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Main > Romanian folktales > Fairy tale "Cunning Ileane"

Cunning Ileane

When the princes heard of this insult they were still more enraged than before, sent another message to the two sisters and again prepared a revenge. As soon as the second sister received the news, she, too, pretended to be ill, called Ileane to her bed, and told her that she could not get well unless she tasted the wine in the princes' cellar. Ileane would have done any thing for her sister, so she took the little jug and prepared to go again.

When she reached the court she rushed into the cellar, and, panting for breath, said to the head-butler:

"For heaven's sake, don't you hear the emperor calling you? Make haste and see what is the matter." The butler took to his heels and ran as if he had received an imperial command. Ileane filled her jug with wine, poured out the rest on the cellar floor, and then hurried home.

The princes sent a third message to the two princesses and told them they must send Ileane in a different way from what they had done before. This time both the princesses feigned illness, called their sister to them, and told her that they could not get well unless Ileane brought them two of the princes' apples.

"My dear sisters," replied Ileane, "I would go through fire and water for you, how much more willingly to the princes." Taking the little jug she set off to find, seize, and bring back the fruit and save her dear sisters' lives.

When the youngest prince learned that Ileane was coming to the garden to steal the golden apples, he gave orders that, if groans were heard there, nobody must dare go in, but let the person who was wailing, moan in peace. Then he hid huge knives, swords, spears, and many other things in the earth under the tree that bore the golden apples, concealing them so that only the sharp points rose out of the ground. After he had finished, he hid himself in a clump of bushes and waited for Ileane. She came to the gate, and seeing the two huge lions that kept guard there flung each of them a piece of meat; the lions began to tear it, and the princess went to the apple tree, stepped cautiously between the knives, swords, spears, and other things, and climbed into it.

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