Basque Legends | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications. Two sections, "An Essay on the Basque Language" and "Basque Poetry," are not included in this database.

Young Schoolboy, The


ONCE upon a time there was a gentleman and lady. They had a child. The father was captain of a ship. The mother regularly sent her son to school, and when the father came back from his voyages he asked his child if he had learnt much at school. The mother answered, "No, no! not much."

               The father went off for another voyage. He comes home the second time. "My child, what have you learnt at school?"

               The child answers his father, "Nothing."

               "You have learnt nothing?"

               The captain goes to find the schoolmaster, and asks him if his child does not learn anything.

               "I cannot drive anything into that child's head."

               The boy comes up, and the father, asks him again what he has learnt at school.

               "This is all. (To understand) the song of the birds."

               "O, my son, the song of the birds! the song of the birds! Come, come on board ship with me."

               And he carries him off. While they were on the voyage a bird comes and settles on the end of the ship, singing, "Wirittitti, kirikiriki."

               "My son, come, come, instead of beginning by learning the art of a captain you have learned the song of birds. Do you know what this bird sings?"

               "Yes, my father. I know he sings that I am now under your orders, but you shall also be under mine."

               What does this captain do? He takes a barrel, knocks out the head, and puts his son into it. He closes up the barrel and throws it into the sea, and a storm casts it ashore.

               A king was walking there just at that moment, and he finds this barrel and sends for his men. They begin to try and break open the barrel, and the boy cries out from inside:

               "Gently, gently, there is someone inside."

               They open the barrel, and the boy comes out from inside. The king takes him home, and he marries the king's daughter.

               One day the father of this boy was caught in a great storm, and the captain is thrown by the tempest on the sea-shore. He went to the king, and saw his son. The son recognised the father, but the father did not recognise the son at all, and he became his own son's servant. One day he said to him:

               "Do you know who I am?"

               "No, sir."

               "I am such an one, your son. At such a time you threw me into the sea in a barrel, and now the bird's song has come true."

               And after that the father and the son lived together very happily.

               Estefanella Hirigaray.

               The following seems to be a variation of the same:--[The Son Who Heard Voices.]

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Young Schoolboy, The
Tale Author/Editor: Webster, Wentworth
Book Title: Basque Legends
Book Author/Editor: Webster, Wentworth
Publisher: Griffith and Farran
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1879
Country of Origin: France (Basque)
Classification: ATU 517: The Boy Who Understands the Language of Birds

Back to Top