Informational Site NetworkInformational Site Network

The Envious Sisters

Source: The Folk-tales Of The Magyars

A king had three daughters whose names were Pride, Gentleness, and
Kindness. The king was very fond of them all, but he loved the youngest
one, Kindness, the most, as she knew best how to please him. Many
clever young gentlemen came to visit Kindness, but no one ever came near
the other two, and so they were very envious of her, and decided they
would get rid of her somehow or other. One morning they asked their
father's permission to go out into the fields, and from thence they went
into the forest. Kindness was delighted at having liberty to roam about
in such pretty places; the other two were pleased that they had at last
got the bird into their hands. As the dew dried up the two eldest
sisters strolled about arm in arm, whilst the youngest chased
butterflies and plucked the wild strawberries, with the intention of
taking some home to her father; she spent her time in great glee,
singing and listening to the songs of the birds, when suddenly she
discovered that she had strolled into an immense wood. As she was
considering what to do, her two sisters appeared by her side, and said
spitefully, "Well, you good-for-nothing! you have never done anything
but try to make our father love you most and to spoil our chances in
every way, prepare yourself for your end, for you have eaten your last
piece of bread." Kindness lifted up her hands, and besought them not to
harm her, but they cut off her hands, and only spared her life under the
condition that she would never go near her home again; they then took
her beautiful precious mantle from her, and dressed her in old rags;
they then led her to the highest part of the forest, and showed her an
unknown land, bidding her go there and earn her living by begging. The
blood streamed from Kindness's arms, and her heart ached in an
indescribable way, but she never uttered the slightest reproach against
her sisters, but started off in the direction pointed out to her.
Suddenly she came to a beautiful open plain, where there was a pretty
little orchard full of trees, and their fruit was always ripening all
the year round. She gave thanks to God that he had guided her there,
then, entering the garden, she crouched down in a by-place. As she had
no hands to pluck the fruit with she lived upon what grew upon low
boughs; thus she spent the whole summer unnoticed by any one.

But towards autumn, when every other fruit was gone save grapes, she
lived on these, and then the gardener soon discovered that the bunches
had been tampered with and that there must be some one about: he watched
and caught her. Now it so happened that the garden belonged to a prince,
who spent a great deal of his time there, as he was very fond of the
place. The gardener did not like to tell him of what had happened, as he
pitied the poor handless girl and was afraid his master would punish her
severely. He decided therefore to let her go. Accidentally, however, the
prince came past and asked who she was. "Your highness," replied the
gardener, "I know no more of her than you do. I caught her in the
garden, and to prevent her doing any more damage I was going to turn her
out." "Don't lead her away," said the prince; "and who are you,
unfortunate girl?" "You have called me right, my lord," said Kindness,
"for I am unfortunate, but I am not bad; I am a beggar, but I am of
royal blood. I was taken from my father because he loved me most;
crippled because I was a good child. That is my story." To this the
prince replied, "However dirtily and ragged you are dressed, still it is
clear to me that you are not of low birth: your pretty face and polished
speech prove it. Follow me; and whatever you have lost you will find in
my house." "Your highness, in this nasty, dirty dress--how can I come
into your presence? Send clothes to me which I can put on, and then I
will do whatever you order." "Very well," said the prince; "stay here,
and I will send to you." He went and sent her a lady-in-waiting with
perfumed water to wash with, a gorgeous dress, and a carriage. Kindness
washed and dressed herself, got into the carriage, and went to the
prince. Quite changed in her appearance, not at all like as she was
before, however much she suffered she was as pretty as a Lucretia; and
the prince fell so much in love with her that he decided on the spot
that he would marry her; and so they got married, with great splendour,
and spent their time together in great happiness.

When the two elder sisters came home from the forest their father
inquired where Kindness was. "Has she not come home?" said they; "we
thought that she would have been home before us. As she was running
after butterflies she got separated from us. We looked for her
everywhere and called for her; as we got no answer we set off home
before the darkness set in."

The king gave orders that Kindness was to be looked for everywhere; they
searched for days but could not find her; then the king got so angry in
his sorrow that he drove the two elder girls away because they had not
taken proper care of their sister. They set out into the world in quite
another direction, but by accident arrived in the country where Kindness
was queen; here they lived a retired life in a small town unknown to
all. Kindness at this time was enceinte; and as war broke out with a
neighbouring nation her royal husband was obliged to go to the field of
battle. The war lasted a long time, and in the meantime Kindness gave
birth to twins, two handsome sons; on the forehead of one was the sign
of the blessed sun, on the other the sign of the blessed moon; in great
joy the queen's guardian sent a letter containing the good news to the
king by a messenger to the camp. The messenger had to pass through the
small town where the envious sisters dwelt; it was quite dark when he
arrived, and as he did not see a light anywhere but in their window he
went and asked for a night's lodging; while he stayed there he told them
all about the object of his journey; you may imagine how well he was
received, and with what pleasure they offered him lodging, these envious
brutes! When the messenger fell asleep they immediately took possession
of the letter, tore it open, read it, and burnt it, and put in its place
another to the king, saying that the queen had given birth to two
monsters which looked more like puppies than babes; in the morning they
gave meat and drink to the messenger, and pressed him to call and see
them on his way back, as they would be delighted to see him. He accepted
their kind invitation, and promised that he would come to them, and to
no one else, on his return. The messenger arrived at the camp and
delivered his letter to the king, who was very downcast as he read it;
but still he wrote back and said that his wife was not to be blamed; "if
it has happened thus how can I help it? don't show her the slightest
discourtesy," wrote he. As the messenger went back he slept again in the
house of the two old serpent-sisters; they stole the king's letter and
wrote in its place: "I want neither children nor mother; see that by the
time I come home those monsters be out of my way, so that not even so
much as their name remain." When this letter was read every one was very
sorry for the poor queen, and couldn't make out why the king was so
angry, but there was nothing for it but for the king's orders to be
carried out, and so the two pretty babes were put in a sheet and hung
round Kindness's neck, and she was sent away. For days and days poor
Kindness walked about suffering hunger and thirst, till at last she came
to a pretty wood; passing through this she travelled through a valley
covered with trees; passing through this at last she saw the great
alpine fir-trees at the end of the vale; there she found a clear spring;
in her parching thirst she stooped to drink, but in her hurry she lost
her balance and fell into the water; as she tried to drag herself out
with her two stumps, to her intense astonishment she found that by
immersion her two hands had grown again as they were before; she wept
for joy. Although she was hiding in an unknown place with no husband, no
father, no friend, no help whatever, with two starving children in this
great wilderness, still she wasn't sorrowful, because she was so
delighted to have her hands again. She stood there, and could not make
up her mind in which direction to go; as she stood looking all round she
suddenly caught sight of an old man coming towards her. "Who are you?"
said the old man. "Who am I?" she replied, sighing deeply; "I'm an
unfortunate queen." She then told him all she had suffered, and how she
had recovered her hands that very minute by washing in the spring. "My
poor good daughter," said the old man, bitterly, "then we are both
afflicted ones; it's quite enough that you are alive, and that I have
found you. Listen to me: your husband was warring against me, he drove
me from my country, and hiding from him I came this way; not very far
from here with one of my faithful servants I have built a hut and we
will live together there." The old man, in order to prove the miraculous
curing power of the spring, dipped his maimed finger into it, which was
shot off in the last war; as he took it out, lo! it was all right once

When the war was over, Kindness's husband returned home and inquired
after his wife. They told him all that had happened, and he was deeply
grieved, and went in search of her with a great number of his people,
and they found her at last with her two pretty babes, living with her
old father. On inquiry it was also found out where the messenger with
the letters had slept and how the letters were changed. Pride and
Gentleness were summoned and sentenced to death; but Kindness forgave
them all their misdeeds, and was so kind to them that she obtained their
pardon, and also persuaded her father to forgive them.

There is no more of this speech to which you need listen, as I have told
it to the very end and I have not missed a word out of it. Those of whom
I have spoken may they be your guests, every one of them, to-morrow!

You have an error in your SQL syntax; check the manual that corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near 'WHERE PageName LIKE 'The-Envious-Sisters'' at line 1