The Apple Maiden or Apple Tree Maid is known as Jabloňová Panna in Czech. It is a Czech fairy tale as told by Karel Jaromír Erben.
The illustrations are from my book entitled Pohadky with a copyright date of 1979.
The following plates are illustrations from the story by Eva Šedivá. She was born in Prague in 1934.
One young king used to go into the forest to hunt. Once, after chasing in a forest from morning till noon, he got thirsty, but there was no sign of any stream or fountain to drink from. After the long grieving forest walk not knowing how to quench thirst, he suddenly came to one apple tree and saw three pretty, ripe apples hanging.
One was as red, the other as yellow as waxed. He looked at them in desire.Immediately, it came to his mind that he could pluck them, especially as the saliva has already appeared in his mouth. So now that one apple was plucked, he pulled a knife from his pocket and began to slice it. But as he has parted it in half, suddenly a virgin jumped out of the apple, the king dazed as she was naked from head to foot and so beautiful that the king has never seen one as such.
And as she jumped, she shouted, “Water! Water!” But before the king has woken up from that daze, she was already gone again, so the king could not believe his eyes whether the whole incident has happened or it was just a delusion of senses. But he has reached after the second apple, he took a knife and cut it in half.
And there again, virgin jumped out of an apple, and she was also naked as God created her, but even more beautiful than the first, the was king dazed with amazement. And she has also shouted, “Water! Water! Water!” And there was no sign of her in a blink, just as the first one vanished. The king was heartily sorry, but he thought, certainly, the third apple is not too different! And now he has also plucked it and hid it somewhere until he came to the water.
And then he finally came to a river, which was very steep and deep. When he stood on the shore, he took the third apple out and cut it in half. The virgin jumped out of the apple; but it was even more beautiful than the first two. And when she shouted, “Water! Water!” The king hurried into the river, took the water and sprinkled her hands, and there was the maid. She was also naked, ashamed rigidly before the king and begged him to lend her his cloak.
And when the king’s third virgin was guarded, as he was tremendously pleased, it seemed to him that without it, neither shall live. And so he has said at once: “When you promise me to merry me, then I will lend you the cloak.” So when the lovely maiden saw that no harm would come to her, she has answered to marry him. Then he lend her the cloak himself and told her: “Wait here until I come for you, you will not wait long.” Then he has immediately jumped on his horse and scurried to his castle dashing. When he has arrived, he immediately harnessed three pairs of horses and rode what he could for his bride.
He has hurried to see what the lovely maid on shore was doing. Thus, when he arrived, the maid in a cloak sat on shore waiting for him. Suddenly from somewhere behind, an ugly hag pulled her coat behind, and before she knew it, she has pushed the maid, Houp! to the river; and now the water has flown over her, and there was no sign of the Virgin. The king has threw himself into the river, but when he came out without her, she has covered himself by the jacket and sat on the bank, as before the virigin did. And when the king came back, very afraid, he saw a beautiful maiden instead of an ugly old witch.
But he knew that the virgin is no ordinary creature, and thus he vowed to her as a woman marries: “Sure, that I just wanted to experiment with you and until after the wedding, then I will turns back into a beautiful maiden again. ” And when he came to the castle, they´ve had a noisy wedding, only laughing, so a young and handsome king had married so old and ugly witch, and who knows where she will take herself as a woman. But the king did not laugh, and he was somehow pressed at heart, and always just thought that what a hideous hag had he married, only after the marriage she should once again turn into the beautiful maiden.
And when the church went out, the king looked at his new mistress, right in the eye; but she was still as old and ugly as ever. There is the king, very sorrowful, but he had always hoped to do more: “Of course I want to experiment, and I will, for the first night, then hopefully she will be more beautiful.” And when the second day began, he looked into his new mistress’s eyes – but she was even uglier the day before. The king was very angry and no longer wanted to give her castle at dispossal; but then he did reconsider and said to himself: “Maybe he wants me to experiment; wait until we shall have a son.”
But so far, he was being increasingly pressed at heart; He went into his room and closed, and did not want anyone to visit. And he was so preoccupied by watching through the window into the garden, white dove has landed at the window, with a red beak, and was not afraid of King, but sat on his hand, cooing and flattered to him as if he already knew her a long time ago. And the king had felt a pleasure, stroked her and kissed her and asked her: “Have you brought me, a golden dove?” And she said:
You haven’t got the right one.
Your right one lies in the wet,
White waves run after her Vrkou! Vrkou!
There was the king, sadder then before and his old granny, he did not wat to look at her, and when she asked him what was missing, he even gave no answers. On the second day, he was closed in his room once again, and he sat watching throughout the window. Then the white dove came again, sat on his hand, cooing and flattered him. And the king was pleased again, stroked her and kissed her and asked her what she carries? She answered him again:
You havent got the right one.
Your right one lies in the wet,
White waves run after her.
But the old and ungly one has suspected the king is neglected, and she was determined to find out what is he stuck at. Today when the king came back to his room, she came to the door and watched through the key hole; and she has seen everything and heard them, including that cooing dove. She was as angry and as ferocious as a dragon and immediately ran to hunters and ordered them: “A white dove flew into the king’s room; today, you shoot and bring it to me: but if it does not happen, you will be beheaded.” The hunter stood in the garden under the window, and waited for the dove to take flight, the hunder shot her and the dove fell to the ground bleeding. Then he took her and brought to the queen. The queen tore it apart, and threw it to furnace to watch until it was burnt to ashes. “Here,” she said, “for your cooing.”
But in the place where the dove fell, three drops of blood remained on the ground, small and red like three beads. They slowly dug into the ground and overnight, the roots grew out, and when the morning began, it was as thin as an apple branch. And it grew, as the sun was at noon, it was already out of the ground, as a nice apple tree graft, and when the sun began to set, it grew up, three flowers appeared on the graft three as red and what as a blood and milk; and the smell of these flowers flew up.
There was a gardener at the royal garden. He had been left with one daughter, after his wife has passed, and she was a great flower lover. Every day, in the evening she would go around the garden with a jug and studied it every morning, when many new flowers has blossomed. She has also been in the garden, by the apple tree graft, with her kettle and wondered about the extraordinary sweet smell, and when she lifted up her eyes, that pretty graft changed to the beautiful blushing flower, but just then , she became upset and said: “I wish you, the beautiful blossom of flower, you will have no more fruit!” Because it was already autumn and the cold wind acted stubble. She was sorry for the beautiful flower, and tore it down and put it behind the window to last.
Early the next morning she went back to work in the garden, and when after a while returned home, she has stayed with astonishment in the doorway: bed already unmade, floor swept, table and chairs clean and washed, and on the shelf in the trunk all the most beautiful things, and yet none of it she did, no one came there in the meantime. Whatever she was looking for, she found nothing. The next morning, when he returned from the garden, it was not so: unmade, cleaned, swept and leveled, and never seen no one doing it. Who did it? In the evening, she has deliberately scattered all the linen in the chest, removed everything from the shelves and put the bowls and pans here and there, she has dirtied the table and even the floor, just to make tomorrow a lot to do.
In the morning, then she took the kettle and went as if to go to the garden, but walked around the yard and slipped behind the doors, into the hall and looked through the hole in the door, to see what would be done in the parlor. Then she saw that a beautiful maiden came from the apple blossom in the window, blood and milk – all but naked. He is now also set to work: jiggled duvets, made my bed, leveled bowls and pots on the shelf, wiping tables and chairs – and she was the best in the work, she has opened the door and gardener girl stepped in. Then the virgin cried, as if she was frightened: “Water! Water!”
And as the girl stayed with a jug of water in her hand, threw it at her, from head to toe. The maid has thanked her warmly and asked her to lend her clothes, to be able to do them dressed. The girl was full with cheerfulness, jumped and then ran and told everything to the king.
When the king heard this, he rose and hurried as a deer in the garden house, and recognized his beautiful virgin. And than he said her, that the hag witch pushed her headfirst into the river and King was cheated that they were three sisters, daughters of the king, and she thought to be the youngest, and that the hag has cursed her in the dense forest where the king’s apples were found. “Although I am no longer free,” she said, “but my sister, you have to have as long as white doves flying around the world until the hag is alive.”
And now, two white doves has flew into the window, saddles his sister on his shoulders, cooing and fluttering of joy that was already delivered.
There was the king, very angry, and ordered the witch to be roped; then put a on a heat, where she has burned, with the white dove flying around, until there was nothing left but ashes. And there is also just around the white doves in a beautiful maidens turned and all his three sisters hugged and cried very happy that they are finally freed. Then she gave the king a new, perk, noisy wedding, and he was not even pressured at heart, rather he was cheerful and happy with his young and beautiful wife. And then they lived happily together for many years, and if they wouldn´t die, they would still be together at this time.
But what has happened to the other two virgins? Well, my goodness! They were so beautiful, and to the king’s sons were married and were happy.
Here is the film version for which the summary reads: “A picture based on the story written by Karel Jaromir Erben. It is about an enchanted apple maiden who is set free from the spell of a bad witch by big and true love. The picture is particular for following the medieval style in its design.”
Title: Jablonova panna
Runtime: 14 minutes, 35 mm, colour, 1973
Style: Puppet animation
Producer: KF a.s. + Corona Cinematografica
Director: Bretislav Pojar
Designer: Miroslav Stepanek
Awards: The main prize -“Golden Prize”- Odense, 1979
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