Justice And Injustice

: Hero Tales And Legends Of The Serbians

There was a king who had two sons, one of whom was cunning and

unjust, and the other good and just. In due time the king died,

and the unjust son said to his brother: "As you are younger than I,

you cannot expect me to share the throne with you, so you had better

go away from the palace. Take these three hundred tzechins [81] and

a horse to ride: this is to be your share of the inheritance." The

younger brother took th
gold and his horse, and reflecting he said:

"God be praised! How much of the entire kingdom has fallen to me!"

Some time later the two brothers met by chance on a road, and the

younger saluted the elder thus: "God help you, brother!" And the elder

answered: "May God send you a misfortune! Why do you for ever mention

the name of God to me? Injustice is better than justice." Thereupon the

good brother said: "I wager that injustice is not better than justice!"

So they laid as a wager one hundred tzechins and agreed to accept the

decision of the first passer-by whom they should happen to meet. Riding

on a little farther they met Satan, who had disguised himself as a

monk, and they requested him to decide their contest. Satan immediately

answered that injustice is better than justice; so the just brother

lost one hundred tzechins. Then they made another wager in the same

sum, and again a third; and each time the Devil--differently disguised

on each occasion--pronounced for injustice. Finally the good brother

lost even his horse; but he was quite unconvinced and he reflected:

"Ah, well! I have lost all my tzechins, it is true, but I have still my

eyes, and I shall wager my eyes this time." So they made the bet once

more, but the unjust brother did not even wait anybody's arbitration,

he took out his poniard and pierced his brother's eyes, saying:

"Now, let justice help you, when you have no eyes!"

The poor youth said to his cruel brother: "I have lost my eyes for the

sake of God's justice, but I pray you, my brother, give me a little

water in a vessel that I may wash my wounds and take me under the

pine-tree, near the spring!" The unjust brother did as he was asked

and then departed.

The Healing Water

The unfortunate youth sat without moving until late in the night,

when some veele came to the spring to bathe, and he heard one of them

say to her sisters: "Do you know, O sisters, that the royal princess

suffers from leprosy, and the king, her father, has consulted all

the famous physicians, but no one can cure her? But if the king knew

the healing qualities of this water, he would surely take a little and

bathe his daughter with it, and she would recover perfect health." When

the cocks began to crow, the veele disappeared and the prince crept

to the spring to test its wonderful properties. He bathed his eyes,

and lo! his sight was instantly restored; then he filled his vessel

with the water, and hurried to the king, whose daughter was suffering

from leprosy. Arriving at the palace he told the officers on guard

that he could cure the princess in a day and a night. The officers

informed the king, who at once allowed him to try his method and the

suffering princess was restored. This pleased the king so much that he

gave the young prince half of his kingdom, as well as his daughter

for his wife. So the just brother became the king's son-in-law,

and a Councillor of State.

The tidings of this great event spread all over the kingdom, and

finally came to the ears of the unjust prince. He thought that

his brother must have found his good fortune under the pine-tree,

so he went there himself to try his luck. Arrived there, he pierced

his own eyes. Late in the night, the veele came to bathe, and the

prince heard them discuss with astonishment the recovery of the

royal princess. "Some one must have spied upon us," said one of them,

"when we discussed about the qualities which this water possesses;

perhaps somebody is watching us even now. Let us look around us!" When

they came under the pine-tree, they found there the young man who

had come seeking good fortune, and they immediately tore him into four.

And thus was the wicked prince recompensed for his injustice.