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Main > Romanian folktales > Fairy tale "The pea emperor"

The pea emperor

The emperor's son-in-law returned to the palace and said that he would take his wife home the next day. On his way back he met an old man in the fields, and, seeing how aged and feeble he was, he pitied him and offered him alms. The old man would accept nothing, but asked permission to enter his service, telling him that he would be none the worse for it, and the other received him. When the emperor heard that his son-in-law wanted to go to his own palace, he was so delighted that he commanded every thing to be arranged on a grand scale in order to accompany him with imperial honors.

Therefore, on the following day, the whole court was filled with nobles, soldiers, and attendants of all kinds. All the directions for the journey had been given by the old man who had taken service with the emperor's son-in-law; he said that he was the Pea Emperor's steward, and all praised his energy, dignity, and industry.

The emperor was in high spirits and set out with the empress, the Pea Emperor, and his bride, for his son-in-law's possessions. The old servant went before and had every thing in good order. But the poor Pea Emperor was as pale and dejected as if somebody had showered him with boiling water. He was thinking of the riddles and how he could guess them.

They drove and drove till they reached the fields. Here was a beautiful meadow, beyond it a grove like the Garden of Paradise. When the overseer of the fields saw them, he came up cap in hand.

"To whom do these estates belong, my friend?" asked the emperor.

"To the Pea Emperor," replied the man.

The emperor grew fat with joy, for he now believed that his son-in-law really was no beggar. They drove on some distance further and met numerous flocks and herds of all sorts of animals; the emperor asked one keeper after another to whom they belonged, and all replied: "To the Pea Emperor."

But when they reached the palace of the nine dragons the emperor marveled at its magnificence. Every thing was in order. They were received at the gate by a band of musicians, who played the most beautiful tunes ever heard.

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