The Goblin Bird
Source: Fairy Tales From All Nations
Two brothers one day set out from their father's hut, to seek their
fortune. The name of the elder one was Maszilo, the younger one was
called Mazziloniane. After a few days' journeying they reached a
plain, from which branched two roads; the one led eastwards, the other
westwards. The first road was covered with the footmarks of cattle,
the other with the footmarks of dogs. Maszilo followed the latter
road, his brother went in the opposite direction.
After some days travelling Mazziloniane passed a hill which formerly
had been inhabited, and felt not a little astonished at beholding a
great quantity of earthen vessels, all of which were placed upside
down. In the hope of finding some treasure concealed under them, he
removed several, until he came to one of immense size. Mazziloniane,
gathering all his strength, gave it a violent push, but the vessel
remained immoveable. The young traveller now doubled his exertions,
but in vain. Twice he was obliged to fasten the girdle round his
loins, which through his exertions had burst; the vessel seemed as if
rooted to the ground. But all at once, as if by magic, it was upset by
a slight touch, and revealed to the youthful and trembling
Mazziloniane, a hideous and deformed giant.
"Why dost thou disturb me?" demanded the monster, in a voice of
Mazziloniane, having recovered from his first fright, observed with
horror that one of the legs of the giant was as thick as the stem of a
large tree, whilst the other was of an ordinary size.
"As a well-merited punishment for thy temerity in disturbing me, thou
shalt henceforth carry me about;" and so saying the monster jumped on
the shoulders of the unfortunate youth, who, unable to support such a
weight, fell prostrate on the ground. Recovering himself with
difficulty, he endeavoured to advance a few steps, and again he fell
to the earth, his strength now wholly failing him. But the sight of an
eland, which was swiftly passing by, presented to his mind the means
"Dear father," said he, with trembling voice, to the abortion,
"release me for a moment; the reason why I cannot carry you is that I
have nothing wherewith to fasten you to my back; give me a few moments
to kill the eland which has just passed by, and out of its hide I will
cut some thongs for that purpose."
His demand was granted, and with the dogs that had accompanied him he
disappeared from the plain. After he had run a considerable distance
he took refuge in a cavern. But the thick-legged monster, tired of
waiting, soon followed, and wherever he discovered a footmark of the
youth, he in a mocking voice cried out:--
"The pretty little footmark of my dear child, the pretty little
footmark of Mazziloniane."
The youth heard him approaching, and felt the ground tremble under his
steps. Seized with despair he left the cavern, and calling his dogs,
he set them on the enemy; stroking and encouraging them, he said--
"On! my brave dogs, kill him, devour him, but leave his thick leg for
The dogs obeyed the command of their master, and soon there was
nothing left but the deformed and shapeless leg, which now he
fearlessly approached, and with his axe cut into pieces, and, O
wonder! out of it came a herd of most beautiful cows, one of them
being as white as the driven snow; overjoyed he drove the cattle
before him, taking the road leading to his father's hut.
Meanwhile the other brother having got possession of a great number of
dogs, he also returned towards his home, and they both now met on the
same place where they so shortly before had separated. The younger
embracing the elder brother, offered him part of his herd, saying to
him: "As fortune has favoured me most, take what you like, but you
must leave me the white cow, for to no one else can she ever belong."
But Maszilo seemed to have placed his every desire upon this very
animal; regardless of all the rest, he begged and intreated his
brother to give up to him the possession thereof; but in vain were his
prayers. Having journeyed together for two days, on the third day they
came to a spring--"Let us tarry here," said Maszilo, "I am faint and
exhausted with thirst; let us dig a deep hole, and convey the water
into it, that it may get cool and fresh."
When they had dug the well, Maszilo went in search of a great flat
stone, and with it covered the hole to protect the water from being
heated by the rays of the sun; after the water had been sufficiently
cooled, Maszilo drank first. His brother was now going to do the same,
but the moment he bent himself over the well, Maszilo suddenly taking
him by the hair, forced his head under the water, and held it there
until he was suffocated; he then pushed the corpse into the hole, and
covered it over with the stone.
With drooping head, though now sole master of the herd, the murderer
proceeded on his journey, but hardly had he advanced a few steps, when
a little bird perched on the horn of the white cow, and in a mournful
tune sang: "Tsiri! tsiri! Maszilo killed Mazziloniane to get
possession of the white cow which the murdered brother so much loved."
Enraged, he killed the bird with a stone, but hardly had he
sufficiently recovered himself to proceed on his journey, when the
bird again came flying, placed itself on the same spot, and repeated
the same words; Maszilo again killed him with a stone, and then
crushed him with his heavy staff; but within a few minutes the bird
reappeared for the third time, again perching on the horn of the cow,
and repeating the same words.
"Ah, Demon!" cried Maszilo, choking with rage, "I will try a more
effectual way to silence thee;" whereupon he threw his staff at the
hated little bird, who in such doleful tunes had stirred up and
upbraided his conscience-stricken soul: he again killed it, and then
lighting a fire, in it he burnt the bird to ashes, which he scattered
in the winds.
Now convinced that the goblin-bird would return no more, Maszilo, full
of pride and hardiness, returned to his father's dwelling. On his
arrival there, he was surrounded by all the villagers, who, full of
curiosity, gathered around him, in admiration of the rich flock, and
praised his good fortune, but the first impulse of their curiosity
satiated, they almost with one voice inquired "Where is Mazziloniane?"
"I know not; we went different ways," answered he.
Many of his relations now surrounded the white cow, and exclaimed: "Oh
how beautiful she is! what fine hair! what a pure colour! happy the
man that owns such a treasure!"
Suddenly, their exclamations were changed into deep silence, for upon
one of the horns of the much-admired animal appeared a little bird,
singing in most melancholy strains, "Tsiri! tsiri! Maszilo killed
Mazziloniane, to get possession of the white cow which the murdered
brother so much loved."
"What! has Maszilo killed his brother?" all exclaimed, and, full of
horror, turned away from the murderer, unable to account to themselves
for the emotion he inspired, and the strangeness of the disclosure.
Infuriated, they drove Maszilo from their home, into the desert: in
the confusion this occasioned, the little bird flew to the murdered
man's sister, and whispered in her ear, "I am the soul of
Mazziloniane; Maszilo has killed me; my body lies in a well near the
desert, go bury it--" and then the bird flew back into the desert,
evermore to be the companion of the murderer.
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