One-eye, two-eyes, and three-eyes


Pomul cu merele de aur

There was once a woman who had three daughters, the eldest of whom was called One-eye, because she had only one eye in the middle of her forehead, and the second, Two-eyes, because she had two eyes like other folks, and the youngest, Three-eyes, because she had three eyes; and her third eye was also in the centre of her forehead. However, as Two-eyes saw just as other human beings did, her sisters and her mother could not endure her. They said to her, "Thou, with thy two eyes, art no better than the common people; thou dost not belong to us!" They pushed her about, and threw old clothes to her, and gave her nothing to eat but what they left, and did everything that they could to make her unhappy. It came to pass that Two-eyes had to go out into the fields and tend the goat, but she was still quite hungry, because her sisters had given her so little to eat. So she sat down on a ridge and began to weep, and so bitterly that two streams ran down from her eyes. And once when she looked up in her grief, a woman was standing beside her, who said, "Why art thou weeping, little Two-eyes?" Two-Eyes answered, "Have I not reason to weep, when I have two eyes like other people, and my sisters and mother hate me for it, and push me from one corner to another, throw old clothes at me, and give me nothing to eat but the scraps they leave? To-day they have given me so little that I am still quite hungry." Then the wise woman said, "Wipe away thy tears, Two-eyes, and I will tell thee something to stop thee ever suffering from hunger again; just say to thy goat,

"Bleat, my little goat, bleat,
Cover the table with something to eat,"

and then a clean well-spread little table will stand before thee, with the most delicious food upon it of which thou mayst eat as much as thou art inclined for, and when thou hast had enough, and hast no more need of the little table, just say,

"Bleat, bleat, my little goat, I pray,
And take the table quite away,"

and then it will vanish again from thy sight." Hereupon the wise woman departed. But Two-eyes thought, "I must instantly make a trial, and see if what she said is true, for I am far too hungry," and she said,

"Bleat, my little goat, bleat,
Cover the table with something to eat,"

and scarcely had she spoken the words than a little table, covered with a white cloth, was standing there, and on it was a plate with a knife and fork, and a silver spoon; and the most delicious food was there also, warm and smoking as if it had just come out of the kitchen. Then Two-eyes said the shortest prayer she knew, "Lord God, be with us always, Amen," and helped herself to some food, and enjoyed it. And when she was satisfied, she said, as the wise woman had taught her,

"Bleat, bleat, my little goat, I pray,
And take the table quite away,"

and immediately the little table and everything on it was gone again. "That is a delightful way of keeping house!" thought Two-eyes, and was quite glad and happy.

In the evening, when she went home with her goat, she found a small earthenware dish with some food, which her sisters had set ready for her, but she did not touch it. Next day she again went out with her goat, and left the few bits of broken bread which had been handed to her, lying untouched. The first and second time that she did this, her sisters did not remark it at all, but as it happened every time, they did observe it, and said, "There is something wrong about Two-eyes, she always leaves her food untasted, and she used to eat up everything that was given her; she must have discovered other ways of getting food." In order that they might learn the truth, they resolved to send One-eye with Two-eyes when she went to drive her goat to the pasture, to observe what Two-eyes did when she was there, and whether any one brought her anything to eat and drink. So when Two-eyes set out the next time, One-eye went to her and said, "I will go with you to the pasture, and see that the goat is well taken care of, and driven where there is food." But Two-eyes knew what was in One-eye's mind, and drove the goat into high grass and said, "Come, One-eye, we will sit down, and I will sing something to you." One-eye sat down and was tired with the unaccustomed walk and the heat of the sun, and Two-eyes sang constantly,

"One eye, wakest thou?
One eye, sleepest thou?"

until One-eye shut her one eye, and fell asleep, and as soon as Two-eyes saw that One-eye was fast asleep, and could discover nothing, she said,

"Bleat, my little goat, bleat,
Cover the table with something to eat,"

and seated herself at her table, and ate and drank until she was satisfied, and then she again cried,

"Bleat, bleat, my little goat, I pray,
And take the table quite away,"

and in an instant all was gone. Two-eyes now awakened One-eye, and said, "One-eye, you want to take care of the goat, and go to sleep while you are doing it, and in the meantime the goat might run all over the world. Come, let us go home again." So they went home, and again Two-eyes let her little dish stand untouched, and One-eye could not tell her mother why she would not eat it, and to excuse herself said, "I fell asleep when I was out."

Next day the mother said to Three-eyes, "This time thou shalt go and observe if Two-eyes eats anything when she is out, and if any one fetches her food and drink, for she must eat and drink in secret." So Three-eyes went to Two-eyes, and said, "I will go with you and see if the goat is taken proper care of, and driven where there is food." But Two-eyes knew what was in Three-eyes' mind, and drove the goat into high grass and said, "We will sit down, and I will sing something to you, Three-eyes." Three-eyes sat down and was tired with the walk and with the heat of the sun, and Two-eyes began the same song as before, and sang,

"Three eyes, are you waking?"

but then, instead of singing,

"Three eyes, are you sleeping?"

as she ought to have done, she thoughtlessly sang,

"Two eyes, are you sleeping?"

and sang all the time,

"Three eyes, are you waking?
Two eyes, are you sleeping?"

Then two of the eyes which Three-eyes had, shut and fell asleep, but the third, as it had not been named in the song, did not sleep. It is true that Three-eyes shut it, but only in her cunning, to pretend it was asleep too, but it blinked, and could see everything very well. And when Two-eyes thought that Three-eyes was fast asleep, she used her little charm,

"Bleat, my little goat, bleat,
Cover the table with something to eat,"

and ate and drank as much as her heart desired, and then ordered the table to go away again,

"Bleat, bleat, my little goat, I pray,
And take the table quite away,"

and Three-eyes had seen everything. Then Two-eyes came to her, waked her and said, "Have you been asleep, Three-eyes? You are a good care-taker! Come, we will go home." And when they got home, Two-eyes again did not eat, and Three-eyes said to the mother, "Now, I know why that high-minded thing there does not eat. When she is out, she says to the goat,

"Bleat, my little goat, bleat,
Cover the table with something to eat,"

and then a little table appears before her covered with the best of food, much better than any we have here, and when she has eaten all she wants, she says,

"Bleat, bleat, my little goat, I pray,
And take the table quite away,"

and all disappears. I watched everything closely. She put two of my eyes to sleep by using a certain form of words, but luckily the one in my forehead kept awake." Then the envious mother cried, "Dost thou want to fare better than we do? The desire shall pass away," and she fetched a butcher's knife, and thrust it into the heart of the goat, which fell down dead.

When Two-eyes saw that, she went out full of trouble, seated herself on the ridge of grass at the edge of the field, and wept bitter tears. Suddenly the wise woman once more stood by her side, and said, "Two-eyes, why art thou weeping?" - "Have I not reason to weep?" she answered. "The goat which covered the table for me every day when I spoke your charm, has been killed by my mother, and now I shall again have to bear hunger and want." The wise woman said, "Two-eyes, I will give thee a piece of good advice; ask thy sisters to give thee the entrails of the slaughtered goat, and bury them in the ground in front of the house, and thy fortune will be made." Then she vanished, and Two-eyes went home and said to her sisters, "Dear sisters, do give me some part of my goat; I don't wish for what is good, but give me the entrails." Then they laughed and said, "If that's all you want, you can have it." So Two-eyes took the entrails and buried them quietly in the evening, in front of the house-door, as the wise woman had counselled her to do.

Next morning, when they all awoke, and went to the house-door, there stood a strangely magnificent tree with leaves of silver, and fruit of gold hanging among them, so that in all the wide world there was nothing more beautiful or precious. They did not know how the tree could have come there during the night, but Two-eyes saw that it had grown up out of the entrails of the goat, for it was standing on the exact spot where she had buried them. Then the mother said to One-eye, "Climb up, my child, and gather some of the fruit of the tree for us." One-eye climbed up, but when she was about to get hold of one of the golden apples, the branch escaped from her hands, and that happened each time, so that she could not pluck a single apple, let her do what she might. Then said the mother, "Three-eyes, do you climb up; you with your three eyes can look about you better than One-eye." One-eye slipped down, and Three-eyes climbed up. Three-eyes was not more skilful, and might search as she liked, but the golden apples always escaped her. At length the mother grew impatient, and climbed up herself, but could get hold of the fruit no better than One-eye and Three-eyes, for she always clutched empty air. Then said Two-eyes, "I will just go up, perhaps I may succeed better." The sisters cried, "You indeed, with your two eyes, what can you do?" But Two-eyes climbed up, and the golden apples did get out of her way, but came into her hand of their own accord, so that she could pluck them one after the other, and brought a whole apronful down with her. The mother took them away from her, and instead of treating poor Two-eyes any better for this, she and One-eye and Three-eyes were only envious, because Two-eyes alone had been able to get the fruit, and they treated her still more cruelly.

It so befell that once when they were all standing together by the tree, a young knight came up. "Quick, Two-eyes," cried the two sisters, "creep under this, and don't disgrace us!" and with all speed they turned an empty barrel which was standing close by the tree over poor Two-eyes, and they pushed the golden apples which she had been gathering, under it too. When the knight came nearer he was a handsome lord, who stopped and admired the magnificent gold and silver tree, and said to the two sisters, "To whom does this fine tree belong? Any one who would bestow one branch of it on me might in return for it ask whatsoever he desired." Then One-eye and Three-eyes replied that the tree belonged to them, and that they would give him a branch. They both took great trouble, but they were not able to do it, for the branches and fruit both moved away from them every time. Then said the knight, "It is very strange that the tree should belong to you, and that you should still not be able to break a piece off." They again asserted that the tree was their property. Whilst they were saying so, Two-eyes rolled out a couple of golden apples from under the barrel to the feet of the knight, for she was vexed with One-eye and Three-eyes, for not speaking the truth. When the knight saw the apples he was astonished, and asked where they came from. One-eye and Three-eyes answered that they had another sister, who was not allowed to show herself, for she had only two eyes like any common person. The knight, however, desired to see her, and cried, "Two-eyes, come forth." Then Two-eyes, quite comforted, came from beneath the barrel, and the knight was surprised at her great beauty, and said, "Thou, Two-eyes, canst certainly break off a branch from the tree for me." - "Yes," replied Two-eyes, "that I certainly shall be able to do, for the tree belongs to me." And she climbed up, and with the greatest ease broke off a branch with beautiful silver leaves and golden fruit, and gave it to the knight. Then said the knight, "Two-eyes, what shall I give thee for it?" - "Alas!" answered Two-eyes, "I suffer from hunger and thirst, grief and want, from early morning till late night; if you would take me with you, and deliver me from these things, I should be happy." So the knight lifted Two-eyes on to his horse, and took her home with him to his father's castle, and there he gave her beautiful clothes, and meat and drink to her heart's content, and as he loved her so much he married her, and the wedding was solemnized with great rejoicing. When Two-eyes was thus carried away by the handsome knight, her two sisters grudged her good fortune in downright earnest. The wonderful tree, however, still remains with us," thought they, "and even if we can gather no fruit from it, still every one will stand still and look at it, and come to us and admire it. Who knows what good things may be in store for us?" But next morning, the tree had vanished, and all their hopes were at an end. And when Two-eyes looked out of the window of her own little room, to her great delight it was standing in front of it, and so it had followed her.

Two-eyes lived a long time in happiness. Once two poor women came to her in her castle, and begged for alms. She looked in their faces, and recognized her sisters, One-eye, and Three-eyes, who had fallen into such poverty that they had to wander about and beg their bread from door to door. Two-eyes, however, made them welcome, and was kind to them, and took care of them, so that they both with all their hearts repented the evil that they had done their sister in their youth.
A fost odata o femeie si femeia asta avea trei fete. Pe cea mare o chema Un-ochi, pentru ca avea un singur ochi si era asezat ochiul acesta tocmai in mijlocul fruntii; pe cea mijlocie o chema Doi-ochi, pentru ca avea doi ochi, iar pe cea mai mica, Trei-ochi, cel de-al treilea fiind asezat tot in mijlocul fruntii. si fiindca Doi-ochi nu se deosebea la infatisare de ceilalti oameni, surorile si maica-sa nu o puteau suferi si mereu o ocarau:

- Tu, cu cei doi ochi ai tai, parca esti mai pricopsita decat lumea de rand?! Se vede cat de colo ca nu faci parte din neamul nostru!

O tineau numai in zdrente pe biata fata si nu-i dadeau sa manance decat resturile care cadeau de la masa lor. si ori de cate ori le rasarea in cale, sareau la ea s-o imbranceasca si-i amarau viata la orice prilej.

Si prilejuri d-astea, slava Domnului, gaseau destule! intr-una din zile, trebuind sa mearga cu capra la pascut, Doi-ochi ramase tare flamanda, caci dusmancele de surori ii pusesera-n traista mancare pe sponci. si fiindca o chinuia grozav foamea, se aseza la o margine de drum si incepu a plange. si planse, si planse, pana ce se adunara din lacrimile ei doua paraiase. Cum se tanguia ea asa, numai ce ridica o data capul din pamant si ce-i vazura ochii? Langa dansa statea o femeie, care o intreba cu blandete:

- Doi-ochi, de ce plangi asa de amarnic? si Doi-ochi raspunse suspinand:

- Cum sa nu plang daca maica-mea si surorile mele ma prigonesc fara incetare? Din pricina ca am doi ochi, ca toata lumea, ma azvarla dintr-un colt intr-altul, ma imbraca numai in zdrente si-mi dau sa mananc doar firimiturile ramase de la masa lor. stii, azi mi-au dat atat de putina mancare, ca sunt moarta de foame!

Atunci femeia, care, pasamite, era o zana, grai:

- Daca doar asta ti-e durerea, sterge-ti lacrimile si nu mai plange, ca o sa te-nvat eu cum sa-ti potolesti foamea.

Uite, n-ai decat sa-i spui caprei:

Capra, behaie,

Masa, pune-te!

si-o masa randuita cu tot dichisul o sa ti se puna dinainte, incarcata cu cele mai alese bucate si-o sa poti manca dupa pofta inimii. Iar dupa ce te-oi satura, spune-i doar atat caprei:

Capra, behaie,

Masa, ridica-te!

si masa o sa dispara ca si cum n-ar fi fost.

Dupa ce grai aceste cuvinte, zana isi vazu de drum. Ramasa singura, Doi-ochi gandi in sinea ei: "N-am incotro; prea sunt lihnita de foame ca sa incerc alta data ce m-a povatuit. Mai stii, poate ca cele spuse de femeia aceea se vor dovedi adevarate."

si striga catre capra:

Capra, behaie,

Masa, pune-te!

N-apuca bine sa sfarseasca ce-avea de zis si numai ce i se puse dinainte o masa asternuta cu o fata alba ca zapada; iar pe masa, randuite cum se cuvenea, o farfurie, un cutit, o furculita si o lingura, toate numai din argint. Cat despre mancarurile care se insirau pe masa, ce sa va mai spun, erau dintre cele mai alese si abureau de parca ar fi fost luate chiar atunci de pe vatra.

Fata manca din toate cu pofta, caci flamanzise de ajuns. Dupa ce se satura de-a binelea, grai catre capra, asa cum o invatase zana:

Capra, behaie,

Masa, ridica-te!

si masa disparu pe data ca si cum n-ar fi fost.

"asta-i un lucru minunat! gandi Doi-ochi. De-acuma s-a sfarsit cu foamea!"

si biata fata era vesela si zburda de fericire.

Seara, cand se intoarse cu capra de la pasune, gasi pe masa, intr-o strachioara de pamant, bruma de mancare pe care i-o lasasera surorile cele haine. Dar Doi-ochi nici nu se atinse de ea.

A doua zi porni din nou cu capra la pascut si la inapoiere lasa neatinse in strachina firimiturile pe care i le pusesera surorile.

Prima si a doua oara surorile nu observara nimic. Dar cum mancarea ramanea mereu neatinsa in strachina, greu nu le fu sa bage de seama asta. Se minunara ele de asa treaba si incepura a-si destainui gandurile:

- Cu Doi-ochi nu-i lucru curat. inainte venea sa se planga ca nu-i ajunge cat ii dadeam si manca de nu mai ramanea nici o picatura, iar acuma nu se mai atinge de nimic. Pesemne c-a gasit vreun alt mijloc ca sa-si astampere foamea.

Ca sa afle adevarul, hotarara ca Un-ochi s-o insoteasca pe Doi-ochi cand s-o duce a doua zi cu capra la pasune. Nu era treaba usoara, caci trebuia sa bage bine de seama ce se petrece acolo, daca nu cumva vreun strain ii aduce de mancare fetei.

A doua zi, cand Doi-ochi fu gata s-o porneasca la camp, Un-ochi se apropie de dansa si-i spuse:

- Azi merg si eu cu tine! Vreau sa vad daca pazesti capra bine si daca o hranesti asa cum se cuvine.

Dar Doi-ochi ghici indata cam ce fel de ganduri nutrea Un-ochi, ca venea numai ca s-o iscodeasca. Mana capra pe unde era iarba mai inalta si mai grasa si o lasa sa pasca in voie. Apoi spuse catre Un-ochi:

- Hai sa ne asezam putintel pe iarba! stiu un cantec, o minune... N-ai vrea sa-l auzi?

Un-ochi se invoi bucuroasa, caci drumul cel lung, pe arsita soarelui, o cam obosise. Se lasa usurel in iarba si Doi-ochi incepu sa-i cante la ureche:

Un-ochi, esti treaza, oare?

Un-ochi, dormi, oare?

Canta ea asa, intr-una, pana ce Un-ochi inchise ochiul si adormi. Daca vazu fata ca soru-sa dormea bustean, nu se mai temu c-ar putea sa vada ce se intampla. Chema deci capra si-i spuse:

Capra, behaie,

Masa, pune-te!

si se aseza dinaintea mesei, de manca si bau pana ce se satura. Apoi striga din nou:

Capra, behaie,

Masa, ridica-te!

si masa disparu pe data ca si cum n-ar fi fost. Spre seara o trezi pe Un-ochi din somn si-o cam lua in ras:

- Ei, surioara, parca ziceai ca vrei sa ingrijesti de capra si, cand colo, ai tras tot timpul la aghioase, de m-ai speriat! Daca nu eram eu aici, cine stie pe unde s-ar fi ratacit hoinara asta! si ar fi trebuit s-o cauti in toata lumea... Da' acu' scoala, ca-i timpul s-o pornim spre casa!

Au ajuns ele acasa si Doi-ochi nu s-a atins de strachina ei; iar Un-ochi statea ca muta si nu-i putu povesti de fel maica-sii din ce pricina capsomana de Doi-ochi nu voia sa ia macar o imbucatura.

- M-a prins somnul pe camp si-am adormit, asa ca nu stiu!, cerca Un-ochi sa se dezvinovateasca.

A doua zi, baba o chema pe Trei-ochi si-i spuse:

- Azi o sa mergi tu la pasune impreuna cu Doi-ochi. Da' vezi de baga bine de seama tot ce se petrece pe acolo, ca nu se poate sa nu fie cineva care-i aduce pe ascuns de mancat si de baut.

Trei-ochi o cauta pe soru-sa si-i spuse:

- Maine o sa merg cu tine si eu; vreau sa vad daca ingrijesti bine capra si daca o hranesti asa cum se cuvine.

Dar fata pricepu ce ganduri nutrea Trei-ochi, ca venea numai ca s-o iscodeasca. Mana capra pe unde era iarba mai inalta si mai grasa si apoi grai catre soru-sa:

- Hai sa ne asezam putintel pe iarba! stiu eu un cantec, o minune! N-ai vrea sa-l auzi?

Trei-ochi se invoi si ea bucuroasa, caci drumul cel lung, pe arsita soarelui, o cam molesise. Se lasa usurel in iarba si Doi-ochi incepu sa-i cante la ureche:

Trei-ochi, esti treaza, oare?

Dar in loc sa continue cantecul:

Trei-ochi, dormi, oare?

Canta din neatentie:

Doi-ochi, dormi, oare?

si canta asa, mereu:

Trei-ochi, esti treaza, oare?

Doi-ochi, dormi, oare?

si incepu s-o cuprinda somnul pe Trei-ochi, pana cand cei doi ochi ii adormira de-a binelea; dar cel de-al treilea, pe care cantecul nu-l putuse vraji, ramase treaz. Dar cum era vicleana, Trei-ochi inchise si ochiul al treilea, ca sa para ca-i si el cuprins de somn.

Din cand in cand insa tragea cate-o ocheada si prindea cu privirea tot ce se petrecea in jur. Iar Doi-ochi, fiind incredintata ca Trei-ochi doarme in lege, striga:

Capra, behaie,

Masa, pune-te!

si dupa ce manca si bau dupa pofta inimii, porunci mesei sa dispara, cu tot ce avea pe dansa:

Capra, behaie,

Masa, ridica-te!

Dar vezi ca Trei-ochi vazuse totul, hotomana... Catre seara, Doi-ochi se apropie de locul unde dormea soru-sa si, trezind-o, o cam lua in ras:

- Ei, surioara, da' stii c-ai dormit, nu gluma! Strasnic te mai pricepi sa pasti capra! Hai, scoala, ca-i timpul s-o pornim spre casa!

Ajunsera ele acasa si Doi-ochi iar lasa mancarea neatinsa in strachina. Dar de data asta nu-i mai merse, caci Trei-ochi ii dezvalui mama-sii totul:

- Acum am aflat de ce nu vrea fudula asta sa se mai atinga de mancarea noastra! Pe camp, cum ii spune caprei:

Capra, behaie,

Masa, pune-te!

Cat ai clipi, i se si asterne dinainte o masa incarcata cu tot felul de mancari alese, dar stii, niste bunatati din care nu ne-am ospatat noi niciodata! si dupa ce se satura, numai ce-o auzi ca spune:

Capra, behaie,

Masa, ridica-te!

si masa dispare de parca nici n-ar fi fost. Le-am vazut pe toate astea cum te vad si cum ma vezi. Nu-i vorba, a incercat ea sa ma adoarma cu cantecul ei, dar noroc ca ochiul din frunte mi-a ramas treaz.

Auzind cele ce-i spune Trei-ochi, scorpia de baba se umplu de fiere si striga:

- Cum, golanca asta sa manance mai bine decat noi?! Lasa, c-o sa-i treaca ei pofta!

Se repezi furioasa in bucatarie, apuca un cutit si-l infipse in inima caprei, astfel ca nevinovatul dobitoc isi dadu pe loc duhul.

Cand Doi-ochi vazu capra teapana si fara suflare, o cuprinse jalea si, nemairabdand sa stea in casa, o porni in nestire pe camp. Dupa ce obosi de atata umblet, se aseza la o margine de drum si incepu sa planga cu lacrimi amare. si deodata, zana fu din nou langa ea si-o intreba cu blandete:

- Doi-ochi, de ce plangi iarasi?

- Cum sa nu plang, suspina Doi-ochi, daca mama mi-a omorat capra? in fiecare zi o rugam frumos, asa cum ma invatasesi matale, si-mi asternea numai bunatati pe masa, de mancam pe indestulate. Dar acu', totul s-a sfarsit: iar o sa rabd de foame si-or sa ma napadeasca necazurile!

Zana insa o imbarbata:

- Nu te necaji, Doi-ochi, ci mai bine asculta de sfatul pe care ti-l dau, ca e un sfat bun. Roaga-te de surorile tale sa-ti dea maruntaiele caprei si, de cum le-oi avea, ingroapa-le in pamant, dinaintea usii. De-i face asa cum iti spun, n-o sa-ti para rau.

si pieri parca luata de vant.

Doi-ochi alerga indata acasa si le ruga pe cele doua surori:

- Dragi surioare, dati-mi si mie ceva de la capra. Ca doar nu cer cine stie ce, si m-as multumi si cu maruntaiele.

Surorile se pornira pe ras:

- Daca e vorba numai de-atata, ia-le!

Doi-ochi lua maruntaiele si cand se lasa noaptea le ingropa pe ascuns dinaintea usii, asa cum o povatuise zana.

A doua zi cand se trezira cu toatele si dadura sa iasa pe usa, ce sa vezi? Drept in fata lor se inalta o minunatie de pom, cu frunzele de argint si incarcat cu poame de aur! si era marul asta asa de frumos, ca nu cred sa-i fi gasit pereche pe lume. Fetele cascau ochii de mirare si se minunau cum de-a putut creste peste noapte un asemenea pom. Dar Doi-ochi pricepu ca marul rasarise din maruntaiele caprei, caci el crescuse tocmai pe locul unde ea le ingropase.

Dupa ce li se mai potoli mirarea, baba o indemna pe Un-ochi:

- Urca-te in pom, fata mea, si culege niste mere! Un-ochi se urca in pom, dar cum dadea sa apuce un mar de aur, crengile ii scapau din maini de parca le-ar fi gonit vreun duh. incerca ea de mai multe ori, dar de fiecare data patea la fel. si desi se caznise din rasputeri si se inversunase, nu putu culege nici un mar.

Vazand ca Un-ochi se trudeste degeaba, maica-sa o striga pe fata cea mijlocie:

- Trei-ochi, ia urca-te tu in pom, ca soru-ta nu-i buna de nimic! Cu cei trei ochi ai tai o sa vezi mai bine merele decat Un-ochi.

Un-ochi se dadu jos din pom si se urca soru-sa. Dar nici ea nu se dovedi mai indemanatica. De-ar fi stat printre crengi o vesnicie, tot n-ar fi reusit sa apuce un mar, ca de indata ce intindea mana merele se dadeau la o parte.

Pana la urma, baba isi pierdu rabdarea si, cum era suparata foc, se urca si ea in pom. Dar o pati la fel ca si cele doua fiice ale sale: cand credea c-a pus mana pe-un mar, marul numai ce-i scapa printre degete, de ramanea cu mainile-n gol... si asa se facu ca n-a putut culege nici unul...

Atunci Doi-ochi spuse:

- Ia sa incerc si eu, poate c-oi izbuti. Dar surorile o infruntara:

- Te-ai gasit tocmai tu! Ce isprava ai putea face cu ai doi ochi ai tai?

Fata nu lua insa seama la vorbele lor si se urca in pom. si de cum ajunse sus, merele de aur nu se mai trasera indarat, ci-i veneau la indemana, numai bine sa le culeaga. si asa aduna Doi-ochi o poala plina. Maica-sa i le lua indata si se infurie la gandul ca numai nevolnica de Doi-ochi izbutise sa culeaga merele, in timp ce ea si cele doua fiice ale sale nu putusera face nici o isprava. si-n loc sa-i multumeasca cu toatele, prinsera si mai mare ura pe dansa si incepura a o prigoni si mai mult.

intr-o zi, cum stateau tustrele in jurul pomului, se intampla sa treaca pe-acolo calare un tanar ce parea a fi de neam. Zarindu-l de departe, cele doua surori strigara:

- Doi-ochi, ascunde-te repede, sa nu ne faci cumva casa de ocara!

si apucand in graba un butoi gol ce se afla langa pom, il rasturnara peste Doi-ochi si mai tupilara sub el si merele de aur pe care tocmai le culesese fata.

Calaretul se apropie de poarta si ce sa va spun! Era un voinic de flacau, tare mandru la chip! Opri calul si, parca fermecat, ramase cu ochii atintiti la minunatia de pom cu frunzele de argint si poame de aur.

- Al cui o fi pomul asta nemaivazut? intreba el pe cele doua surori. Ca de mi-ar darui si mie o creanga, i-as da orice mi-ar cere in schimb. Cele doua surori il incredintara ca pomul e al lor si se aratara bucuroase sa-i poata indeplini dorinta. Dar oricat se straduira sa rupa o creanga, totul fu zadarnic: crengile cu poame se trageau tot mereu inapoi, de nu fu chip sa apuce nici una din ele barem o crenguta.

Atunci flacaul le zise:

- Mare minune si asta! V-ati laudat c-ar fi pomul vostru si, cand colo, nu sunteti in stare sa rupeti macar o creanga din el!

Dar ele nu si nu, o tineau intruna ca pomul ar fi al lor. Doi-ochi auzise totul si, inciudata ca surorile ei nu spuneau adevarul, ridica butoiul si dadu drumul la cateva mere, care se oprira tocmai la picioarele flacaului. Cand le vazu, ramase cu ochii la ele, uimit, si intreba de unde veneau merele. si cum n-avura incotro, surorile trebuira sa marturiseasca, spasite, ca mai au o sora, dar ca pe sora asta a lor nu o puteau lasa sa se infatiseze dinaintea flacaului, caci nu avea decat doi ochi, ca toti oamenii de rand... Calaretul nu lua seama la vorbele lor si, cum voia s-o vada, striga:

- Doi-ochi, unde esti? Ia vino incoace!

Atunci Doi-ochi iesi fara teama de sub butoi si calaretul, fermecat de-o asemenea frumusete nepamanteana, ii vorbi cu toata caldura:

- imi spune inima ca tu ai sa poti rupe o creanga din pom!

- De buna seama c-am sa pot, raspunse Doi-ochi, ca doar e pomul meu.

Se urca in pom si fara nici un pic de osteneala rupse o creanga cu frunze subtirele de argint si poame de aur si-o intinse flacaului.

- Cu ce te-as putea rasplati? intreba el.

- Vai de mine, sarmana! De dimineata si pana seara trebuie sa rabd de foame si de sete si-mi duc viata numai in amar si suferinta. De te-ai indura sa ma iei cu tine si sa ma mantui de chinul acesta, altceva nu mi-ar mai trebui!

Flacaul se apleca spre ea si, ridicand-o usurel, ca pe-o dulce povara, o aseza langa el pe sa si-o aduse acasa, la palatul lui. Acolo porunci sa i se dea cele mai frumoase vesminte si sa fie ospatata dupa pofta inimii. si fiindca o indragise nespus, o lua de nevasta. si praznuira o nunta cu mare alai si veselie.

Daca vazura surorile ca flacaul cel frumos o ia pe Doi-ochi cu el, incepura s-o pizmuiasca si mai mult pentru norocul care daduse peste ea.

Dar de la o vreme parca incepu sa li se ogoiasca inima... si prinsera a gandi ele in sinea lor: "Barem tot e bine ca ne-a ramas un lucru de pret; pomul cel minunat e aici si, cu toate ca niciodata n-o sa-i putem culege roadele, o sa i se duca faima atat de departe, ca o multime de oameni, de prin toate colturile lumii, vor veni sa-l priveasca si sa-l laude! si, cine stie, poate c-o sa ne surada iar norocul!" Dar si aceasta speranta se spulbera ca un vis. A doua zi dimineata, ia pomul de unde nu-i! Pierise ca fumul... si o data cu el pierise si nadejdea... si chiar in aceeasi zi, privind pe fereastra, Doi-ochi vazu minunatia de pom cu frunzele de argint in fata iatacului ei... Ce alta ar fi putut sa-i bucure mai mult sufletul?! Pomul isi urmase stapana.

Trai Doi-ochi ani multi, in bucurie si fericire, si aproape ca uitase cate avusese de patimit de pe urma celor doua surori haine. Dar iata ca intr-o buna zi doua femei sarmane batura la poarta castelului, cerand de pomana. si privindu-le mai cu luare-aminte, Doi-ochi recunoscu in cele doua cersetoare pe surorile ei. Saracisera intr-atat, ca ajunsesera sa mearga din poarta-n poarta, cerand sa fie miluite macar c-un codru de paine.

Doi-ochi le primi cu bucurie si se ingriji ca de acum incolo sa nu mai duca lipsa de nimic. Iar cele doua surori haine, vazand atata bunatate din partea ei, se caira amarnic pentru raul pe care i-l facusera in tinerete.

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