Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/187

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[No. 2.]

Title of Story.—The Story of the Youth who went forth to learn what Fear was.

Dramatis Personæ.— Father, two sons.— Sexton, his wife.— Man.— Seven corpses.— Waggoner.— Host, hostess.—King, king's daughter.—Black Cats.—Black Dogs.—Men in halves, other spectral Men.— Six Coffin-bearers, corpse.—Fiendish old man.—Waiting-maid.

Abstract of Story.—(l) a man has two sons, the younger stupid and intractable, but knowing no fear, and hence unable to understand why others shudder at stories that do not stir him. Father insists he must learn to support himself, but boy's only desire is to learn how to shudder. (2) Sexton hearing this offers to take him in hand. Sends him at midnight to ring bell in church-tower, hides there himself, and impersonates ghost. Boy receiving no answer to his three questions pushes ghost down stairs, and returns to his bed at sexton's house. Sexton's wife anxious at husband's prolonged absence, wakes boy and makes enquiries, which lead to her finding sexton, whose leg is broken. (3) She complains to father, who scolds boy and starts him into the world with fifty thalers, and with injunctions to tell no one of his country or parentage. (4) Boy sets forth. Man walking behind overhears his wish that he could learn to shudder, and directs him forthwith to gallows, there to pass night. Boy promises to give him fifty thalers if his wish is fulfilled. He lights a fire beneath gallows, unbinds the seven corpses and sets them round fire to warm themselves. Flames catch their clothes, and boy, angry because they do not save them from burning, hangs corpses up on gallows again, and then goes to sleep. Next morning man returns and finds he cannot claim the fifty thalers. (5) Boy goes on his way muttering the same wish, and is overheard by waggoner, who enquires in vain his father's name and whence he comes, then takes him to an inn where they arrive at nightfall. On entering, boy exclaims, "If I could but shudder!" Host says there is good opportunity here of learning how, but hostess tries to silence him, saying it were pity for boy to lose his life as so many others had done. Yielding to boy's entreaties, host tells him of haunted castle, where it would be impossible to watch three nights without shuddering. King has promised lovely daughter, as well as the great treasures guarded by the spirits in castle, to whomsoever would venture, but hitherto none have come out alive. (6) King, on seeing boy, grants him permission to take with him into castle three things without life. Boy