Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/216

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1 86 Kino- Midas and his Ass's Ears.


This tale, with sundry characteristic embellishments, has come down to our day as " The King with the Horse's Ears" in Patrick Kennedy's collection.^^ Sir John Rhys ^^ gives the Welsh version which is told of March (or Parch) Amheirchion, one of the warriors of King Arthur, who had horse's ears. Lest anybody should know of this, he used to slay every barber who shaved his beard. In the place where their bodies were buried reeds grew up, and, when some- body cut one to make a pipe, it would utter no other sound than " March Amheirchion has horse's ears." The warrior would have slain the unfortunate maker of the pipe had it not been that he himself could not make the instrument produce any other sound. But, when he learnt where the reed had grown, he made no further effort to conceal the murders or his deformity.

In a different form the tale appears in the versions from Brittany. In one of these a Seigneur, lord of the desolate rock of Karn, near Portzall, used to subject his vassals to oppressive feudal dues, which even extended to the supply of barbers to cut his hair. None of these, after their work was done, ever returned to the mainland. At length an intrepid youth named Losthouarn undertook to deliver the Seigneur's vassals from his oppression. When the Seigneur removed his head-gear before him, the youth observed that he had ears like those of a horse. Without betraying any surprise he began his work, but he soon came to the con- clusion that this accounted for the disappearance of his comrades. So he seized the opportunity and cut off the Seigneur's head with a vigorous sweep of his razor. Then he passed through the guards, who were no little surprised that he was allowed to return, and rejoined his friends safe and sound.^^ Mr. E. S. Hartland, to whom I am indebted for this reference and others included in this paper,^* informs

" Kennedy, Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts, ed. 1 89 1, pp. 2ig et seq.

^ Celtic Folklore, Welsh and Mattx, vol. i., pp. 233 et seq.

^^ Revue des Traditions Populaires, vol. i., p. 327. ^* Notes 17, 18, 20, 23.