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Story No. 71

The Apples of Pregnancy

Book Name:

Gypsy Folk Tales

Tradition: Gypsy, Roumania

There were where there were a king and a queen. Now for sixteen years that king and that queen had had no sons or daughters. So he thought they would never have any. And he was always weeping and lamenting, for what would become of them without any children? Then the king said to the queen, 'O queen, I will go away and leave you, and if I do not find a son born of you by my return, know that either I will kill you with my own hands, or I will send you away, and live no longer with you.'

Then another king sent a challenge to him to go and fight, for, if he goes not, he will come and slay him on his throne. Then the king said to his queen, 'Here, O queen, is a challenge come for me to go and fight. If I had had a son, would he not have gone, and I have remained at home?'

She said, 'How can I help it, O king, if God has not chosen to give us any sons? What can I do?'

He said, 'Prate not to me of God. If I come and don't find a son born of you, I shall kill you.'

And the king departed.

Then the holy God and St. Peter fell to discussing what they should do for the queen. So God said to Peter, 'Here, you Peter, go down with this apple, and pass before her window, and cry, "I have an apple, and whoso eats of it will conceive." She will hear you. For it were a pity, Peter, for the king to come and kill her.'

So St. Peter took the apple, and came down, and did as God had told him. He cried in front of the queen's window. She heard him, and came out, and called him to her, and asked, 'How much do you want for that apple, my man?'

He said, 'I want much; give me a purse of money.'

And the queen took the purse of money, and gave it him, and took the apple and ate it. And when she had eaten it, she conceived. And St. Peter left her the purse of money there. So the time drew near for her to bear a child. And the very day that she brought forth her son, his father came from the war, and he had won the fight. So when he came home and heard that the queen had borne him a son, he went to the wine-shop and drank till he was drunk. And as he was coming home from the wine-shop, he reached the door, and fell down, and died. Then the boy heard it, and rose up out of his mother's arms, and went to the vintner, and killed him with a blow. And he came home. And the people, the nobles, beheld him, what a hero he was, and wondered at him. But an evil eye fell on him, and for three days he took to his bed. And he died of the evil eye.


Two other Roumanian-Gypsy stories may be compared with this one – No. 10 and The Prince who ate Men,' where, likewise, a king has no son, threatens the queen with death, and goes off to the war. The queen goes out driving, and meets a little bit of a man who follows her home, gives her a glass of medicine, and vanishes. She conceives, and bears a son, 'half dog, half bear, and half man.' The father returns victorious, and is going to slay this monster, till he learns who he is. Afterwards the monster takes to eating sentinels, until he himself is slain by a hero. Fruits of pregnancy are very common in Indian folk-tales, and God plays much the same part there. For instance, in 'Chandra's Vengeance' (Mary Frere's Old Deccan Days, pp. 253-4), Mahadeo gives a mango-fruit to a sterile woman, and she bears a child. Cf. also Maive Stokes's Indian Fairy Tales, pp. 42, 91; Knowles's Folk-tales of Kashmir, p. 416 note; Hahn, Nos. 4, 6, etc.; and the English-Gypsy story, 'De Little Fox,' No. 52.


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