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

p. 131



No. 37.--The Creation of the Violin

IN a hut on a mountain, in a fair forest, lived a girl with her four brothers, her father, and her mother. The sister loved a handsome rich huntsman, who often ranged the forest, but who would never speak to the pretty girl. Mara wept day and night, because the handsome man never came near her. She often spoke to him, but he never answered, and went on his way. She sang the song:

'Dear man from a far country,
Slip your hand into mine;
Clasp me, an you will, in your arms;
Lovingly will I kiss you.'

[paragraph continues] She sang it often and often, but he paid no heed. Knowing now no other succour, she called the devil. 'O devil, help me.' The devil came, holding a mirror in his hand, and asked what she wanted. Mara told him her story and bemoaned to him her sorrow. 'If that's all,' said the devil, 'I can help you. I'll give you this. Show it to your beloved, and you'll entice him to you.' Once again came the huntsman to the forest, and Mara had the mirror in her hand and went to meet him. When the huntsman saw himself in the mirror, he cried, 'Oh! that's the devil, that is the devil's doing; I see myself.' And he ran away, and came no more to the forest.

Mara wept now again day and night, for the handsome man never came near her.; Knowing now no other succour for her grief, she called again the devil. 'O devil, help me.' The devil came and asked what she wanted. Mara told how the huntsman had run away, when he saw himself in the mirror. The devil laughed and said, 'Let him run, I

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shall catch him; like you, he belongs to me. For you both have looked in the mirror, and whoso looks in the mirror is mine. And now I will help you, but you must give me your four brothers, or help you I cannot.' The devil went away and came back at night, when the four brothers slept, and made four strings of them, fiddle-strings--one thicker, then one thinner, the third thinner still, and the thinnest the fourth. Then said the devil, 'Give me also your father.' Mara said, 'Good, I give you my father, only you must help me.' Of the father the devil made a box: that was the fiddle. Then he said, 'Give me also your mother.' Mara answered, 'Good, I give you also my mother, only you must help me.' The devil smiled, and made of the mother a stick, and horsehair of her hair: this was the fiddle-stick. Then the devil played, and Mara rejoiced. But the devil played on and on, and Mara wept. Now laughed the devil and said, 'When your beloved comes, play, and you will entice him to you.' Mara played, and the huntsman heard her playing and came to her. In nine days came the devil and said, 'Worship me, I am your lord.' They would not, and the devil carried them off. The fiddle remained in the forest lying on the ground, and a poor Gypsy came by and saw it. He played, and as he played in thorp and town they laughed and wept just as he chose.

In the Gypsy Lore Journal for April 1890, pp. 65-66, Vladislav Kornel, Ritter von Zielinski, published a very close Hungarian-Gypsy variant, told to him both at Guta and at Almas. One cannot but be reminded of the ballad of 'Binnorie,' whose story is current in Scotland, Sweden, the Faroë Islands, Iceland, Denmark, Sicily, Poland, Esthonia, and Lithuania, and which Reinhold Köhler has ably discussed in 'Die Ballade von der sprechenden Harfe' (Aufsätze über Märchen and Volkslieder, pp. 79-98). Campbell's Santal Folk-tales, pp. 54, 104, furnish two remarkable analogues. In the first a drowned girl grows up as a bamboo, out of which a jugi makes a magic fiddle; in the second a princess, devoured by a monkey, springs up after his death as a gourd, of whose shell a jugi makes a wonderful banjo. In both tales there is mention of Doms; and it is at least an odd coincidence that, while the Gypsy word for devil is beng, in Santali a spirit is called bonga. Selling one's self, or rather one's blood, to the devil is a superstition still current amongst English Gypsies. I myself knew an elderly East Anglian Gypsy woman, who was supposed to have so sold her blood, and to have got in return a young, good-looking husband, her own nephew, whom she 'kept like a gentleman.' Cf. also pp. 297-9 of my In Gypsy Tents.

Next: No. 38.--The Three Golden Hairs of the Sun-King