And once again I’m here to give some something unusual. I’ve been chatting with a friend and I mentioned to him that I was about 9 when I first wrote down a story. It wasn’t my first story ever, but it was the first written down. I was so proud when I finished it, that I went up to my mom and told her I’m going to be a writer. The original story was about the poor man and the fairy. Later when I learned about a competition I decided to use that and write it further. This story is not really good, as you can expect from a 9 year old, but has some interesting ideas. I might use this later to write a novella of it. I also has to mention, that this is not the whole story. When it was printed out along with the other kids’ tales, it was shortened. I only learned about this later. This story was much longer. And while you read, it’ll be quite obvious where they decided to cut it. I also made notes to better understand some things which comes from my culture, our folktales. I hope you’ll find this funny little thing enjoyable. I had much more fun translating it than I expected. It’s far from perfect, but I’m still proud of this one.
Once upon a time lived a poor man. He had a kind, cute wife. They were as poor as the church mouse. Furthermore, God didn’t bless them with a child, no matter how much the poor woman prayed. One morning the man went to the forest to pick acorns. It was late autumn, his hands were really cold, and the small acorns filled his sack slowly.
Suddenly he said out loud ‘How unfortunate, that these acorns didn’t grow as big as a pumpkin, filling my sack sooner. Since this acorn dropped on my head, let’s what’s inside!’ As he opened the acorn, a good fairy1 jumped out of it.
She said, ‘You good man, you can have three wishes for freeing me!’
‘I don’t know’, said the man, surprised. ‘What could I ask for? My first wish is, since I’m poor, you know, I’d like if I had a lot of money so me and my wife would never have to be cold and hungry. My second wish is for God to bless us with a child. My wife had been praying for it for years, but our wish wasn’t fulfilled yet. My third wish is that would be no longer poor men in the world, but if there would some remain I would give them money.’
‘All right poor man, I’ll grant you one more wish for that last one.’
‘My wish would be that the small animals living in this forest would always have enough food, and they could never search for it much.’
‘All right, I’ll grant you two more wishes!’
‘I want the hunting to be banned. Those predators who hunt the small, innocent animals and people be obliterated.’
‘All right you poor, good hearted man. I’ll grant your every wish’, said the fairy. ‘When you get home, a big surprise is waiting for you. Your wife will give you a beautiful little girl. Hear, poor man, you are not poor anymore, you have as much money as the sea. There are only a few poor people left in your village. The small animals have a restricted area where they can find a lot of tasty food and no one can disturb them there. They are safe against the predators as well as humans. Hunting is banned.’
The poor man was really happy and started toward home. A squirrel appeared above his head on a branch and said ‘You kind, good-hearted man, the Council of animals sent me to thank you for your kindness. Thank you for saving us from the predators, and giving us a place where we can always find food.’
‘You don’t need to thank me, it’s just natural. Anyone who loves animals would have done the same’ replied the poor man.
He slowly walked home, his heart full of happiness. The fairy was right. At home his wife welcomed him with a little girl and wealth. ‘See what miracle happened? God heard us and gave us a wonderful little girl and wealth.’ The man just nodded silently and told his wife what happened to him in the forest. After that they lived in happiness and raised the little girl. He had become more and more smart and beautiful, and they named her Krisztina.2 She was a diligent, good-natured girl, who helped a lot around the house.
On a nice sunny day she was washing clothes by the river, when a prince came around on his horse. His name was János.3 Prince János really liked the girl and fell in love with her at first sight. Krisztina just looked at the prince, she really liked him, and they looked at each other for a long time without words.
‘What’s your name, beautiful girl?’
‘My name is Krisztina. And yours?’
‘My name is János. I really like you. Would you like to be my wife?’
‘Dear János, I really like you too, I would like to be your wife. Only spade, hack and the bell shall separate us.4‘
‘Let’s go to your father to ask his blessing’ said the prince.
They went to Krisztina’s parents. They were really surprised and speechless. They soon grew to like Prince János and gave their blessing to the marriage.
The young couple had a celebration for seven countries5.
The years went by in happiness, when the queen dreamed 6 about the fairy appearing before her and telling her she is going to have a baby soon. Krisztina happily told János ‘Dear husband, do you know what I dreamed? A fairy appeared before me and told me the news that we are going to have a child soon.’ Prince János hugged and kissed his wife, his happiness endless.
One day they woke up to the sound of a child crying. A beautiful, gold haired boy was crying in the nursery. They sent a message to Krisztina’s parents at once. The old couple was amazed by the sight that welcomed them. Krisztina told her parents about her dream, and János asked them to be the godparents. They accepted their son in law’s offer. The christening was a huge celebration, even the fairies were invited. The boy got the Attila 7 Goldhair name.
He grew up fast and the day come when he had to go look for a wife. As he walked, he came upon a bear fighting with a lion. The bear said ‘You, lady, if you help me, I won’t be ungrateful!’
‘If you help me, I won’t stay in your debt long!’, said the lion.
He decided to help to the bear. He unsheathed his sword and with one swing killed the lion. The bear said, ‘Thank you for helping me! I know where are you going. The girl, who will be your wife is far away from here. If you want to free her, the get this string. You can tame any animal with this if you throw it at them. If you really want to take this challenge, I won’t hold you back. Can you see the Glass Mountain8? Behind that is the Treasure Sea. In the middle of that sea there is an island. On that island lives the girl who will be your wife. She lives as a wolf. You can free her if you throw the string at her and sit on her back. Then you have to make her run seventy-seven rounds. I will tell you who is her. Her name is Erzsébet 9, and she is the daughter of the fairy king. She was the one who appeared before the dad of your mother. She was the one who fulfilled his wishes to be blessed by God with a child and have a lot of money. This is how your mother came to be. When a fairy appeared before your mother, it was also her. She let your mother know about your coming.’ ‘Thank you for your help and the string. I won’t forget to be grateful for the information you gave me’, said Attila.
He continued his travel, until he arrived to the Glass Mountain. He saw a turul bird 10 flying toward him. He took out the string and threw at the bird. It flew upward with Attila. It took him off at the feet of the Glass Mountain.
He continued on walk. On the third day he arrived to the Treasure Sea. He had become really sad. How is he going to get through the sea? Suddenly he saw a wolf walking before him.11 He grabbed the string at once and threw at it, and made it run seventy-seven round as well.
The wolf collapsed, and in its place stood a beautiful girl. She said ‘Thank you for freeing me! I know who you are and why did you come. You have to know, it was me, who granted six wish for your grandfather. That’s how your mother was born. It was me, who appeared in the dreams of your mother and told her about your birth. And I am, who will be your wife, if you want to.’
They started toward the dad of Erzsébet, the king of the fairies.
Erzsébet said ‘Father, let me be the wife of the man who freed me!’
‘All right, I don’t mind, but let me see that lad!’ answered the king. ‘Here he is, father. He had come from a royal family’ told him Erzsébet. The king’s mouth hung open in his surprise. He really liked the lad so he said ‘Let it be. Only the spade, hack and the big bell shall separate you.’
Ezsébet and Attila celebrated with a wedding for seven countries. When the wedding was over, they decided to visit Attila’s parents. They reached the Treasure Sea. The fish appeared. Attila grabbed the string, threw at the fish and it took them to the other side of the sea. At the feet of the Glass Mountain the turul bird waited for them. They sit on its back and flew towards Attila’s home. His parents were really happy to see their son again. Their happiness was bigger when they learned who the girl was with Attila.
They celebrated with a wedding for seven countries. Seventy seven gypsy bands12 played music for them. They still live if they haven’t died yet. Who doesn’t believe, climb up the believe tree13! Here is the end, run with it.14
- In our stories a fairy (tündér) is a beautiful woman, sometimes seducing men, sometimes helping them.
- I decided to keep the Hungarian names. Krisztina would be Kristina or Kirsten or something similar in English
- We translate John as János. It’s spelled like Jaah-nosh
- This might be strange for you. There is a saying like that in Hungarian. I’m sure you have something similar in your culture, but I wanted to keep this as authentic as I could. I guess it has the meaning of we’ll be together until we die.
- Okay, this is a stupid translation. We say this when there is a huge celebration, to emphasize how big it is. Of course it’s an exageration. 7 and 3 are numbers that appear often in our folk tales.
- Dreams have been part of our legends, dream scaping is as in many culture is important. There is a legend about Emese’s dream. Emese was the mother of Álmos, who brought our ancestors to the Carpathian Basin. In her dream, a turul bird appeared and foresee the birth of a son who will lead the nation to a new home. I’m not sure if my 9 year old self was aware of this story, though I was a history buff even then. I also loved to read folk tales, so I probably was aware unconsciously.
- A popular Hungarian male name. Also the name of a Hun warlord who conquered the best part of Europe during the roman times. Some thing Huns were our ancestors, and while probably we share some ancestry with the Huns (we have a legend about Hunor and Magor, two brothers, who were the faters of Huns and Hungarians. As you can see our english name suggests we are the descendants of huns, we call ourselves magyar. I guess we had a similar culture and fighting style and it was easy to confuse the two tribes). Anyway, spell Attila like Ah-til-lah
- Glass Mountain or Üveghegy appears a lot, usually at the beginning of folk tales like „once upon a time, over the Glass Mountain’. I don’t know where did this come from. I guess it’s a magical, far away place.
- The Hungarian equivalent of Elisabeth. Spell it like Er-zsae-bet
- A turul bird is a falcon or eagle like bird, appears often in Hungarian folk tales and probably was an important animal in samanism (the saman is called táltos in our language)
- So this is the part where the story was cut, which you can tell. Later there is mention of a fish, so I’m pretty sure there was one here too. Also, I’m quite sure I made it muuuch harder for Attila to find his bride-to-be. I don’t remember the details, but I think there were many more islands, and wolfs to run to death. I loved to complicate things. I still do. And I’m still furious people decided it was fine to cut out a big chunk of a story, just because it was too long. Fuck them.
- We Hungarians, although we deny it, we love a good gypsy music – emphasis on good – as a matter of fact there is a world famous band which has a 100 members. We Hungarians like to dance, and there is no wedding – especially in the countryside – without some gypsy music. Our traditional dance ‘csárdás’ was made popular by gypsy musician. Check this video out where the National Traditional Dancegroup dances one of the versions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Vk3F871GDg
- Okay, I’ve no idea where this came from :D I think I was just being funny. What can I say? I’m hilarious. Usually our tales end with „If you don’t believe it, do a research!” or something like that.
- Now this is a more traditional ending. We are not fond of simple „The End”. We are saying this instead. Makes no sense. I know.