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

Count's Daughter, The

THERE was once, I don't know where, an old tumble-down oven, there was nothing left of its sides; there was also once a town in which a countess lived, with an immense fortune. This countess had an exceedingly pretty daughter, who was her sole heiress. The fame of her beauty and her riches being very great the marrying magnates swarmed about her. Among others the three sons of a count used to come to the house, whose castle stood outside the town in a pretty wood. These young men appeared to be richer than one would have supposed from their property, but no one knew where and how the money came to them. The three young men were invited almost every day to the house, but the countess and her daughter never visited them in return, although the young lady was continually asked by them. For a long time the girl did not accept their invitation, till one day she was preparing for a walk into the wood, in which the young counts' castle was supposed to be: her mother was surprised to hear that she intended to go into the wood, but as the young lady didn't say exactly where she was going her mother raised no objection. The girl went, and the prettiness of the wood, and also her curiosity enticed her to go in further and further till at last she discovered the turrets of a splendid castle; being so near to it her curiosity grew stronger, and at last she walked into the courtyard. Everything seemed to show that the castle was inhabited, but still she did not see a living soul; the girl went on till she came to the main entrance, the stairs were of white marble, and the girl, quite dazzled at the splendour she beheld, went up, counting the steps; "one hundred," said the girl, in a half whisper, when she reached the first flight, and tarried on the landing. Here she looked round when her attention fell on a bird in a cage. "Girl, beware!" said the bird. But the girl, dazzled by the glitter, and drawn on by her curiosity, again began to mount the stairs, counting them, without heeding the bird's words. "One hundred," again said the girl, as she tarried on the next landing, but still no one was to be seen, but thinking that she might find some one she opened the first door, which revealed a splendour quite beyond all she had ever imagined, a sight such as she had never seen before, but still no one appeared. She went into another room and there amongst other furniture she also found three bedsteads, "this is the three young men's bedroom," she thought, and went on. The next room into which she stepped was full of weapons of every possible description; the girl stared and went on, and then she came to a large hall which was full of all sorts of garments, clerical, military, civilian, and also women's dresses. She went on still further and in the next room she found a female figure, made up of razors, which, with extended arms as it seemed, was placed above a deep hole. The girl was horror-struck at the sight and her fear drove her back; trembling she went back through the rooms again, but when she came into the bedroom she heard male voices. Her courage fled and she could go no further, but hearing some footsteps approach she crept under one of the beds. The men entered, whom she recognised as the three sons of the count, bringing with them a beautiful girl, whom the trembling girl recognised by her voice as a dear friend; they stripped her of all, and as they could not take off a diamond ring from her little finger, one of the men chopped it off and the finger rolled under the bed where the girl lay concealed. One of the men began to look for the ring when another said "You will find it some other time," and so he left off looking for it. Having quite undressed the girl they took her to the other room, when after a short lapse of time she heard some faint screaming, and it appeared to her as if the female figure of razors had snapped together, and the mangled remains of the unfortunate victim were heard to drop down into the deep hole. The three brothers came back and one of them began to look for the ring: the cold sweat broke out on the poor girl hiding under the bed. "Never mind, it is ours new and you can find it in the morning," said one of the men, and bade the others go to bed; and so it happened: the search for the ring was put off till next day. They went to bed and the girl began to breathe more freely in her hiding-place; she began to grope about in silence and found the ring and secreted it in her dress, and hearing that the three brothers were fast asleep, she stole out noiselessly leaving the door half ajar. The next day the three brothers again visited the countess when the daughter told them that she had a dream as if she had been to their castle. She told them how she went up a flight of marble stairs till she counted 100, and up the next flight when she again counted 100. The brothers were charmed and very much surprised at the dream and assured her that it was exactly like their home. Then she told them how she went from one room to another and what she saw, but when she came in her dream as far as the razor-maid they began to feel uneasy and grew suspicious, and when she told them the scene with the girl, and in proof of her tale produced the finger with the ring, the brothers were terrified and exclaiming, "We are betrayed!" took flight; but everything was arranged, and the servants, who were ordered to watch, caught them. After an investigation all their numberless horrible deeds were brought to light and they were beheaded.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Count's Daughter, 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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