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Georgian Folk Tales, by Marjory Wardrop [1894], at


The Story of Geria, the Poor Man's Son

THERE was once a poor married man who had only one son; but this son was very handsome and strong, and his name was Geria. 1 Once the youth went out to hunt, and when he was coming home in the evening he met a woman with a jar going to the spring for water; he aimed an arrow at her, and broke the jar. The woman turned to him and said: 'If thou art so warlike, instead of breaking my pot why dost thou not go and fetch the only sister of the twelve demis that dwell beyond the twelve mountains?' When he heard this, the youth's heart began to beat wildly for eagerness to see the maiden.

He went home and said to his parents: 'Get ready food to last me a year, and if I do not come back in that time set out to seek for me.' His parents would not consent,

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but said: 'We have no child but thee, wilt thou go away from us and perish?' They wept with one accord, but Geria heeded them not. So they got him provisions. They bade him farewell with sobs. Such wailing was there that the parting was known throughout the country side, yea, even to sun and moon, to heaven and earth, to the sea and the sands thereof. At last they blessed their son and let him go. He took with him a little dog, whose name was Mathicochi. 1 When they took leave one of another, they embraced, they kissed, and the youth sped on his way.

He went, he went, he went, he went as much as he could--week and week, week and fortnight, a year and three months, 2--he went over six mountains. When he had crossed these six mountains everything round about him began to reel: trees and stones fell down and clattered into the valleys, but Geria was not hurt by them. Then, from beneath, there came to him a voice, saying: 'What kind of man art thou to stand thus against me. Who can resist me but Geria, the poor man's son.' '‘Tis I--Geria, the poor man's son.'

When she heard this, the Rokapi 3 went out to meet him, bowed herself; did great honour to him, and said: 'Whither wilt thou go?' The youth told her all. The Rokapi was moved with sorrow. Geria asked her: 'Why

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dost thou grieve?'--'For that I have seen many go thither, but I have seen none come back.' But Geria heeded her not, and went on his way.

He went, he went, he went more than he could, and when he had crossed the other six mountains a still greater earthquake began. It turned out that this region belonged to the eldest sister of the Rokapis; but Geria showed no sign of fear. The Rokapi cried to him: 'What manner of man art thou to resist my witchcraft? Art thou Geria, the poor man's son?' He cried out to her: 'I am he.' The Rokapi at once went out to meet him, bowed herself, treated him with respect, and asked him: 'Whither art thou going?' Geria told her his plan, and this Rokapi too was distressed. Geria asked her why she grieved. She answered: 'Because I have seen many on their way thither, but I have never seen one come back; albeit, I will do thee one service, I give thee my three-legged horse.' She called the horse, and said to him: 'As long as Geria lives serve him faithfully.' Geria bade her farewell, mounted the horse, and rode away with his little dog Mathicochi.

He rode out into a great meadow, and came near the abode of the devils. When he looked upon the mead his heart was glad, and his eyes filled with tears, he bethought him of his home and its beautiful fields, he uttered a blessing to God the merciful. Then he urged his horse onward, at such speed that clouds of dust rose behind him. The youth said to himself: 'Lo, I am now in the unknown land!' Up he rode to the demis' gate, leaped from his horse, and tied it there.

He walked away a little, and then cried: 'Methinks I have not fastened my horse securely!' Back he went, tore up an oak by the roots, planted it with its branches downwards

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in the earth, and firmly tied his horse to it. Then the horse said: 'If thou hadst not done this I should have fled home, but now do as I tell thee, and all will be well. The demis are indoors; go to the meadow, there thou wilt find a kettle, overturn it. Then betake thyself to the damsel, and get her to plight her troth to thee.'

Geria went, kicked the kettle, turned it over three times, and left it upside down, then he went to the maiden, broke all the locks, and came to the room where she was. She was astonished, but the youth's bravery pleased her, and, to make a long story short, she promised to marry him. The youth went out merrily to the place where he had left his horse. There he quietly spent the night, and next morning the horse said: 'The devils have now gone out to the meadow; when they saw the kettle turned over they marvelled, for it usually takes all the twelve devils to turn over that kettle, and they said one to another: "Whatever we are commanded by him that turned over the kettle that must we do,"--now it is time for thee to go thither.' Geria went to the meadow.

As soon as the demis saw him, they all arose hastily, went to meet him, bowed themselves, and said: 'What dost thou ask of us?' He answered: 'You must give me your sister to wife.' The demis said: 'We give her to thee, but the Black King will not let thee take her.' Geria answered: 'I fear no man,' so (not to lengthen unduly a long story) they made ready a banquet.

While the feast was still going on, in the morning, Geria looked out of the door, and saw a host of men in black apparel, who had been sent by the Black King. Geria mounted his horse, dashed into the midst and defeated them all; three only did he save alive, as messengers, and

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sent them to say to the Black King: '‘Tis I that have done this, Geria, the poor man's son.'

The King was very wroth, and sent almost all his army against him. When Geria saw them, he bethought himself a little, but the horse said to him: 'Youth! this is nothing, look for still worse.' Geria struck the horse with his whip, attacked the host, and slew all but one; him he sent to bear the news. Upon this, the king went out of himself with rage: he summoned his devoted and loyal slave to whom he was wont to apply in all his difficulties, by name Qvamuritz Khami; 1 to him he committed all that was left of the army, and sent him out.

Geria arose and saw a sight, such a sight as I wish thine enemy may see. It pleased him not to see Qvamuritz Khami; but what could be done? The horse said to him: 'Youth! yonder is he of whom I spake.' Geria crossed himself, gave thanks to God, bade his wife farewell, for he thought to die, and went out. First of all he slew the army, and then he began a single combat with Qvamuritz Khami.

Mounted they fought with maces, but the battle was not to the strong, for Qvamuritz Khami's soul was safe in other hands--how could he be killed? Qvamuritz Khami cried: 'O young man! thus shouldst thou shoot!' and slew him. When Geria was dead, the victor slaughtered all the demis, took Geria's wife, put her on her husband's horse, and carried her off to his master.

But she said to the king: 'I am the widow of such a man that I will not belong to a man like thee; either do battle with me, and let the conqueror have his will, or give me leave to wear mourning for three months.' The king feared to fight with her, for she was of the demi race, so he

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gave her a respite of three months. When Geria was killed, his head rolled one way and his body another; his faithful dog Mathicochi went and put the two pieces together, and lay down to guard them.

While all these things had been happening, a year had passed, and when Geria's parents saw that he did not return, they set out to seek him. When they came to a narrow road, they saw that several snakes had met and were fighting, and all fell dead; then two great snakes crawled out, threw themselves into the river, swam out again and began to crawl over the dead snakes in various directions. They were all restored to life. Geria's parents wondered at the sight, and said one to the other: 'Let us take a little of this water.' They took a thimblefull of it.

When they approached, the little dog, Mathicochi, saw them, and ran to meet them; sadly he took them to the dead body. When the unhappy parents saw Geria dead, they both fell to the ground and sobbed bitterly; then they remembered that the mother of the unfortunate youth had the wonderful water with her. As soon as they sprinkled Geria with it he came to life, and said: 'Woe is me! what a long time I have slept!' When he saw his parents, he was glad, but, remembering all that had befallen him, he again grew sad, and bade his parents farewell once more. They wept much, but, putting their trust in God, armed themselves with patience.

Geria set out for the land of the Black King, and when he came near, went into a great forest; as he entered, he heard a very great noise. He stopped, and there, on the road, he saw some one coming along, destroying all the forest as he went, tree fell on tree; he looked steadily, and saw a great boar rushing straight towards him; he threw himself

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on it, lifted it, and cast it three shoulders' lengths 1 away from him; but they wrestled again, they wrestled, they wrestled, three whole days they wrestled. At last the youth was victorious, and tore the wild boar into halves. From the lacerated boar there leaped out a wild goat. When the youth killed the wild goat, there fell from it a little box; when he broke the box, three swallows flew from it,--two of them he killed, the third he caught and kept.

At that time Qvamuritz Khami fell ill, the agony of death came upon him, for it turned out that this swallow was his soul. Geria killed the swallow, and Qvamuritz Khami died. 2 After this, Geria went into the king's palace, and slew all therein excepting his wife. Her he took to his parents, whose patience and grief were exchanged for great joy. They all went home together.


118:1 Geria means little wolf. In Mingrelia there are many such nicknames,--e.g. Joghoria, little dog; Lomikia, little lion; Tholiorko, golden-eyed, etc.

119:1 Meaning: 'I also am a human being.'

119:2 Three years, three months, and three weeks are the usual measures of time in Mingrelian tales.

119:3 Rokapi in Georgian tales is an old woman of a demoniacal character, possessing enchanted castles and domains; sometimes the word simply means witch, and in ordinary conversation it is applied to an ugly, ill-natured, toothless old hag.

122:1 i.e. he that has a star in his brow.

124:1 The orgia, i.e. shoulder, is a measure of length equal to the space from finger-tips to finger-tips of the hands when extended horizontally.

124:2 Cf. with this the end of 'Master and Pupil' on p. 5.

Next: IV. The Prince who befriended the Beasts