Reading Notes: Czech Folktales Part A

Sleepy John
-Sleepy John slept everywhere
-One day he fell asleep in a cart, whose owners returned and put him in a cask, which they left in the forest
-When John awake there were wolves surrounding the cask, and John feared for his life
-When one of the wolves stuck its tail through a hole in the barrel, John grabbed on
-As the wolf ran, the cask trampled along and frightened the wolves, who ran away
-He meets a hermit in the mountains who offers him shelter
-The hermit says he will die in three days and asks John to bury him
-The hermit then gives him gifts
-A stick: wherever he points the stick with a desire to go, he will find himself there
-A knapsack: whatever he desires will be inside
-A cap: that will make him invisible
-John hears how the Queen's dancing slippers are being worn down every night
-He goes to the King to accept the challenge of tracing her
-Once she thinks he is asleep in a room adjacent to hers, she sets off
-John is able to follow because of his magic trinkets
-He finds out each night she flys away with dragons to dance with devils in hell

The Twin Brothers
-A princess is cursed to live out her days as a fish
-A woman is attracted to a flock of birds talking to a fish
-The woman declares she wants to eat it, but the fish entreats her not to
-She promises her twin sons, even though the woman has never before been able to conceive
-The fish gives the woman very specific instructions: bury the fish in a field, plant a rose tree over it, and when the first roses bloom she will bear twin sons
-Then after three years the woman should dig in the same place to find two swords, her mare will bear two foals, and her dog will have two pups
-This way, each twin gets one of each
-The sons split up to journey east and west, looking to their swords to warn them if the other was in peril (in which case it would begin to rust)
-The first brother meets a nine headed dragon and defeats it
-The brother cuts out the tongues but leaves the heads, which a woodcutter finds
-He brings them back to his village, where the dragon was supposed to come to eat the local princess
-The man who could kill the beast before this would be granted her hand
-The princess didn't like the fact that she was to marry a poor woodcutter and delayed the wedding
-The knight rides into town and hears of all this
-He goes to the palace to question who really killed the dragon
-When the knight asks where the tongues are and the woodcutter insists he killed the dragon and it had not tongues, the woodcutter produces them
-He is declared the true dragon killer

A ponderous wolf. Source: Wikipedia


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