THERE was a young girl who lived far from the world, alone, in sanctity. Every day a dove brought her her food.
One day she saw a young girl whom two gens-d'armes were taking to prison or to execution. The orphan said to herself:
"If she had lived like me, they would not have taken her to prison." And thereupon she had a thought of pride, and from that day the dove no longer brought her anything to eat. She goes to seek a priest, and tells him what has happened, and since when she does not receive any more food. This priest tells her that she has been punished on account of that thought, and that she must be present at the birth of three children, and see what their gifts would be. The first was the son of a king. She asks the queen permission to remain in the bed-chamber, no matter in what corner; all would be the same to her if she would only give her leave. She consents to it. When this queen gives birth to a boy, the infant has round its neck a white cord,
and this orphan understood that he would be guillotined 1 when he was eighteen years old. She sees the birth of another child; a girl with a red cord round her neck, and she sees that she will turn out badly, and that she would go to ruin. She sees a third; this was a boy, and he had blue cord on, which meant that he would be very good.
After having seen that this orphan goes back to the house of the queen. There she lived happily, busying herself especially about this child. As she caressed it she often used to say in a sad tone:
The mother remarked that, and one day she said: "One would say that this child was very unfortunate. Do you always act thus when you caress a child, as if it were very wretched, or as if something were going to happen to it?"
She said that to her more than once. And when the (fated) age was drawing near, this orphan told the queen what must happen at the age of eighteen. I leave you to judge of the distress of this queen. She told it to her husband, and the father and mother told it to their son; and he said that he must leave the house immediately. He goes then a long way off to another town. And as he was a pretty good scholar, he got a place in a house where there was a large shop. They sold everything there; and as this lad was very good everybody loved him. They heard him go out of the house every night, but they did not know where. The master was curious (to learn this), and he made a hole above the shop, for he went there too in the night. He sees him take a wax candle, and put the price of this candle into the cash-box by the hole, counting the money aloud. Taking the candle with him he falls on his knees, and went a considerable distance to a chapel, walking still on his knees.
[paragraph continues] The master follows him during a whole week, and the boy did always the same thing; and on the eighth day the master looks through the key-hole of the chapel, and sees an angel descend and throw a chain to our lad, and the angel lifted him up in the air. A moment after he comes down again, and goes back to his master's house.
The master tells him that he has seen all, and the boy says that his penance is also finished, and that he must go home. The master does not wish it.
"You shall go afterwards, if you wish it; but first you must marry my daughter."
He tells him that he has a father and mother, and that he cannot do it without telling them; but if they wish it, he will do so willingly.
He starts home then at once. You may imagine what joy for the king and the queen. They were constantly trembling lest they should hear that their dearly loved son had been hanged. They did not know what to do for joy. He told them how he had done penance, and that without doubt the good God had pardoned him; and how his old master wished him to marry his daughter. He does so, and all live happily and die well.
210:1 As is plain by the sequel, where the angel hangs him for a moment, the original story must have had "hanged." This is a good example of the way in which the dress of a story gets gradually altered, as old customs are forgotten among a people.