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Story No. 107

De Little Fox

Book Name:

Gypsy Folk Tales

Tradition: Gypsy, England

In ole formel times, when deh used to be kings an’ queens, deah wuz a king an’ queen hed on’y one darter. And dey stored dis darter like de eyes in deir head, an’ dey hardly would let de wind blow an her. Dey lived in a ’menjus big park, an’ one way of de park wuz a lodge-house, an’ de oder en’ deah wuz a great moat of water. Now dis queen died an’ lef’ dis darter. An’ she wur a werry han'some gal – you 'ah sure she mus’ be, bein’ a queen's darter.

In dis heah lodge-house deah wuz an ole woman lived. And in dem days deah wur witchcraft. An’ de ole king used to sont fur her to go up to de palast to work, an’ she consated herself an’ him a bit. So one day dis heah ole genleman wuz a-talking to dis ole woman, ' an’ de darter gat a bit jealous, an’ dis ole woman fun’ out dat de darter wuz angry, an’ she didn't come anigh de house fur a long time.

Now de ole witch wuz larnin’ de young lady to sew. So she sont fur her to come down to de lodge-house afore she hed her breakfast. An’ de fust day she wents, she picked up a kernel of wheat as she wuz coming along, an’ eat it.

An’ de witch said to her, 'Have you hed your breakfast?'

An’ she says, 'No.'

'Have you hed nothin’? ' she says.

'No,' she says, 'on’y a kernel of wheat.'

She wents two marnin’s like dat, an’ picked up a kernel of wheat every marnin’, so dat de witch would have no powah over her – God's grain, you know, sir. But de third marnin’ she on'y picked up a bit av arange peel, an’ den dis ole wise woman witchered her, an’ after dat she never sont fur her to come no more. Now dis young lady got to be big. An’ de witch wuz glad. So she goned to de king an’ she says, 'Your darter is dat way. Now, you know, she'll hev to be ’stry’d.'

'What! my beautiful han’some darter to be in de fambaley way! Oh! no, no, no, et couldn't be.'

But it can be so, an’ et es so,' said de ole witch.

Well, it wuz so, an’ de ole king fun’ it out and was well-nigh crazy. An’ when he fun’ it out, for shuah dem days when any young woman had a misforchant, she used to be burnt. An’ he ordered a man to go an’ get an iron chair an’ a cartload of faggots; an’ she hed to be put in dis iron chair, an’ dese faggots set of a light rount her, an’ she burnt to death. As dey had her in dis chair, and a-goin’ to set it of alight, deah wur an old gentleman come up – dat was my ole Dubel [God] to be shuah – an’ he says, 'My noble leech, [Liege] don't burn her, nor don't hurt her, nor don't ’stry her, for dere’s an ole wessel into de bottom of dat park. Put her in dere, an’ let her go where God d’rect her to.'

So dey did do so, an’ nevah think’d no more about her.

Durin’ time dis young lady wuz confined of a little fox. And d’rectly as he was bornt he says, 'My mammy, you mus’ be werry weak an’ low bein’ confined of me, an’ nothin' to eat or drink; but I must go somewheres, an’ get you somethin’.'

'O my deah little fox, don't leave me. What ever shall I do without you? I shall die broken-hearted.'

'I'm a-goin’ to my gran’father, as I suspose,' says de little fox.

'My deah, you mustn't go, you'll be worried by de dogs.'

'Oh! no dogs won't hurt me, my mammy.'

Away he goned, trittin’ an’ trottin’ tell he got to his gran’fader's hall. When he got up to de gret boarden gates, dey wuz closed, an’ deah wuz two. or tree dogs tied down, an’ when he goned in de dogs never looked at him. One of de women comed outer de hall, an’ who should it be but dis ole witch!

He says, 'Call youah dogs in, missis, an’ don't let ’em bite me. I wants to see de noble leech belonging to dis hall.'

'What do you want to see him fur?'

'I wants to see him for somethin' to eat an’ drink fur my mammy, she's werry poorly.'

'And who are youah mammy?'

'Let him come out, he'll know.'

So de noble leech coined out, an’ he says, 'What do you want, my little fox?'

He put his hen’ up to his head (such manners he had I): 'I wants somethin’ to eat an’ drink fur my mammy, she's werry poorly.'

So de noble leech tole de cook to fill a basket wid wine an’ wittles. So de cook done so, and bring'd it to him.

De noble leech says, 'My little fox, you can never carry it. I will sen’ some one to carry it.'

But he says, 'No, thank you, my noble leech'; an’ he chucked it on his little back, an’ wents tritting an’ trotting to his mammy.

When he got to his mammy, she says, 'O my deah little fox, I've bin crazy about you. I thought de dogs had eaten you.'

'No, my mammy, dey turn’t deir heads de oder way.'

An’ she took'd him an’ kissed him an’ rejoiced over him.

'Now, my mammy, have somethin' to eat an’ drink,' says de little fox, 'I got dem from my gran’father as I suspose it is.'

So he went tree times. An’ de secon’ time he wents, de ole witch began smellin’ a rat, an’ she says to the servants, 'Don't let dat little fox come heah no more; he'll get worried.'

But he says, 'I wants to see de noble leech,' says de little fox.

'You'ah werry plaguesome to de noble leech, my little fox.'

'Oh! no, I'm not,' he says.

De las’ time he comes, his moder dressed him in a beautiful robe of fine needlework. Now de noble leech comes up again to de little fox, an’ he says, 'Who is youah mammy, my little fox?'

'You wouldn't know p’raps ef I wuz to tell you.'

An’ he says, 'Who med you dat robe, my little fox?'

'My mammy, to be shuah! who else should make it?'

An’ de ole king wept an cried bitterly when he seed dis robe he had, on, fur he think'd his deah child wur dead.

'Could I have a word wi’ you, my noble leech?' says de little fox. 'Could you call a party dis afternoon up at your hall?'

He says, 'What fur, my little fox?'

Well, ef you call a party, I'll tell you whose robe dat is, but you mus’ let my mammy come as well.'

'No, no, my little fox; I couldn't have youah mammy to come.'

Well, de ole king agreed, an’ de little fox tell'd him, 'Now deah mus’ be tales to be tell’d, an’ songs to be sing’d, an’ dem as don't sing a song hez to tell a tale. An’ after we have dinner let's go an’ walk about in de garden. But you mus’ ’quaint as many ladies an’ genlemen as you can to dis party, an’ be shuah to bring de ole lady what live at de lodge.'

Well, dis dinner was called, an’ dey all had ’nuff to eat; an’ after dat wur ovah, de noble leech stood up in de middlt an’ called for a song or tale. Deah wus all songs sing’t and tales tell’t, tell it camed to dis young lady's tu’n. An’ she says, 'I can't sing a song or tell a tale, but my little fox can.'

'Pooydorda!' says de ole witch 'tu’n out de little fox, he stinks.'

But dey all called an de little fox, an’ he stoods up an’ says, 'Once ont a time,' he says, 'deah wuz an ole-fashn’t king an’ queen lived togeder; an’ dey only had one darter, an’ dey stored dis darter like de eyes into deir head, an’ dey ’ardly would let de wint blow an her.'

'Pooydorda!' says de old witch, 'tu’n out de little fox, it stinks.'

But deah wuz all de ladies an’ genlemen clappin’ an’ sayin’, 'Speak an, my little fox!' 'Well tole, my little fox!' 'Werry good tale, indeed!'

So de little fox speak’d an, and tell’t dem all about de ole witch, an’ how she wanted to ’stry de king's darter, an’ he says, 'Dis heah ole lady she fried my mammy a egg an’ a sliced of bacon; an’ of she wur to eat it all, she 'd be in de fambaley way wid some bad animal; but she on’y eat half on it, an’ den she wor so wid me. An’ dat’s de ole witch deah,' he says, showin’ de party wid his little paw.

An’ den, after dis wuz done, an’ dey all walked togeder in de garden, de little fox says, 'Now, my mammy, I've done all de good I can for you, an’ now I'm a-goin’ to leave you.' An’ he strip’t aff his little skin, an’ he Hewed away in de beautifulest white angel you ever seed in your life.

An’ de ole witch was burnt in de same chair dat wuz meant fur de young lady.


In the Bukowina-Gypsy story of 'The Winged Hero,' No. 26, the emperor's daughter, for being 'that way,' is to be burnt with her lover; and just as the mother of the little fox is sent adrift in an 'ole wessel,' so in the Celtic legend is St. Thenew or Enoch, having miraculously conceived St. Kentigern, exposed in a coracle on the Firth of Forth. In her Variants of Cinderella (Folklore Soc., 1893, pp. 307, 507), Miss Cox gives an interesting parallel for this husk-myth, whose close recalls 'Bobby Rag' (No. 51). From Matthew Wood Mr. Sampson has heard a variant of ' De Little Fox,' but very different in details.


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