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The Devil And The Three Slovak Lads

Source: The Folk-tales Of The Magyars

There was once, I don't know where, in Slavonia, a man who had three
sons. "Well, my sons," said he one day to them, "go to see the land; to
see the world. There is a country where even the yellow-hammer bathes in
wine, and where even the fence of the yards is made of strings of
sausages; but if you wish to get on there you must first learn the
language of the country." The three lads were quite delighted with the
description of the wonderful country, and were ready to start off at
once. The father accompanied them as far as the top of a high mountain;
it took them three days to get to the top, and when they reached the
summit they were on the border of the happy land: here the father slung
an empty bag on every one of the lads' shoulders, and, pointing out to
the eldest one the direction, exclaimed, "Ah! can you see Hungary?" and
with this he took leave of them quite as satisfied as if he had then
handed them the key of happiness. The three lads went on and walked into
Hungary; and their first desire was to learn Hungarian, in accord with
their father's direction. The moment they stepped over the border they
met a man, who inquired where they were going? They informed him, "to
learn Hungarian." "Don't go any further, my lads," said the man, "the
school year consists of three days with me, at the end of which you will
have acquired the requisite knowledge." The three lads stayed; and at
the end of the three days one of them had happily learned by heart the
words "we three"; the other, "for a cheese"; and the third, "that's
right." The three Slovak lads were delighted, and wouldn't learn any
more; and so they continued on their journey. They walked till they came
to a forest, where they found a murdered man by the road-side; they
looked at him, and to their astonishment they recognised the murdered
man as their late master whom they had just left; and while they were
sighing, not knowing what to do, the rural policeman arrived on the
spot. He began to question them about the murdered man, saying, "Who
killed him?" The first, not knowing anything else, answered, "We three."
"Why?" asked the policeman. "For a cheese," replied the second. "If this
is so," growled the policeman, "I shall have to put you in irons."
Whereupon the third said, "That's right." The lads were escorted by the
policeman, who also intended to get assistance to carry away the dead
man; but the moment they left, the dead man jumped up, shook himself,
and regained his ordinary appearance, and became a sooty devil, with
long ears and tail, who stood laughing at the lads, being highly amused
at their stupidity, which enabled him to deceive them so easily.

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