Emperor Aleodor, Aleodor Imparat, is a Romanian folktale gathered by Romanian folklorist and writer Petre Ispirescu in 1875 and translated into English in 19th by historian and linguist Robert Nisbet Bain. I did very little to change Nisbet Bain’s skillful translation. I liked his choice of early modern English, I thought it gives Emperor Aleodor a charming old-fashioned patina. Read part one here.
“So Aleodor departed. He went on and on, thinking over and over again how he was to accomplish his task, and how to keep his word. When he realized that his steps had brought him to the edge of a pond, and there he saw a pike dashing its life out on the shore.
Aleodor immediately went up to it, eager to satisfy his hunger. When the pike spoke to him: “Slay me not, Beautiful Boy! But cast me rather back into the water again, and then I will do thee good whenever thou dost think of me.”
Aleodor respected the pike’s wish and threw it back into the water. Then the pike said to him again: “Take this scale, and whenever thou dost look at it and think of me I will be with thee.”
So the lad went on in his quest, marveling greatly at such a strange encounter.
Presently he fell in with a crow that had one wing broken. He would have killed the crow and eaten it, but the crow said to him: “Beautiful Boy, Beautiful Boy, why wilt thou burden thy soul on my account? Far better were it if thou didst bind up my wing, and much good will I requite thee with for thy kindness.”
Aleodor listened, for his heart was as kind as his hand was cunning; and he bound up the crow’s wing. When he made ready to go on again, the crow said to him: “Take this feather, thou gallant lad, and whenever thou dost look at it and think of me, I will be with thee.”
Then Aleodor took the feather and went on his way.
He hadn’t gone a hundred paces further when he stumbled upon a horse-fly. He would have trodden upon it when the horse-fly said: “Spare my life, Emperor Aleodor, and I’ll deliver thee also from death! Take this little bit of membrane from my wing, and whenever thou dost think of me, I’ll be with thee.”
When Aleodor heard these words, and how the horse-fly called him by his name, he raised his foot right away and let the horse-fly go where it would.
And he also went on his way, and after journeying for I know not how many days he came at last to the palace of the Green Emperor. There he knocked at the gate and stood waiting for someone to come out and ask him what he wanted.
He stood there one day, he stood there two days, but as for any one coming out to ask him what he wanted, there was no sign of it. When the third day dawned, however, the Green Emperor called to his servants and gave them a talking to that they were likely to remember.
“How comes it,” said he, “that a man should be standing at my gates three days without anyone going out to ask him what he wants? Is this what I pay you wages for?”
The servants of the Green Emperor looked up, and they looked down, but they had not one word to say for themselves. At last they went and called Aleodor and led him before the Emperor.
“What dost thou want, my son?” inquired the Emperor; “and wherefore art thou waiting at the gates of my court?”
“I have come, great Emperor, to seek thy daughter.”
“Good, my son. But, first of all, we must come to an agreement together, for such is the custom at my court. Thou are allowed to hide thyself wheresoever thou wilt three times running. If my daughter finds thee all three times, thy head shall be struck off and stuck on a stake, the only one out of a hundred that has not a suitor’s head upon it. But if she does not find thee thrice, thou shalt have her from me with all imperial courtesy.”
“My hope, great Emperor, is in the Lord, Who will not allow me to perish. We will put something else on this stake of thine, but not the head of a man. Let us hand on it.”
“Thou dost agree?”
So they closed the deal, and the deeds were drawn out and signed and sealed.
Then the daughter of the Emperor met him the next day, and it was arranged that he should hide himself as best he could. But now he was in an agony that tortured him worse than death, for he bethought him again and again where and how he could best hide himself, for nothing less than his head was at stake. Nothing less, nothing more. And as he kept walking about, and brooding and pondering, he remembered the pike. Then he took out the fish’s scale, looked at it, and thought of the fish’s master, and immediately, oh wonderful!—the pike stood before him and said: “What dost thou want of me, Beautiful-Boy?”
“What do I want? Thou mayest well ask that! Look what has happened to me! Canst thou not tell me what to do?”
“That is thy business no longer. Leave it to me!”
And immediately, striking Aleodor with his tail, he turned him into a little shell-fish and hid him among the other little shell-fish at the bottom of the sea.
When the damsel rose from her sleep that morning she picked up her eye-glass and looked for him in every direction, but could see him nowhere. Her other wooers had hidden themselves in caves, or behind houses, or under haycocks and haystacks, or in some hole or corner, but Aleodor hid himself in such a way that the damsel began to fear that she would be vanquished. Then it occurred to her to turn her eye-glass towards the sea, and she saw him beneath a heap of mussels. But you must know that her eye-glass was a magic eye-glass.
“I see thee, thou rascal,” cried she and then she laughed, “how thou hast bothered me, to be sure! From being a man thou hast made thyself a mussel, and hidden thyself at the bottom of the sea.”
This he couldn’t deny, so of course, he had to come up again.
But she said to the Emperor: “Methinks, dear father, this youth will vanquish me. He is nice and comely too. Even if I find him all three times let me have him, for he is not stupid like the others. Why, thou canst see from his figure even how different he is.”
“We shall see,” replied the Emperor.”
~~~ end of part one~~~
Do return to find out if Aleodor got the Princess or not. And, of course, to discover who learned some lessons along the way.
Vonk the Horse is a story in rhyme inspired by true historical events that took place during the 18th century in South Africa, near the Cape of Storms, Cape Town today.
It depicts the true story of utmost bravery of Wolraad Woltemade, a Cape Dutch dairy farmer who lived during the 18th century. He gave his life rescuing sailors from the wreck of the ship De Jonge Thomas anchored in Table Bay, South Africa, on 1 June 1773
Of the 191 souls on board, only 53 survived and of these 14 were saved by Woltemade.
“Vonk” (Afrikaans/Dutch for “Spark”) is the name attributed to Wolraad Woltemade’s horse in a statue created by Mitford-Barbeton to commemorate the tragic event.
“On that early morning of June the 1st,
The weather worsened, the sea yelled: revenge!
“You shouldn’t be here,” the winds howled aloud.
“You broke the maritime law,” the waves threw back.
Both sea and wind kept pushing and pulling.
Five anchored ships; which one will be losing?
It was De Jonge Thomas, its anchor gave up
And the misty air echoed with shrieks of despair.
Louder than sea,
Stronger than wind.
A bridge of lost hopes
Between vessel and land.
The waves, like branches,Vonk the Horse by Patricia Furstenberg
Grabbing and pulling.
The wind, like fingers,
Tossing and turning.”