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

Devil and the Three Slovák Lads, The

THERE was once, I don't know where, in Slavonia, a man who had three sons. "Well, my sons," said he one day to them, "go to see the land; to see the world. There is a country where even the yellow-hammer bathes in wine, and where even the fence of the yards is made of strings of sausages; but if you wish to get on there you must first learn the language of the country." The three lads were quite delighted with the description of the wonderful country, and were ready to start off at once. The father accompanied them as far as the top of a high mountain; it took them three days to get to the top, and when they reached the summit they were on the border of the happy land: here the father slung an empty bag on every one of the lads' shoulders, and, pointing out to the eldest one the direction, exclaimed, "Ah! can you see Hungary?" and with this he took leave of them quite as satisfied as if he had then handed them the key of happiness. The three lads went on and walked into Hungary; and their first desire was to learn Hungarian, in accord with their father's direction. The moment they stepped over the border they met a man, who inquired where they were going? They informed him, "to learn Hungarian." "Don't go any further, my lads," said the man, "the school year consists of three days with me, at the end of which you will have acquired the requisite knowledge." The three lads stayed; and at the end of the three days one of them had happily learned by heart the words "we three"; the other, "for a cheese"; and the third, "that's right." The three Slovák lads were delighted, and wouldn't learn any more; and so they continued on their journey. They walked till they came to a forest, where they found a murdered man by the road-side; they looked at him, and to their astonishment they recognised the murdered man as their late master whom they had just left; and while they were sighing, not knowing what to do, the rural policeman arrived on the spot. He began to question them about the murdered man, saying, "Who killed him?" The first, not knowing anything else, answered, "We three." "Why?" asked the policeman. "For a cheese," replied the second. "If this is so," growled the policeman, "I shall have to put you in irons." Whereupon the third said, "That's right." The lads were escorted by the policeman, who also intended to get assistance to carry away the dead man; but the moment they left, the dead man jumped up, shook himself, and regained his ordinary appearance, and became a sooty devil, with long ears and tail, who stood laughing at the lads, being highly amused at their stupidity, which enabled him to deceive them so easily.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Devil and the Three Slovák Lads, 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

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