Once upon a time, where it wasn’t, beyond seventeen countries, beyond the Óperentian Sea, even beyond the glass mountains with a lame aras, there once was a king and his two sons. The eldest son, as he grew a little wiser and his mustache grew out, married a beautiful princess, but the younger ones were in vain encouraged by their father; he said that he will not marry until he finds the most beautiful princess in the world.
- Well, you can look for that – said his brother – because I married the most beautiful princess.
- After all, your wife is beautiful – said the prince – but I don’t think she is more beautiful in this world.
The younger boy’s nanny heard this speech, and when the older prince went on, she said to the younger prince:
- You must have said well that there is a princess in this world more beautiful than your brother’s wife. But neither your brother nor his wife will tell you, because that worldly beautiful princess is the sister of your brother’s wife.
- Well, sure, if it is, I’ll go after it.
“Stop, my son,” says the old woman, “you won’t find him in his father’s house.” It is hidden in a reed. Have you heard of the Black Sea? In the seventy-seventh island of the Black Sea, there are three reeds, in the middle is the world-beautiful princess, and at the two extremes are her two maids. But there is so much darkness on this island that you can hang your sword on it. And if you do find it, an old witch guards the three reeds and takes care of them more than the world of her two eyes, because the candle of her life only burns until someone cuts these three reeds.
After all, the king’s son didn’t need anything else, he saddled his best horse and set off that same day to visit the world-beautiful Miss Nádszál. He went across seven countries, when he got up in the evening he entered a large forest, in a large forest he entered a small house. No one lived there except an old woman.
He greets the woman appropriately, receives her as well, and asks:
- Where are you going, my son, where the bird doesn’t go? – I am looking for the world-beautiful Miss Reed, who is hidden in a reed on the seventy-seventh island of the Black Sea. Did you hear the news?
- I haven’t heard of him or his name, my dear son, but my aunt lives over the mountain, at the bottom of a round forest, she might have heard of him. Hey, Mici, get out of here! – he said to his cat – set this lad on the road!
The cat ran out of the hut, and the prince went after it. By the time he was tired, he found the other old woman. It tells you what is good. The old woman listens, listens, as if she is thinking hard, and then she says:
- Hey, my son, you’ll never get there in your worldly life if you don’t get a paripa that sucked dragon’s milk, ate burning embers, and drank fire flames. But nini, what’s on your mind? Where there are three golden hairs, I will pull these three golden hairs out of your head and add a handle string.
When you reach this high mountain, hit the three golden hairs there with the string, and suddenly the táltos paripa will stomp in front of you. The old woman pulled the three golden hairs from the prince’s head, gave him the doorknob, the prince thanked her profusely, and did not stop until he reached the top of that high mountain.
There he strikes the three golden hairs with the handle string, and behold, hear a miracle: heaven and earth shake, a golden-haired stallion flies from the air with a great gallop, a golden-haired stallion emerges from the golden-haired stallion, a flame bursts from its two noses, and it wins three in a row, so that it is silent – the whole world got involved, and only stomped on the prince’s face.
- I’m here, my little master! But listen here, what happened to the string! Nice cute bridle that just shined, just shined.
- Well, my little master, how should I go? Is it like the wind, or like a bird, or even faster: like a thought?
The king said:
- Like a thought, my sweet horse.
- All right, all right, my little master, I know what your heart desires. But we will go to the seventy-seventh island of the Black Sea in vain, until we have visited the bright court of the Sun and brought a burning ray from there.
The táltos descends into the air, takes off like a bird, then sets off, cleaves the air, gallops like a thought, and in less than a blink of an eye, they arrive at the gate of the Earth. Well, except that two wolves stood guard at the gate of Earth, and they said that they would not let the king through the gate until he gave two pounds of meat from his horse.
Thinks the prince, surely I don’t give of my horse’s meat, I rather give of my own. He took his star knife from his pocket, twisted two pounds of flesh from his thigh, and threw it to the wolves.
“You can go now,” said the wolves.
The tálto flew, and lo and behold, the prince had barely closed his eyes, the tálto spoke:
- Open your eyes, my little master, here we are in the bright atrium of the Sun.
The prince descends, and there in the atrium of the Sun is a tub of gold, gold
a fire bath in a bathtub, he bathed in it, a gold towel on a diamond stud, he toweled off in it, a gold comb on a silver shelf, he combed his hair with it, and there was a mirror up to his feet, he stood there and looked at himself.
But my lord creator, listen to what happened! An angry old man, surely the servant of the Sun, comes out into the courtyard, sees the prince looking at himself in the mirror, blows at him angrily, a terrible gust of wind blows and blows him away in such a way that his feet did not touch the ground for seventy-seven thousand miles.
Then they fell into such a dark hole that they could see neither heaven nor earth. Hey, the king is coming down! He believed that he would never see the blessed bright Sun, let alone take a ray of it to the seventy-seventh island of the Black Sea, until this world and two more days.
They crawled and crawled forward and forward, sometimes stepping on a snake, sometimes a frog, and when about seven days and seven nights had passed, they came to a large iron gate. Well, they could slip here, they could climb, because here a hundred-headed dragon was resting. It doesn’t let him through the gate.
The poor prince sighed and wondered what to do now. He groped this way, groped that way with his hand, to see if he could go the other way, and suddenly something sticks in his hand. Well, it wasn’t a wand, it was a flute. In his great grief and sorrow, he blew into his flute, and it sounded so beautifully that not even the angels could play more beautifully. And what do you think happened?
What happened was that the hundred-headed dragon lay down nicely on the ground, not a single head moved, just listening to the sound of the flute. But the prince also dared to do it, and he walked gracefully out of the iron gate. Well, as he passed through the iron gate, the darkness begins to dart, and what do his eyes see?
A beautiful beautiful girl comes before him, who was none other than Dawn herself, the most beautiful and dearest daughter of the Sun. How it happened, how it happened, I really don’t know, I saw it as I did today, it’s enough that Hajnal liked the prince, put him beside him on his winged horse, and took him across seventeen countries, through beautiful and beautiful provinces that no human eye could see.
He first took it down to the copper forest. The Sun’s woodcutters worked there, they cut and pounded the trees, put them on the carts, and took them to the Sun’s kitchen. He took her to the silver forest. There, silver birds sang more and more beautiful notes, and the silver trees bowed gracefully to Dawn three times in a row.
He took it from the silver forest to the golden forest. It also rang with the song of the golden birds, and before dawn the trees bowed gracefully three times in a row. In the middle of this golden forest was the garden of Dawn, in the middle of this garden was the diamond palace of Dawn, and as Dawn arrived, all the shining stars gathered, then Dawn beckoned, a cardinal’s carriage descended from the sky, in the cardinal’s carriage was a golden horse, on it sat the king’s son , and then they soared higher, higher, higher, until they reached the bright atrium of the Sun.
There, Hajnal selected a ray, braided it neatly into the prince’s hair, and said:
- Well, prince, you can go now, you will find the World Beautiful Miss Reed.
And behold, in that twinkling of an eye, out of nowhere, out of nowhere, the king’s taloused horse appeared, the king jumped on it, and they galloped against seventeen countries, towards the Black Sea. But all of a sudden the táltos speaks and says:
- Do you hear me, my little master, I will soon be on the seventy-seventh island of the Black Sea, but be careful, cut the three reeds in such a way that you cut them at the same time, because otherwise your life is over. Don’t split those three reeds until we get to some water, because if you can’t give them water, all three will die before your eyes.
The táltos galloped for seven days and seven nights, then they reached the seventy-seventh island of the Black Sea. Well, this island was really so dark that the prince could have hung his sword on it. But the prince took off his hat, the rays of the sun in his hair flashed, and suddenly there was a brilliant light. Indeed, there are three reeds in the middle of the island, and as soon as the prince reaches there, the three reeds bend nicely in front of him, even though there was no breeze.
The prince drew his sword, swung it and cut off all three reeds from the stem with one stroke. And behold, black blood gushed out from the base of the three reeds, and some bitter wailing was heard from the ground. That black blood was the blood of the old witch; bitter wailing is his wailing. Well, it doesn’t harm anyone’s soul, the prince could bravely turn away from it.
He neatly laid the three reeds in his lap and said to his horse: – Now, my sweet horse, take me to my country; I haven’t seen my father and mother for a long time. The táltos cut against the seventh country, the prince just looked, looked at the three reeds, he wanted to split them open, let him see if there was really a girl in them? Maybe they were fooled here to the seventy-seventh island of the Black Sea.
He took out his star knife, split a reed, and a beautiful beautiful girl fell out, the world’s most beautiful Reed
one of Mme.’s maids. His first words were:
- Water, water, because I’m about to die!
But only now did the prince really get scared. He would have given me water, but it was nowhere to be found. Not even a good glance took her, the girl died, and a bitter cry was heard from the two reeds. The poor girl was certainly mourned. The prince frowned, then raised the turban. He called the girl, woke her up, but in vain, she did not wake up. He got off his horse, dug a grave with his sword, and buried the girl.
Then they went on, and whether the devil got into it or what, the good Lord knows, he tore the other reed as well. It was just like the first time. He could not give her water, and the other maid of the beautiful Miss Nádszál also died.
Well, now the prince has vowed to look after the third reed like the apple of his eye. That he won’t split it open until they reach spring water somewhere. Hey, he really wanted to see the world-pretty Miss Nádszál! But everywhere they went, there was a terrible wasteland. They did not see a drop of water and then died of great thirst. But all of a sudden, the táltos came down from the sky, right next to a spring.
- Well, my dear master, now you can split the reed. But first dip water in your bottle.
The prince warms his hat, then neatly splits the reed, so as not to injure the fragile body of the world-beautiful Miss Reed, and lo and behold, a beautiful girl, the likes of which no human eye has ever seen, just pops out of the reed. There they immediately fell on each other’s necks.
- You’re mine, I’m yours, spade, hoe and big bell separate us!
Then they both sat on the táltos’s sideboard, and the táltos jumped once, ran away twice, and landed in the yard of the prince’s father. The king was sitting right there in the palace porch, his eldest son and his daughter-in-law were also sitting there, but it was all daydreaming! They mourned the royal son long ago, they didn’t think they would ever see him again. And lo and behold, it got around.
He brought the most beautiful princess in the whole world. The old king was happy, and what should his son and daughter-in-law do, they were also happy. They threw weddings, for seven countries, the gypsies pulled, the boys and girls attended, they still attend today if they can afford it. This is the end, run away with it!
(Elek Benedek: Hungarian fairy-tale world, volume 2)