Portugal | Pedroso: The Three Little Blue Stones

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The Three Little Blue Stones

THERE was once a king who was married, but had taken a great dislike to his queen because they had no family. The queen for this reason was always in great distress of mind, and often prayed to God to give her at least a son. Soon after she found herself with child, and when her hour had arrived and she was on the point of being delivered a poor man came to the palace gate begging for alms. The lady in waiting refused to give him anything, and the beggar said that he knew she refused him then because the queen was in labour and about to give birth to a girl; but he would foretell her that at the age of fifteen a large bird would come and take the girl away in his beak. The lady in waiting went in, but told no one what she had heard. All the inmates of the palace were rejoicing, and fondled and caressed the little princess, and kissed her often, but this lady was the only one who wept when she did so, which surprised every one, and they asked her why she wept. The lady in waiting at first did not wish to state her reason, but in the end she related what had passed between her and the beggar, and how he had said that, when the little princess should arrive at the age of fifteen, a bird would come and carry her away in his beak. On hearing this every one in the palace felt much distressed and grieved. As the princess grew up her chief amusement was to play with a table placed in the centre of a garden. A certain prince having arrived at the palace one day to pay his respects to the king, saw the little princess, and was charmed with her pretty ways, and he gave her as he was going away three little blue stones as a keepsake and remembrance. In the course of time the princess attained her fifteenth year, and the period had arrived for the accomplishment of the prophesy respecting her fate. The child never went out anywhere and did nothing but play with the little blue stones on the table.

One day the king and queen left the palace to travel, and the child remained alone under the care of the lady in waiting. She was amusing herself playing in the garden when a large bird flew close to her and asked her when would she prefer to go through and accomplish her destiny, in youth or in old age. The lady in waiting advised her to say that she would prefer it in her youth rather than in her old age. The bird then instantly laid hold of the little princess with his beak and flew away with her. The bird took her through the air and left her alone in a great and dense forest. When she had been there one night and a day she began to weep because she felt very hungry and cold. There was a city near this forest to which a certain prince was in the habit of going once a month to hunt in the neighbourhood. It so happened that on this same day the prince came to hunt in the forest, and as he was traversing it he heard what appeared to him suppressed sobbing. He asked his chamberlain to accompany him, and went searching until he came upon the princess. He was delighted to find her, and he put her upon his horse and took her to the palace, and then locked her up in a room without any one knowing it. But the queen, suspecting the prince because he was always in that room, waited until one day when the prince had gone out, and opened the door to see what was there, and found the princess in the chamber. She scolded the prince very much for his conduct when she saw him, but he begged her not to ill-treat the princess. Neither the queen his mother nor his sister liked the princess in the least, but she continued to live in the palace. One day she found herself with child, and gave birth to a boy, just at the time when the prince had been obliged to take a journey. The queen took up the child and cut off one of his little fingers, rubbed the princess's lips with the blood from it., and putting the child in a basket ordered it to be thrown into the sea. When the prince returned the queen told him that the princess had eaten up the child. The prince went up close to her and asked thus: "Then you ungrateful girl, you have had a boy, and you have eaten it up?" The answer she gave was to tell him that she prayed God to discover the truth. The prince then said to her, that, if such a thing should happen to her a second time, he would kill her. After the lapse of some time the princess again found herself with child, and when her hour had come the prince as before was obliged to go on a journey, and the poor princess gave birth to another boy. The child was hardly born when the queen laid hold of it and cut its little finger off and smeared the princess's lips with the blood from it, and placing the child in a basket consigned it to the waves. When the prince came home she told him the same story concerning her child. The prince went to the princess and said as before, "So you have again eaten up your child, as I have been told; you are an ungrateful creature!" But she gave him no other answer but that she prayed God to discover the truth. The prince said then that he would forgive her only once more, but if that happened to her again he would certainly kill her. Some time elapsed and the princess again found herself with child, and when her hour had arrived the prince had to take another journey, and the princess gave birth to another boy. The queen that moment took up the child and cut its little finger off and placed it in a basket and ordered the child to be thrown into the sea. The prince returned home, and the queen, who had smeared the princess's lips with the child's blood, told her son that she had demolished her child. The prince, being exasperated and growing very angry, went up to the princess, scolded her, and ordered her to he buried up to her waist in a small courtyard leading to the principal staircase; and every one that passed her was to beat her.

The princess had already been sometime undergoing her punishment when she heard it said that the prince was starting for the fair which was to take place at some distance where he would have to pass her father's house, so she entreated him to bring her from the fair a knife, and, as he had to pass by her father's palace, to go in and ask his majesty to allow her to have the three blue stones she had left in the drawer of the table she had in the garden, and to bring them to her. She begged him not to forget to do this as it was the last thing she would ask him to do for her. The prince went to the fair and complied with her request. He arrived at the palace and asked to see the king, and he began by making up a story saying that he had heard a voice on the way, and that voice had told him to come to the palace and take away with him three blue stones that were in a drawer of a table in the garden. The king on hearing this recollected that it could only be his daughter that knew of their existence, and the king, being very pleased to come across any one who knew of her, asked him how she was, and told him that since the bird had carried the princess in his beak the garden had been converted into a wilderness, full of serpents and wild beasts, and was dangerous for any one to attempt to enter it. A servant then came up and offered to go into it and look for the blue stones, provided the king allowed him to have a large pair of boots, a sword, and a weeding-hook. And having had permission given to him the servant went in, cutting down and felling trees and weeding the brambles in his path; and as he proceeded serpents came in his way which he killed with his sword; and he was thus able to reach the table, and brought away the three little blue stones, which were the three boys the princess had given birth to. The king then gave up the stones to the prince, and told him that if in a month's time he did not bring back his daughter he would put him to death. The king wanted to accompany the prince, for he had a great desire to see his daughter once more, but the prince pretended that he had to take a journey to a distant part before returning home, and this he said because he did not wish the king to know the disgrace he had put her to. The prince took leave of the king and made haste to reach his palace, and the moment he arrived he gave the princess the knife and the three little blue stones. He then hid himself to see what she would do. The princess placed the three stones before her, and asked the first stone, "Do you remember, little blue stone, that when I gave birth to a child the queen cut his little finger oft; rubbed my lips with the blood that came from it, and then told the prince that I had eaten it up, and how she afterward placed it in a basket and had it thrown into the sea?" And the stones then commenced to beat against each other making a noise: Tlin tin tin, and said that what the princess stated was quite true. The princess then asked the second little stone if it remembered what the queen had done to her second child born to her, relating all that had passed; and the little stones again commenced to beat one against the other, Tlin tin tin, and said that what the princess related was the truth. The princess then once more asked the third blue stone if it recollected the treatment inflicted on her third child, and how the queen had drowned it and said that she had eaten it up; and the little blue stones recommenced to beat against each other, Tlin tin tin, and saying that it was perfectly true all that the princess had stated. When she had finished asking the three questions she took hold of the knife, saying, "Now I shall put an end to my sufferings and cut my head off." When the prince heard her say this he ran to prevent her killing herself. He instantly lifted her out of the pit she was in and took her to his chamber. He then called up the servant who had thrown the three children into the sea, and asked him if it was true what the princess said, and the servant owned to the truth of it; and the prince immediately had him put in prison, and he placed the queen and his sister in a tower; and when the princess had quite recovered from the effects of the illtreatment she had undergone the prince and the princess each mounted a horse and rode to her father's house. On arriving at the palace the king and queen could not contain their delight, and seemed perfectly mad with joy to see their long-lost darling daughter again. There were great rejoicings, and at the end of a fortnight the prince married the princess. And as the king had no other child he asked them to remain in the palace, where they lived very happily.

The text came from:

Pedroso, Consiglieri. Portuguese Folk-Tales. Folk Lore Society Publications, Vol. 9. Miss Henrietta Monteiro, translator. New York: Folk Lore Society Publications, 1882. 
[Reprinted: New York: Benjamin Blom, Inc., 1969.]
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