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November 24th, 2008, 02:36 AM
The Daughter 0f Buk Ettemsuch

Once upon a time there lived a man who had seven daughters. For a
long time they dwelt quite happily at home together, then one
morning the father called them all before him and said:

'Your mother and I are going on a journey, and as we do not know
how long we may be away, you will find enough provisions in the
house to last you three years. But see you do not open the door
to anyone till we come home again.'

'Very well, dear father,' replied the girls.

For two years they never left the house or unlocked the door; but
one day, when they had washed their clothes, and were spreading
them out on the roof to dry, the girls looked down into the
street where people were walking to and fro, and across to the
market, with its stalls of fresh meat, vegetables, and other nice

'Come here,' cried one. 'It makes me quite hungry! Why should not
we have our share? Let one of us go to the market, and buy meat
and vegetables.'

'Oh, we mustn't do that!' said the youngest. 'You know our father
forbade us to open the door till he came home again.'

Then the eldest sister sprang at her and struck her, the second
spit at her, the third abused her, the fourth pushed her, the
fifth flung her to the ground, and the sixth tore her clothes.
Then they left her lying on the floor, and went out with a

In about an hour they came back with the basket full of meat and
vegetables, which they put in a pot, and set on the fire, quite
forgetting that the house door stood wide open. The youngest
sister, however, took no part in all this, and when dinner was
ready and the table laid, she stole softly out to the entrance
hall, and hid herself behind a great cask which stood in one

Now, while the other sisters were enjoying their feast, a witch
passed by, and catching sight of the open door, she walked in.
She went up to the eldest girl, and said: 'Where shall I begin on
you, you fat bolster?'

'You must begin,' answered she, 'with the hand which struck my
little sister.'

So the witch gobbled her up, and when the last scrap had
disappeared, she came to the second and asked: 'Where shall I
begin on you, my fat bolster?'

And the second answered, 'You must begin on my mouth, which spat
on my sister.'

And so on to the rest; and very soon the whole six had
disappeared. And as the witch was eating the last mouthful of the
last sister, the youngest, who had been crouching, frozen with
horror, behind the barrel, ran out through the open door into the
street. Without looking behind her, she hastened on and on, as
fast as her feet would carry her, till she saw an ogre's castle
standing in front of her. In a corner near the door she spied a
large pot, and she crept softly up to it and pulled the cover
over it, and went to sleep.

By-and-by the ogre came home. 'Fee, Fo, Fum,' cried he, 'I smell
the smell of a man. What ill fate has brought him here?' And he
looked through all the rooms, and found nobody. 'Where are you?'
he called. 'Do not be afraid, I will do you no harm.'

But the girl was still silent.

'Come out, I tell you,' repeated the ogre. 'Your life is quite
safe. If you are an old man, you shall be my father. If you are a
boy, you shall be my son. If your years are as many as mine, you
shall be my brother. If you are an old woman, you shall be my
mother. If you are a young one, you shall be my daughter. If you
are middle-aged, you shall be my wife. So come out, and fear

Then the maiden came out of her hiding-place, and stood before

'Fear nothing,' said the ogre again; and when he went away to
hunt he left her to look after the house. In the evening he
returned, bringing with him hares, partridges, and gazelles, for
the girl's supper; for himself he only cared for the flesh of
men, which she cooked for him. He also gave into her charge the
keys of six rooms, but the key of the seventh he kept himself.

And time passed on, and the girl and the ogre still lived

She called him 'Father,' and he called her 'Daughter,' and never
once did he speak roughly to her.

One day the maiden said to him, 'Father, give me the key of the
upper chamber.'

'No, my daughter,' replied the ogre. 'There is nothing there that
is any use to you.'

'But I want the key,' she repeated again.

However the ogre took no notice, and pretended not to hear. The
girl began to cry, and said to herself: 'To-night, when he thinks
I am asleep, I will watch and see where he hides it;' and after
she and the ogre had supped, she bade him good-night, and left
the room. In a few minutes she stole quietly back, and watched
from behind a curtain. In a little while she saw the ogre take
the key from his pocket, and hide it in a hole in the ground
before he went to bed. And when all was still she took out the
key, and went back to the house.

The next morning the ogre awoke with the first ray of light, and
the first thing he did was to look for the key. It was gone, and
he guessed at once what had become of it.

But instead of getting into a great rage, as most ogres would
have done, he said to himself, 'If I wake the maiden up I shall
only frighten her. For to-day she shall keep the key, and when I
return to-night it will be time enough to take it from her.' So
he went off to hunt.

The moment he was safe out of the way, the girl ran upstairs and
opened the door of the room, which was quite bare. The one window
was closed, and she threw back the lattice and looked out.
Beneath lay a garden which belonged to the prince, and in the
garden was an ox, who was drawing up water from the well all by
himself --for there was nobody to be seen anywhere. The ox raised
his head at the noise the girl made in opening the lattice, and
said to her, 'Good morning, O daughter of Buk Ettemsuch! Your
father is feeding you up till you are nice and fat, and then he
will put you on a spit and cook you.'

These words so frightened the maiden that she burst into tears
and ran out of the room. All day she wept, and when the ogre came
home at night, no supper was ready for him.

'What are you crying for?' said he. 'Where is my supper, and is
it you who have opened the upper chamber?'

'Yes, I opened it,' answered she.

'And what did the ox say to you?'

'He said, "Good morning, O daughter of Buk Ettemsuch. Your father
is feeding you up till you are nice and fat, and then he will put
you on a spit and cook you."'

'Well, to-morrow you can go to the window and say, "My father is
feeding me up till I am nice and fat, but he does not mean to eat
me. If I had one of your eyes I would use it for a mirror, and
look at myself before and behind; and your girths should be
loosened, and you should be blind--seven days and seven nights."'

'All right,' replied the girl, and the next morning, when the ox
spoke to her, she answered him as she had been told, and he fell
down straight upon the ground, and lay there seven days and seven
nights. But the flowers in the garden withered, for there was no
one to water them.

When the prince came into his garden he found nothing but yellow
stalks; in the midst of them the ox was lying. With a blow from
his sword he killed the animal, and, turning to his attendants,
he said, 'Go and fetch another ox!' And they brought in a great
beast, and he drew the water out of the well, and the flowers
revived, and the grass grew green again. Then the prince called
his attendants and went away.

The next morning the girl heard the noise of the waterwheel, and
she opened the lattice and looked out of the window.

'Good morning, O daughter of Buk Ettemsuch!' said the new ox.
'Your father is feeding you up till you are nice and fat, and
then he will put you on a spit and cook you.'

And the maiden answered: 'My father is feeding me up till I am
nice and fat, but he does not mean to eat me. If I had one of
your eyes I would use it for a mirror, and look at myself before
and behind; and your girths should be loosened, and you should be
blind--seven days and seven nights.'

Directly she uttered these words the ox fell to the ground and
lay there, seven days and seven nights. Then he arose and began
to draw the water from the well. He had only turned the wheel
once or twice, when the prince took it into his head to visit his
garden and see how the new ox was getting on. When he entered the
ox was working busily; but in spite of that the flowers and grass
were dried up. And the prince drew his sword, and rushed at the
ox to slay him, as he had done the other. But the ox fell on his
knees and said:

'My lord, only spare my life, and let me tell you how it

'How what happened?' asked the prince.

'My lord, a girl looked out of that window and spoke a few words
to me, and I fell to the ground. For seven days and seven nights
I lay there, unable to move. But, O my lord, it is not given to
us twice to behold beauty such as hers.'

'It is a lie,' said the prince. 'An ogre dwells there. Is it
likely that he keeps a maiden in his upper chamber?'

'Why not?' replied the ox. 'But if you come here at dawn
to-morrow, and hide behind that tree, you will see for yourself.'

'So I will,' said the prince; 'and if I find that you have not
spoken truth, I will kill you.'

The prince left the garden, and the ox went on with his work.
Next morning the prince came early to the garden, and found the
ox busy with the waterwheel.

'Has the girl appeared yet?' he asked.

'Not yet; but she will not be long. Hide yourself in the branches
of that tree, and you will soon see her.'

The prince did as he was told, and scarcely was he seated when
the maiden threw open the lattice.

'Good morning, O daughter of Buk Ettemsuch!' said the ox. 'Your
father is feeding you up till you are nice and fat, and then he
will put you on a spit and cook you.'

'My father is feeding me up till I am nice and fat, but he does
not mean to eat me. If I had one of your eyes I would use it for
a mirror, and look at myself before and behind; and your girths
should be loosened, and you should be blind--seven days and seven
nights.' And hardly had she spoken when the ox fell on the
ground, and the maiden shut the lattice and went away. But the
prince knew that what the ox had said was true, and that she had
not her equal in the whole world. And he came down from the tree,
his heart burning with love.

'Why has the ogre not eaten her?' thought he. 'This night I will
invite him to supper in my palace and question him about the
maiden, and find out if she is his wife.'

So the prince ordered a great ox to be slain and roasted whole,
and two huge tanks to be made, one filled with water and the
other with wine. And towards evening he called his attendants and
went to the ogre's house to wait in the courtyard till he came
back from hunting. The ogre was surprised to see so many people
assembled in front of his house; but he bowed politely and said,
'Good morning, dear neighbours! To what do I owe the pleasure of
this visit? I have not offended you, I hope?'

'Oh, certainly not!' answered the prince.

'Then,' continued the ogre, 'What has brought you to my house
to-day for the first time?'

'We should like to have supper with you,' said the prince.

'Well, supper is ready, and you are welcome,' replied the ogre,
leading the way into the house, for he had had a good day, and
there was plenty of game in the bag over his shoulder.

A table was quickly prepared, and the prince had already taken
his place, when he suddenly exclaimed, 'After all, Buk Ettemsuch,
suppose you come to supper with me?'

'Where?' asked the ogre.

'In my house. I know it is all ready.'

'But it is so far off--why not stay here?'

'Oh, I will come another day; but this evening I must be your

So the ogre accompanied the prince and his attendants back to the
palace. After a while the prince turned to the ogre and said:

'It is as a wooer that I appear before you. I seek a wife from an
honourable family.'

'But I have no daughter,' replied the ogre.

'Oh, yes you have, I saw her at the window.'

'Well, you can marry her if you wish,' said he.

So the prince's heart was glad as he and his attendants rode back
with the ogre to his house. And as they parted, the prince said
to his guest, 'You will not forget the bargain we have made?'

'I am not a young man, and never break my promises,' said the
ogre, and went in and shut the door.

Upstairs he found the maiden, waiting till he returned to have
her supper, for she did not like eating by herself.

'I have had my supper,' said the ogre, 'for I have been spending
the evening with the prince.'

'Where did you meet him?' asked the girl.

'Oh, we are neighbours, and grew up together, and to-night I
promised that you should be his wife.'

'I don't want to be any man's wife,' answered she; but this was
only pretence, for her heart too was glad.

Next morning early came the prince, bringing with him bridal
gifts, and splendid wedding garments, to carry the maiden back to
his palace.

But before he let her go the ogre called her to him, and said,
'Be careful, girl, never to speak to the prince; and when he
speaks to you, you must be dumb, unless he swears "by the head of
Buk Ettemsuch." Then you may speak.'

'Very well,' answered the girl.

They set out; and when they reached the palace, the prince led
his bride to the room he had prepared for her, and said 'Speak to
me, my wife,' but she was silent; and by-and-by he left her,
thinking that perhaps she was shy. The next day the same thing
happened, and the next.

At last he said, 'Well, if you won't speak, I shall go and get
another wife who will.' And he did.

Now when the new wife was brought to the palace the daughter of
Buk Ettemsuch rose, and spoke to the ladies who had come to
attend on the second bride. 'Go and sit down. I will make ready
the feast.' And the ladies sat down as they were told, and

The maiden sat down too, and called out, 'Come here, firewood,'
and the firewood came. 'Come here, fire,' and the fire came and
kindled the wood. 'Come here, pot.' 'Come here, oil;' and the pot
and the oil came. 'Get into the pot, oil!' said she, and the oil
did it. When the oil was boiling, the maiden dipped all her
fingers in it, and they became ten fried fishes. 'Come here,
oven,' she cried next, and the oven came. 'Fire, heat the oven.'
And the fire heated it. When it was hot enough, the maiden jumped
in, just as she was, with her beautiful silver and gold dress,
and all her jewels. In a minute or two she had turned into a
snow-white loaf, that made your mouth water.

Said the loaf to the ladies, 'You can eat now; do not stand so
far off;' but they only stared at each other, speechless with

'What are you staring at?' asked the new bride.

'At all these wonders,' replied the ladies.

'Do you call these wonders?' said she scornfully; 'I can do that
too,' and she jumped straight into the oven, and was burnt up in
a moment.

Then they ran to the prince and said: 'Come quickly, your wife is

'Bury her, then!' returned he. 'But why did she do it? I am sure
I said nothing to make her throw herself into the oven.'

Accordingly the burnt woman was buried, but the prince would not
go to the funeral as all his thoughts were still with the wife
who would not speak to him. The next night he said to her, 'Dear
wife, are you afraid that something dreadful will happen if you
speak to me? If you still persist in being dumb, I shall be
forced to get another wife.' The poor girl longed to speak, but
dread of the ogre kept her silent, and the prince did as he had
said, and brought a fresh bride into the palace. And when she and
her ladies were seated in state, the maiden planted a sharp stake
in the ground, and sat herself down comfortably on it, and began
to spin.

'What are you staring at so?' said the new bride to her ladies.
'Do you think that is anything wonderful? Why, I can do as much

'I am sure you can't,' said they, much too surprised to be

Then the maid sprang off the stake and left the room, and
instantly the new wife took her place. But the sharp stake ran
through, and she was dead in a moment. So they sent to the prince
and said, 'Come quickly, and bury your wife.'

'Bury her yourselves,' he answered. 'What did she do it for? It
was not by my orders that she impaled herself on the stake.'

So they buried her; and in the evening the prince came to the
daughter of Buk Ettemsuch, and said to her, 'Speak to me, or I
shall have to take another wife.' But she was afraid to speak to

The following day the prince hid himself in the room and watched.
And soon the maiden woke, and said to the pitcher and to the
water-jug, 'Quick! go down to the spring and bring me some water;
I am thirsty.'

And they went. But as they were filling themselves at the spring,
the water-jug knocked against the pitcher and broke off its
spout. And the pitcher burst into tears, and ran to the maiden,
and said: 'Mistress, beat the water-jug, for he has broken my

'By the head of Buk Ettemsuch, I implore you not to beat me!'

'Ah,' she replied, 'if only my husband had sworn by that oath, I
could have spoken to him from the beginning, and he need never
have taken another wife. But now he will never say it, and he
will have to go on marrying fresh ones.'

And the prince, from his hiding-place, heard her words, and he
jumped up and ran to her and said, 'By the head of Buk Ettemsuch,
speak to me.'

So she spoke to him, and they lived happily to the end of their
days, because the girl kept the promise she had made to the ogre.

[Märchen und Gedichte aus der Stadt Tripolis. Von Hans Stumme.]