The Princess Who Would Not Marry Her Father
(A Portuguese Tale)
THERE was once a king and a queen. But a few years after their marriage the queen died. At her death she placed a ring on a table, and bade the king marry whomsoever that ring should fit. It happened that their daughter, the princess, approached the table by chance, saw the ring, and tried it on. She then ran to the king her father, and said:-"Sire, do you know that a ring which I found on the table fits me as though it had been made expressly for me! . . ." The king, on hearing this, replied:-"Oh! my daughter, you will have to marry me, because your mother, before she died, expressed a wish that I should marry whoever this ring would fit." The princess, greatly distressed, shut herself up in a room which had the window looking into the garden, and gave vent to her grief. Soon, how ever, a little old woman appeared to her, and asked her: "Why do you weep, royal lady?" To which the princess replied: "Well, what else can I do? My father says that I must marry him." The little old woman then said to her: "Listen to me, royal lady, go and tell your father that you will only marry him on condition that he buys you a dress of the colour of the stars in the heavens." And after saying this she departed. The princess then went up to the king, who asked her: "Well, my daughter, are we to be married?" To which she replied: "Well, father, I shall marry you when you bring me a dress of the colour of the stars in the heavens." The father, on hearing this, went out and. bought her the dress, and gave it to her ready made. The princess again went to her room to cry. The little old woman again appeared to her, and asked her, "What ails you, royal lady?" She replied: "What can ail me! my father has bought me the dress I asked him for, and he wishes to marry me." The old lady rejoined: "Never mind, you must now ask him to bring you a dress of the colour of the flowers that grow in the fields." The princess again went to her father and told him that she could only marry him on condition of his bringing her a robe of the colour of wild flowers. The king bought the dress and gave it to her made up, and quite ready to be put on. The princess, again in trouble, retired to her chamber to weep. The old lady again appeared and demanded: "What ails you, royal lady?" To which the princess replied "What can ail me, indeed! my father has bought me the second robe, and is determined to marry me." The good old lady rejoined: "Ask your father now for a robe of various colures." The princess did so, and asked for a robe of various colours, and the king bought her the dress and brought it to her ready to be put on. The princess returned to her chamber to weep over her new trouble, but the little old woman came to her and asked her what troubled her. The princess replied that the king had bought her the third robe she required of him, and was now determined that the marriage should take place. "And now what shall I do to prevent it?" inquired the princess. The little old woman replied: "Royal lady, you must now send for a carpenter and order him to make you a dress of wood; get inside it and go to the palace of the king who lives yonder, who requires a servant to tend the ducks." The princess did as she was told, had a dress made of wood, put all her jewels, and everything else she would require, inside, and getting inside it herself; and one fine day she ran away. She walked on and on until she arrived at the said palace. She knocked at the door, and told the servants to ask his majesty the king if he required a maid to mind the ducks. He replied that he did; and he asked her what her name was, and she rejoined that her name was Maria do Pau; and after this the king sent her to tend the ducks, which were in a field next to the palace gardens. The moment the princess reached it she took off every thing she had on, and the wooden dress also; she washed herself; as she was travel-stained, and then put on the richest robe she had, which was the one the colour of the stars. The king was taking a walk in the garden, and noticed a lovely maiden who was in the field driving the ducks, and heard her repeat-
"Ducks here, ducks there,
Thu daughter of a king tends the ducks,
A thing never seen before!"
When she had finished saying this she killed, one of the ducks; then took off her robes, and again got into her wooden dress. At night she went indoors, saying: "Oh! king, I have killed one of the ducks." The king asked her: "Maria do Pau, who was that beautiful maiden so splendidly robed that minded the ducks?" To this she said: "Indeed there was no one else there but myself in disguise." Next day the king again sent Maria do Pau to tend the ducks. And when she was in the field she did the same thing as the day before. She took off her wooden dress, washed and combed herself carefully, put on the robe the colour of wild flowers, and went about driving the ducks, saying as before:-
"Ducks here, ducks there,
The daughter of a king tends the ducks,
A thing never seen before."
After which she killed another duck. Next day she did as the day before, put on the robe of many colours, and killed another duck. In the evening when she went indoors, the king said to her: "I do not wish you to take care of the ducks any longer, for every day we find a duck has been killed! Now you shall remain locked up in the house. We are to have a feast which will last three days, but I promise you that you shall not enjoy it, for I shall not allow you to go to it." To this she said to the king: "Oh! my liege, do let me go." But the king replied, "No, indeed, you shall not go." On the first day of the feast she again begged of the king to allow her o repair to it, and his majesty replied: "God, preserve me! What would be the consequences of taking Maria do Pau to the feast!" The king put on his gala robes and then sent for her to his chamber, asked her what dress she would like to put on, and the princess replied by asking him to give her a pair of boots, which the king threw at her and took his departure for the feast. She then repaired to her chamber and removed from inside the dress made of wool a wand she had, which the little old woman, who was a fairy, had given her, and holding it up she said: "Oh! divining rod, by the virtue that God gave you, send me here the best royal carriage, which is the very one that took the king to the feast." The carriage was instantly in sight, and entering it she made her appearance at the t in the robe of the colour of the stars. The king, who had his eyes continually fixed upon her, went out to the guards and told them not to allow the maiden to pass. But when she wished to get out she threw them a bag of money, and the guards allowed her to pass, but they asked her to what country she belonged, to which she replied that she came from the land of the boot. The king went home, and on arriving found the princess was already in the palace. The king, who wished to find out whether the lovely maiden which he had seen at the feast could possibly be Maria do Pau, went to see if she was safe in her chamber, and afterwards sent for her and said to her: "Oh! Maria do Pau, do you happen to know where the land of the boot is situated?" "Oh! my liege, do not come troubling me with your questions. Is it possible that your majesty does not know where the land of the boot is situated?" The king replied: "I do not. A maiden was at the feast. I asked her where she came from, and she said that she came- from the land of the boot, but I do not know where that is." Next day the king again attended the feast, but before leaving he said to Maria do Pau: 'You shall not be allowed to go there." "Do allow me for once," replied she. The king then asked her to give him the towel, and as she presented him with it he threw it at her, and departed for the feast. The princess repaired to her room, struck the divining rod, and put on the robe, which was the Colour of the wild flowers. The king who had been charmed with her on the first day of the feast, now admired her all the more, because she appeared more beautiful than ever. He went out to the guards and told them to ask the beautiful maiden when she passed to what country she belonged; and when she went out she informed them that she was from the land of the towel. As soon as the king was told of this he re turned to the palace to think over, and try to guess, if possible, where the land of the towel could be situated. And when he arrived at the palace the first thing he did was to ask his maid if she knew where the land of the towel could be found. To his inquiries she replied: "Well, well! here comes a king who does not know, I cannot tell, where the land of the towel is situated! Neither do I know." The king now said: "Oh! Maria do Pau, every time that I have been at the feast I have seen such a pretty maiden. If the one I saw yesterday was beautiful, the one of to-day is perfectly lovely, and much more charming than the first." Next day as the king was on the point of going out the princess said to his majesty: "Oh! my liege, let me go to the feast, that I may see the maiden that is so beautiful!" The king replied: "God, preserve me! What would be the result if I were to present you before that maiden?" After which he asked her to give him his walking-stick, and as he was going out he struck her with it. He went to the feast, and when there the princess presented herself before him in the robe of many colours. If on the previous days she appeared most beautiful, on this day of the feast she looked perfectly ravishing, and more interesting than ever. The king fixed his eyes upon her so as not to lose sight of her, as he wished to see her go out, and follow her to where she lived, as it was the last day of the feast. But the king missed seeing her depart after all, and he could find her nowhere. He went to the guards and asked them what she had said, but the guards replied that she had come from the land of the walking-stick. The king returned to the palace and inquired of his maid where the land of the walking-stick could be found; but she replied: "Oh! my liege, that I should know where the land of the walking-stick is situated. Does not my liege know?-neither do I." The king again asked her: "Do you really not know? To-day I again saw the same girl who is so beautiful; but I begin to think it cannot be the same one every time, because at one time she says. that she comes from the land of the boot, next time that she is from the land of the towel, and lastly she says she is from the land of the walking-stick.
The princess repaired to her room, washed and combed her s and dressed herself in the robe she had on on the first day of the feast. The king went to look through the key-hole to find out why she was so long away and remained in her chamber so quiet, and also to see what she was at. He saw a lovely maiden, the same one who had appeared at the feast dressed in the robe the colour of the stars in the heavens, sitting down busy with some embroidery. When the princess left her chamber to repair to the dinner-table again disguised the king said to her: "Oh! Maria do Pau, you must embroider a pair of shoes for me." She replied: "Do I know how to embroider shoes?" and she left the parlour to go back to her chamber. Every day she put on one of the dresses she had worn at the feast, and on the last day she robed herself with the one of many colours. The king begged her every day to embroider him a pair of shoes, and she always returned the same answer. He had a key made to open the princess's room, and one day when he saw through the key-hole that she was robed in her best, he suddenly opened the door without her perceiving it and entered the chamber. The princess startled, and very much frightened, tried to run away, but the king said to her: "Do not be troubled for you shall marry me! But I wish you first to tell me your history, and why it is that you wear a wooden dress." The princess recounted all the events of her life and the king married her. The king next sent for the little old woman who had given her the wand, to come and live in the palace, but she refused to live there because she was a fairy.
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.