Roumanian Fairy Tales and Legends
Elizabeth B. Mawr
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Roumanian Fairy Tales And Legends is a collection of Romania's most fascinating tales, painstakingly researched and deftly translated by E.B. Mawr. Given Romania's long and diverse cultural history, it is no surprise that the country has such a rich tapestry of folk tales, fairy tales, and legends. It is fortunate that so many of these stories survived the country's turbulent history and were passed down throughout the ages to countless Romanian children.
This book has 78 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1881.
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Excerpt from 'Roumanian Fairy Tales and Legends'
ONCE on a time, in the good old times, there lived a cow-herd, who had neither father nor mother. He was called Jonica, that is to say Johnnie, but people had given him the name of Gura Casca (open mouth) because when he led his cows to pasture, he bellowed at every thing which he met on the way. Otherwise he was really a very pretty boy, his face was fair, and his eyes as blue as a morsel of the sky, with hair curling, and as yellow as the rays of the Sun. The young girls of the village teased him sadly. "Hé! Hé! Jonica, where are you going with your open mouth"? "What does that matter to you"? he would reply tranquilly, and pass on his way. Though only a cow-herd, he was sufficiently proud of his good looks, and he knew quite well the difference between beauty and ugliness, so the young peasant girls with their faces and throats tanned by the sun, their large hands red and cracked, their feet shod in "opinci" (a rough sort of sandal) or other common leather, were not at all to his mind.
He had heard tell, that, down there, a long way off, in the towns, the young girls were quite different; that they had throats as white as alabaster, pink cheeks, delicate and soft hands, their small feet covered by satin slippers, that in short they were clad in robes of silk and gold, and were called Princesses. So that, while his comrades only sought to please some rustic villager, he dreamed, neither more nor less, that he should marry a Princess.
One noon-day in the middle of August, when the sun was so scorching that even the flies did not know where to put themselves, Jonica sat down under the shadow of an oak to eat his mammaliga (thick Indian meal porridge) and a morsel of sheep's milk cheese; seeing that his flock was lying peaceably about, he stretched himself at fall length, and was soon asleep.
He had a charming dream! a Zina, a fairy, appeared to him, beautiful as the day, fresh as a rose, and clad in a robe sparkling with diamonds. She said to him--
"There is a country where precious stones grow; go to the Court of the Emperor who reigns there, and you will marry a Princess."
In the evening, when he took his cows back to the stable, Jonica recounted his dream to several of his friends, who freely laughed at him. But the words of the Zina had such an influence on him, that he laughed himself at the ridicule of which he was the object.
The next day, at the same hour, and the same place, our cow-herd came to take his siesta. He had the same dream; and the same fairy, more radiant than ever, appeared again to him, and repeated: "There is a country where precious stones grow; go to the Court of the Emperor who reigns there and you will marry a Princess."
Jonica again repeated his dream, and it was again turned into ridicule.
"What does it matter to me," said Jonica, "if they laugh! I know one thing, that if that fairy appears again to me, I'll follow her advice."
On the following day he had the same dream, he got up joyfully, and in the evening they heard him in the village singing: "I quit the cows and calves, for I am going to marry the daughter of an Emperor."
His master, who overheard him, became thoughtful, but Jonica said to him, "You may do, and think as you like, but it is decided! I am going away!" He began to make his preparations, and in the morning he left.
The people of the village held their sides with laughing, when they saw him with his little bundle on a stick, slung across his shoulder, descend the hill, traverse the plain, and then slowly disappear, in the dim distance.
In those days, people did say that there was really a country where precious stones grew, as grass, plants, and flowers grow in other places. It was said that the Emperor of these parts had twelve daughters--twelve Princesses, the one prettier than the other, but all as proud as they were beautiful. It was said also, that they only went to sleep at sunrise, and got up at mid-day.
They lived altogether in one large room of the Palace, and slept in beds of gold, encrusted with flowers of diamonds and emeralds.
When the Princesses retired in the evening, the nine doors of their apartment were locked outside with nine padlocks. It was impossible for them to get out, and yet each night something very extraordinary took place.
The satin slippers of the twelve Princesses, were literally worn out each morning. One might have thought that the daughters of the Emperor had danced all night. When they were questioned, they declared that they knew nothing, and could understand nothing about it. No one could explain this strange fact, for, notwithstanding the greatest watchfulness, not the least noise had ever been heard in the chamber of the Princesses, after they had retired to rest.