they had done what they had to do, Christ and St. Peter came again through the forest, and they found the thrush sitting now on one of the lowest branches of the tree, huddled together and trembling, with no more thoughts of marriage.

“Good morning, Mr. Thrush,” said St. Peter, when he saw him sitting there huddled together and trembling.

“Thank you,” he replied angrily.

“But what are you doing now? Why are you sitting so huddled up?”

“To-day I am dying, and to-morrow a brother of mine is dying,” he answered, letting his beak down and ruffling his [154]feathers to protect himself a little more against the frost which had struck him to the heart.

From that time on the thrush does not boast any more that he is making summer, and that he is going to marry; but he cries anxiously: “Socks and sandals, for to-morrow it snows, good socks of cloth and sandals of leaves to go in them to my beloved.” This he sings because of the fear of being caught again in snow and frost, and of not being able to walk about in safety. [155]




In the beginning the partridge had red feathers. God had painted her so when he painted all the other creatures, but for one reason or another the partridge was not very pleased with this colour. After a time she thought she would go to God and ask him to change her colour. When she came to God, he asked her, “What ails thee?”

“Well,” she said, “I do not like the dye of my feathers.” And God asked her what was the reason for it.

“Well,” she said, “I do not like it.” Upon which God, getting hold of her, threw her into a box filled with ashes. When the partridge recovered her senses—for she was dazed by the fall—she was mightily indignant at the disgrace, and, climbing out of the box, she went as fast as she could to the nearest brook, wishing to wash away the ashes in which she was smothered. She wished to avoid being seen in that state by the other birds. So she started dipping her beak into the water and trying to wash off the ashes on her back. But, instead of washing the ashes completely off, she managed to carry the ashes with her wet beak under her wings also and along her sides. And that is why she has remained to this very day mottled and freckled, the grey of the ashes being mixed with the red—the original colour of her feathers. [156]




When God created the world, he made all the creatures to be of one colour, or rather none of them of any colour at all. You see, God was too busy to bother about these little things. When he had finished making everything that he intended to make, he called all the birds together and said, “Now, I am going to paint you with nice colours.”

When the birds heard that message, they came all overjoyed to God, who took his brush and dipped in various pots filled with paint and painted them one by one. When he had almost finished, who would come but the thistle-finch, with his feathers all ruffled and out of breath. When God saw the little bird, he said to him, “Well, little master, how do you look, where have you been, have you not heard my command, why did you not come in time? Now all the paint is gone, I cannot do anything for you, and it serves you right, you should have come in time like the others did.” And the little bird began to weep and said, “O God, I am quite innocent, just look at me and see what a state I am in; I was very hungry and tried to find something to eat, but could not find anything for a long time, until I espied at last a few grains of millet in a bush of thistles. So I got in and started picking. But, as soon as I moved, the thistles got hold of me and would not let me go, and the more I tried to get out, the more strongly did they hold me, and tore my feathers and dishevelled my hair, and it was only after a long tussle that I was able to get myself free and come here.”

When God saw that the little bird had told the truth, and that it looked torn about and ruffled, he took pity on it and [157]said, “Wait a little and I will see what I can do,” and taking his brush he endeavoured to pick up the drops of paint which were left at the bottom of the various pots. Taking them all on the tip of his brush, he sprinkled the little bird all over with the drops of the various colours which he had picked up from the bottom of the pots, and that is the reason why the thistle-finch has so many spots and so many colours. His name has remained to this very day “little master” (domnisor in Rumanian) and also thistle-finch, because the thistles ruffled his feathers and tore at him. [158]




The Story of the Brutish Innkeeper.

There lived in a town a brutish man, a grocer, who had only one care, and that was how to cheat and rob in the quickest fashion the people who came to deal with him. But this was not all, for, bad as it is, one might let it pass, as there are so many others who do likewise, cheating their customers right and left. But this man was also a usurious moneylender, and he managed it so well that, instead of helping people, he took the last shirt off their backs and sent them out to die in misery. He sucked the blood of everyone who fell into his clutches.

But everything comes to an end. But no man is likely to repent unless he has first come to grief. So it happened also to this wicked man. Instead of being satisfied with what he had been able to get by draining the very blood of his Christian fellow-men, he persisted in his evil doings, robbing and fleecing right and left, without mercy and without pity. When the cries of his victims came up to God, he decided to punish him, and for his wickedness he changed him into the bullfinch, which has still kept some of the features of the man, when he was a human being. For he had a head like a melon, and a wide mouth, and that is why the bullfinch has such a big head and such a broad beak. The black feathers on its head are the black cap of lambskin which he used to wear. The red breast is the blood of the victims whom he had sucked dry, and the big body is the big belly of the voracious fellow. [159]

Now when a bullfinch is caught, remembering its evil deeds, it will bite out its tongue and die rather than become a mockery to the people whom he had ill-treated in his former life. [160]




The Story of the Hoopoe and its Greed.

When God had created all the creatures, he gave everyone the food which he thought best for them. When the turn of the hoopoe came, God said to her, “Thy food shall be millet seed.” The hoopoe was not satisfied. She did not think it was good enough for her. So God in his goodness gave her barley grains for food, but the hoopoe cannot easily be satisfied. So she went on asking for better food. And God said, “Let wheat be thy food.” And still the hoopoe was not satisfied. So God got angry, and said, “Thou impudent and greedy thing, I have given thee the best food that is in this world, and in which even man rejoices and is satisfied, but as this is not good enough for thee, thou shalt find thy food henceforth in the droppings of other animals.”

The same happened when God arranged the dwelling-places of birds, where they should build their nests. He had at first given to the hoopoe sweet-smelling bushes and flowering trees to build her nest in. But she wanted something better, and she was punished in the same way as with the food. She now makes her nest in places which are anything but clean and sweet-smelling. [161]




When God had made the world and all the creatures and man, he gave to each one the food from which they should eat and be satisfied. All the creatures thanked God, and whenever they eat their food they are satisfied, except only the wagtail and the Gipsy who are never satisfied. When God saw the greed of these two, he grew very angry and said to the wagtail, “You shall not be allowed to go near any village unless the Gipsies, after having eaten, say with their full heart that they are quite satisfied.” And to the Gipsy he said, “When the wagtail will come into the villages, only then shall you be satisfied.” But the Gipsies, even when they are invited to the meals freely given in honour of the dead, however much they may eat and stuff and fill, will say as soon as they have got up from the table and gone a few steps, “I am starving; I am dying of hunger.” And therefore the wagtails never come near the village. And it is also called the Gipsies’ bird, because it can only come near the village, when the Gipsy says he has eaten enough and is satisfied. But as such a thing never happens, this bird cannot approach the houses of men like other birds. Also it is called “half a bird,” for all the other birds get into the village except the wagtail. [162]




The Story of the Hoopoe, the Cuckoo and God.

There are a good many stories told about the hoopoe, some of them in connection with the cuckoo. These two birds seem to be found very often together, and the people believe them to be a pair, the cuckoo being the male and the hoopoe the female bird. The following story is told of them:

The cuckoo had married the hoopoe, and they lived happily together for a time. But after a time the hoopoe grew ambitious, and told the cuckoo that if he wanted to have peace in the house, he must go to God and ask that the hoopoe should become the head woman of the village. God, who listens patiently to the weakness of his creatures, received the cuckoo affably and said to him, “Go home in peace, the wish of your wife shall be fulfilled.” So it came to pass. After a while the hoopoe grew more ambitious, and she sent the cuckoo again to God, and told him to go and ask God to make her the mayoress. And God again listened to the cuckoo’s pleading and made his wife a mayoress. But a woman can never be satisfied. So, after a while, she sent the cuckoo again to God to ask him to make her the queen over all the birds. God again listened to his prayer, and he made her queen over all the birds. Moreover, as sign of her queenly station, God gave her the tuft of feathers on her head, which were to be like a crown. But also this did not satisfy the foolish hoopoe, although God had told the cuckoo, “Mind, this is the last time thou comest to me to trouble me for thy wife’s sake; there are many more things in the world for me to do, than to listen to her wishes.” Still she insisted on the [163]cuckoo going again to God, and to ask him that he should allow her to sit next to him on his throne in heaven. When God heard these words, he said, “As thy wife has had the temerity and impudence to make such a demand and to send such a request to me, she shall now be the least considered of all the birds. She may whoop henceforth as much as she likes, no one is to take any notice of her. She is to hatch her eggs in dung, whilst thou, O cuckoo, shall be singing for as many months in the year as thou hast spent in coming to me with these messages, and everyone shall be pleased to hear thy song.”

And so it has remained as God said. The people like the cuckoo, whilst the hoopoe is detested by everybody. [164]




The Story of the Cuckoo and the Wonderful Bush.

Many a tale is told about the origin of the cuckoo. Curiously enough, they generally agree in seeing in the cuckoo a man punished for his wickedness and cruelty, or for his faithlessness against his companion or brother whom he is now seeking in vain.

There are, however, also other tales and legends in which the cuckoo is the victim of the cruelty of others; one is the preceding one, and others now follow: in the first place, one which tells also of the greed of the wife—The Story of the Cuckoo and Hoopoe.

Once upon a time there lived in a village a man who was so poor that sometimes days passed and he could not get a crumb of bread. So one day he said to his wife, “What is the good of my stopping here any longer. We are both dying of hunger; I will go away into the wide world and see what luck may bring.” So he took up his axe and went along. Before he left, his wife said to him: “Do not go far away, and do not forsake me and the children, for we have no one else to look to for help.” So he went away. Walking alone, he came to a forest. At the edge of the forest he saw a beautiful bush with shining leaves, and all the twigs of equal length. It was so beautiful that the man thought, “I will just cut it up.” When he drew near, how great was his astonishment when he saw the bush bending its boughs towards him, and speaking with a human voice, it said, “Do not touch me, do not hurt me, for I will do you much good.” [165]

“What good can you do me?” enquired the man.

“Go back to the village and they will appoint you headman. Just go and try.”

Amazed as he was on hearing the bush speak, he said to himself, “I lose nothing if I go back; I shall see whether the bush is speaking the truth. If not, woe unto it,” and so he returned. No sooner had he come near the village, when he saw the people coming out to meet him, and without asking him any questions, they, for reasons of their own, appointed him to be their headman. His poverty was now a thing of the past, and he lived in cheer and comfort. This went on for three years, and then, for the same reasons unknown to him, the people changed their minds, and without saying anything to him one day he was the headman, the next he was so no longer. They had put another man in his stead. So he returned to his want, and again began to feel the pinch of poverty. For a time he went on as best he could, but not being able to stand it any longer, he again took his axe, and going into the forest he went to the bush and said, “Now I am going to cut you down.” The bush again began to speak, and said to the man, “Do not touch me; I will do you much good. You have seen what I have done before. You go now to that and that town and they will appoint you to be judge.”

Believing the words of the bush, the man continued his journey, and came to the town of which the bush had spoken to him; and there, as had been foretold, without asking him a single question, the people appointed him mayor over the place. The man now lived in affluence and comfort, forgetting his time of poverty and suffering he had gone through. Here, again, after three years, just as he was appointed without a question, so he was dismissed by the people without a question.

The evil days came back, and he was looking about for a crust of bread, but could not find any for himself and his family. He bethought himself again of the bush, and, taking his axe upon his shoulder, he went away to find it. The bush [166]said to him: “Don’t touch me; much good will I do you, still more than I have done hitherto. You go to such and such a kingdom, and there they will appoint you to be their emperor.”

He did as he was bid, and as he came near the town, all the people came out to meet him, and they appointed him to be their emperor. He took his wife and children with him, and there he lived in great state, great power and riches. The law of that land was that no man could be emperor for more than three years, so when the three years came round he lost his position and another emperor was appointed in his stead. He had meanwhile amassed great fortune and no longer feared poverty. But his wife was ambitious, and was not satisfied at living in affluence and wealth. Envious of the other emperor, she nagged the man and worried him and sneered at him for being so meek and being satisfied with his lowly state, and made him go to the bush to ask for something more. She wanted him to be even better treated than any emperor. The poor man, what was he to do? he could not stand the trouble in his house, so again taking his axe upon his shoulder, he came for a fourth time to the bush. When the bush saw him, it said:

“What has brought you hither? You are no longer in want of anything.” “Well,” he said, “my wife has sent me to you. She says you must make me as great as God, greater than all emperors.”

The bush grew angry, and said to him: “O miserable wretch, always dissatisfied! I have made thee headman and judge and emperor, and thou lackest nothing. Thou art not in want of anything. Now, because thou hast become impudent and insolent, for thy impious wishes thou shalt be punished. From the man thou hast been thou shalt henceforth be a bird, restless, without peace, and without quiet, flitting from tree to tree, and from branch to branch, always dissatisfied, without a home, without a family, and thy name shall be Cuckoo. Tell thy wife, who, because [167]she had been urging thee on and driving thee to do this impious thing, that she shall become the hoopoe; puffing herself up she shall cry whoop, whoop.” And so it has remained to this very day. (Cf. Story in Grimm, No. 19.) [168]




The Story of the Cuckoo and the Palace of the Goldfinch.

After the creation of all the birds, God called them together and told them they should elect a king to rule over them.

The birds, like human beings, would chatter and chirrup, and talk and fight, and never come to any decision.

When God saw that it was going on without an end, and that it was no good waiting for them to make their choice, he picked out the goldfinch and said, “This is to be your king.” The birds submitted, as they were bound to do, and making their obeisance to the new king, each one departed to its own place. Although the gathering had lasted for some time, the cuckoo was still missing, and who was the last to come but the cuckoo. When all the birds had departed, he turned up and made his obeisance to the new king. The goldfinch looked at him and said, “Hallo, cuckoo, where have you been?”

“Oh, I lost my way in the forest, and it took me a long time to come here.”

“I will forgive you,” said the goldfinch, “but on one condition; you know the forest so well. Go and make me a nice palace out of the bast of the trees.”

The cuckoo, glad to have got off so cheaply, said, “Willingly will I do so,” and went away.

You know the cuckoo, how light-headed and unstable he is: he says one thing one day and forgets it the next, so, light-heartedly he flew from tree to tree and allowed the [169]summer to pass without remembering the promise which he had made to the goldfinch.

When autumn drew near he suddenly recollected that the goldfinch expected him to build him a palace out of the bast of the tree, for the goldfinch wanted to live in a shining palace. And that was just what the cuckoo never intended to do.

Fearing the wrath of the king, he stopped singing and hid himself in the thickest part of the forest. The goldfinch waited month after month to see the palace, and seeing the cuckoo flitting from tree to tree and hearing him singing, thought he was busily at work. But when the autumn came, and no trace of any palace could be seen, he looked round to see where the cuckoo was. But catch him if you can, for he had disappeared.

And that is why the goldfinch never had the palace which he desired. And that is also the reason why the cuckoo stops singing from the feast of St. John, lest he be discovered by the goldfinch and taken to task for his broken promise. [170]




Let us turn now to the crow, with which the raven is often confused in the popular mind.

Of all the birds, this is considered the ugliest, especially its young fledglings. The legend tells that sometime after God had created all the living beings, he called everyone to see them and their offspring. He wanted to see how the young birds and animals looked, and then to give them suitable gifts, and food for their little ones.

They came one by one, and God looked at them, patted some and stroked others, and was very pleased with every one of them, for each one had something of beauty in it. And so he blessed them and gave them food by which to live. The last to come was the crow, bringing her little brood with her, very proud of them. When God cast his eyes upon the young crows, he spat in astonishment, and said:

“Surely these are not my creatures. I could not have made such ugly things. Every one of my creatures has such beautiful young ones that they are a pleasure to look at, but thine are so ugly that it makes one sick to look at them. Whence hast thou got this one?” “Where should I get them from?” replied the crow; “it is my very own young child,” she added with pride. “You had better go back and bring me another one, this is much too ugly, I cannot look at it.” Annoyed at the words of God, the crow went away, and flew all over the earth to search for another young one that would be more beautiful than the one she had brought [171]to God. But no other young bird appeared so beautiful in her eyes as her own. So she returned back to God and said, “I have been all over the world, and I have searched high and low, but young birds more beautiful and more dainty than mine I have not been able to find.” Then God smilingly replied, “Quite right, just so are all mothers; no other child is so beautiful in their eyes as their own.” Then he blessed the little crows and sent them away into the world with his gifts. [172]




The Rumanians tell another tale about the ugliness of young crows. It is the story of the crow and the hawk.

The crow was in very great distress, for however she tried and whatever she did, she could not rear a family. No sooner were the young hatched, than the hawk would come and pick them up. In vain did she try to hide her nest in the hollows of a tree or in the thickets of a bush, as sure as death would the hawk find them and eat them.

Not knowing what to do, she bethought herself and said, “How would it do if I try and get the hawk to be godmother, for then, being a near relation, she is sure to spare my little ones?” Said and done. She went out of her place to search for the hawk, and finding her, she said, “Good morning, sister.”

“Good morning,” replied the hawk.

“How pleased I should feel,” said the crow, “if you would become godmother to my children.”

“With pleasure,” replied the hawk, “why not?” And so they made up a covenant of friendship and of good-fellowship between them.

Before leaving the hawk, the crow said to her, “Now, sister, I have one request to make.”

“Granted,” replied the hawk, “what is it?”

“I only beg of you to spare my children, do not eat them when you have found them.”

“All right,” replied the hawk, “I shall certainly not touch [173]them, but tell me how they look so that in case I meet them I may spare them.”

“O,” replied the crow, “mine are the most beautiful creatures in the world, they are more lovely than any other bird can boast of.”

“Very well, rest assured. Go in peace.” And they parted.

The crow, being quite satisfied with the hawk’s promise, began flying about the next day trying to find something with which to feed her children. The hawk the next morning went about her own business and tried to find some nice little young ones to eat. Flying about, she saw the young ones of the thrush, the blackbird, and of other beautiful birds, and she said to herself, “Surely these are the children of the crow; look how lovely and beautiful they are, I am not going to touch them.”

She went all day, without finding any little birds but these; and she said to herself:

“I must keep my word to my sister, I am not going to touch them.” And she went to bed hungry. The next day the same thing happened, and still the hawk kept her word and would not touch them.

On the third day she was so hungry that she could scarcely see out of her eyes. Roaming about, the hawk suddenly lighted upon the nest of the crow. Seeing the little, miserable, ugly things in the nest, the hawk at first would not touch them, although she never dreamt that these ugly things were the children of the crow, so much praised by her for their beauty, and thought they must belong to some hideous bird. But what is one to do when one is hungry? One eats what one gets and not finding anything better, she sat down and gobbled them up one by one, and then flew away.

Not long after the hawk had left, the crow came in, feeling sure this time to find her little ones unhurt; but how great was her dismay when she found the nest empty! First she thought the little birds had tried their wings and were flying about in the neighbourhood, and she went in search of them. [174]Not finding them, she began to be a little more anxious, and hunting a little more closely, found on the ground near some rushes some tufts of feathers with little bones and blood. She knew at once that the hawk had again been there, feeding on her children.

Full of wrath and fury, she went to find the hawk. Meeting her, she said, “A nice sister and godmother you are! After you had promised most faithfully not to touch my children, no sooner had I turned my back on them, than you come again and eat them.”

“I do not understand what you are saying,” replied the hawk. “It is your own fault. You told me your children were the most beautiful in the world, and those which I have eaten were monsters of hideousness. If I had not felt the pinch of hunger so strong, I would not have touched them, not for anything, such ugly things they were! They nearly made me sick.”

“Is that the way you keep your promise?” replied the angry crow; “after having eaten them, you even have the impudence to tell lies and insult me. Off with you! and woe betide you if I ever catch you, I will teach you to behave properly.”

From that day on, the hawk, if it gets near the crows, attacks them. And from that day on there is implacable hatred between the crows and the hawks. [175]




It is said that the crow bathes its young in some waters between frontiers. This water becomes poisonous, and is used by witches for philtres and spells. If a man wants to obtain the water, he must go to nine witches, who assemble on a Tuesday at midnight at the fountain. Each one brings a stolen pot, or, in preference, the skull of a dog. In each they take three drops of that water, and they say their spell over it, waving over it a tuft of hair from a mad wolf. This incantation they must repeat for nine weeks on each Tuesday at midnight, and with the water thus obtained they make their philtres.

The croaking of the crow is considered as evil an omen as that of the raven. A very peculiar custom prevails among the people, who, when the children lose their teeth, take them and throw them if possible on the roofs of the houses and say: “Here, crow, I give you a tooth of bone, bring me one more beautiful.” Or, according to other versions, “bring me one of gold. I give you a tooth of iron, bring me one of steel.” [176]




The Story of the Heron and the digging of Wells.

When God had created the world, there were no springs or wells. The only water from which to satisfy the thirst of all the creatures was rain-water. After a time the rain was not enough to satisfy them all; the grass and trees were fading and withering, burnt up by the fiery heat of the sun, and the animals were perishing from thirst.

So God called all the birds together, and told them that they should dig holes in the earth with their claws and beaks, in order that the water from underneath should come up and water the earth and slake the thirst of all the creatures. At the bidding of God all the birds came together and started working with their beaks and claws. They all worked together. The hawk worked side by side with the young chickens, and the owl with the doves. Such a thing never happened before or since.

The heron alone flew about as if it did not affect her. She was quite indifferent to see how hard the other birds worked. She cared not for the sweat which stood out like beads, and ran down the neck of the lark as it went scratching away at the earth with legs as thin as two straws, nor did she care for the titmouse which hacked away at the foot of a hillock. And God asked her:

“Why dost thou not do anything?”

“Why should I soil my feet with mud,” she replied, “when the rain-waters are not yet dried up?”

And God said:

“Because thou hast not hearkened to my command, thou [177]shalt slake thy thirst only from the rain, and then only by the water running down thy wings.” From that time onwards one hears the heron crying in time of drought. She prays to God to send some rain to moisten her dry mouth. [178]




The Story of the Kite and the making of Rivers.

The same story is told of the kite in the following version:

When God made the world, he called all the birds together to help him to dig wells for the water and beds for the rivers. All the birds came except the kite, which, looking at its claws, said, “See how beautiful and dainty they are! I am not going to soil them with the mud of the rivers and wells.” Then all the other birds cursed her, that she might never be able to drink water out of wells and rivers, and should slake her thirst only with the dew and rain from heaven, nor should she be able to drink by lifting her beak and catching the falling rain, but she would only be able to drink the rain-water which was running down her wings. Therefore, in time of drought, the kite flies high up to God and prays for rain and dew, for if she drinks of the water of rivers and wells she dies.

A remarkable parallel to this story has been given by Grimm in his D. Mythologie, 4th ed. p. 561; and for a Russian parallel, v. Ralston, Russian Folk Tales, p. 331.

An oriental version substitutes the raven for the kite as the bird whose piteous cries bring about the breaking of the drought. It is said that when Adam beheld his dead son Abel, he did not know what to do, for he was the first man to die. A raven dug a hole and put into it his companion who had died.

Adam saw this and followed his example. God therefore granted to the raven that henceforth when there would be drought in the world, his cry would bring about the breaking up of the drought and a downpour of rain (Chapters of Eliezer, ch. xxi.). [179]




The Story of the Mole and the making of Roads.

When the world was made, there were no roads and no pathways. It was very difficult to get about from one place to another.

Seeing this, God ordered all the animals to come and work together and straighten out paths and make roads. All the animals came and worked as they were commanded. Only the mole stayed away, so God asked him why he had not come, when all the others had?

“I do not want any roads and ways, for they are of no use to me,” he replied; “I burrow under the earth and there I spend my life.”

“So shall it always be henceforth,” said God, “and thou shalt not be able to make thy little hills on roads or highways, and it shall not be a sin to kill thee.”

And so it has remained to this day. No mole-hill has ever been seen on any public road. The mole cannot make them except in fields and meadows.

Whoever destroys a mole-hill gets a peculiar wart on his hand. In order to get rid of it he must pass over it seven times the paw (the claws) of a mole. [180]




The Story of the Tortoise, St. Peter and God.

When God and St. Peter were walking on the earth, one day they made a very long journey, and grew very hungry. Coming to a little hut, they found the woman in, and they asked her for something to eat. “Well,” she said, “I have very little flour in the house, but I am going to bake two loaves, and when you come back in half an hour they will be ready and you will be welcome to one.” Taking the flour, she kneaded it in the trough and made two loaves, one for herself and one for the travellers. Meanwhile they went to church, but they said before going that they would come back at the end of the service.

The woman covered over the dough, and to her great astonishment, when she lifted the cover, the dough of the loaf for the strangers had risen much higher than the other. Then she put both loaves in the oven. How great was her surprise, on taking out the loaves from the oven, when she found that the one for the travellers had been baked nicely and was a very big loaf, whilst the one for herself was half burned and almost shrivelled to a pancake. When she saw the miracle her greed overtook her, and she forgot the promise which she had made to the travellers. She said to herself: “Why should I give my best bread to strangers whom I do not know? Let them go elsewhere to richer people than I am.”

So she took the pasteboard and put it on the floor, and crouching on it, covered herself over with the trough. She told her little girl to stand in front of the door, and if two old people should come and ask for her she was to say that her [181]mother had gone away and that she did not know where she was. The travellers then, of course, would not come in, and she would be able to enjoy the loaf.

After a while God and St. Peter came back from church, and asked the little girl where her mother was, to which the child replied as she had been told. God said, “Where she is there shall she remain”; and went away. The child came in and tried to lift the trough off the back of her mother, who was lying hidden underneath, but try as hard as she could the trough would not come off. It had grown on to the back of her mother, and the pasteboard had grown underneath on to her. The woman was only able to put out her little head with the glistening, greedy eyes, and her tiny little hands and feet, and the handle of the pasteboard had turned into a waggling tail.

And that is how the tortoise was made, when the old woman became the tortoise always carrying the trough and the pasteboard with her. [182]




When God had made all the creatures, he gave every one the power of walking and saving themselves from danger.

Among others, came the fish, and God asked him what he would like, and the fish replied: “If I am to have my choice I would ask you to give me seven wings; I should fly much quicker than any other animal, and no one would be able to catch me: but should I be caught I am willing to die alive on the grill with my eyes open.” And God shook his head at the foolish request, for he knew that man would be able to find out how to make the line and hook, and that all the wings of the fish would not help him. So he is caught with his mouth open, and that is why the fish takes his punishment without murmuring, and dies quietly on the grill with his eyes open. [183]




The Story of the Plover and Lady Mary.

In the beginning the plover used to fly in large coveys. But one day, when Our Lady was riding on a horse, they ran across the road and frightened the horse so much that it threw the rider. Angry at the mishap, St. Mary cursed the plover that they should no longer gather in coveys but should go singly. And so it has remained to this very day. The plover nest quite alone and never join others in their flight. [184]




The Story of the Spider and Lady Mary.

One day a spider, meeting the Holy Mother, challenged her as to which of the two could spin the finer thread. The Holy Mother accepted the challenge, and started to spin a very fine thread indeed. But, however fine her thread was, the yarn spun by the spider was much finer, and then, to add to the discomfiture of the Holy Mother, the spider let himself down on one of its threads and remained dangling, and, turning to the Holy Mother, he said to her: “Can you do anything like it?” And the Holy Mother replied, “No”; and being angry she cursed the spider, and said, “Thy web shall be of no use to anyone, and because of thy spite, whoever kills thee shall be forgiven three of his sins.”

We meet the spider again in controversy with the Holy Mother on a more dramatic occasion.

She was searching for her son, and going to St. John, she asked him what had happened to him, as she had not seen him for some time. “The cruel people have taken him and are torturing him.” Going on her way she met the carpenters, who said to her that instead of making a light cross they had made a heavy cross. She cursed them, saying, “May you work all the year and see no profit.”

Then she met the smiths, who, instead of making short nails, had made long nails, and she cursed them likewise. She came to the gate of the palace of Pilate, and on her touching the gate, it opened, and going in, she saw all that happened. [185]On her way, weeping and crying, she met a flight of swallows, who asked her why she was crying and weeping, and she replied, “My only son has been taken away from me.” And they replied, “Do not weep and do not cry, for three days hence thou shalt see him alive, thou and thy friends.”

And the Holy Mother blessed them, that they should always be welcome in the house of the people, that they should nest on the roofs, and that no one should disturb them, and that whosoever should kill a swallow should be guilty of three sins.

Going further, she met the spider, and the spider asked her why she was weeping and crying, and she replied, “My only son has been taken away.” And the spider replied, “You may cry till the day of doom; what is gone is gone, and can never come back again.” Next to the spider was standing the mouse, and the mouse chimed in: so the Holy Mother cursed him and went on her way, but finding that her way led her nowhere, she came back the same road.

When she had gone, the mouse said to the spider: “The Holy Mother has not blessed us, so I think you had better make a rope and stretch it from tree to tree, and I will dig a pit underneath, and when she comes back we will hang her by the rope and throw her into the pit.”

But the Holy Mother knew what they were plotting, and when she came back, she said:

“Thou ugly and spiteful spider, worms shall settle on thee, and by thy own rope shalt thou hang. All the days of thy life an unclean animal shalt thou be. And thou, O mouse, who hast plotted against me, thy habitation shall be henceforth in the pits and hollows of the earth, and thou shalt be an unclean beast. Whatever thou touchest shall be defiled, and whoever kills thee or the spider shall be forgiven three sins.” And so it has remained to this very day, the spider hanging on its own rope, and the mouse lying hidden under the earth, and both are killed by men and beasts.

This same legend has become a carol which is also used as a charm. [186]




The Story of Lady Mary, the Mouse and the Spider (a Charm).

After the crucifixion, the Lady Mary went along crying and weeping in pain and grief for that they had crucified her son. Wherever she went all the creatures wept with her, and the flowers in the grass of the field bent low in sign of mourning. A flight of swallows met her in the beautiful meadow, and seeing her crying, comforted her, and said: “Do not weep, for thy son will come to life again three days hence, and will show himself to thee and to the Apostles.” Then the Lady Mary became more comforted, and said to the swallows: “Ye swallows from this day on shall be the cleanest birds on the face of the earth, and the house at which you build your nests will be a happy one, and whoever destroys your nest shall be cursed.” The Lady Mary went on her way, and passing on her way she met a spider weaving his web, and a mouse burrowing in the ground. When they saw her weeping they mocked at her, and said: “In vain dost thou weep and cry. Know that thy son is dead; he will never come to life again, although thou mayest believe it.” But the Lady Mary replied: “My child is the son of God. He will do what he wills.” And she went on her way. She went on until she came to another forest. Fearing that she might lose her way she returned the same way as she had gone. The spider and the mouse, seeing that she had not blessed them, took counsel together to hang her on a rope and to kill her the next time they met her again. And the mouse said to the spider: “Now thou weave a rope and get it ready, and upon that rope [187]we will hang her as soon as we set our eyes on her.” A short time afterwards the Lady Mary returned, and came back to the same spot. Meanwhile the spider had woven a strong rope, and had tied one end to a branch of the tree, and the mouse had digged a deep pit under that tree. But the Lady knew what they had intended, and she said: “Thou, O spider, hast woven a rope for hanging me, thou shalt always dangle on a rope. Thou shalt be unclean and full of vermin, and whoever catches thee shall kill thee. And thou, O mouse, thou shalt be so dirty from this day onwards, that wherever thou diest that place shall become unclean, and whoever sees thee shall kill thee, and whoever will kill a mouse or a spider God shall forgive him three sins.” And as she had said, so it has remained to this very day. From that time on the mouse and the spider have remained accursed. [188]




The Story of Lady Mary and the Wicked Stepmother.

In Oriental folk-lore the swallow seems to be considered everywhere as a sacred bird, of which many legends are related. We hear, that when the Temple was burning in Jerusalem the swallows were the birds which brought water in their beaks with which to quench the flame, whilst the spider brought fiery coal to fan the flame. Hence he who kills a swallow commits seven sins, whilst he who kills a spider is forgiven seven sins. In the Appendix, No. III., a peculiar legend is also told of the spider, the gnat and the swallow. As for the origin of the swallow, which would account for the forked tail and for the colour of the feathers, the Rumanians have the following tale.

It is a story of a mother-in-law, who, like all mothers-in-law, treated her daughter-in-law in a most cruel manner. Whatever the young woman did was not right. Her mother-in-law persecuted her from morning till evening, and gave her neither peace nor rest. One day, seeing that she could not get rid of her by any other means, she killed her, and cut her up in pieces. Her son, who had been away, came in just in time to see the foul deed which his mother had done. Enraged, he made a pile of wood, and dragging his mother on to it, he lit the wood, so as to burn his mother on the fire. For reasons which we do not know, St. Mary came down from heaven and pulled the old woman away from the fire after her. Her clothes had already [189]began to burn. She got hold of her, changed her into a swallow, and pulled her through the chimney. As soon as she saw herself saved, the wicked woman wanted to fly away. But St. Mary said: “Stop, and do not fly away. Do not imagine that because I have saved you from being burned on the fire, I will let you go away like that: you just wait, for I must put a sign on you, that everybody may know what a good mother-in-law you have been, and that you have killed your daughter-in-law.” And as she said these words, she caused her tail to become like a pair of scissors, or rather like two sharp knives joined in one point, like the knives with which she had cut up her daughter-in-law. But this was not the only sign. For when St. Mary pulled her through the chimney, a lot of soot fell on her, and wherever it fell it made the feathers black, and so they have remained to this very day. The red spot on the breast of the swallow is the red blood of her daughter-in-law, and the white spots are the remnants of the shirt which remained unburned when all the other clothes had caught fire, but it has not kept white either, for it was just a little singed.

There are besides these a number of tales about the swallow. They are told in Nos. 86, 87. [190]




The Story of the Frog and Lady Mary.

When Christ was being crucified, his mother went in search of him; she did not know whither he had betaken himself. On her way she met a band of carpenters. Weeping, she asked them, “Have you seen my son?” “We have seen him,” they said. “Nay, we have made the cross, and instead of light timber, we have taken heavy timber.” “So,” she said, “you shall henceforth work from morning till night and never get any richer.”

Then she met a band of Gipsies, and she asked them, “Have you seen my son?” “O yes,” they replied, “we have seen him, and we were told to make thick and blunt nails, but we have made them thin and pointed so they should pass easily through and not give much pain.” And Mary replied, “May your work be light and your profit great.”

Going on her way she met a frog, and the frog asked her, “Dear lady mine, what are you weeping and crying for?” And she replied, “I am weeping and crying for my only son, whom they are killing now in Jerusalem.” And the frog replied, “What am I to say; I have had ten children and nine were crushed to death by the wicked wheel of the carts, only one is left to his mother, a sweet darling and pet, a beauty.” When Mary heard the frog lauding her child, she said, “Let me see that beauty of yours, just come out, little froggie, beloved darling of mother.” And there came out of the lake behind a little frog with its crooked legs and ungainly face, and with eyes staring out of his head. And when Mary saw that beauty she could not help laughing under her [191]tears. And she said to the frog, “Because thou hast made me smile in my grief, may thy body never rot when thou diest, and the worm never have a share in it.” And ever since, when the frog dies, the body shrinks into nothingness and disappears. [192]




The Story of the Tortoise and Lady Mary.

The blessed Mary, great and glorious as she is—she must not take it amiss—was one day too lazy to go out on behalf of her son to distribute his gifts among the children of the village. So when she left the house with the loaves of bread, some cake, and other gifts which she was to distribute, under her arm, she met the tortoise.

“Good morning,” said the one. “Welcome, daughter,” said the other. St. Mary said, “Prithee, auntie, just give this bread as alms for souls to the boys of the village.”

“That is not much, my daughter, I will willingly do it,” and taking the bread under her arms, there she went crawling along until she came to the boys.

The tortoise had scarcely left her, when St. Mary bethought herself that it might have been better if she herself had given the alms away, and not sent them through a stranger. So without more ado she followed the way the tortoise had gone, and came to the school.

What did she see there? Auntie tortoise performed her deed as she had promised, and going from boy to boy gave everyone a bit. But when at last she came to the youngest, who was her own child, she took out the cake and gave it to him. “I should like to know,” said St. Mary, “how it happened that the last piece to be given away was a cake?”

“Well, daughter, or rather mother, I had kept the cake for the most beautiful child, and I could not find anyone more beautiful than mine.” St. Mary, who had heard many things, when she heard this, could not help laughing aloud. [193]

When she stopped laughing she was rather sorry, for why should she have laughed so loud? She said, “Verily, there is nothing more beautiful in the eyes of a mother than her own child.”

Her beautiful face grew sad, and in order that her laughter should not bewitch the little tortoise—as if struck by the evil eye for being praised as beautiful—she spat out upon the ground, and out of the spittle there grew the silkworm. St. Mary blessed it and said, “Thou shalt live upon green leaves, and thou shalt draw out fine silk threads” (like the thread of the spittle). It is therefore forbidden to say anything evil of the silkworm, or to touch it whilst it is spinning the cocoon, for no sooner is an evil word spoken or the worm touched, than it stops drawing the silk.

The variant from the Balkans is as follows:

When Jesus went up to Golgotha, the Virgin Mother followed, crying. There she saw in the procession also a tortoise, and she could not help laughing. She then reproached herself, and said, “O evil mouth, thou art only good for worms.” There and then she spat on the ground in disgust, and worms came out of the spittle. But having come from a holy mouth the worms which grew out of the spittle became the silkworms, which have remained so to this very day.

A peculiar variant in which, however, the second part—the origin of the silkworm—is omitted, is found among the Kutzovlachs of Macedonia as “The Story of St. Mary and the Tortoise.”

Once upon a time the Virgin Mary sat sadly at the door of the school, waiting for her son, who was learning within, to come out so that she might give him a piece of cake which she had brought with her. Whilst she was sitting there she said to herself, “I will wait and see whether all the creatures recognise my son to be the most beautiful child in the world.”

A tortoise just then came along. In order to put her to the [194]test, St. Mary said to her, “Would you like to give this cake to the most beautiful child here in this school?”

“Willingly,” replied the tortoise, and taking the cake she went into the school room. It so happened then that her own child was also among the pupils. She went straight up to it, and without a moment’s hesitation gave it the cake destined for the most beautiful child in the school. When St. Mary saw what the tortoise had done, instead of being angry she laughed heartily, and said to her:

“Thou hast acted as every mother would act, for to a mother no one could be more beautiful than her own child. And because thou hast driven away my sadness, the finest and softest grass shall henceforth be thy food, and when thou diest thy bones shall not rot away.”

And so it has remained to this very day, and the shell of the tortoise remains sound. [195]




The Story of the Sparrow and the Crucifixion.

Another legend brings us again to the same events. This time it is in connection with the sparrow. It is said that the sparrows were originally much bigger birds than they are now, but at the time of the crucifixion they flew round the cross and cried half mockingly, “Jiviu Jiviu,” which means “Live, live.” Christ, who was in pain, and annoyed at their behaviour, cursed them and said, “May you live only on the crumbs which you will pick up on the roadside, and henceforth, becoming smaller, you will be snared by little boys and tormented by them, and the passers-by shall hit at you with whips, and kill you.” And so it has remained to this very day.

They live on crumbs wherever they can pick them up. They have become very small birds. They are snared by children, who often play with them cruelly, and the passers-by strike at them with a whip, and kill them.

A Russian Legend, Afanasief, p. 13, is a close parallel to this story, though it differs somewhat from it in detail; v. Ralston, Russian Folk Tales, p. 331. [196]




The Story of the Sparrow and the Oak Tree.

The people regard the sparrow as one of the greatest pests, for he eats up the seeds and the crops. The people believe that the sparrows reach an age of over nine hundred years, and they tell the following tale about it:

In a clearing of a huge oak forest, there grew up a tiny little tree. All the other trees looked upon it with pleasure, it was so green and so tender. Suddenly a sparrow flying over the trees came down and settled on that little sapling, which bent under the weight of the bird. Angrily, the little tree said to the sparrow, “It is a great shame that thou shouldst have come and settled on me, I who am so weak and tender and scarcely able to stand up, why didst thou not go and settle on one of those huge trees of which the forest is full.”

The sparrow, feeling ashamed and angered at the words of the little sapling, replied: “Very well, I am going, but when thou shalt be on thy death-bed I will come back, and thou wilt have to render me account for these offensive words which thou hast spoken to me.” And the sparrow went away.

Now it is known that an oak lives for nine hundred years: for three hundred years it grows in strength and might, the next three hundred it rests quiet, and during the last three hundred it slowly decays and dies. First the heart, that is, the core, dies, then the wood is slowly eaten away, the branches fall off, and at the end of nine hundred years the tree is changed into dust. And so it happened with that little sapling. It [197]grew for three hundred years, it stopped still for the next three hundred years, and finally it decayed and died at the end of the last three hundred years. When the last day of the nine hundred years had come, and scarcely anything was left of the tree but dust, the sparrow came back, and rolling about in the dust it said: “Dost thou remember when thou wast a mere sapling, how thou didst insult me, thou didst believe thou wouldst grow on and live for ever? Dost thou see that my word has come true, thou proud tree of the forest, now thy head is lying low and thou hast been changed into dust, thou hast been humbled, whilst I am still living on in strength, and I am now as I have then been.” This longevity of the sparrow makes him the dread of the peasants and farmers, and among the means taken to save the crops from the inroads of this pest are magical practices and charms.

I will only quote one or two.

Charms against the Sparrow.

On the first day of Lent the man must collect all the crumbs and bones from his table after he has finished his meal, and, taking them out in the table-cover, he must strew them upon the field, and say, “O ye birds of heaven, here I have brought you of the food from my table, eat this, and do not touch the food from off the field.” Or, taking a handful of corn and standing with one foot on his field and with the other on the roadside, he must throw the corn on the road outside the field and to say, “O St. Mary, here I have brought food for the birds of heaven. Let them feed on this seed and not on the seed which I sow in my field.”

There is still another charm.

At the time when the sparrows begin to pick at the corn the youngest of the household must go to the field. He must take off all his garments, then, tying a kerchief over his eyes, he must hold in his hand a candle, which has been burning at the head of a corpse, and carrying also a tuft of hair cut off from the head of the dead, he is to walk with the lighted candle in his hand over the four sides of the field and say, “As I do not [198]see now, and as the dead man does not see, so shall the birds not see this field with the corn growing in it. And the mind of the birds should be taken off from this field, as the mind of the dead is off it.” When he comes to the fourth corner of the field he must tie the hair of the dead round some of the ears of corn and say, “I do not tie up this crop, but I tie the mouth of the birds, that they may not be able to eat it, as the dead man is unable to eat it. And they shall not be able to see the corn, as the dead man does not see the world.” [199]




The Story of King Pic, Lady Mary and the Sun.

Once upon a time St. Mary talked with the sun about the sins of this world. They also talked about the wicked deeds of the Emperor Pic among others, of whom an evil report had spread on account of his cruelty. The sun talked to her about all that he had seen, and St. Mary, weighing up all his sins, came to the decision that he should be thrown into the depths of the sea, so that even his memory should be lost to the end of days.

But before she had time to pronounce her judgment, up came the Emperor Pic himself in mighty wrath. He caught hold of St. Mary by the hair of her head, for was he not the emperor, and was there anyone of whom he should stand in awe? He feared no one, and cursing as fast as he could fill his mouth with blasphemous words, he started fighting the sun. When St. Mary wanted to remonstrate with him he gave her a blow on her mouth, so as to stop her from speaking. The sun, seeing this infamous conduct, got angry, and catching him by the throat, hurled the Emperor Pic into a well with the intention of drowning him before he could utter a single word. The only sound which he made before sinking was Zi Zi Zi. St. Mary, having pity upon him, wanted to save him from drowning, and tried to draw him out of the water. But she looked in vain for him. Instead of finding Pic in the well, she only found a little insect that was shivering with cold and was hiding under one of the beams of the well. God had no doubt punished Pic for his impudence. The mosquito (Culex pipiens) does not leave his hiding place until the sun disappears, for he is frightened of him, and this fear has remained with him. For this reason no mosquito will come out during the daytime: he will wait until it gets dark, then he will come out and, sitting on the edge of the well, sings Zi, Zi, Zi. [200]




The Story of God and the Food of the Mosquito.

After God had made all the creatures, he called them together, to tell them what they would have to do so that they might live. They all came, and God gave every one its gift and the manner of its food. All had come and gone, but the mosquito did not come until very late. When asked why he had done so, he started telling tales, until God got angry and, turning to him, said:

“I have no time to waste with thee, hurry up and tell me quickly, what kind of food dost thou wish?”

The mosquito replied, “I wish to live by sucking.”

“So it shall be,” replied God, “now go and suck the juice of trees and plants.”

What was he to do? He went and sucked the trees and plants. After a fortnight had passed he got weak and shrivelled from this kind of food. His wife, seeing the state into which he had fallen by his foolish demand, said to him:

“See what has become of you! You are shrivelled up and weak, a few days more and you are sure to die. You had better go to God and beg him to give you another food.”

But he said, “I cannot go; if you have the impudence you had better go.”

“Very well, then, I will go,” replied the female mosquito, and up she went to God.

When he saw her he asked her, “What has brought you to me?” [201]

“The miserable food which my husband has got is killing us. We cannot live by it. We are getting shrivelled up.”

“If so,” said God, “I will give you the right to suck also blood from man and beast, but as soon as you cannot get blood you must die. Your husband, however, he may live on the blood and juice of plants alike.” And so it has remained, the female dies when she cannot find blood to suck.

According to some local tradition, the mosquito has been made out of the smoke of the devil’s pipe, and for that reason he hates the smoke. According to another they are also the servants of the devil and the enemies of the angels, who cannot come into a room where there are many mosquitos [202]




The Story of Lady Mary and the Cherries.

It is told that, once upon a time, the Lady Mary wanted to bring some cherries to her son. So she went to a cherry tree and began to shake it. But to her surprise, instead of coming down as she expected, the cherries seemed to rise higher and higher. It was a cherry tree dedicated to the devil, and it was not meet that such cherries should be brought to God. So she went away full of wrath, and cursed the cherries. And lo! they were changed into small black mites that flew away. But the love of their sisters—the cherries—brings them back, and they come and kiss them, and when they kiss them they leave their eggs behind, which, growing into little white worms, eat the cherries. [203]




The Story of St. Anne and the Magician.

Once upon a time the rumour spread through Palestine that there was a man who could perform greater miracles than God. St. Anne, hearing of it, determined to go and see him, and so she did.

When she approached the house where he lived, she washed her feet, as it is customary in those parts of the world, and with meekness and devotion she went in and asked the man to change a withered trunk into a green tree. The man got very angry, and said he did not perform miracles, and after insulting her before the assembled multitudes, seized her hands and thrust her out of his house.

When St. Anne saw what he had done she fell upon her knees and prayed to God to punish him. As she was lifting up her hands in prayer she suddenly noticed that the ring which she had from her dear mother had gone. She remembered that the man had got hold of her by the hand, and she understood that he then must have slipped the ring off her finger. So she prayed that God would punish this impostor, thief, and robber.

And God heard her prayer. Of a sudden the man disappeared from amongst the people, and a small ring appeared round one of the boughs of the tree outside the house. Whilst the people were gazing upon this ring into which the thief had been changed, it opened, and out of it came a hundred of small butterflies with the mark of the ring on their wings. This was the sign of the ring, which had been stolen from St. Anne. [204]

The miracle which St. Anne asks the man to perform, namely, to change a withered trunk into a green tree, belongs to the large cycle of similar miracles starting from the rod of Aaron, the story of Lot and Abraham, the Tannhäuser legend, etc. (v. Gaster, Literatura Populara Română, Bucharest 1883, p. 286 ff.).

This ring of small insect eggs round the twigs of trees is also known as the cuckoo’s ring, and taken off from the tree is used for charms by girls, who say “as men are pleased to hear me.” This ring is also called “Sleep,” and it is therefore often put into the cradle of restless children in order to cause them to sleep. [205]




The Story of Lady Mary and the Yellow Bird.

It is said that at the time of the birth of Christ, there was a beautiful little bird with feathers, yellow as gold and with a beak shining like silver, and a thin, fine little body. Just as the bird was beautiful, so she was insolent and disobedient. She was a friend of St. Mary, who liked her singing. When she was sad, the bird would come and comfort her with her sweet songs. And the Holy Mother also helped the little bird when she was in trouble, and when the nest was broken, she helped to mend it.

But when the Holy Mother got Jesus, her friendship with the bird came to an end. For the bird did not like children. It could not stand their crying. The bird believed that the crying child mocked at her singing, and therefore, whenever she saw Christ, she made faces at him and mockingly chirped, Gri Gri Gri. Christ, hearing it, got frightened and cried bitterly. When St. Mary saw the insolence of the bird, she drove her away from the house, and, cursing her, said: “From the beautiful bird which thou art, thou shalt become one of the most hideous insects, and, living only in clefts and holes, thou shalt sing only Gri Gri Gri, as a punishment for having mocked at God’s child.”

Since then, that bird has entirely disappeared, and all of her kind which were living at that time were turned into crickets chirping in the hearths and mocking at the children of men, Gri Gri Gri. [206]




The Story of Alexander and the Knight.

There is another legend of the origin of the cricket which leads us to the cycle of the Alexander legends.

It is told that in the time of Alexander there lived a young man who, when he was sixteen years old, was more beautiful than any one had been before him, or after him. The princesses were fighting for him, calling one another as many names as the moon and stars, and each one vowing that hers only he was to be, none other was worthy of him. Still more beautiful was his singing, for when you heard him your mind stopped still, so sweet was his voice. Even the mothers of the maidens fell in love with him. And grey-haired old kings with long, white beards and bushy eyebrows, would lift their brows to see him, who was as beautiful as a wonder and dear as a ball of gold. But whilst everyone liked him, Alexander could not suffer him. He must hate him, for though Alexander was the mightiest emperor of the world, yet none could please him, no not one even of those princesses. For this reason there grew up an enmity between them, which became so strong that even the sun, which used at that time to walk about on the earth, could not make peace between them. Alexander might perhaps have made peace, but he would do so only on the condition that the other would not make love to his own favourite.

But the young knight would not hear of any conditions, and in order to spite him still more, he went more often than before to Alexander’s favourite wife, and sang to her as much [207]as he could. When the sun told how insolent he was, Alexander turned on him and drove him out of the house. The sun chased him and burned him, so that from the white that he was he turned as black as a coal, and from the big and tall man that he was he shrivelled up and became as small as a hazelnut, and hid himself away under the hearth of a poor woman’s house, from which he squeaked “Griji, Griji ( = take care) that the sun does not catch me.” When the sun heard it, he said, “Now thou shalt always live here where thou art, and hungry and thirsty shalt thou cry Griji, Griji without stopping.” When the beautiful maidens heard what had happened, they became very angry, and then, turning into ants, they brought food to the poor cricket. To this very day they bring him food, so that he may not die of hunger. [208]




The Story of the Dog, the Cat and the Mouse.

In the beginning there was no enmity between the cat and dog, and they lived on friendly terms together and served their master (Adam) faithfully, each one doing its own work. But as you know, it is very much better to have a written agreement at the beginning than to have a row afterwards, so they decided to draw up an agreement defining the work which each had to do, and decided that the dog was to do the work outside the house, and the cat the work inside. For greater safety the dog agreed that the cat should take care of the agreement, and the cat put it in the loft.

After a time, the devil, who could not allow peace to last for a long time, must needs set the dog up against the cat; so one day the dog remarked to the cat that he was not fairly treated, he did not see why he should have all the trouble outside the house, to watch for thieves and protect the house and suffer from cold and rain, and only have scraps and bones for food, and sometimes nothing at all, whilst the cat had all the comfort, purring and enjoying herself, and living near the hearth in warmth and safety. The cat said, “An agreement is an agreement.” The dog replied, “Let me see that agreement.” The cat went quickly up the loft to fetch the agreement, but the agreement, which had been a little greasy, had been nibbled by the mice who were living in the loft, and they went on nibbling away until nothing was left of it but a heap of paper fluff, and as it was as soft as down the mice made their home of it. When the cat came up and saw what the mice had done, her fury knew no bounds, she pursued them [209]madly, killing as many as she could seize, and running after the others with the intent of catching them.

When she came down the dog asked her for the agreement, and as the cat had not brought it, the dog, taking hold of her, shook her until he got tired of shaking her.

Since that time, whenever a dog meets a cat he asks her for the agreement, and as she cannot show it to him he goes for her, and the cat, knowing what the mice had done to her, runs after them when she sees them.

In the South Slavonic folk-lore (Krauss, No. 18) there is a parallel to this story, but greatly changed from the original form. It is no longer a “creation” legend. It runs as follows:

The dogs used to receive all the meat that fell off the table. This became a habit, and so he and the cat drew up a statement to that effect, and made it a permanent rule. They wrote it on the hide of an ass, and the king of the dogs gave it to the cat—the first chancellor—to take care of it. The cat hid it away in the rafters of the house. There the skin was found by the mice, who nibbled it until there was scarcely anything left. One day a dog got badly beaten because he picked up some meat that had fallen from the table. He went and complained to the king, who sent the cat to find the document. The cat could not find it, and saw that the mice had eaten it. Since then there is a continual feud between the cat, the mice and the dog.

In this version, the entire origin of the tale has been lost. It is no longer referred to Adam, nor is there any question of a compact between a cat and dog which was broken by the latter. In the Slavonic tale there is no authority for this arrangement.

The Rumanian version approximates much more closely to the Oriental, and seems to have preserved much more faithfully the ancient form. The oldest which can thus far be traced is that in the “Alphabet of Pseudo Sirach,” printed here in the Appendix (No. III.). [210]




The Story of Adam and Eve and the Devil.

When Adam and Eve had lived for some time together, Adam suddenly noticed a change in his wife’s demeanour. Watching her narrowly, he found that she had fallen in love with the devil. She had introduced him into the house, which she had built close to the seashore. Adam, as a wise man, kept his peace, but he thought day and night what was he to do to get rid of the devil and to save his wife? At last he thought that the only way would be to take his wife away into some distant land across the sea, where the devil could not follow him. But how were they to cross that sea? At last he discovered that the best way to cross the sea would be to make a boat, and then, when it was ready, he would take his wife quietly and they would both sail away. But the devil has nothing to do but to watch other people’s doings, and to put a spoke into the wheel wherever he can. He was therefore not to be outdone in as simple a manner as Adam thought. He saw that Adam was cutting wood, and making timber and laths, and joining them together, but whenever he asked Adam what he was doing he would not answer him.

So at last he came to Eve and told her: “Look here, that husband of yours is preparing some trick, and it is meant against you and me. You better find out what is in Adam’s mind. What is he doing, and what is the meaning of it?”

Eve, in order to please the devil, asked Adam what he was doing, but he knew it was no good giving a secret into the keeping of a woman. So he kept his counsel to himself. At last, when the devil saw the boat, he told Eve: [211]

“I know what Adam means, he wants to take you away and leave me here alone. That you must not allow, but when everything is ready and he is coming to fetch you, you ask him to allow you to bring the house-snake with you. He will not refuse you, and I will take the form of the snake, and so you will carry me with you into the boat. Then we shall see who will be the cleverer, Adam or I.”

So when Adam came to fetch Eve, she asked him to be allowed to bring also the house-snake with her. Adam, good-hearted fellow as he was, did not refuse her. What did the devil do? He took the form of the snake, and to make sure of being carried into the boat, he coiled himself round Eve’s bosom, and so was carried by her into the boat, chuckling all the while at the stupidity of Adam. Adam had no suspicion who the passenger was, he had brought with him.

One day, after he had sailed a long time, Adam, tired from his work, laid himself down to rest, when he suddenly felt that the boat was sinking. Up he jumped, trimmed the sail, and looked round to see whether the boat had sprung a leak and was making water, for he could not understand why the boat should suddenly sink and let the water in. The devil, thinking that Adam was asleep and not able to watch his tricks, had made himself heavy like lead in the hope of sinking the ship and drowning Adam. But he had reckoned without his host, for Adam woke up in the nick of time and caught the Wicked One at his evil deeds. When the devil saw that Adam was awake, he changed himself quickly into a mouse. Adam did not trouble, but thought his time would come. The devil, who cannot keep quiet but must do mischief whenever he can, was not content to be left in peace, and be carried across the water, but he must needs start gnawing away at one of the planks of the ship, and so make a hole and drown Adam. His misfortune was that, just when the plank at which he was gnawing had got as thin as a sheet of paper, Adam surprised the Black One at his work. What did he do? He took off his fur glove and threw it at the mouse. [212]

The fur glove changed into a cat which, seizing the mouse, killed it and ate it up. And thus the cat got the devil into it. And that is why the cat’s hair bristles and makes sparks, and the eyes of the cat glisten in the dark. These are sparks of the devil in the cat. [213]




The Story of the Devil, Noah and the Ark.

There is another version of this tale which transfers the origin of the mouse to the ark of Noah. Noah would not allow the devil to get into the ark which he had built. In order, therefore, to get in, the devil transformed himself into a mouse, which, being surprised at the same work of gnawing away the boards of the ark, was eaten up by the cat—the fur glove which Noah threw at her.

A legend concerning the cat and mouse is found in the so-called “Alphabet of Pseudo Sirach,” here in the Appendix, No. III. According to a Bohemian legend, the devil created the mouse that it might destroy “God’s corn,” whereupon the Lord created the cat. (Ralston, p. 330 note.)

The apocryphal interpretation of the temptation of Eve by the serpent which has been identified with Satan is found in many ancient biblical legends. This story of the temptation has been transformed into a somewhat primitive love story between Eve and the devil—her paramour—who assumes the form of the house-snake and then wishes to drown poor unsophisticated Adam. [214]




The Story of the Cat, the Mouse and Noah.

When Noah had built the ark, he kept the door wide open for the animals to enter. After they had all gone in, his own family came, and last of all his wife.

Noah said to her “Come in.” She obstinately said “No.” Noah again said “Come in.” She again said “No.” Noah, getting angry, said “Oh, you devil, come in.” That was just what the devil was waiting for. He knew that Noah would not allow him to come in otherwise, and so he waited for an invitation, of which he promptly availed himself. Getting into the ark the devil changed himself into a mouse.

When the devil has nothing to do he weighs his tail. But here he found plenty to do, for, he thought, now is an opportunity of putting an end to the whole of God’s creatures. So he started gnawing on one of the planks, trying to make a hole in it. When Noah surprised him at this devilish work he threw his fur glove at him. It turned into a cat, and, in the twinkling of an eye, the mouse was in the mouth of the cat.

But Noah could not allow the peace of the ark to be broken, the animals had to live in peace with one another. So he seized the cat, with the mouse in her mouth, and flung her out of the ark into the water.

The cat swam to the ark and, getting hold of the door step, climbed on to the sill and lay down there to bask in the sun.

There she remained until the water had subsided: and ever since then, the cat likes to lie on the doorstep of the house and bask in the sun. [215]




The Story of God and the Giants of the Flood.

In olden times, huge giants existed in this world. They were so big that they could put one leg on the top of one mountain and the other on the next one. They reached as high as the heavens, and getting hold of the handles of the great gate would shake it as a man shakes a kettle. They even rebelled against God, for they knew no fear. At last, God, realising their nature, decided to destroy them, and he sent a flood which covered the highest mountains, so that you could not see of them as much as the black under the nail. So all the giants died, except one, who was the biggest of them all. He stood with one leg on the top of one mountain, and with the other on the next mountain, and with his hands he got hold of the handles of the gate of heaven. But God would not tolerate a single one of these giants, for he had decided to make men, very similar creatures to giants but smaller and more obedient. So he sent a fly to pick at his eyes, and worms to gnaw at the soles of his feet. Feeling the pain in his eyes, the giant let the gate of heaven go and wiped his eyes, with his hand, but he could not stand the gnawing of his feet, and he, falling down into the water, was drowned. From the gnawing of the soles the instep in man’s foot has come, and these flies (Sarcophaga carnaria) and worms still eat up the human bodies and all the carcases.

It is therefore a bad sign if such a fly settles on a sick man; a sure sign of death. [216]




The Pact between God and the Devil.

When God created the world, I do not know how it came about and why it was done, enough that it was done, God made a pact with the devil which they signed and sealed, and God kept the document in which it was stated that they had divided the world between them. It was settled that all the dead should go to the devil and all that was living should belong to God. After a while, the devil repented himself of this arrangement and tried to get hold of the contract. Taking advantage of God’s indulgence, he stole into heaven, and, taking the document, he made off with it. Clever though he thinks himself to be, the devil is a fool and remains a fool. So, going down from heaven, he lost the document, and did not even notice his loss until after he had plunged deep down to the bottom of the sea. The document which had fallen out of his hands was lying on the sand of the seashore.

When God noticed what the devil had done, he sent a frost so hard that it split the stones and covered up all the waters with a thick crust of ice, so that the devil could not get out. Then God sent St. Peter to fetch the agreement where it lay. St. Peter descended and was about to take it, when a magpie which watched his doings went to the sea, and whack! whack! made a hole in the ice with its beak. That was just what the devil was waiting for, and quick as lightning he came up from the bottom of the sea. But quick as he was, St. Peter was quicker, and picking up the pact he went up to heaven. The devil went after him, but could not catch him up.

When St. Peter got near the gate of heaven, the devil, [217]seeing that he had escaped him, threw his spear after him. He missed him; but not entirely, for he hit St. Peter in the sole of his foot. St. Peter cried out of pain. God asked him what had happened, and he replied, “The devil has hit me in my foot with his venomous spear.”

“Cut that bit out and throw it away,” said God.

St. Peter did as he was told, and, cutting out the wounded part from the sole of his foot, threw it at the devil. Since then the human foot is short of that bit which St. Peter had cut out when the devil had hit him with his spear.

It is not quite clear from the story as it stands whether the magpie acted as a confederate of the devil, and picked a hole in the ice deliberately so as to free him from the imprisonment, or whether the magpie quite innocently went and helped the devil against St. Peter. There is no sequel here to its action. It is neither punished nor rewarded. In this respect the story is imperfect.

There exists another popular legend intended to explain the arch in the sole of the human foot. According to the latter, it so happened that the Archangel Michael was the foremost angel in the fight between Satan and the heavenly hosts, which added to the discomfiture of Satan. When he finally was hurled down from heaven he tried to get hold of the archangel. But the angel was too quick for him. The devil missed him, but not entirely, for he seized the archangel by the sole of his foot and tore out a part of the flesh. Since then the sole of the human foot is curved in the middle. That portion is missing, which was torn out of the sole of the archangel. [218]




The Story of the Devil in Noah’s Ark.

When God had brought the Flood, and Noah’s ark was floating on the face of the waters, the wretched good-for-nothing devil wanted to destroy Noah with all those who were with him in the ark. So he fell a-thinking for a while, and invented an iron tool called now gimlet, with which he could bore holes in the wall of the ark.

The murderous devil started on his work, and poor Noah and those with him were in great danger of being drowned. They all worked hard to get the water out, but who can get the better of the devil? He worked much more quickly, and making many holes in the boards, the waters came in fast. They all believed themselves lost. But God, who does not desire the death of the sinner, and did not wish to see the work of his hands destroyed, gave cunning to the snake, and it is possible that since that day the snakes have remained wise, for does not Holy Writ tell us to be wise as the serpent? The snake came to Noah and said, “What wilt thou give me if I stop up the holes which the devil is making by which the water enters the ark?”

“What dost thou want?” replied Noah in despair.

“After the Flood thou art to give me a human being every day to be eaten by me and my seed.”

Noah, hard pressed by the imminent danger, promised to do so. No sooner did the devil bore a hole than the snake stopped it up with the tip of its tail, which it cut off, leaving it in the hole, and that is why ever since the snakes have no [219]tails. When the devil saw that his plan had failed, he ran away and left Noah’s ark in peace and all those who were in it. As soon as the Flood had passed away, Noah brought a thanksgiving sacrifice to God for having been miraculously saved. In the midst of these rejoicings the snake took courage and came up to Noah, asking for the human being of which he had promised to give her one every day to be eaten by her and her seed. When Noah heard it, he got very angry, for he said to himself, “There are so few human beings now in the world, if I give her one every day, the world will soon come to an end.” So he took hold of the beast which dared to speak to him in such a manner, and threw it into the fire. God was greatly displeased with the evil smell which arose from the fire in consequence, and sent a wind which scattered the ashes all over the face of the earth. From these ashes the fleas were born. If one considers the number of fleas that are in the world, and the amount of human blood which they are sucking, then, taking them all together, they eat up without doubt as much as a human being every day. And thus the promise made by Noah is being fulfilled.

A similar tale seems to be known among the Russians, as far as the first part of this legend is concerned. According to Ralston, Russian Folk Tales, p. 330, when the devil in the form of a mouse gnawed a hole in the Ark, the snake stopped it up with its head. In the Russian tale the two tales of the mouse and the snake are thus combined.

An Oriental legend which seems to have retained some of the incidents in the Rumanian legend is referred to in Hanauer, Folk Lore of the Holy Land, p. 283. We are told that Iblis (the devil) promises the serpent the sweetest food in the world, that is, human blood, if it helps to deceive Eve. Adam protests, as no one knew yet which is the sweetest blood. The mosquito is sent out to suck the blood of all the animals, and find out which is the sweetest. The swallow shadows the mosquito, and in the end plucks out its tongue so that it shall not be able to tell. The serpent, enraged, darts after [220]the swallow, but only gets hold of the middle feathers of the swallow’s tail, which it plucks out, hence the forked tail of the swallow. The serpent still tries to hurt man, but cannot do so in virtue of any claim.

The flea is also called the devil’s horse, for Satan rode upon a flea when he started on his rebellious fight with God. [221]




In the first quarter of the moon she who wishes to make the charm must be told by a neighbour that the moon has just risen. She then takes a glazed dish or bowl, which she has bought at the fair of the Mummers (Moşii) at the Eastertide, or one that has been given to her at that time. She fills it with “living” water taken from three wells in three new jugs brought by three virgins, who must not look back from the time they have drawn it.

This bowl filled with water is put on the window facing the moon, and she waits until the moon strikes the window and the bowl. When she can see the moon well in the bowl and at the bottom of it, she begins to charm (conjure) the fleas, etc., with three stalks taken from a new broom, and says, “New moon in the house, bugs, vermin, fleas, get ye out of the house, leave this house, be scattered—let no one meet the other before mountain meets mountain—and hill top knocks against hill top—then and then only may they meet, and not even then.” She repeats the charm three times, then she pours the water into four vessels, places them in the inner four corners of the house, and in the morning she is sure to find some of the house vermin in the vessels. These she must take out, and put into an empty box, stolen from somewhere. She must wait for a car that returns home after everything brought in it has been sold at the market, and must throw the box into that empty car, saying: “Yes, fleas, little fleas—from the house have I taken you, into a stolen box have I put you, charmed, drowned, cursed, thrown into a box, charmed [222]at new moon now, may you become the devil’s own, may you become numbed and stiff—in the nine countries—beyond the nine seas—for there they are waiting for you—at spread tables—with torches lit up. Amen!”

It is almost unnecessary to discuss at any length the charms against fleas, etc., which were considered the special tools and associates of the Evil One. The philtres in the Western countries consist mostly of poisonous ingredients taken from toads, snakes, etc., and some of the oldest charms are against flies, fleas, midges, etc. This is now, perhaps, the only complete charm in which not only the formula has been preserved, but also, what is of the highest importance, a detailed description of the ceremonial used on that occasion.

Every detail of this magical operation might be made the starting point of a separate investigation. The symbolic character of some of them is too clear to be gainsaid. We have here the crescent of the moon as an operative factor: the bowl and the box must be stolen, probably to bring down a curse upon the thief and upon him who uses it. The living water, the three maidens, the three wells, the curse of the vermin, the empty car carrying it, as it were, away for ever, the inducement for those fleas to remain there in the mythical nine countries for a feast that is awaiting them. Each and all are found in other charms, but here we have the whole operation minutely described. It is, moreover, typical of a large class of such enchantments or binding by charms. For our purpose it must be deemed quite sufficient. I have only introduced it as it is one affecting the insects and throwing light on many more charms and conjurations in which the Rumanian literature abounds. I may on another occasion discuss the whole range of the Rumanian charms. They cover the whole field of human ailments and physical troubles—a wide range indeed. [223]




Curiously enough, there do not seem to be any special legends about the origin of the bugs, but there are a good many charms which are used for getting rid of these troublesome vermin. The charms are of a symbolical nature. A suggestive action is performed which the conjurer believes will be followed by the conjured bugs. Thus: A woman in a complete state of nudity takes a mealie cake into one hand, or a crust of bread, or some other flour, and a brush used for whitewashing in the other. She nibbles at the cake or food, and whitewashes the wall, and while she is doing it, she says: “As I am eating my food and cleaning my walls so may you eat up one another and leave my walls clean of you,” after which the bugs will perish.

It is advisable to do this when the moon wanes, and the whitewashing should start from the wall which faces the door and then go on to the right until the door is reached again.

Another charm—A boy in a state of complete nudity takes bread and salt into one hand, and in the other he holds his flute and also a number of bugs, called the wedding party. Thus equipped, he goes into the high road until he passes the boundary of his field. There he starts playing the flute, and then he throws the bugs away into the road, saying: “Here I have brought for you bread and salt, and I have been singing to you with my flute, now go and have a merry wedding, and remain where you are, never returning to my home.” The bugs then never return.

Another charm, like that of the fleas, is connected with the new moon. [224]

When the new moon appears, a man, coming outside his house and seeing it, exclaims, “A new king in the land, a new king in the land.” To which one in the house standing by the window replies, “All the bugs must now go out of the house one by one, so that none remain behind.” And after repeating these words three times he rides on a besom, poker, or the oven-peel (with which the bread is shovelled into the stove), and running through the house he begins sweeping the rooms, and says whilst so doing, “Get out of the house, ye bugs, for the new king is getting married, and he invites you to his banquet, for he has no one to eat, to drink, or to dance there. Get ye out and you will eat and drink and dance until you are satisfied.”

These words must be repeated three times, viz. at the beginnings of three months. The bugs are then believed to leave the house in the form of a swarm, and to go elsewhere. [225]




The Story of the Little Boy and the Wicked Step-mother.

Once upon a time there was a poor man, who had a wife and two children, a boy and a girl. He was so poor that he possessed nothing in the world but the ashes on his hearth. His wife died, and after a time he married another woman, who was cantankerous and bad-natured, and from morning till evening, as long as the day lasted, she gave the poor man no peace, but snarled and shouted at him. The woman said to him, “Do away with these children. You cannot even keep me, how then can you keep all these mouths?” for was she not a step-mother? The poor man stood her nagging for a long time, but then, one night, she quarrelled so much that he promised her that he would take the children into the forest and leave them there. The two children were sitting in the corner but held their peace and heard all that was going on.

The next day, the man, taking his axe upon his shoulder, called to the children and said to them, “Come with me into the forest, I am going to cut wood.” The little children went with him, but before they left, the little girl filled her pocket with ashes from the hearth, and as she walked along she dropped little bits of coal the way they went. After a time they reached a very dense part of the forest, where they could not see their way any longer, and there the man said to the children, “Wait here for a while, I am only going to cut wood yonder, when I have done I will come back and fetch you home,” and leaving the children there in the thicket he went away, heavy hearted, and returned home. The children waited [226]for a while, and seeing that their father did not return, the girl knew what he had done. So they slept through the night in the forest, and the next morning, taking her brother by the hand, she followed the trace of the ashes which she had left on the road, and thus came home to their own house. When the step-mother saw them, she did not know what to do with herself, she went almost out of her mind with fury. If she could, she would have swallowed them in a spoonful of water, so furious was she. The husband, who was a weakling, tried to pacify her, and to endeavour to get the children away by one means or another, but did not succeed. When the step-mother found that she could not do anything through her husband, she made up her mind that she herself would get rid of them. So one morning, when her husband had gone away, she took the little boy, and without saying anything to anybody, she killed him and gave him to his sister to cut him up, and prepare a meal for all of them. What was she to do? If she was not to be killed like her brother, she had to do what her step-mother told her.

And so she cut him up and cooked him ready for the meal. But she took the heart, and hid it away in a hollow of a tree. When the step-mother asked her where the heart was, she said that a dog had come and taken it away. In the evening, when the husband came home, she brought the broth with the meat for the husband to eat, and she sat down and ate of it and so did the husband, not knowing that he was eating the flesh of his child. The little girl refused to eat it. She would not touch it. After they had finished, she gathered up all the little bones and hid them in the hollow of the tree where she had put the heart. The next morning, out of that hollow of the tree there came a little bird with dark feathers, and sitting on the branch of a tree, began to sing, “Cuckoo! My sister has cooked me, and my father has eaten me, but I am now a cuckoo and safe from my step-mother.” When the step-mother, who happened to be near the tree, heard what that little bird was singing, in her fury and fright she took a heavy lump of salt which lay near at hand, and threw it at [227]the cuckoo, but instead of hitting it, the lump fell down on her head and killed her on the spot. And the little boy has remained a cuckoo to this very day.

This tale is more or less a variant of a well-known type of fairy tales. Nos. 43, 44 are tales of men with inordinate and foolish wishes, who by constantly changing bring about their own undoing. This last is a variant of the story of the bad step-mother and the two children. But here the fairy tales assume a different character. [228]




The Story of the Cuckoo and the Wagtail.

The wagtail did not have the tail from the beginning. This tail originally belonged to the wren, but it happened in this manner. The wagtail was one day invited to the wedding of the lark, and as she felt ashamed to go there without any tail, as she had none, she went to the wren and asked the wren to lend her her tail for a few days. The wren, which had as now a small body but in addition a long tail, did not wish to be churlish, and lent her the tail. When the wagtail saw herself with a long tail, she did not know what to do with herself for joy, she was dancing and prancing all the way to the wedding. The wedding lasted some days. When it was over, the wren came to the wagtail and asked for the tail, but the wagtail, finding that the tail suited her so well, pretended not to hear and not to see, and took no notice of the wren. And thus it came about, from the time of the lark’s wedding, that the wren has remained without a tail, and the wagtail with one. But, fearing lest the wren would come one day and steal it, the wagtail is wagging its tail continually to be sure that she has it, and that it has not been taken away. [229]




The Story of the Hoopoe and the Cuckoo.

The tuft of the hoopoe’s head has given rise to a tale, similar to some extent to the story of the tail of the wagtail, and yet not quite identical. Like the wagtail, which originally had no tail, the hoopoe had originally no tuft on its head. But when the lark had her wedding, she invited all the birds. Among them also the hoopoe. She did not want to come with her simple feathers, but went to the cuckoo and borrowed them from him, for he had the tuft, promising to return it to him as soon as she had come back from the wedding. The cuckoo, who was a good natured and obliging fellow, trusted the hoopoe and lent her the tuft.

She went to the wedding, and her beautiful ornament was greatly admired by all the birds. Most of all was the lark pleased with it. The hoopoe grew very elated, and thought she had better keep it. And so she did. She came home, and entirely forgot the cuckoo and her promise to return him his tuft. The cuckoo waited for a while for the hoopoe to return to him the tuft which he had lent her. But the hoopoe was nowhere to be found; she never showed herself. Seeing this, the cuckoo went to her and asked her to return the tuft. She pretended not to know what the cuckoo was saying, and coolly replied, “I do not know what you are talking about.” Enraged at her callous conduct, the cuckoo called all the other birds together to lay his case before them, and to ask them to pass judgment on the hoopoe. When the birds came together, they appointed the lark to be the judge, but the lark had taken a fancy to the hoopoe ever since the wedding [230]day, so, in spite of the protestations of the cuckoo, he decided that the tuft must remain with the hoopoe, as it suited her so much better. And so it has remained to this day. But since then there is no friendship between the cuckoo and the lark, who delivered a wrong judgment.

An Eastern popular tale, Hanauer, Folk-lore of the Holy Land, p. 254 ff., explains the origin of the tuft on the head of the hoopoe as a crown given by King Solomon to this bird for its wisdom in refusing to pay homage to women. [231]




The Story of the Bewitched Brothers.

Let us pass to the story of the eagle. It is the largest bird of prey known in Rumania, and lives on young animals, lambs, goats, and so on. The story runs as follows.

Once upon a time there was such a famine in the land that the people lived on grass and even on sawdust, and were dying of hunger in untold numbers. At that time there lived a widow who had managed to husband a little flour. When she found that nothing else was left to her she took that flour and mixing it with water kneaded it into dough. Then she lit the furnace, and got a shovel to put the dough on it and thence into the furnace to bake. This woman had two sons and one daughter. The two boys came in just at the moment when the loaves of dough were on the shovel. They were so hungry that they did not wait for the dough to be baked, and before their mother had time to put the shovel into the oven they got hold of the dough, raw and uncooked as it was, and ate it up to the smallest bit. They did not leave even a little piece for their mother and sister. When the mother saw the terrible greediness of her children, and that they ate the raw stuff and did not leave even a small piece for her or their sister, she cursed them and said, “May you be cursed by God and be changed into two birds; may you haunt the highest peaks of the mountains; may you never be able to eat bread even when you see it, because you did not leave any for me this day.” No sooner had the boys gone out of the house than they were changed into two huge eagles, who, spreading their wings, [232]flew away to the ends of the earth, no one knowing whither they had gone. A short time afterwards their sister, who had not been at home when all this had happened, came in, and she asked the mother where her brothers were. Her mother did not tell her what had happened, and said that the brothers, finding it was impossible for them to live any longer here, had gone out into the wide world to live by their own earnings. When the girl heard this she wept, and said, “If that be so, then I will also go out into the wide world, and will seek my brothers until I find them,” and would not listen to the words of her mother, who wanted to keep her back. She said good-bye and departed, and travelled on and on for a long time, until she came to the ends of the earth, where the sun and moon no longer shone and the days were dark.

So she fell a-praying, and said, “I have gone in search of my brothers; O God, help me,” and as she turned round she saw a forest full of high trees which she had not noticed before, and she said to herself, “I will go into that forest; I am sure nothing will happen to me,” and so she did. She went into the forest not knowing where she was going. In the midst of it she saw a beautiful meadow full of singing birds, and there was a huge castle surrounded by thick walls and closed by a gate with six locks. At the entrance of the gate there were two huge monsters. She was very frightened. Still she watched until these monsters had fallen asleep, and then slipping past them she entered the gates. There she was met by a fox, who said to her, “What has brought thee hither into this the other world from the world outside? I fear our master will eat you up. As soon as he comes home he will swallow you.” Still she went on, and on entering the house she met the mistress of the house, who asked her the same question, and she told her what had happened to her from the beginning to the end, and that she had gone out into the wide world to seek for her lost brothers. When the mistress heard her tale she took pity on her, and taking her into the innermost chamber she hid her there, and then went to await the home-coming of the master. About midday, when [233]the sun stands on the cross-ways of heaven, there was a great noise in the house; the place shook, for the master had come, and he was none other than a huge lion.

At table, the mistress said to him, “O my master, thou hast always been so good to me; I ask you to be once more good and kind; promise me.” And he promised, and asked her her request. She told him what had happened to that girl, and said that she had come there from the other world in search of her brothers. The lion called the young girl, who was greatly frightened, and she told him again all that had happened to her. He then said, “I will call together all my subjects and ask them whether they have seen your brothers passing by this way, or whether meeting them they have eaten them.”

So he called from far and near all the animals who were in his dominion, and he asked them about the brothers. But they all said that these had never passed through the land, and they had neither seen them nor eaten them. So the lion told her to go on. She went on and came to another forest, very big and dark, and walking for a time in it she came to another meadow full of birds singing so beautifully that you could not hear enough of them, and there in the midst was a house deep down in the ground with a thatched roof. The girl went in the house, and there was an old woman sitting on the oven.1 “May God help you,” said the young girl, and the old woman replied, “Welcome, my daughter, what has brought you here into this part of the world never yet trodden by human foot?” And the girl told her that she had left her mother’s house and gone in search of her brothers. The woman said, “Your brothers are alive, but they are under a spell, for they have been charmed into huge birds, and they live yonder in the castle on that steep mountain. If you can reach that place you will be able to see your brothers.”

Full of joy at these tidings, the girl went to the mountain and found that it was a bare, steep, high cliff with little patches of grass here and there, just the place for eagles’ nests. Taking courage, she started climbing up, and after endless toil reached [234]the top. There she saw a huge palace surrounded by iron walls, and going inside she saw a room; the table was set and food was on the table. As she was very hungry, she went round the table and took a bit from every dish. Then she hid herself, watching to see what would happen. She had not to wait very long, for soon two huge eagles came from the depths of heaven. They entered and sat down at the table and began to eat their meal. Suddenly one of them said to the other, “Halloo, some one must have been here, for I see that my food has been nibbled.” The other said, “It is impossible for any one to come here,” and took no further notice of it.

On the second day they noticed that once again some of their food had been eaten again, and so on the third day, when more of it had been eaten. So they started hunting through the house to find out who was hidden there, for surely some one must have come to eat the food. After a long search they found the girl huddled up in a small room. As soon as they saw her they recognised her as their sister, and taking her into the large hall they asked her what had happened and what had brought her to them. She told them all that had happened to her, and how she had been through the forest and climbed up the mountain, and that she was now there with them. The brothers then said to her, “We are under a spell; mother has cursed us. We have now been changed into birds of prey; but if you will stay here for six years and not speak a single word, that will save us; the spell will be broken, and we shall again be human beings.” The girl promised to do all they wished, as the old woman whom she had met before had told her that she was to do whatever her brothers would wish her to do. And there she remained. Her brothers spread their wings and flew away. Five years had past, the girl not seeing anything of them, and not speaking all the time. After that time she said to herself, “What is the good of my sitting here and keeping silent when none of them have come; perchance they are dead, or who knows what has happened?” No sooner had she opened her mouth and spoken a word when [235]in came her two brothers, and said to her mournfully, “Thou hast not kept thy vow, thou hast broken thy promise, thou hast spoken! If thou wouldst have waited one more year we would have become human beings, and the spell would have been broken. Now we are cursed forever. We must remain eagles and birds of prey.” And so they have remained to this day, preying on birds and beasts, living on raw meat, never being able to touch bread, and even picking up children under six years of age, the years which their sister had to wait in order to break the spell.

In this story we find again well-known motives from fairy tales, especially that of “Snow White and the Dwarfs,” in which Snow White comes into the house and nibbles at the food which is on the table, so that her presence is thereby disclosed. But here the tale has been used for the purpose of explaining the origin of the eagle. Other details there are in that tale which are not clearly brought out in this, for at the bottom of it lies the tale of the grateful animals. That is the reason why the lion spares the girl and also the good fairy, whom she serves faithfully, here represented by the old woman in the house with the thatched roof, by whom she is rewarded by being shown the way to her lost brothers.

All these elements have here been combined in the bird tale. A close parallel to this tale is to be found in Grimm, No. 25. [236]

1 The Rumanian oven.




The Story of the Glass Mountain.

Once upon a time there was a man who was under a spell. He got married to a woman, and after a time he suddenly disappeared. He was carried away by the spell, no one knew whither. The poor woman waited for him one day and another day and a third day, and seeing that he did not return she went out into the world to search after him. And so, passing through many a country, she came at last to the house where Holy Thursday lived, a good old woman, who was the mistress of a third of all the birds in the world. When she saw the traveller, she asked her what had brought her there, and the poor woman, weeping, told her how she had gone in search of her husband, who had suddenly disappeared, and whom she had not been able to find anywhere in the world.

Holy Mother Thursday said to her, “Wait, I will call all my birds together, and I shall hear from them whether they know where your husband is.” In the evening she called all the birds who were under her rule, and asked them whether they knew what had happened to the man. They all replied that they had not seen him, and they did not know whither he had gone. Sad at heart, the poor woman went away, and came to Holy Mother Saturday, who ruled over half the birds in the world. She asked the young woman how she had come to that part of the world, and what had brought her thither.

The poor woman told her tale, and also that Holy Mother Thursday could not find where her husband was. So Mother Saturday called her birds, and asked them whether they had seen anything of the poor woman’s husband. They all replied [237]that they had not seen anything of him, and did not know what had become of him. Greatly disappointed, the poor woman went on her way, until she came to the house of the Holy Mother Sunday, who ruled over all the birds. After hearing from the woman what had brought her to her house, she called all the birds together, and put the same question to them. None of the birds knew where the husband was except the cock lark. He said he knew where the husband was, a very long way off. Then Mother Sunday asked the bird whether he could carry the woman to that place.

“Willingly will I abide by your command, O mistress,” said the bird; and taking the woman on his back, he rose up high in the air, and started flying to the place whither the husband had been carried. And so flying, they came at last to a high mountain made all of glass. The bird could not go up that mountain, so they shod his little feet with iron, and slowly, slowly, they climbed up that mountain until they came to the top. The woman, however, was so much frightened by the flight that she clutched at the feathers on the top of the lark, and held tightly to them, fearing to lose her hold. Since that time the ruffled feathers have remained upstanding, and hence the tuft on the head of the male lark.

It is peculiar that the tale here ends abruptly without telling us whether the woman met her husband, or whether she was able to break the spell. It is probably tacitly assumed. [238]




The Story of the Helpful Lark.

Another story of the lark tells of one who went in search of his sister, who had been stolen away from her home by Sila Samodiva.1 He was directed by a curious dream, in which he saw an old man with a long white beard, who told him to go in search of her, for he was sure to find her. On his way he came to a very old man, who turned out to be the king of all the birds. In the evening all the birds came to him to be fed, but one bird was missing. It came in rather late, limping and tired, and when the king saw it he recognised it to be the lark. And he asked the bird why it was so tired and what had befallen it. The bird said, “Thou hast ordered me to live so far away that it takes me a very long time to come to the court, and it is with great difficulty that I have been able to come here to this place in obedience to thy command.” Then the king asked the lark where he had his nest, and when he replied in the gardens of Sila Samodiva, the brother was full of joy, for that was the place where his sister had been taken. Then the king asked the bird whether he could lead the man to that place. “Willingly will I do so,” replied the lark. “I will jump from tree to tree and from bush to bush, and flutter about gently, and if he follows me I am sure to lead him to the place of his desire.” And so following the bird, he reached a golden palace in which the fairy Sila Samodiva was living. He entered the palace by holding on to the tuft of the lark, which has since remained dishevelled. A fairy put him to various trials, which he [239]successfully accomplished, and thus was able to rescue his sister and to return home in safety.

Needless to point out, that in these two tales we have parallels to the famous legend of the hoopoe in the Solomonic cycle. In it Solomon orders all the birds to come and render homage; only one bird does not appear at the proper time. It comes in very late, limp, tired and exhausted, and excuses itself by telling Solomon of its long flight from the court of the Queen of Sheba, to whom King Solomon then sends a message by means of the same bird. But we are not told in this story anything of the origin of the bird, except that it is described as one leading the travellers to the places in the other world which they wish to reach. Another very elaborate fairy tale gives us the origin of the lark. [240]

1 Sila Samodiva, one of the fairies of the Rumanian popular tales.




The Story of the Princess and her Love for the Sun.

A very long time ago, so long indeed that no one can remember when it happened, there lived a king and queen. They had everything which their heart desired, except that they had no children. They were good and charitable people, and distributed alms and prayed, but all in vain. At last, when they had given up every hope, they were suddenly blessed with a child. It was a little girl, and she was so sweet and so beautiful that they called her Little Light. The parents could not see enough of her, and so they kept her in their palace all the time, until one day her mother allowed her to go out into the garden.

In the wall of the garden there was a small gate leading into a beautiful meadow. The young princess opened the gate and went into the meadow and looked around her, for she had never before been out of her rooms. She rejoiced at the flowers and birds and animals, but more than anything was she pleased with the sight of the sinking sun, and with the golden rays which he sent through the heavens. She was so pleased with that sight that she went every day in the afternoon to watch for the glorious sun and his golden rays. Thus one day passed, and again another day, and she fell deeply in love with the sun, and being in love, she decided that she must go and find him. So great was her love that she did not look at any young man, and grew thinner, weaker and sadder every day, until she could not bear it any longer; and going to her parents, she said that she could not stay any longer at home, and that she must go out into the world. The [241]parents tried in vain to keep her at home, but, seeing that all their efforts were of no avail, they let her go, and she went. She took money and food with her, and went along not knowing the right way.

So long as the money and the food lasted she felt quite happy, but a time came when both had come to an end, and she was in a very sore plight, not knowing what to do. Moreover, she was frightened to go alone, for she was in woman’s clothes. Suddenly she found herself in the midst of a wide field full of dead bodies. A battle had been fought there, and the field was strewn with the dead. So she took one of the uniforms of the soldiers, dressed herself up in a man’s garb, and, finding a horse, mounted on it and rode along with her face turned towards the sinking sun. On the way she found then an old woman dressed all in black, sitting close to a well, and weaving gossamer and cobweb. She addressed her as the Black One, which seemed to please the old woman, who told her to turn towards the rising sun until she would come to a glass mountain; she would have to reach the top of the mountain, and then she was sure to find her way to the palace of the sun. She rode on and came to the glass mountain. When she had reached the top, after having had the horse shod again at the bottom of the hill, she found a palace, but it was not that of the sun. It was inhabited by three sisters, who received her in very friendly fashion, and treated her with great hospitality. Thinking that she was a man, they all fell in love with her; but she told them she was a woman, and they left her to continue her quest. Before leaving they gave her a magic sword, which, if drawn half out of its sheath, killed half the number of an army, and if drawn entirely, killed the entire army of the enemy. By this means she was able to vanquish the enemies of a great king, who, discovering her to be a girl, wanted to marry her; but she escaped and continued her journey towards the rising sun.

On the way she met with a very old man, whose white hair had grown down to his ankles, and who was so weak that he could scarcely open his mouth. Little Light washed him and [242]fed him and cut his hair. When he had eaten and felt himself refreshed, he told her which way to go; then he gave her a piece of bread, and told her that on her way to the palace a wild dog would come out against her; she must give him that bread and none other, and before entering the palace she must drink of the water of the fountain at the gate of the palace. A three-headed dog met her, she gave him the bread, and he suddenly disappeared after having eaten it. Then she went and drank of the water in the well, and was able to look at the golden palace in front of her, which was so radiant and so luminous that no human eye could look at it without being blinded. Then she went into the palace, and there, in the middle of the hall, who should be sitting at the table and eating but the glorious sun, beautiful and luminous as only the sun can be?

When Little Light saw him, she almost fainted with joy, but he also, turning to her and seeing her beautiful face, felt himself drawn to her, for he had never yet seen such a wonderful human being. There in the hall was also the mother of the sun. When she saw Little Light, she turned fiercely on her, and cursing her said, “O thou wicked child of man, born of sin, thou hast come here to defile the immaculate purity of my son and to lead him on to sin and wickedness. Thou shalt no longer remain a human being, thou shalt become a bird flying as high as to get near the sun, and there, seeing the beloved who cannot be thine, thou shalt cry plaintively for him whom thou hast won and yet lost.” At that moment Little Light was changed into the lark, which at the break of dawn, before the sun rises, flies up into the sky trying to get as near as possible to the sun, and there cries plaintively at the loss of her beloved. [243]




Another Version.

A variant of this story tells us that after the girl had left the king’s palace and had gone on seeking for the sun, she came to a river, and did not know how to cross it. Whilst she was sitting there at the bank of the river, not knowing what to do, there came out of the river a girl dressed in white, who told her that she would reach the palace and yet not reach it; and as she spoke these words, there came a bridge and spanned the river. The girl went across the bridge, and going on in her journey, she came to a field where an old woman was watching a flock of geese. Curious as old women are, this one asked the girl what had brought her hither, and whither she was going, and who she was. The girl answered politely, and the old woman, being touched by her beauty, gave her a twig in her right hand and placed a ring on her left hand, and told her to cross herself with the twig, and then she would see what would happen. She did so, and she suddenly felt herself lifted up high in the air and carried as fast as a thought to some distant land. When she found herself again on the ground, she saw the palace of the sun facing her, but the palace was surrounded by a river, over whose waters, clear as tears, there was no bridge. An old man carried the passengers across, but he had to be paid with a silver coin. Those who did not pay had to wander round that river for a year. Remembering the ring which the old woman had given her, she offered it to the old man instead of a coin; he accepted it and carried her across. On the other side a two-headed dog came out and barked at her furiously. At his barking an old woman came out, who [244]was none other than the mother of the sun. The poor girl did not know who it was; she might have been careful with her answer if she had. The woman asked her who she was and what she had come for. The girl, who was truthfulness itself, said in her simplicity that she had come to see the sun whom she loved so much. When the old woman heard this, she cursed her, and thus she became the lark flying about high in the air, and trying in vain to reach her beloved.

It is evident that we have here reminiscences of ancient myths, which have assumed a very peculiar shape in the mind of the people. It would be difficult to say whether these are survivals of Greek myths, of Charon, who ferries the dead across the river, and other legends connected with Apollo, or whether we have here later stories which have lingered on in the Balkans and have then been carried across the Danube. Whatever the connection, one cannot deny that we are dealing here with materials closely akin to those which form the substance of some parts of ancient Greek mythology, but in a modified form. Charon has survived to this very day in the legends and in the folk-lore of modern Greece, no less than in that of Macedonia and the other peoples of the Balkans. It is curious, however, that in this tale no blending with Christianity has taken place. We find various layers of religious belief which seem to have been superimposed upon one another, each one as it were leading an independent life of its own, seldom mixing to such an extent that the line of demarcation between what, in the absence of another term, one might call heathen mythology and Christian mythology or legendary lore. [245]




A Christmas Carol.

White flowers, O Ler,1

What cloud appears on the horizon?

It is not a cloud, a black cloud,

But a young man

On a yellow charger.

The saddle glitters like gold;

The stirrups shine like silver;

The whip with a beautiful handle;

And bells tinkling on his reins.

He is gone to hunt—

To hunt, to woo.

He met a beautiful maid,

The like of whom there is not in the world.

It was the queen of the fairies—

Iana, the sister of the Sun.

He met her,

He took hold of her,

And in his cellar he hid her—

In the cellar of the peacocks.

The Sun, as soon as he got wind of it,

Sent immediately after her

The morning dawn to search,

The twilight stars to seek.

But the young man,

What did he say?

“For what are you searching,

Dawn of the morning?

And what are you seeking,

Stars of the evening?

Go into every nook,

But beware of the cellar.

If a peacock will escape,

I will take one of the sun’s steeds instead.

And if a hen will escape,

I will wed his sister.

For I have found her,

I have taken her,

And into my house I brought her.”

This the young man—

May he keep in good health,

With his brother,

And his parents,

And with all of us together.

This belongs to the series of the sun myths, curiously connected here also with the peacock. I am not aware of any parallel to this legend. Here a young man tries to woo the sister of the sun. In the lark stories it is the young girl who wishes to marry the sun, represented as a young man. They [246]all belong to the same cycle, into which apparently so far the Christian element is absent. The remarkable part of it is, that this and the other songs are Christmas carols, connected probably with the Festival of the Sun with which Christmas was originally connected. It is the time of the winter solstice and the birth of the new sun. This probably explains the part which the sun legend plays in so many Rumanian Christmas carols. [247]

1 Probably a reminiscence of Ler, the old Slavonic God of Love.




A Christmas Carol.

Here, O Lord; there, O Lord,

In these houses, in these palaces and yards,

There have grown, O Lord,

Grown two tall apple trees.

Wonderful they are,

Joined in their roots,

United and entwined in their tops

The tree reaches up to the sky,

The bark is of silver,

And the fruit of gold.

But the fruit

Could not be plucked,

Through the threat of the Black Sea,

For the Sea was boasting,

And with its mouth saying:

“Who is here in the world

Who would dare to shoot at my apples?”

No one was found;

No one dares.

But when he heard the boast of the Sea,

Went home quickly to his house,

Went up the stairs,

Took the bow from the nail—

The bow with the arrows—

Placed them in his bosom,

And riding on his black charger,

He came to the Sea.

Arrived at the Sea,

He put his hand into his bosom,

Drew forth

The bow with the arrows,

And pointed the arrow to the tree.

The tops of the apple-tree—

The wonderful apples—

Thus spake to him:

“Stop. Do not shoot,

For we will give thee

The sister of the sun,

The niece of the fairies, the beauty among the beauties,”

He was persuaded,

And did not shoot the apples.

He mounted his charger,

Took his bow and arrow,

And turned back.

He had not gone a long way,

When he looked back,

And what he saw filled him with wonderment;

For there came,

There ran a pale-faced damsel.

She neither laughed

Nor rejoiced,

But wept bitterly, tearing her golden hair,

Scratching her white face.

But the knight said to her:

“Stop, O Princess. [248]

Stop, O Queen.

I do not take thee

For a slave to me,

But my mistress shalt thou be,

A good mistress of the house,

A good ruler

Of the household,

A niece

To uncles,

A sister-in-law to brothers,

A daughter-in-law to parents,

Dispenser at the treasury,

Mistress of my wealth.”

The girl, hearing his words,

Ceased from crying,

And joined him joyfully.

And ... the brave man, may he live in health with his brothers,

With his parents,

And with all of us together.

We have here again the intertwined trees of the Tristram and Isolde legend; the special golden apples of Hesperides fame, and even since of the fairy tales. In the latter, the golden apple represents often the palace of the giant, with all the treasures that it contains, and the possession of the apple brings with it the possession of the princess. The Black Sea plays here a part, which reminds one of the raging sea in the pilgrimage of the soul. But what is of importance here is that the princess is called “the sister of the sun.” [249]




The Story of the Swan Maiden and the King.

This is in its essence the well-known story of the swan-maidens, but with a very marked difference. It is here used more or less to describe the origin of the swan, whilst the tale of the swan-maiden presupposes the existence and knowledge of such birds.

The version, which I have been able to find is, however, not complete; still it is clear enough for our purpose. It runs as follows:

Once upon a time a king went out hunting, and after he had been hunting in the forest for a long time without finding anything, he found himself suddenly in an open plain, in which there was a huge lake, and in the midst of the lake he saw there a bird swimming about, the like of which he had never seen before. It was a swan.

Drawing his bow, he wanted to shoot it. To his surprise it spoke to him in a human voice, and said, “Do not kill me.” So he tried his best to catch it, and succeeded. Pleased with the capture of the bird, he carried it home alive, and gave it to the cook to kill it to make a meal of it for him. The cook was a Gipsy. She whetted her knife and went to the bird to cut its throat, when, to her astonishment, the bird turned three somersaults, and there stood before her a most beautiful maiden, more beautiful than she had ever seen before. So she ran to the king and told him what had happened.

The king, who first thought that the cook was trying to play some trickery with him, did not listen to her, but when she [250]persisted in her tale, the king, driven by curiosity, went into the kitchen, and there he saw a girl more beautiful than any that he had ever yet set his eyes upon.

He asked her who she was, and she said she was the swan who was swimming on the lake, that she had wilfully gone away from her mother, who lived in the land of fairies, and that she had left two sisters behind. So the king took her into the palace and married her. The Gipsy, who was a pretty wench, had thought that the king would marry her, and when she saw what had happened, she was very angry. But she managed to conceal her anger, and tried to be kind to the new queen, biding her time all the while.

The king and queen lived on for a while in complete happiness, and after a time a child was born unto her.

It so happened that the king had to go on a long journey, leaving the wife and child in the care of the Gipsy. One day the Gipsy came to the queen, and said to her, “Why do you always sit in the palace? come, let us walk a little in the garden, to hear the birds singing, and to see the beautiful flowers.” The queen, who had no suspicion, took the advice of the Gipsy, and went with her for a walk into the garden. In the middle of the garden there was a deep well, and the Gipsy said artfully to the young queen, “Just bend over the well, and look into the water below, and see whether your face has remained so beautiful as it was on the first day when you turned into a maiden from being a swan.”

The queen bent over the well to look down into the depths, and that was what the Gipsy was waiting for, for no sooner did the queen bend over the well, than, getting hold of her by her legs, she threw her down head foremost into the well and drowned her. When the king came home and did not find the queen, he asked what had happened, and where she was. The Gipsy, who had meanwhile taken charge of the child, and looked after it very carefully, said to the king that the young queen, pining for her old home, had turned again into a swan and flown away.

The king was deeply grieved when he heard this, but believing [251]what the Gipsy had told him, he thought that nothing could be done, and resigned himself to the loss of his wife.

The Gipsy woman looked after the child with great care, hoping thereby that she might win the king’s love, and that he would marry her. A month, a year passed, and nothing was heard of the wife. And the king, seeing the apparent affection of the Gipsy for the child, decided at last to marry her, and fixed the day of the wedding. Out of the fountain into which the queen had been thrown, there grew a willow tree with three branches, one stem in the middle and two branching out right and left. Not far from the garden there lived a man who had a large flock of sheep. One day he sent his boy to lead the sheep to the field. On his way the boy passed the king’s garden with the well in the middle of it.

As the boy had left his flute at home, when he saw the willow he thought he would cut one of the branches and make a flute.

Going into the garden, he cut the middle stem, and made a flute of it. When he put it to his lips, the flute by itself began to play as follows: “O boy, do not blow too hard, for my heart is aching for my little babe which I left behind in the cradle, and to suckle at the black breast of a Gipsy.” When the boy heard what the flute was playing, not understanding what it meant, he was greatly astonished, and ran home to tell his father what had happened with the flute.

The father, angry that he had left the sheep alone, scolded him, and took away the flute. Then he tried to see whether the boy had told the truth. As soon as he put it to his mouth the flute started playing the same tune as when the boy had tried to play it. The father said nothing, and wondering at the meaning of the words he hid the flute away in a cupboard.

When the king’s wedding-day drew near, all the musicians of the kingdom were invited to come and play at the banquet. Some of them passed the old man’s house, and hearing from them that they were going to play at the king’s banquet, he [252]remembered the marvellous flute, and he asked whether he could not go also, as he could play the flute so wonderfully well. His son—the young boy—had meanwhile gone into the garden in the hope of getting another flute, as the willow had three branches. So he cut one of the branches and made a flute of it. Now this flute did not play at all.

When the old man came to the palace, there was much rejoicing and singing. At last his turn came to play. As soon as he put the flute to his lips, the flute sang: “O man, do not blow so hard, for my heart aches for my little babe left in the cradle to be suckled by a black Gipsy.”

The Gipsy, who was the king’s bride and sat at the head of the table, at once understood the saying of the flute, although she did not know what the flute had to do with the queen whom she had killed.

The king, who marvelled greatly at the flute and at the tune which it was singing, took a gold piece and gave it to the man for the flute, and when he started blowing it, the flute began to sing: “O my dear husband, do not blow so hard, for my heart aches for our little babe whom I left in the cradle to be suckled by the black Gipsy. Quickly, quickly, do away with this cruel Gipsy, as otherwise thou wilt lose thy wife.”

The guests who were present marvelled at the song, and no one understood its meaning. The Gipsy, however, who understood full well what it meant, turning to the king, said, “Illustrious king, do not blow this flute and make thyself ridiculous before thy guests, throw it into the fire.” But the king, who felt offended by the words of the Gipsy, made her take up the flute and blow. With great difficulty she submitted to the order of the king, and she was quite justified in refusing to play it, for no sooner had she put the flute to her lips when it sang: “You enemy of mine, do not blow hard, for my heart aches for my little babe left in the cradle to be suckled by thee, thou evil-minded Gipsy. Thou hast thrown me into the well, and there put an end to my life, but God had pity on me, and he has preserved me to be again the true wife of this illustrious king.” [253]

Furious at these words, the Gipsy threw the flute away with so much force that she thought it would break into thousands of splinters. But it was not to be as she thought, for by this very throw the flute was changed into a beautiful woman, more beautiful, indeed, than any had ever seen before. She was the very queen whom the Gipsy had thrown into the well.

When the king saw her, he embraced her and kissed her, and asked her where she had been such a long time. She told him that she had slept at the bottom of the well into which she had been thrown by the Gipsy, who had hoped to become the queen, and this would have come to pass had it not been for the boy cutting a flute out of the stem of the willow-tree. “And now, punish the Gipsy as she deserves, otherwise thy wife must leave thee.”

When the king heard these words, he called the boy and asked him whether he had cut himself a flute from the stem of the willow tree which had grown out of the well in the garden.

“It is so, O illustrious king;” said the boy, “and may I be forgiven for the audacity of going into the king’s garden. I went and cut for myself a flute from the stem of the willow tree, and when I began to blow it, it played, ‘Do not blow so hard, O boy, for my heart is aching within me,’ etc.” Then he told him he had gone back to his father, who instead of praising him for the marvellous flute, gave him a good shaking. He had then gone a second time into the garden, and had cut off one of the branches to make a flute; but this did not play like the first one. The king gave the boy a very rich gift, and he ordered the Gipsy to be killed.

Some time afterwards, the queen came to the king and asked leave to go to her mother to tell her all that had happened to her, and to say good-bye for ever now, as she henceforth would live among human beings. The king reluctantly gave way. She then made three somersaults, and again became a swan, as she had been when the king found her for the first time on the waters of the lake. [254]

Spreading her wings she flew far away until she reached the house of her mother, who was quite alone. Her two sisters were not there. They had left her some time ago and no one knew whither they had gone. The young queen did not go into the house, she was probably afraid lest her mother would not let her go back again, so she settled on the roof, and there she sang: “Remain in health, good mother mine, as the joy is no longer granted thee to have me with thee in thine house, for thou wilt only see me again when I lose my kingdom, dear mother mine, not before, and not till then.” And without waiting for the answer of her mother she returned back again to her husband. Sitting on the window sill, she sung again: “Rise up, O husband, open the doors, wake up the servants and let them be a witness of my faithfulness to thee, for since I have married thee I have left my mother, and my sisters have gone away from me, and from a swan I have become a true wife to live in happiness with thee. Henceforth I shall no longer be a swan, but thou must take care of me that I do not go hence from thee. I do not know whether my fate will be a better one by being a queen in this world. O sweet water, how I long to bathe in thee! And my white feathers, they will belong to my sisters. Since I am to leave them for ever, and my mother with them, O Lord, what have I done? Shall I be able to live upon the earth, and shall I keep the kingdom? Thou, O Lord, O merciful, hearken unto me and grant that this kingdom may not be in vain.” And turning again head over heels, she became a woman as before, and entering the palace she lived there with her husband—the king—and if they have not died since they are still alive.

Here we have the origin of the swans, for since that time the swans have come to this world.

It is a remarkable tale, in which the element of the swan-maiden story has been mixed up with the type of the false wife. It claims, however, special attention, for we have here what I believe to be “the song of the dying swan.” It is [255]practically the song of the swan before her death as a swan, and her rebirth as a fairy maiden, which is contained in the concluding portion.

I am not aware of any other parallel to this peculiar song, although the fable that the swan sings a very beautiful song before his death is well known from antiquity.

Here follows another version of the swan legend in the form of a ballad. [256]




A Christmas Carol.

High up on the top of the mountains,

On the brow of the rocks,

At the gates of the fairies,

On the land of Neculea,

Appeared a white swan

Sent by God,

Selected by God.

She has been flying under the heavens,

And settled on the rock.

She turned off from her flight,

And fell near the brave,

For he is to wed

The little white swan.

The king’s son, as soon as he saw her,

Was wounded at his heart,

And spake as follows:

“O thou white fairy,

O thou beautiful swan,

I will bathe thee in a bath of white milk,

So that thou shouldst not be able to depart.”

The swan replied, and said:

“Young son of kings,

I will not be bathed,

For I am not a white swan,

But the fairy from heaven,

From the gate of Paradise.”

The prince, when he heard her,

His love burned in him fiercely

And what did he say with his mouth?

“O thou white little swan,

O thou beautiful fairy,

Stay here and be my wife.”

The swan answered and replied,

And thus spake with her mouth:

“I will wed thee,

And remain as wife to thee,

If thou wilt go,

If thou wilt bring me

The bird of heaven

And the crown of Paradise.

The bird which sings in heaven with sweet and beautiful speech,

To which God Almighty and the angels listen constantly,

Singing among the trees in bloom,

And some laden with ripe fruit;

And the crown of Paradise,

Of the Paradise of God,

Woven of jasmine,

With the fruits of virginity.”

When the prince heard her words,

He went to his stable-yard of stone, [257]

Brought forth his whole stud—a great company—

And he started on his journey

On the road

Where the sun rises.

Nine horses he made lame,

Other nine horses he broke ere he arrived at the mansion of the Lord,

At the gate of Paradise.

Who came there to meet him?

St. Basile came to meet him,

Came to try him, and to ask him

What might be his wish?

What might be in his mind?

The prince replied and said:

“The Holy God has selected for me,

The Holy God has sent to me

A wonderful swan to wed me,

But she will not marry me

Until she wears

The crown of Paradise,

The crown of our Lord,

Woven with jasmine,

With fruits of virgin maidens.

She will not marry me,

Unless at our wedding sings

The bird of heaven and the Lord’s bird,

Which discourses here in Paradise,

With such sweet and charming speech,

In between the blooming trees—

Some decked with flowers,

Others laden with fruit—

And the Lord

And the angels listen constantly.”

Thus spake the Prince,

Praying very deeply,

And shed tears all the while.

St. Basile had mercy on him.

He gave him the bird

And the crown.

He then returned to

The crest of the mountains,

The valley of Neculea.

There he set the bird free,

And placed the crown upon the altar,

And he spake thus:

“Come forth, my beautiful swan,

Come forth, my wonderful fairy.

Behold the crown,

And listen to the bird;

For the crown is that of Paradise,

From the mansions of the Lord;

And the bird is the bird of heaven,

From among the trees of Paradise.”

When the swan came forth, it turned into a maiden fair;

The crown leapt on to her head;

The bird began to sing,

With sweet and beautiful song,

The song of heaven.

They went to church,

And the priest married them.

Who was his sponsor?

Who but St. John,

Who stood sponsor to Jesus.

He blessed them,

And gave them,

To each one gifts,

To her a small cross,

As well as a small Ikon;

To him a staff of silver,

To rule over the whole world,

To have power upon earth.

And this young bride

With golden tresses

That shone like the sun’s rays, [258]

Together with her groom,

Young and brave,

May they live

For many years

With happy cheer and with health,

Together with their brothers

And with their parents.

Here we have a remarkable “carol,” full of mystical lore, in which the swan-like maiden in the tale is really a fairy in disguise. The bird of heaven, and the crown of paradise, and all the rest stand here for the tests which often are found in fairy tales. The hero must first win these mythical beings before he can obtain the love of the maiden, or probably before she can turn from a swan into a human being, and remain as such. We have here thus a version of the large cycle of the Swan Maiden (v. Cosquin, ii. 16; Saineanu, p. 264 ff.). Such miraculous birds occur very often in Rumanian (v. Saineanu, p. 410 ff.). [259]




The Story of the Cannibal Innkeeper.

This is more or less a fairy tale, but of a very complicated character. Various elements are combined in it. It begins as do many tales, with the fact that a couple had a child after many years: that child is a beautiful girl, who, left as an orphan, dresses up in a man’s clothes, works at the house of a rich man, where she after a time resumes her character as a girl: the chieftain of robbers falls in love with her, but when he asks his companions to go and steal her away from her master, everyone refuses. He then goes himself, disguised as a servant: he stays for some time in the same house: when he asks her to marry him, she refuses. His attempts at stealing her are frustrated by a little dog which she had received from her parents. One night he succeeds in catching the dog, and, assisted by some of his comrades whom he had summoned for the purpose, he is able to carry her away to his house. There she refuses again to marry him, and when he finds that neither good words, nor threats, nor beating make her change her mind, he gets so furious that he decides to sell her to a wild and cruel innkeeper who lives some distance away.

Now this innkeeper used to rob the travellers: then he used to kill them, cut them in pieces, and, after having cooked them, he gave their flesh to his customers to eat. When he received the girl he took her first into a very large room, in which there was only a table and chairs round it. That was the room where he used to feed all the travellers who came to him. Then he took her into another apartment which was full of gold and silver and vestments of silk, and round the walls [260]were hanging weapons of all kinds, all robbed from the people who had lodged in that place, and whom he had murdered. Then he took her into a third room. There was a pillar, and on it were hanging two knives and an axe, with which he used to kill and cut up his victims; and along the walls there were hooks, and on each hook a human head. He showed all these things to the girl, who was greatly frightened, and who expected now to be killed by this cruel man. But he somehow seemed to have taken some pity on her, or perhaps he wanted to keep her for some time longer; whatever the reason, he took her and pushed her into another room, quite behind all these rooms, and locked the door upon her; and he told her to wait until he came back, and she was to do all that she was told. She had taken the little dog with her, and that seemed to comfort her. Soon afterwards he brought in a boy whom he had captured in the forest gathering berries, and taking him into an inner apartment he cut his head off, and cut him in pieces, and calling the girl in, he told her to take the meat and cook it and get it ready for the customers whom he was expecting. When the people came, he fed them in his usual way with human flesh. The people did not know what manner of food it was they were getting, but they seemed to like it; then he did with these guests what he had done with all the others, and so it went on day after day, the poor girl was kept there locked up and helping to prepare the food of the chopped-up men.

One day a very old woman was brought in, whom the man had bought, but she was so ugly and so wizened that one could scarcely recognise a human countenance. Not knowing who she was, the wild man thrust her into the chamber where the young girl was: very likely he wanted to kill her later on, as he had killed all the others, but possibly he wanted first to feed her up, as she was only skin and bones. When the young girl saw that bag of bones, she was very frightened; but the old woman spoke in friendly fashion to her, and asked her who she was and how she came to be in that house, telling her at the same time that she was a great witch, she could do [261]anything, change everything, and that she had cursed her son for his cruelty, when he was still a young boy, and that she had come now to punish him. She had disguised herself in this ugly form, for she knew that if her son recognised her he would not wait long, but would kill her at once without mercy. The girl then told her her pitiful tale, and begged of her to save her. She told her what a terrible life she was leading, how she had been fed on human flesh, and that he was probably only waiting for an opportunity to kill her also and to give her flesh to others to be eaten. The old woman took pity on her, and told her she need not fear; though her son had put her in the innermost recess and there was no outlet, yet she would be able to escape. She must kill the little dog, and taking out a small bit from the heart was to swallow it. While she was doing it, the old woman took out some ointment from her bosom and began to rub her with it all over her body, when she suddenly became changed into a duck. There she sat quietly in a corner, and when the wild man came and opened the door she flew away and escaped into the open. The man looked round, and not finding the girl he went all over the place searching for her. At that moment the mother followed him out of that room, and uttered a terrible curse, on which the whole house fell down over him and killed him. When the duck had flown some distance away, she turned back to see what had happened, for the old woman had foretold her that she was going to destroy it. When she turned round she saw the heap of ruins, but as the old woman had not told her how she could again become a human being, the spell remained unbroken, and she has remained a duck to this very day.

It is for this reason that ducks are so fat, and they seek their food among the dead bodies and dirty places.

It will be seen that we have here a remarkable parallel of the Bluebeard story, but in a much more primitive form, for this Bluebeard does not kill only his wives, but he kills indiscriminately all those upon whom he can lay his hands, and [262]then he uses the flesh of his victims for food. There are dim recollections of cannibalism in this tale, which in a way also reminds us of Polyphemus, who keeps Ulysses and his companions for the purpose of killing them and eating them, and the same story is found in another form in the adventures of Sindbad the Sailor. [263]




The Story of the Water of Life and Death.

This tale, though part of a longer fairy tale, is still complete in itself.

The hero of the tale, Floria, having shown some kindness to a stork, who afterwards turns out to be the king of the storks, receives from him a feather, which when taken up at any time of danger would bring the stork to him and help him. And thus it came to pass that the hero, finding himself at one time in danger, remembered the gift of the stork. He took out the feather from the place where he had hidden it, and waved it. At once the stork appeared and asked Floria what he could do for him. He told him the king had ordered him to bring the water of life and the water of death.1

The stork replied that if it could possibly be got he would certainly do it for him. Returning to his palace, the stork, who was the king of the storks, called all the storks together, and asked them whether they had seen or heard or been near the mountains that knock against one another, at the bottom of which are the fountains of the water of life and death.

All the young and strong looked at one another, and not even the oldest one ventured to reply. He asked them again, and then they said they had never heard or seen anything of [264]the waters of life and death. At last there came from the rear a stork, lame on one foot, blind in one eye, and with a shrivelled-up body, and with half of his feathers plucked out. And he said, “May it please your majesty, I have been there where the mountains knock one against the other, and the proofs of it are my blinded eye and my crooked leg.” When the king saw him in the state in which he was, he did not even take any notice of him.

Turning to the other storks, he said: “Is there any one among you who, for my sake, will run the risk and go to these mountains and bring the water?” Not one of the young and strong, and not even any of the older ones who were still strong replied. They all kept silence. But the lame stork said to the king, “For your sake, O Master King, I will again put my life in danger and go.” The king again did not look at him, and turning to the others repeated his question; but when he saw that they all kept silence, he at last turned to the stork and said to him:

“Dost thou really believe, crippled and broken as thou art, that thou wilt be able to carry out my command?”

“I will certainly try,” he said.

“Wilt thou put me to shame?” the king again said.

“I hope not; but thou must bind on my wings some meat for my food, and tie the two bottles for the water to my legs.”

The other storks, on hearing his words, laughed at what they thought his conceit, but he took no notice of it. The king was very pleased, and did as the stork had asked. He tied on his wings a quantity of fresh meat, which would last him for his journey, and the two bottles were fastened to his legs. He said to him, “A pleasant journey.” The stork, thus prepared for his journey, rose up into the heavens, and away he went straight to the place where the mountains were knocking against one another and prevented any one approaching the fountains of life and death. It was when the sun had risen as high as a lance that he espied in the distance those huge mountains which, when they knocked against one another, shook the earth and made a noise that struck fear and [265]terror into the hearts of those who were a long distance away.

When the mountains had moved back a little before knocking against one another, the stork wanted to plunge into the depths and get the water. But there came suddenly to him a swallow from the heart of the mountain, and said to him, “Do not go a step further, for thou art surely lost.”

“Who art thou who stops me in my way?” asked the stork angrily.

“I am the guardian spirit of these mountains, appointed to save every living creature that has the misfortune to come near them.”

“What am I to do then to be safe?”

“Hast thou come to fetch water of life and death?”


“If that be so, then thou must wait till noon, when the mountains rest for half an hour. As soon as thou seest that a short time has passed and they do not move, then rise up as high as possible into the air, and drop down straight to the bottom of the mountain. There, standing on the ledge of the stone between the two waters, dip thy bottles into the fountains and wait until they are filled. Then rise as thou hast got down, but beware lest thou touchest the walls of the mountain or even a pebble, or thou art lost.”

The stork did as the swallow had told him; he waited till noontide, and when he saw that the mountains had gone to sleep, he rose up into the air, and, plunging down into the depth, he settled on the ledge of the stone and filled his bottles. Feeling that they had been filled, he rose with them as he had got down, but when he had reached almost the top of the mountains, he touched a pebble. No sooner had he done so, when the two mountains closed furiously upon him; but they did not catch any part of him, except the tail, which remained locked up fast between the two peaks of the mountains.

With a strong movement he tore himself away, happy that he had saved his life and the two bottles with the waters of life and death, not caring for the loss of his tail. [266]

And he returned the way he had come, and reached the palace of the king of the storks in time for the delivery of the bottles. When he reached the palace, all the storks were assembled before the king, waiting to see what would happen to the lame and blind one who had tried to put them to shame. When they saw him coming back, they noticed that he had lost his tail, and they began jeering at him and laughing, for he looked all the more ungainly, from having already been so ugly before.

But the king was overjoyed with the exploit of his faithful messenger; and he turned angrily on the storks and said, “Why are you jeering and mocking? Just look round and see where are your tails. And you have not lost them in so honourable a manner as this my faithful messenger.” On hearing this they turned round, and lo! one and all of them had lost their tails.

And this is the reason why they have remained without a tail to this very day.

Compare the story of the lark, No. 78, who alone of all the birds obeys the king’s command; for the story of the stork, the only bird that can reach the fountains of life and death, v. Cosquin (i. No. 3, p. 48). [267]

1 The water of death means a water which, poured over a body which has been cut in pieces, causes all these pieces to join together, and the wounds to heal. The water of life restores to life the bodies thus joined.




The Story of the Young Maiden and her Husband the Demon.

Once upon a time there was a widow who had one only child. She had a flock of sheep and a magic dog. The widow died, and the girl was left quite alone. So she took the flock of sheep and went to feed them in the mountain, accompanied only by her faithful little dog. After some time, there came also to the same pastures a young shepherd leading his flock. Before leaving, the girl had put on man’s clothes, and so when the other shepherd, who was the son of a she-demon, came, they got very friendly, and the girl often went with her flock to spend the night in the house of the demon. She did not know who the other shepherd was, nor who was his mother. After a time, the young man began to feel suspicious about his comrade, and he said to his mother, “Methinks my friend is a girl, despite his man’s clothes; his gait and his speech are just like that of a maiden.” The mother would not listen; but after a time, when the son went on saying that he believed his mate to be a maiden, she said to him, “Very well, then, we will put him to the test, and we can easily find out what he is. I will take a special flower and put it under his pillow, and if it is faded in the morning he is for sure a maiden.” The dog, who knew what the old woman was up to, called the girl aside and told her: “Listen to me, my mistress. Follow my advice, it will go well with thee. The old dragon is going to put a flower under thy pillow as soon as thou hast gone to bed; now keep awake, take it out from [268]under the pillow and put it on the pillow. Early in the morning, before any one else is awake, put it back under the pillow, and nothing will happen to thee.”

The girl did as the dog had told her. She took the flower from under her pillow, and kept it on her pillow all through the night, and put it back again early in the morning. The old woman afterwards took the flower out; she found it was even fresher than it had been the night before. So she told her son that he must be mistaken. His companion could not be a maiden. He persisted in his belief despite of it, and so the woman said to him, “Go and ask your companion to bathe, and if he is eager to do so, be sure it is not a girl; but if he makes any difficulties, you will know that you are right.”

The dog, who knew of the plotting of the old woman, told the girl to put on a pleasant face, and not to hesitate to go to the river with her companion, “for,” he said, “no sooner will you be near the water than I will get among the flock, and so you will have to jump up and run after the sheep, and there will be no more question of bathing.” As the dog said, so he did, and again the young man did not know what to make of his companion. The mother then told him to go with his companion to the forest, and to find a big tree, and to ask his companion what it would be good for. If he replied for distaff and spindle, then it is a girl; but if he answered it was good to make carts out of, then it was a boy.” So he took her into the forest, and, finding a big tree, he asked her what could be best made out of the wood. The girl replied “carts.” When the girl saw that the boy troubled her too much, she went to the sea-shore, and, smiting the waves with her shepherd’s staff, she rent the waters in twain, and passed dryshod with her flock and dog to the other shore of the sea. The other shepherd—the demon—came to the sea-shore just when she had already passed over to the other side. She removed her fur cap, and her long golden hair fell down to her knees. Then she moved her wand, and the waters again closed up. When he saw that she had escaped him, he was very [269]angry, and he went to his mother and told her all that had happened. She said to him, “Do not mind; I will help you to get her into your hands.” So the old woman went to the sea and built there a huge ship. This she filled with all kinds of merchandise, and told the young man to sail in it across the sea, and try and find his beloved; and she told him how to get hold of her when he had found her. So sailing along in the boat he got across, and anchored near a great town. The people came out to look at the wares which he had brought. The last to come—led by curiosity—was the girl. As soon as he saw that she had entered the boat, he set sail, and off he went. When the girl saw what had happened, she recognised him, and, finding herself in his power, she offered no resistance. But when they were in the middle of the sea, she took off the ring which she had on her finger, and, casting it into the sea, she said to him, “From this day onward I shall remain dumb. I shall not speak to thee until this ring is brought back to me”; and she kept her word faithfully. For many a year she lived with him, but never spoke a word. One day her mother-in-law thought that it would be better to get rid of her. As she herself dared not kill her, she sent the girl with a message to her elder sister to bring her the sword and the threads, knowing full well that her sister would kill her. When her husband heard the errand on which she was sent, he came out quietly, and, meeting her outside the house, he whispered:

“When you go to my mother’s sister, she is sure to offer you some food; take the first bite, and keep it under your tongue. Then you may eat; otherwise you will be lost.” The girl never replied, but listened attentively to what he had said. So she came to the old crone, who was ever so much worse than her own mother-in-law, and she certainly was bad enough. As soon as she entered the house, the young woman greeted her. Great was the surprise of the old woman, who said, “Now who is to believe my sister; she made that girl out to be dumb, and now she speaks so sweetly. Come in, my child.” [270]

Then she went out, killed a cock, grilled it, and gave it to her to eat.

The young woman, remembering her husband’s advice, took the first bite and put it under her tongue; then she sat down and made a hearty meal of the cock. When she had finished, the old woman said, “I do not have the sword or the threads; they are with my younger sister. She lives not very far from here; you just go to her.”

Taking leave, she went a little way further, and she came to the second sister, who was worse than the other. She saluted her when she came in, and this sister also said:

“How is one to believe your mother-in-law? She made you out to be dumb, and now you speak so sweetly and so nicely. What have you come for?”

She said, “I have come for the sword and the threads.”

“Sit down and eat, my child,” she said, and, going out, she took a young lamb and killed it and prepared it for her. Remembering the advice given to her, she put the first bite under her tongue, and then she went on eating until she had satisfied her hunger.

When she had finished eating, the old woman said, “I do not have that sword; it is with my younger sister. You must go further; she lives quite close by, and she will give it to you.”

So she went to the third sister, and greeting this third one, who was the worst of all and the ugliest of all, said to her, “Sit down and eat.” Then she took out the hand of a dead man and gave it to her to eat. But this the wife could not do.

Meanwhile the old woman had gone up into the loft of the house, saying she was going to fetch the spade, but in reality to watch the young woman to see what she was doing.

When she was left alone, she took the hand and threw it under the hearth. Then came a voice from the loft crying. “Hand, hand, where art thou?” and from under the hearth the hand replied, “Here I am under the hearth.” [271]So she turned on the young woman and said, “You eat this or something worse will happen to you; I am going to eat you.” She was very frightened; so she took it and put it in her bosom under her girdle. And again the old woman cried, “Hand, hand, where art thou?” and the hand replied, “I am under her heart.” The old witch thought that she had eaten it, and coming down, she brought the sword and gave it to her together with the threads. Before she left, the old witch asked her to give her back the hand; so she put her hand in her bosom, and drew out the dead hand and gave it back to her. And so she had to let her go in peace, as she had retained nothing.

Then, coming to the other sister, this one said to her, “Give me back my lamb.” The young woman heaved, and out came the little lamb quite alive and started frolicking through the house. It was because she had kept the first bite under her tongue. She therefore had to let her go unharmed. Then she came to the eldest one. And she said to her, “Give me back my cock,” and then the young woman spat, and out came the cock, running and crowing through the house. And so she came back to her own house with the sword and the threads.

Shortly before she had come, some fishermen had caught a large number of fish, among them a huge fish which her husband had bought. When he opened that fish, he found the ring which his wife had cast into the sea. So, full of joy, he ran out to meet her and to give her the ring. He embraced her with one hand, and with the other, which was full of the blood of the fish, he stroked her chin gently, saying to her, “O my dear little girl, here is thy ring.” No sooner had he spoken these words, when the woman was changed into a bird with a red breast, the mark of the blood stains on her chin; then, breaking a pane of the window (lit. an eye of the window), she flew away. Her husband tried to catch hold of her, but he only got hold of the middle feathers of the tail, which remained in his hand. The bird flew away. The young woman had become a swallow. For that reason the tail looks [272]like two prongs of a fork, for the middle part was plucked out by the husband in his attempt to catch her.

In this legend we have a combination of many tales. The central incident of the magical ring recovered from the depth of the sea inside the fish, upon which the whole future depended, is somewhat obscure in this tale. It is part of the Polykrates tale, but still more so of the Solomonic legend, where the recovery of the ring means the recovery of power by King Solomon. It is a curious romance, in which Solomon is married as a poor man, i.e. in disguise, to a princess, for his ring by which he was able to rule all the spirits and demons had been cast into the sea by a demon and swallowed by a fish. From that fish Solomon recovered it later on, and with it his kingdom and power. The incident of the sword and the threads is an obscure episode. No doubt it is a magical sword, by which the power of the ogre is to be broken, and the threads are magical threads, by which he is to be tied and made powerless. [273]




The Story of the Swallow and Holy Mother Sunday.

In another tale the swallow was originally a servant of Holy Sunday. Holy Sunday, going to church, told her servant, whom she had left at home, that she was to prepare the dinner for her, and that she should take care that it should neither be too hot nor too cold, but just as she liked it best. The servant remaining at home did as she was told; she cooked the dinner, but forgot to take the food off the hob in time to get it cool enough for Holy Sunday when she came home from church.

When Holy Sunday came home and began to eat the food burned her mouth, as it was too hot, having been left on the fire so much too long. So she got very angry, and cursed the servant, saying, “As thou hast not done my will and hast burned me with the food, so mayest thou now be henceforth a bird burned and frizzled up by the great heat of the places and the countries where thou shalt dwell.”

No sooner had Holy Sunday spoken these words, when the servant girl was changed into a swallow, and therefore it makes its nest in the lofts of houses where it is hottest, and travels the countries where the sun is burning like fire, frizzling up the inhabitants with its heat.

Holy Sunday is here merely a Christianised form of some of the older divinities, who did not scruple at the slightest provocation to vent their feelings and to punish their sub-ordinates without pity and without mercy.

It is not here the place to discuss the personification of [274]the days of the week in the form of divinities. They occur very often in Rumanian legends and tales, and are in most cases described as choleric old women, spiteful and revengeful. On rare occasions they are helpful. They resemble much more the three parcae, Moirai or Fates of the Roman and Greek mythology and the Norns of the Teutonic mythology, than Christian saints. That these divinities are identified with special days of the week belongs to that process of heretical teaching to which I have referred already, and in which certain days of the week are endowed with a peculiar character of sanctity; and the apotheosis has reached such a degree that they are looked upon as real saints. And the swallow still is looked upon as a more or less sacred bird. According to popular belief, swallows will not build nests in bewitched or cursed houses; to kill a swallow is considered a heinous sin, almost tantamount to killing one’s wife and children. As the people believe that the swallow was originally a girl, they refrain from eating it. They consider it wrong to eat a swallow. They are also called “God’s hens,” and are a sign of luck to the people where they build their nests. [275]




The Story of the Bewitched Calf and the Wicked Step-mother.

It is very curious that, so far, very few tales and legends have been collected referring to the dove, a bird which plays so prominent a part in Ancient Greek and heathen worship. I have not been able hitherto to discover more than passing references to the dove in legendary tales, nor is there anything in Rumanian folk-lore that would explain the origin of the dove. There is only one legend, which is in a way a distinct variant of the Cinderella cycle.

I will give it here briefly.

The beginning agrees on the whole with the usual type. There is the bad step-mother, who has an ugly daughter, and persecutes the beautiful daughter of her second husband. Among other trials, besides keeping her unkempt and dirty and sending her out to feed the cattle, she gives her one day a bag full of hemp, and tells her that in the evening she is to bring it home carded, spun, woven into cloth and bleached. The poor girl did not know what to do. Her father had given her a calf. This calf was “a wise one.” So the calf came to the girl and said, “Do not fear; look after the other cows: by the evening it will be all ready.” So it was.

When she brought the white cloth home, her step-mother did not know what to say. The next day she gave her two bags full of hemp, and again the little calf worked at it and got it ready by the evening. When the woman saw what had happened, she said, “This is uncanny; no human being can do such work in one day. I must find out what is happening.”

The next morning she gave her three bags full of hemp [276]and followed her stealthily to the field to see what she was doing. There, hidden in a bush, she overheard the conversation between the little calf and the girl. Straightway she went home, put herself to bed, and said that she was very ill and was sure to die.

Her husband, coming home and finding her in what he thought was a very sorry plight, believed that she was really very ill. She called him to her bedside, and said, “I know I am dying; there is only one way, however, by which I can be saved, and that is to kill the little calf and to give me some of its meat roasted.” The poor man did not know what to do, and he said to his wife, “Why, that is all that my little girl has, and if that calf is killed she will remain with nothing.”

“Do as you like,” she replied, “if you prefer a calf to my life.” The little calf, which was “wise,” knew what was going to happen, and told the girl that the step-mother was sure to have it killed, but she must not grieve. The only thing the calf wanted her to do was to gather up all the bones after the meal, and to hide them in a hollow of a tree not far from the field. Everything happened as the calf had foretold, and on the next day the woman ate as one who had been starving for a week, as ravenously as if the wolves were fighting at her mouth. The old man also ate of the calf, but the girl refused to touch the meat. After the meal was over she took all the bones and put them in the hollow of a tree as she was told.

Soon afterwards, the step-mother again put her to a trial. Going with her husband and her own daughter to church, she left her at home in her dirty clothes, and giving her a bag full of linseed and poppy-seed mixed, she told her that she must sweep the room, get the meal ready, wash the plates, clean the pots and separate the linseed from the poppy seed.

Now the bones of the calf had turned into three white doves. These came to her and did all the work, and told her at the same time to go to the hollow tree; there she would find a carriage and pair and beautiful clothes [277]waiting for her. She did so, went to church in state, left before the others, and was at home to meet her people coming back from church and found the house swept and clean, and the linseed separated from the poppy seed. They spoke of the beautiful girl who had come to church, and chided their poor daughter for staying at home.

The second week the same thing happened. This time there were two sacks of poppy seed and linseed which she had to separate. And again the doves helped. And so on the third Sunday. The son of the squire, who had seen her on the former two Sundays, tried to stop her on her way out of church, and trod on her slipper, which was knocked off her foot. She did not wait to recover it, but returned home as fast as she could. The young man went round with the slipper to find the person whom it would fit. When he came near the house, the step-mother, fearing lest he see her step-daughter, hid her under a big trough behind the door. When the young man, after having tried the slipper on her daughter, whom it did not fit, asked whether there was another girl in the house, and she replied, “None,” but a cock who was standing by began to sing: “O that old crone is telling lies; there is another girl hidden under the trough behind the door.”

The young man, hearing the words of the cock, which the old woman tried in vain to drive away, sent his servant into the house to find out whether it was so. He lifted the trough and found there the other girl, clothed in dirty rags and huddled up. The woman, seeing that the girl had been discovered, said to the man, “Do not take any notice of her; she is a dirty slut and an idiot.” But the cock again sang out, “O that old crone is telling lies; it is the daughter of the old man, and she is very wise.” The young man, who was waiting outside, became impatient, and calling for the servant, he told him to bring the girl out. He tried the slipper, which fitted like a glove, and there and then he married her.

And this is the origin of the dove. [278]




The Story of Noah and the Raven.

The Rumanian story about the raven is more or less the well-known story of the raven in Noah’s ark as told in the Bible. But it has not reached the people in that simple ungarnished form. It has been embellished with legends. Those found among the Rumanian peasants agree in the main with those told by oriental writers and found in “historiated” Bible’s—that great treasure-house of legendary Biblical lore and the depository of many of the legends of the past.

It is important to see how stories, the literary origin of which cannot be doubted, have penetrated among the people and have become actual popular legends. We can almost trace the way which they have come. And this lends a special value to such popular Biblical legends.

The story runs as follows:

The raven was originally a bird with white feathers. When Noah sent out the raven to find out how things were in the world, the raven espied the carcase of a horse floating on the waters which had begun to subside. Forgetting his errand, the raven settled on the carcase and started eating, and he continued eating for three days and three nights. He could not get satisfied; only at the dawn of the fourth morning did he remember the errand on which he had been sent, and started on his return. When Noah saw him at some distance, he cried, “Why hast thou tarried so long, and what is thy message, and how does the world without look?”

The raven, unabashed, replied, “I do not know anything [279]about the world and how things are going; I only know that I was very hungry, and finding the dead body of a horse, I sat down and ate, and now that I have had my fill, I have come back.”

When Noah heard this answer from the raven, he grew very angry, and said, “Mayest thou turn as black as my heart is within me,” for his heart had turned black from anger and fury. And from that minute the raven’s feathers turned as black as coal. And Noah went on saying, “As thou hast fed on carrion, so shalt thou feed henceforth only on the dead bodies of animals and beasts.”

And in order that the ravens should not multiply too quickly, it was ordained that they should lay their eggs in December and not hatch them until February, for only then, when the frost is so strong that even the stones burst, does the shell of the raven’s eggs split, and the young are able to come out and be fed by their parents, for they are unable to hatch them unless they are aided also by a hard frost, which causes the shells to break. Otherwise, if they had laid their eggs in the summer and hatched them in the summer, like other birds, they would grow so numerous that people would not have been able to defend themselves from the raven.

Moreover, the raven, when sent by Noah, saw only the peaks of the mountains, and those have remained to this very day the real haunt of the bird. They only nest in very high crags and peaks of mountains, and never in villages.

Thus far the legend, which occurs in many variants. The raven, whose peculiar appearance is well known, has become the bird of oracle par excellence. There are a large number of treatises on the augury of the raven, notably in the Arabic literature, some of which are traced back to Indian originals. As for the part which the raven has played in Northern mythology, it is sufficient to mention the ravens of Odin, not to speak of the Biblical legend according to which the raven fed the prophet Elijah. (Another interpretation [280]of the word in the Bible changes the raven into Arabians, who fed the prophet in his hiding-place.) There are some Rumanian popular beliefs connected with the raven which I will mention here.

If two or three ravens fly over a village and croak, it is a sure sign that there will be death in the village.

If two ravens, one coming from the north and one coming from the south, meet over the roof of a house, it is a sure sign of the death of one of the inmates of the house.

It is an old saying that if ravens are seen flying in a great number in one direction, it is a sure sign of plague or some death among beasts and men.

If ravens croak over a flock of sheep, the shepherds keep a double watch, for they believe the ravens foretell an inroad by wolves or other wild beasts.

If a raven, meeting a herd of cattle, croaks, the Rumanian responds, “May it be on thy head, thy feathers and thy bones,” for he believes that one of his animals will die and become food for the raven.

And, if one raven is seen flying over the head of a man and continues to do so for a while, it is a sign of the death of that man.

It is generally assumed that the ravens fly in pairs, and the appearance of one alone is therefore ominous.

These few examples will suffice. They stamp the raven as the bird of ill-omen. [281]




The Story of the Young Maiden and her Step-mother the Demon.

Once upon a time there was a widow who had only one child, a girl, and all her possessions (goods and chattels) consisted of a flock of sheep.

When the girl grew up, the mother sent her with the flock, and told her at the same time to put on a man’s clothes and not to speak to anyone in the manner of women.

The girl did as she was told, and fed the flock for a long time. One day, however, she was in the forest, where a young boy also fed his flock. But he was not the son of man; he was the son cf the serpent (dragon). How was she to know it? And even if she had known it, what good would it be to her, seeing that she did not know what a dragon or a she-dragon was?

Regarding him as a shepherd like herself, she began talking to him, and the whole day they went together with their flocks. When the young dragon came home in the evening, he told his mother, “I think that he with whom I spent the day is not a man in spite of the clothes but a woman, but he does not seem to have a woman’s voice. Would it not be better if I brought him here, and you might then tell me whether it is a man or a woman, for if she be a woman, I should like to have her as my wife. I have not yet seen in the whole world one more beautiful.” “Go,” said the mother, “bring him. If he be a man, he will return safely from us, but if she be a woman, then thine shall she be.” [282]

On the next day, meeting the daughter of the widow, they fed their flocks together, and in the evening, when they were to separate, he asked the girl to spend the night at his house. The girl, not thinking aught evil, and being somewhat far away from her own house, accepted his invitation and went with him. What did the she-dragon do when she saw her coming? She went out to meet her and engaged her in conversation. Then she turned to her son and spoke to him, but in a foreign tongue. She told him to put a flower under the pillow of his companion, and if in the morning the flower will be faded, for sure then she is a girl; otherwise the flower would remain fresh. So he did. The girl, seeing that they talked in a foreign tongue, understood that they were talking about her, and determined to watch and see. No sooner had she gone to bed than she began to snore, as if she had fallen fast asleep, but she did not sleep. Her hosts, thinking her fast asleep, got up, went on tip-toe into the garden, and, taking a carnation in full flower, put it under her pillow and fell asleep.

The girl, feeling that something had been put under her pillow, understood that something was wrong. So she got up and took out of her bag a charmed mirror by which to undo the sorcery of her hosts. No sooner had she taken out her mirror, than the dragon-mother woke up, and, running quickly to the bed, found the flower faded, to her own great joy and that of her son. What was the girl to do now? She could not deny that she was a girl. So she began to speak with a woman’s voice. The young dragon then insisted on her marrying him, but she said, if he insisted on taking her she would neither speak to him nor kiss him. The young dragon, more in a joke, took her in his arms and squeezed her so tight that her face got swollen and her eyes almost started out of her head. She then changed herself into an insect and ran to the door to get out from under the threshold. But the old dragon took a knife and slashed her across the body when she had crept half-way out of the house, so that she nearly cut her in twain. Her luck was that just a little flesh remained by which the other [283]part of the body was kept hanging on, and thus she has remained to this very day, for she became the ant.

The first part of this story agrees in the main with the first part of the swallow story, No. 87. It is another example of the transfer of a story from one object to another, like the story of the woodpecker and the pelican. (Cf. also the slashing of the bee in the stories, No. 1 ff.)

Popular belief is that the ant is the grandchild (niece nepoata) of God, and the handmaid of the Virgin, although I have not yet been able to find the legend upon which this belief rests. The ant must not be molested, for the Virgin sighs as often as an ant is killed.

The red ant comes from the tears shed by St. Mary over the grave of Christ.

The ant is used as a remedy against toothache by boiling it together with the earth of its nest and rinsing the mouth with the water (which thus contains the well-known arnica of the pharmacopoeia). [284]




The Story of the two Brothers and King Alexander.

In the time of Alexander the Great, King of Macedon, there lived a very wealthy man who had two sons, each one more beautiful than the other, and both more beautiful than any other living being. When they grew up to be twelve years old, the fame of their beauty had reached the Court of King Alexander. He was told that no young men so beautiful as they were could be found over nine seas and nine countries. Alexander went himself to see them, and no sooner had he seen them than he appointed them captains in his army, for he was a high and mighty king, and he liked to have in his army valiant knights like himself.

At that time there lived the dog-headed people, who were human from the waist down and dogs from their waist upward. Their kingdom stretched far away to the north of Alexander’s realms. Every year the king of the dog-men and his people made incursions into the countries, and, capturing many women, carried them away. The men they fattened, and, after killing them, used to eat them, but the beautiful women they brought to their king to become his wives. They treated the men just as we treat our animals, which we fatten to kill and eat.

When Alexander saw that these wild dog men would not give him peace, he decided to make war upon them, and to free the world of such wild creatures. But to fight with these dog-men was not an easy task, and he therefore selected the best men among his host, all seasoned warriors, and he put the best captains over them. Among these were also the two brothers, [285]one of whom was called Cuckoo and the other Mugur. Wherever they went they did wonders. The heads of the dog-men fell before the strokes of their swords like the grass cut by the scythe. The battle lasted for three days and three nights. On the fourth, the two brothers captured the king of the dog-men and brought him to Alexander. There they killed him. Then they set fire to the land of the dog-men, and the fire burnt for over a month. It was so wide a country that no one has ever known the end of it, and so these dog-men were routed utterly and none were left; only their name has remained behind. When Alexander saw the valiant deeds of these two brothers, he appointed them leaders of his army. They had to be always near him, and wherever they went and drew their swords, the blood of the heathen ran like water.

Alexander had many wars with kings and emperors, and he conquered them all. No one dared to stand up against him, for God had given him strength, and he marched on to the ends of the earth; he was to become king over the whole world and then die.

He went to the south with his army, passing through many desolate countries, filled with wild animals and monsters, dragons and serpents: wherever he went he burned them with fire so as to cleanse the world. For months Alexander went on with his march, accompanied by the two brothers and his army, for he had set his heart upon going to the very ends of the earth. One day on their march they met a company of women riding on white horses, one more beautiful than other, and there was one who by her beauty outshone them all. She was dressed, moreover, so radiantly that she shone like the sun. Alexander drew near, and he asked them how it came about that they were riding such beautiful horses, and where were the men?

To this the women replied: “Ours is the country where the women rule, the women take the place of the men and the men that of the women.” Alexander rested there for a while with his two companions and his army, and they were well [286]entertained by the women, who were more beautiful than any known among men of this part of the world.

Among these there was one who was like the moon among the stars. Cuckoo fell in love with her, and they became inseparable. Cuckoo thought he could not live without her. Mugur, who was of a more retiring nature, restrained his love and kept aloof from the women.

When the two weeks had elapsed which Alexander had appointed for him to stay there, he broke up his camp and journeyed onward until the army reached the gates of Paradise. These were guarded by angels with flaming swords, who would allow access only to those who were pure and sinless. When the soldiers beheld the beauty of Paradise they wondered greatly at it, and some of them were desirous of entering it, and went to the angel to ask his permission. Amongst these were Mugur and his brother Cuckoo. Mugur went in front, Cuckoo followed with his beautiful wife at his side. When Mugur drew near, the gate of Paradise was flung open and he entered without hindrance. Cuckoo wanted to follow him, but the door was shut in his face, and for his audacity he and his fair companion were turned into birds, for no man is allowed to enter Paradise with a companion.

Since then Cuckoo is continually calling aloud his name in the hope that his brother may look for him and thus find him.

This story is remarkable for its origin. We have here the popular reflex of the famous Romance of Alexander, which had reached Rumania, as all the other countries of Europe, in a literary form. The book has been read for at least three hundred years, and it is extremely interesting to see how deeply it has influenced the popular imagination. What we have here is not one incident only from the “Romance,” but practically an abridged recital of the famous “Journey to Paradise,” and “Alexander’s Letter to Aristotle.” We have here his wars with the Kynokephaloi, or the people who were believed to be human beings with dog’s heads. The Eastern Church, and no less the Rumanian, even venerates a [287]saint with a dog’s head, Christophorus. In the Rumanian monastery of Neamtz there appeared a “Life” of that saint, in which the woodcut picture of the saint represented him as having a dog’s head. We have, further, Alexander’s war with the Amazons, and even the fact that he reached the gates of Paradise. But what gives to this tale importance is that the “Romance of Alexander” has become the tale accounting for the origin of a bird. No doubt there must be some more detailed account of this immediate fact, explaining a little more clearly the sudden transformation of the cuckoo and his mate into particular birds. Here it is described as a punishment for Cuckoo’s audacity in attempting to bring his female companion into Paradise.

The only point of resemblance between this and the Albanian tale of Hahn (No. 105), is that Cuckoo was originally a man by that name, and he was the brother of Gion. [288]




The Story of the Armenian, the Cuckoo and the Hoopoe.

A funny story about the hoopoe and the cuckoo is told by the Rumanians at the expense of the Armenians. It is said that in olden times the forefather of the Armenians had to flee for his life. So, taking all his belongings with him, and mounting on a horse, he rode away as fast as he could. He feared lest his enemies would overtake him. Riding on, he came to a forest and, not being able to find the way, he got into a bog. In vain did he try to get his horse up again. The more he tried the further it sank; so, taking all his belongings, he dismounted, and wading through the mud, he sat down at the edge of the bog and thought all the time what was he to do to get his horse out. He could not carry all his belongings, and, if he tarried much longer where he was, his enemies were sure to overtake him. Where he sat, there was a cuckoo, resting on the tree, and singing all the time, but the more he sang the deeper the horse seemed to sink into the mire. He took some food out of his bags, and, showing it to the horse, he tried to tempt it, but the horse paid no attention to him. Whilst he was now in great despair, there came a hoopoe and sat on another tree and began to cry “Hoop, Hoop.” No sooner did the horse hear the bird shouting “hoop, hoop,” than up it jumped as if stung by wasps. Overjoyed, the Armenian got hold of it, and putting his food into his sack he mounted again and went on his way. And out of gratitude the Armenians call the hoopoe to this very day by [289]the name of cuckoo, for he saved their ancestor by his cry “up, up.” The cuckoo had made it lie down by singing “coo, coo,” but the hoopoe made it jump up by singing “up, up.”

There are some beliefs attached to the cry of the hoopoe forming part of that great section of prognostications by the cry of the birds. It is not, however, considered as an ominous bird. It merely foretells the fruitfulness or the barrenness of the coming year. [290]




Once upon a time there was a partridge, and that partridge was sorely troubled, for no one in this world is safe from trouble and worry. Her trouble was that for some time back she was not able to rear her young, because of AUNTIE FOX, who made a royal feast of the young brood. No sooner did the fox find out that the partridge had hatched her young, than she tied some brambles to her tail, and, dragging it along the ground, pretended to plough the land, close to the place where the partridge had her nest. Turning to the partridge, the fox would say:

“How dare you trespass on my land. Off you go, lest I eat you up.” The partridge, frightened, would run away, and the fox would eat the young. This had gone on for three years. On the fourth year it so happened that, while the partridge was weeping, just as a man will do out of worry and grief, she met a hound.

“What is the matter with thee, friend; why dost thou weep so, what ails thee, why art thou so inconsolable?”

“Eh!” said the poor bird, “I am full of trouble.”

Then the hound said sympathetically, “What has happened unto thee?”

“What has happened unto me? O! dear friend, so many years have I tried to rear my young, and no sooner do I see God’s blessing when auntie fox, with the brambles and thorns trailing behind her tail, comes and claims the land, and says, ‘Hast thou again hatched young on my land? Get thee off lest I eat thee.’ And I am so frightened that I run away, and the fox then takes the family and leaves me childless.” The [291]bird stopped here and looked despairingly at the hound. She wondered what he could do for her. But no one knows whence help may come, and just when it is least expected it comes. And so it happened to the bird. The dog who had been sitting all the time, listening as it were with half-closed ears, suddenly shook himself and said, “Is that the trouble which ails thee?”

“Yes, that is my trouble.”

“Well, if that be so, let me come with thee, and may be that I shall be of some help.”

And so they both went to the nest of the partridge. There the dog crouched behind the bushes and waited for the fox to come. He had not to wait very long until the fox came with the brambles tied to her tail, and, pulling it along, made pretence of ploughing the land. “Now then you partridge, are you trespassing again—”

But the fox was not allowed to finish the sentence, for out of the bushes sprang the dog. The fox took to her legs, running as fast as they would carry her. Now, whether the hound ran or did not run I do not know, but I certainly can say that the fox ran for all she was worth and raised a cloud of dust behind her. And so she ran and ran until she reached her lair, and she buried herself deep in the ground, very thankful to have saved her skin from the jaws of death. The hound, wearied, tired, and vexed that the fox had escaped, settled down at the mouth of the lair waiting for the chance that the fox would come out again, that he might set his eyes upon her, but it was all in vain, for the fox, once safe, never dreamt of coming out again. But then the fox, having nothing else to do, started talking to herself.

“Clever fox, clever fox, I know that thou takest care of thy skin. Well, thou didst well to save thyself, and to get safely away from that hound. Now let me ask my eyes, ‘What did you do when the hound was after me?’”

“Well, we, turning right and left, looked out to see which way we could save thee and hide thee.”

“Dear eyes,” said the fox, and full of satisfaction, she stroked them with her paws. [292]

“Now I will ask my forelegs.”

“And ye, my forelegs, what did you do when the hound was chasing me?”

“What did we do? We ran as fast as we could to carry thee safe to the lair and to save thee.”

“Very good, then, my darlings,” and she kissed them and stroked them lovingly.

Then she asked the hind legs.

“What did you do when the hound was chasing me?”

“What did we do? We raised the dust and threw it into his eyes to save thee.”

“My darlings,” again the fox said, and licked them and caressed them, “so must you always do.”

The fox, having nothing else to do, said, “I must now ask thee, tail, ‘What didst thou do, O my tail?’”

“I, what was I to do? I waddled to the right and left and yet he never caught me. If it were not for the legs, I am afraid I should not see the sun any more, and neither wouldst thou, O fox.”

“As thou sayest, then, thou art the only one who did not help me, thou art mine enemy, for if it were not for the blessed legs, none of us would have seen the sun any more. All right, out thou goest, thou fool. Thou must no longer be with me or with my darling eyes.” And, turning round, she crawled backwards and pushed it out of the lair. The hound, who was sitting outside, was just waiting for this, and no sooner did he see the bush of the tail coming out than he pounced on it and, getting hold of it, he pulled with all his might and dragged out tail and fox together. And that was the end of the fox. The fox may have been very clever, but the old proverb is true. “Each animal dies through his own tongue.” And since that time the partridge hatches her young unmolested, and the land of the fox has remained unploughed.

This Rumanian tale belongs to a large cycle of similar tales, of which the Rumanian seems to have preserved only the first part, unless the second part has afterwards been tacked on to [293]it. In the extended tale the dog asks for the payment of the food, drink, and merriment which the bird had promised.

An almost identical story is found among the Slavonic Tales, Krauss, No. 9. In this no mention is made of the fox claiming to be the landowner. It is only out of pity for the partridge that the dog attacks the fox, which runs away, and then the story continues exactly like the Rumanian. The first part of No. 6 is another parallel to the Rumanian tale, but it is greatly reduced and is only the first part of a much longer tale of “The Starling, the Fox, and the Dog.”

The starling promises the dog food, drink, and merriment, if he would avenge it against the fox, who, in spite of sworn friendship, had taken advantage of the absent starling to eat the young birds. The tale contains also the episode of the fox’s undoing. But then the Slavonic story goes on to detail the manner in which the starling outwitted a boy who carried food to his people on the field, a man who carried a wine cask, and a hewer of wood, all to provide for the promised food, drink, and merriment of, the dog.

This last part, as a tale by itself, quite independent of the story of the dog and fox, is found in Haltrich, No. 81. Here the bird offers food, drink and merriment to the fox who is to spare her young.

In a more reduced form still, the first part having entirely disappeared, the story appears in Grimm, iii. p. 100, who refers to a similar episode in the French version of Reinecke and to an Esthonian tale. Cf. also the Russian Tale in Afanasief, No. 32. [294]




A partridge once built her nest in the furrows of a newly ploughed cornfield, and hatched her young when the stalks of the corn had grown tall and the corn began to ripen. There was food in plenty and safety enough for them to play and to frolic about without fear of any danger. But the good things in this world never stay long with us, and this the partridge was soon to find out. The time came when the corn was cut and hunters appeared followed by their dogs, whose barking they could hear drawing nearer and nearer. The partridge now began to be frightened for her young. She tried to cover them with her wings, but they could not help hearing the reports of the guns and the barking of the dogs. One day, not being able to stand the strain any longer, she remembered a place of safety which she had known, in the cleft of a mountain beyond the seas. Tucking her eldest under her wing, she started one morning on her flight, intent on carrying it to the mountain beyond the sea. When she reached the border of the sea there stood a huge tree. Tired from her long flight, she settled on one of the branches of the tree overhanging the water. And she said to her young, “Little darling, see how great is the love of a mother and what trouble I am taking. Nay, I am putting my life in danger in order to save you.”

“Never mind, mother,” replied the little one, “Wait till we grow up and then we will take care of you when you grow old and weak.”

When the partridge heard these words she tilted her wing and let the young bird fall into the water of the sea, where it was drowned. Distressed, weary, and lost in thought, she returned [295]to her nest and took the middle one of her three young, and, putting it on the wing, she started again on her flight to the mountain beyond the sea. On the way she again alighted on the tree with the branches overhanging the sea. And she spoke to this one in the same manner as she had spoken to the first. And he replied, “Do not worry, mother, when you get old we shall take care of you and show you our love.”

The partridge, grieving at the words of this one, again dipped her wing and the young bird slid down into the bottom of the sea, where it was drowned. Almost broken hearted, not knowing any more what to do with herself, and heavy with sorrow and anxiety, her only hope being the youngest one, she returned to her nest, and, taking the youngest—the mother’s pet—she tucked it under her wing and flew again to the mountain beyond the sea.

Tired from her continual flight hither and thither, she again alighted on the tree with the branches overhanging the sea, and with her heart trembling within her for fear and love, she said to the youngest, “See, my beloved little pet, how much trouble mother is taking to save her dear little ones, how willingly I am suffering pain and fatigue; see how exhausted I am and wearied, but nothing is too much for a mother if only she knows that her young will be safe.”

“Do not worry, mother dear, for we when we grow up will also take care of our young children with the same love and devotion.”

At these words, the mother pressed the little one nearer to her heart, and, full of joy, carried him across the sea to a place of safety, for of all her children this alone had spoken the truth. And is it not so in the world?

This is the story of the partridge and her young. [296]




A man was once ploughing his field. In the midst of it a lark had made her nest and was hatching her young. When the cock lark saw what the man was doing, and that he was coming nearer and nearer with the plough, he feared that the nest would be destroyed. So he turned to the man and said, “Prithee, spare my nest; go round it with your plough and do not touch it, for I might also do you some good.”

The man, surprised at hearing the lark speak to him, said, “What good can you do to me?”

“Oh,” replied the lark, “you never know what I can do. Just bide your time, there might be a chance.”

“Well,” said the man, “I do not mind going with my plough round that piece of ground, it will not make much difference, but you see I have a very bad-tempered wife, and should she come out and see what I have done, and that I have left a part of the field without ploughing it, I shall come in for a good hiding.”

“What,” said the lark, “you a man, and your wife, a woman, beating you, how can that be?”

“Oh,” replied the man, “you do not know her; from morning till evening she does nothing but strike and beat me, I have not a minute’s rest and peace.”

“I can help you,” replied the lark, “if only you will do what I tell you.”

“If you will help me I shall be for ever grateful to you.”

“Well then, this is what you have to do. You get yourself a stout stick, and should she come and start chiding you, [297]you just lay out and go for her without mercy. You will see it will be all right.”

Whilst they were thus speaking, the woman came out, with one jaw on earth and the other in heaven, spitting fire and fury; and when she saw that the man had left a part of the field not ploughed she started to go for him with her fists and to give him a good beating. But before she had time to get to him, remembering the advice which the lark had given him, he got hold of the stick, and there was a great change. The woman did not know what it was that happened to her; the blows fell upon her fast and thick over her head, face, shoulders, hands. At last she got frightened, and ran away vowing vengeance. After she had gone, the lark said to the man:

“Don’t be a fool, I know she awaits you at home with a long stick, but you get yourself a short, stout stick, and just slip into the house before she has time to use her long rod, and then you go for her, hitting as fast as you can and as hard as you can, for, being in the house, the woman will not be able to use the long rod to any advantage.”

The man did as the lark had taught him, and the woman came in for a drubbing she never expected. The tables were now turned, and instead of beating the husband the woman got it now, and twice over.

That was the first case of the men beating their women, instead of the men being beaten by the women, for the neighbours, seeing how things had changed with this man, soon followed his example, and there was yelling and shouting and cursing as never before, the women getting the worst.

When the women saw that the men got the upper hand, they all gathered together in the market-place and held a conference under the leadership of the head woman of the town. After a long consultation and discussion, they all decided to leave their husbands alone and to get across the Danube to the other side.

So they did; they gathered themselves together and, led by the head woman, left the town to go across the Danube. [298]When the men saw what the women were doing, and that they were in earnest, they turned on the first man who had set the example and threatened to kill him, for he had brought all that trouble upon them. And the man got frightened and ran out into the field, and going to the lark told all that was going on and that he was in danger of his life.

The lark laughed and said, “Oh, you are worse than a set of old women. Do not be afraid, nothing will happen to you; you just wait and see, I am going to bring the women home again.”

So saying, the lark rose up in the air, and flying over the heads of the women who were standing by the banks of the Danube waiting to cross, it sang out, “Tsirli, tsirli, on the other side of the Danube there are no men.”

One of the women, hearing the bird’s song, said to her neighbour, “Did you hear what that bird was singing?”

“Oh, yes, we can all hear it saying that across the Danube there are no men, and if that be true I think we had better return to our own husbands, never mind whether they beat us or not.”

And they all returned home quite meekly to their houses, and ever since then the men beat their wives, but the women never beat their husbands. And you should know that if a woman does beat her husband, he is not a man, but a donkey. [299]




Of the turtle-dove the Rumanian popular poetry relates that when she loses her mate she never associates with any bird, but sits solitary on the branches of trees, not on the green or the high bough, but on the low, and on the withered branches of the tree. She no longer goes to clear water, but she first stirs the mud and then drinks the troubled water, and when she sees the hunter she goes to meet him cheerfully, hoping that he will kill her. The tears of the turtle-dove are the most powerful antidote against every spell and sorcery.

An incident in one of the Rumanian Fairy Tales reminds us of the story of the Shirt of Nessus given to Hercules.

It is of a step-mother who tries to kill her daughter-in-law by inducing her to buy such a poisoned shirt. As soon as she has put one on she becomes very ill, and her illness grows with every day that passes.

Her father, who has been absent, comes home and sees what is the cause of her illness, so he washes her in tears of the turtle-dove. The spell is broken, the fire is driven out, and the young woman recovers her health. [300]




The Story of the Wren, the Eagle, and the Owl.

The wren is called by the Rumanians the little king. The reason for it is that the birds once came together to elect a ruler. They were all there, big and small, and after much wrangling and discussion they agreed that he who flew highest of all should be king. It was the eagle who suggested it, for he knew that no bird could fly so high as he could, and he told them that the highest place they could reach would be the region of the wild winds. They arranged that he who would reach so high, should give them a sign and then they should descend. They all started for the race. There was much fluttering of wings and shrieking and boasting, for every bird believed that he would be the winner. But they had not measured their strength, for after a while the weakest stopped in their flight and began to descend slowly. The stronger ones flew a little higher but they too got tired and came down to the ground, until at last almost every bird that had entered the race had given it up. Only one bird was continuing the flight. It was the eagle, who was soaring higher and higher. At a certain moment, the eagle signalled to them that he had reached the wild wind, that is the wind which blows very high up in the sky and is bitterly cold, much colder than ice and frost. But the eagle was not to win the race. The little wren, a midget among the birds, had crept stealthily under one of the outer feathers of his wings; the eagle did not feel it, and so it was borne aloft to the very high heavens. Now when the eagle stopped in his flight, and began to descend, the little bird, not at all tired, came [301]out from under the wing, and he, flying higher, far above the eagle, shouted:

“He! he! you thought you would be the king, that no one could fly as high as you do! You see I have flown much higher, no one can deny it, you can all see me, and though I am very small and light, I am your king.” The birds, hearing the little wren and seeing that it had been flying far above the eagle, wondered greatly, but they could not help themselves, they had to stand by their agreement, and so the wren was proclaimed king.

But the birds soon learnt the trick by which the wren had outwitted them, and furious at the way in which they had been played, they wanted to tear him to pieces. The little wren, knowing what was in store for him from the enraged birds, ran away quickly, and hid himself inside the hollow of a tree, slipping in by so narrow an opening that no other bird could follow him. When the birds found out the hiding-place of the wren, and that they could not get at it, they decided to starve him out, and put some to watch over the opening to prevent the wren escaping. The wren thought it better to starve than to come out and be torn in pieces. “I will wait my chance,” he said to himself, and the chance came when they appointed the owl to watch over the tree. The owl is a lazy bird, and sitting down quietly soon fell asleep. That was just what the wren was waiting for, and before the owl could have turned round, it was out and away in the bushes and under the roots of the trees. When the owl awoke it found that the prisoner had gone: catch him if you can! The birds, full of wrath, turned on the owl for letting the wren escape and the owl had to run for its life. It is for that reason that the owl never shows itself in day-time. It is frightened of the birds, for they bear it a grudge for not keeping careful watch over the wren, and as the wren knows what the birds have in store for him, he hides himself under the bushes and trees and has become a very furtive bird.

Cf. Grimm, No. 171. [302]




The Story of the Hawk and the Election of the King.

Once upon a time the birds came together to decide which was to rule over them all, and in what order authority should be distributed among them, who was to be the superior and who was to be inferior among them. After a long discussion it was agreed that the eagle should be the highest of all. The second in command should be the falcon, the third in command the black vulture, under him the white vulture, under him the vulture with the striped tail, under him the lamb’s vulture and under him the kite, under him the hen-harrier, under him the blue heron, and under him the sparrow-hawk. All the birds consented and accepted this arrangement without much demur or contradiction. Only the sparrow-hawk, who though the smallest and the weakest, yet knew himself to be quicker and cleverer than many of them, objected to the arrangement, and said to them:

“Do you expect that I should submit to you? or be frightened of you, as if you were the strongest and mightiest creatures in the world? You are greatly mistaken. There are other beings stronger and mightier and greater than you. Of these I am frightened, but not of you. I do not care for you.”

“But what creatures are stronger and more powerful than we?” asked the other birds greatly surprised.

“What!” said he, “you do not know who is greater and stronger than you are? You all think yourselves to be the cleverest of created beings, and you expect me, the smallest [303]of you, to tell you that? Very well, then, since you do not know even as much as this, hear it from me. Stronger than all of you are the archers and the sportsmen.”

“Why,” replied the birds, “how can that be?”

“Well,” he said, “if they meet you they can make an end of you, and that, before you know where you are; you, who are so clever, that you wanted to put me at the tip of your tail!”

“What can we do to save ourselves?”

The sparrow-hawk replied, “You must never gather together and fly in large numbers, for thus we are sure to fall a prey to them. Our only safety lies in our dispersion.”

As soon as the birds heard that, they dispersed quickly, and since that time hawks are never found together in large numbers, except when they see carrion. In such wise did the little sparrow-hawk free himself from the domination of the other birds of his clan. [304]




The Story of the Frogs.

This is the well-known story of King Log and King Stork.

Once upon a time the frogs assembled and decided to ask God to appoint a king who would guide them and rule over them, for they were like a people scattered all over the waters and seas with no one to look after them. God gratified their request, and taking a log of wood cast it into the water and said to the frogs, “This is to be your king.” When the log fell into the water it made such a splash and such a noise, that the poor frogs did not know where to hide themselves in their fright. After a while the noise subsided, and the log lay still in the place where it had fallen. Gaining a little courage, the frogs came out of their hiding places and crept slowly on to the log of wood, which they found lying quite still and motionless. They waited for a time to see it move, but in vain. So they went again to God and said to him:

“What is the good of a king who can neither guide us, nor rule over us, and cannot even move about to look after us?”

And God said, “You shall have one who will move about, and he will guide you and rule you after the manner of kings.” And he called the stork and appointed him king over the frogs. He moves about amongst them very fast indeed, and guides them and rules them in the proper manner of kings, for he gobbles them up as soon as he sets eyes on them in the proper manner of kings, who always go about and eat up their subjects as fast as they can.

Here, of course, a moral from modern life has been added to the old tale, but this does not detract from its popularity. [305]




Once upon a time there was a stork who could not rear any young. His wife’s eggs had become addled, or something else had happened to them, and the long and short of it was that there were no young birds. Very distressed, he was walking about in the forest when he noticed a little tomtit on the ground. Seeing he was so small, he thought it was a young bird, a chick that had fallen out from a stork’s nest somewhere. So he picked him up gently and carried him to his own nest, and there he kept him and fed him most tenderly. He would fly about for miles to get worms to feed the little bird. The days passed, and the stork could not help wondering why that little bird of his did not grow: it remained so small. One day there came a down-pour of cold rain mixed with hailstones. In order to protect his little young, he put the tomtit under his wing, and going into the forest placed himself under the branches of a thick-leaved tree to shelter himself from the rain and hail. In the trunk of that tree there was a little hollow. As soon as tomtit espied it he glided into it, and from there he kept up a conversation with the stork. Among other things, the stork said, “What terrible weather that is, I cannot remember anything like it all my life.”

“What,” piped little tomtit, “you call this bad weather. You should have seen what bad weather means, when the red snow fell.”

“Hush, you little thing,” said the stork, “how do you come to speak of red snow, you have never seen such a thing?”

“Oh,” replied tomtit, “I remember it quite well, although it was so many years ago.”

“You remember it, you little cunning beast, who made yourself out to be quite a little chicken!” and the sharp beak of the stork pierced the hollow of the tree and spiked the insolent little tomtit, who had made a fool of the stork. [306]




The flea once upon a time meeting a gnat, said to her:

“I say, sister, why is your back so bent, and why is your head so low? What heavy care is worrying you?”

“Oh, my sister,” replied the gnat, “it is the heavy work which I have to do that bends my back and pulls my head so low. I have to drive the oxen to the plough, and make them do their work. I must sit between the horns and prick them to urge them on. Their hide is so thick that I have to bend my body and put my head very low to drive the sting through it. But, then, tell me, why is your back so much bent, sister flea? You have no heavy work like me.”

“You do not know what you are talking about. I have to keep mankind to their duties. These men have such heavy clothing that it takes all my strength to lift it up so that I can move about, to get at him.” [307]




The fable of the gnat and the lion is told in order to explain the proverb, “The gnat, small as it is, proved stronger than the lion.” Once upon a time a lion sat himself down to rest under a tree. Suddenly a gnat appeared and settled upon his nose. The lion, feeling the tickle, struck out with his paw, but missed her. The gnat then settled in his ear, and again the lion tried to strike her, but failed. So he said to the gnat:

“Who are you? and why do you come here and worry me? Who are you that although so small can worry so much and give so much trouble, and yet are one whom it is impossible to catch?”

“I am the gnat, and I drink the blood of anyone I choose, and no one can hurt me.”

“You may drink blood from whomever else you choose, but my blood you shall not drink, for I am the stronger.”

“If you believe that I cannot drink your blood, very well then, let us wait and see who is the stronger,” said the gnat.

“I am quite satisfied,” said the lion, and they made the bet. Without saying a single word, the gnat jumped on to the nose of the lion, and digging its point into the flesh of the lion sucked the blood until it was full, but the lion could not do anything to her. When she had finished, she asked the lion:

“What do you say now? have I not beaten you? Now it is your turn to show me your strength.”

“I am so strong that if a man should happen to pass here I could eat him up.”

He had scarcely finished speaking when a boy happened to pass. The lion, as soon as he saw him, wanted to catch him [308]and eat him. “Stop,” said the gnat, “this is not yet a man, wait until he grows to be a man.” The lion felt ashamed and let the boy pass.

Soon afterwards a very old man happened to pass. Again the lion, saying, “Now, a man is passing,” wanted to get hold of him. And again the gnat stopped him, saying, “This is no longer a man, he has been so some long time ago. It is a pity to break your teeth on him.” And the lion left him also alone.

Now there came riding along a hussar.

“This is a man,” said the gnat, “go for him and show your strength.”

The lion went for him, but when the hussar saw him he drew his sword and smote him two or three times over his head. The lion, seeing that this was not a joke, turned tail and ran away; there was his road to safety. The gnat, following him, settled on his ear and asked him how he felt. The lion, half-stunned, replied:

“That foolish man drew a rib from his side and hacked lustily away and had I not run away only bits of me would have been left.”

Hence the proverb, “However small, the gnat proved more powerful than the lion.”

This is a parallel to the story of the “Gnat and the Lion.” Among the South Slavonic Tales, (Krauss, No. 12) we find another parallel to it, though differing in some details. A lion was continually boasting of its strength. One day a tiger, tired of his boasting, said to him:

“You wait until you meet a man and see what strength is.”

One day, as they were walking, a young boy passed along, and the lion asked whether that was a man.

“No,” replied the tiger, “that is a man that is to be.”

Shortly afterwards an old woman passed, and the lion asked whether that was a man. “No,” replied the tiger, “that is one who has made men.”

At last a hussar passed. The tiger said, “This is a man.” [309]

The hussar drew near, shot at the lion, and, quite dazed, it ran away.

The hussar overtook him, and drawing his sword wounded him in many places. The lion escaped and said afterwards, “When he blew at me it was bad enough, but how much worse was it, when he pricked me.”

Another version from the inhabitants of Transylvania is found in Haltrich D. Volksmärchen a. d. Sachsenlande i. Siebbrgn, Wien 1877 (No. 86). Here it is the wolf who boasts, and the fox tells him that there is something much more powerful than he is and that is man. The wolf asks the fox to show him man. An old man passes, the fox says, “This was a man.”

A boy passes and the fox says, “This is not yet a man.”

A hunter comes, and from behind the bush the fox whispers, “That is man.” The hunter shoots at the wolf, then draws his knife and slashes him. The wolf runs away and owns himself beaten by the man, who makes thunder and lightning, throws stones in his face, and then draws a shining rib and cuts away at him.

Cf. also Grimm, 72. [310]




A man was driving his buffalo to market. On the way they passed a marsh. The buffalo, in accordance with its habit, went into it and started wallowing. The man tried to get him out of it and threatened him with his stick, but the buffalo took no notice.

There came a gnat buzzing by the man and saying to him:

“What wilt thou say if I drive him out of the swamp?”

“You,” replied the man contemptuously, “what can a little midget like you do, when the buffalo does not care even for me?”

“Just so,” said the gnat, “I will show you that I can do what you cannot.”

“Try, then, if you can.” So the gnat went and placed itself under the fold of the buffalo’s belly, and stung him just between the creases of the skin where the flesh was softest.

Up jumped the buffalo, and in a wink he had got out of the mire, and was brought to the market by the man who owned shamefacedly that of the two the gnat was the stronger.

“Hi! hi!” hissed the gnat, “didst thou see that I could do with my little tongue, what thou with thy mighty cudgel couldst not do?” [311]




A mouse living in the town one day met a mouse which lived in the field.

“Whence do you come?” asked the latter when she saw the town-mouse.

“I come from yonder town,” replied the first mouse.

“How is life going there with you?”

“Very well, indeed. I am living in the lap of luxury. Whatever I want of sweets or any other good things is to be found in abundance in my master’s house. But how are you living?”

“I have nothing to complain of. You just come and see my stores. I have grain and nuts, and all the fruits of the tree and field in my storehouse.”

The town-mouse did not quite believe the story of her new friend, and, driven by curiosity, went with her to the latter’s house. How great was her surprise when she found that the field-mouse had spoken the truth; her garner was full of nuts and grain and other stores, and her mouth watered when she saw all the riches which were stored up there.

Then she turned to the field-mouse and said, “Oh, yes, you have here a nice snug place and something to live upon, but you should come to my house and see what I have there. Your stock is as nothing compared with the riches which are mine.”

The field mouse, who was rather simple by nature and [312]trusted her new friend, went with her into the town to see what better things the other could have. She had never been into the town and did not know what her friend could mean when she boasted of her greater riches. So they went together, and the town-mouse took her friend to her master’s house. He was a grocer, and there were boxes and sacks full of every good thing the heart of a mouse could desire. When she saw all these riches, the field mouse said she could never have believed it, had she not seen it with her own eyes.

Whilst they were talking together, who should come in but the cat. As soon as the town-mouse saw the cat, she slipped quietly behind a box and hid herself. Her friend, who had never yet seen a cat, turned to her and asked her who that gentleman was who had come in so quietly?

“Do you not know who he is? Why, he is our priest (popa), and he has come to see me. You must go and pay your respects to him and kiss his hand. See what a beautiful, glossy coat he has on, and how his eyes sparkle, and how demurely he keeps his hands in the sleeves of his coat.” Not suspecting anything, the field-mouse did as she was told and went up to the cat. He gave her at once his blessing, and the mouse had no need of another after that: the cat gave her extreme unction there and then. That was just what the town-mouse had intended. When she saw how well stored the home of the field-mouse was, she made up her mind to trap her and to kill her, so that she might take possession of all that the field-mouse had gathered up. She had learned the ways of the townspeople and had acted up to them.

This story reminds one of the story of La Fontaine, yet the conclusion here is quite different. The popular tale undoubtedly underwent a definite change in the hands of La Fontaine, who used the fable for driving home a totally different moral lesson, just in the style of all the fables so used since Aesop downwards. The popular tale as told here [313]is perhaps more crude, but still much more true to nature—a picture of life.

Hahn (No. 90) tells an Albanian tale where the fox goes on a pilgrimage and becomes a monk, just as the cat in the Rumanian story is a priest. [314]




One day, the hare, thinking of his miserable life, decided to put an end to it. “What is my life worth to me?” he said to himself, sighing heavily. “The dogs tear me, the wolves cat me, the eagles claw me, the man hunts me. I have no peace, no rest, everybody is against me and wishes to take my life. I had better go and drown myself, and then there will be an end to my miseries.” So speaking, he got up and went to the neighbouring lake to drown himself in the water.

As he drew near he saw a number of frogs sitting by the water. When they saw the hare coming up, they got frightened and jumped into the water, some of them getting drowned in it. When the hare saw that he had frightened the frogs to such an extent that he caused a number of them to jump into the water and to get drowned, he stopped short and said, “If there are creatures whom I can frighten, then surely even I am not the weakest of all, as I had hitherto thought.” Comforted by this thought, he returned to his form. [315]




The Race of the Buffalo and the Hare.

In olden times, so we are told by those who know best, there was constant strife between the hares and the buffaloes. Each of them contended for the honour of being the most swift-footed.

Both did run very fast and neither would give in to the other. So it went on year after year, and there seemed to be no end to the strife. Tired of this constant fight, one day the hare said to the buffalo, “Let us try a race together and settle this quarrel once for all.” The buffalo was well contented with the proposal, and they agreed to race one another. When the day came the hare, putting his ears back, started the race. He ran so fast that you might have said he was flying upon the ground.

But the buffalo was a match for him. He went thundering away, his hoofs splashing the mud and raising seas of mire. The earth shook at his furious tread. He soon overtook the breathless hare which was running panting as fast as its little legs could carry it.

Then a thought struck the hare, and he cried to the buffalo, “Ho, friend! Take heed how thou art thundering along. The earth is shaking, and if thou art not careful, the earth will give way under thee. See how it is rocking under thy feet.”

When the buffalo heard the hare’s story, he stopped still for a while bewildered, and then, being frightened, lest the earth should give way under him and he sink beneath, he [316]checked his pace and began to walk slowly and tread gently.

That was just what the hare had wanted, and pulling a long nose at the buffalo, he ran swiftly by, leaving the buffalo a long way behind. Thus he won the race, and there was no longer any strife between the hares and the buffaloes. But ever since the buffalo walks slowly and treads lightly upon the ground. [317]




It is told that the pointer and the setter kept a public-house together. All the animals would come and eat and drink and pay their account, except the wolf and the hare who would come and eat and drink very heavily, and regularly forget to pay. At last, the pointer and setter could stand it no longer, and they went and lodged their complaint before God. And God said, “As they have treated you so badly, you are free to go for them whenever you see them. You must try and catch them and make them pay.”

And that is the reason why these dogs will go for the wolf as soon as they scent his track, and also that is the reason why, when they catch a hare, he will squeak, “Miat, miat”—which sounds like marţ (Tuesday in Rumanian)—as if he were saying “Wait till next Tuesday when I am going to pay.” And they are still waiting for that Tuesday to come. [318]




In a mill a rat once lived and prospered. It took after the miller, and from day to day its paunch grew bigger. It became as round as cucumber and as fat as a candle.

One day, looking at his round, sleek figure, the rat said to itself, “Behold I am so beautiful and strong. Why should I not go and pay a visit to God? He is sure to receive me.”

No sooner said than done. Leaving the mill, he started on his journey to God. After travelling a few days and not coming nearer to God, he stopped and said, “Methinks that either God lives much farther away than I believed, or I have lost my way. I will go to the sun and ask where God is.” Coming to the sun, the rat asked, “Where is God?” “Off with thee,” shouted the sun, “I have no time for idle talkers.”

The rat went to the clouds and asked them, “Where is God?” The clouds stared at him and said, “We cannot stop to bandy words with the like of you.” Away the rat went and came to the wind. “Where is God?” asked the rat. “There,” replied the wind, whistling, and getting hold of the rat hurled him down into an ant-heap, and there he found his level.

This story is a curious parallel to another series of rat or mouse tales. In these a rat wishes to marry the daughter of the mightiest thing, and asked for the daughter of the sun. But he is not great enough. The sun is covered by the clouds. The clouds are carried by the wind, the wind is stopped by the mountain, the mountain is sapped by the rat, thus he [319]comes back to his own and finds his proper level. So in the Rumanian Tale (Sevastos, Basme, Moldov. p. 236). (Cf. Benfey, Pantschatantra, i. 375 ff.)

In an ancient Biblical legend Abraham discusses with Nimrod, Who might be God? The sun cannot be worshipped as God, for the sun sets and is followed by darkness, the moon is eclipsed by the sun, the fire is quenched by water, the clouds of rain are carried by the wind, the wind is stopped by the mountains, and so on. (Cf. Gaster, Chronicles of Jerahmeel, London 1899, chap. xxxiv. p. 72 ff.)

The biblical setting of the legend is about two thousand years old. In the Rumanian tale the comparison has disappeared, but the principal elements have been preserved whilst invested with a different rôle. [320]




One day the owl met a fox, and the latter bragged about his intelligence and cleverness, and said that he was very cunning and slim. The owl asked him, “Brother mine, how many minds (wits) have you?” “Seven,” he said, boastingly. “No wonder you are so clever, I have only one,” said the owl.

A short time afterwards the owl again met the fox, but this time he was running for his life. The hunters were after him, and the hounds were trying to catch him.

Running as fast as his legs could carry him, he at last managed to slip into a hole. The owl followed him, and seeing him there, exhausted, asked him, “How many minds (wits) have you?” And he replied, “Six, I have lost one by the chase.”

Meanwhile the hunters and dogs came nearer and nearer, so they could hear the baying of the dogs. The fox did not know what to do. The owl asked him, “How many minds (wits) have you now, old fellow?”

“Oh, I have lost all my minds (wits). I have none left.”

“Where is your cunning of which you bragged?”

“It is not kind of you, now, to go for a poor fellow when the dogs are at his heels and there is no escape for him.”

“Well,” said the owl, “I have but one mind (wit), and I will see whether I cannot save you with my one wit. It is my turn. I am going to lie down here at the entrance as though dead. When the hunters come, they will see me and get hold of me and talk about me. Meanwhile they [321]will forget you, and in the midst of the trouble you just dash out and run for your life.”

It happened just as the owl had said.

No sooner did the hunters come up and find the owl than they said, “What is this ugly bird doing here? and a dead owl to boot”; and whilst they were busy with the owl trying to get hold of it to throw it away, off went the fox through them and escaped.

Soon afterwards the owl met him again and she said, “How have your seven minds (wits) helped you when in time of danger? It is like that with people who have too much, they often have nothing when they want it most, but you see I had only one mind (wit), but a strong one and not a dissolute one like yours, and that saved both you and me.” [322]




I do not know how he managed it, but a fox one day got into a poultry-yard and there he ate his fill. Some time afterwards, going along to the poultry-yard, the hedgehog met him. “Where are you going, brother?”

“I am going to eat my fill.”

“Surely you cannot get it just as you like.”

“Oh,” he said, “you just come with me and I will show you. I know my way, and there is plenty for me and for you, and some to leave behind for another time.”

The hedgehog, who was a wise old fellow, said to the fox:

“Now, be careful; are you sure that the owners of the poultry yard will let you in again so easily?”

“Don’t you trouble,” said the fox. “I know my business, you just come with me.” And the hedgehog went with him.

But the people of the poultry-yard were not such fools as the fox had taken them for, and just where the fox had got in last time they had dug a deep pit, and into that the fox and the hedgehog tumbled. When they found themselves at the bottom of the pit, the hedgehog turned to the fox and said, “Well, you clever fellow, is that the proper way to get into the poultry-yard? Did I not warn you?”

“What is the good of talking?” replied the fox, “We are here now, and we must see how to get out of it.”

“But you are so clever, and I am only a poor old fool.”

“Never mind, you were always a wise one. Can you help me?” [323]

“No,” he said, “I cannot help you. This sudden fall has upset me, and I feel queer and sick.”

“What,” cried the fox, “you are not going to be sick here; that is more than I can stand; out you go!”

So he got hold of the hedgehog by the snout, and the hedgehog coiled himself up with his little paws into a little ball round the fox’s mouth, the fox lifted up his head with a jerk and threw the little fellow out of the pit.

As soon as he saw himself safely out of the pit, the little hedgehog, bending over the mouth of the pit, said, chuckling to the fox:

“Where is your wisdom, you fool? You boast that you have a bagful of wits, whilst it is I who get myself out of the pit though I have only a little wit.”

“Oh,” said the fox, whining, “do have pity on me! you are such a clever old fellow, help me out of it too.”

“Well,” said the hedgehog, “I will help you. Now, you pretend to be dead, and when the people come and find you stiff and stark, and a nasty smell about you, they will say, ‘The fox has died and his carcase is rotting; it is going to make all the poultry yard offensive.’ They will take you and throw you out. And then see whither your way lies.”

The fox did as the hedgehog had advised him, and when the people came and found him in that state, they hauled him out and threw him out of the yard on to the road.

Quicker than you could clap your hands, the fox was on his legs, and he ran as if the ground was burning under him.

Since then the fox and the hedgehog are good friends.

South Slavonic Tales, Krauss, No. 13.

A fox meeting a hedgehog asked him, “How many wits have you?” And he replied, “Only three. But how many have you?” “I,” boasted the fox, “have seventy-seven.”

As they were talking and walking along, not noticing whither they were going, they fell into a deep hole which the peasants had dug. The fox asked the hedgehog to save him. The hedgehog said, “I have only three wits, perhaps you will [324]save me first, then I will see about you afterwards”; and he asked the fox to pitch him out of the hole. The fox did so, and then asked the hedgehog whether he could help him. The hedgehog said, “I cannot help you with three if you cannot help yourself with seventy-seven.” And so the fox was caught in the morning by the peasants and killed.

In the Rumanian version, the hedgehog saves the fox by one wit and puts him to shame, which rounds off the story much better; in the Slavonic tale there is scarcely any point.

But this probably goes back to a more ancient legend referred to in a Greek epigram, v. Benfey, Pantschatantra, i. 316.

Compare the parallel story in Grimm (No. 75) of a fox with the hundred wits, and also Hahn (91). [325]




Once upon a time, when King Solomon the wise ruled over the people, some shepherds gathered under a tree and lit a fire, not for any special reason, but just to pass their time, as they often do. When they left, they did not take care to put the fire out; it was left burning under the ashes. Spreading slowly, it caught the great tree, which soon afterwards became a mass of living flames. A snake had crept on to that tree before and found itself now in danger of perishing in the flames. Creeping upwards to the very top of the tree, the snake cried as loud as it could, for she felt her skin scorched by the fire. At that moment a man passed by, and hearing the shrieking of the snake, who begged him to save her from the flames, he took pity on her, and cutting a long stick, he reached with it up to the top of the tree for the snake to glide down on it. But he did not know the mind of the cunning beast, which had aforetime deceived his forefather Adam, for, instead of gliding down to the ground, no sooner did the snake reach the neck of the good man than she coiled herself round and round his neck. In vain did he remind her that he had saved her life, she would not hear of anything, for she said, “My skin is dearer to me than to you, and I remain where I am, you cannot shake me off.” Finding that he could not get rid of the snake, the man went from judge to judge, from king to king, to decide between them, but no one could help him.

At last, hearing of the wisdom of King Solomon, he came to him and laid his case before him. But King Solomon [326]said, “I am not going to judge between you unless you both first promise to abide by my word.” Both did so. Turning to the snake, King Solomon then said, “You must uncoil yourself and get down on the earth, for I cannot judge fairly between one who is standing on the ground and one who is riding.”

Cunning though the snake may be, she did not understand the wisdom of King Solomon, and therefore uncoiling herself she glided down and rested on the ground. Turning to the man, King Solomon said, “Do you not know that you must never trust a snake?” The man at once understood what the king meant, and taking up a stone he bruised the snake’s head. And thus justice was done.

Needless to point out, that we have here a variant of the widespread tale of the man and the snake. At one time the judge is King Solomon, who looms largely in the minds of the people as the very type of human wisdom, at another time the judge is a child playing at justice, who induces the snake to loosen her hold on the man and is then killed by the man, who finds himself suddenly freed.

In other parallels animals are appointed as judges and this leads to the undoing of the snake. (v. Benfey, Pantschatantra, i. p. 113 ff.); Hahn (87), and the literature given by him; Afanasief (No. 15). [327]




Once upon a time, I do not know how it came about, the dog had a frightful headache, such a headache as he had never had before. It nearly drove him mad, and he ran furiously hither and thither, not knowing what to do to get rid of it. As he was running wildly over a field, he met a snake that was lying there coiled up in the sun.

“What is the matter that you are running about like a madman, brother?” asked the snake.

“Sister, I cannot stop to speak to you. I am clean mad with a splitting headache, and I do not know how to be rid of it.”

“I know a remedy,” said the snake, “it is excellent for the headache of a dog, but it is of no good to me who am also suffering greatly from a headache.”

“Never mind you, what am I to do?”

“You go yonder and eat some of the grass, and you will be cured of the headache.”

The dog did as the snake had advised him. He went and ate the grass, and soon felt relieved of his pain.

Now, do you think the dog was grateful? No such luck for the snake. On the contrary, a dog is a dog, and a dog he remains. And why should he be better than many people are? He did as they do, and returned evil for good. Going to the snake, he said, “Now that my headache is gone, I feel much easier; I remember an excellent remedy for the headache of snakes.”

“And what might it be?” asked the snake eagerly. [328]

“It is quite simple. When you feel your head aching, go and stretch full length across the high-road and lie still for a while, and the pain is sure to leave you.”

“Thank you,” said the simpleton of a snake, and she did as the dog had advised her. She stretched herself full length across the high-road and lay still, waiting for the headache to go.

The snake had been lying there for some time, when it so happened that a man came along with a stout cudgel in his hands. To see the snake and to bruise her head was the work of an instant. And the snake had no longer any headache. The cure proved complete. And ever since that time, when a snake has a headache it goes and stretches across the high-road. If its head is crushed, then no other remedy is wanted, but if the snake escapes unhurt, it loses its headache. [329]




There once lived a Sultan who had a charger. It had served him most faithfully for a good number of years, carrying him in many battles and on numerous other occasions.

At last the horse grew old and was no longer fit to serve him as before. The Sultan, remembering its faithful services, decided to free it from every manner of work, and in token of recognition of its faithfulness he set it free to roam about and to feed wherever it liked.

In order that it should not be molested, he ordered that a special coating should be made for it of red cloth adorned with many coloured stripes and patches. He also had it shod with steel shoes, which last for a very long time.

So, covered with the king’s cloth, the horse went about from field to field eating whatever and whenever it pleased. Being now at ease, the horse got fat again and strong, and when it walked on the road, it struck with its feet against the stones and pebbles, and made the sparks fly from them.

In a forest near by there lived a lion. One day, coming out to the edge of the wood, he saw the horse in the distance, and as he had never yet seen such a peculiar animal, he got frightened and started running back into the thickest part of the forest.

There he met a wolf, who, seeing the lion run, asked him why he was running.

“If your life is dear to you,” he replied, “do not stop here talking, for that terrible beast which I have seen yonder in the field is sure to overtake us, and then good-bye to us.” [330]

“What beast?” asked the wolf. “I know no beast that could frighten a lion.”

“Well, then, thank God that you have never come across it.”

“How does it look?”

“It is a huge beast with a head so big as I have never seen a head before, and a mouth so large that it could devour us in one bite. As to its skin, I have never yet seen any like it, all red with stripes and patches of every colour. It stands on huge feet, and whenever it walks it scatters fire right and left.”

“That may all be as you describe it,” said the wolf, “but still it might also be otherwise. I should like to see it myself, and I might perhaps know what it is.”

“Very well then, let us go higher up the hill, where we can look down on the field.”

“I would rather see it from here, if possible, near at hand.”

“As you please. I will squat down on my hind-legs and lift you up with my fore-legs, so that you can see some distance from here.”

The lion did as he said, and taking the wolf in his fore-paws he lifted him up. But whilst doing so he pressed the wolf so hard that he nearly lost his breath, and his eyes began starting out of his head. When the lion saw it, he said, “You cur, you talk bravely and laugh at me who have been close to that terrible beast, and you, who are so far away and scarcely able to get a glimpse of it, you are already losing your breath, and your eyes are starting out of your head.”

With these words he threw the wolf down, and away he ran as fast as his legs would carry him.

This story reminds us of the framework of the famous Indian Panchatantra, which had so successful a run through the literature of East and West, becoming one of the most popular books of the Middle Ages, better known as the story of Kalila and Dimna, or even falsely, Syntipas.

In Krauss (No. 2) the animal which frightens the lion, or [331]rather imposes on his credulity, is an ass. The ass makes the lion believe that he, the ass, was the real king of beasts. The wolf, to whom the lion says that he was not the real king but that another animal claimed the right to rule, listens incredulously. The lion ties their two tails together and takes the wolf to the summit of a hill, from which they can see the ass. The lion, misunderstanding the exclamation of the wolf and thinking that he said “there are six,” runs away as fast as he can, dragging the wolf behind him and killing him in his mad flight. It is obviously the same tale but slightly varied in the details. In the Rumanian the lion never gets so near the other animal as to be undeceived by his own sight. He merely sees from a distance an animal the like of which he had never seen before, and he works himself up into a great fright. This seems to be the more primitive form. In the South Slavonic, the lion is simply deceived by an animal with which he ought to be familiar enough.

A curious and corrupted version is found in Grimm (No. 132), where only the tying of the tails has been retained. In this version the horse is tied to the lion, and he drags the lion to his master’s house.

Similar is the story of the dib-dib (the name used by the woman for the dropping rain), whom the leopard, who listens at the door, takes to be a great monster. A man jumps on the back of the frightened leopard, thinking it was an ass. The leopard carries him to the dib-dib, and he runs away. He meets a fox, who laughs at his fear, and they tie their tails together. The man, who had sought safety in the branches of the trees, says that the fox had brought the leopard to be killed. The leopard, who had distrusted the fox, runs away with him, and as their tails are knotted together, both get killed. (Hanauer, p. 278.) (Cf. also Afanasief, No. 19.) [332]




Once upon a time there lived a very poor man who had a wife and family, and there was also a tomcat prowling about the house. One day a neighbour took pity on them and gave the man a handful of flour of maize. Overjoyed he went home, and mixing it with water made a nice dish. Pouring it out on to the plates, he and his wife and the children sat round eating as much as they could.

Tom, smelling the dish, began to mew, and the father, taking pity on Tom, said to the children:

“Poor Tom is starving too, give him some of the mameliga” (maize pudding). But they said, “He must have it in a better style. We will gird him with a sword round his loins, and he will draw it and cut for himself as big a slice as he likes.” And so they did. But when Tom saw himself girded with a sword, which clanked as he moved about, he said, “I am much too good for this family,” and off he went into the world.

On his way he met a vixen, and she asked him:

“Where are you going, Sir Knight?”

He said, “I am going to get married.”

“Will you marry me?”

Tom replied, “Yes, you are just as good as any other bride.”

So they went together to the vixen’s lair, and a happy life began for our friend. For the vixen went catching birds, rabbits, and other animals, and bringing them home to feed her husband.

One day the vixen met the wolf. “Hallo, sister,” he cried, “have you got a meal ready?” [333]

“I have and I have not. I am married now, and I have a soldier for a husband.”

“I should like to see him,” said the wolf; “show him to me.”

“Come, I will show him to you,” said the vixen, and going to her lair called Tom, who came out and met the wolf. Tom came out with his sword clanking behind him, and when he saw that huge beast with his huge head, his hair stood on end and he began to spit and to snarl for very fear. The wolf, thinking that Tom was getting angry and ready to draw his sword and cut him up, turned tail and ran away.

Running very fast he met the bear, who asked him:

“What is the matter with you that you run so fast? Who is running after you?” The wolf told him all that had happened, and how the vixen had got a mighty soldier for a husband, who killed anybody who came near him.

The bear began to get curious and ran to the vixen’s lair, and the same thing happened to him, for Tom came out with his hair standing on end, and growled, and snarled, and spat, shaking all the time with fear. The bear ran away as fast as he could and came to the wolf, and they discussed between themselves how best to get rid of that terrible Tom, as their lives were no longer safe. So they called the hare and the lion into counsel. These decided to invite the vixen and her Tom to a banquet at which they would all fall upon him and end his career. So they spread a table-cloth under a huge tree, but none had the courage to go and call the guests. The bear said, “Send the wolf,” but he replied he was too weak and they would catch him. The bear said he was rather stout and heavy and they would catch him. So the trouble fell upon the hare. He, poor fellow, could not help himself, so he went with the message to invite them. But he did not venture too near. From a distance he called out to them that they were invited to a banquet, and off he went after he had delivered the message.

When the vixen heard the message she told Tom, and together they went to the banquet. On the way Tom saw a [334]crow on the top of a tree, and, as is the way with cats, before one could turn round Tom had climbed to the top of the tree and had caught the crow. He then killed it, and threw it down on the ground.

The hosts, who were sitting at the table, saw what had happened, and said to one another, “Just see what that knight is doing. Even the people on the very top of the tree are not safe from him. He catches them and kills them. How then can we fight him on the earth?”

So the lion crawled under the table, the bear climbed up the tree, and the wolf and the hare hid themselves in a bush.

When the vixen and Tom came to the place, no one was there, and they wondered where their hosts could be. Whilst they were looking round, Tom saw the tip of the lion’s tail, and, thinking it to be a rat, he attacked it. When the lion felt someone tugging at his tail he did not wait any longer, but ran away as fast as his legs could carry him.

When Tom saw that huge lion he got frightened and ran up the tree. Now the bear saw Tom running up the tree, and he got frightened and tumbled head over heels down the tree on to the table with Tom after him, who, being frightened, ran into the bush. There the wolf and the hare were crouching, hidden away. No sooner did they see Tom than off they dashed in a fright. Tom ran back to the vixen, who was sitting at the table thinking with great satisfaction how they had all run away out of fear of Tom.

She embraced him, and they sat down alone to the banquet and enjoyed themselves, no one disturbing them.

In Krauss, No. 3, there is a story parallel yet not identical with it. In the South Slavonic, a cat, together with a dog, a duck and a gander, defeats the wolf, fox, bear and wild pig arrayed against them in battle. Tom contributes most to the victory by sudden attacks on the ear of the hidden pig, and frightening the bear in the tree by climbing up in fear, etc. In other respects the stories disagree. [335]

The setting is entirely different. The wolf challenged to combat the dog, who had betrayed him on two occasions, and each one brought his contingent to the appointed place of battle. The dog brought his friends of the courtyard, and the wolf his of the forest, and the battle ended in the discomfiture of the latter as mentioned above.

Another version is found in Haltrich (No. 82), in which a cat feeds on the carcase of a horse. It is seen successively by the fox, the wolf, the bear and the wild pig, who get frightened by the sight of a small, wild beast, which had killed an animal many times their size and was eating it.

The cat runs after them by mere chance, and manages to bite the pig’s ear and frighten the others to such an extent that they are still running, all except the wolf, who has fallen on a pointed stick and got impaled.

Among the Cossack Tales (W. Bain, London 1894, p. 130 ff.) there is a story similar, not quite identical. [336]




When God had created the world, he called all his creatures together to grant them their span of life, and to tell them how long they would live and what manner of life they would lead.

The first to appear before God was man. And God said to him, “Thou, man, shalt be king of the world, walking erect upon thy feet and looking up to heaven. I give thee a noble countenance; the power of thought and judgment shall be thine, and the capacity of disclosing thy innermost thoughts by means of speech. All that lives and moves and goes about the earth shall be under thy rule, the winged birds and the creeping things shall obey thee, thine shall be all the fruits of the tree and land, and thy life shall be thirty years.”

Then man turned away dissatisfied and grumbling. “What is the good of living in pleasure and in might, if all the years of my life are to be thirty only?” So did man speak and grumble, especially when he heard of the years granted to other animals.

The turn came to the ass. He stepped forward to hear what God had decreed for him. The Creator said, “Thou shalt work hard; thou shalt carry heavy burdens and be constantly beaten. Thou shalt always be scolded and have very little rest, thy food shall be a poor one of thistles and thorns, and thy life shall be fifty years.” When the ass heard what God had decreed for him he fell upon his knees and cried, “All merciful Creator, am I indeed to lead such a miserable life, and am I to have such poor food as thistles and thorns. Am I to work so hard and carry such heavy burdens and then [337]live on for fifty years in such misery? Have pity on me and take off twenty years.” Then man, greedy of long life, stepped forward and begged for himself these twenty years which the ass had rejected. And the Lord granted them to him.

Then came the dog. To him the Creator said, “Thou shalt guard the house and the property of thy master; thou shalt cling to them as if thou wast afraid of losing them; thou shalt bark even at the shadow of the moon, and for all thy trouble thou shalt gnaw bones and eat raw meat, and thy life shall be forty years.”

“All merciful Creator,” cried the dog, “if my life is to be of worry and trouble, and if I am to live on bones and raw stuff, take off, I pray thee, twenty years.”

Again man, greedy of life, stepped forward and begged the Creator to give him the twenty years rejected by the dog. And the Creator again granted his request.

Now, it was the turn of the monkey. The Creator said, “Thou shalt only have the likeness of man, but not be man; thou shalt be stupid and childish. Thy back shall be bent; thou shalt be an object of mockery to the children and a laughing-stock of fools, and thy life shall be sixty years.”

When the monkey heard what was decreed for him, he fell upon his knees and said, “All merciful God, in thy wisdom thou hast decided that I should be a man and not a man, that my back shall be bent, that I shall be a laughing-stock for young and fools and I shall be stupid. Take, in mercy, thirty years off my life.” And God, the all merciful, granted his request.

And again, man, whose greed can never be satisfied, stepped forward and asked also for these thirty years which the monkey had rejected. And again God gave them to him.

Then God dismissed all the animals and all his creatures, and each one went to his appointed station and to the life that has been granted to him.

And as man has asked, so has it come to pass.

Man lives as a king and ruler over all creatures for the [338]thirty years which the Lord had given to him, in joy and in happiness, without care and without trouble.

Then come the years from thirty to fifty, which are the years of the ass; they are full of hard work, heavy burdens, and little food, for man is anxious to gather and to lay up something for the years to come. It could not be otherwise, for were not these the years which he had taken over from the ass? Then come the years from fifty to seventy, when man sits at home and guards with great trembling and fear the little that he possesses, fearful of every shadow, eating little, always keeping others away lest they rob him of that which he has gathered, and barking at every one whom he suspects of wanting to take away what belongs to him. And no wonder that he behaves like that, for these are the dog’s years, which man had asked for himself. And if a man lives beyond seventy, then his back gets bent, his face changes, his mind gets clouded, he becomes childish, a laughing-stock for children, an amusement for the fool, and these are the years which man had taken over from the monkey.

Thus far the story which I found in some old Rumanian MSS., and which may, therefore, not be quite of a popular origin. I have retold it here because we have in it the animal in the man. It may be a caricature, but it does not show up man to advantage in comparison with the animal world. And yet, he is endeavouring to conquer the animal, to shake off the fateful inheritance of greed, and to return to that rule and kingdom which are his own by the grace of God to his thirtieth year, and which he endeavours to carry even beyond that limited span of time. [339]




When a man dies two angels appear, the good one and the evil one. The good one walking on his right, and the evil on his left, each one holds a book in his hand in which man’s deeds are written. When the soul appears before the divine judge, there comes first the cat accusing the man, and the cat says, “He gave me no peace all my life through; he put me to catch mice and I often remained hungry. Then man drives me out of the house, and during daytime he never lets me in.”

“What are you talking of? you should be ashamed of yourself,” is the rejoinder of the dog, “you live in a warm house, you have food in plenty, you have nothing to complain of. What am I to say, who am kept out in the cold and rain, and have to watch day and night, and if ever I get a bone thrown at me I think myself happy.” The judge replies: “That is your work; to that you have been appointed: off with you.” The evil angel writes it all down and puts the weight of guilt on the one scale, and the good angel writes it in his book and he puts a counter-weight in the other scale.

Then come the birds. First the wild duck. He says, “O unfailing judge, see how this man has ill-treated us, he comes to our resting-place and shoots us down mercilessly.” “It serves you right,” is the reply of the judge, “if you live as a wild bird, you must be treated like a wild bird. You ought to be domesticated and no hurt will befall you.”

Then the sparrow comes, and he says, “O mighty Lord, this man here snared us and killed us.” And the judge replies, [340]“You have stolen his corn and destroyed his crop.” And other birds, like the finch and the thrush and the heron, come, and all bring accusations against the man, and the evil angel enters them in his book.

Then come the good witnesses. First the swallow, and she says, “O Lord, this man has been kind to us. We built our nest in his house and under his roof, and he never as much as molested us, and even when my young spoil the food, which he is preparing under their nest, he never hurts them.” Then the stork comes, he says, “I build my nest on the very roof of his house, and on his storehouses, and he never interferes with us, and we hatch our young and feel no hurt. All merciful father, have mercy on him, as he was full of pity for us.”

Then the cuckoo comes, and he said, “I who have been thy servant pray thee to forgive his sins, for even to me he does no hurt, and though I often announce death to him, he none the less listens with pleasure to my call. Have mercy on him and forgive his sins.” And so the other birds come and ask the forgiveness of sin. And the good angel writes it all down in his book and puts it as counter-weights in his balance, and often the pleading of the birds opens the gates of heaven to the human soul. [341]




O rosebush, O rosebush,

Thou art evil tempered!

Why hast thou tarried

And not budded

Since yester-morning

Until this morning?

It was bitter enough to watch,

How they became separated,

The soul from the body.

Going away from the beautiful world,

From the world with the sun shining,

From the blowing wind,

From the flowing waters.

O rosebush, why hast thou hastened not to bud?

I have budded quickly,

For my time also has come,

To go away like thee,

To travel to the setting of the sun,

Where the sun is hiding,

Where the flowers dwell

With all their sisters,

And where the flower of the sun

Sits at the gate of Paradise

To judge the flowers,

Where they have left their scent.

In the evening the rain did fall.

In the night the sky cleared up.

In the dawn the dew has fallen,

And the scent has gone astray.

The soul divided from the body,

Full of grief and sorrow,

Journeys far away.

It reaches the sea.

The sea is raging furiously.

It comes howling and foaming,

Frightening the whole world.

The wave rose up high,

To swallow the world.

It brings in its sweep blackberry trees, elder-trees,

Pines torn from the roots.

On the border of the sea,

Where the pine tree of the fairies stands,

The way across the waters,

The soul stood praying to the pine.

O pine,

Be a brother unto me.

Stretch, oh stretch

Thy boughs,

That I may lay hold of them,

And thus pass across

That wide sea

Which divides me from the world.

I may not stretch my boughs

For thee to lay hold of them,

And to pass across by them, [342]

For on my crest a red hawk has hatched its young,

With a cursed heart

And a proud eye.

Ere thou art aware,

The young will see thee.

They will whistle,

And frighten thee,

And thou art sure to drop into the sea beneath,

And be engulfed there.

Let it be so!

The sea was raging furiously.

It came howling and storming,

Frightening the whole world.

The wave rose,

To swallow the world,

And brought in its sweep,

Blackberry trees,

Elder trees,

Pines torn from their roots.

On the shore of the seas,

Where the pine tree of the fairies stands,

The passage across the water,

The soul stood praying to the pine:

O pine tree,

Be a brother unto me.

Stretch, I pray thee,

Thy trunk,

That I may pass across the seas

Which separate one world from the other.

I may not stretch my trunk

For thee to pass,

For in it the barking otter has laid her young,

Which lie in wait for men.

Before thou art ware,

The young ones will find thee.

They will bark at thee,

And frighten thee,

And thou art sure to drop into the sea beneath,

And be engulfed by it.

Let it be so!

The sea was raging furiously.

It came howling and foaming,

Frightening the whole world.

The waves rose high up to swallow the world.

It brought in its sweep,

Blackberry trees,

Elder trees,

Pine trees torn from the roots.

On the shore of the sea,

Where the pine tree of the fairies stands,

The passage across the waters,

The soul stood praying.

O pine tree,

Be a brother unto me.

Stretch thy roots,

That I may lay hold of them,

And pass across the seas

To the other part,

From which the sea separates me.

I may not stretch my roots

For thee to lay hold of them,

To pass across,

For in it the yellow dragon has hatched its young,

And they are starving.

Ere thou art aware,

They will discover thee,

And they will hiss.

Thou wilt be frightened,

And art sure to drop into the sea,

Which will engulf thee.

Let it be so.

And now, pine tree,

Pine tree,

Long enough have I prayed of thee,

But I have a brother,

A fine shepherd.

He has a small axe,

And he has two cousins, [343]

Two strong boys.

They will come and cut thee down,

And throw thee down.

The carpenters will come,

And cut thee to measure,

And they will make out of thee

A bridge over the sea,

To give peace to all,

For the souls to have a passage,

The tried souls,

That journey on the way to Paradise.

The pine tree considered,

It stretched out its boughs,

And the soul passed across the nameless sea,

To go where its desire carried it,

To the other world.

Pass on, O soul;

Pass on unharmed,

Until thou hast gained in mercy

The seven heavy toll-houses.

Then go on straight, O dear soul,

Until thou reachest a place

Where the road divides.

Stop there and consider

Which road to take,

Until thou seest

A tall acacia tree,

Bent and with broad leaves.

Take good care

Not to turn to the left,

For it is the narrow way—

Narrow and a blind alley,

Watered with tears.

And there are also fields badly ploughed,

And covered with briars and thistle.

There dwells the old fay,

Who takes thy passport out of thy hand.

But turn to the right.

Thy own desire leads thee,

For there thou shalt find

Delightful fields,

With choice flowers,

Fields well tilled, sown with flowers.

Thou wilt pick flowers,

And the longing for this world will vanish.

Take further good care,

For thou shalt find

In two beds,

Only one flower in each,

Flower close upon the ground

Not touched by the wind;

Flower in the shade

Never seen by the sun.

Pick them,

For these are the flowers of Paradise.

Journey on,

Until thou reachest that apple tree

Which belongs to St. Peter.

It is a high and mighty tree,

And somewhat bent

On its side.

The top reaches the heavens.

The sides go down to the seas.

The top is full of bloom,

And the boughs are full of fruit;

And down at the roots trickles a gentle fountain.

There sits St. Mary.

May her mercy be with us!

Whoever passes by

She takes pity on them,

And gives them all to drink,

And guides them into the right path.

The soul drinks of the water,

And forgets this world. [344]

Go on thy journey

Until thou reachest the noble willow tree

Covered with bloom.

But it is not a noble willow covered with bloom.

It is St. Mary

In a beautiful garment,

A garment of silk.

She sits at a table,

Adorned with flowers.

There she sits and writes—

She the holy Mary—

The dead and the living.

And she writes down the fate of each of them.

Pray to her

To take the page of the living.

Perchance she will have compassion on thee,

And will write thee among the living.

But she will not have pity on thee,

And will not write thee among the living,

For her sheet is full up,

And she has lost her pen.

Pray her, however, very much

That she take thee with her into the Paradise,

If thou hast not prayed,

When the call has reached thee

In thine own village.

Go then further

Upon beaten tracks, until thou comest

To the very gate of Paradise,

Where there stands the flower of the sun.

There stop.

There take shelter,

And wait patiently

The hour of quickening,

For it is sure to come,

And thou wilt return,

When the stags will draw the plough,

And the hinds will scatter the seeds.

O earth,

From this day on

Be thou my father.

Do not hurry

To eat me up,

For I am giving thee now,

Without ever taking them back,

My shoulders in thy arms,

And my face under thy green sward.

The conception which is here revealed is totally unlike popular apocryphal Christian tales like the Visions of St. Peter, Paul, and the Lady Mary, all well known in Rumanian literature. Nor are there traces of the other set of ideas, originating probably in Egypt, according to which the soul has to pass through many toll-houses where angels and devils are waiting for it, and through which it can only pass with extreme difficulty, if and when the good deeds outweigh the evil deeds. The poem of the “Pilgrimage of the Soul” has almost an heathen aspect. Noteworthy are the huge trees, at the shore of the boundless sea, which must bend across it [345]so as to form a bridge for the soul to pass, and the three animals living in it which threaten the soul with destruction. It reminds one strongly of the Northern Ygdrasil, and almost the same beasts which inhabit it. This is not the place to discuss at any length this tree upon which the world rests, which no doubt goes back to, or is somehow connected with, the tree of life in Paradise and the legends which have clustered round that tree. This conception of the “Pilgrimage of the Soul,” with its allegorical and mystical meaning, is certainly not a product of the Orthodox Church. It reminds one forcibly of the fantastical and poetical conceptions of the heterodox sects. [346]




A Christmas Carol of the Lord’s Justice.

Lord, O Lord,

In this house,

In this yard,

This place,

Two tall apple trees have grown,

Two trees tall and wonderful,

Their tops intertwined.

High above,

In their very tops,

Two candles are burning,

And from these two candles

Three drops are falling,

And from these three drops

Three rivers have grown—

One of wine,

One of balsam,

And one of pure water.

Who bathes in the river of wine?

God himself, the good God,

Bathes himself,


Cleanses himself in pure limpid water,

Changes his clothes,

And anoints himself with balsam.

Further down the river John—

St. John—

And old Christmas1 bathe and wash,

And in limpid water cleanse themselves,

Change their raiment,

Anoint themselves with balsam.

And further down, along the river,

Other saints bathe and wash,

And rinse themselves in pure limpid water,

And put on white clothes.

Still much further down,

This good man bathes,


Rinses himself,

In clean water,

And puts on clean garments.

The good God said:

“To whom, O man, doest thou liken thyself?

To me?

To the saints?

To St. John?

Or to old Christmas?”

“No, O Lord.

I do not liken myself

Neither to Thee,

Nor to the Saints,

Nor to St. John,

Nor to old Christmas,

But to the good deeds which I have performed.

I married as a young man, [347]

I have built a house

On the highroad,

I have kept a decked table

On the high road.

Whosoever passed

Sat down at my table.

All ate and drank at my table,

And all thanked me.

I have further built

Bridges in dangerous paths.

Whosoever passed

Thanked me.

I have further digged wells

In dry lands.

Whosoever drank of the water

Blessed me.”

The good God then replied:

“May thou therefore be blessed.

Thou hast done good deeds

In that world.

Blessing shalt thou find in this.

Enter Paradise without trial.

Sit at table not invited,

And drink the cup unasked.”

We wish health to this house,

To these beautiful courts,

To all of us a happy life

For many years.


1 Christmas is here taken as a person.




I am adding here a number of incantations or charms, which are used by the Rumanians to ward off evil from animals and to save from hurt and disease such victims of witchcraft. In the mind of the people, the old conception is still strong that every sickness is caused by some malignant spirit, and that the most potent remedy is the magical word of incantation or conjuration. And what holds good for the cure of the Evil Eye holds good similarly in the case of a snake bite or any other apparently incurable disease.

The Rumanians resort to magical performances of a peculiarly symbolical and sympathetic nature. Those practices are accompanied by “incantations” or rather “disenchantments,” i.e. chants used for the purpose of destroying the spell. This is not the place to discuss at any length the history and origin of these charms and the mechanism of their composition. I have dealt with them largely in my history of Rumanian Folk-Lore (Lit. pop. Română, 1883, p. 406 ff.). I have shown there the similarity between some of these “incantations” or “conjurations” with some Byzantine and mediæval Latin charms, and not a few ancient oriental incantations of Babylon and Palestine. In connection with the foregoing Tales and Legends, it is of no small importance now to find that similar conjurations are used for the protection of animals. The same procedure is followed as in the case of human beings, and practically the same words and images are used to free the cattle from sickness. In one or two instances (Nos. 2, 3) the cow is being bewitched [349]and loses her milk, or the calf does not suck. The “virtue” (Rum. mana), the “abundance” or “blessing,” is being taken by some witch, or is waning on account of the Evil Eye. Even in these cases the formula is almost identical with that used in a stereotyped form in human “incantations.” Each of these given here could be made the starting-point of discursive explanations. But this must be reserved for a special study of the Rumanian charms and incantations. For our purpose here the translation accompanied only by a few explanatory foot-notes, is quite sufficient. It proves that to the Rumanian peasant, there is no essential difference between man and beast. They are both treated alike, and even the Lady Mary knows no difference between them. She helps the beast in the same manner as she descends the “silver ladder” to help the man. And the evil spirits, who attack man and beast with the same virulence, are driven out by precisely the same method: charms and incantations.




“Good one” (Dobritza) went with the broom to sweep the poultry yards, the hens, and the geese runs, with the geese,

The turkey yard, with the turkeys,

The gardens and the orchards,

The hills with the vineyards,

The mountains with the forests.

Then, Good One! do not go to sweep the gardens and the orchards, the hills and vineyards,

The mountains with the forests,

The run with the poultry, but come and sweep away the sickness of the hens,

The ducks, and the geese of Mr. N. N. Sweep away the sickness with thy broom,

And I with my mouth will say the charm (disenchantment).

With my hand I will seize it,

And beyond the Black Sea I will throw it,

That it may perish, truly perish, there,

As the foam of the sea,

As the dew before the sun,

And the birds of Mr. N. N. shall become pure, sweet, clean and shining,

As made by God.

This charm is said whilst stirring the “virgin water” with a broom. [350]




The Monday cow has gone on her way, on her pathway,

On to untrodden grass,

With the virtue (Mana) not taken away,

And with the dew not yet shaken off,

To the field with butter,

To the well with cream.

She was met by nine evil-eyed ones,

Nine witches,

And nine takers-away of blessing (abundance mana).

The cow lowed and roared;

She turned back.

The Holy Mother heard her.

She came to her with dew under her feet and with “abundance” on her back.

She took hold of her by the right horn,

And led her to green reeds,

And sprinkled her with (the branches) of the willow tree and basil.

The cream thickened,

The eyes sparkled,

The hair became smooth,

And the milk started running.

It spurted like a vein,

It issued forth like a well, and ran like a river.




I rose up early in the morning.

I took the sickle (scythe)

In my hand.

I went up to the hill of love.

I went down into the valley of affection.

I cut nine handfuls of flowers,

I cut (gathered) love from nine jolly widows,

From nine beautiful girls,

From nine kings and nine rulers.

With the same zest as kings hasten to their kingdom,

Rulers to their rule,

Ministers to their ministration,

Knights to their knighthood,

And merchants to their business,

So shall the “Thursday1 one”

Hasten to the calf,

And the calf to her.

As the tongue is fast in the mouth,

So shall “Thursday one” stick to her calf,

And the calf on to her.

I burnt it (the spell) with fire,

I singed it with the flame,

I enveloped it with love,

With affection I kindled it.

As the honey is sweet,

So shall the calf long for “Thursday one.”





N. N. rose up,

Got up very early,

And met the accursed on the way,

And he poisoned him as one bitten by the poisoned fly.

The Lady Mother heard it from heaven.

She took the staff in her hand,

And came down upon a silver ladder.

Do not cry, and do not low, O “Thursday one.”

Come with me to that old woman, that she may say the charm (disenchantment) for thee,

With water from the well,

With three stalks of elder-tree,

With twigs of hazelnut tree,

With a knife that has been found and with silver coins.

These charms were told in the year 1913 by a woman who was believed to be in her 109th year.




Fly away, evil eye, from the White one.

Do not wonder at her.

Do not stare at her admiringly

Of the milk that is milked,

Of the calf that is sucking

Her sweet body,

That it is sweet to me as honey and yellow as wax; but wonder at,

And stare admiringly

At that green bush,

That it is as green as the ivy,

And white as the lily.

Fly away, yawn,

Fly away, shout,

Of the great evil eye.




The mistress has gone on her way with Joyana (Thursday one)

To feed her on the green field.

Well she did feed her,

Well did she satisfy her,

Well did she slake her thirst.

She turned her back.

In the middle of the way

She met an old woman

Dressed in a shirt of nettles,

With sandals of a black sow on her feet.

She broke Joyana’s horns, [352]

Her eyes she caused to shed tears,

Her hair she ruffled (bristled),

The tail she cut off,

The breasts she squeezed (flattened),

The udders she emptied.

The cow lowed and the cow moaned.

No one saw her;

No one heard her;

But the Holy Mother saw her.

Only she heard.

She said to her:

“Thursday one, do not low, do not moan.”

“How am I not to low?

How am I not to moan?

As I went with my mistress to feed in pastures green,

She fed me well.

She slaked my thirst well.

Back she did turn me.

When in the middle of the way,

An old woman met me,

Dressed in a shirt of nettles,

With sandals of a black sow on her feet.

She lopped my horns,

She caused my eyes to run over,

My hair she made to bristle,

My tail she has cut off,

She has flattened my breasts,

She has emptied my udders.”

”(Joyana) ‘Thursday one,’ do not low, do not moan.

Go to N. N.

He will disenchant thee with the nettle in flour,

From the little horns

To the little tail,

From the little tail to the little horns.

The horns will become sharp again.

The hair will be smooth,

The breasts will be strong,

The udder will be full again.

Go to thy mistress,

And she will milk thee from the pail into the can,

From the can into the pail.”

This disenchantment is made with nettles in flour.




Take three stalks of madwort. Go to the beast that has worms, touching the wound with the madwort, say:

May there be as many maggots in the wound as there are (popi) priests in Paradise.

As many and not even as many.

Say it three times, and the worms will fall off.

The implication is obvious. [353]




On a day of Lent, before sunrise, take the beast, which has worms outside the village to a place where reeds are growing. Get nine bushes of reeds, each with three reeds (stalks) in one root. Stop still at each bush, cut the middle reed, shake it three times over the wound, and say:

“Ye three reeds are three brothers,

And ye all three are to join together,

And drive away the worms from Joyana;

For, if not,

I come to-morrow at the same time,

To cut you off from the root,

To take away your peace,

And dust and ashes shall you become.”

Then spit aside. Repeat this with each of the reed-bushes. At mid-day, when the sun stands in “the balance” (noontide), repeat the whole incantation, and yet a third time shortly before sunset. The cut reeds must be tied together by their roots, and you will see the worms dropping off when you finish the charm.

This cure can also be effected when the beast is not present. In this case, go alone, and remember the animal whilst making the operation. It will be found quite effective.




Above it is thundering,


Speckling, clinging to the skin,

Skin to bone,

Bone to flesh.

The flesh has been bitten,

Bitten by a snake.

God, send the cure.

Holy Mother, overshadow him.

This charm is made with “virgin water,” using a hazelnut twig, especially if a snake has been killed with it. The bite is washed with the water, and a mouthful is taken three times. [354]




Weasel, beautiful girl,

There are nine boils.

Nine boils have gone down;

Eight boils have grown,

Eight boils have gone down;

Seven boils have grown,

Seven boils have gone down;

And so on until one boil has grown,

And one has gone down.

And the cow N. N. shall now remain clean and sweet (strong), as she was made by God.

This charm is said three times over a pail with “virgin water”; a cross is made over with the skin of a weasel, or with the twig of hazel-nut, or with a found knife.

The cow is washed with the water, and the rest is poured into running water.

The charm must be repeated three times daily, and for three consecutive days, if the bite is a bad one and the swelling does not go down. [355]

1 The cows are often called by the names of the days on which they were born. Of these Monday and Thursday seem to be the lucky ones.






And Anadan said: “Forgive me, my father, and let me be the meanest of swineherds, only let me live.” But Arkirie said: “No, my son, thou hast acted towards me in the same manner as the wolf acted when he went to the teacher to be taught; for whilst the teacher said A B C D, the wolf said: ‘For the lambs’ and ‘for the sheep’ and ‘for the goats’ and ‘for the kids’; in the same manner hast thou acted towards me, my son.”



And he began to beat him. And Anadan said: “Have mercy on me, and I will be a shepherd.” And Arkirie said: “Thou hast acted towards me as the wolf who followed the sheep and met the shepherd, who said to him: ‘Thank thee.’ And he asked him: ‘Whither art thou going so fast?’ And the wolf said: ‘I follow the track of the sheep, for an old woman told me that the dust of the sheep was wholesome for the eyes.’ In the same manner hast thou acted against me.”



And he began again to beat him, but Anadan said: “Have pity on me, and I will groom thy horses.” But Arkirie said: “No, my son, thou hast acted towards me like a man who, leading an ass on the road, tied it with a loose rope. The ass broke the rope and ran away. On his way he met [356]the wolf, and the wolf said unto him: ‘Happy journey unto thee, ass!’ And the ass replied: ‘Unhappy it will be, for the man tied me up with a rotten rope, so that I broke it and ran away, and he did not tie me with a good rope.’” And Arkirie continued to beat him until he died (M. Gaster, Jrnl. Royal Asiatic Society, 1900, p. 309).

A larger number of animal fables are found in the other versions of Ahikar, thus in the Armenian (Story of Ahikar, edited by Rendel Harris Conybeare, etc., second edition, Cambridge, 1913, p. 51), and in the Slavonic (ibid. pp. 21 and 22). [357]




This seems to be the oldest collection of animal tales which agree most closely with some of the Rumanian. They are of a purely oriental origin, and are therefore invaluable in helping to determine that of the latter. They are taken from the Venice edition, 1544, reprinted page by page by Steinschneider, Berlin 1858 (f. 24a ff.).




Q. Why were the flies created which live only one day?

Reply. For the sake of the fly which in the future will torture Titus the wicked, and also for the sake of the fledglings of the raven. When they are hatched they are white and the parents fly away and leave them. Then they cry to God, as it is written, “The young of the raven which cry unto Him and He brings to them these flies and they are fed thereby.” After three days they become dark; then the parents return to them. Thus the Lord, blessed be He, prepares the cure before the illness (f. 24a).




Q. Why did God create wasps and spiders which are of no use? [358]

R. Once upon a time David was sitting in his garden and he saw a wasp eating a spider, and there came a fool with a stick in his hand, and he drove them away. Then David said, “O Lord of the Universe, what benefit is there in these creatures? The wasp eats up the honey and is destructive; the spider weaves the whole year and there is nothing with which to clothe oneself; the fool only hurts people, and he does not know thy unity and thy greatness, the world has no benefit from him.” The Lord replied and said, “David, thou dost scoff at these creatures now, but a time is sure to come when they will be of use to thee, and then thou wilt recognise the reason of their creation.”

It happened thereafter, when he hid in the cave, being pursued by Saul, a spider came and made his web across the mouth of the cavern. Saul coming up, saw the web and said, “Certainly no man has entered this cave, as otherwise that web would have been torn to pieces.” So he went away without searching the cave. When David came out, and beheld the spider, he kissed it and blessed it and said, “Lord of the Universe, who can accomplish works like any of thy works? For all thy deeds are beautiful.”

When he came to Achish, David simulated the fool before him and his men. The daughter of Achish also was foolish and mad. When they brought David before him, he said to his men, “Are ye mocking at me, considering that my daughter is a fool, or am I in want of lunatics?” So they left him and he fled. When he found himself in safety he thanked God for all that he had made, for it was all beautiful.

When David (had entered the cave) he found Saul sleeping his noon-day sleep. Abner slept across the opening with his legs bent. David tried, slipped through the legs, and went in and took the jug of water. When he returned Abner suddenly stretched out and kept David as in a hedge, as if two heavy pillars had come down upon him. Then David prayed for God’s mercy and said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In that hour a miracle was performed for him, for a wasp came and stung Abner in his leg. He lifted [359]it up and David was able to escape. Then David praised and thanked God.

It is not fit for man to mock or scoff at God’s works (f. 24 a–b).




Q. Why has the ox no hair on his nose?

R. When the Israelites were going round Jericho with Joshua in order to destroy it, they brought him successively a horse, an ass, and a mule to ride upon, but they all died, for Joshua was a very heavy man. Then they brought an ox and he carried him on his back. When he saw this Joshua kissed the ox on his nose, and for this reason the ox has no hair on that spot (f. 25a).




Q. Why does the cat eat mice more than any other creeping thing?

R. In the beginning the cat and the mouse were friends. At one time the mouse went and accused the cat falsely before God, and said, “Lord of the Universe, the cat and I are companions and we have now nothing to eat.” God replied, “Thou hast brought a false accusation against thy friend in order to be able to eat him. Now the reverse is to happen, the cat will eat thee and thou shalt serve her as food.” The mouse replied, “Lord of the Universe, what have I done?” And God said, “O thou unclean creature! Hast thou not heard what happened to the sun and moon which originally were of equal size, but because the moon brought a false accusation against (slandered) the sun, I have reduced its size and made it smaller than the sun? So also hast thou slandered thy companion in order to eat him, and he therefore will eat [360]thee.” “If that be so,” the mouse replied, “then the cat will surely utterly destroy me.” And God replied, “I will leave thee a remnant as I have done to the moon.”

Then the mouse went, and springing on the head of the cat began to bite it. The cat then threw the mouse on the ground and killed it.

From that time on, the fear of the cat fell upon the mice, and for this reason does the cat eat the mouse (f. 25b).

(The Hebrew word used for cat is חתול which originally means weasel!)




Q. Why does the ass mix his water with that of other asses and smell the dung?

R. When God had created all the beings, the ass said to the horse and mule, “Every creature has some time of rest, but we are destined to work on continuously without any rest. Let us pray to God to give us also some time of respite, and if our prayer be not heard let us decide no longer to procreate so that we may die out.” So they prayed, but their prayer was not heard. But God said, “When your water becomes rivers to drive mills thereby, and when your dung has the smell of perfume, then you will obtain your respite.” And this is the answer to the question (f. 25b).




Q. Why is there enmity between the cat and the dog?

R. When the cat (weasel) was created it became the companion of the dog. Both hunted together and ate together of the prey. It so happened at one time that two or three days had passed and they had not got anything to eat. Then the dog said to the cat, “Why are we sitting here a hungered? [361]Go to Adam and sit in his house and be fed there, and we will go after the creeping things and reptiles and will feed upon them, and we shall both be kept alive.” The cat then replied to the dog, “Let it be so, but we must take an oath that we will not go both together to one master.” He replied, “Thou hast spoken well.” There and then they both took an oath, and the cat went to the house of Adam, where she found mice, which she caught and ate: the rest ran away from her. When Adam saw what had happened, he said, “A great salvation (“cure”) has God sent me.”

Then he took the cat into his house and fed it and gave it to drink.

The dog went to the wolf and said unto him, “Let me come and spend the night with thee.” He replied, “Very well.” Both went to a cave to sleep there. In the night the dog heard the footsteps of the various animals, so he woke the wolf and told him, “I heard the steps of thieves.” The wolf replied, “Go out to them and drive them away.”

The beasts turned upon him to kill him. The dog fled away and went to the ape, but the ape drove him away. Then he went to the sheep. The sheep received him and allowed him to sleep there. He heard the noise of feet and he said to the sheep, “I hear the footsteps of robbers.” The sheep replied, “Go out.” The dog went out, and began to bark. The wolves said, “Surely sheep are there.” So they went thither and ate the sheep.

The dog fled away and went from place to place trying to find some shelter, but could not find any. At last he came to Adam, who took him in and allowed him to sleep there. In the middle of the night the dog said to Adam, “I hear the noise of footsteps.” Adam rose at once, took his spear, and going out with the dog drove the wild beasts away and returned home with the dog. Then Adam said to the dog, “Come into my house, dwell with me, eat of my food and drink of my water.” And the dog went with him. When the cat heard the voice of the dog she came out to him and said, “Why dost thou come thither to my place?” And he [362]replied, “Adam has brought me hither.” Adam said to the cat, “Why dost thou quarrel with him? I have brought him in, for I found him clever and full of courage. Thou needst not grieve, thou shalt be kept also as before.” The cat replied, “My Lord, he is a thief, is it right to dwell in one place with a thief?” And the cat went on to say to the dog, “Why hast thou broken (transgressed) thy oath?” He replied, “I will not enter thy dwelling place, I will not eat of anything that belongs to thee, I will not cause thee the least harm.” But the cat did not listen and began to quarrel.

When the dog saw this, he went away from the house of Adam, and going to that of Seth, dwelt there. And the dog tried all the time to make peace with the cat, but it was all in vain. In that state they have remained to this very day, in constant enmity, for the children follow the example of their forebears: as the proverb has it: sheep follow sheep (f. 25b, 26a).




Q. Why is it that the dog recognises his master and the cat does not?

R. Whoever eats of anything at which mice have nibbled forgets what he has been taught. It is only natural that he who eats the mouse itself should forget his master (f. 26b).




Q. Why is there a seam in the mouth of the mouse?

R. At the time of the Flood, all kinds of creeping things and reptiles had come into the Ark, male and female. Once [363]upon a time the mouse and its mate were sitting by the cat, when the cat suddenly said, “I remember that in former times my forefathers used to eat yours, and what they did then I might as well do now.” With these words the cat sprang at the mouse wishing to eat it. The mouse fled and sought for a hole to hide itself, but could not find any. A miracle happened, and a hole appeared which the mouse entered and hid itself. The cat came to the hole and tried to follow the mouse, but could not, as the hole was very narrow. So she put her paw into it with the intention of dragging it out. The mouse opened its mouth. So the cat cut its lower chin open with its nail about half the length of a span. When the cat had gone away the mouse crept out of the hole and running to Noah said to him, “O thou righteous man, do me an act of charity and sew up the chin, which my enemy the cat has torn open.” Noah replied, “Go to the pig and bring me one of the bristles of its tail.” He went and brought it to Noah, who sewed up the chin. To this very day the seam can be seen (f. 26b).




Q. Why does the raven hop in its walk?

R. Once upon a time the raven saw how beautiful was the stepping (walk) of the dove, more beautiful than that of all the other birds. He liked the walk of the doves very much, and he said to himself, “I will also put my feet in the same step.” And he nearly broke his bones in the attempt to imitate the dove. The other birds laughed and mocked at him. The raven felt ashamed and he said, “Let me return to my former walk.” So he tried to walk as before, but he could not, for he had forgotten it. Thus he remained with a halting step, like one who is jumping, neither walking as before, nor being able to walk as the dove (f. 26b). [364]




Q. Why does the raven mate differently from any other bird?

R. There are various explanations. One is that he has been punished for his lewdness in the Ark, and for the same reason also the dog has been punished.

Others say, because he is wicked, a thief, and froward. There is one answer which combines and explains it more satisfactorily. When Noah wanted to send the raven to see whether the waters were falling, the raven fled and hid himself under the eagle’s wing. Noah searched after him and found him there under the wing of the eagle. He said to him, “Go, thou wicked one, and see whether the waters are falling.” The raven replied, “Hast thou not found any other bird but me.” Noah replied, “I can only send one of the two birds whose first letter is either Ain or Yod.” The raven replied, “Why not the eagle and dove”? (Nun, Yod). Noah said, “Because there will be a town in existence called Ai (עי) whose inhabitants will kill Yair, who will forbid the raven (עורב) and permit the dove (יונת) (to eat).” Then the raven replied impudently to Noah, “The reason why thou hast chosen to send me out is that thou wishest to kill me in order to marry my mate, as I belong to those birds of which thou hast introduced into the Ark only one pair.”

When Noah heard these words, he cursed the raven that he should mate differently from any other bird, and all the birds in the Ark replied Amen. Then the raven replied, “Why hast thou cursed me? I have a legal complaint against thee.” Noah replied, “Because thou art lewd and foolish and dost suspect innocent people. If I do not approach my own wife, who is like unto me, whilst we are in the Ark, how can I approach thy wife, who is so different from a human being, and moreover is forbidden unto me as a married female?” [365]

The raven said, “Why dost thou call me lewd (fornicator)?” Noah replied, “Thine own words prove thine immorality, I have not made thee an evil name.” And thus it has remained according to Noah’s curse (f. 26b–27a).




Q. Why are there no counterpart to the fox and weasel (חולרה) in the sea? The story of the fox’s heart and the fishes.

R. Because they were cunning. When God had created the angel of death, he saw the creatures, and he said to God, “Lord of the Universe, grant me permission to kill them.” God replied, “Thou shalt have power over all the creatures of the earth except the descendants of the bird Milham, who are not to taste the taste of death.” He said, “O Lord, separate them from the rest if they are so pious, so that they do not learn the evil ways of the others and come to sin.” God at once granted him his request. He built for them a great town and he placed them therein, and he sealed up the gate of that town, and he said, “It has been decreed (by God) that neither my sword, nor that of anyone else should have power over you unto the end of all generations.” The angel of death returned then to God, who said to him, “Throw the pair of each created being into the sea and over the rest thou shalt have power.” The angel did as he was told, and he threw into the sea a pair of each created being. When the fox saw what he was doing, he began crying and weeping. The angel asked him, “Why art thou weeping?” The fox replied, “I cry for my friend whom thou hast thrown into the sea.” The angel asked him, “Where is thy friend?” The fox then went and stood close to the edge of the water and the angel saw his shadow in the water, and he believed that he had [366]indeed thrown a pair of his friends into the sea, and he said to the fox, “Get thee hence.” The fox ran quickly away and was thus saved.

On his way he met the weasel, and he told her all that had happened and what he had done. The weasel did likewise and escaped also from being thrown into the sea.

After the lapse of one year since these things had happened, did Leviathan gather together before him all the creatures of the sea, and it was found that neither fox nor weasel was among them. So he sent for them, but he was told what the fox had done to escape from being thrown into the sea. Moreover, they told Leviathan that the fox was very cunning. When Leviathan heard of his great intelligence, he became jealous of him. He sent large fishes to go and fetch him, by deceiving him and luring him away, and then to bring the fox to him. They went and found him walking leisurely along the seashore. When the fox saw the fishes approach and play about close to him, he entered into conversation with them. When they saw him, they asked him, “Who art thou?” He answered, “I am the fox.” They said to him, “Dost thou not know that great honour is awaiting thee and it is for this purpose that we have come hither. He said, “What is it?” They replied, “Leviathan is sick unto death, and has left the command that no one else is to rule after him as king but the fox, for he is the most cunning of all the beasts. Thereafter, you now come with us, for we have been sent to offer thee this honour.” He said to them, “How can I go into the sea and not be drowned?” They replied, “Ride on the back of one of us and we will carry thee safely over the waters of the sea, so that not even a drop of water shall touch the tip of thy nose until thou reachest the kingly palace. Then we will lower thee down into it and there thou wilt rule over all of us, and thou wilt rejoice all the days of thy life, and thou wilt no longer have to search for food, and be exposed to be hunted by mighty beasts and to be eaten by them.”

When the fox heard these words, he believed them, and mounting on the back of a mighty fish started with them on a [367]journey on the sea. When the waves began to play round him he began to be anxious. His wit had forsaken him. Then he recovered himself and said, “Woe unto me, what have I done? The fishes have tricked me worse than I have ever tricked all the other beasts. Now that I have fallen into their hands how can I escape?”

He then said to them, “I have come with you and I am now at your mercy. You may tell me what is it that you really want of me.” They replied, “We will tell thee the truth. Leviathan had heard of thy reputation, that thou art very cunning, so he said to himself, I will cut his belly open and will eat his heart, and thus shall I become also very wise.”

The fox said to them, “Why did you not tell me the truth, for I would then have brought my heart with me. I would have given it to the king Leviathan and he would have shown me honour. You are now going to your own destruction.” They said to him, “Hast thou not thy heart with thee?” He replied, “No, for such is our habit that we leave our heart behind and we walk about without it; whenever we want it we fetch it, and if there is no necessity for it we leave it where it is.” So they said to him, “What shall we do now?”

He replied, “My place and my dwelling is close to the seashore, if you are willing to do it, bring me back to the place whence you have taken me. I will go and fetch my heart and return with you to Leviathan, who is sure to honour me greatly. If you, however, will bring me to him without my heart, he will be very angry with you and eat you up. For I will tell him that you had not told me anything before you took me away, and that when I heard from you the reason of your errand, I told you to carry me back and that you refused to do so.” The fishes then said at once, “Thou speakest well,” and they returned to the place at the seashore whence they had taken him. He went down from the back of the fishes, and jumping and frolicking about he rolled over and over in the sand. The fishes said to him, “Haste thee, do not tarry, for we must depart quickly.” He replied, “Ye fools, get yourselves away. If I had not had my heart I could not have [368]gone with you into the sea. Is there any creature in existence moving about and not having a heart within?” They replied, “Thou hast mocked at us.” He replied, “If I got the best of the angel of death, how much more likely am I to get it of you?” They returned full of shame to the Leviathan and told him all that had happened. He replied, “He is truly cunning, and ye have proved to be fools. About such as you it is said, ‘The stupidity of the fools is the cause of their death,’” and so he ate them up.

Thus it has remained that although there are creatures in the sea corresponding to those on land, there are none like unto the fox and the weasel.







Aaron, The rod of, 204

Abbott, G. F., 21

Abel, The burial of, 178

Abner and David, 358

Abraham, 319

Achish and David, 358

Adam, Language of, 13;
and Eve, 79;
and the burial of Abel, 178;
and Eve and the devil, 210;
and the cat and dog, 361

Æsop, 29;
“Life” of, 30;
transmission of Æsopian fables, 31

Afanasiev’s Russian Tales, 22, 195, 293, 326, 331

Ahikar, The story of, 29–31;
Rumanian version of, 355

Alans, 15

Alaric, King, 43, 45

Albanians, 15, 18

Albigenses, The, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 123

Alexander the Great, 57, 125;
and the knight (cricket), 207;
and the two brothers, 284;
destroys the dog-men, 285;
his conquests, 285;
Romance of, 286;
“Letter to Aristotle,” 286

Allegorical use of animal tales, 31

“Alphabet of Ben Sira, or Pseudo Sirach,” 209, 213, 357

Amazons, 285

Amber, Fly in, simile for transmission of folk-tales, 37

Ambrose, St., of Milan, and the Ambrosian chant, 48

Anadan, 355

Andersen, Hans C., 35

Angelic sparks, i.e. glow-worms.
See Glow-worms.

Angels, The fall of the, 38, 39;
among men, 73;
become stars, 74;
the angel in love, 74, 78;
St. Peter casts out the little devil, 75;
angels who refused to help St. Elias (bull-flies), 103

Angromainya, 27

Animals, Man and, relations between, 2;
as disguised human beings, 2, 23;
animals humanised, 2, 28;
substitution of local animals in stories, 6, 12;
not humanised in Rumanian fables, 28;
incantations against animal illnesses, 348

Animism, 2

Anne, St., and the magician, 203

Ant, The, Origin of, and why it is cut in the middle, 283;
the grandchild of God, 283;
protected by the Virgin, 283;
the red ant the Virgin’s tears, 283;
remedy against toothache, 283

Ants, The, and the cricket, 207

Ape, The, and the dog, 361.
See Monkey

Apocryphal Gospels, Acts, etc., 25

Apollo, 244

Apostles, The, 39;
on earth, 76;
and St. Peter, 130

Apples, Worms in, 122

Arabians feed Elijah, 280

Arabic literature, Animal tales in, 31;
the raven in, 279

Arianism and Manichaeism, 41;
and the Goths, 41–43;
and the Bible, etc., in the vernacular, 44;
and the Catholic Church, 45;
Gothic, 48;
and the Greek Church, 51

Arius and religious minstrelsy, 47

Arkir, Stories from, 355

Armenian, The, and the hoopoe, 288

Armenians, 15

Arnica, 283

Asia Minor, 10, 30

Asiatic folk-lore, 2 [370]

Ass, The, lion frightened by, 331;
length and manner of life, 336;
why he mixes his water, 360

Autos-da-fé, 45

Avesta, The, 26;
the bull in the, 96

Avianus, 32



Babrius, 32

Balkans, Races of the, 15;
animal tales and the, 36, 38;
the Goths in the, 42;
the Slavs, 43;
the Bulgars, 44;
heretical sects in the, 52

Barlaam legend, 6, 16, 25

Basil, The Hexameron of, 28

Basile, St., 257

Bear, The, and the tom cat, 333

Bear, The Great (constellation), 80

Bee, The, 25, 38;
“the Bee and Creation,” 27;
outwits the Devil, 63, 71, 72;
becomes black, 63, 71;
becomes narrow waisted, 64, 71;
gives honey and wax, 64;
given its sting, 64;
the mole and, 65;
outwits the mole, 67;
feeds on itself, 68;
the brick-carrier daughter, 70;
made first, 135;
stolen by the Gipsy, 135;
belongs to the Rumanians, 136, 137;
God’s blessing on, 138

Beetle, Nun, 132, 134

Beetles, Horned, 102;
red beetles, 107, 108

“Belief” in fairy tales, 3

Beliefs, Ancient, in folk-tales, 37, 39

Ben Sira, Hebrew alphabet of, Animal stories from, 357

Benfey, Pantschatantra, 324, 326.
See Panchatantra

Benjamin, Bishop, of Moldavia, 120

Berachya, 32

Bible, The, in the vernacular, Arians, 44;
the Cathars, 47;
forbidden by the Catholic Church, 47

Biblical legends, 57, 278, 319

Bird of heaven, The, 256

Birds, The king of the, 151;
singing of the, 151;
the colouring of the, 148, 156;
the king of the (wren), 300;
(eagle), 302;
and the sparrow-hawk, 303;
accuse man, 339;
plead for man, 340

Black One, The, 241

Black Sea, The, 247, 248

Blackbird, The, 151

“Bluebeard” 34;
Bluebeard story parallel, 261

Bogomilism, 25, 26, 31, 36, 44;
in Rumania, 52;
in Russia, 53

Bogomils, 50, 51

Boris, King, 44

Bosnia, 46, 52

Broadside, Political animal, 33

Brick-carrier daughter, The (bee), 69

Bubureaza, 113

Buddha, 25

Buddhist teaching of metempsychosis, 23

Buffalo, The, and the gnat, 310;
race with the hare, 315;
walks slowly and treads lightly, 316

Bugs, Charms against, 223

Bukovina, 58;
Bukovina peasants and beetles to produce milk, 109

Bulgaria, Survivals in, 10;
the saints in, 40;
Bogomilism and, 51;
creation stories, 65

Bulgaro-Vallachian kingdom, 51

Bulgars, 15;
Tartarian language of the, 18;
in the Balkans, 44;
Christianity among, 44;
unity with Rumanians, 51

Bull, The, in the Avesta, 96

Bullfinch, The origin of the, 158

Bull-fly, The, 102

Bulls or cows of the Lord, 103, 107, 109

Burgundy, Arianism in, 43

Bush, The wonderful, and the cuckoo, 164

Butterflies with the sign of St. Anne’s ring, 203

Byzance, 31, 51, 53

Byzantine myths, 12



Cain, Children of, 139

Calf, The “wise,” 275;
charm for a suckling calf, 350

Cannibal innkeeper, The, 259

Car, The Great (Great Bear), 80

Cards, Playing, The gipsies and, 24

Carnation, The, as test of sex, 282

Carpenters, The, and the Cross, 184, 190

Carpocapsa pomonella, 123 [371]

Cat, The, the animal of the devil, 123;
enmity with the dog and mouse, 208, 209, 360;
eats the devil as mouse, 212, 214;
basks in the sun on the doorstep, 214;
as priest (popa), 312;
the tom cat and the vixen, 332;
fights the wolf, etc., 334;
and the carcase of the horse, 335;
and man, 339;
why it eats mice, 359;
why he does not recognize his master, 362;
and the mouse in the ark, 363

Cathars, The, 26, 31, 41, 45, 46, 50, 52, 54, 123

Catholic Church and Arianism, 45;
and the Bible, 47;
and Mariolatry, 49;
and persecution of heretics, 53

Catholic countries, The saints in, 40

Ceremonies and customs, 36

Cerna, 117

Charles II., 55

Charms, 58;
bull-flies’ horns against evil eye, 103;
saw-fly, to obtain abundant milk, 109;
hornets to make a dog savage, 140;
crow water for philtres, 175;
children’s teeth and crows, 175;
against the mole wart, 179;
the Lady Mary, mouse, and spider, 186;
against the sparrow, 197;
insect egg ring, 204;
against fleas, etc., 221;
generally, 222;
against bugs, 223;
against the illness of animals, 348–354

Charon, 21, 244

Cherries, Lady Mary and the, 202

Children in the wood, 225

Christ, 39;
and the goat’s knees, 88;
and the thrush, 153;
curses the sparrows, 195;
and the yellow bird, 205.
See also Jesus

Christian, The first, executed for heresy by Christians, 46

Christian tales, Apocryphal, 344

Christianity and the unity of folk-lore, 11;
and ancient myths, 12;
the Goths and, 42;
in Rumania, 52

Christians and the heathen, 130

Christmas, Old (person), 346

Christmas carols, Mystical, 57;
the shepherd and the sheep (God and the lamb), 94;
the hart and the making of the world, 95;
the devil stealing the sun, 99;
the wooing of the sister of the sun, 245;
the sun legend in, 246;
the wooing of a fairy, 247;
the swan maiden, 256;
the Lord’s justice, 346

Christophorus, 287

Church, Animal satires and the, 32

Churches, Eastern and Western, The division between, 44

“Cinderella,” 34;
Cinderella story variant, 275

Civilization, The, of the near East, 56

Clergy, Satire of, in animal tales, 32

Cloot, Pierre, 33

Clouds, The, and the rat, 318

Clovis, King, 43, 45

Coccinella septempundata, 113

Cock Robin cycle, 55

Colouring, The, of animals, 148, 156

Comparisons in folk-lore, Haphazard, 12

Constantinople, 52;
evergreen oak in, 88

Continuity in folk-tales, 10, 15, 16

Conybeare, Prof., 30

Cosmogonic legends, 26, 38

Cosquin’s Tales, 57, 258, 266

Cossack Tales (Bain), 335

Cow, Charm for a, against the evil eye, 350;
against snakebite, 351;
called by the names of days, 350 n.

Cow-fly, The, 102

Cowherd, The rude, and the gad-fly, 114, 116

Cox, Miss, Cinderella, 34

Creation, Conception of, 39

Creation of man, 38

“Creation” tales, 1, 4, 22, 34, 35, 57;
their date, 27;
in Russia, 53

Cricket, The, origin, 205, 206, 207

Cricket, The little, 107

Crow, The, the ugliness of fledglings, 170, 172;
the hawk as godmother, 172;
hatred of the hawk, 174;
crow charms, 175;
tom cat and the, 334

Crown of paradise, The, 256

Crucifixion, The, 184, 190, 195

Crusades, The, 41 [372]

Cuckoo, The legend of the, 49;
steals St. Peter’s horses, 77;
and glow-worms, 77;
Ballad of the knight and the dragon, 117;
and the hoopoe, 162, 164;
its origin, 164;
and the wonderful bush, 164;
headman, judge, and emperor, 165;
and a palace for the goldfinch, 168;
silent in winter, 169;
why it says “cuckoo,” 226, 286;
lends its tuft to the hoopoe, 229;
captain of Alexander’s army, 285;
his Amazon wife, 286;
and the Armenian, 288;
pleads for man, 340

“Cuckoo’s ring”, 204

Culex pipiens, 199

“Culture,” 2

Cumans, 15, 18

Cunning of the weaker animals, 22

Czechs, 22



Dacian survivals, 10

Dacians, 15

Dähnhardt (Oskar) Natursagen named, 26, 27, 65, 72, 83, 84, 87, 88

Dalmatia, 46, 52

Danube, The, 120

Days as divinities, 274

Death, The angel of, 365

Demon husband, The, 267, 282

Devil, The, belief in, 38;
Rumanians and the, 40;
and the seed of the earth, 61;
and the bee, 63, 71;
and the sun, 71;
the fall of, 78;
makes the wolf, 79, 82;
and the car, the mill, and fire, 80;
power of the wolf over, 80;
the hairs of the wolf, 80, 81, 82, 83;
fires the eyes of the wolf, 81, 82;
becomes a wolf, 84;
ate by the wolf, 85;
goats and his fire, 86;
creates the goat, 88;
depicted with goat’s horns and hoof, 89;
helps Noah to plant the vine, 92;
strife with God, 97, 100;
St. George leads against, 97;
loses Paradise, 98;
stealing the sun, 99;
and the clever men, 122;
and Eve, 210, 213, 219;
as snake, 211;
as mouse, 211, 213, 214;
contract with God for the dead, 216;
and the St. Peter’s foot, 217;
and the Archangel Michael’s foot, 217

Devil worship.
See Dualism

Devil’s daughter as nun, 134

Devil’s horse, The (dragon-fly), 97

Dib-dib, The, 331

Dionysios, St., 92

Dog, The, and the wolf, 79;
enmity with the cat, 208, 209;
three-headed, 242;
two-headed, 243;
the magic dog and the demon, 267;
with a headache and the snake, 327;
challenges the wolf, 335;
length and manner of life, 337;
and man, 339;
why it fights the cat, 360

Dog-headed people, 284;
saint, 287

Dogma, 38

Dogs and cats, Men changed into, 122

Dogs, St. Peter’s.
See Wolf, The

Doomsday, 85

Dositheus, Archbishop, 120

Dove, The, in legendary tales, 275;
the three white doves, 276;
its origin, 277;
the raven imitates its walk, 363.
See also Turtle dove

Dragon, The, of Cerna, 118

Dragon-fly, The (devil’s horse), 97

Drunkenness, Animal characteristics, 92, 93

Dualism, 25, 36, 38, 39, 49;
Iranian, 26;
in Russia, 53;
and devil worship, 54, 55

Duck, The, The girl who becomes a duck, 261;
why ducks are fat and feed on refuse, 261;
the wild duck accuses man, 339



Eagle, The, 139;
greedy brothers changed to eagles, 231;
the spell under which it is a bird of prey, 234;
and the wren, 300;
as king of the birds, 302

Earth, God and the making of the, 62, 65, 67;
the ends of the, 232

Easter beetle, 107

Easter eggs and orchard worms, 123

Eastern and Western civilization, 56

Eastern Church and persecution, of Hellenism and paganism, 50;
and heretical sects, 52;
and saint with a dog’s head, 286 [373]

Ebionite conception of Jesus, 48

Education and the destruction of folk-lore, 55

Egypt, 30

Egyptian ideas of the passage of the soul, 344

Egyptian influences, 23

Elephantine, The Papyri of, 29

Eliezer, Chapters of, 178

See Ilie

Emperor, The, and God, 126

See Charms

Enoch, Book of, 39

Europe, Animal stories of, 2

European folk-lore, Animal tales the earlier stages of, 3, 8

European languages, 13

European nations a spiritual unit, 2;
their antiquity and character, 11

Eutemias Zygabenos, 51

Eve and the devil, 210, 213, 219

Evil, Origin of, 110

Evil eye, Charms against the, 103, 348, 349, 350, 351

Evil One, Evil creations of, 49

Evil Spirit, The, 22, 25, 26.
See also Devil



Fables, Animal, 1, 4, 22, 28, 29, 57

Fairy, The wooing of a, 247

Fairy tales, 1;
belief in, 3;
world-wide range of, 4;
migration and transmission, 4;
connection of animal tales, 33;
reason and meaning, 34;
their primitiveness, 35;
similarity of, 35

Fates, 274

Fathers, The Christian, and the Physiologus, 28

Fauns, 89

Fenrir, 84

Finch, Thistle, and ruffled feathers, 156

Fire, The Devil and, 80, 86, 87

Fish, The, and his seven wings, 182;
and the ring, 271

Flea, The, and the gnat, 306

Fleas, Origin of, 219;
the devil’s horse, 220;
charms against, 221

Flies on the dead, 215;
which live only one day, 357

Flint, The, and sparks, 87

Flood, The, 90

Floria and the king of the storks, 263

Flower under pillow to test sex, 267, 282

Flute, The magic, 251

Folk-lore, Problems, 1;
haphazard comparisons, 12;
analogy with comparative philology, 14, 16;
its investigation, 14;
survivals, 9, 12, 15, 16, 36;
concentric investigation, 19;
written and oral, 20;
a product of peaceful times, 24;
Western European, 54;
of the nearer East, 55;
and the “man of science,” 55;
and education, 55;
and the heresy hunter, 56

Foot, Origin of instep, 215;
why it is arched, 217

Foreign elements in languages, 17 et seq.

Fox, The, the “clever” outwitted, 22;
fox fables in Jewish literature, 28;
the partridge and the hound, 290;
becomes monk, 313;
seven-witted, 320;
and the hedgehog, 322, 323;
and the leopard, 331;
the vixen and the tom cat, 332;
not among the creatures of the sea, 365;
beguiles the fishes about his heart, 367

France, The Goths in, 41

French Reynard cycle, 33

Frere, Mary, 28

Friars, The mendicant, 41

Frog, The, and the Lady Mary, 190;
King Log and King Stork, 304;
and the hare, 314



Gabriel, The Archangel, 99, 101, 104;
wager with Voinic, 105

Gad-fly, The, and the cattle, 114, 116

Gaster, M., Chrestomatie Romăna, 58;
Exempla of the Rabbis, 126;
Literatura Populara Română, 204, 348;
Chronicles of Jerahmeel, 319

Genoese and Venetian traders and St. George, 120

George, St., and the dragon legend, 16, 98, 101;
fights the devil, 97;
his horse, 97;
and the dragon, variant, 120

George, St., Life of, 120

Ghirosana, Ana, 117

Giants, The, 90;
destruction of the, 215 [374]

Gimlet, The, 218

Gion, 287

Gipsies, 15, 17;
and transmission of folk-tales, 24;
as villain and fool, 24;
and the bee and wasp 135, 137;
greed of, 161;
and the nails for the Crucifixion, 190

Gipsies’ bird, The (wagtail), 161

Gipsy, The, and the swan queen, 249

Giurgiu, 121

Glass mountain, 237, 241

Glove, The fur, becomes a cat, 212, 213, 214

Glow-worms, 25, 38;
angelic sparks, 39, 74, 75;
light St. Peter’s way, 77;
and the cuckoo, 77

Gnat, The, and the flea, 306;
and the lion, 307;
and the buffalo, 310

“Gnat and the Lion, The,” 22

Gnostic legends, 25, 48

Gnosticism, 39, 51

Goat, with wings, 86;
tries to steal God’s fire, 86;
why its knees are bare, 86, 88;
devil’s beast, 87, 88;
God gives it life, 87, 88;
its intelligence, 87;
without tail, 88;
with the devil’s eyes, 89;
the goat-devil in popular belief, etc., 89;
Noah and the, 90;
leads Noah to discover the vine, 90

Goat’s knees, The, 27

God, 26, 38, 39, 48;
and the sun, 71;
makes the dog, 79;
and the devil, 79–81;
gives life to the wolf, 80, 82, 83, 85;
and the devil’s fire, 86, 87;
and the lamb (carol), 94;
strife with the devil, 97, 100;
his herds and flocks (the bull-fly), 102;
and the rude cowherd, 114, 116;
and the polite shepherd, 115, 116;
and the false teachers, 122;
and the young animals and birds, 170;
and young crows, 170;
and the old woman who became a tortoise, 180;
and the mosquito’s food, 200;
allots the span and manner of life, 336;
rewards the good man, 346;
and the angel of death, 365

Goddesses of fate, 21

“God’s hens” (swallows), 274

Gods, The heathen, rob Paradise, 99

Goldfinch, The, elected king of birds, 168;
and the cuckoo, 169

Gonzenbach’s Tales, 57

Goths, 15;
Arianism, 41, 43;
their kingdom, 41;
their original home and migration, 42;
adopt Christianity, 42;
their conquests, 43;
conversion of rulers to Catholicism, 43;
beliefs and practices, 43;
and the Teutonic language, 45;
and the dissemination of heretical myths, 49

Grape vine, The.
See Vine

Grasshopper, The mower, 127;
origin of, 129

Greece, Bogomilism in, 51

Greek Church.
See Eastern Church

Greek folk-lore, 50

Greek, Modern, folk-lore, 20, 21

Greek mythology, 244

Greek myths, 12

Greeks, 15

Grimm’s Tales, 49, 57, 88, 167, 178, 235, 293, 309, 324, 331



Haemus, Mount, 42

Hahn, J. G. von, Albn. Märchen, 21, 57, 78, 85, 93, 313, 324, 326

Haltrich’s Transylvanian Tales (Volksmärchen), 22, 293, 309, 335

Hanauer, Folk Lore of the Holy Land, 219, 230, 331

Hare, The, and the frogs, 314;
race with the buffalo, 315;
and the pointer and setter, 317;
and the tom cat, 333

Harris, J. Rendel, 30;
Story of Ahikar, 356

Hart, The, and the making of the world (carol), 95

Hawk, The, and the young crows, 172;
hatred of the crow, 174

Heaven and hell, 111

Hebrew and the origin of languages, 13

Hedgehog, 64;
and the fox, 322, 323

Helias, 101

Hell, Creation of, 111

“Hell, The Harrowing of,” 101

Heresy and the Reynard cycle, 33;
of the tales, 39 [375]

Heresy-hunting in Greek Church, 50;
as a popular distraction, 55

Heretical myths, The Goths and, 49

Hero tales, 57

Heron, The, and the digging of wells, 176

Hesperides, The golden apples of, 248

Hills, The creation of, 65

Homiliary, The, 120

Hoopoe, The legend of the, 49;
and its greed, 160, 164;
and the cuckoo, 162, 164;
its ambition, 162, 166;
borrows the cuckoo’s tuft, 229;
Solomon’s gift of the tuft, 230;
and the Armenian’s horse, 288;
beliefs attached to its cry, 289

Hornet, The, curse on, 138, 139;
charm to make dogs savage, 140;
nest as sign of winter season, 140

Horse of St. George, 98

Horse, The, of the Sultan, 329

Horses, St. Peter’s, 76

Hound, The, and the fox, 290

Hungarian language, 18

Hungarians, 15

Huns, 15

Husband, The, under a spell, 237

Hymns, Greek (or Syriac), 48

Hypoderma bovis, 115



Ialdabaoth, 48

Iana, sister of the Sun, 245

Iblis, 219

Ileana Cosinziana and Voinic, 104

Ilie, St. (Elijah), 99, 101, 103, 279

Illyricum, 41, 50

See Charms

Indian fables, 29

Indian literature, Animal tales in, 28

Indices Expurgatoria, 52, 53

Indo-European languages, 14

Innkeeper, The brutish, becomes a bullfinch, 158;
the cannibal, 259

Inquisition, The, 42, 89, 123;
and destruction of legends and tales, 54;
and sorcery, 55

Instep of foot, Origin of, 215

Ion Creanga, 58

Iorgovan, Ioan, the knight, 118, 121

Iran, 26

Italy, Survivals in, 10;
and saints, 40;
the Goths in, 41



Jerahmeel, Chronicles of, 78

Jesus, Ebionite idea of, 48;
birth of, 108;
and the giant mower, 127

Jewish literature, Fox fables in, 28

John, St., 99, 184, 257, 346

Josaphat, 25

Joseph, St., 127

Joshua and the ox, 359

“Judgment of the Animals,” 31

Judgment, The, of the soul of man, 339

Judgment, The throne of, stolen, 99



Kalila and Dimna, 6, 330

Ketzer, 41

Kieff, 25

King god, Annual, The slaying of, 10

King Log and King Stork, 304

King of all the birds, 238

Kite, The, and the digging for water, 178

Knight, The, and the dragon (ballad), 117

Kolumbatsch, The poison-fly of, 117

Krauss, Friedrich S., South Slavonic Tales, 22, 88, 209, 293, 308, 323, 330, 334

Kutzo-Vlachs of Macedonia, 58, 193

Kynokephaloi, 286



Lady-bird, The, 113

La Fontaine’s Fables, 312

Lamb, The wolf and the, 27;
and the goat, 87

Language, National, 13

Lark, The, wedding, 228, 229;
how it got its tuft, 236;
why the tuft is dishevelled, 238;
its origin (Little Light), 240, 243;
and the ploughman’s wife, 296

Legend or creation stories, 4

Legends, Adaptation of, 143

Leopard, The, and the fox, 331

Ler, 245

Letts, 22;
creation stories, 65

Leviathan, 366

Life allotted to man and animals, 336

Light, Little, 240 [376]

Lightning, 66

Lion, The, Blood of, to water the vine, 92;
bone of, for vine, 93;
in his castle, 232;
and the gnat, 307;
and the tiger, 308;
and the Sultan’s horse, 329;
and the ass, 331;
and the tom cat, 333

Lithuanians, 22

“Little horse” (locust), 127

“Little master” (thistle-finch), 157

Locust, Mower (Locusta viridissima), 128

Locusts, Plague of, 125

Loki, the God of Fire, 84

Lombards, The, 43, 45

Lot and Abraham, 204

Lucanus cervus (bull-fly), 103

Lucidaria, 52

Lygaeus equestris, 107



Macedonia, Bird tales in, 20;
tales from, 58

Magic, The Gipsies and, 24

Magpie, The, aids the devil, 216

Maiden, The wicked, and the Archangel Michael, 111

Man and animals, Relation between, 2;
and his years taken over from animals, 336;
and his good and evil angels, 339;
his treatment of the animals recorded for and against his soul, 339;
the pilgrimage of the soul, 341;
the reward of the good man, 346

Mangiuca, S., 58

Manichaean teaching in Russia, 53

Manichaeism, 25, 26, 31, 36, 41, 44, 48, 51

Mantissa religiosa, 132, 134

Marian, S. Fl., Ornitologia and Insectele, 58

Marie de France, 32

Mariolatry, 49

Mary, the Virgin, 39;
and the gift of milk, 108;
and the “mower,” 129;
curses the plover, 183;
curses the spider, 184, 185;
search for her Son, 184, 190;
blesses the swallows, 185;
curses the mouse, 185;
mourning after the crucifixion, 186;
turns the mother-in-law into a swallow, 188;
and the frog, 190;
and the tortoise, 192, 193, 194;
and the silkworm, 193;
and the Emperor Pic, 199;
and the cherries, 202;
and the little yellow bird, 205;
at the fountain, 343;
the willow tree, 344;
helps the beasts, 349

“Metamorphoses” in Greek mythology, 21

Metempsychosis, 23, 25, 49

Michael, Archangel, 99, 101, 110;
and the wicked maiden, 111;
loses part of the sole of his foot, 217

Midrash Abkhir, 92

Migration of folk tales, 4, 6, 7

Milham, The bird, 365

Milk, The Holy Mother and the gift of, 108;
beetles as food to produce milk, 109

Mill, The devil and the, 80

Miracles, 204

Mithras, The bull of, 96

Mohammedans, Heretics become, 46;
Cathars become, 52

“Moirai,” 21, 274

Mole, The, and the making of the earth, 65, 67;
outwitted by the bee, 68;
why it lives underground, 68;
its hills and burrows, 179

Mongol invasion, Influence of, 23–27

Monkey, The, Length and manner of life of, 337.
See Ape

Moon, The Sun and, 72;
stolen, 99;
the new, and a charm against bugs, 224;
slanders the Sun, 359

Moral character of the stories, 58

“Morals” to animal tales, 1, 8, 28, 29

Mosquito, The, origin (Emperor Pic), 199;
a blood-sucker, 200;
the smoke of the devil’s pipe, 201;
as blood taster, 219

Mother-in-law, The wicked, becomes a swallow, 188

Mountains, The origin of, 66;
that knock one against the other, 263

Mouse, The, cursed by the Holy Mother, 185, 186;
enmity of cat against, 208, 209;
the devil as, 211, 214;
the town, and the field mouse, 311;
slanders the cat, 359;
why there is a seam in its mouth, 362

“Mower” (locust), 127, 129

Mugur, 285 [377]

Mummers, Fair of the, 221

Musca Columbaca, 118

Mythology, Heathen and Christian, 244

Myths, Ancient, Survival of, 12, 37



Nadan, 30

Naxia, 92

Neculea, The land of, 256

Nessus, The Shirt of, 299

New Testament, Animal tales and the, 30

Nica, the shepherd, 94

Nicaea, Council of, 42

Nicodemus, The Gospel of, 101

Nightingale, The colour of the, 148;
how it learned to sing, 149;
the best singer, 152;
tales of its origin, 152

Nimrod, 319

Noah and the animals in the ark, 90;
and the drunken goat, 90;
eats grapes and is drunk, 91;
recovers and kills the goat, 91;
Noah, the ark, and the devil, 213, 214, 218;
and the seam in the mouth of the mouse, 363;
and the raven, 364

Nornes, 274

Northern mythology, The raven in, 279

“Nun,” the messenger, 131

Nun beetle, The, 132, 134



Oak, The, and sparrow, 196

Oaks without leaves, 88

Occult practices and the Gipsies, 24

Ockley, Simon, 31

Odin, The ravens of, 279

Olt, The River, 95

Omens of the raven, 280

“Oral” literature, 19;
of Rumania, 52

Orchard worms, 123

Origins of folk tales, 5, 7, 36

Owl, The, and the wren, 301;
one-witted, 320

Ox, The, why it has no hair on its nose, 359

Oxen of the Lord, 109



Pachytylus migratorius, 125

Panchatantra, The, 6, 29, 324, 326, 330.
See Benfey

Pann, Anton, Proverbs and Tales, 29, 31, 58

Pannonia, 43

Paradise, Satan loses, 98;
the heathen gods rob, 99;
the gate of, 111;
the entry into, 286;
“Journey to Paradise,” 286;
flowers of, 343

Parallelism in folk tales, 6, 12

Parker, H., 28

Partridge, The, why she is mottled, 155;
the fox, and the hound, 290;
and her young, 294

Peacock, The, in sun myths, 245

Pelasgian survivals, 10

Pelasgians, 15, 18

Pelican, The, and its pouch, 145

“Perfecte,” 123

Persian Empire, 26

Petchenegs, 15

Peter and Asan, 51

Peter, St., and the fallen angel, 75;
his establishment and horses, 76;
horses stolen by the cuckoo, 77;
God and the Devil, 80;
Feast of, and the wolves, 81;
gets sparks inside the flint, 87;
The Devil stealing the sun (carol), 99;
God, St. Peter, and the lazy shepherd, 114;
and clever women, 131;
and the nun beetle, 132;
and vermin, 143;
and the boastful thrush, 153;
recovers the contract with the devil, 216;
sole of his foot injured, 217;
apple tree of, 343

Peter the Great, 55

Philology, Comparative, Analogy of, with folk-lore, 14, 16

Philomela and Halcyon, 21

Philtres, 175, 222

Physiologus, 27

Pic, The Emperor, the sun, and Lady Mary, 199

Pine, The, and the soul, 341

Planudes, 30

Plover, The, and Our Lady, 183

Pobres, 26

Pointer, The, 317

Poison-fly of Kolumbatsch, 117, 120

Poles, The, 22

Political animal broadsides, 33

Politis, N., 88

Polycrates, 272

Polyphemus, 262

“Popa” (priests), 125

Por, Emperor, 124

Porus, King, 125 [378]

Poultry, Charm against the illness of, 349

Prehistoric survivals, 10

Priests and nuns, The Emperor Por and, 124;
priests as locusts, 125

Priscillianites of Spain, 45, 49

Priscillianus, 46

Provence, 41

Proverbs, 29

Pumpkins, The titmouse and, 146



“Questions and Answers” (Lucidaria), 52



Ralston, Russian Folk Tales, 65, 178, 195, 213, 219

Rat, The, journeys to God, 318;
and the daughter of the sun, 318

Raven, The, 170;
croaking omen, 175;
and drought, 178;
and burial of Abel, 178;
of Noah’s ark, 278;
turns black and feeds on carcases, 279;
eggs hatched by frost, 279;
the bird of oracle, 279;
in mythology, 279;
Rumanian popular beliefs, 280;
a bird of ill-omen, 280;
the young of the, 357;
why it hops in its walk, 363;
why it mates differently, 364

Recared, 45, 47

Religious character of Rumanian animal tales, 1, 5;
religious beliefs, 3;
religious cause for unity of folk-lore, 11;
religious sectarians and use of animal tales, 31;
propaganda and popular rhymes, 47;
popular religious songs, 48

Reverence, Lack of, in the stories, 39

Reynard cycle, 54

Reynard the Fox, 8, 31;
and the clergy, 33

Ring, The, and the fish, 271

Roads and pathways, 179

Romans, 15

Rosebush, The, and the soul, 341

Royal Asiatic Society, Journal, 30, 356

Rumania, The saints in, 40

Rumanian animal tales, Characteristics of, 1;
religious character, 3;
the interest of their study, 4;
their two groups, 4;
similarity with those of other nations, 6;
their origins, 7, 17, 36;
their survival, 9;
parallels, 20;
fables not found among the, 23;
not local, survivals, or isolated, 23;
their source, 25, 26;
fables not “humanised,” 28;
their moral nature, 58;
syncretism, 59

Rumanian language, Slavonic in, 17, 18;
and the gipsies, 17;
of Latin origin, 17;
purity of, 17;
elements of other languages in, 18;
no old Teutonic words in, 50

Rumanian peasantry, Superstitions of, 55

Rumanian Popular Literature, History of, 30.
See Gaster

Rumanians of Latin origin, 10;
how long in Rumania, 50;
unity with the Bulgarians, 51;
and the wasp and bee, 135, 137

Rushava, 117

Russia and the transmission of folk-tales, 24;
the saints in, 40;
heterodox sects, 53

Russian tales, 22, 26, 27;
animal tales, 53

Ruthenians, 22



Sahula, 31

Saineanu, L., Basmele Române, 72, 258

St. George, 121.
See also George, St.

Saints, The, 39, 40;
on earth, 76

Saints, Lives of the, 120

See Sila.

Sanziana, 117

Sarcophaga canaria, 215

See Devil, The

Satan worship, 89

Satires, Animal, 31, 32

Saturday, Holy Mother, 236

Satyrs, 89

Saul and David, 358

Saw-fly, why is it red? 104;
why does it live in stables? 108

Saxons, 15

Scapegoat, The, 89

Schott, A. and A., 58

Scripture characters, legends of, 57

Sea, The, divided, 268

Sects, Influence of, 55

Seed of the earth, The devil and, 61

Seirim, 89 [379]

Semitic languages, 14

Serpent as deceiver of Eve, 219;
bites the swallow’s tail, 220

Seth, The dog dwells with, 362

Setter, The, 317

Sevastos, 319

Śezatoarea, 58

Sheba, Queen of, 239

Sheep, made by the Devil, 22, 88;
given to Adam, 79;
the shepherd and the (God and the lamb), 94;
and the gad-fly, 115, 116;
God’s blessing on, 138;
and the dog, 361

Shepherd, The polite, and the gadfly, 115, 116

Shirt, The poisoned, 299

Sicily, Survivals in, 10

Sila Samodiva, 238

Silkworm, The, its origin, 193

Sin arises among men, 110

Sindbad the Sailor, 262

Singing of the birds, 151

Skeat, Walter, 28

Slavonic language and the Rumanian language, 17;
in Rumania, 51

Slavonic tales, Parallels with Rumanian, 22, 33

Slavs, 15, 50;
and saints, 40;
in the Balkans, 43

“Sleep” ring, 204

Smiths, The, and nails for the Crucifixion, 184

Snake, The, 82;
the Devil as Eve’s house-snake, 211;
stops up holes in the ark, 218;
saved from the burning tree, and King Solomon, 325;
with a headache, 327

Snake-bite, Charm for a cow against, 351;
charm against, 353

Solomon, King, gift of the tuft to the hoopoe, 230;
Solomon’s ring, 272;
as judge between the man and the snake, 325

Songs and ballads, Religious, 48

Sorcery, 55

Soul, The pilgrimage of the, after death, 341;
Egyptian ideas on, 344

Spain, The saints in, 40;
the Goths in, 41;
Arab conquest of, 46

Sparrow, Christ’s curse on, 195;
age of, 196;
and the sapling, 196;
charms against, 197;
accuses man, 339

Sparrow-hawk, The, 302

Spider, The sullen, 70;
and the Holy Mother, 184, 185, 186;
hangs on a thread, 185, 186;
David and the use of, 358

Spiritual unification in religion, 11

Stag, The, and the maiden, 95

Starling, The, variant of Partridge, fox, and hound story, 293

Stars, The, fallen angels, 74;
the Great Bear or Car, 80;
the stolen, 99

Steel, Mrs. F. A., 28

Step-mother, The wicked, 225

Stone, The, eats the Devil and becomes a wolf, 84

Stork, The, and the waters of life and death, 263;
lose their tails, 265;
King of the frogs, 304;
and the tomtit, 305;
pleads for man, 340

Sultan’s horse, The, 329

Summer, The thrush and the making of, 153

Sun, The, stolen, 99;
The Devil and the, 71;
marriage of the, 72;
and moon, 72;
and God’s oxen (bull-flies), 102;
and the Emperor Pic, 199;
and the young knight (cricket), 207;
and the princess Little Light (lark), 240;
and the rat, 318;
slandered by the moon, 359

Sun, Festival of the, 246;
Mother of the, 242, 244;
Sister of the, 245, 247, 248

Sunday, Holy Mother, 237, 273

Survivals in folk-tales, 9, 12, 15, 16, 19, 36, 37, 38

Swallow, The, and the Holy Mother, 185, 186;
a sacred bird, 188;
its origin and forked tail, 188, 220;
guardian spirit of the knocking mountains, 265;
the demon’s wife becomes a swallow with red breast and divided tail, 271;
servant of Holy Sunday, 273;
a sacred bird, 274;
pleads for man, 340

Swan, The, The king and swan maiden, 249;
origin of, 254;
“Song of the dying swan,” 254;
legend of the swan maiden (carol), 256 [380]

Swine, Blood of, to water the vine, 92

Sword, The, and the threads, 269

Synaxarium, 120

Syntipas, 330

Syria, 30, 31, 36

Syrians, 15



Tannhäuser legend, 204

Tartarian language of the Bulgars, 18

Tartars, 15, 24

Teeth of children, Crows and, 175

Temple, R. C, 28

Temple, The burning of the, and the swallows, 188

Teodorescu, G. Dem., 58

Teutonic mythology, 49

Theodosius and Arianism, 42

Thessaly, 116

Thieves, 76

Thrace, 10, 24, 26, 50

Thrush, The yellow, 151;
the boastful, 153

Thumb, A., Bulletin of John Rylands Library, 93

Thunder, 66

Thursday, Holy Mother, 236

Tiger, The, and the lion, 308

Titmouse, The, and the pumpkin, 146

Titus the wicked, 357

Toads, 82

Tobit, Book of, 30

Toledo, Council of, 47

Tomtit, The, and the stork, 305

Toothache, The ant as a remedy against, 283

Tophail, Ibn, 31

Tortoise, The, Origin of, 180;
as almoner of the Virgin, 192, 194;
in the procession to Golgotha, 193

Totemism, 2

Toulouse, 41;
Council of, 47

Transmigration of the soul into animals.
See Metempsychosis

Transmission of folk-tales, 4, 6, 7, 16, 36

Transylvania, Saxon colony in, 22;
tales collected from Rumanians in, 58

“Tree, The world,” 49

Tristram and Isolde, 248

Turkish conquest, 52

Turks, 15

Turtle dove and its song, 149;
and its love for its mate, 299;
its tears, 299

Twilight, The stolen, 99

Tylor, E. B., on beast tales in his Primitive Culture, 8



Ulfilas, 42, 44

Ulysses, 262



Valens, Emperor, 42

Vallachia, 51

“Vegetation god,” 10

Vermin, St. Peter and, 144;
charms against, 221

Vilas, 21

Vine, The, none before the flood, 90;
Noah discovers the grapes, 91;
St. Dionysios and bones of bird, lion, and donkey, 92

Virgin, The.
See Mary

Visions of St. Peter, Paul, and the Lady Mary, 344

Vitae Sanctorum, 120

Vixen, The, and the tom cat, 332

Voinic inflorit, 104

Volga, The, 44

Volsunga Saga, 47

Vultures, 302



Wagtail, The gipsies’ bird, 161;
“half a bird,” 161;
its borrowed tail and why it wags it, 228

Wanderer, Poems of the, 15

Wart, Mole, charm against, 179

Wasp, The, as the Gipsy’s bee, 135, 137;
David and the use of, 358

Water, The birds dig for, 176, 178

Waters made holy by Baptism, 80;
of life and death, 263

Weasel, Charm if bitten by a, 354;
not among the creatures of the sea, 366

Weaver son, The (spider), 69

“Wedding Feast of Tom, The,” 22

Wells, The birds dig, 176, 178

Wesselofsky, A. N., 53, 101

Wheelwrights (bull-flies), 103

“Who killed Cock Robin?” 33.
See also Cock Robin

“Who killed the cat?” 33

Widow, The, and her two children, 69

Wife, Bad, Charm against, 132

Willow tree, The, St. Mary, 344 [381]

Wind, The, 126;
and the rat, 318

Wine, Noah and, 91;
St. Dionysios and, 93

Witchcraft, 54, 55;
and the illness of animals, 348

Witches, 89;
philtres and spells of, 175

Wlislocki’s Zigeuner-märchen, 65, 87

Wolf, The, 25;
and the lamb, 27;
myths of the, 49;
St. Peter’s dogs, 77, 81;
why the wolf is ferocious, 79;
made by the devil, 79, 82, 83, 85;
power over the devil, 80;
the devil’s hairs, 80, 81, 82, 83;
the eyes fired by the devil, 81, 82;
the devil becomes a wolf, 84;
eats the devil, 85;
God’s dogs, 88;
kills the goats, 88;
the boasting, 309;
and the pointer and setter, 317;
and the Sultan’s horse, 329;
and the lion, 329, 331;
and the tom cat, 332;
challenges the dog, 335;
in stories from Ahikar, 355;
and the dog, 361

Woman, Inquisitive old, who became the woodpecker, 141;
the greedy old, who became the tortoise, 180

Women, The lark and the taming of, 296

Woodpecker, Origin of the, 141

World-wide range of fairy lore, 4

Worms in apples, 122;
Day of the worms, 123;
that eat the cherries, 202;
charms against worms in beasts, 352, 353

Wren, The, lends its tail to the wagtail, 228;
becomes king by a trick, 300;
a furtive bird, 301



Ygdrasil, The Northern, 345



Zanas, 21

Zoroastrianism, 26





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xvii her his
40 civilisation civilization
59 [Not in source] .
65 Dahnhardt Dähnhardt
118 Twi ting Twisting
181 way was
186 . [Deleted]
247 [Not in source] He
252 she the
252 the she
291 his her
292 he she
326 . ;
327, 378 [Not in source] ,
340 uever never
346 [Deleted]
365 beings being
372 lengendary legendary
375 [Not in source] ;

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