Knight Rose





A king had three sons. When the enemy broke into the land and occupied

it, the king himself fell in the war. The young princes were good

huntsmen and fled from the danger, all three, taking three horses with

them. They went on together for a long time, till they did not even know

where they were; on they journeyed, till at last they came to the top of

the very highest snow-covered mountain, where the road branched off:

here they decided to separate and try their luck alone. They agreed that

on the summit of the mountain, at the top of a tall tree, they would fix

a long pole, and on it a white handkerchief. They were to keep well in

sight of this white flag, and whenever the handkerchief was seen full of

blood the one who saw it was to start in search of his brothers, as one

of them was in danger. The name of the youngest was Rose; he started off

to the left, the other two went to the right. When Rose came to the

seventh snow-capped mount and had got far into it he saw a beautiful

castle and went in. As he was tired with travelling and wanted a night's

rest, he settled down. When even came the gates of the castle opened

with great noise, and seven immense giants rushed into the courtyard and

from thence into the tower. Every one of them was as big as a tall

tower. Rose, in his fright, crept under the bed; but the moment the

giants entered one of them said, "Phuh! What an Adam-like smell there is

here!" Looking about they caught Rose, cut him up into small pieces like

the stalk of a cabbage and threw him out of the window.



In the morning the giants went out again on their business. From a bush

there came forth a snake, which had the head of a pretty girl; she

gathered up every morsel of Rose's body, arranged them in order, and

said, "This belongs here, that belongs there." She then anointed him

with grass that had healing power, and brought water of life and death

from a spring that was not far off and sprinkled it over him. Rose

suddenly jumped up on his feet and was seven times more beautiful and

strong than before. At this moment the girl cast off the snake-skin as

far as the arm-pits. As Rose was now so strong he became braver, and in

the evening did not creep under the bed, but waited for the giants

coming home, at the gate. They arrived and sent their servants in

advance to cut up that wretched heir of Adam; but they could not manage

him, it took the giants themselves to cut him up. Next morning the

serpent with the girl's head came again and brought Rose to life as

before, and she herself cast off her skin as far as her waist. Rose was

now twice as strong as a single giant. The same evening the seven giants

killed him again, he himself having killed the servants and wounded

several of the giants. Next morning the giants were obliged to go

without their servants. Then the serpent came and restored Rose once

more, who was now stronger than all the seven giants put together, and

was so beautiful that though you could look at the sun you could not

look at him. The girl now cast off the serpent's skin altogether and

became a most beautiful creature. They told each other the story of

their lives. The girl said that she was of royal blood, and that the

giants had killed her father and seized his land, that the castle

belonged to her father, and that the giants went out every day to

plunder the people. She herself had become a snake by the aid of a good

old quack nurse, and had made a vow that she would remain a serpent

until she had been avenged on the giants, and she knew now that although

she had cast off the snake's skin she had nothing to fear because Rose

was a match for the seven giants. "Now, Rose," said she, "destroy them

every one, and I will not be ungrateful." To which he replied, "Dearest

one, you have restored me to life these three times--how could I help

being grateful to you? My life and my all are yours!" They took an oath

to be true to each other till death, and spent the day merrily till

evening set in, when the giants came, and Rose addressed them thus: "Is

it not true, you pack of scoundrels, that you have killed me three

times? Now, I tell you that not one of you shall put his foot within

these gates! Don't you believe me? Let's fight!" They charged upon him

with great fury, but victory was, this time, on his side; he killed

them one after the other and took the keys of the castle out of their

pockets. He then searched over every nook in the building, and came to

the conclusion that they were safe, as they had now possession of the

castle.



The night passed quietly; next morning Rose looked from the courtyard to

the top of the snow-covered mountain, in the direction of the white

flag, and saw that it was quite bloody. He was exceedingly sorry, and

said to his love, "I must go in search of my two elder brothers, as some

mischief has befallen them; wait till I return, because if I find them I

shall certainly be back."



He then got ready, took his sword, bow and arrow, some healing-grass,

and water of life and death with him, and went to the very place where

they had separated. On the way he shot a hare, and when he came to the

place of separation he went on the same road by which his elder brothers

had gone; he found there a small hut and a tree beside it; he stopped in

front of the tree, and saw that his brothers' two dogs were chained to

it; he loosed them, lighted a fire, and began to roast the hare. As he

roasted it he heard a voice as if some one were shouting from the tree

in a shivering voice; "Oh, how cold I am!" it said. "If you're cold,"

replied Rose, "get down and warm yourself." "Yes," said the voice, "but

I'm afraid of the dogs." "Don't be afraid as they won't hurt an honest

person." "I believe you," said the voice in the tree, "but still I want

you to throw this hair between them; let them smell it first, then they

will know me by it." Rose took the hair and threw it into the fire. Down

came an old witch from the tree and warmed herself. Then she spitted a

toad and began to roast it. As she did so she said to Rose, "This is

mine, that is yours," and threw it at him. As Rose couldn't stand this

he jumped up, drew his sword, and smote the witch; but lo! the sword

turned into a log of wood, and the witch flew at him to kill him,

crying, "It's all up with you also. I've killed your brothers in

revenge because you killed my seven giant sons."[1] But Rose set the

dogs at her, and they dragged her about till they drew blood. The blood

was spilt on the log of wood and it became a sword again. Rose caught

hold of it and chopped the old witch's left arm off. Now the witch

showed him the place where she had buried his brothers. Rose smote her

once more with his sword and the old witch went to Pluto's. Rose dug out

the bodies, put the bits together, anointed them with the healing-grass,

and sprinkled them with the water of life and death, and they came to

life again.



When they opened their eyes and saw Rose, they both exclaimed, "Oh! how

long I have been asleep." "Very long indeed," said Rose, "and if I

hadn't come you'd have been asleep still." They told him that soon after

they had separated they received the news that the enemy had withdrawn

from their country, and they decided to return, and that the elder

should undertake the government of the land, and the other go in search

of Rose. On their way they happened to go into the hut, and the old

witch treated them as she was going to treat Rose.



Rose also told them his tale, and spoke to them thus: "You, my eldest

brother, go home, and sit on our father's throne. You my other brother

come with me, and let us two govern the vast country over which the

giants had tyrannised until now:" and thus they separated and each went

on his own business.



Rose found his pretty love again, who was nearly dead with fretting for

him, but who quite recovered on his happy return. They took into their

hands the government of the vast country which they had delivered from

the sway of the giants. Rose and his love got married with the most

splendid wedding-feast, and the bride had to dance a great deal; and if

they've not died since they're alive still to this very day.



May they curl themselves into an eggshell and be your guests to-morrow.



[1] According to Kozma this is the only instance in the Szekely

folk-lore which accounts for the origin of giants.





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