the devils canal


Cso’rsz, as the shepherds tell, was the gallant son of the King of the Transylvanian Alps, whose treasures of gold and salt are greater than those of all the kings and princesses in the world. CsOrsz heard of the celestial beauty of Deli Bab, the daughter of the King of the Southern Sea, and his heart was inflamed with love for her. He therefore sent his heralds from his Alps down to the borders of the Southern Sea, with loads of the most costly gifts of salt and gold, and sued for the hand, of the lovely Deli Bab. But the proud king of the sea despised the kings of the earth, and said that he never would grant the daughter of the sea to the son of the Alps, until he came with a fleet down from his mountains, to convey his bride by water to his palace, as her feet were too delicate to be exposed to the rough stones of the earth. But the heralds, convinced of the power of their king, threw the bridal ring and the presents of gold and salt into the sea, which from this time became rich in salt, and having thus sealed the betrothing, returned to their prince. In despair about the desire of the king of the sea, and ignorant how to comply with his conditions, Csorsz called on the devil, and entreated his aid. The devil without delay put two buffaloes to his glowing plough, and in a single night dug the canal from Transylvania to the Danube, and from thence down to the sea. Csorsz speedily had a fleet constructed, and joyfully steered down to the Southern Sea to take his bride. Her princely father gave up his daughter with deep regret ; however, he was bound by his word, as the new diplomacy was not yet invented, and the pledges of monarchs were still, even in those parts, considered sacred. But the beautiful bride was sorry to leave her cool palace of crystal, her innumerable toys of shells and pearls, and even the monsters of the deep, who had served her with unbounded devotion. She promised not to forget their home, and often to visit her father and sisters in summer, when the hot sunbeams might prove too intense for her on the dry earth. Csorsz, with festive songs and merry sounds, conveyed his beloved up the canal. Deli Bab was delighted with the mountains, woods, fields, and meadows, which swiftly passed her ; she was highly amused with the objects wholly new to her sight. But when by chance she looked backwards, she noticed with terror that behind the fleet the waters dried up in the canal, and that thus the return to her father’s realm became impossible. She never could feel at home in the gold and salt vaults of the Transylvanian mountains ; the heavy masses of the Alps depressed her soul; the wintry snow chilled her thoughts; the burning beams of the summer sun melted her into tears. She never laughed, and always dreamt of her transparent abode in the sea. The love of the princely son of the Alps remained sterile; Deli Bab was childless. She melted away with longing, and was transformed into the Fata Morgana, a dreamy appearance of the sea, which vanishes away as soon as you approach, and which in Hungary yet bears the name of the fair Deli Bab. The remains of the devil’s canal are still called Csorsz arka the canal of Csorsz. Memoirs of a Hungarian Lady, vol. ii., p. 225.


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