THERE was once a man who had three daughters; he loved them all, but there was one he loved more than the others. As he was going to the fair one day he inquired what they would like him to bring them. One said she would like to have a hat and some boots, the other one asked for a dress and a shawl, but the one he loved most did not ask for anything. The man, in surprise, said, "Oh! my child, do you not want anything?" "No, I want nothing; I only wish that my dear father may enjoy health." "You must ask for something, it matters not what it is, I shall bring it to you," replied the father. But, in order that the father should not continue to importune her, she said, "I wish my father to bring me a slice of roach off a green meadow." The good man set off to the fair, bought all the things that his daughters had asked him, and searched every where for the "slice of roach off a green meadow," but could not find it, for it was something that was not to be had. He there fore came home in great distress of mind, because she was the daughter he loved most and wished most to please. As he was walking along he happened to see a light shining on the road, and, as it was already night, he walked on and on until he reached the light. The light came from a hut in which lived a shepherd; the man went in and inquired of him, "Can you tell me what palace is that yonder, and do you think they would give me shelter there?" The shepherd replied, in great astonishment, "Oh! sir, but in that palace no one resides, some thing is seen there which terrifies people from living in it." "What does it matter, it will not eat me up; and, as there is no one living in it, I shall go and sleep there to-night." He went up to the building, found it all lit up very splendidly, and, on entering into the palace, he found a table ready laid. As he approached the table, he heard a voice which said, "Eat and lie down on the bed which you see there, and in the morning rise and take with you what you will find on that table, which is what your daughter asked you for; but at the end of three days you must bring her here." The man was very pleased to be able to take home what his daughter had asked him for, but at the same time was distressed at what the voice had said it required him to do. He threw himself on the bed, and on the following morning he arose, went straight to the table, and found upon it the slice of roach off a green meadow. He took it up and went home; the moment he arrived his daughters surrounded him: "Father, what have you brought us? let us see what it is;" the father gave them what he had brought them. The third daughter, the one he loved most, did not ask him for anything, but simply if he was The father answered her, "My daughter, I come back both happy and sad! Here you have what you asked me for." "Oh! father, I asked you for this because it was a thing which did not exist; but why do you come back sad?" "Because I must take you at the end of three days to the place where this was given to me." He recounted all that had occurred to him in the place, and what the voice had told him to do. When the daughter heard all she replied, "Do not distress yourself, father, for I shall go, and whatever God wills, will happen." And so it happened that at the end of three days the father took her to the enchanted palace. It was all illuminated and in a blaze of light; the table was laid, and two beds had been prepared. As they entered they heard a voice saying, "Eat and remain with your daughter three days that she may not feel frightened." The man remained the three days in the palace, and at the end went away leaving the daughter alone! The voice spoke to her every day but no form was seen. At the end of a few days the girl heard a bird singing in the garden. The voice said to her, "Do you hear that bird sing?" "Yes, I hear him," replied the girl, "Does it bring any news?" "It is your eldest sister who is going to be married, would you like to be present?" asked the voice. The girl in great delight said, "Yes, I should like to go very much,-will you let me go?" "I will allow you," rejoined the voice, "but you will not re turn!" "Yes, I shall come back," said the girl. The voice gave her then a ring so that she should not forget her promise, saying, "Now mind that at the end of three days a white horse will go for you; it will give three knocks,-the first is for you to dress, and get ready, -the second for you to take leave of your family,-and the third for you to mount it. If at the third knock you are not on the horse, it will go away and leave you there." The girl went home. A great feast had been prepared and the sister was married. At the end of three days the white horse came to give the three knocks.
At the first the girl commenced to get ready, at the second knock she took leave of her family, and at the third she mounted on the horse. The voice had given the girl a box with money to take to her father and her sisters; on that account they did not wish her to return to the enchanted palace, because she was now very rich. But the girl remembered what she had promised, and the moment she found herself on the horse she darted off. After a certain time the bird returned and began to sing very contentedly in the garden. The voice said to her, "Do you hear the bird sing?" "Yes I hear it," replied the girl, "Does it bring any news?" "It is that another of your sisters is about to marry; and do you wish to go?" "Yes, I wish to go; and would you allow me to go?" "I will let you go," replied the voice; "but you will not return!" "Yes, I shall return," said the girl. The voice then said, "Remember that if at the end of three days you do not come back you shall remain there, and you will he the most hapless girl there is in the world!" The girl started off. A great feast was given and the sister was married. At the end of three days the white horse came-it gave the first knock, and the girl dressed herself to go; it gave the second knock, and the girl took leave of her friends; it gave the third knock, and the girl mounted the horse and returned to the palace. After some time the bird again sang in the garden, but in melancholy tones,--very dull tones indeed. The voice said to her, "Do you hear the bird sing?" "Yes, I hear it," replied the girl: "is there any news?" "Yes, there are; it is that your father is dying, and does not wish to die without taking leave of you." "And will you allow me to go and see him?" asked the girl, indeed much distressed. "Yes, I will let you go; but I know you will not return this time." "Oh yes, I shall come back," replied the girl. The voice then said to her, "No, you will not return--you will not! for your sisters will not let you come; you and they will be the most unhappy girls in this world if' you do not come back at the end of three days." The .girl went home, the father was very ill, yet he could not die until he saw her, and he had hardly taken leave of his daughter when he died. The sisters gave the girl a sleeping draught as she had requested them, and left her to sleep. The girl had begged them most particularly to awaken her before the white horse should come. What did the sisters do? They did not awaken her, and they took off the ring she wore. At the end of three days the horse came--it gave the first knock; it knocked the second time; it knocked the third time, and went away and the girl remained at home. As the sisters had taken away the ring, she forgot everything of the past and lived very happily with her sisters. A few days after this fortune began to leave her and her sisters, until one day the two said to her, "Sister, do you remember the white horse?" The girl then recollected everything and began to cry, saying, "Oh I what misfortune is mine, oh! you have made me very wretched what has become of my ring?" The sisters gave her the ring, and the girl took her departure in great affliction. She reached the enchanted palace and found everything about it looking very dull, very dark, and the palace shut up. She went straight into the garden and she there found a huge beast lying on the ground. The beast had barely seen her when he cried out, "Go away, you tyrant, for you have broken my spell! Now you will be the most wretched girl in the world, you and your sisters." As the beast finished saying this it died. The girl returned to her sisters in great distress, weeping very bitterly, and she remained in the house without eating or drinking, and after a few days died also. The sisters became poorer by degrees for having been the cause of all this trouble.
1: There are different variations of this story, viz.: "It is that your sister has given birth to a girl; I would like you to be her godmother. And do you wish to go?"
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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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