Flute Palko (folk tale)

Where it was, where it wasn’t, beyond the Óperencías sea, even beyond the glass mountains, where the little short-tailed pig roams, there once was a poor widow, she had a son: his name was Palkó. They lived in great poverty: when they had something to eat, when they didn’t. They didn’t have anything else, just a house with crumbling walls and a garden.

Palkó once says to his mother:

  • Mother, I’m not hungry at home anymore, I’m going to serve, I won’t come home until I’ve served at least one calf. It will grow in our garden, and if God helps us, we will have at least a small farm.

He goes to Palkó service, stays there for a year, serves a calf. Then he goes to work again and again serves a calf. In the third year and in the fourth year, he served a calf each. There were already four calves, but the garden was small, it produced little hay, and there was nothing to keep the calves.

He must, he thinks to himself, drive the calves to the market and sell them. He sets off with the four calves, but as soon as he is on the road, a gray-haired old man meets him and says to him:

  • You lad, I have a beautiful solo flute, I’ll give it to you if you give me a calf for it.
  • Whatever you think, my brother, I just can’t give a calf for a flute.
  • Just give it, don’t be afraid, it’s not just any flute like the others. You will see that you will still benefit from this.

God bless him, Palkó thinks to himself, and gives him a calf for the flute. He goes on with it. But he couldn’t even go as far as a rifle shot, when the gray old man came round in front of him again and said to him:

  • You lad, give me another calf, and look, I’ll give you this mouse for it.

Palkó laughs a lot:

  • How would I give a calf for a mouse, what does my brother think? There are enough mice at home, my mother is always annoyed by them.
  • Good, good, but this is not a mouse like the others.

The old man talks until Palkó gives him a calf for the mouse. Now he went towards the city with two calves, but whether he fell from the sky or hid from the ground, the gray old man stood in front of him again and said to him:

  • You lad, I have a running bug, this is the real thing. I will give it to you if you give me a calf for it.
  • I won’t give it – said Palkó – I’m not crazy! I was foolish enough to have already given two calves for a flute and a mouse.
  • I’m telling you to give me a calf for this ground beetle, because you’re sure to get a lot of use out of it.

Whatever Palkó thought, he also gave the third calf. He went with a calf, he drove it towards the city, he wanted to turn back anyway to see the old man, because he strongly regretted the fair.

Well, he didn’t have to turn back. Because as soon as he was hiding in great sorrow, he thought to himself, the gray-haired old man came to him and said to him:

  • Do you hear me, son? Give me this calf too, and I’ll give you a bag for it.
  • I won’t give it – said Palkó – although I wouldn’t have given the rest either! I don’t know how to get in my mother’s eyes.
  • Just give me this calf! Don’t screw anything up. This is not just any bag. Find out that there is a dream tied into this bag. You just have to tell him how many hours you want to sleep and how many hours you sleep, and if you want to put someone else to sleep, you can also put them to sleep, just tell the bag.

Palkó thinks: “If that’s the case, why should I go to the fair with a calf. Let the old man have the fourth calf as well.”

When he gave the fourth calf to the old man, he said:

  • Well, son, go home now. You will not stay at home, your mother will beat you until someone frees you from her hands. But if you managed to get free, run as far as you can see and shout back to your mother: – God bless you, mother, I won’t come back until I become a king! After all, it was very busy at home when Palkó got home. His mother asked:
  • Did you sell the calves, son?
  • Go, mother, go.
  • So where is the money?
  • I didn’t give it for money, mother, but for these things, ni.

And he pulled out the flute, the mouse, the beetle and the dream bag from his bag. Come on, dear God, the widow has poisoned herself! He got a husáng, hit Palkó wherever he found it, and if the neighbor woman doesn’t run and get him out of his hands, I’m sure he’ll beat him to death.

Palkó ran as far as his eyes could see, but shouted back to his mother:

  • God bless you, mother! I won’t come back until I become a king!

He went and sought refuge against the seventeen countries of Palkó, beyond the Óperencías Sea, beyond the glass mountain where the little pig with a short tail roams, and reached a large city. The king lived in that city. This king had a beautiful daughter, but this daughter had a great illness.

His heart was weighed down by such great sorrow that no one could make him laugh, and no dream came to his eyes either night or day. Just then, the king announced throughout the country that he would give his daughter and his entire kingdom to the one who would make his daughter laugh and give her such a medicine that when her normal time came, she would be able to sleep.

All kinds of princes, counts, barons, and so on came

ges tótok, selected gypsy boys, all tried their luck. But they could neither make the princess laugh nor put her to sleep.

Palkó also goes to the king’s court and says that he too is trying his luck. Just let the princess sit out on the palace porch and she will show you something in the courtyard. The royal princess sits out on the porch, the king and his wife also sit out, all the courtiers have gathered, let them see what this poor lad can do.

Then Palkó took the mouse and the ground beetle out of his bag and placed them neatly on the ground. Then he began to play his beautiful solo flute, and, what a miracle, the mouse caught the ground beetle on the waist, and they danced the Hungarian dance, making the yard dusty.

Oh my God, the princess laughed so hard that the palace rang with her laughter. The king laughed, so did his wife, and so did the people of the court.

  • Well, my son – said the king – you made my daughter laugh, now just put her to sleep.

Palkó said:

  • Just take the royal princess to her room, my majesty, put her in her bed, and you will see that she will soon fall asleep.

When the royal princess was laid to rest, Palkó put his head in the bag and said to the bag:

  • Let the princess sleep until eight o’clock tomorrow morning!

At that moment, the queen’s eyes opened, and she slept sweetly until eight o’clock the next morning. Meanwhile, they dressed Palkó in an expensive and beautiful crimson red taunt. They called a priest, and as soon as the princess awoke, they immediately agreed and celebrated the wedding. The gypsies pulled seven days and seven nights, the boys and girls walked.

After the wedding, Palkó went after his mother and brought her to the palace in a six-horse carriage. He didn’t care about Sóra-fa anymore. They are still alive today, if not dead.

(Elek Benedek: Magyar fairy-tale world, volume 2)

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