Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 3 1885.djvu/221
THE FORBIDDEN CHAMBER.
way of punishment, whatever she prefers. The heroine chooses to lose her speech, and the Black Maiden striking her on the mouth expels her from the castle. The rest follows the principal story, except that the heroine's mother-in-law, and not the Black Maiden herself, makes away with the children, which she does by flinging them into the water and sprinkling her daughter-in-law with blood, so as to throw upon her the imputation which brought Mary's Child, as we have seen, and ultimately the heroine of the variant we are now considering, to the stake. She also, however, is saved from death by the appearance of her foster-mother in the black carriage to restore her speech and enable her to explain the circumstantial evidence which looks so bad. The three other maidens bring back her children, whom they have rescued from the water; and the wicked mother-in-law is punished by a cruel death.
There are two other stories of this type which deserve notice for the difference of the dénouement. The heroine is preserved from disgrace in the one, and both disgrace and death in the other, not by confession but by persistence in denial in spite of all temptations to admit her guilt. Her protectress in one of these stories (a Bohemian tale), is her godmother, who has appeared in the shape of an old woman to her poverty-stricken father, and accepted the office of sponsor when all else had refused. In the Forbidden Chamber she finds a bier and a skeleton nodding its head at her in grim mockery, while all around the room is hung with deadly black. In this version too, the heroine, denying her disobedience, is stricken with dumbness and turned out into a dark wood. A prince, who has thrice dreamt that he has shot a beautiful hind, going to hunt, finds in the abandoned maiden a fairer prey than he had dreamt of. Her marriage and the births and disappearance of her three children follow; and she is at last rescued from the stake (to which she had been condemned as the punishment of witchcraft) by her godmother's advent in a golden chariot. This mysterious lady brings back the children and declares that the heroine's constancy has delivered her from an enchantment. The other story comes from Pisa. In it the heroine is bought for money