The Three Dreams

: The Folk-tales Of The Magyars

There was once, I don't know where, even beyond the Operenczias Sea, a

poor man, who had three sons. Having got up one morning, the father

asked the eldest one, "What have you dreamt, my son?" "Well, my dear

father," said he, "I sat at a table covered with many dishes, and I ate

so much that when I patted my belly all the sparrows in the whole

village were startled by the sound." "Well, my son," said the father,

"if yo
had so much to eat, you ought to be satisfied; and, as we are

rather short of bread, you shall not have anything to eat to-day." Then

he asked the second one, "What have you dreamt, my son?" "Well, my dear

father, I bought such splendid boots with spurs, that when I put them on

and knocked my heels together I could be heard over seven countries."

"Well, my good son," answered the father, "you have got good boots at

last, and you won't want any for the winter." At last he asked the

youngest as to what he had dreamt, but this one was reticent, and did

not care to tell; his father ordered him to tell what it was he had

dreamt, but he was silent. As fair words were of no avail the old man

tried threats, but without success. Then he began to beat the lad. "To

flee is shameful, but very useful," they say. The lad followed this good

advice, and ran away, his father after him with a stick. As they reached

the street the king was just passing down the high road, in a carriage

drawn by six horses with golden hair and diamond shoes. The king

stopped, and asked the father why he was ill-treating the lad. "Your

Majesty, because he won't tell me his dream." "Don't hurt him, my good

man," said the monarch; "I'll tell you what, let the lad go with me, and

take this purse; I am anxious to know his dream, and will take him with

me." The father consented, and the king continued his journey, taking

the lad with him. Arriving at home, he commanded the lad to appear

before him, and questioned him about his dream, but the lad would not

tell him. No imploring, nor threatening, would induce him to disclose

his dream. The king grew angry with the lad's obstinacy, and said, in a

great rage, "You good-for-nothing fellow, to disobey your king, you must

know, is punishable by death! You shall die such a lingering death that

you will have time to think over what disobedience to the king means."

He ordered the warders to come, and gave them orders to take the lad

into the tower of the fortress, and to immure him alive in the wall. The

lad listened to the command in silence, and only the king's pretty

daughter seemed pale, who was quite taken by the young fellow's

appearance, and gazed upon him in silent joy. The lad was tall, with

snow-white complexion, and had dark eyes and rich raven locks. He was

carried away, but the princess was determined to save the handsome lad's

life, with whom she had fallen in love at first sight; and she bribed

one of the workmen to leave a stone loose, without its being noticed, so

that it could be easily taken out and replaced; and so it was done!

And the pretty girl fed her sweetheart in his cell in secret. One day

after this, it happened that the powerful ruler of the dog-headed

Tartars gave orders that seven white horses should be led into the other

king's courtyard; the animals were so much alike that there was not a

hair to choose between them, and each of the horses was one year older

than another; at the same time the despot commanded that he should

choose the youngest from among them, and the others in the order of

their ages, including the oldest; if he could not do this, his country

should be filled with as many Tartars as there were blades of grass in

the land; that he should be impaled; and his daughter become the

Tartar-chief's wife. The king on hearing this news was very much

alarmed, held a council of all the wise men in his realm, but all in

vain: and the whole court was in sorrow and mourning. The princess, too,

was sad, and when she took the food to her sweetheart she did not smile

as usual, but her eyes were filled with tears: he seeing this inquired

the cause; the princess told him the reason of her grief, but he

consoled her, and asked her to tell her father that he was to get seven

different kinds of oats put into seven different dishes, the oats to be

the growths of seven different years; the horses were to be let in and

they would go and eat the oats according to their different ages, and

while they were feeding they must put a mark on each of the horses. And

so it was done, The horses were sent back and the ages of them given,

and the Tartar monarch found the solution to be right.

But then it happened again that a rod was sent by him both ends of which

were of equal thickness; the same threat was again repeated in case the

king should not find out which end had grown nearest the trunk of the

tree. The king was downcast and the princess told her grief to the lad,

but he said, "Don't worry yourself, princess, but tell your father to

measure carefully the middle of the rod and to hang it up by the middle

on a piece of twine, the heavier end of it will swing downwards, that

end will be the one required." The king did so and sent the rod back

with the end marked as ordered. The Tartar monarch shook his head but

was obliged to admit that it was right. "I will give them another

trial," said he in a great rage; "and, as I see that there must be some

one at the king's court who wishes to defy me, we will see who is the

stronger." Not long after this, an arrow struck the wall of the royal

palace, which shook it to its very foundation, like an earthquake; and

great was the terror of the people, which was still more increased when

they found that the Tartar monarch's previous threats were written on

the feathers of the arrow, which threats were to be carried out if the

king had nobody who could draw out the arrow and shoot it back. The king

was more downcast than ever, and never slept a wink: he called together

all the heroes of his realm, and every child born under a lucky star,

who was born either with a caul or with a tooth, or with a grey lock; he

promised to the successful one, half of his realm and his daughter, if

he fulfilled the Tartar king's wish. The princess told the lad, in sad

distress, the cause of her latest grief, and he asked her to have the

secret opening closed, so that their love might not be found out, and

that no trace be left; and then she was to say, that she dreamt that the

lad was still alive, and that he would be able to do what was needed,

and that they were to have the wall opened. The princess did as she was

told; the king was very much astonished, but at the same time treated

the matter as an idle dream in the beginning. He had almost entirely

forgotten the lad, and thought that he had gone to dust behind the walls

long ago. But in times of perplexity, when there is no help to be found

in reality, one is apt to believe dreams, and in his fear about his

daughter's safety, the king at last came to the conclusion that the

dream was not altogether impossible. He had the wall opened; and a

gallant knight stepped from the hole. "You have nothing more to fear, my

king," said the lad, who was filled with hope, and, dragging out the

arrow with his right hand, he shot it towards Tartary with such force

that all the finials of the royal palace dropped down with the force of

the shock.

Seeing this, the Tartar monarch was not only anxious to see, but also to

make the acquaintance of him who did all these things. The lad at once

offered to go, and started on the journey with twelve other knights,

disguising himself so that he could not be distinguished from his

followers; his weapons, his armour, and everything on him was exactly

like those around him. This was done in order to test the magic power of

the Tartar chief. The lad and his knights were received with great pomp

by the monarch, who, seeing that all were attired alike, at once

discovered the ruse; but, in order that he might not betray his

ignorance, did not dare to inquire who the wise and powerful knight was,

but trusted to his mother, who had magic power, to find him out. For

this reason the magic mother put them all in the same bedroom for the

night, she concealing herself in the room. The guests lay down, when one

of them remarked, with great satisfaction, "By Jove! what a good cellar

the monarch has!" "His wine is good, indeed," said another, "because

there is human blood mixed with it." The magic mother noted from which

bed the sound had come; and, when all were asleep, she cut off a lock

from the knight in question, and crept out of the room unnoticed, and

informed her son how he could recognise the true hero. The guests got up

next morning, but our man soon noticed that he was marked, and in order

to thwart the design, every one of the knights cut off a lock. They sat

down to dinner, and the monarch was not able to recognise the hero.

The next night the monarch's mother again stole into the bedroom, and

this time a knight exclaimed, "By Jove! what good bread the Tartar

monarch has!" "It's very good, indeed," said another, "because there is

woman's milk in it." When they went to sleep, she cut off the end of the

moustache from the knight who slept in the bed where the voice came

from, and made this sign known to her son; but the knights were more on

their guard than before, and having discovered what the sign was, each

of them cut off as much from their moustache as the knight's who was

marked; and so once more the monarch could not distinguish between them.

The third night the old woman again secreted herself, when one of the

knights remarked, "By Jove! what a handsome man the monarch is!" "He is

handsome, indeed, because he is a love-child," said another. When they

went to sleep, she made a scratch on the visor of the knight who spoke

last, and told her son. Next morn the monarch saw that all visors were

marked alike. At last the monarch took courage and spoke thus: "I can

see there is a cleverer man amongst you than I; and this is why I am so

much more anxious to know him. I pray, therefore, that he make himself

known, so that I may see him, and make the acquaintance of the only

living man who wishes to be wiser and more powerful than myself." The

lad stepped forward and said, "I do not wish to be wiser or more

powerful than you; but I have only carried out what you bade me do; and

I am the one who has been marked for the last three nights." "Very well,

my lad, now I wish you to prove your words. Tell me, then, how is it

possible there can be human blood in my wine?" "Call your cupbearer,

your majesty, and he will explain it to you," said the lad. The official

appeared hastily, and told the king how, when filling the tankards with

the wine in question, he cut his finger with his knife, and thus the

blood got into the wine. "Then how is it that there is woman's milk in

my bread?" asked the monarch. "Call the woman who baked the bread, and

she will tell," said the lad. The woman was questioned, and narrated

that she was nursing a baby, and that milk had collected in her breasts;

and as she was kneading the dough, the breast began to run, and some

milk dropped into it. The magic mother had previously informed her son,

when telling him what happened the three nights, and now confirmed her

previous confession that it was true that the monarch was a love-child.

The monarch was not able to keep his temper any longer, and spoke in a

great rage and very haughtily, "I cannot tolerate the presence of a man

who is my equal: either he or I will die. Defend yourself, lad!" and

with these words he flashed his sword, and dashed at the lad. But in

doing so, he accidentally slipped and fell, and the lad's life was

saved. Before the former had time to get on his feet, the lad pierced

him through, cut off his head, and presented it on the point of his

sword to the king at home. "These things that have happened to me are

what I dreamt," said the victorious lad; "but I could not divulge my

secret beforehand, or else it would not have been fulfilled." The king

embraced the lad, and presented to him his daughter and half his realm;

and they perhaps still live in happiness to-day, if they have not died