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  • Writer's pictureAnca

Beautiful Nasta

Once upon a time, there was a young man who lived in a village. He married a girl from far away and brought her home. They lived very well, but after some time, the young wife became sad. One day, the husband asked her, "What is the cause of your sadness?" She replied, "I feel good with you, but I can't forget the place where I was born, so that's why I'm sad."

woman on cliff looking at suspended island with castle above clouds
The Castles of our Desires

The man didn't know whether to believe her or not because he had never experienced sadness before. From then on, the wife continued to sigh secretly. 

One day, the young man decided to try what homesickness felt like, so he said to his wife, "I'm leaving for foreign countries and will work there as a labourer. I will live far away from these places where I was born and have lived until now, and I will see if there is homesickness or not."

He left and got a job with a merchant who gave him some new boots and said, "I will hire you as a labourer, but only if you work for me until these boots I just gave you wear out. How long does it take for a pair of boots to wear out?" The young man agreed and began to work.

He worked and worked, but the boots were as good as new. Among strangers, he remembered his home, the house where he was born, and wished to be there as soon as possible. He looked at his boots: had they worn out even a little bit? Not at all! They were just like the first day.

One day, he was walking back from the fields carrying a bundle on his shoulder. He saw a man in front of him, and it was someone he knew from his village! He was very happy and started asking him about everything: his wife, his home, and more. He didn't even think to take the bundle off his shoulder, because it wasn't easy. This is what it means to meet someone from your hometown!

He returned to the merchant's house and fell into thought. "Now I know what homesickness feels like. My wife was right." He stayed with the merchant for a long time, and the boots were still new.

One day he was walking through a forest, and he saw a hut in front of him. He knocked on the door, and an old woman opened it. He asked her,

"Do you not know, grandma, what kind of boots these are? What kind of leather are they made of? I've been wearing them for eighteen years and they haven't even torn!"

The old woman replied, "Your boots are not ordinary, they are enchanted. But here's some advice: when you get home to your master, take off the boots and, without him seeing, throw them into the fire. They will not burn, but they will quickly perish. Then the end of your service to the merchant will come."

The man did as he was told. When he got home, he put the boots in the stove, and in the morning he took them out and put them on. It wasn't long before the boots tore. He then went to the merchant and said, "Look, merchant, my boots have torn. Now the prophecy has been fulfilled."

What was the merchant to do? He settled with him and let him go. The man went home and did not feel tired because of his joy. It was a very hot day and he began to suffer from thirst. Suddenly he saw water. He bent down to drink, but a sorcerer appeared from the water and grabbed him by the beard. The man started to plead with him, saying, "Sorcerer! Let me go! I haven't been home for eighteen years."

But the sorcerer held onto his beard and said, "I won't let you go until you promise to give me something you don't know you have at home!"

The man was happy about this. What else could there be? He knew everything that was at home. So he promised something he didn't know he had. The sorcerer let him go and the man continued on his way home.

When he arrived home, he was greeted by his wife and daughter with fear. He didn't know, he didn't suspect that during his time with the merchant, his wife had given birth to a daughter, the beautiful Nasta. While he was away, Nasta had grown up and had become so beautiful that there was nothing like her in the other realm, nor in the world above or below the water. How happy his wife and daughter were when they saw him! They didn't know where to put him or how to entertain him with happiness!

But he still stood there sad: he had promised the sorcerer his only daughter! When the husband and wife were alone, she asked him, "Why are you sad? You should be happy to have returned home."

And he told her everything.

"That's why I'm sad: on my distant journey, when I bent down to drink water, the sorcerer of the waters grabbed me by the beard and said, 'Promise me to give me something from home that you don't know you have.' How was I to know that you had given birth to our daughter? And I promised him."

His wife began to cry and said, "What must happen will happen. I just can't bear to see with my own eyes how the sorcerer of the waters takes away our beloved daughter. Let's leave home early tomorrow morning and leave Nasta here, and the misfortune will happen without us."

They left home at night, and the beautiful Nasta was left alone. She got up in the morning, looked around, and saw no one was home. She went outside and saw an old goat. The girl hugged the goat and began to cry. The goat said to her,

"Do not cry, do not be sad. Instead, hitch me up to the sled, put some straw there, and you hide in it.”

Nasta hitched the goat and covered her with straw and they went wherever they could. They walked and suddenly they saw in front of them a crowd of creatures who asked the goat:

“Is beautiful Nasta waiting for us?”

“Wait, wait!” replied the goat. “{The tables are set, the lights are on.”

The creatures went further, towards the house where Nasta lived, and the goat with Nasta arrived far away in the meantime. They reached a village and Nasta came out of the straw. She asked the people to stay overnight in a house. The people couldn't take their eyes off her: no one had seen such beauty! After a while, rumours about her beauty spread. The emperor's son from those parts heard about her and came there on horseback. As soon as he saw her, he liked the girl, fell in love, and decided to marry her. But Nasta said:

“I like you, prince, and I want to marry you. But promise me that you will never separate me from my goat. Wherever I am, the goat must be there too. Wherever I eat and drink, the old goat must eat and drink too.”

The prince replied:

“So be it. I am ready to do whatever you want!”

The emperor's son took her and the goat and they all lived happily.

Enough time passed and behold, the beautiful Nasta gave birth to a son of unusual beauty. The witch Suiatar heard about it and pretended to be an old woman and came to the emperor's court as a nursemaid. The prince, not knowing who she was, hired her. One day, the witch led beautiful Nasta with the child to the bath, on the shore of the lake, and shouted:

“Hey, creatures of the waters! Here is the promised one, take her!”

The witch had just shouted and dozens of hands rose from the lake and pulled beautiful Nasta under the water. Suiatar brought her daughter, who was ugly as sin, to the palace. The prince looked at her and thought, "My wife was a beauty, but since she gave birth, it seems she has become ugly!" But the child, without his real mother, cried day and night. Not only the child, but the flowers in the garden stopped blooming and withered. All the birds stopped singing.

The witch's daughter hated the old goat of beautiful Nasta and one day she said to the prince:

“Take this goat out of my sight! Or better yet, kill it!”

The prince was surprised: what had happened to his wife? She, who couldn't get enough of the goat, now tells him to cut it up?!

The goat said to the royal servants:

“Good friends, don't cut me! First, let me go to the field to graze.”

The servants felt sorry for the old goat and left her in the field to graze the green grass. But the goat went to the lake and shouted:

“Wizard, let beautiful Nasta come out for a bit! Let me just say goodbye to her!”

The wizard tied a golden chain to her leg and let her go to the shore. Nasta hugged her faithful goat and they both started to cry. Then the goat said:

“I came to say goodbye. They will soon cut me!”

They would have cried more, but in the meantime, the wizard pulled the chain and Nasta disappeared under the water. The goat came home crying, and the witch's daughter started saying again:

“Why do we keep this nasty goat? Cut her already!”

The servants took her to be slaughtered again, but she said:

“Servants! Don't rush to cut me! Let the old goat graze a little before she dies!”

The servants felt sorry for her and left her in the field to graze. The prince kept wondering and couldn't understand: "Yesterday, my wife couldn't get enough of the goat, but today she asks to have it cut."

He felt something evil was going on, so he secretly followed the servants, and when they released the goat, he followed her to see where she was going. He hid behind some rocks and started waiting. The goat approached the water and shouted:

“Wizard! Let beautiful Nasta come to the shore, so I can say only three words to her!”

Beautiful Nasta came out to the shore, ringing the golden chain. She hugged the old goat, and both of them started crying. And then the goat said:

“Goodbye, my dear Nasta! The witch's daughter will slaughter me today!”

After these words were spoken, the wizard pulled the chain, and beautiful Nasta disappeared under the water, while the goat remained on the shore crying. Then the prince approached her and said:

“Don't cry anymore, faithful goat! Go home peacefully, and I'll follow you.”

The prince followed the goat and thought about how to save his wife and how to get rid of Suiatar and her daughter. He went to a blacksmith and ordered him to make a big, heavy hammer suitable for him. In the morning, he said to the goat:

“Go to the field to graze the green pasture!” And he followed her. The goat came to the shore, approached the water, and shouted:

“Wizard! Let beautiful Nasta come to the shore one last time, so I can say goodbye before I die!”

Beautiful Nasta came out to the shore, ringing the golden chain. Then the prince jumped and hit the golden chain with the hammer, breaking it into pieces. Then he said to beautiful Nasta:

“My beloved wife! I am here, your husband!” Nasta came to him crying:

“We will not have a peaceful life, we will not see happiness!”

“You have freed me, but the evil Suiatar will destroy us!”

The prince replied:

“Do not be sad, I know what to do.”

And they left home together. The prince hid them both in a warehouse, and he went and ordered his servants to prepare the bath, to place a cauldron of boiling tar on the threshold, and to cover the path from home to the bath with a red cloth.

When everything was ready, he entered the palace and told Suiatar:

“Today is Saturday, it is time for you to go to the bath. Everything is ready, the bath is heated, please come in on the red carpet!”

Suiatar and her daughter went to the bath. They walked on the red cloth, turning their heads in all directions and laughing:

“Ha, ha, ha! Such an honour is only for us!”

As they crossed the threshold of the bath, they fell into the hot tar and stayed there.

Meanwhile, the prince and beautiful Nasta lived happily. But after some time, Nasta became very sad. Then the prince took her away to the country where her parents lived. When they approached their home, the parents were waiting for them on the road. Nasta asked them:

“Were you expecting me or not?”

And her father replied:

“How could we not expect you, our dear one? We knew that there was no greater force than the longing for one's parental home.”

They hugged and, with joy, began to cry. That was the whole story.

This is a free translation of a Romanian folktale using Chat GPT


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