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(Illustrated & Unabridged Classic Edition)
Illustrated by Montagu Barstow and Baroness Orczy
e-KİTAP PROJESİ & CHEAPEST BOOKS
Copyright, 2017 by e-Kitap Projesi
© All rights reserved. No part of this book shell be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or by any information or retrieval system, without written permission form the publisher.
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THERE lies before me, as I write, a quaint old book; from this little book—torn and soiled, its edges all gone—nearly all the stories in this volume are drawn.
In their earliest childhood Hungarian children hear the story of "Forget-me-Not" (Nfelejts), the history of the "Twin Hunchbacks" (A Rét Törpe), and the doings of the wicked Sultana in the "Magic Cat" (A Büvos Macska.)
In my little book is the shell of these stories told simply and in few words. Who was the originator of them? I do not think any one knows, for I have found in many instances the same incidents occurring in the fairy tales of most nations. A modified form of the vain fairy Narcissa is revived in "Little Snow White," and "Riquet with the Tuft" has, if I mistake not, an incident similar to that in "The Twin Hunchbacks." But then again, who has ever traced the origin of all the proverbs and jokes that exist, and have existed for generations, in two score or more Eastern and Western, Latin, Teutonic, or Slavonic languages?
Old Hungarian legends, just like old Hungarian music, have to the national mind no palpable origin, though Jókay or Gaal have rewritten the former and Liszt or Brahms have familiarized the world with the latter. The following little collection has helped me in my childhood to pass many pleasant hours, so I now give them to my little English readers—embellished by many drawings—in the hope that they may derive as much pleasure from this little volume of magic and adventure as I did from my old torn copy of "Népmesék."
("Uletka a kilencz törptéknél.")
IN a certain country there dwelt a prince whose name was Elkàbo. He had a dear little daughter called Uletka, who was a most sweet child. She and her father lived quite alone in an old castle with four towers, that stood in a beautiful glade in the centre of a great forest.
Uletka was a most dainty and lovely little maid, her wings—she had wings, being related to a fairy—had grown quite strong, and glistened in the sunshine, reflecting all the colours of the rainbow. So sweet and graceful was little Uletka, that perhaps you would imagine she had no faults. Unfortunately she had one, which a wicked and revengeful fairy, who was offended with Nastia, her mother, had endowed her with, and this was the dreadful fault of Curiosity.
This wicked fairy, whose name was Mutà, had done even worse than this. She it was who had lured poor Nastia to destruction. In the forest was a great lake, overshadowed by trees, and covered over with water-lilies and lotus, while round its edge grew tall rushes. One day, when Nastia was walking by the shore of this lake, Mutà hid herself in the water, and calling out for help, pretended she was in danger of drowning. Nastia crept out on the great leaves of the water-lilies and grasped Mutà's hands, whereupon the spiteful fairy dragged her down to the bottom. Poor Nastia could not swim, besides which, Mutà held both her hands. She tried to struggle and to call for help, but it was useless, and thus she drowned. Prince Elkàbo, her husband, and all the neighbours, searched for her everywhere, and when they reached the edge of the lake they saw her body floating far off among the lotus flowers. As they watched she slowly changed into a most beautiful snow-white water-lily.
Elkàbo wept bitterly, and even the birds ceased to sing. A kingfisher, who was sitting on a flag-leaf, cried out to him that it was the work of the wicked fairy, Mutà. Then Elkàbo mounted his horse and quickly sought audience of the Queen of the Fairies, who lived at the furthest end of the country in a palace of crystal that had been erected among the mountains. He told her and all her courtiers, wise men and magicians, what misfortune had befallen him. Mutà's evil deed excited general indignation throughout the court, and the Queen ordered that the fairy should be transformed into a white lizard, which her head magician immediately proceeded to do. Then Her Majesty decreed that if Elkàbo could catch the lizard, he might be allowed to retain it captive until his little daughter, Uletka, who was then a baby, should release it with her own hands. In the event of this happening not even the Fairy Queen herself could prevent Mutà from resuming her natural form, together with her evil powers.
So Elkàbo returned home and searched day and night, travelling far and wide, until, at last, far away in Japan, he found the white lizard, hidden away under a cluster of orchids. He captured it and fastened it in a little cage made of silver wire, and every day he fed it himself, and would let no one else come near it. But as time went on Elkàbo grow afraid that Uletka might open the cage, as she was such a very inquisitive little girl. So he built a small tower near the edge of the lake, and there hung the cage, and every day he went down to the tower and fed the lizard with his own hands. The key of the tower he always wore suspended from his neck by a little gold chain, and no one but himself knew the secret of the tower by the lake.
Now Uletka was excessively curious, and often she would wander round the tower and turn the handle of the door, and fret because she always found it locked. She dared not ask her father any more about it, for she had done so once, and then she thought that she never had seen her dear, kind father so angry before.
At last, one day, Elkàbo was obliged to go on a journey, and as Uletka was getting quite a big girl, he felt he could safely entrust her with the key of the tower. He was going to be away two or three days, and told her that in the meanwhile she must go up every day to the tower and take with her a small bowl of bread. Uletka promised to obey her father implicitly, and really meant to keep her promise. Nevertheless, no sooner had Elkàbo departed than Uletka, unable to check her curiosity, started off to see the wonderful lizard in the tower by the lake. She opened the door with a trembling hand, and there, in a cage made entirely of silver wire, was the loveliest lizard she had ever seen. It ran up and down the cage and played with a straw that Uletka held out. She was quite enchanted, and remained a long time watching it play.
"What a lovely fairy you are," the lizard said suddenly.
Uletka was not at all astonished at hearing the lizard talk. It was so very pretty, that she at once knew it must be a fairy in disguise.
"Oh! I am not a fairy," said Uletka, modestly. "I am only a little girl, and am living with my father, Prince Elkàbo, at the palace yonder."
"How funny," said the lizard, "I made sure you were a fairy, you had such pretty wings; I am a fairy you know, my name is Mutà. What is yours?"
"My name is Uletka."
"What a pretty name," said the wily lizard. "I am sure I could easily make you into a fairy if I only had my magic cloak here. I would throw it over your shoulders, and you would become one immediately, and have the power to appear or disappear at will, turn into a tiny mouse, or a monstrous giant, and, in fact, go anywhere, and see everything just as you chose."
"Oh!" said Uletka, excitedly, "tell me where our magic cloak is, I will fetch it for you. I do so long to be a fairy. Do you really think I could become one?"
"'There is no doubt about it," said the lizard; "my cloak would soon turn a pretty little girl like you into a fairy. Dear me, dear me, if I only could get out, I know exactly where to find it, together with the necessary wand. Hobo, the king of the gnomes, once hid it in a rose-bush, out of spite, and changed me into a lizard, and locked me up in a cage, so that I should not be able to get at it. But I know where it is, and if you will help me to get out you shall become a great and powerful fairy."
In one moment Uletka quite forgot her promise to her father, and only thought of the delights of becoming a real fairy, and being able to go where she liked, and see and know everything. She opened the cage, and the lizard jumped out. In an instant it changed into a fairy, with raven hair, and great flashing eyes, dressed in a garment of black gauze, all covered over with golden stars. She turned on Uletka, tore her pretty clothes, and broke her dainty wings. Laughing at her for her vanity and curiosity in thinking she could ever become a fairy, she drove her along into the forest, right to the other side of the lake, all among the dark trees, where she had never been before; then the wicked fairy vanished, and left her lying on the ground, weeping bitterly.
After poor little Uletka had been there some time she thought she heard her name softly whispered by the wind; then it sounded more distinctly, breathed in a sweet, sad voice, like a flower sighing. Uletka stalked gently towards the sound, and it grew louder and louder, until it seemed as if the trees murmured her name, one to another, and as she reached again the enchanted lake the voice rose from the waters, calling "Uletka! Uletka!"
As she stood listening, spellbound, the petals of a magnificent water-lily unfolded, and disclosed a fairy form of exquisite beauty, the spirit of her mother—Nastia. She beckoned to Uletka to approach, which the little girl did, stepping on the great flat leaves of the lilies. Nastia then told her to go into the forest, past the silver poplars and the enchanted palm-tree, till she found a great beech standing all alone. There she would find friends, and be safe from the power of the cruel Mutà, who otherwise would be certain to pursue her.
Uletka then knelt on the lily-leaves, and kissed her mother among the silver petals, then slowly saw them fold, hiding her mother from her view.
Away she sped, quickly past the poplars and the enchanted palm tree, till she was so tired and her feet so sore that she could hardly walk, but at last she came up to the tall solitary beech, standing towering above all the other trees of the forest. She went round it, and there in the very centre of the trunk, she discovered a little door. She knocked, but no one came; only the squirrels chattered together and called, "Who is that knocking at the Gnomes' door? whilst a blackbird echoing, said, "Yes; who can that be knocking at the Gnomes' door?"
At last, Uletka, tired of knocking, turned the little handle and went in. There, right in the very heart of the tree was a room with nine little chairs, and a table carved out of the wood of the tree, and on the table were dishes and spoons of wood, and a great feast of nuts, berries and other kinds of fruit, and large bowls full of delicious honey.
So, as Uletka was very hungry, she sat down and ate some honey and nuts, after which, feeling much better, she lay down on the floor and fell asleep. . . . .
When she awoke she was surrounded by a number of little men, with funny faces all laughing and looking at her; some of them were pulling her hair and saying, "Yes, yes, we know you; you are Uletka, you have let the wicked fairy, Mutà, escape. If she finds you she will kill you, but you are quite safe with us, therefore with us you must stay."
And the birds outside sang in chorus, "Yes, yes; it is little Uletka, Prince Elkàbo's child!" and then twittered all the more to show their gratification at her safety.
Uletka stayed with the Gnomes in the tree. Mutà could not hurt her there, for it belonged to Hobo, the King of the Gnomes, who reigned supreme in the forest. Every day the little Gnomes gathered nuts and acorns for their dinner. The shells of these they cut into cups and goblets. Sometimes the grass-elves would come and dine with them, and after dinner they all danced round the tree in the moonlight, while the white owl on the tree-top called "te-whit, te-whoo! te-whit, te-whoo!"