Basile, Der Pentamerone, oder Das Märchen aller Märchen, von Giambattista Basile. Aus dem Neapolitanischen ubertragen von Felix Liebrecht. Breslau, 1846. Second Day, 6th Tale. No. XVI, vol. i, pp. 206-218.
Death-bed promise--Deceased wife's resemblance marriage test--Unnatural father--Old woman aid--Magic chip in mouth transforms heroine into bear--Heroine flight--Hunting prince takes bear to palace garden. Sees her from window in form of lovely maiden--Love-sick prince--Queen orders death of bear whom servants spare and take to forest. Prince goes in search of hear, makes her tend him in illness. Persuades her to kiss him. Chip falls from her mouth. Re-transformation--Happy marriage.
(1) There was once a king of "Roughrock", whose wife, dying in her prime, enjoins on her husband never to marry again except he find a woman as beautiful as herself; otherwise her curse will pursue him even into the next world. King vows he can never love another, and his wife expires, leaving him in deep grief. By nightfall he begins to consider his lonely future with his only daughter, and also the need of an heir to the throne, and deter mines to seek a woman as beautiful as his deceased wife. He issues proclamation that all the women in the world are to assemble for the beauty-test, and he will choose the loveliest for his consort. All sorts of women arrive-- even the most ill-favoured. He finds some fault with them all, and sends all away. -- (2) He bethinks him that his own daughter Preciosa is far more beautiful than these, and the very image of her mother, and tells her of his intention to marry her. He is enraged at her opposition and alarmed outcry, and threatens to cut off her ears if she resists him.-- (3) Heroine goes weeping to her room, when an old woman, to whom she has shown charity, appears, and hearing cause of her distress, bids her take courage. She gives her a little chip which she is to put in her mouth, and it will instantly transform her into a bear; then) she is to escape from father and rush into forest, for he will not try to detain her. Heaven will watch over her, and when she wishes to regain human form she has only to take chip out of her mouth. Heroine embraces old woman, gives her bread and meat, and takes leave of her. At sunset king calls his musicians and invites all his vassals to grand banquet, and after much dancing and feasting he goes to rest.-- (4) He calls his daughter, and she appears in form of a bear, at sight of which he is so much alarmed that he hides under the clothes, and dares not look out till next morning.--(5) Meanwhile heroine has gone to the forest, where she lives amongst the animals, till one day the King of "Swiftwater" comes by, and at sight of the bear nearly dies of fright. But the bear lawns on him like a dog, and he takes courage, and finally leads it home with him, and bids his servants take care of it and put it in the garden near the palace, where he can watch it from his window.-- (6) One day, when all except the prince have gone out, he goes to window and sees heroine, who has taken chip from her mouth, combing her golden locks. He is beside himself with admiration of her beauty, and rushes into the garden. Heroine, conscious of his approach, quickly puts chip in her mouth, and prince is so distressed at not finding what he had seen from his window that he falls ill, and cries unceasingly, "Dear bear, dear bear!" His mother, thinking that the bear must in some way have injured him, gives orders for its death but servants have grown so fond of bear that they have not the heart to kill it, but lead it instead into the forest, telling queen they have taken its life.-- (7) When the news reaches prince he seems mad, springs, ill as he is, from his bed, and would hew the servants into little pieces. Hearing the truth from them, he flings himself on his horse, and seeks hither and thither till he finds the bear, and brings it home to his own room. He tells her he knows what beauty the fell conceals; he is dying of love for her; surely she will take pity on him. All his entreaties are vain; he stretches himself on his bed, and is at death's door. Doctors are powerless to help, and his mother prays him to tell her the cause of his grief. Prince says nothing but the sight of the bear can bring him relief. If he is to recover, she alone must nurse and tend him, and cook his food.-- (8) Mother thinks he has lost his reason, but to humour him sends for the bear, who immediately feels his pulse with her paw, making the queen laugh and think she will scratch his nose next. "Won't you cook for me, feed me, and tend me, little bear?" says he. And the bear nods her head. Mother orders fowls to be brought, and a fire to be lighted in the sick-room, Bear sets about cooking the fowls, and the prince, to whom hitherto sugar had seemed bitter, begins eating with zest, and recovers rapidly. Queen is so grateful that she kisses bear on the brow. Prince gets up to lest his strength, and. the bear quickly makes the bed, then runs into the garden and plucks a napkinful of roses and lemon-blossoms, and places them on his pillow. Queen is delighted with her. But all this only makes the prince more and more in love, and he says at last to his mother that if he is not able to give the bear a kiss he will surely die. Whereat mother pleads, "Do just kiss him, my dear little bear, or the poor dear fellow will die."--(9) So the bear draws near to the prince, and whilst he is pressing his lips to hers it somehow happens that the chip falls out of her mouth, and lo! the most lovely being in the world is in his arms, and he cries out, "Now you are caught, you little rogue, and shall never escape me again."-- (10) Queen then bids her tell her story, and is delighted for her to be her son's bride.
Cox, Marian Roalfe. Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes, abstracted and tabulated. London: David Nutt for the Folklore Society, 1893.
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