Friday, March 19, 2010

© Eso Antons Benjamins, aka Jaņdžs

92 A Story of
Clever John and Crazy Jane

An old Latvian story retold. For the original see
3.A.327.B.460. A.K. Bramanis Rīgas apg. LP,V,36 (3,1).

For transition from proto-Latvian Kingdom of Jersika to modern state of Latvia (the image of which is currently under the direction of what can best be described as the Chicago School of Latvia) see blogs from 58 on.

The following links lead you to think of life with a different entry point in time than the machines that roar on our streets and over our heads. I recommend you listen and see the links in the sequence as below before reading the story.

Introduction. Once upon a time there were seven brothers. The seventh brother, the one who was the youngest, was the cleverest. This is why his brothers called him Clever John.

Even while he was very young, Clever John called his brothers together and said to them: “You know, guys, I know where there lives a mother with seven daughters. These are going to be our brides. Still, do not get married until I grow up.”

The brothers of Clever John thought it over and agreed to wait. After all, one could have fun while waiting. The village had many young women, and few were shy.

The time went, and it did not seem so very long before Clever John grew up. He then called his brothers together once more and said to them: “Guys, the Summer Solstice Festival, Johns Day, will be here day after tomorrow. You know how important this day is. There will be a big to do as all wait for the Sun to rise. We all know what will happen if She does not rise. Anyway, there will be a large crowd and a big dance at the Waysiders Inn on Johns Eve. The seven daughters that will be our brides will also be there. Now let us saddle our horses and off we ride.”
“Nice idea, Clever John,” answered his brothers, but where will we find seven horses. We don’t even have one.”

“No problem,” answered Clever John. “Go catch me seven crickets and I will fix it.”

The brothers looked at each other as if to say “Just listen to this, guy”. On the other hand, Clever John had done many clever things in the past, and perhaps this was going to be another one of those times. So, they went and caught seven crickets, stuffed them in a sack, and brought them to Clever John.
The first leg of the journey. Clever John looked into the sack, counted seven crickets, and invited his brothers to follow him to the sea.

When the brothers had come to the sea shore, Clever John opened the sack and shook the crickets into the shallow water that lapped the shore there. The crickets kicked around in the water for a while, and then one after another went limp. It seemed that they were about to die, if indeed they were not dead already.

One of the older brothers of Clever John was about to start laughing, thinking that Clever John had pulled off a joke on them, when, suddenly, the crickets started to shrivel and drew themselves into something that looked like seven pinheads. Then the pinheads began to grow larger again. They grew and grew into ever larger bubbles, until one could discern inside each bubble a horse. When the bubbles burst, out of each one of them stepped a horse in full saddle. The brothers, too, discovered that they all had a new suit and new riding boots.
“Well, did I not say that this will happen? And is it not so?” asked Clever John.

He was wasting his breath, however. His brothers had already mounted their horses and were at a full gallop over the dunes and unto the road to the Wayside Inn. The sea gulls barely had time to call to them good bye before they were out of sight.

Clever John was left with the seventh horse. He jumped into the saddle and was ready to ride, but discovered that because the bubble that his horse came from had burst a prematurely, his horse was smaller than the others. This is why Clever John could not ride as fast. Came evening, Clever John had still not caught up with his brothers, who, no doubt, were already at the inn and celebrating Johns Eve. It was the custom of the land that if on Midsummer’s Eve a man promised a woman the blossom of a fern and sunshine in the morning, the women could hardly refuse the men whatever it is they asked of them—come rain or sunshine.
So, this is what happened. By the time that Clever John reached Wayside Inn, it was already the morning of Johns Day. The Sun rose, discovered that no people had come out to greet her. None stood on the hilltops or had the Johns fires still going when she rose. She drew a peak through the windows of the Wayside Inn and discovered that everyone but one had had so much fun the evening before that everyone but one was asleep. Apparently, as soon as the six brothers of Clever John had arrived at the inn, the dancing had begun for real. The wife of the establishment owner, known as the “Mother of the Devil himself” had not spared on the beer. Her daughters, the waitresses, had not only served the beer to the customers, but had allowed themselves a portion. When Clever John opened the door to the inn, he saw that what had taken place was not only a Yandahls (Johns Dance), but a wedding. Everyone lay about where they had fallen.
In a far corner of the inn sat Crazy Jane. She was the oldest of the mother’s seven daughters. Clever John’s brothers, thinking her less pretty than the others, had left her for their youngest brother. There was no question, that Crazy Jane was lanky and flat chested. On the other hand, just as Clever John opened the door of the inn, the Sun cast on her one shaft of light, upon which Crazy Jane raised her eyes and saw Clever John. She knew she had not waited in vain.

As for Clever John, he was no dummy. “There is nothing to be sorry about,” he said to himself. “I will take what is left for the taking. The more she is lanky, the more she will bend.”

Crazy Jane invited Clever John into the inn. In the kitchen she baked him bacon and eggs, and served it on a plate with caraway cheese and beer. Then she sat down across the table from Clever John and asked: “What took you so long, Clever John?”
“My brothers played a joke on me,” replied Clever John.

“Yes, my mother told me,” answered Crazy Jane. “She saw what happened. She told me to wait up for you. We plan to reward your brothers for not waiting up for the Sun.”

“I will be much obliged,” answered Clever John. “I think that you are so beautiful, you can come live with me. I am the owner of a big inn. I have a stall full of horses.”

Just then Clever John’s six brothers and their brides started awakening. The brothers put on their hats and went out to the stall to take care of their horses. Outside the rain was pouring. Perhaps the Sun was crying. While the six brides fixed up the inn, Crazy Jane invited Clever John to her room to rest a while. She lay down beside him and whispered a secret into his ear. She also gave Clever John a warning. It was about how she and her mother planned to give the  brothers their reward. Clever John thanked Jane for the information and went to sleep.
When Clever John awoke, Crazy Jane had prepared a surprise for him. On the table beside the bed, Jane has set for John a fresh neck scarf. On top of the scarf was a gold ring, and next to the bed stand a pair of new riding boots.

Crazy Jane then told Clever John that she had stolen the boots from the Devil himself. Then, as if to prove that along with this story, she was indeed a little crazy, Crazy Jane told John not to put the boots on his legs, but on those of his horse.

“With boots on, the horse will carry us both off to our honeymoon,” she told John.

“Alright,” says Clever John. “That will be some ride.” He then puts on the neckerchief and the gold ring that Jane has set out. When Crazy Jane looked at John, he looked just like a prince. Crazy Jane was so thrilled that she gaveClever John a big kiss. Clever John kisses her back.
After a while Clever John remembered that he, too, must take care of his horse. However, instead of putting on either his own or the Devil’s boots, he cleverly dressed as was the custom on Johns Day--he put on his feet bark loafers. In each hand, he carried a pair of riding boots.

“When one is strong and another is weak, both are strong,” whispered Crazy Jane into Clever John’s ear as he went out the door.

On his way to the tall, Clever John meets with his brothers who are coming back from the stall. They come toward him whistling, and then one of them greet him. “Hey, Clever John, what are you going to do with those boots? Are you going to put them on that nag of yours?” All the brothers break out in a laugh. Ha, ha! But only Clever John knows what the boots are really for.

Another brother hm-m-med and asked: “Did you ask Crazy Jane how many men have stretched her before she got so long?”
While everyone laughed, Clever John winced.

“You dumb horseflies,” said Clever John as he then turned to his brothers. “What would you do without me? Do you have any notion of what awaits you tonight?”

The six brothers took control of themselves and gathered around Clever John. “What’s this? What can happen to us? Our brides are like honey covered strawberries. Are you jealous of us or something?”

Clever John then begins to explain: “Look, my dear brothers. The innkeeper-es is no innocent angel, but the Mother of the Devil himself. She is so angry with you for falling asleep last night that she would as soon as….” Clever John draws a finger across his throat. “More over, her daughters have only been pretending. They would probably like to strangle you.”
“What kind of dumb horseflies do you think we are?” said yet another brother. “Our brides purred us to our sleep last night, and look! We are alive.”

“Yes, and they now have proof just how much you honor the Sun.”

The brothers stood as if transfixed. “Men, we are into big doodoo,” said the very oldest of the brothers.

“Here is my plan,” then began Clever John. “Listen! When the Mother of the Devil invites us to sleep in the hayloft and bids us good night, she will give each one of us a kiss, so we all think that she is so very nice. She will hand to each one of us a nightcap, which we are to put on our heads during our sleep. She will give a wreath of flowers to each one of her daughters.”

“Nothing wrong with that,” said one of the skeptical brothers.
“That is not all,” said Clever John. The Mother of the Devil will tell her daughters to sleep along the rafters of the loft, while we are to sleep in a row on the outside.”

“So? What’s wrong?”

Clever John put down the boots, put his hand into his pocket and pulled out six cream of milk candies. “Don’t you suck on these,” he tells his brothers, “but give these to your brides. Tell them it contains a  special love potion. They will go for it. Actually, along the cream is mixed with a sleeping potion and your brides will soon be snoring. When your brides are snoring, put your nightcaps on their heads and roll them into your place on the outside row. Then put their wreaths on your heads. This is no joke, else you will not stay live.”

“Can we roll the sisters while we’re still awake?” asked one of the brothers. Perhaps he wished to be smarter than smart, but he got no answer.

Clever John looked around to make sure no one overheard and then told his brothers something that made them see black smoke and doom. Their eyes opened wide. Yes, that is something that one better not kid about. Of course, it is difficult to believe what Clever John is telling, but one never knows for sure. Maybe it is for real.

It all happens as Clever John has foretold.

A few minutes after midnight the barn door creaks open, and up to the loft came the Mother of the Devil. She held in her hands an axe that was wide as the length of two feet put end to end. And then she proceeded to chop off all the heads of all who lay along the outer edge right edge of the loft with nightcaps on their heads.

It is in this way that the Mother of the Devil cut off the heads of all her daughters—including the head of Crazy Jane, the Mother of the Devil’s eldest daughter. Clever John had been so clever that he had made Crazy Jane believe that she would be his bride. Of course, this was not fair. After all, was that not a great secret that Crazy Jane had entrusted Clever John with? Was that not true love?

We now see--don’t we?--of how it is with true love sometimes.

(In the next blog the second part of Clever John’s journey.)

Asterisk & Notes of Interest:
On  material depravation in Latvia.
On the theme of “more-equal-than-others” George Orwell's "Animal Farm"
A recommended read: “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism” by Emmanuel Goldstein (A book within a book from George Orwell's "1984").  
Of great interest to me is this and like articles. It presents some of my reasons for supporting the growing of Johns Grass in Latvia.
These blogs tend to be a continuum of an idea or thought, which is why—if you are interested in what you read—you are encouraged to consider reading the previous blog and the blog hereafter.
Partial entries of my blogs may be found at LatvianOnline + Forum Home + Open Forum –ONLATVIANPOPULISM vs LATVIJASLABEJIE. If you copy this blog for your files, or copy to forward, or otherwise mention its content, please credit the author and  

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