Donkey Skin

Here is the story of the one called Peau d'âne. He was a people where you saw everywhere ugly and old witches who had more powers than the devil. Every night they went to the middle of the ruins where they held their meetings. The young people challenged each other, but none of them had the courage to surprise them. There was one, however, handsome and strong, who wanted to try this dangerous enterprise: on Saturday, at nightfall, he went to the haunted castle, and waited for the propitious hour.

Donkey skin

Donkey Skin

The wind rose, impetuous and violent, making the partitions creak and the walls tremble; the night was dark: the clumps and roots, strongly agitated, produced strange and wild noises; the only lights that could be made out were the eyes of a few owls perched on a wall. And the boy was still waiting, huddled in a corner, behind a heap of stones.

Around midnight, he saw the first witches arrive; they kissed each other's foreheads, immediately clinging to the roughness of the walls, tore off handfuls of grass; they lit a big fire, placed a colossal cauldron on it, and while murmuring incomprehensible words, they threw into it, each in turn, the herbs they brought, while their faces took on different colors; then they began, together, to dance a round. From time to time they would stop, and something abnormal would fall into the boiler; they even threw a child's arm into it.

The fire then took on an unusual color, a thick, stinking smoke rose which was suffocating; the witches broke off their rounds, continued their unintelligible murmurs, and, as the boiler cooled, they gave themselves up to their accustomed ablutions and frictions. Midnight struck the distant clock; they simultaneously cried "alla fulla", found themselves converted into black birds of prey, and began to flutter.

Our youngster, who had seen everything so far and whose curiosity was not sufficiently satisfied, wanted to continue the adventure. As soon as he saw them take flight, he ran to the boiler and rubbed himself with all the Ingredients it contained; Thinking then that by saying "alla fulla", he too should fly away like the witches, and that the latter, noticing the trickery, would kill him, he preferred to shout "baixa fulla".

But unfortunately ! Scarcely had he uttered the fatal word than he felt his ears grow, his arms lengthen, his hands and feet round in the shape of paws, and a tail grow out of him; he wanted to scream, but, transformed into a jackass, he only uttered howls; he ran after the witches.

As they flew away, he sought to reach them and followed the slopes of the ground, getting tangled up in thorny thickets, not knowing either what he was doing or how it would end, he wanted to scream again , but he could only bray; he heard, however, the curses addressed to him by men who passed on the roads or who watered their fields; it even seemed to him that he was being pursued without his being able to stop himself.

Finally, dawn appeared; he caught sight of the fatal chateau, which he hastily regained; he arrived there at the same time as the witches. The latter, perceiving the donkey, burst out laughing, seized him, put a halter on him, tied him to a railing and beat him with all their might with sticks; these repeated blows removed the hair which covered the skin of the poor animal; but little by little the rough skin was transformed into fine epidermis and the body itself resumed its primitive form.

Covered with bruises and scratches, exhausted, unrecognizable, the unfortunate fell to the ground and asked the witches for mercy; but these had already disappeared. With great difficulty, the hero of this adventure dragged himself along the path and arrived exhausted in the village, and everyone took pity on him. But no one had the curiosity to repeat the experiment.