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My Father's Wedding






Source: The Folk-tales Of The Magyars

Once I discovered all of a sudden, it was before I was born, that my
father was going to get married, and take my mother unto him. My father
said to me, "Go to the mill and have some corn ground for bread for the
wedding!" Whereupon I betook myself hurriedly like a smart fellow, I
looked for a cloth, and took up into the loft three bags, and filled
nine sacks with the best wheat of Dalnok, the best to be found; I put
all nine sacks at once over my shoulder, and took them to the cart. I
led out oxen and tried to yoke them, but neither of them could find it's
old place; I put the off-side one on the near side, and the near-side
one on the off side, and they were all right. I tried the yoke-pins, but
they would not fit, I therefore put in lieu of one the handle of a
shovel, and in place of the other a pole, and then all was right. I went
to the mill with the team, and when I arrived there I stopped the oxen
and stuck the whip into the ground in front of them to prevent them
running away; I myself went into the mill to call the miller to assist
me in carrying in the wheat. I couldn't find a soul in the mill. I
looked around, under the bed, behind the oven, and saw that the green
jug was not on it's peg; from this I knew that the mill was away
gathering strawberries, so I thought, if this were so, I should have to
wait patiently till it returned, but then I remembered that it was not
its custom to hurry back, and by the time it got back my hair might be
grey, and then it would be difficult for oxen to wait from year to year
as I had not brought aught for them to feed on. So I rushed after it at
a dog's trot, out on to the mount, and found it sniffing about the
shrubs, so I cut a jolly good stick and began to bang it on both sides
as hard as my strength allowed me, till I happened to hit it rather hard
with the stick, and, having struck it, I could hear it far away as it
began to move down in the valley, and it ground away and made such a
clatter; it was just grinding my wheat! In order to get down from the
mount into the valley more quickly, I lay down on the ground and rolled
down the slope, and after me all the stumps, who envied my pastime.
Nothing happened to them, and the only accident I had was that I knocked
my nose a little into some soft cow-dung, but I didn't carry it away
altogether, and a good deal of it is left there still. The poor white
horse fared much worse than that, as it was grazing at the foot of the
mount, it got so frightened by us that it ran out of this world with a
fetter fastened to it's feet, and has not returned to this very day. I
rubbed my nose on the sward as a hen does, and went to see what had
become of the oxen in the meantime: lo! the stock of my whip had taken
root and become such a tall tree that it was as high as the big tower at
Brasso[1] and the starlings had built their nests in it, and had so many
young ones that you couldn't hear the clattering of the mill for their
chirping.

Well, I was very much delighted, thinking that now I could catch a lot
of young starlings; I knew how to climb well. I climbed the tree, and
tried to put my hand into a hole but couldn't, so I tried my head, and
that went in comfortably. I stuffed my breast full of starlings. When I
tried to get out of the hole I could not; so I rushed home and fetched
an adze, and cut myself out. I couldn't get down, as the tree was so
thick and my head so giddy, so I called the miller to help me, but he,
thinking that my complaint was hunger, sent me some miller-cake by his
son, but I told him in a great rage that that was not what I wanted: so
off he ran at once, and brought me a bushel of bran, handing it up on
the end of a pale. I twisted the bran into a rope, so strong that it
would bear a millstone, and I tried whether it would reach the ground,
but it did not reach, so I doubled it up, then it not only reached, but
trailed on the ground. I began to glide down it, but a beetle aloft
sawed it in two where it was tied to the bough, and down I dropped rope
and all; but while I was falling to the ground, in the meantime, the
young starlings in my breast got their feathers, took to their wings,
and flew away with me. When we were flying over the river Olt, some
women who were washing rags on the bank began to shout, "What the fiery
thunderbolt is the boy doing that he flies so well? If he drops he will
drop straight in the river and drown." I saw they were all staring at
me, but from the chirping of the young starlings I couldn't clearly hear
what they shouted: so I thought they were shouting that I should untie
the waist-band of my shirt. I untied the waist-band of my shirt below
the garter that tied my socks: with this the young starlings got out of
my bosom all at once and all the wings I had flew away. Down I dropped
into the middle of the river: with my splash the waters overflowed the
banks and washed as far as the foot of the mountain: but when the waters
flowed back into the bed of the river, (with the exception of a few
drops that were lapped up by a thirsty shepherd-dog of Gidofalu) so many
fish were left on the bank that they covered the whole place, from
Malnas to Doboly and from Arkos to Angyalos and even the whole plain of
Szepmezoe. Well, there was a lot of fish! Twelve buffalo-carts were
carting them away without interruption for a whole week, and the
quantity didn't get less, you couldn't see that any had been taken away:
but a stark naked gipsy brat came that way from Koeroespatak, and he
picked them up, put them into his shirt lap, and carried them all away.


I then remembered that they had not sent me here to play but to grind
corn, so I started in the direction of where I had left the oxen to see
what they were doing, and whether they were there still. I travelled for
a long time till I got quite tired. I saw in a meadow a horse, and I
thought I could easily get on it, and go where I wished to go, but it
would not wait for me. I caught hold of its tail, turned it round, and
so we stood face to face, and I said to it quite bumptiously: "Ho! stop,
old nag. Don't be so frisky." It understood the kind words and stopped
dead, like a peg. I put the saddle on the grey and sat on the bay and
started off on the chestnut; over a ditch and over a stile, so that the
horse's feet did not touch the ground. In one place I passed a vineyard,
and inside the hedge there was a lot of pretty ripe fruit. I stopped the
grey, got down from the bay, and tied the chestnut to the paling. I
tried to climb over the hedge, but couldn't, so I caught hold of my
hair, and swung myself over. I began to shake the plum-tree, and walnuts
dropped. I picked up the filberts and put them in my bosom. It was very
hot, I was very thirsty, so that I nearly died of thirst. I saw that not
very far away there were some reapers, and I asked, "Where can I get
water here?" They shewed me a spring not far off. I went there, and
found that it was frozen over. I tried in vain to break the ice with my
heel, and then with a stone, but did not succeed, as the ice was a span
thick; so I took the skull from my head and broke the ice with it
easily. I scooped up water with it, and had a hearty drink. I went to
the hedge and swung myself over by the hair into the road; then I untied
the grey, got on the bay, and galloped off on the chestnut, over stile
and ditch, so that my hair flew on the wind. In one place I passed two
men. As I overtook them, they called out after me: "Where's your head,
my boy?" I immediately felt my back, and lo! my head was not there; so I
galloped back at a quick dog-trot to the spring. What did I see? My
skull felt lonely without me, and had so much sense that as I forgot it
there, it had made a neck, hands, waist, and feet, for itself out of
the mud, and I caught it sliding on the ice. Well! I wasn't a bad hand
at sliding myself, so I slid after it as fast as I could. But it knew
better than I did, and so I couldn't possibly catch it. My good God!
What could I do? I was very much frightened that I was really going to
be left without a head but I remembered something, and thought to
myself: "Never mind, skull, don't strain yourself, you can't outdo me."
So I hurriedly made a greyhound out of mud, and set it after my skull.
He caught it in a jiffy, and brought it to me. I took it and put it on:
I went to the hedge, and seizing myself by the hair, swung myself over
the hedge: untied the grey, got on the bay, and galloped away on the
chestnut, over a stile, and over a ditch, like a bird, till I came to
the mill, where I found that my father had not had patience to wait for
me, and so had set off in search of me; and, as he couldn't find me,
began to bewail me, vociferating: "Oh! my soul! Oh! my son! Where have
you gone? Oh! Oh! Why did I send you without anybody to take care of
you? Oh! my soul! Oh! my son! Now all is over with you. You must have
perished somewhere." As my father was always scolding me, and calling me
bad names in my lifetime, I could never have believed that he were able
to pity me so much. When I saw what was the matter with him, I called
from a distance: "Console yourself, father, I am here, 'a bad hatchet
never gets lost.'" It brought my poor old father's spirits back. We put
the sacks full of flour on the cart and went home, and celebrated my
father's wedding sumptuously. The bride was my mother, and I was the
first who danced the bride's dance with her, and then the others had a
turn, and when the wedding was over, all the guests went away and we
were left at home by ourselves, and are alive at this date, if we are
not dead. I was born one year after this, and I am the legitimate son of
my father, and have grown up nicely, and have become a very clever lad.

[1] Cronstadt in Transylvania.





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Previous: The Hussar And The Servant Girl



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