The Travels Of Truth And Falsehood

: The Folk-tales Of The Magyars

A long time ago--I don't exactly remember the day--Truth started, with

her bag well filled, on a journey to see the world. On she went over

hill and dale, and through village and town, till one day she met

Falsehood. "Good day, countrywoman," said Truth; "where are you bound

for? Where do you intend going?" "I'm going to travel all over the

world," said Falsehood. "That's right," said Truth; "and as I'm bound in

the sa
e direction let's travel together." "All right," replied

Falsehood; "but you know that fellow-travellers must live in harmony, so

let's divide our provisions and finish yours first." Truth handed over

her provisions, upon which the two lived till every morsel was consumed;

then it was Falsehood's turn to provide. "Let me gouge out one of your

eyes," said Falsehood to Truth, "and then I'll let you have some food."

Poor Truth couldn't help herself; for she was very hungry and didn't

know what to do. So she had one of her eyes gouged out, and she got some

food. Next time she wanted food she had the other eye gouged out, and

then both her arms cut off. After all this Falsehood told her to go

away. Truth implored not to be left thus helpless in the wilds, and

asked that she might be taken to the gate of the next town and left

there to get her living by begging. Falsehood led her, not to where she

wanted to go, but near a pair of gallows and left her there. Truth was

very much surprised that she heard no one pass, and thought that all the

folks in that town must be dead. As she was thus reasoning with herself

and trembling with fear she fell asleep. When she awoke she heard some

people talking above her head, and soon discovered that they were

devils. The eldest of them said to the rest, "Tell me what you have

heard and what you have been doing." One said, "I have to-day killed a

learned physician, who has discovered a medicine with which he cured all

crippled, maimed, or blind." "Well, you're a smart fellow!" said the old

devil; "what may the medicine be?" "It consists simply of this," replied

the other, "that to-night is Friday night, and there will be a new moon:

the cripples have to roll about and the blind to wash their eyes in the

dew that has fallen during the night; the cripples will be healed of

their infirmities and the blind will see." "That is very good," said the

old devil. "And now what have you done, and what do you know?" he asked

the others.

"I," said another, "have just finished a little job of mine; I have cut

off the water-supply and will thus kill the whole of the population of

the country-town not far from here." "What is your secret?" asked the

old devil. "It is this," replied he; "I have placed a stone on the

spring which is situated at the eastern corner of the town at a depth of

three fathoms. By this means the spring will be blocked up, and not one

drop of water will flow; as for me I can go everywhere without fear,

because no one will ever find out my secret, and all will happen just as

I planned it."

The poor crippled Truth listened attentively to all these things.

Several other devils spoke; but poor Truth either did not understand

them or did not listen to what they said, as it did not concern her.

Having finished all, the devils disappeared as the cock crew announcing

the break of day.

Truth thought she would try the remedies she had heard, and at night

rolled about on the dewy ground, when to her great relief her arms grew

again. Wishing to be completely cured, she groped about and plucked

every weed she could find, and rubbed the dew into the cavities of her

eyes. As day broke she saw light once more. She then gave hearty thanks

to the God of Truth that he had not left her, his faithful follower, to

perish. Being hungry she set off in search of food. So she hurried off

to the nearest town, not only for food, but also because she remembered

what she had heard the devils say about cutting off the water supply.

She hurried on, so as not to be longer than she could help in giving

them her aid in their distress. She soon got there, and found every one

in mourning. Off she went straight to the king, and told him all she

knew; he was delighted when he was told that the thirst of the people

might be quenched. She also told the king how she had been maimed and

blinded, and the king believed all she said. They commenced at once with

great energy to dig up the stone that blocked the spring. The work was

soon done; the stone reached, lifted out, and the spring flowed once

more. The king was full of joy and so was the whole town, and there were

great festivities and a general holiday was held. The king would not

allow Truth to leave, but gave her all she needed, and treated her as

his most confidential friend, placing her in a position of great wealth

and happiness. In the meantime Falsehood's provisions came to an end,

and she was obliged to beg for food. As only very few houses gave her

anything she was almost starving when she met her old travelling

companion again. She cried to Truth for a piece of bread. "Yes, you can

have it," said Truth, "but you must have an eye gouged out;" and

Falsehood was in such a fix that she had either to submit or starve.

Then the other eye was taken out, and after that her arms were cut off,

in exchange for dry crusts of bread. Nor could she help it, for no one

else would give her anything.

Having lost her eyes and her arms she asked Truth to lead her under the

same gallows as she had been led to. At night the devils came; and, as

the eldest began questioning the others as to what they had been doing

and what they knew, one of them proposed that search be made, just to

see whether there were any listeners to their conversation, as some one

must have been eaves-dropping the other night, else it would never have

been found out how the springs of the town were plugged up. To this they

all agreed, and search was made; and soon they found Falsehood, whom

they instantly tore to pieces, coiled up her bowels into knots, burnt

her, and dispersed her ashes to the winds. But even her dust was so

malignant that it was carried all over the world; and that is the reason

that wherever men exist there Falsehood must be.