Sixty Folk-Tales from Exclusively Slavonic Sources | Annotated Tale

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Two Brothers, The

THERE was a man who had a wife but no sons, a female hound but no puppies, and a mare but no foal. 'What in the world shall I do?' said he to himself. 'Come, let me go away from home to seek my fortune in the world, as I haven't any at home.' As he thought, so he did, and went out by himself into the white world as a bee from flower to flower. One day, when it was about dinner-time, he came to a spring, took down his knapsack, took out his provisions for the journey, and began to eat his dinner. Just then a traveller appeared in front of him, and sat down beside the spring to rest; he invited him to sit down by him that they might eat together. When they had inquired after each other's health and shaken hands, then the second comer asked the first on what business he was travelling about the world. He said to him: 'I have no luck at home, therefore I am going from home; my wife has no children, my hound has no puppies, and my mare has never had a foal; I am going about the white world as a bee from flower to flower.' When they had had a good dinner, and got up to travel further, then the one who had arrived last thanked the first for his dinner, and offered him an apple, saying: 'Here is this apple for you'--if I am not mistaken it was a Frederic pippin--'and return home at once; peel the apple and give the peel to your hound and mare; cut the apple in two, give half to your wife to eat, and eat the other half yourself. What has hitherto been unproductive will henceforth be productive. And as for the two pips which you will find in the apple, plant them on the top of your house.' The man thanked him for the apple; they rose up and parted, the one going onwards and the other back to his house. He peeled the apple and did everything as the other had instructed him. As time went on his wife became the mother of two sons, his hound of two puppies, and his mare of two foals, and, moreover, out of the house grew two apple-trees. While the two brothers were growing up, the young horses grew up, and the hounds became fit for hunting. After a short time the father and mother died, and the two sons, being now left alone like a tree cut down on a hill, agreed to go out into the world to seek their fortune. Even so they did: each brother took a horse and a hound, they cut down the two apple-trees, and made themselves a spear apiece, and went out into the wide world. I can't tell you for certain how many days they travelled together; this I do know, that at the first parting of the road they separated. Here they saw it written up: 'If you go by the upper road you will not see the world for five years; if you go by the lower road, you will not see the world for three years.' Here they parted, one going by the upper and the other by the lower road. The one that went by the lower road, after three years of travelling through another world, came to a lake, beside which there was written on a post: 'If you go in, you will repent it; if you don't go in, you will repent it.' 'If it is so,' thought he to himself, 'let me take whatever God gives,' and swam across the lake. And lo! a wonder! he, his horse, and his hound were all gilded with gold. After this he speedily arrived at a very large and spacious city. He went up to the emperor's palace and inquired for an inn where he might pass the night. They told him, up there, yon large tower, that was an inn. In front of this tower he dismounted; servants came out and welcomed him, and conducted him into the presence of their master in the courtyard. But it was not an innkeeper, but the king of the province himself. The king welcomed and entertained him handsomely. The next day he began to prepare to set forth on his journey. The evening before, the king's only daughter, when she saw him go in front of her apartments, had observed him well, and fixed her eyes upon him. This she did because such a golden traveller had never before arrived, and consequently she was unable to close her eyes the whole night. Her heart thumped, as it were; and it was fortunate that the summer night was brief, for if it had been a winter one, she could hardly have waited for the dawn. It all seemed to her and whirled in her brain as if the king was calling her to receive a ring and an apple; the poor thing would fly to the door, but it was shut and there was nobody at hand. Although the night was a short one, it seemed to her that three had passed one after another. When she observed in the morning that the traveller was getting ready to go, she flew to her father, implored him not to let that traveller quit his court, but to detain him and to give her to him in marriage. The king was good-natured, and could easily be won over by entreaties; what his daughter begged for, she also obtained. The traveller was detained and offered marriage with the king's daughter. The traveller did not hesitate long, kissed the king's hand, presented a ring to the maiden, and she a handkerchief to him, and thus they were betrothed. Methinks they did not wait for publication of banns. Erelong they were wedded; the wedding feast and festival were very prolonged, but came to an end in due course. One morning after all this the bridegroom was looking in somewhat melancholy fashion down on the country through a window in the tower. His young wife asked him what ailed him? He told her that he was longing for a hunt, and she told him to take three servants and go while the dew was still on the grass. Her husband would not take a single servant, but mounting his gilded horse and calling his gilded hound, went down into the country to hunt. The hound soon found scent, and put up a stag with gilded horns. The stag began to run straight for a tower, the hound after him, and the hunter after the hound, and he overtook the stag in the gate of the courtyard, and was going to cut off its head. He had drawn his sword, when a damsel cried through the window: 'Don't kill my stag, but come upstairs: let us play at draughts for a wager. If you win, take the stag; if I win, you shall give me the hound.' He was as ready for this as an old woman for a scolding match, went up into the tower, and on to the balcony, staked the hound against the stag, and they began to play. The hunter was on the point of beating her, when some damsels began to sing: 'A king, a king, I've gained a king!' He looked round, she altered the position of the draughtsmen, beat him and took the hound. Again they began to play a second time, she staking the hound and he his horse. She cheated him the second time also. The third time they began to play, she wagered the horse, and he himself. When the game was nearly over, and he was already on the point of beating her, the damsels began to sing this time too, just as they had done the first and second times. He looked round, she cheated and beat him, took a cord, bound him, and put him in a dungeon.

                The brother, who went by the upper road, came to the lake, forded it, and came out all golden--himself, his horse, and his hound. He went for a night's lodging to the king's tower; the servants came out and welcomed him. His father-in-law asked him whether he was tired, and whether he had had any success in hunting; but the king's daughter paid special attention to him, frequently kissing and embracing him. He couldn't wonder enough how it was that everybody recognised him; finally, he felt satisfied that it was his brother, who was very like him, that had been there and got married. The king's daughter could not wonder enough, and it was very distressing to her, that her newly-married husband was so soon tired of her, for the more affectionate she was to him, the more did he repulse her. When the morrow came, he got ready to go out to look for his brother. The king, his daughter, and all the courtiers, begged him to take a rest. 'Why,' said they to him, 'you only returned yesterday from hunting, and do you want to go again so soon?' All was in vain; he refused to take the thirty servants whom they offered him, but went down into the country by himself. When he was in the midst of the country, his hound put up a stag, and he after them on his horse, and drove it up to a tower; he raised his sword to kill the stag, but a damsel cried through a window: 'Don't meddle with my stag, but come upstairs that we may have a game at draughts, then let the one that wins take off the stakes, either you my hound, or I yours.' When he went into the basement, in it was a hound and a horse--the hounds and horses recognised each other--and he felt sure that his brother had fallen into prison there. They began the game at draughts, and when the damsel saw that he was going to beat her, some damsels began to sing behind them: 'A king! a king! I've gained a king!' He took no notice, but kept his eye on the draughtsmen; then the damsel, like a she-devil, began to make eyes and wink at the young man. He gave her a flip with his coat behind the ears: 'Play now!' and thus beat her. The second game they both staked a horse. She couldn't cheat him; he took both the hound and the horse from her. The third and last time they played, he staking himself and she herself; and after giving her a slap in her face for her winking and making of eyes, he won the third game. He took possession of her, brought his brother out of the dungeon, and they went to the town.

                Now the brother, who had been in prison, began to think within himself: 'He was yesterday with my wife, and who knows whether she does not prefer him to me?' He drew his sword to kill him, but the draught-player defended him. He darted before his brother into the courtyard, and as he stepped on to the passage from the tower, his wife threw her arms round his neck and began to scold him affectionately for having driven her from him overnight, and conversed so coldly with her. Then he repented of having so foolishly suspected his brother, who had, moreover, released him from prison, and of having wanted to kill him; but his brother was a considerate person and forgave him. They kissed each other and were reconciled. He retained his wife and her kingdom with her, and his brother took the draught-player and her kingdom with her. And thus they attained to greater fortune than they could ever have even hoped for.


(Bratya). J. F. Jukih, in the ‘Bosnian Friend,’ i. 171.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Two Brothers, The
Tale Author/Editor: Wratislaw, Albert Henry
Book Title: Sixty Folk-Tales from Exclusively Slavonic Sources
Book Author/Editor: Wratislaw, Albert Henry
Publisher: Elliot Stock
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1889
Country of Origin: Bosnia and Herzegovina
Classification: ATU 303: The Twins or Blood-Brothers

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