Portugal | Pedroso: The Vain Queen

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The Vain Queen

THERE was a very vain Queen who, turning towards her maids of honour, asked them, "Is there a face more beautiful than mine?" To which they replied that there was not; and on asking the same question of her servants they made the same answer. One day she turned towards her chamberlain and asked him, "Is there a more beautiful face than mine?" The chamberlain replied, "Be it known to your august majesty that there is." The queen, on hearing this, desired to know who it could be, and the chamberlain informed her that it was her daughter. The queen then immediately ordered a carriage to be prepared, and placing the princess in it ordered her servants to take her far away into the country and there to cut off her head, and to bring back her tongue. The servants departed as the Queen had ordered them, but, on arriving at the place agreed upon, they turned towards the princess and said, "Your highness is not aware for what purpose we have brought you here; but we shall do you no harm." They found a small bitch and killed her, and cut her tongue off, telling the princess that they had done this to take it to her majesty, for she had commanded them to behead her, and to take her back the tongue. They then begged of the princess to flee to some distant part and never to return to the city, so as not to betray them. The maiden departed and went on walking through several lonely wild places until she descried at a distance a small farm-house, and on approaching it she found nothing what ever inside the hut but the trail of some pigs. She walked on, and, on entering the first room she came to, she found a very old chest made of pinewood; in the second room she found a bed with a, very old straw mattress upon it; and in the third room a fire-place and a table. She went to the table, drew open the drawer, and found some food, which she put on the fire to cook. She laid the cloth, and when she was beginning to eat she heard a man coining in. The maiden, who was very much frightened, hid herself under-the table, but the man, who had seen her hiding away, called her to him. He told her not to be ashamed; and they both afterwards dined at the table, and at night they also supped together. At the end of supper the man asked the princess which she would prefer, to remain as his wife or as his daughter. The princess replied that she should like to remain as his daughter. The man then arranged a separate bed for himself and they each retired to rest. They lived in this way very happily. One day the man told the maiden to go and take a walk to amuse herself. The maiden replied that the dress she wore was too old to go out in, but the man opening a cupboard showed her a complete suit of a country- woman's clothes. The maiden dressed herself in them and went out. When she was out walking she saw a gentleman coming towards her. The maiden immediately turned back very much alarmed, and hid herself at home. At night when the man returned home he asked her if she had enjoyed her walk, to which she replied that she had, but this she said in a timid tone of voice. The next day the man again sent her out to take a walk. The maiden did so and again saw the same gentleman coming towards her, and as before she fled home in great fright to hide herself. When the man saw her in the evening and asked her whether she had enjoyed her walk the maiden replied that she had not, because she had seen a man approach as though he wished to speak to her, and therefore she did not wish ever to go out again. To this the man made no reply. The gentleman was a prince, who, on returning twice to the same place, and failing to meet the maiden love-sick. The wisest physicians attended him; and they gave an account of the illness the prince was suffering from. The queen immediately commanded a proclamation to be issued to the effect that the country lass who had seen the prince should at once proceed to the palace, for which she would be recompensed and marry the prince. But as the maiden now never left her home she knew nothing of the proclamation. The queen, seeing that no one presented herself at the palace, sent a guard to search the place. The guard went and knocked at the door, and told the maiden that her majesty sent for her to the palace, and that she would be well rewarded if she came. The maiden told the guard to return next day for her answer. When she saw the man again in the evening she related to him all that had passed. He told her that when the guard should return for the answer she was to tell him that the queen must come to her as she would not go to the queen. When the guard returned next day for the answer, the girl told him that she did not dare inform him of her decision. The guard told her to say whatever she liked, that he would repeat it to the queen. The girl then told him what the man had advised her to say. When the guard arrived at the palace he also feared to give the girl's answer; but the queen obliged him to do so. The guard then recounted all that the girl had said. The queen was very angry, but as at that very moment the prince was attacked with a severe fit of convulsions, and the queen feared he might die of it, she resolved to go. She ordered a carriage to be brought and she went to see the maiden; but as she was approaching the house it was transformed into a palace, the man who had sheltered the girl was turned into a powerful emperor, the pigs into dukes, the maiden into a beautiful princess, and all the rest into wealth and riches. When the queen saw all this she was very much astonished, and made many apologies for having summoned the girl to the palace. She told the maiden that seeing that her son the prince was so greatly in love with her she begged of her, if such was pleasing to her, to consent to marry the prince, as otherwise he would most certainly die. The maiden was willing and acceded to the request of the queen, and the marriage was celebrated with great pomp, and they all 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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