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WORLD FOLK TALES - CENTRAL EUROPE

Reason and Fortune
A Czech Tale

Once Reason met Fortune on a footbridge.
"Let me pass," said Fortune.

Reason was inexperienced and did not know who should go first and said: "Why should I let you pass? You are not better than me."

The one who manages to do more," answered Fortune, "is better. Can you see that boy who ploughs the field? Get inside him and if he is better with you than with me, I will let you pass any time and anywhere we will meet.

Reason agreed and got inside the boy's head.

When the boy felt reason in his head, he began to think: Why should I plough field all my life? I could be happy somewhere else too."

He stopped ploughing and went home.

"Daddy," he said, "I do not like farming, I would like to learn to be a gardener."

His dad said: "Have you become a fool?" But when he thought it over, he said: "If you want to, Vanek, you can, God be with you. Your brother will inherit our house from me instead of you."

Vanek lost the house but he did not mind it. He went away and began to learn at the royal gardener. He learnt very quickly and the gardener did not have to teach him much. Soon Vanek began to learn himself and did not need the gardener.

The gardener did not like it but when he saw that everything is being done well, he was satisfied: "I see that you are wiser than me," he said and let Vanek do everything himself.

The garden was nicer and nicer and the king was very pleased and walked in the garden very often with the queen and their only daughter. The daughter was very beautiful girl but she stopped speaking when she was twelve and nobody heard her to speak since that time. The king was troubled by it very much and announced that who would teach her to speak, becames her husband. Many young kings, princes and dukes came to try it but nobody managed it. The princess was silent.

"Why couldn't I try it too? Maybe, I will be lucky," thought Vanek, "I will be asking her, she has to answer me."

He went to the king and was led to the room where the king's daughter was. She had a small dog and liked him very much because the dog was very smart and understood everything she wanted.

When Vanek and the king entered the room, he did not even notice the princess but began to talk to the dog: "I heard that you are very smart and I want advice from you. We were three journeymen--a carver, a tailor and me. Once we went through a forest and we had to sleep there. We were scared of wolves so we made fire. Each of us was to watch for some time. Firstly, the carver watched and because he had not much to do. He took a piece of wood and made a nice girl of it. Then he woke the tailor. The tailor saw the girl and asked what it was. 'You see,' said the carver, 'I did not know what to do, so I made this girl. If you want you can make dress for her.' The tailor took scissors, neddle and thread and began to sew. When the dress was made, he put it on the girl. Then he asked me to watch. I asked what the girl was. 'You see,' said the tailor, 'the carver made this girl and I sewed the dress for her. If you want, you can teach her to speak.' And I really taught her to speak. In the morning, when they woke up, everybody wanted to have the girl. The carver said: 'I made her.' The tailor said: 'I made dress for her.' I also wanted to have the girl. Tell me, little dog, who should have the girl?"

The dog was silent but the princess answered instead of him: "Who else than you should have her? What is carver's girl without life? What is tailor's dress without speech? You gave her the best gift--life and speech--you should have the girl."

" You decided about yourself," said Vanek, "I gave speech and new life to you, so you should be mine."

One of the king's counsellor said: "His Majesty will give you a good raward because you managed to give speech to the princess but you cannot marry her, you are not of a noble origin."

The king said: "You cannot marry her. I will give you a good reward."

Vanek, however, did not want even hear about the reward: "The king promised: 'who will make his daughter speak, will marry her.' The king's word is law and if the king wants people to behave according to law, he must behave in that way too. The king must give me his daughter."

"Bind him up," shouted the counsellor, "he said that the king must do somethhing, he will die. Your Majesty, his head should be cut."

The king said: "Cut his head off."

Vanek was bound up and led to the place of execution. When they came there, Fortune said to Reason: "You see, he is not very well with you, his head will be cut. Get out so I can get into your place."

When Fortune got inside Vanek, the headsman's sword broke. Before they brought another sword, the royal bugler came and after him the royal coach.

The king's daughter said to her father that Vanek was right and the king's word should not be cancelled and that the king can make duke of Vanek.

The king said: "You are right, he will be the duke."

They sent a coach for Vanek and istead of Vanek's head, the head of the counsellor was cut because his advice was not wise.

When there was the wedding reception, Reason came there but seeing he would meet Fortune, he ran away.

Since that time, when Reason meets Fortune, Reason gets away so Fortune can pass.


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These stories are reproduced with kind permission from http://www.darsie.net/talesofwonder
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