The Man-foal

There used to be in the old castle of Kerouéz, in the commune of Loguivi-Plougras, a rich and powerful lord who had an only son, who had come into the world with the head of a foal, he was a Poulain-Man.



When the child with the foal's head reached the age of eighteen, he told his mother one day that he wanted to get married, and that he should go and ask him for one of the farmer's daughters, who was three years old. pretty young girls.

The good lady went to her farmer's house, a little embarrassed about her commission. After having talked with her for a long time about her cattle, her children and a thousand other things, she finally explained the reason for her visit.

- Jesus! Madam, what are you saying! Give my daughter, a Christian, to a man with the head of a beast! cried the farmer.
- Do not be too frightened of that, my poor wife, it is God who gave it to me thus, and it is rather unhappy, the poor child! Besides, it is gentleness and kindness itself, and your daughter would be happy with it.
- I will ask my daughters, and if one of them accepts, I will not object.

And the good woman went to her daughters, and explained to them the reason for the visit of the lady of the castle.

- Do you dare to make such a proposal to us? replied the two older ones; marry someone who has the head of a foal! It would be necessary to be well short of gallants, and, God, thank you, we are not there yet.
"But, think how rich he is, and since he is an only child, the castle and everything else will belong to you."
"It is true," resumed the elder, "I shall thus be a lord; well ! tell her that I agree to marry her.

The mother transmitted the answer of her eldest daughter to the lady, and the latter returned happily to the castle, to announce the news to her son.
The preparations for the wedding were immediately taken care of.

A few days later, the young bride was near the douet, in the wood, looking at the maids of the castle who washed the clothes, chatting and laughing with them. One of them said to him:

- How can you take for a husband someone who has the head of a foal, a beautiful girl like you!
- Bah ! she replied, "he is rich; and then, rest assured, he will not be my husband for long, because, on the first night of my wedding, I will cut his neck.

At this moment a handsome lord came by who, having overheard the conversation, said:

- You have a singular conversation here!
- These washerwomen, Monseigneur, replied the young bride, are making fun of me, because I agree to marry the young lord of the castle, who has the head of a colt; but, I will not be the wife of that animal for long, because, on the first night of my wedding, I will cut off his neck.

- You will do well, answered the stranger. And he continued on his way, and disappeared.
Finally, the wedding day arrived. Big party at the castle and big feasts. When the hour arrived, the maids of honor led the bride to the bridal chamber, undressed her, put her to bed, then withdrew. The young husband then arrived, handsome and brilliant; for after sunset he lost his colt's head and became in every way like other men. He ran to bed, leaned over the young wife, as if to kiss her, and cut off her head! ...

The next morning, when her mother came, she was horrified at the sight that presented itself to her eyes, and cried:

- God, my son, what have you done?
- I did to her, my mother, what she wanted to do to myself.

Three months later, the desire to marry resumed the lord with the head of a colt, and he begged his mother to go and ask him for the farmer's second daughter. She was doubtless unaware of the manner in which her sister had perished; also, she accepted with eagerness the proposal which was made to her, always because of the great goods of the young lord.

The preparations for the wedding began immediately, and one day she was, like her sister, near the douet, looking at the washerwomen of the castle, chatting and laughing with them, someone said to him:

- How can you take for husband a man with the head of a foal, pretty as you are? And then, be careful, no one knows exactly what happened to your older sister ...
- Rest easy, I will know how to get rid of this animal; I will kill him like a pig on the first night of his marriage, and all his goods will remain with me.

At this moment again came the same unknown lord, who stopped for a moment and said:

- You have a strange conversation there, young girls!
- It is these girls, Monseigneur, who dissuade me from marrying the young master of the castle, because he has the head of a colt; but I will slaughter it like a pig on the first night of my marriage, and all its goods shall be mine.
- You will do well, - replied the stranger; - and he disappeared.

The wedding was celebrated with solemnity, as the first time; magnificent feasts, music, dances, all kinds of games. But, the next morning, the young bride was still found in her bed, her head cut off! ...

Three months later, the young lord with the foal head told his mother to go and ask him for the farmer's third daughter. The parents made difficulties this time; the fate of their two older siblings frightened them. But, they were offered to cede their smallholding to them in full ownership, and this was an irresistible argument. Moreover, the young girl herself was consenting and said to her mother:

- I will take it willingly, mother; if my two sisters lost their lives, it's their fault; it was their language that was the cause.

So wedding preparations were made at the castle for the third time. Like her two older children, the young bride went to talk to the washerwomen on the pond.
- How, they said to him, a pretty girl like you, you are going to marry someone who has the head of a foal, and after what happened to your two older sisters!
- Yes, yes, she replied, confidently, I will marry him and I am not afraid that it will happen to me as to my sisters; if bad luck happened to them, it was their language that was the cause.

At this moment, the same lord passed as the other two times, who overheard the conversation, and continued on his way, without saying anything this time.
The wedding took place with great pomp and solemnity; magnificent feasts, music, dancing, games and entertainment of all kinds, like the first two times. The only difference was that the next day the bride was still alive.

For nine months she lived happily with her husband. The latter had his colt's head only during the day; the sun going down, he became a handsome young man, until the next morning.

At the end of nine months, the young woman gave birth to a son, a beautiful child, well formed, and without the head of a foal. When leaving to have the child baptized, the father said to the young mother:

- I had been condemned to bear the head of a foal, until a child was born to me; now I will be delivered, and after my son is baptized, I will be like other men in everything. But don't say any of this to anybody till the baptismal bells have stopped ringing; if you say the least thing about it, even to your mother, I will disappear instantly, and you will never see me again!

Having made this recommendation, he left with the godfather and the godmother, to have his son baptized.

Soon the young mother heard the bells of her bed, and she was very happy. In her impatience to share the good news with her mother, who was by her bed, she couldn't wait until they had stopped ringing and spoke. Immediately she saw her husband arrive, with his foal's head, covered with dust and very angry.

- Ah! unhappy, he cried, what have you done?
Now I'm leaving, and you'll never see me again!

And he left immediately, without even kissing her.
She stood up to hold him back; not being able to, she ran after him.
- Do not follow me ! he shouted at her.
But she wasn't listening to him, and was still running.
- Do not follow me, I tell you!

She was on her heels, she was going to reach him; he turned away and punched her in the face. Blood spurted onto his shirt, and made three spots.

- May these stains, cried the young woman, never be able to be erased, until I arrive to remove them myself!
- And you, unhappy one, answered her husband, you will not find me until you have worn out three pairs of iron shoes looking for me!
While the blood, which flowed abundantly from the young mother's nose, prevented her from continuing, the man-foal continued his course, and she soon lost sight of him.

So she had three pairs of iron shoes made, and went looking for him. She was going haphazardly, not knowing which direction to take.

After walking for ten years, her third pair of shoes were almost worn out, when she found herself one day near a castle, where maids were washing clothes, on a pond. She paused a moment to look at them, and heard one of the washerwomen say:

- Here it is again, the bewitched shirt! It shows up in all the mist, and I rub it in vain with soap, I cannot remove the three blood stains which are there; and tomorrow the Lord will need it to go to church, because it is his best shirt!

The young woman listened with all her ears. She approached the washerwoman, who spoke thus, and said to her:

- Give me this shirt a little, please; I think I will be able to remove the stains.

They gave him the shirt; she spat on the stains, dipped it in water, then rubbed it, and the stains were gone.

- Thank you, said the washerwoman; go to the chateau, ask for accommodation and soon, when I arrive, I will recommend you to the cook.

She went to the chateau, ate in the kitchen with the servants, and they made her sleep in a small closet, very close to the lord's room. All the beds were occupied everywhere. Around midnight, the Lord entered his room. The young woman's heart was beating so hard, to find herself so close to her husband, that she almost fainted. A partition of only planks separated them from one another. She tapped her finger on the partition; her husband answered on the other side.

She made herself known, and her husband hastened to join her. Judge if they were happy to meet again, after such a long separation, and so many evils suffered!

It was high time! The next day was to be celebrated his marriage with the daughter of the master of this castle. But he had the ceremony postponed, I do not know under what pretext, and as the feast was prepared, and the guests had all arrived, we sat down to table. The foreigner, as beautiful as a princess, although little adorned, was presented to society by the bride, like her cousin.

The meal was very cheerful. Towards the end, the groom spoke to his future father-in-law thus:
- Father-in-law, I would like to have your opinion on the following case: I have a pretty box, filled with precious objects, and of which I had lost the key. I had a new key made, and I have now found the first one. Which should I give preference to?

"Respect is always due for what is old," replied the old man; you have to go back to your first key.
- Well ! here is my first wife, whom I have just found, because I am already married; and as I still love it, I think it is appropriate for me to take it back, as you yourself said.

Great was the astonishment of everyone; and in the midst of the general silence, he took his first wife by the hand, and went out with her from the banquet hall.
They returned to their country and lived happily together for the rest of their lives.