Portugal | Pedroso: The Maiden with the Rose on her Forehead

SurLaLune offers over 40 eBooks, including fairy tale and folklore anthologies, critical texts, poetry and fiction. A master list is available to the right. The index below is divided by subject matter and region with fiction and poetry at the bottom.

The Maiden with the Rose on her Forehead

THERE was once a prince and a princess who were brother and sister, and were very great friends. The prince had a garden which no one was allowed to cultivate but himself. As it happened he had to go to the war; and he was sorry to go, because he did not like to trust any one with the care of his own garden. His sister, however, said to him:--"Dear brother, have no anxiety about your garden, leave it to me, and I promise you that no one but myself shall look after it." The prince then departed, well pleased with his sister's arrangement. The princess not wishing to leave the garden for one minute, as her brother was there constantly when at home, had her couch brought to the garden and placed under a large rose tree. After a time she gave birth to a child, a girl, with a rose on her forehead. The princess was much distressed at this, as it had come upon her without her knowledge, and she was always in the garden day and night. The child began to grow, and the mother sent her to school, enjoined her very particularly never to make herself known to any one, because, if she did, she would kill her. The child went to school; and the prince was expected to arrive home very shortly, and it was thought probable that as soon as he should reach the capital, he would go and visit all the schools and colleges, as well as the school where the little princess went to. The princess, who knew this, told her little daughter that the prince would visit her school, but that she was on no account to make herself known to him, as otherwise she would put her to death.

When the prince at last visited the said school he immediately noticed a new face and said: "Ah! there is one girl more since I last was here, I see!" The other children talked and made a noise, but this little one never once raised her head, that the rose on her forehead should not be noticed; nor did she laugh and be merry like the others. The prince, addressing the children, asked which of them would make him a shirt. The girls all answered at once: "I will, I will, I will," but the girl with the rose on her forehead remained silent. The prince noticed this and said, "Then the girl who has remained silent and has not said whether she would or not is the one who shall have the honour given her of making me a shirt! You will, will you not?" The girl signified by a movement of the head that she would. She went home and told her mother what the prince had asked her to do for him. The prince never once suspected any thing, and though the girl lived in the palace he did not know it. The princess told her daughter to make the shirt, but on no account to make herself known to the prince else she would have her put to death. The maiden went to school, set to work, and finished the shirt in one day, and when the prince came into the school she gave him the shirt ready finished. He thanked her very graciously, and he found it very well stitched and finished, but he never once noticed that she had a rose on her forehead, as she always went about with her head covered. When the prince came into the palace he told the princess that he had found a girl in the school who was very clever and handy at her needle, for she had made him a shirt in one day which was beautifully finished. As the prince finished saying this a man passed by the palace selling and crying out cherries--he called the man and bought of him the basketful of cherries; he then took them to the school and gave the girls the cherries to eat. They all began eating the fruit, much pleased, and it was only the maid with the rose on her forehead that did not attempt to partake of them. The prince perceiving it asked her, "Well then will you not taste some?" She made a sign that she would not have any. The prince, surprised at not ever having heard her speak, inquired of the mistress, "Is that little girl dumb?" The mistress replied, "She is very shy, and if any one endeavours to make her speak or take any notice of her she immediately begins to cry." The girls all began to play with the cherries and throw them about in their fun, but where should one of them fall but on the little girls head who had a rose on her forehead! Next day, when her mother combed her hair to go to school, finding a cherry entangled in it said to her, "Ah! tyrant, I see you have made yourself known," She stuck the comb into her head violently and killed her. She then had the corpse put into an iron chest together with all her jewels, and locked the chest in a chamber of the palace; but after a while from remorse and grief at what she had done to her poor daughter she pined away and died. Before she died she gave the prince the key of the room, telling him never to touch any thing in it. The brother, in order to comply with the princess's injunction, took special care to keep those keys separate. The princess died after she had said this.

The prince, feeling lonely, now decided to marry, and gave his wife all the keys, at the same time telling her that she could open every door she liked except the one leading to the room which his sister the princess had asked him before she died never to examine. As the prince went one day to hunt, his mother-in-law, who lived with them in the palace, had a great wish to open this room, but her daughter told her no to do so because the prince had enjoined her not. The mother then said that if the prince objected to having that room opened it was because it contained something which he wished to conceal from her. At last she insisted so much upon it that she obtained the key of the room and opened it. They both went in, and the first thing that they saw was a large iron chest. The mother then said, "Ah! I shall see what we can find in that large chest." She opened it and found inside a most beautiful maiden with a star on her forehead, who was sitting down engaged in embroidering. When the mother saw her she said to her daughter, "Did not I tell you that there was some hidden secret here?" The wife now, jealous of the maiden's beauty, heated an iron, took the maiden out of the chest, and burnt her skin with the heated iron, so that she remained all over scorched. When the prince returned from the hunt his wife said to him, "Do you know that I have bought a mulatta girl to serve us to run errands?" The prince, who was going to the fair, asked his wife what she would like him to bring her; but she told him to ask the mulatta girl what she also would like. So the prince asked the maid what she wished from the fair. The girl replied that she did not wish anything, but as he persisted in asking her to tell him something she would like to have, she asked him to bring her a talisman. When the prince returned from the fair he gave the girl the talisman. She took it to her room and lay on her bed. As the prince was curious to know what she would do with it, he hid himself under the bed. The mulatta girl began to tell her history to the stone, saying, "Oh! talisman, I am the daughter of a princess, sister to the prince my uncle, who lives in this palace and is married. But he does not know that I am his niece, for I was kept spell-bound in an iron chest; and his wife and her mother burnt my skin all over with a hot iron, and I remained scorched and browned; and when the prince returned home from the hunt they told him that I was a mulatta girl, Now my talisman I have told you all my history, and you know all my life." The prince who was listening attentively under the bed, quickly came out, embraced the maiden, and asked her what she desired him to do to his wife, as he no longer would allow her to remain in the palace. The maiden replied, "Do to her the same she did to me." The prince then ordered that the same piece of iron should be heated and his wife to have her skin well scorched with it, and that her mother should also undergo the same punishment, after which he inclosed them alive in a wall. He lived in the palace with his niece and never more entertained the idea of marrying.

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.]
Amazon.com: Buy the book in paperback.

Back to Top