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buber.net > Basque > Folklore > EHL > Euskal Herriko Leiendak: The Spirits
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Euskal Herriko Leiendak: The Spirits

by chris

The following Basque Legend was translated by chris from the book "Euskal Herriko Leiendak". He originally posted these stories in the Forum.

In the village of Anes in Alava there was a man who they took for a wizard. He had a house far from the village that few approached, and anyone who did go there had a very good reason at least. All the people feared him, whether because a good crop could fail them or because some days he disappeared and at the slightest thought he returned again from the furthest villages bringing wizardly things and ointments.

For many years, the wizard and the inhabitants of Anes had good dealings because they were happy, had enough to eat and enough wood to make a fire with. But as the years went by, the wizard became a selfish and unsociable person. From one day to the next more and more things were needed. If he saw a horse that took his fancy, he asked the owner and if he did not want to give the horse to him then he threatened to kill all his stable animals... other times, he had a yearning for ham, or a cask of good wine...

The inhabitants of the village endured that tyranny, because they didn't want to make an enemy of the wizard... but he was become more and more greedy and their anger worsened.

"We must do something!" they said.

"That wizard must be killed!" Others said.

"But who is the brave person who will do that?" answered others.

Things would have carried on in the same way if the wizard hadn't decided to get married. He sent a message to the mayor declaring that he wanted to be married so to give the order to have ready a bride for the next day. If he didn't fulfill his request then he threatened to destroy the village. Faced with such a threat, the mayor didn't have any choice but to find a girl.

He chose a beautiful and graceful girl called Grazia, who was furthermore light hearted. That young girl didn't want to marry the wizard at all but, on the other hand, she didn't want to put the village in any kind of risk.

Since she didn't know how to solve the problem, that night she set out quietly towards the wizard's house and looked through one of the windows. The wizard was making one of his potions. After throwing hay and dust into the pot, he mixed them with a long stick. After stirring for a long time he tried to take the pot from the fire, but he couldn't because it was so heavy.

Then from the top of the table he took a sickle, and removing the handle, four little men came out from the inside. THey had red trousers and jumping around they started crying:

"What do you want us to do? What do you want us to do?"

"Take the pot from the flame" The wizard said to them.

The astonishment of Grazia when she saw those four little men lifting that pot!

"And now? What do you want doing?" They asked again.

The wizard pointed a finger, and the four little men jumped up onto it.

"Now, nothing, my loves. I don't know what I would do without you all... if they only knew in the village that you were my magic... ha, ha, ha!" said the Wizard laughing "but they will never know! If tommorow morning they haven't found a bride for me then I will send you to destroy the village, to ruin the fields and kill all the animals... But now, get back into the handle of the sickle."

The four spirits did as ordered and the wizard fastened the handle back on. Then, he put out the light and went to sleep.

Grazia stayed there quietly for a long time, sitting against the window waiting. Having made the decision at last, she opened the window and entered the house. She went towards the table and took the sickle. The spirits started crying:

"Boss! Is that you? What do you want doing?"

Grazia quickly left the house with the sickle in hand, but the noise and the cries of the little men awoke the wizard. When he saw what was happening, he jumped out of bed and ran after the girl. Grazia ran as quickly as she could, but the wizard came soon behind.

"Return the sickle!" he shouted.

Grazia, despairing, saw the wizard get closer and closer, and when he was almost at her side threw the sickle away as far as she could towards the stone road. The sickled bounced three times and then the handle shattered, and as it did the four spirits emerged from it and disappeared.

"Damn, what have you done?" asked the wizard in a weak voice.

Grazia turned round to look at him. Perhaps what she was seeing was true? The wizard was disappearing! She watched for some seconds, until only the clothes that the wizard had been wearing remained before her eyes.

Grazia returned quickly to the village and told them what had happened. They put together a party to go and see but when they reached the wizard's house, they didn't find anything, not even a trace of the house itself. Everything had vanished.

From then on, for many years, the people of that village wanted to get their hands on the spirits. Because of this, they left out the handle of a sickle in the bramble patch every San Juan's eve. But as we know, still no one has managed to get their hands on the spirits again.

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