Page:The Grateful Dead.djvu/64

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48
The Grateful Dead.

Later he demands his half of the woman, and takes a sword to cut her asunder, when she screams and disgorges the dragon's body. The ghost then explains the situation and disappears.[1]

With the Siberian variant some very important modifications enter. A soldier buys a picture of the Saviour from a peasant and maltreats it. A merchant's son then buys it out of reverence and takes it to his mother. Later he helps an old man on a raft and goes with him to market. There he meets the daughter of a priest and, by the advice of his friend, marries her. When the old man strikes her with a whip, she splits open, and the devil comes out. She is put together again by the mysterious companion, and accompanies them home, where the old man asks for a division of the gains they have made together. Again he divides the woman. After she has been burned, she is found living and purified. Then the old man says that he is God and departs.

This tale, found among the Turkish race of southern Siberia, has transformed the opening incident altogether. For the burial of the corpse it substitutes a good deed, which is entirely different from the original trait. Yet it is evident that we have to do with The Grateful Dead, after all, since the divine image is rescued from senseless contumely and God himself appears in the role of the thankful ghost. It is evident also that the theme is combined with The Poison Maiden. Though we do not hear of any misadventures of other men with the priest's daughter, the marvels which attend her purification indicate the danger in which the hero stood.

Russian I. is likewise peculiar in several respects. The younger of two brothers angers his parents by going

  1. Paspati's tale on pp. 605 ff. also has a dragon slain on a wedding right by a youth, who keeps watch. This single trait in a totally different setting must be borrowed from a Gypsy form of the simple or compound theme.