The Children Of Two Rich Men

: The Folk-tales Of The Magyars

There lived, at the two corners of a country, far away from each other,

two rich men; one of them had a son, the other a daughter; these two men

asked each other to be godfather to their children, and, during the

christening they agreed that the babes should wed. The children grew up,

but did no work, and so were spoilt. As soon as they were old enough

their parents compelled them to marry. Shortly afterwards their parents
/> died and they were left alone; they knew nothing of the world and did

not understand farming, so the serfs and farm-labourers had it all their

own way. Soon their fields were all overgrown with weeds and their

corn-bins empty; in a word they became poor. One day the master

bethought himself that he ought to go to market, as he had seen his

father do; so he set off, and drove with him a pair of beautiful young

oxen that were still left. On his way he met a wedding-party, and

greeted them thus, "May the Lord preserve you from such a sorrowful

change, and may He give consolation to those who are in trouble," Words

he had once heard his father use upon the occasion of a funeral. The

wedding-party got very vexed, and, as they were rather flushed with

wine, gave him a good drubbing, and told him that the next time he saw

such a ceremony he was to put his hat on the end of his stick, lift it

high in the air, and shout for joy. He went on further till he came to

the outskirts of a forest, where he met some butcher-like looking people

who were driving fat pigs, whereupon he seized his hat, put it on the

end of his stick, and began to shout: which so frightened the pigs that

they rushed off on all sides into the wood; the butchers got hold of him

and gave him a sound beating, and told him that the next time he saw

such a party he was to say, "May the Lord bless you with two for every

one you have." He went on again and saw a man clearing out the weeds

from his field, and greeted him, "My brother, may the Lord bless you

with two for every one you have." The man, who was very angry about

the weeds, caught him and gave him a sound beating, and told him that

the next time he saw such things he had better help to pull out one or

two. In another place he met two men fighting, so he went up and began

to pull first at one and then at the other, whereupon they left off

fighting with each other and pitched into him. Somehow or other he at

last arrived at the market, and, looking round, he saw an unpainted cart

for sale, whereupon he remembered that his father used to go into the

wood in a cart, and so he asked the man who had it for sale whether he

would change it for his two oxen--not knowing that having once parted

with the oxen he would not get them back again. The man was at first

angry, because he thought he was making fun of the cart, but he soon saw

that the man with the oxen was not quite right in his head, and so he

struck the bargain with the young farmer, who, when he got the cart,

went dragging it to and fro in the market. He met a blacksmith and

changed the cart for a hatchet; soon the hatchet was changed for a

whetstone; then he started off home as if he had settled matters in the

most satisfactory manner. Near his village he saw a lake, and on it a

flock of wild ducks. He immediately threw his whetstone at them, which

sank to the bottom, whilst every one of the ducks flew away.

He undressed and got into the lake, in order to recover his whetstone,

but in the meantime his clothes were stolen from the bank, and, having

no clothes, he had to walk home as naked as when he was born. His wife

was not at home when he arrived. He took a slice of bread from the

drawer, and went into the cellar to draw himself some wine; having put

the bread on the door-sill of the cellar, he went back to get his wine,

as he did so he saw a dog come up and run away with his bread; he at

once threw the spigot after the thief, so the spigot was lost, the bread

was lost, and every drop of wine was lost, for it all ran out. Now there

was a sack of flour in the cellar, and in order that his wife might not

notice the wine he spread the flour over it. A goose was sitting on eggs

in the cellar, and as he worked she hissed at him. Thinking that the

bird was saying, that it was going to betray him to his wife, he asked

it two or three times, "Will you split?" Going up to the goose, it

hissed still more, so he caught hold of it by the neck, and dashed it

upon the ground with such force that it died on the spot. He was now

more frightened than ever, and in order to amend his error he plucked

off the feathers, rolled himself about in the floury mess, then amongst

the feathers, and then sat on the nest as if he were sitting. His wife

came home, and, as she found the cellar door wide open, she went down

stairs, and found her husband sitting in the nest and hissing like a

goose; but his wife soon recognised him, and, picking up a log of wood,

she attacked him, saying, "Good Heavens, what an animal, let me kill it

at once!" Up he jumped from the nest, and cried out in a horrible

fright, "Don't touch me, my dear wife, it's I!" His wife then questioned

him about his transactions, and he gave a full account of all that had

happened; so his wife drove him away and said, "Don't come before my

eyes again till you have made good your faults." She then gave him a

slice of bread and a small flask of spirit, which he put in his pocket

and went on his way, his wife wishing him "a happy journey, if the road

is not muddy." On his way he met Our Lord Christ and said to him, "I'm

not going to divide my bread with you, because you have not made a rich

man of me." Then he met Death, with him he divided his bread and his

spirits, therefore Death did not carry him off, and he asked Death to be

his child's godfather.

Then said Death, "Now you will see a wonder"; with this he slipped into

the spirit flask, and was immediately corked up by the young man. Death

implored to be set free, but the young farmer said, "Promise me then

that you will make me a rich man, and then I will let you out." Death

promised him this, and they agreed that the man was to be a doctor, and

whenever Death stood at the patient's feet, he or she was not to die,

and could be cured by any sort of medicine whatever: but if Death stood

at the patient's head he was to die: with this they parted.

Our man reached a town where the king's daughter was very ill. The

doctors had tried all they could, but were not able to cure her, so he

said that he was going to cure her, if she could be cured, if not, he

would tell them; so thereupon he went into the patient and saw Death

standing at her feet. He burnt a stack of hay, and made a bath for her

of the ashes, and she recovered so soon as she had bathed in it. The

king made him so many presents that he became a very rich man: he

removed to the town, brought his wife there, and lived in great style as

a doctor. Once however he fell sick, and his koma [his child's

godfather] came and stood at his head, and the patient begged hard for

him to go and stand at his feet, but his koma replied, "Not if I know

it," and then the doctor also departed to the other world.