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buber.net > Basque > Folklore > EHL > Euskal Herriko Leiendak: Tartalo
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Euskal Herriko Leiendak: Tartalo

by chris

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

Two brothers, returning from a long journey, coming to Zegama in Gipuzkoa, were lost in the mountains. After walking and walking, needing somewhere to spend the night, they entered into a cave that they saw near them.

A little later, Tartalo appeared with his sheep, and after entering the cave, blocked the entrance with a big stone. When he realized that the two brothers were there, he turned that big frightening single eye to them, saying to the older:

"You, today."

And to the younger:

"You, tommorow."

And saying that, he grabbed the elder brother, put him on the side of a roasting fork, and stuck him on the fire, then he ate the elder brother in front of the horrified eyes of the younger. Before sleeping, Tartalo took a ring and put it on the finger of the other boy. If a question was asked of the ring:

"Where are you?"

Always it would reply:

"Here I am, here I am!"

"This way I will always know where you are." Saying that, the monster went to sleep.

A little while later, the younger stopped dancing around, since he didn't know what to do. Almost giving up, he wandered from here to there inside the cave looking for a crack, but that cave had only one exit, and he alone couldn't move the boulder blocking the entrance.

At last he had an idea. Taking the roasting fork, heating it in the first, he drove it into the single eye of Tartalo. The giant, giving out a terrible scream, took out the fork.

"You've blinded me, you damned boy!! By hand alone I'll crush you!"

Tartalo, getting up from his sleeping place, started looking blindly for the young man, but he wasn't there; going from one place to another, running away from the scratching sound of the giant. When he didn't find him among the sheep and skins, the giant moved to the entrance stone and made all the sheep, one by one, pass between his legs. The boy also passed between them, wrapped in a sheep skin. When he saw that he was outside, he ran.

When he realized that is prize has escaped, Tartalo remembered the ring and started to call:

"Where are you?"

"Here I am, here I am!" the ring answered.

Guided by the voice, Tartalo set off after the boy. Each step of the giant was ten steps of the poor boy, and as he was following running the boy could see the giant getting closer and closer. He made every effort to take the ring from his finger, but in vain. When he had almost given up, he took off his shoes quietly, took a small pocket knife and cut off his finger and threw it into a well, ring and all.

Tartal called out again:

"Where are you?"

And the ring answered from the bottom of the well:

"Here I am, here I am!"

And Tartalo, that cannibalistic monster who frightened the whole region, fell into the well and there he drowned. Now there isn't any of his kind to scare those in Zegama and the surrounding villages, but in the mountains there aren't many who go near the Tartola house.

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