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CZECH FOLK TALES
CZECH FOLK TALES
SELECTED AND TRANSLATED BY
DR. JOSEF BAUDIS, M.R.I.A.
LECTURER IN COMPARATIVE PHILOLOGY
AT THE PRAGUE UNIVERSITY
WITH 8 ILLUSTRATIONS"
LONDON: GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD.
RUSKIN HOUSE 4.0 MUSEUM STREET, W.C. i
Pint printed in X9IT
(All tights reserved)
The present collection has been selected from
the following sources : —
Josef Kubln, Povfdky kladsk^, i., ii. (in
*' Ndrodopisny vSstnik 2eskoslovansky ").
V. Vondrdk, Nekolik pohddek z Dubu u
Vodnan (S. Bohemia), in " Cesky Lid," xiii.
V. Tille, Povidky sebran^ na Valassku
(S. Moravia). " Ndrodopisny sbornik ^esko-
slovansk;^," Svazek vii. Prague, 1901.
Elpl, Rada pohddek a povesti nasbfran^ch
V Lisni u Brna (Moravia).
B. M. Kulda, Moravsk^ ndrodni pohddky a
pov^sti, i. (Prague, 1874). From Moravia.
The first two stories ("Twelve Months,"
" Vftazko ") have been retold by the novelist
Bozena Nemcov4 (from the Slovak).
My translation could not be, of course,
a literal one, because many phrases in the
original might seem strange to the English
Finally, I wish to express my thanks to
Miss Eleanor Hull and Mr. Robin Flower
for revising my English. ^
London, October 191 7.
INTRODUCTION ..... xiii
THE TWELVE MONTHS. From B. NSmcova . a
viTAZKO, From B. N^mcova . . .16
BOOTS, CLOAK, ^ND RING. From B. M. Kulda 39
SILLY JURA. From B. M. Kulda . . -55
SLEEPY JOHN. From B. M. Kulda . . . 6i
THREE DOVES. From B. M. Kulda . . .71
THE BEAR, THE EAGLE, AND THE FISH. From Elpl 98
KOJATA. From V. Tille .... 103
SHEPHERD HYNEK. From Kubiu . . Ill
THE THREE ROSES. From Kubi'n . 123
THE ENCHANTED PRINCESSES. From KublU . 1 39
THE TWIN BROTHERS. From " Ccsky Lid," xiii
THE WATERNICK. From Kubin . . . 151
THE MAN WHO MET MISERY. FrOm Kubin . 157
NINE AT A BLOW. From " Cesk^ Lid," xiii. p. 130 . 161
A CLEVER LASS. From Kubin . . . 165
THE SOLDIER AND THE DEVIL. From " Ccsk^ Lid,"
xiii. p. 167 . . . . . 170
OLD NICK AND KITTY. From Kubin . .179
THE KNIGHT BAMBUS. From Kubi'n . .182
FRANCIS AND MARTIN. From " Ccsk^ Lid," xiii.
p. 213 ...... 186
WITCHES AT THE CROSS. From Kubin . 190
THE WITCH AND THE HORSESHOES. From Kubin . 191
THE HAUNTED MILL. From Kubin . , . 195
The first two illastrations are copies of pictures by Joseph
Manes ; the others have been drawn by Mr. E. Stanek, who &i
sonie cases has adapted drawings by Mikulas Ales.
The present collection is intended to exemplify
the spirit of the Czech race. It may perhaps
be objected that folk-tale themes are part of
a common stot:k belonging to all European
races, and even to many primitive peoples: but
though this is perfectly true, it is also no less
certain that the spirit of the nation manifests
itself in the manner of their telling. The
selection has been made from all sorts of
folk tales, artistic and primitive alike ; and
yet, two things at-e common to all of them :
the moral tendency and a sense of humour.
By this I do not mean morality in the
vulgar sense of retribution for evil, or of
filial devotion, or the sentimental insistence
upon " every one living happily ever after-
wards," and above all upon Jack marrying
his Molly. I mean that higher sort of morality
which was the mainspring of Protestantism.
It is often supposed that Protestantism is
very unfavourable to the development and
preservation of folk tales ; but those of
Bohemia are certainly an exception to this
rule. The Czech nation was the first to
adopt the Protestant faith, and even to-day is
still Protestant at heart, though the Habsburgs
forced it back into the Catholic fold.
The Czechs, then, have preserved their love
for folk tales, adapting them to the higher
morality and to the national sentiment, and
discarding many of their supernatural features,
or where the supernatural was allowed to
remain for a moment, reverting very soon to
the strict limits of probability. It is the very
same method which, for example, Mr. Wells
employs in some of his novels. That the
Slav nations have a certain tendency to lay
stress upon the ethical side in their folk tales
has already been pointed out by the Czech
poet Erben, whose tales have been translated
into English in Wratislaw's Collection.
As for their humour, the Czechs have a
natural tendency to satire. The best works
in Old Czech literature are satires, and in
modern times one of the most brilliant of
Czech politicians, Karel Havli^ek, was also
the greatest Czech satirist. This spirit may
also be seen in the present collection ; but
in every case the story-teller, instead of
assuming the attitude of the morality preacher
or of indulging in theatrical invective against
the wickedness of the times, rests content
with a good-humoured gibe at the folly of
the world, at the frailty of his fellow-men,
and, it may be, at his own.
These two traits are inherent in the nature
of the Czech people; and those who know
their love of such tales and of the literature
which has grown out of them, can realize
their search for a haven of refuge from the
cruel present and their fond dream-pictures
of a land where all was good, where at last
everything was bound to end well, where
truth and justice at last had conquered.
Alas ! to the victims of Habsburg rule and
Austrian bayonets the bare possibility seemed
utterly excluded. And yet why should they
not dream of such a land? Amo quia
absurdum ! But at the very moment their
humorous ego could not suppress a sneer.
Yes, even in that wonderland which their
fancy painted are foolish kings, ever prone
to break their word : even there people are
bad and stupid ! But our tale says that the
bad were vanquished and the foolish put to
shame : let, then, the tale be told ! And even
as he tells it, his heart nurses the inward
hope that the foreign tyrants who oppress
him may one day be vanquished and
That such were the wishes of the Czech
people, the Great War has shown. They
have proved by their deeds their love of
freedom ; and to-day Czechs are fighting
bravely in every Allied army and in their
own natibnal units formed in Russia, May
their Austrian oppressors be brought to the
ground, and may Bohemia regain the freedom
for which she has longed for three centuries!
THE TWELVE MONTHS
Once upon a time there lived a mother
who had two daughters. One was her own
child, the other her stepdaughter. She was
very fond of her own daughter, but she
would not so much as look at her step-
daughter. The only reason was that Marusa,
the stepdaughter, was prettier than her own
daughter, Holena. The gentle-hearted Marusa
did not know how beautiful she was, and
so she could never make out why her mother
was so cross with her whenever she looked
at her. She had to do all the housework,
tidying up the cottage, cooking, washing, and
sewing, and then she had to take the hay to
the cow and look after her. She did all
this work alone, while Holena spent the
time adorning herself and lazing about. But
Marusa liked work, for she was a patient
girl, and when her mother scolded and rated
her, she bore it like a lamb. It was no
2 CZECH FOLK TALES
good, howe^'er, for they grew crueller and
crueller every day, only because Marusa was
growing prettier and Holena uglier every day.
At last the mother thought : " Why should
I keep a pretty stepdaughter in my house?
When the lads come courting here, they will
fall in love with Marusa and they won't
look at Holena."
From that moment the stepmother and her
daughter were constantly scheming how to
get rid of poor Maru§a. They starved her
and they beat her. But she bore it all, and
in spite of all she kept on growing prettier
every day. They invented torments that the
cruellest of men would never have thought of.
One day — it was in the middle of January —
Holena felt a longing for the scent of violets.
" Go, Marusa, and get me some violets
from the forest ; I want to wear them at my
waist and to smell them," she said to her
'* Great heavens ! sister. What a strange
notion ! Who ever heard of violets growing
under the snow."*" said poor Marusa.
•'You wretched tatterdemalion! how dare
you argue when I tell you to do something.**
Off you go at once, and if you don't bring
THE TWELVE MONTHS 3
me violets from the forest I'll kill you !'' said
The stepmother caught hold of MaruSa,
turned her out of the door, and slammed it
to after her. She went into the forest
weeping bitterly. The snow lay deep, and
there wasn't a human footprint to be seen.
Marusa wandered about for a long time,
tortured by hunger and trembling with cold.
She begged God to take her from the world.
At last she saw a light in the distance.
She went towards the glow, and came at
last to the top of a mountain. A big fire
was burning there, and round the fire were
twelve stones with twelve men sitting on
them. Three of them had snow-white beards,
three were not so old, and three were still
younger. The three youngest were the hand-
somest of them all. They were not speaking,
but all sitting silent. These twelve men
were the twelve months. Great January sat
highest of all ; his hair and beard were as
white as snow, and in his hand he held
Maru§a was frightened. She stood still for
a time in terror, but, growing bolder, she
went up to them and said : " Please, kind
4 CZECH FOLK TALES
sirs, let me warm my hands at your fire. I
am trembling with the cold."
Great January nodded, and asked her :
" Why have you come here, my dear little
girl ? What are you looking for ? "
" I am looking for violets," answered
" This is no time to be looking for violets,
for everything is covered with snow," answered
•' Yes, I know ; but my sister Holena and
my stepmother said that I must bring them
some violets from the forest. If I don't
bring them, they'll kill me. Tell me, fathers,
please tell me where I can find them."
Great January stood up and went to one
of the younger months — it was March — and,
giving him the club, he said : " Brother, take
the high seat."
March took the high seat upon the stone
and waved the club over the fire. The fire
blazed up, the snow began to melt, the trees
began to bud, and the ground under the
young beech-trees was at once covered with
grass and the crimson daisy buds began to
peep through the grass. It was springtime.
Under the bushes the violets were blooming
THE TWELVE MONTHS 5
among their little leaves, and before Marusa
had time to think, so many of them had
sprung up that they looked like a blue cloth
spread out on the ground.
" Pick them quickly, Marusa ! " commanded
Marusa picked them joyfully till she had
a big bunch. Then she thanked the months
with all her heart and scampered merrily
Holena and the stepmother wondered when
they saw Marusa bringing the violets. They
opened the door to her, and the scent of
violets filled all the cottage.
" Where did you get them ? " asked Holena
" They are growing under the bushes in a
forest on the high mountains."
Holena put them in her waistband. She
let her mother smell them, but she did not
say to her sister : ** Smell them."
Another day she was lolling near the stove,
and now she longed for some strawberries.
So she called to her sister and said: "Go,
Marusa, and get me some strawberries from
"Alas! dear sister, where could I find any
6 CZECH FOLK TALES
strawberries .'* Who ever heard of strawberries
growing under the snow ? " said Maru§a.
" You wretched little tatterdemalion, how
dare you argue when I tell you to do a
thing? Go at once and get me the straw-
berries, or I'll kill you!"
The stepmother caught hold of Marusa
and pushed her out of the door and shut
it after her. Marusa went to the forest
weeping bitterly. The snow was lying deep,
and there wasn't a human footprint to be
seen anywhere. She wandered about for a
long time, tortured by hunger and trembling
with cold. At last she saw the light she
had seen the other day. Overjoyed, she
went towards it. She came to the great fire
with the twelve months sitting round it.
" Please, kind sirs, let me warm my hands
at the fire. I am trembling with cold."
Great January nodded, and asked her :
" Why have you come again, and what are
you looking for here ? "
" I am looking for strawberries."
" But it is winter now, and strawberries
don't grow on the snow," said January.
*'Yes, I know," said Maru§a sadly; "but
my sister Holena and my stepmother bade
THE TWELVE MONTHS 7
me bring them some strawberries, and if I
don't bring them, they will kill me. Tell
me, fathers, tell me, please, where I can
Great January arose. He went over to
the month sitting opposite to him — it was
June — and handed the club to him, saying :
" Brother, take the high seat."
June took the high seat upon the stone
and swung the club over the fire. The fire
shot up, and its heat melted the snow in a
moment. The ground was all green, the
trees were covered with leaves, the birds
began to sing, and the forest was filled with
all kinds of flowers. It was summer. The
ground under the bushes was covered with
white starlets, the starry blossoms were turning
into strawberries every minute. They ripened
at once, and before Marusa had time to think,
there were so many of them that it looked
as though blood had been sprinkled on the
** Pick them at once, Marusa ! " commanded
Marusa picked them joyfully till she had
filled her apron full. Then she thanked the
months with all her heart and scampered
8 CZECH FOLK TALES
merrily home. Holena and the stepmother
wondered when they saw Marusa bringing
the strawberries. Her apron was full of them.
They ran to open the door for her, and the
scent of the strawberries filled the whole
"Where did you pick them?" asked
" There are plenty of them growing under
the young beech-trees in the forest oh the
Holena took the strawberries, and went on
eating them till she could eat no more. So
did the stepmother too, but they didn't say
to Marusa : " Here is one for you."
When Holena had enjoyed the strawberries,
she grew greedy for other dainties, and so on
the third day she longed for some red apples.
** Marusa, go into the forest and get me
some red apples," she said to her sister.
" Alas ! sister dear, how am I to get
apples for you in winter ."* " protested Marusa.
" You wretched little tatterdemalion, how
dare you argue when I tell you to do a
thing? Go to the forest at once, and if you
don't bring me the apples I will kill you ! "
THE TWELVE MONTHS 9
The stepmother caught hold of Marusa
and pushed her out of the door and shut
it after her. Marusa went to the forest
weeping bitterly. The snow was lying deep ;
there wasn't a human footprint to be seen
anywhere. But she didn't wander about this
time. She ran straight to the top of the
mountain where the big fire was burning.
The twelve months were sitting round the
fire ; yes, there they certainly were, and
Great January was sitting on the high
** Please, kind sirs, let me warm my hands
at the fire. I am trembling with cold."
Great January nodded, and asked her :
" Why have you come here, and what are
you looking for ? "
" I am looking for red apples."
"It is winter now, and red apples don't
grow in winter," answered January.
"Yes, I know," said Marusa sadly; "but
my sister and my stepmother, too, bade me
bring them some red apples from the forest.
If I don't bring them, they will kill me.
Tell me, father, tell me, please, where I
could find them."
Great January rose up. He went over to
lo CZECH FOLK TALES
one of the older months — it was September.
He handed the club to him and said :
" Brother, take the high seat"
Month September took the high seat upon
the stone and swung the club over the fire.
The fire began to burn with a red flame,
the snow began to melt. But the trees were
not covered with leaves ; the leaves were
wavering down one after the other, and the
cold wind was driving them to and fro over
the yellowing ground. This time MaruSa
did not see so many flowers. Only red
pinks were blooming on the hillside, and
meadow saffrons were flowering in the valley.
High fern and thick ivy were growing under
the young beech-trees. But Marusa was only
looking for red apples, and at last she saw
an apple-tree with red apples hanging high
among its branches.
"Shake the tree at once, Marusa!" com-
manded the month.
Right gladly Marusa shook the tree, and
one apple fell down. She shook it a second
time, and another apple fell down.
" Now, Marusa, run home quickly ! " shouted
Marusa obeyed at once. She picked up
THE TWELVE MONTHS ii
the apples, thanked the months with all her
heart, and ran merrily home.
Holena and the stepmother wondered when
they saw Marusa bringing the apples. They
ran to open the door for her, and she
gave them two apples.
'• Where did you get them ? " asked Holena.
" There are plenty of them in the forest
on the high mountain."
"And why didn't you bring more? Or
did you eat them on the way home .-* " said
" Alas ! sister dear, I didn't eat a single
one. But when I had shaken the tree once,
one apple fell down, and when I shook it a
second time, another apple fell down, and they
wouldn't let me shake it again. They shouted
to me to go straight home," protested Marusa.
Holena began to curse her : " May you
be struck to death by lightning ! " and she
was going to beat her.
Marusa began to cry bitterly, and she
prayed to God to take her to Himself, or
she would be killed by her wicked sister
and her stepmother. She ran away into the
Greedy Holena stopped cursing and began
12 CZECH FOLK TALES
to eat the apple. It tasted so delicious that
she told her mother she had never tasted
anything so nice in all her life. The step-
mother liked it too. When they had finished,
they wanted some more.
"Mother, give me my fur coat. I'll go to
the forest myself. That ragged little wretch
would eat them all up again on her way
home. I'll find the place all right, and I'll
shake them all down, however they shout
Her mother tried to dissuade her, but it
was no good. She took her fur coat, wrapped
a cloth round her head, and off she went
to the forest. Her mother stood on the
threshold, watching to see how Holena would
manage to walk in the wintry weather.
The snow lay deep, and there wasn't a
human footprint to be seen anywhere. Holena
wandered about for a long time, but the
desire of the sweet apple kept driving her
on. At last she saw a light in the distance.
She went towards it, and climbed to the
top of the mountain where the big fire was
burning, and round the fire on twelve stones
the twelve months were sitting. She was
terrified at first, but she soon recovered. She
THE TWELVE MONTHS 13
Stepped up to the fire and stretched out her
hands to warm them, but she didn't say as
much as " By your leave " to the twelve
months ; no, she didn't say a single word
"Why have you come here, and what are
you looking for ? " asked Great January
•'Why do you want to know, you old
fool ? It's no business of yours," replied
Holena angrily, and she turned away from
the fire and went into the forest.
Great January frowned and swung the
club over his head. The sky grew dark in
a moment, the fire burned low, the snow
began to fall as thick as if the feathers had
been shaken out of a down quilt, and an
icy wind began to blow through the forest.
Holena couldn't see one step in front of
her ; she lost her way altogether, and several
times she fell into snowdrifts. Then her
limbs grew weak and began slowly to
stiffen. The snow kept on falling and the
icy wind blew more icily than ever. Holena
began to curse Marusa and the Lord God.
Her limbs began to freeze, despite her fur
14 CZECH FOLK TALES
Her mother was waiting for Holena ; she
kept on looking out for her, first at the
window, then outside the door, but all in
*' Does she like the apples so much that
she can't leave them, or what is the
matter? I must see for myself where she
is," decided the stepmother at last. So she
put on her fur coat, she wTapped a shawl
round her head, and went out to look for
Holena. The snow was lying deep ; there
wasn't a human footprint to be seen; the
snow fell fast, and the icy wind was blowing
through the forest.
Marusa had cooked the dinner, she had
seen to the cow, and yet Holena and her
mother did not come back. " Where are
they staying so long ? " thought Marusa, as
she sat down to work at the distaff. The
spindle was full already and it was quite
dark in the room, and yet Holena and the
stepmother had not come back.
"Alas, Lord! what has come to them?"
cried MaruSa, peering anxiously through the
window. The sky was bright and the earth
was all glittering, but there wasn't a human
soul to be seen. . . . Sadly she shut the
THE TWELVE MONTHS 15
window ; she crossed herself, and prayed
for her sister and her mother. ... In the
morning she waited with breakfast, she waited
with dinner ; but however much she waited, it
was no good. Neither her mother nor her
sister ever came back. Both of them were
frozen to death in the forest.
So good Marusa inherited the cottage, a
piece of ploughland and the cow. She married
a kind husband, and they both Hved happily
Once there was a mother, and, being a mother,
she had a son. She suckled him for twice
seven years. After that she took him into
a forest and told him to pull up a fir-tree,
roots and all. But the lad could not pull
up the fir-tree.
"You are not strong enough yet," said
the mother. So she suckled him for another
seven years. When she had suckled him
for thrice seven years, she took him to the
forest again and told him to pull up a beech-
tree, roots and all. He seized hold of the
beech and pulled it up.
*' Now you are strong enough. So you are
Victor ( Vitazko). Now you can provide for me."
** Yes, I will. Only tell me what I can do
" You must get me a good house first, and
then you can take me there," said the mother,
and she went home.
Vitazko took the beech-tree which he had
pulled up, and, carrying it in his hand like
a club, he started in search of a house for
his mother. Following the wind, he walked
by old roads and paths until he came to a
castle. This castle was inhabited by griffins.
When Vitazko reached the castle, the
griffins would not let him in. But he did
not wait long for their permission : he smashed
the gate and went into the castle and killed
the griffins ; their bodies he flung over the
wall, and then he went for a walk through
the castle. He was pleased with everything
he saw. The rooms were nice, nine in
number, but the tenth was closed. When he
had gone through the nine he went into the
tenth, and there he saw a griffin chained to
the wall by three iron bands.
" What are you doing here ? " asked
"I am sitting here, as you see. My
brothers have chained me here. Untie my
bonds and I will give you a splendid reward."
"You must be a wicked old rascal if your
own brothers tied you there. I won't un-
fasten your bonds either," said Vitazko.
So he slammed the door, and went off to
i8 CZECH FOLK TALES
fetch his mother to the castle. When he
had brought her there, he showed her every-
thing, but he did not open the tenth room,
and he forbade her to enter that room, for
otherwise there would be trouble. As soon
as Vitazko left the house, the mother could
not rest, and she kept on walking near the
door of that tenth room, till at last she went
in, and, of course, she found the griffin there.
" What are you doing here, and who are
" I am a griffin. My own brothers chained
me here. They would have unfastened my
bonds again, but your son has killed them
all. Untie my bonds and I will reward you,
and, if you like, I will marry you," said the
"And what would Vitazko say?" answered
" What could he say .-* We will put him
out of the world, and you will be your own
The mother hesitated long enough, but at
last she consented, and then she asked the
griffin how she could untie his bonds.
" Go into the cellar and fetch me a cup
of wine from the last cask."
The mother went into the cellar and brought
him a glass of wine from the last cask. As
soon as he had drained the first cup, crash !
the first chain fell down. The mother brought
him another cup and — well ! the second chain
snapped. So he begged her to bring him
a third cup, and when she brought him the
third cup the third chain broke too and the
griffin was free again.
" But what am I to tell my son when he
comes back ? " said the mother anxiously.
" Oh ! you must feign illness, and when he
asks you what will save you, say that nothing
can save you but a suckling of the earth sow.
When he goes to get it, the sow will tear him
Well (but not particularly well !), when
Vitazko returned from the chase, bringing a
buck for his mother, she groaned and com-
plained: "Alas! my dear son, your toil has
been in vain. It is no use your bringing me
this good food ; I cannot eat it, for I am
*' Alas ! mother, you must not die. Only
tell me what would cure you, and I will bring
it for you, even though it were from hell," cried
the good Vitazko, for he loved his mother well.
20 CZECH FOLK TALES
" I can only be cured if I get the suckling
of the earth sow."
Vitazko did not wait ; he took his beech -
tree and set off in quest of the earth sow.
He wandered through the country, poor
soul ! for he did not know where to go, till
at last he came to a tower, and there he
found Holy Sunday.
"Where are you going?" asked Holy
" I am going to the earth sow to get one
of her sucklings. My mother is ill, but this
will cure her."
"My dear boy, it will be a hard task for
you to get that piglet. However, I will help
you. Only you must follow my advice
Vitazko promised that he would follow
it exactly. So first she gave him a long,
sharp spit, and then she said :
** Go to the stable and take my horse.
He will bring you to the place where the
earth sow lies buried in the earth. When you
have come there you must prick one of her
pigs. The pig will squeak, and the sow,
hearing it, will start up and run round the
earth in a moment. But she won't see you
or anybody else, and so she will tell the pigs
that if they squeak again she will tear them
to pieces. Then she will lie down to sleep,
and then you must spit the pig and run
quickly away. The pig will be afraid to
squeak, the sow won't stir, and my horse
will carry you away."
Vitazko promised to carry out her direc-
tions exactly. He took the spit, mounted
the magic horse, and it brought him swiftly
to the place — far, very far it was — where the
earth sow lay buried in the earth. Vitazko
pricked one of the pigs, and it squeaked
terribly. The sow started wildly up and ran
round the earth in one moment. But the
magic horse did not move, so the sow did
not see him or anybody else, and she said
angrily to the pigs :
"If one of you squeaks, I will tear you
all to pieces at once."
Having said this, she buried herself again.
At once Vitazko spitted the pig. It kept
quiet and didn't squeak at all, and the magic
horse began to fly, and it wasn't long till
they were home again.
"Well, Vitazko, how did it go?" asked
22 CZECH FOLK TALES
*'Well, it went just as you said, and here
is the pig."
"Very well. Take it to your mother."
Vftazko gave her back the spit ; he led
the magic horse back to its stall, thanked
Holy Sunday, and, hanging the pig from the
beech-tree, made haste to go home to his
The mother and the griffin were feasting ;
they did not expect Vftazko, and here he
was. They ran away and discussed what
they should do with him.
" When he has given you the pig, you
must still pretend to be ill," said the griffin ;
"and when he asks you what will save you,
tell him that only the Water of Life and
the Water of Death can cure you. If he
goes in quest of that, he is bound to perish."
Vltazko came running to the castle full of
joy. He gave the pig to his mother, but
she still went on groaning and complaining
that she was going to die, and that the pig
would not cure her.
"Alas! mother, don't die, but tell me what
will cure you, so that I may bring it for
you at once," said Vftazko anxiously.
"Ah! my dear son, I can only be cured
by the Water of Life and the Water of
Death, and where would you get that ? "
sighed the mother.
Vitazko did not waste time thinking about
it. He grasped his beech, and off he went
to Holy Sunday.
" Where are you going, Vitazko ? " asked
" I am coming to you to ask where I
could find the Water of Life and the Water
of Death, for my mother is still ill, and only
those will cure her."
"It will be a hard task for you to get them,
but I will help you as well as I can. Here
are two jugs ; mount my magic horse, and
he will bring you to two banks. Beneath
those two banks spring forth the Water of
Life and the Water of Death. The right
bank opens at noon, and from beneath it
gushes the Water of Life. The left bank
opens at midnight, and beneath it is the
Water of Death. As soon as the bank opens,
run up to it and fill your jug with water,
and so you must do in the other case too.
When you have the water, come back.
Follow my instructions carefully."
Saying this, she gave him two jugs. He
34 CZECH FOLK TALES
took them and mounted the magic horse, and
in a moment they were gone like the wind.
The two banks were in a far distant land,
and thither the magic horse brought Vitazko.
At noon he raised the right bank and the
Water of Life gushed forth, then, crash! the
bank fell down again, and it was a wonder
that it did not take Viiazko's heels off.
Quickly Vitazko mounted the magic horse
and made haste for the left bank. There
they waited till midnight. When the bank
lifted, beneath it was the Water of Death.
He hurried to it and filled the jug, and,
crash ! down fell the bank again ; and it was
a marvel it didn't take Vitazko's hand off.
Quickly he mounted the magic horse, the
horse flew off, and soon they were home
*' Well, Vitazko, how have you fared ? "
asked Holy Sunday.
•' Oh ! everything went all right. Holy
Sunday ; and here is the water," said Vitazko,
giving her the water.
Holy Sunday kept the water, and gave
him two jugs full of spring water and told
him to take them to his mother. Vitazko
thanked her and went home.
The mother and the grififin were carousing
as before, for they did not expect that he
would ever return — and there he was just
outside. They were terribly frightened, and
considered how they could get rid of him.
** You must pretend to be sick still, and
tell him you won't recover unless you get
the Pelican bird, and he will perish on the
quest," said the grififin.
Vitazko brought the water joyfully, but the
mother was still groaning and complaining ;
even that was no good, she was sure she
was going to die.
*' Ah ! don't die, sweet mother. Tell me
what will cure you, and I shall be glad to
get it all for you," said the good lad.
" There is no help for me unless I can
see the Pelican bird. Where could you get
it for me ? " groaned the mother.
Vitazko took his beech again, and it was
no trouble to him to go to Holy Sunday
*• Where are you going ? " asked Holy
" Well, I am coming to you to ask Tor
advice. Mother is still sick ; the water did
not cure her either, and she says she must
26 CZECH FOLK TALES
see the Pelican bird. And where is the
" My dear child, it would be very hard
for you to get the Pelican bird. But I will
help you all I can. The Pelican bird is a
gigantic bird. His neck is very long, and,
whenever he shakes his wings, he raises such
a wind that the trees begin to shake. Here
is a gun ; mount my magic horse, and he
will bring you to the place where the Pelican
bird lives. But be careful. Point the gun
against the wind from whatever quarter it
blows, and when the hammer falls, ram the
gun with the ramrod and come quickly back.
You must not look into the gun."
Vitazko took the gun and mounted the
magic horse, and the horse spread his wings,
and they were flying through the air a long
way until they came to a vast desert, where
dwelt the Pelican bird. There the magic
horse stopped. Now Vitazko perceived that
the wind was blowing strongly on his left
cheek, so he pointed the gun in that direc-
tion, and, clap ! the hammer fell. Vitazko
rammed the gun quickly with the ramrod and
flung it over his shoulder, and the horse started
flying, and very soon they were home again.
" Well, how did things go ? "
" I don't know whether they went well or
ill, but I did what you commanded," answered
Vitazko, handing down the gun to Holy
'• All right. You did quite right. Here
he is ! " she said. And then she took out
the Pelican bird. Then she gave Vitazko
another gun to shoot an eagle with. He
went out into the forest, and returned before
long with an eagle. She gave him this
eagle for his mother, in place of the Pelican
The griffin and the mother were making
merry again, hoping that Vitazko would never
come back, but he was already near. They
were terrified, and began to consider what new
task they were to set him.
** You must pretend to be sick still, and tell
him nothing can do you any good but the
golden apples from the garden of the Griffin.
If he goes there the Griffin will tear him in
pieces, for he is enraged because Vitazko has
killed his brothers.'
Joyfully Vitazko gave the bird to his
mother, but she still kept on groaning ;
nothing was any good, only the golden
a8 CZECH FOLK TALES
apples from the garden of the Griffin could
"You shall have them," said Vftazko, and
without resting, he started again and came to
"Where are you going, Vltazko?"
"Well," he replied, "not even that did
her any good. Mother is still sick, for only
the golden apples from the garden of the
Griffin will cure her."
" Well, you'll have to fight, my boy," said
Holy Sunday ; " but, even though you were
stronger than you are, it would be a bad
look-out for you. Still, I will help you all I
can. Here is a ring for you ; put it on your
finger, and, when you are in need, think of
me, turn the ring round on your finger, and
you will have the strength of a hundred men.
Now mount the magic horse ; he will take
Vltazko thanked her heartily, mounted the
magic horse, and was carried by him a far
journey, till they came to a garden hedged
about by a high rampart. Had it not been
for the magic horse Vftazko could never have
got into the garden, but the horse flew like
a bird over the rampart. Vftazko leapt down
from the horse, and instantly began to look
for a tree with golden apples. A beautiful
girl met him and asked him what he was
looking for. Vftazko said that he was look-
ing for golden apples to cure his sick mother,
and begged her to tell him where to look
'* The apple-tree is under my charge, and
I must not give the apples to anybody, or
the Griffin would tear me to pieces. I am
a king's daughter, and the Griffin carried me
off and brought me to this garden and put
me in charge of the apples. Go back, good
youth, go back, for the Griffin is very strong,
and, if he sees you, he will kill you like a
fly," said the girl.
But Vftazko was not to be turned back,
and he hastened on into the garden. So the
princess pulled off a priceless ring and handed
it to Vitazko, saying : " Take this ring, and
when you think of me and turn this ring
round on your finger, you will have the
strength of a hundred men, otherwise
you could not gain the victory over the
Vftazko took the ring and put it on his
finger. He thanked her and went off to the
30 CZECH FOLK TALES
centre of the garden. In the middle of the
garden stood an apple-tree full of golden
apples, and underneath it a horrible Griffin
"What do you want here, murderer of my
brothers?" shouted the Griffin.
" I have come to get some apples from
this tree," answered Vitazko undauntedly.
" You shall not have any of the apples
unless you wrestle with me," exclaimed the
" I will if you like. Come on ! " said
Vftazko, and he turned the ring on his right
hand and thought of Holy Sunday. He set
his legs wide apart and they began to wrestle.
In the first round the Griffin moved Vftazko
a little, but Vftazko drove him into the ground
above his ankles. Just at this moment they
heard a swirl of wings above them, and a
black raven shouted to them :
"Which am I to help, the Griffin or
Vitazko ? "
" Help me," said the Griffin.
"And what will you give me?"
" I will give you gold and silver as much
as you like."
"Help me," cried Vftazko, " and I will
give you all those horses grazing on yonder
*' I will help you, then," said the raven.
" But how am I to help you ? "
*' Cool me when I grow hot," said Vitazko.
He felt hot indeed, for the Griffin was breath-
ing out fire against him. So they went on
wrestling. The Griffin seized Vitazko and
drove him into the ground up to his ankles.
Vitazko turned the ring, and again he thought
of Holy Sunday. He put his arms round
the Griffin's waist and drove him down into
the ground above his knees. The black
raven dipped his wings in a spring, and then
he alighted on Vitazko's head and sprinkled
cool drops over Vitazko's hot cheeks, and thus
he cooled him. Then Vitazko turned the
other ring and thought of the beautiful maiden,
and they began wrestling again. So the
Griffin drove Vitazko into the ground up to
his ankles, but Vitazko took hold of him and
drove him into the ground up to his shoulders,
and quickly he seized his sword, the gift of
Holy Sunday, and cut the Griffin's head off.
The princess came to him at once and
plucked the golden apples for him. She
thanked him too for delivering her, and said
33 CZECH FOLK TALES
that she liked him well and she would marry
" I like you well too," confessed Vitazko,
" and, if I could, I would go with you at once.
But if you really love me, and if you will
consent to wait a year for me, I will come
to you then."
The princess pledged herself by shaking
hands with him, and she said she would wait
a year for him. And so they said good-bye
to each other. Vitazko mounted his horse^
cleared the rampart at a leap, killed the horses
on the meadow for the black raven, and
" Well, how have you fared ? " asked Holy
" Very well, but if it hadn't been for a ring
which was given me by a princess I should
have fared very badly," answered Vitazko,
and he told her everything. She told him to
go home with the golden apples and to take
the magic horse with him too. Vitazko
The griffin and the mother were carousing
again. They were greatly startled when
Vitazko came riding home ; they had never
expected that he would return alive even from
the garden of the Griffin. The mother asked
what she should do ; but the griffin had no
more shifts ; he made off to the tenth room
at once and hid himself there. When Vitazko
had given the apples to his mother, she
pretended that the mere sight of them had
cured her, and, rising from the bed, she put
the finest of food before Vitazko and then
began to caress him as she used to do some-
times when he was a tiny baby. Vitazko was
delighted to see his mother in good health
again. The mother took a strong cotton
cord and said jestingly : " Lie down, dear
son ; I will wind this cord round you as I
used to wind it round your father, to see if
you are as strong as he was, and if you can
Vitazko smiled and laid himself down,
and allowed his mother to wind the cord
round him. When she had finished, he
stretched his limbs and snapt the cord in
"You are strong," she said. "But wait!
I will wind this thin silk cord round you to
see if you can break it also."
So she did. Vitazko tried to stretch his
limbs, but the more he stretched, the deeper
34 CZECH FOLK TALES
the cord cut into him. So he was helpless,
and had to lie like a baby in its swaddling-
clothes. Now the griffin hastened to cut his
head off; he hewed the body in pieces and
hung the heart from the ceiling. The mother
packed the body in a cloth, and put the bundle
on the back of the magic horse, which was
waiting in the courtyard, saying :
•• You carried him alive, so you can carry
him dead too, wherever you like."
The horse did not wait, but flew off, and
soon they reached home.
Holy Sunday had been expecting him, for
she knew what would probably happen to
him. Without delay she rubbed the body
with the Water of Death, then she put it
together and poured the Water of Life over
it. Vftazko yawned, and rose to his feet alive
and well. ** Well, I have had a long sleep,"
he said to himself.
" You would have been sleeping till dooms-
day if I hadn't awakened you. Well, how
do you feel now ? "
" Oh ! I am all right ! Only, it's funny: it's
as though I had not got any heart."
'* That is true ; you haven't got a heart,"
answered Holy Sunday.
•' Where can it be, then ? "
" Where else should it be, but in the castle,
hanging from the crossbeam ? " said Holy
Sunday, and she told him all that had
happened to him.
But Vftazko could not be angry, neither
could he weep, for he had no heart. So he
had to go and get it. Holy Sunday gave
him a fiddle and sent him to the castle.
He was to play on the fiddle, and, as a
reward, was to ask for the heart, and, when
he got it, he must return at once to Holy
Sunday — those were her orders.
Vftazko went to the castle, and when he
saw that his mother was looking out of the
window, he began playing beautifully. The
mother was delighted with the music below,
so she called the old fiddler (for Holy Sunday
had put that shape upon him) into the castle
and asked him to play. He played, and the
mother danced with the griffin ; they danced
hard, and did not stop until they were tired.
Then the mother gave the fiddler meat and
drink, and she offered him gold, but he would
not take it.
** What could I do with all that money ?
I am too old for it," he answered.
36 CZECH FOLK TALES
"Well, what am I to give you, then? It
is for you to ask," said the mother.
*' What are you to give me?" said he,
looking round the room. " Oh ! give me that
heart, hanging there from the crossbeam ! "
"If you like that, we can give it to you,"
said the grififin, and the mother took it down
and gave it to Vitazko. He thanked them
for it, and hastened from the castle to Holy
"It is lucky that we have got it again,"
said Holy Sunday ; and she took the heart
in her hands, washed it first in the Water
of Death and afterwards in the Water of
Life, and then she put it in the bill of the
Pelican bird. The bird stretched out his
long neck and replaced the heart in Vitazko's
breast. At once Vitazko felt it joyfully leap-
ing. And for this service Holy Sunday gave
the Pelican bird his freedom again.
And now she said to Vitazko : " You must
go once more to the castle and deal out
justice. Take the form of a pigeon and,
when you think of me, you will regain your
No sooner had she said this than Vitazko
was changed into a pigeon, and away he
flew to the castle. The mother and the
griffin were caressing each other when
suddenly a pigeon alighted on the window-
sill. As soon as the mother saw the pigeon
she sent the griffin to shoot him, but before
the griffin could get hold of his crossbow the
pigeon flew down into the hall, took human
form, seized the sword and cut the griffin's
head off at a stroke.
" And what am I to do with thee, thou
good-for-nothing mother ? " he said, turning
to his mother, who in terror fell at his feet
begging for mercy. " Do not be afraid — I
will not do you any harm. Let God judge
between us." He took her hand and led her
to the castle yard, unsheathed his sword, and
said : " Behold, mother ! I will throw this
sword into the air. If I am guilty, it will
strike me ; if you are guilty, it is you it will
strike. Let God decide."
The sword whirled through the air, it
darted past Vitazko's head, and smote straight
into his mother's heart. ^
Vitazko lamented over her and buried her.
Then he returned to Holy Sunday and
thanked her well for all her kindness. He
girded on the sword, took his beech-tree
38 CZECH FOLK TALES
in his hand, and went to his beautiful
princess. He found her with her royal
father, who had tried to make her marry
various kings and princes, but she would
marry none of them. She would wait a year,
she said. The year was not yet over when
one day Vitazko arrived in the royal palace
to ask for the maiden's hand.
" This is my betrothed," exclaimed the
princess joyfully, as soon as she saw him,
and she went straight up to him.
A splendid feast was made ready, the
father gave his kingdom into their hands,
and that is the end of this story.
BOOTS, CLOAK, AND RING
Once there was a blacksmith, and he had only
one son, John by name. They sent him to
school, but fortune changed and his parents
fell into poverty, so they were forced to take
their son home again. John had already
passed through the higher standard, but he
could not support his parents. So one day
he said :
** Father and mother ! What can I do at
home.^ There is no business here, so I can't
be a clerk, and I am too old now to learn
a trade. So I will go out into the world
and find myself a job, and, whenever I can,
I will send you some money. And when I
get a good job, you must sell your cottage
and come and live with me."
His father and mother wept, because he
wanted to leave them, but they knew that he
was right, for there was no chance for him if
he stayed at home. So they let him go.
40 CZECH FOLK TALES
They gave him their blessing before he went
out into the world. John wept till his heart
nearly broke at parting with his aged parents.
He walked on till noon. At noon he sat
down beneath a lime-tree beside a well, and
had his meal and a drink. Then, strengthened
and refreshed, he walked on till nightfall.
The country was quite unknown to him, so
he had to spend the night in the forest. The
next day he went on again till he came into
a wild mountain country. There he stopped
and thought over what he should do next.
He stood awhile, and then he went on again.
He reached a pleasant valley, and there he
found three brothers. They were quarrelling
and on the point of coming to blows. John
asked them what the matter was. The eldest
"Our father has died, and he bequeathed
to us these boots, this cloak, and this hat.
And each of us would like to own the boots."
"Why?" asked John.
*' Because they have the property that
whoever puts them on can cover ten miles
in the moment he wishes it. The cloak has
the property that its owner can Hy as far
and as high as he likes. And the property
BOOTS, CLOAK, AND RING 41
of the hat is that it makes its wearer
John said : " You are brothers, and you
ought not to quarrel. You must love one
another. So that you won't quarrel any more,
I will decide the matter for you. Give me
They gave him the boots, the cloak, and
the hat. He put the hat on, and they
couldn't see him any more ; he wrapped
himself in the cloak, took the boots, and
He flew some distance before he alighted
upon a log and put the boots on. As he
sat on the log, it turned over, and he saw
a big hole under it. He went down the
hole and came to some stairs, and went
down them to the bottom without any diffi-
culty. There he found a big room without
any human being in it. The table was laid
for one person. He thought : ** I am hungry.
Shall I eat this meal ? " Finally he decided
to risk it ; he took off his hat and began
When he had finished, an old crone entered
the room, and asked : " Did you like your
meal ? "
42 CZECH FOLK TALES
" Oh, it was very nice indeed," answered
John; "and, by the way, could you give me
lodging for the night ? "
*' I will, if you can stand it ; for at mid-
night twenty-four ghosts will come, and they
will try to make you play cards with them
and dance with them. But you must sit
still and not so much as look at them."
So the first night came. John was sitting
eating his meal. When he had finished, he
remained at table. After eleven o'clock two
dozen ghosts entered the room and asked him
to play cards with them. He refused, so
they began preparations for playing skitdes,
and again asked him to join them, but
he would not. Then a delightful music
began to play, and they asked him to dance
with them. No, he wouldn't ; he did not
so much as look at them. They kept on
dragging him about, tearing and biting him,
till he began to think it was all over with
him. But just then it struck twelve, and
the ghosts vanished.
In the morning the old crone came back
and waked him, for he was still asleep on
the ground. She asked him : " How did you
BOOTS, CLOAK", AND RING 43
"Very well," said John.
" Did you, now ? " answered the old woman.
• * Well, next night will be still worse, if you
can stand it. Two score of ghosts will come,
and they'll urge you to play cards and skittles
with them and to dance with them. But you
must sit quiet ; don't so much as look at
He stayed there that day, and had a
good time. Then the second night came.
After eleven o'clock twoscore ghosts rushed
in. They urged him to play cards and,
skittles with them and to dance with them.
But John wouldn't. He sat still, without so
much as looking at them. So they began
to torture him again, and dragged him about
even worse than before. But when it struck
twelve they left him on the ground and
In the morning the old crone came. She
washed him with some lotion till he recovered.
She asked him : "How did you sleep ? "
** Splendidly," said he.
" Did you, now ? " said she. " It was a
bad lodging for you, but the third night
will be even worse, if you can stand it.
Three score of ghosts will come, and will
44 CZECH FOLK TALES
urge you to play cards and skittles and to
dance with them. But you must sit still and
not so much as look at them."
All that day he had a good time again.
The third night came, and after eleven o'clock
three score of ghosts rushed in. They gathered
round him, and urged, prayed, and besought
him to play and dance with him. When
he refused, they seized him and began knock-
ing him against the ground, tearing and biting
him, so that he lost his senses and did not
see them go away.
In the morning the old crone came and
anointed him with a precious salve till he
recovered. The old woman said : " You
wouldn't have had such a bad time if you
had not stolen the boots, the cloak, and the
hat. The ghosts would simply have pressed
you ; they would have had no power over
you. As you followed my advice and did
not play with them, you have delivered an
enchanted town and a beautiful princess. She
will come to you at once. Now you are
rich, return the stolen goods."
Then there came a girl in a white robe.
It was the beautiful princess, and she thanked
him for delivering her and the whole town.
BOOTS, CLOAK, AND RING 45
He went to the window, and outside he
saw streets full of people and soldiers and
a great bustle going on. The princess
" My father is a king, and you will marry
me and succeed him. But my father dwells
far from here, and we will go to him. Do
you take this ring here."
So they went off. When the wedding was
to take place, John wanted his parents to be
present, so he asked the princess : " May I
go to see my parents ? I would like them
to be at our wedding."
The princess answered : " They live a great
way from us, but you will be able to get to
them. The ring I gave you has the property
that, when you turn it on your finger and wish
to go a hundred miles, you will cover that
distance in a moment. On your way you will
come to a king who has a beautiful daughter.
But you must not think of her nor of me,
for then you will lose the ring, and you will
not be able to go any farther."
John started. He turned the ring, and in
a moment he was a hundred miles off, and
found himself with a king who had several
sons. They entertained him splendidly. Then
46 CZECH FOLK TALES
he came to another king who had an only
daughter, and she was very vulgar. The
king insisted that John should marry her.
John thought : *' What are you thinking of,
my man ? My bright one is so beautiful
that there is not her equal in the wide world,
while your daughter is only a vulgar crea-
ture." At the moment he thought of his
bride the ring slipped from his finger and
John left them then. He was very sad,
and considered what he should do. " My
bride is far away now," he thought. ** I
cannot find my way either to her or to my
As he was walking along in this sad mood,
he thought of his cloak, and it came into
his mind that, if he could reach the Sun's
abode the same day, he could ask where his
bride's castle was. As soon as he thought
of this he was at the Sun's house. The
Sun was not in ; only his housekeeper was at
home. He asked her for a lodging, and said
that he would like to ask the Sun whether
he knew the castle where his bride dwelt.
She gave him the lodging. When the Sun
returned home in the evening, John asked
BOOTS, CLOAK, AND RING 47
him whether he had any knowledge of the
castle in which his wife dwelt. The Sun
answered : " I don't know. I never shone
there. But go and ask the Moon."
The next day, as soon as he woke, he
flew off on his cloak to the Moon's castle.
When he got there, the Moon was not in,
and John asked the housekeeper for a night's
lodging. He said he would like to ask the
The housekeeper said: "You must wait
till the Moon comes home, but you will be
very cold, for my mistress is an extremely
" I will crouch in a corner and wait till
the mistress comes ; in any case, my cloak
is warm enough."
When the morning drew near, the Moon
returned home, and John asked her whether
she knew where his bride's castle was.
The Moon said : " I never shone there.
But go to the Wind. He is a fellow who
penetrates everywhere, and so he is likely
to know where that castle is."
So John went to the Wind's house. The
Wind was not in, but Melusine, his wife,
was alone at home. John asked her to let
48 CZECH FOLK TALES
him stay there for the night. She tried to
" It is impossible, good sir. My lord is used
to blow terribly. It will be exceedingly cold."
He answered ; " I will cover myself up
and crouch somewhere. I can endure cold,
and, anyhow, my cloak is warm enough."
So he stayed there for the night.
After midnight the Wind came home and
asked : " Who is here with you, wife ? I
smell a man."
"Who should be here.-*" she said. "Your
nose is still full of the human smell."
But the Wind persisted : " There is some-
body here ! Tell me ! "
So she confessed. " Don't be angry, dear
husband ! There is a man staying here for
the night, and he wants to ask you whether
you will be kind enough to take him to his
The Wind answered : "It is very far from
here, and I must ask the Lord how strongly
I am to blow, if we are to get there. I
was there yesterday ; they are going to cele-
brate a wedding there, and they have been
drying some shirts ready for it, and I have
been helping them."
BOOTS, CLOAK, AND RING 49
The Wind went to ask the Lord ; and when
he came back, he said to John : " I can blow
strongly enough, but I don't know whether
you will be able to keep step with me."
John answered : " I have got good boots,
and I am sure I can."
So he wrapped himself in his cloak, covered
his head with his hat, and put his boots on,
and he went ahead so quickly that the
Wind could hardly keep step with him.
As they drew near to the castle, the
Wind said : " Here it is," and disappeared
in a whirl.
The other bridegroom had already arrived,
and was at the wedding feast. John passed
through the castle, and came to the table at
which they were dining. Nobody could see
him. He remained standing near the bride,
and whenever she lifted the food to her mouth,
he ate it before it could reach her mouth, so
that the spoon reached her mouth empty.
After the banquet she said : " My plates
were well filled, and yet it is as though I
had been eating nothing at all. Who is it
that has eaten my food ? My glass was full
too. I have not drunk, and yet it is empty.
Who has drunk my wine?"
50 CZECH FOLK TALES
Then she went to the kitchen, and John
followed close at her heels. When she was
alone he revealed himself. He took his hat
off, and she knew him. She was greatly
rejoiced at this, and ran to the room and said :
"Gentlemen, I would like to ask you a
question. I had a golden key and I lost it.
So I had a silver key made for me, and,
now that it is made, I have found the
golden key. Would you be so kind as to
advise me which of them I ought to keep.-* "
The bridegroom stepped forward and said :
** Keep the golden key."
Off she went. She dressed John in
beautiful garments, and then presented him
to the guests, saying : " This is my golden
key. He delivered me from torment, and
I was to marry him. He went to see his
parents, but he could not reach them. Now
he has come back to me just as I was going
to marry another man, the silver key of my
story, though I had given up all hope of
his return. Yet he has come back, and I
shall keep him, the golden key, for the
silver key has himself decided so."
The wedding was celebrated the next day,
and John took charge of the old king's
BOOTS, CLOAK, AND RING 51
kingdom. Then they both went to visit
his old parents, and brought them back with
them to the palace. On their way back
they called on the three brothers, and John
gave them back the boots, the cloak, and
the hat. And if they haven't died since,
they are still alive enjoying their kingdom.
Once there were two brothers. They were
lazy fellows, and thieves into the bargain.
They were expected to give a feast. They
said to one another : " We haven't got any-
thing. Wherever shall we find food for the
So the first said : '* I'll go to our neigh-
bour's. He has some fine apples, and I'll
pluck some of them."
The second said : '* I'll go to the shepherd's.
He has some fine rams. I'll steal a ram
These two brothers hated the third, and
so they abused him : "Silly Jura! You won't
get anything yourself, but you'll be ready
enough to eat what we get."
So Jura said : " I'll go to the burgomaster's
and get some nuts."
In the evening they went their ways.
When he had finished plucking the nuts,
56 CZECH FOLK TALES
Jura went into the charnel-house at the back
of the church and began to crack the nuts
there. The watchmen heard the cracking
in the charnel-house, and they thought the
place was haunted. As there was no priest
in the village (he lived in the next village),
they went to the burgomaster and asked him
to go with them to the charnel-house, saying
that the place was haunted.
The burgomaster said : ** I am so ill that
I can't stand on my feet ; no doctor can
But the watchmen insisted, and so the
burgomaster told his servant to take him on
his back and carry him to the place. The
servant carried him along, and the watchmen
called at the churchwarden's to ask for some
When they came near to the charnel-house,
Jura thought it was his brother bringing the
ram, so he called out : ** Are you bringing
The servant was frightened, and let the
burgomaster fall and ran away. The burgo-
master was terrified too. He jumped up and
ran after the servant. He cleared a wooden
fence with one leap in his flight, and it
SILLY JURA 57
wasn't long till he reached home. His family
wondered to see him cured so quickly without
the help of a doctor.
Next day the burgomaster proclaimed that
he would give a pound to the man who had
stolen his nuts the day before, if he would
only come to see him. So Jura went to
him, and the burgomaster said : "I ought to
punish you for stealing, but since you have
cured my* illness which nobody was able to
cure, I'll give you the pound I promised,
but you mustn't steal any more." So Jura
promised not to steal any more, and went
The brothers grew very fond of him now
that he had money, They borrowed the
money from him and bought themselves new
clothes, and said : " We'll go to see the world
and to get wives for ourselves. As for you,
Silly Jura, you must stay at home ; you'd never
get a good wife for yourself."
So off they went. But Jura went too.
He went to the forest and he was utterly
dazzled. He had often heard that there was
an enchanted castle in that forest. When he
came to the place where the ruins of the
castle were, night overtook him, and so he
58 CZECH FOLK TALES
could see nothing except what looked like a
light in a cellar. So he went into the cellar
to make his night's lodging there. There
was nobody in the cellar but a cat. The
cat greeted him: "Welcome, dear Jura!
How did you come here ? "
Jura was frightened when he heard the
cat speak, and was going to run away. But
the cat told him not to go ; there was no
need to be frightened. He must come back,
and no harm would be done to him. If he
wanted to eat, he could go into the store-
room and take what he wanted. She would
^ke him for her servant.
So he stayed there a year and had a good
time. He never saw a cook, but he always
found meals ready prepared in the storeroom.
He had nothing to do but get firewood, and
at the end of the year he was told to make
a great pile of it. Then the cat said : " You
must light the pile to-day, and throw me into
the fire. You must not help me out, however
I entreat you, but you must let me be con-
Jura answered : " I can't do that. I have
had a good time with you. Why should I
repay you in such an evil way ? "
SILLY JURA 59
The cat said : " If you don't do as I have
said, you will be very unhappy. If you do
it, you will be happy."
So Jura kindled the pile, and, when it was
well alight, he picked up the cat and threw
her into the fire. She wanted to escape
from the fire, but he wouldn't let her go.
At last he was so weary that he was forced
to lie down, and soon he fell asleep. When
he awoke, he opened his eyes, and behold !
there was no ruin ; he heard delightful music
and saw a beautiful palace with crowds of
servants. He was wondering at all this, when
a splendidly dressed lady came up to him and
asked him if he did not know her.
Jura said : " How should I know your
ladyship? I never saw you before in my
The lady said : "I am that cat. Witches
had put me under enchantment in the shape
of a cat. Now we will go after your brothers
who hated you so much and see how they
are getting on."
She ordered her people to dress him in
fine clothes, a fine carriage was prepared, and
they drove off. As they were approaching
the village, the lady said to her bridegroom :
6o CZECH FOLK TALES
•• Put your old clothes on." Then she called
an old, ragged beggarwoman and sent him
with her. She herself remained outside of
When the brothers saw Jura coming with
the ragged beggarwoman, they shouted : "He
is bringing home an old ragged bride, and
he's in rags too." The other brothers were
married too, and they were pretty badly off,
so they turned him out and wouldn't have
him at home.
So Jura went out of the village ; he changed
his clothes and drove back with the lady to
his brothers' cottage. When the carriage
stopped before the cottage, the brothers said :
" What a fine carriage ! Who is that noble
lord and the beautiful lady who have come
to our cottage ? " They did not recognize
So she said : ** Look here. You were
always hard on your brother, always sneering
at him, and now you are badly off enough,
while he is getting on splendidly. If you
mend your ways, you will get on too."
Afterwards she gave them some money
and went away with Jura.
Once there was a lad named John, and he
used to go to sleep always and everywhere.
One day he came to an inn where some
farmers were feeding their horses. So he
crept into the cart, lay down on the straw, and
went to sleep. When the farmers had driven
some distance, they noticed John asleep in
the cart. They thought : '" What are we to
do with him ? We have a beer cask here.
We'll put him in it and leave him in the
forest." So they shut him in the cask, and
off they drove.
John went on sleeping in the cask for a
long time. Suddenly he woke up and found
himself in the cask, but he did not know
how he had got into it, neither did he know
where he was. There was something running
to and fro near the cask, so he looked through
the bunghole and saw a great number of
wolves gathered under the rocks. They had
62 CZECH FOLK TALES
flocked round, attracted by the human smell.
One of the wolves pushed his tail through
the hole, and Sleepy John began to think
that the hour of his death was approaching.
But he wound the wolfs tail round his hand.
The wolf was terrified, and, dragging the
cask after him, he ran after the rest of the
wolves, who set off in all directions. Their
terror grew greater and greater as the cask
bumped after them. At last the cask struck
against a rock and was smashed. John let
go the wolf, who took himself off as fast as
Now John found himself in a wild mountain
region. He began walking about among the
mountains and he met a hermit. The hermit
said to him : " You may stay here with me.
I shall die in three days. Bury me then,
and I will pay you well, for it."
So John stayed with him, and, when the
third day came, the hermit, who was about
to die, gave him a stick, saying : "In what-
ever direction you point this stick, you will
find yourself there." Then he gave him
a knapsack, saying : " Anything you want
you will find in this knapsack." Then he
gave him a cap, saying : "As soon as you
SLEEPY JOHN 63
put this cap on, nobody will be able to
Then the hermit died, and John buried him.
John gathered his things together, pointed
the stick, and said : *' Let me be instantly
in the town where the king lives." He found
himself there on the instant, and he was told
that the queen would every night wear out a
dozen pairs of shoes, yet nobody was able to
follow her track. The lords were all flocking
to offer to follow the queen's traces, and John
went too. He went into the palace and had
himself announced to the king. When he
came before the king, he said that he would
like to trace the queen. The king asked
him : " Who are you ? "
He answered "Sleepy John."
The king said : " And how are you going
to trace her, when you are sleeping all the
time? If you fail to trace her you will lose
John answered that he would try to trace
her all the same.
When the evening was come the queen
went to bed in one room and John went to
bed in the next room, through which the
queen had to pass. He did not go to sleep,
64 CZECH FOLK TALES
but when the queen was going by he pre-
tended to be in a deep slumber. So the
queen Ht a candle and scorched the soles of
his feet to make sure that he was asleep.
But John didn't stir, and so she was certain
that he was asleep. Then she took her
twelve pairs of new shoes and off she went.
John got up, put his cap on, and pointed
with his stick and said : "Let me be where
the queen is."
Now, when the queen came to a certain
rock, the earth opened before her and two
dragons came to meet her. They took her
on their backs and carried her as far as
the ieg.d forest. Then John said : '• Let me
be where the queen is," and instantly he
was in the lead forest. So he broke off a
twig for a proof and put it in his knapsack.
But when he broke off the twig it gave out
a shrill sound as if a bell were ringing. The
queen was frightened, but she rode on again.
John pointed with his stick and said : " Let
me be where the queen is," and instantly he
was in the tin forest. He broke off a twig
again and put it in his knapsack, and it
rang again. The queen turned pale, but she
rode on again. John pointed with his stick
SLEEPY JOHN 65
again and said : " Let me be where the queen
is," and instantly he was in the silver forest.
He broke off a twig again and put it into his
knapsack. As he broke it, it gave out a ring-
ing sound and the queen fainted. The
dragons hastened on again till they came
to a green meadow.
A crowd of devils came to meet them here,
and they revived the queen. Then they had
a feast. Sleepy John was there too. The
cook was not at home that day, so John sat
down in his place, and, as he had his cap on,
nobody could see him. They put aside a part
of the food for the cook, but John ate it all.
They were all surprised to see all the food
they put aside disappearing. They couldn't
make out what was happening, but they didn't
care very much. And when the banquet was
at an end the devils began to dance with the
queen, and they kept on dancing until the
queen had worn out all her shoes. When her
shoes were worn out, those two dragons took
her on their backs again and brought her to
the place where the earth had opened before
her. John said : " Let me be where the queen
is." By this time she was walking on the
earth again, and he followed her. When they
66 CZECH FOLK TALES
came near the palace he went ahead of the
queen and went to bed ; and, as the queen was
going in, she saw him sleeping, and so she
went to her own room and lay down and slept.
In the morning the lords gathered together
and the king asked whether any of them had
tracked the queen. But none of them could
So he summoned Sleepy John before him.
John said :
" Gracious Lord King, I did indeed track
her, and I know that she used up those twelve
pairs of shoes upon the green meadows in
The queen stood forth at once, and John
took from his knapsack the leaden twig and
said : " The queen was carried by two dragons
towards Hell, and she came to the leaden
forest ; there I broke off this twig and the
queen was frightened."
The king said : " That's no good. You
might have made the twig yourself."
So John produced the tin twig from his
knapsack and said : " After that the queen
drove through the tin forest, and there I
broke off this twig. That time the queen
SLEEPY JOHN 67
The kingr said : *' You miorht have made
even this twig."
So John produced the silver twig and said :
•* Afterwards the queen drove through the
silver forest, and when I broke off this twig
she fainted, and so she was until the devils
brought her to life again."
The queen, seeing that all was known, cried
out : " Let the earth swallow me ! " and she
was swallowed by the earth.
Sleepy John got the half of the kingdom,
and, when the king died, the other half too.
A CERTAIN merchant died. His son was
nineteen years old at the time. He said to
his mother: "Mother dear, I'm going to try
my luck in the world."
His mother answered: "Go, dear son, but
don't stay long there, for I am old, and
should like some help in my old age." She
fitted him out for the journey, and said good-
bye to him.
Out into the world went the son, and he
travelled on till he came into a forest. He
had been going through it for three days, and
no end appeared. On the third day he kept
on and came at last to a cottage. He went
into the cottage and he saw a horrible being
seated on a stool. The fellow asked him
where he was going.
•' I don't know where I am going. I'm
seeking my fortune in some service."
** Well, if you like, you can enter my service."
72 CZECH FOLK TALES
The lad was very hungry, so he took service
with the other.
His master said to him : " You must serve
me for a year at least."
So he served him for a year. He was
treated very well, and he was a faithful ser-
vant to his master. The master was a sorcerer,
but he didn't do any harm to the lad. He
had a big pond, and three doves used to come
there to bathe. Each of them had three
golden feathers. These three doves were
three enchanted princesses.
When the year's service was ended, the
sorcerer said: "What wages shall I give
The lad said he left it to him.
"You're a good lad," said the sorcerer.
" Come with me to my cellar and take as
much money as you like, gold or silver, just
as you wish."
So the lad took as much as he could carry,
and the sorcerer gave him one of the three
doves too, saying :
" When you get home, if you haven't got a
house of your own, have one built, and then
pluck those three feathers out of the dove, and
hide them away so carefully that no human
THREE DOVES 73
eye can see them. The dove will turn into
a lovely princess and you may marry her."
So he took the dove and returned home.
He had a house built and made a secret place
in one of the walls for the three feathers.
When he plucked out the feathers the dove
became a beautiful princess, but she did not
know where the feathers were. But his mother
knew quite well, for he had told her all and
showed her where the feathers were hidden.
When they had been living together for
three years he went a-hunting one day with
another lord, and his mother stayed at home
with her daughter-in-law. The mother said
to her : " Dear daughter-in-law, I can't tell
you how beautiful I think you. If one were
to search the whole world through, one couldn't
find so beautiful a woman."
The daughter-in-law answered : *' Dear lady,
the beauty 1 have now is nothing to what I
should have had I but one of my golden
The mother went straight off, fetched one
of the feathers, and gave it to her.
She thrust it into her skin, and she was
immediately far more beautiful than before.
The mother kept looking at her, and said :
74 C2ECH FOLK TALES
"If you had the others as well, you would be
even more beautiful." Then she fetched the
other two feathers and gave them to her.
She thrust them into her skin, and behold !
she was a dove again. She flew off through
the window, thanking her mother-in-law :
" Thank you, dearest mother, for giving me
these three feathers. I will wait a little for
my husband, to say good-bye to him."
So she perched on the roof to wait till her
husband should return from the forest.
Now, the husband's nose fell to bleeding
violently. He grew frightened, and began to
wonder what great misfortune had befallen
him at home. He mounted his horse and
hastened home. As he was approaching the
door the dove called out : " Good-bye, dear
husband. I thank you for your true love, but
you will never see me more."
Then the dove flew away, and the husband
began to weep and to wail. Of course, he was
very angry with his mother, and he decided
to go away again and follow wherever his eyes
might lead him. So he started off, and he
went back to the sorcerer in whose service
he had been before. As soon as he entered
the sorcerer said :
THREE DOVES 75
"Aha! you have not followed my advice.
I won't help you this time ; the three doves
are gone from here. But go to my brother,
for all the birds and animals are under his
power, and perhaps some of them might know
where the doves are. I will give you a ball,
and when you roll it three times, you will
get there this evening. You must ask him
whether he knows anything about the doves,
>ftd you must tell him, too, that I sent you
The lad thanked him heartily and went on
his way. He rolled the ball thrice and reached
the other brother's by evening. He told him
that his brother had asked to be remem-
bered kindly to him, and then he asked
whether he knew where the doves that used
to bathe in his brother's pond were.
The brother answered : ** My good lad, I
know nothing at all about them. You must
wait till morning. All the birds and
animals are under my power, and if they
know anything about it, it will be all right."
In the morning they went to the forest.
The brother blew a whistle, and instantly
swarms of birds gathered round, asking what
was their master's will.
76 CZECH FOLK TALES
He said : " Tell me, does any one of you
know about those three golden doves which
used to bathe in my brother's pond ? "
None of them knew, so he blew his whistle
again and all manner of animals gathered
round him : bears, lions, squirrels, wolves,
every kind of wild animal, and they asked
what was their master's will.
He said : " I would know whether any
one of you knows anything about three golden
doves which used to bathe in my brother's
None of them knew. So he said :
*' My dear lad, I cannot help you any more
in this matter, but I have another brother,
and, if he cannot tell you anything about
them, then you will never hear of them any
more. He dwells twice seventy miles from
here, and all the devils of Hell are subjected
to him. I will give you another ball like the
one you had yesterday, and, when you have
rolled it thrice, you will get there before
He rolled the ball thrice and got there
the same evening. The sorcerer was sitting
in his garden on the grass. His hair was all
dishevelled like a mop, his paunch was bare
THREE DOVES 77
like a pail, his nose reached to his middle, and
was as bare as a stick — in fact, his appear-
ance was terrible.
The lad was terrified, but the sorcerer said :
" Don't be frightened, my boy ; though I look
so hideous, yet I have a good heart. What
do you want ? "
** I have come from your brother to ask
whether you can tell me about the three
doves which used to bathe in your brother's
•' My dear lad, I know nothing about them,
but as soon as you get up in the morning
I will call my apprentices, to find if any one
of them knows anything about the doves."
In the morning they got up and went into
the forest. The sorcerer blew a whistle, and
at once hosts of devils appeared, such a multi-
tude that they darkened the whole forest.
The lad was frightened, but the sorcerer
said : ** Don't be afraid ; not a hair of your
head shall be harmed."
The devils asked what was their master's
He said : " Does any one of you know
anything about the three doves which used
to bathe in my brother's pond ? "
78 CZECH FOLK TALES
None of them knew anything. The sorcerer
looked about him and asked : *' Where is the
lame one ? "
The lame one had been left behind, but
he was hurrying up for fear he should be
too late. He came and asked what was his
master's will. The sorcerer answered : "I
want to find out whether you know anything
about those three doves that used to bathe
in my brother's pond."
" Of course I know about them, for I have
been driving them before me. They are
bathing in the Red Sea now."
The sorcerer said : " You must take up
this man and carry him as far as their gold-
roofed palace," and he took the lad aside
and whispered in his ear :
'• When the devil asks you how quick he
is to take you, if he says : ' As quickly as the
wind blows ? ' say * No ' ; and if he says, * As
quickly as the step goes ? ' say ' No ' again.
But if he says, ' As quickly as the air goes ? '
say ' Even so.' If your cap falls, do not
look after it, and don't tell the devil about
it, or he will let you fall and won't carry you
to the palace. When you are seven miles
from the palace you will see it, and the devil
THREE DOVES 79
will ask you if you see it ; but shut your eyes
tight and say that you can't see it. When
you are three miles from it, you will see it
quite plainly, and he will ask you again
whether you see it. But you must shut your
eyes tight and say that you can't see it. Then
you will be above the palace roof, and he
will ask you again whether you see it. You
must say again that you can't see it, or he
will let you drop on the roof and you won't
be able to get down."
The devil took the man and flew with him
as the air goes. When they were seven miles
from the palace, the devil asked : " Do you
see the palace now.-* It is quite plain to
The lad shut his eyes tight and said that
he couldn't see it. So they flew on, and when
they were three miles from the castle the devil
asked him did he see it now. He shut his
eyes tight and said that he couldn't see it.
When they were right over the roof, the devil
asked : *' Surely you must see it now ; we are
just over the roof."
But he shut his eyes tight and said : " I
don't see it."
The devil said angrily : " You must be
8o CZECH FOLK TALES
blind if you can't see it ; we are just above
the roof." And he seized him in anger, and
set him on the golden table in that royal
The three princesses were sitting at the
table, knitting with golden thread. His own
wife was the middle one, and she knew him
at once. She sprang up right gladly and
welcomed him with joy. She nearly fainted,
she was so pleased that he had been able
to come so many miles in such a short time.
" Welcome, dear husband, welcome ! Wel-
come, our deliverer! You will save us from
the enchantment under which we are in this
The time passed very slowly there. So
one day his wife brought him the keys and
showed him through all the rooms and
closets, letting him see everything except
one room, which she would not open for him.
The three princesses had to take the shape
of doves for two hours in the morning and
three hours before the evening, and they had
to go to the Red Sea to bathe there. One
day when they had gone out to bathe he
thought : ** Why don't you want to open that
room for me ? " So he went and searched
THREE DOVES 8i
among the other keys for the key, and opened
the room for himself.
In the room he saw a three-headed dragon,
and each of its heads was stuck upon a hook
so that it hung down from it. Under the
dragon were placed three glasses of water.
The lad was terrified and started to run away.
But the dragon kept on calling out : ** Don't
be frightened, don't run away, but come back
again and give me that glass of water. Your
life shall be spared this once."
So he gave him the glass of water ; the
dragon drained it up, and instantly one of the
heads fell from the hook. He begged again :
" Now give me that other glass of water,
and your life shall be spared a second
He gave it him ; the dragon drank it up,
and immediately the second head fell from
the hook. Then the draoron said : " Now
do as you like. But you must give me the
third glass of water, whether you like it or
not ! "
In terror he gave him the third glass; the
third head drank it up and fell from its hook.
Now the dragon was quite free, and instantly
he made for the Red Sea, and began to chase
82 CZECH FOLK TALES
after the three doves until he caught one of
them. It was the lad's wife.
The other two princesses came back again
and began to weep and to wail.
"Thou luckless fellow! we were happy in
the hope that thou wouldst deliver us, and
now we are worse off than ever — now our
torments will last till doomsday ! "
He, too, burst into tears, for he was sad at'
heart that the dragon had carried off his wife,
whom he had won at the risk of his life.
The princesses' three brothers were under
enchantment too. One of them was in the
castle, changed into the shape of a horse.
One day the horse said to the sorrowing
husband : '* The dragon is away from home
now. Let us go and steal the princess."
So they went to the dragon's castle, carried
off the princess, and ran for home. The
other brother of the three princesses was in
the dragon's castle under enchantment in the
shape of a horse.
When the dragon came home, he said to
the horse : " Where is my princess ? "
^The horse answered : " They came and
carried her away."
The dragon mounted the horse at once
THREE DOVES 83
and said : ^* Now we'll ride as fast as we
can. We must overtake them."
The horse answered : " We cannot pos-
sibly overtake them."
But the dragon said : " Only let us start ;
we shall overtake them."
They started, and they overtook them near
the castle. The dragon snapped the princess
away at once, saying to the lad : " I promised
to spare your life in return for that glass of
water ; now I have spared it, but don't dare
to come to my castle ever again."
And with that the dragon rode home,
carrying the princess with him.
Some time after that the horse said to the
sorrowing husband : " The dragon is away
from home again. Let us go and steal the
So they went and stole her again.
The dragon came home and asked the
horse : '* Where is my princess ? "
The horse answered : ** Hibad ! They have
stolen her again, but we cannot overtake
them this time."
The dragon said : " We must overtake
He mounted the horse, and they went
84 CZECH FOLK TALES
flying after them till at last they overtook
them. The dragon snapped away the prin-
cess, saying to the lad : *' There's your life
spared for the second glass. But if you come
again, I'll tear you to pieces."
The lad was sorrowful, and wept and be-
wailed his fate because he had lost his wife
for ever. But the horse said :
" I will give you one mgre counsel. I
know a place where there are some young
ravens. We will go there, and you must take
the young ravens from their nest on the tree.
The old ones will fly at you and peck you —
they won't want to let you have their young
chicks ; but tell them that you won't give
them back their chicks unless they bring you
the healing water and the water of life.
' • When they bring the water, take one
of the young ravens and pull its head off";
then dip it in the healing water and put the
head to the body again. That's how you
will be certain that they have brought you
the real water of life. If the wound grows
together again, you may be sure it is the
real water of life. As soon as the wound
has grown together, take the water of life
and pour some of it into the raven's bill, and
THREE DOVES 85
when the bird revives, you will know quite
certainly that it is the water of life."
The lad did all this. The old ravens
brought him the water in leather bottles. He
took one of the chicks, pulled its head off,
dipped it into the healing water, and the
wound grew together again. Then he poured
some of the water of life into its bill, and
it came alive again. Then he put the young
ravens back into the nest again, took the water,
and went home.
When he got there, the horse said to him :
" The dragon is away from home to-day. Let
us go and see if we can get the princess."
So off they went and carried away the
princess. They ran off as fast as they could.
The dragon came home and asked the
horse : " Where is my princess ? "
The horse replied : " She's gone from us.
They've carried her off again, and this time
we shall never catch up with them."
The dragon said in a rage : " What should
prevent us from getting her back.-^ Let's go
So they flew after them, and they reached
the castle just as the fugitives were going
in through the gate.
86 CZECH FOLK TALES
The dragon snapped the princess away,
saying to the lad : " You rascal ! I told you
I would tear you to pieces if you came a third
time for her."
So he caught hold of him, and took a
foot in each claw, and tore him in two.
Then he went off with the princess and the
The lad's horse took the healing water,
dipped the two halves into it, put the one
against the other, and they grew together.
Then he took the water of life and poured
it into the lad's mouth, and he was alive again.
Then they went into the castle.
The lad was weeping bitterly and crying
out that all was over, that now he would be
separated from his wife for ever. But the
horse gave him comfort, saying :
"Well, I really don't know what advice I
ought to give you now. We have been three
times, and he caught up with us every time.
And the last time you were torn in pieces.
I don't know how things will turn out. But
I have another brother across the Red Sea,
and he is stronger than I or the dragon.
If we could only get him, we should be
sure to kill the dragon. But it's a hard
THREE DOVES 87
thing to do, for he is in service with the
Devil's grandmother. We will try it together,
if only we can manage to cross the Red Sea.
And, if you follow the advice I give you,
you will get the horse.
"You must serve the Devil's grandmother
for three days, and, when you have served
the three days, you must ask for that lean
horse as wages. You will have to herd twelve
horses for three days. Nobody has ever
managed to do it yet. When the first day's
service is done, on the next day the Devil's
grandmother always cuts off the servant's head
and hangs it on a hook. Now, listen . care-
fully. While you are herding the horses,
anything the hag gives you to eat at home,
eat your fill of it. But, if she gives you any-
thing to eat in the field, do not eat it, but
throw it away. If you were to eat it, sleep
would come down on you, your horses would
stray, and the Devil's grandmother would cut
off your head and hang it upon a hook."
So off they went together till they came
to the Red Sea. As they were drawing near
to the sea, they saw a huge fly entangled in
a cobweb and struggling to free itself. So
the lad went up to it and said : " Poor fly !
88 CZECH FOLK TALES
You can't get out of that cobweb ; wait a
bit, and I will help you."
The cobweb was as big as a sheet, but he
tore it in two and the fly crept out.
The fly said: "Thank you for helping me
out of the cobweb. Tear one of my feet
from under my belly, and, whenever you are
in need, think of me, and I will help you."
The lad thought: "Poor fly! how could
you help me.'*" Nevertheless, he tore off
one of her feet and kept it.
Then he went on his way, and he saw a
wolf with his tail trapped under a heavy log,
and he was unable to help himself, for wolves
have stiff" backs, and no wolf has ever been
able to turn. The lad rolled the log away
and released the wolf.
The wolf said: "Thank you for helping
me. Take one of my claws, and, whenever
you are in sore need, think of me, and I
will help you." So the lad took one of his
claws and kept it.
When he got quite close to the sea, he
saw a crab as big as a barrel. The crab
was lying on the sand with his belly upwards,
and he couldn't manage to turn himself
over again. So the lad went and turned
THREE DOVES 89
the crab over again. The crab asked him
where he was going. He said he was going
to the Devil's grandmother across the Red
The crab said : "My dear lad, I'll make
a bridge for you across the sea, so that you
will be able to get across. But, besides that,
you must pluck off one of my claws from
under my belly, and when you are in sore
need, think of me, and I will help you."
So he plucked off one of the claws and
kept it. The crab sidled into the sea, and
immediately all the crabs of the sea came
together, and they closed in on one another
so that they made a bridge across the sea.
The lad crossed the bridge and came to
the Devil's grandmother. She was standing
waiting for him in the doorway of her house,
and welcomed him. He'd just come at the
right time ; she wanted him to herd her
horses. She gave him plenty of good food
to eat, and sent him out to the fields. She
put twelve horses in his charge, and said to
" Look to it that you herd them well, for
if you lose one of them you will lose your
head. Just look here at these twenty-four
90 CZECH FOLK TALES
posts, with a hook on each one of them.
There are heads on twenty-three of them.
The last hook is waiting for your head. If
you herd my horses badly, that hook is
waiting for your head."
Then she fitted him out for herding the
horses. She gave him a piece of bread, so
that he might have enough to eat and not
starve. He meant to follow the horse's
advice, and threw the bread away. But a
fierce hunger came upon him, and he had to
go and look for the bread and eat it up.
The moment he had eaten it he fell asleep
and all the horses were lost. When he
awoke there wasn't a single horse there.
Sorrowfully he said : " The Devil's grand-
mother was right ; my head will hang from
that hook." In his grief he thought of the fly,
and it came flying up and called out : " Why
are you weeping and wailing ? "
He said that he had been hungry, and
had been forced to eat the bread, so that
he fell asleep and all the horses were- lost.
The fly tried to comfort him, saying :
" Don't be troubled, dear lad ; I will help
So she called together all the flies, and
THREE DOVES 91
they flew everywhere looking for the horses,
and when they found them, they buzzed
round then) and plagued them till they
drove them up to the herdsman. He drove
them joyfully home.
The Devil's grandmother welcomed them,
and when she saw that all the horses were
there, she said : " You've herded them well
enough, for you have brought them all
back." Then she seized a hatchet and
began to beat the horses with it, and most
of all the lean one, till the flesh hung in
strips from its body. The lad was sorry
for the horse, for the hag was beating it
hardest and it was the leanest of them all.
But the Devil's grandmother took a salve
and anointed the horses' wounds, and they
were healed by morning.
The next day she fitted him out again for
herding the horses, and gave him some more
of the bread, telling him to eat it all. But
when he came to the pasture he crumbled
the bread and trampled the crumbs into the
ground, so that it should be uneatable. But
it was no good. He was forced to dig it up
and eat it, earth and all, so great was the
hunger that the Devil's grandmother had
92 CZECH FOLK TALES
sent against him. In a moment he fell
asleep and all the horses were lost.
When he woke he saw that there were no
horses there. He wept and wailed. But he
thought of the wolf, and the wolf came run-
ning up and asked him : " Why are you
weeping and wailing ? Don't be troubled ; I
will help you."
He went and summoned all the wolves.
A great flock of wolves ran up, and they
scattered everywhere, looking for the horses.
When they found them, they drove them
to the herdsman, each horse with a wolf at
its side leading it by the ear. The herds-
man was overjoyed, and took the horses and
drove them home.
The Devil's grandmother was waiting for
him in front of the house. She said :
" Indeed you have herded them well ; this
is the second day that you have brought
them all home." But she beat the horses
with the hatchet far worse than the day
before ; then she anointed their wounds with
the salve, so that they should be healed by
On the third day she sent him out again
to herd the horses, and gave him some more
THREE DOVES 93
of the bread, telling him to eat it and not
to throw it away. But when he came to
the pasture he threw the bread down on the
sand and trampled it in, so that it should
be uneatable. But he had to search it out
again, so great was the hunger the Devil's
grandmother sent against him. The moment
he had finished it he fell asleep and the
horses were lost. When he woke he burst
into tears. This time it was all up with him ;
the fly and the wolf had helped him before,
but the crab had already made a bridge for
him, so there was nobody to help him. The
horses didn't know where to hide themselves
to save themselves from being beaten by the
Devil's grandmother, so they leapt into the
sea, where nobody could find them.
The herdsman was in agony, and he kept
on wailing that now his head must hang
upon that hook. At last he thought of the
crab. The crab turned round in the sea, and
instantly all the crabs collected and began
searching the sea for the horses, and they
pinched them until they drove them out of
the sea. But the lean one, since he couldn't
think of a better hiding-place, crouched
under the crab's belly. The other crabs set
94 CZECH FOLK TALES
to work to look for him, and at last they
found him. The big crab had to turn over,
and then they drove the lean horse out.
The herdsman took the horses and drove
them home joyfully, because his three days
of service were now over.
The Devil's grandmother was waiting for
him, and she beat the horses with the
hatchet so fiercely that their flesh hung in
strips from their bodies. Then she anointed
them with the salve, and the wounds healed
by morning. In the morning she asked the
herdsman what wages he wanted. He
answered : "I want nothing but that lean
She said : " It would be a sorry thing to
give you such a wretched horse in return for
such good service ; I will give you the best
He answered : "I won't take any horse
but the lean one."
She asked him why he wanted the leanest
one. He replied : " Because I am sorry for
him, for he always gets the worst beating.
I will have that one, and no other."
So she said : " Well, I will give him to
you, if you must have him, but I will give
THREE DOVES 95
you this fat one too. You can ride on his
back home and lead the lean one with you."
He mounted the fat horse and rode off.
But when they were drawing near to the
gate, the lean horse said : " Get down from
that horse and mount me, or you will be
the worse for it."
So he jumped down from the fat horse and
mounted the lean one.
The fat horse growled : "It's the Devil
gave you that advice."
And the lean horse said : ** If you had
gone under the gate on that horse's back,
he would have dashed you against the vault
of the gate, so that your head would have
been knocked off, and you would have been
So they came safely home. When the
princesses saw him come back they were
The other horse said : " Now, brother, let
us go. The dragon is away from home, and
the princess will be ours." So they went
and carried off the princess.
When the dragon came home, he asked
his horse : ** Where is my princess ? "
The horse replied : " She has gone, and
96 CZECH FOLK TALES
this time we shan't get her back. The horse
from the Red Sea has come, and he will
get the better of us all."
The dragon took no heed of that, but flew
after them and caught them up just by the
gate. He was going to snap the princess
away, but this time he could not do it. For
the horse from over the Red Sea kicked his
nose with his hoof, so that the dragon fell
down from his horse, and the other two
horses fell upon him, and between them they
killed the dragon.
They came to the castle with the princess,
and they were congratulating one another on
their victory over their enemy. Then the
horse which had been giving good advice
to his rider all the time said : " Now, dear
brother-in-law, take my sword there hanging
from the ceiling and cut my head off."
He was sad and said : "How could I do
that, after all the acts of kindness you have
done for me ? "
The horse said : " My good friend, I cannot
tell you why you must behead me, but you
would do me a great wrong if you did not
So he hesitated no longer, but cut his head
THREE DOVES 97
off. The blood spurted up twelve feet high,
and instantly the horse became a beautiful
youth. Seeing that, the lad was quick to
behead the other horses, and they all turned
into handsome princes like the first one.
They all thanked him for delivering them,
and they made him king of that castle, and
there he lived with his wife and her two sisters
in all happiness and harmony till they died.
The three brothers took possession of the
THE BEAR. THE EAGLE, AND
Once there was a count and he had three
daughters. All of them were young and as
pretty as peacocks, but the youngest was the
loveliest of them all. The count had little
money to spend, for he had lost it all by
gambling. And so — since he had to spend
the time in some way or other — he used to go
hunting. One day when he was out hunting
he lost his way in a forest, and he could not
find his way out of it. Suddenly a big bear
rushed out at him, shouting at the top of his
voice. He said he would show him the way
out of the forest and, besides, he would give
him as much gold and silver as he wanted
on one condition, and that condition was that
the count should give him one of his daughters
in marriage. The count was terrified. But
after thinking it over for a time, he consented
at last. The bear showed him the way out
THE BEAR, THE EAGLE, AND THE FISH 99
of the forest and gave him everything he had
promised, and so the count was pleased.
He spent his time eating and drinking and
gambling, till all the money melted away.
He never so much as gave a thought to the
bear, until one day, when the eldest daughter
was marriageable, a carriage came rolling up.
The carriage was drawn by a pair of raven-
black horses, and in it sat a prince with cheeks
of white and red, whose robes blazed with
gold. He came and took the eldest daughter
and drove off. The countess wept, but the
count did not mind a bit, but being short of
money, he began hunting again.
One day he lost his way again, and this
time an eagle flew down to him and promised
to show him the way out of the forest, and
to give him heaps of money into the bargain,
if he would only give him his second daughter
in return. The bargain was made and the
eagle fetched away the second daughter, and
only the youngest was left at home. Yet even
her the count sold, and it was a fish that
So the count and the countess were left
alone. They were very sad, but after a time
a boy was born to them, and they watched
loo CZECH FOLK TALES
over him like the apple of their eye. When
the boy was grown up, he saw that the
countess looked sad sometimes, and he gave
her no rest till she had told him everything.
When he had heard the story, he put his
best clothes on, took his sword, mounted his
horse, and said good-bye to his parents, telling
them that he was going to search for his lost
So he rode on till he came to the eldest
sister. Her he found playing with three little
bear cubs, for these were her babies. He met
his brother-in-law, who gave him three hairs
and told him to rub those hairs with his
fingers if he found himself in any difficulty.
Then he went to the second sister, and found
her with two eaglets and the old eagle, his
brother-in-law, as well. The eagle gave him
three feathers, saying they would be of help
to him in time of need. He thanked the eagle
for that and went on his way, and at last he
came to his youngest sister. It was not so
easy to get to her, for she dwelt under the
water, and he had to drop into her house
through the chimney. He would have missed
the chimney if it hadn't been for the smoke
from it : it was bluish smoke, hardly visible.
THE BEAR, THE EAGLE, AND THE FISH loi
His sister welcomed him heartily and showed
him her baby, a pretty little fish, and her
husband, a giant fish. The lad got three fish-
scales from the husband to use in time of
He learned that the bear and the eagle
were the brothers of the fish. They were
sons of a powerful king, but they had been
enchanted by an envious magician and turned
into these shapes. The sorcerer could take
different forms. But the brother must not let
that dismay him. He must get hold of a
golden egg which was hidden in the sorcerer
and throw it on the ground. If he began to
grow faint and did not know what to do, he
must call one of his brothers-in-law, and he
would advise him what to do.
And so it was. The young count attacked
the magician, who turned into a bull. But the
young count was not afraid : he rubbed the
bear's hair ; the bear came running up and tore
the bull in pieces. But out of the bull flew a
wild duck and tried to escape. Then the
count thought of the eagle feathers, and imme-
diately the eagle flew up, and he tore the duck
to pieces. But a golden egg fell from the
duck and it rolled into the pond. But that
I02 CZECH FOLK TALES
too wds of no avail, for the count rubbed the
fish scales, and after a while the fish threw the
egg upon the bank. The count caught it and
flung it to the ground so that it was smashed
into many pieces.
At once all around was changed. The pond
turned into a meadow upon which a beautiful
castle was shining. The castle was full of
servants and the three princes, with their wives
and children, were just walking out of it. All
were overjoyed to be so happily delivered,
and, when they had enough of rejoicing, they
started off to find their parents.
Their first journey was to the old count and
countess, so that they might enjoy the sight of
their children and grandchildren. Afterwards
they hastened to the old king. He ordered
many cannon to be fired, and prepared a
splendid banquet. And he gave the kingdom
to his eldest son. The second son went to the
land of the count, and it was divided between
him and his brother-in-law. And the youngest
went to the disenchanted castle. All of them
reigned prosperously and wisely in their
several realms and, if they haven't died since,
they are reigning still.
Once there was a king who had an only son.
One day the king went to inspect his estates.
He came to the first farm and found it all
right. Before he had finished going the
round of his estates, thirteen big farms in
all, he forgot that his wife was about to
have a child. On his way home he came
to a forest, and such a thirst came upon him
that he bade hi^ driver stop and look for
some water. The driver looked everywhere
for water, but he couldn't find any. So the
king himself went to look for it, and he
found a well.
Now, just as he was going to drink, he
kneeled down and he saw something in the
well which had claws like a crab and red
eyes. It seized him by the beard with one
of its claws — he had a pretty long beard —
and it refused to let him go unless he pro-
mised to give it the thing that he had at
104 CZECH FOLK TALES
home unknown to himself. So he said to
himself: "I know everything at home."
But he forgot about his wife's condition.
By this time his wife had been delivered of
a prince, and so the king, without knowing
it, had promised his son to the thing in the
well. And on that it let him go.
When he got home he saw the new-born
prince, and of course he was very sad. He
remained so for twelve years. The prince
asked him why he was so sad. And the
king answered : " Because you are sold."
The prince told him not to worry about it ;
he would be able to help himself.
The prince called for his horse and started
out. He had been riding five days' journey
from his home, when he came to a lake.
There he tethered his horse. He saw
thirteen ducks swimming on the lake, and
there were thirteen shifts lying on the bank.
So he carried off one of the shifts and hid
himself. When they saw this, twelve of the
ducks flew away, but the thirteenth was
running hither and thither, looking for her
shift. So when he saw her running hither
and thither looking for her shift, he came
out of his hiding-place. Now the father of
those ducks was the being which had seized
the king by the beard. He was a sorcerer,
and his name was Kojata.
This girl was his youngest daughter. And
she said to the prince :
" Now I will give you a good counsel.
You will save me and I will save you. My
father will set you a difficult task. I will
perform it for you, but you must not let
him know that I am helping you. Leave
your horse here and hurry on to my father's.
He will give you a lodging, and he will
give you three days to consider over the
task. You will be in your room alone, and
in the evening I will come humming to your
window, for I shall come to you in a bee's
shape, because I can't come in any other
way. And you must follow my advice. My
father has thirteen daughters, and we all
resemble one another exactly and we all
wear the same sort of clothes. You will
have to find out which is the youngest, but
you will have no other means of recogniz-
ing me than by noticing a tiny fly under my
left eye, so be very careful about it."
So it was. The sorcerer called him in
and the thirteen daughters were standing
io6 CZECH FOLK TALES
in a row. The sorcerer asked him whether
he could make out which was the youngest ;
if he could do so, his life would be spared.
So he went the round of them three times,
but it was as much as he could do to re-
cognize her. But he pointed her out. She
was the third from the end. So the sorcerer
asked him who had been giving him advice.
But the prince answered that it was none
of his business.
The next day the sorcerer gave him
another task : to build a palace of pure gold
and silver without using hammer or trowel.
The prince was very worried about it. But
in the evening the youngest daughter came
flying to him again, and she gave him a
wand. At a single stroke of the wand the
palace rose up ready-built, and it was more
perfect than the old one. In the morning
he was strolling about the palace looking
round him. When King Kojata saw him,
he came up to him and stopped : " Who
has given you this counsel ? " he asked.
The prince answered that it was the person
who had given him advice the time before.
So the sorcerer set him the third task,
and this time the daughter was not able to
advise him. She came to him in the even-
ing and said : " I have no other advice than
for both of us to flee at once, otherwise
you will be lost and I too."
Now, in the evening she turned herself
into a horse, and he mounted her and rode
as far as the lake. There he found his own
horse, and they both mounted it and rode
off at full speed. Soon she heard a great
noise behind her, so she turned herself into
a church and the prince became a monk.
The sorcerer's apprentices were riding in
pursuit of them. When they got as far as
the church they turned and went back to
Kojata. When they came to him they said
that they had not overtaken anybody ; they
had only seen a church and a monk in it.
And he said : " Those were they ! "
Next day he sent them again to pursue
the runaways. Though they were riding
faster than the day before, again they heard
a trampling behind them. So she turned her-
self into a great river and him into an old
broken bridge. Their pursuers came as far
as the river and the bridge, and then they
turned back and reported to their king,
Kojata, that they had seen nothing but a
io8 CZECH FOLK TALES
river and a bridge. He said at once :
" Well, those were they ! "
On the third day the runaways started
again and made for the border as fast as
they could, and soon they were in their own
land. When they reached the third church,
the sorcerer had no more power over them.
He began to tear his hair and knock his
head against the ground and to curse his
daughter for tricking him.
So the young king came home, bringing
a lovely young princess with him. His
father was very pleased at that !
To cut a long story short, there was a prince
and he had three sons. The first two followed
in their father's footsteps, but the third did
not. He said he would like to be a forester.
The father was angry and turned him out of
the house. What was he to do with the
fellow, when he was so obstinate and would
be a forester."*
*• Well, be whatever you like," said the
prince, and he gave him a shepherd's dress
and Hynek went out into the world.
He had been walking through a forest for
three days. He was hungry and cold, and
everything seemed to be against him. He
was tired too, and at last he fell asleep under
a tree. As he was sleeping, a black man
came to him. He would not leave him to
sleep, but waked him up. Hynek was
frightened. But he told him there was no
need to be afraid. He was a good man,
112 CZECH FOLK TALES
though his skin was black. So Hynek stayed
with him for seven years and learnt the seven
languages, zither playing, and all that sort
Now the seven years were over. In that
land there was a king who had an only
daughter. And there was a fierce dragon
which was ravaging the whole of that king-
dom, and everybody was forced to give him
one sheep and one human being to appease
him. So the lot fell upon the princess too.
The black man told Hynek that something
ought to be done to deliver the people and
to save the princess from being devoured by
" Go to the next homestead," he said, " and
ask to be taken on as a shepherd, and in the
morning you will have to drive the sheep into
So they took leave of one another. Hynek
was engaged as shepherd, and in the morning-
he drove the sheep into the forest, where the
black man was waiting for him. When he
came with the sheep, the black man gave him
a wand and a ring, and said :
" When you turn this ring, you will be
brought to a castle where a giant dwells.
SHEPHERD HYNEK 113
and you will have to tackle the giant. This
wand will help you to do it. Then you must
take his robe, his horse, and his sword. Then
you will be brought to the town, and it will
be about the time that the princess will be
So Hynek took his leave and found every-
thing just as he had said. As he came near
to the castle, the giant was looking out and
"You earthworm, what are you looking
" Oh ! I should like to have a try for that
big head of yours."
The giant fell into a rage. He was holding
a great club in his hand, and he flung it at
Hynek, but Hynek dodged aside and the club
sank deep into the ground, it had been flung
with such force. So Hynek went right up
to him, and, crack ! he struck him with the
wand. So the giant tumbled over. Hynek
took his sword and struck his head off. Then
he took an iron key out of the giant's pocket.
He opened the lock, took the robe and the
horse, and dressed himself as became a
knight. Then he turned the ring, and in a
moment he found himself on the road along
114 CZECH FOLK TALES
which they were bringing the princess to be
devoured by the dragon. When he saw the
procession, he asked :
" What's going on here, and why are the
people in such grief?"
" Because the princess is to be devoured
by a dragon to-day."
Hynek said : ** For the sake of her beauty,
show me his den where he dwells."
So he rode up to the rock and called out
loudly : " Now, dragon, come on ; your meal
is ready here, waiting for you."
But the dragon answered : " I don't want
it to-day ; come to-morrow, at eleven."
So Hynek returned. He rode towards
them and said that the dragon would not
leave his den to-day. So they all went
back to the town with the knight, and the
king would not let him go away on any
account. But Hynek began to make excuses.
He had to deliver a letter for the field mar-
shal and he could not remain there. Then he
turned the ring on his finger, and instantly
he was in the castle again. He left the
clothes and the horse there, putting the clothes
tidily together. Then he put on his shepherd's
dress, turned the ring, and at once he was
SHEPHERD HYNEK 115
near the forest, where the black man had been
tending his sheep meanwhile. He greeted
him kindly :
" You have done everything well. Always
act like that."
So he drove the sheep home and played
the zither again. Everybody ran up to the
door to listen to the magic playing of the
shepherd. But he said nothing to anybody.
The next day he drove the sheep to the
forest still earlier. The black man was there
waiting for him, and said : " Follow my advice
and you will be happy."
He said that he would do so. The black
man was to mind the sheep again. He gave
Hynek the wand and the ring, and Hynek
came to another castle.
The giant was looking out as he came up ;
he was standing in the doorway. He asked
the lad grimly what he was looking for.
" Oh ! it's nothing. I only want to try for
that big head of yours."
The giant was holding a hammer and he
hurled it at him. No eye could see where
it fell. Hynek leapt towards him, and, crack !
he struck him with the wand, and the giant fell
over and Hynek cut his head off too. He
ii6 CZECH FOLK TALES
took a silver key out of the giant's pocket
and went straight to the castle. There he
chose a robe, girded on a sword, took a horse,
and turned the ring again. Once more he
was on the road where the princess was being
brought to be devoured. He asked them in
a different language why they were wailing so.
" Well, our princess is to be devoured by
the dragon to-day. He would not leave his
" Show me his den : I will sacrifice myself
for the sake of her beauty."
They showed him the rock, and he rode
straight up to it and called out : " Now, dragon,
come on; your meal is ready here."
" I don't want it to-day, wait till eleven
The king was still less willing to let him
go this time, but he found some excuse, turned
his horse, and went back with everything to
Then he returned to the forest and the
black man. The black man said: "Drive
your sheep home now, but come earlier to-
morrow, for a heavy task awaits you."
Hynek could not rest that night : he was
so afraid that he would be too late. As soon
SHEPHERD HYNEK 117
as dawn came he let out the flock and drove it
to the forest. When he got there, the black
man said to him : " There's only to-day now.
It will be the last time. But it will be a heavy
task for you to tackle the third giant and
the dragon." Then he gave him the wand
and the ring, and said that the key to-day
would be of gold. He must choose the robe
and take a black horse, and he must take
with him the sword with which he had killed
the giant and the dragon.
He turned the ring and was brought to
the third castle. Here was a giant again,
much huger than the other two. He ran
at Hynek, but, crack ! Hynek struck him
with the wand. Then he took his sword
and killed him. Then he opened the castle
with a golden key ; he went to the stable,
then he put on a green robe and brought
out a black horse. There was a sword
hanging there, and he girded it on. Then
he turned the ring, and in a moment he was
on the road along which they were bringing
the princess to be devoured by the dragon.
He asked them in yet another language
why they were so sorrowful. He was ready
to sacrifice himself for the sake of her beauty.
ii8 CZECH FOLK TALES
So they showed him the den in which the
dragon dwelt, and he called out: "Well, come
on, dragon ; your meal is ready and waiting
for you here."
Now the rock began to shake ; all the stones
came rolling down, and the dragon flew out
of the rock, his seven heads burning with
flame, and he made straight for Hynek.
Hynek began cutting at the seven heads until
he was weary that he could not do any more.
Then the horse began to crush the dragon,
until after a while Hynek, being rested, took
his sword, and at once he cut all the seven
He was so scorched by the fire that he
could not run away, and he fainted on the spot.
The people had seen what was happening, so
they rode up and carried him away, lest he
should perish of the dragon's poison. They
brought him and laid him in the princess's
lap. She gave him her ring and a golden
neckchain, and so he recovered his senses
and found himself lying in the princess's lap.
He was afraid that he had stayed too long,
for he was supposed to be with the marshal
by this time. They were all trying to hold
him back from going, but he found an excuse
SHEPHERD HYNEK 119
and promised he would come back within
three days. So at last they just had to let
He returned to the castle, where he put
everything back in its place again, except the
sword, which he took with him and gave to
the black man. The black man said to him :
" You have succeeded now, and it will be well
with both of us."
So Hynek drove his sheep home rejoicing.
He was playing the zither, and all the people
gathered outside to listen to his rare and sweet
music. He asked what had happened to the
princess : had the dragon devoured her ?
" Oh no ! A knight delivered her, and the
king is going to give her in marriage to
"Alas! silly shepherd that I am, why did
I not tackle him myself with my shepherd's
But they all laughed at him : " You mind
your sheep, that's what befits you."
In the royal castle the wedding-feast was
ready. The sixth day had come and they
were still waiting for him. But the bride-
groom did not come and the princess was sad.
On the sixth day he asked the marshal if he
120 CZECH FOLK TALES
could go to the castle to play his zither to the
princess ; he would like to cheer her, since she
was so sad.
** You may go, and, if you succeed, you
shall make some extra money."
So Hynek went and played, and the music
was so sweet that the lords could listen to
nothing but his beautiful playing. He played
for three hours, and then he must go home.
They asked him what reward he would like.
** Nothing but to drink a cup of wine with
He had ready the ring which the princess
had given him when he was in her lap. His
request was granted, and the rest of the
musicians who were there were angry with him
for claiming so insignificant a reward. When
they had filled the cup for him, he drank the
wine and dropped the ring into the cup.
Now, the cupbearer who was filling the cup
looked into it and saw the glittering ring. So
he hastened to the princess with it. She
recognized it as her own, so she ordered them
to bring that shepherd before her.
'* Well," he said, " surely they won't beat
They brought him before the princess, and
SHEPHERD HYNEK 121
she made him tell her how he had got that
ring and how he had been clothed.
So he said : " All those three days I was
Hynek did not go back to the marshal,
though he complained of the loss of his shep-
herd. He was clad in royal robes now, and
they had a splendid wedding in the castle.
But the princess did not know what his parent-
age was, although she could see that he was
not a low-born man.
So after a year he said he would like to
visit his parents, and he told her to prepare
for the journey. She was to send a letter to
Prince So-and-So that the young queen was
going to visit him. He would go on ahead.
So he put his shepherd's dress on once more
and purposely tore it in several places, and,
when his princess arrived and everybody was
welcoming her, he went straight into the great
hall. Now, when the old Prince saw that it
was his son all tattered and torn, he bade them
put him under lock and key. But he had
no difficulty in escaping, and while they were
feasting, he came into the hall again and sat
down next to the princess. The father was
furious that his son should behave so shame-
122 CZECH FOLK TALES
fully. But the princess reassured him. It was
all right, she said. She did not mind at all ;
he might sit where he pleased.
After dinner she called for a bath. They
prepared it for her. But Hynek was quicker,
and slipped into the bathroom before her.
She shut the door and he put on his royal
robes, and then they went before his father.
The Prince was frightened, since he had
thought so ill of his son, and he fell on his
knees. But Hynek lifted him up and himself
kneeled before him and asked his forgiveness.
Then came in the black man. He gave
Hynek the sword and bade him cut his head
off. Hynek would not repay his kindness in
'• Then we shall both be unhappy."
So when he saw what he was to do, he cut
the head off and, when he had done that, an
English prince appeared in his stead. He was
only eighteen years old. All his followers
woke up too. Hynek accompanied him to
England, and then took leave of him.
How are they all now ?
I don't know.
THE THREE ROSES
Once upon a time there was a mother who
had three daughters. There was to be a
market in the next town, and she said she
would go to it. She asked the daughters
what she should bring them back. Two of
them named a great number of things ; she
must buy all of them, they said. You know
the sort of women, and the sort of things they
would want. Well, when they had asked for
more than enough, the mother asked the third
" And you, don't you want anything ? "
"No, I don't want anything; but, if you like,
you can bring me three roses, please."
If she wanted no more than that, her mother
was ready to bring them.
When the mother knew all she wanted, she
went off to market. She bought all she could,
piled it all on her back, and started for home.
But she was overtaken by nightfall, and the
124 CZECH FOLK TALES
poor mother completely lost her way and could
go no farther. She wandered through the
forest till she was quite worn out, and at last
she came to a palace, though she had never
before heard of any palace there. There was
a large garden full of roses, so beautiful that
no painter alive could paint them, and all the
roses were smiling at her. So she remem-
bered her youngest daughter, who had wished
for just such roses. She had forgotten it
entirely till then. Surely that was because she
was so old ! Now she thought : " There are
plenty of roses here, so I will take these three."
So she went into the garden and took the
roses. At once a basilisk came and demanded
her daughter in exchange for the roses. The
mother was terrified and wanted to throw the
flowers away. But the basilisk said that
wouldn't be any use, and he threatened to tear
her to pieces. So she had to promise him her
daughter. There was no help for it, and so
she went home.
She took the three roses to her daughter
and said : " Here are the roses, but I had to
pay dearly for them. You must go to yonder
castle in payment for them, and I don't even
know whether you will ever come back."
THE THREE ROSES 125
But Mary seemed as though she didn't mind
at all, and she said she would go. So the
mother took her to the castle. There was
everything she wanted there. Soon the basi-
lisk appeared and told Mary that she must
nurse him in her lap for three hours every
day. There was no way out, do it she must,
and so the basilisk came and she nursed him
for three hours. Then he went out, but he
came next day and the day after that. On the
third day he brought a sword and told poor
Mary to cut his head off.
She protested that she wasn't used to doing
things like that, and do it she could not.
But the basilisk said in a rage that, if that
was so, he would tear her to pieces. As
there was no choice, she went up to him
and cut his head off. And as the basilisk's
head rolled on the ground, there came forth
from his body a long serpent, hissing horribly.
He asked her to cut his head off again.
Mary did not hesitate this time, but cut his
head off at once.
The serpent (by the way, he held the
golden keys of that palace in his mouth) was
immediately changed into a beautiful youth,
and he said in a pleasant voice : " This
126 CZECH FOLK TALES
castle belongs to me, and, as you have
delivered me, there is no help for it : I must
So there was a great wedding, the castle
was full of their attendants, and they all had
to play and dance. But the floor was of
paper, so I fell through it, and here I am
THE ENCHANTED PRINCESSES
In the days of King Bambita, his two noble
daughters oppressed the people, laying heavy
taxes on them without the king's knowledge.
The people cursed them, and the curses did
their work. The princesses vanished. The
king sent some of his servants to look for
the princesses. But the servants came back
enipty-handed. None of them had been able
to find the princesses.
Now, a captain and a lieutenant heard of
the king's trouble. So the lieutenant went to
the king, and " I see," says he, " that you
are in trouble. I will go and look for the
"How much do you want for it ? " asked
" Twenty pounds."
The king agreed, and gave him the money.
" If you find them," said he, " half of my
kingdom is yours. "
I30 CZECH FOLK TALES
The lieutenant and the captain had plenty
of money now, so they went to an inn and
passed the time drinking. On the third day
the captain said : ** To-day I will go to the
king. If he gave you twenty pounds, he is
certain to give me more."
So he went to the king and said : "I see
that your majesty is in trouble. I should like
to go and look for the princesses."
" How much do you want for it ? " said
" Thirty pounds."
Well, the king gave him the money with-
out any more ado, adding that, if he found
the princesses, he would get half of his
They fell to drinking again and had a
There was a drummer near them, and he
heard them saying that they were to look
for the princesses. So he went to the king
and said : "I hear that your majesty is
prostrated by sore trouble. I, too, would
like to look for the princesses."
"How much do you want for it ? "
*' Forty pounds, at least."
The king gave him the money without
THE ENCHANTED PRINCESvSES 131
more ado. The two officers and the drummer
.left that inn for another, and so they went
on spending their money recklessly in one
drinking-house after another. The drummer
went with the other two, but he was more
careful than they were. He was not such
a spendthrift as the two officers.
They asked him where he meant to go.
" Wherever you go, I will go too," he
" Then why don't you join us and lead a
gay life ? "
"That I can't do until I know where to
find the princesses."
They invited him to join them, but he
refused to do it.
At last they bought some bread and other
food, and they all set out together on their
journey. They came to a dark forest, and
for a fortnight they searched it through and
through, but they could find nothing. They
couldn't find their way out of the forest either,
so they agreed that one of them should climb
to the top of the highest tree to see which
way they ought to go. The drummer, being
the youngest, climbed up a pine-tree. He
called out :
132 CZECH FOLK TALES
" I can see a cottage. Look, I will throw
my hat towards it, and do you follow the
Well, they went on until they reached the
" Go into the room," says the drummer.
" After you," said both the officers at once.
So the drummer stepped inside, and an
old crone welcomed him.
" Welcome, Drummer Anthony," said she.
" How did you get here ? "
" I have come to deliver the princesses,
and only for that."
** Well, you will find them, but those other
two fellows will get them from you by a
She gave him a rope three hundred
fathoms long and told him to bind it round
his body. She also gave him some wine and
a sponge. Then she said : "Not far from
here there is a well. When you come to it,
you must say that you will let yourself down
into the well, if the other fellows will drink
the fountain dry."
When they got to the well, the captain and
the lieutenant began to drink the fountain,
but it was just as full as before.
THE ENCHANTED PRINCESSES 133
** If we kept on drinking this fountain till
doomsday," they said, " we could not drink
So the drummer took the sponge, and at
once the water began to disappear, and soon
the well was dry. They began to quarrel
as to who should go down the well. The one
on the right side said the other ought to
go, but at last they agreed that the drummer,
who was the lightest, should go.
So he went down, and, when he reached
the bottom of the well, he found a stone there.
He drew it aside, and then he saw the light
of the other world. He lowered himself on
the rope into the other world. There he saw
a beautiful palace. He went towards it.
When he reached it, he saw that the table
was laid for two persons. He ate his meal
and then went into the second room. There
he laid himself down to sleep, and when he
awoke in the morning, he found the Princess
Anne in the third room.
*' Welcome," she said ; " what has brought
you here ? "
He told her that he had come to deliver
She said : "I don't know whether you will
134 CZECH FOLK TALES
succeed in that. Here is a sword ; see if you
can brandish it."
The drummer took hold of the sword, but
he could not even lift it, it was so heavy.
Then the princess gave him a ring. " Take
this," she said, "and whenever you think of
me, you will become strong. I have to hold
the dragon in my lap for a whole hour. As
soon as he comes, he will smell a man.
But you must cut him in two, for then I
shall be delivered. Just at nine o'clock he
Just at nine o'clock the palace began to
tremble and the dragon came in. But the
drummer encountered him and struck him
in two with the sword.
After that the princess took him into another
room. " Now you have delivered me," she
said. "But my sister is in worse trouble
still. She has to hold a dragon in her lap for
two hours, and that dragon is even stronger
than this one."
Then they went into the fourth room,
where was the Princess Antonia. She, too,
greeted him, and told him that he would be
able to deliver her if he could brandish the
sword beside her. He tried, but he could
THE ENCHANTED PRINCESSES 135
not even move it. Then she gave him a
ring and told him that, whenever he thought
of her, he would have the strength of two
hundred men. She said, too, that if he
succeeded in setting her free she would marry
Soon eleven o'clock came. The hall began
to tremble and the dragon appeared. But, as
he was coming in, Anthony was ready for him
near the door, and he managed to cut the
dragon in two.
Now, when the two princesses had been set
free, they gathered all the precious stones they
could to take with them, and went to the
opening that led into the world. But the
drummer had quite forgotten the old crone's
warning about the other two fellows, and he
sent the princesses up before him. Each of
the officers took a princess for himself, and
the drummer was left behind at the bottom
of the well. When his turn came, he was
careful enough to tie a stone to the rope.
His companions on the top pulled it up a
little way and then suddenly let it drop, throw-
ing down other stones into the well to kill
the drummer. But he had remembered the
crone's warning that his friends would try to
136 CZECH FOLK TALES
trick him. So he jumped aside and remained
there in the other world.
He went back to the palace and entered
the seventh room. On the table were three
boxes. He opened the first and found a
whistle inside it. He blew the whistle, and in
came some generals and asked what was his
majesty's will. He said he had only whistled
to find out if they were attending to their
duty. Then he looked into the second box,
and there he saw a bugle. He blew the
bugle, and in came some officers, who said just
what the generals had said. In the third box
he found a drum. He beat the drum, and
immediately he was surrounded by infantry
and cavalry, a great multitude of soldiers. He
asked whether any of them had ever been in
Europe. Two men were found among them
who had been shipwrecked.
*' Where is the ship .'* " said the drummer.
" Here on the seacoast," they replied.
At that, Anthony decked himself out in a
royal robe and started on his travels for
Meanwhile the two princesses had reached
home. One was engaged to be married
to the lieutenant, the other to the captain.
THE ENCHANTED PRINCESSES 137
But when the time for the wedding came,
both the princesses, still thinking of Anthony,
asked for a delay of one year, and their royal
father granted their request.
Anthony arrived safely in that land. He
met a traveller and said to him, '* Look here,
why should you not change clothes with
He was glad to do so, and Anthony went
on to the town in which the princesses lived
and sought out a goldsmith. He asked the
goldsmith for work.
" I haven't work enough for myself," said
" Well," said the drummer, " I have had an
order for two rings, although I was only walk-
ing the street."
" You are a lucky fellow," said the gold-
smith, and his wife, when she heard of it,
spoke in the drummer's favour, so he was
taken on as assistant.
*• Now," said he, "give me what I want and
I will make the rings. But nobody must
enter my room : I will take my meals in at
On the third day one ring was finished, and
this one was meant for the Princess Anne.
138 CZECH FOLK TALES
"You must take this ring to the Princess
Anne, master," said he.
" So I will," said the goldsmith ; " but what
is your price for it ? "
'• A thousand pounds," said he.
*' If that's so, I won't go. They would put
me in jail."
" Be easy," said Anthony, " nothing will
happen to you."
So the goldsmith went to the palace, and
sent in a message that his assistant had made
a ring for the Princess Anne. She sent a
message that she had not ordered a ring, but
she would look at it. As soon as she saw
it, she asked : "How much do you want
for this?" He replied that he was almost
afraid to say that it was worth a thousand
" Oh ! it is worth much more than that,"
she said, and she paid the sum at once.
The goldsmith returned home and told his
wife what he had got for the ring. She
wondered what sort of person their new
assistant was. The master brought the money
to him, but the assistant would not accept it.
" You can keep the money for yourself," he
said, "and I have just finished the ring for
THE ENCHANTED PRINCESSES 139
the Princess Antonia. You will have to go
to the palace again with this."
This time the master-goldsmith was ready-
enough to go. "How much am I to ask for
this ring ? " he said.
"Ask two thousand pounds."
So he was brought to the princess, and he
told her that his apprentice had made a ring
for her. She answered that she had not
ordered a ring. •' However, show it to me."
As soon as she glanced at it, she said :
" How much do you want for this .•* "
*• Two thousand pounds.'*
" Oh ! it s worth much more than that,"
So she paid down the money and told the
master-goldsmith to fetch his assistant to her.
As soon as the master came home, he told
his wife everything. She was still more
*'0 Lord ! " she said, " I cannot understand
it at all."
The master told Anthony that the princess
bade him come and see her.
*' She can come to me," was his reply.
When the princess heard that, she lost no
time, but took some royal garments for him,
140 CZECH FOLK TALES
and drove to Anthony's house in the royal
coach. She went straight to him and said,
" I am come to bring you home with me,
She bade him put on the royal robe she had
brought with her for him, and they drove
together to the palace, and their marriage was
celebrated not long after.
The two officers thought the king would
banish them or inflict some punishment upon
them, but he pardoned them and gave them
sufficient money to live at the court. Anthony
himself did not care for royalty. He and his
wife arranged that they would return to the
place where he had first found the princesses.
So they departed for that land, but a storm
drove them on shore near to the place where
he had met the old crone. She gave him
" So you are back again," she said.
They explained to her that what they
wished was to go back to that palace beneath
"Well," she said, "I will show you the
way to the other world, and I will let you
down the well."
They came to the opening, and Anthony
THE ENCHANTED PRINCESSES 141
was about to enter the well, but the old hag
begged him to wait with her and let the
princess go on before.
So the princess was let down to the bottom
of the well, and then the crone said : " I won't
let you follow her unless you first cut off my
** This is a strange way to repay the good
you have done me," said Anthony.
•' Well, unless you promise this you will
never see your princess again."
So he had to promise, and with that she
waved her wand and a road appeared, which
led them straight to the princess. Then
Anthony struck off the crone's head, and they
found themselves amid crowds of farmers who
were ploughing and soldiers standing at atten-
tion, and one and all welcoming their new
lords. For this land was an enchanted land,
and the old crone was a witch.
THE TWIN BROTHERS
Once there was a princess, and she was under
a curse and enchantment, so that she had to
spend her life in the shape of a fish. One
day a woman happened to be working in the
meadow by the river, and she saw a flock of
birds flying above the river and talking to the
fish. The woman wondered what it was that
was there, so she went to the waterside and
looked in. All she saw was a fish swimming
about. So she said : " I should like to eat
you, fish. I feel sure you would do me
Now, when she said that, the fish answered :
"You could save me. You will have twin
sons, although you have never had any chil-
The woman said that, if she could help her
in that, there was nothing the fish could ask
that she would not do to deliver her.
The fish answered : " Catch me and take me
THE TWIN BROTHERS. 143
to your field. There you must bury me and
plant a rose-tree over me. When the roses
first come into bloom you will bear twin sons.
After three years, dig in the place where you
buried me and you will find two swords, and
these you must keep. Your mare will have
two foals and your bitch will have two pups,
and each of your twins will have a sword, a
horse, and a dog. Those swords will have
the virtue that they will help your sons to
victory over everybody. I shall be delivered
as soon as my body has rotted."
When the twin sons grew up they were
very clever, and so they said : "We must try
our luck in the world. We are bold enough.
One of us will go to the East and one to the
West. Each of us must look at his sword
every morning to see if the other needs his
help. For the sword will begin to rust as
soon as one of us is in peril."
So they cast lots which way they should go,
and each of them took his sword, his horse,
and his dog, and away they went.
The first rode through deep forests, and he
met a fierce dragon and a lion ; so he attacked
the dragon, which had nine heads. The lion
stayed quiet while the knight attacked the
144 CZECH FOLK TALES
dragon, and at last he succeeded in cutting
one of the dragon's heads off. He felt tired
then, and the lion took his place ; then the
knight cut two more heads off the dragon.
And so it went on till he had all the heads
cut off. Then he cut out the tongues from
all the nine heads and kept them, and so went
forward on his adventurous journey.
Now, it chanced that there were some wood-
cutters in these forests, and one of them
collected all the dragon's heads, having come
across them by chance. That dragon used to
come to the town and devour one person
every visit. This time the lot had fallen upon
the princess, and so she was to be devoured
by the dragon. So the town was all hung
with black cloth. The woodcutter knew all
about this, so he went with the heads to the
town to sue for the princess, for it had been
proclaimed that whoever killed the dragon
should be her husband. When the princess
saw that such a low-born man was to be her
husband she was taken aback, and tried by
all the means in her power to delay the
The knight happened to come to the town
just then, and he saw a good inn, so he rode
THE TWIN BROTHERS 145
up to it. The innkeeper came at once to
ask what he could do for him. Now, there
were other guests there, and it was a busy
place. The guests were all talking of the one
matter : when the princess was going to marry
the man who had killed the dragon. The
wedding ought to have been long ago, but the
bride and her parents kept putting it off. The
knight listened to all this talk, and then he
•* Are you sure that it was that woodcutter
who killed the dragon ? "
They answered that it certainly was, for the
heads were preserved in the palace.
The knight said nothing, but when he
thought the proper time had come he rode to
the palace. The princess saw him from the
window, and she wondered who it might be.
He was ushered in, and he went straight to the
princess and told her everything. He asked
her whether he might attend the wedding.
She answered : "I am not at all pleased
with my marriage. I would much rather
marry you, sir."
He asked her why.
•' If he killed the dragon he must be a great
146 CZECH FOLK iTALES
" He is such a low-born man," said she, " that
it is not likely that he killed the dragon."
" I should like to see him," said he.
So they brought the woodcutter before him,
and the knight asked to see the heads. So
they brought the heads. He looked at the
heads and said :
" There are no tongues in these heads.
Where are the tongues?"
Then he turned to the woodcutter : " Did
you really kill the cruel dragon ? " he said.
The woodcutter persisted in his story.
" And how did you cut the heads off .-^ "
••With my hatchet."
•• Why, you couldn't do it with your hatchet.
You are a liar."
The woodcutter was taken aback and did
not know what to say. He was frightened
already, but he said : "It happened that the
dragon didn't have any tongues."
The knight produced the tongues and said :
•• Here are the tongues, and it was I who
killed the cruel dragon."
The princess took hold of him and embraced
and kissed him, and she was ready to marry
him on the spot. As for the woodcutter, be
was kicked out in disgrace, and they put him
THE TWIN BROTHERS 147
into jail for some time too. So the princess
married the knight and they Hved happily
One day, looking out of the window, he saw
in the distance, among the mountains, a black
castle. He asked his wife what castle it was
and to whom it belonged.
" That is an enchanted castle, and nobody
who goes into it ever returns."
But he could not rest, and he was eager
to explore the castle. So one morning he
ordered his horse to be saddled, and, accom-
panied by his dog, he rode to the castle.
When they reached it they found the gate
open. As he went in he saw men and animals
all turned to stone. In the hall an old hag
was sitting by the fire. When she saw him
she pretended to tremble.
*' Dear lord," said she, " bind your dog. He
might bite me."
He said : " Do not be afraid. He will do
you no harm."
He bent down to pat the dog, and at that
moment the hag took her wand and struck
him with it. He was turned to stone, and his
horse and dog too.
The princess waited for her lord, but he did not
148 CZECH FOLK TALES
return. She mourned for him, and the citizens,
who loved their lord, were grieved at his loss.
Now, the other brother looked at his sword,
and the sword began to rust ; so he was sure
that his brother was in trouble. He felt that
he must help him, so he rode off in that direc-
tion and came to the town. The town was
hung with black flags. As he rode through
the streets the citizens saw him, and they
thought he was their lord, for he had a horse
and a dog just like their lord's horse and dog.
When the princess saw him, she embraced him
and said : " Where have you been so long, my
dear husband ? "
He said that he had lost his way in the
forest and that he had fallen among robbers,
and, since he had no choice, he had to pretend
to be a robber too, and to promise to stay with
them and to show them good hiding-places.
The robbers, so he said, admitted him to be
of their company, and he had not been able to
escape before this.
Everybody was delighted, and the lord's
brother was careful enough not to say that
he was only the brother. But, whenever they
went to bed, he put his sword between himself
and the lady. The princess was troubled at
THE TWIN BROTHERS 149
this, and she tried to find different explana-
tions for the conduct of her supposed husband.
One morning, as he was looking out of the
window, he saw that same castle, and he asked
what castle it was.
She answered : " I have told you already
that it is an enchanted castle, and that nobody
who goes there ever returns."
So he thought : "It is surely there that my
He ordered his horse to be saddled and,
without saying a word to anybody, he rode off
to the castle. As soon as he entered the castle
he saw his brother and his dog turned to stone.
He saw, too, all the petrified knights and their
horses, and the hag sitting and keeping up
He said : " You old hag, unless you bring
my brother to life again I'll hew you in pieces
with this sword of mine."
The hag knew that the sword had magical
virtues, and so she said :
" Pray, sir, do not be angry with me. Take
that box there and rub the ointment beneath
his nose and he will come to life again."
** Curse you, you evil old hag ; do it your-
self, and instantly."
150 CZECH FOLK TALES
And he went and caught hold of her wand
and struck her with it, and at once she was
turned into stone. He had not meant to do
that, for he did not know that the wand had
such power. He took the box and rubbed
the ointment beneath his brother's nose, and
the brother came to Hfe again. Then he
anointed all the others who had been turned
to stone, and they all came to life again. As
for the hag, he left her there just as she was.
Then the brothers rode off to the princess.
When she saw them, she did not know which
of them was her husband, they were so like
So she said : " What am I to do now .'*
Which of you is my lord ? "
They came before her and bade her choose
the right one. But still she hesitated. So
her husband went up to her and took her by
the hand and said : " I am the right one and
that is my brother."
He told her everything, and she was glad
that her real husband had come again. So
they lived happily together, and, as for the
other brother, he went to seek his fortune
Once upon a time there were two children,
a boy and a girl. They only had a mother,
who was a widow. One day their mother sent
them to get some wood for the fire. Off they
went. The girl was just learning to knit, so
she put a ball of wool in her pocket. They
went on as far as they knew the way. Then
suddenly they began to wonder whether they
could find their way home.
The girl said: "I will bind the end of the
thread to a tree, and so we shall be able to find
our way back."
So they went on till the thread had all run
out. Then they turned back, but they found
that wild creatures had broken the thread.
What were they to do ? They wandered on
till night fell, and then they saw that they
would have to spend the night in the forest.
They came to a pond, and they found that
they could not go any farther. So they
152 CZECH FOLK TALES
walked round the pond till the Waternick got
hold of them. He took them with him, and
there they were.
When he got home with them, his wife was
waiting for him. Round the stove there were
some shelves for vessels that they used for
catching poor souls in. The Waternick and
his wife were delighted with the children; they
decided that they would employ them as ser-
vants, so Mrs. Waternick took charge of them.
The children spent some years in this way and
learned about everything under the water.
One day the Waternick went away to catch
some human souls, and he gave orders to Mrs.
Waternick not to leave the children alone.
But the old hag fell asleep, and the children
walked some distance from the hut, till they
thought she would scold them, and so they
returned home. But they meant to go farther
the next day, if only the old hag went to sleep
again. As soon as they were sure that she
was asleep they ran out of the hut and went
as far as they could.
The old hag woke up and cried out : " Where
are you, children ? "
She jumped to her feet and ran after them.
They were within a few steps of getting safe
THE WATERNICK 153
away, when, alas ! she overtook them. She
took them back and forced them to work, and
they had to stay at home besides.
When the Waternick came home, she told
him all about it, and the Waternick said •
'• Never mind, I'll set them to work, and they
won't have time to think about making their
So in the morning he took them to the
forest and gave them a wooden hatchet and a
wooden saw and bade them, fell the trees.
" When they are all cut down, you shall go
So the Waternick left them, and the children
began the work at once. They took the saw
and tried to cut down a tree. But the saw
soon broke and they were done for. So they
took the hatchet, and the hatchet split in two
after one stroke. They began to cry.
" Things look bad for us," they said.
Since they saw that they could not help
themselves, they stayed where they were, and
presently they fell asleep. I don't know how
long they had been sleeping. But it was
already time to go back.
The Waternick came and asked : ** Have
you finished ? "
154 CZECH FOLK TALES
They said that the hatchet and saw were
only made of wood, and that both were
broken. He took them home.
Next day the Waternick went about his
work, while Mrs. Waternick was busy outside
the hut. The children looked at the cups
on the shelves. The cups were tilted up.
So the girl lifted one of them. And she
heard the words : " God speed you ! " She
lifted another, and the same greeting came
again. So she kept on lifting the cups till
she had lifted all of them. Human souls had
been imprisoned under those cups. Now the
hag came into the room and she saw that all
the cups had been lifted. She began to curse,
and she said that the children would certainly
get a good thrashing when the old man came
The children often felt lonely ; they thought
of their mother and wondered if she were still
alive, and what they could do to get away.
So they decided that the next day, when the
hag was sleeping, they would try how far they
"If only we could get as far as home, it
would be all right then."
In the morning the girl had to comb Mrs.
THE WATERNICK 155
Waternick's hair and dress her in her smart
dress. When she had finished, Mrs. Water-
nick had a sleep. Now the children took to
their heels; they were as quick as ravens, trying
to get away before Mrs. Waternick should
wake. Being swift of foot, they reached the
shore. They leapt out and ran straight on
again. Of course they heard the hag screech-
ing behind them, but they were on dry land,
so they thought : " We needn't care for any-
The hag soon stopped her pursuit. The
children were tired, so they lay down under a
tree in the forest and fell asleep. As they
were sleeping, somebody woke them up. It
was the forester. They told him that they
were afraid of falling into the Waternick's
hands again. But the forester told them not
to be afraid, and asked how they came there.
The children told him everything just as it
Now, the forester remembered that he had
heard of a widow who had lost her children.
So he thought that these must be the children.
He said nothing, but he told his wife to get
them some food, and asked the children to sit
down and eat. The children thought the food
156 CZECH FOLK TALES
was very nice, so he asked them what they
were accustomed to eat. They said they were
accustomed to eat flowers. So they ate plenty.
The forester decided to do all he could to
get the children home. At last it was dis-
covered where their mother lived, and so the
children came back to her, and they lived with
her until they died.
THE MAN WHO MET MISERY
Once upon a time there lived a rich man, so
rich that you might almost say he oozed gold.
He had a son, and from his boyhood the lad
was a real spendthrift, for he knew nothing
about hard times. Yet he had often been told
that there was Misery in the world. So when
he was grown up, he thought: "Well, I'm sick
of staying at home, so I'll go out into the
world to see if I can meet Misery."
He told this to his father, and his father
said at once : "Yes, you can go. If you stay
at home, you'll soon turn into a lazy old
woman. You'll get experience in the world,
and that can't do you any harm."
So our Francis — that was his name, though
really it doesn't matter very much what his
name was — took everything he wanted and
started off on his travels. So long as he had
enough money, he was all right, he couldn't
meet with Misery. But when his money was
158 CZECH FOLK TALES
all spent — that's when everybody feels the
pinch — he began to hang his head and his
travels lost a good deal of their charm. But
he told people his name and his father's name,
and for a time they helped him. But at last
he came into a country that was quite strange
to him. There was a vast desert, through
which he walked for a long time, and he began
to feel hungry and thirsty, but there was no
water — no, not so much as w ould nj^pj sten his
Now, as he went on his way, he saw a flight
of stairs going down into a hole, and, without
hesitating, down he went.
He came into a cellar, and there he saw a
man lying on a table. It was an awfully big
man, of the kind that used to be called ogres,
and he was snoring like a circular saw.
Francis looked about him, and he saw all
sorts of human bones lying about. He
thought : " That's a nice mess. I expect the
fellow's a man-eater, and he'll swallow me
down like a currant. I'm done for now."
He would have liked to go away, but he
was afraid to move. But he had a dagger,
so he drew it from its sheath without making
any noise, and tried to steal up to the ogre
THE MAN WHO MET MISERY 159
quietly. The ogre's head was lying on the
table, so he pierced both his eyes with the
dagger. The ogre sprang up, cursing horribly.
He groped about him and found that he was
Francis cleared the stairs in two jumps and
off he ran, trying to get as far from the ogre
as he could. But the ogre knew the place
well and kept close on his heels.
" To think that a shrimp like that could
make me suffer so ! " he thought ; and yet he
found that, run as he would, he couldn't
catch the lad. So he cried out : " Wait a
bit, you worm ! Since you're such a champion
and have managed to tackle me, I'll give you
something to remember me by."
As he said this, he flung a ring at the lad,
and the jewel in it shone like flame. The
lad heard the ring tinkle as he ran by, so
he picked it up and put it on his finger.
But as soon as the ring was on his finger, the
giant called out : " Where are you, ring ? "
And the ring answered : " Here I am," and
the ogre ran after the sound. Francis jumped
on one side, but the ogre called out again,
•• Where are you ? " and the ring answered :
" Here ! "
i6o CZECH FOLK TALES
So it went on for some time, until Francis
was so tired that his only thought was :
"Well, if he kills me, he kills me." He
tried to pull the ring off, but it clung tight,
really cutting into the flesh, and the ogre
was still following close on his heels. At
last — there was no other choice, for the ring
kept on calling out " Here I am " — Francis
stretched out that finger, and the ogre broke
it off with one grip. Off ran Francis, glad
enough to get off with his life.
When he reached home, they asked him :
" Did you meet Misery ? "
" Indeed I did. I know what it is now.
It gave me a nice run for it. It's an awful
thing, and there's no joking with it."—
NINE AT A BLOW
Once upon a time there was a tailor, and,
whenever he hadn't a job, he used to spend
his time mending stockings. One day after
dinner the table was covered with flies.
The tailor struck at them with a stocking
and killed nine of them at a blow.
As he hadn't any job in hand, he started
out to see the world, and his belt had written
on it " Nine at a blow." On his way he
met a boy, who asked him to buy a finch
from him. He bought it, put it in his knap-
sack, and went on his way. Then he came
to a farm where the farmer's wife was making
cheese. He asked her for something to eat,
so she gave him some sour milk and a piece
of Yorkshire cheese. The tailor drank the
milk and put the cheese in his knapsack and
went on his way. At last he reached a
town. It was a hot day, so he lay down
and fell asleep. Now, a giant happened to
i62 CZECH FOLK TALES
pass that way, and he saw written in golden
letters : " Nine at a blow."
So he waked the tailor and asked him :
'* Have you really killed nine at a blow ? "
The tailor answered that he had, and the
giant said : '* Let's have a trial which of us
is the stronger. I'll cast a stone, and it will
be an hour before it comes down."
The tailor said: "I'll cast a stone that
won't come down at all."
So the giant cast a stone, and it was a full
hour before it came dowi; again. Instead of
casting a stone, the tailor let the finch go,
and, of course, it didn't come back again.
So the giant said : " Let's have another
try. I'll crush a stone to powder."
The tailor said : "I'll squeeze water from a
So the giant took a pebble and crushed it
to powder. The tailor took the cheese and
squeezed it till the water oozed out of it.
The giant gave in, and acknowledged that
the tailor was the stronger of the two. So
they went on together till they came to a
cherry-tree growing near a meadow, and the
cherries were ripe. They wanted to pick
some of the cherries for themselves. So the
NINE AT A BLOW 163
tailor climbed the tree, but the giant simply
bent down the top of the tree and began to
pluck the cherries. When he had finished he
let go, and the tailor was flung onto a heap
of dry grass piled up in the meadow. So
the tailor said : " If it hadn't been for my
skill in flying, I should have broken my
neck," and he promised to teach the giant
how to fly.
So they went on their way again, and they
came to a town. The town was all in
mourning. They asked the reason, and they
were told that a dragon had taken up his
headquarters in the church and was killing
the people. The king would give a thousand
pounds to whoevei could kill the dragon.
So they told the king that they would kill
They ordered a big hammer and a big
pair of tongs to be made for them. When
they were made, the giant took the tongs
and he gave the hammer to the tailor to
carry. But the tailor said : " Wouldn't it
shame you if people should see us, each
carrying such a trifle? Take both the things
When they came near the church door,
i64 CZECH FOLK TALES
the giant gave the hammer to the tailor, who
stuck fast to it. Then the dragon came
dashing out, and flung the tailor behind him,
but the giant split him in twain. But the
tailor protested :
" A nice mess you've made of it. I meant
to take the dragon alive. We should have
got more money for him so." Then he
said : ** Now I will teach you how to fly."
So they climbed up the church steeple,
and the tailor said : " When I say ' One,
two, three,' you must jump." And the giant
jumped and broke his neck.
The tailor told the king that the dragon
had killed the giant, so he pocketed the
thousand pounds for himself.
A CLEVER LASS
Once upon a time there was a shepherd.
He used to pasture his sheep upon a hill,
and one day he saw something glittering
on the opposite hill. So he went there to
see what it was. It was a golden mortar.
He took it up and said to his daughter : "I
will give this mortar to our king."
But she said : " Don't do that. If you
give him the mortar, you won't have the
pestle, and he is sure to ask for it, and then
you will get into trouble."
But the shepherd thought that she was
only a silly girl. He took the mortar, and,
when he came before the king, he said :
" Begging your pardon, Mr. King, I want
to give you this mortar."
The king answered him roughly : "If you
give me the mortar, I must have the pestle
as well. Unless the pestle is here within
three days, your life will be forfeit."
i66 CZECH FOLK TALES
The shepherd began to lament : " My
daughter was right when she said that when
you had got the mortar you would want the
pestle too. I wouldn't listen to her, so it
serves me right."
" Have you such a clever daughter as
that?" asked the king.
" Indeed I have," said the shepherd.
" Then tell your daughter that I will marry
her, if she comes neither walking nor riding,
clothed nor unclothed, neither by day nor
by night, neither at noon nor in the morning.
And I won't ask for the pestle either."
The shepherd went home and said: "You
can get me out of this, if you go to
Mr. King neither clothed nor unclothed,"
and the rest of it.
But the daughter wasn't a bit frightened.
She came with the fall of dusk (and that
was neither at noon nor in the morning) ;
she dressed herself in fishing-nets ; she took
a goat, and she partly rode on the goat and
partly she walked.
And when the king saw that she had only
a fishing-net on, that she came with the
approach of dusk, and that she was partly
walking, partly riding on the goat, he was
A CLEVER LASS 167
bound to marry her. But he said to her :
" You will be my wife so long as you don't
give advice to anybody ; but if you do, you
must part with me."
Well, she didn't give advice to anybody
until one day there was a market in the town,
and a farmer's mare had a foal at the market.
The foal ran away to another farmer, who
was there with a gelding, and the farmer said :
'* This foal belongs to me."
They went to law about it, and at last the
matter came before the king. And the king,
considering that every animal ought to run
to its mother, decided that a gelding had
had a foal.
The farmer who owned the mare went down
the stairs, saying over and over again : " The
gelding has foaled ! the gelding has foaled ! "
The queen heard him, and she said : "Man,
you are talking nonsense."
So he told her that he had been at the
market, that his mare had foaled, but the
foal ran to another farmer who was there
with a gelding. "And now," he said, "it
has been decided that the gelding has foaled."
So he thought there could be no mistake ; at
any rate, he couldn't help it.
i68 CZECH FOLK TALES
When the queen heard this story she said :
" To-morrow, my lord the king will go out
for a stroll. Take a fishing-net, and begin
fishing on the road in front of him. The
king will ask you : * Why are you fishing on
a dry road ? ' And you must answer : ' Why
not ? it's as hopeful as expecting a gelding to
foal.' But you must not say who gave you
So it was. As the king was walking along
he saw the farmer fishing on the dry road.
He asked him why he was fishing there.
" Why not ? " said he, " it's as hopeful as
expecting a gelding to foal."
The king at once began to rate the farmer.
" That's not out of your own head," he said,
and he kept at the farmer until he let the
So the king came home, summoned the
queen, and said to her : " You have been
with me for a long time, and you have given
advice in spite of all, so you must go to-
morrow. But I will allow you to take with
you the thing you like best."
It was no good arguing. So the king invited
all his courtiers and prepared a splendid ban-
quet. When the banquet was finished, the
A CLEVER LASS 169
queen said to the king : " Before we part,
you must drink this glass of wine to my
health," and she had put some opium into
the wine on the sly.
The king drank it at a draught and fell
asleep at once. A carriage was got ready,
and the queen put the king in it and drove
to her father's old hut. There she laid the
king on the straw, and, when he woke up,
he asked where he was.
" You are with me. Didn't you tell me
that I could take the thing I liked best
with me ? "
The king saw how clever she was, and
he said : *' Now you can give advice to
anybody you like."
And so they drove home again, and he
was king and she queen again.
THE SOLDIER AND THE DEVIL
A DISCHARGED soldicr was going home. He
had only threepence in his pocket. As he
was going through a forest he met a beggar.
The beggar asked him for a penny. The
soldier gave him one, and went on his way.
Then he met another beggar. This beggar was
very ill, and he asked the soldier for a penny.
So the soldier gave him the other penny.
Then he met a third beggar. This beggar
was half-dead. The soldier took pity on him
and gave him the third penny. Soon after
he had left the forest our Lord appeared to
him, and in return for those three pennies
He granted him three boons. For the first
boon the soldier chose a pipe that should be
full of tobacco whenever he wished, so that
he might always have a smoke handy. The
second boon he asked was that, if he wanted
to put any one in his knapsack, they should
be in it as soon as he said : " Leap into that
THE SOLDIER AND THE DEVIL 171
knapsack." The third boon was that his purse
should be full of gold coins whenever he
knocked on it.
Our Lord said : " So be it ! "
Soon afterwards he came to a mill and
asked for a night's lodging. They said that
they only had one room for themselves ; the
other one was haunted by a devil every
midnight. But the soldier wasn't afraid. He
said that they could leave him there alone ;
he didn't mind a bit.
He sat down at the table and played cards.
When midnight came there was a terrible
noise, and the devil appeared, sure enough.
When he saw the soldier playing cards he
grinned ; he was sure he had him. So he
sat down opposite him and began to play
too. It was nearly one o'clock at last, time
for him to go, so he caught hold of the soldier
and tried to tear him in pieces. But he
had no success. For the soldier said : " Leap
into my knapsack," and the devil was in it.
Then the soldier threw the sack with the devil
in it under the bed, and went to sleep in
In the morning, as soon as he had got up,
the millers went to see if the soldier was still
172 CZECH FOLK TALES
alive. They were greatly surprised to find
him all right. They said they would give
him anything he wanted, but he wouldn't
take anything. Off he went, and called at a
blacksmith's. He told the blacksmith to give
the devil in the sack a good hammering, and
then he let the devil go.
After that he came into a town. He heard
that there was a count's daughter there who
was an accomplished cardplayer. She won
everybody's money from them. He went to
her palace and asked her if she would play
with him. She was ready. So they played
and played, but she couldn't win all his
money from him, for his purse was always
fuller than before. It was late by now and
the lady was sick of the game, so he went
to bed. He put the three precious gifts on
the table, but when he got up in the morn-
ing they were gone ; the lady had stolen
them from him. He grieved over his bad
luck, but it was no use, and he had to leave
As he went on his way, he saw a fine
apple-tree by the side of the road with
delicious apples on it. So he took an apple
and ate half of it. Then he went on his
THE SOLDIER AND THE DEVIL 173
way, but he was surprised to see that every-
body who looked at him ran away from him.
So he went to a well and saw that he had
horns on his head ; that came from his eating
the apple. Back he went, and he found a
pear-tree ; he ate half of a pear and the horns
He thought that he would give the other
half of the apple to the lady, and perhaps
she would get horns too. So he went and
gave her the half apple. She enjoyed it very
well, but soon horns grew on her head. The
count called together all the doctors and
asked them to operate on the horns. But
the more they cut at the horns the longer
they grew. So the king proclaimed that she
would marry the man who should rid her of
the horns, but if he failed, his life should be
forfeit. So the soldier came back and told
the lady that he would rid her of the horns
if she would give him his three treasures
back. She agreed at once. So he gave her
the other half of the pear ; she ate it, and
the horns fell off.
The soldier was quite happy now. One
day he met Death, and he said to
him ; " Leap into my knapsack." And
174 CZECH FOLK TALES
Death was immediately imprisoned in the
The soldier was carrying Death about for
some time, until at last the Lord appeared
to him and told him he must not do that :
he must let Death go, for people could not
die, and there would soon be too many of
them in the world. So he let Death go. He
wanted to go to Heaven himself. But he
went to Hell, and as he drew near Hell the
devils closed the gate, they were so frightened
of him. When he reached the gate of
Heaven, he knocked. St. Peter opened the
gate, but he wouldn't let him in. The soldier
asked him to let him have just one peep, so
that at least he might know what Heaven
Now, he remembered that he still had
his soldier's cloak in his knapsack, so he
took it out of the knapsack and threw it into
Heaven. Then he jumped after it and sat
down on it, and then he said he was sitting
on his own property. He sat there for a
full hundred years, though it only seemed a
short time to him. But he couldn't come to
an agreement with St. Peter on the case,
so our Lord told him that he must first die,
THE SOLDIER AND THE DEVIL 175
for no living people were admitted into
Heaven. So the soldier had to leave the
premises. He returned to this world, and
afterwards he went to Heaven again, and
there he is still, as right as rain.
OLD NICK AND KITTY
Once upon a time there was an old maid-
servant on a farm. She was a score or
two years old, but she wanted to get married,
though nobody would even touch her. She
never missed a dance : she was sure to turn
up at every one of them, though nobody ever
asked her to dance. So at last she said :
" I'd dance with Old Nick if only he'd come."
The clock struck eleven and a youth clothed
in green entered the room. He went straight
up to our Kitty and began to dance with her.
All the girls couldn't keep from laughing,
but they daren't laugh openly. So they
held their aprons over their faces. Kitty was
very angry, but she kept on dancing like the
wind. She thought : " Let the fools laugh ;
they'd be glad enough to dance with the
It was hard upon twelve now, and Old
Nick — for Old Nick it was — had to start
i8o CZECH FOLK TALES
for home. But Kitty wouldn't let him go.
What was he to do with her ? He was
absolutely at a loss what to do, for she was
clinging on to him behind.
He went to the pond, thinking he'd be
able to throw her in. He tried to do it, but
she clasped him round the neck and he
'couldn't manage it. So off he went to Hell
with her. But the people of Hell made
an outcry against her and wouldn't let her
stay at any price.
"Hang it all!" says Old Nick, "I can't
go all round the world with her."
At last he met a shepherd : "I say, shep-
herd," says he, "would you like this maiden
"A nice maiden that is, the ugly old
spinster ! Keep her for yourself. You can
Now, when the devil saw that he was going
to fail again, he promised the shepherd a
heap of money, only to rid himself of the
hideous old crone. But the shepherd refused.
" I'll make it so much," says Old Nick.
" Well, if you will, I agree."
Now, the shepherd was a good-looking
fellow, and Kitty was easily persuaded to stay
OLD NICK AND KITTY i8i
with him. He had lots of money now, and
he had the same idea as the devil, to throw
her into the pond. What else could he do
with such a hideous old hag? He had a great
fur coat, and he put it on so high over his
head that she couldn't catch hold of his neck,
and, plump ! off she went into the pond.
But, you know, a bad one's a bad one, and
you can't get rid of them so easily. So it
was with Kitty. She wasn't drowned.
A short time after this. Old Nick had an
appointment with a man. I don't exactly
know how the case stood, but anyhow the
devil was to get him. The man asked the
shepherd to save him ; he was quite ready
to pay him well for it.
"All right," says the shepherd, "I can
do that much for you. Old Nick and I are
the best of friends."
Now, a crowd of people had collected and
they were all wondering how it was going to
end. In comes Old Nick. The shepherd
runs to meet him and : " Old Kitty's here
asking for you," says he.
The devil left things as they were, and
before you could say "Jack Robinson" he
was off. So it all turned out all right.
THE KNIGHT BAMBUS
There was a poor gamekeeper once, who had
suffered from hard times all his life, so as
he grew older, he wanted to get rich. He
was only an under- forester. One day the
forester said : " Near those old ruins, you
know the ones I mean, a fox or a roe, or some
creature of that sort, often crosses my path,
and I can never manage to hit it, though I have
shot at it a hundred times. If you happen to
be going in that direction, look out for it."
When the gamekeeper heard this, the first
thing he did was to go to the ruins. Just as
he got there, a huge fox appeared with a
rustling noise. The gamekeeper felt uneasy,
but the fox disappeared at once, so he sat
down, put five big charges in his gun, and
waited. It wasn't long till the fox appeared
again, and this time he was carrying a young
fawn in his mouth. The gamekeeper shot
at him — boom ! The fox cried out, and ran
THE KNIGHT BAMBUS 183
off into the bushes. But the gamekeeper saw
that the fawn had run away and hidden itself
in a cave. He thought : " The fox cried out,
so he has some of my shots in his fur coat.
I'll get him some other time."
So he went into the ruins through the gate.
Within, there was a courtyard all deserted,
and with its wall fallen down. So the game-
keeper passed through the courtyard and came
into a spacious cellar. There he saw three
lamps burning, and looking round, he was
filled with amazement. But all this was as
nothing, for in the corner were three glittering
heaps of golden coins and one heap of big
gold pieces. The gamekeeper reflected: "If
I had all that, I should give up gamekeeping
and have a splendid time."
No sooner had he said this than a grey
old man appeared and asked : " What are you
looking for, gamekeeper?"
'• Well, I shot at a fox and he ran in some-
where here, and so I'm wandering about
looking for him."
"You won't get the fox you're looking for,
for I am he."
" And why are you here in a fox's shape?
What's the reason of that ? "
i84 CZECH FOLK TALES
** I am the Knight Bambus, and all these
forests belong to this castle. I was a robber-
knight, and so as a punishment I have to
keep watch here now."
" And how long is it to last ? "
" When three poor people come here, and
each of them takes away two sackfuls of gold,
I shall be delivered. I am bound to give all
this gold away for nothing. Already I have
outlived three generations of my kinsmen
Then he bade him fetch two leather sacks
from the other room and collect the gold into
them, filling them up to the brim. He must
keep it all for himself and must not tell any
one what he had seen. The gamekeeper
promised that he wouldn't even tell his wife,
Hdticka, how he had got the money. So he
filled the two sacks up to the brim, and the
old man helped him to hoist them on to his
shoulders and saw him out of the door. All the
time he kept warning him to keep his mouth
shut : " For what a woman knows all the world
knows ; that's gospel truth, sure enough."
So the gamekeeper left the castle, carrying
those two sacks, and the man shook hands
with him before he left. At the border of the
THE KNIGHT BAMBUS 185
forest, near a beech-tree, his wife, Hdta, was
standing looking for him. She ran up to him.
" Great Heavens, Florian ! where have you
been all this long time ? I have been looking
everywhere for you for three days."
Now Florian was delighted that his wife
had come to meet him, so he blurted out :
" Hciticka, wife, Count Bambus has given me
these two sacks of gold pieces. Have a look
here — see what heaps of the stuff there are ! "
and he let one of the sacks fall on the ground.
But behold ! instead of gold there were only
rustling leaves in it. Then he remembered
that he was not to say anything about it. He
frowned, and his wife burst into tears ; and
they had to spend the rest of their life, until
they died, in poverty just as before.
FRANCIS AND MARTIN
Once there was a father who had only one
son, Francis by name. They had a farmhand
called Martin. One day Martin and Francis
were ploughing behind the barn. Francis's
mother brought their meal for them, and
Francis said : " Well, mother, the old man
must have a lot more money than he lets
on to have. We are not in debt, and yet
he's always complaining that he hasn't any
" Well, my son, you see, he's built that large
Next day Francis and Martin were ploughing
together again. They decided that they must
get on the old man's track to see whether he
had any money, and where he hid it. Francis
promised Martin that, if he could find it out,
he would build a cottage for him at the back of
the barn. So they agreed that Martin should
stay away from church to try to find out if
FRANCIS AND MARTIN 187
the farmer had any money hidden away at
When Sunday came, Francis went to church,
but Martin kept on saying he wouldn't go,
until the farmer forced him to go. So he
dressed for church and went out through the
farm gate. But he came back on the other
side, climbed over the fence, and hid himself
in the barn. Soon after this the farmer came
into the barn, carrying a basket full of coins.
He dug a hole in the threshing-floor, put the
money in it, and said: "Black Barabbas !
preserve this money for me ! Thou black
bird ! I put it in thy power ! " Then he went
and fetched a second basket and put it in the
hole. But while he was gone to fetch the
money, Martin slipped out of his hiding-place,
took some of the money, and put it in his
boots. Now, the farmer came back again with a
third basket, and said once more : " Thou black
bird ! keep this money for me, and let nobody
else have it, unless he gets it by ploughing this
threshing-floor with three black goats ! "
As he was saying these words, a blackbird
was soaring above his head and crying out :
" Master, what about the money in the boots ? "
But the farmer did not understand what it
i88 CZECH FOLK TALES
meant, and so he went to look at his own
boots, which were in the room. But he found
no money there, so he was angry and said :
" What, you devil ! it's rubbish you are talking.
I've looked in my boots and there's nothing
there." Then he buried the money, stamped
down the threshing-floor hard again, and
Martin went to the stable, and there he
found Francis waiting for him to tell him what
the parson's sermon had been about that day,
so that he would know what to say if the
farmer asked him about it.
Soon afterwards the old man was taken ill
and died. The two lads were pleased at this,
for they hoped that they wouldn't be long
about getting the money. Martin got three
black goats, he put them in the plough, and
sent Francis to plough there. The wind began
to blow violently, and the whole barn looked
as though it were on fire. He was frightened
and stopped ploughing, and immediately the
whole barn was just as it had been before. So
he went out of the barn and asked Martin to
plough for him. Martin started, and, although
the wind blew violently enough, he kept on
ploughing until he got the money.
FRANCIS AND MARTIN 189—
When Francis had the money, he began to
build just as he wanted until he had spent
it all. Then he gave Martin the sack.
Martin said sorrowfully : •' This is the
WITCHES AT THE CROSS
Though the witches used to be pretty lively
in other places, they were fond of climbing up
and down the cross that stands by the road to
Maid Cerm^ (near Slany). Joe Hilma heard
tell of this, so he took his horse and off he
rode to see. He took with him a piece of
chalk which had been blessed, and made a
circle with it. Then he went into the circle
and waited till midnight. Then, sure enough,
he saw the witches, a great swarm of them,
climbing up and down the cross. They didn't
see him while this was going on, but when he
rode out of the circle, off went the witches
after him. He galloped home at full speed.
When he rode into the yard they were close
on his heels. They couldn't go any farther,
for they had no power to do it. I don't know
how it happened, but one of them flung a
burning broom after him. The broom hit the
door, and the door was burned. Joe had quite
enough of seeing the witches.
THE WITCH AND THE HORSESHOES
Once there was a farmer's wife — I can't tell
you which one — who was a witch. Now these
folks used to have a feast every Eve of St.
Philip and St. James. As soon as they began
to burn the brooms she couldn't rest: go she
must. So she stripped her clothes off, and,
standing under the chimney, she anointed
herself with some ointment. When she had
finished, she said : " Fly, but don't touch any-
thing." And away she flew in the twinkling
of an eye. Yes, that was just how it was.
But the farmhand was watching all this from
the stables, and he watched carefully where
she put the ointment. So he went in too,
stripped his clothes off, and anointed himself.
He said : ** Fly, but don't touch anything."
And off he flew till he came to the place where
the witches were having their feast. Now,
when he came there, the farmer's wife knew
him, and, to hide herself from him, she turned
192 CZECH FOLK TALES
herself into a white horse. But he did not
lose sight of the horse. He mounted it and
went to the smith with it, and told him to shoe
it. Next day the woman had four horseshoes
on, two on her hands and two on her feet.
And she had to stay like that always !
THE HAUNTED MILL
There was a haunted mill, and, dear me, what
was it like! A rope-dancer came there with
some monkeys. In the evening the Water-
nick came with a basketful of fishes. He
made a fire and fried the fishes. Meanwhile
the monkeys had been sitting behind the stove,
but when the Nick put the fishes in the pan
and was tasting whether they were done, the
monkeys came from behind the stove, and one
of them put its paw into the pan. The man
smacked him over the paw and said : " Get
away, pussy ! You didn't catch them, so don't
eat them." And the monkey ran away.
After awhile comes another monkey and
puts his paw in the pan. He smacked him
too and said the same. But the rope-dancer
had a bear, too, which was lying under the
table all the time ; and, when he heard
the Waternick speak, he came from under
the table, ran straight to the pan, and put his
GR Baudis, Josef
137 Czech folk tales
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