The Clever Girl – Hungarian folk tale translated by Ibolya Lőrincz
Long times ago folk tales were told mostly for adults and not for children. Fairy tales are still certain ways of initiation. The following tale is for women teaching them how to be wise enough to rule all sorts of situations a woman might get into. And it is the tale of all persons born under the star sign of Libra.
The Clever Girl
Once upon a time there was a cruel king and this cruel king had a village. One day the king got angry with this village and ordered its people to skin the millstone in the yard of the mill otherwise he would have all the rich farmers’ head chopped off.
The people in the village had been having a village meeting every single day for three weeks but they could not agree how to skin the millstone.
Among the villagers there was a poor man who had a seventeen-year-old beautiful daughter. One day this girl asks her father,
‘My dear father, where do you go every day? You either eat or not and you do not tell a word to anybody.’
‘Where do I go? Don’t you know that this cruel king ordered us to skin the millstone in the yard of the mill? This is why we have been holding meetings for more than three weeks. However, nothing got into our minds.
‘Listen to me, father, go up to the judge of the village and tell him not to gather the people of the village again. Then go up to the king tell him the following: “Your Majesty, my life and death are in your hands, I was sent to represent this village. We would like to ask you to have the blood of this millstone taken otherwise the people cannot skin it.”
Goes up the poor man to the king and tells him what his daughter ordered him. The king asks him,
‘Well, you, poor man, who gave you this piece of advice? Confess it right now or you will get fifty sticks at this moment.’
‘Your Majesty, my life and death are in your hands, I have a seventeen-year-old daughter at home. She gave me this piece of advice.’
Says the king,
‘Now, you poor man, you have pulled the thorn out of the leg of the village and pushed it into yours. I will give you trouble if you have not had enough so far.’
So the king turns around and picks up a pot. The side of the pot was cracked.
‘Tell your daughter’ says the king, ‘to mend this pot so that neither the patch nor the sewing should be seen. If she cannot do it, I will have both your and your daughter’s head chopped off.’
The poor man takes the cracked pot and goes home in sorrow and sadness. He arrives at his daughter and says,
‘Well, my dear daughter, you have pulled the thorn out of the leg of the village and pushed it into yours. The king has sent you this pot.’ – and he tells her what the king ordered.
‘It is all right, father, therefore do not worry about it. Sit down, eat and drink and have a rest.’
When the poor man wakes up, her daughter says to him,
‘Well, my father, take this cracked pot back to the king and tell him the following: “Your Majesty, my daughter was brought up as an orphan without a mother, but she has never seen anybody patching a sack or shirt from outside. If Your Majesty has the pot turned inside out, I will mend it as he wishes.”
The poor man tells his daughter’s message to the king. The king turns aside and hides his smile.
‘You just wait’ – he says. ‘I will send trouble to your daughter if she has not had enough.’
So he picks up three bunches of hemp and gives them to the poor man.
‘Here you are, you poor man, take these three bunches of hemp to your daughter and tell her to spin and weave underwear from them for all my inside and outside servants and for soldiers of a squadron. If not, I will destroy you together with your daughter.’
The poor man leaves for home with a heavy and sad soul. He arrives home and says to her daughter,
‘Oh, my dear daughter, here sends the king three bunches of hemp to you to spin and weave underwear for all his inside and outside servants and for soldiers of a squadron.’
The girl says,
‘Sit down, my father, eat, drink and have a rest.’
Then she goes into the hovel and picks up two little pieces of wood, not bigger than two pipe stems.
‘Well, my father, have you eaten and drunk enough? Have you had a rest?’
‘I have already eaten and drunk enough and had a good rest.’
‘Then go back to the king and tell her that since I am a motherless orphan, I don’t have a loom so I ask him to have a loom made from these two pieces of wood but in a way that nothing should be added or taken away from them. If he makes it, I will spin and weave underwear from that three bunches of hemp not only for his servants but for all his soldiers in the whole country.’
Goes up the poor man to the king and tells it to him. The king turns aside to laugh and then asks,
‘How old is your daughter, you poor man?’
‘She is seventeen, Your Majesty.’
‘Tell your daughter to come up to me on this and this day. She must not come on the road or by the road. She must not come on foot or on horseback. She should and should not greet me. She should bring some presents and she should come without it.’
The poor man takes leave of the king and goes home.
‘Well, my dear daughter, I am saved from going to the king. Now it is your turn to go there.’
‘What did the king tell you, father?’
‘He told you to go up to him on this and this day, but you must not go on the road or by the road, you must not go on foot or on horseback, you should and should not greet him and you should take a present to him and go without it.’
‘It is all right, father.’
The girl goes into the village, where he knew a farmer who had a donkey. She asks him to lend it to her. She takes the donkey home and gives it some hay. Then she buys two doves and takes them home, too.
She was eagerly looking for the day when she had to start.
The blessed day when she has to go up to the king arrives at last. The girl starts her journey on the back of the donkey and in the middle of the road. She is carrying the two doves between two wooden bowls on her back.
The king is waiting for the girl outside the palace. When she arrives the king greets her,
‘Welcome, you, poor girl.’
But she says no word just jumps off the back of the donkey and bows to the king. Then she says,
‘Here I am, Your Majesty for your order. I did not come on the road or by the road. I did not come on foot or horseback. However, I arrived. I have brought you a present and I came without it.’
Saying so, she opens up the two wooden bowls and the doves fly away.
The king gets to like the girl and invites her into the palace.
The king sends for a priest and he marries the poor girl.
When the wedding ceremony is over, the king says to his wife,
‘Now, you, poor girl, you are my wife. However, I order you not to give advice to anybody without my intention otherwise you will see bad times.
‘I don’t intend to give advice anybody, Your Majesty’ – she says.
There lived two poor men in the town of the king. One of them had a little cart and the other had a pregnant mare. Since they were friends, they helped each other and went to the wood with the mare and the little cart to carry some wood.
One day, when they were going to the wood, an icy wind was blowing from the wood. The one who had the mare was sitting on its back and the other who had the cart was sitting on his cart. But they both turned their faces backward because they could not stand the wind blowing into their eyes.
Suddenly the one who was sitting on the cart says,
‘Hey, my friend, let’s stop, because my cart has kidded a colt.’
‘Yes, it was my mare’ – says the one on the horseback.
‘But the colt came from under my cart’ – insists the first man.
So they immediately turn back and go up to the king. They can’t find the king at home. The queen asks them what the matter is.
The man with the mare starts,
‘Your majesty, it is just a small thing. This friend of mine has a little cart and I have a mare. As we were going to the wood, my friend told me to stop because his cart kidded a colt. W stopped, but since we could not decide whose the colt was, we had to come to the king for justice.
After listening to the two litigants the queen says,
‘Oh, you, two miserable men, why are you quarrelling over such a thing? The world will laugh at you. I advise you to go home and tie the mare to the cart. If the colt suckles the cart, then it is the cart’s colt, but if it suckles the mare, it is the mare’s.
The two men try it, but that damn colt suckles the mare and not the cart. The man with the cart gets angry, pulls the colt from under its mother and pushes it under the cart and says,
‘Dogs eat you up! If you were under my cart in the wood, be there now, too!
But the colt runs back to its mother.
When the king comes back from hunting, the two men go up to him again and tell him the story in details to the king himself. The king gets angry with the two men because they dared to bother him with such a foolish thing. He scolds the man with the cart and threatens him to have him hung up or his head chopped off if he ever insists on that the colt belongs to his cart. But he also gets very angry to his wife because she gave advice without his permission.
‘Now, my darling wife, you trustless poor girl, what resolution did you make when I married you? Did you tell me not to give advice to anybody? And now you did. But from now on you won’t eat from the same table as I will.
‘Whether I will or not, my darling husband, first I will make you a last dinner then I will leave’ – she says.
The queen makes the dinner and the king says,
‘After dinner have six horses harnessed into a coach, take whatever is the most precious for yourself and go wherever you like but you won’t live with me any longer.’
After dinner the queen has six horses harnessed into a coach. But she had already put some sleeping powder into the king’s drink and when he was sleeping fast had him put in the coach because her most precious thing was her husband.
She has been driving for two nights and three days when suddenly the king wakes up. He looks around and asks,
‘Where are you taking me, my darling wife?’
‘Do you know, my darling husband, what you have told me? You have told me that I can take the most precious thing with myself when I leave your palace. I have not got more precious thing than you, so now I am taking you with myself.’
‘God will pay you for it, my darling wife, but let’s stop and turn back home. I won’t disagree with you and won’t horn in your things any longer.’
So the return home safe and sound. The king gives a big feast. Plates and bowls were enough but one was a lucky man who got a drop of soup. The king and the queen still live if they haven’t died. Let them be your guests tomorrow!
More Hungarian Tales
If you liked this tale, you probably might like the one which is the tale of the Virgin star sign: The Hard-Working and the Lazy Girl.
If you have children in your family, you might find my other writing interesting: Tell Good Stories to Your Kids.
All your comments and experiences would be useful in my further studies of fairy tales. So, thank you for your contribution.