Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, , at sacred-texts.com
There was once a miller who had a beautiful daughter. Noble lords paid their court to her, but she cared not for them. She was wooed by high officials, but neither to them did she listen. At length three brigands, disguised as noblemen, came to the miller's house. They ordered something to eat and drink. The miller, being invited to the repast, drank willingly, but his daughter would not take anything, for she despised them. These three brigands returned to their leader, and said to him, 'What shall we do with this girl? She cares for nobody; she refuses to eat and drink.'
Then twelve of them set out for the miller's. It was Sunday. The miller was from home; he had gone to a baptism. The daughter was all alone in the house. The brigands arrived. They made a hole in the storeroom by which to enter. Having heard them doing this, she took a sword and placed herself beside the hole made by the brigands. She was, however, very much frightened. One of the brigands came and thrust his head half through the
hole. She took the sword; she cut off the brigand's head, and drew him into the storeroom. Another brigand essayed to enter; she cut off his head and drew him inside. The ten other brigands asked their two comrades what they were about.
'They are helping me to carry away the money here, which I am not able to lift alone.' 1
Then a third brigand came forward; the girl cut off his head and pulled him in. A fourth came, and his head too was cut off, and his body drawn in. The fifth brigand endeavoured to enter; she killed him in the same way, and, having cut off his head, dragged him inside.
'What are all of you about there?' asked the seven brigands who remained outside.
To whom the girl answered, 'They are helping me to carry off the bacon, which I am not able to carry myself, there is such a lot of it. If you do not believe me, see, here is a bit--taste it.'
They ate of this bacon; they were delighted with it.
The sixth brigand thrust himself forward; she killed him also; she cut off his head and drew him inside. The seventh followed; he was killed in the same way; she cut off his head and drew him in. The eighth went there; she killed him like the others, and drew him in and cut off his head. The ninth advanced; him she killed in like fashion, pulled him in and cut off his head. The tenth tried to enter; she killed him also, drew him in and cut off his head. The two remaining brigands were astounded, and said to each other, 'Hallo! there are ten of them there, and they are not sufficient for this money.' The eleventh came forward; he also was killed; she drew him inside and cut off his head. The twelfth one at last hesitates. 'What is going on there?' He pushed his head in a little way, and the girl cut off a piece of his skin.
'Ah! you are as cunning as that, are you? So, then you have killed my brothers.'
This brigand betook himself home. 2
Leaving this brigand in the meantime, let us pass to the dead ones.
The miller's daughter went to bed. Her father got up next day. She said to him, 'Father, twelve brigands have been here. They meant to carry me away last night, but I armed myself with your sword, and killed the whole twelve [sic] of them.'
The miller did not believe her.
'If you don't believe me, father, I will show you them.'
'Very well, show them to me.'
She led him to the storeroom, where the miller saw the lot of decapitated brigands. He went to the town, and told the peasants and great lords what had happened. 'My daughter has just slain twelve brigands. If you do not believe me, come with me.'
They went with the miller. He conducted them to the storeroom. These noblemen, seeing so many decapitated brigands, spoke thus to the miller, 'Tell us truly, now, who was it killed them?'
'My daughter,' answered he.
'Was it you who killed these brigands?' they asked his daughter.
'It was I.'
'And why did you do so?'
'Because they wanted to carry me off'
'What did you kill them with?'
'With my father's sword.'
'That was well done.'
They gave her three bushels of ducats. These brigands were buried.
Ten years have already passed away. One time twelve brigands, disguised as lords, came to this miller's house, he being unaware who they were.
'Will you give me your daughter in marriage?' one of them asked him.
'Why not?' he made answer, 'all the more willingly because she has pined for a great lord.'
This was the very brigand from whose head she had cut a piece of skin. But the miller's daughter did not recognise him, and she consented to marry him. This girl begged her father to give her three bushels of oats. She got into the
carriage with these noblemen, and went off with them. Hardly had they got a league from the house when she took one handful after another of the oats and cast them on the road: this was to mark her route, and in order to recognise afterwards the way by which she had gone. She went on sowing these oats till they came to the forest where the brigands lived. She scattered the whole quantity.
Having got home, they made her come down out of the carriage. They went into the room with her. She sat down, and saw no one there but a solitary old peasant woman.
'Do you recognise me?' this brigand asked her.
'No,' she replied, 'I do not recognise you at all.'
He showed her the part of his head where a piece of the skin had been cut off by her. It was only then that she recognised him. She was greatly alarmed at the sight of this brigand in the guise of a nobleman.
'Keep quite calm,' he said to her, 'we are going to cut some stripes from your back.' 1
'Very well,' she replied, 'if I have deserved it, chop me up into little bits.'
He leads her into a room, which she sees is full of money. They pass into another, and this is full of linen clothes. They enter the third, and there she sees a block and a great number of peasants hanging from pegs all round the walls. All that she saw there caused her heart to grow faint as though she were passing to the other world. The brigand led her back, and intrusted her to the old woman, to whom he said, 'Guard her, that she flee nowhere, while we go a-hunting. We shall not return till nightfall; then we shall cut some stripes from her back.'
'Very well,' said the old dame.
This old woman began to lament for her. 'Why have you come here?' she said to her. 'They will cut off stripes from your back, and I shall be forced to look on. But listen
to me. Go to draw water; take off your clothes and place them on the well; leave the pail there and take to flight.'
Well, she went out and fled. She came to a great forest. The dogs of the house, having smelt that she was away, began seeking for her. The old woman set herself to scold the dogs, crying out to them, 'Where were you, then, when this girl went to fetch water?'
The dogs ran out of doors; they see that she is there beside the well; they return to the house reassured.
Let us now leave the dogs, and return to the girl.
The girl travelled for about seven leagues along the road which she had marked by scattering the oats. Towards night-time the brigands returned home; they asked the old woman where the girl is, where is she gone to?
That brigand calls her, 'Why do you not return?'
She gives him no response.
He armed himself with his sword, this brigand; he approached what he thought was the girl standing erect, and struck a blow on the iron standard of the well. He at once returned to the house, and told his comrades what had happened. They all rushed forth in pursuit.
Well, then, she perceived these brigands following on her track. Fortunately a peasant was passing with a wagon-load of straw. 1 She implored the peasant, 'For the love of God, hide me in one of those large bundles of straw, and I will give you a peck of money.'
'I would willingly hide you,' he answered, 'only I am afraid that these brigands would do me harm.'
'Fear nothing, only hide me.'
He concealed her in a large sheaf; he placed it on the wagon; and he sat down upon it.
The brigands came up and called out to the peasant, 'What are you carrying there?'
'A load of straw, gentlemen.'
They searched through the straw, but they did not examine the large bundle on which the peasant was sitting. The brigands turned back.
The peasant came to the house of the miller, whose
daughter this was, and said to him, 'Look, I bring your daughter back to you.'
On seeing that his daughter was naked the miller fainted away.
The girl dressed herself, and said to her father, 'Do not be alarmed, father. Look you, those were no noblemen but brigands. I know,' she added, 'where they live.'
The miller went to get soldiers and gensdarmes. These took his daughter with them.
'Do you know where they live?'
'Yes, I know.'
'Will you show us where it is?'
'I will show you where.'
She went with them into that large forest. They saw a beautiful stone palace. Three of them went in; they saw that there were a hundred brigands.
'What shall we do now with these brigands?'
'We will kill them,' replied the soldiers.
They shot the whole lot of them; not one remained alive except the old peasant woman. Her too they would have killed, but the girl begged them, 'Do not kill her, for it was she who saved my life.'
They enter one room, they see it is full of money. They pass into the other room, and it is full of linen clothes. They go into the third, and there they find a great number of peasants suspended from pegs along the walls. All that they found there they carried away--gold, silver, and sums of money. Then they set fire to the palace and burned it down. They returned home; and the miller's daughter took the old peasant woman with her and kept her till her death, because she had saved her life.
One night she was reminded in a dream that she had not yet recompensed the peasant who had hidden her in the straw. So next day she sent a boy to fetch this peasant. The boy went to the peasant's house, and said to him, 'Come to the miller's daughter, who is asking for you.'
The peasant dressed himself, and went to the miller's house. He entered. He stopped on the threshold and saluted the good God. 1
'You remember hiding me in the straw, my good man?' 'Yes, I remember.'
'Well, I have never given you anything,' she said to him.
She went to the storeroom, and brought four quarts of silver money to him. This poor peasant, quite delighted, accepted the money and took it in his hand. The miller's daughter gave him something to eat and drink; and then he took his leave and went home with the good God.
We have two other Gypsy versions of this story--one from Hungary (Dr. Friedrich Müller), and the other from North Wales (Matthew Wood, 'Laula'). The Hungarian opens:--'Somewhere was, somewhere was not, 1 in the Seventy-seventh Land in a village a Hungarian;' and may thereafter be summarised:--Of his three daughters two get married. The third at last has a sweetheart, who always comes to see her after midnight. Once she follows him to a cave in the forest, from which twelve robbers come out. She enters, comes on corpses, and hides behind cask. A lady is brought in; her hand is chopped off; the girl possesses herself of it and escapes home. The wedding is fixed. She tells soldiers, but not her father. At the wedding she relates a dream: 'And, ye gentlemen, think not that I was really there, for I saw it merely in a dream.' Soldiers come in just as she draws the hand from her bosom and flings it on the table. After which the story drifts off into a version of the Roumanian-Gypsy tale of 'The Vampire' (No. 5), a version summarised on p. 19.
The following epitome of 'Laula' is by Mr. Sampson:--Three young ladies live at a castle. A' gentleman comes to visit them daily. They know not who he is or where he lives. He asks the youngest to accompany him home. She goes with him, eats, drinks, and returns. She asks his coachman his master's name, 'Laula.' She thinks it a pretty name; her elder sister a bad one. Next evening she goes again. They eat, drink, and play cards. He leaves the room, and returns with a phial of blood. 'Is your blood as red as this?' She pretends that he is jesting; but he cuts off her finger, opens the window, and throws it to the big dog, afterwards killing her. The tale goes on, 'Who got the finger? The elder sister got it'; and it then explains how she had followed the pair by the track of the horse's feet, pacified the dog, and caught the finger (with ring on) thrown .to him. She desires her father to issue invitations to a dinner. Every one comes and has to tell a tale or
sing a song. On Laula's plate is placed nothing but this finger. When the elder sister tells her tale, he grows uneasy, and says he must go outside. He twice interrupts thus, but is restrained by the other gentlemen. She gives him away, and at the old father's suggestion he is placed in a barrel filled with grease and burnt to death. [On which it is just worth noting that Lawlor was a Gypsy name in 1540.--MacRitchie's Scottish Gypsies under the Stewarts (1894), pp. 37-39.]
Of non-Gypsy variants may be cited Grimm's No. 40, 'The Robber Bridegroom'; and Cosquin's 'La Fille du Meunier' (another miller's daughter), i. 178. In England we have 'The Story of Mr. Fox' (Halliwell's Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales, 1849, p. 47, and Jacobs's English Fairy Tales, pp. 148, 247), and 'The Girl who got up the Tree' (Addy's Household Tales, 1895, p. 10). Shakespeare refers to the story in Much Ado about Nothing, I. i. 146. 'Bopoluchi' in F. A. Steel's Indian Wide-awake Stories, pp. 73-8, should also be compared.
169:1 This answer presupposes the presence of at least three robbers.
169:2 This method of killing the robbers is exactly the same as that followed by the youth in the Moravian-Gypsy story of 'The Princess and the Forester's Son' (No. 43, p. 147). Cf. too, No. 8, 'The Bad Mother,' pp. 25, 30, where the lad kills eleven of twelve dragons, and Hahn, vol. ii. p. 279.
171:1 For cutting three red stripes out of back, cf. 'Osborn's Pipe' (Dasent's Tales from the Fjeld, p. 3), which = the Welsh-Gypsy tale of 'The Ten Rabbits' (No. 64); also Dasent's Tales from the Norse, 'The Seven Foals,' p. 380. Cutting three strips out of the hack occurs also in a Russian story epitomised by Ralston, p. 145; and cutting a strip of skin from head to foot in Campbell's West Highland tale, No. 18 (cf. supra, p. 124), which Reinhold Köhler connects with the pound of flesh in the Merchant of Venice (Orient and Occident, 1864, pp. 313-316).
172:1 Our story here has a curious resemblance with pp. 122-3 of 'Le Trimmator ou l’Ogre aux Trois Yeux,' a vampire story from Cyprus, in Legrand's Contes Grecs 1881). Query: Was 'Mr. Fox ' originally a vampire story?
173:1 It is the general custom among pious people in Poland, on entering a house, or when meeting one another, to give the greeting, 'Jesus Christ be praised.' To which the response is, 'From age to age.'
174:1 Albanian folk-tales open with a similar formula (Dozon's Contes Albanais, 1881, p. 1).