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

No. 22.--The Gypsy and the Dragon

There were a Gypsy and a shepherd, who tended his sheep. Every night two of the shepherd's sheep went a-missing, or even three. The peasant came to his gossip, the Gypsy, who asks him, 'Hallo! gossip, what's up with you, that you're so sorrowful?'

The peasant says to the Gypsy, 'Ah! how should I not be sorrowful, when some one--I know not who--does me grievous harm?'

'All right. I'll help you there, for I know fine who it is. To-night let your wife make me two big cheeses, the size of that; and let her bake me some nice fine dough for supper. I'll come and sup with you to-night. Then I'll go and look after your sheep.'

All right! The Gypsy went and had a fine blow-out at the peasant's. Night came, and the Gypsy went off to the sheep. And the cheese he put in his pocket, and in his hand he took an iron bar weighing three hundredweight, besides which he made himself quite a light wooden rod. And off he went to the sheepfold. There was nobody there but the shepherd's man.

'Go you home, my lad,' says the Gypsy, 'and I'll stop here.'

Midnight came. The Gypsy made himself a big fire, and straightway the dragon comes to the Gypsy by the fire.

He said to him, 'Wait a bit. I'll give it your mother for this; 1 what are you wanting here?'

'Just wanting to see if you are such a strong chap, though you do eat three sheep every night.'

He was terrified.

'Sit down beside me by the fire, and let's just have a little trial of strength, to see which of us is the stronger. Do you throw this stick so high up in the air that it never falls down again, but stays there.' (It was the bar that weighed three hundredweight.)

The dragon throws, threw it so high, that then and there

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it remained somewhere or other up in the sky. 'Now,' says the dragon to the Gypsy, 'now do you throw, as I threw.'

The Gypsy threw--it was the little light wooden stick--threw it somewhere or other behind him, so that the dragon couldn't see where he threw it, but he fancied he had thrown it where he had thrown his own.

'Well, all right! Let's sit down, and see whether you really are a clever chap. Just take this stone and squeeze it so that the water runs out of it, and the blood, like this.' The Gypsy took the cheese; he squeezed it till the water ran out of it; then he said to the dragon, 'Do you take it now and squeeze.'

He handed him a stone, and the dragon kept squeezing and squeezing till the blood streamed from his hand. 'I see plainly,' he said to the Gypsy, 'you're a better man than I.'

'Well, take me now on your back, and carry me to your blind mother.'

They came to his blind mother. Fear seized her, for where did one ever hear the like of that--the dragon to carry the Gypsy on his back.

'Now, you'll give me just whatever I want.'

'Fear not. I will give you as much money as you can carry, and as much food as you want, both to eat and to drink; only let me live and my mother. And I'll never go after the sheep any more.'

'Well and good. I could kill you this moment, and your blind mother too. Then swear to me that you will go no more to that peasant's to devour his sheep.'

Straightway he swore to him, that indeed he would go no more.

'Now you must give me money, both gold and silver, and then you must take me on your back and carry me home.'

Well and good. He gave him the money, and took him on his back, and carried home the Gypsy and the money. The Gypsy's wife sees them. 'My God! What's up?' And the children-he had plenty--came running out. The dragon was dreadfully frightened and ran off. But he flung down the Gypsy's money and left it there. The Gypsy was so rich there was not his equal. He was just like a gentle-man. And if he is not dead, he is still living, with his wife and children.

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There must be also a Turkish-Gypsy version, for Paspati on p. 576 gives this quotation from the story of a young man's contest with a dragon:--'I am looking to see which is the highest mountain, to seize you, and fling you thither, that not a bone of you be left whole.' Wlislocki furnishes a Transylvanian-Gypsy variant, 'The Omniscient Gypsy,' No. 23, p. 61; and the hero is a Gypsy in Lithuanian and Galician stories. 'The Valiant Little Tailor' (Grimm, No. 20, i. 85, 359), is very familiar, but is less like our Gypsy versions than is Hahn's No. 23, 'Herr Lazarus and die Draken.' Cf. also Hahn, i. 152 and ii. 211; Cosquin, i. 95-102; and Clouston, i. 133-154. The story is widely spread; we have Norwegian, Sicilian, Hungarian, Albanian, Turkish, Persian, Sanskrit, and other versions. 'Valiant Vicky, the Brave Weaver,' in F. A. Steel's Wide-awake Stories, pp. 89-97, is a very modern, non-heroic Indian version; cf. also 'The Close Alliance,' pp. 132-7. 'How the Three Clever Men outwitted the Demons' (Mary Frere's Old Deccan Days, No. 23, p. 271) offers certain analogies; so does the 'Story of a Simpleton' in Campbell's Santal Folk-tales, p. 45.


83:1 Bowdlerised.

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