The Story Of
There was once a man whose name was Dschemil, and he had a cousin
who was called Dschemila. They had been betrothed by their parents when
they were children, and now Dschemil thought that the time had come for
them to be married, and he went two or three days' journey, to the
nearest big town, to buy furniture for the new house.
While he was away, Dschemila and her friends set off to the
neighbouring woods to pick up sticks, and as she gathered them she
found an iron mortar lying on the ground. She placed it on her bundle
of sticks, but the mortar would not stay still, and whenever she raised
the bundle to put it on her shoulders it slipped off sideways. At
length she saw the only way to carry the mortar was to tie it in the
very middle of her bundle, and had just unfastened her sticks, when she
heard her companions' voices.
'Dschemila, what are you doing? it is almost dark, and if you mean
to come with us you must be quick!'
But Dschemila only replied, 'You had better go back without me, for
I am not going to leave my mortar behind, if I stay here till
'Do as you like,' said the girls, and started on their walk home.
The night soon fell, and at the last ray of light the mortar
suddenly became an ogre, who threw Dschemila on his back, and carried
her off into a desert place, distant a whole month's journey from her
native town. Here he shut her into a castle, and told her not to fear,
as her life was safe. Then he went back to his wife, leaving Dschemila
weeping over the fate that she had brought upon herself.
Meanwhile the other girls had reached home, and Dschemila's mother
came out to look for her daughter.
'What have you done with her?' she asked anxiously.
'We had to leave her in the wood,' they replied, 'for she had picked
up an iron mortar, and could not manage to carry it.'
So the old woman set off at once for the forest, calling to her
daughter as she hurried along.
'Do go home,' cried the townspeople, as they heard her; 'we will go
and look for your daughter; you are only a woman, and it is a task that
needs strong men.'
But she answered, 'Yes, go; but I will go with you! Perhaps it will
be only her corpse that we shall find after all. She has most likely
been stung by asps, or eaten by wild beasts.'
The men, seeing her heart was bent on it, said no more, but told one
of the girls she must come with them, and show them the place where
they had left Dschemila. They found the bundle of wood lying where she
had dropped it, but the maiden was nowhere to be seen.
'Dschemila! Dschemila!' cried they; but nobody answered.
'If we make a fire, perhaps she will see it,' said one of the men.
And they lit a fire, and then went, one this way, and one that, through
the forest, to look for her, whispering to each other that if she had
been killed by a lion they would be sure to find some trace of it; or
if she had fallen asleep, the sound of their voices would wake her; or
if a snake had bitten her, they would at least come on her corpse.
All night they searched, and when morning broke and they knew no
more than before what had become of the maiden, they grew weary, and
said to the mother: 'It is no use. Let us go home, nothing has happened
to your daughter, except that she has run away with a man.'
'Yes, I will come,' answered she, 'but I must first look in the
river. Perhaps some one has thrown her in there.' But the maiden was
not in the river.
For four days the father and mother waited and watched for their
child to come back; then they gave up hope, and said to each other:
'What is to be done? What are we to say to the man to whom Dschemila is
betrothed? Let us kill a goat, and bury its head in the grave, and when
the man returns we must tell him Dschemila is dead.'
Very soon the bridegroom came back, bringing with him carpets and
soft cushions for the house of his bride. And as he entered the town
Dschemila's father met him, saying, 'Greeting to you. She is dead.'
At these words the young man broke into loud cries, and it was some
time before he could speak. Then he turned to one of the crowd who had
gathered round him, and asked: 'Where have they buried her?'
'Come to the churchyard with me,' answered he; and the young man
went with him, carrying with him some of the beautiful things he had
brought. These he laid on the grass and then began to weep afresh. All
day he stayed, and at nightfall he gathered up his stuffs and carried
them to his own house. But when the day dawned he took them in his arms
and returned to the grave, where he remained as long as it was light,
playing softly on his flute. And this he did daily for six months.
One morning, a man who was wandering through the desert, having lost
his way, came upon a lonely castle. The sun was very hot, and the man
was very tired, so he said to himself, 'I will rest a little in the
shadow of this castle.' He stretched himself out comfortably, and was
almost asleep, when he heard a voice calling to him softly:
'Are you a ghost,' it said, 'or a man?'
He looked up, and saw a girl leaning out of a window, and he
'I am a man, and a better one, too, than your father or your
'May all good luck be with you,' said she; 'but what has brought you
into this land of ogres and horrors?'
'Does an ogre really live in this castle?' asked he.
'Certainly he does,' replied the girl, 'and as night is not far off
he will be here soon. So, dear friend, depart quickly, lest he return
and snap you up for supper.'
'But I am so thirsty! ' said the man. 'Be kind, and give me some
drink, or else I shall die! Surely, even in this desert there must be
'Well, I have noticed that whenever the ogre brings back water he
always comes from that side; so if you follow the same direction
perhaps you may find some.'
The man jumped up at once and was about to start, when the maiden
spoke again: 'Tell me, where are you going?'
'Why do you want to know?'
'I have an errand for you; but tell me first whether you go east or
'I travel to Damascus.'
'Then do this for me. As you pass through our village, ask for a man
called Dschemil, and say to him: “Dschemila greets you, from the
castle, which lies far away, and is rocked by the wind. In my grave
lies only a goat. So take heart.” '
And the man promised, and went his way, till he came to a spring of
water. And he drank a great draught and then lay on the bank and slept
quietly. When he woke he said to himself, 'The maiden did a good deed
when she told me where to find water. A few hours more, and I should
have been dead. So I will do her bidding, and seek out her native town
and the man for whom the message was given.'
For a whole month he travelled, till at last he reached the town
where Dschemil dwelt, and as luck would have it, there was the young
man sitting before his door with his beard unshaven and his shaggy hair
hanging over his eyes.
'Welcome, stranger,' said Dschemil, as the man stopped. 'Where have
you come from?'
'I come from the west, and go towards the east,' he answered.
'Well, stop with us awhile, and rest and eat!' said Dschemil. And
the man entered; and food was set before him, and he sat down with the
father of the maiden and her brothers, and Dschemil. Only Dschemil
himself was absent, squatting on the threshold.
'Why do you not eat too?' asked the stranger. But one of the young
men whispered hastily: 'Leave him alone. Take no notice! It is only at
night that he ever eats.'
So the stranger went on silently with his food. Suddenly one of
Dschemil's brothers called out and said: 'Dschemil, bring us some
water! ' And the stranger remembered his message and said:
'Is there a man here named “Dschemil”? I lost my way in the desert,
and came to a castle, and a maiden looked out of the window and . . . '
'Be quiet,' they cried, fearing that Dschemil might hear. But
Dschemil had heard, and came forward and said:
'What did you see? Tell me truly, or I will cut off your head this
'My lord,' replied the stranger, 'as I was wandering, hot and tired,
through the desert, I saw near me a great castle, and I said aloud, “I
will rest a little in its shadow.” And a maiden looked out of a window
and said, “Are you a ghost or a man? “And I answered, “I am a man, and
a better one, too, than your father or your grandfather.” And I was
thirsty and asked for water, but she had none to give me, and I felt
like to die. Then she told me that the ogre, in whose castle she dwelt,
brought in water always from the same side, and that if I too went that
way most likely I should come to it. But before I started she begged me
to go to her native town, and if I met a man called Dschemil I was to
say to him, “Dschemila greets you, from the castle which lies far away,
and is rocked by the wind. In my grave lies only a goat. So take
Then Dschemil turned to his family and said: 'Is this true? and is
Dschemila not dead at all, but simply stolen from her home?'
'No, no,' replied they, 'his story is a pack of lies. Dschemila is
really dead. Everybody knows it.'
'That I shall see for myself,' said Dschemil, and, snatching up a
spade, hastened off to the grave where the goat's head lay buried.
And they answered, 'Then hear what really happened. When you were
away, she went with the other maidens to the forest to gather wood. And
there she found an iron mortar, which she wished to bring home; but she
could not carry it, neither would she leave it. So the maidens returned
without her, and as night was come, we all set out to look for her, but
found nothing. And we said, “The bridegroom will be here to-morrow, and
when he learns that she is lost, he will set out to seek her, and we
shall lose him too. Let us kill a goat, and bury it in her grave, and
tell him she is dead.” Now you know, so do as you will. Only, if you go
to seek her, take with you this man with whom she has spoken that he
may show you the way.' 'Yes; that is the best plan,' replied Dschemil;
'so give me food, and hand me my sword, and we will set out directly.'
But the stranger answered: 'I am not going to waste a whole month in
leading you to the castle! If it were only a day or two's journey I
would not mind; but a month—no!'
'Come with me then for three days,' said Dschemil, 'and put me in
the right road, and I will reward you richly.'
'Very well,' replied the stranger, 'so let it be.'
For three days they travelled from sunrise to sunset, then the
stranger said: 'Dschemil?'
'Yes,' replied he.
'Go straight on till you reach a spring, then go on a little
farther, and soon you will see the castle standing before you.'
'So I will,' said Dschemil.
'Farewell, then,' said the stranger, and turned back the way he had
It was six and twenty days before Dschemil caught sight of a green
spot rising out of the sandy desert, and knew that the spring was near
at last. He hastened his steps, and soon was kneeling by its side,
drinking thirstily of the bubbling water. Then he lay down on the cool
grass, and began to think. 'If the man was right, the castle must be
somewhere about. I had better sleep here to-night, and to-morrow I
shall be able to see where it is.' So he slept long and peacefully.
When he awoke the sun was high, and he jumped up and washed his face
and hands in the spring, before going on his journey. He had not walked
far, when the castle suddenly appeared before him, though a moment
before not a trace of it could be seen. 'How am I to get in?' he
thought. 'I dare not knock, lest the ogre should hear me. Perhaps it
would be best for me to climb up the wall, and wait to see what will
happen. So he did, and after sitting on the top for about an hour, a
window above him opened, and a voice said: 'Dschemil!' He looked up,
and at the sight of Dschemila, whom he had so long believed to be dead,
he began to weep.
'Dear cousin,' she whispered, 'what has brought you here?'
'My grief at losing you.'
'Oh! go away at once. If the ogre comes back he will kill you.'
'I swear by your head, queen of my heart, that I have not found you
only to lose you again! If I must die, well, I must!'
'Oh, what can I do for you?'
'Anything you like!'
'If I let you down a cord, can you make it fast under your arms, and
'Of course I can,' said he.
So Dschemila lowered the cord, and Dschemil tied it round him, and
climbed up to her window. Then they embraced each other tenderly, and
burst into tears of joy.
'But what shall I do when the ogre returns?' asked she.
'Trust to me,' he said.
Now there was a chest in the room, where Dschemila kept her clothes.
And she made Dschemil get into it, and lie at the bottom, and told him
to keep very still.
He was only hidden just in time, for the lid was hardly closed when
the ogre's heavy tread was heard on the stairs. He flung open the door,
bringing men's flesh for himself and lamb's flesh for the maiden. 'I
smell the smell of a man!' he thundered. 'What is he doing here?'
'How could any one have come to this desert place?' asked the girl,
and burst into tears.
'Do not cry,' said the ogre; 'perhaps a raven has dropped some
scraps from his claws.'
'Ah, yes, I was forgetting,' answered she. 'One did drop some bones
'Well, burn them to powder,' replied the ogre, 'so that I may
So the maiden took some bones and burned them, and gave them to the
ogre, saying, ' Here is the powder, swallow it.'
And when he had swallowed the powder the ogre stretched himself out
and went to sleep.
In a little while the man's flesh, which the maiden was cooking for
the ogre's supper, called out and said:
A man lies in the kist! '
And the lamb's flesh answered:
'He is your brother,
And cousin of the other.'
The ogre moved sleepily, and asked, 'What did the meat say,
'Only that I must be sure to add salt.'
'Well, add salt.'
'Yes, I have done so,' said she.
The ogre was soon sound asleep again, when the man's flesh called
out a second time:
A man lies in the kist!'
And the lamb's flesh answered:
'He is your brother,
And cousin of the other.'
'What did it say, Dschemila?' asked the ogre.
'Only that I must add pepper.'
'Well, add pepper.'
'Yes, I have done so,' said she.
The ogre had had a long day's hunting, and could not keep himself
awake. In a moment his eyes were tight shut, and then the man's flesh
called out for the third time:
A man lies in the kist,'
And the lamb's flesh answered:
'He is your brother,
And cousin of the other.'
'What did it say, Dschemila?' asked the ogre.
'Only that it was ready, and that I had better take it off the
'Then if it is ready, bring it to me, and I will eat it.'
So she brought it to him, and while he was eating she supped off the
lamb's flesh herself, and managed to put some aside for her cousin.
When the ogre had finished, and had washed his hands, he said to
Dschemila: 'Make my bed, for I am tired.'
So she made his bed, and put a nice soft pillow for his head, and
tucked him up.
'Father,' she said suddenly.
'Well, what is it?'
'Dear father, if you are really asleep, why are your eyes always
'Why do you ask that, Dschemila? Do you want to deal treacherously
'No, of course not, father. How could I, and what would be the use
'Well, why do you want to know?'
'Because last night I woke up and saw the whole place shining in a
red light, which frightened me.'
'That happens when I am fast asleep.'
'And what is the good of the pin you always keep here so carefully?'
'If I throw that pin in front of me, it turns into an iron
'And this darning needle?'
'That becomes a sea.'
'And this hatchet?'
'That becomes a thorn hedge, which no one can pass through. But why
do you ask all these questions? I am sure you have something in your
'Oh, I just wanted to know; and how could anyone find me out here?'
and she began to cry.
'Oh, don't cry, I was only in fun,' said the ogre.
He was soon asleep again, and a yellow light shone through the
'Come quick!' called Dschemil from the chest; 'we must fly now while
the ogre is asleep.'
'Not yet,' she said, 'there is a yellow light shining. I don't think
he is asleep.'
So they waited for an hour. Then Dschemil whispered again: 'Wake up!
There is no time to lose!'
'Let me see if he is asleep,' said she, and she peeped in, and saw a
red light shining. Then she stole back to her cousin, and asked, 'But
how are we to get out?'
'Get the rope, and I will let you down.'
So she fetched the rope, the hatchet, and the pin and the needles,
and said, 'Take them, and put them in the pocket of your cloak, and be
sure not to lose them.'
Dschemil put them carefully in his pocket, and tied the rope round
her, and let her down over the wall.
'Are you safe?' he asked.
'Then untie the rope, so that I may draw it up.'
And Dschemila did as she was told, and in a few minutes he stood
Now all this time the ogre was asleep, and had heard nothing. Then
his dog came to him and said, 'O, sleeper, are you having pleasant
dreams? Dschemila has forsaken you and run away.'
The ogre got out of bed, gave the dog a kick, then went back again,
and slept till morning.
When it grew light, he rose, and called, 'Dschemila! Dschemila!' but
he only heard the echo of his own voice! Then he dressed himself
quickly; buckled on his sword and whistled to his dog, and followed the
road which he knew the fugitives must have taken. 'Cousin,' said
Dschemila suddenly, and turning round as she spoke.
'What is it?' answered he.
'The ogre is coming after us. I saw him.'
'But where is he? I don't see him.'
'Over there. He only looks about as tall as a needle.'
Then they both began to run as fast as they could, while the ogre
and his dog kept drawing always nearer. A few more steps, and he would
have been by their side, when Dschemila threw the darning needle behind
her. In a moment it became an iron mountain between them and their
'We will break it down, my dog and I,' cried the ogre in a rage, and
they dashed at the mountain till they had forced a path through, and
came ever nearer and nearer.
'Cousin! ' said Dschemila suddenly.
'What is it?'
'The ogre is coming after us with his dog.'
'You go on in front then,' answered he; and they both ran on as fast
as they could, while the ogre and the dog drew always nearer and
'They are close upon us! ' cried the maiden, glancing behind, 'you
must throw the pin.'
So Dschemil took the pin from his cloak and threw it behind him, and
a dense thicket of thorns sprang up round them, which the ogre and his
dog could not pass through.
'I will get through it somehow, if I burrow underground,' cried he,
and very soon he and the dog were on the other side.
'Cousin,' said Dschemila, 'they are close to us now.'
'Go on in front, and fear nothing,' replied Dschemil.
So she ran on a little way, and then stopped.
'He is only a few yards away now,' she said, and Dschemil flung the
hatchet on the ground, and it turned into a lake.
'I will drink, and my dog shall drink, till it is dry,' shrieked the
ogre, and the dog drank so much that it burst and died. But the ogre
did not stop for that, and soon the whole lake was nearly dry. Then he
exclaimed, 'Dschemila, let your head become a donkey's head, and your
But when it was done, Dschemil looked at her in horror, and said, '
She is really a donkey, and not a woman at all! '
And he left her, and went home.
For two days poor Dschemila wandered about alone, weeping bitterly.
When her cousin drew near his native town, he began to think over his
conduct, and to feel ashamed of himself.
'Perhaps by this time she has changed back to her proper shape,' he
said to himself, 'I will go and see!'
So he made all the haste he could, and at last he saw her seated on
a rock, trying to keep off the wolves, who longed to have her for
dinner. He drove them off and said, 'Get up, dear cousin, you have had
a narrow escape.'
Dschemila stood up and answered, 'Bravo, my friend. You persuaded me
to fly with you, and then left me helplessly to my fate.'
'Shall I tell you the truth?' asked he.
'I thought you were a witch, and I was afraid of you.'
'Did you not see me before my transformation? and did you not watch
it happen under your very eyes, when the ogre bewitched me?'
'What shall I do?' said Dschemil. 'If I take you into the town,
everyone will laugh, and say, “Is that a new kind of toy you have got?
It has hands like a woman, feet like a woman, the body of a woman; but
its head is the head of an ass, and its hair is fur.” '
'Well, what do you mean to do with me?' asked Dschemila. 'Better
take me home to my mother by night, and tell no one anything about it.'
'So I will,' said he.
They waited where they were till it was nearly dark, then Dschemil
brought his cousin home.
'Is that Dschemil?' asked the mother when he knocked softly.
'Yes, it is.'
'And have you found her?'
'Yes, and I have brought her to you.'
'Oh, where is she? let me see her!' cried the mother.
'Here, behind me,' answered Dschemil.
But when the poor woman caught sight of her daughter, she shrieked,
and exclaimed, 'Are you making fun of me? When did I ever give birth to
'Hush!' said Dschemil, 'it is not necessary to let the whole world
know! And if you look at her body, you will see two scars on it.'
'Mother,' sobbed Dschemila, 'do you really not know your own
'Yes, of course I know her.'
'What are her two scars then?'
'On her thigh is a scar from the bite of a dog, and on her breast is
the mark of a burn, where she pulled a lamp over her when she was
'Then look at me, and see if I am not your daughter,' said
Dschemila, throwing off her clothes and showing her two scars.
And at the sight her mother embraced her, weeping.
'Dear daughter,' she cried, 'what evil fate has befallen you?'
'It was the ogre who carried me off first, and then bewitched me,'
'But what is to be done with you?' asked her mother.
'Hide me away, and tell no one anything about me. And you, dear
cousin, say nothing to the neighbours, and if they should put
questions, you can make answer that I have not yet been found.'
'So I will,' replied he.
Then he and her mother took her upstairs and hid her in a cupboard,
where she stayed for a whole month, only going out to walk when all the
world was asleep.
Meanwhile Dschemil had returned to his own home, where his father
and mother, his brothers and neighbours, greeted him joyfully.
'When did you come back?' said they, 'and have you found Dschemila?'
'No, I searched the whole world after her, and could hear nothing of
'Did you part company with the man who started with you?'
'Yes; after three days he got so weak and useless he could not go
on. It must be a month by now since he reached home again. I went on
and visited every castle, and looked in every house. But there were no
signs of her; and so I gave it up.'
And they answered him: 'We told you before that it was no good. An
ogre or an ogress must have snapped her up, and how can you expect to
'I loved her too much to be still,' he said.
But his friends did not understand, and soon they spoke to him again
'We will seek for a wife for you. There are plenty of girls prettier
'I dare say; but I don't want them.'
'But what will you do with all the cushions and carpets, and
beautiful things you bought for your house?'
'They can stay in the chests.'
'But the moths will eat them! For a few weeks, it is of no
consequence, but after a year or two they will be quite useless.'
'And if they have to lie there ten years I will have Dschemila, and
her only, for my wife. For a month, or even two months, I will rest
here quietly. Then I will go and seek her afresh.'
'Oh, you are quite mad! Is she the only maiden in the world? There
are plenty of others better worth having than she is.'
'If there are I have not seen them! And why do you make all this
fuss? Every man knows his own business best.
'Why, it is you who are making all the fuss yourself.'
But Dschemil turned and went into the house, for he did not want to
Three months later a Jew, who was travelling across the desert, came
to the castle, and laid himself down under the wall to rest.
In the evening the ogre saw him there and said to him, 'Jew, what
are you doing here? Have you anything to sell?'
'I have only some clothes,' answered the Jew, who was in mortal
terror of the ogre.
'Oh, don't be afraid of me,' said the ogre, laughing. 'I shall not
eat you. Indeed, I mean to go a bit of the way with you myself.'
'I am ready, gracious sir,' replied the Jew, rising to his feet.
'Well, go straight on till you reach a town, and in that town you
will find a maiden called Dschemila and a young man called Dschemil.
Take this mirror and this comb with you, and say to Dschemila, “Your
father, the ogre, greets you, and begs you to look at your face in this
mirror, and it will appear as it was before, and to comb your hair with
this comb, and it will be as formerly.” If you do not carry out my
orders, I will eat you the next time we meet.'
'Oh, I will obey you punctually,' cried the Jew.
After thirty days the Jew entered the gate of the town, and sat down
in the first street he came to, hungry, thirsty, and very tired.
Quite by chance, Dschemil happened to pass by, and seeing a man
sitting there, full in the glare of the sun, he stopped, and said, '
Get up at once, Jew; you will have a sunstroke if you sit in such a
'Ah, good sir,' replied the Jew, 'for a whole month I have been
travelling, and I am too tired to move.'
'Which way did you come?' asked Dschemil.
'From out there,' answered the Jew pointing behind him.
'And you have been travelling for a month, you say? Well, did you
see anything remarkable?'
'Yes, good sir; I saw a castle, and lay down to rest under its
shadow. And an ogre woke me, and told me to come to this town, where I
should find a young man called Dschemil, and a girl called Dschemila.'
'My name is Dschemil. What does the ogre want with me?'
'He gave me some presents for Dschemila. How can I see her?'
'Come with me, and you shall give them into her own hands.'
So the two went together to the house of Dschemil's uncle, and
Dschemil led the Jew into his aunt's room.
'Aunt!' he cried, 'this Jew who is with me has come from the ogre,
and has brought with him, as presents, a mirror and a comb which the
ogre has sent her.'
'But it may be only some wicked trick on the part of the ogre,' said
'Oh, I don't think so,' answered the young man, 'give her the
Then the maiden was called, and she came out of her hiding place,
and went up to the Jew, saying, 'Where have you come from, Jew?'
'From your father the ogre.'
'And what errand did he send you on?'
'He told me I was to give you this mirror and this comb, and to say
“Look in this mirror, and comb your hair with this comb, and both will
become as they were formerly.” '
And Dschemila took the mirror and looked into it, and combed her
hair with the comb, and she had no longer an ass's head, but the face
of a beautiful maiden.
Great was the joy of both mother and cousin at this wonderful sight,
and the news that Dschemila had returned soon spread, and the
neighbours came flocking in with greetings.
'When did you come back?'
'My cousin brought me.'
'Why, he told us he could not find you! '
'Oh, I did that on purpose,' answered Dschemil. 'I did not want
everyone to know.'
Then he turned to his father and his mother, his brothers and his
sisters-in-law, and said, 'We must set to work at once, for the wedding
will be to-day.'
A beautiful litter was prepared to carry the bride to her new home,
but she shrank back, saying, 'I am afraid, lest the ogre should carry
me off again.'
'How can the ogre get at you when we are all here?' they said.
'There are two thousand of us all told, and every man has his sword.'
'He will manage it somehow,' answered Dschemila, 'he is a powerful
'She is right,' said an old man. 'Take away the litter, and let her
go on foot if she is afraid.'
'But it is absurd!' exclaimed the rest; 'how can the ogre get hold
'I will not go,' said Dschemila again. 'You do not know that
monster; I do.'
And while they were disputing the bridegroom arrived.
'Let her alone. She shall stay in her father's house. After all, I
can live here, and the wedding feast shall be made ready.'
And so they were married at last, and died without having had a
[Marehen und Gedichte aus der Stadt Tripolis,]
Janni and the Draken
Once there was a man who shunned the world, and lived in the
wilderness. He owned nothing but a flock of sheep, whose milk and wool
he sold, and so procured himself bread to eat; he also carried wooden
spoons, and sold them. He had a wife and one little girl, and after a
long time his wife had another child. The evening it was born the man
went to the nearest village to fetch a nurse, and on the way he met a
monk who begged him for a night's lodging. This the man willingly
granted, and took him home with him. There being no one far nor near to
baptize the child, the man asked the monk to do him this service, and
the child was given the name of Janni.
In the course of time Janni's parents died, and he and his sister
were left alone in the world; soon affairs went badly with them, so
they determined to wander away to seek their fortune. In packing up,
the sister found a knife which the monk had left for his godson, and
this she gave to her brother.
Then they went on their way, taking with them the three sheep which
were all that remained of their flocks. After wandering for three days
they met a man with three dogs who proposed that they should exchange
animals, he taking the sheep, and they the dogs. The brother and sister
were quite pleased at this arrangement, and after the exchange was made
they separated, and went their different ways.
Janni and his sister in course of time came to a great castle, in
which dwelt forty Draken, who, when they heard that Janni had come,
fled forty fathoms underground.
So Janni found the castle deserted, and abode there with his sister,
and every day went out to hunt with the weapons the Draken had left in
One day, when he was away hunting, one of the Draken came up to get
provisions, not knowing that there was anyone in the castle. When he
saw Janni's sister he was terrified, but she told him not to be afraid,
and by-and-by they fell in love with each other, for every time that
Janni went to hunt the sister called the Drakos up. Thus they went on
making love to each other till at length, unknown to Janni, they got
married. Then, when it was too late, the sister repented, and was
afraid of Janni's wrath when he found it out.
One day the Drakos came to her, and said: 'You must pretend to be
ill, and when Janni asks what ails you, and what you want, you must
answer: “Cherries,” and when he inquires where these are to be found,
you must say: “There are some in a garden a day's journey from here.”
Then your brother will go there, and will never come back, for there
dwell three of my brothers who will look after him well.'
Then the sister did as the Drakos advised, and next day Janni set
out to fetch the cherries, taking his three dogs with him. When he came
to the garden where the cherries grew he jumped off his horse, drank
some water from the spring, which rose there, and fell directly into a
deep sleep. The Draken came round about to eat him, but the dogs flung
themselves on them and tore them in pieces, and scratched a grave in
the ground with their paws, and buried the Draken so that Janni might
not see their dead bodies. When Janni awoke, and saw his dogs all
covered with blood, he believed that they had caught, somewhere, a wild
beast, and was angry because they had left none of it for him. But he
plucked the cherries, and took them back to his sister.
When the Drakos heard that Janni had come back, he fled for fear
forty fathoms underground. And the sister ate the cherries and declared
herself well again.
The next day, when Janni was gone to hunt, the Drakos came out, and
advised the sister that she should pretend to be ill again, and when
her brother asked her what she would like, she should answer 'Quinces,'
and when he inquired where these were to be found, she should say: 'In
a garden distant about two days' journey.' Then would Janni certainly
be destroyed, for there dwelt six brothers of the Drakos, each of whom
had two heads.
The sister did as she was advised, and next day Janni again set off,
taking his three dogs with him. When he came to the garden he
dismounted, sat down to rest a little, and fell fast asleep. First
there came three Draken round about to eat him, and when these three
had been worried by the dogs, there came three others who were worried
in like manner. Then the dogs again dug a grave and buried the dead
Draken, that their master might not see them. When Janni awoke and
beheld the dogs all covered with blood, he thought, as before, that
they had killed a wild beast, and was again angry with them for leaving
him nothing. But he took the quinces and brought them back to his
sister, who, when she had eaten them, declared herself better. The
Drakos, when he heard that Janni had come back, fled for fear forty
fathoms deeper underground.
Next day, when Janni was hunting, the Drakos went to the sister and
advised that she should again pretend to be ill, and should beg for
some pears, which grew in a garden three days' journey from the castle.
From this quest Janni would certainly never return, for there dwelt
nine brothers of the Drakos, each of whom had three heads.
The sister did as she was told, and next day Janni, taking his three
dogs with him, went to get the pears. When he came to the garden he
laid himself down to rest, and soon fell asleep.
Then first came three Draken to eat him, and when the dogs had
worried these, six others came and fought the dogs a long time. The
noise of this combat awoke Janni, and he slew the Draken, and knew at
last why the dogs were covered with blood.
After that he freed all whom the Draken held prisoners, amongst
others, a king's daughter. Out of gratitude she would have taken him
for her husband; but he put her off, saying: 'For the kindness that I
have been able to do to you, you shall receive in this castle all the
blind and lame who pass this way.' The princess promised him to do so,
and on his departure gave him a ring.
So Janni plucked the pears and took them to his sister, who, when
she had eaten them, declared she felt better. When, however, the Drakos
heard that Janni had come back yet a third time safe and sound, he fled
for fright forty fathoms deeper underground; and, next day, when Janni
was away hunting, he crept out and said to the sister: 'Now are we
indeed both lost, unless you find out from him wherein his strength
lies, and then between us we will contrive to do away with him.'
When, therefore, Janni had come back from hunting, and sat at
evening with his sister by the fire, she begged him to tell her wherein
lay his strength, and he answered: 'It lies in my two fingers; if these
are bound together then all my strength disappears.'
'That I will not believe,' said the sister, 'unless I see it for
Then he let her tie his fingers together with a thread, and
immediately he became powerless. Then the sister called up the Drakos,
who, when he had come forth, tore out Janni's eyes, gave them to his
dogs to eat, and threw him into a dry well.
Now it happened that some travellers, going to draw water from this
well, heard Janni groaning at the bottom. They came near, and asked him
where he was, and he begged them to draw him up from the well, for he
was a poor unfortunate man.
The travellers let a rope down and drew him up to daylight. It was
not till then that he first became aware that he was blind, and he
begged the travellers to lead him to the country of the king whose
daughter he had freed, and they would be well repaid for their trouble.
When they had brought him there he sent to beg the princess to come
to him; but she did not recognise him till he had shown her the ring
she had given him.
Then she remembered him, and took him with her into the castle.
When she learnt what had befallen him she called together all the
sorceresses in the country in order that they should tell her where the
eyes were. At last she found one who declared that she knew where they
were, and that she could restore them. This sorceress then went
straight to the castle where dwelt the sister and the Drakos, and gave
something to the dogs to eat which caused the eyes to reappear. She
took them with her and put them back in Janni's head, so that he saw as
well as before.
Then he returned to the castle of the Drakos, whom he slew as well
as his sister; and, taking his dogs with him, went back to the princess
and they were immediately married.