Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/51

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


tree and sang the song, and as a reward for re-singing it had the millstone put round its neck as a collar. After that the bird flew to the house of the stepmother, and rattled the millstone against the eaves. Said the stepmother, "It thunders." Then the little boy ran out to hear the thunder, and down dropped the red shoes at his feet. Next out ran the father, and down fell the chain about his neck. Lastly, out ran the stepmother, and down fell the millstone on her head and she died.

This story must be older than the dispersion of the Aryan race, though, of course, it has undergone modifications. It is found among Greek folktales, also in Scotland as "the milk-white dove," also in Hungary, and in Southern France.

In Faust mad Gretchen in prison sings a snatch of this as a ballad.

I have given the tale at length, because it illustrates so fully what is the point now being insisted on. The bird is the transmigrated little girl. But that is not all. The dog that carries away the bunches of candles is the cruel stepmother who, in life, has transformed herself in this manner.

For as human souls after death go into the bodies of birds or beasts, so can they during life shift their quarters. This is the origin