The Story - Page 3 of 4

When the princess – Doña Maria was the name – discovered the outrage, her anger knew no bounds. Then, from his hiding place, Don Juan sallied forth and bent down on his knees and begged forgiveness and poured forth with all the vehemence under his command the sincerity of his love to her. Pleased by his words and actions, Doña Maria also fell in love with him; but she advised him to beware of the cunning of her father lest he be turned also into stone as the others who came to woo her and her sisters. Then she pointed the stones that surrounded the palace, and told him that they were formerly princes, dukes, counts, knights, etc. Then she told him what he was to do in case her father would call him. She also promised him that whatever her father would demand of him, she was the one who would perform the task.

On being informed of the presence of the bold prince, the king sent for him. Unhesitating, Don Juan presented himself and did what was bidden, but he was always careful and conscious of the advice given him by Doña Maria. As was his wont, the king demanded of the young prince to perform a series of tests both gigantic and impossible of accomplishment to ordinary mortals. The first was to plant two basketfuls of wheat-grains on the top of a nearby mountain after the same had been leveled and to produce of these sown wheat-grains bread sufficient to be taken in the breakfast by the king and his court the following morning. The second was to gather in one night a dozen negroes and negreses let loose by the king in the sea and place them in a big bottle. The third humanly impossible task was to remove in one night a distant mountain to a place just outside the king's palace so that the following morning when the king looked at the window he would feel and cool breeze blowing from that mountain. The fourth task demanded of Don Juan was to transfer that mountain to the midst of the sea and in it construct a magnificent castle, fortified by bastions, buttresses and mounted cannons, and fortifies by a number of soldiers. The fifth ordeal given to the prince was the recovery in one night of a ring which the king would drop into the sea. To all these tests, Don Juan submitted himself and emerged successful. But his success was of course really due to Doña Maria who personally performed the humanly impossible tasks, with the aid of her superb-talisman, the white magic. The last test proved to be the extraordinarily difficult, for in order to look for the royal ring in the depths of the sea, it was necessary to cut the body of Doña Maria into innumerable pieces and then throw them into the sea as the only means of recovering the jewel.

At this instance, however, when her body was being cut into pieces, one of her fingers was dropped from the aggregate of her flesh, and on that account it was no longer recovered. In spite of the marvelous performance by the prince of the tasks imposed by the king, the latter was not pleased. This was due to two reasons. One was his unwillingness to marry off his daughter, and the second was his hurt pride for having been outdone by the prince in the supernatural powers shown by the young man. For these reasons, he still imposed another arduous task, which Doña Maria considered the most dangerous and most delicate. This was the taming of a horse, which was supposed to be no other than the king himself transformed.

But Doña Maria, who was possessed of a talisman superior to that of her father, was still able to tame that horse and save her dear prince from veritable death. The following day, as a result of his terrible adventure, the king was completely tired and exhausted. Calling the prince to his bedside, he allowed him to choose one of his three daughters as wife, without, however permitting him to see them in person. He merely told his daughters to insert one of their fingers into the holes provided in their respective chambers, and from these fingers Don Juan was to choose his bride. Doña Maria was easily identified, however, by the prince because she inserted her finger that was cut while they had their adventures in the sea.

The monarch appeared to have been satisfied, but he was still thinking of things to deceive the price. He was even planning to send the prince to England either to marry him to one of his (the king's) sisters or to put him to death there. But Doña Maria, through her talisman, knew this. So she decided to elope with her suitor. She ordered him to direct himself to the royal stables and take the seventh horse, counting from the left, and prepare the horse for their elopement that same evening. Unfortunately, in his haste, the prince took the eighth horse.

However, no sooner were they outside the kingdom, than the king knew of their flight. So he mounted the seventh charger which was the fastest of the king's steeds. Then followed a close race. The seventh horse proved really the faster of the two in that race. The princess knew that if they would be overtaken that would also be the undoing of her own life. So, she harnessed all her supernatural prowess. When they were about to be overtaken, she dropped one of her needles, which on touching the ground, was converted into an extensive pile of thorns that necessitated the tenacious king to go a long way round. When later he came in sight of the fugitives, the princess dropped a cake of soap which became a high filthy mountain, causing again a long delay on the part of the pursuers. The third time he came close, Doña Maria dropped a hair pin which converted the distance the fugitive lovers and the pursuing king king into a wide and deep body of water, which proved too much for the king's horse to pass. Thus ended the race with the romantic pair as the hero and heroine. Full of remorse and hatred, the king cursed his daughter so that she might be forgotten by her lover.

At last Doña Maria and Don Juan arrived at the kingdom of Berbania. Here, in a village just at the outskirt of the kingdom, they halted for a little rest. Don Juan thought that it was not proper for them to enter the kingdom unheralded much less was it befitting to have Doña Maria come without the royal and sumptuous welcome. Hence he prevailed upon the princess to tarry in the village for a while, and in the meantime he went to the kingdom alone with the intention of informing his father and the royal court of the presence of the illustrious and learned princess.

But no sooner was he in the midst of the court when he forgot everything about Doña Maria, a fact which was in accordance with the curse of her father. Princess Leonora, meanwhile, came out of her seclusion and made known to the Berbanian king her readiness to marry, not Don Pedro, however, but Don Juan, the newly arrived prince. A little surprised at first but agreeable later to this proposal for it would not greatly affect the royal line, the king ordered the big preparation for the wedding – the royal wedding of Don Juan and Doña Leonora.

Outside the kingdom, Princess Maria waited for the return of Don Juan. But the latter did not come. Through her talisman, she knew of what were taking place in the royal palace. At the day of the marriage, she therefore ordered her talisman to provide her with the most beautiful and most dignified royal garments, a royal coach drawn by eight big colored horses, with four palfreys and other paraphernalia befitting an empress of the first rank. Then she presented herself at the door of the Berbanian palace, practically inviting herself at the wedding ceremony of Don Juan and Doña Leonora.

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