Portugal | Pedroso: Pedro and the Prince

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Pedro and the Prince

THERE was once a king who had an only son, and opposite to the palace lived a man who had a son named Pedro, of the same age as the prince. One day the prince said to the king that he was very desirous to take a journey, but that he would like to go with Pedro. The king then said, "Then my son do you wish to go with Pedro instead of proceeding with your retinue?" The prince replied that it was so. The king then ordered two of the best and finest horses in the army to be got ready, one for the prince and the other for Pedro. They travelled much, they saw many beautiful lands, and when they arrived at a certain place they dismounted. The prince told Pedro to mind his horse whilst he should go to drink some water. Meanwhile the prince disappeared. Pedro, very much distressed, ran everywhere seeking him; but not finding him he returned to the city, and as he was passing by a pond where there were many washerwomen who were witches, he heard much laughing among them, and they were saying, "How foolish he is, he thought he was going to accompany the prince, and that he would be recompensed by the king for his services! Now go and disenchant him from where he is!" Pedro went up to the washerwomen and entreated them to tell him where the prince was to be found. One of them, taking compassion upon him, bade him go to an old palace which was close by. Pedro did so, went in, but did not see any thing but orange and lemon trees, and did not meet with any one. Full of rage he commenced to pluck the oranges and lemons, and to throw them on the ground. Each lemon and orange that he threw on the ground was a prince and a princess, who had been until then under a spell, whilst his own prince became disenchanted. Full of joy Pedro entreated him to return with him to his own country; but the prince saw one of the princesses who had been disenchanted and fell in love with her.

He told Pedro that he wished to take her with him; they therefore proceeded on their journey, taking the princess with them. They were much fatigued after a time, and as they could not find a house where they could remain and rest Pedro told them that they could take shelter and pass the night in a shed which stood in a court-yard which he had discovered. The prince and princess accepted the offer very willingly, for they were very tired and travel-worn, and instead of lying down Pedro remained as sentry to keep watch, well armed to defend them. In the middle of the night he heard the witches on the top of the shed in fits of laughter, and he heard one of them say: "What a foolish man he is! he thought that he was going to accompany the prince and princess home but the first thing that will happen to the princess will be that she will find a handsome little mule, and she will take a great fancy to ride upon it. On her riding it, it will break down, and whoever shall hear this and repeat it shall be turned into marble." Another witch replied to this, "From this mishap she shall be delivered, but she will see a pear tree with very good pears upon it which she will desire much to taste; as she eats them she will be poisoned, but whoever shall hear this and shall repeat it into hard marble shall be turned!" To this one other witch replied, "From this danger she will be delivered, but she will come to a fine bridge, and she will desire to cross it; as she crosses it the bridge will break down, but whoever shall hear this and shall relate it, into hard marble will be converted!" At last to this the fourth witch replied, "Of this she shall be delivered, but on he night of their marriage I shall take the guise of a phantom, and I shall enter their room through the window and behead her as well as the prince, but whoever shall hear this and relate it shall inevitably be turned into hard marble." As she finished saying this the witches took their departure. Shortly after the day dawned, and Pedro was in great distress of mind. They continued their journey, and when they reached a certain spot there appeared a very handsome mule, and the princess immediately coveted to ride upon it as she felt very tired. The instant Pedro heard her say so he ran before her and killed the animal. The prince was very much surprised at this act of Pedro, but as he was fond of him said nothing about it. They went further on and saw a pear tree. The princess longed to taste a pear, but Pedro ran before them and buried the pears. The prince here manifested his annoyance at the act. They proceeded on further and Pedro saw a bridge at a distance; he ran in front and paid some workmen to destroy the bridge that the princess should not be able to cross it. The prince was very angry and reprehended Pedro, but he replied that later on he would give his highness a satisfactory reason for acting as he did.

On their arrival at the palace there was much rejoicing in the capital on receiving the prince and the princess. Their marriage was solemnised and Pedro said that he must perforce sleep in the same room on the first night as the bride and bridegroom. The prince urged that it was impossible, but Pedro remained firm and said that it must be; and he remained armed standing by the window. Far into the night he saw the witch, like a phantom, come in sword in hand in order to behead the princess and the prince. Pedro raised his sword and wrestled with the phantom, but without any such intention he struck the princess's face and drew blood. The princess awoke with a start and commenced to cry out that Pedro was a traitor who wanted to behead her. The prince was very wrathful and said that Pedro must die. He however said to the prince that he did not mind that, but that before he was put to death he would ask the king to give a banquet to all his court, as he had something to declare. The king acceded to his petition, gave a great banquet to the court, and Pedro on the occasion sat at the royal table. At the end of the banquet Pedro took occasion to narrate all he had heard the witches say on the night when they remained and took shelter under a shed. As he narrated the part which referred to the mule his legs began to harden into stone. As he began to recount what the second witch had said he was already turned into stone as far as his knees. The Prince seeing which asked Pedro not to continue any further to relate what he had heard the witches say, as he had already commuted the sentence of death passed upon him, satisfied of his innocence. But Pedro determined to declare all he had heard the witches say, and as he finished narrating what the last one had said he was turned completely into a marble statue. The prince, much distressed, ordered the statue of marble to be placed under the bed in his room.

At the end of the year the princess had a boy; and when the prince was once in his room, sometime after the event, alone with the child, the witch appeared and said to him, "You are a great friend and patron of Pedro, but you are not capable of killing your son and bathing the marble statue with his blood; did you do so, the marble statue would turn again into Pedro himself:" The prince was in great affliction about what was required of him and his poor son, but before long he took into consideration that his son was yet very young, and that Pedro's life was more necessary, as he might yet save many lives and persons from danger; he therefore drew first a very small drop of blood from the boy's arm, and poured it over the stone. Pedro began to move! and the prince, seeing that he was alive, took courage and killed the boy. He then proceeded to bathe the statue with its blood, and immediately the stone was turned again into Pedro. When the princess returned to the room the prince told her that the little boy her son had fallen from the bed to the floor and had died. The princess in great affliction and grief ordered a beautiful mausoleum to be erected in the garden to place the child's corpse in it. The following day when they were all celebrating with a great feast the event that Pedro had come to life again, the little boy also returned to life. He was found playing in the garden with some little stones. Great was their joy, and they all lived very happily and contentedly.

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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