Portugal | Pedroso: Saint Peter's Goddaughter

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Saint Peter's Goddaughter

THERE was a couple who had so many children that there was no man left in that part of the country to be godfather. Another child was born to them, and the father, not knowing who else he could ask to be godfather, went out to walk along the high road. He met Saint Peter disguised as a little old man, and dressed like a poor man. When Saint Peter saw the man he asked him, "What are you doing here?" The man replied, much distressed, "What can I possibly do, my good Sir; I have had so many children that I cannot find now any one to stand godfather to my youngest child." The old man rejoined, "Well, then, I shall be its godfather; call her Peter, and when the child attains the age of seven years you must bring her here to this spot." Saint Peter then gave him a purse with money and departed. The man returned home feeling most happy, and related to his wife what had occurred to him with the old man he had met on the road, and he showed her the bag of money he had given him. The girl grew to be seven years of age, and the man, who had become very rich, felt loth to take the girl to the spot arranged upon; yet as he promised to do so he took her. When he reached the place he found the godfather waiting for them. Saint Peter then said to the man, "Go away and leave her here with me, as I shall take charge of her." And the man returned home without his daughter. Saint Peter took the girl by a road where there was a pear-tree loaded with fruit. Saint Peter asked the girl, "Do you see those pears?" "I do," replied the girl. "And do you like them?" asked Saint Peter. "I like them very much, godfather," replied the girl. They went on further, and they saw some very fat sheep in a place of very poor pasture. After this they met other sheep which were very lean, notwithstanding there was plenty of pasture. They proceeded on further, and at a great distance they descried a great blaze, and by it a dark column rising up. Saint Peter said to the girl, "Do you see that blaze?" The girl replied, "I can see it, godfather; what is it?" Saint Peter replied, "What you see there is purgatory, where people go who are proud and wicked. Did you not see those sheep that were lean with so much food before them? Those are persons who 'are proud and are sent there for their purgatory. And did you not see those fat sheep with very little to feed upon? Those are the good people who did much good in this world and who go to heaven. And did you perceive that pear-tree loaded with fruit? The pears are the angels, who being good also go to heaven. And now you are going into service, and will have to put up with many, many untoward things, because those that suffer and are patient go to heaven." After this Saint Peter gave her much good advice, and told her to call upon him whenever she should find herself in any very great trouble; moreover that she should never dress as a woman. The girl went to the king's palace and offered herself as a servant. One of the chamberlains went to inform the king of her request, and the king sent him to say that she might enter his service. They asked her at the palace what her name was, and she said that it was Peter. She entered the king's palace, and her duty was to tend the ducks. At night when Peter retired to bed, the queen went into Peter's room. But Peter ran away, and the queen felt vexed; and when she rose up next morning she threw a ring into the sea, and then went to the king and said, "Do you know what has happened to me! I let fall a ring into the sea, and Peter says he is sure he can dive to the bottom and find it." The king sent for Peter and said to him, "Oh! Peter, the queen has informed me that you say you are able to dive to the bottom of the sea and search for the ring which she let fall this morning into the water. Are you really able to do so?" The poor girl replied, "I suppose that if the queen says so, it is because I am able." She then went to her room and began to cry very bitterly, because she had not said such a thing, and she did not feel equal to attempting such a deed. However, she remembered to call for her godfather, and she said, "Come to my help, oh! my god father." Saint Peter appeared to her at once, and asked her, "Why are you in tears? have patience, for it is thus we should bear all things." The girl recounted to Saint Peter all that had happened to her with the queen, and what her majesty had told the king out of revenge to try and disgrace her. Saint Peter then said to her, "Very well, now listen to me. To-morrow they will buy some fish, and you must go and ask the servant whose duty it is to prepare and open the fish, to allow you to do it." The girl did as she was instructed to do. Next day some fish was brought into the palace, and she asked the servant to allow her to prepare the fish for the cook. She opened the fish's belly and there she found the ring, and she took it to the queen and gave it to her. The queen felt very much annoyed at this, but made no remark, and kept her displeasure to herself. Next day she again went into Peter's chamber, but Peter again ran out of the room. The queen feeling piqued and annoyed at the repetition of Peter's provoking conduct, again went to the king to make mischief, saying, "Do you know that Peter says that he is capable of grinding three quarters of wheat this evening?" The king sent for Peter and said to him, "Oh! Peter, the queen has told me that you say that you are able to grind three quarters of wheat this night; is it so? "Peter replied, "If the queen says so, it must be because I can, do it." Peter went to her room to give vent to her grief, and said, "Oh! my godfather, do come to my help." St. Peter once more appeared to her and asked her, "What ails you, that you weep so?" The girl replied, telling him of her trouble, and all that had taken place. Saint Peter then said to her, "I will tell you what to do. Ask for the necessary machine for grinding the wheat, take it to your room, and lay yourself down to sleep. In the morning rise up and look for the flour." The girl did as she was bidden. She asked for the necessary things to grind the wheat. She put everything in the room, and she laid down to sleep. When she arose next morning she found the flour already ground, and went with it to the king. This increased the queen's annoyance and anger against Peter, but she remained silent and betrayed no displeasure. At night she again went into Peter's chamber, and, as before, Peter ran away. The king had a daughter who was spell-bound in Moirama. The queen, remembering this, went to the king and said to him, "Do you know that Peter says that he feels confident of being able to disenchant our daughter who is in Moirama?" On hearing this the king summoned him to his presence and asked him, "Oh! Peter, the queen informs me that you say you feel confident of being able to disenchant our beloved daughter who is in Moirama,--can you really do so?" To this Peter replied, "I suppose that if the queen says so it is because I can." Peter returned to her room to have a good cry, for she thought that this would be impossible for her to accomplish. But in the midst of her doubts and affliction she turned and said, "Come to my assistance, oh! godfather." Saint Peter instantly stood before her and asked her, "What is the matter now, and why are you grieving so?" The girl told him all the impossible things the queen had told the king she vaunted she could accomplish all out of spite. To this Saint Peter replied, "Take these three tubes. Ask to have two horses saddled for your journey, and travel on and on, and where your horses shall stop there you will find the princess waiting for your arrival. On your return to the palace, look back, and you will find that the Moors are chasing you; then it is that you must throw the first tube; and if they continue to pursue you throw the second, and after that the third tube." The girl did as she was instructed to do. She asked the king to let her have two saddle-horses and started off, travelling until she arrived at a certain spot where the horses of their own accord suddenly stopped and refused to go any further; and there she found the princess waiting for her. As she was returning to the palace with the princess she looked behind her, and she saw the Moors in pursuit, and she had hardly seen them than she threw at them the first tube; and immediately a great fog came on. The girl and the princess could see their way, but the Moors could barely see the road and follow them. When they had quitted the land of Moirama the princess, who had been dumb, gave utterance to a short exclamation, saying, ah!" When they had proceeded further on the girl again looked back and she saw the Moors still in pursuit. She threw to them the second tubing, and a thick almost impassable bush grew up. The girl and the princess were able to pass this easily and quickly, but the Moors found it difficult to effect a path through it. When they had reached half way on their road home the dumb princess a second time exclaimed "ah! "Further on the girl again looked behind her, and saw the Moors were still behind. She threw out the third tube and a sea was formed. They crossed with ease the water, and this time the Moors found it impossible to follow the fugitives. When the girl and the princess arrived at the palace the princess a third time uttered an exclamation, and said, "ah!" When the queen saw her daughter she was very angry and went to the king to say that Peter vaunted that he could give speech to the princess, who was dumb. The king called up Peter and asked her if she was capable of executing what she said she could do. The girl replied as before, that if the queen had said so it was because she could do so. But she went to her room to weep, and she called out saying, "Oh! my godfather, come to my help," who instantly appeared and asked her, "Why are you weeping?" The girl told him everything, and St. Peter instructed her what she was to do. From there the girl went up to the king and told him that he could put her to death if he chose, but that she could not possibly give the princess speach. The queen was delighted to hear her say this; and it was decided that Peter should be hung. When the rope was already round her neck she asked leave in the presence of all the court assembled in front of the scaffold to publish three things to the world. The king gave the desired permission and she then asked :-

"Oh! Anna Deladana, why didst thou exclaim ah! as we left Moirama?"

The princess replied: "Because my mother went to seek for you in your bed."

The girl again asked: "Oh! Anna Deladana, why didst thou exclaim a second time ah! when half way home?" 

The princess replied: "Because Saint Peter is your godfather!"

The girl again asked: "Oh! Anna Deladana, why didst thou utter an ah! at the entrance of the palace?"

The princess replied: "Because you are a woman and they believed you were a man!"

The king then saw that the girl was innocent, and ordered her to be taken down from the scaffold, married her, and had the queen put to death.

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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