Dancing in Thorns

and similar folktales of
Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 592
translated and/or edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2019-22

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.


  1. The Jew in the Thorns (Germany).

  2. They Dance to the Pipe (Austria).

  3. Little Freddy and His Fiddle (Norway).

  4. The Gifts of the Magician (Finland).

  5. Jack Horner's Magic Pipes (England).

  6. A Mery Geste of the Frere and the Boye (England).

  7. The Friar and the Boy (England).

  8. A Witch Rescues a Man (England).

  9. The Golden Harp (Wales).

  10. The Fiddler and the Minister (Ireland).

  11. Tom Clancy (Ireland).

  12. The Man Who Could Make People Dance (Ireland).

  13. The Three Gifts (France).

  14. Shortboot and His Flute (France).

  15. The Magic Violin (France).

  16. The Little Flute (Italy).

  17. The Magic Flute (Greece).

  18. Cecilio, the Servant of Emilio (Philippines).

  19. Cochinango (Philippines).

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

The Jew in the Thorns


Once upon a time there was a rich man who had a servant who served him diligently and honestly. Every morning he was the first one out of bed, and at night the last one to go to bed. Whenever there was a difficult job that nobody wanted to do, he was always the first to volunteer. He never complained at any of this, but was contented with everything and always happy.

When his year was over, his master gave him no wages, thinking, "That is the smartest thing to do, for it will save me something. He won't leave me, but will gladly stay here working for me."

The servant said nothing, but did his work the second year as he had done before, and when at the end of this year he again received no wages, he still stayed on without complaining. When the third year had passed, the master thought it over, then put his hand into his pocket, but pulled out nothing.

However, this time the servant said, "Master, I have served you honestly for three years. Be so good as to give me what by rights I have coming to me. I would like to be on my way and see something else of the world."

"Yes, my good servant," answered the old miser, "you have served me without complaint, and you shall be kindly rewarded."

With this he put his hand into his pocket, then counted out three hellers one at a time, saying, "There, you have a heller for each year. That is a large and generous reward. Only a few masters would pay you this much."

The good servant, who understood little about money, put his wealth into his pocket, and thought, "Ah, now that I have a full purse, why should I worry and continue to plague myself with hard work?"

So he set forth, uphill and down, singing and jumping for joy.

Now it came to pass that as he was passing by a thicket a little dwarf stepped out, and called to him, "Where are you headed, Brother Merry? You don't seem to be burdened down with cares."

"Why should I be sad?" answered the servant. "I have everything I need. Three years' wages are jingling in my pocket.

"How much is your treasure?" the dwarf asked him.

"How much? Three hellers in real money, precisely counted."

"Listen," said the dwarf, "I am a poor and needy man. Give me your three hellers. I can no longer work, but you are young and can easily earn your bread."

Now because the servant had a good heart and felt pity for the dwarf, he gave him his three hellers, saying, "In God's name, I won't miss them."

Then the dwarf said, "Because I see that you have a good heart I will grant you three wishes, one for each heller. They shall all be fulfilled."

"Aha," said the servant. "You are a miracle worker. Well, then, if it is to be so, first of all I wish for a gun that will hit everything I aim at; second, for a fiddle, that when I play it, anyone who hears it will have to dance; and third, that whenever I ask a favor of anyone, it will be granted."

"You shall have all that," said the dwarf. He reached into the bush, and what do you think, there lay a fiddle and a gun, all ready, just as if they had been ordered. He gave them to the servant, saying, "No one will ever be able to deny any request that you might make."

"What more could my heart desire?" said the servant to himself, and went merrily on his way.

Soon afterward he met a Jew with a long goatee, who was standing listening to a bird singing high up in the top of a tree.

"One of God's own miracles," he shouted, "that such a small creature should have such a fearfully loud voice. If only it were mine! If only someone would sprinkle some salt on its tail!"

"If that is all you want," said the servant, "then the bird shall soon be down here."

He took aim, hit it precisely, and the bird fell down into a thorn hedge.

"Rogue," he said to the Jew, "Go and fetch the bird out for yourself."

"My goodness," said the Jew, "don't call me a rogue, sir, but I will be the dog and get the bird out for myself. After all, you're the one who shot it."

Then he lay down on the ground and began crawling into the thicket. When he was in the middle of the thorns, the good servant could not resist the temptation to pick up his fiddle and begin to play.

The Jew's legs immediately began to move, and he jumped up. The more the servant fiddled the better went the dance. However, the thorns ripped apart the Jew's shabby coat, combed his beard, and pricked and pinched him all over his body.

"My goodness," cried the Jew, "what do I want with your fiddling? Stop playing, sir. I don't want to dance."

But the servant did not listen to him, and thought, "You have fleeced people often enough, and now the thorn hedge shall do the same to you." He began to play all over again, so that the Jew had to jump even higher, leaving scraps from his coat hanging on the thorns.

"Oh, woe is me!" cried the Jew. "I will give the gentleman anything he asks, if only he quits fiddling, even a purse filled with gold."

"If you are so generous," said the servant, "then I will stop my music. But I must praise the singular way that you dance to it."

Then he took his purse he went on his way.

The Jew stood there quietly watching the servant until he was far off and out of sight, and then he screamed out with all his might, "You miserable musician, you beer-house fiddler! Wait until I catch you alone. I will chase you until you wear the soles off your shoes. You ragamuffin, just put a groschen in your mouth, so that you will be worth six hellers."

He continued to curse as fast as he could speak. As soon as he had thus refreshed himself a little, and caught his breath again, he ran into the town to the judge.

"Judge, sir," he said, "Oh, woe is me! See how a godless man has robbed me and abused me on the open road. A stone on the ground would feel sorry for me. My clothes are ripped into shreds. My body is pricked and scratched to pieces. And what little I owned has been taken away with my purse -- genuine ducats, each piece more beautiful than the others. For God's sake, let the man be thrown into prison."

The judge asked, "Was it a soldier who cut you up like that with his saber?"

"God forbid," said the Jew. "He didn't have a naked dagger, but rather a gun hanging from his back, and a fiddle from his neck. The scoundrel can easily be recognized."

The judge sent his people out after him. They found the good servant, who had been walking along quite slowly. And they found the purse with the money on him as well.

When he was brought before the judge he said, "I did not touch the Jew, nor take his money. He offered it to me freely, so that I would stop fiddling, because he could not stand my music."

"God forbid!" cried the Jew. "He is reaching for lies like flies on the wall."

The judge did not believe his story, and said, "That is a poor excuse. No Jew would do that." And because he had committed robbery on the open road, the good servant was sentenced to the gallows.

As he was being led away, the Jew screamed after him, "You good-for-nothing. You dog of a musician. Now you will receive your well earned reward."

The servant walked quietly up the ladder with the hangman, but on the last rung he turned around and said to the judge, "Grant me just one request before I die."

"Yes," said the judge, "if you do not ask for your life."

"I do not ask for life," answered the servant, "but let me play my fiddle one last time."

The Jew cried out miserably, "For God's sake, do not allow it! Do not allow it!"

But the judge said, "Why should I not grant him this short pleasure? It has been promised to him, and he shall have it."

In any event, he could not have refused because of the gift that had been bestowed on the servant.

The Jew cried, "Oh, woe is me! Tie me up. Tie me up tightly."

The good servant took his fiddle from his neck, and made ready. As he played the first stroke, they all began to quiver and shake: the judge, the clerks, and the court officials. The rope fell out of the hand of the one who was going to tie up the Jew.

At the second stroke they all lifted their legs. The hangman released the good servant and made ready to dance.

At the third stroke everyone jumped up and began to dance. The judge and the Jew were out in front and were the best at jumping. Soon everyone who had gathered in the marketplace out of curiosity was dancing with them, old and young, fat and thin, all together with each other. Even the dogs that had run along with the crowd stood up on their hind legs and hopped along as well. The longer he played, the higher the dancers jumped, until they were knocking their heads together and crying out terribly.

Finally the judge, quite out of breath, shouted, "I will give you your life, but just stop fiddling."

The good servant listened to this, then took his fiddle, hung it around his neck again, and climbed down the ladder.

He went up to the Jew, who was lying upon the ground gasping for air, and said, "You rogue, now confess where you got the money, or I will take my fiddle off my neck and begin to play again."

"I stole it. I stole it," he cried. "But you have honestly earned it."

With that the judge had the Jew led to the gallows and hanged as a thief.

They Dance to the Pipe


Once there lived a couple who had three sons. Two of them passed for the handsomest fellows of the place; but they played every kind of trick on their brother, who was a hunchback. At first the latter took no notice, but the brothers carried their tormenting so far that at last he was compelled to go away from home.

The hunchback went sorrowfully on, and wandered the whole day through the mountains. Towards evening he was so weary that he swooned away, and lay on the roadside. On awakening he saw a little man two feet high standing by him, and on the point of pouring a yellow liquid into, his mouth from a bottle. The hunchback looked about him, and saw to his surprise that he was in a cavern, lighted by a faint light.

The dwarf spoke to him, and asked whether he was hungry.

"O yes," he said, and the dwarf led him into another room, where stood a covered table.

"Of these dishes, said the dwarf, "partake as much as thou wilt; and when thou hast eaten enough, lie down in yonder bed and sleep till I wake thee."

The hunchback did as the dwarf bade him, and soon forgot all his troubles in a sound sleep.

Next morning the dwarf awoke him, and after breakfasting they went out of the cave through a long passage lighted here and there by a feeble oil lamp. For two hours they wandered, when suddenly through a door they came into the open.

Here the dwarf held out his hand to the hunchback, and said, "Thou seest here a place quite strange to thee, but fear not, and travel on this road. As a keepsake from me take this little pipe. It has the property of making every one who hears it dance, and that as long as thou pipest."

The dwarf vanished, and the hunchback went on his way. Presently a shepherd met him, and he thought he would try the power of the pipe upon him. He took it in his hand and piped, whereupon the shepherd instantly began to dance. Even the sheep leaped joyously around in a circle.

Then be came into a forest, where night surprised him. He got under an elder-bush, and was going to lie down and sleep, when he heard a noise hard by, growing louder every moment. At first he was alarmed, but soon he glided nearer to the spot. Concealed by a drooping branch he observed a number of robbers, who were dividing their booty, consisting of many gold pieces. The glittering gold attracted him, and he bethought him how he could get hold of it.

His pipe occurred to him. Quickly he took it in his hand, and blew hard into it. Instantly the robbers got up and danced until they fell down. Then the hunchback came out, took the money and ran away.

In the course of a few hours it became brighter, and he arrived at a place where the people seemed to be very sad. He asked the cause, and learned that the landlord, who had been so good to the people, was going to sell his property, and move to another place. The hunchback went to the proprietor, purchased his property, and be came lord of the land. He treated the tenants very kindly, only he was very fond of teasing them with his pipe.

One day there came two beggars, who begged an alms from him. He looked more closely at them, and recognized his two brothers. He disclosed himself, and asked how it had come about that they were going round as beggars. They told him that soon after his departure a fire had broken out in the place, which consumed all their property. Their parents could not save themselves in time, and perished. And as the brothers had nothing left, they had set out, and so come to that place. Then they begged the hunchback's pardon for their behaviour to him in the past. He readily granted it, and retained them on his property.

But one morning he said to his brothers, "Dear brothers, I told you how I came into the property. I will now do you a pleasure; look upon the property as your own, and I will go forth to seek another."

At first the brothers refused, but as he would not listen to them, they let him go, and wished him much good luck on the journey. He went on, and had wandered for some months, when one day a gentleman in splendid attire joined him. They spoke of different things, and presently the gentleman showed him a box, saying that it would never be empty.

"I could use that," said the hunchback.

The gentleman promised it to him if he would bind his soul to him. But the hunchback refused, because he knew of an easier way of getting the box. He took his pipe, and piped so long that at last the devil, for such the fine gentleman really was, fell all of a heap. Then he took the box, went into a great city, and lived long, rich and respected.

Little Freddy and His Fiddle


Once on a time there was a cottager who had an only son, and this lad was weakly, and hadn't much health to speak of; so he couldn't go out to work in the field.

His name was Freddy, and undersized he was, too; and so they called him Little Freddy. At home there was little either to bite or sup, and so his father went about the country trying to bind him over as a cowherd or an errand-boy; but there was no one who would take his son till he came to the sheriff, and he was ready to take him, for he had just packed off his errand-boy, and there was no one who would fill his place, for the story went that he was a skinflint.

But the cottager thought it was better there than nowhere: he would get his food, for all the pay he was to get was his board -- there was nothing said about wages or clothes. So when the lad had served three years he wanted to leave, and then the sheriff gave him all his wages at one time.

He was to have a penny a year. "It couldn't well be less," said the sheriff. And so he got threepence in all.

As for Little Freddy, he thought it was a great sum, for he had never owned so much; but for all that he asked if he wasn't to have something more.

"You have already had more than you ought to have," said the sheriff.

"Sha'n't I have anything, then, for clothes?" asked Little Freddy; "for those I had on when I came here are worn to rags, and I have had no new ones."

And, to tell the truth, he was so ragged that the tatters hung and flapped about him.

"When you have got what we agreed on," said the sheriff, "and three whole pennies beside, I have nothing more to do with you. Be off!"

But for all that be got leave just to go into the kitchen and get a little food to put in his scrip; and after that he set off on the road to buy himself more clothes. He was both merry and glad, for he had never seen a penny before; and every now and then he felt in his pockets as he went along to see if he had them all three. So when he had gone far, and farther than far, he got into a narrow dale, with high fells on all sides, so that he couldn't tell if there were any way to pass out; and he began to wonder what there could be on the other side of those fells, and how he ever should get over them.

But up and up he had to go, and on he strode; he was not strong on his legs, and had to rest every now and then -- and then he counted and counted how many pennies he had got. So when he had got quite up to the very top, there was nothing but a great plain overgrown with moss.

There he sat him down, and began to see if his money were all right; and before he was aware of him a beggar-man came up to him -- and he was so tall and big that the lad began to scream and screech when he got a good look of him, and saw his height and length.

"Don't you be afraid," said the beggar-man, '"I'll do you no harm; I only beg for a penny, in God's name."

"Heaven help me!" said the lad. "I have only three pennies, and with them I was going to the town to buy clothes."

"It is worse for me than for you," said the beggar-man. "I have got no penny, and I am still more ragged than you."

"Well! then you shall have it," said the lad.

So when he had walked on awhile he got weary, and sat down to rest again. But when he looked up there he saw another beggar-man, and he was still taller and uglier than the first; and so when the lad saw how very tall and ugly and long he was he fell a-screeching.

"Now, don't you be afraid of me," said the beggar; "I'll not do you any harm. I only beg for a penny, in God's name."

"Now, may heaven help me!" said the lad. "I've only got two pence, and with them I was going to the town to buy clothes. If I had only met you sooner, then --"

"It's worse for mo than for you," said the beggar-man. I have no penny, and a bigger body and less clothing."

"Well, you may have it," said the lad.

So he went awhile farther, till he got weary, and then he sat down to rest; but he had scarce sat down than a third beggar-man came to him. He was so tall and ugly and long, that the lad had to look up and up, right up to the sky. And when he took him all in with his eyes, and saw how very, very tall and ugly and ragged he was he fell a-screeching and screaming again.

"Now, don't you be afraid of me, my lad," said the beggar-man. "I'll do you no harm; for I am only a beggar-man, who begs for a penny in God's name."

"May heaven help me!" said the lad. "I have only one penny left, and with it I was going to the town to buy clothes. If I had only met you sooner, then --"

"As for that," said the beggar-man, "I have no penny at all -- that I haven't, and a bigger body and less clothes, so it is worse for me than for you."

"Yes!" said Little Freddy, he must have the penny then -- there was no help for it; for so each would have what belonged to him, and he would have nothing.

"Well!" said the beggarman, "since you have such a good heart that you gave away all that you had in the world, I will give you a wish for each penny."

For you must know it was the same beggar-man who had got them all three; he had only changed his shape each time, that the lad might not know him again.

"I have always had such a longing to hear a fiddle go, and see folk so glad and merry that they couldn't help dancing," said the lad; "and so, if I may wish what I choose, I will wish myself such a fiddle, that everything that has life must dance to its tune."

"That he might have," said the beggarman; but it was a sorry wish. "You must wish something better for the other two pennies."

"I have always had such a love for hunting and shooting," said Little Freddy; "so if I may wish what I choose, I will wish myself such a gun that I shall hit everything I aim at, were it ever so far off."

"That he might have," said the beggarman; "but it was a sorry wish. You must wish better for the last penny."

"I have always had a longing to be in company with folk who were kind and good," said Little Freddy; and so, if I could get what I wish, I would wish it to be so that no one can say 'Nay' to the first thing I ask."

"That wish was not so sorry," said the beggarman; and off he strode between the hills, and he saw him no more. And so the lad laid down to sleep, and the next day he came down from the fell with his fiddle and his gun.

First he went to the storekeeper and asked for clothes, and at one farm he asked for a horse, and at another for a sledge; and at this place he asked for a fur coat, and no one said him "Nay," -- even the stingiest folk, they were all forced to give him what he asked for.

At last he went through the country as a fine gentleman, and had his horse and his sledge; and so when he had gone a bit he met the sheriff with whom he had served.

"Good-day, master," said Little Freddy, as he pulled up and took off his hat.

"Good-day," said the sheriff. And then he went on, "When was I ever your master?"

"Oh, yes!" said Little Freddy. "Don't you remember how I served you three years for three pence?"

"Heaven help us!" said the sheriff. "How you have got on all of a hurry! And pray how was it that you got to be such a fine gentleman?"

"Oh, that's tellings!" said Little Freddy.

"And are you full of fun, that you carry a fiddle about with you?" asked the sheriff."

"Yes! Yes!" said Freddy. "I have always had such a longing to get folk to dance; but the funniest thing of all is this gun, for it brings down almost anything that I aim at, however far it may be off. Do you see that magpie yonder, sitting in the spruce fir? What'll you bet I don't bag it, as we stand here?"

On that the sheriff was ready to stake horse and groom, and a hundred dollars beside, that he couldn't do it; but, as it was, he would bet all the money he had about him; and he would go to fetch it when it fell -- for he never thought it possible for any gun to carry so far.

But as the gun went off down fell the magpie, and into a great bramble thicket; and away went the sheriff up into the brambles after it, and he picked it up and showed it to the lad. But in a trice Little Freddy began to scrape his fiddle, and the sheriff began to dance, and the thorns to tear him; but still the lad played on, and the sheriff danced, and cried, and begged till his clothes flew to tatters, and he scarce had a thread to his back.

"Yes!" said Little Freddy; "now I think you're about as ragged as I was when I left your service. So now you may get off with what you have got."

But, first of all, the sheriff had to pay him what he had wagered that he could not hit the magpie.

So when the lad came to the town he turned aside into an inn, and he began to play, and all who came danced, and he lived merrily and well. He had no care, for no one could say him "Nay" to anything he asked.

But just as they were all in the midst of their fun up came the watchmen to drag the lad off to the town-hall: for the sheriff had laid a charge against him, and said he had waylaid him and robbed him, and nearly taken his life.

And now he was to be hanged -- they would not hear of anything else. But Little Freddy had a cure for all trouble, and that was his fiddle. He began to play on it, and the watchmen fell a-dancing, till they lay down and gasped for breath.

So they sent soldiers and the guard on their way; but it was no better with them than with the watchmen. As soon as ever Little Freddy scraped his fiddle, they were all bound to dance, so long as he could lift a finger to play a tune; but they were half dead long before he was tired. At last they stole a march on him, and took him while he lay asleep by night; and when they had caught him he was doomed to be hanged on the spot, and away they hurried him to the gallows-tree.

There a great crowd of people flocked together to see this wonder, and the sheriff, he, too, was there; and he was so glad at last at getting amends for the money and the skin he had lost, and that he might see him hanged with his own eyes. But they did not get him to the gallows very fast, for Little Freddy was always weak on his legs, and now he made himself weaker still.

His fiddle and his gun he had with him also -- it was hard to part him from them; and so, when he came to the gallows, and had to mount the steps, he halted on each step; and when he got to the top he sat down, and asked if they could deny him a wish, and if he might have leave to do one thing? He had such a longing, he said to scrape a tune and play a bar on his fiddle before they hanged him.

"No! No!" they said. "It were sin and shame to deny him that." For, you know, no one could gainsay what he asked.

But the sheriff he begged them, for God's sake, not to let him have leave to touch a string, else it was all over with them altogether; and if the lad got leave, he begged them to bind him to the birch that stood there.

So Little Freddy was not slow in getting his fiddle to speak, and all that were there fell a-dancing at once -- those who went on two legs, and those who went on four; both the dean and the parson, and the lawyer, and the bailiff, and the sheriff; masters and men, dogs and swine, they all danced and laughed and screeched at one another. Some danced till they lay for dead; some danced till they fell into a swoon.

It went badly with all of them, but worst of all with the sheriff, for there he stood bound to the birch, and he danced and scraped great bits off his back against the trunk.

There was not one of them who thought of doing anything to Little Freddy, and away he went with his fiddle and his gun, just as he chose; and he lived merrily and happily all his days, for there was no one who could say him "Nay" to the first thing he asked for."

The Gifts of the Magician


Once upon a time there was an old man who lived in a little hut in the middle of a forest. His wife was dead, and he had only one son, whom he loved dearly. Near their hut was a group of birch trees, in which some black-game had made their nests, and the youth had often begged his father's permission to shoot the birds, but the old man always strictly forbade him to do anything of the kind.

One day, however, when the father had gone to a little distance to collect some sticks for the fire, the boy fetched his bow, and shot at a bird that was just flying towards its nest. But he had not taken proper aim, and the bird was only wounded, and fluttered along the ground. The boy ran to catch it, but though he ran very fast, and the bird seemed to flutter along very slowly, he never could quite come up with it; it was always just a little in advance.

But so absorbed was he in the chase that he did not notice for some time that he was now deep in the forest, in a place where he had never been before. Then he felt it would be foolish to go any further, and he turned to find his way home.

He thought it would be easy enough to follow the path along which he had come, but somehow it was always branching off in unexpected directions. He looked about for a house where he might stop and ask his way, but there was not a sign of one anywhere, and he was afraid to stand still, for it was cold, and there were many stories of wolves being seen in that part of the forest.

Night fell, and he was beginning to start at every sound, when suddenly a magician came running towards him, with a pack of wolves snapping at his heels. Then all the boy's courage returned to him. He took his bow, and aiming an arrow at the largest wolf, shot him through the heart, and a few more arrows soon put the rest to flight.

The magician was full of gratitude to his deliverer, and promised him a reward for his help if the youth would go back with him to his house.

"Indeed there is nothing that would be more welcome to me than a night's lodging," answered the boy; "I have been wandering all day in the forest, and did not know how to get home again."

"Come with me, you must be hungry as well as tired," said the magician, and led the way to his house, where the guest flung himself on a bed, and went fast asleep.

But his host returned to the forest to get some food, for the larder was empty.

While he was absent the housekeeper went to the boy's room and tried to wake him. She stamped on the floor, and shook him and called to him, telling him that he was in great danger, and must take flight at once. But nothing would rouse him, and if he did ever open his eyes he shut them again directly. Soon after, the magician came back from the forest, and told the housekeeper to bring them something to eat. The meal was quickly ready, and the magician called to the boy to come down and eat it, but he could not be wakened, and they had to sit down to supper without him.

By and by the magician went out into the wood again for some more hunting, and on his return he tried afresh to waken the youth. But finding it quite impossible, he went back for the third time to the forest.

While he was absent the boy woke up and dressed himself. Then he came downstairs and began to talk to the housekeeper. The girl had heard how he had saved her master's life, so she said nothing more about his running away, but instead told him that if the magician offered him the choice of a reward, he was to ask for the horse which stood in the third stall of the stable.

By and by the old man came back and they all sat down to dinner.

When they had finished the magician said: "Now, my son, tell me what you will have as the reward of your courage?"

"Give me the horse that stands in the third stall of your stable," answered the youth. "For I have a long way to go before I get home, and my feet will not carry me so far."

"Ah! my son," replied the magician, "it is the best horse in my stable that you want! Will not anything else please you as well?"

But the youth declared that it was the horse, and the horse only, that he desired, and in the end the old man gave way.

And besides the horse, the magician gave him a zither, a fiddle, and a flute, saying: "If you are in danger, touch the zither; and if no one comes to your aid, then play on the fiddle; but if that brings no help, blow on the flute."

The youth thanked the magician, and fastening his treasures about him mounted the horse and rode off.

He had already gone some miles when, to his great surprise, the horse spoke, and said: "It is no use your returning home just now, your father will only beat you. Let us visit a few towns first, and something lucky will be sure to happen to us."

This advice pleased the boy, for he felt himself almost a man by this time, and thought it was high time he saw the world. When they entered the capital of the country everyone stopped to admire the beauty of the horse. Even the king heard of it, and came to see the splendid creature with his own eyes. Indeed, he wanted directly to buy it, and told the youth he would give any price he liked.

The young man hesitated for a moment, but before he could speak, the horse contrived to whisper to him: "Do not sell me, but ask the king to take me to his stable, and feed me there; then his other horses will become just as beautiful as I."

The king was delighted when he was told what the horse had said, and took the animal at once to the stables, and placed it in his own particular stall. Sure enough, the horse had scarcely eaten a mouthful of corn out of the manger, when the rest of the horses seemed to have undergone a transformation. Some of them were old favourites which the king had ridden in many wars, and they bore the signs of age and of service. But now they arched their heads, and pawed the ground with their slender legs as they had been wont to do in days long gone by.

The king's heart beat with delight, but the old groom who had had the care of them stood crossly by, and eyed the owner of this wonderful creature with hate and envy. Not a day passed without his bringing some story against the youth to his master, but the king understood all about the matter and paid no attention. At last the groom declared that the young man had boasted that he could find the king's war horse which had strayed into the forest several years ago, and had not been heard of since. Now the king had never ceased to mourn for his horse, so this time he listened to the tale which the groom had invented, and sent for the youth.

"Find me my horse in three days," said he, "or it will be the worse for you."

The youth was thunderstruck at this command, but he only bowed, and went off at once to the stable.

"Do not worry yourself," answered his own horse. "Ask the king to give you a hundred oxen, and to let them be killed and cut into small pieces. Then we will start on our journey, and ride till we reach a certain river. There a horse will come up to you, but take no notice of him. Soon another will appear, and this also you must leave alone, but when the third horse shows itself, throw my bridle over it."

Everything happened just as the horse had said, and the third horse was safely bridled.

Then the other horse spoke again: "The magician's raven will try to eat us as we ride away, but throw it some of the oxen's flesh, and then I will gallop like the wind, and carry you safe out of the dragon's clutches."

So the young man did as he was told, and brought the horse back to the king. The old stableman was very jealous, when he heard of it, and wondered what he could do to injure the youth in the eyes of his royal master.

At last he hit upon a plan, and told the king that the young man had boasted that he could bring home the king's wife, who had vanished many months before, without leaving a trace behind her. Then the king bade the young man come into his presence, and desired him to fetch the queen home again, as he had boasted he could do. And if he failed, his head would pay the penalty.

The poor youth's heart stood still as he listened. Find the queen? But how was he to do that, when nobody in the palace had been able to do so!

Slowly he walked to the stable, and laying his head on his horse's shoulder, he said: "The king has ordered me to bring his wife home again, and how can I do that when she disappeared so long ago, and no one can tell me anything about her?"

"Cheer up!" answered the horse, "we will manage to find her. You have only got to ride me back to the same river that we went to yesterday, and I will plunge into it and take my proper shape again. For I am the king's wife, who was turned into a horse by the magician from whom you saved me."

Joyfully the young man sprang into the saddle and rode away to the banks of the river. Then he threw himself off, and waited while the horse plunged in. The moment it dipped its head into t he water its black skin vanished, and the most beautiful woman in the world was floating on the water. She came smiling towards the youth, and held out her hand, and he took it and led her back to the palace. Great was the king's surprise and happiness when he beheld his lost wife stand before him, and in gratitude to her rescuer, he loaded him with gifts.

You would have thought that after this the poor youth would have been left in peace; but no, his enemy the stableman hated him as much as ever, and laid a new plot for his undoing. This time he presented himself before the king and told him that the youth was so puffed up with what he had done that he had declared he would seize the king's throne for himself.

At this news the king waxed so furious that he ordered a gallows to be erected at once, and the young man to be hanged without a trial. He was not even allowed to speak in his own defense, but on the very steps of the gallows he sent a message to the king and begged, as a last favour, that he might play a tune on his zither.

Leave was given him, and taking the instrument from under his cloak he touched the strings. Scarcely had the first notes sounded than the hangman and his helper began to dance, and the louder grew the music, the higher they capered, till at last they cried for mercy. But the youth paid no heed, and the tunes rang out more merrily than before, and by the time the sun set they both sank on the ground exhausted, and declared that the hanging must be put off till tomorrow.

The story of the zither soon spread through the town, and on the following morning the king and his whole court and a large crowd of people were gathered at the foot of the gallows to see the youth hanged. Once more he asked a favour -- permission to play on his fiddle, and this the king was graciously pleased to grant. But with the first notes, the leg of every man in the crowd was lifted high, and they danced to the sound of the music the whole day till darkness fell, and there was no light to hang the musician by.

The third day came, and the youth asked leave to play on his flute. "No, no," said the king, "you made me dance all day yesterday, and if I do it again it will certainly be my death. You shall play no more tunes. Quick! the rope round his neck."

At these words the young man looked so sorrowful that the courtiers said to the king: "He is very young to die. Let him play a tune if it will make him happy."

So, very unwillingly, the king gave him leave; but first he had himself bound to a big fir tree, for fear that he should be made to dance.

When he was made fast, the young man began to blow softly on his flute, and bound though he was, the king's body moved to the sound, up and down the fir tree till his clothes were in tatters, and the skin nearly rubbed off his back.

But the youth had no pity, and went on blowing, till suddenly the old magician appeared and asked: "What danger are you in, my son, that you have sent for me?"

"They want to hang me," answered the young man; "the gallows are all ready and the hangman is only waiting for me to stop playing."

"Oh, I will put that right," said the magician; and taking the gallows, he tore it up and flung it into the air, and no one knows where it came down.

"Who has ordered you to be hanged?" asked he.

The young man pointed to the king, who was still bound to the fir; and without wasting words the magician took hold of the tree also, and with a mighty heave both fir and man went spinning through the air, and vanished in the clouds after the gallows.

Then the youth was declared to be free, and the people elected him for their king; and the stable helper drowned himself from envy, for, after all, if it had not been for him the young man would have remained poor all the days of his life.

Jack Horner's Magic Pipes



How he met with an old Hermit, who for a Bottle of nappy Ale, gave him an invincible Coat and a Pair of inchanted Pipes, with which he shewed many merry Tricks.

Upon a pleasant holyday.
Jack going to a fair,
And as he passed along the way,
He saw a wonder there.

An aged man sat in a Cave,
Who could not stand nor go,
His head bore blossoms of the grave,
And locks as white as snow,

Strange hollow eyes and wrinkled brow
His nose and chin did meet,
To him Jack Homer made a bow,
With words both soft and sweet.

He call'd to John and thus did say,
Come hither lad to me,
And if thou dost my will obey,
Thou shalt rewarded be:

Bring me a fairing from the town,
At thy own proper cost,
A jug of nappy liquor brown,
Thy labour shan't be lost.

Jack made the Hermit this reply,
Who then sat in his cell,
What's your request I'll not deny,
And so old dad farewel.

At night he being stout and strong,
This Hermit he'd not fail,
But at his back he lug'd along,
A lusty jug of ale:

Which when the Hermit he beheld,
It pleas'd him to the heart;
Out of the same cup he fill'd,
And said, Before we part,

I have a pipe which I'll bestow
Upon you never doubt,
Whoever hears you when you blow,
Shall dance and trump about:

They shan't be able to stand still
While you the Music play,
But after you o'er dale and hill,
They all shall dance the hay.

I have thee a coat likewise,
Invincible I mean,
The which shall so bedim their eyes,
That thou shalt not be seen:

If you with a hundred meet,
When thus you pass along,
Though in the very open street,
Not one of all the throng,

Shall ever see you in the least,
Yet hear the music sound,
And wonder that both man and beast,
Are forced to dance around.

Jack took the Coat and Bagpipes too,
And thankfully did say,
Old Father I will call on you
Whene'er I come this way.


How he serv'd six Fidlers, and as many Pedlers, whom he caused to dance thro' Hedge and Ditch after his Pipes, till they broke all their Glasses and Crowds.

This Pipe and coat he having got,
He homeward trudg'd with speed,
At length it was his happy Lot
to cross a pleasant Mead:

Where he six Fidlers soon espy'd
a coming from a Fair,
Under their Coats, crowds by their sides,
and many others there:

Amongst the rest six jolly blades,
after those crowders came,
Who on their shoulders carried Crades
with Glasses in the same.

Jack presently his Coat put on,
Which screen'd him from their sight,
And said I'll do the best I can
To plague them all this night.

For Crowders they are Rogues I know
And Crades-men they are worse,
They cousin all where'er they go,
And pick each Lass's purse.

His pipe he then began to play,
The Crowders they did dance,
The Crades-men too as fast as they
Did caper, skip, and prance.

Still Jack play'd up a merry strain,
Both pleasant, loud, and shrill,
So that they danc'd and jump'd amain
Tho' much against their Will:

They cried, this is enchanted Ground,
For why no soul we see,
And yet a pleasant Music sound,
Makes, us dance vehemently.

Jack Homer laugh'd, and piping went
Strait down into a hollow,
These hair brain'd Dancers, by consent
Did after him soon follow,

He led them through Bogs and Sloughs
Nay, likewise Ponds and Ditches,
And in the thorny briar boughs
Poor rogues they tore their Breeches,

Each Fidler lost, or tore his Cloak,
But yet they followed after,
Their crow'ds were, crack'd their glasses broke,
This was a woeful slaughter.

At length it being something late,
Jack did his piping leave,
They ceased and saw their wretched state,
Which made them sigh and grieve.

This is, said some, Old Nick I know
The author of this evil,
The others cry'd out, if it be so,
He is a merry Devil.

Jack Horner laugh'd and went his Way
And left them in despair,
So that e'er since that very day,
The Fidlers came not there.

A Mery Geste of the Frere and the Boye


Here Begynneth A Mery Geste of the Frere and the Boye
God that deyde ffor vs all,
And dranke eysell and gall,
Brynge vs out of bale,
Ang gyue them good lyfe and long
That lysteneth to my songe,
Or tendeth to my tale.

Ther was a man in my countre
That had wyues thre,
Be proseys of tyme,
Bey the fyrst wyfe a sone he had,
That was a hapey ladde,
And a partey hyne.

His fader loued hym wele,
So dyde his moder neuer a dele,
I tell yow as I thinke;
Sche thowth lost, he the rode,
That dyde the boye ony good,
Other mete or drynke.

And yet y wys it was but badde,
Nor halffe ynowh therof he had,
Oft he was afforst:
Therfore euyll mote she fare,
Ofte she dyde the lytell boye care,
As ferforth as she dorste.

The good wyfe to her hushonde gan saye;
I wolde ye wolde put this boye awaye,
And that ryght soone in haste;
Truly he is a cursed ladde,
I wolde some other man hym had,
That wolde hym hetter chaste.

Then sayd the good man agayne:
Dame, I shall to the sayne,
He is but tender of age;
He shall abyde with me this yere,
Tyll he he more strongere,
For to wynne better wage.

We haue a man, a stoute freke,
That in the felde kepeth our nete,
He slepys all the daye,
He shall come home, so god me shelde,
And the boye shall into the felde,
To kepe our beestes, yf he may.

Than sayd the wyfe, verament:
Sere, therto I assent,
I holde het be the beste.

On the morowe, whan it was daye,
The lytell boye wente on his waye,
To the ffellde full prest;
Of no man he had no care,
But sung, hey howe, awaye the mare,
And made ioye ynough.

Fforet he wente, truly to sayne,
Tyll he came to the playne,
Hys dyner foret he drough.
Whan he sawe, it was bad,
Lytell lust therto he had,
But put it yp agayne;

Therfore he was not to wyte,
He sayd he wolde ete but lyte,
Tyll nyght that he home came.

And as the boye sate on a hill,
An olde man came hym tyll,
Walkynge by the waye:
Sone, he sayde, god the se.
Syr, welcome mote ye be
The lytell boye gan saye.

The olde man sayd: I honger sore,
Hast thou ony mete in store,
That thou mayst gyue me?

The chylde sayd: so god me saue,
To such vytayle as I haue
Welcome shall ye be.

Therof the olde man was gladde,
The boye drewe forth suche as he had,
And made him ryght merry.
The olde man was easy to please,
He ete, and made hym well at ease,
And sayd: sone, gramercy.

Ffor they mete that thou hast geffe me
I shall gyue the thynges thre,
Thou shalt them not forgete.
The boye seyde: het is best I trowe,
Ffor me to haue a bowe,
At byrdes for to shete.

A bowe, sone, I shall the gyue,
That shall last the all thy lyue,
And euer a lyke mete,
Shote therin, whan thou good thynke,
For yf thou shote, and wynke,
The prycke thow shalte hytte.

Whan he the howe in honde felte,
And the boltes vnder his belte,
Lowde than he lough;
He sayd: now had I a pype,
Though it were neuer so lyte,
Than were I gladde ynough.

A pype thou shalte haue also,
In true musyke it shall go,
I put thee out of doubt;
All that may the pype here
Shall not themselfe stere,
But laugh and lepe aboute.
What shall the thyrde be?

Gyfftes I schall geve the three.
As I haue sayd before.
The lytell boye on hym lough,
And sayd: syr, I haue ynough,
I wyll desyre no more.

The olde man sayd: my trouth I plyght,
Thou shalte haue that I the hyght;
Say on now, and let me se.

Than sayd the boye anone:
I haue a stepdame at home,
She is a shrewe to me:
Whan my fader gyueth me awth,
Be God that me dere bowth,
Sche stareth me in the face;
Whan she loketh on me so,
I wolde she sholde let a rappe go,
That myght rynge ouer all the place.

Than sayd the olde man tho:
Whan she loketh on the so,
She shall begyn to blowe;
All that euer it may here
Shall not themselfe stere,
But dans on a rowe.

Farewell, quod the olde man.
God kepe the, sayd the chylde than,
I take my leue at the;
God, that moost best may, iso
Kepe the bothe nyght and day.
Gramercy, sone, sayd he.

Than drewe it towarde the nyght,
Iacke hym hyed home full ryght,
It was his ordynaunce;
He toke his pype, and began to blowe;
All his beestes on a rowe
Aboute hym they can daunce.

Thus wente he pypynge thrugh the towne,
His beestes hym folowed by the sowne
Into his faders close;
He wente, and put them vp echone,
Homewarde he wente anone;

Into the hall he gose;
His fader at his souper sat;
Lytell Iacke espyed well that,
And sayd to hym anone:
Fader, I haue kepte your nete,
I praye you gyue me some mete,
I am an hongred, by Saynt Ihone.

I have sytten metelesse
All this daye kepynge your beestes,
My dyner feble it was.
His fader toke a capons wynge,
And at the boye he gan it flynge,
And badde hym ete apace.

That greued his Dames herte sore,
As I tolde you before;
She stared hym in the face,
With that she let go a blaste,
That all in the hall were agaste,
It range ouer all the place.

All they laughed, and had good game,
The wyfe waxed red for shame,
She wolde that she had ben gone.

Quod the boye: well I wote,
That gonne was well shote,
As it had ben a stone.

Cursedly she loked on hym tho;
Another blaste she let go,
She was almoost rente.
Quod the boye: wyll ye se
How my dame letteth pellettes fle,
In fayth or euer she stynte!

The boye sayde vnto his dame:
Tempre thy bombe, he sayd, for shame:
She was full of sorowe.

Dame, sayd the good man, go thy waye:
For I swere to the, by my faye,
Thy gere is not to borowe.
Afterwarde, as ye shall here.

To the hous ther came a frere,
To lye there all nyght;
The wyfe loued him as a saynt,
And to hym made her complaynt,
And tolde hym all aryght.

Wee haue a boye within ywys,
A shrewe for the nones he is,
He dooth me moche care;
I dare not loke hym vpon:
I am ashamed, by Saynt Iohn,
To tell yow how I fare.

I praye you mete the boye tomorowe,
Bete hym well, and gyue hym sorowe,
And make the boye lame.

Quod the frere: I shall hym bete.
Quod the wyfe: do not forgete,
He dooth to me moche shame:
I trowe the boye be some wytche.

Quod the frere: I shall hym teche,
Haue thou therof no care;
I shall hym teche, yf I may.

Quod the wyfe: I the praye,
Do hym not spare.

On the morowe the boye arose,
Into the felde soone he gose,
His beestes for to dryue;
The frere ranne out at the gate,
He was a ferde leest he came to late,
He ranne fast and blyue.

Whan he came vpon the londe,
Lytell Iacke there he fonde,
Dryuynge his beestes all alone;
Boye, he sayd, god gyue the shame,
What hast thou done to thy dame,
Tell thou me anone?

But yf thou canst excuse the well,
By my trouth bete the I wyll,
I will no lenger abyde.

Quod the boye: what eyleth the?
My dame fareth as well as ye,
What nedeth ye to chyde?
Quod the boye: wyll ye wete
How I can a byrde shete,
And other thynge withall?

Syr, he sayd, though I be lyte,
Yonder byrde wyll I smyte,
And gyue her the I shall.
There sate a byrde vpon a brere,
Shote on, boy, quod the frere,
For that me lysteth to se.

He hytte the byrde on the heed,
That she fell downe deed,
No ferder myght she flee.
The frere to the busshe wente,
Vp the byrde for to hente,
He thought it best for to done.

Iacke toke his pype, and began to blowe,
Then the frere, as I trowe,
Began to daunce soone.

As soone as he the pype herd,
Lyke a wood man he fared,
He lepte and daunced aboute;
The breres scratched hym in the face,
And in many an other place,
That the blode brast out;
And tare his clothes by and by,
His cope and his scapelary,
And all his other wede.

He daunced amonge the thornes thycke,
In many places they dyde hym prycke,
That fast gan he blede.
Iacke pyped and laughed amonge,
The frere amonge the thornes was thronge,
He hopped wunderous hye;

At the last he held vp his honde,
And sayd: I haue daunced so longe,
That I am lyke to dye;
Gentyll Iacke, holde thy pype styll,
And by my trouth I plyght the tyll,
I will do the no woo.

Iacke sayd in that tide:
Frere, skyppe out on the ferder syde,
Lyghtly that thou were goo.

The frere out of the busshe wente,
All to ragged and to rente,
And torne on euery syde;
Unnethes on hym he had one cloute,
His bely for to wrappe aboute;
His harneys for to hyde.

The breres had hym scratched in the face,
And in many an other place,
He was all to bledde with blode ;
All that myght the frere se,
Were fayne awaye to flee,
They wende he had ben wode.

Whan he came to his hoost,
Of his ionrney he made no boost,
His clothes were rente all;
Moche sorowe in his herte he had,
And euery man hym dradde,
Whan he came in to the hall.

The wyfe sayd: where hast thou bene?
In an euyll place, I wene,
Me thynketh by thyn araye.
Dame, I haue ben with thy sone,
The deuyll of hell hym ouercome:
For no man elles may.

With that came in the good man,
The wife sayd unto hym than:
Here is a foule araye;
Thy sone, that is thy lefe and dere,
Hath almoost slayne this holy frere,
Alas, and welawaye.

The good man sayd: benedicite!
What hath the boye done, frere, to the,
Tell me without lette?

The frere sayd: the deuyll hym spode,
He hath made me daunce, maugro my hede,
Amonge the thornes, hey go bette.

The good man sajd to hym tho:
Haddest thou lost thy lyfe so,
It had ben grete synne.
The frere sayd: by our lady,
The pype went so meryly,
That I coude neuer blynne.
Whan it drewe towarde the nyght,
The boye came home full ryght,
As he was wont to do.

Whan he came into the hall,
Soone his fader gan hym call,
And badde hym come hym to.
Boye, he sayd, tell me here,
What hast thou done unto the frere,
Tell me without lesynge?

Fader, he sayd, by my faye,
I dydo nought elles, as I yow saye,
But pyped him a sprynge.

That pype, sayd his fader, wolde I here.

Mary, god forbede, sayd the frere:
His handes he dyde wrynge.
Yes, sayd the good man, by goddes grace.
Then, sayd the frere, out alas,
And made grete mournynge.

For the loue of god, quod the frere.
If ye wyll that pype here,
Bynde me to a post:
For I knowe none other rede,
And I daunce, I am but deed,
Well I wote my lyfe is lost.

Stronge ropes they toke in honde,
The frere to the poste they bonde,
In the myddle of the halle.
All that at the souper sat
Laughed and had good game therat,
And said, the frere wolde not fall.

Than sayd the good man:
Pype, sonne, as thou can,
Hardely whan thou wylle.

Fader, he sayd, so mote I the,
Haue ye shall ynough of gle,
Tyll ye bydde me be styll.

As soon as Iacke the pype hent,
All that there were, verament,
Began to daunce and lepe;
Whan they gan the pype here,
They myght not themselfe stere,
But hurled on an hepe.

The good man was in no dyspayre,
But lyghtly lepte out of his chayre,
All with a goodly chere;
Some lepte ouer the stocke;
Some stombled at the blocke:
And some fell flatte in the fyre.

The good man had grete game,
How they daunced all in same;
The good wyfe after gan steppe;
Euermore she kest her eye at Iacke,
And fast her tayle began to cracke,
Lowder than they coude speke.

The frere hymselfe was almoost lost,
For knockynge his heed ayenst the post,
He had none other grace;
The rope rubbed hym vnder the chynne,
That the blode downe dyde rynne,
In many a dyuers place.

Iacke ranne into the strete,
After hym fast dyde they lepe,
Truly they coude not stynte;
They wente out at the dore so theke,
That eche man fell on others necke,
So pretely out they wente.

Neyghbours that were fast by,
Herde the pype go so meryly,
They ranne into the gate;
Some lepte ouer the hatche,
They had no time to drawe the latche,
They wende they had come to late.

Some laye in theyr bedde,
And helde vp theyr hede,
Anone they were waked;
Some sterte in the waye,
Truly as I you saye,
Stark bely naked.

By that they were gradred aboute,
I wys there was a grete route,
Dauncynge in the strete;
Some were lame, and myght not go,
But yet ywys they daunced allso,
On handes and on fete.

The boye sayd: now wyll I rest.

Quod the good man: I holde it best,
With a mery chere;
Sease, sone, whan thou wylte,
In fayth this is the meryest fytte
That I herde this seuen yere.

They daunced all in same.
Some laughed, and had good game,
And some had many a fall.

Thou cursed boye, quod the frere,
Here I somon the that thou appere
Before the offycyall;
Loke thou be there on Frydaye,
I wyll the mete and I may,
For to ordeyne the sorowe.

The boye sayd: by god auowe,
Frere, I am as redy as thou,
And Frydaye were to morowe.

Frydaye came, as ye may here;
Iackes stepdame and the frere
Togeder there they mette;
Folke gadered a grete pase,
To here euery mannes case,
The offycyall was sette.

There was moche to do,
Maters more than one or two,
Both with preest and clerke.

Some had testamentes for to preue,
And fayre women, by your leue,
That had strokes in the derke.
Euery man put forth his case,
Then came forth frere Topyas,
And Iackes stepdame also.

Sir offycyall, sayd he,
I haue brought a boye to thee,
Which hath wrought me moche wo;
He is a grete nygromancere,
In all Orlyaunce is not his pere,
As by my trouth I trowe.

He is a wytche, quod the wyfe:
Than, as I shall tell you blythe,
Lowde coude she blowe.
Some laughed without fayle,
Some sayd: dame, tempre thy tayle,
Ye wreste it all amysse.

Dame, quod the offycyall,
Tel forth on thy tale,
Lette not for all this.

The wyfe was afrayed of an other cracke,
That no wordo more she spacke,
She durst not for drede.

The frere sayd: so mote I the,
Knaue, this is long of the
That euyl mote thou spede.
The frere sayd: syr offycyall,
The boye wyll combre vs all,
But yf ye may him chaste;
Syr, he hath a pype truly,
Wyll make you daunce, and lepe on hye,
Tyll your herte braste.

The offycyall sayd: so mot I the,
That pype wolde I fayne se,
And knowe what myrth that he can make.

Mary, god forbede, than sayd the frere,
That he sholde pype here,
Afore that I hens the waye take.
Pype on, Iacke, sayd the offycyall,
I wyll here now how thou canst playe.
Iacke blewe vp, the sothe to saye,
And made them soone to daunce all.

The offycyall lepte ouer the deske,
And daunced aboute wonder faste,
Tyll bothe his shynnes he all to brest,
Hym thought it was not of the best,
Than cryed he vnto the chylde,
To pype no more within this place,
But to holde styll, for goddes grace,
And for the loue of Mary mylde.

Than sayd Iacke to them echone:
If ye wolde me graunte with herte fre,
That they shall do me no vylany,
But hens to departe euen as I come.
Therto they answered all anone,
And promysed him anone ryght,
In his quarell for to fyght,
And defende hym from his fone.

Thus they departed in that tyde,
The offycyall and the sompnere,
His stepdame and the frere,
With great ioye and moche pryde.

Thus endeth the Frere and ye Boye. Enprynted at London in Flete strete at the sygne of the sonne by Wynkyn de Worde.

The Friar and the Boy


There was a man in a certain country who in process of time had three wives. By the first he had a son, who was a light-hearted lad; but by the other twain issue had he none. His father loved this boy well; but his step-dame looked upon him with an evil eye, and stinted him in his victual, and did him many a shrewd turn.

At length she said unto the goodman: "I heartily pray you, sir, that you would put away this boy, who is a cursed plague to me, and let him serve someone else who will give him his desert."

Her husband answered her, saying: "Woman, he is but a child. Let him abide with us another year, till he is better able to shift. We have a man, a stout carl, who keeps our beasts afield; look, the boy shall take his place, and we will have the fellow in the stead of him at home."

To which the goodwife agreed.

So on the morrow the little lad was sent to tend the sheep, and all the way he sang out of the gaiety of his heart; and his dinner he carried with him in a clout. But when he came to see what his step-dame had given him to eat, he had small lust thereto, and he took but little, thinking that he would get more when he returned homeward at sundown.

The boy sat on a hillside, watching his sheep and singing, when there came along an aged man, and stood still, when he espied the child, saying unto him: "Son, God bless thee!"

"Welcome, father," the boy replied.

The old man said: "I hunger sore; hast thou any food of which thou mightest give me even some?"

The child returned: "To such victual as I have thou art welcome, father."

So he gave the old man the rest of his dinner, and thereof he was full fain. He ate, and grudged not. To please him was not hard.

Then, when he had finished, he said: "Gramercy, child; and for the meat which thou hast spared me I will give thee three things. Tell me now what they shall be."

The boy thought in his mind, and anon: "I would," quoth he, "have a bow, wherewith I could shoot birds."

"I will find thee incontinently," said the stranger, "one that shall last thee through thy whole life, and shall never need renewing. Thou hast but to draw it, and it will hit the mark."

Then he handed him the bow and the arrows; and when the child saw them, aloud he laughed, and was mightily content.

"Now," said he, "if I had a pipe, if it were ever so small, then I should be glad."

"A pipe I here give thee," the old man said, "which hath in it strange properties; for all whosoever, save thyself, shall hear it, when thou playest, must dance to the music perforce. I promised thee three things. Say, what is to be the last?"

"I seek nothing more," replied the boy.

"Nothing?" quoth the stranger. "Speak, and thou hast thy will."

"Well," said he, musing, "I have at home a step-dame -- a shrewd wife she -- and she oftentimes looks ill-favouredly at me, as though she meant me no love. Now, prythee, when so she looketh in that wise, let her laugh till she fall to the earth, and laugh still, unless I bid her to desist."

"It is granted," said the stranger. "Farewell!"

"God keep thee, sir," said the boy.

The evening drew on, and Jack wended homeward in great glee. He took his pipe and played it, and all his beasts and his dog danced to it in a row. He played as he went along, and the sheep and kine followed at his heels and the dog, dancing all the way, till they came to his father's abode; and he put by the pipe, and saw that all was fast, and then walked he into the house.

His father sat at his supper, and Jack said unto him: "I am a-hungered, sir; my dinner I might not eat, and I have had charge of the beasts the whole day."

The husbandman threw a capon's wing toward him and told him to eat it. The goodwife sorely grudged that he should have so fair a morsel, and eyed him sourly. But she straightway fell to laughing, and she laughed, and she laughed, till she could no longer stand or sit, and fell on the floor, laughing still, and she ceased not till she was half-dead; and then the boy said: "Dame, enough!" and she laughed not a whit more, which made them both amazed.

Now this goodwife loved a friar, who oftentimes came to the house; and when he next shewed himself she made complaint to him of the boy, and told him how Jack had caused her to laugh, and had mocked her, and she prayed this friar to meet him on the morrow and beat him for his pains.

"I will do thy pleasure as thou desirest," quoth the friar.

"Do not forget," quoth the goodwife. "I trow he is some witch."

So the morning following the boy went forth to drive his father's beasts to the field, and he took with him his bow and his pipe.

And the friar rose betimes likewise, lest he might be too late, and he approached the boy, and thus he accosted him: "What, forsooth, hast thou done by thy step-mother, Jack, that she is angered at thee? Tell me what it is; and if thou canst not satisfy me, surely I will beat thee."

"What aileth thee?" asked Jack. "My dame fares as well as thou. Have done with thy chiding. Come, wilt thou see how I can bring down a bird with my bow, and what other things I can do? Though I be a little fellow, I will shoot yonder bird, and yours it shall be."

"Shoot on," said the friar. The bird was hit surely enough, and dropped into a thorn-bush.

"Go and fetch it," said Jack.

The friar stepped into the middle of the brambles and picked up the bird. Jack put the pipe to his lips and began to play. The friar let the bird fall and set to dancing, and the louder the pipe sounded the higher he leapt, and the more the briars tore his clothes and pierced his flesh. His dress was now in shreds, and the blood streamed from his legs and arms. Jack played all the faster, and laughed withal.

"Gentle Jack," gasped out the friar, "hold thy hand. I have danced so long that I am like to die. Let me go, and I promise thee I will never again offer thee harm."

"Jump out on the other side," quoth the boy, pausing, "and get thee gone."

And the holy man made all the haste he could for shame's sake; for the thorns had almost stripped him to the skin, and covered him with blood. When he reached the house they wondered where he had been, and how he had fallen into such a sorry plight.

The goodwife said: "I see well, father, by thine array that thou hast come to some mischief. What has befallen thee?"

"I have been with thy son," he replied. "The devil overcome him, for no one else may!"

Then entered the goodman, and his wife said unto him: "Here is a pretty matter! Thy dear son hath well-nigh slain this holy friar. Alack! Alack!"

The goodman said: "Benedicite! what hath the boy been doing to thee, friar?"

"He made me dance willy-willy among the briars, and, by Our Lady, the pipe went so merrily that I might have danced till I burst myself."

"Hadst thou met with thy death so, father," said the goodman," it had been a great sin."

At night, at the usual hour, the boy came back, and his father called him unto him, and questioned him about the friar.

"Father," said Jack, " I did nought, I tell thee, but play him a tune."

"Well," answered the goodman, "let me hear this pipe myself."

"Heaven forbid!" cried the friar, wringing his hands.

"Yea," quoth the goodman, "give us some music, Jack."

"If," entreated the friar piteously, "thou wilt indeed have him play, first bind me to some post. If I hear that pipe I must fain dance, and then my life is nought worth. I am a dead man."

They fastened him to a post in the centre of the hall, and they all laughed at his distress, and one said, "The friar is out of danger of falling now."

"Now, boy," said the goodman, "play on."

"That will I do, father," he replied, "till you bid me hold, and I warrant ye shall have music enough."

As soon as the boy took up the pipe and laid his mouth to it, all began to dance and jump, faster and faster, and higher and higher, as though they were out of their wits. Even the friar struck his head against the post and screamed with pain. Some leapt over the table; some tumbled against the chairs; some fell in the fire.

Jack passed out into the street, and they all followed him, capering wildly as they went. The neighbours started at the sound, and came out of their houses, springing over the fences; and many that had gone to rest jumped out of bed and hurried into the village, naked as they were, and joined the throng at Jack's heels. A phrenzy was upon them all, and they bounded into the air, and looked not whither they plunged; and some that could no longer keep their feet for lameness danced on all fours.

The goodman said to his son: "Jack, I trow it is best to give over."

"Let it be so," said the boy, and he desisted from his playing accordingly.

"This is the merriest sport," said the goodman, "that I have known this seven year."

"Thou cursed boy!" exclaimed the friar, when they returned to the house, "I summon thee before the judge. Look thou be there on Friday."

"Good," answered the boy; "I will. I would with all my heart it were already come."

Friday arrived, and friar Topas and the step-dame, and the whole party, appeared, and the judge was in his place, and there was a goodly gathering of people, for there were many other cases to be heard.

The friar was fain to wait till his turn came, and then he addressed the judge, saying to him: "See, my lord, I have brought a boy to thee who hath wrought me and others many grievous trouble and sorrow. He is a necromancer such as in all this country hath not his like."

"I hold him for a witch," put in the goodwife, and scowled at Jack; and forthwith she set to laughing till she fell down, and none could tell what she ailed, or whence her great mirth arose.

"Woman," said the judge, "tell thy tale."

But she could not utter another word, though Jack stayed her laughter as he had power given to him to do so by the stranger on the hillside.

Then spake Friar Topas, and said: "My lord, this boy will worst us all unless you soundly chastise him. He hath, sir, a pipe that will make you dance and hop till you are well-nigh spent."

The judge said, "This pipe I fain would see, and know what sort of mirth it maketh."

"Marry! God forbid!" quoth the friar, "till I am out of the hearing of it."

"Play on, Jack," said the judge," and let me see what thou canst do."

Jack set the pipe to his lips and blew, and the whole room was quickly in motion. The judge sprang over the desk and bruised both his shins; and he shouted out to the boy to cease for God's sake and the love of the Virgin.

"Well," said Jack, "I will if they will promise me that they will never again do me trespass so long as I live."

Then as many as were there, the friar, the step-dame, and the rest, sware before the judge that they would keep the peace toward the boy, and help him to their power at all seasons against his enemies; and when they had done so Jack bad the judge farewell, and all proceeded merrily home.

And thus it may be seen how the boy, because he was courteous and kind to the old man whom he met on the hillside while he tended his father's beasts, prospered, and kept every one in his country in his fear for evermore. For the old man was in truth a magician.

A Witch Rescues a Man


A witch rescues a man, who was going to gaol, and plagues the bailiffs, by leading them a dance over hedge and ditch.

A poor man, being arrested by a cruel creditor for debt, and he not being able to pay it, they were carrying him to Lancaster Gaol, when Mother Cuthbert met them, and desired to know the matter.

The officers answered her very surlily, pushing her aside, which, raising her choler, she said, "But you shall let him go before we do part."

And they said he should not.

Whereupon she bade the poor man stop his ears close; and then she drew out a pipe which had been given her by the Witch of Penmure, and then set piping, and led them through hedges and thorns, over ditches, banks, and poles, sometimes tumbling, and other times tearing and bruising their flesh, while the poor fellow got time enough to make his escape; but the catchpoles cried out for mercy, thinking the devil had led them a dance.

At length she left them in the middle of a stinking pond, to shift for themselves.

The Golden Harp


Morgan is one of the oldest names in Cymric land. It means one who lives near the sea.

Every day, for centuries past, tens of thousands of Welsh folks have looked out on the great blue plain of salt water.

It is just as true, also, that there are all sorts of Morgans. One of these named Taffy, was like nearly all Welshmen, in that he was very fond of singing.

The trouble in his case, however, was that no one but himself loved to hear his voice, which was very disagreeable. Yet of the sounds which he himself made with voice or instrument, he was an intense admirer. Nobody could persuade him that his music was poor and his voice rough. He always refused to improve.

Now in Wales, the bard, or poet, who makes up his poetry or song as he goes along, is a very important person, and it is not well to offend one of these gentlemen. In French, they call such a person by a very long name -- the improvisator.

These poets have sharp tongues and often say hard things about people whom they do not like. If they used whetstones, or stropped their tongues on leather, as men do their razors, to give them a keener edge, their words could not cut more terribly.

Now, on one occasion, Morgan had offended one of these bards. It was while the poetic gentleman was passing by Taffy's house. He heard the jolly fellow inside singing, first at the top and then at the bottom of the scale. He would drop his voice down on the low notes and then again rise to the highest until it ended in a screech.

Someone on the street asked the poet how he liked the music which he had heard inside.

"Music?" replied the bard with a sneer. "Is that what Morgan is trying? Why! I thought it was first the lowing of an aged cow, and then the yelping of a blind dog, unable to find its way. Do you call that music?"

The truth was that when the soloist had so filled himself with strong ale that his brain was fuddled, then it was hard to tell just what kind of a noise he was making. It took a wise man to discover the tune, if there was any.

One evening, when Morgan thought his singing unusually fine, and felt sorry that no one heard him, he heard a knock.

Instead of going to the door to inquire, or welcome the visitor, he yelled out "Come in!"

The door opened and there stood three tired looking strangers. They appeared to be travelers.

One of them said: "Kind sir, we are weary and worn, and would be glad of a morsel of bread. If you can give us a little food, we shall not trouble you further."

"Is that all?" said Morgan. "See there the loaf and the cheese, with a knife beside them. Take what you want, and fill your bags. No man shall ever say that Taffy Morgan denied anyone food, when he had any himself."

Whereupon the three travelers sat down and began to eat.

Meanwhile, without being invited to do so, their host began to sing for them.

Now the three travelers were fairies in disguise. They were journeying over the country, from cottage to cottage, visiting the people. They came to reward all who gave them a welcome and were kind to them, but to vex and play tricks upon those who were stingy, bad tempered, or of sour disposition.

Turning to Taffy before taking leave, one of them said: "You have been good to us and we are grateful. Now what can we do for you? We have power to grant anything you may desire. Please tell us what you would like most."

At this, Taffy looked hard in the faces of the three strangers, to see if one of them was the bard who had likened his voice in its ups and downs to a cow and a blind dog.

Not seeing any familiar face, he plucked up his courage, and said: "If you are not making fun of me, I'll take from you a harp. And, if I can have my wish in full, I want one that will play only lively tunes. No sad music for me!"

Here Morgan stopped. Again he searched their faces, to see if they were laughing at him and then proceeded. "And something else, if I can have it; but it's really the same thing I am asking for."

"Speak on, we are ready to do what you wish," answered the leader.

"I want a harp, which, no matter how badly I may play, will sound out sweet and jolly music."

"Say no more," said the leader, who waved his hand. There was a flood of light, and, to Morgan's amazement, there stood on the floor a golden harp.

But where were the three travelers? They had disappeared in a flash.

Hardly able to believe his own eyes, it now dawned upon him that his visitors were fairies.

He sat down, back of the harp, and made ready to sweep the strings. He hardly knew whether or not he touched the instrument, but there rolled out volumes of lively music, as if the harp itself were mad. The tune was wild and such as would set the feet of young folks a-going, even in church.

As Taffy's fingers seemed every moment to become more skillful, the livelier the music increased, until the very dishes rattled on the cupboard, as if they wanted to join in. Even the chair looked as if about to dance.

Just then, Morgan's wife and some neighbors entered the house. Immediately, the whole party, one and all, began dancing in the jolliest way. For hours, they kept up the mad whirl. Yet all the while, Taffy seemed happier and the women the merrier.

No telegraph ever carried the news faster, all over the region, that Morgan had a wonderful harp.

All the grass in front of the house, was soon worn away by the crowds that came to hear and dance. As soon as Taffy touched the harp strings, the feet of everyone, young and old, began shuffling, nor could anyone stop, so long as Morgan played. Even very old, lame and one-legged people joined in. Several old women, whom nobody had ever prevailed upon to get out of their chairs, were cured of their rheumatism. Such unusual exercise was severe for them, but it seemed to be healthful.

A shrewd monk, the business manager of the monastery near by, wanted to buy Morgan's house, set up a sanatorium and advertise it as a holy place. He hoped thus to draw pilgrims to it and get for it a great reputation as a healing place for the lame and the halt, the palsied and the rheumatic. Thus the monastery would be enriched and all the monks get fat.

But Taffy was a happy-go-lucky fellow, who cared little about money and would not sell; for, with his harp, he enjoyed both fun and fame.

One day, in the crowd that stood around his door waiting to begin to hop and whirl, Morgan espied the bard who had compared his voice to a cow and a cur. The bard had come to see whether the stories about the harp were true or not.

He found to his own discomfort what was the fact and the reality, which were not very convenient for him. As soon as the harp music began, his feet began to go up, and his legs to kick and whirl. The more Morgan played, the madder the dance and the wilder the antics of the crowd, and in these the bard had to join, for he could not help himself.

Soon they all began to spin round and round on the flagstones fronting the door, as if crazy. They broke the paling of the garden fence. They came into the house and knocked over the chairs and sofa, even when they cracked their shins against the wood. They bumped their heads against the walls and ceiling, and some even scrambled over the roof and down again. The bard could no more stop his weary legs than could the other lunatics.

To Morgan his revenge was so sweet, that he kept on until the bard's legs snapped, and he fell down on top of people that had tumbled from shear weariness, because no more strength was left in them.

Meanwhile, Morgan laughed until his jaws were tired and his stomach muscles ached. But no sooner did he take his fingers off the strings, to rest them, than he opened his eyes in wonder; for in a flash the harp had disappeared. He had made a bad use of the fairies' gift, and they were displeased. So both the monk and Morgan felt sorry.

Yet the grass grew again when the quondam harper and singer ceased desolating the air with his quavers. The air seemed sweeter to breathe, because of the silence.

However, the fairies kept on doing good to the people of good will, and today some of the sweetest singers in Wales come from the poorest homes.

The Fiddler and the Minister


One time there was a man who used to be always out shooting in a minister's land and the minister did not like it. One day he was out shooting and he met a fairy.

He asked a gift of him and he told him that if he did not get it he would shoot him. The gift was that any time he would play his fiddle, anyone that would hear it would have to keep dancing while he was playing.

This day he was out shooting and he seen a hare in a bunch of briars. He shot him and the hare was in the minister's land. The minister saw him and ran to get him (the hare).

The huntsman began playing the fiddle and the minister had to start dancing in the briars until he was nearly torn to death.

He brought the huntsman to court and said he tried to kill him. The judge said he would be hanged for it and that he would get any gift (request) he would like before he would die. The gift he asked for was to get leave to play a tune on his fiddle and he got leave. Every one in the court had to start dancing and they could not stop. The judge said he would let him free if he would stop playing and that he would hang the minister instead.

Tom Clancy


There was a man living in the village of Lahinch one time whose name was Tom Clancy. He was one of the great scholars of the time. When he was young he had a great love for learning. His father wanted to keep him at home, because he was an only son, but Tom would not stay, so he went away to Denmark, and he learned a subject called the Black Art. Tom Clancy was a Free Mason.

When he came home from Denmark his father and all the neighbours said he knew nothing, so he wanted to show them that he did.

One night there was a dance at a house in Lahinch, and Tom wrote some magical words on a slip of paper, and he stuck it under the thatch of the house where the dance was to be held. After a while the boys got up to dance, and when they tried to stop they couldn't. After a while one man would get up to make the peace, but after a while he would be dancing too. At last someone went in for Tom Clancy's father. He came out thinking to make the peace without delay, but no sooner had he entered the house when he too was dancing.

The Man Who Could Make People Dance


Once upon a time a man lived in Inagh who had a charm for making people dance. He was in no friends with Father Grace because the latter had tried to make him give up the charm. One day Father Grace came to his house and the man set the charm as soon as he saw him. Father Grace was dancing all the whole day and in the end he was ready to fall he was so tired.

Then he asked the man to undo the charm. "In the honour of God."

The man then is stopped from dancing with black ass blood and a raven's feather.

The Three Gifts


Once upon a time there lived a little boy whose mother had died and whose father had remarried. But his stepmother didn't like him, so she fed him old, moldy crusts of bread. Whenever he went out into the fields, he always put them into the spring to soften them.

One day he was sitting by the water, when a poor man passed by and called out to him: "What are you doing here?"

"I am soaking the moldy crusts of bread that my stepmother gave me to eat."

"Give me one."

The boy gave the beggar some crusts of bread, who ate them and then said: "You have done a good deed, and as a reward I will grant you three wishes. What would you like?"

The boy scratched his head, then finally said, "First of all, I want my stepmother to soil her underwear every time I look at her."

The beggar didn't reply, so the boy continued: "I also would like a small pistol for shooting birds, such that anyone who sees me shooting must run after the bullet."

The beggar pulled out a small pistol from his pocket and handed it to the boy, saying, "What is your third wish?"

"I would like a clarinet such that all those who watch or listen to my playing shall be compelled to dance."

The beggar gave him a clarinet and disappeared.

The boy went home. His stepmother was just tethering the cow in the stable when he entered. As soon as he looked at her, she soiled her underclothes, and this happened every time he looked at her.

The next day she was invited to a wedding. She warned her husband to lock the boy up in a shed near the house, for she was afraid that her illness might return. Around noon, however, the father released the boy and told him to check on his stepmother. She was seated between two gentlemen at the wedding table. The boy went to a window and looked at his stepmother, who immediately soiled herself so much that everyone had to hold their noses. Finally they made her leave.

The boy hurried back to the shed so that when his stepmother came home and checked she found him inside.

"Surely there must be some magic behind this!" she cried.

The next day she went to confession and told the priest everything.

The priest comforted her by saying, "I will come to you and force the boy to tell me about the magic he uses."

He went to the field where the spring was and noticed the boy soaking his crusts of bread.

"What are you doing there?" asked the priest.

"I am soaking the moldy bread crusts that my stepmother gives me to eat."

"You are suspected of practicing magic."

"Oh, who says that?"

"If you will tell me the truth, I'll give you a nice picture next Sunday."

"I don't need a picture, but if you'll strip naked, you shall learn everything."

The priest took off his cassock and trousers, but kept on his underpants and undershirt. However, the boy insisted that he strip naked, and since no one else was around the priest stripped off the rest of his clothing.

The boy then shot his pistol into a thorny thicket. Immediately the priest ran after the bullet. When he was in the middle of the thicket, the boy began to play the clarinet, so that the priest, despite the thorns, had to dance.

The priest shouted, "You're a magician! You're a magician!" but he had to keep dancing.

Finally the boy stopped blowing, and the priest, all scratched and bleeding, was able to get dressed and go on his way.

He told the court the how the boy had tricked him, saying that he should be hanged. The bailiffs brought the boy before the judges, and he was sentenced to death. Before the execution, one of the judges asked him if he had a last wish.

"Yes," replied the boy, "I should like to take a walk along the pond, fire a pistol shot, and play my clarinet one more time."

They granted him this request.

The priest called: "He is a magician, tie me up!"

People thought he was a fool, but in the end they tied him up.

Everyone present at the court session went to the pond with the boy. As soon as he got there, led by two guards, he fired his pistol and they all followed the bullet into the water. He immediately picked up his clarinet and began to play, so that everyone in the water began to dance and finally drowned.

The boy freed the priest, and they both happily returned home.

(Upper Brittany)

Shortboot and His Flute


Once upon a time there lived a man and a woman who had no children, despite having been married for fifteen years. Twenty times a day wife and husband cried out: "Lord, give us a son, nothing but a son, even if he is only as big as a boot."

God finally heard their request, and after fifteen years and nine months gave them a son who was two spans tall and did not grow any taller. For this reason his parents named him Shortboot.

When he was old enough to work, nobody wanted to take him, the dwarf. However, he was more clever and more intelligent than the others.

At last he found work as a cowherd for an evil and miserly farmer. Bad bread, bad soup, a bed of straw, many beatings, and sparse wages, that is what our thumbling got.

But the dwarf was in good spirits and thought to himself: "Patience. After rain comes sunshine."

One day he was tending his cows and lying at a pasture on the banks of the River Gers. On the opposite bank he saw a woman who was scarcely a span tall, black as the night, and very old.

"Cowherd," she cried, "help me to the other bank of the river."

"Gladly, dear lady."

He took off his clothes. It was just after harvest time, so the water was so low that it came only up to his waist.

"Dear woman, now you are on this side."

"Thank you, dear cowherd. Your service shall be repaid to you. Here you have a flute that you should never part with. When you play it, animals and people who hear you will be forced to dance until you stop playing."

"Thank you, dear woman."

The old woman disappeared.

Shortboot began to play the flute. The oxen, cows, and calves immediately began to dance and did not stop until he stopped playing.

Soon after, near a hedge of thorns, the Justic of the Peace came by. He was an exceedingly angry and evil man.

Shortboot took off his cap: "Hello, Your Honor."

But he did not answer, nor did he touch his hat.

"Your Honor, I greeted you properly, can't you say thank you?"

He only raised his stick.

Then Shortboot played his flute, and immediately the Justice of the Peace danced into the thorn hedge, where he tore his clothes and scratched his skin. He danced until the dwarf stopped playing.

Shortboot brought his cattle home. His master and his family had a feast that day. There was bread soup, roast goose and turkey, cheese, and wine.

"Dear sir, may I have some of that."

"Be gone, you rascal. Moldy bread crusts are too good for you. Be gone, or there will be blows."

Shortboot played his flute, and the farmer and his family immediately began to dance. They danced around the benches and the overturned chairs, on plates, bowls, and broken wine bottles, which cut into them bloodily. They danced and danced until he stopped playing.

After this Shortboot returned to his parents, but the Justice of the Peace and the farmer brought charges against him in court.

Three days later the cowherd was sentenced to death by hanging. The red-robed judges, the priest, the hangman and his helpers led him to the gallows. He nearly burst with laughter when he saw the Justice of the Peace and the farmer among the people marching with them.

The hangman put the rope around his neck, but he began to play the flute, and everyone -- the judge, the priest, the hangman and his helpers, and the people -- danced. They danced up to the gallows, and their legs and arms were in constant danger of being broken. They danced until he stopped playing.

"Well, my dear people, do you still want to hang me?"

"No, Shortboot, be calm. Nothing will happen to you."

"My dear people, that's not enough for me. The Justice of the Peace and the farmer must be hanged without mercy."

"Shortboot, that's not possible!"

Shortboot played his flute again, and everyone immediately began to dance. They danced up to the gallows, and their legs and arms were in constant danger of being broken. They danced until he stopped playing.

"My dear people, I want the justice of the peace and the farmer to be hanged without mercy. Is this still not possible?"

"As you wish, Shortboot. Executioner, perform your duties."

The executioner and his helpers hanged the magistrate and the farmer.

"And now, dear people, you must give me a thousand pieces of gold as compensation."

"Shortboot, that's not possible!"

But Shortboot played the flute again, and everyone immediately began to dance. They danced up onto the gallows and back down again. Their arms and legs were in constant danger of being broken. They danced until he stopped playing.

"My dear people, you must give me a thousand pieces of gold as compensation for the injustice that I have suffered. Is this still not possible?"

"We will pay, Shortboot, but we don't have the money here."

"Then have it fetched, otherwise I'll play the flute again."

They brought the money, and Shortboot returned to his parents laden with gold. He lived happily and contentedly for many years afterward.


The Magic Violin


One day a young boy named Johann hired himself out as a herdsman on a farm. After three years he left the service and asked his master for his wages. The master took three hellers from his purse and gave them to Johann, who happily went on his way. After three days he came to a crossroads.

A dirty, ragged old man was sitting there. He called to him, "Give me something, for God's sake!"

"I only have three hellers, but I'll give them to you. In three years I'll earn them again. Just take them."

"I thank you very much, and I shall grant you three wishes. What do you choose."

"I ask for a gun that never misses its target, for a violin that makes everyone dance, and further I wish that no one will be able refuse my requests."

The old man made the wishes come true, and Johann continued on his way, half dancing, half walking. He came to a forest and stayed there to rest.

Suddenly he heard someone say, "Oh, I'd gladly give anything if I could have the beautiful nightingale singing over there on that tree."

It was the farmer who had given Johann three hellers as wages who uttered these words. Johann took his gun, which never missed its target, and shot down the nightingale, which fell into a thicket of thorns. The miser crept into the thorny thicket. Johann took up his violin and played, and the miser, driven by a higher power, began to hop and leap, and the thorns pricked him miserably.

"Hold on, hold on," he yelled to the boy, "I'll give you five hundred thalers. Just let me go."

Johann stopped playing, the farmer paid him the thalers, but went away grumbling and then brought charges against him at the court. Johann was arrested and sentenced to death. The execution was to take place the next day.

The farmer, the judges, and all the local people were gathered at the place of execution, where a high gallows was set up. Johann was brought in but asked the judges for his violin so that he could play once more before he died.

The farmer yelled, "Don't give it to him! Tie me up!"

But since Johann could not be denied anything, the violin was brought to him. He started to play, and everyone had to dance. The judges, tired and exhausted, asked Johann to stop playing and promised him that they would set him free.

He agreed to this and was now able to return to his village with his gun and his violin, which he still used on various occasions.


The Little Flute


Once upon a time there was a shepherd boy who lived happily with his goats in the green forest and on the lofty heights, without wishing for anything better.

One day he found two women sleeping in the forest. Since the sun was hot on them, he cut branches and made a green roof over them so that they were now lying in the shade. Soon afterwards they awoke and were quite amazed.

"Oh," they said, "who built the little green shelter for us?"

The boy approached them and said: "I did it."

They praised him, and one of them said: "You may ask anything from me, and you shall have it."

The boy replied: "Give me a little flute which will make everyone who hears it dance when I blow onto it."

The woman gave this to him.

Then the second woman said: "I too want to give you something. What do you want?"

The boy answered: "Give me a rifle with which without powder or shot I can hit all the birds I see in the air!"

She gave him the rifle. He thanked them and happily went on his way with the two wonderful gifts.

Now that was the life! When he played his flute in the forest, the geese danced merrily around him, and the hares in the bushes, and the squirrels in the trees, and even the foxes in their dens came and danced as if they had all gone mad. And when a bird of prey soared in the air, or a nasty raven croaked, he took his rifle and shot them down. But he did nothing to harm the dear little songbirds. He let them sing and hop as much as they wanted.

Once a priest was walking through the forest. The boy had just shot a bird, which had fallen into some thorn bushes. The priest went and wanted to get the bird out. Then the boy began to play his flute. and the poor man had to dance in the thorn bushes until he was all torn and bloody. He went to court and brought charges against the shepherd. The court sent out henchmen to seize the boy; but as they approached him he began to blow on his flute, and they had to dance until he stopped playing. They were now so tired that they could hardly stand upright. He did that every time they tried to capture him. However, they finally attacked him by surprise, snatched the flute from him, bound him, and led him bound to the dungeon.

He was brought to trial, and the judges pronounced the verdict that he should die on the gallows. He had been led to the gallows and was about to be hanged when he begged for mercy and to be granted one final request. This was granted to him, and he asked to be able to play his flute one final time. When he began to play, the hangman, who already had the rope in his hand, began to dance merrily. The judges too, and the henchmen, and the spectators all danced until they were dead tired.

Thus the boy escaped easily, and he never let himself be captured again.

The Magic Flute


Once upon a time there was a priest who had a son who was so good that everyone loved him. His task was to go out and tend the goats. One day he met Pan at his pasture, and Pan gave him a kid like no other in the world: its fur was golden, its ears were silver and his hooves were platinum. The youth had scarcely received the kid when he offered it to God as a burnt sacrifice.

Then an angel, sent from God, appeared before him and asked him what reward he wanted for this act. The youth replied that he wished only for a shepherd's pipe with the quality that whenever he played it all who heard it would begin to dance. Such a flute was suddenly there.

The youth took it, and whenever he was threatened, he saved himself with his flute. Then came the order from the king to have him arrested, but no one was able to capture him.

Finally, in order to take revenge on the king, he voluntarily allowed himself to be captured. After they had thrown him into prison, he began to blow his flute, and not only animals and people danced, but also houses and cliffs. The houses and cliffs fell on the people and crushed them all together with the king. Only the youth himself and his family survived.

The whole thing was instigated by Pan to cleanse the world of bad people.

Cecilio, the Servant of Emilio


Once upon a time there lived a witty orphan whose name was Cecilio. His parents had died when he was six years old. After that time he became a servant of Emilio, a man of wealth living in a very lonely and desolate barrio. The boy was faithful and kind-hearted, but his master was cruel. Cecilio had no wages at all.

In short, he served Emilio for four years, and at the end of that time he was given five hundred centavos as a payment for his services. Cecilio thought that he had been given too much: he was so simple-minded, that he did not know he had been cheated by his master, who should have given him ten times five hundred centavos.

Cecilio put his money in a new purse, and rushed out into the main road of the barrio to find his companions and tell them of the reward he had received. He was so very happy, that before he knew it, and without feeling at all tired, he had reached another barrio. Suddenly on his way he met two men with drawn bolos.

They stopped him, and said, "Boy, your money, or your life!"

Cecilio was much amazed at these words, but was also so frightened that he gave up the money at once.

He only said to himself, "Well, since I am not strong enough to defend myself, I either have to surrender my money or die."

He sat under a tree lamenting his fortune. But the two robbers were in trouble, because one of them wanted a greater share than the other.

The second robber said that their shares should be the same, for they had stolen the money together; but the former answered, "I am in all respects better than you are."

"Oh, no! for we have not yet had a trial," said the second.

At this they began to fight; and soon both fell so severely wounded, that they died before Cecilio, who had heard the noise of the struggle, could reach the place where they were disputing.

Now the boy was very happy again, for he had gotten his money back. As he had already travelled very far, he did not know where he was: he was lost.

But he proceeded along the road until he met another man, who said roughly to him, "Give me your money, or else you will die!"

Cecilio, thinking that he would rather live than try to defend his wealth, which he would lose in any case, gave his purse to the man. Then the boy went away and wept.

While he was crying over his bad luck, a very old woman came near him, and said, "Why are you weeping, my boy?"

The boy replied, "I am weeping because somebody took my money."

"Well, why did you give it up?" said the old woman.

"I gave it up because he said that he would kill me if I didn't."

Then the old woman said, "Take this cane with you, and whenever you see him, let it loose and pronounce these words: 'Sigue garrole, sigue garrote, Strike that fellow over there!' When you want the cane to stop, all you need to say is: 'Stop, stop, for that is enough!'"

The boy then said, "Is that all?"

"After you have recovered your money," said the old woman, "you must turn back here; but you had better hurry up now."

Cecilio then bade the old woman good-by, and at once ran away to overtake the man who had robbed him.

When he saw the man, he said, "Give me back my money, or else you now shall die, and not I!"

The man laughed at him, and said, "Of course I shall not give you back your money."

When he heard these words, the boy said, "Is that so?" and, letting go of his cane, he uttered the formula that the old woman had told him to pronounce.

The cane at once began to rain blows on the stranger's head and body.

When he could no longer endure the blows, and saw that he could not catch the stick, the man said, "If you will call off your cane, I will return your purse."

"Very well, I will pardon you," said Cecilio; "but if you had treated me as you should have treated me and others, you would not have been harmed."

Then he said to the cane, "Stop, stop, for that is enough!"

At once the magic stick stopped, and returned to its owner. The money was given back, and the man promised Cecilio that he would not rob any poor boy again.

On his way back toward the old woman, Cecilio met another man who wanted to rob him; but the boy said, "Don't you dare attempt to take my purse, or you will get yourself into trouble!"

The man became angry, and rushed at Cecilio to knock him down; but the boy pronounced the words which the old woman had taught him, and let the cane loose. The cane at once began to rain blows on the man's head and body. When he could no longer endure the pain, the man asked Cecilio's pardon. As the youth was kind-hearted, he forgave the man.

When he reached the old woman's house, Cecilio told her that the cane had been very useful to him, for it had saved both his life and his money. Then he returned the stick to the old woman, and thanked her very much.

She now offered to sell him a guitar which she had, the price of which was five hundred centavos. Since she had been so good to him, Cecilio at once agreed to the exchange; and after he had once more bade her good-by, he set out for his master's house.

When he came near his old home, Cecilio saw his master Emilio shooting at a very handsome bird on the top of a bamboo-tree. The bird fell down, and the man ran to pick it up. As Emilio was making his way up to the bird through the thorny bamboo undergrowth, Cecilio sat down to wait for him, and, having nothing else to do, began to play his guitar. The master at once began to dance among the bamboo-trees, and he received many wounds because of the sharp spines.

Now, in reality, the boy was playing his guitar unintentionally, and did not know of its magic power; but Emilio thought that Cecilio had discovered the deceit that had been practised on him, and was playing for revenge. Now, it happened that Emilio had a purse of money with him to give to the laborers working in his hacienda, so he promised to give all this money to Cecilio if he would only stop playing. The boy, who had by this time learned of the magic power of his guitar, stopped his music and received the money.

The crafty Emilio, however, at once hastened to the town, and asked the magistrate to apprehend Cecilio, a young robber. Cecilio set out for the old woman's house again; but the policemen soon overtook him, arrested him, and took him before the magistrate. There the boy was sentenced to death the next morning. Emilio's money was given back to him.

The following day, when he was about to be shot, Cecilio asked permission to play his guitar once more, and he was not refused it. As soon as he began to play, all began to dance, even his master, who was still sore from the previous day's exercise.

Finally Emilio could endure no more. He begged Cecilio to stop playing, and promised to give him all his wealth. He then told the soldiers to set the boy free, for it was all his own fault. Cecilio stopped playing, and was liberated by the magistrate.

Emilio kept his word, and bestowed on the boy all his wealth. When the old man died, Cecilio was the richest man in the town. He be came a capitan, and was greatly honored by the inhabitants of his barrio.



Once upon a time there lived in a small village on the border of a powerful kingdom a poor farmer, who had a son. This son was called a fool by many; but a palmer predicted that Cochinango would some day dine with the king, kiss the princess, marry her, and finally would himself be king.

Cochinango wondered how he could ever marry the princess and himself be king, for he was very poor. One day he heard that the king had summoned all those who would like to at tempt to answer the questions of the princess. It was announced that the person who could answer them all without fail should marry her. Cochinango thought that the time had now come for him to try his fortune, so he mounted his ass and rode towards the king's palace.

On his way Cochinango had to pass through a wide forest. Just at the edge of the wood he met a weary traveller. Cochinango had forgotten to bring buyo with him, so he asked the traveller for some.

The traveller said, "I have with me a magic buyo that will answer any question you put to it. If you give me some food, I will give you my buyo."

Cochinango willingly exchanged a part of his provisions for it. Then he rode on.

He came to a stream, where he met an old man leaning on his cane. Seeing that the old man wanted to get on the other side, but was too weak to swim, Cochinango offered to carry him across. In return for his kindness, the old man gave him his cane.

"You are very kind, young man," said he. "Take this cane, which will furnish you with food at any time."

Cochinango thanked the old man, took the cane, and rode on.

It is to be known that this old man was the same one who had given him the magic buyo. It was God himself, who had come down on earth to test Cochinango and to reward him for his kindness.

Cochinango had not ridden far when he met a wretched old woman. Out of pity he gave her a centavo, and in return she gave him an empty purse from which he could ask any sum of money he wanted.

Cochinango rode on, delighted with his good fortune, when he met God again, this time in the form of a jolly young fellow with a small guitar. He asked Cochinango to exchange his ass for the guitar. At first Cochinango hesitated; but, when he was told that he could make anybody dance by plucking its strings, he readily agreed to exchange.

Cochinango now had to proceed on foot, and it took him two days to reach the gates of the palace. Luckily he arrived on the very day of the guessing-contest. In spite of his mean dress, he was admitted.

The princess was much astonished at Cochinango's appearance, and disgusted by his boldness; but she was even more chagrined when he rightly answered her first question. Yet she denied that his answer was correct. She asked him two more questions, the most difficult that she could think of; but Cochinango, with the help of his magic buyo, answered both. The princess, however, could not admit that his answers were right. She shrunk from the idea of being married to a poor, foolish, lowly-born man. So she asked her father the king to imprison the insolent peasant, which was instantly done.

In the prison Cochinango found many nobles who, like himself, were victims of the guessing-match. Night came, and they were not given any food. The princess wanted to starve them to death. Cochinango told them not to worry; he struck a table with his cane, and instantly choice food appeared.

When this was reported to the princess by the guards, she went to the prison and begged Cochinango to give her the cane; but he would not give it up unless she allowed him to kiss her. At last she consented, and went away with the cane, thinking that this was the only way by which she could starve her prisoners.

The next day Cochinango asked for a large sum of money from his magic purse. He distributed it among his companions and among the guards, and they had no difficulty in getting food. Again the princess went to the prison, and asked Cochinango for the purse; but he would give it up only on condition that he be allowed to dine with the king. Accordingly he was taken to the king's table, where he ate with the king and the princess; but he was put in prison again as soon as the dinner was over.

At last Cochinango began to be tired of prison life, so he took up his wonderful guitar and began to play it. No sooner had he touched the strings than his fellow prisoners and the guards began to dance. As he played his guitar louder and louder, the inmates of the palace heard it, and they too began to dance. He kept on playing throughout the night; and the king, princess, and all got no rest whatsoever. By morning most of them were tired to death.

At last the king ordered the guards to open the prison doors and let the prisoners go free; but Cochinango would not stop playing until the king consented to give him the princess in marriage. The princess also at last had to agree to accept Cochinango as her husband, so he stopped playing.

The next day they were married with great pomp and ceremony.

Thus the poor, foolish boy was married to a princess. More than once he saved the kingdom from the raiding Moros by playing his guitar; for all his enemies were obliged to dance when they heard the music, and thus they were easily captured or killed.

When the king died, Cochinango became his successor, and he and the princess ruled happily for many years.

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Revised February 27, 2022.