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The Crow's Nest






Source: The Folk-tales Of The Magyars

There was once in the world a poor man who had a wife and two children,
the elder a girl, the younger a boy. The poor man went out one day
ploughing with two wretched little oxen, his only property; his wife
remained at home to do the cooking. The girl, being the older of the two
children, was often sent out on short errands; upon the present
occasion, too, she was away from the house, her mother having sent her
out to borrow a peel, the dough for the bread being very nearly spoilt
for having been kept too long in the trough.

Availing herself of the girl's absence, the mother killed the poor
little boy and hid him in a pot of stewed cabbage. By the time that the
girl returned her dear little brother was half stewed. When the mess was
quite done, the woman poured it into a smaller pot, placed the small pot
into a sling, and sent the food by her daughter to her husband who was
in the field. The man liked the dish very much, and asked the girl:

"What kind of meat is this? It is very nice."

"I believe, dear father, mother had to kill a small lamb last night, and
no doubt she cooked it for you," replied the girl.

But somehow or other the girl learned the true state of things, and the
news nearly broke her heart. She immediately went back to the field,
gathered up the bones of her little brother, carefully wrapped them into
a beautiful piece of new white linen and took them into the nearest
forest, where she hid them in a hollow tree. Nobody can foretell what
will happen, and so it came to pass that the bones did not remain very
long in the hollow of the tree. Next spring a crow came and hatched
them, and they became exactly such a boy as they were before. The boy
would sometimes perch on the edge of the hollow, and sing to a beautiful
tune the following words:--


"My mother killed me,
"My father ate me,
"My sister gathered up my bones,
"She wrapped them in clean white linen,
"She placed them in a hollow tree,
"And now, behold, I'm a young crow."


Upon one occasion, just as he was singing this song, a man with a cloak
strolled by.

"Go on, my son," he said, "repeat that pretty song for me! I live in a
big village, and have travelled a good deal in my lifetime, but I have
never heard such a pretty song."

So the boy again commenced to sing:--


"My mother killed me,
"My father ate me,
"My sister gathered up my bones,
"She wrapped them in clean white linen,
"She placed them in a hollow tree,
"And now, behold, I'm a young crow."


The man with the cloak liked the song very much, and made the boy a
present of his cloak; Then a man with a crutch-stick hobbled by. "Well,
my boy," he said, "sing me that song again. I live in a big village,
have travelled far, but have never heard such a pretty tune." And the
boy again commenced to sing:--


"My mother killed me,
"My father ate me,
"My sister gathered up my bones,
"She wrapped them in clean white linen,
"She placed them in a hollow tree,
"And now behold I'm a young crow."


The man with the crutch-stick, too, liked the song immensely, and gave
the boy his crutch-stick. The next one to pass was a miller. He also
asked the boy to repeat the pretty tune, and as the boy complied with
his request the miller presented him with a millstone.

Then a sudden thought flashed across the boy's head and he flew to his
father's house, settled on the roof, and commenced to sing:--


"My mother killed me,
"My father ate me,
"My sister gathered up my bones,
"She wrapped them in clean white linen,
"She placed them in a hollow tree,
"And now behold I'm a young crow."


The woman was terrified, and said to her daughter, "Go and drive away
that bird, I don't like its croaking." The girl went out and tried to
drive away the bird, but instead of flying away the young crow continued
to sing the same song, and threw down the cloak to his sister. The girl
was much pleased with the present, ran into the house and exclaimed:
"Look here what a nice present that ugly bird has given to me!"

"Very nice indeed; very nice indeed. I will go out too," said her
father. So he went out, and the bird threw down to him the crutch-stick.
The old man was highly delighted with the gift; he was getting very
weak, and the crutch-stick came in useful to him as a support.

"Look here what a strong crutch-stick he has given to me! It will be a
great help to me in my old age."

Then his mother jumped up from behind the oven and said, "I must go out
too; if presents won't shower at least a few might drivel to me."

So she went out and looked up to the roof, and the boy gave her a
present for which she had not bargained. He threw the millstone at her,
which killed her on the spot.

Thus far goes our tale. Here it ends.





Next: Woman's Curiosity

Previous: The Fairies' Well



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