The Two Travelers: Truth and Falsehood

folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 613
selected and edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2008-2014


  1. Dharmabuddhi and Pâpabuddhi (India).

  2. The Two Peasants (Sri Lanka).

  3. The Two Brothers (Tibet).

  4. The Heathen and the Jew (Jewish).

  5. True and Untrue (Norway).

  6. The Two Travelers (Germany).

  7. Right Always Remains Right (Upper Lusatia [Germany/Poland]).

  8. The Travels of Truth and Falsehood (Hungary).

  9. The Grateful Beasts (Hungary).

  10. Honesty and Dishonesty (Russia).

  11. Justice or Injustice? Which Is Best? (Serbia).

  12. The Two Brothers (Slavic).

  13. The Two Brothers (Georgia).

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Dharmabuddhi and Pâpabuddhi

The Panchatantra

In a certain place there lived two friends, Dharmabuddhi, which means "having a just heart" and Pâpabuddhi, which means "having an unjust heart." One day Pâpabuddhi thought to himself, "I am a simpleton, plagued with poverty. I am going to travel abroad with Dharmabuddhi, and earn money with his help. Then I will cheat him out of it and thus gain a good situation for myself." One day he said to Dharmabuddhi, "Listen, friend! When you are old, which of your deeds will you be able to remember? You have never seen a foreign country, so what will you be able to tell the young people? After all, don't they say: His birth has borne no fruit, who knows not foreign lands, many languages, customs, and the like. And also: One never properly grasps knowledge, wealth, and art, until joyfully one has wandered from one land to another."

Dharmabuddhi, as soon as he had heard these words, took leave from his parents with a joyful heart, and one happy day set forth for foreign lands. Through their diligence and skill, Dharmabuddhi and Pâpabuddhi acquired great wealth on their travels. Happy, but also filled with longing, they turned homeward with their great treasure. For it is also said: For those who gain wisdom, art, and wealth in foreign lands, the absence of one hour has the length of hundreds.

As they approached their city, Pâpabuddhi said to Dharmabuddhi, "Friend, it is not prudent for us to return home with our entire treasure, for our families and relatives will want part of it. Therefore let us bury it somewhere here in the thick of the forest and take only a small part home with us. When the need arises, we can come back and get as much as we need from here. For they also say: A smart man does not show off his money, not even in small amounts, for the sight of gold will agitate even a good heart. And also: Like meat is devoured in the water by fish, on land by wild animals, and in the air by birds, he who owns money is everywhere at risk."

Upon hearing this, Dharmabuddhi said, "Yes, my friend, that is what we will do!" After having thus buried their treasure, they both returned home and lived happily together.

However, one day at midnight Pâpabuddhi went back into the forest, took the entire treasure, refilled the hole, and returned home. Then he went to Dharmabuddhi and said to him, "Friend, each of us has a large family, and we are suffering because we have no money. Therefore, let us go to that place and get some money."

Dharmabuddhi answered, "Yes, my friend, let us do it!"

They went there and dug up the container, but it was empty. Then Pâpabuddhi struck himself on the head and cried out, "Aha! Dharmabuddhi! You and only you have taken the money, for the hole has been filled in again. Give me my half of what you have hidden, or I will bring action against you at the king's court."

Dharmabuddhi said, "Do not speak like that, you evildoer. I am in truth Dharmabuddhi, the one with a just heart! I would not commit such an act of thievery. After all, it is said: The person with a just heart treats another man's wife like his own mother, another man's property like a clod of earth, and all beings like himself."

Quarreling thus, they proceeded to the court where they told their stories and brought action against one another. The top judges decreed that they submit to an Ordeal of God, but Pâpabuddhi said, "No! Such an ordeal is not just. After all, it is written: In a legal action one should seek documents. If there are no documents, then one should seek witnesses. If there are no witnesses, then wise men should prescribe an Ordeal of God. In this matter the goddess of the tree will serve as my witness. She will declare which one of us is a thief and which one an honest man."

To this they all replied, "What you say is right, for it is also written: An Ordeal of God is inappropriate where there is a witness, be he even a man of the lowest caste, to say nothing of the case where he is a god. We too are very curious about this case. Tomorrow morning we shall go with you to that place in the forest."

In the meanwhile, Pâpabuddhi returned home and said to his father, "Father! I have stolen this money from Dharmabuddhi, and one word from you will secure it for us. Without your word, we shall lose it, and I shall lose my life as well."

The father said, "Child, just tell what I have to say in order to secure it!"

Pâpabuddhi said, "Father, in thus and such a place there is a large mimosa tree. It has a hollow trunk. Go hide yourself in it. When I swear an oath there tomorrow morning, then you must reply that Dharmabuddhi is the thief."

Having made these arrangements, the next morning Pâpabuddhi bathed himself, put on a clean shirt, and went to the mimosa tree with Dharmabuddhi and the judges. Once there, he spoke with a piercing voice, "Sun and moon, wind and fire, heaven and earth, heart and mind, day and night, sunrise and sunset, all of these, like dharma, know a man's deeds. Sublime goddess of the forest, reveal which of us is the thief!"

Then Pâpabuddhi's father, who was standing in the hollow trunk of the mimosa tree, said, "Listen! Listen! The money was taken away by Dharmabuddhi!"

Having heard this, the king's servants, their eyes opened wide with amazement, searched in their law books for an appropriate punishment for Dharmabuddhi's theft of the money. While they were thus engaged, Dharmabuddhi himself surrounded the tree's opening with flammable material, and set it on fire. When it was well ablaze, Pâpabuddhi's father emerged from the hollow tree. His eyes streaming, he cried out bitterly.

"What is this?" they asked him.

He confessed everything, and then died. The king's servants forthwith hanged Pâpabuddhi from a branch of the mimosa tree, but they had only words of praise for Dharmabuddhi.

The Two Peasants

Sri Lanka

In a certain village there once lived two peasants, who, being very poor, and having no means of earning a livelihood, sold the little possessions they had, and left their village in the hope of finding better fortune elsewhere.

At the outset, one of them said to his companion: "Friend, if you provide out of your own purse for both of us, I will do likewise when your money is over."

The other readily agreed to this proposal, and from thenceforth when he cooked his meals he always gave his friend half of it.

The peasant who first began to spend soon exhausted his little stock of money, and when the other had prepared his meals, he coolly began to eat it without inviting his companion to join him. Surprised at this proceeding he inquired why his share was not given him.

"You were a fool to spend for both of us," replied the other. "I am not going to imitate you, and waste my money on you."

The poor peasant had to starve that day, and for three days more, until he could bear it no longer. When his companion had cooked his rice as usual, he begged so hard for some, that at length he was promised a spoonful, if only he should allow one of his eyes to be plucked out. He was in such an extremity of hunger that he agreed to this condition. A spoonful of rice was then given him, and with the handle of the same spoon which conveyed the rice to his leaf one of his eyes was pierced through.

The rice that he had then obtained helped to keep him up for another three days. At the end of that time he was again so hungry that he could not but beg for another spoonful, which he received on the same condition as before. Being now blind of both eyes, he was looked upon by his friend as a useless encumbrance, and he therefore determined to get rid of him. He thought he could do this by walking away as fast as he could, but the blind man was not to be got rid of so easily. Listening attentively to his treacherous companion's footsteps, he managed to grope his way in the direction in which the other went. As they were passing through a deep forest, the wicked peasant took his helpless companion, and, after binding him firmly, left him under a tree to the tender mercies of the wild beasts, and went his way.

The blind man had not been very long under the tree, when he overheard the conversation of some Raksasas, who were resting on the tree at the time.

One of them said: "All are not aware of the rare qualities of this tree. Any blind man will have his sight restored to him, if he will only rub his eyes with a little of the juice of this tree."

"That is not all," said another, "if a man should eat one of these leaves, he would not be hungry for seven days and seven nights."

"More than that," said the third, "if a man eat the fruit that grows on the summit of this tree, he will become a king within seven days."

When the Raksasas had gone away the man raised himself with difficulty, and contrived to injure the bark of the tree, and thus obtained a little of its juice, which he at once applied to his eyes, and he immediately recovered his sight. His next care was to free himself, and to eat one of the leaves of the tree. When he had eaten the leaf, he felt quite strong and able to climb the tree, which he did, and ate the fruit that was on its summit with the firm conviction that he would become a king within seven days. He set off, and wandering about reached a town on the seventh day, and during all that time he did not once feel the pangs of hunger.

He arrived at the city tired and dusty and entered an ambalama (rest-house), but it had already been occupied by some men, who, not caring to have in their company so dirty and ragged a man, drove him out. Being quite exhausted he sat down outside the ambalama.

[To make the story plain it is necessary to mention that amongst most of the eastern nations, when a king died, the choice of his successor lay wholly with the elephant on which the deceased king was accustomed to ride. The animal was decked in all its splendid coverings, and led along the streets of the town, and before whomsoever the elephant knelt that fortunate individual was chosen king.]

Now it happened that the king of that country had just died, and the royal elephant was led along the streets to select its next rider. Seeing our friend, the peasant, outside the ambalama, the elephant at once knelt down before him; and he was crowned king.

The treacherous friend of the new king had already arrived in the same city and married the daughter of the king's prime minister.

One day the prime minister was called away to some distant country, and as he expected to be away for some days, he appointed his son-in-law to act for him. No sooner did the acting prime minister see the new king than he was struck with the resemblance he bore to his quondam companion.

But he reassured himself that it could not be he, for, thought he, "how could a blind man regain his sight?"

But the more he saw of the new king the more uneasy he began to be. At length he became quite anxious to ascertain whether this was his old friend or not. Fearing to ask the king a direct question, he sat to work in a roundabout way to get at the truth.

In the prime minister the king at once recognised his base friend, but he betrayed no signs whatever of recognition.

One day the prime minister said to the king, "Sire! is it possible for a blind man by any means in the world to regain his sight?"

The king answered: "It is not an impossibility. If a man only sought it he would find a remedy even for blindness."

The acting prime minister was now quite convinced that the king was his former companion. His ambition was roused, for, thought he, "If this man, whom I had left so helpless in the forest had become a king, why should I not be able to do the same? If only I could get some one to treat me as I treated my companion, then the result must be the same."

Thus deluding himself, he set out from the city with his wife, having instructed her how to act. First the man provided food for both, and and when his stock of money was over his wife treated him in the same way he had treated his friend, and finally left him firmly bound under a tree. Before parting she told him where he would find her when he became king.

The woman went on till she came to a shepherd's hut. The shepherd's wife was alone at home, and the future king's wife explained to her their prospects and obtained leave to stay with her for seven days, when, she said, her husband, the king, would come to fetch her.

In the evening when the shepherd's wife saw her husband coming home, she ran up to him and told him: "We have a royal guest under our roof, and it is not becoming that you should go into her presence in that state. Go, wash yourself and put on clean clothes before you enter into her presence."

She then explained to him how in seven days the king was expected.

Seven days elapsed but there was no sign of the coming king, and the shepherd began to doubt the woman's tale. Another seven days, and he lost all patience. At last he got the true story from the woman, how she had left her husband blinded and bound under a tree in a thick jungle. The shepherd repaired to the spot to find out what had really happened to the man. When he reached the place he found the unfortunate man's carcass surrounded by eagles and other ravenous birds and animals.

When the shepherd returned home, the would-be queen eagerly questioned him as to the fate of her husband, and asked him whether he had indeed been crowned king.

"Oh, yes," replied the man, "I found him surrounded by so many of his subjects that I could not exchange one word with him, and tell him of your welfare, but now you can go and see for yourself."

So saying he drove her out of his house as an adventuress.

The Two Brothers


In long past times, a king came to the throne in the palace of a country well provided with riches, prosperity, good harvests, and numerous inhabitants. Some time afterwards his wife became with child, and, after the lapse of eight or nine months, gave birth to a very handsome boy, complete in limbs and joints, whose skin was the color of gold, whose head stood out like a canopy, and who had long arms, a broad forehead, interlacing eyebrows, and a high-arched nose. At his birth there occurred many thousands of happy events.

When his birth-feast was held, and the question arose as to giving him a name, the ministers said, "O king, as many thousands of happy events have taken place at his birth, let him be called Kshemankara [promoting well-being]."

This name was given to him, and he was entrusted to eight nurses: two to carry him, two to suckle him, two to cleanse him, and two to play with him. These nurses brought him up on various milk products and other excellent forms of nourishment, so that he shot up like a lotus in a pool.

The king's wife again became with child, and after the lapse of eight or nine months a boy was born, at whose birth many thousands of unfortunate events took place, on which account there was given to him the name of Papankara [the opposite of Kshemankara, from papa, bad]. He also thrived apace and grew up.

The young Kshemankara, who was of a friendly and merciful nature, and compassionate towards all living creatures, loved to give, taking his delight in bestowing, and conferred gifts upon the Sramanas and Brahmans, the poor and the needy who begged of him.

His father said to him, "O son, do not be constantly making presents. If you give away so freely, where are we to find the necessary riches?"

Now, in accordance with the nature of things, many men take delight in gifts and giving, and when they thus delight themselves their fame is extolled in words and verses, and celebrated in all parts of the world. The king of another country, who had heard of the great virtues of the prince, wished to give him his daughter. The prince's father was highly pleased, and wanted to go to meet her.

But Kshemankara said, "Until I have acquired wealth I will not marry. Allow me, O father, to go to sea."

He replied, "Do so."

When he set forth for the sea with his merchandise, his brother, Papankara, said to himself, "As he is now liked and loved by many men, he will be still more liked and loved by many men when he shall have equipped a sea-ship and have returned home. And as there will be an opportunity of his being invested with the regal power during our father's lifetime, therefore I, too, instead of remaining here to see whose turn will come, will go to sea along with him, and will take away his life out there, and then I shall be invested with the heirship even against my father's will."

With these thoughts in his mind he went to his father, and said to him, "O father, as Kshemankara is going to sea I will go with him."

His father said, "Do so."

Now Kshemankara ordered proclamation to be made throughout the land as follows: "Listen, O honorable merchants inhabiting the city. As Prince Kshemankara is going to sea with merchandise, and as he among you who is inclined to go to sea under Prince Kshemankara's guidance will be freed from tolls, taxes, and freight-money, therefore get ready the goods which are to be taken to sea."

Many hundreds of merchants got ready goods to be taken to the sea. Then Kshemankara, as the leading trader, accompanied by his brother Papankara, after performing ceremonies for the sake of obtaining a successful result, surrounded by many hundreds of merchants, taking with him in wagons, carts, chests, and hampers, and on camels, oxen, and asses, quantities of goods to be transported by sea, set out on his way.

Visiting lands, towns, villages, commercial emporiums, and estates, he came by degrees to the sea-coast. There he purchased a ship for five hundred karshapanas, and after making proclamation three times, set out on the ocean, taking with him five hundred servants, diggers, cleansers, fishermen, mariners, and pilots.

When on board ship he said to his brother Papankara, "Should a shipwreck take place in the middle of the ocean, then throw your arms round my neck without hesitation."

Papankara replied, "Good, I will do so."

After a time the ship arrived with a favorable wind at the Island of Jewels, and the steersman said, "Listen, O honorable merchants of Jambudvipa! As ye have heard that the Island of Jewels is a mine of diamonds, lapis lazuli, turquoises, emeralds, and divers other precious stones, therefore have we come hither. Now then, take yourselves as many jewels as ye wish."

They searched for them with joy and desire, and they filled the ship full, as though with rice, peas, sesame, and the like.

Now, as Bodisats are wise and sharp-witted, Prince Kshemankara made fast to his girdle some large jewels of great value. On the way back, when not far from shore, the ship was rendered useless in consequence of an injury inflicted by a sea monster. Therefore Papankara threw his arms round the neck of Kshemankara, who by great exertions brought him ashore.

Exhausted by the burden, Kshemankara fell asleep. As he lay sleeping, Papankara caught sight of the jewels fastened to his girdle, and thought, "Ought I to return with empty hands while he comes back with such jewels?"

Then he took away the jewels from his soundly sleeping brother, put both his eyes out with a thorn, and left him sightless on the ocean shore.

By a fortunate chance some oxherds who were tending their cattle came to that spot. When they saw the prince, they said, "Ho, friend, who are you?"

He told them everything that had occurred. When they had heard his story they were filled with compassion, and they led him to the house of the chief herdsman. There he took to playing on the lute.

The chief herdsman's wife, who was charmed by his youth and beauty, heard the sound of his lute and tried to allure him. But he, thinking of a course of life acquired by good deeds, closed his ears and did not stir.

As there is nothing which they may not do who are seized by desire, she said to her husband, "This blind man is trying to tempt me, will you put up with such people?"

The prince reflected that, of all kinds of anger, the worst is the anger of a wife, and perceived that there was nothing left for him, in order not to be smitten thereby, but to go away. So he left the house, and along all manner of streets, market places, and by-roads, he gained himself a living by his music.

On the death of his father his brother, Papankara, came to the throne. And after a time he himself arrived at the town of that neighboring king who had formerly wished to give him his daughter in marriage.

She had by this time grown up, but when there came to woo her the sons of kings, ministers, and purohitas, dwelling in many lands, her father said, "O daughter, Prince Kshemankara, for whom I had intended you, went to sea and there died in consequence of a misfortune. As suitors have now arrived, and as those who do not obtain you will be discontented, the question arises, what is to be done?"

She replied, "O father, if this be the case, let orders be given to have the city swept and garnished; I will choose a husband for myself."

Then the king ordered proclamation to be made in the different lands and cities that his daughter was going to choose herself a husband. He also gave orders that his own city should be cleared of stones, potsherds, and rubble, sprinkled with sandalwood water, and perfumed with odors, and that canopies, standards, and flags, should be set up, and numerous silken hangings displayed, together with flowers of many kinds, giving the appearance of a grove of the gods, and that joy-inspiring proclamation should be made to this effect: "O honorable dwellers in town and country, and crowds of men assembled from various lands, give ear! Tomorrow the king's daughter will choose herself a husband. So do ye assemble as is fitting."

Next morning the king's daughter, adorned with many ornaments and surrounded by numerous maidens, came to a grove made bright with flowers by the deity of the grove, rendered extremely beautiful by the dispensation of great good fortune. And when several thousand men had assembled in the midst of the city, she came into the assembly in order to choose herself a husband. Somewhat removed sat Kshemankara playing on the lute.

As men by their deeds are reciprocally connected, and the force of effect is constrained by the great power of cause, so it came to pass that the king's daughter, when her feelings were moved by the sound of the lute, became closely attached to Kshemankara's playing, and she threw him the crown of flowers, crying, "This man is my husband."

The assembled people were discontented, and some of them in bitterness of heart began to find fault with her, saying, "What sense is there in this, that the royal princess, who has so much beauty, and who is so supremely young and accomplished, should slight the sons of kings, ministers, and purohitas, who have come from many lands, besides excellent householders, and should choose a blind man to be her husband?"

With reluctance and discontent did the officials convey the tidings to the king, saying, "O king, the princess has completed the choice of a husband."

The king said, "What manner of man has she chosen?"

They replied, "O king, a blind man."

The king also was displeased when he heard this, and he sent for his daughter and said, "O daughter, wherefore have you chosen such a man as your husband, in spite of there being extremely young, rich and handsome sons of kings, proprietors, merchants, caravan leaders, ministers, and purohitas?"

She replied, "O father, this is the man I want."

The king said, "O daughter, if that be so, then go to him. Wherefore do you delay?"

She went to him and said, "I have chosen you as my husband."

He replied, "Therein you have not acted well. Perhaps you have thought, 'as such is the case and this man is blind, I can give myself to another.'"

She replied, "I am not one who does such things."

He said, "What proof is there of this?"

She replied, commencing an asseveration: "If it be true, and my asseveration is righteous, that I have been in love only with Prince Kshemankara and with you, but with none else, then through the power of this truth and my asseveration shall one of your two eyes become sound as before."

So soon as this asseveration was uttered, one of his eyes came again just as it was before.

Then he said, "I am Kshemankara. My brother Papankara reduced me to the state I was in."

She said, "What proof is there that you are Prince Kshemankara?"

Then he too began to asseverate, saying, "If it be true, and my asseveration righteous, that although Papankara put out my eyes, I do not in the least bear him malice, then in consequence of the truth and affirmation may my other eye become sound as before."

So soon as he had pronounced this asseveration, his other eye also became as it had been originally.

Then the royal princess betook herself to the king, along with Kshemankara, who was no longer imperfect in any part of his body, and said, "O father, this is Kshemankara himself."

As the king was incredulous, she told him how everything had come about. The king was exceedingly astonished, but with great joy did he give his daughter to Kshemankara as his wife. Then he set forth with a great army for that city, and drove Papankara from power, and set Kshemankara as king upon his father's throne.

The Heathen and the Jew


Once a heathen and a Jew were walking along together, when the heathen remarked to the Jew, "My religion is better than yours."

"Not so," replied the Jew; "on the contrary, mine is better than yours, as it is said: What nation is there so great that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law."

The heathen then said, "Supposing it is decided my religion is better than yours, then I will take your money; but if it be decided that your religion is better than mine, then you shall take my money."

The Jew replied, "I agree to accept this condition."

As they were walking along, Satan appeared to them in the form of an old man. They thereupon asked him the question as to whose religion was the better; and he replied, "That of the heathen is the better."

After they had proceeded a little farther, Satan appeared to them again, in the form of a young man. They put the same question, and they received the same reply. When they had walked a little farther, he appeared to them again in the form of another old man. On asking the same question again, the identical reply was once more given. The heathen therefore took the Israelite's money.

The Israelite then journeyed on in fear of his life, and lodged in the open. When a third of the night had gone by, he heard some spirits speaking to each other. Two of them asked a third, "Where have you been today?" to which he replied, "I met a Jew and an Aramean, I laughed at them and gave evidence in favor of the heathen."

Then they asked another, "Where have you been today?" to which he replied, "I prevented the daughter of an emperor from giving birth, after she had suffered the pains of travail for seven days. But if they had taken some green leaves of the tree overhanging their throne, and had squeezed them upon her nose, she would have given birth immediately."

They again addressed a third spirit, "Where have you been?"

He replied, "I stopped up the well of a certain province. But if they had taken a black ox and had slaughtered it over the water, the well would have been open again."

The Jew gave great heed to their conversation; and, rising up early in the morning, he went to the country of the emperor spoken of, and found his daughter in travail. He then told one to take some green leaves of the tree overhanging their throne, and to squeeze them upon her nose. This was done, and she immediately gave birth. The king thereupon presented the Jew with a large sum of money, because this was the only child he had.

The Jew then journeyed to the country in which the stopped wells were to be found, and told the people to take a black ox and slaughter it over the well, after which the water would flow as usual. They did so, and the water flowed. The inhabitants thereupon presented him with a large sum of money.

On the morrow he met the heathen who had taken his money, and the heathen expressed his surprise by saying, "Have I not already taken all your money from you; how is it that you are such a rich man?" He then related to him what had happened.

"Then I will also go," he said, "and inquire of the people of that place." He therefore journeyed on and lodged in that field; but the three spirits came and killed him, for it is said: The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead (Proverbs, 11:8).

True and Untrue


Once upon a time there were two brothers; one was called True, and the other Untrue. True was always upright and good towards all, but Untrue was bad and full of lies, so that no one could believe what he said. Their mother was a widow, and did not have much to live on; so when her sons had grown up, she was forced to send them away, that they might earn their bread in the world. Each received a little knapsack with some food in it, and then they went their way.

They walked until evening and then sat down by a windfall in the woods, and took out their knapsacks, for they were hungry after walking the whole day, and thought that a bit of food would taste good.

"I think that you'll agree with me," said Untrue, "that we should eat out of your knapsack as long as there is anything in it, and after that we can eat from mine."

Yes, True was in agreement with this, so they started to eat, but Untrue stuffed himself with all the best things, while True got only the burnt crusts. The next morning they had their breakfast from True's food, and they ate dinner from it too, and then there was nothing left in his knapsack. They had walked until late that night, and when they were ready to eat again, True wanted to eat out from his brother's knapsack, but Untrue said "No," that this food was his, and that he had only enough for himself.

"Wait! You know that you ate from my knapsack as long as there was anything in it," said True.

"That is all well and good," answered Untrue; "but if you are such a fool to let others eat up your food right in front of you, then you must make the best of it. All you can do now is to sit here and starve."

"Very well," said True, "you're Untrue by name and untrue by nature. You have always been that way, and so you will be all the rest of your life."

Now when Untrue heard this, he flew into a rage, rushed at his brother, and plucked out both of his eyes. "Now, try to see whether people are untrue or not, you blind buzzard!" So saying, he ran away and left him.

Poor True! There he went walking along and feeling his way through the thick wood. Blind and alone, he barely knew which way to turn, when all at once he caught hold of the trunk of a great bushy linden tree. He thought, for fear of the wild beasts, that he would climb the tree and sit there until the night was over.

"When the birds begin to sing," he said to himself, "I shall know it is day, and I can try to grope my way farther on." So he climbed up into the linden tree. After he had sat there a little while, he heard how someone came and began to make a stir and clatter under the tree, and soon afterward others came. When they began to greet each other, he found out it was Bruin the bear, Graylegs the wolf, Slyboots the fox, and Longears the hare, all of whom had come to celebrate St. John's Eve under the tree. They began to eat, drink, and be merry. When they were finished eating, they started to talk together. At last the fox said, "Let each of us tell a little story while we sit here."

The others had nothing against that. It would be good fun, they said, and the bear began; for he was the leader.

"The King of England," said Bruin, "has such bad eyesight, he can barely see a yard in front of him. If he would only come to this linden tree in the morning, while the dew is still on the leaves, and would rub his eyes with the dew, he would get back his sight as good as ever."

"Very true!" said Graylegs. "And the King of England has a daughter who is deaf and dumb. If he only knew what I know, he could soon cure her. Last year she went to communion. She let a crumb of the bread fall out of her mouth, and a large toad came and swallowed it down. If they would just dig up the chapel floor, they would find the toad sitting right under the altar, with the bread still sticking in his throat. If they were to cut the toad open, and give the bread to the princess, she would be able to hear and to speak again, just like other people."

"That's all very well," said the fox, "but if the King of England knew what I know, he would not be so badly off for water in his palace. Under the large stone in his palace yard there is a spring of the clearest water one could wish for, if he only knew to dig for it there."

"Ah!" said the hare in a small voice; "the King of England has the finest orchard in the whole land, but it does not bear so much as a green apple, for a heavy gold chain is buried, circling the orchard three times. If he would have it dug up, there would not be a garden like it in all his kingdom."

"Very true, I dare say," said the fox, "but now it's getting very late, and we should all go home."

So they all went away together.

After they were gone, True fell asleep, sitting there in the tree. When the birds began to sing at dawn, he woke up, and took the dew from the leaves, and rubbed his eyes with it, and thus he got his sight back as good as it was before Untrue plucked his eyes out.

Then he went straight to the King of England's palace, and begged for work, and got it on the spot. One day the king came out into the palace yard, and when he had walked about a bit, he wanted to drink out of his pump; for you must know the day was hot, and the king very thirsty; but when they poured him out a glass, it was so muddy, and nasty, and foul, that the king got quite upset.

"I don't think there's ever a man in my whole kingdom who has such bad water in his yard as I, and yet I bring it in pipes from far, over hill and dale," cried out the king.

"True enough, your majesty;" said True, "but if you would let me have some men to help me dig up this large stone which lies here in the middle of your yard, you would soon see good water, and plenty of it."

The king was willing enough. They barely had the stone out, and dug under it a while, before a jet of water sprang out high up into the air, as clear and full as if it came out of a conduit, and clearer water was not to be found in all England.

A little while after, the king was out in his palace yard again, and there came a great hawk flying after his chicken, and all the king's men began to clap their hands and bawl out, "There he flies! There he flies!" The king picked up his gun and tried to shoot the hawk, but he couldn't see that far, so he became very upset.

"Would to Heaven," he said, "there was anyone who could tell me a cure for my eyes; for I think I shall soon go quite blind!"

"I can tell you one soon enough," said True, and he told the king what he had done to cure his own eyes. The king set off that very afternoon to the linden tree, and his eyes were quite cured as soon as he rubbed them with the dew which was on the leaves in the morning. From that time forth there was no one whom the king held so dear as True, and he had to be with him wherever he went, both at home and abroad.

One day they were walking together in the orchard, and the king said, "I don't know why, that I don't, but there isn't a man in England who spends as much on his orchard as I, and yet I can't get one of the trees to bear as much as a green apple."

"Well," said True, "if I may have what is buried twisted three times around your orchard, and men to dig it up, your orchard will bear well enough."

Yes, the king was quite willing, so True got men and began to dig, and at last he dug up the whole gold chain. Now True was a rich man, far richer indeed than the king himself, but still the king was well pleased, for his orchard now bore so that the limbs of the trees hung down to the ground heavy with apples and pears sweeter than anyone had ever tasted.

The king and True were walking about and talking together on another day, when the princess passed them, and the king became quite downcast when he saw her.

"Isn't it a pity, now, that so lovely a princess as mine should not be able to speak or hear?" he said to True.

"Yes, but there is a cure for that," said True.

When the king heard that, he was so glad that he promised him the princess's hand in marriage, and half his kingdom as well, if he could cure her. So True took a few men, and went into the church, and dug up the toad which sat under the altar. Then he cut open the toad, took out the bread, and gave it to the king's daughter; and from that hour she got back her speech, and could talk like other people.

Now True was to have the princess, and they got ready for the bridal feast, and such a feast had never been seen before. It was the talk of the whole land. Just as they were dancing the bridal dance, in came a beggar lad, and begged for a morsel of food, and he was so ragged and wretched that they all crossed themselves when they looked at him. True knew him at once, and saw that it was Untrue, his brother.

"Do you recognize me?" asked True.

"Where would a person like me ever have seen so great a lord?" answered Untrue.

"You have seen me before," said True. "I was the one whose eyes you plucked out a year ago this very day. Untrue by name, and untrue by nature. I said it before, and I am saying it now. But you are still my brother, and so you shall have some food. After that, you may go to the linden tree where I sat last year. If you hear anything that can do you good, you will be lucky."

Untrue did not wait to be told twice. "If True has got so much good by sitting in the linden tree, that in one year he has come to be king over half England, what good may I get?" he thought. So he set off and climbed up into the linden tree. He had not sat there long, before all the beasts came as before, and ate and drank, and celebrated St. John's eve under the tree. When they were finished eating, the fox wished that they should begin to tell stories. Untrue got ready to listen with all his might, until his ears almost fell off.

But Bruin the bear was cross. He growled and said, "Someone has been chattering about what we said last year, and so this time we will hold our tongues about what we know." With that the beasts wished each other a good night, and parted. Untrue was just as wise as he was before, and the reason was, that his name was Untrue, and his nature untrue too.

The Two Travelers


Mountain and valley do not meet, but the children of men do, both good and bad. Thus a shoemaker and a tailor once met on their travels. The tailor was a handsome little fellow who was always cheerful and satisfied. He saw the shoemaker approaching him from the other side, and, observing from his bag what is trade was, he sang a mocking little song to him:
Sew me the seam,
Pull me the thread,
Left and right, spread it with pitch,
Pound, pound the nail on the head.
The shoemaker, however, could not take a joke. He pulled a face as if he had drunk vinegar, and made a gesture as if he were about to seize the tailor by the collar.

With that the little fellow began to laugh, offered him his bottle, saying, "No harm was meant. Take a drink, and swallow your anger."

The shoemaker took a mighty drink, and the storm on his face began to clear away. He gave the bottle back to the tailor, and said, "I took a hearty gulp. They have a lot to say about heavy drinking, but not much about great thirst. Shall we travel together?"

"All right," answered the tailor, "but only if only it suits you to go to a big town where there is no lack of work."

"That is just where I wanted to go," answered the shoemaker. "In a small place there is nothing to be earned, and in the country people prefer to go barefoot."

Thus they traveled on together, always setting one foot before the other like a weasel in the snow. Both of them had time enough, but little to eat. When they reached a town they went about looking for work, and because the tailor looked so lively and merry, and had such fine red cheeks, every one gave him work willingly, and if he was lucky, the master's daughter gave him a kiss as well.

Whenever he met up with the shoemaker, the tailor always had the most in his bundle. The ill-tempered shoemaker would make a sour face, thinking, "The greater the rascal, the better the luck."

But the tailor would begin to laugh and to sing, and shared everything he had with his comrade. If a couple of pennies jingled in his pockets, he ordered drinks, then cheerfully thumped the table until the glasses danced. His motto was "Easy come, easy go."

After they had traveled for some time, they came to a great forest through which passed the way to the capital. Two footpaths led through it, one of which was a seven days' journey and the other only two, but neither of them knew which way was the shorter one. They sat down beneath an oak tree and discussed together what preparations to make, and for how many days they should provide themselves with bread.

The shoemaker said, "One must plan ahead for the unexpected. I will take with me bread for a week."

"What?" said the tailor. "Haul bread for seven days on one's back like a beast of burden and not be able to look about? I shall trust in God, and not trouble myself about anything. The money I have in my pocket is as good in summer as in winter, but in hot weather bread dries out and gets moldy on top of that. Even my coat reaches only to my ankles. Why shouldn't we find the right way? Bread for two days, and that's enough."

Therefore each person bought his own bread, and then they tried their luck in the forest. It was as quiet there as in a church. No wind stirred, no brook murmured, no bird sang, and no sunbeam found its way through the thickly leaved branches. The shoemaker did not speak a word. The bread weighed so heavily on his back that the sweat streamed down his cross and gloomy face.

The tailor, however, was quite merry. Walking on with a spring in each step, he whistled on a leaf, or sang a song, and thought to himself, "God in heaven must be pleased that I am so happy."

This lasted two days, but on the third there was still no end to the forest, and the tailor had eaten up all his bread. Thus his heart sank down a yard deeper. Nevertheless, he did not lose courage, but relied on God and on his luck. On the evening of the third day he lay down hungry under a tree, and rose again the next morning still hungry. The fourth day was the same, and when the shoemaker seated himself on a fallen tree and devoured his dinner the tailor was only a spectator.

If he begged for a little piece of bread, the other laughed mockingly, and said, "You have always been so merry. Now you can see for once what it is like to be sad. Birds that sing too early in the morning are caught by the hawk in the evening."

In short, he was merciless. On the fifth morning the poor tailor could no longer stand up and was hardly able to utter one word for weakness. His cheeks were white, and his eyes were red.

Then the shoemaker said to him, "I will give you a bit of bread today, but in return for it, I will put out your right eye."

The unhappy tailor, who still wished to save his life, had to submit. He wept once more with both eyes, and then held them out, and the shoemaker, who had a heart of stone, put out his right eye with a sharp knife. The tailor remembered what his mother had once said to him when he had been snacking in the pantry: "Eat whatever you can, and suffer whatever you must."

After eating his dearly bought bread, he got on his legs again, forgot his misery, and comforted himself with the thought that he could always see enough with one eye. But on the sixth day, hunger made itself felt again, almost consuming his heart. That evening he fell down by a tree, and on the seventh morning he was too weak to get up, and death was close at hand.

Then the shoemaker said, "I will show mercy and give you bread once more, but you shall not have it for nothing. I shall put out your other eye for it."

And now the tailor felt how careless his life had been, prayed to God for forgiveness, and said, "Do what you will. I will bear what I must, but remember that our Lord God does not always look on passively, and that an hour will come when the evil deed which you have done to me, and which I have not deserved of you, will be requited. When times were good with me I shared what I had with you. My trade is such that one stitch must follow another. If I no longer have my eyes and can sew no more, I must go begging. At any rate do not leave me here alone when I am blind, or I shall die of hunger."

The shoemaker, however, who had driven God out of his heart, took the knife and put out his left eye. Then he gave him a bit of bread to eat, held out a stick to him, and led him on behind him.

At sunset, they got out of the forest, and before them in an open field stood the gallows. The shoemaker led the blind tailor there, and then went on his way, leaving him there alone. Weariness, pain, and hunger made the wretched man fall asleep, and he slept the whole night. He awoke at dawn, not knowing where he was.

Two poor sinners were hanging on the gallows, with a crow sat on the head of each of them. Then one of the men who had been hanged began to speak, and said, "Brother, are you awake?"

"Yes, I am awake," answered the second.

"Then I will tell you something," said the first. "The dew that this night has fallen down over us from the gallows gives everyone who washes himself with it his eyes again. If the blind knew this, how many would regain their sight who do not believe that to be possible?"

Hearing this the tailor took his handkerchief, pressed it on the grass, and when it was moist with dew, washed the sockets of his eyes with it. Immediately what the man on the gallows had said came true, and a pair of healthy new eyes filled the sockets. It was not long before the tailor saw the sun rise from behind the mountains. In the plain before him lay the great royal city with its magnificent gates and hundred towers, and the golden balls and crosses on the spires began to shine. He could distinguish every leaf on the trees, saw the birds flying past, and the gnats dancing in the air. He took a needle out of his pocket, and as he could thread it as well as ever he had done, his heart danced with delight.

He threw himself on his knees, thanked God for the mercy he had shown him, and said his morning prayer, not forgetting to pray for the poor sinners who were hanging there swinging against each other in the wind like the pendulums of clocks. Then he took his bundle on his back and soon forgot the sorrow he had endured, and went on his way singing and whistling.

The first thing he came to was a brown foal freely running about the field. He caught it by the mane, and wanted to mount it and ride into the town. The foal, however, begged for its freedom. "I am still too young," it said. "Even a light tailor such as you are would break my back in two. Let me go until I have grown strong. Perhaps a time may come when I can reward you for it."

"Run off," said the tailor. "I see that you are still only a whippersnapper." He gave it a touch on its back with a switch, whereupon it kicked up its hind legs for joy, jumped over hedges and ditches, and galloped away into the open country.

The little tailor had eaten nothing since the day before. "The sun fills my eyes," he said, "but bread does not fill my mouth. The first thing that comes my way and is even half edible will have to suffer for it."

In the meantime a stork stepped solemnly over the meadow towards him. "Stop, stop," cried the tailor, and seized him by the leg. "I don't know if you are good to eat or not, but my hunger leaves me no great choice. I must cut your head off, and roast you."

"Don't do that," replied the stork. "I am a sacred bird that brings mankind great profit, and no one harms me. If you spare my life I will be able do you good in some other way."

"Then be off, cousin longlegs," said the tailor. The stork rose up, let its long legs hang down, and flew gently away.

"What's to be the end of this?" said the tailor to himself at last. "My hunger grows greater and greater, and my stomach more and more empty. Whatever comes in my way now is lost."

Then he saw a couple of young ducks which were on a pond come swimming towards him. "You come just at the right moment," said he, and laid hold of one of them and was about to wring its neck.

With this an old duck which was hidden among the reeds, began to squawk loudly. She swam to him with open beak, begging him urgently to spare her dear children. "Can you not imagine," said she, "how your mother would mourn if someone wanted to carry you off, and do an end to you."

"Quiet down," said the good-natured tailor. "You shall keep your children," and he set the captured one back into the water.

When he turned around, he was standing in front of an old tree which was partly hollow, and saw some wild bees flying in and out of it. "There I shall find the reward of my good deed," said the tailor. "The honey will refresh me."

But the queen bee came out and threatened him, saying, "If you touch my people and destroy my nest our stings shall pierce your skin like ten thousand red-hot needles. But if you leave us in peace and go your way we will do you a service for it another time."

The little tailor saw that here also nothing was to be done. Three dishes empty and nothing on the fourth is a bad dinner. He dragged himself therefore with his starved-out stomach into the town, and as it was just striking twelve, all was ready-cooked for him in the inn, and he was able to sit down at once to dinner.

When he was satisfied he said, "Now I will get to work." He went around the town, sought a master, and soon found a good situation. Because he already had thoroughly learned his trade, it was not long before he became famous, and everyone wanted to have a new coat made by the little tailor. His reputation grew day by day.

"I can go no further in skill," said he, "and yet things improve every day." At last the king appointed him court tailor.

But strange things do happen in the world. On that very same day his former comrade the shoemaker also became court shoemaker. When the latter caught sight of the tailor, and saw that he once more had two healthy eyes, his conscience troubled him. "Before he takes revenge on me," he thought to himself, "I must dig a pit for him."

He, however, who digs a pit for another, falls into it himself. In the evening when work was over and it was growing dark, he sneaked to the king and said, "Your majesty, the tailor is an arrogant fellow and has boasted that he will get the golden crown back again that was lost ages ago."

"That would please me," said the king, and the next morning he had the tailor brought before him, and ordered him to get the crown back again, or to leave the city forever.

"Aha," thought the tailor. "A rogue gives more than he has. If the bad-tempered king wants me to do what no one else can do, I will not wait until morning, but will leave town at once."

Therefore he tied up his bundle, but once outside the gate he could not help being sorry to give up his good fortune and turn his back on the city in which all had gone so well for him. He came to the pond where he had made the acquaintance of the ducks. At that very moment the old one whose young ones he had spared was sitting there by the shore, preening herself with her beak. She knew him again instantly, and asked why he was hanging his head so.

"You will not be surprised when you hear what has happened to me," replied the tailor, and told her his fate.

"If that is all," said the duck, "we can help you. The crown fell into the water, and it lies down below at the bottom. We will soon bring it up again for you. In the meantime just spread out your handkerchief on the bank."

She dived down with her twelve young ones, and in five minutes she was up again with the crown resting on her wings. The twelve young ones were swimming round about with their beaks under it, helping to carry it. They swam to the shore and put the crown on the handkerchief. No one can imagine how magnificent the crown was. When the sun shone on it, it gleamed like a hundred thousand carbuncles. The tailor tied his handkerchief together by the four corners and carried it to the king, who was full of joy, and hung a gold chain around the tailor's neck.

When the shoemaker saw that the one trick had failed, he contrived a second, and went to the king and said, "Your majesty, the tailor has become insolent again. He boasts that he can copy in wax the whole of the royal palace, with everything that pertains to it, movable or immovable, inside and out."

The king sent for the tailor and ordered him to copy in wax the whole of the royal palace, with everything that pertained to it, movable or immovable, inside and out. And failing this, or if so much as one nail on the wall were missing, he should be imprisoned underground for the rest of his life.

The tailor thought, "It gets worse and worse. No one can endure this," and he threw his bundle on his back, and went forth. When he came to the hollow tree, he sat down and hung his head. The bees came flying out, and the queen bee asked him if he had a stiff neck, since he hung his head so.

"Oh no," answered the tailor, "something quite different weighs me down," and he told her what the king had demanded of him.

The bees began to buzz and hum amongst themselves, and the queen bee said, "Just go home again, but come back tomorrow at this time, and bring a large cloth with you, and then all will be well."

So he turned back again, but the bees flew to the royal palace and straight into it through the open windows, crept into every corner, and inspected everything most carefully. Then they hurried back and modeled the palace in wax so quickly that anyone looking on would have thought it was growing before his eyes. By the evening all was ready, and when the tailor came the next morning, the whole splendid building was there, and not one nail in the wall or tile on the roof was missing. And at the same time it was delicate and white as snow, and smelled sweet as honey. The tailor wrapped it carefully in his cloth and took it to the king, who could not admire it enough, placed it in his largest hall, and in return for it presented the tailor with a large stone house.

The shoemaker, however, did not give up, but went for the third time to the king and said, "Your majesty, the tailor has heard that no water will spring up in the castle's courtyard, but he has boasted that he can create a fountain in the middle of the courtyard as tall as a man and as clear as crystal."

Then the king ordered the tailor to be brought before him and said, "If a stream of water does not rise in my courtyard by tomorrow as you have promised, in that very place the executioner shall make you shorter by a head."

The poor tailor did not take long to think about it, but hurried out to the gate, and because this time it was a matter of life and death to him, tears rolled down his face.

While he was thus sorrowfully going forth, the foal to which he had formerly given its liberty, and which had now become a beautiful chestnut horse, came leaping towards him. "The time has come," it said to the tailor, "when I can repay you for your good deed. I already know what you need, and you shall soon have help. Climb on; my back can carry two of you."

The tailor's courage came back to him. He jumped up in one bound, and the horse went full speed into the city, and immediately to the castle's courtyard. It galloped as quick as lightning three times around it, the third time falling down. At that instant there was a terrific clap of thunder, a fragment of earth in the middle of the courtyard sprang like a cannonball into the air and over the castle. Directly afterward a jet of water rose as high as a man on horseback, and the water was as pure as crystal, and the sunbeams began to dance on it. When the king saw this he arose in amazement, and went and embraced the tailor in the sight of all men.

But good fortune did not last long. The king had daughters aplenty, each one more beautiful than the others, but he had no son. So the malicious shoemaker went to the king a fourth time, and said, "Your majesty, the tailor has not given up his arrogance. He has now boasted that if he liked, he could cause a son to be brought to his majesty through the air."

The king summoned the tailor and said, "If you cause a son to be brought to me within nine days, you shall have my eldest daughter to wife."

"The reward is indeed great," thought the little tailor. "One would willingly do something for it, but the cherries grow too high for me. If I climb for them, the branch will break beneath me, and I shall fall."

He went home, seated himself cross-legged on his worktable, and thought over what was to be done. "It can't be managed," he cried at last. "I will go away after all. I cannot live in peace here."

He tied up his bundle and hurried away to the gate. When he got to the meadow, he perceived his old friend the stork, who was walking backwards and forwards like a philosopher. Sometimes he stood still, looking closely at a frog, than finally swallowing it down. The stork came to him and greeted him.

"I see," he began, "that you have your pack on your back. Why are you leaving town?"

The tailor told him what the king had required of him, and how he could not perform it, and lamented his misfortune.

"Don't let that turn your hair gray," said the stork, "I will help you out of your difficulty. For a long time now, I have been carrying infant children into the city, so this time, I can fetch a little prince out of the well. Go home and take it easy. Nine days from now go to the royal palace, and I will arrive there as well."

The little tailor went home, and at the appointed time was at the castle. Not long afterward the stork flew up and tapped at the window. The tailor opened it, and cousin longlegs came in carefully and walked with solemn steps over the smooth marble pavement. In his beak he had a baby that was as lovely as an angel, and who stretched out his little hands to the queen. The stork laid him in her lap, and she caressed him and kissed him, and was beside herself with delight. Before flying away, the stork took his traveling bag off his back and handed it to the queen. In it there were little paper parcels with colored sweets, and they were divided amongst the little princesses. The eldest, however, received none of them, but instead got the merry tailor for a husband.

"It seems to me," he said, "that I have won the highest prize. My mother was right after all. She always said that whoever trusts in God and has only good luck can never fail."

The shoemaker had to make the shoes in which the little tailor danced at the wedding festival, after which he was commanded to quit the town for ever. The road to the forest led him to the gallows. Worn out with anger, rage, and the heat of the day, he threw himself down. When he had closed his eyes and was about to sleep, the two crows flew down from the heads of the men who were hanging there and pecked his eyes out. In his madness he ran into the forest and must have died there of hunger, for no one has seen him or heard of him again.

Right Always Remains Right

Upper Lusatia (Germany/Poland)

There was once upon a time a huntsman, who had a son, who was also a huntsman. He sent his son into a foreign land, to look about him and learn something additional. Here he went into a tavern, where he found a stranger, with whom he entered into conversation. They told each other all the news, till they also began to talk about right and wrong. The stranger asserted that the greatest wrong could be made right for money. But the huntsman opined that right always remained right, and offered to bet three hundred dollars upon it, if the stranger would do the same. [Footnote: This surely ought, from what transpires later in the story, to have run thus: "To stake his life against three hundred dollars to be staked by the stranger."]

The stranger was content therewith, and they agreed to ask three advocates the question at once. They went to the first advocate, and he said that it was possible to make wrong right for money. They then went to another. He also asserted that wrong could be made right for money. Finally, they went to a third. He also told them that wrong could be made right for money. They then went back again, and as they had been going about the whole day, it wasn't till late in the evening that they got to their tavern. The stranger then asked the huntsman whether he still disbelieved that the greatest wrong could be made right for money, and the huntsman replied that he should soon be obliged to believe it on the assertion of the three advocates, although he was very unwilling to do so.

The stranger was willing to grant him his life if he consented to pay three hundred dollars; but as they were talking about it, in came a man who over-persuaded the stranger that he must needs abide by what they had previously agreed upon. He did not, however, do this, but only, with a red-hot iron, took his eyesight from him, and told him at the same time, that he would then and then only believe that right remained right in the world, when the huntsman regained his sight.

The huntsman entreated the host of the tavern to put him on the right road to the town. He put him on the road to the gallows, and went his way. When the huntsman had gone a little further, there was the end of the road, and he heard it strike eleven. He couldn't go any further, and remained lying where he was in hope that perhaps somebody would come there in the morning.

After a short time he heard a clatter, and soon somebody came up; nor was it long before a second and a third arrived. These were three evil spirits, who quitted their bodies in the night time, and perpetrated all manner of villainy in the world.

They began to talk together, and one said, "Today it is a year and a day since we were here together and related the good deeds that we had done during the year before. A year has again elapsed, and it is therefore time that we should ascertain which of us has done the best action during the past year."

The first spoke, and said, "I have deprived the inhabitants of the city of Ramul of their water supply; they can only be helped if somebody finds out what it is that stops up the spring."

"What's that?" said the second; and the first replied, "I have placed a great toad on the spring out of which the water at other times flowed; if that be removed, the water will spring up again as before."

The second said, "I have caused the beauty of the princess of Sarahawsky to disappear, and herself to fade away to skin and bones; she cannot be helped until the silver nail, which hangs above her bed, be pulled out."

The third said, "Yesterday I caused a person to be deprived of his eyesight with a red hot iron; he can only be helped by washing his eyes with the water that is in the well not far from this gallows."

It then struck twelve in the town, and the three disappeared at once, but the huntsman remembered all that he had heard, and rejoiced that it was in his power to regain his eyesight.

Early on the morrow he heard somebody passing by, and begged him to send him people from the town, to tell where the healing spring was. Then all manner of people came to him, but no one could show him the spring, save at length one old woman. He caused himself to be led thither, and as soon as he had washed his eyes in it, he immediately obtained his eyesight again.

He now asked the way to the city of Ramul, and went thither. As soon as he arrived, he told the town council that he would restore them their water. But plenty of people had been there already, and the city had spent a great deal of money upon them, yet no one had effected aught, so, as it had been all in vain, they intended to have nothing more to do with the matter. Well, he said that he would do it all for nothing, only they must give him some laborers to help him. It was done. When they had dug as far as the place where the pipes, through which the water used to flow, were laid into the spring, he sent all the workmen away and dug a little further himself, and behold! a toad, like a boiler, was sitting on the spring. He removed it, and immediately the water began to flow, and ere long all the fountains were filled with water. The citizens got up a grand banquet in his honor, and paid him a large sum of money for what he had done.

He then went on and came to Sarahawsky. Then in a short time he learnt that the princess was ill, just as he had heard, and that no physician was able to help her; moreover that the king had promised that the person who could cure her malady should obtain her to wife. He therefore equipped himself very handsomely, went to the king's palace, and there declared that he had come from a far country, and would cure the princess. The king replied to him that he had scarce any hope left, but would nevertheless make the experiment with him. The huntsman said that he would fetch his medicine.

He went out and bought all manner of sweet comfits, and then went to the princess. He gave her a first dose, and looked about to see in what part of her bed's head the silver nail was sticking. Early on the second day he came again, gave her again some of his medicine, took the opportunity of laying hold of the nail, and pulled it till it began to move. In the afternoon the princess felt that she was better. The third day he came again, and while the princess was taking the medicine, pulled again at the bed's head, pulled the nail clean out, and put it secretly into his pocket. At noon the princess was so far recovered, that she wanted to have her dinner, and the king invited the huntsman to a grand banquet. They settled when the wedding was to take place, but the huntsman considered that he must first go home.

And when he had got home, he went again to the tavern where he had lost the sight of his eyes, and the stranger was there also. They began to tell each other all the news, and the huntsman related what he had heard under the gallows; how he had discovered the water, and finally how he had regained the sight of his eyes, and said that the stranger must now believe that in the world right always remained right. The stranger marveled exceedingly, and said that he would believe it.

After this the huntsman went on and came to his princess, and they had a grand wedding festival, which lasted a whole week.

The stranger bethought himself that he, too, would go under the gallows; peradventure he might also hear some such things as the huntsman had heard, and might in consequence also obtain a princess to wife. And when the year had elapsed, he also went there. He heard it strike one, and in a short time he heard a clatter; then up came somebody again, and it wasn't long before a second and third arrived.

They began to talk together, and one said, "It cannot but be, that some one overheard us last year, and through that everything that we have done is ruined. Let us, therefore, make a careful search before we again recount to each other what we have done."

They immediately began to search, and found the stranger. They tore him into three pieces and hung them up on the three corners of the gallows.

When the old king died they took the huntsman for king, and if he has not died, he is reigning still at the present day, and firmly believes that in his realm right will always remain right.

The Travels of Truth and Falsehood


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 same direction let's travel together."

"All right," replied Falsehood; "but you know that fellow travelers 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 today 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 tonight 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 everyone 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 someone must have been eavesdropping 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.

The Grateful Beasts


There was once upon a time a man and woman who had three fine-looking sons, but they were so poor that they had hardly enough food for themselves, let alone their children. So the sons determined to set out into the world and to try their luck. Before starting their mother gave them each a loaf of bread and her blessing, and having taken a tender farewell of her and their father the three set forth on their travels.

The youngest of the three brothers, whose name was Ferko, was a beautiful youth, with a splendid figure, blue eyes, fair hair, and a complexion like milk and roses. His two brothers were as jealous of him as they could be, for they thought that with his good looks he would be sure to be more fortunate than they would ever be.

One day all the three were sitting resting under a tree, for the sun was hot and they were tired of walking. Ferko fell fast asleep, but the other two remained awake, and the eldest said to the second brother, "What do you say to doing our brother Ferko some harm? He is so beautiful that everyone takes a fancy to him, which is more than they do to us. If we could only get him out of the way we might succeed better."

"I quite agree with you," answered the second brother, "and my advice is to eat up his loaf of bread, and then to refuse to give him a bit of ours until he has promised to let us put out his eyes or break his legs."

His eldest brother was delighted with this proposal, and the two wicked wretches seized Ferko's loaf and ate it all up, while the poor boy was still asleep.

When he did awake he felt very hungry and turned to eat his bread, but his brothers cried out, "You ate your loaf in your sleep, you glutton, and you may starve as long as you like, but you won't get a scrap of ours."

Ferko was at a loss to understand how he could have eaten in his sleep, but he said nothing, and fasted all that day and the next night. But on the following morning he was so hungry that he burst into tears, and implored his brothers to give him a little bit of their bread. Then the cruel creatures laughed, and repeated what they had said the day before; but when Ferko continued to beg and beseech them, the eldest said at last, "If you will let us put out one of your eyes and break one of your legs, then we will give you a bit of our bread."

At these words poor Ferko wept more bitterly than before, and bore the torments of hunger till the sun was high in the heavens; then he could stand it no longer, and he consented to allow his left eye to be put out and his left leg to be broken. When this was done he stretched out his hand eagerly for the piece of bread, but his brothers gave him such a tiny scrap that the starving youth finished it in a moment and besought them for a second bit.

But the more Ferko wept and told his brothers that he was dying of hunger, the more they laughed and scolded him for his greed. So he endured the pangs of starvation all that day, but when night came his endurance gave way, and he let his right eye be put out and his right leg broken for a second piece of bread.

After his brothers had thus successfully maimed and disfigured him for life, they left him groaning on the ground and continued their journey without him.

Poor Ferko ate up the scrap of bread they had left him and wept bitterly, but no one heard him or came to his help. Night came on, and the poor blind youth had no eyes to close, and could only crawl along the ground, not knowing in the least where he was going. But when the sun was once more high in the heavens, Ferko felt the blazing heat scorch him, and sought for some cool shady place to rest his aching limbs. He climbed to the top of a hill and lay down in the grass, and as he thought under the shadow of a big tree. But it was no tree he leant against, but a gallows on which two ravens were seated. The one was saying to the other as the weary youth lay down, "Is there anything the least wonderful or remarkable about this neighborhood?"

"I should just think there was," replied the other; "many things that don't exist anywhere else in the world. There is a lake down there below us, and anyone who bathes in it, though he were at death's door, becomes sound and well on the spot, and those who wash their eyes with the dew on this hill become as sharp-sighted as the eagle, even if they have been blind from their youth."

"Well," answered the first raven, "my eyes are in no want of this healing bath, for, Heaven be praised, they are as good as ever they were; but my wing has been very feeble and weak ever since it was shot by an arrow many years ago, so let us fly at once to the lake that I may be restored to health and strength again." And so they flew away.

Their words rejoiced Ferko's heart, and he waited impatiently till evening should come and he could rub the precious dew on his sightless eyes.

At last it began to grow dusk, and the sun sank behind the mountains; gradually it became cooler on the hill, and the grass grew wet with dew. Then Ferko buried his face in the ground till his eyes were damp with dewdrops, and in a moment he saw clearer than he had ever done in his life before. The moon was shining brightly, and lighted him to the lake where he could bathe his poor broken legs.

Then Ferko crawled to the edge of the lake and dipped his limbs in the water. No sooner had he done so than his legs felt as sound and strong as they had been before, and Ferko thanked the kind fate that had led him to the hill where he had overheard the ravens' conversation. He filled a bottle with the healing water, and then continued his journey in the best of spirits.

He had not gone far before he met a wolf, who was limping disconsolately along on three legs, and who on perceiving Ferko began to howl dismally.

"My good friend," said the youth, "be of good cheer, for I can soon heal your leg," and with these words he poured some of the precious water over the wolf's paw, and in a minute the animal was springing about sound and well on all fours. The grateful creature thanked his benefactor warmly, and promised Ferko to do him a good turn if he should ever need it.

Ferko continued his way till he came to a ploughed field. Here he noticed a little mouse creeping wearily along on its hind paws, for its front paws had both been broken in a trap.

Ferko felt so sorry for the little beast that he spoke to it in the most friendly manner, and washed its small paws with the healing water. In a moment the mouse was sound and whole, and after thanking the kind physician it scampered away over the ploughed furrows.

Ferko again proceeded on his journey, but he hadn't gone far before a queen bee flew against him, trailing one wing behind her, which had been cruelly torn in two by a big bird. Ferko was no less willing to help her than he had been to help the wolf and the mouse, so he poured some healing drops over the wounded wing. On the spot the queen bee was cured, and turning to Ferko she said, "I am most grateful for your kindness, and shall reward you some day." And with these words she flew away humming, gaily.

Then Ferko wandered on for many a long day, and at length reached a strange kingdom. Here, he thought to himself, he might as well go straight to the palace and offer his services to the king of the country, for he had heard that the king's daughter was as beautiful as the day.

So he went to the royal palace, and as he entered the door the first people he saw were his two brothers who had so shamefully ill-treated him. They had managed to obtain places in the king's service, and when they recognized Ferko with his eyes and legs sound and well they were frightened to death, for they feared he would tell the king of their conduct, and that they would be hung.

No sooner had Ferko entered the palace than all eyes were turned on the handsome youth, and the king's daughter herself was lost in admiration, for she had never seen anyone so handsome in her life before. His brothers noticed this, and envy and jealousy were added to their fear, so much so that they determined once more to destroy him. They went to the king and told him that Ferko was a wicked magician, who had come to the palace with the intention of carrying off the princess.

Then the king had Ferko brought before him, and said, "You are accused of being a magician who wishes to rob me of my daughter, and I condemn you to death; but if you can fulfill three tasks which I shall set you to do your life shall be spared, on condition you leave the country; but if you cannot perform what I demand you shall be hung on the nearest tree."

And turning to the two wicked brothers he said, "Suggest something for him to do; no matter how difficult, he must succeed in it or die."

They did not think long, but replied, "Let him build your Majesty in one day a more beautiful palace than this, and if he fails in the attempt let him be hung."

The king was pleased with this proposal, and commanded Ferko to set to work on the following day. The two brothers were delighted, for they thought they had now got rid of Ferko forever. The poor youth himself was heart-broken, and cursed the hour he had crossed the boundary of the king's domain. As he was wandering disconsolately about the meadows round the palace, wondering how he could escape being put to death, a little bee flew past, and settling on his shoulder whispered in his ear, "What is troubling you, my kind benefactor? Can I be of any help to you? I am the bee whose wing you healed, and would like to show my gratitude in some way."

Ferko recognized the queen bee, and said, "Alas! how could you help me? for I have been set to do a task which no one in the whole world could do, let him be ever such a genius! Tomorrow I must build a palace more beautiful than the king's, and it must be finished before evening."

"Is that all?" answered the bee, "then you may comfort yourself; for before the sun goes down tomorrow night a palace shall be built unlike any that king has dwelt in before. Just stay here till I come again and tell you that it is finished." Having said this she flew merrily away, and Ferko, reassured by her words, lay down on the grass and slept peacefully till the next morning.

Early on the following day the whole town was on its feet, and everyone wondered how and where the stranger would build the wonderful palace. The princess alone was silent and sorrowful, and had cried all night till her pillow was wet, so much did she take the fate of the beautiful youth to heart.

Ferko spent the whole day in the meadows waiting the return of the bee. And when evening was come the queen bee flew by, and perching on his shoulder she said, "The wonderful palace is ready. Be of good cheer, and lead the king to the hill just outside the city walls." And humming gaily she flew away again.

Ferko went at once to the king and told him the palace was finished. The whole court went out to see the wonder, and their astonishment was great at the sight which met their eyes. A splendid palace reared itself on the hill just outside the walls of the city, made of the most exquisite flowers that ever grew in mortal garden. The roof was all of crimson roses, the windows of lilies, the walls of white carnations, the floors of glowing auriculas and violets, the doors of gorgeous tulips and narcissi with sunflowers for knockers, and all round hyacinths and other sweet-smelling flowers bloomed in masses, so that the air was perfumed far and near and enchanted all who were present.

This splendid palace had been built by the grateful queen bee, who had summoned all the other bees in the kingdom to help her.

The king's amazement knew no bounds, and the princess's eyes beamed with delight as she turned them from the wonderful building on the delighted Ferko. But the two brothers had grown quite green with envy, and only declared the more that Ferko was nothing but a wicked magician.

The king, although he had been surprised and astonished at the way his commands had been carried out, was very vexed that the stranger should escape with his life, and turning to the two brothers he said, "He has certainly accomplished the first task, with the aid no doubt of his diabolical magic; but what shall we give him to do now? Let us make it as difficult as possible, and if he fails he shall die."

Then the eldest brother replied, "The corn has all been cut, but it has not yet been put into barns; let the knave collect all the grain in the kingdom into one big heap before tomorrow night, and if as much as a stalk of corn is left let him be put to death."

The princess grew white with terror when she heard these words; but Ferko felt much more cheerful than he had done the first time, and wandered out into the meadows again, wondering how he was to get out of the difficulty. But he could think of no way of escape. The sun sank to rest and night came on, when a little mouse started out of the grass at Ferko's feet, and said to him, "I'm delighted to see you, my kind benefactor; but why are you looking so sad? Can I be of any help to you, and thus repay your great kindness to me?"

Then Ferko recognized the mouse whose front paws he had healed, and replied, "Alas I how can you help me in a matter that is beyond any human power! Before tomorrow night all the grain in the kingdom has to be gathered into one big heap, and if as much as a stalk of corn is wanting I must pay for it with my life."

"Is that all?" answered the mouse; "that needn't distress you much. Just trust in me, and before the sun sets again you shall hear that your task is done." And with these words the little creature scampered away into the fields.

Ferko, who never doubted that the mouse would be as good as its word, lay down comforted on the soft grass and slept soundly till next morning. The day passed slowly, and with the evening came the little mouse and said, "Now there is not a single stalk of corn left in any field; they are all collected in one big heap on the hill out there."

Then Ferko went joyfully to the king and told him that all he demanded had been done. And the whole Court went out to see the wonder, and were no less astonished than they had been the first time. For in a heap higher than the king's palace lay all the grain of the country, and not a single stalk of corn had been left behind in any of the fields. And how had all this been done? The little mouse had summoned every other mouse in the land to its help, and together they had collected all the grain in the kingdom.

The king could not hide his amazement, but at the same time his wrath increased, and he was more ready than ever to believe the two brothers, who kept on repeating that Ferko was nothing more nor less than a wicked magician. Only the beautiful princess rejoiced over Ferko's success, and looked on him with friendly glances, which the youth returned.

The more the cruel king gazed on the wonder before him, the more angry he became, for he could not, in the face of his promise, put the stranger to death. He turned once more to the two brothers and said, "His diabolical magic has helped him again, but now what third task shall we set him to do? No matter how impossible it is, he must do it or die."

The eldest answered quickly, "Let him drive all the wolves of the kingdom on to this hill before tomorrow night. If he does this he may go free; if not he shall be hung as you have said."

At these words the princess burst into tears, and when the king saw this he ordered her to be shut up in a high tower and carefully guarded till the dangerous magician should either have left the kingdom or been hung on the nearest tree.

Ferko wandered out into the fields again, and sat down on the stump of a tree wondering what he should do next. Suddenly a big wolf ran up to him, and standing still said, "I'm very glad to see you again, my kind benefactor. What are you thinking about all alone by yourself? If I can help you in any way only say the word, for I would like to give you a proof of my gratitude."

Ferko at once recognized the wolf whose broken leg he had healed, and told him what he had to do the following day if he wished to escape with his life. "But how in the world," he added, "am I to collect all the wolves of the kingdom on to that hill over there?"

"If that's all you want done," answered the wolf, "you needn't worry yourself. I'll undertake the task, and you'll hear from me again before sunset tomorrow. Keep your spirits up." And with these words he trotted quickly away.

Then the youth rejoiced greatly, for now he felt that his life was safe; but he grew very sad when he thought of the beautiful princess, and that he would never see her again if he left the country. He lay down once more on the grass and soon fell fast asleep.

All the next day he spent wandering about the fields, and toward evening the wolf came running to him in a great hurry and said, "I have collected together all the wolves in the kingdom, and they are waiting for you in the wood. Go quickly to the king, and tell him to go to the hill that he may see the wonder you have done with his own eyes. Then return at once to me and get on my back, and I will help you to drive all the wolves together."

Then Ferko went straight to the palace and told the king that he was ready to perform the third task if he would come to the hill and see it done. Ferko himself returned to the fields, and mounting on the wolf's back he rode to the wood close by.

Quick as lightning the wolf flew round the wood, and in a minute many hundred wolves rose up before him, increasing in number every moment, till they could be counted by thousands. He drove them all before him on to the hill, where the king and his whole Court and Ferko's two brothers were standing. Only the lovely princess was not present, for she was shut up in her tower weeping bitterly.

The wicked brothers stamped and foamed with rage when they saw the failure of their wicked designs. But the king was overcome by a sudden terror when he saw the enormous pack of wolves approaching nearer and nearer, and calling out to Ferko he said, "Enough, enough, we don't want any more."

But the wolf on whose back Ferko sat, said to its rider, "Go on! go on!" and at the same moment many more wolves ran up the hill, howling horribly and showing their white teeth.

The king in his terror called out, "Stop a moment; I will give you half my kingdom if you will drive all the wolves away." But Ferko pretended not to hear, and drove some more thousands before him, so that everyone quaked with horror and fear.

Then the king raised his voice again and called out, "Stop! you shall have my whole kingdom, if you will only drive these wolves back to the places they came from."

But the wolf kept on encouraging Ferko, and said, "Go on! go on!" So he led the wolves on, till at last they fell on the king and on the wicked brothers, and ate them and the whole Court up in a moment.

Then Ferko went straight to the palace and set the princess free, and on the same day he married her and was crowned king of the country. And the wolves all went peacefully back to their own homes, and Ferko and his bride lived for many years in peace and happiness together, and were much beloved by great and small in the land.

Honesty and Dishonesty


One day two peasants were conversing; one of them was boastful and untruthful, the other famed for truthfulness and honesty. The one was saying that it was better to live, telling lies and cheating everybody, and be rich; while the other replied that it was far better to live in poverty, as long as you were honest and truthful. So they began to dispute and quarrel, neither of them wishing to give in. They at last decided to go out into the village high-road, and ask the opinion of the very first person they met.

They walked and walked, and soon saw a peasant plowing in a field close to the road; they went up to him, and said, "Good man, judge our quarrel: how is it better to live in the wide world -- honestly or dishonestly? -- telling the truth or by telling lies?"

"Ah, my brothers, you cannot possibly live honestly in this world all your life! You must tell a lie now and then! Besides, an honest and truthful man must walk about all his life in straw shoes, while a liar and a dishonest man can walk in handsome boots. Take us, for example, our masters unjustly take our days from us, leaving no time for us to work in. [Footnote: The serfs were allowed three days in the week to work for themselves, while the other three days belonged to their masters.] We therefore have to pretend that we are overcome by sickness, and during that time go wood-cutting in the forest; if wood-cutting is forbidden by day, we go at night. We have always to dodge about in this world, my friends. We could not possibly get on otherwise."

"Do you hear that?" said the liar to the honest man. "What I told you was perfectly true!"

But his companion would not be convinced, so they walked on farther, till they came across a merchant driving a wagon.

"Stop for a moment, good sir!" they cried. "We want you to do us a favor, if you will not resent it, and promise not to be angry with us."

"What is it?"

"We want you to decide our quarrel, and tell us whether it is better to live honestly in this world or dishonestly?"

"Ah, my children! it is difficult to live honestly. For my part, I think it is best to be dishonest; people cheat us, so why should we not cheat them?"

"You hear!" cried the liar to his companion. "This good man is of my opinion, like the other."

Still the truthful man would not listen to his friend, so they went on farther and met a noble coming along the road. They stopped him, and said, "Kindly judge our quarrel for us; how is it best to live in this world, honestly or dishonestly?"

"Well, you certainly have found something to quarrel about. You must have been very hard pressed for conversation. Of course, being dishonest is the only way to get on. What honesty and truthfulness is there in this world? You get sent to Siberia if you are honest and tell the truth!"

"You see, my friend, I am right after all!" said the liar." Everyone thinks as I do, that it is better to live dishonestly."

"No," said the truthful man, " it is not better, and I do not intend to live dishonestly, to please any one. If any misfortunes happen to me -- well, let them!"

After this the two men went off in search of work; they journeyed on together for some time. The dishonest man always knowing how to adapt himself to the company he was in, wherever he went he had plenty to eat and drink and nothing to pay; while the honest man had to work for every drop of water and morsel of bread he got -- yet he did not grumble; he was perfectly satisfied.

The dishonest man meanwhile laughed to himself as he watched his companion.

When they had at last passed the village and reached the open country, where there were no inns or houses of any kind, the honest man became very hungry, and asked his companion to give him a morsel of bread, for he had plenty.

"But what will you give me for the bread?"

"Take whatever you like, though I have not much to lose."

"Well, then, let me put out your eye!"

"Very well, put it out!"

The horrid man did so, and gave him a very small piece of bread in return.

They went on and on, until the honest man again became hungry, and asked his friend for another piece of bread.

"Very well, on condition that you let me knock out your other eye!"

"But if you do that, brother, I shall be blind!"

"Well, what matters, you are an honest, truthful man, you ought not to mind!"

"Well, if it must be so, it must! One cannot put up with hunger. If you are not afraid of committing the sin, knock out my eye and be happy."

The wretch did so, and giving his unfortunate companion a still smaller piece of bread than the first, left him in the middle of the deserted country road, and said, "Go, find your way by yourself. I am not going to lead a blind man about!"

After having eaten his piece of bread, the blind man felt his way along.

"Perhaps," thought he, "I may manage to find my way to the next village."

But he soon lost his way, and did not know where to go. He stopped, and throwing himself on his knees, began to pray to the saints to help him.

"Do not forsake me, miserable sinner that I am!" he cried.

He prayed and prayed for a long time, and then heard a voice quite close to him saying, "Turn to your right, good man, and you will come to a forest where you will hear the murmur of a fountain; feel your way to it, bathe your eyes in the clear water, and your eyesight will be restored. You will then see a large oak tree, climb up into it, and stop there through the night."

The blind man turned to the right, and with some difficulty reached the forest. He crawled along a path which soon brought him up to the murmuring fountain, and dipping his hands into the water, he began bathing his eyes. No sooner had he done so when his eyesight returned, and he was able to look about him once more. Not very far from the fountain stood an old oak tree, under which the grass seemed to have been greatly trampled down, and the earth around was dug up here and there and scattered about everywhere. He climbed up into the tree and waited until nightfall.

At about midnight a number of evil spirits came flying down from all sides on to the trampled grass, and began boasting about what they had done and where they had been.

One little devil said, "I went to the beautiful princess, the king's daughter, and tormented her all day. I have gone on tormenting her for over ten years, and no one can cast me out, though many a handsome prince has tried, but all in vain; and, between ourselves, no one will ever succeed unless some fellow obtains that large image of the Virgin Mary, which is in the possession of a certain wealthy merchant; but then no one would ever think of that, and besides, if they did, the merchant would never part with it."

In the morning when all the devils had flown away, our friend the truthful man, who had heard the whole of the conversation, came down from his hiding place in the tree and went in search of the rich merchant.

After inquiring everywhere, he at last found the merchant, and asked him to take him as a workman, saying, "I will work hard for you for a whole year, but I want no wages. All I ask for is to have the famous image of the Virgin Mary which is in your possession."

The merchant consented, and the man worked away night and day, without a moment's rest, for he was very anxious to please his master. When the year was over he came to the merchant and asked for his reward.

"I am more than pleased with your work," the merchant said; "but I do not wish to part with the picture. Would not money do as well? You could have as much of it as you pleased, if that would satisfy you."

"No; money would be of no use to me. Give me what you promised, and what you agreed upon when you took me."

"It is hard for me to part with that picture; in fact, I don't know what I should do without it! Still, if you will work another year for me, I will give it to you."

There was no help for it, and the truthful man was obliged to consent.

When the year was over, the merchant was again loath to part with the picture.

"I would rather reward you with all possible treasures," the merchant said, "than part with the picture; but if you are determined to have it, you must stop with me and work for another year."

It was difficult to argue with such a rich and influential man as the merchant; besides, it would not have been wise, under the circumstances. So our friend stayed and worked for his master another whole year, better and harder, if possible, than before.

At the end of the third year the merchant actually took down the picture from the wall, and gave it to the man, saying, "Take it, my good fellow, for you have worked so hard and so well, without ever grumbling, that I cannot refuse you this time; take it, and may the saints bless you."

The truthful man thanked the merchant, and taking the picture went to the king's palace, where the devil was tormenting the princess.

"I can cure the princess," he said to the servants and people at court. When they heard this they seized him by the hands and brought him before the king, who was sitting on his throne, looking the picture of misery.

The king at once had him taken to the room where the afflicted princess was kept. The man then asked for a large bowl of fresh water, into which he dipped the picture three times, and then bringing the water to the beautiful princess made her bathe her face in it. Hardly had she done so, when out sprang the demon, writhing until he became lifeless. When the enemy had expired, the lovely damsel became quite well and bright again.

The king and queen were delighted, and did not know how they could best reward the good man who had proved such an excellent doctor. They wanted to ennoble him; they wanted to give him a quantity of all kinds of treasures and good things; but no, he would have nothing.

"I don't want anything," he said.

"I shall marry him," the princess whispered to her father, "if he would care to have me!"

"Very well!" replied the king.

As for our friend he did not object in the least, but was delighted. The wedding was then prepared, and the news immediately spread all over the kingdom, so that when the great day arrived there was quite a crowd to see the bride and bridegroom.

From that day forth our friend, the truthful man, lived in the palace, was clad in royal garments, and dined at the king's table.

Time passed, and our friend asked the king and queen to let him go and have a look at his own country.

"I have an old mother living in the village from which I come, and I want to see her again."

"Let us go together," said the princess.

So they drove off in a lovely carriage and pair belonging to the king. They drove and drove, and on their way they met the wretch who had knocked out our friend's eyes.

When the king's son-in-law saw him he stopped the carriage, and called out, "How are you, my brother? Have you forgotten me? Do you not remember the quarrel we had together about honesty and dishonesty? and you knocking my eyes out because I did not agree with you."

The wretch began to tremble and did not know what to do or what to say.

"Do not be afraid, my friend," said the other. " I am not angry with you."

And then he began to explain everything to the dishonest man; how he had gone to the forest, and what he had heard there, and how he had worked three years for the rich merchant, and then received the picture of the Virgin Mary, and had at last married the king's beautiful daughter.

When the dishonest man heard this, he thought he would also go into the forest and climb up the old oak tree.

"Perhaps," said he to himself, "I shall be just as fortunate as my friend!"

So he went to the forest, found the murmuring fountain and the old oak tree, into which he climbed and waited until nightfall.

At midnight the evil spirits again flew down from all sides on to the grass below; but this time they looked up, and seeing the dishonest man hiding in the tree, they seized him and tore him into a number of very small pieces.

Justice or Injustice? Which Is Best?


A king had two sons; of these, one was cunning and unjust, the other, just and gentle.

After the death of the father the elder son said to the younger, "Depart; I will not live with you any longer. Here are three hundred ducats and a horse: this is your portion of our father's property. Take it, for I owe you nothing more than this."

The younger son took the money and the horse which were offered him, and said, "Thank God! See only how much of the kingdom has fallen to me!"

Some time afterwards the two brothers, both of whom were riding, met by chance in a road. The younger brother greeted the elder one, saying, "God help thee, brother!"

And the elder answered, "Why do you speak always about God? Nowadays injustice is better than justice."

The younger brother, however, said to him, "I will wager with you that injustice is not, as you say, better than justice."

So they betted one hundred golden zechins, and it was arranged that they should leave the decision to the first man they met in the road. Riding together a little farther they met with Satan, who had disguised himself as a monk, and they asked him to decide which was better, justice or injustice?

Satan answered, "Injustice!" And the good brother paid the bad one the hundred golden zechins which he had wagered.

Then they betted for another hundred zechins, and again a third time for a third hundred, and each time Satan -- who managed to disguise himself in different ways and meet them -- decided that injustice was better than justice. Thus the younger brother lost all his money, and his horse into the bargain.

Then he said, "Thank God! I have no more money, but I have eyes, and I wager my eyes that justice is better than injustice."

Thereupon the unjust brother, without waiting for any one's decision, drew his knife and cut both his brother's eyes out, saying, "Now you have no eyes, let justice help you."

But the younger brother in his trouble only thanked God and said, "I have lost my eyes for the sake of God's justice, but I pray you, my brother, give me a little water in some vessel to wash my wounds and wet my mouth, and bring me away from this place to the pine tree just about the spring, before you leave me."

The unjust brother did so, gave him water, and left him alone under the pine tree near the spring of water. There the unfortunate remained, sitting on the ground.

Late, however, in the night, some fairies came to the spring to bathe, and one of them came to the spring to bathe, and one of them said to the others, "Do you know, my sisters, that the king's daughter has got the leprosy? The king has summoned all the physicians, but no one can possibly help her. But if the king only knew, he would take a little of this water in which we are bathing, and wash his daughter therewith; and then in a day and a night she would recover completely from her leprosy. Just as any one deaf, or dumb, or blind, could be cured by this same water."

Then, as the cocks began to crow, the fairies hurried away. As soon as they were gone, the unfortunate man felt his way slowly with his outstretched hands till he came to the spring of water. There he bathed his eyes, and in an instant recovered his sight.

After that he filled the vessel with water, and hurried away to the king, whose daughter was leprous, and said to the servants, "I am come to cure the king's daughter, if he will only let me try. I guarantee that she will become healthy in a day and night."

When the king heard that, he ordered him to be led into the room where the girl was, and made her immediately bathe in the water. After a day and a night the girl came out pure and healthy. Then the king was greatly pleased, and gave the young prince the half of his kingdom, and also his daughter for a wife, so that he became the king's son-in-law, and the first man after him in the kingdom.

The tidings of this great event spread all over the world, and so came to the ears of the unjust brother. He guessed directly that his blind brother must have met with good fortune under the pine tree, so he went himself to try to find it also. He carried with him a vessel full of water, and then carved out his own eyes with his knife.

When it was dark the fairies came again, and, as they bathed, spoke about the recovery of the king's daughter. "It cannot be otherwise," they said; "someone must have been listening to our last conversation here. Perhaps someone is listening now. Let us see."

So they searched all around, and when they came to the pine tree they found there the unjust brother who had come to seek after good fortune, and who declared always that injustice was better than justice. They immediately caught him, and tore him into four parts. And so, at the last, his wickedness did not help him, and he found to his cost that justice is better than injustice.

The Two Brothers

Slavic Once upon a time there were two brothers whose father had left them but a small fortune. The eldest grew very rich, but at the same time cruel and wicked, whereas there was nowhere a more honest or kinder man than the younger. But he remained poor, and had many children, so that at times they could scarcely get bread to eat. At last, one day there was not even this in the house, so he went to his rich brother and asked him for a loaf of bread. Waste of time! His rich brother only called him beggar and vagabond, and slammed the door in his face.

The poor fellow, after this brutal reception, did not know which way to turn. Hungry, scantily clad, shivering with cold, his legs could scarcely carry him along. He had not the heart to go home, with nothing for the children, so he went towards the mountain forest. But all he found there were some wild pears that had fallen to the ground. He had to content himself with eating these, though they set his teeth on edge. But what was he to do to warm himself, for the east wind with its chill blast pierced him through and through.

"Where shall I go?" he said; "what will become of us in the cottage? There is neither food nor fire, and my brother has driven me from his door."

It was just then he remembered having heard that the top of the mountain in front of him was made of crystal, and had a fire forever burning upon it.

"I will try and find it," he said, "and then I may be able to warm myself a little."

So he went on climbing higher and higher till he reached the top, when he was startled to see twelve strange beings sitting round a huge fire. He stopped for a moment, but then said to himself, "What have I to lose? Why should I fear? God is with me. Courage!"

So he advanced towards the fire, and bowing respectfully, said, "Good people, take pity on my distress. I am very poor, no one cares for me, I have not even a fire in my cottage; will you let me warm myself at yours?"

They all looked kindly at him, and one of them said, "My son, come sit down with us and warm yourself."

So he sat down, and felt warm directly he was near them. But he dared not speak while they were silent. What astonished him most was that they changed seats one after another, and in such a way that each one passed round the fire and came back to his own place.

When he drew near the fire an old man with long white beard and bald head arose from the flames and spoke to him thus, "Man, waste not thy life here; return to thy cottage, work, and live honestly. Take as many embers as thou wilt, we have more than we need."

And having said this he disappeared. Then the twelve filled a large sack with embers, and, putting it on the poor man's shoulders, advised him to hasten home.

Humbly thanking them, he set off. As he went he wondered why the embers did not feel hot, and why they should weigh no more than a sack of paper. He was thankful that he should be able to have a fire, but imagine his astonishment when on arriving home he found the sack to contain as many gold pieces as there had been embers; he almost went out of his mind with joy at the possession of so much money. With all his heart he thanked those who had been so ready to help him in his need.

He was now rich, and rejoiced to be able to provide for his family. Being curious to find out how many gold pieces there were, and not knowing how to count, he sent his wife to his rich brother for the loan of a quart measure.

This time the brother was in a better temper, so he lent what was asked of him, but said mockingly, "What can such beggars as you have to measure?"

The wife replied, "Our neighbor owes us some wheat; we want to be sure he returns us the right quantity."

The rich brother was puzzled, and suspecting something he, unknown to his sister-in-law, put some grease inside the measure. The trick succeeded, for on getting it back he found a piece of gold sticking to it. Filled with astonishment, he could only suppose his brother had joined a band of robbers; so he hurried to his brother's cottage, and threatened to bring him before the Justice of the Peace if he did not confess where the gold came from. The poor man was troubled, and, dreading to offend his brother, told the story of his journey to the Crystal Mountain. Now the elder brother had plenty of money for himself, yet he was envious of the brother's good fortune, and became greatly displeased when he found that his brother won every one's esteem by the good use he made of his wealth. At last he determined to visit the Crystal Mountain himself.

"I may meet with as good luck as my brother," said he to himself. Upon reaching the Crystal Mountain he found the twelve seated round the fire as before, and thus addressed them, "I beg of you, good people, to let me warm myself, for it is bitterly cold, and I am poor and homeless."

But one of them replied, "My son, the hour of thy birth was favorable; thou art rich, but a miser; thou art wicked, for thou hast dared to lie to us. Well dost thou deserve thy punishment."

Amazed and terrified he stood silent, not daring to speak. Meanwhile the twelve changed places one after another, each at last returning to his own seat. Then from the midst of the flames arose the white-bearded old man and spoke thus sternly to the rich man, "Woe unto the wilful! Thy brother is virtuous, therefore have I blessed him. As for thee, thou art wicked, and so shall not escape our vengeance."

At these words the twelve arose. The first seized the unfortunate man, struck him, and passed him on to the second; the second also struck him and passed him on to the third; and so did they all in their turn, until he was given up to the old man, who disappeared with him into the fire.

Days, weeks, months went by, but the rich man never returned, and none knew what had become of him. I think, between you and me, the younger brother had his suspicions but he very wisely kept them to himself.

The Two Brothers


Once upon a time there were two brothers. Each of them possessed ten loaves of bread; and they said, "Let us go and seek our fortune." So they arose and went forth.

When they had gone a little way they were hungry. One brother said to the other, "Come, let us eat thy bread first, then we can eat mine." And he agreed, and they took of his loaves and did eat, and they afterwards went on their way.

And they travelled for some time in this manner. At last, when these ten loaves were finished, the brother who had first spoken said, "Now, my brother, thou canst go thy way and I shall go mine. Thou hast no loaves left, and I will not let thee eat my bread." So saying, he left him to continue his journey alone.

He went on and on, and came to a mill in a thick forest. He saw the miller and said, "For the love of God, let me stay here tonight."

The miller answered, "Brother, it is a very terrible thing to be here at night; as thou seest, even I go elsewhere. Presently wild beasts will assemble in the wood, and probably come here."

"Have no fear for me; I shall stay here. The beasts cannot kill me," answered the boy.

The miller tried to persuade him not to endanger his life, but when he found his arguments were of no avail he rose and went home. The boy crept inside the hopper of the mill.

There appeared, from no one knows where, a big bear; he was followed by a wolf, then a jackal; and they all made a great noise in the mill. They leaped and bounded just as if they were having a dance. He was terrified, and, trembling from fear, he lay down, quaking all over, in the hopper.

At last the bear said, "Come, let each of us tell something he has seen or heard."

"We shall tell our tales, but you must begin," cried his companions.

The bear said, "Well, on a hill that I know dwells a mouse. This mouse has a great heap of money, which it spreads out when the sun shines. If anyone knew of this mouse's hole, and went there on a sunny day, when the money is spread out, and struck the mouse with a twig, and killed it, he would become possessed of great wealth."

"That is not wonderful!" said the wolf. "I know a certain town where there is no water, and every mouthful has to be carried a great distance, and an enormous price is paid for it! The inhabitants do not know that in the center of their town, under a certain stone, is beautiful, pure water. Now, if any one knew of this, and would roll away that stone, he would obtain great wealth."

"That is nothing," said the jackal. "I know of a king who has one only daughter, and she has been an invalid for three years. Quite a simple remedy would cure her: if she were bathed in a bath of beech leaves she would be healed. You have no idea what a fortune any one would get if he only knew this."

When they had spoken thus, day began to dawn. The bear, the wolf, and the jackal went away into the wood. The boy came out of the hopper, gave thanks to God, and went to the mouse's hole, of which the bear had spoken.

He arrived, and saw that the story was true. There was the mouse with the money spread out. He stole up noiselessly, and, taking twigs in his hand, he struck the mouse until he had killed it, and then gathered up the money. Then he went to the waterless town, rolled away the stone, and behold! streams of water flowed forth. He received a reward for this, and set out for the kingdom of which the jackal had spoken.

He arrived, and enquired of the king, "What wilt thou give me if I cure thy daughter?"

The king replied, "If thou canst do this I will give thee my daughter to wife."

The youth prepared the remedy, made the princess bathe in it, and she was cured. The king rejoiced greatly, gave him the maiden in marriage, and appointed him heir to the kingdom.

This story reached the ears of the youth's brother. He went on and on, and it came to pass that he found his brother. He asked him, "How and by what cunning has this happened?"

The fortunate youth told him all in detail.

"I also shall go and stay at that mill a night or two."

His brother used many entreaties to dissuade him, and when he would not listen, said, "Well, go if thou wilt, but I warn thee again it is very dangerous."

However, he would not be persuaded, and went away. He crept into the hopper, and was there all night.

From some place or other arrived the former guests -- the bear, the wolf, and the jackal.

The bear said, "That day when I told you my story the mouse was killed, and the money all taken away."

The wolf said, "And the stone was rolled away in the waterless town of which I spoke."

"And the king's daughter was cured," added the jackal.

"Then perhaps someone was listening when we talked here," said the bear. "Perhaps someone is here now," shrieked his companions.

"Then let us go and look; certainly no one shall listen again," said the three; and they looked in all the corners. They sought and sought everywhere. At last the bear looked into the hopper, and saw the trembling boy. He dragged him out and tore him to pieces.

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Revised January 23, 2014.