Where she was, where she wasn’t, beyond seventeen countries, there was once an ugly old witch. This witch once went out into the field, and as she was sheltering there, she found a pearl in the grass. He picked up the pearl and took it home, but by the time he got home, the little pearl had grown to the size of an egg.
The witch was amazed at this, even with her devilish mind she could not imagine how this could be. He put the pearl in my apple tree and waited to see if it would grow even bigger. After all, it actually grew bigger, because within an hour or two, a beautiful little girl suddenly popped out of the pearl.
The witch was happy, named the little girl her Pearl, kept her and raised her as if she were her own. But he didn’t do it out of true love, he thought of something else with his wretched soul. He thought that when Gyöngyike grows up to be a beautiful big girl, he will shed his blood and rejuvenate himself with his blood. Time passed, Gyönyiki became a beautiful girl, the witch decided to give her one more year, then kill her.
It once happened that Gyöngyike went to the stream for water, and just then a young hunter went there. Gyöngyike liked this very much, but even Gyöngyike liked the hunting boy. They walked home nicely, and there the young man asked the witch for her Pearl’s hand in marriage.
“Hey, my son,” said the witch, “this girl is worth a lot!” Bring me ten mazas of gold, then you can take it with the news of God.
The poor young hunter was despondent, his entire clan never had a pound of gold, let alone ten masas. He went away in a hurry, he went, took refuge through the field, into the forest, he didn’t even know where he was going. As soon as he was wandering in the forest, a golden beetle flew onto the back of his hand. The boy looks at the beetle and sighs bitterly:
- Hey, my God, my God, even this ugly bug has a cute body!
The bug speaks:
- Don’t worry, you poor young hunter, I know what’s wrong with you. You need ten mazas of gold, without which they won’t give you Gems. I’ll bring it to you.
Then the young man’s heart broke from the great taunt, but he still laughed so that the forest resounded with his laughter.
“Okay, okay,” said the beetle, “just laugh, you’ll soon see that my speech is no joke.” Come and sit on the bank of that stream and wait for me.
The beetle flew away, and the boy sat down on the bank of the stream. Well, all of a sudden, hear a miracle, so many golden-backed beetles came towards the stream that the earth turned yellow and shone, that sea many beetles pulled, dragged ten large golden rods: each rod was a glass.
They carried it nicely to the bank of the stream and rolled it into the stream so that no one else would see it while the lad was looking for carts. The boy’s eyes and mouth remained open, he couldn’t even thank the beetles for the gold; but they didn’t even wait for the greeting, they flew away with a loud hum and buzz.
In the meantime, dusk fell, and the young man lay down on the bank of the stream. He thought that he wouldn’t find a cart at night anyway, and then in the morning he would go into the village and bring a hundred from there. But as soon as he fell asleep, the witch went over there, saw the ten golden rods in the stream, grabbed herself and dropped the juice of seven types of grass into the stream, which caused the ten golden rods to rust all over, and they all stuck to the belly of the fish.
The lad wakes up in the morning, looks for the gold bars, doesn’t see them anywhere, looks at the fish, and their bellies are all colored gold. Hey, the lad gets angry, catches a fish, shouts at it with terrible anger:
- How dare you steal my gold?!
The fish speaks:
- Don’t be offended, you young hunter, we didn’t steal your gold, that old witch smeared it on our stomachs. But don’t worry, we will be of great help to you. I am the son of the king of fishes, and if you want something, come here and tell me.
There was nothing for the young hunter to do, he released the fish, he couldn’t take back the lot of gold from them anyway: he went back to the witch in great disgust and said:
- Well, old lady, I did what you wanted, I had ten mazas of gold, but someone smeared it on the belly of the fish.
The old witch pretended to pity the young hunter and said:
- Don’t worry, son. If you couldn’t get the gold, try something else. Five hundred years before that, I dropped a pearl into the stream, so that if you find it and bring it here, I will give it to you.
The boy goes straight into the forest, and from there to the bank of the stream, calls the fish king, tells him what the witch wants.
- After all, if he really dropped it in the stream – said the fish king boy – then don’t worry, because I’ll find it right away.
He spoke to the fish at once, and in less than an hour they brought the pearl, even though it had sunk a fathom from the bottom of the water. The young hunter was happy, but how happy he was! He was running through the forest, but somewhere, somewhere, a girl stepped in front of him and addressed him:
- Are you listening, you young hunter, string that pearl, put it in your bosom, and then be careful that the dream doesn’t surprise you somewhere along the way, because it will be stolen
The girl didn’t say anything, and disappeared from the boy’s sight. The young hunter accepted the girl’s advice, strung the pearl on a string and stuck it in his bosom. But the old witch was sitting on a tree in the form of an owl, and she could clearly see what the boy was doing.
He suddenly created a beautiful rose tree in the middle of the road, where the young man had to go, and the smell of that rose tree made the young man so drowsy that he could not go any further. He lay down under a tree and fell asleep.
By the time he woke up, the pearl had not been heard from: the witch had taken it from her bosom. Hey, my lord creator, the poor young hunter was terribly upset, now he really didn’t know what to do. He goes, hides in the forest, and then the girl who gave him the good advice steps in front of him again.
- You’re hunkering down, aren’t you, lad hunter?
- Oh, I’m sorry, they stole the pearl from my bosom.
- I knew that, but as it happened, it happened, now don’t worry about the pearl, but run as fast as your legs can take it to Gyönyiki’s, because you should know that that old witch is not his mother, and the other witches are gathering at her right now witches to take his blood and rejuvenate themselves with his blood.
Hey, the poor hunting lad ran through ditches and bushes, and sure enough, when he reached the yard, the witches’ Pearl was being held together, and the knife was being sharpened to draw her blood. But the young hunter also drew his sword, he didn’t look at who he was cutting or where he was cutting: he cut down everyone who didn’t run away.
Then he gently took Gyönyiki’s hand, led her into the forest, to his little house, they swore, and they are still alive today, as if they had not died.
(Elek Benedek: Hungarian fairy-tale world, volume 3)