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

Student Who Was Forcibly Made King, The

A STUDENT started on a journey, and as he went over a field he found some peas which were cracked. He thought that they might be of use to him as he was a poor lad, and his father had advised him to pick up anything he saw, if it was worth no more than a flea; so he gathered up the peas and put them in his pocket. As he travelled he was overtaken by night just when he arrived at the royal borough; so he reported himself to the king, and asked for some money for travelling expenses, and a night's lodging. Now the student was a comely lad, spoke grammatically, and had good manners. The queen noticed this, and as she had a daughter ready for marriage, she came to the conclusion that he was a prince in disguise, who had come in search of a wife. She told this to the king, and he thought it very probable. Both agreed that they would try to find out whether he really was a prince, and asked him to stay with them for two days. The first night they did not give him a very splendid bed, because they thought that if he were satisfied, he was but a student, if not, then he must be a prince. They made his bed in the adjoining house, and the king placed one of his confidential servants outside of the window, that he might spy out all that the student did. They showed the bed to the student, and he began to undress when they left. As he undressed all the peas dropped out of his pocket, and rolled under the bed; he at once began to look for them and pick them up, one by one, and did not finish till dawn. The spy outside could not make out what he was doing, but he saw that he did not go to sleep till dawn, and then only for a short time, having spent the night arranging his bed; so he reported to the king that his guest had not slept, but had fidgeted about, appearing not to be used to such a bed. The student got up, and during breakfast the king asked him how he had slept, to which he replied, "A little restlessly, but it was through my own fault." From this they concluded that he already repented of not having shown them his true position, and thus having not got a proper bed. They believed, therefore, that he was a prince, and treated him accordingly. Next night they made his bed in the same place, but in right royal style. As the student had not slept the night before, the moment he put his head down he began to sleep like a pumpkin, and never even moved till dawn. He had no trouble with his peas this time, for he had tied them up in the corner of his handkerchief as he picked them up from under the bed. The spy reported to the king next morning that the traveller slept soundly all night. They now firmly believed that the student simply dressed up as such, but in reality was a prince. They tried to persuade him that he was a prince, and addressed him as such. The king's daughter ran after the student to get into his favour, and it didn't take much to make him fall in love with her, and so the two got married. They had lived a whole year together, when they were sent off to travel in order that the student-king might show his wife his realm. The student was very frightened that he might not get out of his trouble so well, and grew more and more alarmed, till at last he accepted his fate. "Let come whatever is to come," thought he, "I will go with them, and then, if nothing else can be done, I can escape, and go back to college," for he had carried his student's gown with him everywhere. They started off and travelled till they came to a large forest. The student slipped aside into a deep ditch, where he undressed, in order to put on his student's clothes and to escape. Now there was a dragon with seven heads lazily lying there, who accosted him thus: "Who are you? What are you looking for here? What do you want?" The student told him his whole history, and also that he was just going to run away. "There is no need to run away," said the dragon, "that would be a pity, continue your journey; when you get out of this wood you will see a copper fortress, which swivels on a goose's leg. Go into it, and live there in peace with your wife, with your dog and cat, till the fortress begins to move and turn round. When this happens, be off, because if I come home and catch you there, there will be an end of you." The student went back to his travelling companions and continued his way until, emerging from the wood, he saw the fortress. They all went in and settled down as in their own, and all went on very well for two years, and he already began to believe that he really was a king, when suddenly the fortress began to move, and swivel round very quickly. The student was downcast, and went up on the battlement of the fortress, wandering about in great sorrow; he there found an old woman, who asked him, "What's the matter with your Majesty?" "H'm! the matter is, old woman," replied the student, "that I am not a king, and still I am compelled to be one," and then he told her his whole history up to that time. "There's nothing in that, my son," said the old woman, "be thankful that you have not tried to keep your secret from me. I am the queen of magic, and the most formidable enemy of the dragon with seven heads; therefore this is my advice: get a loaf made at once, and let this loaf be placed in the oven seven times with other loaves, this particular loaf each time to be put in the oven the first and to be taken out last. Have this loaf placed outside the fortress gate to-morrow, without fail. When the dragon with the seven heads is coming, it will be such a charm against him that he will never trouble you again, and the fortress will be left to you with all that belongs to it." The student had the loaf prepared as he was told, and when the clock struck one after midnight the bread was already placed outside the fortress gate. As the sun rose, the dragon with seven heads went straight towards the fortress gate, where the loaf addressed him thus, "Stop, I'm guard here, and without my permission you may not enter; if you wish to come in, you must first suffer what I have suffered."

               "Well," said the dragon, "I've made up my mind to enter, so let me know what ordeals you have gone through."

               The loaf told him, that when it was a seed it was buried in a field that had previously been dug up: then rotted, sprouted, and grew; it had suffered from cold, heat, rain, and snow, until it ripened; it was then cut down, tied into sheaves, threshed out, ground, kneaded into dough, and then seven times running they put it in a fiery oven, each time before its mates: "If you can stand all this," concluded the loaf, "then I'll let you in, but on no other condition." The dragon, knowing that he could not stand all this, got so angry that he burst in his rage and perished. The student from that day became lord of the fortress, and after the death of his wife's parents became king of two lands; and if he has not died yet, he reigns still.

               If I knew that I should fare as well as that student I would become a student this very blessed day!


Kriza vii.

                Page 77. Heroes of folk-tales often attain wealth, &c., by picking up some apparently useless thing on the road. See Halliwell, Nursery Rhymes, "The Three Questions;" "The Princess of Canterbury," pp. 153-155.

               Oriental writers, Indian and Persian, as well as Arab, lay great stress upon the extreme delicacy of the skin of the fair ones celebrated in their works, constantly attributing to their heroines, bodies so sensitive as to brook with difficulty the contact of the finest shift, and we may fairly assume that the skin of an Eastern beauty, under the influence of constant seclusion and the unremitting use of cosmetics and the bath, would in time attain a pitch of delicacy and sensitiveness such as would in some measure justify the seemingly extravagant statements of their poetical admirers, of which the following anecdote (quoted by Ibn Khellikan from the historian Et Teberi) is a fair specimen. Ardeshir Ibn Babek (Artaxerxes I.), the first Sassanian King of Persia (A.D. 226-242), having long unsuccessfully beseiged El Hedr, a strong city of Mesopotamia, belonging to the petty king Es Satiroun, at last obtained possession of it by the treachery of the owner's daughter, Nezireh, and married the latter, this having been the price stipulated by her for the betrayal of the place to him. It happened afterwards that one night as she was unable to sleep and turned from side to side in the bed, Ardeshir asked her what prevented her from sleeping. She replied, 'I never yet slept in a rougher bed than this; I feel something irk me.' He ordered the bed to be changed, but she was still unable to sleep. Next morning she complained of her side, and on examination a myrtle leaf was found adhering to a fold of the skin, from which it had drawn blood. Astonished at this circumstance, Ardeshir asked if it was this that had kept her awake, and she replied in the affirmative. 'How, then,' asked he, 'did your father bring you up?' She answered, 'He spread me a bed of satin, and clad me in silk, and fed me with marrow and cream and the honey of virgin bees, and gave me pure wine to drink.'--Payne's Arabian Nights, vol. ix., note to p. 148. Cf. "the Tale of the Dragon," in Geldart, Folk-Lore of Modern Greece, p. 142.

               The same idea is the theme of Andersen's "The Princess and the Pea."--Cf. Finnish verse about the lovely Katherine, p. 314.

               Page 78. The castle turns round upon the approach of the dragon in the story of "Vasilisa," in Naaké, p. 51; see also Ralston, p. 66.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Student Who Was Forcibly Made King, 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: unclassified

Back to Top