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RUTA (COMMON NAME FOR GIRLS AMONG LITHUANIANS)

A LONG, LONG TIME AGO, WHEN UNPASSABLE FORESTS STILL EXISTED,
THERE WAS A DUKE THAT GOVERNED LITHUANIA. ALL THE OTHER DUKES
WERE AFRAID OF KARIBUTAS AND BOWED THEIR HEADS TO HIM. KARIBUTAS
WAS BRAVE AND POWERFUL. HE LIVED BETWEEN TWO FORESTS IN HIS
STRONG CASTLE. HE WAS VERY HAPPY WITH HIS WEALTH, RESPECT, BUT
HIS GREATEST JOY WAS HIS ONLY DAUGHTER WHOM HE LOVED VERY MUCH.
THEY CALLED HER RUTA.
RUTA HAPPILY RAN THROUGH THE CASTLE, SINGING LITHUANIAN SONGS.
(SHE) REJOICED AT THE FLOWERS, BIRDS' SINGING, HUNDRED-YEAR-OLD
OAKS' RUSTLING. SHE OFTEN SAT UNDER THE OLD TREES AND LISTENED
TO THEIR RUSTLING. THE DUKE'S DAUGHTER LISTENED TO THE OLD OAKS'
STORIES, AS OLD AS THEMSELVES--AS WELL AS SECRETIVE. SHE DIDN'T
EVEN NOTICE HOW HER JOYFUL DAYS OF YOUTH RAN BY.
WHEN SHE BECAME OF AGE, IMMEDIATELY FROM ALL OVER, RICH YOUNG
PRINCES AND DUKES STARTED COMING AND ASKING HER HAND IN MARRIAGE.
AND RUTA WAS SO BEAUTIFUL THAT ANYONE WHO LOOKED AT HER PROMISED
THAT HE WOULD EVEN GIVE HIS LIFE FOR HER. BUT RUTA WASN'T READY
TO GET MARRIED, SHE DIDN'T WANT TO GET MARRIED, AND THEREFORE,
DIDN'T PROMISE ANYONE.
BUT THE DUKE GOT TIRED OF LIVING ALONE AND DECIDED TO FIND HIMSELF
A SON-IN-LAW. HE FELT THAT HIS STRENGTH WAS WEAKENING, OLD AGE
WAS SETTING IN. HE CALLED RUTA TO HIS SIDE ONE TIME AND TOLD HER
THAT HE WANTS TO HAVE A SON-IN-LAW AND FOR HER, A HUSBAND. HE
SAID THAT SHE SHOULD FORGET ALL HER CHILDISH IDEAS AND THOUGHTS
AND HELP HIM TO FIND HER A HUSBAND. IF SHE DIDN'T FIND ONE IN
SIX MONTHS, THEN HE'LL HAVE TO APPOINT A HUSBAND FOR HER.
RUTA BECAME VERY SAD AFTER HEARING HER FATHER'S PLANS AND ORDERS.
SHE FELL AT HIS FEET AND BEGGED HIM, WITH TEARS IN HER EYES, TO
HAVE PITY ON HER AND NOT TO THROW HER TO A HUSBAND. BUT HER
FATHER TOLD HER THAT SHE MUST DO WHAT SHE IS TOLD.
BUT RUTA CRIED TILL WEAKENED, SHE FELL AT MILDO'S FEET (THE GODDESS
OF PURITY) AND VOWED THAT SHE WOULD KEEP HER VIRGINITY AND BECOME A
PRIESTESS. SHE KNEW THAT HER FATHER WOULD NOT LET HER DO THIS, SO
SHE DECIDED TO RUN AWAY TO ONE OF THE ROMUVAS (HOLY PLACE WHERE AN
ETERNAL FIRE BURNED TO ONE OR TWO OF THE GODS).
ON A WINDING FOREST TRAIL HURRIED A WHITE DRESSED GIRL. HER GOLDEN
HAIR, BEING MUSSED BY A GENTLE BREEZE, FELL ON HER SHOULDERS. THIS
WAS THE PRINCESS RUTA. THROUGH THE FORESTS SHE CAME ALONE TO
ROMUVA AND KNOCKED ON THE GATES. SHE WAITED A LONG TIME, WHEN ONE
OF THE PRIESTS CAME AND RECOGNIZED HER AND WELCOMED HER.
EARLY THE NEXT MORNING, THE SAME PRIEST TOOK RUTA TO THE HIGH
PRIEST. GOD'S SERVANT LISTENED TO HER, HER REASONS THAT BROUGHT
HER TO THIS HOLY PLACE. RUTA TOLD THE STORY OF HER LIFE, HER
FATHER'S DECISION AND FALLING TO HER KNEES, BEGGED THE HIGH PRIEST
TO ACCEPT HER AS A PRIESTESS.
THE HIGH PRIEST LISTENED TO HER COMPLAINTS. HIS WISE FOREHEAD
WRINKLED, HIS FACE CLOUDED OVER, BUT THE PRINCESS'S TEARS SOFTENED
HIS HEART AND WITHOUT THINKING OF WHAT COULD HAPPEN LATER, (HE)
ACCEPTED HER AS A PRIESTESS.
THE DUKE KARIBUTAS WAS SADDENED DEEPLY WHEN HE FOUND OUT THAT HIS
DAUGHTER HAD DISAPPEARED. HE BLINDLY WALKED THROUGH HIS CASTLE,
AS IF HE HAD LOST HIS WEALTH AND PRIDE. THE UNHAPPY FATHER CRIED,
JUST LIKE A MOTHER CRIES THAT HAS LOST HER LAST CHILD. HE ORDERED
EVERYONE TO LOOK FOR HER EVERYWHERE, JUST SO THAT THEY WOULD FIND
HER. THE ONE WHO FINDS HER, HE PROMISED, WOULD RECEIVE GREAT
REWARDS.
THEY SEARCHED FOR HER EVERYWHERE--THE PRINCES' AND DUKES' CASTLES,
THE ORDINARY HUTS, AND EVEN THE ROMUVAS.
ONCE, WHEN THE PRINCESS WAS MINDING THE HOLY FLAME, ONE OF THE
PRIESTS CAME AND TOLD HER THAT SOME OF HER FATHER'S MESSENGERS
HAD COME TO SEARCH FOR HER. RUTA PALED AS MUCH AS FRESHLY WOVEN
LINEN WHEN SHE HEARD THIS, AND RAN OUT INTO THE SACRED FOREST.
THERE SHE FELL UNDER AN OAK TREE AND BITTERLY STARTED TO CRY,
BEGGING THE GODS TO HAVE PITY ON HER AND NOT TO HAND HER OVER TO
HER FATHER.
THE MIGHTY GODS HEARD HER PLEAS AND PITIED HER. BUT THEY DIDN'T
WANT HER TO DEPART FROM THE EARTH WITHOUT LEAVING SOME SORT OF
SIGN, SO THEY TURNED HER INTO A SWEET SMELLING FLOWER.
THE MESSENGERS, LOOKING FOR THE PRINCESS, FOUND THE MAGICAL FLOWER
WHICH SMELLED SWEETLY IN THE WHOLE LAND. THEN THEY UNDERSTOOD
WHAT HAPPENED. IN REMEMBRANCE OF THE PRINCESS, THEY NAMED THAT
FLOWER HER NAME--RUTA.

Submitter comment: TRANSLATED FROM LITHUANIAN BY RAMUNI STONYS. IN OLD LITHUANIA,
THE PEOPLE WORSHIPPED ANYTHING THAT WAS ALIVE--NOT GOD HIMSELF
DIRECTLY. FOR EXAMPLE, LIGHTNING, THUNDER, WIND, SUN, MOON,
TREES, ETC.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; SOUTHFIELD

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Plant
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Religious
BELIEF -- Marriage
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