The Worlds Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906. Vol. XIV: RussianScandinavianMiscellaneous
Popular Latvian Tales
Retold by Andrejanoff
IN a certain forest region dogheads and men lived side by side. The former were hunters, the latter tillers of the soil. Once the dogheads caught a young girl who had come from a far country, and had lost her way in the wood. They took her to their home, and for a long time fed her with the kernels of nuts and with sweet milk. Now and then they stuck needles into the girls arm to see if she was fat enough. The blood which flowed from her arm they licked up as greedily as a bear licks honey. At last they thought the girl was in proper condition to be eaten, so they told their mother to kill and cook her, and they themselves went out hunting. In the oven a great fire had been blazing for three days. But since there was no shovel with which the old creature could put the young girl into the oven, she sent her to the nearest human dwelling to borrow one. The girl, who had no suspicion of her fate, did as she was told, but the woman who lent her the shovel saw through the whole plan, and gave her some good advice.
When the mother of the dogheads told the girl to lie down on the shovel, the latter behaved as awkwardly as possible. She tried again and again, but could not get into the oven. Then the old creature waxed wroth and began to curse. But the girl said, Why are you angry? Show me how it is to be done, and I will follow your example.
The advice appealed to the old monster. She lay down flat on the shovel and cried, Now you see! But in the twinkling of an eye the girl shoved her into the red-hot stove, and slammed the door. Then she turned her sandals round so that toe came under heel, and fled.
When the dogheads came home they went at once for their roast and began to devour it. But somehow they did not relish it as much as they had anticipated, so that they began to look closely at the remnants, and found among them a jewel which their mother had been wont to wear. Now they realized something of what had happened, and, cursing, they set out to search for the girl. She had reached a broad river, which she found it impossible to cross. When she heard the barking and howling of the approaching dogheads, she climbed a tree, and hid herself in the foliage. The dogheads stood by the river bank, undetermined what to do. Suddenly they saw the reflection of her whom they sought in the water. A breeze had blown the leaves apart, so that the girls face looked out, and was mirrored in the river. In their blind rage her pursuers now began to lick up the water. They licked and licked until they burst. And so the girl was safe from them forever.