Georgia: Fate

This story is part of the Georgian Folktales unit. Story source: Georgian Folk Tales, by Marjory Wardrop (1894).

THERE was once a mighty king who had an only son. When this son grew up, every princess was in love with him. The king was very desirous that his son should be early settled in life. He chose for him a princess whom he proposed he should marry. The son objected very much, saying: 'It is not my fate to be united to this maiden; I shall not marry her.'

Some time after this, the youth came to his father and said: 'I entreat thee, let me go forth and seek my fortune, and give me three bags of money.' The king granted his request. The prince prepared everything and set out on his journey.

He travelled on until he met a stranger; this stranger was an angel, clad in the form of a man. He inquired of the prince: 'Whither art thou going? What seekest thou?'

The prince told him all and that he wished to learn what was written in the book of fate for him.

Then this stranger showed him a beautiful palace and said: 'There thou wilt learn thy fate.'

The prince thanked him and set out for the palace. When he arrived in the courtyard, he looked round and saw notes lying about. He began to examine them but, for a long time, he searched in vain.

Then there came from the palace another man, who said to the prince: 'What dost thou want, brother? What seekest thou?'

The prince answered: 'I am seeking for the letter in which my fate is written.'

'Why seekest thou there? Those are only poor folks' fates; kings' fortunes are written inside. Come with me and I shall show thee thine,' said the unknown.

The prince entered the house. The unknown searched for his fate and called him. Inside was written: 'Such-and-such a prince will marry a weaver's daughter who has been ill for nine years.'

He read this out, and the prince was struck with horror. 'I shall change my fate,' said the prince to himself. He took his letter of fate and went to seek the weaver's daughter.

He went on and on and was in a thick forest when the shades of evening fell. He wandered on in the hope of finding shelter, and at last he saw the glimmer of a light. He came to a hut and asked permission to remain there during the night.

The master of the house replied: 'Son, thou art a great man; we have nothing befitting thy rank, but we can give thee the best we have, for a guest is a gift of God.'

The prince stayed there that night, and his host grudged him nothing. When they had finished supper, the prince noticed that somebody was having a meal in another room. He said to his host: 'I hope that thou wilt not think me inquisitive if I ask who is in the other room, and what is the meaning of this?'

Then the host told him the following tale: 'I am a weaver and from day to day can barely live. God has given me nobody to help me in my work. I have an only daughter, and she is an invalid. For nine years she has not risen from her bed; I can assure thee she gives me no help.'

When the prince heard this, he bit his little finger with vexation and became melancholy. He did not close his eyes that night. He was thinking all the time how he might get rid of his fate.

In the middle of the night, when everyone was snoring and slept like the dead, the prince rose silently, stole from his bedchamber, and quietly entered the room of the weaver's daughter. When he saw her, he was inwardly troubled; he drew forth his dagger and plunged it into her. Then he noiselessly went away, left his money behind him, and stole forth into the night.

He went home to his father and complained of the evil fate written for him. His father was very indignant at this, but hid his anger and comforted his son.

Some time passed. One day, the prince went out to hunt. He saw in a lonely wood a beautiful palace and, in the palace, a maiden fair as the sun. The prince could have gazed for ever on her beauty. He looked a long time; then, looking from a distance would not satisfy him. He spurred his horse, and when he came near, he was even more struck with the loveliness of the maiden. He descended from his horse, came to her, and asked her to marry him. When he had heard with joy her sweet words of consent, he went gaily home.

On the way, his head swam with pleasure at the thought of the welcome change; instead of the unhappy fate promised him, he was to have such a beautiful wife. He told his father what had happened to him and asked him to prepare for the wedding. The king rejoiced at the happiness of his beloved son and made preparations for a grand wedding.

Some days after they were married, the prince laid his hand on his lovely wife's heart and felt something hard like a wart. He said: 'What is this?'

His wife replied: 'I am a poor weaver's daughter; for nine years I lay in bed, a helpless invalid, yellow as a cucumber. Once there came a youth to my father's house for shelter. He plunged his dagger into me, and then fled with haste and went on his way. I was very sick, but my mother put a plaster on my side, and I was completely cured. The guest left three bags of money behind him, and with these we bought a beautiful palace, my father gave up weaving, and we lived without a care.'

When the prince heard this, he said: 'O God! Thy decrees are not vain and futile!' Then he told his beloved wife all that had happened to him.

(1000 words)

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