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Story No. 56

The Dead Man's Gratitude

Book Name:

Gypsy Folk Tales

Tradition: Gypsy, Turkey

A king had three sons. He gave the youngest a hundred thousand piastres; he gave the same to the eldest son and to the middle one. The youngest arose, he took the road; wherever he found poor folk he gave money; here, there, he gave it away; he spent the money. His eldest brother went, had ships built to make money. And the middle one went, had shops built. They came to their father.

'What have you done, my son?'

'I have built ships.'

To the youngest, 'You, what have you done?'

'I? every poor man I found, I gave him money; and for poor girls I paid the cost of their marriage.'

The king said, 'My youngest son will care well for the poor. Take another hundred thousand piastres.'

The lad departed. Here, there, he spent his money; twelve piastres remained to him. Some Jews dug up a corpse and beat it.

'What do you want of him, that you are beating him?'

'Twelve piastres we want of him.'

'I'll give you them if you will let him be.'

He gave the money, they let the dead man be. He arose and departed. As the lad goes the dead man followed him. 'Where go you?' the dead man asked.

'I am going for a walk.'

'I'll come too; we'll go together; we will be partners.'

'So be it.'

'Come, I will bring you to a certain place.'

He took and brought him to a village. There was a girl, takes a husband, lies with him; by dawn next day the husbands are dead.

'I will hide you somewhere; I will get you a girl; but we shall always be partners.'

He found the girl (a dragon came out of her mouth).

'And this night when you go to bed, I too will lie there.'

He took his sword, he went near them. The lad said, 'That will never do. If you want her, do you take the girl.'

'Are we not partners? You, do you sleep with her; I also, I will sleep here.'

At midnight he sees the girl open her mouth; the dragon came forth; he drew his sword; he cut off its three heads; he put the heads in his bosom; he lay down; he fell asleep. Next morning the girl arose, and sees the man her husband living by her side. They told the girl's father. 'To-day your daughter has seen dawn break with her husband.'

'That will be the son-in-law,' said the father.

The lad took the girl; he is going to his father.

'Come,' said the dead man, 'let's divide the money.' They fell to dividing it.

'We have divided the money; let us also divide your wife.'

The lad said, 'How divide her? If you want her, take her.'

'I won't take her; we'll divide.'

'How divide?' said the lad.

The dead man said, 'I, I will divide.'

The dead man seized her; he bound her knees. 'Do you catch hold of one foot, I'll take the other.'

He raised his sword to strike the girl. In her fright the girl opened her mouth, and cried, and out of her mouth fell a dragon. The dead man said to the lad, 'I am not for a wife, I am not for any money. These dragon's heads are what devoured the men. Take her; the girl shall be yours, the money shall be yours. You did me a kindness; I also have done you one.'

'What kindness did I do you?' asked the lad.

'You took me from the hands of the Jews.'

The dead man departed to his place, and the lad took his wife, went to his father.



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