The Doll

There was once a princess who had a very pretty doll. She used to play with it constantly, and when she went to bed she still held it in her hand, leaving her arm outside the bed so that the doll wouldn’t be suffocated by the heat of the blankets.

One morning the princess woke and couldn’t see her beloved doll. She got up and got dressed and searched her room for the doll but without success. As the window of her room overlooked the garden, she wondered if the doll had jumped out into the garden and went to look for it there, but all in vain. She set out from the garden and went on and on looking everywhere for her beloved doll, until she came to a palace at the edge of a city. She knocked at the palace door.

 “What do you want, little girl?” the queen who lived in the palace asked her.

 “I’ve lost my doll and I’m looking for it.”

The princess looked so tired and had so sweet and appealing a face that the queen told her to come in and said to her:

 “Well, little girl, I have a grown up daughter, who also used to like to play with her dolls when she was younger . . . ”

 “And now? . . .”

 “Now she doesn’t play anymore because she’s gone mad. You would do me a great favour if you went and played with her in her room. It’s night now, so take this lamp with you. Take care it doesn’t go out.”

The princess took the lamp and set out for the quarters of the mad daughter.

At the entry to her quarters the lamp went out, and as she thought she could see a light at the end of the garden she set out towards it with the intention of lighting her lamp.

When she got there she found a kitchen from which light was coming. She peered in and saw a gentleman standing beside a black man who was fanning the fire and boiling some ingredients in a cauldron.

 “I hope you succeed in keeping her mad. Since she won’t marry me, I don’t want her to marry anyone else,” the gentleman said to the black man, who replied:

 “Don’t worry. She’s even madder now than she was before.”

The little princess was very bright and immediately suspected what they were.

She knocked at the door. They asked from inside:

 “Who’s there?”

 “I want to light my lamp, which has gone out.”

They opened the door and the little princess went in.

 “Where have you come from?” the gentleman asked her.

 “I’ve come from the princess’s room. We’ve just been playing together and amusing ourselves.”

 “But isn’t she completely mad!” the gentleman said.

 “No, she’s in good health. She used to be mad but now she’s got well again.”

Then the gentleman killed the black man and overturned the mixture in the cauldron and said:

 “This villain has robbed me of what I wanted by his evil schemes.”

The little princess lit her lamp and set off for the palace. She went into the princess’s room and the princess welcomed her. When the queen entered her daughter’s room shortly afterwards and saw her laughing and playing with the little princess she was very happy and attributed her cure to a miraculous intervention by the little princess.

The news soon spread through the city and later on to other cities, where they considered her to be a holy woman. In the meantime the little princess went on looking for her doll, even though she remained in the palace. One day ambassadors arrived from the king of another country to ask the queen to allow the holy woman to come and cure a daughter of his who had become mute. The queen was a very good woman and she told the little princess:

 “Go and cure the mute princess, little girl. Perhaps you’ll find your doll there.”

And the queen ordered a coach drawn by a pair of horses to be prepared and sent the little princess back with the ambassadors. She came to the new country and spoke to the king and queen, who begged her to cure their daughter.

 “I would like to spend the night in her room to make some experiments.” The little princess stayed in the room of the mute princess and pretended that she was very tired and had gone to sleep. At midnight she sensed the door of the room open, and she opened her eyes and saw the devil go over to the mute princess. He used a key to open a lock which the princess had in her mouth and begin to talk with her for some time.

When the devil took the key out of his pocket to close the lock again the little princess said in a loud voice:

 “Come to my aid the Holy Sacrament!”

Then the devil exploded and vanished in a flash, without having closed the lock. The princess still wanted to remain mute but the little princess, who had overheard her conversation with the devil, told her:

 “If you don’t speak tomorrow I will tell your father and mother about the conversation I heard tonight.”

The princess begged her to keep her secret, and promised to speak as in fact she did from then on. This new cure greatly increased the reputation of the little princess,

Everyone sang her praises. At the request of the king and queen she stayed in the palace for several days, and she did not forget her doll, but continued to seek it everywhere.

One day ambassadors came from a powerful king, asking for the holy woman to return with them so as to provide a miraculous cure for a prince. The little princess set off in a coach drawn by two pairs of horses. When she reached the palace the king and queen told her:

 “Our son used to be very happy and carefree. He went away on a journey and when he came home again he was very sad and crazy. He continually repeats the phrase: ‘If the doll is so pretty, how pretty its owner must be!’ When he is asked to repeat these words, he becomes infuriated and attacks us; although all we need to do is threaten him with a switch and he becomes respectful again.”

As soon as the princess heard speak of the doll she had a mysterious presentiment.

 “I want to go to the prince’s room,” the little princess said.

The prince’s mother showed her the way to her son’s room, and remained at the door while the little princess went in. The prince took no notice of the person who entered his room, but continued staring at an object and saying:

“If the doll is so pretty, how pretty its owner must be!”

The little princess looked at the object and what happiness she felt when she saw her beloved doll. She cried out and ran over to take the doll. When the prince saw a woman take hold of the doll had an attack of madness and made towards the little princess, who raised the switch with a threatening gesture. Then the prince looked at the little princess and she looked back at him, saying:

 “This is my beloved doll which I had lost.”

These words were a balsam to the agitated heart of the prince. He regained the full use of his mental faculties and began to explain what had happened. The prince had found the doll in the garden of a king’s palace, and was so enchanted by it that he immediately began to experience hallucinations, returning home to his palace without being able to find out whom the doll belonged to.

When he had finished his explanation, the prince asked his royal parents to permit him to marry the little princess. They did not withhold their consent, but first informed the king, who was the father of the little princess, of the whereabouts of his daughter.

All this meant that the wedding was celebrated with great solemnity and pomp.

Her parents and parents-in-law, and the kings and queens and their daughters who she had cured and many ordinary folk all took part.

There were great festivities.

I went there and they gave me not a thing.


Oliveira 1905 II, 434-438, #386, A Boneca [The Doll]. Algarve, Algoz; Oliveira 2002 II,  302-305.

Tale type nº 434, The Stolen Mirror

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