The Three Valuable Things

: The Folk-tales Of The Magyars

There were once two kings who lived in great friendship; one had three

sons, the other a daughter. The two fathers made an agreement, that in

case of either of them dying, the other should become guardian of the

orphans; and that if one of the boys married the girl he should inherit

her property. Very soon after the girl's father died, and she went to

live with her guardian. After a little time the eldest boy went to his

> father and asked the girl's hand, threatening to commit suicide if his

request was refused; his father promised to give him a reply in three

weeks. At the end of the first week the second son asked the girl's

hand, and threatened to blow out his brains if he could not wed her; the

king promised to reply to him in a fortnight. At the end of the second

week, the youngest asked for the girl, and his father bade him wait a

week for his answer. The day arrived when all three had to receive their

reply, and their father addressed them thus: "My sons, you all three

love the girl, but you know too well that only one can have her. I will,

therefore, give her to the one who will show himself the most worthy of

her. You had better go, wherever you please, and see the world, and

return in one year from this day, and the girl shall be his who will

bring the most valuable thing from his journey." The princes consented

to this, and started on their journey, travelling together till they

came to a tall oak in the nearest wood; the road here divided into three

branches; the eldest chose the one leading west, the second selected the

one running south, and the third son the branch turning off to the east.

Before separating, they decided to return to the same place after the

lapse of exactly one year, and to make the homeward journey together.

The eldest looked at everything that he found worthy of note during his

travels, and spared no expense to get something excellent: after a long

journey hither and thither, he at last succeeded in getting a telescope

by the aid of which he could see to the end of the world; so he decided

to take it back to his father, as the most valuable thing he had found.

The second son also endeavoured to find something so valuable that the

possession of it should make him an easy winner in the competition for

the girl's hand: after a long search he found a cloak by means of which,

when he put it on and thought of a place, he was immediately transported

there. The youngest, after long wandering, bought an orange which had

power to restore to life the dead when put under the corpse's nose,

provided death had not taken place more than twenty-four hours before.

These were the three valuable things that were to be brought home; and,

as the year was nearly up, the eldest and the youngest were already on

their way back to the oak: the second son only was still enjoying

himself in various places, as one second was enough for him to get to

the meeting place. The two having arrived at the oak, the middle one

appeared after a little while, and they then shewed each other the

valuables acquired; next they looked through the telescope, and to their

horror they saw that the lady for the possession of whom they had been

working hard for a whole year, was lying dead; so they all three slipped

hurriedly into the cloak, and as quick as thought arrived at home; the

father told them in great grief that the girl could belong to no one as

she was dead: they inquired when she died, and receiving an answer that

she had been dead not quite twenty-four hours, the youngest rushed up to

her, and restored her to life with his magic orange. Now there was a

good deal of litigation and quarrelling among the three lads: the eldest

claimed the greatest merit for himself, because, he said, had they not

seen through his telescope that the girl was dead they would have been

still lingering at the oak, and the orange would have been of no avail;

the second maintained that if they had not got home so quickly with his

cloak the orange would have been of no use; the third claimed his orange

as the best, for restoring the girl to life, without which the other two

would have been useless. In order to settle the dispute, they called all

the learned and old people of the realm together, and these awarded the

girl to the youngest, and all three were satisfied with the award, and

the two others gave up all idea about suicide. The eldest, by the aid of

his telescope, found himself a wife who was the prettiest royal princess

on earth, and married her: the second heard of one who was known for her

virtue and beauty, and got into his cloak, and went to her, and so all

three to their great satisfaction led their brides to the altar, and

became as happy as men can be.