Posted on April 1st, 2014 | by Leslie

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Wanderling no. 12

(Read my full description of the project here)

Wanderling no. 12 – “A Dreadful Thing”

By crying over a potential tragedy rather than taking the simple step required to prevent it, a girl and her parents prove themselves to be great “sillies” to the girl’s sweetheart.  He decides to leave them and says he will return only if he can find three bigger sillies than themselves.  This task is far more easily accomplished than he suspects, and returns to his fiancée in good humour.

Story’s country of origin – England

Based on the tale “The Three Sillies” as retold by Jane Yolen, Favorite Folktales from around the World (New York: Random House, Inc., 1986), pp. 170-173. Based in turn on the version by Katherine Briggs, British Folktales (New York: Pantheon Books, 1977), pp. 61-63.

Yolen writes in her notes (p. 484): “The English noodle story is the classic silly tale, known throughout the world.  In the Grimm collection it is ‘Clever Elsie,’ and it is that version which gives it its tale type, 1450.  Thompson says that it is probably Oriental and literary in origin, but it is now widespread in the oral tradition.  The Indian version, ‘The Silly Weaver Girl,’ is quite short, and her audience merely laughs at her instead of joining in her foolishness.  Some variants, such as ‘What Shall Baby’s Name Be?’ conclude without the search for other sillies.  In the Siberian tale ‘The Fools,’ it is the girl’s hiccoughs and the need to keep them from her suitors that start off the silliness.  In the search many different kinds of fools are discovered.  Besides the cow, trousers, and moon incidents in the English tale, there are such incidents as a tall man trying to get into a small house (Greece), watering oxen with a spoon (Italy), leading a camel from the field (Siberia), and even the scatological Greek incident of someone showing his backside to an old woman who promises to recognize him again by his lovely face.  ‘It seems everybody is dumber than my wife,’ concludes the husband in the Italian ‘Cicco Petrillo,’ ‘so I’d better go back home.’”

V1
Once a farmer and his wife
They had a daughter, courting
With a wealthy gentleman
Not given to cavorting
Every day at suppertime
When he would come a-calling
She’d go down and fetch the beer
But this day she was bawling:

CHORUS
“Suppose that he and I should wed
And we should have a son
And he should grow into a man
And down to the cellar he should come
And drawing beer as I do now
The mallet overhead
Should fall and kill him as he draws
A dreadful thing, our son is dead!”

V2
Her mother, wondering where she was
Came down into the cellar
And saw her daughter crying there
Not knowing what upset her
The beer was running free and strong
And pooling on the floor
“Whatever is the matter, dear?
You’re looking rather poor”

CHORUS

V3
Her father, wondering what was wrong
Came down the stairs to find them
And there they sat a-crying
As the beer poured out beside them
“O, what is going on, my daughter?
Tell me why you wail”
And pointing at the ceiling
She sobbed out the sorry tale:

CHORUS

V4
The gentleman above grew tired
Of waiting on his own
He found them in the cellar
All a pile of tears and moans
He turned the tap to stop the beer
From running on the floor
Demanding explanations
So the girl began once more:

CHORUS
“Suppose that you and I should wed
And we should have a son
And he should grow into a man
And down to the cellar he should come
And drawing beer as I do now
The mallet overhead
Should fall and kill him as he draws
A dreadful thing, our son is dead!”

V5
The gentleman began to laugh
And reached up with his arm
He pulled the mallet free and said
“There’s no cause for alarm;
I’ve travelled all around the world
But never have I seen
Any bigger sillies than
The three of you have been!”

For more in the series:
Wanderling no.1 – “But Not Too Bold” – http://lesliehudson.com/wanderling-no1/
Wanderling no.2 – “Sedna of the Sea” – http://lesliehudson.com/wanderling-no2/
Wanderling no.3 – “The Rift” – http://lesliehudson.com/wanderling-no3/
Wanderling no.4 – “Red Bird” – http://lesliehudson.com/wanderling-no4/
Wanderling no.5 – “The Last Thing I’ll Beg Thee” –  http://lesliehudson.com/wanderling-no5/
Wanderling no.6 – “Tantalized” – http://lesliehudson.com/wanderling-no6/
Wanderling no.7 – “The Cloud Princess” – http://lesliehudson.com/wanderling-no7/
Wanderling no.8 – “My Song is Done” – http://lesliehudson.com/wanderling-no8/
Wanderling no.9 – “Vasilisa Trilogy” – http://lesliehudson.com/wanderling-no9/
Wanderling no.10 – “Drink Up” – http://lesliehudson.com/wanderling-no10/
Wanderling no.11 – “Abandon This” – http://lesliehudson.com/wanderling-no11/

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