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

No. 35.--The Lying Story

Before I was born, my mother had a fancy for roast starlings. And there was no one to go, so I went alone to the. forest. And I found roast starlings in the hollow of a tree. I put in my hand, and could not draw it out. I took and got right in, and the hole closed up. I set out and went to my godfather to borrow the axe.

My godfather said, 'The servant with the axe is not at home, but,' said my godfather, 'I will give you the hatchet, and the hatchet is expecting little hatchets.'

'Never fear, godfather.'

And he gave me the hatchet, and I went and cut my way out of the tree, and I flung down the hatchet. Whilst it was falling a bird built its nest in the handle, and laid eggs, and hatched them, and brought forth young ones; and when the hatchet had fallen down, it gave birth to twelve little hatchets. And I put them in my wallet, and carried them to my godfather. My godfather rejoiced. He gave me one of the hatchets, and I stuck it in my belt at my back, and went home. I was thirsty and went to the well. The well was deep. I cut off my brainpan, and drank water out of it. I laid my brainpan by the well, and went home.

p. 129

[paragraph continues] And I felt something biting me on the head; and when I put up my hand to my head there came forth worms. I returned to my brainpan, and a wild-duck had laid eggs in my brainpan, and hatched them, and brought forth ducklings. And I took the hatchet, and flung it, and killed the wild-duck, but the ducklings flew away. Behind the well was a fire, and the hatchet fell into the fire. I hunted for the hatchet, and found the handle, but the blade of the hatchet was burnt. And I took the handle, and stuck it in my belt at my back, and went home, and found our mare, and got up on her. And the handle cut the mare in half, and I went riding on two of her legs, and the two hind ones were eating grass. And I went back, and cut a willow withy, and trimmed it, and sewed the mare together. Out of her grew a willow-tree up to heaven. And I, remembered that God is owing me a treeful of eggs and a pailful of sour milk. And I climbed up the willow, and went to God, and went to God's thrashing-floor. There twelve men were thrashing oats.

'Where are you going to, man?'

'I am going to God.'

'Don't go; God isn't at home.'

And the smiths felled the willow, and I took an oat-straw and made a rope, and let myself down. And the rope was too short, and I kept cutting off above, and tying on below; then I jumped down, and came to the other world. I went home, and got a spade, and dug myself out [of the other, or nether world], and went home, and gave the starlings to my mother, and she ate, and was safely delivered of me, and I am living in the world.

One is reminded of Münchausen and of several lying tales in Grimm, e.g. Nos. 112, 138, 158, and 159. Cf. especially his notes at ii. 413. The very first Gypsy folk-tale I ever took down, twenty years ago now, from one of the Boswells, was the following lying tale:--

Next: No. 36.--Happy Boz’ll