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The Invisible Shepherd Lad






Source: The Folk-tales Of The Magyars

There was once, I don't know where, a poor man who had a very good son
who was a shepherd. One day he was tending his sheep in a rocky
neighbourhood, and was sending sighs to Heaven as a man whose heart was
throbbing with burning wishes. Hearing a noise as of some one
approaching he looked round and saw St. Peter standing in front of him
in the guise of a very old grey man. "Why are you sighing, my lad?"
inquired he, "and what is your wish?" "Nothing else," replied the lad,
respectfully, "but to possess a little bag which never gets full, and a
fur cloak which makes me invisible when I put it on." His wish was
fulfilled and St. Peter vanished. The lad gave up shepherding now and
turned to the capital, where he thought he had a chance of making his
fortune. A king lived there who had twelve daughters, and eleven of them
wanted at least six pairs of shoes each every night. Their father was
very angry about this, because it swallowed up a good deal of his
income; he suspected that there was something wrong, but couldn't
succeed by any traps to get to the bottom of it. At last he promised the
youngest princess to him who would unveil the secret.

The promise enticed many adventurous spirits to the capital, but the
girls simply laughed at them, and they were obliged to leave in
disgrace. The shepherd lad, relying on his fur cloak, reported himself;
but the girls measured him, too, with mocking eyes. Night came, and the
shepherd, muffling himself in his fur cloak, stood at the bedroom door
where they slept, and stole in amongst them when they went to bed. It
was midnight and a ghost walked round the beds and woke the girls. There
was now great preparation. They dressed and beautified themselves, and
filled a travelling bag with shoes. The youngest knew nothing of all
this, but on the present occasion the invisible shepherd woke
her--whereupon her sisters got frightened; but as she was let into their
secret they thought it best to decoy her with them, to which, after a
short resistance, the girl consented. All being ready, the ghost placed
a small dish on the table. Everyone anointed their shoulders with the
contents, and wings grew to them. The shepherd did the same: and when
they all flew through the window, he followed them.

After flying for several hours they came to a huge copper forest, and to
a well, the railing round which was of copper, and on this stood twelve
copper tumblers. The girls drank here, so as to refresh themselves, when
the youngest, who was here for the first time, looked round in fear. The
lad, too, had something to drink after the girls had left and put a
tumbler, together with a twig that he broke off a tree, in his bag; the
tree trembled, and the noise was heard all over the forest. The youngest
girl noticed it and warned her sisters that some one was after them, but
they felt so safe that they only laughed at her. They continued their
journey, and after a short time came to a silver forest, and to a silver
well. Here again they drank, and the lad again put a tumbler and a
silver twig into his bag. In breaking off the twig the tree shook, and
the youngest again warned her sisters, but in vain.

They soon came to the end of the forest and arrived at a golden forest,
with a gold well and tumblers. Here again they stopped and drank, and
the lad again put a gold tumbler and twig in his bag. The youngest once
more warned her sisters of the noise the quivering tree made, but in
vain. Having arrived at the end of the forest they came to an immense
moss-grown rock, whose awe-inspiring lofty peaks soared up to the very
heavens. Here they all stopped. The ghost struck the rock with a golden
rod, whereupon it opened, and all entered, the shepherd lad with them.
Now they came to a gorgeous room from which several halls opened, which
were all furnished in a fairy-like manner. From these twelve fairy
youths came forth and greeted them, who were all wonderfully handsome.
The number of servants increased from minute to minute who were rushing
about getting everything ready for a magnificent dance. Soon after
strains of enchanting music were heard, and the doors of a vast dancing
hall opened and the dancing went on without interruption. At dawn the
girls returned--also the lad--in the same way as they had come, and
they lay down as if nothing had happened, which, however, was belied by
their worn shoes, and the next morning they got up at the usual hour.

The king was impatiently awaiting the news the shepherd was to bring,
who came soon after and told him all that had happened. He sent for his
daughters, who denied everything, but the tumblers and the twigs bore
witness. What the shepherd told the youngest girl also confirmed, whom
the shepherd woke for the purpose. The king fulfilled his promise with
regard to the youngest princess and the other eleven were burnt for
witchcraft.





Next: The Three Princesses

Previous: The Youngest Prince And The Youngest Princess



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