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Story No. 73

The Golden Children

Book Name:

Gypsy Folk Tales

Tradition: Gypsy, Roumania, Bukovina, Ukraine

There were three princesses, and they vaunted themselves before the three princes. One vaunted that she will make him a golden boy and girl. And one vaunted that she will feed his army with one crust of bread. And one vaunted that she will clothe the whole army with a single spindleful of thread. The time came that the princes took the three maidens. So she who had vaunted that she will bear the golden boy and girl, the time came that she grew big with child, and she fell on the hearth in the birth-pangs. The midwife came and his mother, and she brought forth a golden boy and girl. And her man was not there. And the midwife and his mother took a dog and a bitch, and put them beneath her. And they took the boy and the girl, and the midwife threw them into the river. And they went floating on the river, and a monk found them.

So their father went a-hunting, and their father found the lad. 'Let me kiss you.' For, he thought, My wife said she would bear a golden lad and girl like this. And he came home and fell sick; and the midwife noticed it and his mother.

The midwife asked him, 'What ails you?'

He said, 'I am sick, because I have seen a lad like my wife said she would bear me.'

Then she sent for the children, did his mother; and the monk brought them; and she asked him, 'Where did you get those children?'

He said, 'I found them both floating on the river.'

And the king saw it must be his children; his heart yearned towards them. So the king called the monk, and asked him, 'Where did you get those children?'

He said, 'I found them floating on the river.'

He brought the monk to his mother and the midwife, and said, 'Behold, mother, my children.'

She repented and said, 'So it is.' She said, 'Yes, darling, the midwife put them in a box, and threw them into the water.'

Then he kindled the furnace, and cast both his mother and also the midwife into the furnace. And he burnt them; and so they made atonement. He gathered all the kings together, for joy that he had found his children. Away I came, the tale have told.


And a very poor tale it is, most clearly defective; we never, for instance, hear what becomes of the mother. Non-Gypsy versions of this story are very numerous and very widely spread, almost as widely spread as the Gypsies. We have them from Iceland, Brittany, Brazil, Catalonia, Sicily, Italy, Lorraine, Germany, Tyrol, Transylvania, Hungary, Servia, Roumania, Albania, Syria, White Russia, the Caucasus, Egypt, Arabia, Mesopotamia, and Bengal, as well as in Dolopathos (c. 1180) and Straparola. Special studies of this story have been made by Cosquin (vol. i. p. lxiii. and p. 190), and W. A. Clouston in his Variants and Analogues of the Tales in vol. iii. of Sir R. F. Burton's Supplemental Arabian Nights (1887), pp. 617-648. Reference may also be made to Grimm, No. 96, 'The Three Little Birds'; Wratislaw's, No. 23, 'The Wonderful Lads'; Grenville-Murray's Doine; or, Songs and Legends of Roumania (1854), pp. 106-110; Denton's Serbian Folklore, p. 238; Hahn, i. 272; ii. 40, 287, 293; 'The Boy with the Moon on his Forehead,' in the Rev. Lal Behari Day's Folk-tales of Bengal (No. 19, p. 236); and 'The Boy who had a Moon on his Forehead and a Star on his Chin,' in Maive Stokes's Indian Fairy Tales (No. 20, p. 119; cf. also, No. 2, pp. 7 and 245). 'Chandra's Vengeance' in Mary Frere's Old Deccan Days (No. 22, p. 225), offers some curious analogies. There the heroine is born with two golden anklets on her ankles, 'dazzling to look at like the sun.' She is put in a golden box, floated down the river, saved by a fisherman, etc. Cosquin acutely remarks that in the original story the king, of course, marries the three sisters, and the two elder, jealous, are the prime workers of the mischief.

Yet a third Gypsy version (No. 19. – The Two Children), a Slovak one, is furnished by Dr. von Sowa. It is plainly corrupt and imperfect: –


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