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The essence of the tale consists in the Menial
Hero--Three Tasks--Master-Maid Help--Obstacles to Pursuit--Oblivion
Kiss--False Bride--Sale of Bed--Happy Marriage. In essentials this is
the story of Jason and Medea, where we have the Tasks, the Pursuit,
and the False Bride, though the dramatic genius of the Greeks has
given a tragic ending to the tale. Lang, in his _Custom and Myth_, pp.
87-102, has pointed out parallels, not alone in modern folk-tales,
like Grimm 92, Campbell 2, Dasent 11, and Basile 11, but even in
Madagascar (_Folk-Lore Journal_, Aug., 1883), and Samoa (Turner 102)
while the Flight and Obstacles are found in Japan and Zululand. Even
in America there is the Algonquin form of the Tasks (School-craft,
Algic Researches ii., 94-104), and the Flight is given in an
interesting article in the _Century Magazine_, 1884. According to
Lang's general views, he seems to regard these incidents as being
universally human and having no affiliation with one another, though
he entitles his essay, "A Far Travelled Tale."

The modern Folk-Tales, however, make it practically impossible that
these at least could have arisen independently. Many of them have an
introductory set of incidents, Jephtha-Vow, Herd-Boy, Shepherd-Boy,
Prince; this I have adopted in my version. But besides this the Tasks
are often identical, Cleaning Stable (Dasent, Campbell), Finger-Ladder
(Campbell, trace in Cosquin 32), Building Castle (Grimm 113, Hahn 54);
the Oblivion Kiss occurs in Scotland, Germany, Spain, Tyrol, Tuscany,
Sicily, and Rome, all in connection with similar stories.

The tale has been especially popular in Celtdom. I have enumerated no
less than fourteen versions in my notes on the "Battle of the Birds"
(_Celtic Fairy Tales_, p. 265). There we have the Obstacles to Pursuit
mainly in the form of forest, mountain, and river, which the late Mr.
Alfred Nutt pointed out to be the natural boundaries of the
Nether-World in Teutonic Paganism. It is, therefore, possible that our
story has been "contaminated" or influenced by the notion of the
"Descent to Hell."

Here, as in the parallel case of Cupid and Psyche, we find a classical
story, with many of the incidents clearly reproduced in modern
Folk-Tales, while others have been inserted to make the tale longer or
more of the folk-tale character.

At the same time the story as a _whole_ is found spread from America
to Samoa, from India to Scotland, with indubitable signs of being the
same story dressed up according to local requirements. The Master-Maid
is, accordingly, one of the most instructive of all folk-tales, from
the point of view of the problem of diffusion.


This droll, in its two parts, occurs throughout Europe as has been
shown by Cosquin in his elaborate Notes to No. 22. The Visitor from
Paradise, for example, occurs in Brittany, Germany, Norway, and
Sweden, England, Roumania, Tyrol, and Ireland. In some of the versions
the silly wife gives some household treasure to a passer-by because
her husband had said that he was keeping this for Christmas, for
Easter, or for "Hereafterthis" and the Visitor claims it in that name.
(See _More English Fairy Tales_.) The idea also occurs in the
literature of jests in Pauli, 1519, Hans Sachs, and in _Trésor du
Ridicule_, Paris, 1644. Cosquin has also traced it to Ceylon,
_Orientalist_, 1884, p. 62.

The adventure of the door and the robbers is equally widely spread in
Normandy, Germany, Austria, Bosnia, Rome, Catalonia, and Sicily.
(Gonz., i., 251-2.) It forms part of the tale of "Mr. Vinegar" in
_English Fairy Tales_. The two adventures are, however, rarely
combined; Cosquin knows of only two instances. I have, however,
ventured to combine them here instead of making two separate tales of

In telling the story one has to slur over the pronunciation of
"Paradise," making the last vowel short, so as to explain the
misunderstanding about "Paris." I have retained the Paris _motif_ as
all through the Middle Ages, wayfarers from and to Paris (wandering
scholars or clerics) would be familiar sights to the peasantry
throughout Europe.

Bolte gives in full (ii., 441-6) a Latin poem by Wickram in 1509
entitled, "De Barta et marito eius per studentem Parisiensem
subtiliter deceptis," which is practically identical with the early
part of our story and has this misunderstanding about Paris and
Paradise. It accordingly occurs in most of the German books of Drolls
as those by Bebel and Pauli, and it is possible that the folk
versions were derived from this, though they stretch as far as Cairo
and North India. See Clouston, _Book of Noodles_, pp. 205, 214. In
some of the folk-tales, there is an introduction in which the Foolish
Wife sells three cows, but keeps one of the three as a pledge.
Thereupon her husband leaves her until he can find any one as silly,
which he does by posing as a Visitor from Paradise. This is more
suitable for an introduction for "The Three Sillies."


This story is one of the most interesting in the study of the popular
diffusion of tales, and I therefore give it here though I have given
an excellent version from Temple and Steel in _Indian Fairy Tales_,
ix., "The Tiger, the Brahman, and the Jackal," and have there
discussed the original form. Its interest, from the point of view of
diffusion, lies in the fact that it occurs in India, both early (see
Benfey, i., 117) and late (Temple, 12, Frere, 14), in Greece, both
classical (Ĉsopic fable of the serpent in the bosom) and modern (Hahn,
87, Schmidt, p. 3), and in the earliest mediĉval collection of popular
tales by Petrus Alfonsi (_Disciplina clericalis_, vii.), as well as in
the Reynard cycle. Besides these quasi-literary sources ranging over
more than two thousand years, there are innumerable folk-versions
collected in the last century and ranging from Burmah (Semeaton, _The
Karens_, 128) to America (Harris, _Uncle Remus_, 86). These are all
enumerated by Professor Krohn in an elaborate dissertation, "Mann und
Fuchs" (Helsingfors, 1891). In essentials the trick by which the
fisherman gets the djin inside the bottle again, in the first story
within the frame of the _Arabian Nights_ (adapted so admirably by Mr.
Anstey in his _Brass Bottle_), is practically the same device. Richard
I. is said, by Matthew Paris (ed. Luard, ii., 413-16), to have told
the nobles of England, after his return from captivity in the East, a
similar apologue proving the innate ingratitude of man. This is
derived from the Karma Jataka, which was possibly the ultimate source
of the whole series of tales.

Amid all these hundred variants there is one common idea, that of the
ingratitude of a rescued animal (crocodile, snake, tiger, etc.), which
is thwarted by its being placed back in the situation from which it
was rescued. In some cases the bystander who restores equilibrium is
alone; in most instances there are three of them; the first two having
suffered from man's ingratitude see no reason for interfering. This is
the "common form" which I have adopted in my version. In India the
sufferer from ingratitude is sometimes a tree (a mulberry tree, in
_Indian Fairy Tales_), but the European versions prefer horses or

Now it is obvious that such an artificial apologue on man's
ingratitude could not have been invented twice for that particular
purpose; and thus the hundred different versions (to which Dr. Bolte
could probably add another century) must all, in the last resort, have
emanated from a single source. When and where that original was
concocted is one of the most interesting problems of folk-tale
diffusion; the moralizing tendency of the tale, the animistic note
underlying it, all point to India, where we find it in the Bidpai
literature before the Christian era and current among the folk at the
present day. The case for Indian origin is strongest for drolls of
this kind.

I may add that the ingratitude of the man towards the fox at the end
is not so universal a tail piece to the story as the rest of it, and
is ultimately derived from the Reynard cycle, in which I have also
introduced it (see "Bruin and Reynard").

But it occurs in many of the variants and comes in so appropriately
that I thought it desirable to add it also here. The substitution of
a dog for something else desired also occurs in the story of the
Hobyahs in _More English Fairy Tales_, where Mr. Batten's released dog
is so fierce (p. 125) that it drives one of the Hobyahs over on to the
next page belonging to altogether another story.


I have followed Bolte's formula "Anmerkungen" 45, keeping however as
far as possible to the alternatives nearest to Basile, iv., 9, and
where that fails making use of the Grimms' "Faithful John," No. 6, one
of their best told tales. The story is popular in Italy where Crane,
344, refers to six other versions. It is also found in Greece (Hahn
29), and Roumania (Schott, p. 144), and indeed throughout the east of
Europe. Traces of it in British Isles are but slight.

In India, however, there are a number of very close parallels (Day,
17-52; Knowles, 421-41; Frere, 98; and Somadeva; edit. Tawney, i.,
519, ii., 251, which contains the similar story of Vivara the True);
Benfey, i., 417, draws attention to other Oriental traits in the story
and aptly compares the half-marble figure of the King of the Black
Islands in the Arabian Nights. The probabilities of an Indian origin
for this formula are rendered greater by the early age of the
Pantschatantra and Somadeva parallels.

On the other hand the sacrifice of the children for the faithful
servant has its closest parallel in the old French romance of Amis and
Amilun, where Amis smears Amilun with the blood of his child to cure
him of leprosy. The analogy is so close as almost to force the
assumption of derivation. Koehler accordingly in his _Aufsaetze_,
1894, pp. 24-35, regards the tale as a development of the Indian story
influenced by the romance of Amis.


I have followed Bolte's formula s. v. Hansel and Gretel, 15, i., 115,
though with some misgivings.

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