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Csabor Ur

Source: The Folk-tales Of The Magyars

There was once a young prince who was, perhaps, not quite twenty-five
years old, tall, and his slim figure was like a pine tree; his forehead
was sorrowful, like the dark pine; his thunder-like voice made his eyes
flash; his dress and his armour were black, because the prince, who was
known all over the world simply as Csabor Ur (Mr. Csabor), was serving
with the picked heroes of the grand king, and who had no other ornaments
besides his black suit but a gold star, which the grand king had
presented to him in the German camp for having saved his life. The fame
of Csabor Ur's bravery was great, and also of his benevolence, because
he was kind to the poor, and the grand king very often had to scold him
for distributing his property in a careless way. The priests, however,
could not boast of Csabor Ur's alms, because he never gave any to them,
nor did he ever give them any money for masses, and for this reason the
whole hierarchy was angry with him, especially the head priest at the
great king's court; but Csabor Ur being a great favourite of the great
king, not even a priest dared to offend him openly, but in secret the
pot was boiling for him. One cold autumn the great king arrived at the
royal palace from the camp with Csabor Ur, the palace standing on the
bank of a large sheet of water, and before they had taken the saddles
off the stallions the great king thus addressed Csabor Ur: "My lad, rest
yourself during the night, and at dawn, as soon as day breaks, hurry off
with your most trusty men into Roumania beyond the snow-covered
mountains to old Demeter, because I hear that my Roumanian neighbours
are not satisfied with my friendship, and are intriguing with the Turks:
find out, my lad, how many weeks the world will last there (what's the
news?) and warn the old fox to mind his tail, because I may perhaps send
him a rope instead of the archiepiscopal pallium." Csabor Ur received
the grand king's order with great joy, and, having taken leave of Dame
Margit (Margaret), dashed off on his bay stallion over the sandy plains
to the banks of the Olt, and from there he crossed over during a severe
frost beyond the snow-covered mountains; he arrived at the house of
Jordan Boer, the king's confidential man, whose guest he was, and here
he heard of old Demeter's cunning in all its details, and also that he
was secretly encouraged by the great king's head priest to plot against
the sovereign; hearing this, Csabor Ur started on his journey, and
arrived on the fourth day in Roumania, where he became the bishop's
guest, by whom he was apparently received cordially; the old dog being
anxious to mislead with his glib tongue Csabor Ur, about the events
there, but it was very difficult to hoodwink the great king's man.
Csabor Ur never gave any answer to the bishop's many words, and
therefore made the bishop believe that he had succeeded in deceiving
Csabor Ur; but he was more on his guard than ever and soon discovered
that every night crowds of people gathered into the cathedral; therefore
one night he also stole in there dressed in the costume of the country,
and to his horror heard how the people were conspiring with the bishop
against the great king, and how they were plotting an attack with the
aid of the Turkish army.

Csabor Ur listened to these things in great silence and sent one of his
servants with a letter to the great king next day, in which he described
minutely the whole state of affairs. The spies, however, laid in ambush
for the servant, attacked and killed him, took Csabor Ur's letter from
him, and handed it to the bishop, who learnt from its contents that
Csabor Ur had stolen into the cathedral every night. He, therefore, had
the large oak doors closed as soon as the congregation had assembled on
the same night, and in an infuriated sermon he informed the people that
there was a traitor among them. Hearing this everybody demanded his
death, and they were ready to take their oath on the Holy Cross that
they were not traitors. Whereupon the bishop ordered a stool to be
placed on the steps of the altar, sat down, and administered the oath to
all present. Only one man, in a brown fur-cloak, did not budge from the
side of the stoup. The bishop, therefore, addressed him thus: "Then who
are you? Why don't you come to me?" But the dark cloak did not move, and
the bishop at once knew who it was and ordered the man to be bound;
whereupon the multitude rushed forward to carry out his command.
Thereupon the man dropped his brown cloak; and, behold, Csabor Ur stood
erect--like a dark pine--with knitted brows and flashing eyes, holding
in his right hand a copper mace with a gilt handle, his left resting on
a broad two-edged sword. The multitude stopped, shuddering, like the
huntsman, who in pursuit of hares suddenly finds a bear confronting him;
but in the next moment the crowd rushed at their prey. Csabor Ur, after
cutting down about thirty of them, dropped down dead himself. His blood
spurted up high upon the column, where it can still be seen in the
cathedral--to the left of the entrance--although the Roumanian priests
tried their best to whitewash it. The great king heard of this, had the
head priest imprisoned, and went with an immense army to revenge Csabor
Ur's murder. With his army came also Dame Margit, dressed in men's
clothes, who wept at the foot of the blood-bespurt column till one day
after mass they picked her up dead from the flags.

Next: The Devil And The Three Slovak Lads

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