|THE MAIDEN WHO WAS WISER THAN THE KING
By W. S. Karajich
THERE once lived a poor man in a miserable hovel, who had no
him save an only daughter. But she was very wise, and went about
everywhere seeking alms, and taught her father also to speak in
becoming manner when he begged. It happened once that the poor
came to the king and asked for a gift. The king demanded whence
came, and who had taught him to speak so well. The man said whence
came, and that it was his daughter who had taught him.
"And who taught your daughter?" asked the king.
The poor man answered: "God, and our great poverty.''
Then the king gave him thirty eggs, saying-
"Take these eggs to your daughter, and tell her to hatch
of them, and I will reward her handsomely; but if she cannot hatch
them, it will go ill with you."
The poor man went crying back to his hovel, and related to his
what had passed. The maiden saw at once that the eggs had been
but she told her father to go to rest, and assured him that she
see that all went well. The father followed her advice, and went
sleep; the maiden took a pot, filled it with water and beans,
it on the fire. On the following morning, the beans being quite
boiled, she told her father to take a plow and oxen, and to plow
the road where the king would pass.
"And," she added, "when you see the king, take
the beans, sow them, and
cry, 'Hi! go on, oxen mine! Heaven be with me, and make my boiled
beans take root and grow!' And when the king asks you how it is
possible for boiled beans to grow, answer him, that it is quite
possible as for boiled eggs to yield chickens."
The poor man hearkened to his daughter, went away, and began
When he saw the king coming he began to cry-
"Hi, go on, oxen mine! God help me, and make my boiled beans
The king, hearing these words, stopped on the road, and said
"Here, fellow! how is it possible for boiled beans to grow?"
And the poor man answered him-
"Heaven prosper you, king! just as possible as for boiled
The king guessed at once that it was the poor man's daughter
taught him this answer. He ordered his servants to seize him and
him into his presence. Then he gave him a bundle of flax, and
"Take this flax and make out of it ropes and sails and all
wanted on shipboard; if you do not, you shall lose your head."
The poor man took the bundle in great fear, and went crying home
daughter, to whom he related all that had passed. But the maiden
him again to rest with the promise that all should go well. On
following day she took a small piece of wood, awoke her father,
said to him-
"Take this wood, and carry it to the king; let him cut a
wheel, a spindle, and a loom out of it, and I will do all that
demands of me."
The poor man again followed the directions of his daughter; he
the king and delivered the maiden's message. The king was astonished
at hearing this, and began to think what he should do next. At
took up a small cup, and said as he gave it to the father-
"Take this cup to your daughter, and let her empty the sea
with it, so
that it shall become like a dry field."
The poor man obeyed with tears in his eyes, and took the cup
daughter with the king's message. But the maiden told him he need
leave the matter till the morning, when she would see to it.
In the morning she called her father, and gave him a pound of
take to the king, and bade him say:
"Let the king stop up all the springs and river mouths of
with this tow, and then will I dry up the sea for him."
And the poor man went and told this to the king.
Now the king saw that this maiden was wiser that he was himself,
ordered her to be brought before him. And when the father and
stood in his presence and bowed before him, he said to the daughter-
"Tell me, girl, what is it that man hears the farthest?"
And the maiden answered- "Great king! that which man hears
farthest is the thunder, and a lie."
Upon this the king took hold of his beard, and turning to his
councilors, demanded of them:
"Tell me what my beard is worth?"
And when one valued it at so much, and another at so much more,
maiden told them outright that they could not guess it. "The
beard," she said, "is of as much worth as three rainy
days in summer
The king was astonished and exclaimed, "The maiden has made
Then he asked her if she would be his wife, nor would he desist
pressing his suit, until she agreed to it. The maiden bent before
"Glorious king! let it be as you will; but I beg of you
to write on a
piece of paper with your own hand, that, should you ever be angry
me, and should drive me forth from your palace, I shall be at
to take whatever I love dearest away with me."
And the king agreed and wrote out the paper. After some time
passed away, it came, in fact, to pass, that the king became one
angry with his wife, that he said to her-
"I will have you no longer for my wife; leave my palace,
and go where
"Illustrious king!" answered the queen, "I will
obey you. Permit me,
however, to stay here over the night, then in the morning I will
The king granted her prayer; and the queen before supper mixed
brandy and some sweet herbs in the king's wine, and pressed him
partake of it, saying-
"Drink, O king, and be merry. To-morrow we part; and believe
shall then be happier than when I married you."
The king drank too much, and when he was fast asleep, the queen
laid in a wagon ready prepared, and drove with him into a rocky
And when the king awoke in the cavern, and saw where he was, he
"Who has brought me here?"
"I have brought you here," answered the queen.
The king demanded of her:
"Why have you done this? Have I not told you that you are
no longer my
Then said she, as she drew forth a sheet of paper-
"It is true what you say; but see what you yourself have
laid down on
this sheet: that when I should leave you, I might take with me,
your palace, that which I loved best."
When the king heard this, he kissed her, and went back with her