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The Count's Daughter

Source: The Folk-tales Of The Magyars

There was once, I don't know where, an old tumble-down oven, there was
nothing left of its sides; there was also once a town in which a
countess lived, with an immense fortune. This countess had an
exceedingly pretty daughter, who was her sole heiress. The fame of her
beauty and her riches being very great the marrying magnates swarmed
about her. Among others the three sons of a count used to come to the
house, whose castle stood outside the town in a pretty wood. These
young men appeared to be richer than one would have supposed from their
property, but no one knew where and how the money came to them. The
three young men were invited almost every day to the house, but the
countess and her daughter never visited them in return, although the
young lady was continually asked by them. For a long time the girl did
not accept their invitation, till one day she was preparing for a walk
into the wood, in which the young counts' castle was supposed to be: her
mother was surprised to hear that she intended to go into the wood, but
as the young lady didn't say exactly where she was going her mother
raised no objection. The girl went, and the prettiness of the wood, and
also her curiosity enticed her to go in further and further till at last
she discovered the turrets of a splendid castle; being so near to it her
curiosity grew stronger, and at last she walked into the courtyard.
Everything seemed to show that the castle was inhabited, but still she
did not see a living soul; the girl went on till she came to the main
entrance, the stairs were of white marble, and the girl, quite dazzled
at the splendour she beheld, went up, counting the steps; "one hundred,"
said the girl, in a half whisper, when she reached the first flight, and
tarried on the landing. Here she looked round when her attention fell on
a bird in a cage. "Girl, beware!" said the bird. But the girl, dazzled
by the glitter, and drawn on by her curiosity, again began to mount the
stairs, counting them, without heeding the bird's words. "One hundred,"
again said the girl, as she tarried on the next landing, but still no
one was to be seen, but thinking that she might find some one she opened
the first door, which revealed a splendour quite beyond all she had ever
imagined, a sight such as she had never seen before, but still no one
appeared. She went into another room and there amongst other furniture
she also found three bedsteads, "this is the three young men's bedroom,"
she thought, and went on. The next room into which she stepped was full
of weapons of every possible description; the girl stared and went on,
and then she came to a large hall which was full of all sorts of
garments, clerical, military, civilian, and also women's dresses. She
went on still further and in the next room she found a female figure,
made up of razors, which, with extended arms as it seemed, was placed
above a deep hole. The girl was horror-struck at the sight and her fear
drove her back; trembling she went back through the rooms again, but
when she came into the bedroom she heard male voices. Her courage fled
and she could go no further, but hearing some footsteps approach she
crept under one of the beds. The men entered, whom she recognised as the
three sons of the count, bringing with them a beautiful girl, whom the
trembling girl recognised by her voice as a dear friend; they stripped
her of all, and as they could not take off a diamond ring from her
little finger, one of the men chopped it off and the finger rolled under
the bed where the girl lay concealed. One of the men began to look for
the ring when another said "You will find it some other time," and so he
left off looking for it. Having quite undressed the girl they took her
to the other room, when after a short lapse of time she heard some faint
screaming, and it appeared to her as if the female figure of razors had
snapped together, and the mangled remains of the unfortunate victim were
heard to drop down into the deep hole. The three brothers came back and
one of them began to look for the ring: the cold sweat broke out on the
poor girl hiding under the bed. "Never mind, it is ours new and you can
find it in the morning," said one of the men, and bade the others go to
bed; and so it happened: the search for the ring was put off till next
day. They went to bed and the girl began to breathe more freely in her
hiding-place; she began to grope about in silence and found the ring and
secreted it in her dress, and hearing that the three brothers were fast
asleep, she stole out noiselessly leaving the door half ajar. The next
day the three brothers again visited the countess when the daughter
told them that she had a dream as if she had been to their castle. She
told them how she went up a flight of marble stairs till she counted
100, and up the next flight when she again counted 100. The brothers
were charmed and very much surprised at the dream and assured her that
it was exactly like their home. Then she told them how she went from one
room to another and what she saw, but when she came in her dream as far
as the razor-maid they began to feel uneasy and grew suspicious, and
when she told them the scene with the girl, and in proof of her tale
produced the finger with the ring, the brothers were terrified and
exclaiming, "We are betrayed!" took flight; but everything was arranged,
and the servants, who were ordered to watch, caught them. After an
investigation all their numberless horrible deeds were brought to light
and they were beheaded.

Next: The Speaking Grapes The Smiling Apple And The Tinkling Apricot

Previous: The Devil And The Three Slovak Lads

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