A CERTAIN man had a daughter who was not only very beautiful but also very wilful and obstinate. Three suitors, all of whom were eligible, came to woo her. Her father said all three had his good wishes, but she must make her own selection.
“I will accept the three,” was her reply.
“But, daughter, that is not possible.”
“I choose all three,” persisted the girl.
“Be reasonable,” insisted her father, “and say which it shall be.” But all to no purpose, for he could not alter her determination. Then the poor father became angry, and told the three aspirants that his daughter wished to wed all three of them; but as that was not possible, he had determined, if they would go forth into the world and seek for something unique of its kind, she should marry the one who obtained the best and rarest object.
Then all three departed on their separate ways. And after a long time they returned towards their appointed place of meeting in a distant land, but without having obtained anything very beautiful and rare. They were in great distress at this, but ceased not to inquire for what they sought. The first one met a little old man who asked him if he would like to buy a little mirror.
“No,” he answered; for he could not see the use of so small and ugly a glass.
Then the vendor informed him that it had the great virtue of showing its owner any one he wished to see, never mind how far off the person might be. Having ascertained that this was a fact, the young man bought it.
And it also chanced to the second traveller, as he was passing through a street, that he met the same little old man, who asked him if he would like to buy a small phial of balsam.
“What would be the good of it to me?” he inquired.
“This balsam has the wonderful power of restoring the dead to life,” said the old man. At this moment a funeral passed by, so he went up to the coffin and put a drop of the balsam into the mouth of the dead man, who rose up well and hearty, and, leaving the coffin, went home. When the second aspirant saw this, he bought the balsam from the old man for what he asked.
Meanwhile the third traveller went to stroll by the sea shore, and he beheld a large boat crossing the waves. It reached the land, and from it disembarked a large number of passengers. The last was a little old man, who approached him, and asked him if he would like to buy the boat.
“What use would it be to me,” replied he, “except to make a bonfire of?”
“Sir,” responded the old man, “it possesses the great virtue of being able to bear its owner, and any companions he takes with him, wheresoever he wishes to go, in a very short time. You can ask these passengers, who a little while since were in Spain.” The traveller, ascertaining that this was so, bought the boat of the owner for what he demanded.
The following day the three suitors met and, all of them very contented with their purchases, recounted their adventures, and then thought of getting home to Spain as quickly as possible. The first, who had bought the mirror in which the person one most wished to behold could be seen, showed his purchase, and to prove its virtue looked into it to see the girl for whose hand they all aspired. What was his horror when he beheld her dead, and lying in her coffin!
"I have some balsam,” exclaimed he who had bought the little bottle, “which would resuscitate her; but, alas! before we can get home she will be buried, and devoured by the worms.”
“But,” said the third, “I have bought a boat that will soon take us to Spain.”
Then they all three ran to the boat and got into it, and in a little while they reached the land, and disembarked at the town where lived the father of their lady-love. They found him in great grief for the death of his daughter, whose body was shown to them. Then he who had the balsam put a few drops on the lips of the dead girl, who got up well and smiling from her coffin, and turning to her father said,—
“You see, father, that I must marry all three of them!”