The Student Who Was Forcibly Made King

: The Folk-tales Of The Magyars

A student started on a journey, and as he went over a field he found

some peas which were cracked. He thought that they might be of use to

him as he was a poor lad, and his father had advised him to pick up

anything he saw, if it was worth no more than a flea; so he gathered up

the peas and put them in his pocket. As he travelled he was overtaken by

night just when he arrived at the royal borough; so he reported himself

to the king, and asked for some money for travelling expenses, and a

night's lodging. Now the student was a comely lad, spoke grammatically,

and had good manners. The queen noticed this, and as she had a daughter

ready for marriage, she came to the conclusion that he was a prince in

disguise, who had come in search of a wife. She told this to the king,

and he thought it very probable. Both agreed that they would try to find

out whether he really was a prince, and asked him to stay with them for

two days. The first night they did not give him a very splendid bed,

because they thought that if he were satisfied, he was but a student, if

not, then he must be a prince. They made his bed in the adjoining house,

and the king placed one of his confidential servants outside of the

window, that he might spy out all that the student did. They showed the

bed to the student, and he began to undress when they left. As he

undressed all the peas dropped out of his pocket, and rolled under the

bed; he at once began to look for them and pick them up, one by one, and

did not finish till dawn. The spy outside could not make out what he was

doing, but he saw that he did not go to sleep till dawn, and then only

for a short time, having spent the night arranging his bed; so he

reported to the king that his guest had not slept, but had fidgeted

about, appearing not to be used to such a bed. The student got up, and

during breakfast the king asked him how he had slept, to which he

replied, "A little restlessly, but it was through my own fault." From

this they concluded that he already repented of not having shown them

his true position, and thus having not got a proper bed. They believed,

therefore, that he was a prince, and treated him accordingly. Next night

they made his bed in the same place, but in right royal style. As the

student had not slept the night before, the moment he put his head down

he began to sleep like a pumpkin, and never even moved till dawn. He had

no trouble with his peas this time, for he had tied them up in the

corner of his handkerchief as he picked them up from under the bed. The

spy reported to the king next morning that the traveller slept soundly

all night. They now firmly believed that the student simply dressed up

as such, but in reality was a prince. They tried to persuade him that

he was a prince, and addressed him as such. The king's daughter ran

after the student to get into his favour, and it didn't take much to

make him fall in love with her, and so the two got married. They had

lived a whole year together, when they were sent off to travel in order

that the student-king might show his wife his realm. The student was

very frightened that he might not get out of his trouble so well, and

grew more and more alarmed, till at last he accepted his fate. "Let come

whatever is to come," thought he, "I will go with them, and then, if

nothing else can be done, I can escape, and go back to college," for he

had carried his student's gown with him everywhere. They started off and

travelled till they came to a large forest. The student slipped aside

into a deep ditch, where he undressed, in order to put on his student's

clothes and to escape. Now there was a dragon with seven heads lazily

lying there, who accosted him thus: "Who are you? What are you looking

for here? What do you want?" The student told him his whole history, and

also that he was just going to run away. "There is no need to run away,"

said the dragon, "that would be a pity, continue your journey; when you

get out of this wood you will see a copper fortress, which swivels on a

goose's leg. Go into it, and live there in peace with your wife, with

your dog and cat, till the fortress begins to move and turn round. When

this happens, be off, because if I come home and catch you there, there

will be an end of you." The student went back to his travelling

companions and continued his way until, emerging from the wood, he saw

the fortress. They all went in and settled down as in their own, and all

went on very well for two years, and he already began to believe that he

really was a king, when suddenly the fortress began to move, and swivel

round very quickly. The student was downcast, and went up on the

battlement of the fortress, wandering about in great sorrow; he there

found an old woman, who asked him, "What's the matter with your

Majesty?" "H'm! the matter is, old woman," replied the student, "that I

am not a king, and still I am compelled to be one," and then he told her

his whole history up to that time. "There's nothing in that, my son,"

said the old woman, "be thankful that you have not tried to keep your

secret from me. I am the queen of magic, and the most formidable enemy

of the dragon with seven heads; therefore this is my advice: get a loaf

made at once, and let this loaf be placed in the oven seven times with

other loaves, this particular loaf each time to be put in the oven the

first and to be taken out last. Have this loaf placed outside the

fortress gate to-morrow, without fail. When the dragon with the seven

heads is coming, it will be such a charm against him that he will never

trouble you again, and the fortress will be left to you with all that

belongs to it." The student had the loaf prepared as he was told, and

when the clock struck one after midnight the bread was already placed

outside the fortress gate. As the sun rose, the dragon with seven heads

went straight towards the fortress gate, where the loaf addressed him

thus, "Stop, I'm guard here, and without my permission you may not

enter; if you wish to come in, you must first suffer what I have


"Well," said the dragon, "I've made up my mind to enter, so let me know

what ordeals you have gone through."

The loaf told him, that when it was a seed it was buried in a field that

had previously been dug up: then rotted, sprouted, and grew; it had

suffered from cold, heat, rain, and snow, until it ripened; it was then

cut down, tied into sheaves, threshed out, ground, kneaded into dough,

and then seven times running they put it in a fiery oven, each time

before its mates: "If you can stand all this," concluded the loaf,

"then I'll let you in, but on no other condition." The dragon, knowing

that he could not stand all this, got so angry that he burst in his rage

and perished. The student from that day became lord of the fortress, and

after the death of his wife's parents became king of two lands; and if

he has not died yet, he reigns still.

If I knew that I should fare as well as that student I would become a

student this very blessed day!