The Brave Shepherd


A tale of courage overcoming force

This version was posted by Bob Spear on the internet.
Here is a story I adapted from a Slovakian tale from The Fairy Tale Tree, translated by Stanovsky, Putnam, 1961.

Many years ago there was a giant who lived inside a hill. His name was Stompit. He was enormous, strong and terrifying, and everyone kept well away from his hill.
One day, however, a young shepherd appeared on the hillside with a herd of goats.
"Hey, who dat?", shouted the giant, when he heard them. He sprang out of the hill with a piece of rock in his hand.
"It is I, if you want to know," answered the young shepherd, and drove his goats further up the hill.
"Just wait till I catch you! Then I'll crush you with my fist so your bones are ground to powder like these pebbles!", shouted Stompit, and he squeezed the rock until it was a pile of dust.
"And I shall squeeze you to bits so the water will run out of you as it does from this stone!", answered the young shepherd, and he squeezed the piece of fresh creme cheese he had in his hand till the whey trickled down through his fingers.
"What, you're not afraid of me?", asked Stompit?
"Certainly not of the likes of you!", replied the shepherd.
"Then fight me," said Stompit.
"By all means," said the shepherd. "But first of all we must cuss a bit, so I can get into a temper. If I'm not in a temper, I can't fight."
"Very well, but I'll begin," said Stompit.
"All right, but then it's my turn!", retorted the shepherd.
"May thunder strike you down!", said the giant.
"And may flying devils strike your soul!", answered the shepherd, and he shot a sharp arrow from his bow at the giant's chest.
"Whatever was that?", complained the giant, as he tried to pull out the arrow.
""That was my curse!", said the shepherd.
"And why does it have feathers on its end?", asked Stompit.
"So that it flies better!", replied the shepherd.
"And why can't I get it out?", cried the giant.
"Because it has grown roots in you already!", said the shepherd.
"Do you have many other curses like that one?", asked the giant anxiously.
"Sure, here's another one. May you be stung by a giant bee!", shouted the shepherd as he shot a second arrow into the giant's chest.
"Ow, ow!", groaned Stompit. "Aren't you in a bad enough temper to fight yet?"
"Good gracious, no!", as he shot a third arrow.
"Yeouch, Very well, graze your goats wherever you like," shouted Stompit. "If I cant't bear your curses, how can I expect to stand up to your blows?", and he disapeared back into the hill.
So the young shepherd boy defeated the enormous giant, simply because he wasn't afraid.

There are many similar tales. In one, for example, the Norse god Thor tricks a far stronger giant by squeezing water out of a soft cheese the giant believes to be a rock.

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