Penelope (withoutsums) wrote,
Penelope
withoutsums

Little Shaveling (Otesanek)

From Northwest Slav Legends and Fairy Stories

(this is the story that Jan Svankmajer's film Little Otik is based on.)

There was once a man and a woman ; they lived at the end of a village by a wood, in a cottage. They were poor; the man was a day-labourer, and the woman spun for sale, and yet they were always saying, "If only we had a little baby!" "Be thankful the Lord God has not given you one," said other people; "why, as it is, you have not enough to eat." And they would say in return: "When we dined — our little baby would also dine — if only we had one."

Once, early, this man was stubbing roots in the wood, and stubbed up a root — it looked exactly like a little baby: there was a little head, little neck, little hands, and little feet — it was only necessary to shape the little pate a bit with an axe, that it should be round and smooth, and to lop the rootlets into little hands and little feet, that they might look like toes and fingers, and there was a baby — all but the crying. The man takes this tree-root home and says to the woman, "Look! there is what thou wantedst — a child, little Shaveling ! If thou wishest, thou canst bring it up." The woman swathed this little baby in swaddling clothes, dandled it on her arm, and sung to it:

Hush-a-by, baby,

Hush-a-by, Shaveling,
When thou awakest

I'll cook, thee, wee kuaveling,
A nice little pot

Of broth piping hot,
So hush-a-by, Shaveling,

Hush-a-by, baby.

All at once the child began to stir in the swaddling clothes, screwed its head round and began to cry out: "Oh, mamma, I'm hungry!" The woman did not know for happiness which way to skip first. She laid the child on the bed and ran to cook pap. When she had cooked it, little Shaveling devoured it all, and afterwards again cried out: "Oh, mamma, I'm hungry!" "Wait, little baby, wait, I'll bring thee something directly." After this she ran to a neighbour's and brought a pitcher full of milk. Little Shaveling drank, or rather, gulped it down, and when he had drunk it all up, again cried out that he was hungry. The woman wondered at this and said: "What, child, hast thou not had enough yet?"

She went and got a loaf of bread on credit in the village, placed it on the table at home and then went out again, to put water on the fire for soup. Scarcely had she stalked out of the room, when little Shaveling, seeing the bread on the table, tumbled himself clear of the swaddling clothes, skipped on to the bench, and in a moment he had swallowed the quartern loaf and again cried out: "Oh, mamma, I am hungry!" Mamma came, intending to crumble the bread into the soup: looks about for the loaf — and gracious me! there in the corner stood little Shaveling like a barrel, and rolled his two eyes at her. "The Lord God be with us, Shaveling! perhaps you haven't eaten that quartern loaf?" "I have eaten it, mamma — and I'll eat thee, too!" He opened his great mouth, and before mamma expected it she was in him. After a while tata came home, and, as he stepped in at the door, Shaveling shouted : "Tata, I am hungry!"

Tata started, seeing before him a body like a stove; it opened its huge mouth and goggled its two eyes. And, recognising Shaveling, he said : "The devil take thee! where's mamma?" "I've eaten her; and I'll eat thee, too!" So saying, he opened his huge mouth, and in a twinkling had tata inside him.' But the more Shaveling
devoured, the more he wanted to eat. In the cottage there was nothing left that would do for the purpose, and so he went to the village to look out for some one. He met a little girl; she was drawing from the field a sledge full of clover." Thou hadst need have eaten this too, I dare say, with such a big paunch as thine,"
said the little girl in astonishment. Shaveling replied:

I've gobbled and gobbled
Soup from a saucepan,
Milk from a pitcher,
Bread from the baker,

Mamma — tata —
And I'll eat thee on the top of them.
He skipped up to her, and girl and sledge vanished in his paunch.

After this he met a drover, bringing hay from the meadow. Shaveling posted himself in the road, and the horses stood still. "Why canst thou not move out of the way, monster? I'll come for thee!" exclaimed the drover, and flourished his whip. But Shaveling did not pay the slightest attention to him, and began to repeat:

I've gobbled and gobbled
Soup from a saucepan.
Milk from a pitcher,
Bread from the baker.
Mamma — tata —
A little girl and clover,
And I'll eat thee on the top of them.

And before the drover expected it, he found himself, horses, cart and all in Shaveling's paunch. After this Shaveling went further. On the field there a swine herd pastured swine. Shaveling took a fancy to them and gobbled them all up, swine herd and all; not a trace of them was left. After this he saw up above there a shepherd with a flock of sheep. Having also devoured the swine herd, he says to himself, "I can eat thee, shepherd, on the top of him." Off he went, and packed them all in, sheep, shepherd, dog Vorech and all.

Then he again staggered on until he came to a field; a certain old grandmother was there hoeing greens. Shaveling did not long hesitate; went and began to wring off the tops of the greens and to gulp them
down. "Why art thou doing me this injury. Shaveling?" said the grandmother; "I'm sure thou hast gobbled enough, thou oughtest to be glutted by this time." Shaveling made a grimace at her, and says:

I've gobbled and gobbled
Soup from a saucepan,
Milk from a pitcher,
Bread from the baker.

Mamma — tata —
A little girl and clover,
A load of hay and a drover.
Swine and swine herd.
Sheep and shepherd.
And I'll eat thee on the top of them.

And he tried to gobble her up. But the grandmother was too quick for him, she struck Shaveling in the stomach with her hoe and ripped it open. Shaveling rolled upon the ground — he was dead. And then wasn't there a sight for you to see! Out of the paunch first of all jumped the dog Vorech, and after him the shepherd, and after the shepherd hopped the sheep. Vorech collected them together, the shepherd piped and drove them home. After this, out of the paunch ran a herd of swine, after them out jumped the swine herd, cracked his whip and hurried after the shepherd. Then out came horses dragging a cart full of hay; the drover tugged the reins, swore and drove after the swine herd, also to the village. After the cart out drove the little girl with clover, and, after the little girl, out from the paunch skipped the man and woman, and carried home under their arm that loaf of bread they had got on credit. And after this, that man and woman were never heard to say: "If only we had a little baby!"
Tags: thesis
Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic
    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 2 comments