Folk-Tales of the Magyars, The UNDER CONSTRUCTION | Annotated Tale

Travels of Truth and Falsehood, The

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-travellers must live in harmony, so let's divide our provisions and finish yours first." Truth handed over her provisions, upon which the two lived till every morsel was consumed; then it was Falsehood's turn to provide. "Let me gouge out one of your eyes," said Falsehood to Truth, "and then I'll let you have some food." Poor Truth couldn't help herself; for she was very hungry and didn't know what to do. So she had one of her eyes gouged out, and she got some food. Next time she wanted food she had the other eye gouged out, and then both her arms cut off. After all this Falsehood told her to go away. Truth implored not to be left thus helpless in the wilds, and asked that she might be taken to the gate of the next town and left there to get her living by begging. Falsehood led her, not to where she wanted to go, but near a pair of gallows and left her there. Truth was very much surprised that she heard no one pass, and thought that all the folks in that town must be dead. As she was thus reasoning with herself and trembling with fear she fell asleep. When she awoke she heard some people talking above her head, and soon discovered that they were devils. The eldest of them said to the rest, "Tell me what you have heard and what you have been doing." One said, "I have to-day killed a learned physician, who has discovered a medicine with which he cured all crippled, maimed, or blind." "Well, you're a smart fellow!" said the old devil; "what may the medicine be?" "It consists simply of this," replied the other, "that to-night is Friday night, and there will be a new moon: the cripples have to roll about and the blind to wash their eyes in the dew that has fallen during the night; the cripples will be healed of their infirmities and the blind will see." "That is very good," said the old devil. "And now what have you done, and what do you know?" he asked the others.

               "I," said another, "have just finished a little job of mine; I have cut off the water-supply and will thus kill the whole of the population of the country-town not far from here." "What is your secret?" asked the old devil. "It is this," replied he; "I have placed a stone on the spring which is situated at the eastern corner of the town at a depth of three fathoms. By this means the spring will be blocked up, and not one drop of water will flow; as for me I can go everywhere without fear, because no one will ever find out my secret, and all will happen just as I planned it."

               The poor crippled Truth listened attentively to all these things. Several other devils spoke; but poor Truth either did not understand them or did not listen to what they said, as it did not concern her.

               Having finished all, the devils disappeared as the cock crew announcing the break of day.

               Truth thought she would try the remedies she had heard, and at night rolled about on the dewy ground, when to her great relief her arms grew again. Wishing to be completely cured, she groped about and plucked every weed she could find, and rubbed the dew into the cavities of her eyes. As day broke she saw light once more. She then gave hearty thanks to the God of Truth that he had not left her, his faithful follower, to perish. Being hungry she set off in search of food. So she hurried off to the nearest town, not only for food, but also because she remembered what she had heard the devils say about cutting off the water supply. She hurried on, so as not to be longer than she could help in giving them her aid in their distress. She soon got there, and found every one in mourning. Off she went straight to the king, and told him all she knew; he was delighted when he was told that the thirst of the people might be quenched. She also told the king how she had been maimed and blinded, and the king believed all she said. They commenced at once with great energy to dig up the stone that blocked the spring. The work was soon done; the stone reached, lifted out, and the spring flowed once more. The king was full of joy and so was the whole town, and there were great festivities and a general holiday was held. The king would not allow Truth to leave, but gave her all she needed, and treated her as his most confidential friend, placing her in a position of great wealth and happiness. In the meantime Falsehood's provisions came to an end, and she was obliged to beg for food. As only very few houses gave her anything she was almost starving when she met her old travelling companion again. She cried to Truth for a piece of bread. "Yes, you can have it," said Truth, "but you must have an eye gouged out;" and Falsehood was in such a fix that she had either to submit or starve. Then the other eye was taken out, and after that her arms were cut off, in exchange for dry crusts of bread. Nor could she help it, for no one else would give her anything.

               Having lost her eyes and her arms she asked Truth to lead her under the same gallows as she had been led to. At night the devils came; and, as the eldest began questioning the others as to what they had been doing and what they knew, one of them proposed that search be made, just to see whether there were any listeners to their conversation, as some one must have been eaves-dropping the other night, else it would never have been found out how the springs of the town were plugged up. To this they all agreed, and search was made; and soon they found Falsehood, whom they instantly tore to pieces, coiled up her bowels into knots, burnt her, and dispersed her ashes to the winds. But even her dust was so malignant that it was carried all over the world; and that is the reason that wherever men exist there Falsehood must be.


Kriza, ii.

                In another version three crows discuss the healing powers of the dew. Cf. also another version communicated by Kriza in the Szépirodalmi Figyelö. The tale is also found in Hungary Proper. Cf. Gaal, Märchen der Magyaren, "Die dankbaren Thiere."

               Cf. Cruelty of sister or others: in "Envious Sisters," p. 50, "The Three Brothers," p. 152, and "The Girl without Hands," p. 182.

               Steere's Swahili Tales, "Blessing or Property," p. 397.

               Also Wagner's Asgard and the Gods, p. 113, where Holda's Quick-born (fountain of life) restores the crippled and aged. Spanish peasants believe in a mysterious herb, pito-real, invisible to men, and known to swallows only, which restores eyesight. See Folk-Lore Record, p. 295. 1883.

               Page 37. Obtaining useful knowledge in secret. Cf. Sagas from Far East, xiv. "The Avaricious Brother," p. 151, in which the poor brother obtained precious gifts, which he saw the Dakinis (female genii) use; the rich brother when he heard of it went to see what he could get, and was seized by the enraged spirits, and after due consultation punished, by having his nose pulled out five ells long, and nine knots tied in it.

               In Old Deccan Days, "The Learned Owl," p. 74, tells how the birds in the tree tell secrets. In "The Wanderings of Vicram Maharajah," p. 121, it is two cobras, and in "Panch-Phul Ranee," p. 139, two jackals.

               See also Stories from Mentone, "The Charcoal Burners," p. 41. Folk-Lore Record, vol. iii.; and Stokes' Indian Tales, "The Fair Prince," p. 198.

               Cf. Finnish "Totuus ja walhe" (Truth and falsehood), and "Riuta ja Rauta;" under section 10 of S. ja T. ii. pp. 134-146, entitled "Paha on pettäjän perintö" (The Deceiver's part is a bad one).

               Magyarische Sagen, by Mailáth, i. "Die Brüder," p. 169.

               Gerle, Volksmärchen der Böhmen. Prag. 1819. "St. Walburgisnachttraum oder die drei Gesellen."

               Volkslieder und Sagen der Wenden, von Haupt und Schmaler, Grimma 1843. "Recht bleibt immer Recht."

               Old Deccan Days, "Truth's Triumph," p. 50.

               Serbian Folk-Lore: "Justice or Injustice--which is best?" p. 83. Where the heroes are king's sons, and the just one is helped by fairies who come to the spring to bathe.

               In "The two Travellers," Grimm, vol. ii. p. 81, the heroes are a sour-tempered shoemaker and a merry tailor. Two sinners hanging on the gallows talk, and thus the sightless tailor learns many secrets. So soon as he recovers his sight, he sets off, and arrives at the very town where the shoemaker has gone, who persuades the king to set the tailor terrible tasks to perform, which he does, by the aid of grateful animals, whose lives he spared. The cobbler has his eyes picked out by the crows that sit on the heads of the two hanged men. See notes, p. 408, and a fragmentary story of "The Men on the Gallows," p. 466, in the same volume.

               In Naake's Slavonic Tales, "Right and Wrong," from the Servian, the Vilas, beings peculiar to Servia, female genii, come to the spring where the blind brother is, and talk.

               Also Dasent's Tales from the Norse, "True and Untrue," p. 1.

               Undvalgte Eventyr og Fortœllinger ved C. Molbech, Kjöbenhavn, 1843. "Godtro og utro, et Skaansk Folkesagn."

               Sagen, Märchen und Lieder der Herzogthümer Schleswig--Holstein and Lauenburg vom R. Müllenhoff. Kiel, 1845. "Vom Bauernsohn der König ward."

               Portuguese Stories. "Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain who build it." Folk-Lore Record, 1881, p. 157. The driver hears the devils talking on the top of the cave, where he shelters, and by means of which he obtains riches and honour. In this case, the gouging out of the eyes is omitted, and the whole story modified, and, if one may so say, Christianised.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Travels of Truth and Falsehood, The
Tale Author/Editor: Jones, W. Henry & Kropf, Lewis L.
Book Title: Folk-Tales of the Magyars, The UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Book Author/Editor: Jones, W. Henry & Kropf, Lewis L.
Publisher: Elliot Stock
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1889
Country of Origin: Hungary
Classification: ATU 613: The Two Travelers

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