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How Ball Carrier Finished His Task

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How Ball Carrier Finished His Task

by Andrew Lang

Genre: Fairy Tale
Format of Original Source: Short Story
Recommended Adaptation Length: 90 Minutes

Candidate for Adaptation? Promising


“Next he put on the shape of a hawk, and in this form he reached the bounds of the prairie, he and the witch turning homewards at the moment. Bird after bird he tried, but every time the witch gained on him and took the lead. At length the goal was in sight, and Ball-Carrier knew that unless he could get ahead now he would be killed before his own door, under the eyes of his wife. His eyes had grown dim from fatigue, his wings flapped wearily and hardly bore him along, while the witch seemed as fresh as ever.”

The boy in another Andrew Lang fairy story, “Ball-Carrier” has grown up, married, and had kids. He and his sister-in-law (a witch) agree to a race in which the winner will kill the loser. Ball-Carrier turns himself into various animals and birds, wins the race, and kills the witch. Then he eats poisonous berries and “dies.” Ball-Carrier become a bird and helps his poor family find food. A traveler comes and marries Ball-Carrier’s daughter. He’s jealous of the bird and asks his wife to kill it, so she does. The witch from the previous story finds out that Ball-Carrier is dead and brings him back to life. He gives her the gold and the bridge that he stole from the Bad One. She hides them because the search for such precious treasures will build character in others. She sends Ball-Carrier home to his parents, who are old and need someone to hunt for them.


Comments from NMI:  There might be enough story structure in this combination of stories “Ball Carrier” and “How Ball Carrier Finished His Task” to string together a storyline for a musical.  Know that there is some inherent challenge to this material, but the structure might work for you.


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