AT 301A as Told by Ray Hicks

This one is about Jack and Tom and Will—of old Fire Dragon that spit balls of fire. And Jack’s dad had a great bug track of land, owned it. So, he give it to Jack and Tom and Will to clear; give ‘em the land and made ‘em a deed for it, to clear and start clearing it theirselves. And so, they got up a wagon-load of vittles and went where it was at and built ‘em a …notched ‘em up a shanty to stay in. And so, they knowed that the next…that, when they got ready to clear it, that they’d have to leave, uh, leave one till twelve (and he could help, then, after twelve) to cook dinner. So they left Will the first time.

And Jack and Tom cleared, and Will got dinner and rung the dinner…blowed the dinner horn. And, just when he blowed it, up out of a holler come old Fire Dragon, up with his pipe in his mouth, and come in at the door. And just come on in. And Will had the dinner set on the table, and he come in and never said a word to Will. And Will was so scared he hid behind the door. And Fire Dragon eat every bite, sopped the dish, and went back through in by the fireplace and got the biggest chunk of fire that he could find and stuffed down in his pipe and went off.

And Jack and Tom got to the house, come in, and says, (Will shot out from behind the door), says, “Where is the dinner, Will?” Says, “Hain’t you cooked no dinner?” He says, “Gosh,” says, “if you’d a seed what I seed,” said, “you wouldn’t want no dinner!” And they ‘gin to laugh, and Will says, “All right, laughing’s catching,” he says. “Tom,” says, “tomorrow’ll be your turn.” And so they fixed up a little, right quick, extra, then, and eat it, and went back and cleared that evening. And the next day they left Tom to get dinner, clean up, till twelve. And Will and Jack was a-clearing till twelve.

And so Tom got dinner and blowed the horn, and up come old Fire Dragon. And just come in and never said a word—and Tom hid—and eat every bite and sopped the pot. And went through by the fireplace and got the biggest coal of fire he could find and put it in his pipe. And Jack and Will come in, and Tom shot out. And says, “Where’s the dinner, Tom?” He says, “Gosh,” he says, “Tom’s (here, Ray means Will, of course) right;” says, “Jack, don’t laugh!” Says, “Tomorrow’ll be your turn.” Says, “Great…” says, “you won’t want no dinner when you see that.” And he says, “He went in by the fireplace, after he eat up all the eating, and got the biggest coal of fire he could get,” Tom said. And he said, “When he put it in the pipe and puffed it a few puffs,” said, “it looked like a steam engine took off with the blowers on.” Well, they fixed up a little, right quick, and eat ‘em a little bite extra, and all went back that evening and cleared. And said, “Jack, now tomorrow’ll be your turn.”

Well, so, they left Jack the next day and jack fixed dinner and cleaned up and went to setting it on the table, and he blowed the horn. And, while he was scooping out of a kettle a mess of beans, he looked and there come old Fire Dragon, with his arms crossed behind him.

And just as he come to the door, he (Jack) said, “Hello there, Dad!” Says, “Is you hungry?” Said, “Nope.” Said, “Don’t want a bite.” ‘Cause Jack offered it to him, he didn’t want none. Said, “Yeah, Dad,” says, “just get you a seat in there in the fireplace.” And says, “I’m a-setting it on the table now.” Says, “Will and Tom will be in just in a few minutes.” Said, “I blowed the dinner horn.”

Said, “Nope,” said, “I don’t want a bite.” Said, “I just stopped by to light my pipe.” He said he went in and got the biggest chunk, a great big stick of wood, too, Jack said, and stuffed it way down in his pipe. And said that beat any cloud of smoke, when he give that a few puffs, he ever seed in his life. And said he just struck out behind him then; follered him by the smoke down through a wilderness, way down in a holler.

And while he had gone, Jack had…While Jack was gone, Will and Tom come in and said, “Good gracious!” Says, “The dinner’s on the table.” Said, “He’s eat Jack this time.” Said, “Boy, we’ve lost Jack;” said, “he’s eat him.” Said, “The dinner’s on the table.”

Well, so Jack come in, directly. They said, “Where you been?” Says, “We thought he’d eat you up, account of dinner on the table.”

He said, “No.” Says, “I called him ‘Dad’,” and said, “tried to get him to stay and make a seat and get him a chair in the fire-setting room and wait, and was setting it on the table.” And said, “Just got it set on the table when I left.” And he says, “I found out where he went.” Says, “He went down there, way down in the wilderness of that holler.” And said, “He went in a hole in the ground.”

And so they eat then and ‘gin to rig up to find out what was in there. And they eat and fixed ‘em a basket out of splits and took and made ‘em a rope out of hickory bark and went down to the hole. And they let Will down first. And they fixed it…Will…if that Will hit any trouble, he was to shake the rope of the hickory bark. And so, just hadn’t went down but just a few feet till Will shook it and they snaked him back out just as fast as they could and they says, “What did you see, Will?” He said, “I seed a house under there.” And so they put Tom in it then, and let him down, and he was gone down just a little longer and he shook it and they jerked him out and says, “Tom, what did you see?” He said, “I seed a house and barn.” And so they put Jack in then and let him down, and Jack let ‘em let on down till he hit on the top of the roof. And he let it ease on down and he slid of the eaves. And he let it ease on down in the yard.

And so he got out of the basket and went and pecked on the door. And a girl come; the oldest girl, which he didn’t know it, when he pecked. And he says, “Howdy.” And she was so pretty till he just started in talking courting right when he seed her. And she says, “Oh,” says, “don’t do that!” Said, “The second room you come to,” said, “has got one in it prettier than I am.” And so Jack went on in and seed her and she was so much prettier till the first word he spoke was courting, wanting to court. And she says, “Oh, don’t do that!” She said, “The third one, in the third room,” she said, “is a beauty.” Said, “She’s the prettiest one of the bunch.” So Jack went on in and seed her, and he just got to talking about getting married, she was so pretty.

And so, she ‘posed to him and tied a ribbon in her hair, and she put a wishing ring on his finger. And so told him that the Fire Dragon was a-coming back any minute. And said, “Here’s some ointment;” said, “If he hits you with any if them fire-balls,” says, “they burn a streak!” And says, “Here’s a sword,” said, “is all that’ll hurt him is a silver sword.”

Well, so Jack took the ointment and, in just a few minutes, the Fire Dragon come in and seed him and ‘gin to make at him and spit them fire-balls. Said it was a sight to see them sparkle over the floor. And he dodged him around and some would glance him and burn him, and he’d rub that ointment right quick, and try to get a lick with that sword. And said, directly, he got a lick and just swiped his head slick off.

Well, he then fixed up to get the girls out of there. And he put the first one in the basket, that he met when he knocked on the door, and sent her up—or shook the hickory rope and they pulled it up. And Will and Tom got to jarring off of it; said, “This one’s mine!” Directly she says, “Don’t do that.” Says, “The next one is a-coming is prettier yet than I am.” And so they shoved the basket back down in quick as they could, and Jack put the second one in it and shook the hickory rope and they flounced her out, and he heard ‘em a raring over her. And said Will said, “Good gosh, don’t you put your hands on her; that one’s mine.” Tom said, “Don’t you touch her; that one’s mine.” She says, “Oh,” says, “don’t do that.” Says, “The third one, the last one that’s down there, is a beauty.” Said, “She’s the top.”

And so they shoved the basket down as quick as they could, and that was Jack’s—they’d done ‘posed to be married and had the ribbon in her hair. And so Jack out her in the basket. And Will and Tom, she was so much prettier, they got to fighting around over her. And she says, “Don’t fight.” Says, “I’m done supposed to be married to Jack.” They said, “Well,” – just pitched the hickory rope and the basket right down in the hole—and said, “let the rascal stay down in there.” And said, “He’ll not get you.”

And so they took ‘em and went back to the new ground shanty. And Jack stayed in there and eat all the rations up that the Fire Dragon had, he thought. And he stayed a week or two. And, directly, he got to getting weak, and he hunted around and he found a few more bites to eat, a little more. And he got to feeling so weak, till he looked down and…looking at his fingers to see how much he’d fell off, what time he’d been down in there. And he looked, and his fingers was fell off, and the made him notice the ring. Hit was so loose it would fall off his fingers, from the time he’d been in there. And that made him think about the ring, and he said, “I wish I was home with my mother, a-setting in the chimley corner, a-smoking my old ‘kachuckety’ (?) pipe.” And said, just as the words got out of his mouth, there he was a-setting, and his mother a-talking to him. She said, “Jack,” she said, “looks like you ought to be to the new ground a-helping Tom and Will clear.” He says, “Bedad, that’s where I’m started.”

And so he got on up there and they had the three girls and was still a-fighting over them. And so, him and the youngest one, the prettiest one, married—that had put the ring on his finger—and the ribbon was in her hair yet. And her and Jack married, and Tom married the next one to her, and Jack…ah, Will had to take the oldest. And the last time that I was around there, they’d built more shanties and they was a-doing well.

*This version of the story is a transcription from the Folkways Records LP that contains four stories narrated by Ray Hicks. I believe this story, and thus this transcription, to be in the public domain.*

Grimms 91: The Elves

There was once upon a time a rich king who had three daughters, who
daily went to walk in the palace garden, and the king was a great
lover of all kinds of fine trees, but there was one for which he had
such an affection, that if anyone gathered an apple from it he wished
him a hundred fathoms underground. And when harvest time came, the
apples on this tree were all as red as blood. The three daughters
went every day beneath the tree, and looked to see if the wind had
not blown down an apple, but they never by any chance found one, and
the tree was so loaded with them that it was almost breaking, and the
branches hung down to the ground.

Then the king’s youngest child had a great desire for an apple, and
said to her sisters, our father loves us far too much to wish us
underground, it is my belief that he would only do that to people who
were strangers. And while she was speaking, the child plucked off
quite a large apple, and ran to her sisters, saying, just taste, my
dear little sisters, for never in my life have I tasted anything so
delightful. Then the two other sisters also ate some of the apple,
whereupon all three sank deep down into the earth, where they could
hear no cock crow.

When mid-day came, the king wished to call them to come to dinner,
but they were nowhere to be found. He sought them everywhere in the
palace and garden, but could not find them. Then he was much
troubled, and made known to the whole land that whosoever brought his
daughters back again should have one of them to wife. Hereupon so
many young men went about the country in search, that there was no
counting them, for everyone loved the three children because they
were so kind to all, and so fair of face.

Three young huntsmen also went out, and when they had traveled about
for eight days, they arrived at a great castle, in which were
beautiful apartments, and in one room a table was laid on which were
delicate dishes which were still so warm that they were smoking, but
in the whole of the castle no human being was either to be seen or
heard. They waited there for half a day, and the food still remained
warm and smoking, and at length they were so hungry that they sat
down and ate, and agreed with each other that they would stay and
live in that castle, and that one of them, who should be chosen by
casting lots, should remain in the house, and the two others seek the
king’s daughters.

They cast lots, and the lot fell on the eldest, so next day the two
younger went out to seek, and the eldest had to stay home. At
mid-day came a small, small mannikin and begged for a piece of bread,
then the huntsman took the bread which he had found there, and cut a
round off the loaf and was about to give it to him, but while he was
giving it to the mannikin, the latter let it fall, and asked the
huntsman to be so good as to give him that piece again. The huntsman
was about to do so and stooped, on which the mannikin took a stick,
seized him by the hair, and gave him a good beating.

Next day, the second stayed at home, and he fared no better. When the
two others returned in the evening, the eldest said, well, how have
you got on? Oh, very badly, said he, and then they lamented their
misfortune together, but they said nothing about it to the youngest,
for they did not like him at all, and always called him stupid Hans,
because he did not know the ways of the world.

On the third day, the youngest stayed at home, and again the little
mannikin came and begged for a piece of bread. When the youth gave
it to him, the elf let it fall as before, and asked him to be so good
as to give him that piece again. Then said Hans to the little
mannikin, what, can you not pick up that piece yourself? If you will
not take as much trouble as that for your daily bread, you do not
deserve to have it. Then the mannikin grew very angry and said he
was to do it, but the huntsman would not, and took my dear mannikin,
and gave him a thorough beating. Then the mannikin screamed
terribly, and cried, stop, stop, and let me go, and I will tell you
where the king’s daughters are.

When Hans heard that, he left off beating him and the mannikin told
him that he was a gnome, and that there were more than a thousand
like him, and that if he would go with him he would show him where
the king’s daughters were. Then he showed him a deep well, but there
was no water in it. And the elf said that he knew well that the
companions Hans had with him did not intend to deal honorably with
him, therefore if he wished to deliver the king’s children, he must
do it alone.

The two other brothers would also be very glad to recover the king’s
daughters, but they did not want to have any trouble or danger. Hans
was therefore to take a large basket, and he must seat himself in it
with his hunting knife and a bell, and be let down. Below are three
rooms, and in each of them was a princess, who was lousing a dragon
with many heads, which he must cut off. And having said all this,
the elf vanished.

When it was evening the two brothers came and asked how he had got
on, and he said, pretty well so far, and that he had seen no one
except at mid-day when a little mannikin had come and begged for a
piece of bread, that he had given some to him, but that the mannikin
had let it fall and had asked him to pick it up again, but as he did
not choose to do that, the elf had begun to scold, and that he had
lost his temper, and had given the elf a beating, at which he had
told him where the king’s daughters were. Then the two were so angry
at this that they grew green and yellow.

Next morning they went to the well together, and drew lots who should
first seat himself in the basket, and again the lot fell on the
eldest, and he was to seat himself in it, and take the bell with him.
Then he said, if I ring, you must draw me up again immediately. When
he had gone down for a short distance, he rang, and they at once drew
him up again. Then the second seated himself in the basket, but he
did just the same as the first, and then it was the turn of the
youngest, but he let himself be lowered quite to the bottom.

When he had got out of the basket, he took his knife, and went and
stood outside the first door and listened, and heard the dragon
snoring quite loudly. He opened the door slowly, and one of the
princesses was sitting there, and had nine dragon’s heads lying upon
her lap, and was lousing them. Then he took his knife and hewed at
them, and the nine fell off. The princess sprang up, threw her arms
round his neck, embraced and kissed him repeatedly, and took her
stomacher, which was made of pure gold, and hung it round his neck.

Then he went to the second princess, who had a dragon with five heads
to louse, and delivered her also, and to the youngest, who had a
dragon with four heads, he went likewise. And they all rejoiced, and
embraced him and kissed him without stopping. Then he rang very
loud, so that those above heard him, and he placed the princesses one
after the other in the basket, and had them all drawn up, but when it
came to his own turn he remembered the words of the elf, who had told
him that his comrades did not mean well by him. So he took a great
stone which was lying there, and placed it in the basket, and when it
was about half way up, his false brothers above cut the rope, so that
the basket with the stone fell to the ground, and they thought that
he was dead, and ran away with the three princesses, making them
promise to tell their father that it was they who had delivered them.
Then they went to the king, and each demanded a princess in marriage.

In the meantime the youngest huntsman was wandering about the three
chambers in great trouble, fully expecting to have to end his days
there, when he saw, hanging on the wall, a flute, then said he, why
do you hang there. No one can be merry here.

He looked at the dragons, heads likewise and said, you too cannot
help me now. He walked to and fro for such a long time that he made
the surface of the ground quite smooth. But at last other thoughts
came to his mind, and he took the flute from the wall, and played a
few notes on it, and suddenly a number of elves appeared, and with
every note that he sounded one more came. Then he played until the
room was entirely filled.

They all asked what he desired, so he said he wished to get above
ground back to daylight, on which they seized him by every hair that
grew on his head, and thus they flew with him onto the earth again.
When he was above ground, he at once went to the king’s palace, just
as the wedding of one princess was about to be celebrated, and he
went to the room where the king and his three daughters were. When
the princesses saw him they fainted.

Hereupon the king was angry, and ordered him to be put in prison at
once, because he thought he must have done some injury to the
children. When the princesses came to themselves, however, they
entreated the king to set him free again.

The king asked why, and they said that they were not allowed to tell
that, but their father said that they were to tell it to the stove.
And he went out, listened at the door, and heard everything. Then he
caused the two brothers to be hanged on the gallows, and to the third
he gave his youngest daughter, and on that occasion I wore a pair of
glass shoes, and I struck them against a stone, and they said, klink,
and were broken.

*I have carried around this version of the Grimms tale for years. I am unsure of its copyright status or where it falls in the Grimms’ own versions.*