Arcadian Folktales

=== Sadra, the Faithful Wife ===
FileSadra_the_Faithful_Wife.png"Sadra, the Faithful Wife"

Sadra was married to a brute of a man named Kare. He was a bully who drank, cursed, gambled and beat up his wife when he'd lost coins at the cups-table. Still, Sadra treated Kare with respect and care, she fed him when he was hungry, she made his bed and washed his back and she laid down with him when he told her to. She never complained of her hardships to anyone, even though some days she woke up with bruises all over her body.

Despite her husband's treatment, Sadra was a beautiful woman, with lovely dark hair and green eyes, and men would admire her when she went to the market for food or the town well for water. But none dared approach her, fearing her dangerous husband more than they admired her beauty and grace. People would say, "Poor Sadra, she deserves better than what she has, she is so good and patient even though her husband mistreats her every day." But no one was willing to do anything to free her from her husband, as they all feared his wrath. "She chooses her own path," they would say, "and it is not our duty to interfere."

Then one day, a tall and handsome Prince rode into town to visit with the elder council. When he spotted Sadra carrying two heavy buckets from the well to her home on the edge of town, he was taken with her beauty and youth, and he jumped down from his horse to help carry her buckets home. On the way, he offered Sadra courtship, but when told she was already married, he bowed respectfully and excused himself for acting inappropriately.

That night Sadra's husband heard about the Prince helping his wife, and after striking her down for letting royalty interfere with her duties, he strode drunkenly - for he had already had his usual fill of dark ale - towards the tavern where the Prince and his cohorts were staying. When Kare arrived at the tavern, the Prince was eating dinner, and when told Sadra's husband was there to see him, the Prince stood and waved the man closer.

"I must congratulate you on your good taste in marriage," said the Prince, "for your wife is the most beautiful and good-hearted woman I have ever met." And then he offered Kare a seat and a tall mug of ale. But the angry husband did not appreciate the Prince's advances, and he drew a sword and lunged at the Prince before his guards could react.

The Prince was quick, and lucky to avoid certain death, and before Kare could make a second strike, the Prince had recovered his sword from where it stood by the wall, and stood ready to fight the brute. "Leave him be!" called the Prince when his guards drew arms and ran to protect their liege. "This is between him and me!"

Smiling briefly, he nodded his head to Kare, and stood to attention - obviously, his skill with the sword was formidable. Kare, a coward at heart, knew that if he fought fairly, he would surely die, and he sheathed his sword but loosened the knife he had tucked up his long sleeve. "My pardon, Prince," said Kare. "My love for my wife is such that I am blinded by jealousy. I offer you friendship and apologies." He extended an open hand to the Prince, and smiled a broad lizard's smile.

The Prince, unaware of Kare's mistreatment of his faithful wife, smiled back, put down his sword and extended his own hand. "Your apology is accepted, sir." Then, suddenly, Kare's knife was in his hand and moving in a blur towards the Prince's exposed throat.

Had it not been for the quick eye of a nearby guard, who with the broad side of his sword struck Kare on the side of his head, the Prince would have been dead. The knife carved a deep scar in the Prince's shoulder, but did no serious harm. Kare was taken away to the town prison to be judged when the sun rose - his crime was surely punishable by death, especially if Sadra would testify to his cruelty in front of the judge.

Free of Kare's tyranny, the townspeople now spoke of Sadra's suffering by her husband's hand. But Sadra would not herself, even now, speak against her husband, and instead of being sentenced to death, Kare was sent away to work the King's mines for twenty-five years. Taken with her faithfulness, the Prince yet again offered Sadra courtship, but again Sadra declined, for she was still a married woman. Then, one year later, Kare attempted to escape the King's mines by killing two guards and climbing the walls, but he was shot down with an arrow and died in agony and disgrace.

Again, the Prince visited Sadra's town, bringing condolences and a renewed offer of courtship, and this time Sadra agreed. Months later, the Prince and Sadra were married in a glorious ceremony, and when the old King died the Prince became regent, and Sadra his Queen. She was as good a Queen as the land had ever seen, and she was loved dearly until the day she died, and her funeral was the grandest and most tearful in memory.

=== The Children of the Lake ===

There was a village by a lake where no couple had born a child for twenty years. The villagers were desperate, for without children their village would wither and die, and they turned to their god for help. The next morning fifty young children rose out of the misty lake and wandered onto the shores, much to the joy of the childless women. "We are yours," said one of the children, "as long as you remember one thing you are never to fish from this lake again. Instead you must learn to hunt in the forest and live off the land."

The villagers agreed, though they worried they might go hungry since they were used to catching and eating fish from the lake. But it didn't take long before they had taught themselves to hunt and grow wheat and potatoes in the fields.

Eighteen years passed, and then one day an old man grew tired of rabbits and deer and potatoes and bread, and he longed to catch a big fish and cook it over a sizzling fire. He took his boat out to where the villagers would not see him, and he sank his line. Almost immediately, he caught a large trout, but as he was rowing back to shore, he saw the children of the lake wander from their homes back into the dark waters from whence they came. Their mothers called for them, tried to hold onto them, begged them not to leave, but they would not speak, and one by one they disappeared into the lake.

The old fisherman then saw, as the children sank into the murky waters, how they turned into large fish and sped off into the deep. He was shameful, then, and dropped his catch back in the water, but it was too late, and the village would forever more remain childless.

ruАркадианские сказки
CategoryThe Longest Journey