Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/218

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King Midas and his Ass's Ears.

indiscretion was put to death, and on his tomb grew an elder-tree. The piper broke off one of its branches to repair his instruments.[1]

Passing from the Celtic area, we have the tale of the king of West Friesland, named Richard Arundel, who, from his enormously long ears, was called King Ass-ears. He was of mighty stature, and had to wife a giantess, the daughter of a giant from Albion, by whom he had two children, a son named Lord Falcon, and a daughter who subsequently became queen of Friesland. Later on the tale diverges into other particulars, but adds nothing relevant to the subject.[2]

From Portugal comes the story of the childless king to whom three fairies promise a son. The first enchants him to be the most beautiful prince in the world; the second, that he should excel in virtue and wisdom; the third, that he should have the ears of an ass, to conceal which deformity the king provides him with a cap, and, when the prince's beard begins to grow, threatens the barber with death if he dares to betray the secret. The barber keeps his promise for a time; but one day he told his confessor that he knew a secret; if he did not tell it, he would surely die; if he told it, the king would kill him. So he asked the advice of the holy man, who advised him to go to a valley, dig a hole in the ground, and whisper the secret into it as often as necessary until he felt relieved; then he was to cover up the hole with earth. He followed this advice, and returned home feeling much easier in his mind. By and by a thicket of canes grew up over the hole which the barber had dug. Some shepherds cut the canes to make their pipes, which when they played them gave out no other sounds but "The prince has the ears of an ass." The king heard of this, and sent for the shepherds

  1. Revue des Traditions Populaires, vol. vii., p. 357.
  2. Wolf, Niederländische Sagen, p, 9, citing old Frisian and Dutch chronicles.