Polish Fairy Tales
Compiled by | Eren Sarı
Polish Fairy Tales
Copyright © 2017, (Eren SARI)
All rights belong to the author. It can not be reproduced or converted into other formats without the permission of the author.
First Edition: 2017
Aşağı Pazarcı Mah.1063 Sokak.No:7
Antalya / TÜRKİYE
Cover: NOKTA E-KİTAP
Publisher: NET MEDYA YAYINCILIK
Nokta E-Book International Publishing
Once upon a time there were three Princesses who were all three young and beautiful; but the youngest, although she was not fairer than the other two, was the most lovable of them all.
About half a mile from the palace in which they lived there stood a castle, which was uninhabited and almost a ruin, but the garden which surrounded it was a mass of blooming flowers, and in this garden the youngest Princess used often to walk.
One day when she was pacing to and fro under the lime trees, a black crow hopped out of a rose-bush in front of her.
The poor beast was all torn and bleeding, and the kind little Princess was quite unhappy about it. When the crow saw this it turned to her and said:
‘I am not really a black crow, but an enchanted Prince, who has been doomed to spend his youth in misery.
If you only liked, Princess, you could save me. But you would have to say good-bye to all your own people and come and be my constant companion in this ruined castle.
There is one habitable room in it, in which there is a golden bed; there you will have to live all by yourself, and don’t forget that whatever you may see or hear in the night you must not scream out, for if you give as much as a single cry my sufferings will be doubled.’
The good-natured Princess at once left her home and her family and hurried to the ruined castle, and took possession of the room with the golden bed.
When night approached she lay down, but though she shut her eyes tight sleep would not come. At midnight she heard to her great horror some one coming along the passage, and in a minute her door was flung wide open and a troop of strange beings entered the room. They at once proceeded to light a fire in the huge fireplace; then they placed a great cauldron of boiling water on it. When they had done this, they approached the bed on which the trembling girl lay, and, screaming and yelling all the time, they dragged her towards the cauldron. She nearly died with fright, but she never uttered a sound. Then of a sudden the cock crew, and all the evil spirits vanished.
At the same moment the crow appeared and hopped all round the room with joy.
It thanked the Princess most heartily for her goodness, and said that its sufferings had already been greatly lessened.
Now one of the Princess’s elder sisters, who was very inquisitive, had found out about everything, and went to pay her youngest sister a visit in the ruined castle. She implored her so urgently to let her spend the night with her in the golden bed, that at last the good-natured little Princess consented. But at midnight, when the odd folk appeared, the elder sister screamed with terror, and from this time on the youngest Princess insisted always on keeping watch alone.
So she lived in solitude all the daytime, and at night she would have been frightened, had she not been so brave; but every day the crow came and thanked her for her endurance, and assured her that his sufferings were far less than they had been.
And so two years passed away, when one day the crow came to the Princess and said: ‘In another year I shall be freed from the spell I am under at present, because then the seven years will be over. But before I can resume my natural form, and take possession of the belongings of my forefathers, you must go out into the world and take service as a maidservant.’
The young Princess consented at once, and for a whole year she served as a maid; but in spite of her youth and beauty she was very badly treated, and suffered many things. One evening, when she was spinning flax, and had worked her little white hands weary, she heard a rustling beside her and a cry of joy. Then she saw a handsome youth standing beside her; who knelt down at her feet and kissed the little weary white hands.
‘I am the Prince,’ he said, ‘who you in your goodness, when I was wandering about in the shape of a black crow, freed from the most awful torments. Come now to my castle with me, and let us live there happily together.’
So they went to the castle where they had both endured so much. But when they reached it, it was difficult to believe that it was the same, for it had all been rebuilt and done up again. And there they lived for a hundred years, a hundred years of joy and happiness.
THE GLASS MOUNTAIN
Once upon a time there was a Glass Mountain at the top of which stood a castle made of pure gold, and in front of the castle there grew an apple-tree on which there were golden apples.
Anyone who picked an apple gained admittance into the golden castle, and there in a silver room sat an enchanted Princess of surpassing fairness and beauty. She was as rich too as she was beautiful, for the cellars of the castle were full of precious stones, and great chests of the finest gold stood round the walls of all the rooms.
Many knights had come from afar to try their luck, but it was in vain they attempted to climb the mountain. In spite of having their horses shod with sharp nails, no one managed to get more than half-way up, and then they all fell back right down to the bottom of the steep slippery hill. Sometimes they broke an arm, sometimes a leg, and many a brave man had broken his neck even.The beautiful Princess sat at her window and watched the bold knights trying to reach her on their splendid horses. The sight of her always gave men fresh courage, and they flocked from the four quarters of the globe to attempt the work of rescuing her.
But all in vain, and for seven years the Princess had sat now and waited for some one to scale the Glass Mountain.
A heap of corpses both of riders and horses lay round the mountain, and many dying men lay groaning there unable to go any farther with their wounded limbs. The whole neighbourhood had the appearance of a vast churchyard. In three more days the seven years would be at an end, when a knight in golden armour and mounted on a spirited steed was seen making his way towards the fatal hill.
Sticking his spurs into his horse he made a rush at the mountain, and got up half-way, then he calmly turned his horse’s head and came down again without a slip or stumble. The following day he started in the same way; the horse trod on the glass as if it had been level earth, and sparks of fire flew from its hoofs. All the other knights gazed in astonishment, for he had almost gained the summit, and in another moment he would have reached the apple-tree; but of a sudden a huge eagle rose up and spread its mighty wings, hitting as it did so the knight’s horse in the eye.The beast shied, opened its wide nostrils and tossed its mane, then rearing high up in the air, its hind feet slipped and it fell with its rider down the steep mountain side.
Nothing was left of either of them except their bones, which rattled in the battered golden armour like dry peas in a pod.
And now there was only one more day before the close of the seven years. Then there arrived on the scene a mere schoolboy --a merry, happy hearted youth, but at the same time strong and well grown. He saw how many knights had broken their necks in vain, but undaunted he approached the steep mountain on foot and began the ascent.
For long he had heard his parents speak of the beautiful Princess who sat in the golden castle at the top of the Glass Mountain. He listened to all he heard, and determined that he too would try his luck. But first he went to the forest and caught a lynx, and cutting off the creature’s sharp claws, he fastened them on to his own hands and feet.
Armed with these weapons he boldly started up the Glass Mountain.
The sun was nearly going down, and the youth had not got more than half-way up. He could hardly draw breath he was so worn out, and his mouth was parched by thirst. A huge black cloud passed over his head, but in vain did he beg and beseech her to let a drop of water fall on him.
He opened his mouth, but the black cloud sailed past and not as much as a drop of dew moistened his dry lips.
His feet were torn and bleeding, and he could only hold on now with his hands. Evening closed in, and he strained his eyes to see if he could behold the top of the mountain. Then he gazed beneath him, and what a sight met his eyes! A yawning abyss, with certain and terrible death at the bottom, reeking with half decayed bodies of horses and riders! And this had been the end of all the other brave men who like himself had attempted the ascent.
It was almost pitch dark now, and only the stars lit up the Glass Mountain. The poor boy still clung on as if glued to the glass by his blood-stained hands. He made no struggle to get higher, for all his strength had left him, and seeing no hope he calmly awaited death. Then all of a sudden he fell into a deep sleep, and forgetful of his dangerous position, he slumbered sweetly. But all the same, although he slept, he had stuck his sharp claws so firmly into the glass that he was quite safe not to fall.
Now the golden apple-tree was guarded by the eagle which had overthrown the golden knight and his horse.
Every night it flew round the Glass Mountain keeping a careful look-out, and no sooner had the moon emerged from the clouds than the bird rose up from the apple tree, and circling round in the air, caught sight of the sleeping youth.
Greedy for carrion, and sure that this must be a fresh corpse, the bird swooped down upon the boy. But he was awake now, and perceiving the eagle, he determined by its help to save himself.
The eagle dug its sharp claws into the tender flesh of the youth, but he bore the pain without a sound, and seized the bird’s two feet with his hands. The creature in terror lifted him high up into the air and began to circle round the tower of the castle. The youth held on bravely.
He saw the glittering palace, which by the pale rays of the moon looked like a dim lamp; and he saw the high windows, and round one of them a balcony in which the beautiful Princess sat lost in sad thoughts. Then the boy saw that he was close to the apple-tree, and drawing a small knife from his belt, he cut off both the eagle’s feet.
The bird rose up in the air in its agony and vanished into the clouds, and the youth fell on to the broad branches of the apple-tree.
Then he drew out the claws of the eagle’s feet that had remained in his flesh, and put the peel of one of the golden apples on the wound, and in one moment it was healed and well again. He pulled several of the beautiful apples and put them in his pocket; then he entered the castle. The door was guarded by a great dragon, but as soon as he threw an apple at it, the beast vanished.
At the same moment a gate opened, and the youth perceived a courtyard full of flowers and beautiful trees, and on a balcony sat the lovely enchanted Princess with her retinue.
As soon as she saw the youth, she ran towards him and greeted him as her husband and master. She gave him all her treasures, and the youth became a rich and mighty ruler.
But he never returned to the earth, for only the mighty eagle, who had been the guardian of the Princess and of the castle, could have carried on his wings the enormous treasure down to the world.
But as the eagle had lost its feet it died, and its body was found in a wood on the Glass Mountain.
. . . . . . .
One day when the youth was strolling about in the palace garden with the Princess, his wife, he looked down over the edge of the Glass Mountain and saw to his astonishment a great number of people gathered there. He blew his silver whistle, and the swallow who acted as messenger in the golden castle flew past.
‘Fly down and ask what the matter is,’ he said to the little bird, who sped off like lightning and soon returned saying:
‘The blood of the eagle has restored all the people below to life. All those who have perished on this mountain are awakening up to-day, as it were from a sleep, and are mounting their horses, and the whole population are gazing on this unheard-of wonder with joy and amazement.’
THE THREE BROTHERS
There was once upon a time a witch, who in the shape of a hawk used every night to break the windows of a certain village church. In the same village there lived three brothers, who were all determined to kill the mischievous hawk. But in vain did the two eldest mount guard in the church with their guns; as soon as the bird appeared high above their heads, sleep overpowered them, and they only awoke to hear the windows crashing in.
Then the youngest brother took his turn of guarding the windows, and to prevent his being overcome by sleep he placed a lot of thorns under his chin, so that if he felt drowsy and nodded his head, they would prick him and keep him awake.
The moon was already risen, and it was as light as day, when suddenly he heard a fearful noise, and at the same time a terrible desire to sleep overpowered him.His eyelids closed, and his head sank on his shoulders, but the thorns ran into him and were so painful that he awoke at once. He saw the hawk swooping down upon the church, and in a moment he had seized his gun and shot at the bird. The hawk fell heavily under a big stone, severely wounded in its right wing. The youth ran to look at it, and saw that a huge abyss had opened below the stone.
He went at once to fetch his brothers, and with their help dragged a lot of pine-wood and ropes to the spot. They fastened some of the burning pine-wood to the end of the rope, and let it slowly down to the bottom of the abyss. At first it was quite dark, and the flaming torch only lit up dirty gray stone walls. But the youngest brother determined to explore the abyss, and letting himself down by the rope he soon reached the bottom. Here he found a lovely meadow full of green trees and exquisite flowers.
In the middle of the meadow stood a huge stone castle, with an iron gate leading to it, which was wide open. Everything in the castle seemed to be made of copper, and the only inhabitant he could discover was a lovely girl, who was combing her golden hair; and he noticed that whenever one of her hairs fell on the ground it rang out like pure metal. The youth looked at her more closely, and saw that her skin was smooth and fair, her blue eyes bright and sparkling, and her hair as golden as the sun. He fell in love with her on the spot, and kneeling at her feet, he implored her to become his wife.
The lovely girl accepted his proposal gladly; but at the same time she warned him that she could never come up to the world above till her mother, the old witch, was dead.
And she went on to tell him that the only way in which the old creature could be killed was with the sword that hung up in the castle; but the sword was so heavy that no one could lift it.
Then the youth went into a room in the castle where everything was made of silver, and here he found another beautiful girl, the sister of his bride. She was combing her silver hair, and every hair that fell on the ground rang out like pure metal. The second girl handed him the sword, but though he tried with all his strength he could not lift it. At last a third sister came to him and gave him a drop of something to drink, which she said would give him the needful strength. He drank one drop, but
still he could not lift the sword; then he drank a second, and the sword began to move; but only after he had drunk a third drop was he able to swing the sword over his head.
Then he hid himself in the castle and awaited the old witch’s arrival. At last as it was beginning to grow dark she appeared. She swooped down upon a big apple tree, and after shaking some golden apples from it, she pounced down upon the earth. As soon as her feet touched the ground she became transformed from a hawk into a woman.
This was the moment the youth was waiting for, and he swung his mighty sword in the air with all his strength and the witch’s head fell off, and her blood spurted up on the walls.
Without fear of any further danger, he packed up all the treasures of the castle into great chests, and gave his brothers a signal to pull them up out of the abyss. First the treasures were attached to the rope and then the three lovely girls. And now everything was up above and only he himself remained below. But as he was a little suspicious of his brothers, he fastened a heavy stone on to the rope and let them pull it up. At first they heaved with a will, but when the stone was half way up they
let it drop suddenly, and it fell to the bottom broken into a hundred pieces.
‘So that’s what would have happened to my bones had I trusted myself to them,’ said the youth sadly; and he began to cry bitterly, not because of the treasures, but because of the lovely girl with her swanlike neck and golden hair.For a long time he wandered sadly all through the beautiful underworld, and one day he met a magician who asked him the cause of his tears. The youth told him all that had befallen him, and the magician said:
‘Do not grieve, young man! If you will guard the children who are hidden in the golden apple tree, I will bring you at once up to the earth. Another magician who lives in this land always eats my children up. It is in vain that I have hidden them under the earth and locked them into the castle. Now I have hidden them in the apple tree; hide yourself there too, and at midnight you will see my enemy.’
The youth climbed up the tree, and picked some of the beautiful golden apples, which he ate for his supper.
At midnight the wind began to rise, and a rustling sound was heard at the foot of the tree. The youth looked down and beheld a long thick serpent beginning to crawl up the tree. It wound itself round the stem and gradually got higher and higher. It stretched its huge head, in which the eyes glittered fiercely, among the branches, searching for the nest in which the little children lay. They trembled with terror when they saw the hideous creature, and hid themselves beneath the leaves.
Then the youth swung his mighty sword in the air, and with one blow cut off the serpent’s head. He cut up the rest of the body into little bits and strewed them to the four winds.
The father of the rescued children was so delighted over the death of his enemy that he told the youth to get on his back, and in this way he carried him up to the world above.
With what joy did he hurry now to his brothers’ house! He burst into a room where they were all assembled, but no one knew who he was. Only his bride, who was serving as cook to her sisters, recognized her lover at once.
His brothers, who had quite believed he was dead, yielded him up his treasures at once, and flew into the woods in terror. But the good youth forgave them all they had done, and divided his treasures with them. Then he built himself a big castle with golden windows, and there he lived happily with his golden haired wife till the end of their lives.
THE UNLOOKED-FOR PRINCE
A long time ago there lived a king and queen who had no children, although they both wished very much for a little son. They tried not to let each other see how unhappy they were, and pretended to take pleasure in hunting and hawking and all sorts of other sports; but at length the king could bear it no longer, and declared that he must go and visit the furthest corners of his kingdom, and that it would be many months before he should return to his capital.
By that time he hoped he would have so many things to think about that he would have forgotten to trouble about the little son who never came.
The country the king reigned over was very large, and full of high, stony mountains and sandy deserts, so that it was not at all easy to go from one place to another.
One day the king had wandered out alone, meaning to go only a little distance, but everything looked so alike he could not make out the path by which he had come. He walked on and on for hours, the sun beating hotly on his head, and his legs trembling under him, and he might have died of thirst if he had not suddenly stumbled on a little well, which looked as if it had been newly dug.
On the surface floated a silver cup with a golden handle, but as it bobbed about whenever the king tried to seize it, he was too thirsty to wait any longer and knelt down and drank his fill.
When he had finished he began to rise from his knees, but somehow his beard seemed to have stuck fast in the water, and with all his efforts he could not pull it out. After two or three jerks to his head, which only hurt him without doing any good, he called out angrily, ‘Let go at once! Who is holding me?’
‘It is I, the King Kostiei,’ said a voice from the well, and looking up through the water was a little man with green eyes and a big head. ‘You have drunk from my spring, and I shall not let you go until you promise to give me the most precious thing your palace contains, which was not there when you left it.‘Now the only thing that the king much cared for in his palace was the queen herself, and as she was weeping bitterly on a pile of cushions in the great hall when he had ridden away, he knew that Kostiei’s words could not apply to her. So he cheerfully gave the promise asked for by the ugly little man, and in the twinkling of an eye, man, spring, and cup had disappeared, and the king was left kneeling on the dry sand, wondering if it was all a dream.
But as he felt much stronger and better he made up his mind that this strange adventure must really have happened, and he sprang on his horse and rode off with a light heart to look for his companions.
In a few weeks they began to set out on their return home, which they reached one hot day, eight months after they had all left. The king was greatly beloved by his people, and crowds lined the roads, shouting and waving their hats as the procession passed along. On the steps of the palace stood the queen, with a splendid golden cushion in her arms, and on the cushion the most beautiful boy that ever was seen, wrapped about in a cloud of lace. In a moment Kostiei’s words rushed into the king’s mind, and he began to weep bitterly, to the surprise of everybody, who had expected him nearly to die of joy at the sight of his son. But try as he would and work as hard as he might he could never forget his promise, and every time he let the baby out of his sight he thought that he had seen it for the last time.
However, years passed on and the prince grew first into a big boy, and then into a fine young man. Kostiei made no sign, and gradually even the anxious king thought less and less about him, and in the end forgot him altogether.
There was no family in the whole kingdom happier than the king and queen and prince, until one day when the youth met a little old man as he was hunting in a lonely part of the woods. ‘How are you my unlooked-for Prince?’ he said. ‘You kept them waiting a good long time!’
‘And who are you?’ asked the prince.
‘You will know soon enough. When you go home give my compliments to your father and tell him that I wish he would square accounts with me. If he neglects to pay his debts he will bitterly repent it.’
So saying the old man disappeared, and the prince returned to the palace and told his father what had happened.The king turned pale and explained to his son the terrible story.
‘Do not grieve over it, father,’ answered the prince. ‘It is nothing so dreadful after all! I will find some way to force Kostiei to give up his rights over me. But if I do not come back in a year’s time, you must give up all hopes of ever seeing me.’
Then the prince began to prepare for his journey. His father gave him a complete suit of steel armour, a sword, and a horse, while his mother hung round his neck a cross of gold. So, kissing him tenderly, with many tears they let him go.
He rode steadily on for three days, and at sunset on the fourth day he found himself on the seashore. On the sand before him lay twelve white dresses, dazzling as the snow, yet as far as his eyes could reach there was no one in sight to whom they could belong. Curious to see what would happen, he took up one of the garments, and leaving his horse loose, to wander about the adjoining fields, he hid himself among some willows and waited. In a few minutes a flock of geese which had been paddling about in the sea approached the shore, and put on the dresses, struck the sand with their feet and were transformed in the twinkling of an eye into eleven beautiful young girls, who flew away as fast as they could. The twelfth and youngest remained in the water, stretching out her long white neck and looking about her anxiously. Suddenly, among the willows, she perceived the king’s son, and called out to him with a human voice:‘Oh Prince, give me back my dress, and I shall be for ever grateful to you.’
The prince hastened to lay the dress on the sand, and walked away. When the maiden had thrown off the goose-skin and quickly put on her proper clothes, she came towards him and he saw that none had ever seen or told of such beauty as hers. She blushed and held out her hand, saying to him in a soft voice:
‘I thank you, noble Prince, for having granted my request. I am the youngest daughter of Kostiei the immortal, who has twelve daughters and rules over the kingdoms under the earth. Long time my father has waited for you, and great is his anger. But trouble not yourself and fear nothing, only do as I bid you. When you see the King Kostiei, fall straightway upon your knees and heed neither his threats nor his cry, but draw near to him boldly. That which will happen after, you will know in time. Now let us go.’
At these words she struck the ground with her foot and a gulf opened, down which they went right into the heart of the earth. In a short time they reached Kostiei’s palace, which gives light, with a light brighter than the sun, to the dark kingdoms below. And the prince, as he had been bidden, entered boldly into the hall.Kostiei, with a shining crown upon his head, sat in the centre upon a golden throne. His green eyes glittered like glass, his hands were as the claws of a crab. When he caught sight of the prince he uttered piercing yells, which shook the walls of the palace. The prince took no notice, but continued his advance on his knees towards the throne. When he had almost reached it, the king broke out into a laugh and said:
‘It has been very lucky for you that you have been able to make me laugh. Stay with us in our underground empire, only first you will have to do three things. To-night it is late. Go to sleep; to-morrow I will tell you.’
Early the following morning the prince received a message that Kostiei was ready to see him. He got up and dressed, and hastened to the presence chamber, where the little king was seated on his throne. When the prince appeared, bowing low before him, Kostiei began:
‘Now, Prince, this is what you have to do. By to-night you must build me a marble palace, with windows of crystal and a roof of gold. It is to stand in the middle of a great park, full of streams and lakes. If you are able to build it you shall be my friend. If not, off with your head.’
The prince listened in silence to this startling speech, and then returning to his room set himself to think about the certain death that awaited him. He was quite absorbed in these thoughts, when suddenly a bee flew against the window and tapped, saying, ‘Let me come in.’ He rose and opened the window, and there stood before him the youngest princess.
‘What are you dreaming about, Prince?’
‘I was dreaming of your father, who has planned my death.’
‘Fear nothing. You may sleep in peace, and to-morrow morning when you awake you will find the palace all ready.’
What she said, she did. The next morning when the prince left his room he saw before him a palace more beautiful than his fancy had ever pictured. Kostiei for his part could hardly believe his eyes, and pondered deeply how it had got there.
‘Well, this time you have certainly won; but you are not going to be let off so easily. To-morrow all my twelve daughters shall stand in a row before you, and if you cannot tell me which of them is the youngest, off goes your head.’
‘What! Not recognize the youngest princess!’ said the Prince to himself, as he entered his room, ‘a likely story!’
‘It is such a difficult matter that you will never be able to do it without my help,’ replied the bee, who was buzzing about the ceiling. ‘We are all so exactly alike, that even our father scarcely knows the difference between us.’
‘Then what must I do?’
‘This. The youngest is she who will have a ladybird on her eyelid. Be very careful. Now good-bye.’
Next morning King Kostiei again sent for the prince. The young princesses were all drawn up in a row, dressed precisely in the same manner, and with their eyes all cast down. As the prince looked at them, he was amazed at their likeness. Twice he walked along the line, without being able to detect the sign agreed upon. The third time his heart beat fast at the sight of a tiny speck upon the eyelid of one of the girls.
‘This one is the youngest,’ he said.
‘How in the world did you guess?’ cried Kostiei in a fury.
‘There is some jugglery about it! But you are not going to escape me so easily. In three hours you shall come here and give me another proof of your cleverness. I shall set alight a handful of straw, and before it is burnt up you will have turned it into a pair of boots. If not, off goes your head.’
So the prince returned sadly into his room, but the bee was there before him.
‘Why do you look so melancholy, my handsome Prince?’
‘How can I help looking melancholy when your father has ordered me to make him a pair of boots? Does he take me for a shoemaker?’
‘What do you think of doing?’
‘Not of making boots, at any rate! I am not afraid of death. One can only die once after all.’
‘No, Prince, you shall not die. I will try to save you. And we will fly together or die together.’
As she spoke she spat upon the ground, and then drawing the prince after her out of the room, she locked the door behind her and threw away the key. Holding each other tight by the hand, they made their way up into the sunlight, and found themselves by the side of the same sea, while the prince’s horse was still quietly feeding in the neighbouring meadow. The moment he saw his master, the horse whinnied and galloped towards him. Without losing an instant the prince sprang into the saddle, swung the princess behind him, and away they went like an arrow from a bow.
When the hour arrived which Kostiei had fixed for the prince’s last trial, and there were no signs of him, the king sent to his room to ask why he delayed so long. The servants, finding the door locked, knocked loudly and received for answer, ‘In one moment.’
It was the spittle, which was imitating the voice of the prince.
The answer was taken back to Kostiei. He waited; still no prince. He sent the servants back again, and the same voice replied, ‘Immediately.’
‘He is making fun of me!’ shrieked Kostiei in a rage. ‘Break in the door, and bring him to me!’
The servants hurried to do his bidding. The door was broken open. Nobody inside; but just the spittle in fits of laughter! Kostiei was beside himself with rage, and commanded his guards to ride after the fugitives. If the guards returned without the fugitives, their heads should pay for it.
By this time the prince and princess had got a good start, and were feeling quite happy, when suddenly they heard the sound of a gallop far behind them. The prince sprang from the saddle, and laid his ear to the ground.
‘They are pursuing us,’ he said.
‘Then there is no time to be lost,’ answered the princess; and as she spoke she changed herself into a river, the prince into a bridge, the horse into a crow, and divided the wide road beyond the bridge into three little ones.
When the soldiers came up to the bridge, they paused uncertainly. How were they to know which of the three roads the fugitives had taken? They gave it up in despair and returned in trembling to Kostiei.
‘Idiots!’ he exclaimed, in a passion. ‘They were the bridge and the river, of course! Do you mean to say you never thought of that? Go back at once!’ and off they galloped like lightning.
But time had been lost, and the prince and princess were far on their way.
‘I hear a horse,’ cried the princess.
The prince jumped down and laid his ear to the ground.
‘Yes,’ he said, ‘they are not far off now.’
In an instant prince, princess, and horse had all disappeared, and instead was a dense forest, crossed and recrossed by countless paths. Kostiei’s soldiers dashed hastily into the forest, believing they saw before them the flying horse with its double burden. They seemed close upon them, when suddenly horse, wood, everything disappeared, and they found themselves at the place where they started. There was nothing for it but to return to Kostiei, and tell him of this fresh disaster.
‘A horse! a horse!’ cried the king. ‘I will go after them myself. This time they shall not escape.’ And he galloped off, foaming with anger.
‘I think I hear someone pursuing us,’ said the princess
‘Yes, so do I.’
‘And this time it is Kostiei himself. But his power only reaches as far as the first church, and he can go no farther. Give me your golden cross.’ So the prince unfastened the cross which was his mother’s gift, and the princess hastily changed herself into a church, the prince into a priest, and the horse into a belfry.
It was hardly done when Kostiei came up.
‘Greeting, monk. Have you seen some travelers on horseback pass this way?’
‘Yes, the prince and Kostiei’s daughter have just gone by. They have entered the church, and told me to give you their greetings if I met you.’
Then Kostiei knew that he had been hopelessly beaten, and the prince and princess continued their journey without any more adventures.
Jerzy Jánošík was a famous Polish rober, the leader of a forest robber group, often described as the “Polish Robin Hood” or Polish “William Tell”. His probable date of birth is January 25, 1688 at the village Terchová in the Austrian Monarchy, now in northern Slovakia. His act of baptism was preserved and is dated May 16, 1688. His parents were Michal Jánošík and Barbara Cingelova. He had older brother Jan and a younger sister Barbara.
This Polish (or Slovak) outlaw has been the topic of many Slovak and Polish legends, books and films. According to the legends he and his group of robers were stealing from the nobles and gave the stolen things to the poor people. Number of folk tales present Jerzy Jánošík as a hero who had supernatural powers and magical resistance to bullets and arrows.
He had supernatural power of healing his wounds with the help of a herb he carried in his pocket. According to folk tales, he also had an ability to move from one place to another quicker than any other human being. Some of the legends surrounding this most famous outlaw claims that his powers were given to him by three witches whom he had met when he was very young.
Him and his robers operated and were hiding on both sides of the Tatra Mountains (Polish side and Slovak side), and the Jánošík myth was also known in Poland, Slovak and the Czech lands.
Jánošík was fighting with the Kurucs in 1706-1708, then with the imperial army. He was captured in 1712 in Hrachov, but managed to escape. Finally, he was betrayed by a girl whom he often visited and captured again and imprisoned in spring of 1713 in Liptovský Mikuláš. His trial took place on March 16 and March 17, 1713 and he was sentenced to death by hanging on a hook. His execution took place on March 18, 1713.
Long ago, the people living in the Tatra Mountain area were poor and hungry because they were charged unfair rents by greedy landlords. The landlords hired soldiers to take the sheep and crops from the people who could not pay their rent.
One day, a young man named Janosik, met a rich man climbing a mountain with two of his soldiers. One of the soldiers tried to push him off the mountain path.
Janosik would not get off the path. He hit the bully and the bully fell off the slope.
As the second soldier came to attack him, Janosik tripped him and he too fell off the mountain.
Then, Janosik took the rich man’s heavy bag, which was full of money the man had collected from the poor people, and pushed him off the path, too. The three men were lying at the bottom of the ravine!
Janosik gave the money to poor starving families. He had to hide in the mountains because he knew that other soldiers would be looking for him.
As he climbed the mountain, he noticed three witches walking silently behind him.
The witches told Janosik that they had been watching him and that they knew that he had pushed the soldiers off the mountain and had stolen the money. But they saw him give the money to poor families and considered him a hero. They also said he was now considered a thief because he stole a landlord’s money. They offered to help him become the most famous thief who ever lived.
Each of the witches gave him a magical gift – the first was a woolen shirt that would stop any bullet or arrow, the second was a red leather belt that would help him run more swiftly than any other man and the third gift was a long handled mountaineer’s axe that would allow him to climb steep cliffs and peaks where no one could follow.Janosik soon became the chief of a group of bandits who robbed the rich and gave the money and the stolen treasures to the poor people. He was thought of as a hero by them. The landlords, who were afraid of Janosik, offered enormous rewards for his capture, but the gifts of the witches made it impossible for him to be caught.
A woman, who lived in the mountains and knew Janosik, told the soldiers about the three gifts the witches had given him. One night the woman stole the gifts and built a fire on the mountainside to signal the soldiers that she had burned them.
When the enemies arrived, Janosik no longer had the magic power. He fought bravely but was taken to prison. The soldiers promised the woman some money if she helped them capture Janosik, but they were dishonest soldiers and kept alt the reward. The woman had to run away. She died in poverty in another land. Janosik escaped and still lives in the mountains robbing the rich and giving to the poor.
The Legend of
The Three Brothers
Over one thousand years ago, there lived a king who ruled over the lands that lay near the mouth of the Vistula River. When the king died, his wealth was left to his three sons, Lech, Czech and Rus.* Their father's kingdom was not large enough to be divided between the three brothers, so they decided to set out in search of other lands.Lech was the oldest and became the new chief. His brothers were jealous and the three often quarreled over which of them would make the best leader. After months of weary travel, the three brothers came upon a hill in a land of green meadows. At the top of the hills stood a giant Oak tree, and above the tree flew a great white eagle.
“That eagle is a good sign from the Gods!” Lech told his brothers. “I’m going to climb this tree and have a look around.” As Lech climbed up the tree he saw the eagle’s nest high in the branches. The eagle flew near him and would not let him come close to the nest. But he had climbed high enough to see for miles in every direction.To the north Lech saw a large body of water. To the east he saw an endless plain of flat and fertile land and to the south were hills where sheep and cattle could graze. To the west was a thick, dark forest.
Lech came down and told his brothers what he had seen. Czech wanted to go south and Rus argued that east would be better. Finally, the three brothers decided to separate. The people who agreed with Czech went with Czech. The people who agreed with Rus went with Rus. But most of the people remained with Lech and asked him which way he planned to go.
“We will stay right here!” Lech told them. Thus, Lech became the first Duke of Poland and he assumed leadership of the Western Slays. So, the people began to build a town there on the hill, and Lech chose the white eagle with its wings spread wide as their emblem. They called their town Gniezno, which means “A Nest” in the Slavic language. The town became the capital of their nation. As time went on, their country became known as Poland.
THE LEGEND OF
THE QUEEN OF THE BALTIC
Long, long ago, the Baltic Sea was ruled by Jurata, a beautiful queen.
She had long golden hair and sea green eyes. Her loveliness caused
Perkun, the fierce God of thunder and lightning, to fall in love with her.
He would not let his storms disturb the waters of her kingdom.Jurata was a kind queen. She established laws to protect her sea creatures. One law did not allow anyone to set traps that caught too many fish at one time. Though Jurata liked to eat flounder and had it served at the palace, she ordered her servants to keep only half of each fish and to throw the other half back to the sea. These fish-halves stayed alive because of her magical powers.
On the Baltic Coast lived a bold, free spirited young fisherman who had very little common sense. He knew about Queen Jurata’s law, but disobeyed it. He set many traps and caught many, many fish which he sold to people who lived far from the sea. He spent most of his money on fine clothes.
The Queen found out about this fisherman and was very angry with him. Her plan was to swim close to the shore, get the fisherman to go in the water and drown him. Instead, when she saw him in his beautiful clothes, she fell in love with him as he did with her. Every night she would swim to the shore and see her new sweetheart.
Jurata herself had broken a law. The gods said that magical beings could love only magical beings. Perkun got very very mad about this.
He went into a rage and with thunderbolts destroyed the amber colored palace while the Queen was inside and chained the young fisherman to the bottom of the sea. They were never seen again. The fisherman can sometimes be heard calling for his love. The only things that remain from Jurata’s palace are pieces of amber that sometimes wash up on the beaches of the Baltic Sea.
THE LEGEND OF THE TRUMPETER
One of the most famous legends about the city of Krakow is the Legend of the Trumpeter.
Historically, the city of Krakow could be seen from the tallest of the two towers of the Mariacki Church of Saint Mary. In a little room at the top of the tower a watchman stood guard over the city protecting it from danger. If an emergency arose, he would blow his trumpet alerting the people.
In the 13th century, the brutal Tartars invaded the land, burning farms, plundering and killing.
One night on his watch, when most of the townspeople were in church, the watchman noticed a group of Tartars approaching the city intending to attack. He immediately blew a loud, clear warning on his trumpet.
The townspeople responded to the alert.
The Tartars shot arrows at the tower but the watchman continued to sound the trumpet until he was struck in the throat by an arrow. The enemy was forced out by the people, and the city was saved, but the trumpeter died from his wound.
Since that time, a trumpeter plays a little hymn called, “The Hejnal” every hour repeating it four times – once in each direction of the compass: north,south, east, and west.
The song always ends suddenly on a high note in honor of the trumpeterwho gave his life for his people and his city.
THE LEGEND OF THE WARSAW
A long time ago, a prince from the Mazowsze Region took his men and went hunting. In the forest, he saw a wild beast and was determined to kill it. He was close enough to shoot at it the arrow from his bow, but as he took his aim, the beast suddenly disappeared. Thoroughly surprised, the prince decided to stop at the nearby river for a drink of water. As he bent over to drink, he saw the mermaid.
The mermaid told the Prince to follow the arrow she shot from her bow.
The prince followed the arrow along the river’s edge until he reached a clearing. In the clearing he saw a run-down fisherman’s cottage under a large oak tree. He went to the cottage to ask for food. Inside, the Prince saw a young woman sitting by the fireplace feeding her twin babies: a boy and a girl. The young woman shared her food with the Prince.
After the meal, the Prince and the young woman sat in front of the cottage and looked out at the river. The prince insisted that the young woman name her baby son, Wars and her baby daughter, Sawa. He told her to clear the land around the cottage and plant crops.
He gave this land to the young woman and her children. He knew that they would work hard to make the land valuable and a village would result.
This village would become Warsaw.
As the young woman listened to the Prince, she saw the mermaid rise from the river’s waves. The mermaid said the village would grow into a beautiful city because of the hard work of the simple fisherman who chose to live there.
THE SLEEPING KNIGHTS
Poland has always been a land of strong and courageous knights. Many old tales claim that the bravest of the knights never died, but have been asleep for centuries in a cavern beneath Mount Pisana.
Once, in a mountain village, a stranger entered a blacksmith shop. He told the blacksmith that he could earn a rich reward for doing a special job, but he must promise not to tell anyone. The blacksmith agreed. The stranger took a gold bar from under his coat and asked the blacksmith to make a horseshoe from it. When this was done, the stranger led him to the
Koscieliska Valley. After hours of walking, they came to a cave hidden by rocks and trees.
There was a bright golden light inside the cave. On the floor was an army of knights in full armor, resting their helmeted heads on saddles as if they were pillows.
In their hands were battle axes and spears. Along the walls of the cave stood beautiful sleeping horses covered with blankets made of delicate fabric and horseshoes made of gold.
The stranger told the amazed blacksmith to replace the broken shoe of a great stallion with the golden horseshoe he had made. The horse did not get up even when the blacksmith nailed the horseshoe to the stallion’s hoof.
Of course, the curious blacksmith asked many questions, but this was all the stranger would tell him: the knights had been in a deep sleep for hundreds of years and they would not wake until the time came for a great battle. On that day, thunder would shake the earth and the sky, giant pine trees would break like little sticks, and boulders would crash down the mountainsides.The knights would then gallop out of the cave to fight for Poland once more.When the job was done, the stranger led the blacksmith back to his village and made him swear never to tell a living soul about what he had seen.
Then, the stranger paid the blacksmith with a bag of gold and vanished.
The foolish blacksmith could not keep from telling anyone about what he saw. First, he told his wife and then his neighbors. Soon everyone knew his secret. However, the moment the blacksmith broke his word, his bag of gold turned to sand and although he searched for the cave many times, he was never able to find it.
THE THREE GIFTS
A VERY rich widow had three children, a step-son, a fine young fellow, a step-daughter of wonderful beauty, and a daughter who was not so bad. The three children lived under the same roof and took their meals together. At length the time came when the children were treated very differently. Although the widow’s daughter was bad-tempered, obstinate, vain, and a chatterer, her mother loved her passionately, praised her, and covered her with caresses. She was favoured in every way. The step-son, who was a good-natured lad, and who did all kinds of work, was for ever grumbled at, checked, and treated like a sluggard. As for the step-daughter, who was so wonderfully pretty, and who had the disposition of an angel, she was tormented, worried, and ill-treated in a thousand ways. Between her sister and her step-mother her life was made miserable.
It is natural that one should love one’s own 41 children better than those of other folk; but it is only right that liking and disliking should be indulged in with moderation. The evil step-mother, however, loved her child to distraction, and equally detested her step-children.
To such a pitch did she carry these feelings that when she was angry she used to say how she would advance the fortune of her daughter even at the orphans’ expense.
An old proverb says, “Man sets the ball rolling, but Heaven directs it,” and we shall see what happened.
One Sunday morning the step-daughter, before going to church, went out into the garden to pluck some flowers to place on the altar. She had gathered some roses, when, on lifting up her eyes, she saw, right in front of her, three young men who sat upon a grassy bank. They were clothed in garments of dazzling white which shone like sunshine. Near by them was an old man, who came and asked the girl for alms.
The girl was a little frightened when she saw the three men, but when the old man came to her she took her last piece of money out of her pocket and gave it to him. The poor man thanked 42 her, put the piece of money into his bag, and, laying his hand on the girl’s head, said to the young men:
“You see this little orphan; she is good and patient in suffering, and has so much pity for the poor that she gives them even the last penny she has. What do you wish for her?”
The first one said:
“I wish that when she cries her tears may turn to pearls.”
“I wish,” said the second, “that when she laughs the most delicately perfumed roses may fall from her lips.”
“And I,” said the third, “wish that when she touches water golden fish spring up in it.”
“So shall it be,” said the old man, and he and his companions vanished.
When the girl saw that, she gave thanks to Heaven, and ran joyfully into the house. Hardly had she entered when her step-mother met her and gave her a slap on the face, saying:
“Where are you running?”
The poor girl began to cry, but, behold! instead of tears pearls fell from her eyes.
The step-mother forgot her rage, and set herself to 43 gather them as quickly as possible. The girl could not help laughing at the sight, and from her lips there fell roses of such a delightful scent that the step-mother was beside herself with pleasure.
After that the girl, wishing to preserve the flowers she had plucked in the garden, poured some water into a glass; as soon as she touched the water with her finger, it was filled with beautiful golden fish.
From that time the same things never failed to happen. The girl’s tears turned to pearls; when she laughed, roses, which did not die, fell from her lips; and water which she only touched with her little finger became filled with golden fish.
The step-mother became better disposed towards her, and by little and little learnt from her the secret of how she had obtained these gifts.
On the following Sunday she sent her own daughter into the garden to pluck flowers as if for the altar. Hardly had the girl gathered some roses, when, lifting up her eyes, she saw the three young men sitting on a grassy bank, beautiful, and shining like the sun, and by them was the old man, clad in white, who asked her for 44 alms. When she saw the young men, the girl pretended to be afraid, but when the old man spoke to her, she ran to him, took out of her pocket a gold piece, looked hard at it, and then gave it to him, but evidently very much against her will. The old man put the money in his bag, and said to the three others:
“You see this girl, who is her mother’s spoilt child? She is bad-tempered, wicked, and is hard-hearted as regards the poor.
We know very well why she has been so charitable, for the first time in her life, to-day. Tell me, then, what you wish for her.”
The first said:
“I wish that when she cries her tears may turn to lizards.”
“I,” said the second, “wish that when she laughs, hideous toads may fall from her lips.”
“And I,” said the third, “wish that when she touches water with her hand it may be filled with serpents.”
“It shall be as you wish,” said the old man, and he and his companions disappeared.
The girl was terrified, and ran into the house to tell her mother what had happened.
All occurred 45 as has been said.
When she laughed the toads sprang from her lips, and when she cried, her tears changed to lizards, and when she touched water, it became full of serpents.
The step-mother did not know what to do. She paid greater attention than ever to her daughter, and hated the orphans more and more, and so tormented them that the lad, not being able to put up with it, took leave of his sister, praying Heaven to guard her, and, leaving his step-mother’s house, set out to seek his fortune.
The wide world was before him. He knew not where to go, but he knew that Heaven, that sees all men, watches over the orphans.
He prayed, and then walking down to the burial-ground where slept his father and mother, he knelt at the grave.
He wept and prayed for a time, and having kissed the earth which covered them three times, he rose and prepared to set out on his journey.
All of a sudden he felt, in the folds of his dress on his bosom, something he had not perceived there before.
He put his hand up, and was so astonished that he could scarcely believe his eyes, for he found there a charming little picture of his much-loved sister, surrounded 46 by pearls, roses, and little golden fish. Delighted at the sight, he kissed the picture, looked around the burial-ground once more, made the sign of the cross, and set out on his way.
A story is soon told, but events move slowly.
After many adventures of little importance, he came to the capital of a kingdom situated on the seashore. There he sought to obtain a living, and he was not unsuccessful, for he was engaged to look after the King’s garden, and was both well fed and well paid. This good fortune did not, however, make him forget his poor sister, about whom he was much troubled. When he had a moment to himself, he would sit down in some quiet spot and look at his picture, sometimes melting into tears, for he looked upon the portrait of his sister as a precious legacy given to him by his parents at their grave.
One day while the lad sat thus by a brook, the King saw him, and creeping up to him from behind very softly, he looked over his shoulder at the likeness that the young man was regarding so attentively.
“Give me the portrait,” said the King.
The lad gave it to him.
The King looked at it and was delighted.
“Never,” said he, “in all my life did I see such a beautiful girl, never have I heard of such a one, never did I dream there was such. Tell me, does she live?
The lad burst into tears, and told the King that the picture was the portrait of his sister, who some time ago had been so favoured by Heaven that when she cried her tears became pearls, when she laughed roses sprang from her lips, and when she touched water it was filled with golden fish.
The King ordered him to write at once to his step-mother, to tell her to send her lovely step-daughter to his palace, where the King waited to make her his wife. On the occasion of his marriage he declared he would heap rewards on the step-mother and on the brother of his bride. The lad wrote the letter, and the King sent a servant with it.
A story is quickly told, but events move slowly.
After she had read the letter, the step-mother did not show it to the orphan, but to her own daughter.
So they plotted together, and the step-mother went to an old sorceress to consult her, and to be instructed in magic.
She then set out with her two daughters. As they came near to the capital of the King’s dominions, in a place near to the sea, the step-mother suddenly threw the step-daughter out of the carriage, muttered some magic words, and spat three times behind her.
All at once the poor girl became very little, covered with feathers, and changed into a wild duck. She commenced to cackle, threw herself into the sea, just as ducks do, and began to swim about there. The step-mother dismissed her with these words: “By the force of my hate, I have done what I wished! Swim away upon the shore like a duck, happy in liberty, and in the meantime my daughter, clothed in your beauty, shall marry the King, and enjoy all that was meant for you.”
Hardly had she finished these words when her daughter found herself clothed in all the charms of the unfortunate girl. So they went on their way, came to the palace, which they reached at the time named in the letter, and there the King received the daughter from the hands of the 49 treacherous step-mother, in place of the orphan. After the marriage, the step-mother, loaded with presents, returned to her home.
The King, looking upon his wife, could not imagine how it was that he did not feel that love and tenderness that had been aroused in him at the sight of the portrait. However, there was no remedy; what was done was done. Heaven sees one, and knows of what malady one shall die, and what woman one shall marry!
The King admired his wife’s beauty, and thought of the pleasure he would have when he saw the pearls drop from her eyes, the roses from her lips, and the golden fish spring up in the water she touched. During the feast, however, the Queen chanced to laugh at her husband, and a mass of hideous toads sprang forth! The King ran off quickly. Then the Queen commenced to cry, and instead of pearls, lizards dropped from her eyes. An attendant presented a basin of water to her, but she had no sooner dipped the tip of her finger in the water than it became a mass of serpents, which began to hiss and dart into the middle of the wedding party. Every one was afraid, and all was in confusion. The guards were at last called in, 50 and by their aid the hall was cleared of the horrible reptiles.
The King had gone into the garden, where he met with the orphan lad; and so enraged was the King at the trick that he thought had been played upon him, that he gave the lad a blow on the head with his stick. The poor lad, falling down upon the ground, died at once.
The Queen came running to the King, sobbing, and, taking him by the hand, said:
What have you done? You have killed my brother, who was altogether guiltless.
Is it his fault or mine that, since I have been married to you, I have lost the wonderful powers I once had? They will come back again in time, but time will not bring my brother to me more.”
“Pardon me, my dear wife,” said the King. ‘In a moment of rage I thought he had betrayed me, and I wished to punish him. I am sorry for what I have done; now, however, it is beyond recall. Forgive me, and I forgive you with all my heart.
“I pardon you,” said the Queen, “but I beg you to order that my brother shall be honourably buried.”
The Queen’s wish was carried out. The poor lad, who was thought to be the Queen’s brother, was put in a fine coffin, and laid on a magnificent catafalque in the church. When night came on a guard of honor was placed around the coffin and at the gates to watch till morning. Towards midnight the doors of the church opened of their own accord and without any noise, and, at the same moment, an irresistible drowsiness came over the soldiers, who all went to sleep. A pretty little wild duck entered, stopped in the middle of the church, shook its feathers, of which it freed itself one by one, and there stood the orphan girl in her former shape. She approached the coffin of her brother, and shed very many tears over him, which all changed to pearls.
After she had wept for some time, she reassumed the feathers once more, and went out. When the guards awoke, great was their surprise to find a number of beautiful pearls on the coffin. The next day they told the King how the gates of the church had opened of themselves at midnight, how an irresistible desire to sleep had overtaken them, and how the pearls had been discovered upon the coffin. The King was surprised 52 at their story, and more so when he saw the pearls. He doubled the guard, and told them to watch more carefully the second night.
At the same time the doors opened again of themselves, and the soldiers again fell asleep. The wild duck entered, shook off its feathers, and became the lovely girl. At the sight of the double guard, all of them fast asleep, she could not help laughing, and beautiful roses fell from her lips. As she approached her brother her tears broke forth and fell in a shower of pearls to the ground. At length she took her feathers again and flew away. When the guards awoke they collected the roses and pearls and took them to the King, who was now more surprised than before, seeing not only the pearls but the roses also. He again doubled the guards, and he threatened them with the most severe punishment if they did not keep awake. They did their best, but all was of no use.
At the end of their nap on the third night they found not only pearls and roses, but also golden fish swimming in the church font. The King was now very much astonished and began to think that there must be some magic in the matter. When night came 53 on he again doubled the number of guards, and hid himself in the chapel, after having put up a mirror, in which he could see everything reflected without being himself seen.
At midnight the doors opened of themselves, the soldiers dropped their arms, lay down on the ground, and fell fast asleep.
The King did not take his eyes off the mirror, and he saw a little wild duck enter, and look timidly around it. When it saw the guards all asleep it seemed to take courage, and came into the middle of the church. Then it cast off its feathers and became a girl of extraordinary loveliness.
The King was transported with joy and wonder, and felt that this must be his true bride. When she had come to the coffin the King rushed forward with a wax taper in his hand and set fire to the feathers, the flame leaping up and waking the guards. When the girl saw what was done she ran to the King wringing her hands, while pearls dropped from her eyes.
“What have you done?” she cried. “How shall I now escape the fury of my step-mother, by whose magic arts I was turned into a wild duck?”
Then she told the King all, and he at once ordered some of his guards to seize the woman who had so treacherously married him, and to conduct her out of the kingdom. He also sent some soldiers to take the step-mother and burn her as a sorceress. While the King gave these orders, the girl took from her bosom three little vessels, which she had brought with her from the sea, full of different liquids. She sprinkled the liquid in one of them over her brother, and he became supple and warm; his cheeks took their colour again, and the warm, red blood began to run from his wound. His sister sprinkled him again with the second liquid, which had the property of healing, and his wound at once closed. She sprinkled him the third time with the water which had the property of calling back to life. The young man opened his eyes, looked on his sister with astonishment, and threw himself, full of happiness, into her arms.At the sight of this the King was overjoyed. He took the young man by the hand, and, leading his sister, the three went to the palace.In a short time he married his true bride, and he lived happily with her and her brother for many years.
The Legend of Wanda
She chose to drown herself rather that marry a German
Krakus had three children, two sons and a daughter. His eldest son should have been a ruler upon his death, but was slain by his younger brother, who coveted power for himself. But the people were angered by such wickedness, and they banished the murderer from their country for ever.
So the daughter of Krakus became the ruler of the country. Her name was Wanda, and she was very beautiful and although she was but a young girl when she became Queen, she had wisdom and understanding far beyond her years. She loved her country very dearly and she ruled wisely and justly over the people who looked upon her with the greatest of love and respect.With all her qualities, her beauty and her wisdom, many princes sought to marry her, but Wanda would accept none of them, for she had not yet found one who was pleasing in her sight and who would help her to rule wisely and well over her beloved country. Poland was dear to Wanda, above all else, and she spared no effort to make her people happy. She waged war against aggressors who tried to invade her country, herself leading her soldiers in the battlefield. Her presence inspired them to defeat many foes.
Wanda’s fame spread far and wide, and even a German prince, named Rytigier, heard of her beauty, her valour and, what was even more attractive to him, he heard that the lands of Poland were fruitful and rich. He therefore sent messengers with a letter to Wanda. The messengers were received at Wanda’s court with courtesy and hospitality, as was always the custom in Poland. It was noticed that they were rough, uncivilized men who seemed surprised at the luxury and comfort of Wanda’s Court. After they had rested and changed their apparel, they were ushered into Wanda’s presence. Although they made their obeisance before her, with seeming respect, they looked about them with an air of apprising the value of everything they saw before them, as though it would soon be theirs.
Wanda read the letter and turned deathly pale. The contents were clear enough; Rytigier asked her for her hand in marriage, stipulating that as her dowry she should bring him the lands of Poland, and threatening war in the event of a refusal . Now Rytigier had a very powerful army, famed all over Europe as the strongest and best equipped of any prince. Wanda’s army, on the other hand, had lost heavily in recent wars. To accept Rytigier’s proposal of marriage was unthinkable. Wanda could not, would not subject her country to a German rule.
She looked at the to messengers and shuddered. Cruelty and rapacity were written plainly in their faces; and these, thought Wanda, were typical Germans. To wage war might be fatal with the armies so ill-matched. Defeat at the hands of the Germans would certainly bring the cruellest possible reprisals to the Poles. But, in a firm voice, Wanda made her answer. She refused to surrender herself and her country to the Germans. She had made her decision. Wanda would sacrifice her life for Poland.
She retired to her own appartaments and there prayed to the gods that they would grant Poland freedom from the Germans in return for her sacrificing her life. Her prayer was granted, and Wanda threw herself into the Vistula. When her body was recovered, she was buried with all honours, and a mound was raised to her memory beside that of her father, Krakus.
Once upon a time there were three Princesses who were all three young and beautiful; but the youngest, although she was not fairer than the other two, was the most lovable of them all. About half a mile from the palace in which they lived there stood a castle, which was uninhabited and almost a ruin, but the garden which surrounded it was a mass of blooming flowers, and in this garden the youngest Princess used often to walk. One day when she was pacing to and fro under the lime trees, a black crow hopped out of a rose-bush in front of her. The poor beast was all torn and bleeding, and the kind little Princess was quite unhappy about it. When the crow saw this it turned to her and said: 'I am not really a black crow, but an enchanted Prince, who has been doomed to spend his youth in misery. read more..