A Portuguese Folktale: The Devil Prince

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Art by StarTwo

Now that the days grow colder in our side of the world, a cup of a warm beverage is welcome! A good tale is also a must, to go with your selected drink! So, stick around and get comfy for today we bring you:

A Portuguese Folktale: The Devil Prince
Artwork, Translation, and Adaptation by: StarTwo

There once was a King that mistreated his Queen because she wouldn’t birth a son.
On a certain day, she found herself so offended by the King’s insults, that she exclaimed from the bottom of her soul:

“I wish I had a son, even if were the son of the Devil!”

Moments later a horseman appeared and said this to her:

“If you want a son, take three drops of blood from your arm, and with that blood, sign your name on this paper.”

Still hurting from her husband’s abuse, the queen prickled her arm with a pin. In the three droplets of the blood, she dipped her pen and wrote her name on the paper the horseman had presented to her. Next, the horseman took the document and vanished.

As for the Queen, where she had prickled her skin, a scar appeared as a reminder of her deed.

After some months, the queen felt herself with child and at the expected time, gave birth to a Prince. For this, there were great celebrations. But from the time he was born, the child displayed terrifying wickedness. He would cry all the time, and his greatest satisfaction was to cut the nipples of his wet nurses with his tiny gums. When he was already a grown-up, everybody feared him.

The King started to notice that all his court ran away from the Prince and spread rumors about him. So he sought by a public act, to consecrate him to the Mother of God. But, after learning about the King’s resolve, the Prince’s behavior became more horrible and cruel.

These events consumed the Queen with grief. Yet she didn’t dare tell her husband the truth about her encounter with the unknown horseman. Then, on a day the Prince did true devilish acts; the Queen couldn’t take it anymore and cried:

“You are a disgrace, my son! I sold your soul to the Devil, for a document he has in his power!”

The Prince, after his usual wickedness, seemed to fall into instants of remorse. It was his good principles trying to battle the bad ones. Thus, after he had heard his mother’s words, he decided:

“I will go to Hell and retrieve that document!”

And he got on a horse and disappeared.

***

The Prince rode and rode, stopping to rest in the middle of a meadow. There, an Old Woman appeared and asked where he was traveling to. He shared with her what his mother had told him and finished his tale by stating he was traveling to Hell.

“A doomed journey! But, if you follow my advice, you may go and be able to return. “ said the Old Woman.

“What should I do?” the Prince inquired.

“Young one, you will follow this road until it brings you to a stream. Instead of flowing water, it flows with blood. Get down from your horse, kneel and ask God to forgive your sins until you shed tears. They should mix with the blood from the stream.” She paused for a moment to let the information sink in. “Farther ahead, you will find another stream, from which milk flows. Do the same thing you did at the stream of blood. And a little farther ahead, you will find yet another stream of pure water. You will also kneel and pray here.”

Another pause and now she looked intensely at the Prince, making sure he was paying suitable attention to her words.

“Next, proceed with caution and always on horseback and you will reach an enormous open door. Go in and ask Satan for the document that is rightfully yours. He will lie to you and say he’s not able to give it back because he lost it. Demand that all his devils get summoned and among them, there will be a lame one. He will have the document in his pockets! Get close to him, make a cross on his back and he will fall immediately, then take the document from him and leave at once.”

The Prince thanked her for the instructions and left on his horse. Everything happened as the Old Woman said, and soon he found himself before the gigantic doors of Hell.

As soon as he got inside, Satan appeared to him and the Prince exclaimed:
“I have come for the document signed by my mother the Queen, with three drops of blood that is in your possession!”

Satan shrugged:

“I have lost it!”
“Someone found it! Call your subjects!”
Satan put to his mouth a large trumpet that produced the sound of thunder and all the devils appeared at once.
“Who has the document signed by the Queen?” asked Satan.
“I have it!” replied a lame devil.
“Give it to this boy.”
“I won’t.” retorted the limping devil.

While they bickered, the Prince went behind him and made the sign of the cross on his back. The lame devil fell on the spot. Before he knew it, the Prince had taken the document from him. A big commotion took over Hell.

No devil dared to fling their claws at the Prince, however. His clothes were still dampened with drops of blood, milk, and water from the streams he had crossed. Amid the uproar, Satan’s voice was heard, yelling:

“Close the doors! The souls are escaping!”

By that time, the Prince had managed to escape Hell. Before him, he saw old, tiny rags of cloth that moved ever so slightly. Farther ahead, he found the Old Woman that had helped him. She was washing the dirty little rags in the stream of pure water.

As they got washed, they rose to the sky and disappeared.

“What sort of rags are these, that after washing rise to heaven, my kind Old Woman?”
“These are souls that managed to escape Hell. When the devils got distracted, trying to seize the document from you, they fled.”
“And what is the meaning of the three streams I crossed to come here and that I will have to cross again to reach home?”
“The stream of blood represents the blood spilled for our sins by the Saviour. The milk is the bosom the Holy Virgin gave to her Blessed Son. And the pure water, her streaming tears by the Cross.”

As she finished her words, the Old Woman vanished. The Prince went on his way to the palace, where the King and Queen awaited him. There, the Prince gave the document to the Queen and she burned it at once.

As the wind spread the ashes of the cursed document, the Queen looked at her arm and no longer saw the scar from the three droplets of blood. They too disappeared with the remnants of ash.

From then on, the Prince became the model of all virtues and became a man beloved by all his subjects. And as it so often happens in these tales, he married and lived happily thereafter.

THE END

This tale seems to have run out of time to let us know more. Who was the Old Woman? What other devilish acts did the Prince commit when younger? What of his parent’s relationship? Did the King ever find out what his wife had done?

In our view, The Devil Prince is a story of redemption. A demon child that had no saying in his creation learns about his fate and decides to change it by himself. He took responsibility and the reigns of his destiny back from Satan himself!

Also, it’s not just a story of redemption for oneself, but for others. Light was shone upon those who should be lost forever; the tiny souls. They took a chance and managed to escape through the doors of Hell.

We wished there were more we could find about this tale, but its origins remain a mystery to us. It belongs to the Anthology of Portuguese Tales from 1978 as was organized and prefaced by Viale Moutinho. We’re very happy we got a chance to share it with you all and hope you found it entertaining!

Until the next time, like always,

★Stay Inspired★

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