Cinder Jack

: The Folk-tales Of The Magyars

A peasant had three sons. One morning he sent out the eldest to guard

the vineyard. The lad went, and was cheerfully eating a cake he had

taken with him, when a frog crept up to him, and asked him to let it

have some of his cake. "Anything else?" asked the lad angrily, and

picked up a stone to drive the frog away. The frog left without a word,

and the lad soon fell asleep, and, on awaking, found the whole vineyard

waste. The next day the father sent his second son into the

vineyard, but he fared like the first.

The father was very angry about it, and did not know what to do;

whereupon his youngest son spoke up, who was always sitting in a corner

amongst the ashes, and was not thought fit for anything, and whom for

this reason they nicknamed Cinder Jack. "My father, send me out, and I

will take care of the vineyard." His father and his brothers laughed at

him, but they allowed him to have a trial; so Cinder Jack went to the

vineyard, and, taking out his cake, began to eat it. The frog again

appeared, and asked for a piece of cake, which was given to him at once.

Having finished their breakfast, the frog gave the lad a copper, a

silver, and a gold rod; and told him, that three horses would appear

shortly, of copper, silver, and gold, and they would try to trample down

the vineyard; but, if he beat them with the rods he had given him they

would at once become tame, and be his servants, and could at any time be

summoned to carry out his orders. It happened as the frog foretold; and

the vineyard produced a rich vintage. But Cinder Jack never told his

master or his brothers how he had been able to preserve the vineyard; in

fact, he concealed all, and again spent his time as usual, lying about

in his favourite corner.

One Sunday the king had a high fir pole erected in front of the church,

and a golden rosemary tied to the top, and promised his daughter to him

who should be able to take it down in one jump on horseback. All the

knights of the realm tried their fortune, but not one of them was able

to jump high enough. But all of a sudden a knight clad in copper mail,

on a copper horse, appeared with his visor down, and snatched the

rosemary with an easy jump, and quickly disappeared. When his two

brothers got home they told Cinder Jack what had happened, and he

remarked, that he saw the whole proceeding much better, and on being

asked "Where from?" his answer was, "From the top of the hoarding." His

brothers had the hoarding pulled down at once, so that their younger

brother might not look on any more. Next Sunday a still higher pole,

with a golden apple at the top, was set up; and whosoever wished to

marry the king's daughter had to take the apple down. Again, hundreds

upon hundreds tried, but all in vain; till, at last, a knight in silver

mail, on a silver horse, took it, and disappeared. Cinder Jack again

told his brothers that he saw the festivities much better than they did;

he saw them, he said, from the pig-stye; so this was pulled down also.

The third Sunday a silk kerchief interwoven with gold was displayed at

the top of a still higher fir pole, and, as nobody succeeded in getting

it, a knight in gold mail, on a gold horse, appeared; snatched it down,

and galloped off. Cinder Jack again told his brothers that he saw all

from the top of the house; and his envious brothers had the roof of the

house taken off, so that the youngest brother might not look on again.

The king now had it announced that the knight who had shown himself

worthy of his daughter should report himself, and should bring with him

the gold rosemary, the apple, and the silk kerchief; but no one came. So

the king ordered every man in the realm to appear before him, and still

the knight in question could not be found; till, at last, he arrived

clad in gold mail on a gold charger; whereupon the bells were at once

rung, and hundreds and hundreds of cannons fired. The knight, having

handed to the princess the golden rosemary, the apple, and the kerchief,

respectfully demanded her hand, and, having obtained it, lifted his

visor, and the populace, to their great astonishment, recognised Cinder

Jack, whom they had even forgotten to ask to the king's presence. The

good-hearted lad had his brothers' house rebuilt, and gave them presents

as well. He took his father to his house, as the old king died soon

after. Cinder Jack is reigning still, and is respected and honoured by

all his subjects!