FOUND, A ROM FAIRYTALE
In 1967, a tale, Cirikli, recorded among the Moldavian Roma by the great scholar Lev Nikolaevic Cerenkov was published in the French journal Etudes Tsiganes. He claimed to have found no parallel versions of this tale in Gypsy literature. Yet a parallel fairy tale exists, albeit with a more articulated plot, and was published in Italy in 1984. This version refers to it.
A long time ago, somewhere in the world, there lived a poor Roma and a poor Romani woman who had five children. When their son was born, on a clear night of moon and stars, the Vrsitori, i.e. the Fairies of Destiny, went to see him. 'This child,' they said, 'will one day enjoy all the goods that today belong to the richest man in the land. But just as the Fairies were uttering those words, who passed by the Romany house? The richest man in the district, who heard everything through the open window and rushed to knock on the door. - Sell me your son! - he said to the Roma and his wife. - Sell him to me and I will give you lots of gold and silver! And since the Romany man and his wife would not give him up for so much gold or silver, the rich man pretended to be moved, shed a few tears and added: 'Don't you understand that I want to help you, my dears? You are very poor and have so many children, how will you feed this child too? I, on the other hand, have only one child. If you give him to me, I will raise him with her, feed him, send him to school and make him a rich and powerful person.... Never had the two poor Roma believed him! For the rich man, as soon as he left the village in his carriage, told the coachman to stop and take the child into the woods. -Leave him in the dark den of the bear! - he ordered him. - So the bear can have his dinner! The coachman, however, who was not as hard-hearted as his apdrone, instead of leaving the child in the bear's dark den, put him in the shelter of a blackberry bush. And it was there that a hunter found him the next day. - Who could have abandoned such a small child? - he asked himself. And because he was a good man, he took him home to his wife, put on the npme of Arakado, which means 'found', and took him as his son. Months passed and years passed and Arakado grew up to be a tall, strong boy, as beautiful as the moon and the stars. So beautiful that as soon as the rich man's daughter saw him bathing in the river, she fell in love with him before she could even say 'good morning' or 'good evening'. And since Arakado also fell in love with her before he could say 'good morning' or 'good evening' to her, he went to his father and said: 'I want to marry your daughter, with your permission and your blessing. However, when the rich man went to see Arakado's adoptive parents to agree on the marriage, and heard from them that the boy had been found as a child in the woods, he realised who he really was and wrote a note saying: 'As soon as this beggar of a Roma comes home, order the servants to take him into the woods and tie him to a tree near the dark bear den! So that the bear will have his lunch!" Then he folded the note in four parts, sealed it with his golden seal and said to Arakado: - Dear boy, go and take it to my wife. iI will stay here tonight with your parents. - If you so wish, so I shall! said Arakado. The young Roma went on his way and when darkness fell, he stopped to sleep in an abandoned farmhouse, imagining neither much nor anything about what awaited him the next day. And while he slept, two old tramps entered the cottage, pulled the note out of his trouser pocket and read it. - You see, what did I tell you? - mumbled the one who was the least old of the two, and who was none other than St Peter himself. - A leopard can't change its spots! Then his companion, who had a long white beard and who was none other than old Del, reduced the note to ashes by brushing it with his fingers and replaced it with another that said: "Welcome this good young man as if he were our son, for tomorrow he will marry our daughter. When the rich man's wife read the note the next day, she welcomed Arakado with full honours. She gave him the largest room, treated him to a fifteen-course meal and ordered the servants to rush to call the priest to perform the marriage the next day.
Imagine the rich man's face when he came home! He reprimanded his wife, threw out the priest, beat the servants and said to Arakado: - If you want to marry my daughter, you must first go to the monod to seek your fortune. Come back only when you have found her!
- If you so wish, so I shall! - said Arakado. He went on his way again and walked to a village where the well had not yielded water for seven years. - If you really find your luck, remember us! - pleaded the peasants, who no longer knew how to irrigate their gardens. - I will remember! - Arakado promised them. He took to the road again and walked on to the bank of a river, where a fish as big as a boat was fighting and moaning. - If you happen to run into luck, remember me! - said the big fish to him, who was none other than Bengh, the devil himself. - For seven years now, the more water I drink, the more my mouth burns like fire! - I will do it,' Arakado primed him too. - But in the meantime you help me cross to the other side of the river...
The young man reached the other bank on Bengh's horse and before sunset arrived in front of the palace of a fire-breathing, wizard Dragon, who was surrounded by 123 stone soldiers. - If you should cross paths with fortune, don't forget us! - the 123 soldiers pleaded with him. - You must know that we had come here to rescue the King's daughter, whom seven years ago the Dragon kidnapped to take her as his wife. But before we could launch the attack on his palace, the Dragon enchanted us and we could no longer move! Arakado swore to them that he would do it, sneaked into a small door of the palace, climbed the stairs and in one room found the princess who had become the wife of the DRAGON. - Good morning! I have come for the forutna! - What luck?! - exclaimed the princess. - If you don't hide, my husband will eat you! Arakado barely made it to the temple to hide under the bed, for already the fire-breathing, wizard dragon was entering the room, making smoke and flames from his nose and ears. - What's going on here? I smell a Christian! - There are no Christians here! - retorted his wife. - You're just as grumpy as ever, get into bed! The Dragon got into bed and the princess, to distract him, said: - Do you know what I dreamt last night, my dear? I dreamt of a country where for seven years the well has given no water.... - It does not give water because I have enchanted it,' muttered the Dragon. -Water will only come back when two children go down into the well and get the golden cross at the bottom... - I also dreamt of a fish that seven years old drinks and his thirst does not pass.... - It does not pass him by because I have enchanted him. It will only get over him when he eats a Christian: shoes, hat and everything in between. - And you know what I dreamt of again, dear husband? I dreamt that all the stone soldiers surrounding our palace had become flesh and blood again.... - THIS WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER HAPPEN1 - THE DRAGON WAS FIRE AND FIRE. - It could only happen if a Christian said three times out loud: Hop les! Hop les! Hop Les!". Hearing those words Arakado came out to the bed and three times exclaimed: - Hop les! Hop les! Hop les!