This section is from the book "Fairy Tales Of The Slav Peasants And Herdsmen", by Aleksander Borejko Chodzko, Emily J. Harding.. Also available from Amazon: Fairy Tales of the Slav Peasants and Herdsmen (Illustrated Edition).
The fool sat down on the grass, and spreading out his tablecloth, said:
"O Tablecloth, who for the poor,
The hungry, and thirsty, makes cheer, May he who begs from door to door Feed off you without stint or fear".
A whistling was heard in the air, something bright shone overhead, and then before them stood a table, spread as for a royal feast, loaded with dainty dishes, mead, and costly wines. When they had eaten and drunk as much as they wanted the whistling was again heard, and then everything vanished.
The fool was folding up his tablecloth, when the soldier said:
"Will you give me your tablecloth in exchange for this six-horned helmet? It will fire itself off and instantly destroy the object pointed out. You have but to turn it round on your head and repeat these words:
"' O Magic Helmet, never thou Dost want for powder nor shot ; Allay my fears and fire now Just where I point. Fail not'.
You will see that it fires off immediately: and even if your enemy were a mile away he would fall".
The fool was delighted with the idea, and thought how useful such a hat would be in any sudden danger; it would even serve him to defend his country, the king, or himself.
So he handed the tablecloth to the soldier, put the helmet on his head, took his wand in his hand, and again set his face towards home.
When he had gone some distance, and the soldier was almost out of sight, he began to think of what the oak had said about not parting with the tablecloth, and of how his dear mother could not now enjoy the pleasant surprise he had been dreaming about. So he said to the wand:
"Thou self-propelling, ever willing, fighting Wand, Run quick, and bring My feast-providing tablecloth back to my hand, Thy praise I'll sing".
The wand dashed after the soldier, and having reached him began to beat him, crying out:
"For others' goods you seem to have a liking, Stop, thief, or sure your back I'll keep on striking".
The soldier was still a powerful man, and in spite of his wound turned right about face, intending to give blow for blow. But the wand was too much for him, and he soon found resistance useless. So, overcome by pain rather than fear, he threw away the tablecloth and took to his heels.
The faithful wand brought the tablecloth back to his master, who, glad to have it again, once more turned towards home.
He soon left the forest, crossed the fields, and came in sight of his father's house. At a little distance therefrom his brothers met him, and said crossly, "Well, stupid, where are the golden acorns?"
The fool looked at them and laughed in their faces. Then he said to his wand:
"O self-propelling, ever willing, fighting Wand Strike with thy usual fire My ever-scolding, teasing, worrying brother band, For they have roused my ire".
The wand needed no second bidding, and darting out of his hand began to thrash the brothers soundly, crying out like a reasoning creature:
"Your brother has often your blows felt, alack ! Now taste it yourselves ; hope you like it, whack, whack".
The brothers were overpowered, and felt all the while as if boiling water were being poured over their heads. Yelling with pain they began to run at full speed, and soon disappeared with clouds of dust flying round them.
The wand then came back to the fool's hand. He went into the house, climbed on the stove, and told his mother all that had happened. Then he cried:
"O Tablecloth, who for the poor,
The hungry, and thirsty, makes cheer, Let us within our cottage door Feed off you without stint or fear".
A whistling was heard in the air, something bright shone overhead, and then a table, laid as for a royal banquet, was placed before them, covered with dainty meats, glasses, and bottles of mead and wine. The whole service was of gold and silver. As the fool and his mother were about to begin the feast the herdsman entered. He stopped, dumb with amazement, but when invited to partake, began to eat and drink with great enjoyment.
At the end of the meal the whistling was again heard, and everything vanished completely.
The herdsman set off in hot haste to the court, to tell the king of this new marvel. Thereupon his majesty sent one of his heroes in search of the fool, whom he found stretched on the stove.
"If you value your life, listen, and obey the king's orders," said the paladin. "He commands you to send him by me your tablecloth, then you shall have your share of his royal favour. But if not you will always remain a poor fool, and will, moreover, be treated as a refractory prisoner. We teach them how to behave; you understand?"
"Oh yes, I understand." And then he pronounced the magic words:
"O self-propelling, ever willing, fighting Wand, Go, soundly thrash that man - The most deceiving, dangerous wretch in all the land, So hurt him all you can".
The wand sprang from the fool's hand with the speed of lightning and struck the paladin three times in the face. He immediately fled, but the wand was after him, hitting him all the time, and crying out:
"Mere promises are children's play, So do not throw your breath away, But think of something true to say, You rogue, when next you come our way".
Defeated and filled with consternation, the paladin returned to the king and told him about the wand, and how badly he had been beaten. When the king heard that the fool possessed a wand that struck of itself, he wanted it so much that for a time he forgot all about the tablecloth, and sent some of his soldiers with orders to bring him back the wand.
When they entered the cottage, the fool, as usual, was lying on the stove.
"Deliver up the wand to us instantly," said they; "the king is willing to pay any price you ask, but if you refuse he will take it from you by force".
Instead of replying the fool unwound the waistband, saying to it as he did so: