Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Filipino (Tagalog) Version of Aladdin.

Once on a time a poor boy and his mother went far from their home city to seek their fortune. They were very poor, for the husband and father had died, leaving them little, and that little was soon spent. The boy went into the market-place to seek for work, and a travelling merchant, seeing his distress, spoke to him and asked many questions. When he had inquired the name of the boy's father, he embraced him with many kind words, and told him that he was the father's long-lost brother, and that as he had no children of his own the boy should be his heir and for the present live with him as his son. He sent the boy to call his mother, and when she came he kissed her with many words of endearment, and would have it that she was his sister-in-law, though she told him that her husband had no brother. He treated her well and made her many presents, so that she was forced to believe he really was her brother-in-law.

The merchant then invited the boy to go for a visit with him, promising that the mother should soon follow. Mother and son consented, and the merchant set off with his nephew in the afternoon. They went far and came to a mountain which they crossed, and then to a second, which seemed very high to the poor boy so that he begged to rest. The man would not allow this, and when the boy cried, beat him till he agreed to do whatever he was told. They crossed this mountain also, and came to a third, and on the very top they stopped. The merchant drew a ring from his own finger and put it on that of the boy. Then he drew a circle around the boy and told him not to be frightened at what would happen, but to stretch out his arms three times, and that the third time the ground would open, and that then he must descend and get a tabo [24] that he would find, and that with that in their hands they could quickly return. The boy, from fear of the man, did as he was told, and when the ground opened, went down into the cave and got the tabo. As he reached up his hand to be pulled from the cave, the man took the ring from his finger, and told him to hand up the vessel, but the boy, now much frightened, refused unless he were first helped out himself. That the man would not do, and after much talk drew another circle around the cave-mouth, bade it close, and left the boy a prisoner in most evil plight.

Alone and helpless for three days in the underground darkness, the boy was a prey to awful fear, but at the end of the third day, having by accident rubbed slightly the tabo with his hand, at once a great sinio [25] or multo [26] stood before him, saying that he was the slave of the tabo, and that all things earthly were within his power. At once mindful of his mother, he told the multo to take him home, and in the winking of an eye, still carrying the tabo in his hand, he stood before his mother. He found her very hungry and sorrowful, and recounted all that had happened and again rubbed the tabo lightly. The multo reappeared and the good woman hid her face for terror at the sight, but the lad bade the multo bring him a dinner for them both on a service of silver with everything to match.

After they had dined well for several days on the remnants of the food, the boy went to the market and sold the spoons that the multo had brought for two gold pieces, and on that they lived a long time: and as from time to time their money became exhausted, he sold more, till at last there was nothing left. Then, as he had become a young man, he required the multo to bring him a great chest of money, and soon became known as a very rich and generous person.

Now there was in that city a woman who had a very handsome daughter whom she wished to marry to the young man, and by way of opening the matter, she and her daughter went one day to try to buy some of the rich table ware which he had, or at least so they pretended. The young man was not of a mind for that kind of alliance, and so told the old woman to rub the magic vessel. She did so and the multo at once whisked her inside. The daughter also went in to inquire for her mother, and as she admiringly touched the tabo the multo made her prisoner, and the two became the slaves of the young man and were never heard of again.

A variant of this tale has been printed in Tagalog. It has probably reached the Phillppines through the medium of Spanish.

Fletcher Gardner.

Bloomington, Ind.

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