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

No. 25.--The Hen that laid Diamonds

There was a poor man, and he had three sons. And the youngest found six kreutzers, and said, 'Take, father, these six kreutzers, and go into the town and buy something.' And the old man went into the town and bought a hen, and brought it home; and the hen laid a diamond egg. And he put it in the window, and it shone like a candle. And in the morning the old man arose and said, 'Wife, I will go into the town with this egg.' And he went into the town, and went to a merchant. 'Buy this egg.'

'What do you want for it?'

'Give me a hundred florins.'

He gave him a hundred florins. The old man went home and bought himself food, and put the boys to school. And the hen laid another egg, and he' brought it again to that merchant, and he gave him a hundred more florins. He went home. Again the hen laid an egg; he brought it again to that merchant. And on the egg there was written: 'Whoso eats the hen's head shall be emperor; and whoso eats the heart, every night he shall find a thousand gold pieces under his head; and whoso eats the claws shall become a seer.'

The merchant came to that village and hired the old man: 'What shall I give you to convey my merchandise?'

'Give me a hundred florins.'

And he hired the man with the hen for half a year. The

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merchant came to the man's wife and said, 'Your man is dead, and my money is gone with him, but I'm willing to wed you: I'm rich.'

'Wedded let us be.'

'Good, we will, and kill me the hen for the wedding-feast. We shall do without fiddlers.' 1

And they hired a cook. 'Have the hen ready against our return from church.'

The boys came home from school. 'Give us something to eat.'

'I've nothing to give you, for he told me not to give any of the hen.'

And the boys begged her, 'Do let us have a bit too, for it was we looked after the hen; do let us have a bit too, if it's ever so little.'

She gave the eldest the head, and the middle one the heart, and to the youngest she gave the claws. And they went off to school.

And they came from the wedding, and sat down to table; and he said to the cook, 'Give us to eat.'

And she served up the hen to them. And he asked for the head and the heart, and he asked for the claws. There were none!

And he asked the cook, 'Where is the head?'

She said, 'The boys ate it.'

And he, that merchant, said, 'I don't want any of this hen. Give me the head and the heart and the claws; I will eat only them.'

The cook said, 'The boys ate them.'

And he said, 'Wife, make them bitter coffee to make them vomit.'

And they came home from school, and the youngest boy said, 'Don't drink this coffee, it will kill you.' 2

They went home, and their mother gave them the coffee; and they poured it on the ground and went back to school.

The merchant came and asked, 'Were they sick?'

She answered, 'No.'

'I will go to the town and buy apples; and do you entice

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them into the cellar, and I will cut their throats, and take out head, heart, and claws, and eat them.'

The youngest brother said, 'Let us go out into the world.'

'Go! what for?'

'Our father is meaning to kill us.'

They departed, and went into another kingdom. The emperor there was dead; and they took his crown and put it in the church; whosever head the crown falls on he shall be emperor. And men of all ranks came into the church; and the three boys came. And the eldest went before, and slipped into the church; and the crown floated on to his head.

'We have a new emperor.'

They raised him shoulder-high, 1 and clad him in royal robes. A mandate is issued: There is a new emperor. The army came and bowed before the new emperor.

And the middle brother said, 'I'm off. I shan't stay here. I want to be emperor too.'

And the youngest said, 'I shall stay.'

So the middle one departed, and went to another emperor; that emperor had a daughter. And thus said the emperor, 'Whoever surpasses her in money, he shall marry her.'

He went to her. 'Come, let us play for money.'

They started playing; he beat her. One day they played, and two not. And he surpassed her in money, and wedded her. And the emperor joined them in marriage, and made him king.

And she had a lover. And that lover sent her a letter: 'Ask him where he gets all his money from.'

And she asked him: 'My lord, where do you get all your money from, that you managed to beat me?'

'Every night I find a thousand gold pieces under my head.'

'How so?'

'I ate a hen's heart.'

She wrote a letter and sent it to her lover: 'He ate a hen's heart, and every night he finds a thousand gold pieces under his head.'

And he sent her another letter: 'Make him coffee, that he vomit--vomit that heart up. And do you take it and eat it; then I'll marry you.'

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She made him coffee, and he drank it, and vomited up the heart; and she took it and ate it. And she went to her father. 'Come, father, see how he vomits. He's not the man for me.'

The emperor saw how he vomited. 'Here, off you go. I don't want your sort.' And he took all his clothes off him, and gave him common clothes. And he departed.

He went into the forest, and he hungered, and he came to an apple-tree. He took an apple and ate it, and became an ass. He goes weeping, goes onward, and found a crab-apple, and ate one of its apples, and became a man again. He turned back and took two apples, and took two also of the crab-apples, and went to the city where his wife was. And he stood by the roadside, and his wife went out to walk.

'Are your apples for sale, my man?'

'They are.'

He sold her an apple. She took a bite of it, and became a she-ass. He took her by the mane, and put a bridle on her head, and got on her, and galloped with her into the town, and went with her to an inn, and ordered bitter coffee, and poured it into her mouth; and she vomited, and vomited, and vomited up the heart. And he took it and ate it, and said, 'Now, I'm master.' And he went to his father-in-law: 'I demand justice; this is your daughter.'

The emperor summoned his ministers, but he said, 'I don't want you to pass judgment; come with me to the new emperor.'

So they went to the new emperor. And the emperor drives in his carriage, and he goes riding on his wife.

And the youngest brother said, 'My brother will appeal to you for judgment; deliver a good one.'

The emperors met, and bowed themselves; and the father-in-law said, 'Deliver judgment for this man.'

'I will. You have made her a she-ass; make her a woman again.'

'But she'll have to behave herself in the future.'

'She shall,' said her father, 'only do restore her.'

He gave her a crab-apple, and she ate it, and became a woman again. The emperor took off his crown and set it on his head. 'Do you take my crown, do you be emperor.'

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'Das goldene Hahn,' a Greek story from Ziza (Hahn, No. 36, i. 227), presents a very close parallel:--The Jew knows that whoever eats the head will be king, whoever eats the heart will be able to read men's hearts, and whoever eats the liver will every morning find a thousand piastres under his pillow. . . The three boys, coming from school, eat them. . . . Their mother tries to poison them. . . . By advice of the middle boy they do not eat. . . . Finally they go out into the world.

The episode of the crown, suggestive of the Arthurian legend, is wanting in Hahn. The notion of a contest in money occurs, to the best of my knowledge, in no other folk-tale; but we meet with it in the second fytt of the English ballad of 'The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green.' And at Peterborough Fair, in September 1872, a Gypsy told me, as a matter of history, of a similar contest between two Gypsies: each had to show a guinea for the other's.

Grimm's 'Two Brothers' (No. 60, i. 244, 418), with its variants, should be carefully compared, also his 'Donkey Cabbages' (No. 122, ii. 139, 419), which is a recast of the latter portion of our Bukowina-Gypsy story, for we get bird's heart . . . gold pieces under pillow . . . emetic . . . donkey cabbage . . . recovery through different kind of cabbage . . . punishment . . . restoration . emetic proposed. It is noteworthy also that the conclusion of Grimm's 'Two Brothers' can be matched by the conclusion of a Hungarian-Gypsy story (Friedrich Miller's No. 5), whose first half I have summarised on p. 34. Its hero next comes to a city deprived of its water by twelve dragons, who are also going to eat the king's daughter. He undertakes to rescue her, but falls asleep with his head on her knee. The twelve white dragons roar under the earth, and then emerge one by one from out of the fountain, to be torn in pieces by the hero's twelve wild animals. The water becomes plentiful, and the hero marries the princess. But a former lover of hers poisons him. The twelve animals find his grave, and dig him up. They go in quest of the healing herb; and the hare, 'whose eyes are always open, sees a snake with it in his mouth, robs the snake of it, and runs off, but at the snake's request restores a portion.' They then resuscitate their master. (Cf. Grimm's 'The Two Snake-leaves,' No. 16, i. 70; Hahn, ii. 204, 260, 274; and our Bukowina-Gypsy story, 'Pretty-face' (No. 29, p. 111). The hero sends a challenge by the lion to the former lover, who is just about to wed the princess. She reads, weeps, and breaks off the match. In comes the hero, and they are married again. If they are not dead, they are still alive.'

Clouston epitomises Roman and Indian versions of our story (i. 93-99), but omits 'The Two Brothers' in F. A. Steel's Wide-awake Stories, pp. 138-152, and 'Saiyid and Said' in Knowles's Folk-tales of Kashmir, pp. 74-97. The last offers wonderfully close analogies to the Gypsy story. Cf. also Krauss, i. 187; and Vuk's Servian story, No. 26.


96:1 A very Gypsy touch this, for the fiddlers of course would be Gypsies, so the meanness of dispensing with their services would appeal to the Gypsy mind.

96:2 Observe, he had become a seer already.

97:1 Lit. they raised him on the hands.

Next: No. 26.--The Winged Hero