Folk-Tales of the Magyars, The UNDER CONSTRUCTION | Annotated Tale

Lamb with the Golden Fleece, The

THERE was once a poor man who had a son, and as the son grew up his father sent him out to look for work. The son travelled about looking for a place, and at last met with a man who arranged to take him as a shepherd. Next day his master gave him a flute, and sent him out with the sheep to see whether he was fit for his work. The lad never lay down all day, very unlike many lazy fellows. He drove his sheep from place to place and played his flute all day long. There was among the sheep a lamb with golden fleece, which, whenever he played his flute, began to dance. The lad became very fond of this lamb, and made up his mind not to ask any wages of his master, but only this little lamb. In the evening he returned home; his master waited at the gate; and, when he saw the sheep all there and all well-fed, he was very pleased, and began to bargain with the lad, who said he wished for nothing but the lamb with the golden fleece. The farmer was very fond of the lamb himself, and it was with great unwillingness he promised it; but he gave in afterwards when he saw what a good servant the lad made. The year passed away; the lad received the lamb for his wages, and set off home with it. As they journeyed night set in just as he reached a village, so he went to a farmhouse to ask for a night's lodging. There was a daughter in the house who when she saw the lamb with the golden fleece determined to steal it. About midnight she arose, and lo! the moment she touched the lamb she stuck hard-and-fast to its fleece, so that when the lad got up he found her stuck to the lamb. He could not separate them, and as he could not leave his lamb he took them both. As he passed the third door from the house where he had spent the night he took out his flute and began to play. Then the lamb began to dance, and on the wool the girl. Round the corner a woman was putting bread into the oven; looking up she saw the lamb dancing, and on its wool the girl. Seizing the peel in order to frighten the girl, she rushed out and shouted, "Get away home with you, don't make such a fool of yourself." As the girl continued dancing the woman called out, "What, won't you obey?" and gave her a blow on her back with the peel, which at once stuck to the girl, and the woman to the peel, and the lamb carried them all off. As they went they came to the church. Here the lad began to play again, the lamb began to dance, and on the lamb's fleece the girl, and on the girl's back the peel, and at the end of the peel the woman. Just then the priest was coming out from matins, and seeing what was going on began to scold them, and bid them go home and not to be so foolish. As words were of no avail, he hit the woman a sound whack on her back with his cane, when to his surprise the cane stuck to the woman, and he to the end of his cane. With this nice company the lad went on; and towards dark reached the royal borough and took lodgings at the end of the town for the night with an old woman. "What news is there?" said he. The old woman told him they were in very great sorrow, for the king's daughter was very ill, and that no physician could heal her, but that if she could but be made to laugh she would be better at once; that no one had as yet been able to make her smile; and moreover the king had issued that very day a proclamation stating that whoever made her laugh should have her for his wife, and share the royal power. The lad with the lamb could scarcely wait till daylight, so anxious was he to try his fortune. In the morning he presented himself to the king and stated his business and was very graciously received. The daughter stood in the hall at the front of the house; the lad then began to play the flute, the lamb to dance, on the lamb's fleece the girl, on the girl's back the peel, at the end of the peel the woman, on the woman's back the cane, and at the end of the cane the priest. When the princess saw this sight she burst out laughing, which made the lamb so glad that it shook everything off its back, and the lamb, the girl, the woman, and the priest each danced by themselves for joy.

               The king married his daughter to the shepherd; the priest was made court-chaplain; the woman court bakeress; and the girl lady-in-waiting to the princess.

               The wedding lasted from one Monday to the other Tuesday, and the whole land was in great joy, and if the strings of the fiddle hadn't broken they would have been dancing yet!


Kriza, ix.

               Cf. Round the Yule Log. "Hans, who made the Princess laugh," p. 269.

               Grimm, vol. ii. "The Jew among the Thorns," p. 97 and Notes, p. 410, in which the Jew is compelled to dance to the sound of the fiddler.

               Engel's Musical Myths, vol. ii. "The Indefatigable Fiddler," p. 29, and the "Ratcatcher of Hamelin," p. 37. (Also, Baring Gould's Curious Myths, p. 417.)

               Griechische und Albanische Märchen, von J. G. von Hahn, Leipzig, 1864, vol. i. p. 222, and vol. ii. p. 240.--Ladislaus Arany. "The Sad Princess" (in Hungarian).--Gaal, vol. iii. "The Powerful Whistle."

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Lamb with the Golden Fleece, The
Tale Author/Editor: Jones, W. Henry & Kropf, Lewis L.
Book Title: Folk-Tales of the Magyars, The UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Book Author/Editor: Jones, W. Henry & Kropf, Lewis L.
Publisher: Elliot Stock
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1889
Country of Origin: Hungary
Classification: ATU 571: "All Stick Together"

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