A.M.'s Myth and Folklore Blog

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Week 14 Reading: Czech Folktales, Part B

Source: The Key of Gold by Josef Baudis via the course UnTextbook.

  • For these reading notes, I chose to focus on the story “A Clever Lass.”
  • There is a clever shepherd’s daughter whose father comes across a beautiful golden mortar, and decides to take it to the king as a token of loyalty.
  • His daughter warns him that the king will certainly ask for the pestle too, but the shepherd does not heed her warning and goes to the king, who threatens him with his life if the pestle is not brought.
  • The shepherd comments that his clever daughter warned him that this would happen, and the king, intrigued, poses a riddle of contradictory conditions under which he will marry the clever lass.
  • She determines a way to satisfy all of the self-contradicting conditions, and so they marry, but the king insists on a condition of their matrimony: she must never give advice again. If she does, the wedding will be nullified.
  • Eventually she does, however, help a farmer (by supplying him with a reducio ad absurdum argument), giving him a technique for arguing his case before the king.
  • The king, unconvincied that these clever words are the farmer’s own, hounds the man till he admits to having received advice from the queen. So, the king prepares to end their marriage, but first throws a lavish banquet.
  • The king tells his wife that, as a token of affection, she may take with her what she likes most from their castle.
  • At the feast, the queen sedates the king by slipping opium into his drink, takes him to a carriage, and goes with him in tow back to her father the shepherd’s cottage.
  • The king, awaking, asks where he is, and the clever lass responds that she took what she liked best from the castle.
  • The king takes her back, and they live “happily ever after,” etc.
White-Mortar-and-Pestle.jpg
A mortar and pestle, but not made from gold.
(Image from Wikipedia.)

1 Comment

  1. TIL: how to spell pestle

    November 14, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    We are at the end of my four comments. I am sorry for putting you through this week after week.

    It’s fun reading notes on sections I haven’t gotten to read. This one is very rom-com-esque, with an external predicament and a sappy ending and some shenanigans along the way.

    I’d definitely be interested in seeing what happens after the “happily ever after” ending, considering that most people probably wouldn’t appreciate being drugged or kidnapped, even in service of a cute romantic ending.

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