The singing, springing lark


Privighetoarea cea cantatoare si jucausa

There was once on a time a man who was about to set out on a long journey, and on parting he asked his three daughters what he should bring back with him for them. Whereupon the eldest wished for pearls, the second wished for diamonds, but the third said, "Dear father, I should like a singing, soaring lark." The father said, "Yes, if I can get it, you shall have it," kissed all three, and set out. Now when the time had come for him to be on his way home again, he had brought pearls and diamonds for the two eldest, but he had sought everywhere in vain for a singing, soaring lark for the youngest, and he was very unhappy about it, for she was his favorite child. Then his road lay through a forest, and in the midst of it was a splendid castle, and near the castle stood a tree, but quite on the top of the tree, he saw a singing, soaring lark. "Aha, you come just at the right moment!" he said, quite delighted, and called to his servant to climb up and catch the little creature. But as he approached the tree, a lion leapt from beneath it, shook himself, and roared till the leaves on the trees trembled. "He who tries to steal my singing, soaring lark," he cried, "will I devour." Then the man said, "I did not know that the bird belonged to thee. I will make amends for the wrong I have done and ransom myself with a large sum of money, only spare my life." The lion said, "Nothing can save thee, unless thou wilt promise to give me for mine own what first meets thee on thy return home; and if thou wilt do that, I will grant thee thy life, and thou shalt have the bird for thy daughter, into the bargain." But the man hesitated and said, "That might be my youngest daughter, she loves me best, and always runs to meet me on my return home." The servant, however, was terrified and said, "Why should your daughter be the very one to meet you, it might as easily be a cat, or dog?" Then the man allowed himself to be over-persuaded, took the singing, soaring lark, and promised to give the lion whatsoever should first meet him on his return home.
When he reached home and entered his house, the first who met him was no other than his youngest and dearest daughter, who came running up, kissed and embraced him, and when she saw that he had brought with him a singing, soaring lark, she was beside herself with joy. The father, however, could not rejoice, but began to weep, and said, "My dearest child, I have bought the little bird dear. In return for it, I have been obliged to promise thee to a savage lion, and when he has thee he will tear thee in pieces and devour thee," and he told her all, just as it had happened, and begged her not to go there, come what might. But she consoled him and said, "Dearest father, indeed your promise must be fulfilled. I will go thither and soften the lion, so that I may return to thee safely." Next morning she had the road pointed out to her, took leave, and went fearlessly out into the forest. The lion, however, was an enchanted prince and was by day a lion, and all his people were lions with him, but in the night they resumed their natural human shapes. On her arrival she was kindly received and led into the castle. When night came, the lion turned into a handsome man, and their wedding was celebrated with great magnificence. They lived happily together, remained awake at night, and slept in the daytime. One day he came and said, "To-morrow there is a feast in thy father's house, because your eldest sister is to be married, and if thou art inclined to go there, my lions shall conduct thee." She said, "Yes, I should very much like to see my father again," and went thither, accompanied by the lions. There was great joy when she arrived, for they had all believed that she had been torn in pieces by the lion, and had long ceased to live. But she told them what a handsome husband she had, and how well off she was, remained with them while the wedding-feast lasted, and then went back again to the forest. When the second daughter was about to be married, and she was again invited to the wedding, she said to the lion, "This time I will not be alone, thou must come with me." The lion, however, said that it was too dangerous for him, for if when there a ray from a burning candle fell on him, he would be changed into a dove, and for seven years long would have to fly about with the doves. She said, "Ah, but do come with me, I will take great care of thee, and guard thee from all light." So they went away together, and took with them their little child as well. She had a chamber built there, so strong and thick that no ray could pierce through it; in this he was to shut himself up when the candles were lit for the wedding-feast. But the door was made of green wood which warped and left a little crack which no one noticed. The wedding was celebrated with magnificence, but when the procession with all its candles and torches came back from church, and passed by this apartment, a ray about the bredth of a hair fell on the King's son, and when this ray touched him, he was transformed in an instant, and when she came in and looked for him, she did not see him, but a white dove was sitting there. The dove said to her, "For seven years must I fly about the world, but at every seventh step that you take I will let fall a drop of red blood and a white feather, and these will show thee the way, and if thou followest the trace thou canst release me." Thereupon the dove flew out at the door, and she followed him, and at every seventh step a red drop of blood and a little white feather fell down and showed her the way.

So she went continually further and further in the wide world, never looking about her or resting, and the seven years were almost past; then she rejoiced and thought that they would soon be delivered, and yet they were so far from it! Once when they were thus moving onwards, no little feather and no drop of red blood fell, and when she raised her eyes the dove had disappeared. And as she thought to herself, "In this no man can help thee," she climbed up to the sun, and said to him, "Thou shinest into every crevice, and over every peak, hast thou not seen a white dove flying?" - "No," said the sun, "I have seen none, but I present thee with a casket, open it when thou art in sorest need." Then she thanked the sun, and went on until evening came and the moon appeared; she then asked her, "Thou shinest the whole night through, and on every field and forest, hast thou not seen a white dove flying?" - "No," said the moon, "I have seen no dove, but here I give thee an egg, break it when thou art in great need." She thanked the moon, and went on until the night wind came up and blew on her, then she said to it, "Thou blowest over every tree and under every leaf, hast thou not seen a white dove flying?" - "No," said the night wind, "I have seen none, but I will ask the three other winds, perhaps they have seen it." The east wind and the west wind came, and had seen nothing, but the south wind said, "I have seen the white dove, it has flown to the Red Sea, where it has become a lion again, for the seven years are over, and the lion is there fighting with a dragon; the dragon, however, is an enchanted princess." The night wind then said to her, "I will advise thee; go to the Red Sea, on the right bank are some tall reeds, count them, break off the eleventh, and strike the dragon with it, then the lion will be able to subdue it, and both then will regain their human form. After that, look round and thou wilt see the griffin which is by the Red Sea; swing thyself, with thy beloved, on to his back, and the bird will carry you over the sea to your own home. Here is a nut for thee, when thou are above the center of the sea, let the nut fall, it will immediately shoot up, and a tall nut-tree will grow out of the water on which the griffin may rest; for if he cannot rest, he will not be strong enough to carry you across, and if thou forgettest to throw down the nut, he will let you fall into the sea."

Then she went thither, and found everything as the night wind had said. She counted the reeds by the sea, and cut off the eleventh, struck the dragon therewith, whereupon the lion overcame it, and immediately both of them regained their human shapes. But when the princess, who had before been the dragon, was delivered from enchantment, she took the youth by the arm, seated herself on the griffin, and carried him off with her. There stood the poor maiden who had wandered so far and was again forsaken. She sat down and cried, but at last she took courage and said, "Still I will go as far as the wind blows and as long as the cock crows, until I find him," and she went forth by long, long roads, until at last she came to the castle where both of them were living together; there she heard that soon a feast was to be held, in which they would celebrate their wedding, but she said, "God still helps me," and opened the casket that the sun had given her. A dress lay therein as brilliant as the sun itself. So she took it out and put it on, and went up into the castle, and everyone, even the bride herself, looked at her with astonishment. The dress pleased the bride so well that she thought it might do for her wedding-dress, and asked if it was for sale? "Not for money or land," answered she, "but for flesh and blood." The bride asked her what she meant by that, so she said, "Let me sleep a night in the chamber where the bridegroom sleeps." The bride would not, yet wanted very much to have the dress; at last she consented, but the page was to give the prince a sleeping-draught. When it was night, therefore, and the youth was already asleep, she was led into the chamber; she seated herself on the bed and said, "I have followed after thee for seven years. I have been to the sun and the moon, and the four winds, and have enquired for thee, and have helped thee against the dragon; wilt thou, then quite forget me?" But the prince slept so soundly that it only seemed to him as if the wind were whistling outside in the fir-trees. When therefore day broke, she was led out again, and had to give up the golden dress. And as that even had been of no avail, she was sad, went out into a meadow, sat down there, and wept. While she was sitting there, she thought of the egg which the moon had given her; she opened it, and there came out a clucking hen with twelve chickens all of gold, and they ran about chirping, and crept again under the old hen's wings; nothing more beautiful was ever seen in the world! Then she arose, and drove them through the meadow before her, until the bride looked out of the window. The little chickens pleased her so much that she immediately came down and asked if they were for sale. "Not for money or land, but for flesh and blood; let me sleep another night in the chamber where the bridegroom sleeps." The bride said, "Yes," intending to cheat her as on the former evening. But when the prince went to bed he asked the page what the murmuring and rustling in the night had been? On this the page told all; that he had been forced to give him a sleeping-draught, because a poor girl had slept secretly in the chamber, and that he was to give him another that night. The prince said, "Pour out the draught by the bed-side." At night, she was again led in, and when she began to relate how ill all had fared with her, he immediately recognized his beloved wife by her voice, sprang up and cried, "Now I really am released! I have been as it were in a dream, for the strange princess has bewitched me so that I have been compelled to forget thee, but God has delivered me from the spell at the right time." Then they both left the castle secretly in the night, for they feared the father of the princess, who was a sorcerer, and they seated themselves on the griffin which bore them across the Red Sea, and when they were in the midst of it, she let fall the nut. Immediately a tall nut-tree grew up, whereon the bird rested, and then carried them home, where they found their child, who had grown tall and beautiful, and they lived thenceforth happily until their death.
A fost odata un om si omul asta a trebuit sa plece pe neasteptate intr-o lunga calatorie. Si luindu-si el ramas bun de la cele trei fiice ale lui, le intreba ce-ar dori sa le aduca de pe cele meleaguri straine. Fata cea mare pofti sa-i aduca margaritare, cea mijlocie - pietre nestemate, iar cea mica ii zise:
- Draga tata, eu imi doresc o privighetoare cinta-toare si jucausa.
- Bine, fata mea, daca oi gasi-o, sa stii c-am sa ti-o aduc! o asigura taica-sau.
Le saruta apoi pe citesitrele si o porni la drum.
Cind veni timpul sa se intoarca acasa, avu grija sa cumpere margaritare si pietre nestemate pentru cele doua fete mai mari, dar vezi ca pentru fie-sa a mica nu putuse sa gaseasca privighetoarea cintatoare si jucausa, in zadar isi pierduse vremea cautind pretutindeni, ca, pana la urma, tot n-o afla. Lucrul asta il mihni peste masura, si cum sa nu-l fi mihnit, cand fata a mica ii era copilul cel mai drag.
Porni omul nostru pe drumul de intoarcere si, dupa o bucata buna de drum, nimeri intr-o padure. Drept in mijlocul acelei paduri se inalta o mindrete de palat, ca-ti bucura inima vazindu-l. Iar mai incolo, pe un tapsan, un coscogea stejar isi zbatea crengile in vint. Si-n virful pomului asta, o privighetoare se-nvirtea jucausa, sarind din creanga in creanga si cintind, ca se infiora vazduhul de viersul ei. Omul se opri in loc, fermecat, si grai plin de veselie: - Ei, tocmai la timp imi picasi!...
Si-i porunci servitorului pe care-l avea pe langa sine sa se urce in stejar si sa-i prinda pasarea. Dar cum se apropie de pom, numai ce sari dindaratul lui un leu furios, care-si zbirli coama si mugi de se cutremurara, frunzele copacilor...
- Ai vrut tu sa-mi furi pasarea, da sa stii ca nu-ti merge cu mine! Ca aceluia care vrea sa-mi rapeasca privighetoarea cea cintatoare si jucausa, nu-i mai sunt harazite multe ceasuri!... Pe loc il sfisii.
Cugeta omul ce cugeta si apoi ii raspunse:
- De-as fi stiut ca e a ta pasarea, nu m-as fi atins de ea. Da acum, c-am gresit, vreau sa-mi repar greseala si sa ma rascumpar cu bani grei, numai sa nu ma sfisii.
ii asculta leul spusele si, la rindul lui, ii grai astfel:
- Numai intr-un singur chip ti-ai putea salva viata: de mi-ai fagadui c-o sa-mi daruiesti prima vietuitoare care ti-o iesi in cale cand vei pasi pragul casei. De te invoiesti, sa stii ca-ti mai dau si privighetoarea pe deasupra, ca s-o duci fetei tale.
- Nici in ruptul capului, c-ar putea sa fie chiar fata mea a mica. De mult ce ma iubeste, ea alearga totdeauna in intimpinarea mea, ori de cite ori ma intorc acasa.
Vezi insa ca servitorului ii dirdiia inima de frica si, ca sa scape din gheara leului, cauta sa-l abata pe sta-pina-sau de la gindurile sale.
- Da ce, parca numai fiica dumitale a mica ar putea sa-ti iasa in cale?!... Ba, s-ar putea prea bine sa fie o pisica sau un ciine...
Omul se lasa convins de vorbele servitorului sau si, luind cu sine privighetoarea cea cintatoare si jucausa, ii fagadui leului c-o sa-i daruiasca vietuitoarea care i-o iesi cea dintii in cale cand o sosi acasa.Dar vezi ca inima nu-l inselase... Cum pasi pragul casei, prima fiinta care-i iesi in fata fu draga sa fetita. Ii venea in intimpinare, alergind... Si de indata ce fu aproape de el, il imbratisa si-l coplesi cu sarutari. Ei, si nici nu va mai spun cita bucurie a fost pe ea, cand a vazut privighetoarea cea cintatoare si jucausa!... Da vezi ca taica-sau n-avea inima sa se bucure impreuna cu dinsa, ci se puse pe plins, zicandu-i:
- Fetita mea draga, scump mi-a fost dat sa platesc pasarea asta micuta!... Ca s-o pot dobindi, i-am fagaduit unui leu salbatic c-o sa i te dau, si tare mi-e teama c-o sa te sfisie in bucati si-o sa te manince de vei ajunge in vizuina lui...
Ii povesti apoi de-a fir-a-par toata tarasenia si-o ruga cu lacrimi fierbinti sa nu se duca cumva in padure, intimpla-se orice s-ar intimpla.
Dar vezi ca fata nu putea sa-l lase pe taica-sau sa-si calce cuvintul! il mingiie, ca sa-i mai ogoiasca durerea, si-i zise:
- Draga tata, odata ce ti-ai dat cuvintul, trebuie sa ma dai leului!... Uite, o sa ma duc singura in padure si trag nadejdea c-o sa stiu cum sa-l imblinzesc! Asa ca nu-mi duce prea tare grija... O sa vezi matale de nu m-oi intoarce acasa nevatamata!...
A doua zi, fata il ruga pe taica-sau s-o indrepte pe drumul cel mai scurt, si-o porni fara frica spre padurea unde-si avea leul salasul.
Vezi insa ca leul asta nu era leu adevarat, ci un fecior de crai, care fusese vrajit sa se prefaca intr-o asemenea fiara. ...Si nu era el leu toata vremea. Ziua avea infatisare de leu ca si toti slujitorii lui, iar de cum venea noaptea isi rccapatau cu totii chipul lor omenesc. cand ajunse fata in gradina palatului, un ciopor de lei ii veni in preajma, primind-o cu prietenie, si-o dusera la stapinul lor. De indata ce se lasa noaptea, leul se facu iarasi om, si-n fata fetei statea acum un flacau chipes si frumos, nevoie mare. Si cum se placura dintru inceput, nu mai trecura zile multe si se praznui o nunta ca-n povesti. Si pot sa va spun ca asa fericiti traiau impreuna, ca toate vietatile codrului le jinduiau fericirea. Ziua, cei doi dormeau, iar noaptea erau treji, caci abia atunci isi traiau adevarata viata... Si-ntr-una din aceste nopti, feciorul de crai ii zise nevesti-si:
- Afla ca miine e-o mare petrecere in casa tatalui tau! Si stii care-i pricina? Se marita soru-ta a mare. Si de doresti sa iei si tu parte la praznic, du-te, ca eu te las cu draga inima! Leii mei te-or conduce pana acolo, si cand o fi sa te-ntorci, trimite-mi din vreme o veste, ca sa ti-i pot trimite iar.
Fata se gindi ce se gindi, dar pana la urma se hotari totusi sa plece acasa, ca o ardea dorul dupa taica-sau. Leii o insotira pe tot drumul si dupa aceea se inturnara la stapinul lor. Ei, ce sa va mai spun eu dumneavoastra, ca va-nchipuiti singuri!... cand a pasit fata pragul casei, parca ar fi coborit insusi soarele din inalt, asa li s-a parut tuturor... Si erau bucurosi la culme, ca pana atunci o crezusera moarta, sfisiata de leu... Fata le povesti cu sart totul, si-n cuvinte pline de incintare le arata cit de frumos era tinarul crai si cit de fericiti traiau impreuna.
A ramas fata acasa cit timp s-a tinut nunta, ca s-a-n-tins petrecerea pe vreo sapte zile incheiate, si dupa aia s-a reintors in padure, la sotul ei.
Cind urma sa se marite soru-sa a mijlocie, fata fu poftita iarasi la praznic. Si ea ii zise tinarului crai:
- De asta data nu ma mai trage inima sa merg singura, rogu-te sa ma insotesti!
Craiul n-ar fi avut nimic impotriva acestei dorinte, dar o lamuri ca l-ar paste o mare primejdie, de-ar pleca de-acasa. Ca de i-ar atinge la nunta raza pe care-o arunca o luminare aprinsa, pe loc s-ar preface intr-un porumbel. Si sapte ani incheiati i-ar fi dat sa zboare in lumea larga, cu ceilalti porumbei. Dar fata nu vru sa ia in seama ce-i spusese.
- Hai, vino cu mine, fara teama, se ruga ea de el, si am sa te pazesc, ca nici o raza de lumina n-o sa poata sa te atinga!...
Daca vazu si vazu craiul ca se inversuneaza atit in dorinta ei, ii facu pe voie si plecara impreuna. Si luara cu dinsii si coconul. cand ajunsera la casa parinteasca, fata puse de se zidi o odaie numai pentru folosinta craiului si porunci ca peretii sa fie atit de grosi, ineit sa nu patrunda prin ei nici o raza de lumina. Nu-i vorba, nu urma el sa stea toata vremea in incaperea aceea, dar in timpul nuntii, cand se vor aprinde luminarile, musai trebuia sa ramina acolo, ca sa nu ajunga vreo raza sa-l atinga. Dar vezi ca usa se intimpla sa fie facuta din lemn verde si, uscindu-se, crapa nitelus. Si, ca un facut, nimeni nu observa acest lucru.
Veni si ziua nuntii si se incinse un praznic, de-ai fi zis ca e-o nunta imparateasca. cand se intoarsera nuntasii acasa de la biserica, purtind faclii si luminari aprinse, si apucara sa treaca pe langa camera unde sedea craiul, o raza cit firul de par il atinse pe feciorul de imparat, si acesta se si prefacu intr-un porumbel. Nimeni nu putuse sa-si dea seama de ceea ce se intimplase, si cand nevasta-sa se duse sa-l caute, vazu in locul lui un porumbel alb. Si porumbelul ii zise:
- Sapte ani va trebui de-acu inainte sa zbor prin lume! Si la fiecare sapte pasi voi lasa sa cada cite o picatura de singe si cite un fulg alb. Semnele astea iti vor arata drumul, si de ma vei urma fara contenire, voi fi mintuit.
Nu-si termina bine vorbele porumbelul, ca si zbura pe usa afara, avintindu-se in vazduh. Si ea se lua dupa el, ca o umbra. La fiecare sapte pasi cadea cite o picatura de singe si cite un fulg alb, care-i aratau calea.
Alerga ea asa prin lumea cea mare, fara sa se uite in jurul ei, fara sa se hodineasca nicicum. Si-ntr-un sfir-sit se bucura in inima ei ca cei sapte ani erau pe termi- nate si ca se apropie ceasul cand sotiorul ei va fi min-tuit. Dar vezi ca acel ceas era inca departe...
Pasamite, intr-o amiaza, pe cand alerga fara istov dupa porumbel, nu mai vazu cazind picatura de singe si fulgul cel alb, iar cand ridica ochii spre vazduh, nu mai zari nici porumbelul.
Cum stia ca oamenilor nu le sta in putinta sa-i dea vreun ajutor, urca pe cararea stelelor, pana la soare, si cand ajunse la el, il intreba:
- Tu, soare, care luminezi toate culmile si toate vagaunile, au n-ai zarit cumva zburind un porumbel alb?...
- Nu, raspunse domnul cerului, n-am vazut zburind nici un porumbel. Da uite, pentru ca ai o inima cum nu au multi, iti daruiesc cutioara asta! Si s-o deschizi numai cand oi fi la grea strimtoare.
ii multumi ea soarelui pentru darul facut si merse si tot merse mai departe, pana ce se innopta si aparu luna pe cer. Si-o intreba si pe dinsa:
- Tu, luna, care toata noaptea luminezi peste cimpii si paduri, au n-ai zarit cumva zburind un porumbel alb?...
- Nu, raspunse luna, n-am vazut zburind nici un porumbel. Da uite, pentru ca ai o inima cum n-au multi, iti daruiesc oul asta. Si cand te-oi gasi la o mare ananghie, sa-l spargi si te-o ajuta.
Multumi ea lunii pentru darul facut si merse si tot merse mai departe, pana ce vintul noptii incepu sa sufle. Si-l intreba si pe el:
- Tu, vintule, care-ti porti suflarea peste toti copacii si peste toate frunzele, au n-ai zarit cumva zburind un porumbel alb?...
- Nu, raspunse vintul noptii, n-am vazut zburind nici un porumbel, da o sa-i intreb pe ceilalti frati ai mei de nu l-a zarit vreunul.
Intreba el vintul de rasarit si pe cel de apus, dar acestia-i raspunsera ca n-au vazut zburind nici un porumbei. Dar cand apuca sa-l intrebe si pe cel de miazazi, numai ce-i zise acesta:
- Ba, cum sa nu, l-am vazut zburind peste Marea Rosie! Da acum s-a prefacut iar in leu, c-au trecut cei sapte ani, si e inclestat in lupta c-un balaur... Si-balaurul asta e o fata de imparat, pe care-a blestemat-o o iazma rea sa se preschimbe intr-o asemenea spurcata dihanie!
Vintul noptii asculta cu luare-aminte la cele spuse de frate-sau si-i grai craiesei:
- Acu , c-ai aflat unde e, asculta de sfatul meu: du-te cit mai degraba la Marea Rosie! Pe malul drept al marii asteia ai sa dai peste niste nuiele mari. Cata de numara-le, de cum le-oi vedea, iar pe-a unsprezecea tai-o si ia-o cu tine. Cu ea loveste o data balaurul si-ai sa vezi ca leul o sa-i poata veni atunci de hac. Da nici de balaur n-o sa fie rau, nu duce grija, ci amindoi vor fi mintuiti si-si vor recapata infatisarea omeneasca. Dupa ce-ai sa faci trebusoara asta, uita-te cu luare-aminte in jurul tau si-ai s-o zaresti, de buna seama, pe pasarea de-i spune Grif1, care-si are salasul pe-acolo. Urca-te cu sotiorul tau pe spinarea pasarii si ea o sa tot zboare peste mare si-o sa va duca acasa. Si mai ia si nuca asta! cand oti fi cam pe la jumatatea drumului, da-i drumul in mare, ca va fi spre binele vostru! Si pe loc o sa rasara din valuri cu coscogeamite nuc, si pe ramurile lui o sa se lase pasarea Grif, sa se hodineasca de zborul cel lung. Ca fara de ast popas, n-ar avea destula putere sa va duca peste mare. Iar de vei uita sa arunci nuca in apa, pasarea se va descotorosi de amindoi si-o sa va lase sa cadeti in mare.
Craiasa o porni spre Marea Rosie si, de cum ajunse acolo, gasi toate asa cum ii spusese vintul noptii. Numara nuielele de pe malul marii, o taie pe cea de-a un- sprezecea si odata izbi cu nuiaua balaurul. Si sa vezi minune: de unde pana atunci leul parea sleit, pe loc i se inzecira puterile de-l putu birui pe balaur. Si chiar in aceeasi clipa, amindoi isi recapatara infatisarea omeneasca...
Vazindu-se scapata de sub puterea blestemului, fata de imparat, care fusese balaur pana atunci, il lua de brat pe tinarul crai si amindoi se urcara pe spinarea pasarii Grif. Iar pasarea, de cum ii vazu la ea in circa, isi lua zborul...
Biata fata, care batuse lumea in lung si-n lat dupa sotiorul ei, ramasese acum singura, parasita. Si fiind-ca-i era sufletul plin de amar, se lasa jos, pe pamint, si-ncepu a plinge. Dar in cele din urma gasi destula putere in inima ei ca sa biruie tristetea si, imbarbatin-du-se, isi zise:
De-o trebui, pana la capatul lumii oi merge, ca sa-mi aflu sotiorul, pana unde bat vinturile, si chiar si mai departe, ca, atita timp cit s-o mai auzi cucurigul cocosului, trag nadejdea c-o sa-l regasesc."
Si-a mers ea, a mers, strabatind drumuri nesfirsite, pana ce s-a nimerit sa ajunga la palatul unde traiau tanarul crai si domnita care fusese vrajita. Acolo afla ca cei doi logodnici tocmai se pregateau sa-si serbeze nunta printr-un mare praznic. Atunci nu mai pregeta si deschise cutioara pe care i-o daruise soarele. Si ce sa vezi: inauntru gasi o minunatie de rochie, stralucitoare cum e soarele!... O scoase binisor din cutie, si-o puse pe ea si intra in palat.
Ce sa va mai spun eu dumneavoastra! Doar atit, ca cine-o vazu imbracata cu ea nu mai putu sa-si ia ochii de la rochia aceea fara seaman pe lume... Da parca logodnica craiului nu ramase ca fermecata la vederea ei? Ba bine ca nu! Atit de mult ii placuse, incit dori s-o aiba ca rochie de mireasa, si-o intreba pe femeia aceea straina de nu vrea cumva s-o vinda.
- Ba, cum sa nu! Da-i vorba ca n-o dau pe bani sau pe vreo alta avutie, ci pe carne si singe.
Cum nu se dumerea defel ce inteles or fi avind vorbele astea, logodnica ii ceru sa o desluseasca mai bine. Si craiasa o lamuri pe data:
- Vorbele mele au intelesul c-as dori sa ramin o noapte in iatacul in care doarme mirele!
La-nceput, logodnica nici nu vru sa auda de asa ceva, dar, cum era stapinita de dorinta de-a avea rochia, n-avu incotro si trebui sa se-nvoiasca. Dar ca sa fie sigura ca n-o sa se poata intimpla nimic rau, ii porunci feciorului de casa sa pregateasca o bautura adormitoare si sa i-o dea mirelui sa bea mai inainte de a se culca. cand se facu noapte si feciorul de casa se incredinta ca stapinul lui, craiul, dormea dus, o lasa pe craiasa sa intre in iatac.
Biata femeie se aseza langa patul sotiorului ei si-ncepu a-i ziee:
- Sapte ani te-am urmat ca umbra, clipa de clipa si ceas de ceas, si-am urcat pana la soare, si pana la luna, si pana la cele patru vinturi, ca sa-i intreb unde-i fi si sa-ti dau de urma; ti-am stat intr-ajutor, ca sa poti birui balaurul, da la ce folos au fost toate, daca tu vrei sa ma dai azi uitarii?!...
Vezi insa ca licoarea aceea il cufundase intr-un somn atit de adinc, ca nu deslusi nici o vorba de-a craiesei, ci i se paru numai ca suiera vintul afara, printre brazi. Dimineata, feciorul de casa veni s-o ia.din iatac, si craiasa trebui sa-i dea logodnicei rochia cea frumoasa. Se intrista ea foarte ca nu reusise sa-i spuna craiului ce-avea pe suflet, si-o porni pe cimp, intr-aiurea. La un moment dat, obosi de atita umblet, se aseza jos si-ncepu a plinge cu lacrimi amare. Si cum plingea ea asa, deodata isi aminti de oul pe care i-l daruise luna. Il sparse, si sa vezi minune: numai ce iesi dintr-insul o closca cu doisprezece puisori... Si closca si puii erau cu totul si cu totul de aur! Puisorii incepura sa alerge, sa ciuguleasca, sa piuie subtirel, si dupa aia se bagara iar sub aripile clostei. Si zau ca nimic nu-mi pare sa fi fost pe lume mai frumos si sa bucure sufletul mai mult, decat ceea ce-i fu dat craiesei sa vada acum!...
Se scula ea de jos, parca mai inviorata, si mina pe cimpie closca cu cei doisprezece pui de aur, pana ce ajunse cu ei sub fereastra logodnicei. Si atit de mult ii placura domnitei puisorii, incit cobori in graba in gradina si-o-ntreba pe craiasa de nu-s de vinzare.
- Ba-s de vinzare!... grai ea. Da-i vorba ca nu-i dau pe bani sau pe vreo alta avutie, ci pe carne si singe. Mai lasa-ma sa ramin o noapte in iatacul in care doarme mirele, si-ai tai or sa fie!...
Logodnica incuviinta, ca n-avea ce alta face, dar vru s-o insele din nou pe craiasa, prin aceleasi tertipuri pe care le folosise c-o noapte inainte. Da vezi ca de asta data nu-i reusi siretlicul!...
Si nu-i reusi, pentru ca, inainte de-a se culca, tina-rul crai il ruga pe feciorul de casa sa-l desluseasca de nu auzise si el, in noaptea trecuta, un murmur si-un fosnet, care parca veneau de afara...
Atunci slujitorul isi lua inima-n dinti si-i destainui totul: cum i-a dat o bautura adormitoare si cum o fata sarmana a dormit in taina in iatacul lui. Si i-a mai spus ca si-n noaptea asta trebuia sa-i dea o bautura, care sa-l adoarma bustean. Se minuna craiul de ce auzise si, la urma, ii porunci slujitorului:
- Ia de varsa bautura, colo, langa pat! Si-om vedea noi ce-o mai fi...
Cind se lasa noaptea, feciorul de casa iar o aduse in iatac pe craiasa. Iar ea, sarmana, incepu din nou sa-i insire craiului amarul vietii ei... Vezi insa ca tinarul crai recunoscu de indata al cui era glasul. Si cum sa nu-l fi recunoscut, ca doar era al sotioarei lui mult iubite!...
Si atit de mare ii fu bucuria, ca nu se mai putu stapini si sari din pat, de parca l-ar fi impins cineva de la spate.
Apoi ii grai:
- Abia din clipa asta sunt mintuit! pana acu , pot zice c-am trait intr-un vis, pentru ca straina asta ma vrajise sa nu mai stiu de tine, sa te uit!...
Se gindira ei sa paraseasca in mare graba palatul asta blestemat, dar cum tatal logodnicei era vrajitor, se temura sa plece pe fata, ca sa nu abata asupra lor vreo urgie. Si strecurindu-se prin intunericul noptii, ajunsera pana la locul unde-si avea cuibul pasarea Grif. I se urcara pe spinare si pasarea se avinta cu ei in zbor. Zbura ea ce zbura si, pasamite, iar ajunse la Marea Rosie. cand fu sa treaca de mijlocul ei, fata isi aduse aminte de povata pe care i-o daduse vintul noptii, si lasa sa cada nuca. Cazu ea in valuri si numai ce se ridica dintre coamele inspumate un coscogeamite nuc, ca atingea cerul cu crestetul... Pasarea Grif se lasa din zbor pe una din ramurile nucuku si se hodini strasnic. Si cand se simti iar in puteri, se avinta din nou in vazduh, si-i duse acasa, mai repede decat gindul... Ei, si acasa pe cine credeti ca-l gasira? Chiar pe coconul lor, care-n ast timp se facuse o mindrete de flacau de ziceai ca-i picat din soare. Si de atunci nimeni nu le-a mai casunat nici un rau, si-au trait tustrei fericiti pana la sfirsitul vietii lor.

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