Czech: The Twin Brothers (cont.)

This story is part of the Czech Folktales unit. Story source: The Key of Gold by Josef Baudis (1922).

The Twin Brothers (cont.)
(see previous page for audio)

The princess took hold of him and embraced and kissed him, and she was ready to marry him on the spot. As for the woodcutter, he was kicked out in disgrace, and they put him into jail for some time too. So the princess married the knight and they lived happily together.

One day, looking out of the window, he saw in the distance, among the mountains, a black castle. He asked his wife what castle it was and to whom it belonged.

"That is an enchanted castle, and nobody who goes into it ever returns."

But he could not rest, and he was eager to explore the castle. So one morning he ordered his horse to be saddled, and, accompanied by his dog, he rode to the castle. When they reached it, they found the gate open. As he went in, he saw men and animals all turned to stone. In the hall an old hag was sitting by the fire. When she saw him she pretended to tremble.

"Dear lord," said she, "bind your dog. He might bite me."

He said: "Do not be afraid. He will do you no harm."

He bent down to pat the dog, and at that moment the hag took her wand and struck him with it. He was turned to stone, and his horse and dog too.

The princess waited for her lord, but he did not return. She mourned for him, and the citizens, who loved their lord, were grieved at his loss.

Now, the other brother looked at his sword, and the sword began to rust, so he was sure that his brother was in trouble. He felt that he must help him, so he rode off in that direction and came to the town. The town was hung with black flags. As he rode through the streets, the citizens saw him, and they thought he was their lord, for he had a horse and a dog just like their lord's horse and dog. When the princess saw him, she embraced him and said: "Where have you been so long, my dear husband?"

He said that he had lost his way in the forest and that he had fallen among robbers, and, since he had no choice, he had to pretend to be a robber too, and to promise to stay with them and to show them good hiding-places. The robbers, so he said, admitted him to be of their company, and he had not been able to escape before this.

Everybody was delighted, and the lord's brother was careful enough not to say that he was only the brother. But, whenever they went to bed, he put his sword between himself and the lady. The princess was troubled at this, and she tried to find different explanations for the conduct of her supposed husband.

One morning, as he was looking out of the window, he saw that same castle, and he asked what castle it was.

She answered: "I have told you already that it is an enchanted castle, and that nobody who goes there ever returns."

So he thought: "It is surely there that my brother is."

He ordered his horse to be saddled and, without saying a word to anybody, he rode off to the castle. As soon as he entered the castle, he saw his brother and his dog turned to stone. He saw, too, all the petrified knights and their horses, and the hag sitting and keeping up the fire.

He said: "You old hag, unless you bring my brother to life again, I'll hew you in pieces with this sword of mine."

The hag knew that the sword had magical virtues, and so she said: "Pray, sir, do not be angry with me. Take that box there and rub the ointment beneath his nose and he will come to life again."

"Curse you, you evil old hag; do it yourself, and instantly."

And he went and caught hold of her wand and struck her with it, and at once she was turned into stone. He had not meant to do that, for he did not know that the wand had such power.

He took the box and rubbed the ointment beneath his brother's nose, and the brother came to life again. Then he anointed all the others who had been turned to stone, and they all came to life again. As for the hag, he left her there just as she was.

Then the brothers rode off to the princess. When she saw them, she did not know which of them was her husband, they were so like one another.

So she said: "What am I to do now? Which of you is my lord?"

They came before her and bade her choose the right one. But still she hesitated. So her husband went up to her and took her by the hand and said: "I am the right one and that is my brother."

He told her everything, and she was glad that her real husband had come again. So they lived happily together, and, as for the other brother, he went to seek his fortune elsewhere.

(800 words)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments for Google accounts; you can also contact me at