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Transactions of the Second International Folk-Congress/Lady Featherflight, an inedited Folk-tale

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LADY FEATHERFLIGHT: AN INEDITED
FOLK -TALE[1]

With Remarks by William Wells Newell.


A poor woman, living on the edge of a wood, came at last where she found nothing in the cupboard for next day's breakfast. She called the boy Reuben, and said: "You must now go into the wide world, for if you stay here there will be two of us to starve. I have nothing for you but this piece of black bread. On the other side of the forest lies the world. Find your way to it, and earn your living honestly." She bade him good-bye, and he started. He knew his way some distance out into the blackest part of the forest, for he had often gone there for faggots. But after walking all day he saw no path or tree, and knew that he was lost. Still he travelled on and on, as long as the daylight lasted, and then lay down and slept.

The next morning he ate his black bread, and walked on all day. At night he saw lights before him, and was guided by them to a large palace. At last the door was opened, and a lovely lady appeared. She said, as she saw him, "Go away as quickly as you can. My father will soon come home, and he will surely eat you." Reuben said, "Can't you hide me, and give me something to eat, or I shall fall dead at your door?" At first she refused, but afterwards yielded to Reuben's prayers, and told him to come in and hide behind the oven. Then she gave him food, and told him that her father was a giant, who ate men and women. Perhaps she could keep him overnight, as she already had supper prepared. After awhile, the giant came banging at the door, shouting, "Featherflight, let me in, let me in." As she opened the door, he came in, saying, "Where have you stowed the man? I smelt him all the way through that wood." Featherflight said: "O father, he is nothing but a poor little thin boy; he would make but half a mouthful, and his bones would stick in your throat; and besides he wants to work for you; perhaps you can make him useful. But sit down to supper now, and after supper I will show him to you." So she set before him half of a fat heifer, a sheep, and a turkey, which he swallowed so fast that his hair stood on end. When he had finished, Featherflight beckoned to Reuben, who came trembling from behind the oven. The giant looked at him scornfully, and said, "Indeed, as you say, he is but half a mouthful. But there is room for flesh there, and we must fatten him up for a few days; meanwhile, he must earn his victuals. See here, my young snip, can you do a day's work in a day?" and Reuben answered bravely, "I can do a day's work in a day as well as another." So the giant said, "Well, go to bed now; I will tell you in the morning your work." So Reuben went to bed, and Lady Featherflight showed him; while the giant lay down on the floor, with his head in Featherflight's lap, and she combed his hair and brushed his head, until he went fast asleep.

The next morning, Reuben was called bright and early, and was taken out to the farmyard, where stood a large barn, unroofed by a late tempest. Here the giant stopped and said: "Behind this barn you will find a hill of feathers; thatch me this barn with them, and earn your supper; and look you, if it be not done when I come back to-night, you shall be fried in meal, and eaten whole for supper." Then he left, laughing to himself as he went down the road.

Reuben went bravely to work, and found a ladder and basket; he filled the basket, ran up the ladder, and then tried hard to make a beginning on the thatch. As soon as he placed a handful of feathers, half would fly away, as he wove them in. He tried for hours with no success, until, at last, half of the hill was scattered to the four winds, and he had not finished a handbreadth of the roof. Then he sat down at the foot of the ladder, and began to cry, when out came Lady Featherflight with the basket on her arm, which she set down at his feet, saymg, "Eat now, and cry afterwards. Meantime I will try to think what I can do to help you." Reuben felt cheered, and went to work, while Lady Featherflight walked round the barn, singing as she went:

"Birds of land and birds of sea.
Come and thatch this roof for me."

As she walked round the second time, the sky grew dark, and a heavy cloud hid the sun and came nearer and nearer to the earth, separating at last into hundreds and thousands of birds. Each, as it flew, dropped a feather on the roof, and tucked it neatly in; and when Reuben's meal was finished the thatch was finished too.

Then Featherflight said, "Let us talk and enjoy ourselves till my father the giant comes home." So they wandered round the grounds and the stables, and Lady Featherflight told of the treasure in the strong-room, till Reuben wondered why he was born without a sixpence. Soon they went back to the house, and Reuben helped, and Lady Featherflight prepared supper, which to-night was fourteen loaves of bread, two sheep, and a jack-pudding by way of finish, which would almost have filled the little house where Reuben was born.

Soon the giant came home, thundered at the door again, and shouted, "Let me in! Let me in!" Featherflight served him with the supper already laid, and the giant ate it with great relish. As soon as he had finished, he called to Reuben and asked him about his work. Reuben said, "I told you I could do a day's work in a day as well as another. You'll have no fault to find." The giant said nothing, and Reuben went to bed. Then, as before, the giant lay down on the floor, with his head in Featherflight's lap. She combed his hair and brushed his head, till he fell fast asleep. The next morning the giant called Reuben into the yard, and looked at his day's work. All he said was, "This is not your doing," and he proceeded to a heap of seed, nearly as high as the barn, saying, "Here is your day's work. Separate the seeds, each into its own pile. Let it be done when I come home to-night or you shall be fried in meal, and I shall swallow you bones and all." Then the giant went off down the road, laughing as he went. Reuben seated himself before the heap, took a handful of seeds, put corn in one pile, rye in another, oats in another, and had not begun to find an end of the different kinds when noon had come and the sun was right overhead. The heap was no smaller, and Reuben was tired out. So he sat down, hugged his knees, and cried. Out came Featherflight, with a basket on her arm, which she put down before Reuben, saying, "Eat now, and cry after." So Reuben ate with a will, and Lady Featherflight walked round and round the table, singing as she went:

"Birds (sic) of earth and birds of sea.
Come and sort this seed for me.

As she walked round the heap for the second time, still singing, the ground about her looked as if it was moving. From behind each grain of sand, each daisy stem, each blade of grass, there came some little insect, grey, black, brown, or green, and began to work at the seeds. Each chose out one kind, and made a heap by itself. When Reuben had finished a hearty meal, the great heap was divided into countless others, and Reuben and Lady Featherflight walked and talked to their heart's content for the rest of the day. As the sun went down, the giant came home, thundered at the door again, and shouted, "Let me in! Let me in!"

Featherflight greeted him with his supper, already laid, and he sat down and ate with a great appetite four fat pigs, three fat pullets, and an old gander. He finished off with a jack-pudding. Then he was so sleepy he could not keep his head up; all he said was, "Go to bed, youngster! I'll see your work to-morrow." Then, as before, the giant laid himself down on the floor with his head in Featherflight's lap. She combed his hair and brushed his head, and he fell fast asleep. The next morning, the giant called Reuben into the farmyard earlier than before. "It is but fair to call you early, for I have work, more than a strong man can well do." He showed him a heap of sand, saying, "Make me a rope, to tether my herd of cows, that they may not leave the stalls before milking-time." Then he turned on his heel, and went down the road laughing. Reuben took some sand in his hands, gave one twist, threw it down, went to the door, and called out, "Featherflight, Featherflight, this is beyond you! I feel myself already rolled in meal and swallowed, bones and all!"

Out came Featherflight, saying with good cheer, "Not so bad as that. Sit down, and we will plan what to do." They talked and planned all the day. Just before the giant came home, they went up to the top of the stairs to Reuben's room; then Featherflight pricked Reuben's finger and dropped a drop of blood on each of the three stairs. Then she came down and prepared the supper, which to-night was a brace of turkeys, three fat geese, five fat hens, six fat pigeons, seven fat woodcocks, and half a score quail, with a jack-pudding.

When he had finished, the giant turned to Featherflight with a growl: "Why so sparing of food to-night? Is there no good meal in the larder? This boy whets my appetite. Well for you, young sir, if you have done your work. Is it done" "No, sir," said Reuben, boldly; "I said I could do a day's work in a day as well as another, but no better." The giant said: "Featherflight, prick him for me with a larding-needle, hang him in the chimney-corner well wrapped in bacon, and give him to me for my early breakfast." Featherflight says, "Yes, father." Then, as before, the giant laid himself down on the floor with his head in Featherflight's lap. She combed his hair and brushed his head, and he fell fast asleep.

Reuben goes to bed, his room at the top of the stairs. As soon as the giant is snoring in bed, Featherflight softly calls Reuben, and says, "I have the keys of the treasure-house; come with me." They open the treasure-house, take out bags of gold and silver, and loosen the halter of the best horse from the best stall in the best stable. Reuben mounts, with Featherflight behind, and off they go. At three o'clock in the morning, not thinking of his order the night before, the giant wakes, turns over, and says, "Reuben, get up." "Yes, sir," says the first drop of blood. At four o'clock the giant wakes, and says, "Reuben, get up." "Yes, sir," says the second drop of blood. At five o'clock the giant turns over, and says, "Reuben, get up." "Yes, sir," says the third drop of blood. At six o'clock the giant wakens, turns over, and says, " Reuben, get up," and there was no answer.

Then with a great fury he says, "Featherflight has overslept herself; my breakfast won't be ready." He rushed to Featherflight's room; it is empty. He dashes downstairs to the chimney-corner, to see if Reuben is hanging there, and finds neither Reuben nor Featherflight.

Then he suspects they have run away, and rushes back for his seven-leagued boots, but cannot find the key under his pillow. He rushes down, finds the door wide open, catches up his boots, and rushes to the stable. There he finds the best horse from the best stall in the best stable gone. Jumping into his boots, he flies after them swifter than the wind. The runaways had been galloping for several hours, when Reuben hears a sound behind him, and turning, sees the giant in the distance. "O Featherflight, Featherflight, all is lost!" But Featherflight says, "Keep steady, Reuben; look in the horse's right ear, and throwbehind you over your right shoulder what you find." Reuben looks, finds a little stick of wood, throws it over his right shoulder, and there grows up behind them a forest of hard wood. "We are saved," says Reuben. "Not so certain," says Lady Featherflight; "but prick up the horse, for we have gained some time." The giant went back for an axe, but soon hacked and hewed his way through the wood and was on the trail again. Reuben again heard a sound, turned and saw the giant, and said to Lady Featherflight, "All is lost!" "Keep steady, Reuben," says Featherflight; "look in the horse's left ear, and throw over your left shoulder what you find." Reuben looked, found a drop of water, throws it over his left shoulder, and between them and the giant there arises a large lake, and the giant stops on the other side, and shouts, "How did you get over?" Featherflight says, "We drank, and our horses drank, and we drank our way through." The giant shouts scornfully back, "Surely I am good for what you can do," and he threw himself down, and drank, and drank, and drank, and then he burst.

Now they go on quietly till they come near to a town. Here they stop, and Reuben says, "Climb this tree and hide in the branches till I come with the parson to marry us. For I must buy me a suit of fine clothes before I am seen with a gay lady like yourself." So Featherflight climbed the tree with the thickest branches she could find, and waited there, looking between the leaves into a spring below. Now this spring was used by all the wives of the townspeople to draw water for breakfast. No water was so sweet anywhere else; and early in the morning they all came with pitchers and pails for a gossip, and to draw water for the kettle. The first who came was a carpenter's wife, and as she bent over the clear spring, she saw, not herself, but Featherflight's lovely face reflected in the water. She looks at it with astonishment, and cries, "What, I a carpenter's wife, and so handsome? No, that I won't!" and down she threw the pitcher, and off she went.

The next who came was the potter's wife, and as she bent over the clear spring, she saw, not herself, but Featherflight's lovely face reflected in the water. She looks at it with astonishment, and cries, "What, I a potter's wife, and so handsome? No, that I won't!" and down she threw the pitcher, and off she went. [In the same way all the wives of the men of the village came to the spring, see the reflection, throw down their pitchers, and depart.]

All the men in the town began to want their breakfast, and one after another went out into the market-place to ask if by chance anyone had seen his wife. Each came with the same question, and all received the same answer. All had seen them going, but none had seen them returning. They all began to fear foul play, and all together walked out toward the spring. When they reached it, they found the broken pitchers all about the grass, and the pails, bottom upwards, floating on the water. One of them, looking over the edge, saw the face reflected, and knowing it was not his own, looked up. Seeing Lady Featherflight, he called to his comrades, "Here is the witch, here is the enchantress. She has bewitched our wives; let us kill her." And they began to drag her out of the tree, in spite of all she could say. Just at this moment Reuben comes up, galloping back on his horse, with the parson up behind. You would not know the gaily-dressed cavalier to be the poor ragged boy who passed over the road so short a time before. As he came near he saw the crowd, and shouted, "What's the matter? What are you doing to my wife?" The men shouted, "We are hanging a witch; she has bewitched our wives, and murdered them, for all that we know." The parson bade them stop, and let Lady Featherflight tell her own story. When she told them how their wives had mistaken her face for theirs, they were silent a moment, and then one and all cried, "If we have wedded such fools they are well sped," and turning, walked back to the town. The parson married Reuben and Lady Featherflight on the spot, and christened them from water of the spring, and then went home with them to the great house that Reuben had bought as he passed through the town. There the newly-married pair lived happily for many months, until Reuben began to wish for more of the giant's treasure, and proposed that they should go back for it. But they could not cross the water. Lady Featherflight said, "Why not build abridge?" And the bridge was built. They went over with waggons and horses, and brought so heavy a load that, as the last waggonful passed over the bridge, it broke, and the gold was lost. Reuben lamented, and said, "Now we can have nothing more from the giant's treasure-house." But Lady Featherflight said, "Why not mend the bridge?"

So the bridge was mended,
And my story's ended.




Remarks on the Tale.

This tale was obtained from a member of a highly intelligent family in Massachusetts, in which it has been traditional. I have observed, in New England, that in folk-literature the best versions of tales and games are found in the possession of educated persons. The truth is, I believe, that English popular literature, like that of other countries, has been the property, not only of the inferior portion of the community, but also of the most intelligent class; incoherence and vulgarity are the result of transmission, through illiterate persons, of material which, in former centuries, was in circulation among the superior part of the nation. This circumstance must be taken into account in framing a definition of folk-lore; if the word folk is to be defined, in the language of early dictionaries, as plebs or vulgus, it must be admitted that our own grandmothers belonged to the vulgar: in the words of the President of the American Folk-lore Society, the folk must be taken to include "(1) all savages; (2) the old-fashioned people; (3) the children; and (4) all of us when we are old-fashioned."[2]

Of all folk-tales, this is perhaps the most widely diffused. In the course of remarks on a Scottish version of the story, Mr. Andrew Lang has remarked that no human composition would seem to have attained so wide a circulation as the work of the unknown author. The force of this observation will be made clear by the comparisons presently to be offered.

Other English versions are as follows: (i) In Scottish dialect, "Nicht, Nocht, Nothing"[3]; (2) from Ireland, "The Story ot Grey Norris from Warland"[4]; (3) "The Three Tasks," also from Ireland, but a literary recension-[5]; (4) from Jamaica, a

tale printed as of African origin, but evidently imported from Europe.[6]

The name "Lady Featherflight" appears not to correspond to any part of the story as now told, but to belong to an omitted section, which gave an account of the manner in which the hero, while proceeding in search of the giant's castle, captures the garments of a bird-maiden, and consents to return these only on condition of succour. The title of the heroine seems to refer to her original bird-plumage.[7]


her toes, given him for steps, and flight follows. The magic objects are a twig, a pebble, and a bottle of water; the latter produces a sea, in which the giant is drowned. in. Bride-forgetting.—Jack separates from his bride, violates her injunction by kissing a dog, and forgets her. The end is altered.

From a comparison of the English versions, it would appear that our tale, as narrated in England, formerly included the following incidents: I. Introduction.—This explains how it came about that a youth is obliged to proceed in quest of the castle of a giant. II. Bird-maiden.—The hero surprises three birdmaidens, bathing in human form; he seizes the feather-dress of the youngest, and returns it only on promise of assistance in his enterprise. III. Tasks and Flight.—The giant, father of the maiden, receives the stranger with severity, and imposes on him certain tasks, which are, however, accomplished by the magic arts of the daughter. The youth is then required to choose the maid, in disguise, from among her sisters; in this he succeeds by the counsel of the girl. On the wedding night, by the advice of the bride, the pair escape, leaving an object which by artmagic is made to answer the questions asked by the giant. A pursuit takes place, which is arrested by throwing out certain magical objects, interposing barriers; the giant perishes, being drowned in the sea created by drops of water, IV. Forgetfulness of the Bride.—The hero, as he approaches his father's city, goes in advance to arrange for the suitable entry of his bride. He violates her caution, receives a kiss, and is caused to fall into oblivion of the lady. Incident of the fountain; the bride is carried to the house of a peasant, whose wife and daughter, out of conceit of their own beauty, have abandoned household labour. After a time, when the prince is about to wed another, his bride, disguised as a juggler, appears at the ceremony, and by magic causes two birds to enact a drama, which has the effect of reviving the youth's memory.

To the tale as thus analysed correspond a great number of versions, from all European countries, which assume as their common original a story containing the sections and traits indicated. The variations, of course, are numerous, and these variations are often reproduced in many widely separated countries; this correspondence appears to be due to a continual intercommunication, by which even modern alterations of the narrative have been introduced into remote districts, and have obtained general circulation.[8] To the English tale correspond a number of Gaelic märchen: in particular, a well-known tale of the Highlands of Scotland agrees very closely with the Scotch dialectic form of the English tale, even in respect to the introduction, the most divergent part of the narrative.[9] The only manner in which I can explain this resemblance is by the hypothesis of recent transmission; I

suppose the Gaelic story to have reached the Highlands as a translation of the English tale, at some time not earlier than the thirteenth century. It is to be presumed that the Celtic populations of Great Britain obtained most of their stories belonging to the modern European stock of märchen through the English. It must be remarked that the character of the Gaelic narrative, especially of the preface, is peculiarly wild, and, if it stood alone, would be accounted especially Celtic. This circumstance, however, is by no means inconsistent with the view above taken; it is only with regard to the language, and to the details, that a national quality can be claimed for märchen. This apparent nationality merely indicates that ideas borrowed from abroad have received a dress such as to suit the taste of the race which has adopted them. The rule often accepted as a canon of interpretation, in regard to mediæval literature as well as modern folk-lore, that the rudest form of a story is probably the oldest, is entirely misleading and indefensible.

It is possible that an indication of the presence of our tale in Wales, in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, is to be found in the well-known Welsh story of "Kilhwch and Olwen" (MS. of about 1380). This story is one of a class in which the hero, by

wedding of the king's son, the girl takes a gold and silver pigeon, which perform a drama, representing herself and her lover. Awakening of the latter.

Compare a Russian tale, "Afanasief," V. 23, translated by W. R. S. Ralston Russian Folk-tales, London, 1873, p. 120. "Vasilissa the Wise." A king spares and nourishes an eaglet, and finally sets him free. The eagle takes the king on his back to the houses of his sisters, on three successive nights, gives him a ship to sail home, and two coffers. The king opens one, finds it full of cattle, repents, but cannot put them back. A man from the water consents to do so if the king will promise whatever he has at home that he does not know of. Comes home, finds that he has a son, and opens the coffers of treasure. The water-man, after a period, calls on the king, reminds him of his promise, and the son is sent forth. II. Bird-maiden.—The prince comes to the hut of an ogress, who directs him to the sea-shore, charging him to steal the shift of one of twelve bird-maidens (spoonbills), to come to terms with her, and then go to the seaking. This maid is Vasilissa the Wise. He returns her shift, and she rejoins her companions. III. Bride-winning.—Tasks (to build crystal bridge, plant a garden in a night, choose bride from twelve daughters. The girl gives him knowledge of a signal by which this is accomplished). Flight and pursuit; transformation (forms assumed by the girl: a well, a church, a river of honey, in which the water-king drinks himself to death), IV. Bride-forgetting.—Prohibition to kiss, fountain-scene, doves—these baked in a pie (as in Basile, No. 17).

forming certain tasks, wins for his wife the daughter of a giant. It is not to be supposed that all tales of this class belong to the particular one now under consideration; but, in the present instance, there are certain incidents which seem to suppose the knowledge, on the part of the recorder of the tale, of a folk-tale answering to our märchen. I should be inclined to suppose that the writer, who does not appear to me to have composed at a time much earlier than the date of the MS., was acquainted with the story of the bird-maiden, then in circulation in Wales, in a form much the same as that which it now possesses, and that he employed this and other märchen for the composition of his work, which, in its present form, is not a popular tale, but a literary product.[10]

An example of the use of our folk-tale in literature is to be found in the drama of the German playwright, Jacob Ayrer (died in 1605), Comedia von der schonen Sidea. The plot is as follows:

Ludolf, prince of Littau, having been defeated and driven from his kingdom by Leudegast, prince of Wittau, in order to avenge himself becomes a magician, and entertains a familiar spirit, Runcifal. The son of his enemy, Engelbrecht, goes to hunt in the forest, and falls into the power of Ludolf, who has been informed by Runcifal of the approach of the youth. Ludolf, by means of his magic art, masters Engelbrecht, and makes a servant of him, committing him to the charge of his daughter Sidea, for whom the captive is to carry wood. Sidea, however, falls in love with the prince, and elopes with him.

In this account may be recognised the bride-winning section of our tale; the giant has been altered into a magician, and the tasks modified into a mere servile obligation; the flight has been reduced to a commonplace elopement. If, however, there were any doubt as to the connection of the tale and the drama, it would be removed by the succeeding part of the story, which from the third act follows closely the last portion of the folk-tale, including the scene at the well.

The Tempest of Shakespeare is connected with Ayrer's drama, in what way is not clear. The Tempest is founded on the earlier part of the tale as given by Ayrer; it corresponds, therefore, to the bride-winning section of the märchen. It is true that the resemblance is remote; nevertheless it is sufficient to show that the ground-idea of The Tempest is ultimately derived from the folk-tale.

Closely related to the European märchen, already mentioned, is a story contained in the collection of Somadeva of Kashmir (about 1080 A.D.). This story seems to be a hterary recension of the folk-tale; it does not contain the final section of the European variants, that in which the hero is represented as forgetting his bride. It does not appear that the written narrative has had any influence on the European variants; the close correspondence has arisen from a common oral tradition.[11] As the concluding part of our tale, relating to forgetfulness of the bride, is not found in Asiatic versions, it would seem likely that this last section was added in Europe; these variants, existing in all European countries, must have depended on the narration of a single story-teller, who constructed his tale by adding a new section to an Oriental story. The similarity of these versions would indicate that this narrator lived in a time comparatively recent; the probability is that he belonged to Central Europe, and to one of the most civilised nations.

To the absence in Oriental versions of the last part of the European stories there is one very curious exception, namely, in a ballad of Samoa, which contains all the sections of the tale, including that of bride-forgetfulness. The conclusion seems to be that this ballad must have been inspired by a tale recently imported from Europe, yet the story is highly characteristic in form and scenery. If this be the explanation of the correspondence, the fact is highly instructive, as indicating the ease with which a primitive people may appropriate ideas from civilised visitors, and transform these into forms which would be taken to be of indigenous origin, unless the contrary could be ascertained otherwise than by internal evidence.[12]

A propos of this Samoan story, it may be remarked that, when the same folk-tale is found to exist among civilised and uncivilised races, the derivation must in most cases be presumed to be from the former to the latter. Why this should be the case is obvious: in a form of a legend current in a primitive tribe there is always something barbarous, which repels educated taste, and makes borrowing difficult; while, on the contrary, it is easy for the ruder people to adapt the clearer and simpler narrative of their intellectual superiors. Add to this, that the cultivated people are at the centre of communication, while the barbarous races are at the extremities of the spokes; it would obviously be difficult for

trait.] She directs him to her father's house, with certain warnings, III, Siati goes to the dwelling of the god, observing the instructions given him. A task is imposed on him, to build a house in one day. This is done by the arts of the girl. Second task, to fight with a dog; third, to seek a ring, which is fished out of the sea by the maiden, after she has been cut to pieces. Then follow the flight, as usual (throwing out of comb, earth,v water). IV. Puapae gives Siati leave to visit his family and friends; he does so, and forgets his wife. When he is to marry again she comes and stands on the other side j and when the chief asks the youth which is his bride, and he indicates the other, she cries that he has forgotten all she had done for him, and departs. Siati recollects, darts after her, and expires.

The incident of the ring is exactly paralleled in many European tales of the cycle. (See Cosquin's notes.) Thus, in the Basque variant before cited, the hero is required to recover a ring from the river; the heroine causes him to cut her in pieces, and throw these into the water; her little finger is lost in the process, on which she recommends flight. Originally, it seems to have been by the loss of this finger that the hero is enabled to recognise his disguised love, such recognition being the final task imposed. The other form of the task is that in which the youth is required to procure an egg from a nest in a high tree, and is allowed to use the fingers of his love as steps, losing one in the same way. It does not appear which is the oldest form of the task; but the Samoan form seems obviously abridged and confused.

When the girl warns her lover to eat nothing which her father offers him, and not to sit on a high seat, the reason is the humility proper to mortals dealing with a god. In the French tale (E. Cosquin), the hero is to refuse the dish ofTered, and select a different chair from that proposed. The original idea is probably that indicated in Apuleius, where Psyche is cautioned, while in the presence of Proserpina, not to choose a soft seat, but to sit on the ground, and to eat only a piece of common bread; the motive appearing to be, to avoid identifying himself with the retinue of the mistress of Hades. In the Malagasy tale, mentioned below, Ibonía is warned not to advance as required by his father-in-law, and not to eat from the plate of the latter. The reason appears to be the inability of mortals to endure the brightness of a god, and share the food of the latter.

the latter to lend to each other. These à priori probabilities are confirmed by an examination of details; corresponding versions, as in the present story, cannot possibly be explained as a borrowing of savage races from each other, while they are easily interpreted as adaptations of relations received through the civilised peoples. I believe that it will be found, in general, that the diffusion of folktales answers to that of literature, and that the nation which in any age acts as a centre of literary illumination will also be the centre of diffusion of folk-lore. The same fashion which causes acceptance of the former makes the latter also received. It goes without saying that there will be exceptions in individual cases.

All the variants hitherto considered agree in this point, that the hero, immediately after his encounter with the maid in bird-dress, proceeding on his way, comes to the house of her father, and is set to perform the task required. But there is another class of versions, to which belong most of the Oriental narratives, in which the history proceeds differently. These are literary recensions of a folk-tale, in which the youth, retaining the feathergarment of the fairy, makes her his wife, and carries her home. They live together, until, during his absence, she secures possession of her robe and escapes, leaving directions for him to follow. So ends the first part of the history. In the second section of the tale he is represented as engaging in a quest, asking of all animals the whereabouts of his beloved; at last he reaches the heavenly world in which she abides, is coldly received by her relatives, and the tasks and escape follow as related. The character of the tale indicates it as the older form of the narration, from which all the variants of the first class have been derived. The story may then be called "The Bird-Wife": I. Her acquisition and loss; II. Quest and recovery.

This older form of the story, in literature of an origin ultimately Hindu, is represented by the following versions: I. A narrative of Buddhist character, contained in the great Thibetian collection of the Kandjur, of uncertain date. II. A Burmese drama, depending ultimately on the same source, as shown by identity of proper names as well as of theme, III. Two long tales, included in the Thousand and One Nights, IV. Certain modern Hindu folk-tales, all exhibiting alteration and reconstruction. From these, and from versions in other Oriental countries, it appears clear that there must have existed, probably before our era, a Hindu folk-tale of great length, in which the several sections of the tale were fully and clearly narrated. I will add, that this early Hindu tale appears to me to be indicated as the source from which all the variants of the märchen, of both types, in Asia and in Europe, have descended.[13]

In attempting to trace a folk-tale, little attention should be paid to analogies. It is necessary that the several incidents should occur in their order, or at least in a form which indicates an original having the proper arrangement of sections and traits. In such cases, it is obvious that the theory of separate origination can have no application. The discussion is not concerning tale-lements, which may be common to many countries, but concerning a complicated narration, as unlikely to have been independently invented as a modern novel and its foreign translations.

Applying this test, we find our tale, as a whole, among others in Celebes and in Madagascar, in such a form that ultimate derivation from the Hindu story already examined can scarcely be questioned.[14]

There may be some doubt as to whether a New Zealand myth of a kindred character is to be considered as an off-shoot from the folk-tale of the Bird-wife; but that it is so seems to be indicated by its resemblance to the tale of Celebes, already mentioned.[15]

There are several tales from the New World, which, though much modified, seem probably of the same origin; yet this conclusion cannot be regarded as certain, nor is it clear whether the tales are to be supposed to have reached American aborigines from Europe or Asia.[16]

The first section of our tale, that which recites how a bird-maiden is captured, and ultimately recovers her feather-robe and returns to her own heavenly country, is widely diffused as a separate narration. It is not to be assumed that all these stories are derived from our longer tale by the suppression of the second portion; on the contrary, many of them seem to be independent, and to give only one of the elements out of which the later märchen has been formed. In some cases, however, it would seem likely that such a suppression of the latter part of the story has taken place.[17]

Returning to European versions, it is to be remarked that the older form of the folk-tale, that in which the heroine is carried home and afterwards returns to her native heaven, is also represented in Europe; while some versions exhibiting the modified form of the märchen—to which, for example, "Lady Featherflight" belongs—appear also to have incorporated incidents properly belonging to the more ancient type. Such intermixture, in which a later variant takes up some features of an earlier form of the story, might be expected as a natural consequence of the complications arising from continual diffusion and alteration.[18]

If all the versions belonging to our folk-tale in its different types, and all the confused and modernised forms founded upon it were enumerated, the number of variants would run up to many hundreds, and would be found to form no inconsiderable part of the whole volume of modern märchen in Europe.[19]

It remains to be inquired whether anything can be affirmed respecting the date and method of composition of the Hindu tale, which appears to have obtained so wide a circulation.

An early example of a story of bride-winning, having many analogies to that now considered, is supplied by the tale of Medea and Jason. The hero journeys to a far country, probably originally conceived as a giant-land beyond the limits of the world of men; the daughter of his host falls in love with him, and assists him in the accomplishment of tasks closely resembling those of our folk-tale. The adventure ends in a flight, in which the heroine uses a device to delay her pursuing father. The relationship with the first part of the tale of the Bird-wife is unquestionable, and cannot be accidental; but the first section is wanting; Medea does not appear to have been a bird-maiden, nor do we learn that Jason had made her acquaintance before his journey. If the complete story, containing both sections, had existed in Greece, it is very unlikely that there should be no indication of it. We cannot, therefore, regard this tale as a variant of the story of the Bird-wife; on the contrary, we must consider it as an earlier tale, and as containing evidence of the existence, in Greece, at a time before authentic history, of elements which, at a later date and in another land, entered into the composition of our folk-tale.

On the other hand, the first part of the history is contained in the Hindu legend of Purūruvas and Urvaçi, referred to in a well-known hymn of the Rig Veda. This hymn describes the interview of the hero with the nymph, by whom he has been deserted, at a lake where she and her companions are bathing in bird-form. The fairy remains obdurate to all entreaties of the mortal; but she consoles him with the promise of a son, who shall one day seek out his human parent. It would appear, from the text of the hymn, that Urvaçi had originally been won by being seized, as a swan-maiden who had laid aside her robe of flight, presumably in the same lake at which the scene is laid. The poem accordingly depends upon a folk-tale, answering to the first section of our märchen, but suggesting the non-existence at the time of composition of the second section, that in which the nymph is sought for and recovered from her own heavenly abode. The märchen must therefore be later than the hymn.[20]

Somewhat different from the preceding is the tale of Amor and Psyche, as given by Apuleius. This narrative is a literary recension, altered and confused to such a degree that it is now impossible to determine the exact nature of the folk-tale on which it depended. It is nevertheless clear that this marcheft used by Apuleius contained two sections, the first part reciting the manner in which a mortal maiden obtains and loses a divine husband; the second part relating her quest, her arrival at his heavenly home, severe reception at the hands of his relatives, and performance of the tasks imposed. The end is obviously altered: Mercury, appearing as deus ex machina, conveys the heroine to heaven. Perhaps, in the original tale, the history closed with a flight. It would appear that the tale, therefore, belongs to the same type as that of the märchen we are examining; the chief difference is in the sex of the actors. As the classic tale has neither internal consistency, nor root in Greek mythology, it may probably have been borrowed from the Orient, its source being a tale of the same class as that of the Bird-wife. At all events, by its contrast to the earlier heroic literature, the tale of Psyche strengthens the argument for the later date of such märchen, while, on the other hand, it carries back the currency of this class of stories to a reasonably early period. It seems pretty safe, therefore, to conclude that the Hindu tale of the Bird-wife, while perhaps older than our era, was by no means of primitive antiquity.

It is only in Hindu mythology that the idea at the basis of our tale is represented in a clear and simple form. This mythology presents us with a race of female beings of divine nature, who appear on earth as water-birds, and have at the same time their proper dwelling in heaven. These beings (Apsaras) are connected with the principle of water; as such, they have the power to bestow fertility, and are the objects of worship. In accordance with their nature they are amorous, and disposed to union with mortals, regulated solely by inclination; but, as themselves immortal, they are averse to such continued union as may affect their celestial rights. Their power of flight lies in their bird-form, the loss of which compels them to remain among mankind, a residence which they accept with reluctance, and a desire to escape at the first opportunity from the dearest ties.

In connection with this mythology our tale seems clear and simple; in other parts of the world it appears as a narrative subject to obscurity, and not in close connection with national ideas. The kind reception given to the tale, and its wide diffusion through the whole world, seem to have been due solely to its power to agreeably impress the fancy of the listener.

In this discussion no attention has been paid to explanation of the elements out of which the tale was composed, such as the tasks and flight. These incidents occur also in other tales; they are not derived from the present story, but existed before the latter was constructed and entered into its composition. Of these elements some are perhaps derived from primitive belief, others from primitive custom; but whether they are explicable by one or the other has no relation to the diffusion of the tale, for reciters and hearers of the latter received these incidents as parts of a complicated whole, having no direct relation to tribal ideas and customs, though naturally and inevitably so altered as to present certain features characteristic of each community in which the story was told.

The origin and history of a folk-tale common to many countries, such as the one which has been the subject of discussion, may be figuratively represented by the illustration of a species of vegetable which has originated in an early civilisation at a time so remote that from the first moment of its discernible history it possesses a cultivated character. This vegetable, again, under the influence of civilisation, is differentiated into new varieties, arising in different localities, each one of which, on account of advantages which it appears to offer, may in its turn be introduced into distant regions, and even supersede the original out of which it was developed, this dissemination following the routes of commerce, and ordinarily proceeding from the more highly organised countries to those inferior in the scale of culture.


[Owing to the necessity of the case, the author of this article has not been able to revise the proof, and therefore requests indulgence for any errors which may in consequence appear in the text.]

Discussion.

Mr. Andrew Lang: Ladies and Gentlemen,— I have, unfortunately, not been able to be present at the beginning of your Chairman's paper, but as far as I have heard it I agree with every word of it. I regard the whole question of the origin of folk-tales as mysterious, and one which will, perhaps, never be solved at all. As far as I understood Mr. Newell's ideas, I do not think I can sufficiently express how much I disagree with them all round. Mr. Newell seems to think that it was the cultivated people who shaped the stories and spread them, and the uncultivated who picked them up; but, as I have frequently said before, I hold an exactly opposite opinion. The large number of incidents making up the story or stories are like the pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope. You may shake them as much as you please, constantly producing fresh combinations, but the pieces making them up always remain the same. In a similar way the incidents in fairy tales were constantly shaken, producing almost any form, and, bearing this in mind, the essence of this tale of the young man who wins his bride by doing feats is not far to seek. There were two ways of winning a bride: one was to buy her at the price of so many oxen, and the other was doing very remarkable and extraordinary things—in fact, doing such feats as are told of heroes in early tales. In this connection it is difficult to explain why these heroes are always enabled to perform their feats through a trick of the woman, and it is also remarkable that in these various stories there is such an extraordinary resemblance of incidents which might easily be separated and yet come together.

One of the things we are trying to examine is the diffusion of tales, and there is the mystery. India is supposed to be the centre of some of these tales, and yet we find them in other garments in Egypt long before India. We find them with the Eskimos and Zulus, where we can hardly suppose that any civilising influence has been the medium of their existence. I cannot think that they have been scattered by Spanish missionaries; nor can I offer any other explanation. Mr. Hartland's suggestion that exactly the same plot, in exactly the same shape, and with exactly the same incidents, can have been invented by several different persons independently of each other, seems to me inconceivable, and I, therefore, think it impossible for one to come to any conclusion except to assume that the stories are extremely old and have been carried to different countries.

As to Mr. Hartland's interesting details of unconscious plagiarism, I have myself come across some startling cases of this description. One was a case where the same story was published in Europe and America, but the explanation probably was that both authors had heard the same tale and published it independently. Again, there has been a story lately published of a ghost, whom somebody endeavoured to envelope in plaster-of-Paris to take a mould of him. That, you would think, would not occur to two people. And it did not. The American author had heard it mentioned as an anecdote without knowing that it had been published. But there are other cases which really illustrate the possibility of unintentional plagiarism. A subterranean cave with two rows of kings turned into stones seems an abnormal imagination, but the man who had it received an indignant letter from another author who had the same idea. I myself once was a victim of a similar occurrence: I dreamt of a tale, but somebody else had written the story and stolen my idea before I invented it.

I agree with Mr. Hartland that the invention of the same coincidences by two different people is possible, but the difficulty is to account for their being woven into the same plot, although it should be mentioned that the same incidents also occur in dissimilar plots. Reverting to Mr. Newell's opinion that the stories spread from the civilised to the uncivilised, I may here repeat, what I have often pointed out, that most of the popular children's tales are excessively ferocious. Thus, instead of making children dance in iron shoes, I would rather let them stand in the comer. Civilisation would never invent such a savage punishment, and can only retain it as a survival. I am anxious to be converted, but would rather wait till the end of the Congress to see whether I can change my mind, but it is not very likely.


  1. Told to Mrs. Joseph B. Warner, Cambridge. Ma'ss., by her aunt, Miss Elizabeth Hoar, Concord, Mass.
  2. O. T. Mason, "The Natural History of Folk-lore," Journal of American Folk-lore, iv, 1891, 97.
  3. Revue Celtique, iii, 1878, 374, communicated by Andrew Lang; reprinted in Folk-Lore, i, 1890, 192. Incidents: I Introduction.—A king, rescued in a wilderness by a giant, gives promise of Nothing, which turns out to mean a newly born son. Next day the giant carries off the boy, after an unsuccessful attempt is made to substitute the hen-wife's son, etc.; the child is reared in the giant's house, and becomes fond of the giant's daughter. II. Tasks and Flight.—The giant sets the hero certain tasks, on penalty of being eaten in case of failure, these are: to clean a stable, drain a lake, steal eggs from a nest; they are accomplished by the girl. In the last task she gives the youth her fingers and toes, in order to make steps; one is broken, and she advises flight. The giant is drowned in pursuit. III. Forgetfulness of the Bride (this section is abbreviated and confused).—Incident of the well, as in "Lady Featherflight"; the gardener's daughter and wife refuse to draw water, and the gardener carries the girl to his house. At the proposed wedding of the hero she tries to waken him, and calls him by name; this leads to recognition on the part of his parents, and to a happy ending.

    Mr. Lang has discussed the märchen in his Custom and Myth, London, 1885, "A Far-travelled Tale," in which he makes the remark above cited.

  4. Folk-lore Journal,, 1883. 316. I Introduction.—This is complicated; the king's son loses in a game of ball, and is charged by "Old Grey Norris" to discover, by the end of the year, the place where he lives. The prince is directed by a cook, sister of a giant, to inquire of her brother; he gets a magic reel, a cake, and breast-milk. The giant, when found, sends the hero to a second giant, and the latter to a third, wlio calls an eagle, by which the youth is conveyed to the dominions of Old Grey Norris; he is, however, obliged to feed the bird with his own flesh, II. Bird-maiden.—The eagle points out a lake, where he bids the hero seize the robes of a swan-maiden, and keep these until she promises to do him a good turn. III. Tasks and Flight.—Old Grey Norris receives the youth coldly, and imposes upon him certain tasks (to find needle in dirty stable, build a bridge of feathers, chop down a forest, fetch a bull from a field). These are accomplished by the swan-maiden, daughter of Grey Norris. Use of cow-dung to answer for the absent girl; throwing of magic objects to impede pursuit (pups to stop the giant's bitch, drops of water turning to sea, needle to forest of iron). IV. Bride-forgetting.—The hero, violating the heroine's injunction, having gone in advance, kisses his dog, and is caused to forget. Incident of the well; the girl, at the wedding of the prince, appears as a juggler, bringing a cock and a hen, which perform a drama representing the history, by which the memory of the youth is refreshed.
  5. W. Carleton, Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry, 5th ed., London. 1864. I. Introduction.—Jack loses at play with a Black Man, whom he engages to serve after a year and a day. At the end of this time he proceeds to the Black Man's castle, where he sees a beautiful lady. II. Tasks and Flight.—On pain of death, the hero is required to clean a stable, catch a filly, and rob a crane's nest: these ate accomplished by the magic of the girl. In the last task he loses one or her toes, given him for steps, and flight follows. The magic objects are a twig, a pebble, and a bottle of water; the latter produces a sea, in which the giant is drowned. in. Bride-forgetting.—Jack separates from his bride, violates her injunction by kissing a dog, and forgets her. The end is altered.
  6. M. G Lewis, Journal of a West India Proprietor, London, 1834; reprinted in Folk-lore Journal, i, 1883, Z84. I. Introduction.—Head-man in Africa loses at play to a young nobleman, is required to go to court, and gets directions from his nurse as to how to proceed. II. The nurse directs him as to the manner in which he shall find the king's daughter bathing. He obtains possession of the dress of the princess, and makes her promise, as condition of its return, that no harm shall happen to him on that day. III. Tasks and Flight. — The youth, received by the head-man, is required to point out the maiden among her three sisters. These appear as black dogs; one lifts the paw, and is recognised. According to the law of the country, a maid must be given in marriage to one who thus recognises her. The magic objects are rose, pebble, phial of water. The giant is drowned. Finally, the princess goes to court and establishes her husband and herself as head-man and head-woman; since this time all kings of Africa have been benevolent. In the tale, the incidents of finding the garments, and choice among the three sisters, are repeated with variations. The tale seems modified from an original form closely corresponding to the Irish version cited above, and may have been an importation from England or Ireland.
  7. See the Irish and West Indian stories already mentioned. In the corresponding French tale, given by E. Cosquin, Contes pop. de Lorraine, Paris, 1886, No. 32, "Chatte Blanche," the story proceeds as follows: I. A youth loses at play, and, as a penalty, is required to seek the victor, in the Black Forest, at the end of a year and a day. II. A fairy tells him that he will find Trois Plumes bathing; he is to take the robes of the youngest; this he does, and is instructed by her as to his course, III. Tasks: choice among the three daughters; flight, ending in the transformation of the girl into various shapes; she gives, in her altered form, misleading information to the pursuing giant, IV. The last section, bride-forgetfulness, is altered and confused. The name, La plume verte, seems to correspond to Featherflight. In some tales of this type, the introduction resembles that of "Lady Featherflight"—a youth, his mother being poor, goes to seek employment.

    The admirable notes of E. Cosquin will be used in the following discussion; some repetition may be excused by the difference of purpose, the object being to examine the tale as a whole.

  8. A good example is to be found in the incident of the reflection in the fountain; in the form of the tale as given in "Lady Featherflight" this is purely literary; the clumsy peasant women are made to furnish the mirth of the reader. But other versions give quite a different character to the occurrence; thus, in an Italian tale, while the heroine, in the tree, awaits the return of her lover, a servant who comes to draw water notices the reflection in the well; becoming envious, the servant climbs the tree, and fixes in the head of the beauty a pin, which transforms the latter into a dove. At the wedding, the bird flies to the palace, and by her song attracts the attention of the prince, who, while stroking the bird, draws out the pin, and a retransformation takes place. (G. Pitré, Fiabe, novelle e racconti pop. Sicil., Palermo, 1875, No. 13, i, 118, "La Bella Rosa".) Basile, Pentamerone (1574), gives versions answering to the incident as narrated in "Lady Featherflight". One trait of the latter is exceedingly interesting. The hero goes to seek a priest to perform the marriage; and this priest christens the lovers. Variants—e. g., a Basque version—explains this procedure: the heroine (as a fairy) could not enter a Christian land until baptised (W. Webster, Basque Legends, London, 1879, p. 120). The presence of this trait is thus the best possible proof of the independence and antiquity of the version found in America. As a second reason is given the intention to provide a suitable equipment, as mentioned in Basile. Thus this form of the märchen, even in details, is older than the sixteenth century. Mr. Lang observes, as a curious fact, that the fountain incident occurs in the Malagasy tale mentioned below; but this is an error; the whole section of the forgotten bride appears in European versions only. Yet compare the ending of Samoan and Eskimo tales, hereafter noted.
  9. J. F. Campbell, Pop. Tales of the West Highlands, No. 2, I. Introduction.—A raven, helped by a prince against a snake, carries the latter in the air, and sends him to the raven's sister; so on the second day; on the third day he meets the prince in human form, gives him a bundle, and sends him back on the same journey. The bundle contains a castle; this the prince opens in the wrong place; a giant, on promise of first son, helps him to repack the bundle. Finally, he opens the bundle, and in the castle finds a wife. After seven years, the giant comes to get the promised son; unsuccessful attempt to substitute cook's son, etc. The giant carries off the king's son, and takes him into service. II. Bride-winning.—During the absence of the giant, the hero meets the maiden, who tells him that on the morrow he must choose her from among her sisters. Then follow tasks (cleansing stable, thatching byre, stealing egg). Flight (apple cut in order to speak for the fugitives; throwing of twig, stone, and water), III. Bride-forgetting.—A greyhound kisses the hero, who is cast into sleep. Incident of the fountain. Shoemaker goes to well, finds the girl, and carries her home. Gentlemen who wish to marry the heroine, pay money for that purpose, and are enchanted. A wedding of the king's son, the girl takes a gold and silver pigeon, which perform a drama, representing herself and her lover. Awakening of the latter.

    Compare a Russian tale, "Afanasief," V. 23, translated by W. R. S. Ralston Russian Folk-tales, London, 1873, p. 120. "Vasilissa the Wise." A king spares and nourishes an eaglet, and finally sets him free. The eagle takes the king on his back to the houses of his sisters, on three successive nights, gives him a ship to sail home, and two coffers. The king opens one, finds it full of cattle, repents, but cannot put them back. A man from the water consents to do so if the king will promise whatever he has at home that he does not know of. Comes home, finds that he has a son, and opens the coffers of treasure. The water-man, after a period, calls on the king, reminds him of his promise, and the son is sent forth. II. Bird-maiden.—The prince comes to the hut of an ogress, who directs him to the sea-shore, charging him to steal the shift of one of twelve bird-maidens (spoonbills), to come to terms with her, and then go to the seaking. This maid is Vasilissa the Wise. He returns her shift, and she rejoins her companions. III. Bride-winning.—Tasks (to build crystal bridge, plant a garden in a night, choose bride from twelve daughters. The girl gives him knowledge of a signal by which this is accomplished). Flight and pursuit; transformation (forms assumed by the girl: a well, a church, a river of honey, in which the water-king drinks himself to death), IV. Bride-forgetting.—Prohibition to kiss, fountain-scene, doves—these baked in a pie (as in Basile, No. 17).

  10. Guest, Mabinogion, iii, Z49. The hero is directed by a woman how to find Olwen, who is in the habit of washing at the house of the former. The chief tasks—of sowing in an unploughed field, and of collecting seeds—correspond to those of our märchen; one lame ant brings in the last seed at night. So in a Bohemian tale of the cycle, A. H. Wratislaw, Sixty Folk-tales jrom exclusively Slavonic Sources, Tale 50, 1889. The Welsh writer exhibits some confusion, which shows the Bohemian account to be more primitive.
  11. The tale ot Somadeva includes the following incidents: I. A prince pierces with a golden arrow a Rakshasa or cannibal giant, who has taken the form of a crane. He is sent to seek the arrow, and follows the drops of blood to a city in the forest, II. Sitting down at the foot of a tree, in order to rest, a maid approaches, who tells him the name of the city, and who becomes amorous of him; this maid is the giant's daughter. III. The prince proceeds to the city, where the girl requests her father to marry her to the youth. The giant requires the stranger to choose out the maiden from among her hundred sisters; this he is enabled to do by the aid of a signal which she has previously arranged. The first task imposed on him is to sow grain in an unploughed field, and afterwards to collect it again; this is performed by the aid of ants, created by the girl. The next task is to invite to the wedding the giant's brother; the latter pursues the prince, but is repulsed by obstacles created by throwing out magical objects given him by the princess (earth, water, thorns, fire). The giant, concluding that the youth is a god, gives him his daughter in marriage: the latter advises flight. When tiie couple are pursued, she transforms herself into a woodcutter, who tells the silly giant that he is preparing to perform funeral ceremonies for the King of the Rakshasas. The latter goes home to find out whether he is dead or not; the transformation is repeated, and the lovers escape. (Kathá Sarit Ságara, translation of C. H. Tawney, Calcutta, 1880,1,355.)

    That the bird-maiden incident, suppressed in Somadeva, formed part of the folk-tale which he (or his source) used, is rendered probable, not only by its presence in the European variants of the story, but also by a modern folk-tale of Kashmir, given by F. T. Knowles, Folk-tales of Kashmir, London, 1888, p. 211. A prince, who is practising archery, shoots a merchant's wife, and is banished by the king his father. Proceeding into the forest, he sees reflected in a lake an image of a fairy, who informs him that she is a princess of the City of Ivory. He proceeds thither, and obtains the princess for his wife. The tale, though altered and modernised, seems to depend on the same märchen used by Somadeva. It is curious that the tale of the latter contains both forms of the flight, the casting out of magic objects, and the transformation. Some European versions have one, some the other.

    The work of Somadeva, in general, is a translation from the Brat-kathá of Gunadhyā, composed about the time of our era. I cannot say whether the particular tale belonged to the latter collection. There is an independent translation, of the eleventh century, by Kshemendra. See S. Lévi, Journal Asiatique, 8th Ser., vi, 1885, 417; C. R. Lanman, Sanscrit Reader, Boston, 1888, p. 322. For the date of Somadeva, G. Bühler, Vienna Acad. Sitzungsberichte, vol. CX, 1885, 545.

  12. G. Turner, Samoa a Hundred Years Ago, London, 1884, story of Siati and his Wife, p. 102. The ballad, unfortunately, is only given in abbreviated form, I. A god promises his daughter in marriage to whoever will conquer him in singing; Siati does so, and sets out for the land of the god, riding on a shark, in order to get the maiden. [This section seems to correspond to the gaming incident, which begins many of the European tales, and the shark perhaps answers to the eagle in the story of Old Grey Norris, above.] II. Puapae, that is, White Fish, has been bathing with her companions; she returns to seek a comb which she has forgotten, and meets Siati. [This seems to be a modification of the dress-stealing trait.] She directs him to her father's house, with certain warnings, III, Siati goes to the dwelling of the god, observing the instructions given him. A task is imposed on him, to build a house in one day. This is done by the arts of the girl. Second task, to fight with a dog; third, to seek a ring, which is fished out of the sea by the maiden, after she has been cut to pieces. Then follow the flight, as usual (throwing out of comb, earth,v water). IV. Puapae gives Siati leave to visit his family and friends; he does so, and forgets his wife. When he is to marry again she comes and stands on the other side j and when the chief asks the youth which is his bride, and he indicates the other, she cries that he has forgotten all she had done for him, and departs. Siati recollects, darts after her, and expires.

    The incident of the ring is exactly paralleled in many European tales of the cycle. (See Cosquin's notes.) Thus, in the Basque variant before cited, the hero is required to recover a ring from the river; the heroine causes him to cut her in pieces, and throw these into the water; her little finger is lost in the process, on which she recommends flight. Originally, it seems to have been by the loss of this finger that the hero is enabled to recognise his disguised love, such recognition being the final task imposed. The other form of the task is that in which the youth is required to procure an egg from a nest in a high tree, and is allowed to use the fingers of his love as steps, losing one in the same way. It does not appear which is the oldest form of the task; but the Samoan form seems obviously abridged and confused.

    When the girl warns her lover to eat nothing which her father offers him, and not to sit on a high seat, the reason is the humility proper to mortals dealing with a god. In the French tale (E. Cosquin), the hero is to refuse the dish ofTered, and select a different chair from that proposed. The original idea is probably that indicated in Apuleius, where Psyche is cautioned, while in the presence of Proserpina, not to choose a soft seat, but to sit on the ground, and to eat only a piece of common bread; the motive appearing to be, to avoid identifying himself with the retinue of the mistress of Hades. In the Malagasy tale, mentioned below, Ibonía is warned not to advance as required by his father-in-law, and not to eat from the plate of the latter. The reason appears to be the inability of mortals to endure the brightness of a god, and share the food of the latter.

  13. 1. Memoires de l'Acad. Impér. des Sciences de St. Pétersbourg, 7 Ser., xix, No. 6, 1873, A. Schiefner, Awarische Texte, xxvi-xlv. A hunter, by advice of a hermit, in a lake in the forest captures Manohara, a princess whose power of flight resides in her head-jewel. She is bestowed in marriage on the prince. Compelled to go to the wars, he leaves her in charge of his mother; being in danger of being sacrificed, she obtains the jewel, and takes flight. On her way she visits the hermit, and leaves her ring, with directions for her lover. The latter returning, sets out in quest, asks all animals, and finally comes to the hermit, of whom he gets the ring, with advice and magic apparatus. After a long and dangerous journey through the wilderness, he comes to Manohara's city, and places the ring in the water in which she washes. At her intercession he is received by the father, being required to prove his princely qualities by tests (cutting down trees with his sword, shooting an arrow), and is allowed to return,

    2. The Burmese drama is only imperfectly translated in the Jour. of the Asiatic Soc. of Bengal, viii, 1839, 536. The name here is Manahurry. After performing the task of taming wild horses, etc., the prince is compelled to distinguish the little finger of the maid from those ol the other princesses. [This seems connected with the trait in European tales, in which the princess loses her little finger in the last task.] The king of the flies assists him. The drama is interesting, and deserves to be more fully given.

    3. The story of Janshah, Lady Burton's ed. of Arabian Nights, iii, 1886, 401. A prince, hiding under a tree near a fountain, gets possession of the feather-robe of one of three bird-maidens [of green colour; the hue of the dress and number of the fairies are the same in the French tale of E. Cosquin]. He takes her home, but she smells out her garment, and flies away, leaving him to seek her at the Castle of Jewels. The prince now proceeds on his quest, and inquires of the birds and beasts, and is carried on bird-back to the hermit, before whom appear all animals. One belated bird only knows of the Castle of Jewels, and carries the hero to a place from which he sees its distant glory. The end of the tale is abbreviated. [The incident of the delayed bird has found its way into several European versions of the tale.] The other tale is the story of Hasan of El Basrah, E. W. Lane, Arabian Nights Entertainments, London, 1865, iii, 352. This version contains a modified reminiscence of the flight. The hero accomplishes his undertaking by aid of a magic wand and a cap of invisibility, which he gets from two youths who quarrel. [This trait is found in several European tales of the family.]

    4. Modern Hindu tales: (a), Indian Antiquary, 1875, 10. The daughters of the Sun, who live in heaven, descend to bathe. Toria gets the shirt of one; among the tasks is to dig a tank (see Malagasy tale). She visits her father's house, and warns him not to follow. The end is obscured. Mention is made of the habits of Rakshasa to travel through the air. This explains why in European versions the appearance of the pursuer is so often compared to that of a cloud, (b) Stokes, Indian Fairy-tales, p. 6. [I have not seen this tale.] The story of Janshah has found its way to Zanzibar, where it is orally current (E. Steere, Swahili Tales, London, 1870, p. 333), and also to South Siberia; see notes of Cosquin.

  14. The Celebes tale in Z. f. d. Morgenländische Gesellschaft, vi, 1852. Utahagi, with other nymphs, descends from heaven in order to bathe in a fountain. The hero obtains her robe, and carries her home; in consequence of his disobedience, she departs. He sets out in quest, reaches heaven by climbing a thorn-tree, and, by the assistance of animals, finds the house. Her brother, a demi-god, obliges him to make choice among nine caskets, one of which is indicated by a i^y [the caskets are a substitute for the sisters in the Hindu tale, where the fly plays a like part]. Eventually he becomes a god, but sends down from heaven his son, from whom the Bantiks descend.
    For the Malagasy story of Ibonia see Folk-lore Journal, i, 1883, 202. The hero, being directed by a diviner to capture a maid in a lake, succeeds, after repeated failure, by transforming himself into an ant, and carries the girl home. During his absence, his wife is left in charge of his parents, who contrive her death by inducing her to drink rum, which is fatal to her as a spirit, and which she has stipulated shall not be offered her. On his return, she is disinterred, and comes to life, but returns to heaven, warning him against the danger of following her. He makes friends with birds and beasts, and with his other wife: goes to the sky, where he is severely received by his father-in-law. Follow the tasks (cutting down trees, bringing spades from lake), which he performs by aid of the animals. Then the selection, accomplished by the aid of the king of the flies. [But this trial is confused; he is required to tell the mother from the daughters, and also which are the mothers among many cattle] The tale ends happily, the flight being eliminated. Other and longer versions are given by H. Dahle, Specimens of Malagasy Folk-lore, Antananarivo, 1 887, unluckily without translation. Dahle observes that the tale of Ibonia has a suspiciously Oriental colour, and that the proper name has no etymology in the Malagasy (p. 3).
  15. G. Grey, Polynesian Mythology, London, 185J, pp. 59-80. Tawhaki (a mythological character whose prayers cause a deluge) is visited by a maid from heaven, who becomes offended with him, and departs. He searches for her, comes to the house of a blind ancestress, and gets directions as to his route; he climbs by the tendrils of a vine, and reaches the dwelling of his wife.
  16. (a) Eskimo, H. Rink, Tales of the Eskimo, trans. R. Brown, Edinb., 1885, p. 154. A man seizes the robes of a bird-maiden, and takes her home; children are born, on whom she places wings, and they fly away, the mother at last doing the same during the absence of her husband. The man returns, and is sad; he obtains directions from an old man, and, sitting on the tail of a salmon, is carried to a shore inhabited only by women. A woman with a pug-nose presses him to marry her; the man endeavours to recover his wife, but the women are transformed into gulls, he into a duck, [This introduction of the ugly rival of the heroine seems very much like a reminiscence of a form of the European tale.] (b) Algonkin Schoolcraft, Algic Researches, N. Y., 1839. "The Celestial Sisters," i, 67, a Shawnee tale. Maidens from sky descend to the earth in a basket; the hero, taking various forms (compare Malagasy tale), succeeds in seizing one. A son is born, who makes a basket, and goes to heaven, together with the wife. The hero, proceeding in quest of the latter, comes to heaven, and is allowed his choice of gifts. He selects a white hawk's feather, which takes him and his wife to earth. Another tale, "Nishosha," ii, 91, opens curiously like that of Somadeva. The hero, going to seek an arrow, comes to the house of a magician. The daughter of the latter takes pity on him. He is sent to gather gulls' eggs, and deserted on a desert island, but finally induces the heroine to become his wife.
  17. For example, in the Persian tale contained in the Bakar-Danush, and in Chinese and Samoyede tales, mentioned by Cosquin, our märchen seems to be at the basis, an elision of a section having taken place; on the other hand, in the Nibelungenlied and the Edda, where swan-maidens are mentioned, it is perhaps only a tale-element which is in question.
  18. A European variant is the Polish tale given by Töppen, Aberglauben aus Masuren p. 140. The heroine departs, giving the hero directions as to the land in which he is to seek her, in which it is always summer. Other examples could be quoted. In many cases, where the tale is of the usual European type, the incidents of the quest, of the inquiry of birds and beasts, and riding to a remote land on the back of a bird, are introduced; these seem to properly belong to the older story, in which the heroine departs and has to be sought, and to have been engrafted on the later tales; so in the early portion of the Gaelic and Russian tales above mentioned.
  19. In the work of Wratislaw cited, seven tales out of the sixty ultimately belong to our märchen; in the Folk-tales of the Magyars (Jones and Kropf Lond., 1889) I reckon the same number, making about one-sixth of the material.
  20. See the translation of this hymn by K. F. Geldner, in Pischel and Geldner's Vedische Studien, Stuttgart, 1889, p. 253 f. Geldner gives also the later prose tales. These approach the form of our märchen, representing the hero as making a journey to the land of the Gandharvas; he is also related to have recovered Urvaçi.