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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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NINE BROTHERS

NINE BROTHERS WERE TRAVELING TO A TOWN AND IN THE EVENING THEY
CAME UP TO A FARMHOUSE AND ASKED TO STAY OVER. IN THE MORNING, WHEN
THEY WERE READY TO LEAVE, THE OLD LADY (SUPPOSEDLY A WITCH) TOLD THE
THAT THEY CAN'T GO ANYWHERE WITHOUT HER PERMISSION. WHEN THEY
REVOLTED, SHE TOLD THEM THAT FROM THAT MOMENT ON THEY WILL BE CROWS-
AND THEY WILL REMAIN CROWS TILL SOMEONE OF THEIR FAMILY WILL BREAK
THE SPELL.
IN THE MEANTIME, THEIR SISTER ALL ALONE AT HOME, WAS STARTING
TO WORRY AND SO SHE SET OUT TO LOOK FOR THEM. BUT TO NO AVAIL.
THEN SHE WENT TO A VERY OLD MAN, WHO WAS BELIEVED TO BE THE WISEST
PERSON AROUND. SHE ASKED HIM HOW SHE COULD HELP HER BROTHERS AND HE
TOLD HER THAT SHE WAS TO SPIN THREAD OUT OF FLAX, ENOUGH TO WEAVE A
LONG PIECE OF LINEN. AND FROM THE LINEN, SHE WAS TO SEW A SHIRT FOR
EVERY BROTHER WITH HER OWN HANDS.
SHE SPUN AND WOVE AND SEWED AND WHEN SHE WAS FINISHED, SHE WENT
BACK TO THE OLD MAN. HE TOLD HER THAT SHE WAS TO WALK FOR THREE DAY
TILL SHE CAME TO HIGH MOUNTAINS. AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAINS, SHE
WILL FIND A PLACE WHERE THE RULER OF THE WINDS LIVES. SHE WAS TO
STOP OVER AND ASK HIM IF HE SAW HER BROTHERS, NINE CROWS FLYING
AROUND SOMEWHERE.
THE RULER TOLD HER THAT NOT FAR FROM THE PLACE WHERE THEY WERE,
THERE WAS A CAVE WHERE THE NINE CROWS ALWAYS FLY TO AT NIGHT, SPEND
THE NIGHT AND THEN IN THE MORNING FLY OUT AGAIN.
THE SISTER WALKED ALL DAY AND THEN STARTED LOOKING FOR THE CAVE.
SHE LOOKED IN SEVERAL CAVES BUT DIDN'T FIND ANYTHING. FINALLY, IN
ONE CAVE SHE SAW THAT THERE WAS A TABLE IN THE CENTER WITH NINE
CHAIRS AROUND IT. AND AROUND THE CAVE AGAINST THE WALLS, THERE WERE
NINE BEDS. AND THE YOUNGER BROTHER'S BED STOOD RIGHT BY THE DOOR.
ON THE TABLE THERE WAS SOME BREAD AND OTHER KINDS OF FOOD FOR EACH
BROTHER. THE SISTER WAS VERY HUNGRY AND FROM EVERY BROTHER'S PIECE
OF BREAD, SHE BROKE OFF A PIECE FOR HERSELF AND HAD A COUPLE OF
SPOONFULS OF SOUP.
SHE WASN'T FINISHED EATING YET WHEN SHE HEARD A GREAT NOISE OF
WING FLAPPING. SHE WAS SO FRIGHTENED, THAT SHE RAN AND HID IN THE
CORNER UNDER ONE OF HER BROTHER'S BEDS.
THE BROTHERS FLEW IN, TURNED INTO HUMANS AND IMMEDIATELY SAT DOWN
TO EAT FOR THEY WERE VERY HUNGRY. THEY ALL WERE SURPRISED WHEN THEY
NOTICED THAT THEIR FOOD WAS TOUCHED. THEY WERE VERY UNHAPPY ABOUT
THAT AND AFTER EATING, THEY FELL ASLEEP.
IN THE MORNING, THEY DRESSED AND AS SOON AS THEY STEPPED OUT OF
THE CAVE, THEY AGAIN TURNED INTO CROWS. AND THEIR SISTER SAW ALL
THIS. THE SISTER IMMEDIATELY SAW THAT THEIR BEDS WEREN'T MADE, THE
CAVE WASN'T SWEPT. SHE SWEPT THE CAVE AND AGAIN ATE SOME OF THEIR
FOOD. SHE DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH COURAGE YET TO SHOW HERSELF TO HER
BROTHERS, SO WHEN SHE HEARD THEM FLYING IN, AGAIN SHE HID UNDER A
BED.
THE BROTHERS AGAIN SAW THAT THEIR FOOD WAS TOUCHED, WHILE EATING,
THE YOUNGER BROTHER NOTICED THAT THE CAVE WAS SWEPT, THEIR BEDS WERE
MADE AND THEY COULDN'T UNDERSTAND WHO WOULD COME IN TO FIX THEIR
CAVE. AGAIN THEY WENT TO BED DISCUSSING WHO IT COULD BE, BUT NO ONE
MENTIONED IT THAT IT COULD BE THEIR SISTER WHO CAME.
THE THIRD DAY, THE SISTER FIXED UP THEIR CAVE, ATE SOME OF THEIR
FOOD, BUT THIS TIME LEFT A SHIRT ON EACH BROTHER'S MADE BED.
IN THE EVENING, WHEN THE BROTHER'S FLEW IN, THEY NOTICED THAT
THEIR FOOD WAS EATEN, THEIR BEDS WERE MADE AND THEY ALSO NOTICED THE
SHIRTS. THEN THEY WERE HAPPY AND CERTAIN THAT SOMEONE HAS BEEN
ENTERING THEIR CAVE AND THAT MAYBE THEY WERE HIDING IN IT NOW.
THE SISTER WAS LISTENING TO HER BROTHERS AND DECIDED TO CRAWL OUT
FROM UNDER THE BED AND SHOW HERSELF TO THEM. THE BROTHERS WERE VERY
HAPPY, BUT THEY TOLD HER THAT BEING CROWS TILL NINE YEARS WAS LEFT
ONLY A LITTLE TIME, AND NOW THEY WILL HAVE TO BE CROWS FOR ANOTHER
NINE YEARS. BUT SHE TOLD THEM THAT THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE, BECAUSE
SHE BROUGHT THEM SHIRTS THAT WHEN THEY WEAR THE SHIRT OUTSIDE THE
CAVE, THEY WILL REMAIN HUMANS. SO THEY ALL STAYED UP THAT NIGHT
WAITING FOR THE DAWN, TO FIND OUT IF IT WAS TRUE. WHEN DAWN CAME,
THE OLDEST BROTHER STEPPED OUT BUT REMAINED HUMAN. THEN THE REST PU
ON THEIR SHIRTS AND THEY ALL WENT HOME HAPPILY.

Submitter comment: TRANSLATED FROM LITHUANIAN BY RAMUNE STONYS WHILE STORY WAS BEING
TOLD.

Where learned: DINNER TABLE

Keyword(s): SUPERSTITION

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Tale

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SING AT THE TABLE, YOU GET A CRAZY WIFE.

Where learned: DINNER TABLE

Subject headings: Observation
BELIEF -- Marriage Dating Courtship

Date learned: 02-00-1971

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