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.-- V 'i i' ;1
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Cornell University Library
Fairy tales of eastern Europe
3 1924 028 083 479
The original of tiiis book is in
tine Cornell University Library.
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FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
A dual interest attaches to this posthumous work of Jere-
miah Curtin, — interest in the noted author no less than in the
pleasing tales making up his last contribution to literature.
Our young readers will find their chief delight in the stories,
and indeed may never take the trouble to read this introduction
at all ; but as a matter of recopi — simple justice to a remark-
able man — ^no book ought to go forth bearing Mr. Curtin's
name without some mention of his manifold activities, least of
all this final product of his pen, recently brought to light among
Jeremiah Curtin's gift of tongues — ^his ability to study
many diverse peoples in the intimacy of their own speech — ■
came to him naturally. Dr. Charles W. Eliot, under whom he
studied at Harvard says : "Seven months and a half before
he entered Harvard, Curtin states that he did not know, one
word of Latin or Greek, but at the admission examination he
offered more of each language than was required. At the
time of his death he knew more than sixty languages and dia-
lects, and spoke fluently every language of Europe and several
of the languages of Asia." As a further instance of his ex-
traordinary facility in language, Dr. Eliot continues : "In Si-
beria he studied the Buriat language with a Buriat who knew
Russian, and hard as it was to acquire a strange language
without the aid of books, he accomplished the feat in a few
weeks. At sixty he learnt a new language as quickly as he
did when a Harvard student. Having acquired a language,
Curtin always wished to learn the history, principal achieve-
ments, myths, folk-lore, and religious beliefs and usages of
the people who spoke that language. Hence his great learn-
ing, and his numerous publications on myths and folk tales."
Mr. Curtin came honestly by his literary and linguistic
genius, for centuries ago, when Ireland was her own, the Mac
Curtins were hereditary historians of Thomond. Hugh Ogl
Mac Curtin was a noted patriot poet in the isth Century, An-
drew Mac Curtin a poet and historian of the period of i7oo,j
and reputed "one of the best Gaelic scholars having tran-t
scribed from the ancient manuscript the history of the wars
of Thomond," and another Hugh Mac Curtin, described by
Hyde as a "learned poet and lexicographer," was the author
of an important Gaelic dictionary in 1732.
Soon after coming to America the Curtins settled just out-
side the present city of Milwaukee, Wis., where Jeremiah Cur-|
tin was born, in 1838. Milwaukee was then two years old and
a conglomerate of immigrants from half the nations of Eu-
rope. With such surroundings it is easy to understand how
the boy's natural bent for study was turned in the direction
of races and languages. Schools were few and rudimentary, |
the term being limited to three months in the winter and three
in the summer. By making friends with the immigrants the
boy learned a good deal of German, French and Norse, and
laid the foundation of his later Indian studies by cultivating
the acquaintance of the vagrant Potowatomi and Winnebago.
No linguistic opportunity ever escaped him. Aside from per-
sistence and hard study his success was largely due to his
kindly, sympathetic nature so marked through life. He read-
ily won the confidence of the simplest folk. After the death
of his father he entered Carroll College at Waukeshaw, go-
ing from there to Harvard, where he was graduated in 1863.
Leaving college in his twenty-fifth year with a trained mind,
a rugged constitution and the world before him, Mr. Curtin's
life work was already chosen and its plan well matured. It
was a purpose magnificently simple, but such as probably never
came to a man before or since, — nothing less than to sweep
the Aryan field of languages, — in other words to devote his
life to a comparative study of the entire Indo-European race
from the headlands of Ireland across the Balkans to the Cau-
casus, and on down to the heart of the Hindu peninsula, and
furthermore to study these languages among the people and
the tribes in their ovra homes. This task he actually accom-
plished. He did not stop with Aryan languages, but studied
in the scope of his investigations, Hungarian, Turkish, Arabic,
Chinese, Japanese, Mongol and the Maya of Central America.
Nearly half a century was given by this painstaking man to
systematic travel and the study of the languages of three con-
In 1864 he was appointed Secretary of the American Le-
gation to Russia, which office he held for several years, travel-
ing and studying meanwhile. In 1883 he became connected
with the Bureau of Ethnology and made a study of Indian
languages. He was in active service till 1891 ; then feeling
that he could not carry out his literary plans and work for the
Bureau at the same time, he tendered his resignation. The
Chief of the Bureau refused to regard it as a final severance
of relations and asked him to consider himself an honorary
member — which he did.
The final years of his life were spent in traveling, writing,
and studying indefatigably. He was equally at home in all
lands and climes, and remote the tribes whose speech he did
not understand. In 1900 he spent a year or more in Siberia,
China, and Japan, making a circuit of the world.
In addition to his books on folk-lore, he wrote an important
history of the Mongols. His popular reputation was assured
in the nineties by his brilliant translations of the works of
Sienkiewicz, especially "Quo Vadis," but scholars and critics
have long since recognized the peculiar value of his original
work. Mr. Curtin died in 1906.
Theodore Roosevelt, then President of the United States,
paid this tribute to him : ^ "The death of Jeremiah Curtin
robbed America of one of her two or three foremost scholars.
Mr. Curtin, who was by birth a native of Wisconsin, at one
time was in the diplomatic service of the Government ; but his
chief work was in literature. The extraordinary facility with
1 Introduction to "The Mongols.''
which he learned any language, his gift of style in his own
language, his industry, his restless activity and desire to see
strange nations and out of the way people, and his great gift
of imagination which enabled him to appreciate the epic sweep
of vital historical events, all combined to render his work of
peculiar value. His extraordinary translations of the Polish
novels of Sienkiewicz would in themselves have been enough
to establish a first-class reputation for any man. In addition
he did remarkable work in connection with Indian, Celtic and
other folk tales."
The present collection of "Fairy Tales of Eastern Europe"
was gathered by him personally in the course of his travels.
They were obtained by word of mouth in direct converse with
the people in their daily lives — ^when stopping perhaps in some
rude wayside cabin, or mingling as one of them in their fes-,
tivals. In this way the author has preserved the quaint flavor
of the original stories. He did this, as he himself averred,
in order to find, back of the story, the common link in mythol-
ogy uniting the people with other races. Writing on the sub-
ject of folk-lore, he says: "Many of these tales are of re-
markable beauty. They are of deep interest both to young
and old, and nowhere do they enjoy more delicate appreciation
than among the educated people in America and England.
The delight in a beautiful and wonderful story is the very
highest mental pleasure for a child, and great even for a grown
man; but the explanation of it (if explanation there be) and
the nature of its heroes (if that can be discovered) are dear to
the mind of a mature person of culture. Much has been writ-
ten touching the heroes of folk tales, as well as the characters
in Aryan mythology, but it appears to have produced small
effect; for to most readers it seems unproven, and founded
mainly on the views of each writer. This is the reason why
the chief, almost the only, value found in folk tales as yet is
the story itself, with its simple beauty, incomparable grotesque-
ness, and marvelous adventures.
"The great majority even of the least modified tales of
Europe have mainly substituted heroes — sons of kings, tsars,
merchants, poor men, soldiers, — so that in most cases the birth,
occupation, or name of the present hero gives no clue to the
original hero of the tale; but incidents do. The incidents are
often an indication of what kind of person the original hero
must have been."
"Fairy Tales of Eastern Europe" are drawn from four
sources, — ^the Russian or Slavic, the Hungarian or Magyar, th^
Bohemian or Chekh, and the Serbian. The table of contents
shows the general groups. The stories deal largely with ad-
venturous deeds, and in this respect form an interesting parat<
lei to the stories of "The Thousand and One Nights." The
most striking example of this in "The Magic Lamp," which
at once suggests our friend Aladdin, yet the author presents
it just as he got it by word of mouth from the Hungarian
peasants. One wonders if such similarities can be explained'
by the waves of conquest such as that of the Mongols undef
Genghis Khan, in the thirteenth century, or whether they dat<?
back centuries further to some common cradle of the race!
It is just such secrets as this that Mr. Curtin spent his lifetime
in trying to discover; and although such a herculean task
must necessarily be left incomplete, the reward comes with the
doing, and the thanks of readers into whose hands fall these
old world stories of potent charm.
J. Walker McSpadden
The Twelve Months ....
The Cat and the Fox . . .,
Dawn, Twilight, and Midnight
The World's Reward ....
The Town of Nothing . . .
The Ambitious Old Woman
Ivan Tsarevich and Bailoi Polyanyin
The Apples of Youth 61
The World-Beautiful Sharkan Roja .... 79
The Golden Fish, the Wonder- Working Tree,
and the Golden Bird 91
MiKLOSH AND THE MAGIC QuEEN I20
The Waters of Life and Death 151
The Water of Endless Youth 175
The Magic Lamp 195
The Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather
Know All 213
The Laughing Apples and the Weeping Quinces . 227
Long, Broad, and Swift Glance ........ 243
The Stork and the Heron
'Stretched himself and went thirty miles at a step" Frontispiece
"At the edge of the lake he found the earthen vessel and
filled it with water" io6
"On the seventy-seventh island of that sea stands, on golden
duck legs, the castle of wondrous fair Ilona" .... 182
"At that moment a tremendous dragon flew up and dropped
to the ground in front of her" .., ,. .. 232
FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN
THE TWELVE MONTHS
A WOMAN had two daughters, one was her own,
the other was a step-daughter. She loved
Holena, her own daughter, but hated Marushka, the
step-daughter, for she was prettier and smarter than
Holena sat around in idleness, while'Marushka had to
cook, wash, spin, weave, bring grass and take care of
the cow. She was willing to work, she didn't know
why her mother hated her, but she bore reproaches with
At last the step-mother and her daughter thought
only of how 'to get rid of poor Marushka. They tor-
tured her with hunger, and beat her, but she endured
it all and grew more beautiful each day.
pne day, in the middle of winter, Holena pretended
to want violets, and she said to Marushka, —
"Go to the woods and get me some violetsJl want to
put them in my belt and enjoy their perfume."
2 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"But, sister, what has come to your mind? I have
never heard of violets blossoming in winter," answered
"How do you dare to question when I command?
Worthless creature, toad! If you do not go this min-
ute to the woods and get me violets I will kill you,"
The step-mother seized Marushka, pushed her out of
the house, and closed the door, ^he girl went to the
forest, weeping bitterly. Deep snow was on the ground ;
there was no trace of a path. Long she wandered, ^he
was hungry and cold, and prayed to God to take her out
of the world.
At last, off in the distance, she saw a bright light.
She went toward it and ascending a hill she came to a
fire; around the fire on twelve stones, sat twelve men;
three old men with long white beards, three somewhat.'
younger, three in years of manhood, and three beautiful
youths. They were sitting in silence and looking calmly
on the fire. They were the Twelve Months.
December sat in the first place; his hair and beard
were white as snow ; he held a scepter in his hand.
Marushka stood in astonishment, but after a time,
summoning courage, she drew near, and asked, —
"Kind men, will you let me warm myself at the fire?
I am shivering with cold."
THE TWELVE MONTHS 3
December nodded his head. When the maid was
warm, he asked, /^hy are you here?"
"I am looking for violets," answered Marushka.
"But there are no violets in winter; everything is
covered with snow."
'T know that," answered Marushka, sadly; "but my
mother and sister have sent me for violetsj if I do not
get them they will kill me. Tell me, good shepherds,
is there any place where I can find violets ?"
/December rose from his seat, went to the youngest
month, and said, —
"Brother March, sit in the first place." J
March took the highest place /and waved the scepter
above the fire; that instant the fire burned more power-
fully. The snow thawed; biids appeared on the
branches and grass grew green, beneath the trees;
flowers began to open — Spring had come. In the
thickets violets were blooming; there were so many that
they were like a blue carpet.
"Quick, Marushka, pluck them!" said March.
Marushka gathered a great bouquet, thanked the
Twelve Months, and hurried home.l
Holena and her mother were astonished when they
saw Marushka coming with a large bunch of violets in
her hand./ They opened the door; she entered and the
whole house was filled with the perfume.
4 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
rVVhere did you find them?" asked Holena.
"On a hill f there are many of them under the trees."
Holena took the violets, put them in her belt and en-
joyed their perfume; she didn't offer even one of them
'^ . . —
/The next day they sent Marushka for strawberries,
Long she wandered around in the cold, praying God to
take her out of the world; then she came to the Twelve
Months and again met with a kind reception. Learn-
ing what she wanted, December left his place and going
to the month sitting just opposite, gave him the scepter, \
and said, — -.
"Brother June, sit in the first place."
) June sat in the highest place and waved the scepter
above the fire; that instant the flames leaped high/the
snow melted, the earth was covered with grass, the trees
with leaves; the birds began to sing; many-colored
flowers bloomed in the forest — Summer had come.
Little white blossoms gleamed, like stars, in the grass,
as if some one had put them there on purpose. Before
Marushka's eyes the flowers became fruit, and the
berries were ripe. She could not look around befor^
the grass was dotted with them as if some one had
sprinkled it with blood-drops.
'Marushka gathered many berries and took them to
THE TWELVE MONTHS 5
Helena ate some of them and gave her mother some,
but did not offer even one to Marushka. j
/The next day Holena wanted apples/ and she sent
Marushka for them. The unfortunate girl waded
through deep snow and wandered around in the cold
praying God to take her out of the world. At last she
found the Twelve Months sitting in front of their fire as
formerly. When she told them what she had been sent
for, December gave the scepter to his brother September,
who sat in the first place and waved the scepter over the
fire. The fire burned brighter and the snow vanished,
but Nature had a solemn face ; leaves were falling from
the trees, a fresh wind drove them hither and thither over
the dry and yellow grass. Marushka saw no flowers,
but she saw an apple tree loaded with red fruit.
"Shake the tree quickly," said September.
She shook it; one blushing apple fell. She shook it
again; another fell.
"Now hurry home," said September.
She obeyed, and carried home the two apples.
Holena ^wondered at their beauty and so did her
"Where did you get them?"
"On a hill; there are many there yet."
"Why didn't you bring more?" asked Holena, angrily.
"No doubt you ate them on the road."
6 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"I did not. I shook the tree once — one appk fell; I
shook it again — another fell. They wouldn't let me
shake it again; they told me to go home."
"May lightning strike you!" screamed Holena, and
she wanted to beat her sister.
The poor girl began to cry. Holena ate an apple; it
seemed to her wonderfully sweet. She finished, and said
to her mother, —
"Give me my cloak, I'll go into the forest myself. If
that good-for-nothing girl goes she will be sure to eat the
apples. I'll shake off every apple whether they permit
me to or not, it's all the same to me,"
She put on her cloak, tied a shawl over her head and;
The snow was deep, there was no trace of a human ^
foot anywhere. She wandered long, and at last she
came to the Twelve Months. Without asking leave
Holena walked straight to the fire and began to warm
"What do you want; why are you here?" asked De-
"Why ask, old man? What business is it of ycjurs;
where I am going?" answered Holena, and turned to go
into the forest. December frowned and raised his
scepter. That moment the fire died down, the heavens
THE TWELVE MONTHS 7
grew dark, snow fell in great flakes, as if some one were
shaking feathers out of a tick; and a cutting, all-chilling
wind whistled through the forest. Holena could not see
one step before her ; she felt that her limbs were growing
stiff. She cursed Marushka, and stumbled on.
The mother, waiting at home, looked through the win-
dow, and ran to the gate ; but hours passed by, one after
another, and no Holena came.
"Most likely she found the apples so good that she
can't stop eating them. I'll go myself and look for her,"
said the mother.
She put on her cloak, threw a shawl over her head and
went in search of her daughter.
Time passed. Marushka got supper ready, and fed
the cow, but neither Holena nor her mother came.
"Where are they stopping so long?" thought
Marushka, and she sat down to spin. The spinning was
finished, then night came, but still they were not at
"Lord be merciful to us! What has happened to
them?" said the kind-hearted girl.
She looked out. The heavens were gleaming with
stars, the earth glittering with snow, but no human be-
ing was visible anywhere. She closed the door, made
the sign of the cross, repeated "Our Father" for her
8 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
step-mother and sister, and then lay down to sleep. The
next day she looked for them at breakfast, waited for
them at dinner ; but in vain — ^they came not again to the
house of living man.
THE CAT AND THE FOX
ONCE there was a peasant who had a cat so mis-
chievous that there was no living with him. The
peasant was tired of him; he put him in a bag, tied the
bag up firmly and carried it to the forest. There he
opened it, pulled the cat out and throwing him away,
said : "Let the wretch perish !"
The cat wandered about till he came to a forester's
cabin. As there was no one living in the cabin he
crawled into the garret and lay there at his ease. If
he wished to eat he went into the forest and caught birds
and mice, and after eating his fill went back to the garret.
Once when he was strolling around in the forest a
fox met him. She looked at him and wondered, think-
ing to herself, "How many years have I lived in this
forest, and I have never seen such a beast !" She bowed
down before him and said, —
"Tell me, good youth, who you are; by what chance
you come here, and how you are honored by name."
The cat raised the hair on his back, and said, "I am
from the Siberian forests; I have been sent here to be
Mayor of the place, and Kotof ei Ivanovitch is my name."
10 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"Oh, Kotofei Ivanovitch," said the fox, "I had not
heard of your arrival, but come and dine with me. Be
The cat went home with the fox and she entertained
him with every kind of game. At last she asked, "Ko-
tofei Ivanovitch, are you married or single?"
"I am single," answered the cat.
"And I am a maiden," said the fox. "Will you marry
The cat consented and they had a wedding with feast-
ing and gladness.
The next day the fox went out to get provisions that
she and her husband might have something to live on —
but the cat stayed at home.
As the fox was running through the forest she met a
wolf. The wolf spoke loving words to her, and said,
"I have looked everywhere for you, but could not find
you. Where have you been all this time?"
"Stop!" said the fox; "none of your soft words to me,
I was a maiden, but now I am married."
"Whom have you married, Lisevata Ivanovna ?"
"Haven't you heard that Kotofei Ivanovitch f rbm the
Siberian forests has come to us as Mayor? I am the
"I had not heard of it, Lisevata Ivanovna. How can
I get a look at him?"
THE CAT AND THE FOX n
"Oh, my Kotofei Ivanovitch is terribly fierce. If you
don't please him at first sight he will eat you. See that
you get a sheep ready and make him a present. Put the
sheep down near our place and hide lest he sees you.
If he sees you, you will come to grief."
The wolf hurried off to get the sheep.
The fox went farther and met a bear, who spoke lov-
ing words to her.
"Stop! bow-legged Mishka," said she. "I was a
maiden, but now I am married."
"Who is your husband, Lisevata Ivanovna ?"
"The Mayor who has been sent to us from the Siberian
forests. His name is Kotofei Ivanovitch."
"Could I have alSok^t him?" asked the bear.
"Oh, my Kotofei IvanoHtch is very fierce. If you
don't please him at first sight^iie'll eat you. But bring
an ox as a present; the wolf is going to bring a sheep.
You must be careful. Put the ox down near our house,
then hide so that Kotofei Ivanovitch will not see you.
If he sees you, you'll come to grief."
The bear went for the ox.
The wolf brought the sheep, put it down andstoedrin
deep thought. He looked, and be hpld aJbeV^as coming
along tugging an ox.
"Good morning, brother Mihail Ivanovitch" said the
12 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"Good morning, Levon," answered the bear. "Have
you seen Lisevata Ivanovna and her husband?"
"No, I am waiting to have a look at him."
"Go, and call them."
"No, Mihail Ivanovitch, I am afraid; you go, you are
braver than I am."
"No, brother Levon, I'll not go."
All at once, from wherever he came, a hare ran along.
The bear shouted, "Come here, you crooked-legged ras-
The hare, terrified, ran up.
"See here, crooked legs, do you know where Lisevata
Ivanovna lives ?"
"I know, Mihail Ivanovitch."
"Well, go quickly and tell her that Mihail Ivanovitch
and his brother, Levon Ivanovitch, have come to pay
their respects and have brought an ox and a sheep."
When the hare started oflf at full speed the bear and
the wolf began to think about hiding themselves.
"I'll climb this pine tree," said the bear.
"But what can I do? Where shall I go?" asked the
wolf. "I can't climb a tree. Hide me somewhere,
brother. Help me in my trouble."
The bear hid the wolf in bushes, covered him with
dry leaves, and then climbed to the top of the pine tree.v
THE CAT AND THE FOX 13
Once safe he looked around to see if Lisevata Ivanovna
and her husband were coming.
Meanwhile the hare had knocked at Lisevata Ivanov-
na's door and delivered the message. "We'll be there
directly," said she.
As the cat and the fox walked out from among the
trees, the bear saw them and called to the wolf. "They
are coming, brother. But don't be afraid; Kotofei
Ivanovitch is a little fellow."
When the cat saw the carcass of the ox, his hair stood
straight on his back. He sprang onto the carcass and
began to tear the flesh with teeth and claws, crying,
The bear thought, "He's a little fellow, but what a
stomach he has ; four bears couldn't eat that ox, and it's
small, not enough for him. If we are not careful he'll
eat us, too."
The wolf, wanting to see Kotofei Ivanovitch, began
to move the leaves to get an opening for his eyes. The
cat heard the rustling and, thinking it was a mouse,
sprang onto the leaves and fastened his claws and teeth
onto the wolf's nose.
The wolf jumped up and, praying" God to give him
swift legs, ran into the forest. The cat, frightened half
to death, ran up the tree where the bear was.
14 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The bear thought, "This terrible Kotofei Ivanovitch
has seen me ; there is no time to slip down. My death is
Resigning himself to the will of God he dropped to the
ground. It nearly shook the liver out of his body, but
he sprang up and ran ofif for dear life.
The fox screamed after them, — "Oh, my Kotofei
Ivanovitch will settle with you! Wait awhile, you'll
find out who my Kotofei Ivanovitch is !"
But they ran all the faster.
From that time, all of the beasts of the forest were in
mortal terror of the cat. Lisevata Ivanovna and her
husband had provisions for the whole winter and prob-
ably they are still living in affluence.
DAWN, TWILIGHT, AND MIDNIGHT
IN a certain kingdom lived a king who had three
beautiful daughters. The king guarded them more
carefully than his own eyes. He built an underground
palace in which he placed them, like birds in a cage,
so that neither the boisterous winds might blow on them,
nor the bright sun burn them with its rays.
Once, by some chance the princesses read in some book
that there was a wondrous white world, and when the
king came to visit them, they straightway began to im-
plore him : "Gosudar, our father, let us look upon the
white world, let us walk in the green garden."
The king tried to dissuade them ; but the more he re-
fused the more they insisted. Nothing to be done ! He
granted their prayer.
The princesses went into tfie garden to walk". They
beheld the bright sun, the trees and the flowers. They
were unspeakably delighted that the white world was
free to them. They ran through the garden, amused
themselves, admired every little blade of grass, but all
at once, a stormy whirlwind seized them and bore them
high up and far away, it was unknown whither.
i6 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The nurses and governesses were in terror. The
king sent his most trusty servants in every direction,
promising a great reward to him who would find his
The king's messengers journeyed and traveled, but
discovered nothing. With what they went, with that
they came back.
The king summoned a council and asked his boyars if
any of them would undertake to find his daughters. He
asked once, all was silent ; a second time — no answer ; a
third time ; not half a word.
The king wept bitter tears, and said, "It is evident I
have no friends or defenders." Then he ordered a
proclamation to be made to the whole kingdom, hoping
that some one might be found among common men to
do the deed.
In a certain village there lived a poor widow, who had
three sons, strong, mighty heroes. They were all born
in one night; the eldest at twilight, the second at mid-
night and the third at dawn. On this account they were
named Twilight, Midnight and Dawn.
As soon as they heard of the king's proclamation they
took their mother's blessing and set out for the capital
city. They came to the king, bowed down before him,
and said, —
"Hail, Gosudar ! be well for many years. We have
DAWN, TWILIGHT, AND MIDNIGHT 17
come, not for the sake of feasting, but to do a good deed.
Permit us to go and find your daughters."
"Honor to you, good youths. How do men call you
"We are three brothers — Dawn, Twilight and Mid-
"What can I give you for the road?"
"We need nothing for ourselves, Gosudar, but we pray
you not to desert our mother. Care for her in her pov-
erty and old age."
The king sent for the old woman, lodged her in the
palace, and gave orders that meat and drink should be
furnished her from his own table, and clothing from his
The three young men went their way. They traveled
one, two and three months, till they came to a broad
desert steppe. Beyond the steppe there was a forest, at
the edge of the forest, a hut. They knocked, no answer.
They went in, but no one was there.
"Well, brothers," said Twilight, "let us stop here for a
time; let us rest after the road."
They said their prayers and lay down to sleep. The
next morning the youngest brother. Dawn, said to Twi-
light, the eldest, —
"Midni^t and I will go out hunting, but do you stay
here and get something ready to eat."
i8 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
Twilight consented. Near the hut was a pen full of
sheep; so, not thinking long, Twilight took the best
sheep, and killed, dressed, and roasted it, for their dinner.
When everything was ready he lay down on a bench to
All at once there was a thumping and thundering, the
door opened and a little old man came in, an ell tall him-
self, his beard seven ells long. He looked angrily at
Twilight and screamed, —
"How did you dare to play the master in my house?
How did you dare to kill my sheep?"
"Grow up first," answered Twilight, "I can't see you.
rU take a spoonful of soup and a bit of bread and blind
The little old man was terribly enraged.
"I am small, but I am strong," said he.
He seized a club and began beating Twilight with it.
He beat him till he was almost dead, then he threw him
under the bench; ate the roasted sheep and went into the
Twilight bound up his head with a cloth and lay down
on the bench, groaning. His brothers came home and'
"What has happened?"
"Oh, brothers," said he, "I heated the stove and my
DAWN, TWILIGHT, AND MIDNIGHT 19
head began to ache from the great fire; I could neither
roast nor stew, the heat wouldn't let me."
The next day Dawn went to hunt with Twilight, and
left Midnight at home to cook the dinner. He made a
fire, picked out the fattest sheep, killed, dressed and
roasted it, then lay down on the bench. Suddenly there
was a thumping and thundering and a little old man en-
tered, himself an ell in height, his beard seven ells long.
"How dare you play the master in my house and kill
my sheep ?" screamed he, and flying at Midnight, he beat
and pounded him, till he was barely alive; then he ate
the sheep and went into the forest. Midnight bound up
his head and lay groaning under the bench. When his
brothers came home they asked, —
"What has happened?"
"When I kindled a fire in the stove, the heat stifled me.
I could neither roast nor stew, so there is nothing to
The third day the eldest brothers went to hunt, and
Dawn stayed at home. He selected the best sheep, killed,
dressed and roasted it for dinner, then lay down on the
bench. Suddenly there was a thumping and thundering
and the little old man walked into the yard with a bundle
of hay on his head and a pail of water in his hand. He
put down the pail, scattered the hay over the yard, and
20 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
went to count his sheep. Soon he found that one was
missing. He flew into a rage, rushed to the hut, hurled
himself at Dawn and struck him heavily on the head.
Dawn sprang up, seized the little old man by the beard
and pulled and dragged him over the floor. As he
tugged he kept saying, —
"Before sounding the ford, don't jump in,"
The old man himself an ell in height, his beard seven
ells long, began to beg and pray, —
"Have mercy on me, mighty hero, do not give me to
death. Let my soul repent."
Dawn dragged him to the yard, took him to an oak
post, to which he fastened his beard with a great iron
wedge, then he went into the hut and waited for his
brothers. When they came Dawn said, —
"I have caught 'heat' and fastened it to a post."
They went to the yard and found that the little old man
had run away, but half his beard was there on the post.
Along the path he had gone there were drops of blood.
The brothers followed till they came to a deep opening.
Dawn made a long rope, from the inner bark of trees,
and commanded his brothers to let him down to the .
under world. They did so. When he reached the
underworld he freed himself from the rope and went
whither his eyes looked.
After traveling for a long time Dawn saw out before
DAWN, TWILIGHT, AND MIDNIGHT 21
him a copper palace. When he came to the palace a
young princess met him with kindly greeting, and
"How have you come here, was it of your own free
will, or against your will?"
"The king sent us to find you and your sisters," said
Straightway she seated him at a table, gave him to eat
and to drink, and brought a flask of the Water of
"Drink of this water," said she. "Your strength will
Dawn emptied" the flask and felt in himself mighty
"Now," thought he, "I can overcome anything."
That moment a terrible wind rose up. The princess
"The serpent that stole me from my father will fly in
here directly," said she.
She took Dawn by the hand and hid him in another
room. A three-headed serpent came, hit the damp earth,
and cried out, —
"There is a Russian odor here. Who is visiting you ?"
"Who could come to this place?" asked the princess.
"You have been flying through Russia, there's where you
got the odor,"
22 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The serpent asked for meat and drink. The princess
brought him different kinds of food and drink, and into
the wine she poured a few drops of the Water of Sleep.
The serpent ate and drank his fill, then fell asleep. The
princess called to Dawn. He came and straightway he
drew his sword and cut off the serpent's heads. Then
they burned up the body and scattered the ashes over the
Dawn left the princess and journeyed till he saw a
silver palace. In that palace was the second princess.
There Dawn killed the six-headed serpent, scattered his
ashes and went farther. Whether it was long or short
he made his way to a golden palace, and there he found
the eldest princess, and killed the twelve-headed serpent.
The princess rejoiced and made ready to go home with
the hero. She went to the broad court and waved her
bright kerchief ; the golden kingdom folded into an egg,
she put the egg into her pocket and went with Dawn
for her sisters. They did as she had done; they folded
the silver kingdom and copper kingdom into eggs and put
them into their pockets, and set out for the opening.
Twilight and Midnight drew up their brother and the
When the brothers came to their own country, the
sisters unrolled the three eggs on a broad, open space,
DAWN, TWILIGHT, AND MIDNIGHT, 23
and behold the three kingdoms appeared — the copper, the
silver and the golden.
The king was so delighted that his joy could not be
told. Straightway he had Twilight, Midnight and
Dawn married to his three daughters, and he made
Dawn heir of his Kingdom.
THE WORLD'S REWARD
ONCE upon a time when a peasant was carrying
wood from a forest he got tired and throwing the
wood on the ground he sat down on a stone to rest.
That minute he heard a cry, and some one called, —
"Oh, good man, take pity on me ! Roll off the stone
and save my life. Free me, and I will pay you as the
world pays best !"
The peasant rolled the stone away, and out of the
hole a great snake crawled, wound himself into a spiral,
raised up his head, and said, —
"Know, man, that I am Yaza ! Get ready, you must
The peasant was terribly frightened, and lamenting
he reproached the snake with ingratitude.
"Didn't you call for help? Haven't I saved your
life?" asked he.
"Of course," replied the snake, "but I am only doing
what I promised; I am paying you as the world pays
After a long discussion the snake agreed to let another
settle the dispute, and they went together in search of
THE WORLD'S REWARD 25
a judge. After a while they came to where an old dog
was tied to a fence.
"How are you, faithful guardian of a house?" asked
"As you see," replied the dog.
"Be so kind as to be our judge; we have a dispute."
And the peasant told the whole story. "Wasn't it so
and so?" asked he, turning to the snake.
"It was," answered the snake.
The dog thought a while, then said to the man, "My
friend, you must die, for this is just how the world pays
best. When I was young I was my master's favorite.
He wore the skins of the wolves and foxes which I
caught; I guarded his house ftom thieves. My master
was fond of me. When offered a carriage and horses
he refused to sell me. But now, when I am old and
weak and can neither run nor bark, he has led me out
here and tied me to the fence to stay till some man kills
me for my skin. This is the world's reward."
The peasant, seeing that he had lost his case, begged
to look for another judge. The snake consented and
they went through forests and across fields till they
came to an old half -starved horse. His head was hang-
ing down, his sides had fallen in, and he was covered
with flies which he had not strength to drive away. .
"How are you, noble beast?" asked the peasant.
26 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"As you see," replied the horse.
The peasant told him the story and begged him to
decide for them.
The horse listened patiently to the man's complaint,
then decided in favor of the snake, saying: "This is
the world's reward."
"When I was young," said he, "I had every comfort.
When I was led out of the stable every one admired me.
I carried my master to war. More than once, by my
swiftness, I saved his life and helped him to fame. Two
men cared for me; they curried me twice each day and
gave me the best of oats and hay. My stable was like
a parlor. In summer they covered me with a net that
flies might not bite me. My master wouldn't have sold
me for a whole village. But when I grew old he starved
me, didn't even give me straw to eat. And now he has
led me out to this barren field to be killed by the wolves.
This is how the world pays best."
"What more do you want, man?" asked the snake.
The peasant begged the snake to let him try a third
and last judge. He consented and they went on till at
the edge of a forest they sa\y a fox, running along.
"Oh, Master Fox, wait and be our judge!" called the
peasant. "We have a question to decide."
The fox, a cunning fellow, listened to the story, then
THE WORLD'S REWARD 27
winked to the peasant, and whispered, aside, "If you
will give me all of your hens I will help you out of your
"What are hens !" said the man. "I will give you the
geese too, and if need be all I have in the world."
The fox, pretending to be an impartial judge, said:
"This is an important case : one of life and death. The
first who judged, judged lightly. In justice the case
can only be decided on the spot where everything took
place. We will go there."
When they came to the place, the fox said: "We
must begin at the beginning. Do you, man, sit down on
the stone, and you, snake, crawl into the hole where you
When they had done as he told them, and the snake
was back in the hole, he winked at the man, and said:
"Roll the stone over, quickly."
The peasant didn't wait to be told twice. When the
hole was covered, and the snake couldn't get out, the
peasant thanked the fox for salvation from death.
The fox answered : "But do not forget that I have
earned the hens. To-morrow before daylight, I will
come for my breakfast."
The peasant went home as delighted as if he had
been born a second time. He told his wife what had
28 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
happened, praised the wisdom of the fox, and added
that he had promised him all the hens, and that the next
morning he would come for them.
The woman was glad that her husband was saved, but
she was very sorry to lose her hens.
The next morning, early, she went to the window
and seeing a fox in the yard she called to her husband:
"Do you hear, old man? There is a fox in the yard!"
"Oh, that is the fox that saved me. He has come for
the hens !"
"Just as if I were crazy enough to give him my hens !"
cried the woman. "The Lord be praised that you are
alive; but take the gun and kill the fox. You will get
good money for his pelt."
The peasant obeyed his wife. He took the gun and
firing from the window killed the fox.
Dying, the fox said in a mournful voice: "This is how
the world pays best."
THE TOWN OF NOTHING
THERE was a very rich merchant and he had a
grown-up son. When the merchant died the son
remained with his mother and began to manage his
father's business; but he had luck in nothing. What
the father had gained in three years the son lost in three '
days. He traded ever3^hing away. Of all his wealth
there was left only one old house. He was born luck-
less to be sure.
When the fine fellow saw that he had nothing to live
on, nothing to eat, he sat down on a bench under the
window, scratched his stormy head, and thought, —
"With what shall I nourish myself, and with what
nourish my own mother?"
He sat not long; he rose, begged a blessing of his
mother, and said, —
"I will go and hire with a rich peasant, as a laborer." "
The mother consented, and behold the son hired with
a rich peasant for fifty rubles for the whole summer.
He began to work; though he had plenty of good will
he understood nothing; how many axes did he break,
how many scythes did he dull ? He brought thirty rubles'
30 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
loss to his master. The peasant was hardly able to keep
him till mid-summer.
The good youth went home, sat on a bench under the
window, scratched his stormy head, and wept bitterly.
"How shall I keep the life in my own head," thought he,
"and how in my mother's ?"
"Why art thou weeping, my child?" asked his mother.
"Why should I not weep when I have no luck in any-
thing? Give me thy blessing, I will go and hire as a
His mother consented. In a certain village he en-
gaged to herd a drove o£ cows, for a hundred rubles for
the summer. He did not stay till mid-summer ; he lost
more than ten of the cows and then people drove him
He went home, sat on the bench under the window,
sci;atched his stormy head, and cried bitterly. He cried
a long time, then he asked a blessing of his mother, and
"I will go wherever my head will take me."
His mother dried cakes for him, put them in a bag, and
blessed him to go in all four directions. He took the bag»
and went whithersoever his eyes looked. Whether" it
was near or distant, he went to another kingdom. The
Tsar of that land saw him, and asked, —
"Whence dost thou bear thyself?"
THE TOWN OF NOTHING 31
"I am looking for work, all the same what kind, I am
glad to do anything."
"Hire with me to work in my distillery ; the work will
be to carry wood and put it under the cauldrons."
The merchant's son was glad, and he hired with the
Tsar for one hundred and fifty rubles a year. Half a
year was not spent and he had burned up almost all of
the distillery. The Tsar summoned him to his presence,
and asked, —
"How did it happen that the distillery was burned?"
The merchant's son told how he had spent his father's
property, and how he had no luck in anything. "Wher-
ever I hire," said he, "I cannot stay more than half my
The Tsar took pity on the poor fellow; he did not
punish him for his offense, but calling him Bezdolni
(Luckless) , he gave command to put a stamp on his fore-
head so that wherever he went no tribute or tax could
be demanded, and food, drink and lodging would be given
him, but in no place was he to be kept longer than twenty-
Straightway the Tsar's officers put a stamp on Bez-
dolni's forehead, and the Tsar dismissed him. "Go,"
said he, "wherever thou wilt, know that no one will arrest
thee, and that thou wilt be fed and no pay will be asked."
Bezdolni went his way. Wherever he came no on^
32 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
asked a question; he was given food, drink and lodging
for one night, but the next morning he was driven away.
Whether he wandered long or short over the white
world it happened to him to go into a dark forest; in
that forest stood a cabin and in the cabin an old woman
was living. He went to the cabin ; the old woman gave
him food and drink, and then proper directions.
"Walk along the path," said she, "and thou wilt reach
the blue sea ; thou wilt see a large house. Go in and do
this way, and that way."
The merchant's son started along the path and did
what he had been told to do, as if it had been written
down. He reached the blue sea and saw a great house.
He entered the first chamber. In that chamber a table
was laid and on the table was a piece of white bread.
Bezdolni took a knife, cut off a bit of the bread and ate
it, then he climbed on the stove, hid himself under the
wood, and waited for night to come. As soon as it
began to grow dark thirty-three beautiful maidens, full
sisters, came in, all equal in stature, all dressed in like
garments, all equal in beauty. The eldest sister went
first to the table, she looked at the bread, and said, —
"It seems that the odor of Russia is here."
"Why sayest that, sister?" cried the youngest of the
thirty-three maidens. "We have traveled over Russia
and have caught the Russian odor,"
THE TOWN OF NOTHING 33.
The maidens sat down at the table, supped, talked, and
then went to different chambers. In the first chamber
only the youngest sister remained. She undressed, lay
on the bed and slept soundly ; then the good youth crept
down from the stove and stole her clothes.
Early the next morning the maiden rose up and looked
for something to dress in ; she rushed here and there but
in no place were her clothes. The other sisters dressed,
turned to doves, flew out over the blue sea and left her
alone. Then she called in a loud voice, —
"Whoever has taken my clothes give answer, fear not.
If an old man be my grandfather ; if an old woman be
my grandmother; if a man of ripe years be my uncle; if
a woman of ripe years be my aunt ; if a youthful young
man be my fated one."
The merchant's son came down from the stove and
gave her the clothes. She dressed, took him by the hand,
kissed him and said, —
"Now, my heart's friend, no time for us to sit here.
Time for us to make ready for the road, and arrange
our own house."
She gave him a bag for his back, took another for her-
self and led him to a cellar. She opened the door; the
Cellar was full of copper coins. Bezdolni was happy;
he seized a handful of coins and thrust them into the
34 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The fair maiden burst into laughter, caught hold of
the bag, emptied the coins out, and closed the cellar.
"Why didst thou throw the coins back?" asked Bez-
dolni. "They would have served us."
"What sort of money is that? We shall find better."
She led him to another cellar and opened the door. The
cellar was full of silver. Bezdolni rejoiced more than
before, and hurried to put silver into the bag.
Again the maiden laughed. "What sort of money is
that?" asked she. "Pour it out; we will find something
She led him to a third cellar and opened the door;
the cellar was full of gold and pearls.
"This is best," said the maiden ; "we will fill our bags."
They took gold and pearls, and went their road and
way. Whether it was near or distant, high or low, a
story is soon told, but a deed is not soon done; they came
to that same kingdom where the merchant's son had
worked in the distillery. The Tsar knew him, and
"Ah, that is thou, Bezdolni, and thou hast a wife. See
what a beauty thou hast found! If it please thee, live*
in my kingdom."
The merchant's son took counsel with his wife, and she
THE TOWN OF NOTHING 35
"Do not hasten to honor, do not flee from honor. It
is all the same to us where we live. If it please thee we
will stay here."
They furnished a little house and lived in harmony.
Soon a voevoda, a friend of the Tsar, grew envious.
He went to an old witch, and said, — v
"Listen to me, grandmother ; tell me how to put an end
to the merchant's son. He is called luckless, but he lives
twice as well as I ; the Tsar favors him more than boyars
and men of his counsel ; and his wife is a beauty beyond
"This affair can be remedied," said the witch. "Go to
the Tsar and say that Bezdolni promises in this way and
in that way to go to the Town of Nothing and bring
back No One Knows What."
The voevoda went to the Tsar, and the Tsar sent for
the merchant's son.
"How is it, Bezdolni, that thou art boasting to stran-
gers and say not a word to me? To-morrow thou wilt
take the road, go to the Town of Nothing and bring back
No One Knows What. If thou doest not this service
thou shalt lose thy wife."
Bezdolni went home and cried bitterly. His wife, see-
ing him, asked, —
"Mj; heart's friend, why art thou weeping? Has
36 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
some one put offense on thee, or has the Tsar sent a cup
around thee, not seated thee in thy place, or has he put
upon thee difficult service?"
"Oh, such a service !" cried Bezdolni, "that to think of
it is hard, much rnore to accomplish it. He has ordered
me to go to the Town of Nothing and bring back No
One Knows What."
There is no help ; there is no arguing. She brought a
towel and a ball, gave them to her husband, and told him
/ how and where to go.
The ball rolled straight toward the Town of Nothing.
It rolled over open fields and mossy swamps, along rivers
and lakes, and after it walked Bezdolni. Whether it was
near or far, low or high, he came to a cabin standing on
a hen's foot on a dog's leg.
"Cabin, cabin !" said he, "turn thy back to the woods,
with thy front to me."
The cabin turned; he opened the door and entered.
On a bench sat a gray-haired old woman.
"Fu ! fu !" said she, "hitherto nothing Russian has been
heard with hearing or seen with sight, and now the Rus-
sian odor is present of itself. Well, good youth, thou,
hast come in time, I am hungry. Knowest thou that I
want to eat? I'll kill thee and eat thee up, I'll not let
thee off alive."
"What, thou old fiend ! wilt thou go to eating a man
THE TOWN OF NOTHING 37
on the road? A man on the road is bony and black.
First of all, heat the bath, let me steam and wash myself,
then eat me to thy good health."
Bezdolni washed himself, took out the towel his wife
had given him, and began to wipe his face.
"Whence hast thou that towel !" cried the old woman^
"My niece embroidered that towel !"
"Thy niece is my wife."
"Oh, dear son-in-law, with what can I entertain thee ?"
The old woman put all kinds of food on the table, all
kinds of wine and mead. Bezdolni neither hesitated nor
stood on ceremony ; he sat down at the table and food dis-
appeared. When he lay down to sleep the old woman sat
at the bedside and questioned him, —
"Where art thou going, good youth? Art going of
thy own will or against thy will?"
"What sort of will! The Tsar has commanded me
to go to the Town of Nothing and bring back No One
The next morning the old woman roused Bezdolni, and
called her dog. "Here," said she, "is a dog for thee;
he will lead thee to that town."
The dog started off and Bezdolni followed. After
traveling a whole year he came to the Town of Nothing.
There wasn't a living soul in that town, everywhere emp-
tiness. He made his way into the castle and hid behind
38 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
the stove. In the evening an old man came, a nail in
ength, his beard an ell long.
Ei No one!" cried he, "feed me!"
In one moment every kind of food and drink was
there. The old man ate and drank his fill, then went
away. Bezdolni crept out from behind the stove and
"Ei No one ! Give me to eat !"
No one gave him food.
"Ei No one ! Give me to drink!"
No one gave drink.
"Ei No one ! Come with me !"
No one did not refuse.
Bezdolni turned for his homeward journey; he trav-
eled and traveled. All at once a man was in front of
him, leaning on a club.
"Stop !" cried the man to the merchant's son. "Give
food and drink to a traveler."
"Ei No one, give us a dinner," commanded Bezdolni.
That moment a table appeared and on the table all
kinds of food, wines and meads, as much as the soul de-
The stranger ate and drank his fill, then said, —
"Give me No one in exchange for my club."
"What is thy club good for?"
"Only say to it; 'Ei, dear Club, overtake and beat that
THE TOWN OF NOTHING 39
man to death.' That moment the Club overtakes and
kills the man, no matter how strong he is."
Bezdolni exchanged No one for the Club, went off a
short distance, then said, —
"Ei, dear Club, overtake that man, beat him to death
and bring back my No one."
The Club went like a wheel, from end to end it turned^
overtook the man, struck him on the head, killed him and
came back. Bezdolni took the Club and traveled on;
he traveled and traveled. All at once a man, with a
dulcimer in his hand, came toward him,
"Stop !" cried the man to the merchant's son. "Give
food and drink to a traveler."
He gave him food and drink in abundance.
"God save thee, good youth," said the stranger.
"Give me thy No one in exchange for my dulcimer."
"But what is thy dulcimer good for ?"
"My dulcimer is not a common one. If thou touchest
one string the blue sea will come ; if thou touchest a sec-
ond string ships will sail; if thou touchest the third
string men will fire cannon from the ships."
Bezdolni had faith in his Club. "Very well," said he,
"let us trade."
He traded and went his way. But soon he said, "Ei,
dear Club, overtake and beat that man to death; bring
back my No one."
40 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The Club turned like a wheel, overtook the man and
beat him to death.
When Bezdolni was near his own town he thought he
would play a trick: He opened the dulcimer and
touched one string; the blue sea was there; he touched a
second string; ships were sailing near the town; he
touched a third string and from all the ships cannonad-
The Tsar, greatly alarmed, gave orders to collect an
army to drive back the enemy.
Bezdolni came now, and said to the Tsar, —
"Your majesty, I know how to save the city. Give
command to cut the right foot and the left hand from
thy friend, the voevoda, and the moment that is done the
ships will disappear."
At the Tsar's word they cut off the hand and foot
of the voevoda. Bezdolni closed his dulcimer — ^that
moment, wherever they went to, neither sea nor ships
were there. The Tsar gave a great feast; there was
nothing to be heard but "Ei, No one, give us this, give us
The voevoda hated the merchant's son more than ever'
and tried in every way to undermine him. He took
counsel of the old witch, then went on crutches to the
palace, and said, —
"Your majesty, Bezdolni is boasting that he can go to
THE TOWN OF NOTHING 41
the thrice ninth land to the thirtieth kingdom and bring
from there the tale-teUing Tom Cat that sits on a pillar
seventy-two feet high, and kills a multitude of people."
The Tsar called Bezdolni, gave him a glass of green
wine, and said, —
"Go to the thrice ninth land, to the thirtieth kingdom
and get me the tale-telling Tom Cat. If thou doest not
this service thou shalt lose thy wife."
The merchant's son went home and wept bitterly,
whereupon his wife asked, —
"Why art thou weeping? Has some one given thee
offense? Has the Tsar passed thee by with the cup,
seated thee in the wrong place, or put a difficult service
"He has given such a service that it is hard, not only
to do it, but to think of it. He has commanded me to
get for him the tale-telling Tom Cat."
"Well, pray to the Savior, and lie down to sleep."
Luckless lay down to sleep and his wife went to the
blacksmith's shop and forged three iron caps; prepared
three iron cakes, three iron claws, and three rods, one
iron, one copper and one tin. In the morning she roused
Bezdolni, and said, —
"Here are three caps for thee, three iron cakes, and
three rods. When thou art within three versts of the
tale-telling Tom Cat he will send powerful sleep to over-
42 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
come thee. Be on thy guard, sleep not; throw out thy
arms, draw foot after foot, sometimes roll like a cylin-
der, for if thou sleepest the cat will kill thee."
Whether it was long or short, near or distant, Bez-
dolni came to the thirtieth kingdom. When three versts
away sleep began to overpower him ; he put on the three
iron caps, threw out arm after arm, and rolled like a
cylinder. In one way and another he held out and
reached the pillar. The tale-telling Tom Cat sprang on
to his head, broke one iron cap, broke the second, and
was about to break the third, when the good hero caught
him with claws, pulled him to the earth, and began to
belabor him with the rods. He cut him with the iron
rod ; the rod broke ; he cut him with the copper rod ; the
rod broke; then he took the tin rod; that bends and
doesn't break, but winds over his back. The Cat began
/to tell tales about deacons and priests, but the mer-
chant's son did not listen. The Cat could not endure
the blows and when he could not stop Bezdolni with
stories, he entreated him, —
"Leave off, good man, I will do for thee all that thou
"Wilt thou go to the Tsar's palace with me?"
"Wherever thou pleasest I will go."
Bezdolni loosened his hold. The Cat invited him as
THE TOWN OF NOTHING 43
a guest, seated him at a table and placed bread before
him. The merchant's son ate three or four pieces ; that
was enough, more would not enter his throat. The Cat
grumbled and found fault.
"What kind of hero art thou if thou canst not eat
as much bread as I ?"
"I am not used to thy bread," said Bezdolni. "I have
in my pack Russian cakes for the road. They are the
things for a hungry stomach." He took out an iron
cake and acted as if he were about to eat it.
"Let me see what Russian cakes are like," begged the
The merchant's son gave him an iron cake ; he ate it.
He gave him a second ; he gnawed that ; he gave him the
third; he gnawed till he broke his teeth, then he threw
the cake on the table, and said, —
"Thy Russian cakes are very hard."
Bezdolni made ready and started for home; the Cat
followed him. They went and went, and went and
went till they came to the Tsar's palace.
When the Tsar saw the Cat he said, —
"Now, tale-telling Cat, show me a great terror."
The Cat put out his savage claws, aimed them at the
Tsar, was going to tear his white breast in two and take
out his living heart.
44 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The Tsar was terrified, and began to entreat Bezdolni
to take away the tale-telling Cat. "Take away the Cat,
I'll do everything for thee," cried he.
y "Wilt thou have the voevoda buried alive?"
That moment they took the wicked voevoda, bore
him to the court and buried him alive in the damp earth.
Bezdolni and his wife lived in the palace, with the Tsar.
No one served them; the Cat obeyed them, and they
lived long and happily. This is the story ; no more can
THE AMBITIOUS OLD WOMAN
IN a poor little cabin an old man lived with his old wife.
One day the man went into the forest to cut fire-
wood. He sought out a large tree and raised his ax
to strike. That instant the tree spoke with a human
voice, saying, —
"Do not cut me, old man; what you want that I will
"Will you make me rich ?" asked the old man.
"I will. Go home ; you will have everything in abun-
When the old man reached home, he found, in place
of his cabin, a large house as well furnished as a full
cup, grain stored up to last for years, and so many cows,
horses and sheep that you couldn't count them in three
"Where did all this come from?" asked the old
"You see, wife, off in the forest I found a tree that
whatever you ask f or> it gives."
For a few weeks the old couple rejoiced in their new
abundance; then life became irksome for the woman and
she said to her husband, —
46 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"Though we live richly, what sense is there in it all
if people don't show us honor? If the village elder
wishes he can send us to work, or, if he takes it into his
head, he can arrange to have us flogged. Go to the
tree and ask to be village elder."
The man went to the tree and raised his ax as if to
strike at the roots.
"What do you want ?" asked the tree.
"Make me village elder."
"Very well," said the tree. "Go your way with
When the old man reached home soldiers were wait-
ing for him, "Where have you been?" cried they.
"Give us quarters at once, and good ones too. Stir
around, old man!" ordered they, pushing and striking
The old woman saw that an elder was not always
sure of honor, so she said: "What profit is there in be-
ing an elder's wife? The soldiers beat you. But to a
noble nothing can be said. What he commands is done.
Go to the tree and ask to be a noble."
The old man took his ax and went to the tree as if
to cut it down.
"What do you want?" asked the tree.
"Make me a noble."
"Yery well. Go your way with God."
THE AMBITIOUS OLD WOMAN 47
The old woman lived a while as a lady, then she grew
dissatisfied and said to her husband:
"What good is it for me to be a lady? If you were a
Colonel, it would be another thing, every one would envy
us," and she drove him off again to the tree.
When he raised his ax as if to strike, the tree asked :
"What do you want?"
"Make me a Colonel."
"Very well. Go your way with God."
He went home and was appointed Colonel.
"What good is there in all this ?" said the old woman.
"If the General wants to, he can put you under arrest.
Go to the tree and ask to be a General."
The old man went to the tree and asked. As soon
as he reached home he was raised to the rank of Gen-
Some time passed, then the woman grew tired of be-
ing a General's wife.
"A great affair indeed to be a General!" said she.
"If the Tsar wishes he can send you to Siberia. Go to
the tree and ask to be made Tsar."
He went and raised the ax.
"What do you want ?" asked the tree.
"Make me Tsar and my wife Tsaritsa."
"Very well. Go your way with God."
When the old man reached home deputies were al-
48 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
ready there. They saluted him with profound respect
"Our Tsar is dead. You have been chosen to fill his
The old man and woman did not reign long. To be
a sovereign seemed too small a matter to the woman.
"A great affair indeed to be a Tsar !" said she. "If
God wishes He can send death to us, then people will
hide us away in the damp earth. Go to the tree and ask
it to make us gods."
The old man went to the tree, which, as soon as it
heard his senseless request, shook its leaves and said :
"Be you a male bear, and your wife a female bear !"
That minute the old man and woman became bears
and ran oif into the deep woods.
IVAN TSAREVICH AND BAILOI POLYANYIN
IN a certain kingdom, in a certain land, there lived a
Tsar who had three daughters and one son, Ivan
The Tsar grew old and died and Ivan Tsarevich took
the crown. When neighboring kings heard of this they
collected a countless army and went against him with
Ivan Tsarevich knew not what to do ; he went to his
sisters and asked, "My dear sisters, what am I to do?
All o£ the neighboring kings have risen against me."
"Oh, thou brave warrior!" said the oldest sister.
"Why dost thou fear ? Look at Bailoi Polyanyin ; he is
fighting with Baba Yaga, Golden Leg, thirty years; he
never gets off his horse, he lives without rest, but thou
art frightened at nothing."
Ivan Tsarevich saddled his good steed, put on his
armor of war, took his sword, Kladyenets, his lance of
long measure, and his silken whip, prayed to God, and
rode out to meet the foe.
He killed not so many with the sword as he trampled
with his steed. He destroyed the hostile army, went
50 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
home, lay down to rest, and slept three days and nights
without waking. On the fourth day he woke up and
went out to look at the open field. The kings had col-
lected more men than before; their army was under the
walls of the city.
Ivan Tsarevich knew not what to do ; he went to his
sisters, and asked, "Oh, my sisters, what am I to do?
I destroyed one army, now another stands under the
city walls and threatens me worse than the first one
"What sort of a warrior art thou, to fight one day and
sleep three days and nights without waking? Look at
Bailoi Polyanyin; he fights with Baba Yaga, Golden
Leg, thirty years; he never gets off his steed, he lives
without rest, but thou art frightened at nothing."
Ivan Tsarevich went to the white-walled stable, sad-
dled his good steed, his heroic steed, put on his battle
armor, and girded on his magic sword. In one hand he
took his lance of long, measure, in the other, a silken
whip. He prayed to God, and went to meet the foe.
Not a bright falcon flies on a flock of geese, swans and
gray ducks as Ivan Tsarevich bore down on the enemy's
army. He killed not so many himself as his steed
trampled. He slew a great warrior force ; then he went
home and lay down and slept six days and six nights
TSAREVICH AND POLYANYIN 51
On the seventh day he rose and went out to look on
the open field. The kings had collected a greater force
than before and had surrounded the city. It was a fear-
Ivan Tsarevich went to his sisters, and asked,
"Dear sisters, what am I to do? I have destroyed two
mighty forces, now the third one stands under the walls
and threatens me worse than the first and the second
"Oh, what a brave warrior ! Thou hast fought one
day and slept six days and nights without waking.
Look at Bailoi Polyanyin; he wars with Baba Yaga,
Golden Leg, thirty years ; he never gets off his steed, he
lives without rest."
This was bitter for the Tsarevich to hear. He
hastened to the white-walled stables, saddled his good
steed, put on his battle armor, girded on his magic
sword, took in one hand his lance of long measure, in
the other, his silken whip, prayed to God, and rode out
to meet the foe.
That was not a bright falcon flying on a flock of
geese, swans and gray ducks, but Ivan Tsarevich com-
ing down on the hosts of the enemy. Not so many did
he slay himself as his good steed trampled. He killed
a mighty warrior force, then returned to his castle, lay
down to sleep, and slept nine days and nine nights with-
52 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
out waking. On the tenth day he rose up, called his
ministers and officers, and said, —
"My ministers and officers, I have decided to visit
strange lands. I am going to look for Bailoi Polyanyin.
I ask ye to give judgment, govern and settle all questions
Then he took leave of his sisters, mounted his steed
and rode forth on his way and path. Whether it was
long or short he came to a dark forest, in that forest
was a cabin, and in the cabin lived an old man. Ivan
Tsarevich went to him and said, —
"Hail, Russian Tsarevich ! Whither is God bearing
"I am seeking Bailoi Polyanyin ; dost thou know where
"I know not myself, but I will summon my faithful
servants and ask."
The old man went to the door of the cabin and began
to play on a silver flute. Straightway birds flew to him
from every side; there flew together seen and unseen of
them ; they covered the heavens with a dark cloud. The
old man cried with a sounding voice and whistled a
hero's whistle, —
"My faithful servants, passing birds, have ye not seen,
have ye not heard of Bailoi Polyanyin?"
TSAREVICH AND POLYANYIN 53
"With seeing we have not seen, with hearing we have
not heard," answered they.
"Well, Ivan," said the old man, "thou must go now
to my brother ; maybe he will tell thee something. Take
this ball, let it go before thee, and whither it rolls there
turn thy horse."
Ivan Tsarevich mounted his good steed and dropped
the ball to the ground. It rolled on and he rode after
it. Whether it was long or short he came to a cabin;
in the cabin sat an old man as gray as a kite.
"Hail, grandfather !" said Ivan.
"Hail, Russian Tsarevich, whither art thou holding
"I am seeking Bailoi Polyanyin. Knowest thou
where he is ?"
"I know not, but I will call my trusty servants and ask
The old man went to the door and blew his silver
horn ; straightway beasts gathered to him from all sides.
He whistled a hero's whistle, then cried with a mighty
"My faithful servants, racing beasts, have ye heard
of Bailoi Polyanyin?"
"With sight we have not seen him, with hearing we
have not heard of him," answered the beasts.
"Count up, maybe ye are not all here."
54 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The beasts counted themselves; the crooked she- wolf
was not there. The old man sent a messenger for her
and soon she came.
"Tell me, crooked she-wolf, dost thou know where
Bailoi Polyanyin lives ?"
"Why should I not know if I live near him. He slays
armies and I feed on the dead."
"Where is he now ?"
"He is on a great mound in the open field, sleeping in
his tent. He has been fighting with Baba Yaga, Golden
Leg, and after the fight he has laid down to sleep for
twelve days and twelve nights."
"Guide Ivan Tsarevich to him."
The she-wolf ran on and after her galloped Ivan.
He came to the great mound and entered the tent.
Bailoi Polyanyin was resting in a firm sleep. Ivan
"My sisters told me that this hero fought without
rest, but he has lain down to sleep for twelve days and
nights. Shall I sleep meanwhile?"
He thought and thought, and at last he lay down at
the side of Bailoi Polyanyin. A small bird flew into the .
tent, fluttered around the pillow, and said these words, —
"Rise! wake up, Bailoi Polyanyin, and give my
brother, Ivan Tsarevich, to a cruel death. If not he
will slay thee !"
TSAREVICH AND POLYANYIN 55
Ivan Tsarevich sprang up, caught the bird, tore off
her right leg, threw her out of the tent, and again lay-
down at the side of Bailoi Polyanyin.
He had not fallen asleep when another small bird flew
in, fluttered around, and said, —
"Rise! wake up, Bailoi Polyanyin, and give my
brother, Ivan Tsarevich, to a cruel death. If not he
will slay thee !"
Ivan Tsarevich sprang up, caught the bird, tore off
her right wing, threw her out of the tent, and lay down
A third small bird came flying and fluttering around,
and said, —
"Rise! wake up, Bailoi Polyanyin, and give my
brother, Ivan Tsarevich, to a cruel death. If not he will
slay thee !"
Ivan sprang up, caught the bird, tore off her bill,
threw her out, and then lay down and slept soundly as
The time came, and Bailoi Polyanyin woke up. He
saw that at his side was lying an unknown hero. He
seized his sharp sword and was going to give him to a
cruel death, but he halted.
"No," thought he, "this hero came while I was sleep-
ing, and he did not put blood upon his sword. It would
not be honor and praise to me to destroy him now. A
56 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
sleeping man is the same as a dead one. I will rouse
He roused Ivan Tsarevich, and asked, "Art thou a
good or a bad man? Speak! How do they call thee
by name, and why hast thou come?"
"They call me Ivan Tsarevich, and I have come to look
at thee and try thy strength."
"Thou art bold, Ivan Tsarevich; unbidden thou hast
entered my tent, without asking thou hast slept at my
side ; I might have given thee to death for that."
"Ah, Bailoi Polyanyin, boast not before thou hast
cleared the ditch. Thou mayest stumble ; thou hast two
hands, and my mother did not bear me with one. We
They mounted their heroic steeds, rushed at each
other, and struck with such force that their lances flew
into splinters and their good steeds fell on their knees.
Ivan Tsarevich knocked Bailoi Polyanyin out of his
saddle and raised his sharp sword above him. Bailoi
Polyanyin implored, —
"Give me not to death, give me life. I will call myself
thy younger brother, I will honor thee in place of a
Ivan Tsarevich took him by the hand, raised him from
the earth, kissed him and called him younger brother.
TSAREVICH AND POLYANYIN 57
"I have heard, my brother," said he, "that thou art
fighting thirty years with Baba Yaga, Golden Leg.
Why this war?"
"She has a daughter, a beauty. I want to marry
"If we are friends, then one should give aid to the
other. Let us go against Baba Yaga."
They mounted their steeds and rode to the field.
Baba Yaga, Golden Leg, had put out a numberless fight-
ing force. Those two were not bright falcons flying at
a flock of doves, they were strong mighty heroes rush-
ing down on an army of enemies. Not as many did they
slay with swords as they trampled with their steeds.
Baba Yaga rushed off in flight, but Ivan Tsarevich pur-
sued her. He had almost caught her, when suddenly
she ran into a deep ravine, raised an iron slab and dis-
appeared under the earth.
Ivan Tsarevich and Bailoi Polyanyin bought a great
herd of oxen, killed them, took- oflf their hides and made
straps of them. They fastened the straps together and
made a strap so long that one end of it was in this world
and the other in the underground world.
Ivan said to Bailoi Polyanyin, "Let me down quickly
and don't pull up the rope till I jerk it."
Ivan reached the underground world, looked around,
58 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
and went in search o£ Baba Yaga. He journeyed an
traveled, walked and walked on, looked, and lo ! behin
a grating tailors were sitting.
"What are ye doing there?" asked Ivan.
"We are sitting and sewing an army for Baba Yag£
"How do ye sew an army, brothers?"
"This is how. What we prick with a needle is a Cos
sack with a pipe. He mounts his horse, stands in lim
and goes to make war on Bailoi Polyanyin."
"Oh, brothers, ye do it quickly, but not firmly. Stan(
in a row and I will show ye how to sew firmly."
They stood in a row. Ivan Tsarevich drew his swor(
and the heads flew. He killed the tailors and walkei
on and on. Whether it was long or short he came to i
grating and lo ! behind it shoemakers were sitting.
"What are ye doing?" asked Ivan Tsarevich,
"We are sitting and making an army for Baba Yaga
"How do ye make an army, brothers?"
"This is how. What we prick with an awl is a war
rior with a sword. He mounts a horse, stands in line
and goes to war against Bailoi Polyanyin."
"Oh, brothers, ye do it quickly, but not well. Stand ii
a row and I'll show you how to do better."
They stood in a row. Ivan Tsarevich drew his swon
TSAREVICH AND POLYANYIN 59
and the heads flew. He killed the shoemakers and went
on. Whether it was long or short he came to a great
city. In the city was a Tsar's castle, and in the castle
sat a maiden of indescribable beauty ; when she saw Ivan,
his dark curls, his falcon eyes, and his heroic bearing
pleased her. She asked whence he came and why.
"I am seeking Baba Yaga, Golden Leg," said Ivan.
"Know, Ivan Tsarevich, that I am her daughter. She
has lain down to rest for twelve days and nights."
Ivan Tsarevich went to Baba Yaga, Golden Leg; he
found her asleep, struck her with his sword and cut off
her head. The head rolled, and said, —
"Strike again, Ivan Tsarevich."
"A single blow from a hero is enough," answered the
Tsarevich and went back to the castle to see the beauti-
ful maiden. He sat with her at the oaken table at the
spread cloth; they ate and drank, then he asked her, —
"Is there in the world any one stronger than I, or
fairer than thou?"
"Oh, Ivan Tsarevich, what sort of a beauty am I?
Beyond the thrice ninth land in the thirtieth kingdom
lives, with the Tsar of the Serpents, a maiden of un-
speakable beauty; she washed her feet and I bathed in
Ivan Tsarevich took the white hand of the maiden
and led her to the palace where the rope was hanging.
6o FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
He gave the sign, and Bailoi Polyanyin pulled and pulled,
and drew out the Tsarevich and the maiden.
"Hail, Bailoi Polyanyin !" said Ivan Tsarevich, "here
is thy bride. Live and be happy. I am going to the
He mounted his heroic steed, took farewell of Bailoi
Polyanyin and his bride, and galloped away beyond the
thrice ninth land to the thirtieth kingdom.
Whether it was long or short, high or low, a tale is
soon told, but a deed is not soon done. Ivan Tsarevich
came to the Serpent Kingdom, slew the Tsar of the
Serpents, liberated the beautiful Tsarevna and married
her. After that he came home, lived with his young
wife and won wealth.
THE APPLES OF YOUTH
THERE was once a king who ruled, wisely and well,
over broad lands. That king had a wife and three
sons, but he was not happy. When Spring came and the
earth grew young he was sad beyond measure, because
the spring time of his life had long since passed and
would never return. On the contrary, his face was
growing paler and his arm weaker.
As time went by, his life became so dear to the king
that day and night he was thinking how to prolong it.
You can imagine his joy when he heard that in a certain
land there were golden apples of such virtue that if a man
ate three of them he regained his youth as if born anew.
Straightway the king sent messengers to every coun-
try of the world to search for those golden apples, but
one messenger after another returned empty-handed.
When the last one came the king cried out in anguish, — ■
"Oh, is there no man in the kingdom who can bring me
the golden apples ?"
"We will go for them," said his two elder sons.
"You cannot go," said the king. "Who would reign
in my place if I should die in your absence ?"
62 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"Our brother Yanek is here."
"What of that," said the king, shaking his head, as
i£ to say that Yanek was of no account.
The princes explained how useful it would be for the
kingdom if the king grew young and strong, and they
talked till the good father was persuaded.
The princes could not conceal their joy. For them it
was not so much a question of restoring their father's
youth as it was of gaining liberty to lead a dissolute life
from which they were restrained by the stern old king.
They were soon ready for the road, but in their hurry
they did not forget to take as much gold as possible,
and the best horses, with the richest trappings in the
They set out quickly, for they were afraid that their
father might change his mind. When outside of the
city they forgot the golden apples ; they thought only of
how to have the most pleasure. As they knew of no
great city they went wherever chance led them. They
rode at a swift gallop until they came to the boundary
of their father's kingdom where the road branched off
in three directions. They didn't know which road to
"Maybe," said the younger brother, in whom a spark
of love for his father was still smoldering, "we had
better part here; we might find the apples more quickly."
THE APPLES OF YOUTH 63
"We should have a joyous meeting!" said the elder
brother. "It might please you to go alone, but I'll not
The younger yielded. They took the left-hand road
and traveled many days. At last they saw some great
object gleaming in the distance. On drawing nearer
they found that it was a castle made of ruddy gold in-
laid with precious stones. Since they were born they
had not seen such wealth, but all was nothing compared
with the beauty of the princess who appeared on the
balcony and, smiling graciously, beckoned them in.
Returning her salute the princes sprang from their
horses and, tying them to a pillar of gold, hurried up the
broad marble steps. The princess conducted them
straightway to a banquet hall where the choicest of food
and drink was served. Wine was poured for the broth-
ers till they lost their wits ; then the princess, taking the
elder brother by the hand, led him to the next chamber
and seated him on a downy couch. She pressed a
spring hidden in the floor ; the couch flew apart and the
prince fell into a deep dungeon.
Smiling with satisfaction the princess conducted the
other brother to the chamber and treated him in like
The brothers were not alone in the dungeon; many
other princes were there, but most of them were too
64 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
feeble to speak, for the wicked princess gave them verj
little to eat; no one could escape, for the doors of thi
dungeon were of iron and the vaults were of mightj
The old king waited with anxious desire for the re
turn of his sons. Every evening he stood for a lonj
time gazing in the direction which they had taken whei
going away ; each day his sadness increased and at las
he was sick from anxiety.
The youngest son, Yanek, sat whole days by his fa
ther's bedside and comforted him with the assuranc(
that his sons would come soon, and would bring th(
When they came not and the illness of the old kinj
increased, Yanek said, "I will go for my brothers and thi
The king consented, for he thought that when Yand
got to the boundary he would turn back.
But Yanek had resolved to find his brothers and th
apples. Straightway he made ready for the road. H
chose the most wretched horse in the stable, one kep
there from pity ; he took no rich armor or weapons, an
only a little gold. He parted from his father and mothe
and rode away leisurely.
When Yanek was outside of the city the horse spol:
to him in a human voice, and said, —
THE APPLES OF YOUTH 65
"Get down, Yanek, I will feed a little in this field."
Yanek was greatly surprised when the horse S]^oke,
and, thinking at once that it was no common-hprse, he
dropped the bridle and sprang to the ground. The
horse went to the field, ate eagerly and then came back.
Yanek could not believe his own eyes. Instead of the
wretched little nag which could barely stand on its legs,
a powerful crow-black steed stamped the earth impa-
tiently, with his golden shoes; his hair was like satin,
his mane was like silk, sparks of fire seemed to flash
from his eyes.
"Thou didst well to choose me," said he. "Sit on my
back and we will fare farther."
Yanek was not long in deciding; he sprang to the
saddle and the crow-black steed rushed on with such
speed that his golden shoes scarcely touched the earth,
and soon they were at the boundary where the road
branched off in three directions. Yanek was about to
ask which road to take, but before he could do so the
steed turned to the right and rushed on still more
Yanek and the steed spent the night in a cave and in
the morning went farther. Before the sun went down
on the third day they came to a great city draped in
black. As it was getting dark Yanek stopped at a lone
cottage on the edge of the city. An old grandmother
66 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
came to meet him and was not a little surprised wh€
Yanek asked for a night's lodging.
"I haven't much," said she, "but what I have I give
Yanek left his horse in the yard and followed tl
grandmother to a room where she placed before hii
what she had.
"Why is the city draped in mourning?" asked Yanel
"A terrible misfortune has come to us," sighed the o]
woman. "Not long ago three dragons came here, Gc
knows whence, and those monsters have destroye
many people. To-night the king's daughter will be d*
voured. If any man could kill the dragons and fr(
the princess he would get her in marriage with half tl
kingdom, and the whole kingdom after the death of tl
Hearing these words Yanek grew thoughtful, ar
soon he started off toward the city. In the distance 1
saw a light. As it drew nearer he saw that attendan
were conducting the princess outside the city to be d
voured by the dragons. When the attendants lei
Yanek went up to the maiden and saluting he
said, — :
"Go home in health, I will kill the dragon."
The princess obeyed. That moment a nine-head(
dragon rushed at Yanek, Yanek drew his sword ar
yrith three blows cut off the nine heads of the drago
THE APPLES OF YOUTH 67
then he went to the old woman's cottage and lying down
The next morning the old grandmother told him, with
great joy, that some brave knight had killed one of the
three dragons, and that most likely he would kill the
Yanek said nothing, but when night came he went
again to the place where the dragons came for their
prey. Again attendants led out the princess and has-
tened away. Yanek sprang from his hiding place and
told her to go home. Straightway a dragon with eight-
een heads stormed at him furiously. Yanek's hand
was beginning to fail, but he summoned his last strength
and struck so mightily that he cut off the dragon's
heads. Then he went to the cottage and slept soundly.
In the morning the old grandmother could not suffi-
ciently praise the courageous knight who had killed the
second dragon, and would, she was sure, kill the third
one. Yanek smiled, but he was afraid of the third
one; he hung his gloves over the old woman's bed, and
"I must go out to-night. If blood drops from these
gloves loosen my crow-black steed."
When night came Yanek went out against the last
dragon. The princess came and he sent her home.
That moment a twenty-seven headed dragon rushed at
68 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
him with such force that he could scarcely keep on hi
feet. He fought manfully, but he might have failed i
his good steed had not come to his aid. The stee
stamped on the dragon so fiercely, with his golden shoe;
that he stunned him and Yanek was able to cut off hi
heads. Yanek was about to go to the old woman's col
tage when the princess stood before him.
"My liberator," said she, "if thou carest not for m
at least let my father thank thee."
Yanek saluted the princess, placed her on his stee
and went to the palace.
Now there was rejoicing. The black drapings wer
taken down and a rich feast was ready in the king'
palace. At that feast the first places were occupied b
the princess and Yanek. But Yanek determined not t
marry the princess till he found his brothers and th
When the feast was over Yanek wanted to go awa
"Dost thou refuse the hand of my daughter?" aske
the king, standing before him.
"No," answered Yanek, "but I am bound by a dut
which I cannot neglect."
"Whenever thou mayest come I shall be glad to giv
thee my blessing," said the king and taking a ring frot
the princess's finger he put it on Yanek's finger.
THE APPLES OF YOUTH 69
"If I come not before a year and a day the princess
will be free from every promise," said Yanek, and taking
a friendly leave he sprang on his steed and galloped to
the cottage on the edge of the city. He rewarded the
old grandmother and rode away.
"Thou didst well not to marry the princess," said the
steed. "Now we will go for the golden apples."
Yanek was surprised when his crow-black steed took
the road by which they had come. When they reached
the boundary of the kingdom, wliere the roads branched
off in three directions the steed turned, took the middle
road, and before the sun had reached the mountains on
the third day the steed stood in front of a golden castle.
On the southern side of the castle was a beautiful garden,
and in the middle of that garden was a tree on which the
golden apples of youth were hanging.
When Yanek saw the apples he sprang to the ground
and wished to pluck them at once.
"Hurry not," said the steed, "for from every apple
goes out an invisible string which makes a terrible noise
as soon as any one touches the apple. Take my bridle
and go to the castle. In one of the chambers thou wilt
find a beautiful princess who will greet thee with kind-
ness beyond measure. Be not enticed by her beauty;
bind her feet together with my bridle, otherwise she will
pursue and kill thee."
70 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
Yanek took the bridle and went to the castle. He
had never seen such splendor before, but he forgot it all
when he opened the door of the third chamber and saw a
golden-haired princess. He was as if gazing at the sun ;
his eyes were dazzled. When he recovered his senses he
drew near and bowed down before the maiden. She
smiled on him graciously and greeted him with wel-
coming words. Remembering the command of his steed
he paid no heed to her words, but catching hold of her
feet he bound them with the bridle and hastened away.
He mounted his steed; the steed sprang over the wall
into the garden and told Yanek to pluck three apples.
As soon as Yanek touched the apples there was such
a noise that it was a wonder he did not lose his hearing,
but the good steed sprang over the wall and rushed on
like a whirlwind. At last he stopped and said, —
"Now we have nothing to fear; we are beyond the
boundary of the princess's land."
Yanek heard not these words, for the princess was so
beautiful that he was sorry for having treated her so
cruelly. When he remembered the golden apples he
strove to drive her face from his mind, but could not.
The steed rested, then they went farther and in no
long time reached the place where the road branched off
in three directions. Yanek was so sunk in thought
that he did not notice that the steed turned and took the
THE APPLES OF YOUTH 71
left-hand road. It was only when they had gone a good
distance that he saw this and asked, —
"Where are we going?"
"For thy brothers," answered the steed.
When they came to the castle in which his brothers
were imprisoned the steed said, —
"Here also thou wilt find a beautiful princess, but she
is cruel. The princess will entertain thee, then she will
conduct thee to a chamber and tell thee to sit on a couch
that is there. Do thou, as a gallant knight, ask her to
be seated first. When she sits down press a spring in the
floor in front of the couch. She will drop to the dungeon
where thy brothers are ; then go thou to the rear cham-
ber and bring away the largest key that is there."
When Yanek rode up to the castle a beautiful maiden
appeared on the balcony, but Yanek thought that he
knew a more beautiful maiden. He tied his steed to a
golden pillar and went up the broad marble steps. He
returned the maiden's greeting then followed her to the
banquet hall. He partook of the food and drink mod-
erately, then let the princess lead him to the next cham-
ber; when she asked him to sit on the couch he
"How could I be so rude?"
He took her by the hand and seated her on the couch,
and the same moment he pressed the spring in the floor.
72 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE^
In the twinkle of an eye the couch opened and the prin-
cess fell to the dungeon below.
Yanek went to the rear chamber, took the largest key
he could find there and returned to his steed.
"We will go now," said the steed, "to the rear of the
castle and dig down till we find the door of the dungeon,"
Yanek dug for a long time, then the steed pawed_and
dug with him till an iron door was seen.
"When the door is open," said the steed, "the princess
will try to come out, but do not let her. Liberate only
thy brothers and the other princes."
Yanek, after a long struggle, opened the door. The
first person who tried to push out was the princess, but
Yanek drove her back without mercy and called to his
brothers and the other princes. They didn't wait for a
second call. When all were free Yanek, not heeding the
prayers of the princess, locked the iron door and carried
the key away.
The strange princes thanked Yanek for their deliver-
ance, and sat on their horses and hurried toward home;
but Yanek's brothers looked at each other and were
ashamed of themselves in presence of Yanek.
"Now let us go home," said Yanek, "I have the golden
apples of youth."
The brothers were frightened, but they mounted their
THE APPLES OF YOUTH 73
horses and followed Yanek. On the way the eldest
brother said to the second, —
"We must get those apples,"
The second brother said, —
"When we come to an inn we will make Yanek drunk,
then we'll get the apples."
When they came to an inn they offered Yanek wine to
drink; he would not take it, but, being tired from the
road, he lay down on a bench and straightway fell
asleep. The brothers were not long in taking the golden
apples from his bosom and putting others in their place.
When Yanek woke up, they traveled on till they came to
their father's city.
The steed said to Yanek, "Stop outside and let me eat
a little grass."
Yanek did this, but when the horse came from the field
he was no longer a fiery steed, he was the same wretched
little nag that Yanek took from the king's stable. Yanek
sat on him and wished to overtake his brothers, but they
were already in the palace. They gave the apples to
the king and boasted not a little of having overcome
numberless perils before getting them.
The king ate the apples and straightway became as
young and handsome as when he had married the queen.
From joy he knew not what to do first. All the courtiers
74 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
and the people of the city came to congratulate their
king and wish him happiness. The king went to the
balcony and, presenting his two sons to the people, de-
clared that both would reign after his death. The peo-
ple greeted the deceitful princes and praised their
When Yanek appeared on his wretched little nag the
people laughed secretly, but they roared loudly when,
with great enthusiasm he cried out, —
"Rejoice, my father, I have brought the apples of
youth which thou hast so much desired."
The king was ashamed of Yanek, and his brothers
Taking the apples from his bosom he presented them
to the king, who refused to touch them and appeared to
be enraged beyond measure. The queen sent for
Yanek, and, since she was no less anxious for youth
than the king was, she ate the apples with greediness.
But an hour passed, two hours, a whole day, three days,
and she did not grow young. The king was angry in
earnest, but after a while he began to laugh at poor
The deceitful brothers enjoyed their father's love and
the praise of the people ; but their glory was short-lived.
The story of the renewed youth of the king went far and
THE APPLES OF YOUTH 75
wide, and at last it came to the ears of the princess from
whom Yanek had stolen the apples.
She summoned a great army and set out to find Yanek,
not to get the apples back but to offer her hand to him,
for he was a handsome youth and his bravery had
When the king heard that an army was approaching
his capital he was alarmed, and he sent swift messengers
to ask the reason of its coming.
"Tell your king," said the princess, "to send me the
man who took the apples of youth from my garden ; if he
does not I will turn his capital into dust and ashes."
The messengers hastened back to the king and told
him what the princess had said, adding that her army
was numerous beyond calculation.
The king sent his two elder sons to the princess.
They were greatly frightened, and the princess was as-
tonished when she saw two instead of one.
"Were ye both at my palace ?" asked she.
"We were," answered one of the brothers, with a
"Then ye both know how to go there?"
"We do," answered they.
The princess went with them to the boundary of the
kingdom where the road branched off in three directions.
76 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
There she halted and told the princes to go on toward
her castle — ^but they were so confused that one turned
to the left, the other to the right.
"Deceivers!" cried the princess, angrily, and she or-
dered them to be seized and bound. Then she returned
to the city and announced to the king that unless he sent
that prince who had been at her castle she would destroy
his capital that very day.
The king was frightened, and sending for Yanek he
ordered him to go to the princess.
Yanek mounted his miserable little nag ; he let it feed
in the meadow till it became a fiery crow-black steed,
then he hastened to the princess.
"Thou didst come to me for the apples of youth," said
the princess, with welcoming voice.
"I did," said Yanek, looking at her timidly.
"I think that thou art speaking the truth," said she,
"but I must try thee."
Then she went with him to the boundary of the king-
dom and told him to go to her castle.
Yanek, putting spurs to his steed, took the middle
"Come back," cried the princess.
"What punishment shall I put upon thee?" asked she
in a threatening voice.
THE APPLES OF YOUTH ^^,
"I'll submit to anything," answered Yanek.
'T sentence thee to give me thy heart and hand !"
"Oh, beautiful princess," answered Yanek, "my heart
was thine long ago, and my hand I am glad to give thee
now. But one favor I beg : judge not my brothers, let
me judge them."
She granted the favor. They put spurs to theii:
horses and were soon at the king's palace.
In good truth the king was angry when the princess
told him that it was Yanek and not his brothers who
stole the apples of youth. She had the brothers called
and they confessed.
"Wretches!" cried the king in a rage. "Now I will
pass such a sentence as never before."
"Not so," said the princess, "they are my prisoners.
It is for me to judge them, but I have given them to
my bridegroom. Let him judge them."
Yanek went to his chamber and returning with an
enormous key and a ring, said, —
"I will not treat you as ye have treated me. On the
boundary of my father's kingdom, as ye know, the road
branches off in three directions. Do thou, my elder
brother, take this ring and go by the right-hand road,
and thou, my second brother, take this key and go by the
left-hand road. Ye will each arrive at a castle in which
you will find a princess waiting for me."
78 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The brothers shed tears and embraced him. Not onl}
the brothers, but the king and queen and, above all, the
princess were delighted with kind-hearted Yanek.
Feast followed feast, then Yanek with his princess and
his brothers, started off. When they came to the bound-
ary, Yanek and the princess took the middle road, one
brother took the right-hand road, the other the left.
The princess whom Yanek saved from the dragons
was not a little grieved when the eldest brother gave her
Yanek's ring, but when she knew that Yanek was mar-
ried she gladly gave her hand to his brother. The prin-
cess whom Yanek left in the dungeon lost forever, dur-
ing the time she was there, her desire to delude and im-
prison people. When Yanek's brother liberated her she
gladly married him.
THE WORLD-BEAUTIFUL SHARKAN ROJA
THERE was once in the world a great myth king-
dom, and in that kingdom a sorrowful king, who
had a still more sorrowful wife. The king and queen
were sorrowful because the Lord had not given them
children; though it was written word for word in the
magic book that the Lord would give them a son with
golden teeth and magic power.
"God be good to me!" cried the queen once. "If I
had a golden-toothed son with magic power none other
would be his wife save the world-beautiful Sharkan
Seven years later the Lord gave her a golden-toothed
son of magic power. No sooner was the boy born when
he spoke, saying, —
"Father, I want to learn; send me to school, and give
me a master."
When the boy was seventeen years old he had finished
every school in the world, and then he said to his
"My mother, knowst thou what thy promise was be-
fore I was born?"
8o FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The queen had forgotten the promise, she remem-
bered nothing about it.
"Well, mother," repeated the magic youth, "try to
think what thou didst promise before I was born. I will
ask thee once more. What didst thou promise before I
was born ?"
The third time the queen gave no answer, for think as
hard as she could, she couldn't remember what she had
"Well, mother," said the magic youth, "I cannot help
it, I must bring thee to thy memory."
He took an ax in his hand, struck the chief pillar of
the palace and split it open with a blow; then he fastened
his mother's hair in the crack of the pillar and left her
there, saying, —
"Well, my mother, thou wilt stay there until thou dost
tell me what thou didst promise before I was born."
No one opposed the magic youth, though the king was
there, and with him were renowned heroes, for it was
known that a thousand fold woe would come to the man
who dared to raise a word, for the mighty youth had
strength to crush them all with his little finger.
At last it came to the queen's mind what she had prom-
ised before her son was born, and she said, —
"Now, my dear son, I know what I promised; I cried
out : 'God be good to me, if I had a golden-toothed son
SHARKAN ROJA 8i
of magic power none other should be his wife save the
world-beautiful Sharkan Roja.' "
"Well, mother, thou shouldst have told that before to
save disgrace, but I could not help it; now forgive me."
Then the magic youth drove the ax into the pillar,
spread it open, and took out his mother's hair, and lib-
"But, my dear mother, why didst thou promise what
thou art not able to give ? Why promise me the world-
beautiful Sharkan Roja who possesses immortal youth
and unfading beauty, and who is in the great dragon
kingdom with her husband the King of the Dragons,
who carried her oflF with violence from beautiful Won-
derland? My own mother and my father who reared
me, this is my word and speech to you. I shall travel,
if I wear my legs to the knees, while I see with my eyes,
till I find the Dragon Kingdom. I shall bring hence the
world-beautiful Sharkan Roja, or ye will never rejoice
at sight of me, for easily I may leave my life in that
Then in the midst of tear-shedding the golden-toothed
magic youth took leave of his own father and of the
mother who bore him and of his dear friends, and set
out to look for the world-beautiful Sharkan Roja. He
journeyed and traveled across forty-nine kingdoms till
once, when darkness had settled down, he saw a light
82 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
in the midst of a slough. He went toward the shining
and beheld a wondrously fair woman sitting in a little
golden coach to which six white squirrels were attached,
but the coach was fast in the mud, the squirrels could
pull it neither one way nor the other.
The king's son was not slow ; he went quickly to help
the six white squirrels, and with his aid they got the
coach out of the slough. When the golden coach was
on the dusty road, the wondrously fair lady turned to
the magic youth and found this to say, —
"Well, fair son of the king, expect good in return for
good. What dost thou wish of me, the Queen of Won-
"I wish only this," answered the king's son. "Give
me as wife the world-beautiful Sharkan Roja."
"Ah, prince, thou art moving a big tree, for if thou
hast not said who thou art still I know. Great is thy
power, great thy knowledge, but thou wouldst be a small
breakfast for the King of the Dragons, for know that
he kneads iron as I do dough, and crushes a rock as I
do a bit of fresh cheese, and breaks down the largest
tree of the forest with a stroke of his fist as easily as I
break a hemp stalk. Therefore, thou art moving a great
tree ; thou wilt break thy knife in it, and may easily lose
"I am not concerned about my life. If the Dragon
SHARKAN ROJA 83
King were seventy-seven times as strong, still I would
measure strength with him for Sharkan Roja."
"If thou art so determined then, know that Sharkan
Roja is my daughter, and that dog's meat, the King of
the Dragons, stole her from me. And know also that
if thou canst bring her thence, I will take thee as son and
beautiful Wonderland will be thy dwelling place; thou
wilt sit in the first seat, and the world-beautiful Sharkan
Roja will be thy wife. Here are three golden hairs and
a ragged strip of linen. Strike the three golden hairs
with the ragged strip of linen and thou wilt see what a
splendid wind-bred, fire-eating, magic steed thou wilt
have to carry thee to the great Dragon Kingdom. The
ragged bit of linen will become such a golden saddle that
thou wouldst have to search for the like of it and then
not find it. When on thy good steed, go to such and
such a place where from the foot of a great mountain a
spring is gushing forth; bathe in that spring and thou
wilt find that though thou wert strong thou wilt be seven
times stronger ; no weapon will wound thy body and thy
hair will be golden. When thou hast finished bathing
thou wilt find, in the grass near the spring, a sword
grown of the earth, point upward ; pluck this sword, for
it has the virtue that if thine arm grows weary from
great fighting it strikes, thrusts and kills of itself. If
thou dost all this perhaps thou wilt conquer the King of
84 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
the Dragons. But i£ thou shouldst feel thy strength
decreasing here are three vials, in each of them is a
strengthening mixture; drink from the smallest first,
then from the middle, and then from the largest one.
From this drink thou wilt regain thy seven-fold
The Queen of Wonderland struck her squirrels with
a golden whip and vanished from the eye, like a dream-
vision, like a breath.
The prince struck, with the ragged piece of linen, the
three hairs grown from one root, and behold like to
swiftest lightning there stood before him an iron-gray,
six-legged, dragon-suckled, fire-eating, wind-bred magic
steed ; the ragged linen became a golden saddle.
The king's son sat on the good steed and never stopped
till he reached the foot of the great mountain where he
found a spring gushing forth. He bathed in the spring
and his strength increased seven-fold. When he had
finished bathing he looked for the sword growing out of
the earth and found it. Then he sat on his good steed
and went in search of the great Dragon Kingdom.
He traveled and journeyed across forty-nine king-
doms, till he came to a copper bridge. That bridge led
to the kingdom and on it two dragons stood guard.
The king's son rested his good steed, then rushed to
the bridge. The dragons met him, but it was not long
SHARKAN ROJA 85
till the golden-haired, golden-toothed youth sent them to
the other world; they were that much for him that they
would have been small for his breakfast.
Now the magic steed danced on the copper bridge and
his golden shoes clattered. In this manner the golden-
toothed hero entered the great Dragon Kingdom, but
that no created thing might see him he said, "Cloud
before me, cloud behind me that no one might see
And no one saw him though he saw all things. Each
dragon had his own palace of granite or marble,
one more beautiful than another. Each dragon had
a wife stolen from a king, a count, or from Won-
derland. In those palaces were great mountains of
plundered treasure ; gold, silver, precious stones, all kinds
of costly weapons, swords with golden hilts, axes with
boxwood handles — three days would not suffice were I
to enumerate the plundered things piled up in the Dragon
In the middle of the kingdom stretched out a silken
meadow, in the meadow was a garden where all the
flowers of the round earth bloomed without fading.
Just then dragons were cutting the silken grass with
golden scythes, turning it with silver forks and gathering
it with golden rakes. The silken grass was to be eaten
by golden-haired steeds. In the middle of the garden
86 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
was the golden-pillared diamond palace of the King of
The king's son found the world-beautiful Sharkan
Roja under a weeping willow. With eyes and mouth he
could not gaze on her shining beauty sufficiently. How
could he? Her golden hair, plaited in two braids,
touched her white feet and reached the earth ; her form
was like a bending reed; her mild look, like the look
of a dove; when she smiled roses opened on her tender
face; when she wept true pearls fell from her eyes,
and when she took a step gold streamed from her
The king's son put spurs to his good steed, rushed to
Sharkan Roja, and said, —
"Why dost thou grieve, my heart's beautiful love? I
have come to liberate thee."
With that they kissed each other, saying: "I am
thine, thou art mine."
"My heart's heart," asked the king's son, "is that dog
of a dragon here ?"
"My heart's beautiful love," answered Sharkan Roja,
"he is not here, but he will come at midday."
"If he were here I would measure strength with him,
but, my heart's heart, wilt thou answer one question of
"I will answer," said Sharkan Roja,
SHARKAN ROJA 87
"Ah, my heart's golden love, my question is nothing
else save this, canst thou tell me where the dragon's
"O, no ! my heart's beautiful love, had I known where
it was thou wouldst not have found me here."
"Canst thou tell me where his strengthening drink is ?"
"In the cellar is a stone barrel. What it contains I do
not know, surely, but I can say on my true faith that
each midday the King of the Dragons goes to that barrel
"My heart's beautiful love, if I were to ask thee en-,
treatingly wouldst thou bring me some of that drink?"
Sharkan Roja took a golden cup in her hand, ran to
the cellar and brought it back full of wine from the stone
barrel. The prince took a good draught and if he had
been strong before he was now seven times stronger.
At midday the King of the Dragons came home with
a mighty clatter. When still far away he shouted, "I
smell a strange odor ! I smell a strange odor !" When
he stopped in the court foam was dripping from his
horse ; it couldn't have dropped faster. He did not enter
his palace, but called out in great anger, "I have always
heard the fame of the golden-toothed magic prince, I
(Should like to fight with him were he here."
"I am here!" cried the prince.
"If you are here, you find me in good humor. Come
88 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
to my lead pavement and we will make trial of each
They went to the lead pavement. The King of the
Dragons took a piece of rock and cut it in two with a
wooden knife; one-half he kept himself and the other
half he gave to the prince, saying, —
"If thou canst crush this stone as I do, then I shall
believe that thou art strong."
Here the dragon squeezed the stone till it was like
"That is nothing!" cried the golden-toothed hero, "I
will squeeze the rock so that not only will it become flour,
but water will drop from it."
With that he squeezed the rock till it was not merely
dust", but water dropped from it.
"Now I see," said the dragon, "that thou art strong
and worthy to fight me. I'll go to the cellar for my
sword, then we'll meet."
"Thou wilt not carry thy dog shirt out of here! If
thou hast no sword, I'll throw mine away and we'll fight
What was the dragon to do? He saw with sight that
he had come upon a man. He seized the king's son by
the waist and struck him into the lead pavement so that
he sunk to his knees, but the prince was not slow. He
SHARKAN ROJA 89
sprang out of the hole, caught the dragon by the waist
and thrust him into the lead pavement up to his knees.
The dragon was not slow ; he sprang out of the hole,
caught the golden-toothed hero by the waist and thrust
him in up to his chin. But the golden-toothed hero was
not slow; he sprang out of the hole, caught the dragon
by the waist and thrust him in up to the tip of his nose.
When the dragon could not get out the hero said to
"Well, King of the Dragons, dost thou believe now
that I am strong? I can take thy life, but I'll spare thee
on one condition."
"What is it?"
"That thou wilt give me the world-beautiful Sharkan
"Let her be thine," said the dragon.
The golden-toothed hero wanted no more. In a mo-
ment he sprang on his good steed, took Sharkan Roja in
his arms, and rode away. But he had barely reached the
gate when the King of Dragons, who was out of the hole,
and had taken a good drink from the barrel, called, —
"Come back, golden-toothed hero, the world-beautiful
Sharkan Roja is not thine yet. I was playing with thee,
now we'll have a true trial."
The prince's chin fell, for then did he know with whom
90 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
he had to deal. He turned back and they closed with
one another, but first the prince took a good drink from
the three vials given to him by the Queen of Wonderland.
Much time had not passed when the King of the Dragons
bit the dust. Then the world-beautiful Sharkan Roja
struck the diamond palace three times with a golden rod
which she had in her hand, and all the treasures, the
flowery garden, and the silken me3,dow turned into a
diamond apple. She hid the apple in her bosom and sat
on the magic steed by the side of her true love.
The golden-toothed magic youth took Sharkan Roja
to his father's kingdom. Great was the joy in that broad
kingdom when the hero returned with his bride, but it
was still greater when the world-beautiful Sharkan Roja
took the diamond apple from her bosom, put it down in
the most beautiful part of the kingdom, struck it three
times with the golden rod, and behold, in a flash, the
silken meadow stretched out before them, in the middle
of the meadow was the garden where all the flowers of
the round world bloomed without fading, and in the
middle of the garden was the gold-pillared diamond
Then there was a we3ding. And the golden-toothed
magic hero and the world-beautiful Sharkan Roja live
in that palace yet, if they are not dead.
THE GOLDEN FISH, THE WONDER-WORKING
TREE, AND THE GOLDEN BIRD
BEYOND distant times reigned somewhere a power-
ful king. Yarboi, his son, was heir to the throne,
and the young man was trained befittingly in all things
needful to a king in governing his land and making his
Every man, even the simplest, takes delight in some
special thing; Prince Yarboi loved fish beyond measure.
Each day he walked along his fishpond, which was not
far from the king's castle, and watched the fish as they
darted around here and there, up and down in the water,
or sprang out to catch flies. He brought food and was
delighted when the fish splashed near him and took
crumbs, almost from his hand.
Though a prince, Yarboi did not lead a holiday life;
his father kept him at work and the more strictly because
it was a question of the happiness of his people.
One day Yarboi went as usual to the fishpond ; the fish
darted here and there, up and down in the water, but to
no purpose; Yarboi remained thoughtful and, without
looking at his beloved fish, lay- down under the thick
92 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
bushes that skirted the pond. He knew that something
afflicted him, but what it was he could in no way imagine.
All at once he heard glad conversation beyond the
bushes. He rose quietly and still more quietly opened
the bushes. In the field, where young wheat was as
green as pond grass, he saw three maidens. The first
was as beautiful as a spring day, the second was still
more beautiful, but the third was three times as beautiful
as the first two together.
The maidens had been cutting grass, the sun was high
and they were weary from heat as well as from work,
they were resting and talking. They were young and
naturally they talked about marriage, for they thought
that no one was listening. But the prince listened care-
fully, scarcely breathing.
"It was foretold me," said the first maiden, "that I
would marry a widower, but that I would have golden
times with him."
"It was foretold me," said the second maiden, with a
sad voice, "that I would never marry and that I would
have an evil time."
"And what will be thy fate?" asked the first laugh-
ingly of the third maiden.
*'The prince will marry me," said she in a serious
voice, "and God will give us twins, a prince atxd princess.
THE GOLDEN FISH 93
The boy will have a golden sun on his breast and the girl
a golden moon."
The maidens, without saying another word, took up
the grass they had cut and putting it on their shoulders
went to their homes, in a neighboring village.
Prince Yarboi was astonished at the maiden's words,
but he was well pleased and willing that the prophecy
should be fulfilled. He followed the maidens cautiously
to discover where the third one lived. When he found
out he returned to the castle, but a longing seized him
and increased continually ; nothing made him either sad
or joyful; he was indifferent to everything. Each day
he went to the fishpond, lay down under the bushes and
listened, but no maiden came to the field.
The king and queen noticed the change in their son,
but could not discover the cause, therefore they called
him to their presence and asked what ailed him. "Tell
me," said the king, "and I promise by my crown that
thou shalt have it."
"I wish not to force thee to anything," said the prince,
"but if I receive not the maiden whom I love I will re-
main free forever."
The king looked at the queen, and when she had as-
sented, he said, —
"It will be as thou wishest."
94 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"I want to marry a maiden from the neighboring vil-
The king and queen were silent for a while, then the
king said, —
"Thou art man grown ; act according to thy mind."
The prince kissed the hands of his father and mother,
and soon set out, in a carriage drawn by six horses, for
the village. When the ^ieople saw the king's carriage
they were not surprised, for the king often passed
through the village, but when it stopped in front of one
of the cottages all heads were puzzled.
The prince got out of the carriage and asked the man
and woman sitting by the door : —
"Where is your daughter?"
Instead of answering they gazed at him. He went
into the cottage and found the maiden at work. He
took her hand, placed a ring on her finger, kissed her on
the forehead and led her to the carriage. "This is my
bride," said he to the astonished parents. "Ye will not
refuse your consent and blessing?"
The parents stretched forth their hands and blessed
them. Yarboi, with his chosen one entered the carriage,
and soon they were at the king's castle.
When the king saw the bride he was satisfied ; in his
eyes were clear tears, for he thought, "My son has
THE GOLDEN FISH 95
Straightway the bride was arrayed in rich robes and
messengers were sent to the four sides o£ the world to
invite kings and princes to the wedding. When all had
assembled there was a joyous feast, then the wedding,
and again feasting. Prince Yarboi was happy. He
wished for no more in this world. But this unspeakable
happiness was the cause of long suffering. In thinking
of his bride he forgot to invite a neighboring king and
this so offended the king that he declared war. At this
time the old king died; Yarboi inherited the throne and
he had to defend it.
How unwillingly did he go to war, not because he was
a coward, but because he had to leave his young wife.
But when he heard how his enemy was destroying the
country and slaying the people he did not delay. He
gave his power to his mother and with tears in his
eyes, begging her to love his wife as her own daughter,
he set out for the field. He fought bravely, but the
fortune of war turned now; to one side, now to the
Yarboi did not lose courage; he fought unceasingly.
He thought that his cherished wife was safe in the care
of his mother. Happy was Yarboi in having such
thoughts, but how his hands would have dropped if he
had known the truth.
The old queen was skilled in the black art. She had
96 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
only an assumed love for the young wife. When the
king was at home she could not injure the queen with
even a word, but now the best chance possible came to
ruin her completely.
The Lord gave the queen twins, as had been foretold,
a boy and a girl ; the boy had a golden sun on his breast,
and the girl had a golden moon. The old queen stole
the children and told the mother that they died at birth.
Who can describe the sorrow of the poor mother ? No
one suspected the awful deceit. The old witch had a
wicker basket ; she put the children into it, together with
gold and a letter saying, "Whoso finds these children let
him keep the money and rear the children ; they are not
christened," then she pushed the basket out onto the
She did not care so much for the destruction of the
children; the queen was the thorn that pricked her eye.
Therefore she wrote a letter to the king in which she
told only lies about his young wife. When the messen-
ger came the king was in battle and the victory inclined
to his side, but when he read the letter his courage fell
and the battle was lost. He wrote to his mother to do
nothing before his return.
This answer did not please the old queen, so she wrote
another letter in which she used all of her power to
destroy her daughter-in-law, and she succeeded. The
THE GOLDEN FISH 97
king wrote to put the young queen in prison. His
orders were carried out at once.
The war lasted long, but at last Yarboi conquered his
enemy. Mournfully did he return to his castle, mourn-
fully did he remain there. The old queen tried in every
way to remove the image of his wife from his memory,
but he was unable to forget her. Meanwhile the guilt-
less woman was groaning in prison.
But what had become of the children ?
Not far from the sea shore was a cottage and in the
cottage lived a fisherman and his family. One night the
fisherman had a wonderful dream : A woman came to
his cot, took him by the hand, and said: "Go to the
island where to-day thou hast caught a big fish; great
fortime awaits thee there."
The fisherman wakened and wondered not a little at
his strange dream. He had never succeeded in any-
thing. He worked the whole blessed day; he drank
only pure water, and was so thankful when he had a
chance to sleep that he slept soundly; no dream had ever
come to him before, hence he was sure that this dream
had significance. Unable to interpret it with his own
mind he roused his wife to take counsel with her. But,
angry because he snatched her from sleep, she did noth-
ing but scold. At last she pushed him rudely and told
him to keep still and go to sleep. The fisherman obeyed.
98 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
Scarcely was he asleep when again it seemed to him
that a woman was standing by his bed and begging him
to go to the island. He wakened and wanted to take
counsel with his wife; he was afraid to rouse her, but
he tumbled around so long that she wakened of her own
accord. He told her the dream again; she snarled at
him angrily, ordered him to give her peace, and was so
cross that the poor man was glad to keep quiet and go to
Again he was barely asleep when the pale woman stood
by his bed and begged him to go to the island. The
moment the vision disappeared the fisherman wakened;
he slipped out of bed, with both feet, quietly, so as not
to disturb his wife, stole out of the house and hastened
to the sea. He seized the oars and sprang into his boat;
the boat went, almost of itself, to the island.
As soon as the fisherman touched land he heard the
wailing of a child. He went toward the sound and saw,
by the light of the moon, a basket, and in the basket he
found two children. "This is fine luck," thought he.
"My wife does nothing now but what our children want,
and since we have three it will not be so bad when we
He put the basket in his boat, and, thinking how the
pale woman had promised him good luck, he rowed for
the mainland. Just as he touched the sand of the beach
THE GOLDEN FISH 99
he saw a package in the bottom of the boat; he opened it
quickly and found a large number of gold pieces. The
dream had come true; luck had met him.
The woman was standing on the threshold when her
husband came back. When she saw the basket and the
two children she greeted him angrily, but the moment
he showed her the gold she changed completely. She
kissed the orphans and knew not what to do first for
"First," said the fisherman, "thou must take them to
be christened, then I will go and report to the authori-
The woman did as her husband proposed. The fisher-
man went to the authorities and said that he had found
two children, a boy and a girl, but he did not mention
the gold pieces. They decided to let him keep the chil-
The children were christened in proper form, but he
who christened them knew not that he was christening
the children of a king.
The brother and sister grew as if growing out of
water, and when six years old they began to go to school
with the fisherman's son. They learned so easily that
the teacher had only joy from them. The fisherman
loved them as well as he did his own children, but his
wife, whenever she forgot the gold, turned her heart
loo FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
from them, gave them poor food and clothing, and
crossed them in all things.
The fisherman's son was a dunce at school, at home he
did nothing but mischief. Once, on the way to school,
the orphans reproached him for this. He said nothing,
but that night he complained to his mother. "The next
time they reproach thee," said the mother, "tell them that
they are foundlings, that they need not boast."
The worthless son resolved to obey his mother. To do
so quickly he played in school till the teacher flogged him.
On the way home the orphans reproached him a second
time, and that was what he wanted.
"Oh, foundlings," sneered he. "Ye wish to command
me. Ye are foundlings; my father picked up a basket
and ye were in it."
"We know," said the boy, "that we do not belong to
thy family." Though they were yovmg they had more
sense than other children of their age. "We will go
The fisherman's son ran home to tell his mother what
had happened and when the orphans reached the cottage
the hard-hearted woman had tied up their scant clothing;
she gave them the bundle and said, —
"Be off ! Maybe ye want me to ask you to stay longer,
but I'll not do it."
The children thanked the woman for rearing them;
THE GOLDEN FISH loi
looked once and a second time at the cottage, then walked
on, hand in hand, into the wide world. The fisherman
met them and asked where they were going. They told
him everything and said that they could not stay longer.
They thanked him for rearing them, and then wished
to go. The fisherman cried and begged them to stay,
but they insisted so firmly that at last he let them
The fisherman went home and reproached his wife for
her action, but the orphans went where their eyes led
In the evening they came to a forest through which
they hoped to pass quickly, but hope deceived them ; they
went hither and thither, lost the road, and night came
on ; everywhere there was darkness. The children were
so tired they could scarcely bend a knee. They sat down
on soft moss, put their arms~ around each other, nestled
up closely, and right away they were fast asleep and they
slept till the white morning; then, freshened by sleep,
they went on their way. They had gone only a short
distance when they saw under a rock an enormous num-
ber of gold pieces.
"Brother, that is gold !" cried the girl.
"It must be," said the boy, and he took up a piece and
weighed it in his hand.
"Can we take some of it?"
I02 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"Why not ? If it belonged to any man surely he would
not leave it here."
They took some of the coins and went on. Soon the
forest began to grow thin and in a short time they came
to a town. The children seemed larger and older than
when they left the fisherman's cottage. The boy went
to an inn and said to the innkeeper, "I want two cham-
bers, one for myself, and one for my sister, I will pay
thee well," and he gave him a gold piece as earnest
money. When he had the chambers the boy said to the
"Get ready a wagon and strong horses."
The boy drove to the forest and put all of the gold into
the wagon — the horses were barely able to draw it. He
took the gold to the inn and his chamber.
Now the brother and sister lived grandly; the boy
soon became a splendid youth and the girl a glorious
Reports of the youth and his wealth spread over the
whole land ; everybody wanted to know him. The owner
of a vast domain had a special desire to know him, for
the domain, in fact, belonged to creditors. This man
made a feast and invited the youth and his sister. When
all of the guests had gone away except the brother and
sister the host said that nothing gave him pleasure; he
did not care for the domain or the palace. The youth
THE GOLDEN FISH 103
offered to buy the domain and, because he gave three
times what it was worth, the bargain was concluded.
The youth and his sister went to the palace to live
and soon they gave a splendid feast. An invitation was
sent to Yarboi, the king; but the old queen, by means of
her knowledge and magic was able to gain true tidings,
and thus she knew that that rich youth was none other
than the son of the king, and she tried in every way pos-
sible to dissuade the king from going. But all of her
arguments were without effect. Some mysterious feel-
ing urged the king to go to the feast. Then the queen
had recourse to other means. She prepared a potion and
when the king partook of food she put it secretly into his
wine. He had barely drunk it when he dropped on a
chair and fell asleep.
Then the old queen disguised herself in the king's
clothes and went to the feast. She entered the banquet
hall just as the guests were sitting down to the table.
The youth led her to the place intended for King Yarboi
and no one suspected that she was the mother of the king.
They feasted till the sun went behind the mountains,
then the guests departed and each went to the place he
had come from, only the old queen stayed behind. The
youth conducted her through the palace and the garden,
and at last to the fishpond, for above all things he loved
fish and fishponds.
104 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The old queen praised everything beyond measure,
but when she came to the fishpond she contracted her
eyes and said, —
"Oh, what is this beautiful fishpond good for, when
there are no golden fish in it?"
"But could I get golden fish ?" asked the youth.
"You could," answered the queen, twisting her face
with a malicious smile, "In the Glass Mountain beyond
the Crimson Sea there are plenty of them."
The youth grew thoughtful and the queen prepared to
go. She had barely left the palace when, by means of
her magic, she was in the king's chamber. The king was
still sleeping, but barely had she taken off his clothes
when he wakened, and was not a little astonished that he
had slept so long; the queen said, "It is better for thee
to sleep than to weary thyself on the road."
After the feast the youth was thinking night and day
about the golden fish and at last he determined to go for
them. He gave the management of the palace to his
sister and taking but one servant, set out on the journey.
He traveled and traveled till he reached the Crimson
Sea. So far he had good luck, but when he looked at
the unquiet sea and saw how high the waves were his
courage fell ; he wanted to turn back with work undone.
All at once he heard a strange voice say, —
"I greet thee, rich youth."
THE GOLDEN FISH 105
Looking around he saw a hermit on whose face were
the marks of former faults and the penitence of years.
"I know thee well," said the hermit, "but what art
"I am going to the Glass Mountain for golden fish,
but I know not how to cross the sea."
"Be satisfied with what thou hast," urged the hermit.
But the youth implored him for assistance till he led
him to a boat and they started for the Glass Mountain.
They crossed the Crimson Sea and drew up the boat on
land, then the hermit gave the youth a rod, and said, —
"Go directly east till you come to an immense rock.
Strike the rock thrice with the rod and the Glass Moun-
tain will open to thee. But give now a careful ear to
what I say, and g^ard thyself to a hair according to my
words, otherwise it will go ill with thee.
"Thou wilt go on great steps to the Glass Mountain.
First thou wilt pass through a pear garden; where the
trees will be covered with golden pears, but do not pluck
even one. Then thou wilt come to an apple orchard,
the trees will be covered with golden apples, but touch
them not. Beyond the orchard is a lake, in that lake
are the golden fish. On the shore thou wilt find a small
earthen vessel; take up water in it, but be careful not
to take even one tiny fish, they will come to thy hand,
but be not confused. I will wait for thee here."
io6 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
When the youth came to the rock he lashed it three
times with the rod; the rock opened, and, on broad
white steps, he went down to the underground world.
When he came to the pear trees he wanted to stretch
forth his hand and pluck the golden fruit, but he re-
membered the hermit's words. When he came to the
apple orchard, involuntarily he stretched forth his arm,
but it dropped to his side and he went on.
At the edge of the lake he found the earthen vessel
and filled it with water; though the fish were beautiful
and came to his hand as if wanting to go with him, he
left them and hurried back; barely had he reached the
white world when the rock closed behind him.
The hermit was waiting on the shore, he greeted the
youth joyfully, seated him in his boat, and they crossed
the Crimson Sea. On the way the hermit said, —
"When thou shalt reach home pour this water into thy
fish lake, leave the vessel on the shore. On waking in
the morning go to the lake and look in the water."
The youth took farewell of the hermit, and hurried
home. Whether it was long or short he reached his
castle, poured the water into the lake and went to tell
his sister of the events of the journey. Early the next
morning he hurried to the lake to see if the hermit had
spoken the truth. How rejoiced was he when from a
distance he saw a golden gleam on the lake. When he
THE GOLDEN FISH 107
drew near and saw the beauty of the fish he could rest
his eyes on them.
Straightway he sent messengers to the four sides of
the world to invite kings and princes to come and gaze
on his golden fish. He sent an invitation to King Yar-
boi. Again the old queen tried in every way to dissuade
the king and when all of her arguments failed she had
recourse to a sleeping draught ; then instead of the king
the queen went to the feast disguised in his clothes.
She entered the banquet hall as the guests were sitting
down to the table; straightway all began to talk about
the golden fish. After the banquet the kings and princes
went to the lake and were unable to admire sufficiently
the beauty of the golden fish. After that the guests dis-
persed, pnly the old queen stayed behind. "Now I have
everything," said the youth, triumphantly.
"You have much, it is true," answered the queen,
"but what are golden fish when they do not dance?"
"Can fish dance?" asked the youth, eagerly.
"Of course they can," said the queen.
"If you had the music tree it would play to the fish
and they could not help dancing."
"Can I get that tree?"
"You can. It grows beyond the Crimson Sea, in the
io8 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The youth grew thoughtful, and the queen went home.
In one moment she was in King Yarboi's chamber, but
she barely had his clothes off when he wakened. Again
he was angry that instead of going to the feast he had
Without delay the youth started in search of the music
On the shore of the Crimson Sea he found the hermit.
"Why comest thou?" asked the hermit.
"Beyond the Crimson Sea there is a music tree; I
want that tree,"
"Be satisfied with what thou hast," said the hermit.
But when the youth implored him unceasingly he took
him to the boat and in silence they crossed the sea;
when they reached the farther shore the hermit said, —
"Take this rod again and do as thou didst before.
When thou hast crossed the gardens and the lake thou
wilt see the music tree ; take a knife and cut a rod from
it. Then start back, walk quickly and look neither to the
right nor to the left, nor behind thee. All thy friends
and acquaintances will call thee, but be not deceived,
they will not be there. Leave that underground world
without stopping, otherwise it will be ill for thee."
The youth went on and everything happened as the
hermit foretold: The rock opened, he descended the
white steps, and passed the gardens with the golden
THE GOLDEN FISH 109
fruit. From a distance he heard beautiful music and
when he had passed the lake he saw the wonder-working
tree. He cut a rod from it, and turned back; then he
heard his sister calling behind him, he heard his foster-
father, the fisherman, and his family; he heard the inn-
keeper; he heard his friends; above all he heard King
Yarboi, as he thought, but it was not the king's voice,
it was the voice of the old queen ; each voice called him
emphatically, alluringly, plaintively. A hundred times
he wanted to turn, but remembering the words of the
hermit he resisted every temptation and at last reached
the steps. There his sister called once more, so beseech-
ingly that he was going to turn, but some unseen power
pushed him forward ; he sprang into God's white world,
the rock came together with a noise like thunder, and
the illusion vanished.
The hermit was sitting in his boat; he was gloomy,
for he was thinking that the youth would not return.
How delighted was he when he saw him and saw also,
in his hand, a branch of the wonder-working tree !
"Thou hast borne thyself bravely," said he; "when
thou art home plant that branch in the ground at the
edge of the lake, and look there the next morning."
They reached the opposite shore of the Crimson Sea ;
the youth gave heartfelt thanks to the hermit, and has-
tened home. When he reached his palace he went to the
no FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
lake and planted the branch of the music tree. Early
the next morning he went to see if the hermit had spoken
the truth. From a distance he heard delightful music
and when he came to the lake he saw that his golden
fish were dancing.
Straightway he sent messengers to the four sides of
the world to invite the kings and princes to gaze at the
music tree. He sent an invitation to King Yarboi. The
king wished to see the golden fish and the music tree,
but the old queen gave him a sleeping draught, put on his
clothes and went in his place.
The youth was joyful beyond measure, for he thought
that now he had everything that his heart could desire.
After the feast the guests went to listen to the music
of the wonder-working tree, and to see the golden fish
dance and there was no end to their astonishment; then
they said good-by to the king and each went to the
place he had come from, but the old queen stayed behind.
"Thou hast obtained the music tree," said she, "but
the tree is not a living thing. It does not play for the
fish according to their desire."
"Who could do that?" asked the youth.
"The golden bird in the golden cage," answered the
"Where is that bird ? Can I get it ?"
THE GOLDEN FISH iii
"You can get it. It is beyond the Crimson Sea, in the
The youth became thoughtful and the queen set out
for home; in a twinkle she was in the king's chamber.
The king wakened, but pretended to be asleep; he saw
that the queen was wearing his clothes and that she
undressed in a hurry; the mist fell from his eyes, he
knew that his mother had deceived him.
"Oh, how long I have slept," said he at last, and the
queen was sure of her safety.
Now the youth bade his beloved sister farewell, and
set out to find the golden bird so that nothing in the
world should be wanting to him. When he came to the
Crimson Sea the hermit was there, on his face appeared
at one moment joy, at the next moment sorrow.
"Be satisfied with what thou hast!" urged he.
But the youth begged till at last the hermit led him to
the boat and took him to the opposite shore. On the
way the hermit was one moment joyful and the next
moment sad and when they touched the shore, he said, —
"111 hast thou done to come for the golden bird in the
golden cage. I will help thee with what's in my power,
but swerve not a hair from what I tell thee: With
this rod thou wilt enter the Glass Mountain by the road
which thou knowest; when thou hast passed the gardens
112 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
and the lake thou wilt see on the right a splendid castle.
In the first chamber thou wilt not find anything, in the
second thou wilt see a cat; she will rub up to thee; mind
her not, speak not to her, touch her not, but go to the
third chamber. On the right-hand wall of that chamber
hangs a golden cage, in that cage is the golden bird.
Just before midday the cage will open of itself and the
bird will fly around the room till wearied it falls on the
table; catch it that moment, pull from its left wing a
quill, and with it touch thrice each of the ten stones thou
wilt see there on the floor."
The youth promised to do everything to a hair, and
started off. He reached the Glass Mountain; went
through the gardens unharmed, passed the lake, entered
the castle and went to the third chamber; there he saw
the golden cage and in it the golden bird. It was early
and he had to wait, that tormented him greatly, but at
last the cage opened and the bird flew out and flew so
quickly through the room that the youth's eyes danced.
It flew till drops of foam were coming out of its beak,
then suddenly it dropped to the table, as if dead. But,
as the youth reached out to pick it up, it rose on the
wing and flew away ; the youth turned to stone and rolled
on the ground toward the ten other stones.
The hermit waited long; he was gloomy and sad.
At last when the sun went down, he lost all hope of the
THE GOLDEN FISH 113
youth's return and exclaiming, "Unfortunate, Unfor-
tunate !" he went alone to the opposite shore.
The youth's servant was waiting; when the hermit
told him what had happened he set out for home.
The sister had barely heard the servant's story when
she took the road to free her brother. She came safely
to the Crimson Sea and from a distance saw the hermit
whom her brother had told her about. As he ap-
proached she saw that he was sad beyond measure.
"I greet thee, sister of the good youth," said he.
"Thy brother has perished; put not thyself in danger
from which thou wilt hardly escape."
"Dear father," said the sister, with decision, "I am
glad to give my life for my brother, and if I perish I
shall at least lie near him. Only give me counsel and
aid such as thou hast given to him."
When the sister ceased not to implore aid the hermit
took her by the hand and led her to the boat. Labori-
ously he worked the oar, laboriously he reached the op-
posite shore, then he told the girl what she must do if
she wished to liberate her brother. Not one word was
lost. She reached the Glass Mountain, in safety she
went through the gardens, in safety she passed the lake.
It did not occur to her to look at anything, not to men-
tion taking anything. She entered the castle, in the
second chamber the cat sidled up to her coaxingly, tried
114 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
in every way to attract her attention, but the loving sis-
ter was so occupied with the Uberation of her brother
that she did not notice the cat. In the third chamber
she found a golden cage and in it a golden bird.
Just before midday the cage opened of itself and the
bird flew through the chamber, back and forth, like a
flash, but the maiden didn't look at it, she looked only at
the table and held her apron in readiness ; when the bird
fell she covered it quickly, grasped it firmly and pulled
out a quill, then she put the bird in the cage and tied
the cage up in her apron.
She took the quill and full of expectance, struck the
first stone with it three times. She had barely struck
the third blow when a beautiful prince stood before
her. He inclined courteously and with heartfelt words
thanked her for his liberation, then he fled from the
castle and from the Glass Mountain. So it happened
with the second and the third, and all ten of the stones ;
they became princes, bowed courteously, and, thanking
the maiden with heartfelt words for their liberation,
hurried out of the castle and away from the Glass
But what good was this to the poor sister since she
had not freed her brother? She saw no other stone.
Weighed down with grief she sank to the floor and then
she saw, under the table, another stone; she struck it
THE GOLDEN FISH 115
three times with the quill and her brother stood before
They embraced each other, then the sister grasping
the golden cage, and seizing her brother by the hand
hastened with him from the castle and the Glass Moun-
tain. Only when they were in God's white world did
they begin to talk, and hand in hand they hurried to the
hermit to thank him for his counsel and his aid.
The hermit knew that the maiden had liberated her
brother, for all those princes whom she had liberated he
had taken across the Crimson Sea; they no longer
wanted the golden bird. When the brother and sister
came to him, he said, —
"Ye have what ye want, arid for the ages of ages de-
sire no more, when you get home hang the golden cage
on a tree near the lake and look that way in the morn-
They wished to fall at his feet, but the hermit raised
them, and said, —
'T have aided you, now aid me. I have suffered
here for fourteen years, every hope of liberation had
vanished, but ye have fulfilled all of the conditions,
therefore my suffering will end, if ye are thankful
enough to do me a small service."
They promised in one voice and begged him to tell
what he wanted.
ii6 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
He took a sword from under his garment, handed it
to the brother and said, with an imploring voice, —
"Cut off my head."
The sister turned away, but the brother, taking the
sword, cut off the hermit's head with a blow. From the
body there flew out a white bird which, after flying three
times joyfully around the brother and sister, rose to the
sky and disappeared. Then the brother took his sister
by the hand, led her to the boat and they crossed the
When they reached home they were greeted with
great joy. The brother hung the golden cage on a tree
by the lake, and the next morning he heard such music
as he had never heard before.
Straightway he sent to all four sides of the world
to invite kings and princes to come and hear the golden
bird sing, and learn how a sister liberated a brother.
He sent an invitation to King Yarboi also. The old
queen knew what had happened and with all her living
power she tried to keep the king at home, but the king
sat on his horse and galloped away as if the castle were
falling on him.
Before the feast began the guests went to look at
the golden bird; the bird sang, the tree played, and the
fish danced. Every one declared that their host was the
THE GOLDEN FISH 117
happiest man under the sun, and at the banquet one
interrupted another in drinking to his health.
But King Yarboi was silent, he watched his host
carefully. When the young man was responding to the
good wishes of his guests the clothing on his breast fell
apart and King Yarboi saw there a golden sun. Rising
from the table the king called the young man "son,"
kissed him ardently and shed tears of delight.
All present^ wondered greatly, the young man more
than others, for he was not aware that he had a golden
sun on his breast and that his sister had a golden moon
on her bosom. He wished to ask questions, but the
king would not permit him to utter a word; he said, — ■
"Thou art my son; no one but a son of Yarboi can
have a golden sun on his breast."
"If I am your son," said the young man, and he took
his sister by the hand, "then this maiden is your daugh-
ter, for she is my sister."
"My dear children !" said the king, and he embraced
one after the other.
When the first onrush of feeling had .passed, the
young man related his adventures, even down to his life
in the fisherman's cottage. When he had listened to
everything King Yarboi prepared for the road to free
his wife from prison as soon as possible, but before he
ii8 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
started he invited all the guests present to come to his
palace. He also sent messengers to persons not present
telling them to appear at once, for he was going to cele-
brate the home-coming of his children. But in his own
mind the king determined that the assembled kings and
princes should sentence his mother for the misery she
had caused. Meanwhile he had her thrown into the
same prison from which he liberated his wife.
Who can describe the poor mother's joy when she
saw God's light and her children, after twenty years
On the appointed day the kings and princes came
together. The feast could not have been more splendid,
all were beside themselves, as it were, with joy, but
King Yarboi was dignified and gloomy. After the feast
was over he brought a sheet of paper, placed it before
himself on a table, and said, —
"Mighty kings and princes, what punishment would
the person deserve who, with evil intent and magic
should break up a happy marriage, put innocent children
out on the sea to perish, and, with deceitful tongue, in-
duce a husband to put his innocent wife in prison?"
The kings and princes decided that such a person
should be burned on the public square. The king then
asked that each man should write his opinion and con-
firm it with his name and seal.
THE GOLDEN FISH 119
The kings and princes did as requested, then they
asked what reason he had for making the request.
King Yarboi was silent a moment, then he said, "My
mother is the unhappy person against whom ye have
uttered sentence. I, as king, must act with justice.
My mother with evil words and magic separated me
from my wife, and had her thrown into prison. My in-
nocent children she pushed out onto the broad sea."
Then Yarboi told in detail his life from the time of
his marriage till he recognized his son. When he ended
some of the princes begged mercy for the old queen, but
the king, taking the paper they had signed, pointed to
it, and said, —
"Here ye have given your judgment and strengthened
it with your names and seals, now it must be executed,
no matter whom it may touch."
The old queen was brought to the square and exe-
cuted. King Yarboi was. gloomy, but in time he re-
gained his cheerfulness at the sight of the happiness of
his wife and children.
Whenever the young prince gave a feast his guests
stood by the lake, and marveled at the beauty of the
golden fish, at the music of the wonder-working tree,
and the enchanting songs of the golden bird.
When King Yarboi died his son became king.
MIKLOSH AND THE MAGIC QUEEN
WHERE it was, or where it was not, there was once
in the world a magic kingdom. In the center of
that kingdom was a great forest, in the center of the
forest was a flowery meadow, in the center of the
meadow was a silvery river, and in the center of the
silvery river was a velvety island, and in the center of
the velvety island was an old well from which I took out
a story brought from the Operantsia Sea, and whoever
will not listen to the story with attention, or interrupts
it without request, may he be struck by lightning as
many times as there are sand grains in the Danube
and the Tisa.
There was once a poor man who had as many chil-
dren as there are trees in the forest or stars in the sky;
he had so many that he couldn't find god-parents for
"Well," thought he, "if I cannot find god-parents in ,
my own village, the world is wide, maybe I'll find them
The poor man put a loaf in his basket and went out
MIKLOSH AND THE MAGIC QUEEN 121
into the world, but he didn't go far, for God brought to
him a rich merchant who hadn't as many children as
there are lumps on swamp grass.
"Where art thou going, poor man?" asked the mer-
"I am seeking a god-father for my twins."
"If thou wilt accept of my services, don't trouble thy-
self to go farther."
"I'll accept not only with one hand but with both,
for there has been a birth in my cabin, and if I didn't
care whether the god-father were a gipsy or a pagan, I
couldn't find one in my village."
The merchant became the god-father of the poor;
man's twins, a boy and a girl, then he took them home
and reared them as his own children.
When it was, when it was not, I cannot tell exactly,
but it is enough that on a certain day when neither the
merchant nor his wife was at home, the brother and sis-
ter sat down to play cards. They played till the brother
won all of his sister's money and she began to cry.
"Don't cry," said the brother, "I'll give thee thy
money and some of my own, too." And he did
Again they played. The dice turned, for luck has
wings and to whom it flies he is all right, this time the
girl was the winner ; she won her brother's last coin, but
122 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
she was not tender-hearted; she wouldn't give back the
"Give me my money," said the brother.
"I'll not do it," answered the girl.
"Didn't I give back thine?"
"What do I care? thou wert a fool."
"Give it back."
"Then I'll take it."
Word followed word till the brother and sister caught
each other by the hair, then the sister cursed the brother,
and said, —
"Thou art not my brother."
"If thou deniest me then I'll deny and curse thee,"
screamed the brother.
At these words a dragon appeared, seized the girl,
and bore her away.
The brother could not stay at home ; he was afraid of
his foster parents, and he wanted to find his sister whom
he loved, therefore he put on his traveling boots, had a
talk with Paul Wind and set out to wander around the
world. He traveled and journeyed across forty-nine
kingdoms till he came to a king's castle. He went to
the king and spoke to him as was fitting, —
"God give a good day to your majesty."
MIKLOSH AND THE MAGIC QUEEN 123
"God receive thee, serving man, what journey art
"I am looking for service; will your majesty take me?"
"Thou hast come in good time, my son, I need a
herder. I'll hire thee and thou wilt have nothing else
to do but to take care of three vicious horses. Each
morning thou wilt go with them across the water to an'
island, but thou must not lead them over a bridge or
swim them through the water ; the horses must not have
a drop of water on them. Each evening thou must
bring them back by the same road and in the same
Well and good, the poor man's son became a horse-
herder. In the morning he drove out the three vicious
horses, sat on the mare, and led them to the water.
When they came to the edge of the water he began to
wonder how he could lead them so that they should not'
go on a bridge, should not swim, and there would not
be a wet spot on them the size of a small nail. But
he needn't have wondered about it, for the three horses
crossed of themselves so that not even their feet were
wet, but there was no wonder in that, for they were
magic horses; as true as I live, I was there where they
were, and I had my eyes as I have them now.
Miklosh, for that was the name of the poor man's
124 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
son, took off the horses' bridles, fettered their feet,
and let them out to graze on the silken meadow, then he
lay down at the foot of a golden apple-tree to sleep for a
while. But all at once he heard a beautiful song.
Where could it come from? He looked around and
saw thirteen snow-white swans flying toward him.
They settled down on the silken meadow near the golden
apple-tree, shook themselves and became maidens.
Twelve of the maidens were beautiful, but the thir-
teenth was far more beautiful. She went to Miklosh
and sat down on the silken grass, near him.
"Thou art here, my world beautiful love, Miklosh,"
said the maiden. "Long have I waited for thy coming,
my heart has yearned for thee, and this I find to say.
During the circle of the year that thou art serving the
king thou must not let any one, not even the king, know
that I come to meet thee. Here is my soft white hand,
it will be thine, and this silken meadow and the golden
apple-tree on it will be thine and mine, but if thou be-
trayest me, thou wilt not see me again on the silken
meadow, or in any other place."
Our Miklosh promised by all that is in heaven and
on earth that he would be as silent as a fish, that he
would not say a word to any man.
And who was happier than Miklosh, for who had so
beautiful a sweetheart? Every God-given day when he
MIKLOSH AND THE MAGIC QUEEN 125
drove the horses to the silken meadow and let them out
to graze, the thirteen swans appeared and, shaking
themselves, became beautiful maidens.
Ton my word, what came of the affair and what
didn't, the king gave a great ball to his household.
When he came among, the rejoicing people and did not
see Miklosh, he asked, —
"Where is my dear horse-herder, Miklosh?"
"He's in the corner near the door," said some one.
Then the king saw that Miklosh was alone and as sad
as an orphan.
"Well, Miklosh," said he, "how is it that thou dost
neither eat nor drink, nor dance when the music is sound-
"Your majesty," said Miklosh, "I do not dance for I
have no fitting partner."
"Do not grieve, I'll soon send thee a partner."
The king went to his daughter, and said, —
"My daughter, go to the ball and dance with Miklosh,
who guards the magic horses, for he is very sad."
The king's daughter didn't let this be said twice ; one
reason was that her feet were itching to dance, the
other was that she could dance with Miklosh, for he
was not a handsome fellow for nothing, and the heart
of the princess was not stone. She dressed in a minute
and went to the ball.
126 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"Miklosh, I am here," called she. "Come, let us
"I'll not dance," said Miklosh, shrugging his shoul-
ders ; "I have a sweetheart a hundred times fairer than
The king's daughter, as if she had received a cuff
on the ear, drew up her mouth, and weeping went with a
complaint to her father.
"Why art thou crying?" asked the king.
"Why should I not cry, why should I not weep, when
Miklosh says he will not dance with me, for he has a
sweetheart a hundred times fairer than I?"
"Did he say that?"
"He said nothing else."
"Don't cry, my daughter. I'll make what Miklosh
said so bitter to him that he won't say it again."
With that the king called : "Come forth, Miklosh."
"Here I am," said Miklosh, respectfully.
"Didst thou tell my daughter that thou wouldst not
dance with her, for thou hadst a sweetheart a hundred
times fairer than she is?"
"What is the use of denying? I did indeed find that
to say to the princess. Come to the island to-morrow at
the hour I will set, and your majesty will see with your
own eyes that it is not otherwise, for my sweetheart is a
MIKLOSH AND THE MAGIC QUEEN 127
The king made no answer to this, but the next day,
to know what was in the affair and what was not, he
went to the island.
He saw that a magic queen, white as a dove, red as an
opening rose and as beautiful as the dawn, was talking
to Miklosh, and that on the silken meadow twelve maid-
ens were playing ball with a golden apple.
The magic queen saw that she had been betrayed.
"Well, Miklosh," said she, "God be with thee, whether
thou wilt ever see me again the good God alone knows,
for since thou hast betrayed me I must go hence.
Wait for me no more on the silken meadow or under
the golden apple-tree."
"But," said she, turning to the king, "let not a hair
of this young man's head fall, for it was not for thee
that I made this silken meadow, not for thee that I
planted the tree that bears golden apples, but for him."
The magic queen and the twelve maidens shook them-
selves, became swans, and flew away.
There was a magic queen, there is no magic queen;
there was, but there is not. Only then did Miklosh drop
his chin, only then did he shake his head, and where he
wasn't sore he was sorry.
Therefore he hung the world on his neck with the
intention of traveling till he found his magic queen.
Miklosh journeyed and traveled across forty-nine
128 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
kingdoms till he came to a magic mill. The mill was
turned by the river of kindness. He saluted the miller,
"God's good day to thee, master miller."
"God receive thee, Miklosh, whither art thou going?"
"I am seeking the magic kingdom ; hast thou heard the
fame of it, my friend ?"
"Have I not heard of it? Perhaps not when I grind
flour for that kingdom. But, Miklosh, as long as the
world stands, as thou art now thou wilt not get there,
for that place is farther from here than the sky is from
the earth. But don't grieve, I will remedy thy trouble.
A griff bird carries flour from my mill to the magic
kingdom. The bird takes two sacks at a time. I'll put
thee into one sack, and the same weight of flour into the
other, for the sacks must be of equal weight, otherwise
the bird couldn't carry them."
The miller packed Miklosh in one sack and in the
other he put an equal weight of flour. When the griff
bird came it took a sack in each claw and rose in the
air, but the bird could not fly rapidly, for it carried a
heavier burden than usual. A black cloud was drawing
near and the beautiful magic kingdom was still far
away. The griff bird flew faster and faster, but the
black cloud overtook the bird, and rain fell as if it were
poured from a cask. The sack holding the flour became
MIKLOSH AND THE MAGIC QUEEN 129
heavier than the other sack, that side of the griff bird
sank lower and lower. What could the bird do? It
couldn't carry the two sacks to the magic kingdom; it
put down the lighter one in a great wild wood and went
on with the other.
Now Miklosh was in trouble; he took out his gleaming
knife, cut the sack open and went into the great wild
wood. He traveled on and on till he came to a tree
under which a youth was sleeping. He pushed the
youth with his foot, to rouse him; the youth was up at
once, and when he saw Miklosh, he said, —
"You have come, my dear master. I have waited
long. If you do not say it still I know where you are
going. Only follow me; I will lead you where your
The youth led Miklosh to a great forge.
"Is the master at home?" asked the youth.
"I am here," answered the blacksmith.
"Canst thou make for us four and twenty pairs of
iron shoes and four and twenty pairs of iron gloves;
twelve pairs for my master and twelve for me ?"
While the blacksmith was making the gloves and
shoes, Miklosh and his armor-bearer, for he made him
that, went into the blacksmith's house, where his wife,
who it may be said, was a witch, busied herself with get-
ting food and drink for her guests. Our fair Miklosh
I30 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
pleased her, therefore she wanted him for her pock-
marked daughter. When the little armor-bearer went
outside she followed him and put questions in this man-
"Wilt thou tell me, little servant, where thou art go-
"Why shouldn't I tell ! I think no good or harm will
come of it. Dost thou see that great mountain there
before us, which holds up the sky? Well, we are going
there, for every God-given day the magic-queen, who
is my master's sweetheart, comes to that mountain to
bathe in magic milk."
"If thou wilt do as I tell thee," said the witch, "thou
canst make the magic queen love thy master seven times
as well as she does now. I will give thee a blow-pipe
and a vase of ointment. When thy master reaches the
mountain top and sits down to wait for his sweetheart,
take out the pipe and blow a whiff toward him. When
the queen goes away anoint his forehead with the oint-
ment that is in the vase. Do this for three days in
succession, but tell not a living soul about it, for if
thou dost, such and such things will happen."
The youth, for one reason or another, took the blow-
pipe and the vase, and promised the witch that he would
do as she told him.
The blacksmith finished the four-and-twenty pairs of
MIKLOSH AND THE MAGIC QUEEN 131
shoes and the four-and-twenty pairs of gloves. Mik-
losh and his armor-bearer took them and began to climb
the unmercifully high mountain. When they reached
the top of the mountain the four-and-twenty pairs of
shoes and the four-and-twenty pairs of gloves were
worn out, but Miklosh wasn't troubled about that.
They crossed three forests; the first was of copper, the
second of silver, the third of gold, then they came to a
silken meadow ; in the center of the silken meadow was a
golden apple-tree and under the tree was a golden tub
and in the tub was sweet fresh milk, for the magic
queen's bath. Miklosh had long been striving to reach
that spot, and when at last he was there he was so tired
that he lay down under the apple-tree to wait for the
beautiful queen. While he was thinking that she was
long in coming, the youth blew from the blow-pipe a
light whiff of wind, and that minute Miklosh fell asleep
so that of himself he would not have wakened till the
day of judgment. Just then, in the distance, were seen
thirteen swans. When they reached the golden apple-
tree they settled on the silken meadow, shook them-
selves, and became maidens.
The magic queen only then saw that her dear Miklosh
was there. She spoke to him, but he did not hear ; she
pushed him, but he did not waken ; she kissed him, but
he did not feel the kiss. At last she cried out, —
132 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"Wake up, my heart's beautiful love ! Rise up from
thy dream, my golden one ! For I can only come twice
more, another time I cannot come."
But Miklosh did not waken; he slept heavily. When
the time came for the queen to go she kissed her sweet-
heart, the thirteen maidens shook themselves, became
swans, and flew away.
The little armor-bearer rubbed Miklosh's temples
with ointment he took from the vase the witch gave
him, and straightway Miklosh sprang up saying, —
"Oh, I slept well and I had a beautiful dream! I
dreamed that the magic queen came and sat by me ; that
she spoke to me, but I did not answer ; that she pushed
me, but I did not waken ; that she kissed me, but I did not
feel the kiss. At last she cried out, 'Wake up, my
heart's beautiful love! Wake Up from thy deep sleep!
Rise up from thy dream, my golden one ! For I can only
come twice more, another time I cannot come.' Isn't
it true that that was a beautiful dream?"
"It was not a dream, my dear master," said Yanchi,
for that was the armor-bearer's name, "the magic queen
was here, she spoke to thee, pushed thee and kissed thee,
but thou didst not waken."
Miklosh was confused and sad; he couldn't explain
why he had not wakened, but he resolved not to lie
down again lest sleep should overpower him.
MIKLOSH AND THE MAGIC QUEEN. 133
The next day Miklosh did not lie on the soft grass un-
der the branches of the golden apple-tree, but he walked
up and down on the silken meadow. Suddenly he felt
a gentle breath strike his face; his eyelids grew heavy,
his knees knocked together, he dropped to the ground,
stretched out slowly on the soft grass, and fell asleep.
The thirteen swans came to the tree, shook themselves,
and became maidens. The magic queen spoke to Mik-
losh, he did not hear; she shook him, but he did not
waken ; she kissed him, but he did not feel the kiss. At
last she cried out, —
"Wake up, my heart's beautiful love! Wake up, my
heart's heart, fair Miklosh ! For only once more can I
come, after that I come not."
But Miklosh did not waken; he slept heavily. When
the magic queen saw that in no way could she reach the
soul of Miklosh, she kissed him, shook herself, became a
swan and flew away.
The armor-bearer rubbed Miklosh's temples with
the ointment the blacksmith's wife had given him.
Straightway Miklosh sprang up and found this to say, —
"Oh, I slept well and I had a beautiful dream!" Then
he told what he had seen.
"My dear master," said the armor-bearer, "that was
not a dream, that happened."
Miklosh was confused and sad, but he comforted
134 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
himself with the thought that the magic queen would
come once more, and this time he would not sleep.
But his poor head could do nothing, for when the hour
came a gentle breath struck his face, his eyelids grew as
heavy as stones; his knees came together; he fell, and
slowly stretched out on the soft grass.
Again the thirteen swans came to the golden apple-
tree, shook themselves and became maidens. The
queen went to Miklosh, she spoke to him, but he did not
answer; she pushed him, but he did not waken; she
kissed him, but he did not feel the kiss. At last she
cried out, "Wake up, my heart's beautiful love ! Wake
up, fair Miklosh, for I am here for the last time !" But
Miklosh did not waken.
When the queen saw that in no way could she reach
the soul of Miklosh she turned to the youth and found
this to say, —
"Tell thy master that I take kind farewell of him,
that if he had hung his arms from a smaller nail onto
a larger, he would not have to wander again in a strange
The queen kissed Miklosh, shook herself, became a
swan and flew away, followed by the twelve other swans.
She had barely gone when the youth rubbed Miklosh's
temples with the magic ointment. That moment he
sprang up, saying, —
MIKLOSH AND THE MAGIC QUEEN 135
"Oh, I've slept well, and I've had a beautiful dream!"
"That was no dream," said the youth, "that all hap-
pened. The magic queen came, and when she could not
waken thee she found this to say. Tell thy master that
I take a kind farewell of him, that if he had hung his
arms from a smaller onto a larger nail he would not
have to wander again in a strange land.' "
Only then did the scales fall from Miklosh's eyes,
only then did he understand why he had slept, only then
did he know that the youth was at fault. Therefore,
drawing his good sword, he shouted at him in great
"Thou son of a beast ! What didst thou do to me ?"
"Have mercy on my head !" cried the youth. "I am
the cause of nothing. The blacksmith's wife deceived
me; she gave me this little pipe and told me to blow a
soft breath on thee, and when the magic queen went
away to rub thy temples with ointment from this vase."
Miklosh was so angry that he would not have spared
his own brother. He drew his sword and punished the
wicked youth. Then he went down the unmercifully
high mountain and again he hung the world on his neck
and gave his head to wandering.
Miklosh journeyed and traveled across forty-nine
kingdoms, and beyond the Operantsia Sea, and beyond
the Glass Mountain, and still beyond that till he reached
136 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
a broad valley in the middle of which was a king's castle.
In a window of the castle he saw a beautiful woman,
and she was no other than his own sister, Tlonka, whom
the dragon had carried away. They recognized each
other at once.
Miklosh needed no more; he ran up the twelve
marble steps, took the golden key, opened the boxwood
door, and greeted his sister. Tlonka had just become
the mother of a wonderful boy. As soon as he came
into the world he could talk and walk, but that wasn't
strange, for he was a magic boy.
"My mother," said he, "I will free thee from the
dragon, for I know well where his strength is. Give me
the key of the cellar. In the seventh niche of the cellar
is a stone jar; in the stone jar is an iron jar; in the iron
jar is a copper jar; in the copper jar is 'a silver jar; in
the silver jar is a golden jar ; in the golden jar is a crystal
jar ; in the crystal jar is a diamond jar, and in that jar is
the wine of life. If I pour it out the dragon will lose
his strength and die."
The mother found the key, the magic boy took it,
and the three went to the seventh niche of the cellar.
The boy, where he got it or where he didn't, took a large
hammer, and saying, "Stone hoops burst, stone jar
empty!" struck the jar such a blow that it fell apart;
he struck the iron jar, saying, "Iron hoops burst, iron
MIKLOSH AND THE MAGIC QUEEN 137
jar empty !" The iron jar fell apart. Saying, "Copper
hoops burst, copper jar empty!" he struck the copper
jar a hero's blow and it fell apart. The silver, the
golden, the crystal and the diamond jar were broken in
the same way. In the diamond jar the wine of life
Where it came from or where it didn't the magic
boy had a dipper ; he took a good draught of the wine of
life and then he gave some to his mother and uncle,
and what little was left he drank himself. From this
drinking the magic boy, his mother and Miklosh were
seven-fold stronger than before. They closed the
seventh niche of the cellar and went out under the cleai:
The dragon was struggling home, so weak that he
could barely move, just as if he were not his own, but
had borrowed himself.
"Thy day is finished!" said the magic boy. "Thou
wilt not torment my mother longer, and thou wilt not
torture a living soul."
"Leave me my life!" begged the dragon.
"I'll not destroy thy life, but I'll nail thee up as a
spectacle," said the boy. He pulled the dragon to the
three hundred and sixty-sixth chamber of the castle and
nailed him to the wall. He put one nail in the right
wing of the dragon, another in the left wing, and a
138 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
strong one in the tail; then he closed the great iron
door, locked it seven times with the key, and fastened it
with nine bolts.
To Miklosh the boy found this to say, "Now I'll
tell thee where to find the magic queen. She has been
enchanted, but if thou wilt act according to my words
we can waken her. If thou dost not thou wilt never
see the bright sun again. Thou seest that unmerci-
fully high mountain which holds up the sky. In the
very middle of that mountain sleeps the magic queen.
When we are walking along inside of the mountain do
nothing but step in my tracks. If thou steppest else-
where, the entrance will close behind us and we shall
fall under the same spell that is over the magic queen.
On the road we travel are every kind of creeping, crawl-
ing things, snakes and toads. Take care not to step
on one of them, for if one hisses we are lost. In the
middle of the mountain are thirteen couches, on each
couch a beautiful maiden is lying. Thy mind will tell
thee which one of the thirteen maidens is the queen.
Thou wilt kiss her three times, the first time she will
move, the second time she will breathe, the third time she
will waken. In the room where the thirteen are sleep-
ing there is a cupboard, open the door and take out
a golden rod which thou wilt find there. With the rod
strike each one of the maidens saying: 'Rise up ! Rise
MIKLOSH AND THE MAGIC QUEEN 139
up, dawn is coming!' They will spring to their feet.
In like manner strike the first snake or toad which thou
dost see and say to it, 'Wake up ! Rise up ! Come out
of thy snake or toad skin !' One after another will cast
oflf their skins and take human forms, for they are all
magic youths and maidens who are under a spell."
The boy turned and circled around and wherever he
got them, it is enough that in his arms were three hun-
dred and sixty-six pitch-pine torches ; he gave half of the
torches to his uncle, and then they traveled toward the
unmercifully high mountain.
When they reached the mountain the magic boy, after
searching for a certain place, struck the rocks, and said,
"Open before us !"
In the twinkle of an eye the rocks opened with a
crash, then Miklosh and the boy went in. There was
such V darkness in the passage that it might be bitten,
but what was the ocean-great number of torches for,
if not to light up the place? The boy went ahead and
after him walked Miklosh, who strove unceasingly to
step in his nephew's footprints. On every side, and al-
most under their feet, were snakes and toads which they
had to avoid, for had they stepped on any one of them
it would have hissed or made a noise.
After crawling and climbing a long distance they came
to the center of the mountain and found there a spacious
140 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
chamber. In the chamber slept the thirteen maidens.
The magic boy vanished, as if the earth had swallowed
him. Miklosh kissed the magic queen once, she moved;
he kissed her a second time; she began to breathe; he
kissed her a third time; she opened her eyes and saw
at her side none other than her sweetheart, Miklosh the
Miklosh went to the cupboard, opened the door and
took out the golden rod. Then he struck each maiden
three blows, saying, "Wake up! Rise up; for dawn is
coming!" The maidens wakened and sprang to their
feet. Miklosh struck the first snake that came near
him, and the first toad, and said, "Wake up ! Rise up !
Come out of thy snake, toad skin, take thy human
form !" All the snakes and toads shook themselves and
became men and women.
Miklosh found himself in a wonderful palace. The
magic people bathed him in milk, wiped him with a
golden towel and deftly combed his golden hair. They
clad him in a purple robe and crowned him king of the
magic people. On his right stood the magic boy, on his
left the magic queen. So the son of the poor man be-
came a king, and such blessings came on his old father
and mother that they couldn't have been better.
TWO brothers lived together. One of them worked
all of the time, and the other did nothing but lie
around and eat and drink what was prepared for him,
still God blessed him in everything.
At last the industrious brother thought, "Why-
should I work so hard for that lazy fellow? I'll work
for myself, and let him do as he likes."
That evening he said to his brother, "It is not well to
live in this way. I do everything, and you do nothing
but eat and drink. I will go away."
"Don't go," said his brother. "We are well off as we
are. You manage our affairs, and I am satisfied with
what you do." /
When the other would not listen, they divided their
property and each took his own.
The indolent brother hired herdsmen, shepherds and
pigdrivers, and saying to them, "I leave everything to
God and to you," he stayed at home as before.
The industrious brother worked hard, but did not
prosper. Each day things grew worse till be became
so poor that he was barefoot. Then he said to himself,
142 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"I will go and see how my brother is getting along."
On the road he came to a pasture where a flock
of sheep were grazing. He saw no shepherd, but a
beautiful maiden was sitting there spinning golden
"God save you," said he, and then he asked, "Whose
sheep are these?"
"They and I belong to the same man," answered the
"And who are you?"
"I am your brother's fortune."
"Where is my fortune?" asked the man.
"Your fortune is far away from you."
"Can I find it?"
"Yes, if you search for it."
He saw that his brother's sheep were fine, they could
not be better. He looked no farther but went directly
His brother wept, and asked, "Where have you been
all of this time?" And seeing his bare feet and his
ragged clothes he gave him shoes and money.
After they had spent some days eating and' drinking
the poor brother went home. He put a bag on his back,
took a stick in his hand, and went out into the world
to seek his fortune.
When he had traveled a long time he came to a great
forest, where he found a gray-ha^ired woman sleeping
under a clump of bushes. He raised his stick and struck
her on the back. She moved, and opening her bleared
"You may thank God that I was asleep, for had I been
awake you would not have those shoes."
"Who are you that you should take my shoes from
"I'm your fortune."
When the man heard this he beat his breast, and
cried, "If you are my fortune, may God kill you. Who
gave you to me?"
"Fate gave me."
"Where is Fate?"
"Go and find him," answered the woman. She dis-
appeared and the man went in search of Fate.
After traveling a long time he came to a house where
a fire was burning and over the fire a huge kettle was
boiling. The master of the house sat by the fire. The
man entered and said, "Good evening, God be with you."
The master greeted him and enquired whence he came
and whither he was going.
The man told him how he had been a proprietor, and
how he had grown poor and was now going to Fate to
find out what made him so unfortunate. Then he asked
his host why he was cooking such a quantity of food.
144 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"Oh, brother," answered he, "I have plenty of every-
thing but I cannot give my servants enough to eat.
Every one of them eats like a dragon, as you will see
when supper begins."
Presently the servants came in and sat down to eat.
One snatched food from another, and in no time the
great kettle was empty, and they had not enough to eat.
After supper came the housekeeper, who gathered up
the bones and threw them behind the stove. Then two
old, withered figures appeared and began to suck the
"Who have you there behind the stove?" asked the
"My father and mother, they are as if chained to this
world ; they will not leave it,"
In the morning as the man was starting his host
"If you find Fate, think of me and ask him why I
cannot give my men enough to eat, and why my father
and mother do not die."
"I will ask," said the man, and he went farther to look
After traveling a long time he came to another vil-
lage. At a large house he asked for a night's lodging
and received it. When his host enquired where he was
going he told him just as it was, what and how, then the
host implored him, "For God's sake, brother, when you
find Fate ask him why my cattle do not thrive, but grow
worse each year."
He promised, and the next day continued his journey.
After a long time he came to a dense forest and there
he found a hermit. He asked the hermit if he could tell
him where Fate lived. The hermit answered, "Cross
that mountain over there and you will see his palace.
But when you are in Fate's presence say nothing, do
whatever he does, and wait for him to speak to you."
The man thanked the hermit, and crossed the moun-
tain. When he came to Fate's house he found some-
thing worth looking at. It was like the palace of a
great king; there were attendants and servants of every
kind. Fate himself sat at the table and supped ; the man
sat down at the table and began to eat.
When through eating, Fate lay down to sleep. The
man lay down, too. At midnight there was a terrible
racket and some one called in a loud voice, "Fate, Oh,
Fate! so many and so many souls were born into the
world to-day. Give them what you like."
Thereupon Fate rose up, opened a chest, and began to
throw golden ducats around the room, saying: "As I
fare to-day let them fare till death."
When daylight came the great palace had vanished.
In its place stood a large house and in that house was an
146 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
abundance of everything. When evening came Fate sat
down to eat, and the man sat with him, but spoke not a
word. At midnight there was a terrible racket and a
voice called, "Fate, Oh, Fate ! so many souls were born
into the world to-day. Give them what you like."
Fate rose up, opened a chest and took out, not ducats,
but silver coins, and here and there a ducat. As he
threw them around the room he said, "As I fare to-day,
let them fare till death."
When daylight came the large house had disappeared,
and a smaller one stood in its place. Fate acted in like
manner each night, and each morning his dwelling was
smaller till at last it was only a hut. Then Fate took a
spade and began to dig. The man took one, too, and
dug all day. In the evening Fate took a crust of bread,
broke it in two and gave the man half; that was their
supper. At midnight there was a terrible racket, and a
voice was heard calling, "Oh, Fate, Oh, Fate! so many
souls were born into the world to-day. Give them what
Then Fate opened the chest and scattered around a
few coins such as laborers receive as wages, saying, "As
I fare to-day, let them fare till death."
When morning came the hut had disappeared and in
its place stood the magnificent palace of the first day.
Then Fate asked the man: "What do you want?"
FATE ' 147
He told him all from beginning to end, and said that
he had come to ask why misfortune had been given to
Then Fate said, "The first night you saw how I threw
ducats around, and you saw what happened afterward.
As I fare on the night any one is born, so he fares till
death. You were born on a poor night and will remain
poor till your death; your brother was born on a rich
night and will be rich till his death. But since you have
been so resolute and have endured so much I will tell
you how to help yourself. Your brother has a daughter,
Militsa; she, like her father, was born on a rich night.
Take Militsa to your house and whatever you get say
that it belongs to her."
The man thanked Fate, and said, "In a certain village
there is a rich man. He has an abundance of every-
thing but he can never give his servants enough to eat,
no matter how much he cooks. That man's father and
mother are as if chained to this world, they are old and
black and withered, but they cannot die. I spent a night
at his house and he begged me to ask you the reason for
Fate answered, "It is because he does not honor his
father and mother; he throws their food behind the
stove. If he seated them at the head of the table and
gave them the first glass of liquor and the first glass of
148 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
wine, his men would not eat half so much as they do now,
and the two old people would go to rest."
Then the man said to Fate, "In a certain village there
is a man whose cattle do not thrive, but grow poorer each
day. I promised to enquire of you why this is."
Fate answered, "On festivals he kills the worst ani-
mals he has. If he would kill the best his cattle would
The man thanked Fate and bade him good-by. When
he came to the village of the man whose cattle did not
thrive, the man cried out, "For God's sake, brother, did
you remember me ?"
"1 did, and Fate said that on festival days you kill the
worst animals you have. If you kill the best the rest
Hearing this the man said, "Stay with me, brother ; my
name's day will come soon ; if what you say is true I will
pay you well."
He remained. When the festival came the man killed
his best ox. From that moment his cattle began to
thrive. He made the poor man a present of five oxen,
and thanked him for his aid.
When the poor man reached the village of the rich
man who could not feed his servants enough, the rich
man cried out, "For God's sake, brother, how is it, what
did Fate say?"
"Fate said that you do not honor your father and
mother. You throw their food behind the stove. If
you put them at the head of the table, and give them the
first glass of liquor and the first glass of wine, your
servants will not eat half so much, and your father and
mother will go to rest."
When the man heard this he told his wife to wash,
comb, and dress her father-in-law and mother-in-law,
and at supper he seated them at the head of the table and
gave them the first glass of liquor and the first glass of
wine. From that moment the servants were not able to
eat half so much as before, and the next day the old
The rich man gave the poor man two oxen ; he thanked
him and drove them home. When he came to the village
and his friends asked, "Whose cattle are these?" he
answered, "They belong to my niece, Militsa."
To his brother he said, "You have many children, give
me Militsa, let her be my daughter."
His brother said, "I am willing that she should go
He took Militsa home and afterward acquired much
property, and always said that it belonged to Militsa.
But one day, when he was in the field looking at his grain
which was so fine that it couldn't be better, a certain poor
man, who was going along the road, asked, "Whose
150 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
grain is this?" he forgot, and answered, "It is mine."
No sooner were the words spoken than the grain was
on fire. He ran after the poor man, and cried, "Stop,
brother, the grain is not mine. It belongs to Militsa, my
Right away the grain stopped burning. The man
never forgot again. He shared MiUtsa's good fortune.
THE WATERS OF LIFE AND DEATH
THERE was once a king who had a son of whom
even envious men could only speak well, and every
one loved him as a pigeon loves pure wheat, or even
better. The king's son had such a kind heart that he
was always called the "good youth," People named and
called him in this way till at last they forgot his title and
his real name.
Now, 'pon my soul, the queen died and the good youth
was an orphan, and the king a widower. Soon courtiers
began to advise the king to marry the widow of a neigh-
boring king who had recently died. "Marry her," said
they. "She has but one son and the kingdoms can be
ruled together." So the marriage took place.
But, creator of my soul, the widow had barely come
to the palace when she saw that everybody loved the
good youth, while everybody talked over the shoulder
with her dunce of a boy; hence she conceived a terrible
hatred for her step-son and began to endeavor in every
way to injure him and turn his father's heart from
And what didn't she invent against him? She told
152 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
the king that his son had done this kind of disgraceful
thing, and that kind of disgraceful thing. The king was
enraged and straightway he told the good youth not to
come before his eyes again, to leave the kingdom within
twenty-four hours, and never return.
What was the good youth to do? He could not ap-
pear before his father, for the step-mother kept the door
closed against him. He started out to wander over the
world. As he journeyed and traveled he came to a nice
shady place at the edge of a forest, and since he was tired
he put down his bundle, stretched himself out on the
grass, and went to sleep quietly.
He was sleeping and sleeping, when from wherever he
came there appeared a magic steed which stood by him
and stamped the earth gently. Thereupon the good
youth wakened, sat up and looked at the steed.
"Rise up, my dear master," said the steed, "for there
is a long road before us. Sit on my back and tell me
how I shall go with thee ; shall it be as a roaring whirl-
wind, or as the swiftest bird of flight can go?"
"Only that way, my dear horse, only that way so that
there should be no fault in me and none in thee."
"This I must say to thee," said the magic steed, "that
till we get to the farthest boundary of the kingdom
through which we are traveling, thou must not see any-
thing, must not hear anything, must not say or know
THE WATERS OF LIFE AND DEATH 153
anything, but must always look around my two ears."
The good youth sat on the back of the magic steed and
they journeyed and traveled across forty-nine kingdoms,
through the air. Once, as they were going and travel-
ing, the good youth forgot and looked down, and he saw,
lying on the ground, a beautiful diamond plume.
"Oh, dear horse," said he, "I see a beautiful plume set
in gold ; shall we pick it up or leave it ?"
"I told thee not to see anything, not to hear anything,
say anything, or know anything, but only look around my
two ears. It is misery if we take Up the plume but it is
still greater misery if we leave it."
The good youth picked up the plume and they traveled
farther and still farther. Again the good youth forgot
and looked down to the earth, again he saw a diamond
plume so beautiful that the first plume couldn't be its
"My dear horse," said he, "I see a beautiful plume set
in gold. Shall we take it or leave it?"
"I told thee," said the magic steed, "that thou must not
see an3^hing, must not hear anything, must not say or
know anything, but must always look around my two
ears. It is misery if we take up the plume, but it is still
greater misery if we leave it."
The good youth took up the second plume, and they
went farther, they traveled and traveled, and again the
154 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
king's son looked down and he saw a diamond plume
lying on the ground.
"My dear horse," said the good youth, "I see a beauti-
ful diamond plume lying on the ground. Shall we take
it up or leave it ?"
"I told thee," said the magic steed, "that thou must not
see anything, must not hear anything, must not say or
know anything, but must always look around my two
ears. It is misery if we take up the plume, but it is still
greater misery if we leave it."
The good youth took up the third plume and they went
farther, again they crossed forty-nine kingdoms, and
then they came to a great town.
"My dear master," said the magic steed, "a hunter
lives in this town. Go to him in a hunter's dress and
tell him thou art seeking service. He will go with thee
to the king, who will employ thee as a hunter. Take serv-
ice with him, but do not forget me ; beg the king to let
me live on the dirt heap, and if need be let him take pay
for it out of thy wages."
The good youth went to the ocean-great town. Mean-
while the magic steed shook himself and turned into such
a shaggy, mangy colt that a dog wouldn't have eaten him ;
then he went to the edge of the town and lay down on a
THE WATERS OF LIFE AND DEATH 155
The king's son found the hunter, stood before him and
saluted him properly :
"God give a good day to my lord, the hunter," said he.
"God receive thee, good youth. What journey art
"I am seeking service."
"You are here in good time. The king is looking for
a hunter. I will conduct thee to the palace, but first thou
must put on a rich dress."
The hunter gave the good youth fine clothing and went
with him to the king, who gave him service at once.
The youth did not forget his horse, he made the condi-
tion that, even if pay for it were taken out of his wages,
the king would permit the shaggy colt to make himself
comfortable on the dirt heap.
Here, 'pon my word, what came of the affair or what
didn't, the Blue King, for it may be said between us that
this was the name of the good youth's master, ordered
a great hunt so that his new hunter might show what he
could do. They hunted and hunted, but the Blue King
and his guests found nothing, and though the short rib
of a wild beast isn't much, they didn't get that much;
they couldn't discharge their guns unless they wanted to
shoot the air. But the new hunter, our good youth,
found so many wild beasts that he couldn't shoot them,
156 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
he had to kill them with the butt of his gun. At last he
captured them, empty handed, and tied them to a tree.
But it was no wonder ; the magic steed in the form of a
hound was driving them toward him.
When the Blue King and his guests saw what the new
hunter had done they didn't cease glorifying him. The
Blue King made the good youth master of hunters and
seated him at his own table. But we all know that it
is not well to eat cherries from one dish with great lords,
and so it was now, for what came of the affair or what
didn't, the king, during a hunt, lost the plume from his
hat and therefore gave his head to great sorrow; he
neither ate nor drank, but sat alone, like a man whose
father and mother are dead.
The good youth was sorry for the Blue King, and he
"If I do not offend your majesty, will you tell me what
has caused you so much grief?"
"Oh, my good man, why should I not grieve when I
have lost my diamond plume?"
"If that is your majesty's only trouble," said the good
youth, "then we can cure it, for I have three diamond
plumes set in gold, let your majesty choose the one that
suits you best."
With this the good youth took the three diamond
plumes from his bosom and placed them before the king.
THE WATERS OF LIFE AND DEATH 157
The eyes and mouth of the Blue King gaped, for
neither his father nor his grandfather had seen such
plumes as those three were.
"Where did you get these plumes, the price of which
cannot be known ?" asked the king.
"I got them in my traveling and wandering. I found
them here and there."
The king looked and looked and he saw that a golden
hair was wound around the stem of each plume. Then
this thought rose in his head: "If a single hair is so
beautiful what must be the beauty of its owner?" He
wrinkled his brow in anger, turned to the good youth,
and said, —
"Dost hear, this kind and that kind of a hunter, if
thou dost not bring me the owners of these three hairs,
if thou hadst a thousand lives, thou wouldst die an evil
The good youth was as if he had received a blow ; he
rose up sadly and crying bitterly, wandered off to his
"Why dost thou cry and why dost thou weep so bit-
terly, my dear master?" asked the steed.
"Why shouldn't I cry, why shouldn't I weep when my
master commands me to bring to him the owners of the
three golden hairs wound around the diamond plumes, or
if I had a thousand lives, I would die an evil death?"
158 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"I told thee when we were crossing the thrice ninety-
nine kingdoms not to see an3rthing, not to hear anything,
not to say or know anything, but always to look around
my ears. Now that we are in trouble let not tears flow
from thy eyes, but go back to the Blue King and tell him
to make ready for thee a ship in which there will be pro-
visions for seven years, and for me seven measures of
The good youth went back to the Blue King, and said :
"Your majesty, it is needful to do by me as by one
going to die. If I must bring the owners of those three
golden hairs, then let your majesty have such a ship made
that it will hold provisions for seven years, and have
measured out for my shaggy colt seven measures of
The Blue King straightway ordered his ship builders
to make a ship which would hold provisions enough to
last for seven years, then he told his attendants to meas-
ure out to the shaggy colt seven measures of glowing
The colt swallowed down the coals at seven breaths,
as if the earth had swallowed them, so that for gold it
would have been impossible to find a coal the size of a
When the ship was ready the good youth went on
board, taking his trusty steed with him, then they moved
THE WATERS OF LIFE AND DEATH 159
across the world to seek the owners of the three golden
"If I stamp once," said the magic steed to his master,
"come to me even if thou hast to rise from the table."
They traveled and journeyed on the smooth sea till the
magic steed stamped once. The good youth heard this
and hurried straightway to the stable.
"My dear master," said the steed, "dost thou hear a
roaring coming to us, of the noise and traveling of the
twelve Truths ? They are coming to thee, and thou must
do everything according to their desire. If they ask for
food give them food, if they ask for drink give them
drink, but if they ask, 'How much shall we pay?' let
this be thy word and speech: Tt is already paid for.'
Then they will offer gold and silver, but take not even
Well, what came of the affair or what didn't, I was
there where they were speaking and was looking as I am
now. All at once, with great thundering and rattling
and noise, the twelve Truths came onto the ship like
birds, and asked for food and drink. The good youth
gave them all their skins could hold, so much that the
provisions for seven years disappeared. Then they
"How much do we owe thee, good youth?"
"Nothing," answered he, "all is paid for."
i6o FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"Ask as much gold and silver as thy ship will hold,
we will pay it," said the twelve Truths.
"What use would gold and silver be to me ? My trou-
ble would only increase with it."
"Well," said the twelve Truths, "here is a little whistle,
blow it, and whatever thy trouble may be, we will come
to thy assistance straightway."
The twelve Truths with a great stamping and rattling
and noise, went away and the good youth put the whistle
in his pocket.
After this he traveled and journeyed through forty-
nine kingdoms till he came to an island. On the island
lived the three binders of the three diamond plumes.
When the ship came to the shore of the island the magic
steed stamped once, and the good youth hastened to the
stable, and asked, —
"What is the trouble, my dear horse?"
"I have no trouble," answered the horse, "only that
there should be none for thee. Thou must go to the
castle that is here on the island. The door is closed, but
it will open before thee and close of itself after thee.
Go to the banquet hall and there thou wilt find a table
spread for two persons. Sit down in whichever place
pleases thee. The second place will be empty, but not
long, for above the table a ring is circling: it will turn
three times, strike the floor and become a maiden.
THE WATERS OF LIFE AND DEATH i6i
"The maiden will sit down in front of thee and ask in
kind speech what thou wilt eat and drink with relish, but
answer not a single word, sit silent and speechless. The
maiden will speak to thee three times, then she will pull
thy hair and beat thee, so that thou wilt be barely able to
leave the room on thy own feet. Only when thou art out
of the castle wilt thou notice that the ring^ is on thy name-
The youth went to the castle ; the door opened before
him and closed behind him. He passed through one
room after another till he came to one in which a table
was spread for two persons. The good youth sat down
and began to eat. A gold ring circled above the table
three times, struck the floor and became a maiden, such a
maiden as the king's son had not seen before, and like a
sheep, he opened his mouth and eyes, and the knife and
spoon dropped out of his hands. He would not allow
himself to utter a sound.
"Hip, hop! I am here, my heart's beautiful love,"
said the maiden. "I've been waiting long to delight my
eyes with looking at thee. I know, even if thou dost not
say so, that thou hast come for me."
The youth moved uneasily on the golden chair; he
said not a word, but kept eating. The maiden, with fair
words, said, —
"Eat, drink and enjoy thy food, for I know, even if
162 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
thou dost not say so, that thou hast come from a distant
The good youth moved and twisted on the golden
chair, but said not a word.
When the dinner was over the maiden said, —
"Thou hast come for me and I am thine, my heart's
When the youth made no answer, the maiden flew at
him, pulled out his hair, struck him on the head and beat
him as no maiden ever beat a man. He fell to the floor
and she disappeared. When the youth came to his
senses he staggered out of the room and out of the castle,
and only then did he see that the ring was on his finger.
When in some fashion he had dragged himself to the
ship, he went to the stable and dropped down on the
straw in the corner. The good steed took pity on his
master; he breathed three times on him and all of his
pain disappeared, as if cut in two, and a quiet sleep came
to him. In the morning when the steed roused him he
found this to say, —
"Why art thou troubled when I have slept so well and
dreamed so beautifully?"
"Well, dream here, dream there, but now listen," said
the horse. "Thou must go a second time to the castle,
the door will open of itself before thee and close behind
thee; go to the banquet hall and there thou wilt find a
THE WATERS OF LIFE AND DEATH 163
table spread for two persons. Sit in whichever place
pleases thee, the second place will be empty, but not long;
a ring will circle three times above the table, then strike
the floor and become a maiden; the maiden will sit in
front of thee and with fair speech urge thee to eat, and
to drink with relish ; but answer not a word, sit silent and
speechless. She will speak to thee three times, then she
will fly at thee, pull thy hair and beat thee so unmerci-
fully that thou wilt barely be able to crawl out of the
room and the castle. Only when thou art out wilt thou
notice that the ring is on thy index finger."
The good youth went to the castle, the maiden beat
him more unmercifully than before. When he came to
his senses he tottered out of the room and stumbled out
of the castle. Only when outside did he see that the
ring was on his index finger.
In some fashion he dragged himself to the ship, went
to the stable and fell on the straw in the corner. The
magic steed breathed on him three times and his pain
vanished as if it had been cut in two, and a quiet sleep
came to him.
In the morning the steed roused the good youth, and
he found this to say, —
"My dear horse, why art thou troubled when I fell
asleep so easily and dreamed so beautifully?"
"Dream here, dream there," said the steed, "but now
i64 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
listen to me. Go to the castle the third time in the same
way and manner as the first and second time. Every-
thing will happen as before. When the maiden speaks
to thee, do not answer. If thou speakest, even one word,
thou and I, and all the people on the ship, will be de-
stroyed without mercy. But take ''people with thee to
bring thee back to the ship."
All pleasure in the journey departed from the youth,
and his face was as sour as if he had bitten a wild apple.
But whether he wanted to go, or not, he went. He
reached the castle, and the room where the table was
spread for two and he sat down and began eating. A
gold ring rolled on the table, fell to the floor, and became
a maiden. The first two maidens were beautiful, but
this one was seven times more beautiful.
"Hip, hop ! here I am, my heart's beautiful love," said
she. "1 have waited long to delight my eyes with the
sight of thee, for I know, even if thou dost not say it,
that thou hast come for me."
The youth uttered no word, but kept on eating and
drinking. She urged him with fair speech, saying, —
"Eat and drink, my heart's beautiful love, for thou hast
come from a distant land and art hungry."
When the maiden spoke to him the third time and he
said not a word she flew at him and beat him till he was
JHE WATERS OF LIFE AND DEATH 165
When their master did not return to the ship the
sailors went to the castle and brought him out as they
would have brought out a block of wood. They carried
him to the ship and placed him on his straw bed. The
magic steed took pity on his master; he blew on him four
times and his pain vanished, as if cut in two or better
than that, and a quiet sleep came to him.
When the magic steed roused the good youth he found
this to say, —
"Why didst thou rouse me, my dear steed, when I slept
so quietly and dreamed so beautifully?"
"Dream here or dream there, but now we must work.
We must strike our tent tree and move toward home.
When we can say that we are there, then take the three
rings off thy fingers, turn each one three times, and thou
wilt see what beautiful maidens will stand before thee."
And thus it happened, they struck their tent tree and
sailed homeward. On the seventh day they were able
to say, "We are at home." Then the good youth took
the rings from his fingers, turned each one of them three
times and they became beautiful maidens.
"Oh, thou, this kind and that kind of a man!" said
the middle maiden, who was the most beautiful, "thou
hast brought us from our home. But now tell me, was
it for thyself or for another ?"
"It was for the Blue King."
i66 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"We will never be his, therefore we will play tricks
Well, so it was. When the red hunter heard that the
good youth had returned, though he had taken supplies
for seven years, he stood before the king.
"Your majesty," began he, "I bring you news, and
great news. The good youth is here, though he took
provisions for seven years."
"Go to the harbor and if he has the three maidens let
him bring them straight to my castle."
The red hunter hastened to the harbor and told the
youth what the king had said. The good youth, who
was stretched on his straw bed, found this to say, —
"Go back and tell the king that if he had put such a
long road on his neck he too would like to rest."
The red hunter returned to the king and complained
mercilessly of the good youth, that for this reason he
would not come, and for that reason he would not come;
for this reason he would not obey, and for that reason he
would not obey. The king was enraged, and was off
with great steps, toward the ship. There the good
youth brought before him the three world-beautiful
maidens, at the sight of whom the king became as mild
as a sheep.
The king took the three world-beautiful maidens to
JHE WATERS OF LIFE AND DEATH 167
his castle. He wished to marry one of them, but she
turned from him, saying, —
"We shall not be thine till our own palace is brought
"But how can I bring it ? Who will undertake such a
"Let that wretch do it who brought us hither."
The king sent for the good youth, and when he came
he found this to say to him, —
"Dost thou hear, chief huntsman. Do not stop, do
not eat, do not drink till thou hast brought the palace of
the three princesses and put it on the top of my castle
on three golden hairs. Otherwise, though I don't say it,
know that there will be a thicker end to the affair."
The youth went sadly out of the castle, and to his
"What is thy trouble, my dear master, what saddens
thy heart ?" asked the magic steed.
"Better if thou hadst not asked. Great is my sorrow,
greater than the tallest mountain, for the king has or-
dered me not to stop, not to eat or drink till I bring the
palace of the three princesses and put it on top of his
castle, on three golden hairs."
"If that is thy only trouble," answered the steed,
"think less of it and the more will come. Go back to the
i68 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
king and ask of him provisions for half a year, and one
measure of glowing coals for me."
The good youth went to the king and the king gave
him the provisions and the coals. Then the youth and
the magic steed began a long journey. They traveled
and journeyed till the steed stamped once. The youth
hastened to him, and asked, —
"What is the trouble, dear horse?"
"Nothing is the trouble with me except that nothing
should trouble thee, but if thou heed my advice not a
hair of thy head will fall. Take out the little whistle
which the twelve Truths gave thee, blow it and the
Truths will appear. They will ask: 'What dost thou
command, dear master?' Let this be thy word and
speech : 'Nothing, but that you should carry the palace
of the three princesses to the domain of the Blue King
and put it on top of the king's castle, on three golden
hairs.' But first entertain the twelve Truths with what
thou hast on the ship, and when they ask thee what they
owe, and offer thee gold and silver, take not a coin from
As the steed said so the youth did and straightway
the palace of the three world-beautiful maidens was on
top of the castle of the Blue King.
Now the report went out that the good youth had re-
turned, though he had taken provisions for half a year.
THE WATERS OF LIFE AND DEATH 169
Again the red hunter calumniated him, again the king
went, in a rage, to the harbor and when the good youth
stood before his face, he said, —
"Thou this and that kind of a scoundrel, hast thou
done what I told thee to do ?"
"Your majesty, look at your castle."
The king looked at his castle and saw that the palace
of the three princesses was standing on it, on three
golden hairs. That was all that he wanted ; he thanked
the good youth and went straight to the three princesses,
and said to one of them, —
"Well, my heart's beautiful love, thy wish is ful-
filled, now thou art mine."
"Not yet," answered the maiden, "first we must move
into our palace." With that the three took down their
tent pole and went up to their palace, on a golden stair-
case. But, 'pon my soul, in a twinkle, when the king
wanted to follow the maidens, he could not find the stair-
case ; it vanished before his eyes, and he searched for it
in vain. The three princesses laughed at him, and one
of them called out, —
"We'll not be thine till thou bringest to us the Water
of Life and the Water of Death."
"But how can I get them?" asked the king.
"Let that youth who brought us hither go for them."
Here the king called the good youth, gave him pro-
170 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
visions for half a year and a measure of glowing coals
for his steed, and sent him for the Water of Life and the
Water of Death.
When out on the sea the good youth blew his whistle
and, when the twelve Truths appeared, he gave them
plenty of food and drink, but took no pay. Then they
"What is thy wish, dear master?"
"Nothing else than to bring a flask of water from the
fountain of Life and a flask of water from the fountain
The command was barely uttered when there stood
before the good youth two flasks. In one was the Water
of Life, in the other was the Water of Death. Then he
turned the ship toward home and on the third day he
could say: "We are here."
Now the news went about that the ship was back.
Again the red hunter calumniated the youth, and, 'pon
my word, the Blue King took his staff in his hand, put on
his long cloak and hastened to the ship. When he was
on board the good youth stood before him holding two
flasks in his hands.
"Thou this and that kind of a scoundrel, hast thou
got what I sent thee for? The red hunter said this,
and said that about thee."
"He is jealous, — ^why is unknown."
JHE WATERS OF LIFE AND DEATH 171
'T'U punish him for lying to me," said the Blue King,
and he did as he said. The earth drank the blood of the
The Blue King took the two flasks and called out to the
world-beautiful princesses : "My heart's beautiful love,
thy desire is accomplished, here is the Water of Life and
the Water of Death ; now thou art mine."
"Ha ! ha ! Blue King. I shall not be thine till thou art
cut up and one of us sprinkle thee with this water."
"But, my heart's beautiful love, who will cut me
"He who brought us hither. But that thou shouldst
see all that another would see, so that there will be no
fear in thy heart, let the good youth cut up his magic
What was the good youth to do? He led out his
magic steed, stabbed him in the heart and killed him;
he collected all of the blood in an earthen jar, cut the
flesh bit from bit, piled up the pieces and poured the
blood over them; then one of the princesses ran down
the golden staircase with a flask in her hand. In the
flask was the Water of Life ; she sprinkled a few drops
on the flesh and blood of the magic steed, and behold
from the flesh and blood sprang up a delightful charm-
given twenty-four year old youth, with golden hair and
golden teeth. The maiden turned from him and sped,
172 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
like an arrow, up the golden staircase, but she could not
refrain from looking back and calling to him, —
"Oh, beautiful youth, thou didst not sit in the first
place. Not to thee belongs the choice, but to him who
brought us hither."
The beautiful youth turned to the good youth and
found this to say, —
"Listen, my faithful comrade, I owe thee much, for
thou hast liberated me from the form of a horse. I
was just as I am now, but a witch enchanted me, turned
me into a horse. Now there is this word, with my hand,
I shall ever be a faithful comrade, never will I leave thee
in trouble, for I am just such a king's son as thou art.
But this is my word : Undress and stab thyself in the
heart. I will gather up thy blood and cut thy flesh into
pieces, then a princess will sprinkle the blood and pieces
with the Water of Life. Thou art a beautiful youth, but
then thou wilt be seven times more beautiful."
What was the good youth to do ? He stabbed himself
in the heart. The king's son, once the magic steed, gath-
ered his blood and cut his flesh into pieces, then one of
the princesses hastened down the golden staircase, with
a flask in her hand, and sprinkled the flesh and blood with
the Water of Life, and behold a pearl-given charming
youth with golden hair and golden teeth stood before
them. The good youth had been beautiful hitherto, but
THE WATERS OF LIFE AND DEATH 173
now he was seven times more beautiful. The princess
ran up the golden staircase, but she looked back, and
called out, —
"Ah, my heart's beautiful love, thou didst sit in the
first place, now the first place belongs to thee, thou canst
have thy choice of the three of us."
The Blue King saw, from the window of his castle,
how the magic steed became a beautiful young man,
and how the good youth became seven times more beau-
tiful. Then he wanted to become young and beautiful
also and so he consented to be stabbed in the heart.
They stabbed him, collected his blood, cut up his flesh,
put the pieces in one pile and poured the red blood over
them, and then the princess ran down the golden stair-
case with a flask in her hand. But in the flask was the
Water of Death. She sprinkled the flesh and blood,
and behold the flesh and blood of the Blue King were
consumed and his bones became ashes.
Then the three princesses joined hands and stood be-
fore the good youth, saying, —
"Now choose one of us."
The world-beautiful princess on the right pointed
with a motion of her head to the middle one, as if to say,
"thou shouldst choose her." And the good youth chose
her, and she was the most beautiful of the three. It
was hard to select, for in beauty they were much alike.
174 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The prince, who was once the magic steed, selected the
princess on the right, for she pleased him best. The
third princess gave her hand to a general of the Blue
King's army. Then they had a wedding. There was
plenty of soup and still soup, and happy was the man
who went there with a spoon.
The Blue King was dead, so they made the good youth
king of that country, and he is living there yet with his
wife, if he isn't dead.
THE WATER OF ENDLESS YOUTH
THERE was once a king who was strangely marked.
One of the king's eyes was always crying and the
other was always laughing. This king had three sons,
and when the three sons had reached manhood they
agreed to ask their father why one of his eyes was al-
ways laughing and the other always weeping.
The eldest son went to the king, and said, —
"My dear father, will you tell me why one of your
eyes is always laughing and the other is always weep-
The king made no answer, but in great anger he
seized a knife and hurled it at his son. The young man
was frightened; he turned and ran out of the white
chamber. The knife stuck in the threshold. His broth-
ers were waiting in the garden. When they saw him
they asked, —
"What did our father say?"
"I couldn't talk with him, for he was eating, but do
you, my second brother, go to him, maybe you will have
The second son went to the white chamber; his father
was still at the table eating.
176 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"My dear father," said the young man, "will you tell
us why one of your eyes is always laughing, and the
other is always weeping?"
The old king in a rage took up a knife that lay on the
table and threw it at his son. The king's son was terri-
fied; he moved the wheels of his feet out of the room.
The great knife stood in the door.
The eldest and the youngest brother were walking up
and down in the garden waiting, but they had not long
"Well, what did he say?" asked the two at a breath.
"He said not one thing and he said it slowly, for he
was eating. Now do you go, brother," said he to the
youngest, "maybe you will have better luck."
The youngest of the king's sons went to the white
chamber ; he, too, found his father eating.
"My dear father," began he, "will you tell us why — "
The king was enraged ; he caught up a knife and threw
it at his son. The knife stuck in the young man's foot,
but he didn't run out of the white chamber; he drew
the knife from his foot and put it back on the table,
"My dear father, will you tell us why one of your
eyes — "
"Well, my son," said the king, "I will tell thee, for of
all my sons thou art the boldest and bravest, for thou
THE WATER OF ENDLESS YOUTH 177
didst not run away. One of my eyes laughs because in
thee it finds delight, the other weeps because I am grow-
ing old, because I have eaten the best of my bread, and
the salt and pepper of my food, and am near the grave.
But I hear that in such and such a place there springs
up the Water of Endless Youth, and there, too, can be
found a sweetly singing Goldfinch. If I could drink
even one drop of that water, and hear the cheering song
of the sweetly singing Goldfinch both of my eyes would
When the king's youngest son had listened to the end
of his father's speech he went to the garden to find his
"Well, what did he say?" asked the two in a breath.
"Our father found this to say, that one of his eyes
laughs because he finds pleasure in us, the other weeps
because he has grown old and must soon wander forth
from this world of shadows. But in such and such a
place there springs up the Water of Endless Youth, and
there too the sweetly singing Goldfinch is found. If our
father could drink even one drop of that water and could
hear the cheering song of the sweetly singing Goldfinch
his second eye would laugh as well as the other. There-
fore, my dear brothers, this is my word and speech, —
"Let us tell our father that we will go for the Water
of Endless Youth, and the sweetly singing Goldfinch."
178 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The king's sons, with bitter tear-dropping, took fare-
well of the father who had reared them and made ready-
to go out into the world in search of the Water of End-
less Youth and the sweetly singing Goldfinch,
Of the numberless steeds in the king's stables the two
older brothers chose the finest, most fiery, golden-haired
one^i As the youngest brother was passing near a
wretched, ragged colt the colt struck him with its tail
and said, — "Choose me, king's son."
As he led the mangy colt out of the stall his brothers
laughed at him, but he laughs best who laughs last. The
mangy, shaggy colt, as true as I live, for I was there
when they were talking and I saw as I see now, was a
The three brothers mounted their horses and moved
forward on the road. When they had gone a short dis-
tance the two older ones left the youngest brother. As
soon as they were out of sight the mangy colt
"Why art thou sad? Why art thou sorrowful, my
dear master ? Art grieved because those poppy flowers
have left thee here? That is not trouble, my dear mas-
ter, but luck. Let them go their own way and we will
go ours. They will not go far ; they will rest at the first
inn that they find on the road, and there await them
twelve robbers dressed in monk's robes. Thy brothers
THE WATER OF ENDLESS YOUTH 179
will sit down to play cards with the monks and that will
be the end of their journey, for the twelve will win their
money, their horses and their weapons, even the clothes
that are on their backs. They'll not have the price to
pay for the wine they have drunk, and the hay and oats
their horses have eaten, and the innkeeper will make
them work till they have paid for the wine, the hay and
the 'oats. We'll not go that road, we'll not go to the
right, but to the left."
When he had finished his speech the mangy colt shook
himself and became a golden-haired steed conceived of
wind-eating glowing coals ; such a magic steed rose out
of him that his equal could not be found.
"Now, my dear master," said he, "we suit each other,
I thee and thee me, therefore sit on my back. How shall
we travel? Shall I go like thought, or like lightning,
or as the swiftest flying bird goes?"
"Only so, my dear horse, that neither I in thee nor thee
in me should find fault."
Thereupon the magic steed rose in the air and traveled
and journeyed across forty-nine kingdoms and the Oper-
antsia Sea, and beyond the sea, and beyond that to where
the little short-tailed pig roots, and beyond that and still
farther on till he came to a great wild-wood where
neither heaven nor earth could be green, and there he
came down in front of a little cabin.
i8o FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The king's son entered the cabin and found a woman
so old that she was older than the king's highway.
"God give thee health, my dear old mother," said the
"If thou hadst not called me mother I would have
killed thee, but why art thou journeying in this strange
country where even a bird doesn't come?"
"I am going for the Water of Endless Youth and the
sweetly singing Goldfinch. Hast thou heard of the
fame of them?"
"To hear I have heard, where they are I cannot tell,
but go over this great mountain, and there, under a little
hill at the edge of a round wood, lives my sister. If she
doesn't know, then no one knows. But, king's son, I
do not speak of that, but of this. Here is a flask for
thee. Bring some of the Water of Endless Youth to me,
for I, too, would like 'to be young again. And here is a
horseshoe, put it away, maybe it will be of service to
The king's son thanked the old woman, put the horse-
shoe in his bag, tied the flask to his saddle-bow, and
mounted his steed. The magic steed jumped once,
sprang twice, and was beyond the mercilessly high moun-
tain and in front of the little- cabin at the edge of the
THE WATER OF ENDLESS YOUTH i8i
The king's son went into the cabin and found there a
woman older than the first old woman.
"God give thee a good day, my dear old mother," said
"God receive thee, my dear son. If thou hadst not
called me mother I should have snuffed out thy life
quickly. Why art thou journeying in this strange land
where even a bird does not come?"
"I am going for the Water of Endless Youth and the
sweetly singing Goldfinch. Hast thou ever heard of
them, dear mother ?"
"To hear I have heard, but where and in what way
thou canst find them I cannot tell. Why should I deny,
when there would be more profit than harm to me if
thou shouldst find them? But beyond this mercilessly
high mountain, which stands before us and holds up the
sky, under a little hill at the edge of a round forest, lives
my eldest sister. If she knows nothing about the Water
of Endless Youth and the sweetly singing Goldfinch, then
no one in the world knows. But, king's son, I will say
one thing and two will come of it. Here is a flask. If
thou findest the Water of Endless Youth bring me a
little, for I, too, would like to be young again. And here
is a golden towel. Put it away, for it may be of use to
i82 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The king's son thanked the old woman, put the towel
in his bag, hung the flask on his saddle-bow, and mounted
The magic steed jumped once, sprang twice, and was
beyond the unmercifully high mountain which held up
the sky, and in front of the little cabin at the edge of the
The king's son entered the cabin and found there a
woman so old that her nose was continually kissing her
"God give thee a good day, my dear old mother," said
"God receive thee, my dear son. If thou hadst not
called me mother I should have snuffed out thy life, but
where art thou going?"
"I am going for the Water of Endless Youth and the
sweetly singing Goldfinch. Hast thou heard of them,
"Of course I have heard. In the castle of wondrous
fair Ilona thou wilt find them both, for in truth they are
there. Beyond this mercilessly high mountain, which
stands here before us and holds up the sky, thou wilt
find the blue sea. On the seventy-seventh island of that
sea stands, on golden duck legs, the castle of wondrous
fair Ilona. The castle turns unceasingly, like a whirl-
wind. Thou canst not enter it from the earth. Thou
THE WATER OF ENDLESS YOUTH 183
hast a magic steed that can spring in at the top, but have
a care that his tail is tied up, so that when he springs in
and when he springs out, not one hair of it shall remain
unbound, for if even one hair should touch the top of the
copper castle, the castle would give out a loud sound and
all the magic people would pursue thee and without
mercy or pity would tear thee to pieces. In the very
center of the copper castle is the chamber of wondrous
fair Ilona, she is sleeping there now. The couch of
fair Ilona is neither on the earth, nor in the sky, but is
in the air between the earth and sky, and a stairway goes
up to it. Above the couch hangs a golden cage, and in
the cage is the sweetly singing Goldfinch. Thou must
entwine its bill with a golden hair so that it cannot sing.
In the corner of the chamber gush forth two fountains.
In one is the Water of Endless Youth, in the other is the
Water of Death. Take water from each fountain.
Here is a flask. Fill it for me from the fountain of
Youth, for I, too, would like to be young again. And
here is a golden curry-comb, put it away carefully, for
it may be of use to thee."
When the old woman had finished her speech, the
king's son thanked her, put the curry-comb in his bag,
hung the flask on the bow of his saddle, and sat on his
The magic steed jumped once, sprang twice, and was
i84 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
beyond the unmercifully high mountain that held up the
sky, and at the shore of the blue sea. Then he rose in
the sky and, like a whirlwind, carried the king's son to
the seventy-seventh island of the sea. The king's son
dismounted, tied up the tail of the magic steed so that
not one hair remained unbound, then sat on him again.
The steed rose in the air and sprang in at the very center
of the copper-topped castle of wondrous fair Ilona.
The king's son took the flasks that he had brought
and went straightway to the maiden's chamber. She
was lying on a couch that was neither on the earth nor
in the sky, but was between earth and sky, and she was
sunk in a deep sleep. The king's son went up the stair-
way of flowers, and took down the golden cage and with
a golden hair bound together the bill of the sweetly sing-
ing Goldfinch, then he descended the stairway of flowers,
and filled the flasks with the Water of Youth, but one
flask he filled with the Water of Death.
When he had finished he went out as he came in.
He bound up the tail of his steed, sat on him and was just
springing out of the castle, but, whether from great
haste, or from something else, he had not bound the
horse's tail well, one hair was loose, and as the horse
was going over the edge of the top of the castle that hair
struck it. The whole castle rang like a great bell. All
THE WATER OF ENDLESS YOUTH 185
of the magic people were on their feet at once and after
the king's son.
They were catching up with him when the magic steed
"Oh, my dear master, my right ear is tingling. Look
back, what dost thou see ?"
The king's son looked back and saw that a crowd of
magic people were about to pull him from his horse,
and he cried,—
"Our end has come, my dear horse, they will be at us
in a moment."
"They will not ; throw down the curry-comb."
The king's son threw the curry-comb, and from it
sprang up a forest as thick as the hairs are thick on a
While the magic people were struggling through the
forest, the magic steed went a long distance over ditches
Next the left ear of the good steed tingled so that he
could not keep silent.
"Oh, my dear master," said he, "my left ear tingles.
Look back, whom dost thou see?"
The king's son looked back, and saw the magic people
were so near that they would soon pull him out of the
i86 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"Our end has come, my dear horse, they will soon be
"They will not. Drop down the golden towel."
The king's son dropped the golden towel and from it
rose a wide sea. While the magic people were strug-
gling across the sea, the steed left a good stretch of land
behind him. Then both ears began to tingle, and he
"Oh, my dear master, both of my ears are tingling.
Look back. Who is following us?"
The king's son looked back and saw that a multitude
of magic people were swarming around him and that
straightway they would pull him from the horse,
"Our end has come, my dear horse. They will finish
"They will not; throw down the golden horseshoe."
The king's son threw the golden horseshoe, and from
it rose a knotty branchy forest.
The magic people were not able to struggle through
that forest. What were they to do? Willingly or un-
willingly they had to turn back.
Thus the king's son was freed from the magic people.
When he came to the cabin where the oldest of the old
women lived he stopped and gave her a flask of the
Endless Water of Youth. She had barely swallowed
THE WATER OF ENDLESS YOUTH 187
two drops of it when, in the twinkle of an eye, she be-
The king's son stopped at the cabin of the second
sister and she became young in like manner. He stopped
at the cabin of the youngest sister. She drank from the
flask, shook herself, and turned into such a beautiful,
eighteen-year-old maiden, that she was not only so, but
just so. The king's son took farewell of her and trav-
eled and journeyed homeward across forty-nine king-
doms, beyond the Operantsia Sea and the Glass Moun-
tain, and beyond where the little short-tailed pig roots,
and farther on and still farther till he stood before an
He went into the yard of the inn and saw there his two
brothers, who were splitting wood to pay for the wine
they had drunk. He went into the inn. The twelve
robbers in monk's robes were playing cards at a long
table. They asked the king's son to sit with them, but
he, as if he had not heard, turned to the inn-keeper and
redeemed his brothers, their horses and their weapons.
Then the three started for home. On the way the two
planned how to get rid of their brother, for what kind
of a disgrace would it be when they got home and then
told what had happened to them !
When they came to an old well they pulled him from
i88 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
his horse, cut off his feet and hands, and threw him in
the well. The Goldfinch and the two flasks of water they
took with them, as if they had brought them from the
beautiful magic kingdom, from the castle of wondrous
When they reached home who was louder mouthed
than they? Who boasted more than they? They had
been in the beautiful magic kingdom. What had they
not seen there? What human tongue was not spoken
But the Goldfinch would not sing, and of the two
flasks of water the brothers could not tell which was
the Water of Endless Youth, and which the Water of
Death. Therefore, one of the king's eyes was still
laughing and the other weeping.
Now the youngest son of the king, while he was crawl-
ing around in the old well, found a little water and from
that wonder-working water his hands and feet grew out
again. He washed himself in it, and if he were beauti-
ful before, he was seven times more beautiful then.
With great labor he climbed out of the well, and in the
dress of a laborer, went to his father's palace. No one
recognized him and the king hired him as a stable boy.
Now the old king announced throughout the whole
kingdom that whoever could tell one flask of water from
the other, and could bring the sweetly singing Goldfinch
THE WATER OF ENDLESS YOUTH 189
to his voice should receive a great reward and great
Many people assembled, but no one in the kingdom
dared to try to win the reward, except the stable boy.
When he appeared, people laughed and called him the
wandering block-head. But as soon as the Goldfinch
saw him he began to sing, and whoso heard that song
would have laughed even if his father and mother had
been lying on the table. Then the king's son, taking the
two flasks in his hand, told at once which held the Water
of Youth. The old king drank two drops, shook himself,
and turned into such a twenty-year-old youth that it
would be needful to search for his equal, and both of his
eyes laughed. But when his youngest son came to his
mind tears started.
But, 'pon my soul, what came of the affair and what
didn't, fair Ilona assembled a great army and started
from her castle. As soon as she reached the city where
our king lived she halted, pitched her tent, and sur-
rounded the city with her army. Then she announced
to the king that if he did not send out that son of his
who plundered her castle, she would not leave one stone
upon another, and would put every person to the sword
without pity or mercy.
The king was terrified. He called his two sons and
told them of the message of the wondrous fair Ilona.
I90 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The eldest son went first — ^but I forgot to say that the
magic queen had thrown a magic bridge from her tent
to the king's castle. The bridge was covered with purple
velvet. The king's son was afraid to walk on the golden
bridge lest he might injure the precious purple velvet,
so he walked at the edge of it. When he stood before
wondrous fair Ilona she found this to ask, —
"Well, king's son, hast thou been in my castle?"
"I have, indeed, magic queen."
"Answer the questions I ask, then I shall know that
thou wert there."
"I will answer."
"Tell me where my castle stands."
"On the ground, like other castles."-
"Where is my well?"
"In the ground, like other wells."
"Where stands my couch ?"
"On the floor, like other couches."
"Thou hast never seen my castle, my well, or my
"Take him out," commanded Ilona the fair, "and give
him fifty blows of a whip."
The soldiers took the king's son by the neck and gave
him fifty such blows that he did not forget them while
he lived. Then the queen sent him back to the king
with the message : "If thou dost not send out that son
THE WATER OF ENDLESS YOUTH 191
of thine who plundered my castle, I will not leave of the
city one stone upon another, and I will put every man
to the sword without pity or mercy."
The king sent his second son. He, too, was afraid to
walk on the bridge, so he walked at the side of it. When
he stood before the magic queen she found this to ask
of him, —
"King's son, hast thou been in my castle?"
"I have indeed, magic queen."
"Answer my questions, then I shall know that thou
She asked him the same questions that she had asked
his brother, and he gave the same answers, then she
"Thou hast not only not seen my castle, my well, and
my couch, but thou hast not even heard of them. Take
him out," commanded she, "and cut fifty blows of a rod
The soldiers took the king's son by his twenty nails
and gave him fifty such blows that while he lived he did
not forget them, even on his death bed they came to his
She sent the second son back to his father with the
message that if he would not send the son who had
plundered her castle, she would raze his city to the
ground, and kill every one, man, woman and child, with-
192 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
out pity or mercy. "Let the earth drink the blood of his
people, and dogs eat their flesh !"
This merciless message brought the king's head to such
sorrow that he neither ate nor drank by night or by day.
The youngest son, taking pity on his father, went to him
and asked, —
"Your majesty, will you tell me why you give your
head to grief, why you neither eat nor drink by night
nor by day?"
"Why dost thou ask, my good servant, when thou
canst not cure my trouble? But since thou art so faith-
ful that I trust thee as if thou wert my own son, the
blood of my blood, and the body of my body, I will say.
Why should I not grieve? Why should I not sorrow
when the magic queen sends this message to me, 'If thou
dost not send out the son who plundered my castle, a
stone will not remain upon a stone in the city, and every
person will be put to death without mercy.' "
"If this is your majesty's only trouble, be not filled
with such grief. Let me saddle the shaggy colt which is
lying on the dirt heap, and go to the magic queen. I will
answer her, if you will entrust me."
"Choose the best steed in the stable, and wear twelve
rich suits, if only thou art master of thy word."
The king's son combed his golden, hair, arrayed him-
self in a purple velvet coat, bound to his side his beautiful
THE WATER OF ENDLESS YOUTH 193
crooked saber, sat on the golden-haired magic steed, and
went straight across the magic bridge, which resounded
under the hoofs of his horse.
Wondrous fair Ilona was waiting at the end of the
bridge, and she said to herself, "This is he, this is the
robber of my castle, my hand, and my heart!" When
the king's son stood before her she found this to say:
"Well, fair son of the king, tell me on thy true soul, wert
thou in my castle?"
"Answer my three questions, then I shall believe that
thou wert there. Where does my castle stand?"
"It stands in the middle of the seventy-seventh island
of the blue sea. It rests on golden duck legs and turns
unceasingly, like a whirlwind."
"Where does my well stand?"
"In thy chamber are two wells, in one of them is the
Water of Youth, in the other is the Water of Death."
"Where is my couch ?"
"Neither on the earth nor in the sky, it stands in
the air, and is reached by a stairway of flowers."
"That is true. Thou art my dear husband."
Then the king's son and the wondrous fair Ilona
"Thou art mine and I am thine."
There was a wedding feast and there was soup and
194 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
still soup. Happy was the man who went there with a
spoon. So from great joy came great rejoicing. It
was sad for the two bad brothers, but no use — sooner or
later a nail will work itself out of a bag.
THE MAGIC LAM?
IN a certain village lived a cottager. When he had
squandered all his property he died happily, leaving
his wife nothing but a son, ten years old, whose name was
Vashichek. The widow lived in poverty, for she had to
support herself and Vashichek with the labor of her
hands, and the little boy often tasted hunger, though
his mother loved him greatly.
One day a stranger came to the widow's cottage and
said that he was the brother of her late husband.
"That cannot be," answered the widow, "my husband
had no brother."
"No one knew about me, for I was in distant lands,"
said the stranger, "and why should I visit my brother ?
But, that you may believe me more quickly, I will take
Vashichek home and try to make a prosperous man of
"I will not let him go," cried the mother, and she
clasped the boy in her arms. "He is my only wealth, my
"I cannot force you to give me the child," said the
196 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
stranger, with apparent indifference, "though you are
not wise, for I am rich and I have no children. If the
boy goes with me I will educate him, and at my death he
will inherit all of my wealth. Meanwhile I will leave
this bag of gold for your own support." With that the
stranger took from his bosom a large purse and poured
out on the table so many gold pieces that the table
was covered with them.
The mother clasped her son still firmer, but she looked
at the gold and began to think about it : "With that gold
she might put an end to her poverty — and it would not
be bad for Vashichek to be with such a rich man." But,
since she knew that her husband had no brother, she
was afraid that this stranger might be a wizard, who
wanted to bring evil on her and her son.
The stranger watched her for a while then began to
put the gold pieces into the bag.
"Wait !" cried the woman, involuntarily, when the last
piece was about to vanish in the bag. "I will give you
my son, but — "
"The money is yours," said the stranger and he threw
the bag into her lap.
The woman let go of Vashichek, and weighed in her
hands the gold, the glitter of which had blinded her ut-
terly. When the stranger took Vashichek by the hand„
the boy resisted, and began to cry.
THE MAGIC LAMP 197
"Go with your uncle, my son," said the mother per-
suasively, "he will buy you a painted horse and a coach."
The boy paid no heed to his mother's words, so the
stranger took him by force. The mother followed them
as far as the forest, and, when Vashichek stopped crying,
she hurried home to find out how much money she had
received. But wasn't she frightened when instead of
gold pieces there came from the bag only bits of brass.
For a time she was stunned, then she came to her senses
and hurried off to take her son from the deceiver. She
ran around half the day, but saw no one in the fields
or in the neighboring forest. She tore the hair out of
her head, but to no purpose ; it was too late.
The stranger, who was no uncle, but a vile wizard,
hurried on with the weeping Vashichek. When he came
to the thickest part of the forest he put the boy on the
ground, cut a rod and slashed him mercilessly to make
him stop crying.
"This is the way I'll punish you for disobedience,"
said he, then he threw the boy a bit of dry bread. After
eating and resting, he lashed the boy with the rod and
drove him on ahead through the forest. That night they
slept in a cave, on a bed of dry leaves, and in the morning
they went farther.
The third day the wizard told Vashichek to gather
dry boughs and branches and put them in a pile. When
198 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
the boy had done this the wizard scattered some kind
of powder on the wood and set fire to it. Soon the
forest was blazing: and in a short time a large part of it
was burned. When the fire died down the wjzard
walked here and there over the place till he found a
large stone. With great eflfort he rolled the stone aside,
then he commanded Vashichek to go down into the hole
which appeared under the stone.
"Down there," said he, "is a beautiful garden, with
trees full of golden fruit. In the middle of the garden
is a castle; in the castle are bright chambers without
number, but look at nothing. Go to a little house which
you will see on the right-hand side of the castle. Be-
hind the door of that house you will find a small lamp ;
take it quickly and hurry back to the hole. I will pull
Vashichek, full of fear, crawled into the hole. Sooner
than he expected he was in a garden so beautiful that
he forgot everything else in a moment. What fragrant
flowers, and wonderful trees with golden fruit! And
the castle so gleamed from gold and precious stones that
Vashichek could not look at it.
When the boy came to his senses, after the first won-
der, he examined everything carefully. Around the
castle and through the garden there were paths sprinkled
with golden sand. Vashichek walked between rows of
THE MAGIC LAMP 199
flowers and plucked here and there a blossom or a red
berry. He went to the trees and shook golden fruit
from them; then he looked through the castle. In one
chamber he found food and drink with which he re-
freshed himself. Most wonderful to tell, in that coun-
try it was white day all of the time, though Vashichek
did not see the sun.
At last Vashichek felt that he was tired beyond meas-
ure ; he dropped on the grass under a tree and fell asleep.
When he woke up he went to the castle and found food
and drink in plenty. In this way he passed delightful
hours, and since every minute he found something new,
time went quickly just in looking at things. At last he
wandered into the little house and behind the door, as
the wizard had said, was a small lamp. When Vashi-
chek saw the lamp he remembered his master, and seizing
it he ran to the opening by which he had entered that
The wizard was waiting impatiently and as soon as he
heard the boy's steps, he cried, —
"You are a good little fellow, give me the lamp."
"Come down here," said Vashichek when he heard the
wizard speak kindly. "It is beautiful here."
"If I had dared to go down there," answered the
wizard, "I should not have sent you. Give me the lamp
and stay there as long as seems good to you."
200 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
Then he held the stone as if in a hurry to close the
hole. When Vashichek saw the stone he was frightened
not a little, for he thought that his uncle wanted to get
the lamp and then shut him in, so he said, "I don't want
to live here, I want to come out."
"Give me the lamp," said the wizard, "or I'll not let
They talked a long time, but neither would yield.
At last the wizard lost his temper entirely and, throwing
down the stone, went away.
Vashichek cried for a long time, then he dropped on
the ground and fell asleep. When he woke up he saw
that the stone was still down, and he wondered how he
was ever to get out. He had the lamp in his hand and
since the wizard was so anxious to get it, he thought it
must have some value, so he began to wipe the dust
from it. When he had passed his hand over the lamp
a few times a man stood before him whose garments
were glittering with gold and precious stones.
"What is thy wish?" asked the stranger, with great
"To escape from this place," answered the astonished
That instant the man vanished, but the stone was off
from the hole and Vashichek was in the white world
again. He looked around with wonder, for, instead of a
- THE MAGIC LAMP 201
treeless place, there were trees and thick bushes every-
where. He himself was no longer little Vashichek, but
a sturdy young man. And he had a right to be, for while
he was in that wonderful garden years had passed. His
clothes were so small that when he looked into the first
stream he had to laugh at himself. Without thinking
long he rubbed the lamp.
At once the man appeared and, bowing courteously,
"What is thy wish?"
"To have nice clothes," answered Vashichek.
The man vanished, but in a moment Vashichek was
dressed in fine garments^. He looked at himself with
satisfaction, and walked on farther through the thick
forest. When the road seemed long he thought, "Why
should I trouble myself for nothing when that man
serves me so willingly ?" And he rubbed his lamp again.
"What is thy wish?" asked the man, as he stood there
"To be out of this forest," answered Vashichek.
The man disappeared, but Vashichek was out of the
forest, and a town was in sight. He hastened on and
soon came to an inn where he ate and drank all he
wanted. But suddenly he remembered that he must pay.
He put his hand to his pocket, involuntarily, and how did
he wonder when he took out a handful of gold pieces.
202 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"That man is very considerate," thought Vashichek, "he
knows that a full pocket belongs to nice clothes."
Vashichek paid for what he had eaten, then he went
out to look at the town. But, though the houses were
large and the king's palace very grand, he paid little
heed to them since the king's daughter was riding by in
a splendid carriage drawn by four black horses. She
drove with such speed that she soon vanished from his
sight. It was a pity, for such was her beauty that
Vashichek could have looked at her all day. She had
seen Vashichek and she looked back at him more than
once. He walked on in the direction she had taken
and when he was outside of the town he threw himself
on the grass and thought of her. He lay there a long
time, for he was turning over in his mind how to meet
the princess and say even a word to her. On a sudden
he thought of the lamp ; he drew it from his bosom and
That moment the man stood before him, and asked, —
"What is thy wish?"
"To be a prince," answered Vashichek.
The man vanished, but in no time a rich carriage was
approaching, with servants in livery embroidered with
gold and silver. When they came to Vashichek the
prancing horses stopped, the servants sprang down,
bowed low before him and assisted him into the carriage.
THE MAGIC LAMP 203
He ordered them to take him to the best inn in the city,
and the horses went so quickly that the prince was there
in a very short time.
Now Vashichek led the life of a real prince. His
pockets were always full of money, and every day he
drove in the neighborhood of the king's palace, from a
window of which the princess gazed at him. In a short
time every one knew of the handsome prince, and mar-
velous tales of his wealth went the rounds of the city.
The king heard of him and, not a little anxious to know
him, consulted the princess.
"Invite him to come to the palace," said she. "It is
only just that an exalted prince should be honored by his
"You are right," said the king, and straightway he sent
a courtier for the prince. Vashichek did not hesitate
long. The king greeted him with expressions of friend-
ship and the princess with gracious words. In a short
time he was at home in the palace, but he would never
say a word about his parents, though the princess often
asked him whence he came. He always answered that
he was from a distant country. Gradually she became
distrustful and when Vashichek asked for her hand in
marriage, she said, —
"If when we are going for the marriage there are
silver blossoms on the trees that are along the road from
204 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
the palace to the church, and golden fruit on them when
we return I will be yours for the ages."
The king looked compassionately at Vashichek, as if
to say, "I am sorry for you." But Vashichek said, "I
will carry out your wish."
Now came a lively life in the palace, for the wedding
was to be celebrated as soon as possible. When every-
thing was ready, the prince went to a secret place in
the king's garden, took the lamp from his bosom and
rubbed it with his hand. Straightway the man stood
before him and, bowing courteously, asked, —
"What is thy wish?"
"That the trees between the palace and the church
should have silver blossoms when we are going to the
marriage and golden fruit when we are coming back."
The man disappeared and the prince hastened to the
princess to say that he wanted the wedding on the mor-
row. The princess did not believe that what she had
asked of her bridegroom wbuld happen, and the next
morning she was greatly astonished when she saw that
the trees were covered with silver blossoms.
The ceremony did not last long, but when the bride
and groom were coming home golden fruit was hanging
on the trees. This astonished every one; the king him-
self was filled with the greatest respect for his son-in-
law, and he gave him half of the kingdom, without delay.
THE MAGIC LAMP 205
When the festivities were over Vashichek asked per-
mission to build a new palace opposite the old one. The
king granted the permission, of course. Vashichek went
to the garden, took the lamp out of his bosom and rubbed
it with his hand. The man appeared and, bowing
courteously, asked, —
"What is thy wish?"
"That to-morrow morning the foundations of a palace
be ready opposite the old palace."
The man vanished, and the next morning the founda-
tions were ready. On the second day the walls were
finished, on the third the palace was complete, and it
was so splendid that there was not the equal of it in the
Now the young king had all that he desired, and for
this reason he did not prize the lamp as he had before.
Formerly he at all times kept it near his person, but
now he left it standing on the stove in his chamber, where
it was soon covered with dust. The princess herself
seemed less charming to him, and often he spent whole
days in the forest, hunting wild beasts.
Once, when Vashichek was visiting a neighboring
king, a stranger came to his palace and announced that
he was giving new lamps for old ones. The people of
the palace brought him a great number of old lamps and
got new ones for them. At last the queen's chamber-
2o6 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
maid brought the lamp that the king had left on the
stove. The courtiers laughed at her for wanting a new
lamp for such a small and very old lamp; but the
stranger had barely taken it in his hand when he gave
her all the lamps he had left, and vanished in a twinkle.
Now that stranger was no other than the wizard,
who by deceit had taken Vashichek from his mother.
When night came he rubbed the lamp ; straightway the
man appeared, but without bowing, and asked, —
"Unrightful master, what is thy wish ?"
"That before morning this palace with all that is in
it, except the maid who gave me this lamp, should be
on the other side of the Crimson Sea."
The man went away, with measured step, and the
wizard hid himself in the palace. Every one was sleep-
ing soundly, except the maid. She was still pondering
over how easily she had come by so many beautiful
lamps. She fell asleep late, and how did she wonder in
the morning when she woke up lying on bare ground.
She sprang to her feet and looked around for the palace,
but there was not a trace of it anywhere. She ran to
the old palace and told what had happened. At first
the people thought she had lost her mind, but when con-
vinced by their own eyes they ran, with great outcry, to
the king. Straightway he sent messengers in every di-
rection to find the palace, but each man came back with
THE MAGIC LAMP 207
work undone. Then there was wailing, not for the
palace, but for the people who were in it, and above all
did the king lament for his beloved daughter.
When the young king came home he knew who had
stolen the palace, and, without delay, he started in search
of it. He traveled the first day and found nothing, he
traveled the second and the third day; he traveled a week,
a month, and a year, but in vain.
Then he came to a great forest and wandered around
in it for days, till from hunger he was barely able to sit
on his horse. At last he saw a poor cottage and out
of it came an old man who said, —
"I greet thee, O king."
"How do you know me?" asked the king, with surprise.
"I know you just as well as I know that you are look-
ing for your wife, who, with your palace, is beyond the
"And where is the Crimson Sea?" asked the king,
"I know not," said the old man, shrugging his shoul-
ders, "but to-morrow morning when I feed my birds I
will ask them where that sea is. Now pass my threshold
that I may entertain you."
The king was glad to gratify the kind old man and,
after he had strengthened himself with food, he lay
down and slept. In the morning when the old man fed
2o8 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
his birds he asked them about the Crimson Sea, but not
one o£ them knew where it was.
"You must go, O king," said the old man, "to my
brother, who is beyond another forest and another river,
maybe he will tell you more than I can."
Vashichek thanked him and hurried on, but he had to
travel many days before he found the old man's
The second old man received him as kindly as had the
first, but he could give no account of the Crimson Sea,
for not one of his birds knew where it was. "But go,"
said he, "to my brother who is beyond the third forest
and the third river, maybe he will tell you more than I
The king put spurs to his horse and galloped off.
After a long time he came to the third brother who,
when he had called his birds together, asked if any one
of them knew where the Crimson Sea was. Not one
of them knew, but as they were going away an old eagle
flew up, and when asked if he knew where the Crimson
Sea was he said, —
"I know, my master, about the Crimson Sea and about
the palace that stands beyond it on the shore. In that
palace there is a beautiful princess, who is always sob-
bing and lamenting."
"I thank you," cried the king and he spurred his
THE MAGIC LAMP 209
horse to hurry to his wife, but the old man called him
"Do not hurry," said he, "what would it avail you to
be at the Crimson Sea if you could not cross it? Leave
your horse here, the eagle will bear you. I will give you
meat to feed him, for the journey will be long."
The king sat on the eagle; it rose in the air and flew
long and long. The king had given him a little meat for
each day, but at last there was no more meat in the dish
and land was not to be seen. When the king dropped the
dish the eagle summoned his remaining strength and flew
more swiftly; at last he came down on the shore of the
Since the king knew that it would not be well for him
to fall into the hands of the wizard he hid in thick reeds
In no long time the palace gate opened and the queen
came out attended by her waiting maids. She walked
along the sea till she stopped near the king and looked
wistfully over the broad, broad sea.
"Will no man free me from this place?" sighed she,
and tears flowed from her eyes.
"I will !" cried the king, and he embraced her. When
she came to her senses somewhat she said with anxiety,
"Oh, flee, my dear husband, the wizard will kill you."
"Where is he?"
2IO FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"I know not, but he will surely come soon."
"Has he the lamp?"
"He has," said the queen, "he always carries it on his
"We must get it," said the king, "or we will have to
stay here till death. Take this poison and give it to the
wizard;" He handed her a vial of subtle poison. The
queen hid the vial, but said, — •
"He will not eat or drink anything that I give him."
"When he comes be kindly, ask him to drink wine with
you; pour a cup for yourself and one for him, put the
poison in your cup, when he refuses to drink from his
own cup, give him yours, he will drink out of that. If
he does not die he will fall into a deep sleep."
When the wizard came home the queen greeted him
"Have you changed your mind?" asked he. "When
shall we celebrate our betrothal?"
"I will tell you to-morrow," answered the queen, with
a smile. "But to-day we can have our first feast to-
"Can we?" asked the wizard, and he looked at her
with distrust. But she seemed sincere and he was in
doubt what to think. After they had tasted of the
savory dishes which the queen had prepared she brought
two cups each full of wine. She placed one before the
THE MAGIC LAMP 211
wizard and the other she kept. When the wizard re-
fused to drink the wine the queen said, reproachfully, —
"You distrust me," and she changed the cups. Then
the wizard emptied his at a draught, and soon he dropped
to the floor, unconscious.
The queen called to her husband, who came quickly
and took the lamp from the wizard's bosom. As soon as
he had it in his hand he shouted in triumph, and told all
the people in the palace to assemble and celebrate their
liberation. Directly a feast was made ready which
lasted till the white morning.
The wizard slept without moving and woke only in
the morning. But how frightened he was when he saw
the king ! He reached quickly to take the lamp from his
bosom, but the lamp was no longer there. Instead of
that the king held it in his hand and rubbed it. In the
twinkle of an eye the man appeared and, bowing cour-
teously, asked, —
"Oh rightful master, what is thy wish?"
"First that this vile wizard be torn to pieces and
thrown into the sea, and then that I be at home with my
palace and all who are in it."
The man vanished, and with him the wizard. The
king and the queen went to the window to see him hurled
into the sea, but instead of the sea they saw the king's
palace and in one of its windows the old king himself.
212 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
When the attendants and servants had recovered from
astonishment they fell to embracing one another; then
followed feasting which lasted for eight days. At this
feast they drank to their happy meeting till the hills grew
The king valued his wife and the little lamp more
than ever before and he lived many years blissfully, so
that he waited for his grandchildren.
THE THREE GOLDEN HAIRS OF GRAND-
FATHER KNOW ALL
TT THERE it was or where it was not, there was a king
» » who loved to hunt wild beasts in the forest. One
day while chasing a deer, he lost his way. For a long
time he wandered around alone, but just as the world
was growing dark, he came to a charcoal-burner's cabin.
The king promised the charcoal-burner good pay if
he would lead him out of the forest. The man an-
"I would go with you gladly, but I cannot leave my
wife. And how could we go in the dark? I'll give you
fresh hay to lie on, and in the morning I'll show you the
That evening a son was born to the charcoal-burner.
The king went to bed in the garret. He lay on the
floor and could not sleep. About midnight, through
an opening, he looked into the room below. The char-
coal-burner and his wife were asleep and near the little
child three old women were standing with lighted tapers.
The first said, "I will give this boy to meet great dan-
gers." The second said, "I will give him to escape them
214 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
all happily and live long." The third said, "I will give
him as wife that daughter who was born to-day to the
king up there in the loft." Thereupon the three old
women put out their tapers, and all was quiet — ^they
were the Fates.
The king was as if a sword had pierced his breast.
He did not close his eyes. He was thinking how he could
prevent the fulfilment of what Fate had promised.
When daylight came the child began to cry. The
charcoal-burner rose up and saw that his wife had gone
to sleep for the ages.
"Oh, my poor orphan !" cried he. "What shall I do
"Give me the child," said the king. "I will so care for
him, that he will always be happy, and I will give you
so much money that you'll not need to work again as long
as you live."
The charcoal-burner was glad and the king promised
to send for the child. When he came to his castle his
people informed him, with great joy, that a beautiful
daughter had been born to him. She was born the night
that he had seen the three Fates. The king's face grew
dark. He called one of his serving men and said, —
"Go to such and such a place in the forest to a char-
coal-burner's cabin; hand him this money and he will
give you a little child. Jake the child and on your way
THE THREE GOLDEN HAIRS 215
home drown it in the river. If you don't you will sip
The serving man went to the cabin. The charcoal-
burner put the child in a basket and gave it to him.
When the man came to a place where the river was deep
he threw the basket in.
"Good-by, unbidden son-in-law," said the king when
he heard the serving man's story.
The king thought that the child was dead. But it was
not, for the basket floated on the water, and in it slept
the child as if it were in a cradle and some one were sing-
ing lullabies to it.
The basket floated near a fisherman's hut. The
fisherman was sitting on the bank, mending his net.
Seeing something on the water he sprang into his boat
and pulled after it. He caught the basket, opened it,
and found the child. He took it to his wife and said, —
"You have always wished for a son, now you have
him. The river brought him to us."
The fisherman's wife rejoiced, and she reared the
child as her own. They called him Plavachek (Floater) ,
because he had floated to them.
The river flowed on and years passed by. The child
became a, handsome youth. Far and wide his equal
could not be found. One summer day the king, on
horseback and alone, chanced to pass the fisherman's hut.
2i6 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
It was hot and wishing to drink he stopped and asked the
fisherman for fresh water. When Plavachek brought
it to him the king was astonished at his appearance.
"A splendid young man you have got here," said he.
"Is he your son?"
"He is and he isn't," answered the man. "Just twenty
years ago I caught a basket floating along the river. In
it was an infant. I reared it."
The world grew dark before the king's eyes ; he was
as pale as a sheet. He knew that this was the boy he
had told his serving man to drown. Collecting his wits
quickly he sprang from his horse, and said, "I need a
messenger to carry a letter to my castle. I have none
with me. Can this young man go ?"
"Command and he will go," said the fisherman.
The king sat down and wrote a letter to the queen,
saying : "Let this young man I send to you be pierced
with a sword. He is my dangerous enemy. Let it be
done before I come. Such is my will." He folded the
letter and sealed it with his ring.
Plavachek had to go through a dense forest. He lost
the road and went astray. He wandered from one
thicket to another till it began to grow dark, then he met
an old grandmother who asked, "Where are you going,
"I am going to the king's castle with this letter, but I
THE THREE GOLDEN HAIRS 217
have lost my way. Could you tell me, grandmother,
how to find it?"
"You could not reach the castle tp-night," said the old
woman, "Stay in my cottage. You'll not be with
strangers; I am your godmother."
The young man promised to go with her. He had
taken only a few steps when a cottage stood before him
as if it had risen out of the ground.
That night, while Plavachek was asleep, the old
woman took the letter from his pocket and put in another
written in the same hand and sealed with the same seal.
It read, "Have this young man I send to you married
to our daughter at once. He is my chosen son-in-law.
Let the marriage take place before I come. Such is my
When the queen read the letter she was surprised, but
she had the wedding straightway. Neither the queen
nor the princess were able to admire the bridegroom
sufficiently, and Plavachek was pleased with his bride.
After some days the king came home and when he
found out what had taken place he was fiercely angry
with his queen.
"But you charged me to have him married to our
daughter before your return," said the queen, and she
handed him the letter.
The king took it, looked at the writing, the paper, the
2i8 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
seal — all his own. Then he called his son-in-law and
asked what happened to him on the road and where
he had stopped. Plavachek told how he had gone astray
in the forest and spent the night in an old woman's cot-
The king knew that that old woman was the same
person who twenty years before had given his daughter
to the charcoal-burner's son. He thought and thought
and then said, "What has happened cannot be changed,
but you are not to be my son-in-law for nothing. If you
wish to keep your wife you must bring us as a price for
her three golden hairs of Grandfather Know All."
The king thought that in this way he would surely get
rid of l^is undesirable son-in-law.
Plavachek said good-by to his wife and started.
Where he went I know not, but as Fate was his God-
mother it was easy for him to find the right road. He
traveled long and far, over mountains, through valleys
and across rivers and fords till he came to the Black
Sea. There he saw a boat and in it a ferryman.
"God give you health, ferryman," called he.
"God give you the same, young traveler. Whither is
"To Grandfather Know All for three golden hairs."
"Oh," cried the ferryman, "I have been long waiting
for such a messenger. Twenty years have I ferried
THE THREE GOLDEN HAIRS 219
people across here, and no one has come to relieve me.
If you will ask Grandfather Know All when my labor
will end, I will ferry you over."
Plavachek promised and the old man ferried him over.
Then he traveled on till he came to a town where all the
buildings were draped with black. Before the town he
met an old man who was barely able to walk.
"God give you health, old man," said Plavachek.
"The same to you, good youth. Whither do you go ?"
"To Grandfather Know All for three golden hairs."
"Oh, we are long waiting for such a messenger. I
will go with you to our king."
When they came into the king's presence he said, "I
hear that you are going on a message to Grandfather
Know All. We had here a tree which bore the Apples
of Youth. If a man ate one of those apples, even when
at the brink of the grave, he became as a youth. But for
twenty years the tree has borne no fruit. If you will
ask Grandfather Know All if there is any help for us,. I
will reward you richly."
Plavachek promised to ask, and the king bade him a
gracious good-by. Afterward he came to another large
city which was in mourning. Not far from the city a
son was burying his father. Tears rolled like peas down
"God guard you, sad mourner," said Plavachek.
220 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"God give you health, good traveler. Whither do you
"I am going to Grandfather Know All for three
"It is a pity you didn't come sooner; our king has long
been waiting for such a messenger. I will conduct you
When they came into the king's presence he said, "I
hear that you are going to Grandfather Know All. We
had a spring out of which the Water of Life flowed.
When a man drank of it, even if he were dying, straight-
way he became well. If a man were dead and they
sprinkled his body with the water he rose up and walked,
was well again. But for twenty years the water has
ceased to flow. Will you promise to ask Grandfather
Know All if there is any help for us? I will reward you
Plavachek promised and the king bade him a gracious
farewell. Afterward he traveled long and far through
a dark forest till in the midst of the forest he came to a
green meadow covered with beautiful flowers. In the
center of the meadow was a golden castle, the castle of
Grandfather Know All.
Plavachek went into the castle but no one was there
except an old woman who sat in a corner spinning.
"I greet you, Plavachek; I am glad that you have
THE THREE GOLDEN HAIRS 221
come," she said. It was Fate, the woman whom he had
met in the forest when he was carrying the king's let-
ter to the queen. "What has brought you here?" asked
"The king doesn't wish me to be his son-in-law for
nothing. He has sent me to Grandfather Know All for
three golden hairs."
The woman laughed and said, "Grandfather Know
All is my child, the bright 'sun. In the morning he is a
boy, at midday a man, and in the evening an old grand-
father. I will get you the three hairs, but you cannot
stay where you are now. My son is a good soul, but in
the evenings when he comes home hungry, it might
happen that he would eat you. There is an empty cask
here, I'll put it over you."
Plavachek begged her to ask Grandfather Know All
the three questions that he had promised to ask.
"I will," said she, "and do you listen to what he says."
Presently the wind blew at the western window and
the sun flew into the room, an old grandfather with
"I smell man's flesh," said he. "You have some one
"Oh, star of the Hay, how could I have any one here
without your seeing him? You fly all day over God's
world, you get the odor of man's flesh. It is no wonder
222 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
that when you come home in the evening you still find
Grandfather Know All said nothing, but sat down to
his supper. After supper he laid his head on his
mother's knee and fell asleep. When she saw that he
was sleeping she pulled out a golden hair and dropped it
on the ground. It sounded as a fiddle string sounds
when touched by skilful fingers.
"What do you want of me, mother ?" asked he.
"Nothing, my son, nothing. I was slumbering and I
had a wonderful dream."
"What did you see?"
"I saw a place where there used to be a fountain of the
Water of Life. When a man who was ill drank of that
water he became well, straightway. If a dead man was
sprinkled with the water he rose up, well again. But
for twenty years it has ceased to flow. Is there any way
to make it flow again?"
"In the opening of the spring sits a toad ; he stops the
water. If they kill the toad the water will flow as be-
When Grandfather Know All fell asleep again his
mother pulled out a second golden hair and threw it on
"What do you want of me, mother?" asked the old
^ THE THREE GOLDEN HAIRS 223
"Nothing, my son, nothing. I was slumbering and I
had a wonderful dream. I saw a place where there was
a tree which used to bear the Apples of Youth. When
a man was old if he ate one of those apples he became
young again. But for twenty years that tree has borne
no fruit. Will it ever bear again?"
"Among the roots of the tree there is a worm. If
they kill the worm and plant the tree in another place it
will bear fruit as before."
Grandfather Know All fell asleep again and the
woman pulled out the third golden hair.
"What is it, mother, that you will not let me sleep?"
cried he, angry and wishing to stand up.
"Lie down, my son, lie down, I am sorry to waken you,
but I had a wonderful dream. I dreamed of an old
ferryman who for twenty years goes back and forth
over the Black Sea and no one relieves him. When will
his labor end?"
"He is the son of a stupid mother ! Let him give the
oar to another and spring on shore himself; the other
will become the ferryman. But let me sleep, for I must
be up early and dry the tears which the king's daughter
sheds every night for her husband, the charcoal-burner's
son whom the king sent for three of my golden hairs."
Toward morning a wind rose up outside, and, instead
of an old man, a beautiful golden-haired child, God's
224 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
sun, sprang up, bade good-by to his mother and flew
out of the eastern window. The mother took the cask
off from Plavachek, and said, —
"Here are the three golden hairs. You have heard
Grandfather Know All's answer to the three questions.
God be with you. You will not see me again, for it is
not needful ; you will be happy."
Plavachek thanked the old woman, and went his way.
When he came to the first city the king anxiously in-
quired what news he brought.
"Good news," said Plavachek. "Clean out the spring
and kill the toad that sits in the opening. The water
will flow as before."
The king had this done at once and when he saw the
water rush out in a full stream he gave Plavachek twelve
horses loaded with as much gold and silver as they could
carry. When Plavachek came to the second city the
king asked what news he brought.
"Good news," cried Plavachek. "Dig up the tree, you
will find a worm at the roots. Kill the worm, then plant
the three in another place. It will bear fruit as before."
The king had this done, straightway. The tree was,
in one night, covered with blossoms, as if roses had been
showered over it. The king rejoiced greatly. He gave
Plavachek twelve horses, as black as crows, loaded with
as many treasures as they could carry.
THE THREE GOLDEN HAIRS 225
Plavachek journeyed on until he came to the Black Sea,
there the ferryman asked him if Grandfather Know, All
had told him when the labor would end.
"Yes," said Plavachek, "ferry me over and then I will
tell you what he said."
When the ferryman saw that there was no other way
to find out, he ferried Plavachek and his twenty-four
horses over the sea. Then Plavachek said, "When you
ferry another man across, as soon as you touch land put
an oar in his hand and spring out of the boat; he will be
ferryman in your place."
The king could not believe his eyes when Plavachek
gave him the three golden hairs of Grandfather Know
All. The king's daughter wept from joy.
"But where did you get these beautiful crow black
horses and this great wealth?" asked the king.
"I earned them," answered Plavachek, and he related
how he had helped one king to the Apples of Youth,
apples that make old men young, and another king to the
Water of Life, water that makes infirm men strong, and
raises the dead to life.
"Apples of Youth! Water of Life!" repeated the
king to himself. "If I could eat one of those apples I
would be young. If I were to die that water would
bring me to life."
He did not delay; that very day he started oif to find
226 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
the Apples of Youth and the Water of Life. As he went
by way of the Black Sea ferry he has not returned yet.
Thus the charcoal-burner's son became the king's son-
in-law, and then king, as Fate had decided. The old
king is most likely f err3dng people over the Black Sea
to this very day.
THE LAUGHING APPLES AND THE
ONCE upon a time there was a king who had an
only son, and he wished greatly that this son
should marry as soon as possible, but the more he urged
him to find a wife the more did he show his distaste for
marriage, saying that women were good for nothing,
that they were in the world for the purpose of deceiving
When the king saw that his words were fruitless, he
led his son to a large hall, where the walls were hung
with portraits of women, and said to him, —
"Here, my son, are the portraits of all the unmarried
princesses in the world. Look at them and make your
The young man, to gratify his father, examined one
portrait after another, but was pleased with none. One
was too young, another too old, one too pale, another too
red, and so he went on till he came to a portrait that was
hung with the face to the wall. Then he said, —
"Tell me, dear father, why is this portrait hung with
the face to the wall?"
228 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"Leave it as it is," answered the king. "It represents
a beautiful maiden, but she is as averse to marriage as
you are. She has ruined every prince who has asked
her for her hand."
To this the prince answered, "You brought me here
to see all the princesses there are in the world; you have
no right to withhold one of them." With these words he
turned the portrait around, and examined it more care-
fully than he had the others.
The maiden that it represented was so beautiful that
she won his heart, and he said to his father, "This one
The old king did what he could to dissuade his son.
He explained that the maiden's father was a powerful
king, that by the tasks she had set she had ruined the
most renowned princes in the world, that if he asked
her in marriage he would lose his life. "Moreover,"
said he, "have pity on me; do not make me a victim of
misery in my last days."
But his words were useless. The prince clung to his
resolution, but said he would go in disguise and not as
an open wooer.
When he had gained his father's permission, he put
on coarse garments, gave himself as poor an appearance
as possible, and set out for the city in which the princess
THE LAUGHING APPLES 229
The road led through a wide, barren field. There he
saw two men struggling desperately with each other.
He went up to them, and asked, —
"Why are you fighting so fiercely? Can I settle your
They repulsed him with rude speech; told him not to
mix up in their affairs, but to go his way.
The prince was not to be put off. He said, "Tell me
what you are fighting about, and I'll give you its value
in money, then you'll have peace."
Thereupon one of them said, "See here, you fool, these
are the inheritances left us by our father. It is these
we are fighting about," and he showed him a rugged staff
and an old cap which lay on the ground near by.
When the prince saw the staff and the cap he laughed
heartily, and said, —
"You ought to be ashamed to fight over such trifles.
Tell me what they are worth; I'll give one of you the
money, the other may take the cap and staff, and you'll
both be happy."
"You can settle the price yourself," replied the man,
"but only when you know the power of these things.
Whoever puts on the cap becomes invisible; whoever
strikes three times with the staff is borne wherever he
"I haven't money enough to pay for such articles,"
230 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
said the prince, "but I can settle your dispute. I will
hurl a dart at that tree yonder, do you run for the dart;
the one who returns it to me shall have the staff and the
They agreed to this. The prince hurled his dart at
the tree and both men rushed after it. While they were
running the prince put the cap on his head, struck the
earth three times with the staff, and wished himself in
the palace of the princess.
Scarcely had he uttered the wish when he was there.
He went from room to room till he came to where the
princess was, and when he saw her he thought she was
more beautiful than her portrait. He gazed at her for a
while then went to the garden and asked for the head-
gardener. When he found him, he offered himself as an
assistant and was told that only strong-jSsted workmen
were needed, that no use could be made of white-handed
fools. But when he said that he asked no wages, his
food would be sufficient reward, the head-gardener hired
The prince worked in the garden one day after an-
other, keeping near the favorite resort of the princess,
in order to be able to look at her. She loved the garden,
and every afternoon she came there and walked around
for a while. Afterward she went to a secluded summer-
house and read till late in the night. No one knew at
THE LAUGHING APPLES 231
what hour she returned to the palace. The prince
thought that he would find out, so he made a hiding-
place, and when night came and the other workmen had
gone to bed, he crept into the place and watched.
At last, toward midnight, he heard a rolling noise, like
distant thunder; it came nearer and nearer. The prin-
cess came out of the summer-house. At that moment a
tremendous dragon flew up and dropped to the ground
in front of her. She welcomed him and led him in to
the summer-house. The prince saw how friendly she
was, but he was too far away to hear her words. He
wanted to go nearer, but he was afraid of the dragon.
After a time the dragon flew away, with the same
thundering, and the same lightning speed which he came,
and the princess hurried to the palace.
The prince went to his room, but thoughts of the
dragon drove sleep from his eyes. The next day he re-
membered his staff and cap, and when night came he
put on the cap, took the staff in his hand, and went to
the summer-house and waited for the dragon. The prin-
cess received the dragon as kindly as before, and he
began to urge her to go to his castle where a grand
banquet was awaiting her. At first she refused, say-
ing that her father had appointed an early hour in the
morning for an interview; that the castle was six hun-
dred days' journey away; and she might not return in
232 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
time. But when the dragon promised to bring her back
before daybreak, she consented, and he took her in his
claws and flew away.
The prince struck the earth three times with his staff,
wished himself at the dragon's castle, and was there at
the same time with the dragon and the princess.
The castle was surrounded with high walls, and was
inhabited by a host of serving dragons. The halls,
lighted by thousands of lamps, were gleaming in splen-
dor. In the last one, which was the most beautiful of
all, a banquet was spread.
The dragon gave the princess a napkin embroidered
with such marvelous skill that she wouldn't use it, but
hung it on a nail, saying, "I'll take this napkin home, it's
too beautiful to use."
When the princess sat down at the feast the prince
took the napkin from the nail and put it in his bosom.
Then he sat down at the table and ate of every dish that
was brought. When a dish of rice was served, the
dragon saw that near the holes made by his spoon and
that of the princess sitting opposite, a third one appeared.
He pointed this out to the princess and asked her how it
happened. While she w.as wondering, the dragon turned
the dish around to see if their eyes had deceived them, and
behold a fourth hole was made, and it grew larger every
"At that moment a tremendous dragon flew up and dropped to
the ground in front of her."
THE LAUGHING APPLES 233
Not understanding how this could be, the princess
grew restless and uneasy and urged the dragon to take
her home. When she rose from the table and turned to
get the napkin, she saw that it was not there. That
alarmed her still more and she urged the dragon to
hasten. He took her in his claws and bore her home as
swiftly as he had borne her to the castle, but the prince
kept pace with them, and saw how the princess hurried
into her father's palace.
The next morning when the prince went to the garden
he saw by the restless running to and fro of people that
something had happened. When he met the head-
gardener he ventured to ask the cause of the disturb-
"We are lost beyond redemption," answered the gar-
dener. "A neighboring king, whose army is four times
as large as ours, has sent ambassadors to demand our
princess in marriage for his son, saying that if the suit
is not granted he will declare war against our king and
so ravage his kingdom that not one stone shall be left
upon another. This morning the princess gave her an-
swer. She declared she would give her hand only to the
man who could solve three problems for her, that such
had been her terms hitherto, and such they would re-
main. If the prince wished to marry her let him make
his venture. When the ambassadors heard this, they de-
234 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
dared war in the name of their king, and departed
in haste. And now our king cannot find a comman-
der-in-chief who dares to march against such an
'T will be commander-in-chief," said the prince. "Go
to the king and tell him that if he makes me commander-
in-chief I'll bind myself, not only to conquer the enemy,
but to take half of his kingdom."
When the gardener heard these words he couldn't be-
lieve his ears, and cried out again and again, "The fellow
has lost his wits ! What, you poor devil, do you mean to
say that you have the impudence to offer yourself as com-
mander-in-chief ? Not to the king will I go, but to the
marshal of the palace, and ask him to lock you up, lest
you come to harm with your madness."
But the prince repeated his request with such insist-
ence, and had such a noble, resolute bearing, that by
degrees he made an impression on the gardener, and at
last he said, —
"I know that they will lock us both up, but you have
asked me to do this, and I will undertake it. To the king
I'll not trust myself, but I will go to the chancellor and,
tell him what you say."
When the chancellor heard the message brought by
the head gardener he laughed loudly, and said, —
"Fright has made you gardeners crazy, I must lock
THE LAUGHING APPLES 235
you up. But I'll look at the fellow first. Bring him
When the prince appeared before the chancellor, his
bearirig made such an impression on him that he rose
and, shaking his head, went to the king and laid before
him the gardener's astonishing proposal.
At first the king laughed, but when it was explained
to him that the kingdom could be saved only by a miracle,
he became thoughtful and asked to have the gardener
summoned. The dignity of the prince and his words
inspired the king with confidence. He grasped him by
the hand and presented him to his warriors as their
commander-in-chief, and said, "You must march at once,
for our enemy has already crossed the border."
The prince went forward with fifty thousand men and
camped in front of the enemy. When they saw the small
number of his men, his opponents sent a herald demand-
ing surrender to avoid bloodshed. The prince answered
that the following day would show whose blood would be
The generals waited on the prince asking for his plan
of battle, but the plan was not given. When night came
the prince lay down to rest. He rose up at midnight,
put on his cap, and taking his stafif wished to be in the
enemy's camp. He slipped into the tents where com-
manders and officers were sleeping and cut off their
236 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
heads. He worked till nearly morning, then wished him-
self back in his own tent.
When day came and the enemy found such a number
of their leaders dead, the sentinels were called together,
and as they swore in one voice that no one had gone
either in or out of camp, the regiments which had lost
their leaders began to cry out treason, saying that this
explained the unexampled boldness of the enemy.
Those suspected collected to defend themselves against
the charge of treachery. There could be no thought of
battle that day.
The following night the prince went again to the
enemy's camp, and if possible killed a greater number
of leaders than before.
The next morning the cry of treason was twofold
greater. From words they came to deeds, and soon
the enemy's legions were fighting with one an-
When the prince heard the uproar he cried out, "Now
is the time to strike!" and he rushed forward with his
army and slaughtered so many of his foes that but few
escaped. Then he marched to the capital and forced
the king to a peace by which he gave up half of his
When the prince, at the head of his victorious army,
returned home, the king received him with great honor
THE LAUGHING APPLES 237
and made him chancellor of the kingdom. He filled the
office with such wisdom and prudence that he rose daily
in the esteem of the king.
After a certain time the prince went to the king and
declared that he could not remain in his service, he must
go to his own country. The king was alarmed; he ex-
plained to the prince the danger the kingdom would be
in if he left, for it was only fear of him that kept the
enemy from taking vengeance for his overthrow. He
implored the prince to remain and declared that he
would gratify his every wish, so far as it lay in his
The prince withstood the entreaties of the king till
he saw that he was in the greatest embarrassment and
trouble, then he told him that he loved his daughter and
would remain if he might make her his wife. When
the king heard this he said, —
'T would gladly make you my son-in-law, but you
know the stubbornness of my daughter. I am afraid
she will treat you as she has other men who have wished
to marry her."
The king sent for his daughter, told her of the chan-
cellor's desire, and commanded her to accept the pro-
Upon hearing her father's words, the princess was
beside herself with anger, and cried out, —
238 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"Has it come to this that I, who have refused the
most mighty princes, must marry a gardener ?"
She used every means to change her father's mind,
but her prayers were of no avail this time, the king was
not to be influenced.
When she saw this, she said, "I will yield to your
wishes only on one condition — ^that this gardener per-
form three tasks. I will think them over and give
him the first one to-morrow morning," and she
left her father, without Ustening to what he might
That evening the prince put on his cap and taking the
staff in his hand went to the summer-house, and waited
for the coming of the dragon. When he came the prin-
cess met him, and said, —
"I have another wooer, no other than our new chan-
cellor, the ex-gardener."
When the dragon heard this he laughed till the house
"Don't take it so lightly," said the princess ; "there is
something mysterious about the man. I have long sus-
pected him of being intimate with magic. Think well,
before you tell me what task to give him."
Then the dragon answered : "Tell him to bring you,
within twenty-four hours, three laughing apples. The
only tree upon which such apples grow is in my garden,
THE LAUGHING APPLES 239
six hundred days' journey from here, and the tree is
guarded by a hundred dragons."
When the dragon flew back to his castle, the prince
followed him and saw how he posted his servants around
the tree and charged them to watch it the whole night,
so that not even a bird could approach it. When the
sentinels had taken their places, the prince went to the
tree and broke off a branch on which there were ten
apples. As soon as he touched the branch all the apples
on the tree began to laugh, "Ha! ha! ha! ha!" The
dragons sprang up, fell over each other, and crowded
together, for they knew that some one had touched the
apples, but search as they might they couldn't find any
The next morning when the princess gave the chan-
cellor his task, he declared that he was ready to accom-
plish it. To the astonishment of the king and his whole
court he transacted his business all day without taking
the least trouble about the task. Toward evening he
put the ten apples on a plate and gave them to the
king. When the princess saw the apples she wondered
greatly if they were the laughing apples, for they looked
like common apples. The prince told her to touch them,
and as she did so the hall rang with loud laughter, and
she was obliged to confess that he had accomplished the
240 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
That evening the prince listened to the conversation
between the princess and the dragon, and heard the
dragon tell her that she must ask the chancellor to bring
her three weeping quinces, that the only tree on which
such quinces grew stood in the court of his castle. He
would close the door of the court and place sentinels
around the tree.
It happened with the weeping quinces as with the
The prince, wearing his cap of invisibility, followed
the dragon to his castle. When the dragon had posted
his sentinels and had sat down near the tree, the prince
broke off a branch having three quinces on it. That in-
stant all the quinces on the tree began to weep. The
dragon and sentinels rushed around in search of the
thief. They looked in every nook and crevice, but found
The prince amused himself a while with the mad
racing around of the dragons, then wished himself back
in the king's garden. The next day he placed the
quinces on a dish, as he had the apples. When the prin-
cess touched them they began to weep, and she saw with
alarm that he had fulfilled the second task.
That night the dragon was very thoughtful. At last
he said to the princess, "This task will surely bring the
gardener to destruction. Tell him to get you a tooth
THE LAUGHING APPLES 241
from the jaw of the dragon, to whom the tree with the
laughing apples and the tree with the weeping quinces
belong. If he should try to tear out one of my teeth I
would swallow him alive."
When the prince heard this, he wished himself in the
tool house. There he got pincers and a basket, and,
taking somniferous herbs, returned to the summer-house
and followed the dragon to his castle.
There the dragon collected forty of his strongest
attendants, and commanded them to watch the whole
flight through. The prince placed somniferous herbs on
each one of the dragons, and soon they were all asleep,
snoring, with jaws wide open.
The prince drew a front tooth from the jaw of each
dragon, put the teeth in his basket, and was back in the
When the dragons woke up, one dragon saw a cavity
in the jaw of another, and exclaimed, "Oh, my friend,
you have lost a front tooth!" When each dragon dis-
covered that he had lost a front tooth, great fear seized
them all; they said, "He who has drawn our teeth can
cut our throats!"
The prince used the teeth as he had the apples and
the quinces. When he exhibited them before the prin-
cess she fainted from terror.
That night when he went to the summer-house he
242 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
found the princess there waiting for the dragon. She
waited a long time, and when at last he came he looked
around anxiously, and said to the princess: "Your
suitor has accomplished the third task. He who can
draw my teeth can cut my throat or take your life ; you
will never see me again." And he flew away.
The next morning the prince, taking his cap and staff,
went to the palace. He found the whole court as-
sembled, and the princess in a bridal dress. She looked
at him kindly, but he passed her and, standing before
the king, asked for a private audience. When they
were alone he told the king who he was, and related the
whole story. He told him that his daughter had been
enchanted by a dragon, that now the spell was broken,
and the dragon had fled. Then he bade the king fare-
well, struck the floor three times with his staff, and dis-
Back to his father's palace he went, and when he
greeted his father, he said, "Here I am, cured of my
love, and ready to marry the woman you will give me !"
His father made a great feast, and hastened to find a
beautiful wife for his son, and when he was dying a
host of grandchildren stood around his bed.
LONG, BROAD, AND SWIFT GLANCE
ONCE upon a time there was an old king who had
an only son. One day he summoned that son to
his presence and said, —
"You know, my dear child, that ripe fruit falls to
make room for green fruit. My head has become so
mature that soon the light of day will shine on it no
longer. But, before you bury me, I want to see my
future daughter, your wife. Marry, my son."
"I would like to please you," answered the prince,
"but I have no bride."
The king put his hand in his pocket, and taking out a
golden key gave it to his son, and said, —
' -Go to the highest room in the tower and look around,
then come and tell me what pleases you."
The prince did not delay. He had never been in the
tower and did not know what was there. Near the top
he came to a small iron door, like a trap. The door was
securely locked, but he opened it with the golden key
and went on till he came to a large round chamber. The
ceiling of the chamber was as blue as the sky in a clear
night. Silver stars glittered on it. The floor was cov-
244 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
ered with a green carpet. Round about were twelve
windows in golden frames, and on the crystal glass of
each window was portrayed a maiden with a royal
crown on her head. In each window was a different
maiden. The prince couldn't take his eyes from them,
and while he gazed with wonder, not knowing which to
choose, the maidens began to move as if living; they
looked at him and smiled, but did not speak.
The prince noticed that one of the windows was con-
cealed by a light drapery. Drawing the drapery aside
he saw a maiden in a white dress, a silver girdle around
her waist, and a crown of pearls on her head. She was
the most beautiful of all, but she was sad, and as pale as
if she had risen from the grave.
The prince stood before the picture as before an ap-
parition, and gazed at it till his heart ached. "I will
have this one or none," said he.
The moment he uttered these words the maiden bowed
her head, grew as red as a rose, and disappeared, then
all of the pictures vanished.
When the prince told his father what he had seen and
which maiden he had chosen, the old king's face grew
dark. He thought a while, then said, —
"You did wrong, my son, to uncover what was con-
cealed. By your word you have put yourself in great
peril. That maiden is in the power of a wicked sorcerer
LONG, BROAD, AND SWIFT GLANCE 245
who lives in an iron castle. Of the many men who have
gone to free her not one has returned. But what is done
cannot be undone. A spoken word is law. Go and try
your fortune, and may you come back in health."
The prince bade farewell to his father, mounted his
steed and rode away in search of the maiden. He
passed through a great forest and traveled on till, he
missed the road and knew not which way to turn. Then
he heard some one calling, "Wait!" and on looking
around he saw a tall man hastening after him.
"Wait and take me with you," said the man. "If you
take me into your service you'll not be sorry."
"Who are you ?" asked the prince, "and what can you
"I am Long. I can stretch myself. On that tall fir
tree is a bird's nest. I will get it for you without climb-
Long began to stretch. His body grew till he was as
high as the tree. He took the nest, and in a moment
was small again ; and gave the nest to the prince.
"You know your business well," said the prince, "but
what are birds' nests to me if you cannot lead me out of
"That's easily done," said Long, and he stretched till
he was three times as tall as the tallest tree. He looked
here and there, then said, pointing,—
246 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"On this side we have the shortest road."
He grew small, took the horse by the bridlS, and sooner
than the prince had expected he was out of the forest.
Before them was a broad plain; beyond the plain stood
lofty gray cliflf s, like the towers of a city ; and farther on
were mountains grown over with trees.
"Over there, master, is my comrade," said Long,
pointing to one side of the plain. "You should hire him,
he would serve you well."
"Call him," said the prince, "I will see what he is good
"He is far away," answered Long; "he could scarcely
hear me, and it would be some time before he could get
here, he has a good deal to carry. I will go for him."
Long made himself so tall that his head was hidden in
the clouds, then taking two or three steps he reached out
and grasping his comrade by the shoulder set him down
before the prince. He was a sturdy fellow with a
stomach like a great pot.
"Who are you," asked the prince, "and what can you
"My name is Broad, and I know how to spread my-
"Show me how you do it."
"Gallop off, master, to the forest, at full speed."
The prince didn't know why he should go, but seeing
LONG, BROAD, AND SWIFT GLANCE 247
that Broad was extending toward the forest at a tre-
mendous pace, he put spurs to his horse, and was off.
It was high time for him to go. Broad would have
crushed him and his horse, so quickly did he swell out
on all sides. In one minute the whole valley was full of
him, just as if a mountain had slipped onto it. Then he
made himself small.
"You chased me away," said the prince. "But come
with me. I couldn't find another such a fellow."
The three went on till they came to the cliffs, and there
they found a person whose eyes were bandaged.
"This is my second comrade," said Long, "you should
take him into your service. He wouldn't eat bread for
"What is your name," asked the prince, "and why are
your eyes bandaged ?"
"My name is Swift Glance. I bandage my eyes be-
cause I see too well. I see as well with my eyes covered
as others do with their naked eyes. If I take the
bandage off and look quickly at anything it bursts into
flames, or, if it does not burn, it cracks and breaks to
He turned, took off the bandage and looked at a cliff.
That minute the cliff cracked with a terrible noise; rocks
flew in every direction and soon nothing remained but a
heap of sand in which something glittered like fire.
248 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
Swift Glance brought it to the prince. It was ruddy
"You are a man beyond price," said the prince. "He
would be a fool who would refuse your services. But
look and tell me if it is far to the iron castle, and tell me
what is happening there."
"If you were to go alone, master, you wouldn't reach
that castle in a year," said Swift Glance, "but with us
you'll be there this evening."
"What is my bride doing?"
"The sorcerer keeps her in a tower, behind iron grat-
"Who is good, let him aid me in rescuing her !" cried
Long, Broad, and Swift Glance promised to aid him.
They led him through the lofty cliffs by a gap which
Swift Glance opened with his eyes. Beyond those cliffs
were high mountains and dense forests. Farther and
farther the travelers went. When the sun was sinking
in the west the mountains were lower, the forests thinner
and the cliffs were covered with thickets. When the
sun was near setting the prince saw the iron castle, and
when the sun was disappearing he was passing along the
iron bridge to the gate. As the sun set, the bridge was
raised and the gate closed. The prince and his servants
were confined in the iron fortress. When he had looked
LONG, BROAD, AND SWIFT GLANCE 249
around the courtyard the prince put his horse in the
stable and went to the castle.
In the halls they saw, in the twilight, many richly
dressed princes, attendants, and waiting men, but not
one of them moved — all were stone. They passed
through a number of halls then came to a chamber that
was brilliantly lighted. In the center of the chamber
stood a table with abundant food and drink for four
persons. They waited for some one to come but when
no one appeared they sat down and ate and drank what
pleased their palate. When they had eaten enough they
looked around for a place to sleep.
All at once the door flew open and the sorcerer en-
tered. An old, bent-over man, his head was bald and his
gray beard came to his knees. He wore a long black
robe and around his waist instead of a belt were three
iron hoops. He led by the hand a beautiful maiden
dressed in white. She wore a silver belt, and on her
head was a crown of pearls, but she was as pale and sad
as if she had just come out of the grave.
The prince recognized her at once. He started up
and went toward her, but before he could utter a word
the sorcerer said, —
"I know why you have come; you wish to take the
princess away. If for three nights you can guard her
so that she cannot escape she may go with you. If she
250 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
escapes, you with your servants will be turned to stone
as have all those who came here before you."
The sorcerer led the princess to a chair and told her
to sit down. The prince could not take his eyes off the
maiden, she was so beautiful. He spoke to her, but she
did not answer, neither did she smile nor look at any one;
she was as if made of marble. The prince sat near her
thinking to keep watch all night. For greater safety
Long stretched out, like a strap, and wound himself
around the room. Broad took his place at the door,
swelled and filled the doorway so that a fly couldn't
have crept through. Swift Glance stood by a pillar in
the middle of the chamber, and watched. But after a
while all fell asleep and slept the night through. In the
morning, when day began to come, the prince woke up,
and he felt as if a knife had struck him in the heart, for
the princess was gone.
Straightway he roused his three servants and asked
what was to be done.
"Have no fear," said Swift Glance, who looked out of
the window quickly, "I see her already. A hundred
miles from here is a forest, in the middle of the forest is
an old oak tree, on the top of that tree is an acorn ; the
princess is that acorn. Let Long take me on his shoul-
ders, I will get her."
Long took Swift Glance on his shoulders, stretched
LONG, BROAD, AND SWIFT GLANCE 251
out, made himself tall, and went ten miles at a step.
Swift Glance showed him the way. As much time had
not passed as it would take to walk around a cottage
when they were back and Long handed the acorn to the
"Let it drop on the floor, master," said he.
The prince dropped it, and that minute the princess
stood at his side.
When the sun began to appear above the mountains
the door flew open with a crash and the sorcerer walked
in, smiling maliciously. When he saw the princess his
face grew dark; a crack was heard — one of the iron
hoops around his waist broke and fell off. He took the
maiden by the hand and led her away.
All that day the prince had nothing to do but to walk
through and around the castle and see what was wonder-
ful there. Everywhere it was as if life had ceased in
the twinkle of an eye. In one room he saw a prince who
had been turned to stone ; in another a knight appeared
to have been fleeing, as if in fear; before him some one
had stumbled against the threshold and was falling, but
did not come to the floor. Near the hearth sat a servant
holding in one hand a piece of meat which he had been
roasting, with the other hand he was raising a piece of
bread to his mouth, but near his lips it had become stone.
Many other men did the prince find turned to stone,
252 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
each one in the position in which he was when the sor-
cerer said, "Be stone !"
In the castle and around it everything was dead.
There were trees, but without leaves ; there were fields,
but they were without grass; there was a river, but it
didn't flow. Nowhere was there a singing bird, or a
flower the child of the earth; or bright fishes the children
of the water.
In the morning, at midday and in the evening the
prince and his attendants found rich entertainment.
Food came of its own accord, and wine poured itself out.
When supper was over the sorcerer came in leading the
princess to be guarded a second night.
Though the prince and his attendants resolved to keep
awake, they all fell asleep. In the morning when the
prince woke and saw that the princess was gone, he
sprang up, pulled Swift Glance by the shoulder, and
"Hurry, and see where the princess is !"
"I see her already," said Swift Glance. "Two hun-
dred miles away there is a mountain, on that mountain
is a rock, in that rock is a precious stone, that precious
stone is the princess. If Long carries me I will bring
Long took Swift Glance on his shoulders and went
twenty miles at a step. Swift Glance fixed his eyes on
LONG, BROAD, AND SWIFT GLANCE 253
the mountain. It crumbled, split into a thousand pieces
and among the pieces glittered the precious stone. They
brought it to the prince, he dropped it on the floor and
the princess stood before him.
When the sorcerer entered the chamber and saw the
princess his eyes flashed with rage. A crash! The
second iron hoop flew from his body. He growled an-
grily and led the princess away.
The second day was like the first. After supper the
sorcerer led in the maiden, looked sharply into the
prince's eyes, and said with a sneer, —
"It will be seen who conquers, you or I." Then he
This time they all tried diligently to guard agamst
sleep. They did not sit down ; they paced the chamber,
but one after another fell asleep while walking, and the
The prince woke first and not seeing the princess he
roused Swift Glance, and said, "Get up quickly and see
where the princess is !"
He looked long. "Oh," said he, "she is very far
away. Three hundred miles from here is the Black Sea,
in the middle of the sea, at the bottom, is a shell, in that
shell is a gold ring, that ring is the princess. Fear not,
I will get her, but to-day Long must take Broad with us,
for I shall need him."
254 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
Long took Broad on one shoulder and Swift Glance on
the other, stretched himself, and went thirty miles at a
step. When they came to the Black Sea, Swift Glance
showed him where to reach for the shell. Long
stretched his arm as far as he was able but could not
"Wait, comrades, wait a minute," said Broad. "I
will help you." He swelled out as wide as his stomach
would permit, then he lay down on the edge of the sea
and began to drink. The sea decreased, and presently
it was low enough for Long to touch the bottom. He
picked up the shell and took out the ring, then he put his ,
comrades on his shoulders and hurried back to the castle.
But it was difficult for him to run swiftly with Broad,
who had half of the Black Sea in his stomach.
When Long came to a wide valley he shook Broad off
and he flopped to the ground like a leather sack fallen
from a, high tower. In one moment the whole valley
was under water, an enormous lake was formed, and it
was as much as Broad could do to get out of it; he was
very near drowning.
The prince was frightened when sunlight began to
appear and his attendants had not returned. The
warmer the rays of the sun the greater was his suffering.
Cold sweat stood on his forehead. All at once the sun
appeared in the east. The door opened with a crash and
LONG, BROAD, AND SWIFT GLANCE 255
the sorcerer stood on the threshold. He looked around
the chamber and, not seeing the princess, laughed and
was going away, when the window cracked and in came
the ring, and the princess stood before him.
Swift Glance, seeing what danger his master was in,
had told Long to throw the ring into the chamber.
The sorcerer bellowed from rage till the castle trem-
bled. With a terrible noise the third iron hoop burst
and fell to the floor. The sorcerer turned to a crow land
flew through the broken window.
The princess grew ruddy as a rose and thanked the
prince for freeing her. In and around the iron castle
everybody came to life. The man who held a drawn
sword placed it in its sheath. He who stumbled at the
threshold fell to the floor and rose up quickly. He who
sat at the hearth put the piece of bread to his lips and
went on eating. Every one finished what he had begun.
In the stables the horses stamped and neighed joy-
ously. The trees around the castle grew green; the
fields were covered with many-colored flowers. High
up in the air larks were singing, shoals of fish darted
through the swift river. Everywhere there was life and
Princes and warriors assembled in the chamber and
thanked their deliverer.
"You have nothing to thank me for," said the prince.
256 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
"Had it not been for my trusty servants, Long, Broad,^
and Swift Glance, you would be as you were when I
Straightway the prince set out for home, with his
bride and his attendants, Long, and Swift Glance, On
the way they met Broad and took him with them.
When the old king saw his son he wept from joy..
And soon there was a rich wedding. All the princes and
warriors whom the king's son had liberated were invited.
When the feasting was over, Long, Broad, and Swift
Glance declared that they were going to travel the world
in search of employment. The prince begged them to
stay with him.
"I will give you," said he, "everything you can wish
for. You need never work again."
But such an idle life did not suit them. They took
leave of the prince and each went his way, and to this
time they have not met again.
THE STORK AND THE HERON
/'^NCE upon a time a stork and a heron lived by a
y^ broad swamp, one on one side, one on the other.
As it seemed to the stork that his life was very lonely
and sad, he decided to marry. "I'll go," thought he,
"and propose to heron," and raising himself from the
ground he flew straight across the swamp to heron's
house. When he reached there he asked, —
"Is heron at home ?"
"She is," answered heron.
After conversing with her for a while, he asked, —
"Heron, will you marry me ?"
"No," said heron, "I'll not marry you ; your legs are
too long, your coat is too short, you are a bad flyer, and
besides you can't support me. Be off, old long legs,
don't bother me !"
No matter how salt and bitter this was, the stork had
to swallow it and fly away. When he was gone the v
heron turned the matter over in her mind till she thought
better of the proposal, and said to herself, —
"How can I live here alone? It's a miserable life.
I'll not endure it any longer. I'll marry the stork."
258 FAIRY TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE
The next day she flew across the swamp to stork's
house, and said, —
"I've come to see you, stork, and to tell you that I'll
accept your proposal. You may marry me."
"No, heron, I can get on without you," answered stork.
"You may marry whomever you like, I'll not be your
Heron was so ashamed and mortified that she began
to cry, and didn't stop crying till she reached her home
on the other side of the swamp.
When she was gone stork said to himself,
"What a fool I was not to take heron at her word. A
wretched life I have here alone ; I'll go and marry her."
The next day he flew over the swamp and said to
"I've made up my mind to marry you ; we'll have the
wedding right away."
"No, stork," said heron, "if you are willing to marry
me I'm not willing to marry you; you may go."
The stork flew home, in a rage. When he was gone
the heron grew vexed with herself and said, —
"What a fool I was to refuse him. How can I live,
in this way? I'm a poor unprotected creature with no
one to provide for me. I'll marry stork to-morrow, and
have done with it."
The next morning she flew over to stork and offered
THE STORK AND THE HERON 259
herself to him. Angry because she had refused him the
day before, he said, "I'll not marry you now ; you can
marry whomever you like."
When she was gone he regretted his words.
And to this hour they are flying over the swamp offer-
ing themselves to each other, and they are no nearer the
wedding-day than when they began.
VAIL-BALLOU CO., BINGHAMTON AND NEW YORK