The Miracle Hour (Hungarian folk tale)

Once upon a time there was a king. This king had only one son, but the good Lord knows why, he got so angry at this once that he chased him out of the house: up and down the road!

In vain did the queen take her side, in vain did the whole village weep for the sweet fetus torn from her heart: there was no pardon and grace: the little royal boy had to hide.

So the king started off with great fanfare; he went and took refuge through mountains and valleys. As he goes, he hears someone running frantically after him, shouting his name. He turns back, and there is a servant from the yard.

He was happy that he might call her back, but the butler told him very sadly that he shouldn’t even think about that, but here is a gold watch, no, his mother sent him, put it away. The royal gentleman took the watch, put it in his pocket, and went on in a great mood.

On the way, he catches the clock, opens the lid, and well, my lord! Some invisible spirit or something speaks and says:

  • What do you command, my soul, my sweet good master?

The prince dreamed about this, but in his deep reverie he did not say a word, but put the watch back in his pocket. At the same time, the road branched off in two directions, and one led to a large forest, the other to a city. He thought about which way to go.

It would have been nice to go to the city and rest there, but he didn’t have a single penny. So he went to the forest, thinking that he could at least make a fire there, maybe even catch a bird, then he would pick strawberries and mushrooms and have dinner like the king would otherwise.

So he went into the forest and settled there under a big tree. He pulls out his watch to see: what time is it? Well, that invisible soul or something speaks again and asks him:

  • What do you command, my soul, my sweet good master?

The king answered:

  • If you really want me to command you, then create something for me to eat from under the ground.

The prince didn’t even look away, there was already a table set in front of him with all kinds of expensive good food. The little king looked at him humanely, then lay down in the soft grass and did not get up until the sun shone on his belly.

He went further and went, sheltering, until he came to a mountain so big that neither its end, nor its length, nor its top could be seen. He looked to the right, he looked to the left, he looked up, he avoided the mountain this way and that, but he just couldn’t think of a way to somehow get over it, it was so high and so steep.

But he searched until he found a licorice. He started on this lick, but barely got within a good shot of a rifle, he got into such intense darkness that he could neither move forward nor back. He reached into his pocket to get a match, and as he was looking for it, he caught the watch in his hand and lit it.

  • What do you command, my soul, my sweet good master? asked the clock.
  • I command – said the royal lord – that you create light for me.

As he uttered the commandment, he already had a burning millicandle in his hand, and he continued to take refuge in its light. He went deeper, deeper, and suddenly the hole began to widen. He found a house there.

He opens the house and finds an old dwarf. Greetings with propriety.

  • God bless you, my dear father, how is your precious health?
  • God forbid! – answered the dwarf. – I’m fine, but who are you and what kind of person are you, that you’re here, where not even a mouse goes?

The king complained bitterly about his sad fate, that the heart of the dwarf had fallen on him. He encouraged and comforted her not to worry, because then he would get her exactly the same place she had left.

Then he told me that there was a king over the mountain, he also had only one son, but he also died in the war. If he went to the king who was going to be killed by grief, and said that he was the lost boy, the king would no longer grieve, and he would not be a wanderer of the world.

But either way, said the king, that would not be an honor. But the dwarf kept talking until he went this way and that way: he leaned in to speak, and then the dwarf chewed him well in his mouth as to what he should say to the king:

  • Tell me your name is Pál, that you left home seven years ago, and the reason you didn’t write a letter was because you were imprisoned, but in such a difficult captivity that you couldn’t write a letter or communicate with words. Even ask if the three sisters you left alive when you left are still alive.

The king thanked him profusely for the good advice, said goodbye to the dwarf, and left the mountain. When he got outside, he took off his watch and commanded the spirit:

  • Take me over this mountain to the king who had only one son, and he was also lost in the army.

“It’s all right, my soul, my good master,” said the clock, “just close your eyes.”

The prince closed his eyes and felt that his feet did not touch the ground, he was flying like a thought. But it didn’t last long, his feet hit the ground again, and then the clock said:

  • Open your eyes now!

The prince opened it and looked around. Well, even at his father’s g

he was standing at the gate of a more beautiful palace.

When he had a good look around the palace, he opened the gate and went straight to the king. He did not confuse himself much, but fell right on the king’s neck, hugged him, kissed him, saying, “My dear, sweet, good father, and my noble father, I have not seen you for seven years, and I thought that I would never see you again in this life.”

The king stared in astonishment, looked at the boy from head to toe, face, back, in any case, but he just didn’t recognize the sweet son of his property in him. But this answered all the questions in such a way that the king was no longer suspicious, and in his great joy he gave such a darido that even the pope ate the puliska with wine, not brandy, and even the lame people danced.

All three princesses were alive, and the king thought it would be nice to give his “brothers” a nice gift. He took his watch and ordered the spirit to bring the three girls three golden flower bushes, the likes of which no human eye had ever seen.

Less than an hour later, all three golden flower bushes were there. He sent it to the three young ladies’ rooms separately, so that none of them knew about the other’s. Well, time flies. One evening there was a big ball in the royal palace, and the youngest royal princess pinned that beautiful gold bush on her breast. Well, it suddenly became so bright that you could even put out the candle.

The older princesses did not bring theirs, and both thought their brother had stolen his. They attacked him to return their flowers.

“But I won’t give it to you,” said the little royal princess, “if you have one, bring it to you, it’s certainly where you put it.”

At this both girls run away, and indeed they return with a gold bushel each. But even then there was such a brightness that even the sun could not shine brighter than this.

The news of this spread throughout the country, everyone was talking only about the wonderful golden bushes. The king could not praise his son enough for thinking of his brothers even in his captivity, and for being so thrifty that he was able to buy three gold bushels. But the hop master shook his head and said to the king:

  • Come on, my majestic king, don’t be angry, but there is something devilish about this, and I bet if your majesty ordered a golden bridge to be built from his palace to my palace by tomorrow morning, the prince would do it.

The king laughed at his master, but he persisted until he promised for the last time: he would test his son.

He immediately embraced the boy and told him what his wish was. He is an old man, but he loves the beautiful, and he thought that he, as a man with a vision of the world, might know how to build a golden bridge.

The king told him to wait until morning, he could not say anything until then. When they parted, the king took his watch and told what the king’s wish was.

“Don’t worry, my soul, my good master,” said the clock, “the bridge will be ready by morning.”

And it happened. But it is so beautiful, so brilliant, that when the king got up and looked out the window, he fell backwards in great wonder.

He immediately called his son and said to him:

  • Well, you did that well, son. But if you know this, you know more. If by tomorrow morning you don’t build seven contiguous palaces of all color gold, and that palace doesn’t stand on a thin diamond foot – I’ll behead you!

The king really thought that his son couldn’t do this, and he was even glad that he could kill him, because he was afraid that he would send him to hell with his wickedness. The king himself did not believe that the miracle clock had enough soul to be able to build such a palace, but he still told him what the king wanted.

He went to bed with it and woke up in the morning. Well, weren’t the seven contiguous palaces in front of his window?! But the surprise didn’t kill him. Even the king! He had to be washed with cold water, he fainted from the great surprise.

But the king still didn’t have enough of the miracle. By the next day, the courtyard to the Golden Palace was needed. When he had it, he wanted a garden in which even the smallest blade of grass would be gold and diamonds. He gave three days for this.

“Okay,” thought the prince, “I’ll do that too, but if even that doesn’t do it, I’ll break the bank.”

Because until now, he has only stayed here for the sake of the little princess. But while it was the garden’s turn, the butler recommended that they go hunting and take the prince along, because he remembers that before the war he loved hunting very much. They had already decided to go hunting.

But before they set off, the hop master said to the king that it would be good if he left that beautiful watch at home, because it could easily break in the forest, and he doesn’t have a master here like in a foreign country to repair it. The king accepted the advice and left the watch in his room.

But they barely got to the forest, the hop master – who spotted the king one night discussing with his watch – ran away home,

he went through the window to the king’s room, took the watch and opened it. Now the clock asked:

  • What do you command, you thief, my robber master?
  • I order you to take me to a place where even the wind seldom blows, and nothing but a mouse can get there.

In the blink of an eye, the hopmaster was there, together with the king’s watch, where he wished. He comes home in the evening from the king’s hunt, goes straight to his room, and first of all looks for his watch. He looks for it, but he doesn’t find it. It turns everything upside down, turns everything into a needle, but in vain, there was no news of the miracle clock.

Hey, the king is sad! What is he supposed to do without a watch? It’s the end of his life if he suddenly doesn’t stand back. Before anyone could notice him, he ran away from the palace and went wherever his eyes could see.

He went continuously for seven days and seven nights, asking questions everywhere, but he could not find a trace of this precious treasure. On the eighth day, just at sunset, he came to a small cottage. Get in there. Well, the Sun himself lives there, and that’s when he wanted to go to bed. He says good evening and asks for permission to bother him so late.

  • What flight are you on, son? – asks the Sun.

He mentions that he is looking for such and such a hop master.

  • Oh, my sweet son – replied the Sun – I only travel the world from east to west, but the one you are looking for is not there, because then I would certainly have seen him. But here, not far away, lives the king of the winds, his sons travel all over the world, he certainly knows about your master.

The king thanked him for the good advice, wished the Sun a peaceful good fortune, and with that he went to the king of the winds. But this also only said that neither he nor his sons had seen any kind of hopmaster, and he must have hid in a place where even the wind rarely ventures. Perhaps the King of Mice could guide you.

He went to the mouse king. The king of the mice immediately called all the mice together and asked if they had seen such and such a hop master.

  • My eyes will fall out if I saw it! – they all answered.

The king was about to go back in great displeasure when a lame mouse stammered. The king of mice also asks if he has seen a hop master?

  • But of course I saw – answered the lame mouse – I’m just coming from there, but he lives underground in a stone cave and a hole so narrow that even I can barely fit inside.

The prince was delighted and asked the mouse to lead him to the cave, and then they would eat something there. They reached the cave, and there they began to discuss what they should do now. It was decided that the mouse would hide in the likon and while the hop master was sleeping, chew the watch chain and bring the watch out to the king.

After about half an hour, the mouse came and brought the clock, and the king therefore brought so much grain with the miracle clock that the mouse could live on it for the rest of his life. The hopmaster was left in the cave, where he neither lived nor died. He was just fine there.

The king now went back to his second father’s court, and he was being buried right then! He left the kingdom to his youngest daughter because she was the most skilled. The king was not even nearly buried, the two older daughters married two princes, and he proposed to the youngest.

Let it be said, he confessed that he was not a brother of the princesses, and only on the advice of the dwarf, so that the king would be comforted, did he pass himself off as the king’s son. But it didn’t take long to ask the royal princess. Soon they bought planks, skinned benches and tables, and threw three weddings at the same time, so much so that it may not even be over to this day.

(Elek Benedek: Hungarian fairy-tale world, volume 1)

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