Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, , at sacred-texts.com
An old man and woman, very poor, live in a cottage. The old man saves up money in a stocking for winter. A beggar comes to the door. The old woman asks his name. 'Winter.' 'Here is money, my old man, saved for you.' The old husband comes home. They leave the cottage, the old woman taking the door with her (reason not given), and camp out in a tree. Robbers come and camp underneath, and quarrel over the division of their spoil. They want change for £1. One says he will have change if he goes to the devil for it. Down falls the door. The robbers think it is the devil, and fly, leaving the money. The old man and woman seize it, and return to their cottage.
Halliwell's Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales (1849), p. 31, has a story of 'The Miser and his Wife,' where the beggar calls himself 'Good Fortune.' A most unlikely name, whereas Winter, it is worth remarking, was the name of a Northumbrian Gypsy family (Simson's History of the Gypsies, 1865, p. 96), as also of German Gypsies. 'The Story of Mr. Vinegar' (Halliwell, p. 26), obtained from oral tradition in the West of England, tells how a husband and wife go off, taking the door, climb a tree, let the door fall on thieves, and get the booty. A very Rabelaisian passage in Price's story, which I have omitted, explains why Vinegar. That story is identical with Grimm's 'Frederick and Catherine' (No. 59, i. 238-244 and 417-18); for putting meat among the cabbages, cf. Grimm's Diemel variant. In Campbell's Santal Folk-tales, p. 30, Bitaram climbs into a true for safety when darkness comes on, 'as wild beasts infested the forest through which he was passing. During the night some thieves came under the tree in which he was, and began to divide the money they had stolen. Bitaram then relaxed
his hold of his dry cowhide, which made such a noise as it fell from branch to branch that the thieves fled terror-stricken, and left all their booty behind them. In the morning Bitaram descended, and collecting all the rupees carried them home.' And in F. A. Steel's Wide-awake Stories from the Panjab, p. 242, there is another most curious parallel, where the robber captain puts out his tongue, and, snip! the barber's clever wife bites the tip off clean. 'What with the fright and the pain, he tumbled off the branch and fell bump on the ground, where he sat with his legs very wide apart, looking as if he had fallen from the skies. "What is the matter?" cried his comrades, awakened by the noise of his fall. "Bul-ul-a-bul-ul-ul!" said he, still pointing upwards. "The man is bewitched," cried one; "there must be a ghost in the tree."' From India to Wales I know not how many thousands of miles; neither know I how many centuries since the forebears of the tellers of these two tales parted company. Cf. also Hahn, i. 221.