Part 2 out of 6
'Yes, grandmother, I got that too,' answered he.
'Where is it?' she asked, and Ball-Carrier lifted his right arm,
and pointed to his arm-pit.
'Here is the bridge, grandmother,' said he.
Then the witch did something that nobody in the world could have
guessed that she would do. First, she took the gold and said to
'My grandson, this gold must be hidden in the earth, for if
people think they can get it when they choose, they will become
lazy and stupid. But if we take it and bury it in different
parts of the world they will have to work for it if they want it,
and then will only find a little at a time.' And as she spoke,
she pulled up one of the poles of the hut, and Ball-Carrier saw
that underneath was a deep, deep hole, which seemed to have no
bottom. Down this hole she poured all the gold, and when it was
out of sight it ran about all over the world, where people that
dig hard sometimes find it. And after that was done she put the
pole back again.
Next she lifted down a spade from a high shelf, where it had
grown quite rusty, and dug a very small hole on the opposite side
of the hut--very small, but very deep.
'Give me the bridge,' said she, ' for I am going to bury it here.
If anyone was to get hold of it, and find that they could cross
rivers and seas without any trouble, they would never discover
how to cross them for themselves. I am a witch, and if I had
chosen I could easily have cast my spells over the Bad One, and
have made him deliver them to you the first day you came into my
hut. But then you would never have fasted, and never have
planned how to get what you wanted, and never have known the good
spirits, and would have been fat and idle to the end of your
days. And now go; in that hut, which you can just see far away,
live your father and mother, who are old people now, and need a
son to hunt for them. You have done what you were set to do, and
I need you no more.'
Then Ball-Carrier remembered his parents and went back to them.
[From Bureau of Ethnology. 'Indian Folklore.']
Long, long ago, far, far away on the other side of the world,
some young men left the camp where they lived to get some food
for their wives and children. The sun was hot, but they liked
heat, and as they went they ran races and tried who could hurl
his spear the farthest, or was cleverest in throwing a strange
weapon called a boomerang, which always returns to the thrower.
They did not get on very fast at this rate, but presently they
reached a flat place that in time of flood was full of water, but
was now, in the height of summer, only a set of pools, each
surrounded with a fringe of plants, with bulrushes standing in
the inside of all. In that country the people are fond of the
roots of bulrushes, which they think as good as onions, and one
of the young men said that they had better collect some of the
roots and carry them back to the camp. It did not take them long
to weave the tops of the willows into a basket, and they were
just going to wade into the water and pull up the bulrush roots
when a youth suddenly called out: 'After all, why should we waste
our time in doing work that is only fit for women and children?
Let them come and get the roots for themselves; but we will fish
for eels and anything else we can get.'
This delighted the rest of the party, and they all began to
arrange their fishing lines, made from the bark of the yellow
mimosa, and to search for bait for their hooks. Most of them
used worms, but one, who had put a piece of raw meat for dinner
into his skin wallet, cut off a little bit and baited his line
with it, unseen by his companions.
For a long time they cast patiently, without receiving a single
bite; the sun had grown low in the sky, and it seemed as if they
would have to go home empty-handed, not even with a basket of
roots to show; when the youth, who had baited his hook with raw
meat, suddenly saw his line disappear under the water.
Something, a very heavy fish he supposed, was pulling so hard
that he could hardly keep his feet, and for a few minutes it
seemed either as if he must let go or be dragged into the pool.
He cried to his friends to help him, and at last, trembling with
fright at what they were going to see, they managed between them
to land on the bank a creature that was neither a calf nor a
seal, but something of both, with a long, broad tail. They
looked at each other with horror, cold shivers running down their
spines; for though they had never beheld it, there was not a man
amongst them who did not know what it was-- the cub of the awful
All of a sudden the silence was broken by a low wail, answered by
another from the other side of the pool, as the mother rose up
from her den and came towards them, rage flashing from her
horrible yellow eyes. 'Let it go! let it go!' whispered the
young men to each other; but the captor declared that he had
caught it, and was going to keep it. 'He had promised his
sweetheart,' he said, 'that he would bring back enough meat for
her father's house to feast on for three days, and though they
could not eat the little Bunyip, her brothers and sisters should
have it to play with.' So, flinging his spear at the mother to
keep her back, he threw the little Bunyip on to his shoulders,
and set out for the camp, never heeding the poor mother's cries
By this time it was getting near sunset, and the plain was in
shadow, though the tops of the mountains were still quite bright.
The youths had all ceased to be afraid, when they were startled
by a low rushing sound behind them, and, looking round, saw that
the pool was slowly rising, and the spot where they had landed
the Bunyip was quite covered. 'What could it be?' they asked one
of another; ' there was not a cloud in the sky, yet the water had
risen higher already than they had ever known it do before.' For
an instant they stood watching as if they were frozen, then they
turned and ran with all their might, the man with the Bunyip run-
ning faster than all. When he reached a high peak over- looking
all the plain he stopped to take breath, and turned to see if he
was safe yet. Safe! why only the tops of the trees remained
above that sea of water, and these were fast disappearing. They
must run fast indeed if they were to escape. So on they flew,
scarcely feeling the ground as they went, till they flung
themselves on the ground before the holes scooped out of the
earth where they had all been born. The old men were sitting in
front, the children were playing, and the women chattering
together, when the little Bunyip fell into their midst, and there
was scarcely a child among them who did not know that something
terrible was upon them. 'The water! the water!' gasped one of
the young men; and there it was, slowly but steadily mounting the
ridge itself. Parents and children clung together, as if by that
means they could drive back the advancing flood; and the youth
who had caused all this terrible catastrophe, seized his
sweetheart, and cried: 'I will climb with you to the top of that
tree, and there no waters can reach us.' But, as he spoke,
something cold touched him, and quickly he glanced down at his
feet. Then with a shudder he saw that they were feet no longer,
but bird's claws. He looked at the girl he was clasping, and
beheld a great black bird standing at his side; he turned to his
friends, but a flock of great awkward flapping creatures stood in
their place He put up his hands to cover his face, but they were
no more hands, only the ends of wings; and when he tried to
speak, a noise such as he had never heard before seemed to come
from his throat, which had suddenly become narrow and slender.
Already the water had risen to his waist, and he found himself
sitting easily upon it, while its surface reflected back the
image of a black swan, one of many.
Never again did the swans become men; but they are still
different from other swans, for in the night-time those who
listen can hear them talk in a language that is certainly not
swan's language; and there are even sounds of laughing and
talking, unlike any noise made by the swans whom we know.
The little Bunyip was carried home by its mother, and after that
the waters sank back to their own channels. The side of the pool
where she lives is always shunned by everyone, as nobody knows
when she may suddenly put out her head and draw him into her
mighty jaws. But people say that underneath the black waters of
the pool she has a house filled with beautiful things, such as
mortals who dwell on the earth have no idea of. Though how they
know I cannot tell you, as nobody has ever seen it.
[From Journal of Anthropological-Institute.]
Once upon a time there lived a man who had nearly as many
children as there were sparrows in the garden. He had to work
very hard all day to get them enough to eat, and was often tired
and cross, and abused everything and everybody, so that people
called him 'Father Grumbler.'
By-and-by he grew weary of always working, and on Sundays he lay
a long while in bed, instead of going to church. Then after a
time he found it dull to sit so many hours by himself, thinking
of nothing but how to pay the rent that was owing, and as the
tavern across the road looked bright and cheerful, he walked in
one day and sat down with his friends. 'It was just to chase
away Care,' he said; but when he came out, hours and hours after,
Care came out with him.
Father Grumbler entered his house feeling more dismal than when
he left it, for he knew that he had wasted both his time and his
'I will go and see the Holy Man in the cave near the well,' he
said to himself, 'and perhaps he can tell me why all the luck is
for other people, and only misfortunes happen to me.' And he set
out at once for the cave.
It was a long way off, and the road led over mountains and
through valleys; but at last he reached the cave where the Holy
Man dwelt, and knocked at the door.
'Who is there?' asked a voice from within.
'It is I, Holy Man, Father Grumbler, you know, who has as many
children as sparrows in the garden.'
'Well, and what is it that you want?'
'I want to know why other people have all the luck, and only
misfortunes happen to me!'
The Holy Man did not answer, but went into an inner cave, from
which he came out bearing something in his hand. 'Do you see
this basket?' said he. 'It is a magical basket, and if you are
hungry you have only got to say: "Little basket, little basket,
do your duty," and you will eat the best dinner you ever had in
your life. But when you have had enough, be sure you don't
forget to cry out: "That will do for to-day." Oh!--and one thing
more--you need not show it to everybody and declare that I have
give it to you. Do you understand?'
Father Grumbler was always accustomed to think of himself as so
unlucky that he did not know whether the Holy Man was not playing
a trick upon him; but he took the basket without being polite
enough to say either 'Thank you,' or 'Good-morning,' and went
away. However, he only waited till he was out of sight of the
cave before he stooped down and whispered: 'Little basket, little
basket, do your duty.'
Now the basket had a lid, so that he could not see what was
inside, but he heard quite clearly strange noises, as if a sort
of scuffling was going on. Then the lid burst open, and a
quantity of delicious little white rolls came tumbling out one
after the other, followed by a stream of small fishes all ready
cooked. What a quantity there were to be sure! The whole road
was covered with them, and the banks on each side were beginning
to disappear. Father Grumbler felt quite frightened at the
torrent, but at last he remembered what the Holy Man had told
him, and cried at the top of his voice: 'Enough! enough! That
will do for to-day!' And the lid of the basket closed with a
Father Grumbler sighed with relief and happiness as he looked
around him, and sitting down on a heap of stones, he ate till he
could eat no more. Trout, salmon, turbot, soles, and a hundred
other fishes whose names he did not know, lay boiled, fried, and
grilled within reach of his hands. As the Holy Man had said, he
had never eaten such a dinner; still, when he had done, he shook
his head, and grumbled; 'Yes, there is plenty to eat, of course,
but it only makes me thirsty, and there is not a drop to drink
Yet, somehow, he could never tell why, he looked up and saw the
tavern in front of him, which he thought was miles, and miles,
and miles away.
'Bring the best wine you have got, and two glasses, good mother,'
he said as he entered, 'and if you are fond of fish there is
enough here to feed the house. Only there is no need to chatter
about it all over the place. You understand? Eh?' And without
waiting for an answer he whispered to the basket: 'Little basket,
little basket, do your duty.' The innkeeper and his wife thought
that their customer had gone suddenly mad, and watched him
closely, ready to spring on him if he became violent; but both
instinctively jumped backwards, nearly into the fire, as rolls
and fishes of every kind came tumbling out of the basket,
covering the tables and chairs and the floor, and even
overflowing into the street.
'Be quick, be quick, and pick them up,' cried the man. 'And if
these are not enough, there are plenty more to be had for the
The innkeeper and his wife did not need telling twice. Down they
went on their knees and gathered up everything they could lay
hands on. But busy though they seemed, they found time to
whisper to each other:
'If we can only get hold of that basket it will make our
So they began by inviting Father Grumbler to sit down to the
table, and brought out the best wine in the cellar, hoping it
might loosen his tongue. But Father Grumbler was wiser than they
gave him credit for, and though they tried in all manner of ways
to find out who had given him the basket, he put them off, and
kept his secret to himself. Unluckily, though he did not SPEAK,
he did drink, and it was not long before he fell fast asleep.
Then the woman fetched from her kitchen a basket, so like the
magic one that no one, without looking very closely, could tell
the difference, and placed it in Father Grumbler's hand, while
she hid the other carefully away.
It was dinner time when the man awoke, and, jumping up hastily,
he set out for home, where he found all the children gathered
round a basin of thin soup, and pushing their wooden bowls
forward, hoping to have the first spoonful. Their father burst
into the midst of them, bearing his basket, and crying:
'Don't spoil your appetites, children, with that stuff. Do you
see this basket? Well, I have only got to say, "Little basket,
little basket, do your duty," and you will see what will happen.
Now you shall say it instead of me, for a treat.'
The children, wondering and delighted, repeated the words, but
nothing happened. Again and again they tried, but the basket was
only a basket, with a few scales of fish sticking to the bottom,
for the innkeeper's wife had taken it to market the day before.
'What is the matter with the thing?' cried the father at last,
snatching the basket from them, and turning it all over,
grumbling and swearing while he did so, under the eyes of his
astonished wife and children, who did not know whether to cry or
'It certainly smells of fish,' he said, and then he stopped, for
a sudden thought had come to him.
'Suppose it is not mine at all; supposing-- Ah, the scoundrels!'
And without listening to his wife and children, who were
frightened at his strange conduct and begged him to stay at home,
he ran across to the tavern and burst open the door.
'Can I do anything for you, Father Grumbler?' asked the
innkeeper's wife in her softest voice.
'I have taken the wrong basket--by mistake, of course,' said he.
'Here is yours, will you give me back my own?'
'Why, what are you talking about?' answered she. 'You can see
for yourself that there is no basket here.'
And though Father Grumbler DID look, it was quite true that none
was to be seen.
'Come, take a glass to warm you this cold day,' said the woman,
who was anxious to keep him in a good temper, and as this was an
invitation Father Grumbler never refused, he tossed it off and
left the house.
He took the road that led to the Holy Man's cave, and made such
haste that it was not long before he reached it.
'Who is there?' said a voice in answer to his knock.
'It is me, it is me, Holy man. You know quite well. Father
Grumbler, who has as many children as sparrows in the garden.'
'But, my good man, it was only yesterday that I gave you a
'Yes, Holy Man, and here it is. But something has happened, I
don't know what, and it won't work any more.'
'Well, put it down. I will go and see if I can find anything for
In a few minutes the Holy Man returned with a cock under his arm.
'Listen to me,' he said, 'whenever you want money, you only have
to say: "Show me what you can do, cock," and you will see some
wonderful things. But, remember, it is not necessary to let all
the world into the secret.'
'Oh no, Holy Man, I am not so foolish as that.'
'Nor to tell everybody that I gave it to you,' went on the Holy
Man. 'I have not got these treasures by the dozen.'
And without waiting for an answer he shut the door.
As before, the distance seemed to have wonderfully shortened, and
in a moment the tavern rose up in front of Father Grumbler.
Without stopping to think, he went straight in, and found the
innkeeper's wife in the kitchen making a cake.
'Where have you come from, with that fine red cock in your
basket,' asked she, for the bird was so big that the lid would
not shut down properly.
'Oh, I come from a place where they don't keep these things by
the dozen,' he replied, sitting down in front of the table.
The woman said no more, but set before him a bottle of his
favourite wine, and soon he began to wish to display his prize.
'Show me what you can do, cock,' cried he. And the cock stood up
and flapped his wings three times, crowing 'coquerico' with a
voice like a trumpet, and at each crow there fell from his beak
golden drops, and diamonds as large as peas.
This time Father Grumbler did not invite the innkeeper's wife to
pick up his treasures, but put his own hat under the cock's beak,
so as to catch everything he let fall; and he did not see the
husband and wife exchanging glances with each other which said,
'That would be a splendid cock to put with our basket.'
'Have another glass of wine?' suggested the innkeeper, when they
had finished admiring the beauty of the cock, for they pretended
not to have seen the gold or the diamonds. And Father Grumbler,
nothing loth, drank one glass after another, till his head fell
forward on the table, and once more he was sound asleep. Then
the woman gently coaxed the cock from the basket and carried it
off to her own poultry yard, from which she brought one exactly
like it, and popped it in its place.
Night was falling when the man awoke, and throwing proudly some
grains of gold on the table to pay for the wine he had drunk, he
tucked the cock comfortably into his basket and set out for home.
His wife and all the children were waiting for him at the door,
and as soon as she caught sight of him she broke out:
'You are a nice man to go wasting your time and your money
drinking in that tavern, and leaving us to starve! Aren't you
ashamed of yourself?'
'You don't know what you are talking of,' he answered. 'Money?
Why, I have gold and diamonds now, as much as I want. Do you see
that cock? Well, you have only to say to him, "Show me what you
can do, cock," and something splendid will happen.'
Neither wife nor children were inclined to put much faith in him
after their last experience; however, they thought it was worth
trying, and did as he told them. The cock flew round the room
like a mad thing, and crowed till their heads nearly split with
the noise; but no gold or diamonds dropped on the brick floor--
not the tiniest grain of either.
Father Grumbler stared in silence for an instant, and then he
began to swear so loudly that even his family, accustomed as they
were to his language, wondered at him.
At last he grew a little quieter, but remained as puzzled as
'Can I have forgotten the words? But I KNOW that was what he
said! And I saw the diamonds with my own eyes!' Then suddenly he
seized the cock, shut it into the basket, and rushed out of the
His heavy wooden shoes clattered as he ran along the road, and he
made such haste that the stars were only just beginning to come
out when he reached the cave of the Holy Man.
'Who is that knocking?' asked a voice from within.
'It is me! It is me! Holy Man! you know! Father--'
'But, my good fellow, you really should give some one else a
chance. This is the third time you have been--and at such an
'Oh, yes, Holy Man, I know it is very late, but you will forgive
me! It is your cock--there is something the matter. It is like
the basket. Look!'
'THAT my cock? THAT my basket? Somebody has played you a trick,
my good man!'
'A trick?' repeated Father Grumbler, who began to understand what
had happened. 'Then it must have been those two--'
'I warned you not to show them to anybody,' said the Holy Man.
'You deserve--but I will give you one more chance.' And,
turning, he unhooked something from the wall.
'When you wish to dust your own jacket or those of your friends,'
he said, 'you have only got to say, "Flack, flick, switch, be
quick," and you will see what happens. That is all I have to
tell you.' And, smiling to himself, the Holy Man pushed Father
Grumbler out of the cave.
'Ah, I understand now,' muttered the good man, as he took the
road home; 'but I think I have got you two rascals!' and he
hurried on to the tavern with his basket under his arm, and the
cock and the switch both inside.
'Good evening, friends!' he said, as he entered the inn. 'I am
very hungry, and should be glad if you would roast this cock for
me as soon as possible. THIS cock and no other--mind what I
say,' he went on. 'Oh, and another thing! You can light the fire
with this basket. When you have done that I will show you
something I have in my bag,' and, as he spoke, he tried to
imitate the smile that the Holy Man had given HIM.
These directions made the innkeeper's wife very uneasy. However,
she said nothing, and began to roast the cock, while her husband
did his best to make the man sleepy with wine, but all in vain.
After dinner, which he did not eat without grumbling, for the
cock was very tough, the man struck his hand on the table, and
said: 'Now listen to me. Go and fetch my cock and my basket, at
once. Do you hear?'
'Your cock, and your basket, Father Grumbler? But you have just-
'MY cock and MY basket!' interrupted he. 'And, if you are too
deaf and too stupid to understand what that means, I have got
something which may help to teach you.' And opening the bag, he
cried: 'Flack, flick, switch, be quick.'
And flack! flick! like lightening a white switch sprang out of
the bag, and gave such hearty blows to the innkeeper and his
wife, and to Father Grumbler into the bargain, that they all
jumped as high as feathers when a mattress is shaken.
'Stop! stop! make it stop, and you shall have back your cock and
basket,' cried the man and his wife. And Father Grumbler, who
had no wish to go on, called out between his hops: 'Stop then,
can't you? That is enough for to-day!'
But the switch paid no attention, and dealt out its blows as
before, and MIGHT have been dealing them to this day, if the Holy
Man had not heard their cries and come to the rescue. 'Into the
bag, quick!' said he, and the switch obeyed.
'Now go and fetch me the cock and the basket,' and the woman went
without a word, and placed them on the table.
'You have all got what you deserved,' continued the Holy Man,
'and I have no pity for any of you. I shall take my treasures
home, and perhaps some day I may find a man who knows how to make
the best of the chances that are given to him. But that will
never be YOU,' he added, turning to Father Grumbler.
[From Contes Populaires.]
The Story of the Yara
Down in the south, where the sun shines so hotly that everything
and everybody sleeps all day, and even the great forests seem
silent, except early in the morning and late in the evening--down
in this country there once lived a young man and a maiden. The
girl had been born in the town, and had scarcely ever left it;
but the young man was a native of another country, and had only
come to the city near the great river because he could find no
work to do where he was.
A few months after his arrival, when the days were cooler, and
the people did not sleep so much as usual, a great feast was held
a little way out of the town, and to this feast everyone flocked
from thirty miles and more. Some walked and some rode, some came
in beautiful golden coaches; but all had on splendid dresses of
red or blue, while wreaths of flowers rested on their hair.
It was the first time that the youth had been present on such an
occasion, and he stood silently aside watching the graceful
dances and the pretty games played by the young people. And as
he watched, he noticed one girl, dressed in white with scarlet
pomegranates in her hair, who seemed to him lovelier than all the
When the feast was over, and the young man returned home, his
manner was so strange that it drew the attention of all his
Through his work next day the youth continued to see the girl's
face, throwing the ball to her companions, or threading her way
between them as she danced. At night sleep fled from him, and
after tossing for hours on his bed, he would get up and plunge
into a deep pool that lay a little way in the forest.
This state of things went on for some weeks, then at last chance
favoured him. One evening, as he was passing near the house
where she lived, he saw her standing with her back to the wall,
trying to beat off with her fan the attacks of a savage dog that
was leaping at her throat. Alonzo, for such was his name, sprang
forward, and with one blow of his fist stretched the creature
dead upon the road. He then helped the frightened and half-
fainting girl into the large cool verandah where her parents were
sitting, and from that hour he was a welcome guest in the house,
and it was not long before he was the promised husband of Julia.
Every day, when his work was done, he used to go up to the house,
half hidden among flowering plants and brilliant creepers, where
humming-birds darted from bush to bush, and parrots of all
colours, red and green and grey, shrieked in chorus. There he
would find the maiden waiting for him, and they would spend an
hour or two under the stars, which looked so large and bright
that you felt as if you could almost touch them.
'What did you do last night after you went home?' suddenly asked
the girl one evening.
'Just the same as I always do,' answered he. 'It was too hot to
sleep, so it was no use going to bed, and I walked straight of to
the forest and bathed in one of those deep dark pools at the edge
of the river. I have been there constantly for several months,
but last night a strange thing happened. I was taking my last
plunge, when I heard--sometimes from one side, and sometimes from
another--the sound of a voice singing more sweetly than any
nightingale, though I could not catch any words. I left the
pool, and, dressing myself as fast as I could, I searched every
bush and tree round the water, as I fancied that perhaps it was
my friend who was playing a trick on me, but there was not a
creature to be seen; and when I reached home I found my friend
As Julia listened her face grew deadly white, and her whole body
shivered as if with cold. From her childhood she had heard
stories of the terrible beings that lived in the forests and were
hidden under the banks of the rivers, and could only be kept off
by powerful charms. Could the voice which had bewitched Alonzo
have come from one of these? Perhaps, who knows, it might be the
voice of the dreaded Yara herself, who sought young men on the
eve of their marriage as her prey.
For a moment the girl sat choked with fear, as these thoughts
rushed through her; then she said: 'Alonzo, will you promise
'What is that?' asked he.
'It is something that has to do with our future happiness.'
'Oh! it is serious, then? Well, of course I promise. Now tell
'I want you to promise,' she answered, lowering her voice to a
whisper, 'never to bathe in those pools again.'
'But why not, queen of my soul; have I not gone there always, and
nothing has harmed me, flower of my heart?'
'No; but perhaps something will. If you will not promise I shall
go mad with fright. Promise me.'
'Why, what is the matter? You look so pale! Tell me why you are
'Did you not hear the song?' she asked, trembling.
'Suppose I did, how could that hurt me? It was the loveliest
song I ever heard!'
'Yes, and after the song will come the apparition; and after
that-- after that--'
'I don't understand. Well--after that?'
Alonzo stared at her. Had she really gone mad? Such talk was
very unlike Julia; but before he could collect his senses the
girl spoke again:
'That is the reason why I implore you never to go there again; at
any rate till after we are married.'
'And what difference will our marriage make?'
'Oh, there will be no danger then; you can go to bathe as often
as you like!'
'But tell me why you are so afraid?'
'Because the voice you heard--I know you will laugh, but it is
quite true--it was the voice of the Yara.'
At these words Alonzo burst into a shout of laughter; but it
sounded so harsh and loud that Julia shrank away shuddering. It
seemed as if he could not stop himself, and the more he laughed
the paler the poor girl became, murmuring to herself as she
'Oh, heaven! you have seen her! you have seen her! what shall I
Faint as was her whisper, it reached the ears of Alonzo, who,
though he still could not speak for laughing, shook his head.
'You may not know it, but it is true. Nobody who has not seen
the Yara laughs like that.' And Julia flung herself on the
ground weeping bitterly.
At this sight Alonzo became suddenly grave, and kneeling by her
side, gently raised her up.
'Do not cry so, my angel,' he said, 'I will promise anything you
please. Only let me see you smile again.'
With a great effort Julia checked her sobs, and rose to her feet.
'Thank you,' she answered. 'My heart grows lighter as you say
that! I know you will try to keep your word and to stay away from
the forest. But--the power of the Yara is very strong, and the
sound of her voice is apt to make men forget everything else in
the world. Oh, I have seen it, and more than one betrothed
maiden lives alone, broken-hearted. If ever you should return to
the pool where you first heard the voice, promise me that you
will at least take this with you.' And opening a curiously
carved box, she took out a sea-shell shot with many colours, and
sang a song softly into it. 'The moment you hear the Yara's
voice,' said she, 'put this to your ear, and you will hear my
song instead. Perhaps--I do not know for certain--but perhaps, I
may be stronger than the Yara.'
It was late that night when Alonzo returned home. The moon was
shining on the distant river, which looked cool and inviting, and
the trees of the forest seemed to stretch out their arms and
beckon him near. But the young man steadily turned his face in
the other direction, and went home to bed.
The struggle had been hard, but Alonzo had his reward next day in
the joy and relief with which Julia greeted him. He assured her
that having overcome the temptation once the danger was now over;
but she, knowing better than he did the magic of the Yara's face
and voice, did not fail to make him repeat his promise when he
For three nights Alonzo kept his word, not because he believed in
the Yara, for he thought that the tales about her were all
nonsense, but because he could not bear the tears with which he
knew that Julia would greet him, if he confessed that he had
returned to the forest. But, in spite of this, the song rang in
his ears, and daily grew louder.
On the fourth night the attraction of the forest grew so strong
that neither the thought of Julia nor the promises he had made
her could hold him back. At eleven o'clock he plunged into the
cool darkness of the trees, and took the path that led straight
to the river. Yet, for the first time, he found that Julia's
warnings, though he had laughed at her at the moment, had
remained in his memory, and he glanced at the bushes with a
certain sense of fear which was quite new to him.
When he reached the river he paused and looked round for a moment
to make sure that the strange feeling of some one watching him
was fancy, and he was really alone. But the moon shone brightly
on every tree, and nothing was to be seen but his own shadow;
nothing was to be heard but the sound of the rippling stream.
He threw off his clothes, and was just about to dive in headlong,
when something--he did not know what--suddenly caused him to look
round. At the same instant the moon passed from behind a cloud,
and its rays fell on a beautiful golden-haired woman standing
half hidden by the ferns.
With one bound he caught up his mantle, and rushed headlong down
the path he had come, fearing at each step to feel a hand laid on
his shoulder. It was not till he had left the last trees behind
him, and was standing in the open plain, that he dared to look
round, and then he thought a figure in white was still standing
there waving her arms to and fro. This was enough; he ran along
the road harder than ever, and never paused till he was save in
his own room.
With the earliest rays of dawn he went back to the forest to see
whether he could find any traces of the Yara, but though he
searched every clump of bushes, and looked up every tree,
everything was empty, and the only voices he heard were those of
parrots, which are so ugly that they only drive people away.
'I think I must be mad,' he said to himself, 'and have dreamt all
that folly'; and going back to the city he began his daily work.
But either that was harder than usual, or he must be ill, for he
could not fix his mind upon it, and everybody he came across
during the day inquired if anything had happened to give him that
white, frightened look.
'I must be feverish,' he said to himself; 'after all, it is
rather dangerous to take a cold bath when one is feeling so hot.'
Yet he knew, while he said it, that he was counting the hours for
night to come, that he might return to the forest.
In the evening he went as usual to the creeper-covered house.
But he had better have stayed away, as his face was so pale and
his manner so strange, that the poor girl saw that something
terrible had occurred. Alonzo, however, refused to answer any of
her questions, and all she could get was a promise to hear
everything the next day.
On pretence of a violent headache, he left Julia much earlier
than usual and hurried quickly home. Taking down a pistol, he
loaded it and put it in his belt, and a little before midnight he
stole out on the tips of his toes, so as to disturb nobody. Once
outside he hastened down the road which led to the forest.
He did not stop till he had reached the river pool, when holding
the pistol in his hand, he looked about him. At every little
noise-- the falling of a leaf, the rustle of an animal in the
bushes, the cry of a night-bird--he sprang up and cocked his
pistol in the direction of the sound. But though the moon still
shone he saw nothing, and by and by a kind of dreamy state seemed
to steal over him as he leant against a tree.
How long he remained in this condition he could not have told,
but suddenly he awoke with a start, on hearing his name uttered
'Who is that?' he cried, standing upright instantly; but only an
echo answered him. Then his eyes grew fascinated with the dark
waters of the pool close to his feet, and he looked at it as if
he could never look away.
He gazed steadily into the depths for some minutes, when he
became aware that down in the darkness was a bright spark, which
got rapidly bigger and brighter. Again that feeling of awful
fear took possession of him, and he tried to turn his eyes from
the pool. But it was no use; something stronger than himself
compelled him to keep them there.
At last the waters parted softly, and floating on the surface he
saw the beautiful woman whom he had fled from only a few nights
before. He turned to run, but his feet were glued to the spot.
She smiled at him and held out her arms, but as she did so there
came over him the remembrance of Julia, as he had seen her a few
hours earlier, and her warnings and fears for the very danger in
which he now found himself.
Meanwhile the figure was always drawing nearer, nearer; but, with
a violent effort, Alonzo shook off his stupor, and taking aim at
her shoulder he pulled the trigger. The report awoke the
sleeping echoes, and was repeated all through the forest, but the
figure smiled still, and went on advancing. Again Alonzo fired,
and a second time the bullet whistled through the air, and the
figure advanced nearer. A moment more, and she would be at his
Then, his pistol being empty, he grasped the barrel with both
hands, and stood ready to use it as a club should the Yara
approach and closer. But now it seemed her turn to feel afraid,
for she paused an instant while he pressed forward, still holding
the pistol above his head, prepared to strike.
In his excitement he had forgotten the river, and it was not till
the cold water touched his feet that he stood still by instinct.
The Yara saw that he was wavering, and suffering herself to sway
gently backwards and forwards on the surface of the river, she
began to sing. The song floated through the trees, now far and
now near; no one could tell whence it came, the whole air seemed
full of it. Alonzo felt his senses going and his will failing.
His arms dropped heavily to his side, but in falling struck
against the sea shell, which, as he had promised Julia, he had
always carried in his coat.
His dimmed mind was just clear enough to remember what she had
said, and with trembling fingers, that were almost powerless to
grasp, he drew it out. As he did so the song grew sweeter and
more tender than before, but he shut his ears to it and bent his
head over the shell. Out of its depths arose the voice of Julia
singing to him as she had sung when she gave him the shell, and
though the notes sounded faint at first, they swelled louder and
louder till the mist which had gathered about him was blown away.
Then he raised his head, feeling that he had been through strange
places, where he could never wander any more; and he held himself
erect and strong, and looked about him. Nothing was to be seen
but the shining of the river, and the dark shadows of the trees;
nothing was to be heard but the hum of the insects, as they
darted through the night.
[Adapted from Folklore Bresilien.]
The Cunning Hare
In a very cold country, far across the seas, where ice and snow
cover the ground for many months in the year, there lived a
little hare, who, as his father and mother were both dead, was
brought up by his grandmother. As he was too young, and she was
too old, to work, they were very poor, and often did not have
enough to eat.
One day, when the little fellow was hungrier than usual, he asked
his grandmother if he might go down to the river and catch a fish
for their breakfast, as the thaw had come and the water was
flowing freely again. She laughed at him for thinking that any
fish would let itself be caught by a hare, especially such a
young one; but as she had the rheumatism very badly, and could
get no food herself, she let him go. 'If he does not catch a
fish he may find something else,' she said to herself. So she
told her grandson where to look for the net, and how he was to
set it across the river; but just as he was starting, feeling
himself quite a man, she called him back.
'After all, I don't know what is the use of your going, my boy!
For even if you should catch a fish, I have no fire to cook it
'Let me catch my fish, and I will soon make you a fire,' he
answered gaily, for he was young, and knew nothing about the
difficulties of fire-making.
It took him some time to haul the net through bushes and over
fields, but at length he reached a pool in the river which he had
often heard was swarming with fish, and here he set the net, as
his grandmother had directed him.
He was so excited that he hardly slept all night, and at the very
first streak of dawn he ran as fast as ever he could down to the
river. His heart beat as quickly as if he had had dogs behind
him, and he hardly dared to look, lest he should be disappointed.
Would there be even one fish? And at this thought the pangs of
hunger made him feel quite sick with fear. But he need not have
been afraid; in every mesh of the net was a fine fat fish, and of
course the net itself was so heavy that he could only lift one
corner. He threw some of the fish back into the water, and
buried some more in a hole under a stone, where he would be sure
to find them. Then he rolled up the net with the rest, put it on
his back and carried it home. The weight of the load caused his
back to ache, and he was thankful to drop it outside their hut,
while he rushed in, full of joy, to tell his grandmother. 'Be
quick and clean them!' he said, 'and I will go to those people's
tents on the other side of the water.'
The old woman stared at him in horror as she listened to his
proposal. Other people had tried to steal fire before, and few
indeed had come back with their lives; but as, contrary to all
her expectations, he had managed to catch such a number of fish,
she thought that perhaps there was some magic about him which she
did not know of, and did not try to hinder him.
When the fish were all taken out, he fetched the net which he had
laid out to dry, folded it up very small, and ran down to the
river, hoping that he might find a place narrow enough for him to
jump over; but he soon saw that it was too wide for even the best
jumper in the world. For a few moments he stood there, wondering
what was to be done, then there darted into his head some words
of a spell which he had once heard a wizard use, while drinking
from the river. He repeated them, as well as he could remember,
and waited to see what would happen. In five minutes such a
grunting and a puffing was heard, and columns of water rose into
the air, though he could not tell what had made them. Then round
the bend of the stream came fifteen huge whales, which he ordered
to place themselves heads to tails, like stepping stones, so that
he could jump from one to the other till he landed on the
opposite shore. Directly he got there he told the whales that he
did not need them any more, and sat down in the sand to rest.
Unluckily some children who were playing about caught sight of
him, and one of them, stealing softly up behind him, laid tight
hold of his ears. The hare, who had been watching the whales as
they sailed down the river, gave a violent start, and struggled
to get away; but the boy held on tight, and ran back home, as
fast as he could go.
'Throw it in the pot,' said the old woman, as soon as he had told
his story; 'put it in that basket, and as soon as the water boils
in the pot we will hang it over the fire!'
'Better kill it first,' said the old man; and the hare listened,
horribly frightened, but still looking secretly to see if there
was no hole through which he could escape, if he had a chance of
doing so. Yes, there was one, right in the top of the tent, so,
shaking himself, as if with fright, he let the end of his net
unroll itself a little.
'I wish that a spark of fire would fall on my net,' whispered he;
and the next minute a great log fell forward into the midst of
the tent, causing every one to spring backwards. The sparks were
scattered in every direction, and one fell on the net, making a
little blaze. In an instant the hare had leaped through the
hole, and was racing towards the river, with men, women, and
children after him. There was no time to call back the whales,
so, holding the net tight in his mouth, he wished himself across
the river. Then he jumped high into the air, and landed safe on
the other side, and after turning round to be sure that there was
no chance of anyone pursuing him, trotted happily home to his
'Didn't I tell you I would bring you fire?' said he, holding up
his net, which was now burning briskly.
'But how did you cross the water?' inquired the old woman.
'Oh, I just jumped!' said he. And his grandmother asked him no
more questions, for she saw that he was wiser than she.
['Indian Folk Tales.' Bureau of Ethnology.]
The Turtle and His Bride
There was once a turtle who lived among a great many people of
different kinds, in a large camp near a big river which was born
right up amongst the snows, and flowed straight away south till
it reached a sea where the water was always hot.
There were many other turtles in the camp, and this turtle was
kind and pleasant to them all, but he did not care for any of
them very much, and felt rather lonely.
At last he built himself a hut, and filled it with skins for
seats, and made it as comfortable as any hut for miles round; and
when it was quite finished he looked about among the young women
to see which of them he should ask to be his wife.
It took him some time to make up his mind, for no turtle likes
being hurried, but at length he found one girl who seemed
prettier and more industrious than the rest, and one day he
entered her home, and said: 'Will you marry me?'
The young woman was so surprised at this question that she
dropped the beaded slipper she was making, and stared at the
turtle. She felt inclined to laugh--the idea was so absurd; but
she was kind-hearted and polite, so she looked as grave as she
could, and answered:
'But how are you going to provide for a family? Why, when the
camp moves, you will not even be able to keep up with the rest!'
'I can keep up with the best of them,' replied the turtle,
tossing his head. But though he was very much offended he did
not let the girl see it, and begged and, prayed her so hard to
marry him that, at last, she consented, very unwillingly.
'You will have to wait till the spring, though,' she said; 'I
must make a great many slippers and dresses for myself, as I
shall not have much time afterwards.'
This did not please the turtle; but he knew it was no use
talking, so all he answered was:
'I shall go to war and take some captives, and I shall be away
several months. And when I return I shall expect you to be ready
to marry me.'
So he went back to his hut, and at once set about his
preparations. The first thing he did was to call all his
relations together, and ask them if they would come with him and
make war on the people of a neighbouring village. The turtles,
who were tired of doing nothing, agreed at once, and next day the
whole tribe left the camp. The girl was standing at the door of
her hut as they passed, and laughed out loud--they moved so
slowly. Her lover, who was marching at the head, grew very angry
at this, and cried out:
'In four days from now you will be weeping instead of laughing,
because there will be hundreds of miles between you and me.'
'In four days,' replied the girl--who only promised to marry him
in order to get rid of him--'in four days you will hardly be out
'Oh, I did not mean four days, but four YEARS,' answered the
turtle, hastily; 'whatever happens I shall be back by then.'
The army marched on, till one day, when they felt as if they must
have got half round the earth, though they were scarcely four
miles from the camp, they found a large tree lying across their
path. They looked at it with dismay, and the oldest among them
put their heads together to see what was to be done.
'Can't we manage to get past by the top?' asked one.
'Why, it would take us YEARS,' exclaimed another. 'Just look at
all those tall green branches, spreading in every direction. If
once we got entangled in THEM, we should never get out again!'
'Well then, let us go round by the bottom,' said a third.
'How are we to do that, when the roots have made a deep hole, and
above that is a high bank?' replied a fourth. 'No; the only way
I can think of, is to burn a large hole in the trunk.' And this
they did, but the trunk was very thick, and would not burn
'It is no use, we must give it up,' they agreed at last. 'After
all, nobody need ever know! We have been away such a long while
that we might easily have had all sorts of adventures.' And so
the whole company turned homewards again.
They took even longer to go back than they had to come, for they
were tired and footsore with their journey. When they drew near
the camp they plucked up their courage, and began to sing a war-
song. At this the villagers came flocking to see what spoils the
turtles had won, but, as they approached, each turtle seized some
one by the wrist, exclaiming: 'You are our spoils; you are our
'Now that I have got you I will keep you,' said the leader, who
had happened to seize his betrothed.
Everybody was naturally very angry at this behaviour, and the
girl most of all, and in her secret heart she determined to have
her revenge. But, just at present, the turtles were too strong,
so the prisoners had to put on their smartest slippers and their
brightest clothes, and dance a war dance while the turtles sang.
They danced so long that it seemed as if they would never stop,
till the turtle who was leading the singing suddenly broke into a
Whoever comes here, will die, will die!
At this all the dancers grew so frightened that they burst
through the ring of their captors, and ran back to the village,
the turtles following--very slowly. On the way the chief turtle
met a man, who said to him:
'That woman who was to have been your wife has married another
'Is that true?' said the turtle. 'Then I must see him.'
But as soon as the villager was out of sight the turtle stopped,
and taking a bundle containing fringes and ornaments from his
back, he hung them about him, so that they rattled as he walked.
When he was quite close to the hut where the woman lived, he
'Here I am to claim the woman who promised to be my wife.'
'Oh, here is the turtle,' whispered the husband hurriedly; 'what
is to be done now?'
'Leave that to me; I will manage him,' replied the wife, and at
that moment the turtle came in, and seized her by the wrist.
'Come with me,' he said sternly.
'You broke your promise,' answered she. 'You said you would be
back soon, and it is more than a year since you went! How was I
to know that you were alive?'
At her words the husband took courage, and spoke hastily:
'Yes, you promised you would go to war and bring back some
prisoners, and you have not done it.'
'I DID go, and made many prisoners,' retorted the turtle angrily,
drawing out his knife. 'Look here, if she won't be MY wife, she
sha'n't be YOURS. I will cut her in two; and you shall have one
half, and I the other.'
'But half a woman is no use to me,' answered the man. 'If you
want her so much you had better take her.' And the turtle,
followed by his relations, carried her off to his own hut.
Now the woman saw she would gain nothing by being sulky, so she
pretended to be very glad to have got rid of her husband; but all
the while she was trying to invent a plan to deliver herself from
the turtle. At length she remembered that one of her friends had
a large iron pot, and when the turtle had gone to his room to put
away his fringes, she ran over to her neighbour's and brought it
back. Then she filled it with water and hung it over the fire to
boil. It was just beginning to bubble and hiss when the turtle
'What are you doing there?' asked he, for he was always afraid of
things that he did not understand.
'Just warming some water,' she answered. 'Do you know how to
'Yes, of course I do. What a question! But what does it matter
to you?' said the turtle, more suspicious than ever.
'Oh, I only thought that after your long journey you might like
to wash. The roads are so muddy, after the winter's rains. I
could rub your shell for you till it was bright and shining
'Well, I AM rather muddy. If one is fighting, you know, one
cannot stop to pick one's way. I should certainly be more
comfortable if my back was washed.'
The woman did not wait for him to change his mind. She caught
him up by his shell and popped him straight into the pot, where
he sank to the bottom, and died instantly.
The other turtles, who were standing at the door, saw their
leader disappear, and felt it was their duty as soldiers to
follow him; and, springing into the pot, died too. All but one
young turtle, who, frightened at not seeing any of his friends
come out again, went as fast as he could to a clump of bushes,
and from there made his way to the river. His only thought was
to get away as far as possible from that dreadful hut; so he let
the river carry him where it was going itself, and at last, one
day, he found himself in the warm sea, where, if he is not dead,
you may meet him still.
[Bureau of Ethnology.]
How Geirald The Coward Was Punished
Once upon a time there lived a poor knight who had a great many
children, and found it very hard to get enough for them to eat.
One day he sent his eldest son, Rosald, a brave and honest youth,
to the neighbouring town to do some business, and here Rosald met
a young man named Geirald, with whom he made friends.
Now Geirald was the son of a rich man, who was proud of the boy,
and had all his life allowed him to do whatever he fancied, and,
luckily for the father, he was prudent and sensible, and did not
waste money, as many other rich young men might have done. For
some time he had set his heart on travelling into foreign
countries, and after he had been talking for a little while to
Rosald, he asked if his new friend would be his companion on his
'There is nothing I should like better,' answered Rosald, shaking
his head sorrowfully; 'but my father is very poor, and he could
never give me the money.'
'Oh, if that is your only difficulty, it is all right,' cried
Geirald. 'My father has more money than he knows what to do
with, and he will give me as much as I want for both of us; only,
there is one thing you must promise me, Rosald, that, supposing
we have any adventures, you will let the honour and glory of them
fall to me.'
'Yes, of course, that is only fair,' answered Rosald, who never
cared about putting himself forward. 'But I cannot go without
telling my parents. I am sure they will think me lucky to get
such a chance.'
As soon as the business was finished, Rosald hastened home. His
parents were delighted to hear of his good fortune, and his
father gave him his own sword, which was growing rusty for want
of use, while his mother saw that his leather jerkin was in
'Be sure you keep the promise you made to Geirald,' said she, as
she bade him good-bye, 'and, come what may, see that you never
Full of joy Rosald rode off, and the next day he and Geirald
started off to seek adventures. To their disappointment their
own land was so well governed that nothing out of the common was
very likely to happen, but directly they crossed the border into
another kingdom all seemed lawlessness and confusion.
They had not gone very far, when, riding across a mountain, they
caught a glimpse of several armed men hiding amongst some trees
in their path, and remembered suddenly some talk they had heard
of a band of twelve robbers who lay in wait for rich travellers.
The robbers were more like savage beasts than men, and lived
somewhere at the top of the mountain in caves and holes in the
ground. They were all called 'Hankur,' and were distinguished
one from another by the name of a colour--blue, grey, red, and so
on, except their chief, who was known as Hankur the Tall. All
this and more rushed into the minds of the two young men as they
saw the flash of their swords in the moonlight.
'It is impossible to fight them--they are twelve to two,'
whispered Geirald, stopping his horse in the path. 'We had much
better ride back and take the lower road. It would be stupid to
throw away our lives like this.'
'Oh, we can't turn back,' answered Rosald, 'we should be ashamed
to look anyone in the face again! And, besides, it is a grand
opportunity to show what we are made of. Let us tie up our
horses here, and climb up the rocks so that we can roll stones
down on them.'
'Well, we might try that, and then we shall always have our
horses,' said Geirald. So they went up the rocks silently and
The robbers were lying all ready, expecting every moment to see
their victims coming round the corner a few yards away, when a
shower of huge stones fell on their heads, killing half the band.
The others sprang up the rock, but as they reached the top the
sword of Rosald swung round, and one man after another rolled
down into the valley. At last the chief managed to spring up,
and, grasping Rosald by the waist, flung away his sword, and the
two fought desperately, their bodies swaying always nearer the
edge. It seemed as if Rosald, being the smaller of the two, MUST
fall over, when, with his left hand, he drew the robber's sword
out of its sheath and plunged it into his heart. Then he took
from the dead man a beautiful ring set with a large stone, and
put it on his own finger.
The fame of this wonderful deed soon spread through the country,
and people would often stop Geirald's horse, and ask leave to see
the robber's ring, which was said to have been stolen from the
father of the reigning king. And Geirald showed them the ring
with pride, and listened to their words of praise, and no one
would ever have guessed anyone else had destroyed the robbers.
In a few days they left the kingdom and rode on to another, where
they thought they would stop through the remainder of the winter,
for Geirald liked to be comfortable, and did not care about
travelling through ice and snow. But the king would only grant
them leave to stop on condition that, before the winter was
ended, they should give him some fresh proof of the courage of
which he had heard so much. Rosald's heart was glad at the
king's message, and as for Geirald, he felt that as long as
Rosald was there all would go well. So they both bowed low and
replied that it was the king's place to command and theirs to
'Well, then,' said his Majesty, 'this is what I want you to do:
In the north-east part of my kingdom there dwells a giant, who
has an iron staff twenty yards long, and he is so quick in using
it, that even fifty knights have no chance against him. The
bravest and strongest young men of my court have fallen under the
blows of that staff; but, as you overcame the twelve robbers so
easily, I feel that I have reason to hope that you may be able to
conquer the giant. In three days from this you will set out.'
'We will be ready, your Majesty,' answered Rosald; but Geirald
'How can we possibly fight against a giant that has killed fifty
knights?' cried Geirald, when they were outside the castle. 'The
king only wants to get rid of us! He won't think about us for the
next three days--that is one comfort--so we shall have plenty of
time to cross the borders of the kingdom and be out of reach.'
'We mayn't be able to kill the giant, but we certainly can't run
away till we have tried,' answered Rosald. 'Besides, think how
glorious it will be if we DO manage to kill him! I know what sort
of weapon I shall use. Come with me now, and I will see about
it.' And, taking his friend by the arm, he led him into a shop
where he bought a huge lump of solid iron, so big that they could
hardly lift it between them. However, they just managed to carry
it to a blacksmith's where Rosald directed that it should be
beaten into a thick club, with a sharp spike at one end. When
this was done to his liking he took it home under his arm.
Very early on the third morning the two young men started on
their journey, and on the fourth day they reached the giant's
cave before he was out of bed. Hearing the sound of footsteps,
the giant got up and went to the entrance to see who was coming,
and Rosald, expecting something of the sort, struck him such a
blow on the forehead that he fell to the ground. Then, before he
could rise to his feet again, Rosald drew out his sword and cut
off his head.
'It was not so difficult after all, you see,' he said, turning to
Geirald. And placing the giant's head in a leathern wallet which
was slung over his back, they began their journey to the castle.
As they drew near the gates, Rosald took the head from the wallet
and handed it to Geirald, whom he followed into the king's
'The giant will trouble you no more,' said Geirald, holding out
the head. And the king fell on his neck and kissed him, and
cried joyfully that he was the 'bravest knight in all the world,
and that a feast should be made for him and Rosald, and that the
great deed should be proclaimed throughout the kingdom.' And
Geirald's heart swelled with pride, and he almost forgot that it
was Rosald and not he, who had slain the giant.
By-and-by a whisper went round that a beautiful lady who lived in
the castle would be present at the feast, with twenty-four lovely
maidens, her attendants. The lady was the queen of her own
country, but as her father and mother had died when she was a
little girl, she had been left in the care of this king who was
She was now old enough to govern her own kingdom, but her
subjects did not like being ruled by a woman, and said that she
must find a husband to help her in managing her affairs. Prince
after prince had offered himself, but the young queen would have
nothing to say to any of them, and at last told her ministers
that if she was to have a husband at all she must choose him for
herself, as she would certainly not marry any of those whom they
had selected for her. The ministers replied that in that case
she had better manage her kingdom alone, and the queen, who knew
nothing about business, got things into such a confusion that at
last she threw them up altogether, and went off to her uncle.
Now when she heard how the two young men had slain the giant, her
heart was filled with admiration of their courage, and she
declared that if a feast was held she would certainly be present
And so she was; and when the feast was over she asked the king,
her guardian, if he would allow the two heroes who had killed the
robbers and slain the giant to fight a tourney the next day with
one of her pages. The king gladly gave his consent, and ordered
the lists to be made ready, never doubting that two great
champions would be eager for such a chance of adding to their
fame. Little did he guess that Geirald had done all he could to
persuade Rosald to steal secretly out of the castle during the
night, 'for,' said he, 'I don't believe they are pages at all,
but well-proved knights, and how can we, so young and untried,
stand up against them?'
'The honour will be all the higher if we gain the day,' answered
Rosald; but Geirald would listen to nothing, and only declared
that he did not care about honour, and would rather be alive than
have every honour in the world heaped upon him. Go he would, and
as Rosald had sworn to give him his company, he must come with
Rosald was much grieved when he heard these words, but he knew
that it was useless attempting to persuade Geirald, and turned
his thoughts to forming some plan to prevent this disgraceful
flight. Suddenly his face brightened. 'Let us change clothes,'
he said, 'and I will do the fighting, while you shall get the
glory. Nobody will ever know.' And to this Geirald readily
Whether Geirald was right or not in thinking that the so-called
page was really a well-proved knight, it is certain that Rosald's
task was a very hard one. Three times they came together with a
crash which made their horses reel; once Rosald knocked the
helmet off his foe, and received in return such a blow that he
staggered in his saddle. Shouts went up from the lookers-on, as
first one and then the other seemed gaining the victory; but at
length Rosald planted his spear in the armour which covered his
adversary's breast and bore him steadily backward. 'Unhorsed!
unhorsed!' cried the people; and Rosald then himself dismounted
and helped his adversary to rise.
In the confusion that followed it was easy for Rosald to slip
away and return Geirald his proper clothes. And in these, torn
and dusty with the fight, Geirald answered the king's summons to
come before him.
'You have done what I expected you to do,' said he, 'and now,
choose your reward.'
'Grant me, sire, the hand of the queen, your niece,' replied the
young man, bowing low, 'and I will defend her kingdom against all
'She could choose no better husband,' said the king, 'and if she
consents I do.' And he turned towards the queen, who had not
been present during the fight, but had just slipped into a seat
by his right hand. Now the queen's eyes were very sharp, and it
seemed to her that the man who stood before her, tall and
handsome though he might be, was different in many slight ways,
and in one in particular, from the man who had fought the
tourney. How there could be any trickery she could not
understand, and why the real victor should be willing to give up
his prize to another was still stranger; but something in her
heart warned her to be careful. She answered: 'You may be
satisfied, uncle, but I am not. One more proof I must have; let
the two young men now fight against each other. The man I marry
must be the man who killed the robbers and the giant, and
overcame my page.' Geirald's face grew pale as he heard these
words. He knew there was no escape from him now, though he did
not doubt for one moment that Rosald would keep his compact
loyally to the last. But how would it be possible that even
Rosald should deceive the watchful eyes of the king and his
court, and still more those of the young queen whom he felt
uneasily had suspected him from the first?
The tourney was fought, and in spite of Geirald's fears Rosald
managed to hang back to make attacks which were never meant to
succeed, and to allow strokes which he could easily have parried
to attain their end. At length, after a great show of
resistance, he fell heavily to the ground. And as he fell he
knew that it was not alone the glory that was his rightfully
which he gave up, but the hand of the queen that was more
But Geirald did not even wait to see if he was wounded; he went
straight to the wall where the royal banner waved and claimed the
reward which was now his.
The crowd of watchers turned towards the queen, expecting to see
her stoop and give some token to the victor. Instead, to the
surprise of everyone, she merely smiled gracefully, and said that
before she bestowed her hand one more test must be imposed, but
this should be the last. The final tourney should be fought;
Geirald and Rosald should meet singly two knights of the king's
court, and he who could unhorse his foe should be master of
herself and of her kingdom. The combat was fixed to take place
at ten o'clock the following day.
All night long Geirald walked about his room, not daring to face
the fight that lay in front of him, and trying with all his might
to discover some means of escaping it. All night long he moved
restlessly from door to window; and when the trumpets sounded,
and the combatants rode into the field, he alone was missing.
The king sent messengers to see what had become of him, and he
was found, trembling with fear, hiding under his bed. After that
there was no need of any further proof. The combat was declared
unnecessary, and the queen pronounced herself quite satisfied,
and ready to accept Rosald as her husband.
'You forgot one thing,' she said, when they were alone. 'I
recognized my father's ring which Hankur the Tall had stolen, on
the finger of your right hand, and I knew that it was you and not
Geirald who had slain the robber band. I was the page who fought
you, and again I saw the ring on your finger, though it was
absent from his when he stood before me to claim the prize. That
was why I ordered the combat between you, though your faith to
your word prevented my plan being successful, and I had to try
another. The man who keeps his promise at all costs to himself
is the man I can trust, both for myself and for my people.'
So they were married, and returned to their own kingdom, which
they ruled well and happily. And many years after a poor beggar
knocked at the palace gates and asked for money, for the sake of
days gone by--and this was Geirald.
[From Neuislandischem Volksmarcher.]
Once upon a time there lived two peasants who had three
daughters, and, as generally happens, the youngest was the most
beautiful and the best tempered, and when her sisters wanted to
go out she was always ready to stay at home and do their work.
Years passed quickly with the whole family, and one day the
parents suddenly perceived that all three girls were grown up,
and that very soon they would be thinking of marriage.
'Have you decided what your husband's name is to be?' said the
father, laughingly, to his eldest daughter, one evening when they
were all sitting at the door of their cottage. 'You know that is
a very important point!'
'Yes; I will never wed any man who is not called Sigmund,'
'Well, it is lucky for you that there are a great many Sigmunds
in this part of the world,' replied her father, 'so that you can
take your choice! And what do YOU say?' he added, turning to the
'Oh, I think that there is no name so beautiful as Sigurd,' cried
'Then you won't be an old maid either,' answered he. 'There are
seven Sigurds in the next village alone! And you, Helga?'
Helga, who was still the prettiest of the three, looked up. She
also had her favourite name, but, just as she was going to say
it, she seemed to hear a voice whisper: 'Marry no one who is not
The girl had never heard of such a name, and did not like it, so
she determined to pay no attention; but as she opened her mouth
to tell her father that her husband must be called Njal, she
found herself answering instead: 'If I do marry it will be to no
one except Habogi.'
'Who IS Habogi?' asked her father and sisters; 'We never heard of
such a person.'
'All I can tell you is that he will be my husband, if ever I have
one,' returned Helga; and that was all she would say.
Before very long the young men who lived in the neighbouring
villages or on the sides of the mountains, had heard of this talk
of the three girls, and Sigmunds and Sigurds in scores came to
visit the little cottage. There were other young men too, who
bore different names, though not one of them was called 'Habogi,'
and these thought that they might perhaps gain the heart of the
youngest. But though there was more than one 'Njal' amongst
them, Helga's eyes seemed always turned another way.
At length the two elder sisters made their choice from out of the
Sigurds and the Sigmunds, and it was decided that both weddings
should take place at the same time. Invitations were sent out to
the friends and relations, and when, on the morning of the great
day, they were all assembled, a rough, coarse old peasant left
the crowd and came up to the brides' father.
'My name is Habogi, and Helga must be my wife,' was all he said.
And though Helga stood pale and trembling with surprise, she did
not try to run away.
'I cannot talk of such things just now,' answered the father, who
could not bear the thought of giving his favourite daughter to
this horrible old man, and hoped, by putting it off, that
something might happen. But the sisters, who had always been
rather jealous of Helga, were secretly pleased that their
bridegrooms should outshine hers.
When the feast was over, Habogi led up a beautiful horse from a
field where he had left it to graze, and bade Helga jump up on
its splendid saddle, all embroidered in scarlet and gold. 'You
shall come back again,' said he; 'but now you must see the house
that you are to live in.' And though Helga was very unwilling to
go, something inside her forced her to obey.
The old man settled her comfortably, then sprang up in front of
her as easily as if he had been a boy, and, shaking the reins,
they were soon out of sight.
After some miles they rode through a meadow with grass so green
that Helga's eyes felt quite dazzled; and feeding on the grass
were a quantity of large fat sheep, with the curliest and whitest
wool in the world.
'What lovely sheep! whose are they?' cried Helga.
'Your Habogi's,' answered he, 'all that you see belongs to him;
but the finest sheep in the whole herd, which has little golden
bells hanging between its horns, you shall have for yourself.'
This pleased Helga very much, for she had never had anything of
her own; and she smiled quite happily as she thanked Habogi for
They soon left the sheep behind them, and entered a large field
with a river running through it, where a number of beautiful grey
cows were standing by a gate waiting for a milk-maid to come and
'Oh, what lovely cows!' cried Helga again; 'I am sure their milk
must be sweeter than any other cows. How I should like to have
some! I wonder to whom they belong?'
'To your Habogi,' replied he; 'and some day you shall have as
much milk as you like, but we cannot stop now. Do you see that
big grey one, with the silver bells between her horns? That is
to be yours, and you can have her milked every morning the moment
And Helga's eyes shone, and though she did not say anything, she
thought that she would learn to milk the cow herself.
A mile further on they came to a wide common, with short, springy
turf, where horses of all colours, with skins of satin, were
kicking up their heels in play. The sight of them so delighted
Helga that she nearly sprang from her saddle with a shriek of
'Whose are they?' Oh! whose are they?' she asked. 'How happy any
man must be who is the master of such lovely creatures!'
'They are your Habogi's,' replied he, 'and the one which you
think the most beautiful of all you shall have for yourself, and
learn to ride him.'
At this Helga quite forgot the sheep and the cow.
'A horse of my own!' said she. 'Oh, stop one moment, and let me
see which I will choose. The white one? No. The chestnut? No.
I think, after all, I like the coal-black one best, with the
little white star on his forehead. Oh, do stop, just for a
But Habogi would not stop or listen. 'When you are married you
will have plenty of time to choose one,' was all he answered, and
they rode on two or three miles further.
At length Habogi drew rein before a small house, very ugly and
mean-looking, and that seemed on the point of tumbling to pieces.
'This is my house, and is to be yours,' said Habogi, as he jumped
down and held out his arms to lift Helga from the horse. The
girl's heart sank a little, as she thought that the man who
possessed such wonderful sheep, and cows, and horses, might have
built himself a prettier place to live in; but she did not say
so. And, taking her arm, he led her up the steps.
But when she got inside, she stood quite bewildered at the beauty
of all around her. None of her friends owned such things, not
even the miller, who was the richest man she knew. There were
carpets everywhere, thick and soft, and of deep rich colours; and
the cushions were of silk, and made you sleepy even to look at
them; and curious little figures in china were scattered about.
Helga felt as if it would take her all her life to see everything
properly, and it only seemed a second since she had entered the
house, when Habogi came up to her.
'I must begin the preparations for our wedding at once,' he said;
'but my foster-brother will take you home, as I promised. In
three days he will bring you back here, with your parents and
sisters, and any guests you may invite, in your company. By that
time the feast will be ready.'
Helga had so much to think about, that the ride home appeared
very short. Her father and mother were delighted to see her, as
they did not feel sure that so ugly and cross-looking a man as
Habogi might not have played her some cruel trick. And after
they had given her some supper they begged her to tell them all
she had done. But Helga only told them that they should see for
themselves on the third day, when they would come to her wedding.
It was very early in the morning when the party set out, and
Helga's two sisters grew green with envy as they passed the
flocks of sheep, and cows, and horses, and heard that the best of
each was given to Helga herself; but when they caught sight of
the poor little house which was to be her home their hearts grew
'I should be ashamed of living in such a place,' whispered each
to the other; and the eldest sister spoke of the carved stone
over HER doorway, and the second boasted of the number of rooms
SHE had. But the moment they went inside they were struck dumb
with rage at the splendour of everything, and their faces grew
white and cold with fury when they saw the dress which Habogi had
prepared for his bride--a dress that glittered like sunbeams
dancing upon ice.
'She SHALL not look so much finer than us,' they cried
passionately to each other as soon as they were alone; and when
night came they stole out of their rooms, and taking out the
wedding-dress, they laid it in the ash-pit, and heaped ashes upon
it. But Habogi, who knew a little magic, and had guessed what
they would do, changed the ashes into roses, and cast a spell
over the sisters, so that they could not leave the spot for a
whole day, and every one who passed by mocked at them.
The next morning when they all awoke the ugly tumble-down house
had disappeared, and in its place stood a splendid palace. The
guests' eyes sought in vain for the bridegroom, but could only
see a handsome young man, with a coat of blue velvet and silver
and a gold crown upon his head.
'Who is that?' they asked Helga.
'That is my Habogi,' said she.
[From Neuislandischem Volksmarcher.]
How the Little Brother Set Free His Big Brothers
In a small hut, right in the middle of the forest, lived a man,
his wife, three sons and a daughter. For some reason, all the
animals seemed to have left that part of the country, and food
grew very scarce; so, one morning, after a night of snow, when
the tracks of beasts might be easily seen, the three boys started
off to hunt.
They kept together for some time, till they reached a place where
the path they had been following split into two, and one of the
brothers called his dog and went to the left, while the others
took the trail to the right. These had not gone far when their
dogs scented a bear, and drove him out from the thicket. The
bear ran across a clearing, and the elder brother managed to
place an arrow right in his head.
They both took up the bear, and carried it towards home, meeting
the third at the spot where they had parted from him. When they
reached home they threw the bear down on the floor of the hut
'Father, here is a bear which we killed; now we can have some
But the father, who was in a bad temper, only said:
'When I was a young man we used to get two bears in one day.'
The sons were rather disappointed at hearing this, and though
there was plenty of meat to last for two or three days, they
started off early in the morning down the same trail that they
had followed before. As they drew near the fork a bear suddenly
ran out from behind a tree, and took the path on the right. The
two elder boys and their dogs pursued him, and soon the second
son, who was also a good shot, killed him instantly with an
arrow. At the fork of the trail, on their way home, they met the
youngest, who had taken the left-hand road, and had shot a bear
for himself. But when they threw the two bears triumphantly on
the floor of the hut their father hardly looked at them, and only
'When I was a young man I used to get three bears in one day.'
The next day they were luckier than before, and brought back
three bears, on which their father told them that HE had always
killed four. However, that did not prevent him from skinning the
bears and cooking them in a way of his own, which he thought very
good, and they all ate an excellent supper.
Now these bears were the servants of the great bear chief who
lived in a high mountain a long way off. And every time a bear
was killed his shadow returned to the house of the bear chief,
with the marks of his wounds plainly to bee seen by the rest.
The chief was furious at the number of bears the hunters had
killed, and determined that he would find some way of destroying
them. So he called another of his servants, and said to him:
'Go to the thicket near the fork, where the boys killed your
brothers, and directly they or the dogs see you return here as
fast as ever you can. The mountain will open to let you in, and
the hunters will follow you. Then I shall have them in my power,
and be able to revenge myself.'
The servant bowed low, and started at once for the fork, where he
hid himself in the bushes.
By-and-by the boys came in sight, but this time there were only
two of them, as the youngest had stayed at home. The air was
warm and damp, and the snow soft and slushy, and the elder
brother's bowstring hung loose, while the bow of the younger
caught in a tree and snapped in half. At that moment the dogs
began to bark loudly, and the bear rushed out of the thicket and
set off in the direction of the mountain. Without thinking that
they had nothing to defend themselves with, should the bear turn
and attack them, the boys gave chase. The bear, who knew quite
well that he could not be shot, sometimes slackened his pace and
let the dogs get quite close; and in this way the elder son
reached the mountain without observing it, while his brother, who
had hurt his foot, was still far behind.
As he ran up, the mountain opened to admit the bear, and the boy,
who was close on his heels, rushed in after him, and did not know
where he was till he saw bears sitting on every side of him,
holding a council. The animal he had been chasing sank panting
in their midst, and the boy, very much frightened, stood still,
letting his bow fall to the ground.
'Why are you trying to kill all my servants?' asked the chief.
'Look round and see their shades, with arrows sticking in them.
It was I who told the bear to-day how he was to lure you into my
power. I shall take care that you shall not hurt my people any
more, because you will become a bear yourself.'
At this moment the second brother came up--for the mountain had
been left open on purpose to tempt him also--and cried out
breathlessly: 'Don't you see that the bear is lying close to you?
Why don't you shoot him?' And, without waiting for a reply,
pressed forward to drive his arrow into the heart of the bear.
But the elder one caught his raised arm, and whispered: 'Be
quiet! can't you tell where you are?' Then the boy looked up and
saw the angry bears about him. On the one side were the servants
of the chief, and on the other the servants of the chief's
sister, who was sorry for the two youths, and begged that their
lives might be spared. The chief answered that he would not kill
them, but only cast a spell over them, by which their heads and
bodies should remain as they were, but their arms and legs should
change into those of a bear, so that they would go on all fours
for the rest of their lives. And, stooping over a spring of
water, he dipped a handful of moss in it and rubbed it over the
arms and legs of the boys. In an instant the transformation took
place, and two creatures, neither beast nor human stood before
Now the bear chief of course knew that the boys' father would
seek for his sons when they did not return home, so he sent
another of his servants to the hiding-place at the fork of the
trail to see what would happen. He had not waited long, when the
father came in sight, stooping as he went to look for his sons'
tracks in the snow. When he saw the marks of snow-shoes along
the path on the right he was filled with joy, not knowing that
the servant had made some fresh tracks on purpose to mislead him;
and he hastened forward so fast that he fell headlong into a pit,
where the bear was sitting. Before he could pick himself up the
bear had quietly broken his neck, and, hiding the body under the
snow, sat down to see if anyone else would pass that way.
Meanwhile the mother at home was wondering what had become of her
two sons, and as the hours went on, and their father never
returned, she made up her mind to go and look for him. The
youngest boy begged her to let him undertake the search, but she
would not hear of it, and told him he must stay at home and take
care of his sister. So, slipping on her snow-shoes, she started
on her way.
As no fresh snow had fallen, the trail was quite easy to find,
and she walked straight on, till it led her up to the pit where
the bear was waiting for her. He grasped her as she fell and
broke her neck, after which he laid her in the snow beside her
husband, and went back to tell the bear chief.
Hour after hour dragged heavily by in the forest hut, and at last
the brother and sister felt quite sure that in some way or other
all the rest of the family had perished. Day after day the boy
climbed to the top of a tall tree near the house, and sat there
till he was almost frozen, looking on all sides through the
forest openings, hoping that he might see someone coming along.
Very soon all the food in the house was eaten, and he knew he
would have to go out and hunt for more. Besides, he wished to
seek for his parents.
The little girl did not like being left alone in the hut, and
cried bitterly; but her brother told her that there was no use
sitting down quietly to starve, and that whether he found any
game or not he would certainly be back before the following
night. Then he cut himself some arrows, each from a different
tree, and winged with the feathers of four different birds. He
then made himself a bow, very light and strong, and got down his
snow-shoes. All this took some time, and he could not start that
day, but early next morning he called his little dog Redmouth,
whom he kept in a box, and set out.
After he had followed the trail for a great distance he grew very
tired, and sat upon the branch of a tree to rest. But Redmouth
barked so furiously that the boy thought that perhaps his parents
might have been killed under its branches, and stepping back,
shot one of his arrows at the root of the tree. Whereupon a
noise like thunder shook it from top to bottom, fire broke out,
and in a few minutes a little heap of ashes lay in the place
where it had stood.
Not knowing quite what to make of it all, the boy continued on
the trail, and went down the right-hand fork till he came to the
clump of bushes where the bears used to hide.
Now, as was plain by his being able to change the shape of the
two brothers, the bear chief knew a good deal of magic, and he
was quite aware that the little boy was following the trail, and
he sent a very small but clever bear servant to wait for him in
the bushes and to try to tempt him into the mountain. But
somehow his spells could not have worked properly that day, as
the bear chief did not know that Redmouth had gone with his
master, or he would have been more careful. For the moment the
dog ran round the bushes barking loudly, the little bear servant
rushed out in a fright, and set out for the mountains as fast as
The dog followed the bear, and the boy followed the dog, until
the mountain, the house of the great bear chief, came in sight.
But along the road the snow was so wet and heavy that the boy
could hardly get along, and then the thong of his snow-shoes
broke, and he had to stop and mend it, so that the bear and the
dog got so far ahead that he could scarcely hear the barking.
When the strap was firm again the boy spoke to his snow-shoes and
'Now you must go as fast as you can, or, if not, I shall lose the
dog as well as the bear.' And the snow-shoes sang in answer that
they would run like the wind.
As he came along, the bear chief's sister was looking out of the
window, and took pity on this little brother, as she had on the
two elder ones, and waited to see what the boy would do, when he
found that the bear servant and the dog had already entered the
The little brother was certainly very much puzzled at not seeing
anything of either of the animals, which had vanished suddenly
out of his sight. He paused for an instant to think what he
should do next, and while he did so he fancied he heard
Redmouth's voice on the opposite side of the mountain. With
great difficulty he scrambled over steep rocks, and forced a path
through tangled thickets; but when he reached the other side the
sound appeared to start from the place from which he had come.
Then he had to go all the way back again, and at the very top,
where he stopped to rest, the barking was directly beneath him,
and he knew in an instant where he was and what had happened.
'Let my dog out at once, bear chief!' cried he. 'If you do not,
I shall destroy your palace.' But the bear chief only laughed,
and said nothing. The boy was very angry at his silence, and
aiming one of his arrows at the bottom of the mountain, shot
straight through it.
As the arrow touched the ground a rumbling was heard, and with a
roar a fire broke out which seemed to split the whole mountain
into pieces. The bear chief and all his servants were burnt up
in the flames, but his sister and all that belonged to her were
spared because she had tried to save the two elder boys from
As soon as the fire had burnt itself out the little hunter
entered what was left of the mountain, and the first thing he saw
was his two brothers--half bear, half boy.
'Oh, help us! help us!' cried they, standing on their hind legs
as they spoke, and stretching out their fore-paws to him.
'But how am I to help you?' asked the little brother, almost
weeping. 'I can kill people, and destroy trees and mountains,
but I have no power over men.' And the two elder brothers came
up and put their paws on his shoulders, and they all three wept
The heart of the bear chief's sister was moved when she saw their
misery, and she came gently up behind, and whispered:
'Little boy, gather some moss from the spring over there, and let
your brothers smell it.'
With a bound all three were at the spring, and as the youngest
plucked a handful of wet moss, the two others sniffed at it with
all their might. Then the bearskin fell away from them, and they
stood upright once more.
'How can we thank you? how can we thank you?' they stammered,
hardly able to speak; and fell at her feet in gratitude. But the
bear's sister only smiled, and bade them go home and look after
the little girl, who had no one else to protect her.
And this the boys did, and took such good care of their sister
that, as she was very small, she soon forgot that she had ever
had a father and mother.
[From the Bureau of Ethnology, U.S.]