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Green Hills of Magic

Green Hills of Magic: West Virginia Folktales from Europe

Ruth Ann Musick
with illustrations by Archie L. Musick
Copyright Date: 1970
Pages: 328
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130j6sc
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  • Book Info
    Green Hills of Magic
    Book Description:

    In the early years of this century, miners from nearly every country in Europe and Asia Minor migrated to West Virginia to seek employment in its great collieries. With them they brought many folktales and legends of then homelands. Ruth Ann Musick has collected some of the best and most representative of these stories -- never before published in book form -- inThe Green Hills of Magic. In many instances, these tales were first related in family circles in the native languages of the tellers, later to be translated by their younger English-speaking descendants. Entertaining in themselves, the stories are also excellent examples of the diverse folk beliefs and cultural patterns of the national and ethnic immigrant groups. The tales are attractively illustrated with more than twenty black-and-white drawings.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6417-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    I first saw the hills over thirty years ago in early summer, enroute to New York City by train. The outside scenery from St. Louis had been mostly rivers and trees—and nothing could be much more intriguing—exceptgreen hills by the hundreds. They had appeared from nowhere, while I was asleep. I looked out one morning, and there they were—hills upon hills—billowing up like waves from a sea of moss-green velvet.Somethinghad happened. We were in another world—a world of magic! Someone said it was West Virginia. All I knew was I was under...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    R. A. M.
  5. 1. Man against the Devil

    • 1. The Legend of Twardowski
      (pp. 1-15)

      To this day people in Poland speak of the legendary figure of Twardowski with awe, and repeat tales of his wondrous travels and doings while on earth, as of no one else. If a man lives to a very venerable age or past the century mark, he is said to be as old as Twardowski. Or, if a man has unusual physical strength, he is said to be as strong as Twardowski. Or, if he is unusually bright and cunning, he is said to be as clever as Twardowski. Children who hear the legend of Twardowski diligently aspire to that...

    • 2. The Man Who Sold His Shadow
      (pp. 16-16)

      Once in far-off Ireland there was a man named John O’Hara, who had been having bad luck for a long time. He had lost his job; his wife had taken ill and died; and nothing had gone right. He decided to take his own life because he had no money to pay his debts and had nothing to live for. So, on a foggy Wednesday night, he walked to the bridge crossing the river and had climbed upon the rail to jump when a voice called to him to wait; that he wanted to talk to him.

      The man told...

    • 3. Patience
      (pp. 17-20)

      A long time ago, away up in the mountains in old Turkey, there was a buried treasure, consisting of many hundred dollars’ worth of gold and silver. This money was possessed by the devil, and a certain procedure had to be followed in order to obtain it. The people in town knew about the money buried in the mountain, but were either afraid to do anything about it, or didn’t know how to go about getting it.

      One day a priest came along, and having heard the story he went around town to see if he could find a youth...

    • 4. “El Caballo con Alas”
      (pp. 20-23)

      Alberto Rodriguez had a close friend named Gabriel Fernandez. Gabriel had received word that his mother, who lived in the neighboring village of Molina, was quite ill, and he wanted to go and see her. His wife was expecting their first child at any moment, however, and he felt he should be with her. Finally, at his wife’s insistence, he decided to see his mother, but promised he would be home by late afternoon.

      In order to reach the village of Molina, Gabriel, like all others before him, had to cross a narrow stream. There were large flat rocks, which...

    • 5. General Staats and the Devil
      (pp. 23-25)

      General Jonathan Staats of Ripley, West Virginia, was a general of consequence in the Civil War, but a man not always trusted in other than military matters. One evening he sat musing at the fireside on the hardness of life in a new country and the difficulty of getting wealth, for old Jonathan was fond of money, and the lack of it distressed him worse than a conscience.

      “If only I could have gold,” he muttered, “I’d sell my soul for it.”

      Suddenly something came down the chimney. The general was dazzled by a burst of sparks, from which stepped...

  6. 2. Efforts to Outwit Death

    • 6. The White Bird of Death
      (pp. 26-30)

      Along with the black coach with the six fog-gray horses, the Irish tell of a great White Bird that came for the souls of children and infants that were about to die. This bird was very large and pure white. The only sound it made was with its powerful wings, and the soft noise made by the air filtering through the wing feathers while the White Bird glided around the dwelling of the sick infant or child.

      This is the story of Dennis O’Neal and his grandson, Jamie.

      Dennis and Jamie were the last of the O’Neals. This was because...

    • 7. The Godmother
      (pp. 30-31)

      Once there was a man and a woman who had a young baby, whom they wanted to have baptized. Not knowing anyone well, they started to look for a godparent. After a while they met the devil, who offered to be the godfather, but the parents objected because he was evil and ugly.

      Then they met an old woman with a sickle, who said she would like to be the child’s godmother. The man and woman knew that the woman’s name was Death, but since she took the lives not only of good people but also of bad, thought that...

    • 8. The Devil, Death, and Simon Greene
      (pp. 31-34)

      Once upon a time a village blacksmith named Simon Greene was sitting in his wine cellar drinking a glass of his favorite beverage when Death appeared in the doorway and told him it was time for him to go with her. Simon Greene didn’t want to die so soon and tried to think of a way out. Finally he asked Death if she would join him in his last glass of wine. She accepted not just one glass but several, and soon was bragging about how she could change herself into anything in the world. Simon Greene asked her if...

    • 9. Look in Your Own Backyard
      (pp. 35-36)

      There once lived a happy, rich man whose name was John. He had everything life had to offer—many racehorses, a ranch full of cattle, a multitude of friends, a good wife to love him, and all the money he could ever spend.

      One day Death came knocking on his door. When he answered the door, there she stood with her scythe on her back.

      “Hello, old boy,” she said. “Come along with me. It’s time to go.”

      Being afraid of Death, he began to cry and beg for his life. “Please,” he said, “I have a wife, friends, and...

  7. 3. Vampires and Werewolves

    • 10. The Curse of the Vampire
      (pp. 37-49)

      Part One: Alexandru Capak and his young wife, Maria, left Bucharest in 1816 for their summer vacation. Their visit was to take them into the hills of Transylvania where the Capaks had many relatives. It was a short journey via the Romanian equivalent to the American buckboard on bumpy roads. In three days, they arrived at the country estate of Andre Capak who gave them a grand welcome. Tired from the long journey, they settled down for the night.

      The next seven days were spent in festivity, laughing and drinking, for the Capaks have always been champion bibbers. Their gaiety...

    • 11. Footprints in the Snow
      (pp. 49-51)

      In the quiet little village of Lutza in western Hungary lived Stefan Lutza, whose grandparents had founded the village over a hundred years before. Stefan followed the family tradition by becoming the mayor of the village that bore his name. It was the custom for the mayor to live in the big house that overlooked the village and to give shelter to all travelers that entered Lutza. But six years had passed, and no one had come to visit the mayor and his pretty young wife Esther.

      Then one winter there came a knock on the door at midnight.

      The...

    • 12. Old Man Devaule
      (pp. 51-52)

      Many years ago, there was an old shepherd called Devaule, who lived alone in a little cottage on top of Mount Zenta. Whenever he was asked about his life, he always told the same gruesome story.

      When he was twenty-one years of age, he married one of the prettiest maidens in the village. She gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, who grew straight and strong until he was fifteen. Then, one day while working in the field, he died without a cause. Devaule’s wife could not bear the loss of her only son, and within two years, she had...

    • 13. Ivan
      (pp. 53-55)

      Ivan was born and brought up in a small town in Hungary. He was a big, goodlooking boy, who could do everything well. He had a large farm on the outskirts of town and was engaged to the prettiest girl in the village.

      Ivan was very happy. Then came the war, and he was drafted into the army. He went to war and was wounded in the head. When he returned to the village, he was no longer the same person.

      He acted like a child. All the people in the village made fun of him and took advantage of...

    • 14. The Lady Was a Werewolf
      (pp. 56-59)

      Somewhere in the countryside of Romania, in a little village called Cluj, lived a family by the name of Mestrovic. They had no children, although they were in their late twenties and were quite well-to-do. Being young and likeable, they were usually surrounded by callers at all times of the day. Every once in a while, they would have a social gathering and invite friends from some distance away. Usually at these gatherings the guests would stay all night.

      One night in early May 1853 the Mestrovics were having such a party, and everything was going well. The ladies were...

    • 15. The Werewolf of Campobello
      (pp. 59-61)

      To planters and astronomers, a full moon may mean good sky-watching and planting, but to the citizens of Campobello, it meant nights of terror. Among the people in the village was a man named Angelo Schemari; who was the caretaker at the local schoolhouse in the village. He was especially good at caring for roses and had them growing all over the school grounds. Some of these flowers were prize possessions. There were some species that no one had ever seen before. He possessed a real green thumb as far as roses were concerned.

      Angelo, however, was the victim of...

    • 16. The White Wolf
      (pp. 62-63)

      In a little Hungarian village, strange happenings occurred that had the people living in a state of fear. Every night for several weeks a murder had been committed. The victims were of all ages and of both sexes. The only clues found were the mutilated bodies of the victims.

      The first victim was a young girl about eighteen years old. The authorities found her lying in a small area, which at present we would consider a park. Her hair was tangled and caked with blood. Her throat and face had long scratches, which looked like claw marks.

      The next victim...

    • 17. Ears Can Give You Away
      (pp. 64-65)

      One night a man named Martin was waiting in an English train station. The night was unusually dark, and the train was late. Mr. Martin was getting extremely worried and was starting to shake with fear.

      He finally decided that he had to talk to someone, and he saw at his far right a tall man in a trenchcoat and a hat over his eyes, who was staring at the floor. When he approached the man and said that he had to talk to someone, the man told him to start talking.

      Mr. Martin told his story, saying it had...

    • 18. The Secret
      (pp. 65-67)

      The small town was awaking to a bright, sunlit day. The older citizens were seated in front of the town’s only inn, enjoying the warmth of the early spring sun. The peaceful scene was disturbed by the loud barking of dogs. They followed at the heels of a stranger, who called to a group of playing children and inquired about lodgings.

      Given directions, he turned toward the inn. He could see the older men study him as he approached them. Not many tourists stopped in the small town, and they wondered what was bringing him here.

      The stranger was in...

    • 19. Fatal Shortcut
      (pp. 67-68)

      My father’s family certainly had their share of misfortunes; first it was his young sister Esther who came to a mysterious death, and then it was his older brother, Steve. It seems strange, having two such deaths in a single family, but in Old Hungary anything could happen, and it usually did.

      Steve was in his third year of high school when tragedy struck the Puskas family for the second time within a year. The children were all playing games behind the barn when Steve’s mother called to him. She wanted him to take the butter and milk to the...

  8. 4. Evil Spirits, Curses, and Witchcraft

    • 20. Seven Bones
      (pp. 69-72)

      A long time ago in Czechoslovakia, a young girl, whose mother was dead and whose lover had gone to war, went to an elderly fortuneteller to find out whether her lover was dead or alive. The old lady told her to get seven bones from seven different graves and boil them in a pot of water until midnight for seven nights. She said that at midnight on the seventh night her lover would come to her. If he were alive, he would be on foot, but if he were dead, he would be riding a horse. If he were a...

    • 21. Seven Devils
      (pp. 73-75)

      In a small village of peasant farmers and humble dwellings within Budapest lived a miller and his seven lovely daughters. Because he ground all the grain for the village, he was considered one of the wealthiest men in the community. Each of his seven daughters was beautiful, and the miller worked hard to provide the best for them.

      He wanted husbands for them who would be rich and handsome. The oldest daughter was planning to be married to a gentlemen much older than she, but he was very wealthy. The miller approved of her choice and was proud that his...

    • 22. Javo’s Curse
      (pp. 75-78)

      In the language of the Yugoslavians the word “Javo” means a promoter of death, or someone associated with ill omens of death, or death itself. The word also corresponds to all the misfortunes that might happen to an individual.

      One day while walking through the country, a young man by the name of Duchien met Javo. Duchien was thoroughly amused by his extraordinary slim build, his uncanny slanting black eyes, and his starved appearance. He looked at Javo and could not restrain his laughter.

      Javo became very angry and, with a glance into the eyes of Duchien, put a curse...

  9. 5. Dragons, Giants, and Other Monsters

    • 23. The Story of Hedgy
      (pp. 79-106)

      During the time when the states were not united and people had to get special permission to go from one state to another, there lived two kings—King George of Pennsylvania and King Jimmy of West Virginia. King Jimmy’s wife had a three-month-old baby and wanted to visit a friend in Pennsylvania, but we must remember that people were not allowed to cross the boundary line from one state to another. Nevertheless, King Jimmy took his family and started to make the journey with his horse and buggy.

      When they reached the boundary of Pennsylvania, there stood a guard who...

    • 24. The Bad Boy Who Became a Knight
      (pp. 107-112)

      A man had one son who was a very bad boy. He played hooky most of the time, robbed birds’ nests, killed birds, and was mean generally. His father didn’t know this, since around home the boy was fairly good. He thought his son went to school every day and was as good as the average boy, and when people told him he wasn’t, he wouldn’t believe them.

      One day a fair came to town, and the father and son rode in to see it on one horse, with the boy sitting behind. He thumbed his nose and stuck out...

    • 25. The Two Brothers
      (pp. 113-118)

      Two brothers, John the younger and William the older, started out to seek adventure.

      They walked along together until they came to a spring. There was a road leading to the right and another road went to the left of the spring.

      William chose the right and John took the left. “Now when we come back homeward,” said William, “and come to this spring—observe carefully the water in it. It is clear and so it shall be if all is well with us both, but if the water in the spring is blood, then death has befallen one of...

    • 26. John and the Giants
      (pp. 118-122)

      There was a shoemaker boy by the name of John, who was not much good at shoemaking. A caravan came along, and a fellow had his shoes broken—needing fixing. When he got them fixed, he asked John what he charged, and John replied, “Four cents.”

      Just then a farmer came in selling cheese. John bought four cents’ worth and put the cheese on the table with his tools.

      Then another man came with broken shoes, and John had no time to eat the cheese. When he had finished the second man’s shoes, John went to the cheese, and it...

    • 27. Smart Mrs. McCool
      (pp. 123-124)

      Long, long ago there lived a giant named Fin McCool. He was as tall as a house, and his ears were as big as pancakes. He was so strong he could pick up a bear and throw it like a ball.

      Fin McCool was very big and strong, but he was afraid of one thing. He was afraid of a bigger giant named Cucullan. Not only was Cucullan bigger than Fin, but also he had a magic finger which made him stronger than Fin.

      Cucullan had given every giant around a good beating—all except Fin McCool. He told everyone...

    • 28. Lucky and the Giant
      (pp. 124-126)

      One day Lucky wanted to go fishing, but when he got to the river he could not believe his eyes. The river was gone. He ran all the way home to tell his father there was no river.

      Because he was a farmer and needed the water to grow his crops, Lucky’s father was concerned. He decided to trace the river to its source to see what was wrong. He followed the dry riverbed into the hills, and there in front of him was a lake made by the giant Elmo, who was wading in it.

      Elmo looked down, saw...

    • 29. Mosquitoes
      (pp. 126-127)

      Faraway in the mountainous region of Europe, there lived a man, his wife, and their son. One day, out of the mountains, came a maneating monster, who devoured the man and wife. The boy, Olaf, was away and was spared the same fate. When he returned and found that his parents had been killed and eaten, he swore vengeance upon the killer.

      He began searching for the monster at once, but many years passed before he found him.

      Olaf drew his sword and the battle began. He stabbed the creature many times, but could not kill him. The monster, seeing...

  10. 6. Magic Objects, Elements, and Powers

    • 30. The Ring
      (pp. 128-132)

      Once there lived a family of six people—the father, mother, and four children. When the father died, the mother and children were left to shift for themselves. The mother would make tablecloths, and John, the oldest boy, would deliver them on the days when he was not in school. They lived in a rented house and had very little for food.

      One Saturday, when John had delivered a tablecloth and was on his way home, he saw some boys beating a dog. He begged the boys to leave the dog alone, but they paid no attention to him until...

    • 31. The Three Brothers
      (pp. 133-134)

      A king had three sons, and one day he called them in and told them he was going to die. He asked one of them to watch over his grave every night, after he was dead. Neither of the two older boys would take his turn, so the youngest watched for each of them, and then watched at his turn too. The first night, the father appeared from the grave, gave his youngest son a magic switch, and then went back into his grave. The second night he gave his son a ring, telling him that whatever he wanted, he...

    • 32. The Bewitched Princess
      (pp. 135-139)

      Once there was a young man who wanted to be married and have a home, but nobody would marry him, and he was so unhappy that he decided to hang himself. He took a rope, went to the woods, tied the rope to a high limb of a tree, made a loop, and was about to put the loop around his neck, when he heard a voice say, “Stop! Don’t do that!”

      He took the loop from his neck, looked around, but didn’t see anything. So he said, “Well, something fooled me. I’m going to put the loop around my...

    • 33. The Girl with No Hands
      (pp. 139-144)

      When the queen of Persia was on her deathbed and knew she was going to die, she made the king promise that when he married again, it would be only to someone who looked exactly like her. After the queen’s death, the king searched for three years to find someone who looked like his wife and then realized that his daughter was the image of her mother, so he determined to marry her. However, the daughter, rather than marry her own father, requested to be killed. As a result, the king made plans to have her put to death, asking...

    • 34. The Switch, the Tablecloth, and the Harmonica
      (pp. 145-147)

      There were three boys in a family. The father was dead, and the two older boys would go out to work on a farm. The older boys wanted the little boy to go out and work too, and he did. His big brothers whipped him, so the little boy started to cry and ran away from them.

      He went into the woods and came to a place where three girls were asleep, with the sun shining right on their faces. The boy decided to get some brush to cover the girls’ faces, so the sun wouldn’t shine on them.

      The...

    • 35. The Bell of Justice
      (pp. 148-149)

      A Spanish prince had the misfortune to lose his eyesight. In order that his people might not be the worse for his loss, he hung a bell in his palace and decreed that anyone who had a wrong to be righted should pull the rope and ring the bell. When the bell rang, a judge would go down to hear the complaint and right the wrong.

      It happened that a serpent had its home under the end of the bell rope. It hatched its young and one day when the little serpents could leave the palace, it led them out...

    • 36. The Dough Prince
      (pp. 149-151)

      Once there was a princess who couldn’t find a prince she could love, so she decided to make one. She mixed a dough and shaped it like a man, straight, tall, and very handsome. When the princess kissed him, he came to life. She taught him to talk and walk and he grew to be a fine young prince. They got married and she loved him more and more each day.

      Because the bandits were causing a great deal of trouble in the country, the prince resolved to campaign against them, and in his pursuit followed them out of the...

    • 37. The Three Wishes
      (pp. 151-153)

      Once upon a time there was an old man who lived with his wife in a forest, faraway from town. They lived on mushrooms, game, fish, vegetables from their garden, and fruit from their trees. They were happy and lived comfortably.

      One pleasant June evening they were sitting in front of the house on a bench. Lightning bugs were flying about, some bright and some dim, but one was brighter than all the rest. At first it seemed faraway, but as they watched, it kept getting bigger and brighter every minute, until it was as big as an apple and...

  11. 7. Little People

    • 38. The Leprechauns
      (pp. 154-156)

      The leprechauns were leather workers and cobblers. Like all true Irishmen they liked liquor, horses, songs, parties, dances, and fighting. These little people all dressed pretty much alike. They wore loafer style shoes with large buckles, and long white hose. Their pants came down below their knees, and their jackets were of the swallowtail style, with either silver or gold buttons. They all wore vests of some contrasting color with white ruffled shirts made from good Irish linen. The color of their suits was green, a protective color, probably selected to help the leprechauns avoid detection. They also wore high-crowned...

    • 39. Peggy O’Leary and the Leprechauns
      (pp. 157-158)

      Peggy O’Leary was a young lass who lived in County Cork near the town of O’Dich. She was a charming girl, witty, and easy to look upon with her raven black hair, green eyes, and rosy complexion. Her mother was dead and Peggy was housekeeper for her father, Timothy, and two brothers, Pat and Mike.

      She was wanting to marry with a young bogtrotter and peat merchant named Brian O’Neil. Her only difficulty was that her father and two brothers had no use for any O’Neil and even less than that for the one called Brian.

      One sunny day Peggy...

    • 40. Pafrick O’Dea and the English
      (pp. 158-160)

      Patrick O’Dea was as fun-loving a lad as ever walked the peat bogs. He liked fun and frolic, but had a very strong hatred for the king’s troops, English soldiers, stationed in the village to maintain control for England. Patrick was constantly breaking English laws. This lawbreaking was very easy to do, as the English had made almost everything the Irish people liked to do unlawful.

      Patrick was always either doing something or thinking of ways to torment the English. The English, in turn, had their own ideas about Patrick O’Dea. Their captain had often thought how nice it would...

    • 41. Don Mike O’Dolan
      (pp. 160-163)

      In the old days, back in the time of my great-great-great-grandfather Donald Michael O’Dolan, the main form of entertainment was feuding and raiding among the different counties of Ireland. Don Mike, as he was called, was the chieftain over the O’Deas, O’Neils, McGilcuddys, O’Brians, McDonalds, and the McNeals.

      His country was raided once by the combined forces of the O’Tooles, McGavins, Fluhartys, and O’Haras. This raid happened early one morning. Don Mike and his followers finally, after several hours of hard fighting, beat off the attack. But in the fighting, Don Mike suffered grievous wounds. A lesser man would have...

    • 42. Friendship of the Wee People
      (pp. 163-164)

      Many years ago when my great-great-grandfather and grandmother were just getting their family started, they were having quite a hard time of it one winter. Their potato bin was almost empty, the cornmeal was almost gone, and they had one side of bacon left. In fact, they were just about to the point of having to beg.

      One day an old woman came to the door and asked my grandmother if she could have some cornmeal. Grandmother asked her to come into the house, and told her that that they were low on their supply of meal, but what they...

  12. 8. Impossible Tasks and Friendly Counsel

    • 43. Eleven Brothers and Eleven Sisters
      (pp. 165-172)

      There were eleven brothers who had only one sister. They decided they must go out in the world to find a fortune for her.

      So they started out traveling, to see what they could find to give her a good dowry. They came to a castle that seemed to be empty. They didn’t see anyone around, but they saw a table with eleven chairs. Eleven places were set, with an abundance of food, as if waiting for guests.

      The eldest said, “How strange. Food, but nobody to eat it. Why shouldn’t we?”

      They ate the food and, being tired, looked...

    • 44. The Ax, the Spade, and the Walnut
      (pp. 173-174)

      Once there was a man who had three sons. He was very poor, but he owned a farm. In his only pasture, the farmer had broken his back, digging out boulders. Because he was poor, he sent his three sons, Peter, John, and Louie, out into the world to seek their fortunes.

      Peter and John decided to go to the king’s castle, because against the castle a great oak had grown up that shut out all the light. No one had been able to cut it down. The king said he would give a rich treasure to anyone who could...

    • 45. The Golden Duck
      (pp. 175-185)

      The king had a tree with golden apples, and something was taking the apples, but he couldn’t find out what it was. He had guards to watch, but because they couldn’t catch the thief he had them put to death or imprisoned.

      The king had three sons, and everyone thought the youngest one was not as smart as his brothers. However, when no one else could catch the thief, he kept watch on this tree and found it was a golden duck that was taking the apples. He caught the duck, but it got away, leaving two feathers.

      The next...

    • 46. The Boy Who Wouldn’t Tell His Dream
      (pp. 185-188)

      A boy, ten or twelve years old, had always taken the sheep to the hills, but one day he wouldn’t get up. His mother urged him to get dressed and do his work, but he wouldn’t do it. She told his father and he tried—but the boy stayed in bed, because he wanted to finish his dream.

      When he did get up, he told his mother he’d had a dream, but when she didn’t say anything—she was supposed to wish him good luck for his dream—he wouldn’t tell his dream to her, nor to his father, since...

  13. 9. Spirits of the Dead

    • 47. The Invited Guest
      (pp. 189-191)

      Many years ago, two young friends had a very unusual experience. When the two were old enough to seek their fortunes, it became necessary for them to go their separate ways. Before they separated they promised each other that if either should marry, he would invite the other to his wedding. Sometime later, one of the young men, Francis, died, and the other, Marion, was to be married.

      On his wedding day Marion kept his promise and went to the grave of his friend to invite him to his wedding. Soon after he had made the invitation, Francis was stand...

    • 48. The Fate of Frank McKenna
      (pp. 192-196)

      At the hip of one of the mountainous hills that divide the county of Tyrone lived a man named McKenna. This McKenna had two sons, one of whom was in the habit of tracing hares on Sundays whenever there was a fresh fall of snow. His father, it seems, had frequently remonstrated with him about what he considered to be a violation of the Lord’s day, as well as for his general neglect of mass. The young man, however, though otherwise harmless and inoffensive, was in this matter quite insensible to paternal reproof and continued to trace whenever labor would...

    • 49. The Corpse That Wouldn’t Stay Buried
      (pp. 196-200)

      It was the custom in Czechoslovakia for young men to go into the army at the age of twenty-one and serve for six years. A young man named Philip had served but three years when he was killed. His body was returned home and properly buried in the cemetery.

      The next day the caretaker found the grave open and the open coffin beside it, as if it had never been buried. This was very strange, and many people wondered about it. The priest and the caretaker reburied the soldier, but the next day the same thing happened. After the third...

    • 50. A Visit from the Dead
      (pp. 200-202)

      In the latter part of the nineteenth century, in the small town of Frascati, which was located on the outskirts of Rome, lived my maternal Great-Aunt Mary and her family. Aunt Mary, I have been told, was an unusually kindhearted person and a devoted mother. On sunny days she could often be seen in the vineyards with her husband and three little daughters, laughing and working, in a kind of ideal family setting. All this was before the plague struck the small town of Frascati.

      Before the next three months had passed, my great-aunt suddenly became a victim of this...

  14. 10. Luck, Wealth, and Good Fortune

    • 51. King Neptune’s Diamonds
      (pp. 203-209)

      There once was an old man who lived with his son in a deep forest. They lived in a log cabin, not far from a lake, which the man said was haunted. He warned his son not to go near it, as he might be killed. The boy wandered far and wide, but never went near the lake. He had a swimming hole where he could catch fish, so the lake was not too much temptation.

      Wherever he went, he carried a heavy club—the only weapon he had. Several times a bear had attacked him, but he always beat...

    • 52. The Three Godfathers
      (pp. 210-211)

      One time three godfathers went out to look for a place where somebody had buried money. Two of the godfathers said, “Let’s go dig for the treasure.”

      But the third godfather wouldn’t go. The others coaxed him, but he still wouldn’t go. He went on home and went to sleep.

      The two others went and dug—dug until the middle of the night—and found a big snake. They decided to go home, then, so they killed the snake and took it with them.

      Before they reached the third godfather’s house, one of them said, “Let’s throw that snake into...

    • 53. Blind Wolf
      (pp. 211-215)

      This all happend a long time ago—I don’t know how many hundred years ago—but one man was so poor he could hardly get along—always poor.

      He had a woman, who said, “Well, man, what are you going to do? I’m poor and you’re poor all the time. What are you going to do about it?”

      “Well,” the man said, “God did that. I can’t help it. You know, poor is poor.”

      He went to the village, and at the village he was given some kind of stock—a calf or cow, a lamb or sheep—something. Every...

    • 54. The Fortuneteller
      (pp. 215-217)

      Once there were two brothers who lived with their father on a small farm in Italy. Everyone was happy until the father died. In his will he said that half of his farm would go to one son, and the other half to the other. The eldest son was named Bird and the youngest, Grasshopper.

      Everything was going fine until Grasshopper noticed one day that his part of the wheat was dying. He didn’t know what was causing this, so one night he told his brother that he was going out into the field to see what was happening to...

    • 55. The Dream
      (pp. 217-218)

      About five o’clock in the morning Mrs. Lopez was telling her husband about a dream that she had had that night. She dreamed that someone told her to dig behind the little country church in their town, and there she would find great quantities of money. However, her husband did not think that this was possible.

      Two men, who came for Mr. Lopez to go to work in the morning, stood behind the door listening to what his wife said. They decided to investigate and immediately turned back and went to this church. There they dug for some time and...

  15. 11. Religious Stories

    • 56. Christ and the Blacksmith
      (pp. 219-220)

      One time there was a blacksmith who wanted to be called master above all the other masters. He wanted to be called “Headmaster,” and was insulted if anybody said “Master.”

      This was during the time that Christ was traveling the world. So one day Christ came along and said, “Good morning, Master.”

      And the blacksmith said, “Who are you? Get out of here!”

      “What is your title?” Christ asked.

      “Headmaster,” the blacksmith said.

      “Do you think you deserve that title?”

      “Yes,” said the blacksmith. “I can do more than anyone at my trade.”

      Christ intimated that he might be able...

    • 57. The Boy Who Made a Trip to Hell
      (pp. 220-225)

      There once lived a poor peasant with his wife, on a small farm. He was so poor he did not even have an ox to plow with, but dug all his ground with a mattock.

      One day while he swung the mattock on the hard ground, a well-dressed stranger came along. He had a gold watch and heavy chain that shone like the sun.

      “Why don’t you plow?” he asked. “Digging all this ground with a mattock is too hard on your back.”

      The poor man stood speechless, gazing openmouthed at the intruder’s spotless clothes. “What else can I do?...

    • 58. He Walked on Earth
      (pp. 226-227)

      One morning a long time ago in a small village, an old man came walking into town. He had on shabby clothes, and wore a long beard. His cane was crooked, and his slippers were full of holes.

      As he came to the center of the village, he saw a stream. He went to the stream, sat down, and put his feet into the water; he didn’t even bother to take off his slippers.

      He sat there for a while and a little girl came up to him. “Hello,” she said, and he answered with a “Hello.” Then he asked...

    • 59. The Beggar’s Bread
      (pp. 227-228)

      There was once a poor man who went about asking for something to eat. One woman became tired of him coming around begging for food, money, and clothes all the time and although she never gave him anything she decided to put an end to it. The next time she baked bread she made one nice small loaf, and within this loaf she put some poison.

      Soon after this the poor man came to her house again begging for some food. He was surprised to receive a loaf of bread from the woman, and very happy about it. He took...

    • 60. The King’s Unhappy Son
      (pp. 229-230)

      Once there was a king who had no male children. Every night he prayed for a son, and finally one was born to him, but when the boy became of age, he didn’t want to see or talk to anyone. When the father invited young people in, the youth refused to have anything to do with them. The king didn’t know what to do, so he called all the doctors in the land to his palace. He told them that his son would not talk to anyone or even look at them.

      The doctors met for one week and finally...

  16. 12. Family Relations

    • 61. The Snow Boy
      (pp. 231-233)

      Alex Rose had served in the armed forces during the war. At the conclusion of his service he returned home for the first time in nine years. He was very happy to see his wife, but was astonished to find a two-year-old boy in his home. His wife claimed that the boy was their son. Alex argued that it was impossible for him to have a son who was only two years old when he had not been home for nine years. His wife then proceeded to tell him the following story, which seemed to him too incredible to believe....

    • 62. The Spendthrift Son
      (pp. 233-234)

      Once there was a wealthy man who had a son. The son was always going out and spending money; his father urged him to stop since someday he would run out of money and lose all his friends. But the son would not listen—and kept on spending his money.

      As a result, the father prepared one of his rooms, taking a section from the ceiling. He made a cardboard rafter that was hollow inside and stuffed it with money. He then tied a rope around it and replaced it so that it looked as if it were part of...

    • 63. The Rooster
      (pp. 234-236)

      Once there was a husband and wife who lived on a farm. Wherever they went, they had to travel by donkey. One day they went to town, both riding on the donkey’s back. The baby donkey followed his mother to town and called out, “Mother, wait for me! You are always hurrying.”

      The mother replied, “You can run and catch up with me. I have a big load on my back, and I have to walk fast so I can reach home and put it down.”

      The master heard them and laughed. His wife asked him what he was laughing...

    • 64. A Long Wait
      (pp. 236-239)

      Several months after a young man and woman had been married, it was necessary for them to separate, as the husband could find no work. The eager and adventurous young man set out for a larger city to seek employment with the promise that he would either return or send for his wife within a very short time.

      After being in the city for a few days, he located a job with a widower. He was to work on the man’s farm, just outside town during the day, and be somewhat of a companion in his spare time. Since he...

    • 65. Wedding Gift
      (pp. 240-241)

      An elderly man was cutting firewood in a large forest in northern Czechoslovakia. Because it was getting dark and he was alone, he decided to start home, but as he was preparing to leave, he heard men on horseback approaching. Since he knew the woods were infested with robbers, he became frightened. Sending home the horse and cart, which was loaded with wood, he climbed a nearby tree and hid among the leaves.

      After a few minutes four men approached carrying two large bushel baskets loaded with money they had stolen.

      The robbers stopped directly under the tree where the...

  17. 13. Wise and Foolish Folk

    • 66. The Gypsy and the Bear
      (pp. 242-245)

      In a small cabin near a wooded section of a small southern European country, there once lived a gypsy. He lived alone and was content with his way of life, since he owned a large store of food and did not have to work hard.

      One day, while sitting in a chair tilted back against the cabin and watching the beautiful scenery around him, he was startled to see a large, vicious-looking bear approaching. Although very frightened, the gypsy managed to retain his composure and when the bear was within a few feet of him, asked with a feigned air...

    • 67. The Schemer and the Flute
      (pp. 246-247)

      John and his wife dug a hole, put some rocks on it, and covered it with dirt. Then they built a fire on top of the ground. After the fire had burned out, they scraped away all the ashes and made it look like it had before. Then they put a kettle of water on top of the ground; with the hot rocks underneath, the water began to boil. John and his wife sat down and waited.

      Two men passed by and seeing water boiling in a kettle, without heat, asked what caused it to boil. John told them that...

    • 68. The King’s Son and the Poor Man’s Daughter
      (pp. 248-250)

      The king’s son went hunting, accompanied by a servant, and, when a storm came up, he stopped at a small house. A poor, old man lived there with his wife and daughter. Knowing that the man was the king’s son, the family wanted to treat him to the best they had, so they killed their only chicken and had it for supper. The daughter divided the chicken, giving the neck to her father, the backbone to her mother, and the feet to the servant. She kept the wings and breast for herself and gave the two legs to the king’s...

    • 69. King Matt and the Wise Old Farmer
      (pp. 251-252)

      King Matt was a famous king. He liked to go among his subjects incognito, to see how they were getting along. He often said that some of them were smarter than his ministers.

      One day he came upon an old farmer plowing his field with his oxen. He asked the farmer, “How far is far, old-timer?”

      The farmer answered, “Not very far now; only to the tip of my oxen’s horns.”

      Then King Matt asked, “How many of the thirty-two do you have?”

      The farmer answered, “Not so many, sir; only twelve.”

      King Matt said he had one more question...

    • 70. A Foolish Young Man
      (pp. 252-253)

      A young man named Agor was sent out by his father to sell a wagon full of wheat at the village market. Agor loved to drink whiskey, but he didn’t like to pay for it and he never wanted to work. This time he decided he would do as his father asked and sell his wheat.

      On his way to the market, he had to pass the orchard of a neighbor, where he saw a gallon of whiskey hanging in a nearby tree. Leaving the wagon of wheat on the path, he proceeded to climb the tree to get the...

    • 71. The Bet
      (pp. 253-254)

      One winter day in Armenia a man named Nasriddin Hoja was talking with some of his friends. The subject they were discussing was whether or not a man could exist in a cave at the top of the big mountain in cold weather. His friends said it was impossible for a man to exist even for one night without any fire to keep him warm.

      So Nasriddin Hoja, being an adventurous man, made a bet with his friends. According to the agreement, if he could stay on top of the mountain all night long without any fire or clothing, each...

  18. 14. Miscellaneous Tales

    • 72. The Painted Priests
      (pp. 255-257)

      There was a couple who lived along the edge of the road, near a church school. During the day, while the wife was sitting on the porch, various priests would pass by her house and would say to her, “Comare, I am dying for you. I love you.”

      Finally she told her husband that she wanted to move away, for she could not stand the place much longer. Her husband asked her what was the matter, and finally she told him about the priests.

      “So, that is what has been bothering you,” he said. “Well, I’ll tell you what to...

    • 73. Pat and the Priest
      (pp. 258-258)

      Pat didn’t have a job, so he had to leave home. He had to stay away from his wife, Sophie, for six months. While he was gone, he boarded with a nice family.

      When he came home, he went to the priest and confessed he had kissed the landlady goodby.

      The priest said, “If you want me to pardon you, you’ve got to eat a ton of hay. Otherwise….”

      When he reached home, Sophie said, “Are you hungry?”

      He said, “Yes, but I’ll go out to the barn to eat.”

      Sophie said, “All right. I’ll cook.”

      When she had the...

    • 74. The Monks and the Donkey
      (pp. 259-260)

      Once there were three monks who traveled in the country and towns, asking the people for food and anything else they could give to the monastery. They were in the country, and after going to all the houses, they were so loaded down that they could not carry all the food home. So when the head monk saw a donkey tied in one of the farmers’ fields, he told one of the monks to go and untie it.

      The monk said, “What will I do if the farmer finds me?”

      The head monk told him to tie himself in place...

    • 75. A Fish Story
      (pp. 260-261)

      Oto was a big, strapping man, who was said to be the strongest man in the land. There was nothing that the mighty Oto could not conquer.

      One day a traveling man came by Oto’s village and told of a great fish in his own country—a fish that no one could catch.

      On hearing this, Oto saw a new challenge, and started out for the traveler’s country. When he reached the land where the great fish was, he went to the blacksmith’s shop and told the blacksmith to get a ship’s anchor and sharpen the edges of it. He...

    • 76. The Girl with a Beard
      (pp. 262-263)

      A young man was learning to be a barber. In the old country one had to be a journeyman barber for three years, learning the art of shaving, before he could get his certificate.

      In his wanderings the youth went from one barber to another doing odd jobs. When he carne to one section, he saw a large castle and hoped they would give him a place to sleep. He saw a watchman, who asked him what he wanted.

      He said, “I need sleep. I’ve been out in the sun all day, and I’m tired out.”

      The watchman was sympathetic....

    • 77. The Butcher and the Cutter
      (pp. 264-266)

      Many years ago in Poland there were two fellows, a butcher and a cutter (an executioner). In those days a butcher had to work three years at his trade and then take an examination before he could be a professional. Similar rules were observed for the executioner. When the butcher had finished three years of apprenticeship, he decided to go to another town. On the way he met a man who asked him his name.

      “I’m a butcher.”

      “I’m a cutter—chop heads off.”

      “Well, I’m a butcher. I cut heads off too.”

      Soon they came to a hotel where...

    • 78. “El Rabo”
      (pp. 266-267)

      One of the favorite legends told by the people of Compiello, a small village near the Bay of Biscay in Spain, is the tale of a little dog called “El Rabo.” This little female dog was so called because she was so small and had such an unusually long tail. “El Rabo” had been around Compiello for years and years. It wasn’t the same dog, but the legend has it that “El Rabo” died after she had one litter of pups. Only one dog in the litter looked like its mother, and it was also a female. Therefore it inherited...

    • 79. “La Bruja”
      (pp. 268-274)

      One day the priest of the little village of Balboniel in the province of Asturias heard a knock at his door. Opening it he found a thin, white-haired woman who was probably in her late sixties. Her face was so bony that it was actually repulsive. The priest asked what he could do for her. She told him she had lived in many villages, but she had been put out of each because the people called her a witch and feared her. She said she was getting old and wanted only a place to live where she could have a...

  19. Information about Some of the Contributors
    (pp. 275-280)
  20. Notes
    (pp. 281-298)
  21. Motif Index
    (pp. 299-306)
  22. Index of Tale Types
    (pp. 307-310)
  23. Bibliography
    (pp. 311-312)