Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/195

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[No. 5,]

Title of Story.— Our Lady's Child.

Dramatis persOnSB — Woodcutter, wife, child.— Virgin Mary.— Little angels. — Twelve Apostles. — Trinity. — King, his three infants. — Councillors.

Abstract of Story. — (l) a woodcutter and his wife, dwelling near forest, are too poor to support their only child, aged three years. Virgin Mary appears to woodcutter, and with his consent takes little girl to heaven, where she fares well, is clothed in gold, and has angel playmates. — (2) When fourteen years old, girl is entrusted with keys of the thirteen doors of heaven whilst Virgin Mary goes on long journey; may open twelve doors, hut not the thirteenth on her peril. Promises obedience. — (3) In each of the twelve dwelliugs girl finds one of the Apostles amid great splendour ; longs to open the thirteenth, hut is dissuaded by the little angels who accompany her.—

(4) Goes alone one day, turns key, meaning to peep within; door flies open, revealing the Trinity in fire and splendour. Girl amazed, touches light with finger, which becomes golden. Is terrified; cannot wash gold from finger. —

(5) Redelivers keys to Virgin and three times denies transgression, which golden finger betrays. For this lie, girl is banished from heaven. — (6) Awaking from deep sleep, finds herself in wilderness on earth, enclosed by thorn hedge. Tries to cry out, but is dumb. Shelters in hollow tree, feeds on roots and berries, and creeps under fallen leaves for warmth. In time her clothes fall away, and her long golden hair is her only covering. — (7) One spring-time king of the country cuts his way into forest, in pursuit of roe which had fled to thicket. King discovers beautiful maiden, rides off with her to his castle, and, though she is dumb, marries her for her beauty. — (8) Queen has a son; Virgin Mary appears, and promises to restore her speech if she will confess to having opened forbidden door. Queen, though permitted to reply, remains obdurate. Virgin carries off new-born child. Queen accused by people of having devoured it ; though speechless her innocence is believed by king. — (9) Queen has second son : Virgin appears with same promise and threat as before, but queen repeats falsehood, and Virgin carries child to heaven. Queen again accused of devouring child; councillors demand justice, but are silenced by king under pain of death. — (10) Queen bears beautiful daughter. Virgin Mary appears, leads queen to heaven, there to see her two eldest children playing with the ball of the world. Still unsoftened, queen lies a third time and sinks to earth, Virgin keeping child. — (11) Queen tried for man-eating, and, being dumb and defenceless, is condemned to be burnt alive. Bound to the stake, and the fire kindled, she repents in her heart. Her voice returns, and she confesses. Rain extinguishes flames; Virgin Mary descends with the three children, grants forgiveness to queen, and restores her speech.