Tales of Old Lusitania/The Nobleman and the Green Blinds
THE NOBLEMAN AND THE GREEN BLINDS.
A certain king had a daughter whom he wished to see married, and to that end he invited to his court a number of princes from almost every country, that the princess might make her choice among them. But though these princes were eager to please, did their best to engage her affections, and were most particular to dress magnificently, with large aigrets of diamonds on their caps, which were worked with gold thread, and wore bands across their shoulders in which were set splendid rubies and emeralds of the first water, still there was not one she could admire or care for; and on being questioned by the king, she said the only man she would have for her husband would be the nobleman who had green blinds to his windows, for he had golden hair and beard, and silver teeth. The king, when he heard this, sent messengers all over the world to look for this wonderful personage, and find out where he lived; but all their search was in vain, for everywhere they were told that no such person had ever been heard of.
Years passed, and still the king was anxiously expecting to see the gentleman that had green blinds make his appearance. One day, whilst standing at the palace window, he saw a splendid carriage pass, with green painted windows, blinds of the same colour, and two lackeys also in green livery. The king instantly ordered the carriage to be stopped, and what was his joy to find that inside it there sat the identical noble man with the golden hair and beard, and silver teeth! He called his daughter, and asked her if the gentleman in the carriage was the nobleman she was waiting for. She replied, full of joy, that it was; but she was immediately after filled with such deep melancholy that she herself could not account for, and which surprised everyone in the palace who had expected to see her so happy.
The gentleman of the green blinds was asked into the palace, and said that he had come because he knew the princess wished to marry him; and that he wished the marriage to take place as soon as possible.
The marriage was accordingly solemnized next day, and the moment the festivities were over he started with the princess for his own country.
The carriage in which they travelled seemed all at once to be flying high above the ground—now over fields and forests—now over seas, rivers and their bridges; skimming over the houses and trees on their way, as if by magic. At last they found themselves in a thick forest, and here a great storm arose: the thunder crashed, thunderbolts fell on the earth, and great flashes of lightning seemed to set the world on fire. The princess, terrified beyond description, cried out aloud, "Lord Jesus, help me!" She had hardly spoken these words, when suddenly the tempest was stilled, the carriage with green lackeys vanished from sight, and the gentleman of the green blinds—who was no other than the Devil himself—the moment he heard the blessed name of the Saviour, sank to the depths of the infernal regions.
When the poor princess found herself suddenly alone and unprotected in so wild a place without a house near to shelter her, she cried to Our Lady, promising that if anyone should come to save her, she would keep silence for a whole year. She had not long to wait, for she soon heard the tramping of horses, followed by the sound of a gun; and a moment after a young prince, who was out on a hunting excursion, came into view, mounted on a noble steed, and surrounded by a troop of cavaliers.
The prince was astonished to find in such wilds a lonely maiden weeping, whom by her exalted appearance, and the magnificent robes she had on, he judged to be a royal princess. He rode up to her, and, dismounting, accosted her with great respect, and said, "O lovely maid, who has left you here, alone and exposed to the weather, and the wild beasts that prowl about seeking for a meal?" The princess made no , for she had already begun to fulfil the promise she had made to Our Lady. The prince continued to question her, but as she held her peace he concluded that she was dumb, and took her to his father's palace, where she was a mystery to everyone.
In the meantime the prince travelled through many countries, endeavouring to find out where she had come from, and to what royal family she belonged; but all his efforts were in vain, for nowhere could he discover the least trace of her family and history.
A year had thus been spent, and still the princess remained a mystery. But the prince, feeling more and more in love with her, determined to discard the rich, proud countess to whom he had been paying attentions, and to marry the dumb and friendless maiden. On the very day when the twelve months were completed since the princess was brought to the palace, the prince ordered that she should be attired in royal robes, with a tiara of diamonds and a necklace of pearls. When she came into court thus attired, the countess, cross with envy, began mocking and sneering at her and everything about her, saying, "Do look at that silly, dumb girl; what a figure she makes in her ugly robes and mock jewels!"
The princess, who at that very moment had completed her full year of silence, startled the whole court by saying, "Do look at the poor envious countess—she will be sorry to know that I am not dumb."
The queen mother, who was present and heard the princess speak, ran full of joy to tell her son that the dear girl had spoken. The prince, agreeably surprised, came running in, and embraced her, and asked her to tell him her story, and how it was that she was abandoned in the forest; which she did, and thus cleared up the mystery that hung over her. The prince wrote to the princess's father, informing him of all that had occurred, and notified his intention to marry her, on account of her rare beauty and goodness.
They were accordingly married amidst the rejoicings of the people, by whom she was much beloved.
And the cross countess was turned out of the palace.