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

My Father's Wedding

ONCE I discovered all of a sudden, it was before I was born, that my father was going to get married, and take my mother unto him. My father said to me, "Go to the mill and have some corn ground for bread for the wedding!" Whereupon I betook myself hurriedly like a smart fellow, I looked for a cloth, and took up into the loft three bags, and filled nine sacks with the best wheat of Dálnok, the best to be found; I put all nine sacks at once over my shoulder, and took them to the cart. I led out oxen and tried to yoke them, but neither of them could find it's old place; I put the off-side one on the near side, and the near-side one on the off side, and they were all right. I tried the yoke-pins, but they would not fit, I therefore put in lieu of one the handle of a shovel, and in place of the other a pole, and then all was right. I went to the mill with the team, and when I arrived there I stopped the oxen and stuck the whip into the ground in front of them to prevent them running away; I myself went into the mill to call the miller to assist me in carrying in the wheat. I couldn't find a soul in the mill. I looked around, under the bed, behind the oven, and saw that the green jug was not on it's peg; from this I knew that the mill was away gathering strawberries, so I thought, if this were so, I should have to wait patiently till it returned, but then I remembered that it was not its custom to hurry back, and by the time it got back my hair might be grey, and then it would be difficult for oxen to wait from year to year as I had not brought aught for them to feed on. So I rushed after it at a dog's trot, out on to the mount, and found it sniffing about the shrubs, so I cut a jolly good stick and began to bang it on both sides as hard as my strength allowed me, till I happened to hit it rather hard with the stick, and, having struck it, I could hear it far away as it began to move down in the valley, and it ground away and made such a clatter; it was just grinding my wheat! In order to get down from the mount into the valley more quickly, I lay down on the ground and rolled down the slope, and after me all the stumps, who envied my pastime. Nothing happened to them, and the only accident I had was that I knocked my nose a little into some soft cow-dung, but I didn't carry it away altogether, and a good deal of it is left there still. The poor white horse fared much worse than that, as it was grazing at the foot of the mount, it got so frightened by us that it ran out of this world with a fetter fastened to it's feet, and has not returned to this very day. I rubbed my nose on the sward as a hen does, and went to see what had become of the oxen in the meantime: lo! the stock of my whip had taken root and become such a tall tree that it was as high as the big tower at Brassó [1] and the starlings had built their nests in it, and had so many young ones that you couldn't hear the clattering of the mill for their chirping.

               Well, I was very much delighted, thinking that now I could catch a lot of young starlings; I knew how to climb well. I climbed the tree, and tried to put my hand into a hole but couldn't, so I tried my head, and that went in comfortably. I stuffed my breast full of starlings. When I tried to get out of the hole I could not; so I rushed home and fetched an adze, and cut myself out. I couldn't get down, as the tree was so thick and my head so giddy, so I called the miller to help me, but he, thinking that my complaint was hunger, sent me some miller-cake by his son, but I told him in a great rage that that was not what I wanted: so off he ran at once, and brought me a bushel of bran, handing it up on the end of a pale. I twisted the bran into a rope, so strong that it would bear a millstone, and I tried whether it would reach the ground, but it did not reach, so I doubled it up, then it not only reached, but trailed on the ground. I began to glide down it, but a beetle aloft sawed it in two where it was tied to the bough, and down I dropped rope and all; but while I was falling to the ground, in the meantime, the young starlings in my breast got their feathers, took to their wings, and flew away with me. When we were flying over the river Olt, some women who were washing rags on the bank began to shout, "What the fiery thunderbolt is the boy doing that he flies so well? If he drops he will drop straight in the river and drown." I saw they were all staring at me, but from the chirping of the young starlings I couldn't clearly hear what they shouted: so I thought they were shouting that I should untie the waist-band of my shirt. I untied the waist-band of my shirt below the garter that tied my socks: with this the young starlings got out of my bosom all at once and all the wings I had flew away. Down I dropped into the middle of the river: with my splash the waters overflowed the banks and washed as far as the foot of the mountain: but when the waters flowed back into the bed of the river, (with the exception of a few drops that were lapped up by a thirsty shepherd-dog of Gidófalú) so many fish were left on the bank that they covered the whole place, from Málnás to Doboly and from Árkos to Angyalos and even the whole plain of Szépmezö. Well, there was a lot of fish! Twelve buffalo-carts were carting them away without interruption for a whole week, and the quantity didn't get less, you couldn't see that any had been taken away: but a stark naked gipsy brat came that way from Köröspatak, and he picked them up, put them into his shirt lap, and carried them all away.

                I then remembered that they had not sent me here to play but to grind corn, so I started in the direction of where I had left the oxen to see what they were doing, and whether they were there still. I travelled for a long time till I got quite tired. I saw in a meadow a horse, and I thought I could easily get on it, and go where I wished to go, but it would not wait for me. I caught hold of its tail, turned it round, and so we stood face to face, and I said to it quite bumptiously: "Ho! stop, old nag. Don't be so frisky." It understood the kind words and stopped dead, like a peg. I put the saddle on the grey and sat on the bay and started off on the chestnut; over a ditch and over a stile, so that the horse's feet did not touch the ground. In one place I passed a vineyard, and inside the hedge there was a lot of pretty ripe fruit. I stopped the grey, got down from the bay, and tied the chestnut to the paling. I tried to climb over the hedge, but couldn't, so I caught hold of my hair, and swung myself over. I began to shake the plum-tree, and walnuts dropped. I picked up the filberts and put them in my bosom. It was very hot, I was very thirsty, so that I nearly died of thirst. I saw that not very far away there were some reapers, and I asked, "Where can I get water here?" They shewed me a spring not far off. I went there, and found that it was frozen over. I tried in vain to break the ice with my heel, and then with a stone, but did not succeed, as the ice was a span thick; so I took the skull from my head and broke the ice with it easily. I scooped up water with it, and had a hearty drink. I went to the hedge and swung myself over by the hair into the road; then I untied the grey, got on the bay, and galloped off on the chestnut, over stile and ditch, so that my hair flew on the wind. In one place I passed two men. As I overtook them, they called out after me: "Where's your head, my boy?" I immediately felt my back, and lo! my head was not there; so I galloped back at a quick dog-trot to the spring. What did I see? My skull felt lonely without me, and had so much sense that as I forgot it there, it had made a neck, hands, waist, and feet, for itself out of the mud, and I caught it sliding on the ice. Well! I wasn't a bad hand at sliding myself, so I slid after it as fast as I could. But it knew better than I did, and so I couldn't possibly catch it. My good God! What could I do? I was very much frightened that I was really going to be left without a head but I remembered something, and thought to myself: "Never mind, skull, don't strain yourself, you can't outdo me." So I hurriedly made a greyhound out of mud, and set it after my skull. He caught it in a jiffy, and brought it to me. I took it and put it on: I went to the hedge, and seizing myself by the hair, swung myself over the hedge: untied the grey, got on the bay, and galloped away on the chestnut, over a stile, and over a ditch, like a bird, till I came to the mill, where I found that my father had not had patience to wait for me, and so had set off in search of me; and, as he couldn't find me, began to bewail me, vociferating: "Oh! my soul! Oh! my son! Where have you gone? Oh! Oh! Why did I send you without anybody to take care of you? Oh! my soul! Oh! my son! Now all is over with you. You must have perished somewhere." As my father was always scolding me, and calling me bad names in my lifetime, I could never have believed that he were able to pity me so much. When I saw what was the matter with him, I called from a distance: "Console yourself, father, I am here, 'a bad hatchet never gets lost.'" It brought my poor old father's spirits back. We put the sacks full of flour on the cart and went home, and celebrated my father's wedding sumptuously. The bride was my mother, and I was the first who danced the bride's dance with her, and then the others had a turn, and when the wedding was over, all the guests went away and we were left at home by ourselves, and are alive at this date, if we are not dead. I was born one year after this, and I am the legitimate son of my father, and have grown up nicely, and have become a very clever lad.


Kriza x.

                Cf. Halliwell, Nursery Rhymes: "Sir Gammer Vans," p. 147.

               Grimm, vol. ii., "The story of Schlauraffen land," p. 229; "No-beard and the Boy," p. 518; "The Turnip," p. 213, and notes, pp. 413, 442, 452.

               Vernaleken, "The King does not believe Everything," p. 241.

               Caballero, Fairy Tales, "A tale of Taradiddles," p. 80.

               Denton, Serbian Folk-Lore, "Lying for a Wager," p. 107.

               Stokes, Indian Fairy Tales, Nos. 4, 8, and 17.

               Ralston, Russian Folk-Tales, p. 295.

               Mr. Quigstad has kindly sent the following Lapp variants collected at Lyngen. There was once a pot so large that when cooking was going on at one end, little boys were skating at the other. One of the men to whom the pot belonged set to work to make his comrade a pair of shoes, and used up seven ox-hides on the job. One of them got a bit of dust in his eye, and the other sought for it with an anchor, and found during his search a three-masted ship, which was so large that a little boy who went aloft was a white-haired old man when he got back again. There were seven parishes in that ship!

               "Lügenmärchen" are common in Finland, and generally turn on a big fish, or a big turnip, and a big kettle to boil it in, giant potatoes, huge mushrooms, and so on. A schoolboy's story in Newcastle-on-Tyne relates how one man told his comrade of a remarkable dream he had had of an enormous turnip; whereat his comrade replied he had dreamt about an enormous kettle which was to boil the turnip in.

               The other day a Boston friend told the writer a Lincolnshire story of a man who grew such splendid turnips that there were only three in a ten-acre field, and one grew so big it pushed the other two out. This man had a mate who made such a big kettle, that the man at one side could not hear the rivetting at the other! I am told by my friend Prof. Gittée that similar tales are current in Flanders.

               Another north country yarn tells of a naked blind man going out to shoot, and seeing six crows, he shot them, and put them in his pocket.


               Page 88. The river Olt rises in Transylvania, and flows into the Danube in Wallachia, in which country it is called the Aluta.


[1] Cronstadt in Transylvania.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: My Father's Wedding
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

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