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The Travels Of Truth And Falsehood






Source: The Folk-tales Of The Magyars

A long time ago--I don't exactly remember the day--Truth started, with
her bag well filled, on a journey to see the world. On she went over
hill and dale, and through village and town, till one day she met
Falsehood. "Good day, countrywoman," said Truth; "where are you bound
for? Where do you intend going?" "I'm going to travel all over the
world," said Falsehood. "That's right," said Truth; "and as I'm bound in
the same direction let's travel together." "All right," replied
Falsehood; "but you know that fellow-travellers must live in harmony, so
let's divide our provisions and finish yours first." Truth handed over
her provisions, upon which the two lived till every morsel was consumed;
then it was Falsehood's turn to provide. "Let me gouge out one of your
eyes," said Falsehood to Truth, "and then I'll let you have some food."
Poor Truth couldn't help herself; for she was very hungry and didn't
know what to do. So she had one of her eyes gouged out, and she got some
food. Next time she wanted food she had the other eye gouged out, and
then both her arms cut off. After all this Falsehood told her to go
away. Truth implored not to be left thus helpless in the wilds, and
asked that she might be taken to the gate of the next town and left
there to get her living by begging. Falsehood led her, not to where she
wanted to go, but near a pair of gallows and left her there. Truth was
very much surprised that she heard no one pass, and thought that all the
folks in that town must be dead. As she was thus reasoning with herself
and trembling with fear she fell asleep. When she awoke she heard some
people talking above her head, and soon discovered that they were
devils. The eldest of them said to the rest, "Tell me what you have
heard and what you have been doing." One said, "I have to-day killed a
learned physician, who has discovered a medicine with which he cured all
crippled, maimed, or blind." "Well, you're a smart fellow!" said the old
devil; "what may the medicine be?" "It consists simply of this," replied
the other, "that to-night is Friday night, and there will be a new moon:
the cripples have to roll about and the blind to wash their eyes in the
dew that has fallen during the night; the cripples will be healed of
their infirmities and the blind will see." "That is very good," said the
old devil. "And now what have you done, and what do you know?" he asked
the others.

"I," said another, "have just finished a little job of mine; I have cut
off the water-supply and will thus kill the whole of the population of
the country-town not far from here." "What is your secret?" asked the
old devil. "It is this," replied he; "I have placed a stone on the
spring which is situated at the eastern corner of the town at a depth of
three fathoms. By this means the spring will be blocked up, and not one
drop of water will flow; as for me I can go everywhere without fear,
because no one will ever find out my secret, and all will happen just as
I planned it."

The poor crippled Truth listened attentively to all these things.
Several other devils spoke; but poor Truth either did not understand
them or did not listen to what they said, as it did not concern her.

Having finished all, the devils disappeared as the cock crew announcing
the break of day.

Truth thought she would try the remedies she had heard, and at night
rolled about on the dewy ground, when to her great relief her arms grew
again. Wishing to be completely cured, she groped about and plucked
every weed she could find, and rubbed the dew into the cavities of her
eyes. As day broke she saw light once more. She then gave hearty thanks
to the God of Truth that he had not left her, his faithful follower, to
perish. Being hungry she set off in search of food. So she hurried off
to the nearest town, not only for food, but also because she remembered
what she had heard the devils say about cutting off the water supply.
She hurried on, so as not to be longer than she could help in giving
them her aid in their distress. She soon got there, and found every one
in mourning. Off she went straight to the king, and told him all she
knew; he was delighted when he was told that the thirst of the people
might be quenched. She also told the king how she had been maimed and
blinded, and the king believed all she said. They commenced at once with
great energy to dig up the stone that blocked the spring. The work was
soon done; the stone reached, lifted out, and the spring flowed once
more. The king was full of joy and so was the whole town, and there were
great festivities and a general holiday was held. The king would not
allow Truth to leave, but gave her all she needed, and treated her as
his most confidential friend, placing her in a position of great wealth
and happiness. In the meantime Falsehood's provisions came to an end,
and she was obliged to beg for food. As only very few houses gave her
anything she was almost starving when she met her old travelling
companion again. She cried to Truth for a piece of bread. "Yes, you can
have it," said Truth, "but you must have an eye gouged out;" and
Falsehood was in such a fix that she had either to submit or starve.
Then the other eye was taken out, and after that her arms were cut off,
in exchange for dry crusts of bread. Nor could she help it, for no one
else would give her anything.

Having lost her eyes and her arms she asked Truth to lead her under the
same gallows as she had been led to. At night the devils came; and, as
the eldest began questioning the others as to what they had been doing
and what they knew, one of them proposed that search be made, just to
see whether there were any listeners to their conversation, as some one
must have been eaves-dropping the other night, else it would never have
been found out how the springs of the town were plugged up. To this they
all agreed, and search was made; and soon they found Falsehood, whom
they instantly tore to pieces, coiled up her bowels into knots, burnt
her, and dispersed her ashes to the winds. But even her dust was so
malignant that it was carried all over the world; and that is the reason
that wherever men exist there Falsehood must be.





Next: The Hunting Princes

Previous: Handsome Paul



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