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Czechoslovak folktale - Clever Manka

Clever Manka Story - Clever Manka is the titular character of a Czechoslovakian folk tale. This story is about a woman whose cleverness wins not only the heart of very wise king, but eventually his deep rooted respect. Manka gets "noticed" by the king when she first solves a riddle for her father presented by the king. Curious, the king wants to meet her but first tests her with more riddles, all of which she passes with incredible originality. Finally, they do marry, but the king has only one request. Read the full story.

Czechoslovak Fairy Tales and Folk Tales

Czechoslovak folktale,clever manka story summary,European Fairy Tales,Czechoslovak Fairy Tales and Folk Tales
There was once a rich farmer who was as grasping and unscrupulous as he was wealthy. He was constantly driving a hard bargain and always getting the better of his poor neighbors. One of these neighbors was a humble man who in return for service was to get from the farmer a heifer. After the time of payment came the farmer refused to Provide the shepherd the heifer and the shepherd was forced to put the issue before the burgomaster,

The burgomaster, who had been a young man and as yet not very experienced, listened to either side and if he had deliberated he stated;

"Instead of deciding this case, I will put a riddle to you both and the man who makes the best answer shall have the heifer.

Read to : The Goldenhorn

The farmer as well as the shepherd accepted this proposal and the burgomaster said:

Think out your answers and bring them to me at this same hour tomorrow."

The farmer went home in a temper. he growled. "What is the matter, husband?" His wife asked. "It's that new burgomaster. The old one would have given me the heifer without any argument, but this young man thinks to decide the case by asking us riddles."

After he told his wife what the riddle was, she cheered him greatly by telling him that she knew the answers simultaneously.

You know yourself nothing ever passes us on the road. As for the sweetest, did you ever taste honey any sweeter than ours? And I'm sure there's nothing richer than our chest of golden ducats that we've been laying by these forty years."

The farmer was delighted.

The shepherd if he got home was downcast and sad. He had a daughter, a clever girl named Manka, who met him at the door of his cabin and asked:

"What is it, father? What did the burgomaster say?"

"What is it?"

Hence the shepherd gave her the riddle and the following day as he was setting out for the burgomaster's, Manka told him what answers to make.

When he reached the burgomaster's house, the farmer was already there rubbing his hands and beaming with self-importance.

The burgomaster again propounded the riddle and then asked the farmer his replies.

The farmer cleared his throat and with a pompous air started:

The sweetest? The richest? What can be richer than my chest of golden ducats!"

Along with the farmer squared his shoulders and smiled triumphantly.

"H'm," said the young burgomaster, dryly. He then asked:

"What answers does the shepherd make?"

The shepherd bowed politely and said:

"The swiftest thing in the world is thought for thought can run any distance in the twinkling of an eye. The sweetest thing of all is sleep for when a man is tired and sad what can be sweeter? The richest thing is the earth for out of the earth come all the riches of the world."

"Good!" The burgomaster cried. "Good! The heifer goes to the shepherd!"

Afterwards the burgomaster said to the shepherd:

"Tell me, now, who gave you those answers? I'm sure they never came out of your own head,"

In the beginning the shepherd tried to not inform, but if the burgomaster pushed him he confessed that they came out of his daughter, Manka. The burgomaster, who believed that he would like to make another test of Manka's cleverness, delivered for ten eggs. He gave them to the shepherd and said:

"Take these eggs to Manka and tell her to have them hatched out by tomorrow and to bring me the chicks."

After the shepherd reached house and gave Manka the burgomaster's message, Manka said and laughed: "Take a handful of millet and go right back to the burgomaster. Say to him: 'My daughter sends you this millet. She says that if you plant, develop it, and have it harvested by tomorrow, she will bring you the ten girls and you can feed them the ripe grain.' "

When the burgomaster heard that, he laughed heartily,

"That's a clever girl of yours," he advised the shepherd. "If she's as comely as she is clever, I think I'd like to marry her. Tell her to come to see me, but she must come neither by day nor by night, neither riding nor walking, neither dressed nor undressed."

When Manka received this message she waited before another dawn when night was gone and day not yet arrived. Then she wrapped herself in a fishnet and, throwing one leg over a goat's back and keeping one foot on the floor, she went to the burgomaster's house.

Now I ask you: Why did she go dressed? No, she was not dressed, A fishnet isn't clothes. Can she go undressed? Certainly not, for was not she covered with a fishnet? Did she walk to the burgomaster's? No, she did not walk for she went with one leg thrown over a goat. Then did she ride? Of course she didn't ride for was not she walking on one foot?

When she reached the burgomaster's home she called out:

"Here I am, Mr. Burgomaster, and I've come neither by day nor by night, neither riding nor walking, neither dressed nor undressed."

The young burgomaster was so thrilled with Manka's cleverness and so happy with her comely looks that he proposed to her at the same time and in a short time married her.

"But understand, my dear Manka," he said, "you are not to use that cleverness of yours at my expense. I won't have you interfering in any of my cases. In fact if ever you give advice to any one who comes to me for judgment, I'll turn you out of my house at once and send you home to your father."

All went well for a time. Manka busied herself in her house-keeping and has been careful to not interfere in any of the burgomaster's cases.

Then 1 day two farmers arrived to the burgomaster to have a dispute settled. One of the farmers owned a mare that had foaled from the market. The colt had run beneath the wagon of another farmer and thereupon the owner of the wagon claimed the colt as his property.

The burgomaster, who had been thinking of something else while the case was being introduced, said carelessly:

"The man who found the colt under his wagon is, of course, the owner of the colt."

As the owner of the mare was departing the burgomaster's house, he fulfilled Manka and stopped to inform her about the case. Manka was embarrassed of her husband for making so foolish a decision and she explained to the farmer:

"Come back this afternoon with a fishing net and stretch it across the dusty road. When the burgomaster sees you he will come out and ask you what you are doing. Say to him that you're catching fish. When he asks you how you can expect to catch fish in a dusty road, tell him it's just as easy for you to catch fish in a dusty road as it is for a wagon to foal. Then he'll see the injustice of his decision and have the colt returned to you. But remember one thing: you mustn't let him find out that it was I who told you to do this."

That afternoon once the burgomaster chanced to look out the window he saw a man stretching a fishnet round the dusty street. He went outside to him and asked: "What are you doing?"


"Fishing in a dusty road? Are you daft?"

"Well," the guy stated, "it's just as easy for me to catch fish in a dusty road as it is for a wagon to foal."

Subsequently the burgomaster realized the guy as the owner of the mare and he had to confess that what he said was accurate.

"Of course the colt belongs to your mare and must be returned to you. But tell me," he explained, "who put you up to this? You didn't think of it yourself."

The farmer tried to not tell but the burgomaster questioned him until he discovered that Manka was at the base of it. This made him really mad. He moved into the house and called his wife.

"Manka," he said, "do you forget what I told you would happen if you went interfering in any of my cases? Home you go this very day. I don't care to hear any excuses. The matter is settled. You may take with you the one thing you like best in my house for I won't have people saying that I treated you shabbily."

Manka made no outcry.

"Very well, my dear husband, I shall do as you say: I shall go to my father's cottage and take with me the one thing I like best in your house. But don't make me go until after supper. We have been very happy together and I should like to eat one last meal with you. Let us have no more words but be kind to each other as we've always been and then part as friends."

The burgomaster consented to this and Manka ready a nice supper of all the dishes of which her husband was especially fond. The burgomaster started his choicest wine and vowed Manka's health. He then set to, and the supper was so good that he ate and ate and ate. And the more he ate, the more he drank until at last he grew tired and fell sound asleep in his chair. Then without awakening him Manka had him carried out to the wagon that has been waiting to take her home to her father.

The following morning when the burgomaster opened his eyes, he found himself lying in the shepherd's cabin.

"What does this mean?" he roared out.

"Nothing, dear husband, nothing!" Manka said. "You know you told me I might take with me the one thing I liked best in your house, so of course I took you! That's all."

Read to : The Pig King

For a moment the burgomaster rubbed his eyes in amazement. Then he laughed loud and heartily to believe how Manka had outwitted him.

"Manka," he explained, "you're too clever for me. Come on, my dear, let's go home."

They climbed back into the wagon and drove home.

The burgomaster never again scolded his wife but thereafter if a very difficult case came up he constantly said:

"I think we had better consult my wife. You know she's a very clever woman."


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