Athanas'ev, Russian Folk-Tales. Moscow, 1861. Part v. No. XXXVIII.
Three sons sent in turn to watch wheat-field at night; two elder fall asleep, and wheat is stolen; youngest son catches bird, and no wheat is missing. Elder sons take bird from hero, and show it to father, who sells it to king. Bird locked in cell, key of which queen keeps. Prince steals key and liberates bird, who is really brass-man. Prince convicted of theft of key; sewn up in pigskin, and turned out-- Hero disguise (pigskin)-- Brass-man aid-- Menial hero (cook's assistant at palace)-- War breaks out, three successive years; hero, thrice equipped by brass man, slays the enemy with magic sword; returns, and dons pig skin, and plays with (1) silver apple, (2) gold apple, (3) "sun" apple, which he gives to princess, who craves them. Hero is wounded in third war; king binds his arm with his own handkerchief; and gives him ring-- Recognition-- Happy marriage.
(1) Gentleman has three sons; the youngest is a stupid. He sends eldest son to watch in field of wheat, for every night one morga of wheat is eaten. Eldest son falls asleep, and next morning a morga of wheat has gone. Same thing happens next night, when second son is sent to watch. Youngest son takes care to sleep by day, and stays awake on third night when sent to field. A bird comes; he catches it and puts it in a bag, then goes to sleep.-- (2) Nest morning elder brothers find him sleeping, nevertheless none of the wheat has been destroyed. They make him explain how this is; he shows the bird, and they take it from him and give it to father, saying that they caught it, and that youngest brother is a sleepy-head.-- (3) Father sells bird to king, who locks it in cell and gives key to wife. Prince goes to door of cell, and bird asks hi to set it free, bidding him steal key from mother's neck whilst embracing her.1 Prince does so, and liberates bird, who is really a little brass-man, the guardian of buried treasure. He tells prince to summon him when needing help.-- (4) Next day people come at king's bidding to see wonderful bird; but cellar is empty. Queen asserts her innocence, but is condemned to death. She remembers that prince may have stolen key. Visitors say he should be hanged, others that he should be drowned.-- (5) Eventually he is sewn up in a pig-skin and turned out into the world. Mother gives him gold and silver. He summons brass-man, who bids him go beyond the sea and get hired as cook to a certain king. A war will break out, and he must ask leave to go and watch the battle, and, when outside the gates, call the brass-man. Hero serves two years as cook's assistant at palace; then war breaks out. He bribes cook and gets leave. Brass-man equips him, gives him horse, a magic sword which will slay all the enemy, and a silver apple. The king will afterwards invite him to palace; he must decline to go. All happens as foretold. Hero dons pig-skin and plays with silver apple, which princess, seeing, longs to possess.-- (7) Next year another war breaks out. All happens as before. Hero gets a gold apple, which he afterwards gives princess.-- (8) The third year, a third war; hero gets apple like the sun, he is wounded; king binds up his arm with his own handkerchief, giving unknown hero his ring as reward.-- (9) Hero dons pig-skin and describes battle to other servants in kitchen, and tells of the strange knight who defeated the enemy, was wounded and received king's ring, etc. He gives also the third apple to princess.-- (10) Eventually he makes himself known to her and marries her.
(P. 448.) For the incident of stealing the key and liberating
the bird, compare Thorpe's "Princess on the Glass Mountain",
pp. 86-94; Grundtvig, Danische Volksmärchen, i, 228; Zingerle (Tyrol),
i, 28; Deulin, Contes du Roi Cambrinus, ii, 151; Webster, p. 22;
Roméro, No. 8; and Grimm, No.
136, "Iron John" (which is a variant of the whole story
given by Athanas'ev).
Cox, Marian Roalfe. Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes, abstracted and tabulated. London: David Nutt for the Folklore Society, 1893.
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