Cor Hendriks – The Macaws | Myth and Folktale (2): B The dangerous assignments

[I have made no additions to this text.]

The boy persecuted by his father, who tries to kill his son by giving him three very dangerous assignments, is well known from the ‘Arabian Nights’ as the story of Ahmed and Pari-Banou. Prince Ahmed is secretly married to Pari Banou, the daughter of a mountain spirit, and goes dressed in clothes from the other world to the court of his father the king, who is jealous of his son’s beautiful array. Of course this is no reason to kill your son but fairy tales are like that (the real reason to kill him is to get his wife). Ahmed goes three times to get some remarkable item and the last time he brings back a kobold, the brother of Pari Banou, who with his 500 pound iron stick bashes in the king’s head and puts Ahmed on the throne. [Galland 1978, 825-874]

Closer to the Bororo-story is the Bantu-tale of ‘Nwa-Mubia, Killer of Monsters’, told by the Ronga. First we are told of the father, Mubia, who knows all the secrets of the bush and its inhabitants. When his wife tells him that she is pregnant, he takes when his wife sleeps his unborn son on trips and teaches him his secrets. When the boy is born, he grows very fast: after two days he speaks, refuses milk, wants meat; the third day he creeps, and after five days he can walk and run. So the next day Nwa-Mubia, the son of Mubia, goes hunting with his father. They hear the honey-bird whistle and follow it to a bee’s nest. The father climbs up, puts the honey in a calabash, that he hands his son with the words not to eat it, because it is very bitter. But he forgets that his son has learned all his secrets, so by the time the father has climbed down, the boy has eaten all the honey. [This is the recognition-of-the-hero-scene, here also very banal!] Mubia, enraged, decides to kill his son. He knows the language of the buffaloes and so he calls them. A whole herd comes charging through the savannah, but Nwa-Mubia is not perturbed. He pulls up a sapling, strips it and starts beating the buffaloes on their necks until they are all dead [cf. Strong John a.k.a. Hercules with his club]. Then his father calls the elephants, but Nwa-Mubia doesn’t blink; he selects a heavier tree and swings it among the elephants until they are all dead. At last [= as third test!], Mubia calls the lions, but they undergo the same fate. After these tests in which the boy has prevailed the father, just like in the Bororo story, adjusts his attitude, praises the boy, and sends him to a village over yonder to ask for fire to prepare a meal. So the boy goes without suspicion to that village, where the Chihubulebabi live, whose big noses always wish to smell human flesh. When the boy notices that, it is already too late. A child sees him, calls his mother, and then the whole village comes after him. He spits behind him [some kind of magic flight theme: ATU 313] and the Chihubulebabi stop to lick it up, and so the boy reached his father and shouts to him to climb in a tree. His father is guarding the dead animals, and thinks he is safe and gets eaten by the Chihubulebabi, who make a feast of all the meat there. Then they return to their village to drink their home-made beer and fall asleep. The hero has waited in the tree, climbs down, sets the village on fire, and liberates the prisoners who make him their chief. [Knappert 1977, 94-97 nº3: ‘Nwa-Mubia, Killer of Monsters’.]

To let the assignments be executed by birds is a form of ATU 554: The Grateful Animals. A youth earns the thanks of several animals (ants, fish, etc.) and with their help wins the princess by performing three tasks imposed upon him (brings a ring from the bottom of the sea, etc.). [Thompson 1961, 199. One of the tasks they perform is (c) bringing a ring or key from the bottom of the sea, that we shall look into in a further episode.]

Making no sound as not to awake the otherworldly owners of the musical instruments is a motive in a lot of European fairytales of type ATU 328: ‘The Boy Steals the Giant’s Treasure’. In the well known tale of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, the first theft is of a bag of gold, but the second time Jack takes the Chicken with the Golden Eggs. During the running away, the chicken chuckles and Jack has to run hard, but comes safely down with the chicken. The third time Jack steals the Golden Harp, which immediately starts calling: ‘Lord, lord!’, which wakes up the giant, who climbs down the beanstalk in pursuit of Jack, who shouts to his mother for an axe, and chops down the stalk, so the giant plunges to his death. Instead of climbing in a beanstalk the Italian hero Corvetto in Basile’s ‘Pentamerone’ (3:7) climbs a cliff to steal the talking horse of a giant for his employer the king, who had the idea whispered in his ears by jealous courtiers [infra: ATU 531]. Corvetto although aware of the treacherous behavior of the courtiers goes to the mountain where the giant has his hide-out, reaches the stable, saddles the horse and drives away, while the horse is shouting: ‘Look out, Corvetto is taking me away!’ Immediately the giant and his servants (animals like bear, lion, wolf) come rushing out but the horse is far too quick. The king filled with joy embraces Corvetto as his son and the even more jealous courtiers whisper in the king’s ear: ‘If thou only had the bedspread of the giant.’ Again Corvetto climbs the mountain, hides himself under the bed and steals in the night the bedspread, but the courtiers suggest that Corvetto can even get the palace of the giant. And indeed he manages to lure the giant and his crew into a trap-fall, after which he brings the key to the king, who gives him his daughter in wedlock. In a Swish version, the hero is called ‘Tredeschin’, meaning ‘the little thirteenth’, because he is the thirteenth and youngest son of a poor couple. He can sing beautiful and play violin and comes in the grace of the king, who is sad because his horse has been stolen by the Turk. – Also in Lévi-Strauss’s key myth it is likely that the musical instruments were stolen and are being retaken by the hero. – The king goes so far as to promise his daughter to the person who brings back his horse, something also Tredeschin wants. He goes for a walk in the woods and meets there a little man, who advises him to go disguised as a wine-trader to Turkey with sleeping draught wine and cotton to envelop the hooves of the horse. With a ship he sails to Turkey and steals the horse, but the parrot of the Turk notices the theft and shouts: ‘Turk, Turk, Tredeschin is running off with the horse!’ The Turk shouts after the boy: ‘When do you come again?’ ‘After a year!’ The king is thrilled to have his horse back but says not a word about the marriage. As it turns out, the Turk had also stolen a blue brocade bedspread, and again the king promises his daughter. As before, Tredeschin goes to the woods, as he had agreed with the little man – a year has gone by – and receives a roll of cloth that he has to unroll under the window of the Turk, then he would find in it a ladder (meaning: the cloth changes into a ladder) to climb into the bedroom and pull the bedspread tied to a rope outside. Things happen as the first time (shouting parrot, question of the Turk, etc.) and again the king doesn’t speak about the marriage, so Tredeschin asks himself. Now the king demands the talking parrot of the giant in an attempt to get rid of the unwanted marriage candidate. Again a year has gone by and the little man in the wood gives Tredeschin a bag with sleeping pills disguised as sweets for the parrot. He goes dressed as a beggar, but is recognized and arrested, but manages to escape (giants are stupid, so is also the Turk), feeds the sweets to the parrot and when the bird sleeps, he takes it cage and all to his ship in the harbor, where the bird awakens and calls for the Turk, but Tredeschin is too far away and shouts he will never come again after which he marries the princess. [Treichler, M&S Schweiz, 1989, 72-75. Cf. Klintberg 2010, 387 type V71: ‘Getting treasure from interior of mountain.’ A man walks (is lowered with a rope [cf. ATU 301!]) into the interior of a mountain where the treasure of a giant (a golden spinning wheel, golden quilt, golden bed) is to be found. The brave treasure hunter does not return (the mountain collapses, the rope is pulled up without the man) (6 reg.).]

In a Norse version Askeladd, a boy according to his elder brothers only fit to dig in the ashes, is with his brothers in the service of the king after the death of their poor father. They work in the stables, garden and kitchen respectively and Askeladd is beloved, which makes his brothers jealous and they tell the king that Askeladd can bring him the seven silver ducks of the Troll who lives on the other side of the lake. When this succeeds – Askeladd rows in an heirloom, a flour-trough, to the other side and lures the ducks on board with grains – the brothers come up with the idea to fetch the Troll blanket (with silver and gold squares) and the third time the Golden Harp, at which he is caught but manages to escape. He is also called after three times by the Troll, and says two times that he will come back. The third time he says that the Troll has eaten his own daughter, after which the Troll explodes from anger, a reason for Askeladd to go quickly back to take a lot of gold and silver with him, after which he marries the princess. [Baars-Jelgersma, Noorse Volkssprookjes, Utrecht 1949, 167-171.]

In a Danish version three sisters work after the death of their mother with the same boss (‘king’), who sends the youngest, Ederland, on the instigation of the elder sisters three times on a mission to get something: 1. a lamp burning without light (meaning without fuel), 2. a horse with a bell on every hoof, and 3. a pig from which one can carve endless bacon. Ederland has no idea how to do this and goes crying to the grave of her mother, who rises from her tomb and tells her how to obtain the objects and sail over the sea in her heirloom, the dough-trough, with the broomstick as mast and the apron as sail. Ederland comes this way on the Troll-island and is called after by the Trolls when she rows away with stolen items, and calls back that she will come twice, once and the last time that she will never come back, but will send two others, that will give them much pleasure. After coming back with the pig the boss (‘king’) marries – as agreed – Ederland, who lends her ‘boat’ to her constantly irritated sisters, so that they can go to the Troll-island, where they are roasted and eaten by the Trolls. [Bødker 1964, 51-57.]

Tredeschin as well as Askeladd and Ederland are caught the third time, something that also happens to the Swedish hero, a farm-boy who flashes through the palace, irritating the king beyond measure. To get rid of the boy the king orders the boy to bring from the giant at the other side of the lake four valuable items: a golden chicken, a sword, a lamp and a harp. He also goes in a baking-trough, rowing with his arms, and is caught at last stealing the harp, but manages to escape. The giant sees him rowing away and starts to drink up the sea, so that the boy in his trough is sucked up. But just when the giant wants to grab him, he bursts and the resulting stream takes the boy to the other side, where he gives the harp to the king and marries his daughter. [Schier 1971, 75-79. Bieler, in: ARW 32, 1930, 256 n. 2 reports that [in a Russian tale] prince Astrach has to go get a self-playing harp from the land of the ‘immortal Kaschtschei’ [cf. infra] (Radermacher 1903, 45).]

Type 328 is closely related to ATU 327 (KHM 15: Hänsel und Gretel). Askeladd is locked up by the Troll in a pigsty and the daughter of the Troll must feed the boy to make him fat. After eight days he has to show his little finger, but he shows her an iron nail; she cuts in it and says to the Troll, that he is still too hard. The next time Askeladd holds out a wooden peg, which is better but still too tough and after another eight days he holds out a candle and this time he is just right. The Troll goes to invite his family for the feast-meal, that his daughter has to prepare. She goes with a big knife to Askeladd, who offers to wet the knife for her. When it is sharp as a razor he gets permission to try it on one of her braids, but he cuts her throat, cooks one half of her, roasts the other half and goes to sit in a corner in her clothes. During the meal the Troll asks her/him to take the harp and play, whereupon Askeladd runs off with the harp. [Baars-Jelgersma, l.c.]

Ederland is brought by the Trolls to the old Troll-father, who has to slaughter and prepare her for the evening-meal. The Troll commands her to put her head on the block, but she act as if she doesn’t understand, and wants him to show it. As soon as the old Troll has laid his head on the block she grabs the axe and chops off his head. Then she put the head with his nightcap in the bed, puts the rest in the soup-kettle above the hearth, goes with the pig to the beach and rows away. When the Trolls come back, they immediately start to eat, but the meat is tough. They keep on eating though until they miss the old father and discover the head without body in the bed. [Bødker 1964, 51-57.]

The Swedish boy is fattened and when the giant thinks him fat enough he goes to invite guests. The giantess lights a big fire in the oven and commands the boy to go and sit on a shovel-chair. The boy acts as if he doesn’t understand it, and pushes when the giantess demonstrates the chair, on the button, so that the giantess is hurled into the oven. Quickly he closes the oven-door, takes an apron (dress) from the woman, fills it with straw and puts it upright in the kitchen, and hides himself with the harp. In the evening the giant comes home (without guests), grabs the ‘woman’ by the apron, so that she falls over, looks in the oven and sees the giantess there sitting and grinning, but meanwhile the boy slips out the door, runs to the beach and rows away. [Schier 1971, 75-79.]

In the Greek version ‘Zirzonis’, about the youngest of 12 brothers, we have a combination of ATU 327 and 328: The twelve brothers are hired for the harvest by a man, who turns out to be a ‘Dragon’, meaning a cannibal (man-eater), who has twelve daughters. In the afternoon the man sends Zirzonis to his wife with a letter [so-called Uriah-letter], but the suspicious boy opens it, reads that the wife has to slaughter him, stuff him with rice, raisins and pistachios, roast him in the oven and serve him in the evening in the field. Zirzonis writes a new letter (meaning: he changed a few keywords) to do these things to the fattest sheep. The dragon is surprised to see the boy come back and in the evening the dragoness comes with the sheep (shows the letter). When they go to sleep the dragon covers the boys with black, the girls with white covers. In the night Zirzonis switches the covers, sends his brothers to the other side of the river and hides himself near the empty white covers. Then the dragon comes and eats up his own daughters. Eating the youngest (the last one) he says: ‘How sweet is the meat of Zirzonis!’ ‘How good is the meat of your daughters!’ The dragon pursues Zirzonis, but is dumbfounded (‘When you eat me, I’ll drill a hole in your stomach and come out.’), after which Zirzonis crosses the river and joins his brothers. Then he goes to the king and wants his daughter as wife; the king wants the carpet, on which the giant sleeps, then the cup of the dragon, that shines at night like the sun, and finally the tent under which the giant sleeps. At last it is clear that the king just wants to get rid of the boy, and he asks him to bring him the dragon himself. Zirzonis warns that the dragon will eat everybody, but the king is stubborn and Zirzonis, disguised as an old man, manages to lure the (stupid) dragon into a chest, that he brings to the king, where he hides with the princess, when the king lets the chest be opened. The dragon eats everybody but is dumbfounded by Zirzonis, who marries the princess. [Megas 1978, 132-137.]

The tent Zirzonis has to steal is covered with bells, that mice fill for him with cotton just like Ederland did with the bells attached to the horse. And in both cases one bell gets free. The bells are also present in a modern Italian folktale. The hero, Tabagnino with the lump, a shoemaker, is in such poor condition that he decides to try his luck elsewhere. That way he comes to the house of the giant, where he finds a good reception due to the wife of the Devil and he sees all the valuables of the Devil (Evil one). After his departure in the middle of the night he roams a year through the country and comes in the capital, where he dresses himself as court-jester and is taken in the service of the king after telling him his adventure with the Devil. So the king sends him to get the bedspread, then the two bags of gold in the closet, and thirdly the winged horse, that has a hundred bells hanging on its manes. Tabagnino fills up the bells with cotton and drives/flies away. The Devil calls out to his parrot as was his habit before going to bed: ‘Parrot, what time is it?’ ‘It is the time on which Tabagnino is taking off on the winged horse!’ The Devil creates a storm with his magic staff, but Tabagnino has already reached the palace on his winged horse. The series of thefts continues culminating in the capture of the Evil One in a coffin (a trick Seth used against Osiris!), who is not released to create havoc but is burnt in the coffin, releasing the country of a terrible monster. As reward Tabagnino is made first minister. [Marcenaro-Huygens 1984, 64-72.]

The Irish tale of Whittlegaire, collected in County Leitrim, is also a combination of ATU 1119 and 328. The 3 brothers come to the house of the witch, who binds red ribbons around the necks of her 3 daughters, who sleep in the same room as the boys. Whittlegaire takes them off the girls and puts them around the necks of his brothers [and himself] and the witch kills her own daughters. Thereafter the boys flee and come the next day to a farmer [= king] with 3 daughters, who promises them in marriage if Whittlegaire brings him from the house of the witch the Quilt of Diamonds (W. pulls it with a long crook up through the chimney), the Boots of Swiftness, the Sword of Lightning, and finally the Steed of Bells. Each time he is pursued by the witch, who shouts what he has done to her, whereupon he answers that he will do more, but she is not able to cross the river. The Steed has his hair plaited, and on every plait there is a bell. When he comes in to steal it, the horse shakes, and every bell rings. The witch comes, but cannot find Whittlegaire, who has hidden himself. He tries a 2nd time, but again the horse rings, the witch comes, and finds Whittlegaire. She is at loss what kind of death to give him, and he advises her to put down a pot and boil a pot of stirabout, and put lots of butter in it, and let him eat it until he is not able to stir, and put him in a bag, tie him in, and get a stick and beat him until the butter comes out through the bag. She does this but has no stick to beat him, and goes away to get one. Meanwhile Whittlegaire cuts open the bag, gets out, and fills it up with stones. While the witch is beating the bag, Whittlegaire escapes on the horse and is already far away before the witch notices the deception, but is not able to overtake him and dies out of spite. [Duncan, in: Folk-Lore 4, 184-188: ‘Whittlegaire’, written by the narrator, who is a bit confused about the daughters of the witch: she has 3, but kills only 2, because 1 is needed for the episode with the Sword, where Whittlegaire throws salt through the chimney and the girl goes out with the Sword as lamp to get water, and is killed by Whittlegaire.]

The same combination of ATU 1119 and 328 is the English tale of ‘Mally Whuppie’ from Old Meldrum in Aberdeenshire, written down by Mr. Moir, Rector of the Grammar School in Aberdeenshire, who heard it from his mother. Three children, left behind in the forest by their parents, find a house, that turns out to be of a giant. The 3 girls sleep in the same bed as the giant’s 3 daughters, who have golden necklaces, while the girls have ropes of straw. Mally Whuppie, the youngest, switches the ropes and necklaces, and the giant kills his daughters. Then Mally and her sisters escape and come in the morning to the house of a king, who finds Mally a clever cutty and promises to marry her oldest sister with his oldest son if she brings him the sword of the giant. So Mally goes back to the giant, hides under the bed. The giant hangs his sword on the wall above him and Mally has to reach over him to take it. But when she takes it, the sword gives a rattle, and the giant jumps up, while Mally runs out of the door with the sword, over the Brig o’ ae hair, that the giant can’t pass. She says to come back 2 more times (to Spain). After that the king wants her to steal the purse of money lying under the pillow of the giant for the 2nd sister. Again the giant wakes up, gives chase, but can’t pass over the bridge of a hair. Then the king wants her to steal the ring from the giant’s finger. This time she is caught and just like Whittlegaire she suggest the giant what to do: put in a pyock (bag?) with the cat and dog, a needle, thread and scissors, hang it on the wall and go to the forest to find the biggest stick and hit it till she is dead. The giant does this, and while he is out looking for a big stick, Mally starts to sing: ‘O, gin ye saw faht I see,’ which arouses the curiosity of the wife of the giant, who also wants to see it [see for this KHM 146: ‘The Turnip’, where the hero is hung up in a bag, and tells bypassers he is in the Sack of Knowledge; the trick is related to the trick from ATU 1535, where the man in the barrel says that he doesn’t want the princess; also Ladurie’s ‘Jean l’ont pris’, who is tied to a tree; finally the fox who deceives the lion in switching places; Dalilah the Vixen from Hell, etc. etc.], so Mally cuts open the pyock, helps the giant’s wife in it, sows her up, and hides behind the door. The giant comes with a big stick and beats the pyock, not hearing the screams of his wife because of the dog and cat, but then Mally runs away, and is chased by the giant, but she runs over the bridge that he can’t cross and shouts never to come to Spain again. And she marries with the youngest son of the king. [Folk-Lore Journal 2, 68-71. Le Roy Ladurie’s study (Love, Money and Death in Le Pays d’Oc) is from a folkloristic point of view a total failure; the story of “Jean l’ont pris” has nothing to with ATU 332.]

In Sicily the story has taken on the flavour of ATU 531: A herb-gatherer has 13 sons; his wife says in order to make them speedy: ‘Who is home first, gets herb-soup.’ The youngest, Thirteen, is always the first, and that is why the other brothers hate him. When the king announces that whoever brings him the bed-cover of the ogre will receive a measure of gold, the 12 brothers go to the king and tell him that Thirteen can do it. They have to go get him, and he is sent out, despite protest. The ogre (= giant) is not at home, the ogress is in the kitchen, and Thirteen sneaks under the bed. The homecoming ogre smells human flesh, but his wife says that no one has been there. At night Thirteen pulls at the cover, the ogre awakes, the ogress says: ‘Kish, Kish’ to the cat. They sleep on, and Thirteen pulls off the cover and runs away, but the ogre recognizes him [which only makes sense if here also the episode ATU 1119 has gone before]: ‘You are Thirteen!’ A while later the king announces that whoever brings the horse of the ogre receives a measure of gold, and again Thirteen is pushed by his brothers. He goes with a silk ladder [for climbing on the roof of the stable] and cakes [that he throws down to the horse] and brings it to the king, who now wants the pillow of the giant, which is according to Thirteen impossible to steal because of the bells attached to it. But he has to go and is caught by the giant, woken up by the bells, put in a barrel and fed with raisins and figs and has to stick his finger out of the barrel to demonstrate how fat he is: the 1st time he sticks out a mouse-tail, 2nd a spindle, the 3rd time his finger [cf. ATU 327: ‘The Children and the Ogre’. II. The Ogre Deceived. (a) The ogre smells human flesh and has the children imprisoned and fattened. (b) When his finger is to be cut to test his fatness the hero sticks out a bone or piece of wood.] Now the ogre commands his wife to heat the oven for 3 days, while he goes to invite the guests to feast upon Thirteen. The ogress takes Thirteen out of the barrel and wants to push him in the oven, but he points her to something in the oven. She bends to look, and he grabs her by the feet and shoves her in the oven [cf. 327 II (d) the ogre’s wife or child burned in his own oven (AT 1121: ‘Ogre’s Wife Burned in his Own Oven’)]. After she is cooked, he puts her upper half into the bed with strings attached and the lower half he divides over the plates. Then the ogre comes with the guests, asks his wife if she wants to eat. Thirteen makes the head shake no (etc.: if she is tired: yes), but one of the guests notices the deception and shouts: ‘Treason!’ Thirteen runs away with the pillow, and arrives at the king, who now wants him to bring the ogre himself. Imprisonment in the box (as above). The king has iron shackles put on the ogre’s hand and feet and makes him gnaw bones, while he makes Thirteen rich. [Crane 1885, 90-94 nº18: ‘Thirteen’ = Pitrè nº33: ‘Tridicinu’ (rather: Thirteenth; cf. Tredeschin). Cf. Thompson 1961, 119, Motifs: L10.1.1. “Thirteen” name of victorious youngest son (should be “Thirteenth”).]

A comparable story can be found in Basile’s ‘Pentamerone’, in the tale of ‘Corvetto’. Corvetto is in the service of the king of Fiumelargo [broad river], who loves him but who is incited by jealous courtiers to demand from Corvetto to bring him the talking horse [cf. Jack’s talking Harp] of the giant (ogre). Although he sees through the intentions of the courtiers, Corvetto goes to the bush-covered mountain, where the giant has his hide-out, sneaks into the stable, saddles the horse and drives away, while the horse shouts: ‘Watch it, Corvetto takes me away!’ The giant comes immediately with his servants (bear, lion, wolf, werewolf), but the horse is much too fast. The king embraces with joy Corvetto as his son, whereupon the even more jealous courtiers whisper in the king’s ear: ‘If only thou hast the bedspread of the giant.’ Again Corvetto is sent out, climbs the mountain, hides under the bed, and steals in the night the bedspread, but the courtiers come up with the idea that Corvetto can even obtain the palace of the giant. He manages indeed to eliminate the giant and his gang with the help of a trapdoor, after which he brings the key to the king, who gives him his daughter as wife. [Basile 1960, 162-167 (§3:7). A corvetta = corvette, is a warship with sails and one tier of guns. A corvo = raven (known for its stealing; Dutch: ‘stelen als de raven’).]

The bell (clock) that starts to ring despite preventive measures is also to be seen in an Estonian tale called ‘Big Pete and little Pete’, about a landowner (the ‘king’) with two farmhands, a big fat one and therefore named Big Pete, and a little slender one and therefore called Little Pete. Three days in a row Big Pete cheats Little Pete out of his meal and points him to the nests of mice, bees and eagles, but Little Pete spares the little ones and the grateful parents promise to help him. When Little Pete is not to be fooled again on the fourth day Big Pete says to the landlord, that Little Pete in three days can built a church of wax (which the bees do in the first night), with an earthen wall around it (the mice in the second night) and in the tower a 12-tuny bell. This bell is hanging in the bedroom of the Devil and the eagle takes Pete on his back and brings him over mountains and rivers. Near the border of the domain of the Devil Pete has to pick up a branch, a grain of sand and a drop of water. In the courtyard of the Devil they have to be very quiet, but the bell makes two times a little sound during the untying, but the eagle lulls the Devil in sleep again. However, when flying away the bell starts to sound loudly and the Devil pursues them. On the command of the eagle Pete throws the branch, that turns into a great forest, where the Devil with great speed chops a path through, then the grain of sand, that turns into a mountain, that the Devil with great speed shovels away with the shovels that his son has brought, and finally the drop of water, that turns into a sea, that the Devil with his son and also his mother tries to drink empty. But the Devil bursts and all the water flows back into the sea and still before the break of day the bell is hanging in the bell-tower. Little Pete is rewarded and says in order to get rid of Big Pete, that he can do an even greater miracle: he can sleep in an oven, wherein a pile of seven fathom wood is burning. The landlord wants to see that, and Big Pete has to step into the burning oven. [Prager 1971, 97-103 (coll. Juhan Kunder). The bells are also in a version of ATU 551 from around 1300: the Fountain of Youth is in a palace with on the door bells, that ring when someone touches the door, and the hermit, that advises the hero, gives him a tinder to put in the bells (BP I, 512).]

In the Mongolian tale of ‘The Boy Jagâldzaê’, the hero, the only son of a woman, has found a ‘coral fur’ and says to his mother to tell it to no one, but one day she brags about it to the xân (king), who orders the boy to give it to him and then commands him to go get Xurmusta’s golden helmet. (Xurmusta = Ahura Mazda, the god of heaven.) Xan Xurmusta’s property is guarded by 300 devil-demons. When you say: ‘Don’t sleep!’ to them, when you hit them, then they sleep (when you say: ‘Sleep!’, they don’t sleep). So when he arrives there (in Xurmusta’s heaven) he hits them and says: ‘Don’t sleep!’ He takes the golden helmet, flees and brings it to the xân, who now also wants Xurmusta’s 8-footed throne made of naegar-sandalwood. So our hero goes again, takes the throne and flees. The 300 devil-demons pursue him, surround him and he barely manages to escape. The xân seats himself on the throne with the helmet on his head and the coral fur put on, and asks the boy how he looks. The boy says it looks fine, but if he would have Xan Xurmusta’s daughter, that would be great. So the xân orders him to bring her. Jagâldzaê manages with much effort to persuade her, delivers her to the xân, and goes his way. When Xurmusta’s daughter sees the xân on her father’s throne, with her father’s helmet and coral fur, she thinks he has killed her father and starts to weep, causing a flood that sweeps the xân away, whereupon the boy Jagâldzaê takes over the throne, wife and stuff of the former xân. [Halén 1974, 1-3: ‘Jagâldzaê xü (Der Jagâldzaê-Junge)’, collected by Ramstedt in Arsânt in 1900.]

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