Portugal | Pedroso: The Enchanted Maiden

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The Enchanted Maiden

THERE was once a man who had three daughters. In the country where he lived it was the custom to hang up a gold ball at the door when they wanted husbands for the girls who were single, as a sign to the young men. When the eldest dagughter wished to get married the father hung a gold ball over the street door. Many persons passed the door, and as they saw the gold ball hanging up they did not dare enter, and would say "Oh, no, it's too rich for me, evidently it is not meant for me." One day, however, a prince passed the house, and seeing the ball, as he knew the custom of the country, he entered the house and asked the father to give him his daughter in marriage. The girl was delighted, everything was arranged, and they were married. After a time the father again hung up a gold ball outside the door to find a husband for the second daughter. Another prince passed and saw the ball and married the girl. The third daughter, seeing that both her sisters had married princes, one day told her father that she also wanted to get married. The father replied that he had no money left to order another gold ball to be made; but she said that she did not doubt him, but that at least he might have one made of silver. The father did so. A prince then passed, and seeing the silver ball, said to himself; "Oh, no, this is too poor for me; it is evidently not meant for me." After that a. man passed, and looking towards the ball said, "This, in truth, is meant for me." He went into the house, asked the girl in marriage, and he espoused her; after which he went with her to a distant land. When the two girls who had married princes knew of this they were very displeased and would have nothing to do with the sister. At the end of nine months the girl gave birth to a daughter. At the moment that the father went out to get some medicine for her some fairies passed by the house and asked for shelter. The girl replied that it could not be as she was very ill; but, as they so begged and entreated to be allowed to remain, the mother at last allowed them to remain.

The fairies thanked the girl very much for her kindness, and when they were on the point of leaving they approached the child, and stroking her with the divining rod one said, "I now throw a charm over you that you may be the most beautiful woman in the world." The next fairy then said, "I endow you with all riches, that you may be the richest woman in the world." The third fairy then said, "I throw a sweet spell over you, that when you speak flowers may drop out from between your lips." They then struck the furniture with their rod and everything became of the richest form and material, and the house was also transformed into a palace; and when they had done all this the three fairies went away.

When the two sisters knew of this, and the poor sister had now become very rich, they were reconciled and became friends again with her. The enchanted maiden grew day by day more and more beautiful. There was a prince who lived quite near to them and was engaged to be married to the daughter of one of the two sisters who had espoused princes; but when he saw the enchanted little maiden he liked her better, and no longer paid any attentions to the other, who felt very jealous, but pretended she did not care. One day after this the prince became very ill and the' physicians ordered him to travel. The enchanted maiden went up to the highest tower there was to take leave of him and be able to see him for a long distance as he went along. Whilst the engaged girl went behind her, and when the enchanted maiden was looking out towards the prince, the other girl went behind her with a pointed rod and pierced her eyes with it and plucked them out. After which she ran away. The enchanted maid was very much distressed to find herself blind, and began to weep. A man passed who took compassion upon her and led her to his own house. After some time the prince returned from his travels. The engaged girl presented herself to him saying that she was the enchanted maiden; but the prince said that she was not; but she persisted that she was. Meanwhile the enchanted maiden was told that the prince had arrived, but as she was blind she did not dare to go and see him; but when she knew that the prince was at last going to marry the other girl she sent to ask the girl if she would like to have a nosegay of flowers to present the prince with. She sent back to say that she would very much. The enchanted girl then replied that she should send her, her eyes, and she on her part would send her the flowers. And so it happened. The other girl who was very desirous of presenting the prince with a nosegay sent the enchanted maiden her eyes. What did she do then?-Next day just before the marriage was to take place she dressed herself in deep black and put a veil on. She knocked at the door of the palace, but they would not admit her. At last, after many entreaties, she was allowed to eater, and she went straight into the prince's room and begged him most beseechingly not to marry. The prince replied that he could not put off the marriage as the invited guests had arrived. The maiden reiterated her demand, and stretched out her hand to the prince, the hand which had on the ring that he had given her, the prince seeing which raised up her veil and at once recognized her. As the maiden had with her the divining-rod that the fairies had left her, she touched her clothes with it, and immediately she found herself richly dressed. The prince then went to meet his invited guests and said to them, "I lost something, and instead I bought another. I have now recovered that which I lost. Which ought I to make use of-that which I lost, or what I bought?" They all exclaimed with one accord, "Surely, make use of what you have recovered." The prince then went to his room to seek the enchanted maiden, who related all that had occurred to her to the guests. And it was she whom he married.

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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