The Fairy Book Series is further enriched by the addition of this latest volume, which is quite as gorgeous as the preceding ones-though the author might well be supposed to have exhausted his supply of colors and fairy tales. Mr. Lang, after traveling the world over to collect stories, asks why the stories of the remotest people resemble each other. Fortunately, he answers the question himself. "Of course, in the immeasurable past, they have been carried about by conquering races, and learned by conquering races from vanquished peoples. Slaves carried far from home brought their stories with them into captivity. Wanderers, travelers, shipwrecked men, merchants, and wives stolen from alien tribes have diffused the stories; gipsies and Jews have peddled them about, Roman soldiers of many different races, moved here and there about the Empire, have trafficked in them. From the remotest days men have been wanderers, and wherever they went their stories accompanied them." '"The Story of the Hero Makowa" begins in the good old way, "once upon a time" and the temptation to follow the hero Is irresistible even though he seeks a deep black pool where the crocodiles lived. He makes giants shrink, and claps them into a bag which he carries easily because he Increases in size and strength with every encouuter with an enemy. Perhaps the author intends to point a moral and he certainly adorns the tale with incredible deeds of adventure. "Ian, The Soldier's Son" has a wonderful career in his search for the daughters of Grianaig. Magic transformation takes place on every page. Thus, a brown-haired youth is changed into a raven, and back again to his own self; and a beautiful maiden whom the wicked enchanter had turned Into a horse is released from the spell through the courage of the soldier's son.
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The Orange Fairy Book
The Orange Fairy Book
Andrew Lang (1844-1912)
The Story Of The Hero Makóma
The Magic Mirror
Story Of The King Who Would See Paradise
How Isuro The Rabbit Tricked Gudu
Ian, The Soldier’s Son
The Fox And The Wolf
How Ian Direach Got The Blue Falcon
The Ugly Duckling
The Two Caskets
The Goldsmith’s Fortune
The Enchanted Wreath
The Foolish Weaver
The Clever Cat
The Story Of Manus
Pinkel The Thief
The Adventures Of A Jackal
The Adventures Of The Jackal’s Eldest Son
The Adventures Of The Younger Son Of The Jackal
The Three Treasures Of The Giants
The Rover Of The Plain
The White Doe
The Owl And The Eagle
The Frog And The Lion Fairy
The Adventures Of Covan The Brown-Haired
The Princess Bella-Flor
The Bird Of Truth
The Mink And The Wolf
Adventures Of An Indian Brave
How The Stalos Were Tricked
The White Slipper
The Magic Book
The Orange Fairy Book, A. Lang
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
Biographical Sketch from "Portraits And Sketches" by Edmund Gosse
INVITED to note down some of my recollections of Andrew Lang, I find myself suspended between the sudden blow of his death and the slow development of memory, now extending in unbroken friendship over thirty-five years. The magnitude and multitude of Lang's performances, public and private, during that considerable length of time almost paralyse expression; it is difficult to know where to begin or where to stop. Just as his written works are so extremely numerous as to make a pathway through them a formidable task in bibliography, no one book standing out predominant, so his character, intellectual and moral, was full -of so many apparent inconsistencies, so many pitfalls for rash assertion, so many queer caprices of impulse, that in a whole volume of analysis, which would be tedious, one could scarcely do justice to them all. I will venture to put down, almost at haphazard, what I remember that seems to me to have been overlooked, or inexactly stated, by those who wrote, often very sympathetically, at the moment of his death, always premising that I speak rather of a Lang of from 1877 to 1890, when I saw him very frequently, than of a Lang whom younger people met chiefly in Scotland.
When he died, all the newspapers were loud in proclaiming his "versatility." But I am not sure that he was not the very opposite of versatile. I take "versatile" to mean changeable, fickle, constantly ready to alter direction with the weather-cock. The great instance of versatility in literature is Ruskin, who adopted diametrically different views of the same subject at different times of his life, and defended them with equal ardour. To be versatile seems to be unsteady, variable. But Lang was through his long career singularly unaltered; he never changed his point of view; what he liked and admired as a youth he liked and admired as an elderly man. It is true that his interests and knowledge were vividly drawn along a surprisingly large number of channels, but while there was abundance there does not seem to me to have been versatility. If a huge body of water boils up from a crater, it may pour down a dozen paths, but these will always be the same; unless there is an earthquake, new cascades will not form nor old rivulets run dry. In some authors earthquakes do take place as in Tolstoy, for instance, and in S. T. Coleridge but nothing of this kind was ever manifest in Lang, who was extraordinarily multiform, yet in his varieties strictly consistent from Oxford to the grave. As this is not generally perceived, I will take the liberty of expanding my view of his intellectual development.
To a superficial observer in late life the genius of Andrew Lang had the characteristics which we are in the habit of identifying with precocity. Yet he had not been, as a writer, precocious in his youth. One slender volume of verses represents all that he published in book-form before his thirty-fifth year. No doubt we shall learn in good time what he was doing before he flashed upon the world of journalism in all his panoply of graces, in 1876, at the close of his Merton fellowship. He was then, at all events, the finest finished product of his age, with the bright armour of Oxford burnished on his body to such a brilliance that humdrum eyes could hardly bear the radiance of it. Of the terms behind, of the fifteen years then dividing him from St. Andrews, we know as yet but little; they were years of insatiable acquirement, incessant reading, and talking, and observing gay preparation for a life to be devoted, as no other life in our time has been, to the stimulation of other people's observation and talk and reading. There was no cloistered virtue about the bright and petulant Merton don. He was already flouting and jesting, laughing with Ariosto in the sunshine, performing with a snap of his fingers tasks which might break the back of a pedant, and concealing under an affectation of carelessness a literary ambition which knew no definite bounds.
In those days, and when he appeared for the first time in London, the poet was paramount in him. Jowett is said to have predicted that he would be greatly famous in this line, but I know not what evidence Jowett had before him. Unless I am much mistaken, it was not until Lang left Balliol that his peculiar bent became obvious. Up to that time he had been a promiscuous browser upon books, much occupied, moreover, in the struggle with ancient Greek, and immersed in Aristotle and Homer. But in the early days of his settlement at Merton he began to concentrate his powers, and I think there were certain influences which were instant and far-reaching. Among them one was pre-eminent. When Andrew Lang came up from St. Andrews he had found Matthew Arnold occupying the ancient chair of poetry at Oxford. He was a listener at some at least of the famous lectures which, in 1865, were collected as "Essays in Criticism"; while one of his latest experiences as a Balliol undergraduate was hearing Matthew Arnold lecture on the study of Celtic literature. His conscience was profoundly stirred by "Culture and Anarchy" (1869); his sense of prose-form largely determined by "Friendship's Garland" (1871). I have no hesitation in saying that the teaching and example of Matthew Arnold prevailed over all other Oxford influences upon the intellectual nature of Lang, while, although I think that his personal acquaintance with Arnold was very slight, yet in his social manner there was, in early days, not a little imitation of Arnold's aloofness and superfine delicacy of address. It was unconscious, of course, and nothing would have enraged Lang more than to have been accused of "imitating Uncle Matt."
The structure which his own individuality now began to build on the basis supplied by the learning of Oxford, and in particular by the study of the Greeks, and "dressed" by courses of Matthew Arnold, was from the first eclectic. Lang eschewed as completely what was not sympathetic to him as he assimilated what was attractive to him. Those who speak of his "versatility" should recollect what large tracts of the literature of the world, and even of England, existed outside the dimmest apprehension of Andrew Lang. It is, however, more useful to consider what he did apprehend; and there were two English books, published in his Oxford days, which permanently impressed him: one of these was "The Earthly Paradise," the other D. G. Rossetti's " Poems." In after years he tried to divest himself of the traces of these volumes, but he had fed upon their honey-dew and it had permeated his veins.
Not less important an element in the garnishing of a mind already prepared for it by academic and aesthetic studies was the absorption of the romantic part of French literature. Andrew Lang in this, as in everything else, was selective. He dipped into the wonderful lucky-bag of France wherever he saw the glitter of romance. Hence his approach, in the early seventies, was threefold: towards the mediaeval lais and chansons, towards the sixteenth-century Pleiade, and towards the school of which Victor Hugo was the leader in the nineteenth century. For a long time Ronsard was Lang's poet of intensest predilection; and I think that his definite ambition was to be the Ronsard of modern England, introducing a new poetical dexterity founded on a revival of pure humanism. He had in those days what he lost, or at least dispersed, in the weariness and growing melancholia of later years a splendid belief in poetry as a part of the renown of England, as a heritage to be received in reverence from our fathers, and to be passed on, if possible, in a brighter flame. This honest and beautiful ambition to shine as one of the permanent benefactors to national verse, in the attitude so nobly sustained four hundred years ago by Du Bellay and Ronsard, was unquestionably felt by Andrew Lang through his bright intellectual April, and supported him from Oxford times until 1882, when he published " Helen of Troy." The cool reception of that epic by the principal judges of poetry caused him acute disappointment, and from that time forth he became less eager and less serious as a poet, more and more petulantly expending his wonderful technical gift on fugitive subjects. And here again, when one comes to think of it, the whole history repeated itself, since in " Helen of Troy " Lang simply suffered as Ronsard had done in the "Franciade." But the fact that 1882 was his year of crisis, and the tomb of his brightest ambition, must be recognised by every one who closely followed his fortunes at that time. Lang's habit of picking out of literature and of life the plums of romance, and these alone, comes to be, to the dazzled observer of his extraordinarily vivid intellectual career, the principal guiding line. This determination to dwell, to the exclusion of all other sides of any question, on its romantic side is alone enough to rebut the charge of versatility. Lang was in a sense encyclopaedic; but the vast dictionary of his knowledge had blank pages, or pages pasted down, on which he would not, or could not, read what experience had printed. Absurd as it sounds, there was always something maidenly about his mind, and he glossed over ugly matters, sordid and dull conditions, so that they made no impression whatever upon him. He had a trick, which often exasperated his acquaintances, of declaring that he had " never heard " of things that everybody else was very well aware of. He had " never heard the name " of people he disliked, of books that he thought tiresome, of events that bored him; but, more than this, he used the formula for things and persons whom he did not wish to discuss. I remember meeting in the street a famous professor, who advanced with uplifted hands, and greeted me with " What do you think Lang says now? That he has never heard of Pascal! " This merely signified that Lang, not interested (at all events for the moment) in Pascal nor in the professor, thus closed at once all possibility of discussion.
It must not be forgotten that we have lived to see him, always wonderful indeed, and always passionately devoted to perfection and purity, but worn, tired, harassed by the unceasing struggle, the lifelong slinging of sentences from that inexhaustible ink-pot. In one of the most perfect of his poems, " Natural Theology," Lang speaks of Cagn, the great hunter, who once was kind and good, but who was spoiled by fighting many things. Lang was never " spoiled," but he was injured; the surface of the radiant coin was rubbed by the vast and interminable handling of journalism. He was jaded by the toil of writing many things. Hence it is not possible but that those who knew him intimately in his later youth and early middle-age should prefer to look back at those years when he was the freshest, the most exhilarating figure in living literature, when a star seemed to dance upon the crest of his already silvering hair. Baudelaire exclaimed of Theophile Gautier: " Homme heureux! homme digne d'envie! il n'a jamais aimé que le Beau!" and of Andrew Lang in those brilliant days the same might have been said. As long as he had confidence in beauty he was safe and strong; and much that, with all affection and all respect, we must admit was rasping and disappointing in his attitude to literature in his later years, seems to have been due to a decreasing sense of confidence in the intellectual sources of beauty. It is dangerous, in the end it must be fatal, to sustain the entire structure of life and thought on the illusions of romance. But that was what Lang did he built his house upon the rainbow.
The charm of Andrew Lang's person and company was founded upon a certain lightness, an essential gentleness and elegance which were relieved by a sharp touch; just as a very dainty fruit may be preserved from mawkishness by something delicately acid in the rind of it. His nature was slightly inhuman; it was unwise to count upon its sympathy beyond a point which was very easily reached in social intercourse. If any simple soul showed an inclination, in eighteenth-century phrase, to " repose on the bosom " of Lang, that support was immediately withdrawn, and the confiding one fell among thorns. Lang was like an Angora cat, whose gentleness and soft fur, and general aspect of pure amenity, invite to caresses, which are suddenly met by the outspread paw with claws awake. This uncertain and freakish humour was the embarrassment of his friends, who, however, were preserved from despair by the fact that no malice was meant, and that the weapons were instantly sheathed again in velvet. Only, the instinct to give a sudden slap, half in play, half in fretful caprice, was incorrigible. No one among Lang's intimate friends but had suffered from this feline impulse, which did not spare even the serenity of Robert Louis Stevenson. But, tiresome as it sometimes was, this irritable humour seldom cost Lang a friend who was worth preserving. Those who really knew him recognised that he was always shy and usually tired.
His own swift spirit never brooded upon an offence, and could not conceive that any one else should mind what he himself minded so little and forgot so soon. Impressions swept over him very rapidly, and injuries passed completely out of his memory. Indeed, all his emotions were too fleeting, and in this there was something fairy-like; quick and keen and blithe as he was, he did not seem altogether like an ordinary mortal, nor could the appeal to gross human experience be made to him with much chance of success. This, doubtless, is why almost all imaginative literature which is founded upon the darker parts of life, all squalid and painful tragedy, all stories that " don't end well" all religious experiences, all that is not superficial and romantic, was irksome to him. He tried sometimes to reconcile his mind to the consideration of real life; he concentrated his matchless powers on it; but he always disliked it. He could persuade himself to be partly just to Ibsen or Hardy or Dostoieffsky, but what he really enjoyed was Dumas pêre, because that fertile romance-writer rose serene above the phenomena of actual human experience. We have seen more of this type in English literature than the Continental nations have in theirs, but even we have seen no instance of its strength and weakness so eminent as Andrew Lang. He was the fairy in our midst, the wonder-working, incorporeal, and tricksy fay of letters, who paid for all his wonderful gifts and charms by being not quite a man of like passions with the rest of us. In some verses which he scribbled to R.L.S. and threw away, twenty years ago, he acknowledged this unearthly character, and, speaking of the depredations of his kin, he said:
Faith, they might steal me, w? ma will,
And, ken'd I ony fairy hill
I#d lay me down there, snod and still,
Their land to win;
For, man, I maistly had my fill
O' this world's din
His wit had something disconcerting in its impishness. Its rapidity and sparkle were dazzling, but it was not quite human; that is to say, it conceded too little to the exigencies of flesh and blood. If we can conceive a seraph being fanny, it would be in the manner of Andrew Lang. Moreover, his wit usually danced over the surface of things, and rarely penetrated them. In verbal parry, in ironic misunderstanding, in breathless agility of topsy-turvy movement, Lang was like one of Milton's " yellow-skirted fays," sporting with the helpless, moon-bewildered traveller. His wit often had a depressing, a humiliating effect, against which one's mind presently revolted. I recollect an instance which may be thought to be apposite: I was passing through a phase of enthusiasm for Emerson, whom Lang very characteristically detested, and I was so ill-advised as to show him the famous epigram called " Brahma." Lang read it with a snort of derision (it appeared to be new to him), and immediately he improvised this parody:
If the wild bowler thinks he bowls,
Or if the batsman thinks he's bowled,
They know not, poor misguided souls,
They, too, shall perish unconsoled.
I am the batsman and the bat,
I am the bowler and the ball,
The umpire, the pavilion cat,
The roller, pitch and stumps, and all
This would make a pavilion cat laugh, and I felt that Emerson was done for. But when Lang had left me, and I was once more master of my mind, I reflected that the parody was but a parody, wonderful for its neatness and quickness, and for its seizure of what was awkward in the roll of Emerson's diction, but essentially superficial. However, what would wit be if it were profound? I must leave it there, feeling that I have not explained why Lang's extraordinary drollery in conversation so often left on the memory a certain sensation of distress.
But this was not the characteristic of his humour at its best, as it was displayed throughout the happiest period of his work. If, as seems possible, it is as an essayist that he will ultimately take his place in English literature, this element will continue to delight fresh generations of enchanted readers. I cannot imagine that the preface to his translation of " Theocritus," "Letters to Dead Authors," "In the Wrong Paradise," " Old Friends," and " Essays in Little " will ever lose their charm; but future admirers will have to pick their way to them through a tangle of history and anthropology and mythology, where there may be left no perfume and no sweetness. I am impatient to see this vast mass of writing reduced to the limits of its author's delicate, true, but somewhat evasive and ephemeral. genius. However, as far as the circumstances of his temperament permitted, Andrew Lang has left with us the memory of one of our most surprising contemporaries, a man of letters who laboured without cessation from boyhood to the grave, who pursued his ideal with indomitable activity and perseverance, and who was never betrayed except by the loftiness of his own endeavour. Lang's only misfortune was not to be completely in contact with life, and his work will survive exactly where he was most faithful to his innermost illusions.
The children who read fairy books, or have fairy books read to them, do not read prefaces, and the parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, who give fairy books to their daughters, nieces, and cousines, leave prefaces unread. For whom, then, are prefaces written? When an author publishes a book ‘out of his own head,’ he writes the preface for his own pleasure. After reading over his book in print—to make sure that all the ‘u’s’ are not printed as ‘n’s,’ and all the ‘n’s’ as ‘u’s’ in the proper names—then the author says, mildly, in his preface, what he thinks about his own book, and what he means it to prove—if he means it to prove anything—and why it is not a better book than it is. But, perhaps, nobody reads prefaces except other authors; and critics, who hope that they will find enough in the preface to enable them to do without reading any of the book.
This appears to be the philosophy of prefaces in general, and perhaps authors might be more daring and candid than they are with advantage, and write regular criticisms of their own books in their prefaces, for nobody can be so good a critic of himself as the author—if he has a sense of humour. If he has not, the less he says in his preface the better.
These Fairy Books, however, are not written by the Editor, as he has often explained, ‘out of his own head.’ The stories are taken from those told by grannies to grandchildren in many countries and in many languages—French, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Gaelic, Icelandic, Cherokee, African, Indian, Australian, Slavonic, Eskimo, and what not. The stories are not literal, or word by word translations, but have been altered in many ways to make them suitable for children. Much has been left out in places, and the narrative has been broken up into conversations, the characters telling each other how matters stand, and speaking for themselves, as children, and some older people, prefer them to do. In many tales, fairly cruel and savage deeds are done, and these have been softened down as much as possible; though it is impossible, even if it were desirable, to conceal the circumstance that popular stories were never intended to be tracts and nothing else. Though they usually take the side of courage and kindness, and the virtues in general, the old story-tellers admire successful cunning as much as Homer does in the Odyssey. At least, if the cunning hero, human or animal, is the weaker, like Odysseus, Brer Rabbit, and many others, the story-teller sees little in intellect but superior cunning, by which tiny Jack gets the better of the giants. In the fairy tales of no country are ‘improper’ incidents common, which is to the credit of human nature, as they were obviously composed mainly for children. It is not difficult to get rid of this element when it does occur in popular tales.
The old puzzle remains a puzzle—why do the stories of the remotest people so closely resemble each other? Of course, in the immeasurable past, they have been carried about by conquering races, and learned by conquering races from vanquished peoples. Slaves carried far from home brought their stories with them into captivity. Wanderers, travellers, shipwrecked men, merchants, and wives stolen from alien tribes have diffused the stories; gipsies and Jews have peddled them about; Roman soldiers of many different races, moved here and there about the Empire, have trafficked in them. From the remotest days men have been wanderers, and wherever they went their stories accompanied them. The slave trade might take a Greek to Persia, a Persian to Greece; an Egyptian woman to Phœnicia; a Babylonian to Egypt; a Scandinavian child might be carried with the amber from the Baltic to the Adriatic; or a Sidonian to Ophir, wherever Ophir may have been; while the Portuguese may have borne their tales to South Africa, or to Asia, and thence brought back other tales to Egypt. The stories wandered wherever the Buddhist missionaries went, and the earliest French voyageurs told them to the Red Indians. These facts help to account for the sameness of the stories everywhere; and the uniformity of human fancy in early societies must be the cause of many other resemblances.
In this volume there are stories from the natives of Rhodesia, collected by Mr. Fairbridge, who speaks the native language, and one is brought by Mr. Cripps from another part of Africa, Uganda. Three tales from the Punjaub were collected and translated by Major Campbell. Various savage tales, which needed a good deal of editing, are derived from the learned pages of the ‘Journal of the Anthropological Institute.’ With these exceptions, and ‘The Magic Book,’ translated by Mrs. Pedersen, from ‘Eventyr fra Jylland,’ by Mr. Ewald Tang Kristensen (Stories from Jutland), all the tales have been done, from various sources, by Mrs. Lang, who has modified, where it seemed desirable, all the narratives.
From the Senna (Oral Tradition)
Once upon a time, at the town of Senna on the banks of the Zambesi, was born a child. He was not like other children, for he was very tall and strong; over his shoulder he carried a big sack, and in his hand an iron hammer. He could also speak like a grown man, but usually he was very silent.
One day his mother said to him: ‘My child, by what name shall we know you?’
And he answered: ‘Call all the head men of Senna here to the river’s bank.’ And his mother called the head men of the town, and when they had come he led them down to a deep black pool in the river where all the fierce crocodiles lived.
‘O great men!’ he said, while they all listened, ‘which of you will leap into the pool and overcome the crocodiles?’ But no one would come forward. So he turned and sprang into the water and disappeared.
The people held their breath, for they thought: ‘Surely the boy is bewitched and throws away his life, for the crocodiles will eat him!’ Then suddenly the ground trembled, and the pool, heaving and swirling, became red with blood, and presently the boy rising to the surface swam on shore.
But he was no longer just a boy! He was stronger than any man and very tall and handsome, so that the people shouted with gladness when they saw him.
‘Now, O my people!’ he cried waving his hand, ‘you know my name—I am Makóma, “the Greater”; for have I not slain the crocodiles in the pool where none would venture?’
Then he said to his mother: ‘Rest gently, my mother, for I go to make a home for myself and become a hero.’ Then, entering his hut, he took Nu-éndo, his iron hammer, and throwing the sack over his shoulder, he went away.
Makóma crossed the Zambesi, and for many moons he wandered towards the north and west until he came to a very hilly country where, one day, he met a huge giant making mountains.
‘Greeting,’ shouted Makóma, ‘who are you?’
‘I am Chi-éswa-mapíri, who makes the mountains,’ answered the giant, ‘and who are you?’
‘I am Makóma, which signifies “greater,”’ answered he.
‘Greater than who?’ asked the giant.
‘Greater than you!’ answered Makóma.
The giant gave a roar and rushed upon him. Makóma said nothing, but swinging his great hammer, Nu-éndo, he struck the giant upon the head.
He struck him so hard a blow that the giant shrank into quite a little man, who fell upon his knees saying: ‘You are indeed greater than I, O Makóma; take me with you to be your slave!’ So Makóma picked him up and dropped him into the sack that he carried upon his back.
He was greater than ever now, for all the giant’s strength had gone into him; and he resumed his journey, carrying his burden with as little difficulty as an eagle might carry a hare.
Before long he came to a country broken up with huge stones and immense clods of earth. Looking over one of the heaps he saw a giant wrapped in dust dragging out the very earth and hurling it in handfuls on either side of him.
‘Who are you,’ cried Makóma, ‘that pulls up the earth in this way?’
‘I am Chi-dúbula-táka,’ said he, ‘and I am making the river-beds.’
‘Do you know who I am?’ said Makóma. ‘I am he that is called “greater”!’
‘Greater than who?’ thundered the giant.
‘Greater than you!’ answered Makóma.
With a shout, Chi-dúbula-táka seized a great clod of earth and launched it at Makóma. But the hero had his sack held over his left arm and the stones and earth fell harmlessly upon it, and, tightly gripping his iron hammer, he rushed in and struck the giant to the ground. Chi-dúbula-táka grovelled before him, all the while growing smaller and smaller; and when he had become a convenient size Makóma picked him up and put him into the sack beside Chi-éswa-mapíri.
He went on his way even greater than before, as all the river-maker’s power had become his; and at last he came to a forest of bao-babs and thorn trees. He was astonished at their size, for every one was full grown and larger than any trees he had ever seen, and close by he saw Chi-gwísa-míti, the giant who was planting the forest.
Chi-gwísa-míti was taller than either of his brothers, but Makóma was not afraid and called out to him: ‘Who are you, O Big One?’
‘I,’ said the giant, ‘am Chi-gwísa-míti, and I am planting these bao-babs and thorns as food for my children the elephants.’
‘Leave off!’ shouted the hero, ‘for I am Makóma, and would like to exchange a blow with thee!’
The giant, plucking up a monster bao-bab by the roots, struck heavily at Makóma; but the hero sprang aside, and as the weapon sank deep into the soft earth, whirled Nu-éndo the hammer round his head and felled the giant with one blow.
So terrible was the stroke that Chi-gwísa-míti shrivelled up as the other giants had done; and when he had got back his breath he begged Makóma to take him as his servant. ‘For,’ said he, ‘it is honourable to serve a man so great as thou.’
Makóma, after placing him in his sack, proceeded upon his journey, and travelling for many days he at last reached a country so barren and rocky that not a single living thing grew upon it—everywhere reigned grim desolation. And in the midst of this dead region he found a man eating fire.
‘What are you doing?’ demanded Makóma.
‘I am eating fire,’ answered the man, laughing; ‘and my name is Chi-ídea-móto, for I am the flame-spirit, and can waste and destroy what I like.’
‘You are wrong,’ said Makóma; ‘for I am Makóma, who is “greater” than you—and you cannot destroy me!’
The fire-eater laughed again, and blew a flame at Makóma. But the hero sprang behind a rock—just in time, for the ground upon which he had been standing was turned to molten glass, like an overbaked pot, by the heat of the flame-spirit’s breath.
Then the hero flung his iron hammer at Chi-ídea-móto, and, striking him, it knocked him helpless; so Makóma placed him in the sack, Woro-nówu, with the other great men that he had overcome.
And now, truly, Makóma was a very great hero; for he had the strength to make hills, the industry to lead rivers over dry wastes, foresight and wisdom in planting trees, and the power of producing fire when he wished.
Wandering on he arrived one day at a great plain, well watered and full of game; and in the very middle of it, close to a large river, was a grassy spot, very pleasant to make a home upon.
Makóma was so delighted with the little meadow that he sat down under a large tree, and removing the sack from his shoulder, took out all the giants and set them before him. ‘My friends,’ said he, ‘I have travelled far and am weary. Is not this such a place as would suit a hero for his home? Let us then go, to-morrow, to bring in timber to make a kraal.’
So the next day Makóma and the giants set out to get poles to build the kraal, leaving only Chi-éswa-mapíri to look after the place and cook some venison which they had killed. In the evening, when they returned, they found the giant helpless and tied to a tree by one enormous hair!
‘How is it,’ said Makóma, astonished, ‘that we find you thus bound and helpless?’
‘O Chief,’ answered Chi-éswa-mapíri, ‘at midday a man came out of the river; he was of immense stature, and his grey moustaches were of such length that I could not see where they ended! He demanded of me “Who is thy master?” And I answered: “Makóma, the greatest of heroes.” Then the man seized me, and pulling a hair from his moustache, tied me to this tree—even as you see me.’
Makóma was very wroth, but he said nothing, and drawing his finger-nail across the hair (which was as thick and strong as palm rope) cut it, and set free the mountain-maker.
The three following days exactly the same thing happened, only each time with a different one of the party; and on the fourth day Makóma stayed in camp when the others went to cut poles, saying that he would see for himself what sort of man this was that lived in the river and whose moustaches were so long that they extended beyond men’s sight.
So when the giants had gone he swept and tidied the camp and put some venison on the fire to roast. At midday, when the sun was right overhead, he heard a rumbling noise from the river, and looking up he saw the head and shoulders of an enormous man emerging from it. And behold! right down the river-bed and up the river-bed, till they faded into the blue distance, stretched the giant’s grey moustaches!
‘Who are you?’ bellowed the giant, as soon as he was out of the water.
‘I am he that is called Makóma,’ answered the hero; ‘and, before I slay thee, tell me also what is thy name and what thou doest in the river?’
‘My name is Chin-débou Máu-giri,’ said the giant. ‘My home is in the river, for my moustache is the grey fever-mist that hangs above the water, and with which I bind all those that come unto me so that they die.’
‘You cannot bind me!’ shouted Makóma, rushing upon him and striking with his hammer. But the river giant was so slimy that the blow slid harmlessly off his green chest, and as Makóma stumbled and tried to regain his balance, the giant swung one of his long hairs around him and tripped him up.
For a moment Makóma was helpless, but remembering the power of the flame-spirit which had entered into him, he breathed a fiery breath upon the giant’s hair and cut himself free.
As Chin-débou Máu-giri leaned forward to seize him the hero flung his sack Woro-nówu over the giant’s slippery head, and gripping his iron hammer, struck him again; this time the blow alighted upon the dry sack and Chin-débou Máu-giri fell dead.
When the four giants returned at sunset with the poles they rejoiced to find that Makóma had overcome the fever-spirit, and they feasted on the roast venison till far into the night; but in the morning, when they awoke, Makóma was already warming his hands at the fire, and his face was gloomy.
‘In the darkness of the night, O my friends,’ he said presently, ‘the white spirits of my fathers came unto me and spoke, saying: “Get thee hence, Makóma, for thou shalt have no rest until thou hast found and fought with Sákatirína, who has five heads, and is very great and strong; so take leave of thy friends, for thou must go alone.”’
Then the giants were very sad, and bewailed the loss of their hero; but Makóma comforted them, and gave back to each the gifts he had taken from them. Then bidding them ‘Farewell,’ he went on his way.
Makóma travelled far towards the west; over rough mountains and water-logged morasses, fording deep rivers, and tramping for days across dry deserts where most men would have died, until at length he arrived at a hut standing near some large peaks, and inside the hut were two beautiful women.
‘Greeting!’ said the hero. ‘Is this the country of Sákatirína of five heads, whom I am seeking?’
‘We greet you, O Great One!’ answered the women. ‘We are the wives of Sákatirína; your search is at an end, for there stands he whom you seek!’ And they pointed to what Makóma had thought were two tall mountain peaks. ‘Those are his legs,’ they said; ‘his body you cannot see, for it is hidden in the clouds.’
Makóma was astonished when he beheld how tall was the giant; but, nothing daunted, he went forward until he reached one of Sákatirína’s legs, which he struck heavily with Nu-éndo. Nothing happened, so he hit again and then again until, presently, he heard a tired, far-away voice saying: ‘Who is it that scratches my feet?’
And Makóma shouted as loud as he could, answering: ‘It is I, Makóma, who is called “Greater”!’ And he listened, but there was no answer.
Then Makóma collected all the dead brushwood and trees that he could find, and making an enormous pile round the giant’s legs, set a light to it.
This time the giant spoke; his voice was very terrible, for it was the rumble of thunder in the clouds. ‘Who is it,’ he said, ‘making that fire smoulder around my feet?’
‘It is I, Makóma!’ shouted the hero. ‘And I have come from far away to see thee, O Sákatirína, for the spirits of my fathers bade me go seek and fight with thee, lest I should grow fat, and weary of myself.’
There was silence for a while, and then the giant spoke softly: ‘It is good, O Makóma!’ he said. ‘For I too have grown weary. There is no man so great as I, therefore I am all alone. Guard thyself!’ And bending suddenly he seized the hero in his hands and dashed him upon the ground. And lo! instead of death, Makóma had found life, for he sprang to his feet mightier in strength and stature than before, and rushing in he gripped the giant by the waist and wrestled with him.
Hour by hour they fought, and mountains rolled beneath their feet like pebbles in a flood; now Makóma would break away, and summoning up his strength, strike the giant with Nu-éndo his iron hammer, and Sákatirína would pluck up the mountains and hurl them upon the hero, but neither one could slay the other. At last, upon the second day, they grappled so strongly that they could not break away; but their strength was failing, and, just as the sun was sinking, they fell together to the ground, insensible.
In the morning when they awoke, Mulímo the Great Spirit was standing by them; and he said: ‘O Makóma and Sákatirína! Ye are heroes so great that no man may come against you. Therefore ye will leave the world and take up your home with me in the clouds.’ And as he spake the heroes became invisible to the people of the Earth, and were no more seen among them.
(Native Rhodesian Tale.)
From the Senna
A long, long while ago, before ever the White Men were seen in Senna, there lived a man called Gopáni-Kúfa.
One day, as he was out hunting, he came upon a strange sight. An enormous python had caught an antelope and coiled itself around it; the antelope, striking out in despair with its horns, had pinned the python’s neck to a tree, and so deeply had its horns sunk in the soft wood that neither creature could get away.
‘Help!’ cried the antelope, ‘for I was doing no harm, yet I have been caught, and would have been eaten, had I not defended myself.’
‘Help me,’ said the python, ‘for I am Insáto, King of all the Reptiles, and will reward you well!’
Gopáni-Kúfa considered for a moment, then stabbing the antelope with his assegai, he set the python free.
‘I thank you,’ said the python; ‘come back here with the new moon, when I shall have eaten the antelope, and I will reward you as I promised.’
‘Yes,’ said the dying antelope, ‘he will reward you, and lo! your reward shall be your own undoing!’
Gopáni-Kúfa went back to his kraal, and with the new moon he returned again to the spot where he had saved the python.
Insáto was lying upon the ground, still sleepy from the effects of his huge meal, and when he saw the man he thanked him again, and said: ‘Come with me now to Píta, which is my own country, and I will give you what you will of all my possessions.’
Gopáni-Kúfa at first was afraid, thinking of what the antelope had said, but finally he consented and followed Insáto into the forest.
For several days they travelled, and at last they came to a hole leading deep into the earth. It was not very wide, but large enough to admit a man. ‘Hold on to my tail,’ said Insáto, ‘and I will go down first, drawing you after me.’ The man did so, and Insáto entered.
Down, down, down they went for days, all the while getting deeper and deeper into the earth, until at last the darkness ended and they dropped into a beautiful country; around them grew short green grass, on which browsed herds of cattle and sheep and goats. In the distance Gopáni-Kúfa saw a great collection of houses all square, built of stone and very tall, and their roofs were shining with gold and burnished iron.
Gopáni-Kúfa turned to Insáto, but found, in the place of the python, a man, strong and handsome, with the great snake’s skin wrapped round him for covering; and on his arms and neck were rings of pure gold.
The man smiled. ‘I am Insáto,’ said he; ‘but in my own country I take man’s shape—even as you see me—for this is Píta, the land over which I am king.’ He then took Gopáni-Kúfa by the hand and led him towards the town.
On the way they passed rivers in which men and women were bathing and fishing and boating; and farther on they came to gardens covered with heavy crops of rice and maize, and many other grains which Gopáni-Kúfa did not even know the name of. And as they passed, the people who were singing at their work in the fields, abandoned their labours and saluted Insáto with delight, bringing also palm wine and green cocoa-nuts for refreshment, as to one returned from a long journey.
‘These are my children!’ said Insáto, waving his hand towards the people. Gopáni-Kúfa was much astonished at all that he saw, but he said nothing. Presently they came to the town; everything here, too, was beautiful, and everything that a man might desire he could obtain. Even the grains of dust in the streets were of gold and silver.
Insáto conducted Gopáni-Kúfa to the palace, and showing him his rooms, and the maidens who would wait upon him, told him that they would have a great feast that night, and on the morrow he might name his choice of the riches of Píta and it should be given him. Then he went away.
Now Gopáni-Kúfa had a wasp called Zéngi-mízi. Zéngi-mízi was not an ordinary wasp, for the spirit of the father of Gopáni-Kúfa had entered it, so that it was exceedingly wise. In times of doubt Gopáni-Kúfa always consulted the wasp as to what had better be done, so on this occasion he took it out of the little rush basket in which he carried it, saying: ‘Zéngi-mízi, what gift shall I ask of Insáto to-morrow when he would know the reward he shall bestow on me for saving his life?’
‘Biz-z-z,’ hummed Zéngi-mízi, ‘ask him for Sipáo the Mirror.’ And it flew back into its basket.
Gopáni-Kúfa was astonished at this answer; but knowing that the words of Zéngi-mízi were true words, he determined to make the request. So that night they feasted, and on the morrow Insáto came to Gopáni-Kúfa and, giving him greeting joyfully, he said:
‘Now, O my friend, name your choice amongst my possessions and you shall have it!’
‘O king!’ answered Gopáni-Kúfa, ‘out of all your possessions I will have the Mirror, Sipáo.’
The king started. ‘O friend, Gopáni-Kúfa,’ he said, ‘ask anything but that! I did not think that you would request that which is most precious to me.’
‘Let me think over it again then, O king,’ said Gopáni-Kúfa, ‘and to-morrow I will let you know if I change my mind.’
But the king was still much troubled, fearing the loss of Sipáo, for the Mirror had magic powers, so that he who owned it had but to ask and his wish would be fulfilled; to it Insáto owed all that he possessed.
As soon as the king left him, Gopáni-Kúfa again took Zéngi-mízi out of his basket. ‘Zéngi-mízi,’ he said, ‘the king seems loth to grant my request for the Mirror—is there not some other thing of equal value for which I might ask?’
And the wasp answered: ‘There is nothing in the world, O Gopáni-Kúfa, which is of such value as this Mirror, for it is a Wishing Mirror, and accomplishes the desires of him who owns it. If the king hesitates, go to him the next day, and the day after, and in the end he will bestow the Mirror upon you, for you saved his life.’
And it was even so. For three days Gopáni-Kúfa returned the same answer to the king, and, at last, with tears in his eyes, Insáto gave him the Mirror, which was of polished iron, saying: ‘Take Sipáo, then, O Gopáni-Kúfa, and may thy wishes come true. Go back now to thine own country; Sipáo will show you the way.’
Gopáni-Kúfa was greatly rejoiced, and, taking farewell of the king, said to the Mirror:
‘Sipáo, Sipáo, I wish to be back upon the Earth again!’
Instantly he found himself standing upon the upper earth; but, not knowing the spot, he said again to the Mirror:
‘Sipáo, Sipáo, I want the path to my own kraal!’
And behold! right before him lay the path!
When he arrived home he found his wife and daughter mourning for him, for they thought that he had been eaten by lions; but he comforted them, saying that while following a wounded antelope he had missed his way and had wandered for a long time before he had found the path again.
That night he asked Zéngi-mízi, in whom sat the spirit of his father, what he had better ask Sipáo for next?
‘Biz-z-z,’ said the wasp, ‘would you not like to be as great a chief as Insáto?’
And Gopáni-Kúfa smiled, and took the Mirror and said to it:
‘Sipáo, Sipáo, I want a town as great as that of Insáto, the King of Píta; and I wish to be chief over it!’
Then all along the banks of the Zambesi river, which flowed near by, sprang up streets of stone buildings, and their roofs shone with gold and burnished iron like those in Píta; and in the streets men and women were walking, and young boys were driving out the sheep and cattle to pasture; and from the river came shouts and laughter from the young men and maidens who had launched their canoes and were fishing. And when the people of the new town beheld Gopáni-Kúfa they rejoiced greatly and hailed him as chief.
Gopáni-Kúfa was now as powerful as Insáto the King of the Reptiles had been, and he and his family moved into the palace that stood high above the other buildings right in the middle of the town. His wife was too astonished at all these wonders to ask any questions, but his daughter Shasása kept begging him to tell her how he had suddenly become so great; so at last he revealed the whole secret, and even entrusted Sipáo the Mirror to her care, saying:
‘It will be safer with you, my daughter, for you dwell apart; whereas men come to consult me on affairs of state, and the Mirror might be stolen.’
Then Shasása took the Magic Mirror and hid it beneath her pillow, and after that for many years Gopáni-Kúfa ruled his people both well and wisely, so that all men loved him, and never once did he need to ask Sipáo to grant him a wish.
Now it happened that, after many years, when the hair of Gopáni-Kúfa was turning grey with age, there came white men to that country. Up the Zambesi they came, and they fought long and fiercely with Gopáni-Kúfa; but, because of the power of the Magic Mirror, he beat them, and they fled to the sea-coast. Chief among them was one Rei, a man of much cunning, who sought to discover whence sprang Gopáni-Kúfa’s power. So one day he called to him a trusty servant named Butou, and said: ‘Go you to the town and find out for me what is the secret of its greatness.’
And Butou, dressing himself in rags, set out, and when he came to Gopáni-Kúfa’s town he asked for the chief; and the people took him into the presence of Gopáni-Kúfa. When the white man saw him he humbled himself, and said: ‘O Chief! take pity on me, for I have no home! When Rei marched against you I alone stood apart, for I knew that all the strength of the Zambesi lay in your hands, and because I would not fight against you he turned me forth into the forest to starve!’
And Gopáni-Kúfa believed the white man’s story, and he took him in and feasted him, and gave him a house.
In this way the end came. For the heart of Shasása, the daughter of Gopáni-Kúfa, went forth to Butou the traitor, and from her he learnt the secret of the Magic Mirror. One night, when all the town slept, he felt beneath her pillow and, finding the Mirror, he stole it and fled back with it to Rei, the chief of the white men.
So it befell that one day, as Gopáni-Kúfa was gazing at the river from a window of the palace, he again saw the war-canoes of the white men; and at the sight his spirit misgave him.
‘Shasása! my daughter!’ he cried wildly, ‘go fetch me the Mirror, for the white men are at hand.’
‘Woe is me, my father!’ she sobbed. ‘The Mirror is gone! For I loved Butou the traitor, and he has stolen Sipáo from me!’
Then Gopáni-Kúfa calmed himself, and drew out Zéngi-mízi from its rush basket.
‘O spirit of my father!’ he said, ‘what now shall I do?’
‘O Gopáni-Kúfa!’ hummed the wasp, ‘there is nothing now that can be done, for the words of the antelope which you slew are being fulfilled.’
‘Alas! I am an old man—I had forgotten!’ cried the chief. ‘The words of the antelope were true words—my reward shall be my own undoing—they are being fulfilled!’
Then the white men fell upon the people of Gopáni-Kúfa and slew them together with the chief and his daughter Shasása; and since then all the power of the Earth has rested in the hands of the white men, for they have in their possession Sipáo, the Magic Mirror.
Once upon a time there was a king who, one day out hunting, came upon a fakeer in a lonely place in the mountains. The fakeer was seated on a little old bedstead reading the Koran, with his patched cloak thrown over his shoulders.
The king asked him what he was reading; and he said he was reading about Paradise, and praying that he might be worthy to enter there. Then they began to talk, and, by-and-bye, the king asked the fakeer if he could show him a glimpse of Paradise, for he found it very difficult to believe in what he could not see. The fakeer replied that he was asking a very difficult, and perhaps a very dangerous, thing; but that he would pray for him, and perhaps he might be able to do it; only he warned the king both against the dangers of his unbelief, and against the curiosity which prompted him to ask this thing. However, the king was not to be turned from his purpose, and he promised the fakeer always to provide him with food, if he, in return, would pray for him. To this the fakeer agreed, and so they parted.
Time went on, and the king always sent the old fakeer his food according to his promise; but, whenever he sent to ask him when he was going to show him Paradise, the fakeer always replied: ‘Not yet, not yet!’
After a year or two had passed by, the king heard one day that the fakeer was very ill—indeed, he was believed to be dying. Instantly he hurried off himself, and found that it was really true, and that the fakeer was even then breathing his last. There and then the king besought him to remember his promise, and to show him a glimpse of Paradise. The dying fakeer replied that if the king would come to his funeral, and, when the grave was filled in, and everyone else was gone away, he would come and lay his hand upon the grave, he would keep his word, and show him a glimpse of Paradise. At the same time he implored the king not to do this thing, but to be content to see Paradise when God called him there. Still the king’s curiosity was so aroused that he would not give way.
Accordingly, after the fakeer was dead, and had been buried, he stayed behind when all the rest went away; and then, when he was quite alone, he stepped forward, and laid his hand upon the grave! Instantly the ground opened, and the astonished king, peeping in, saw a flight of rough steps, and, at the bottom of them, the fakeer sitting, just as he used to sit, on his rickety bedstead, reading the Koran!
At first the king was so surprised and frightened that he could only stare; but the fakeer beckoned to him to come down, so, mustering up his courage, he boldly stepped down into the grave.
The fakeer rose, and, making a sign to the king to follow, walked a few paces along a dark passage. Then he stopped, turned solemnly to his companion, and, with a movement of his hand, drew aside as it were a heavy curtain, and revealed—what? No one knows what was there shown to the king, nor did he ever tell anyone; but, when the fakeer at length dropped the curtain, and the king turned to leave the place, he had had his glimpse of Paradise! Trembling in every limb, he staggered back along the passage, and stumbled up the steps out of the tomb into the fresh air again.
The dawn was breaking. It seemed odd to the king that he had been so long in the grave. It appeared but a few minutes ago that he had descended, passed along a few steps to the place where he had peeped beyond the veil, and returned again after perhaps five minutes of that wonderful view! And what was it he had seen? He racked his brains to remember, but he could not call to mind a single thing! How curious everything looked too! Why, his own city, which by now he was entering, seemed changed and strange to him! The sun was already up when he turned into the palace gate and entered the public durbar hall. It was full; and there upon the throne sat another king! The poor king, all bewildered, sat down and stared about him. Presently a chamberlain came across and asked him why he sat unbidden in the king’s presence. ‘But I am the king!’ he cried.
‘What king?’ said the chamberlain.
‘The true king of this country,’ said he indignantly.
Then the chamberlain went away, and spoke to the king who sat on the throne, and the old king heard words like ‘mad,’ ‘age,’ ‘compassion.’ Then the king on the throne called him to come forward, and, as he went, he caught sight of himself reflected in the polished steel shields of the bodyguard, and started back in horror! He was old, decrepit, dirty, and ragged! His long white beard and locks were unkempt, and straggled all over his chest and shoulders. Only one sign of royalty remained to him, and that was the signet ring upon his right hand. He dragged it off with shaking fingers and held it up to the king.
‘Tell me who I am,’ he cried; ‘there is my signet, who once sat where you sit—even yesterday!’
The king looked at him compassionately, and examined the signet with curiosity. Then he commanded, and they brought out dusty records and archives of the kingdom, and old coins of previous reigns, and compared them faithfully. At last the king turned to the old man, and said: ‘Old man, such a king as this whose signet thou hast, reigned seven hundred years ago; but he is said to have disappeared, none know whither; where got you the ring?’
Then the old man smote his breast, and cried out with a loud lamentation; for he understood that he, who was not content to wait patiently to see the Paradise of the faithful, had been judged already. And he turned and left the hall without a word, and went into the jungle, where he lived for twenty-five years a life of prayer and meditation, until at last the Angel of Death came to him, and mercifully released him, purged and purified through his punishment.
(A Pathan story told to Major Campbell.)
Far away in a hot country, where the forests are very thick and dark, and the rivers very swift and strong, there once lived a strange pair of friends. Now one of the friends was a big white rabbit named Isuro, and the other was a tall baboon called Gudu, and so fond were they of each other that they were seldom seen apart.
One day, when the sun was hotter even than usual, the rabbit awoke from his midday sleep, and saw Gudu the baboon standing beside him.
‘Get up,’ said Gudu; ‘I am going courting, and you must come with me. So put some food in a bag, and sling it round your neck, for we may not be able to find anything to eat for a long while.’
Then the rabbit rubbed his eyes, and gathered a store of fresh green things from under the bushes, and told Gudu that he was ready for the journey.
They went on quite happily for some distance, and at last they came to a river with rocks scattered here and there across the stream.
‘We can never jump those wide spaces if we are burdened with food,’ said Gudu, ‘we must throw it into the river, unless we wish to fall in ourselves.’ And stooping down, unseen by Isuro, who was in front of him, Gudu picked up a big stone, and threw it into the water with a loud splash.
‘It is your turn now,’ he cried to Isuro. And with a heavy sigh, the rabbit unfastened his bag of food, which fell into the river.
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