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Main > Romanian folktales > Fairy tale "Cunning Ileane"

Cunning Ileane

So Ileane arrived at the court disguised as a priest.

When she approached the prince's bed he was at the point of death, there were scarcely three breaths left in him.

"My son," said the false priest, Ileane, "you have summoned me to confess your sins to me. Think of the hour of death, and tell me all you have on your heart. Are you at variance with any one? Yes, or no?"

"With no one," replied the prince, "except Ileane, the youngest daughter of the emperor, our neighbor. And I hate her out of love and longing," he continued. "If I should not die, but recover, I will ask the emperor for her hand in marriage, and if I don't kill her the first night she shall be my faithful wife according to the law." Ileane heard these words, said a few in reply, and then went home. Here she soon understood why her sisters were wailing and lamenting, for they had heard that the emperor was returning home from the great war.

"You ought to rejoice," said Ileane, "when you hear that our kind father is coming home safe and well."

"We should rejoice," replied the sisters, "if our flowers had not withered, our apples had not rotted, and our birds had not stopped singing; but now we have reason to cry."

When Ileane heard these words she went to her room, saw the flower sprinkled with dew, the bird hungry, and the apple looking as if it wanted to say: "Eat me, little sister!"

So, to help her dear sisters, she gave the flower to one and the bird to the other, keeping only the beautiful apple for herself. So they waited for the arrival of the emperor, who was very stern in his commands.

When the monarch reached home, he approached his oldest daughter and asked for the flower, the bird, and the apple. She showed him nothing but the flower, and even that was half withered. The emperor said nothing, but went to his second daughter. She showed him only the little bird, and that, too, looked drooping. Again the emperor did not speak, but silently went up to his youngest daughter, clever Ileane.

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