In a big beautiful palace there lived an old king who fell very sick one day. He had many servants and among them was a good servant Jose who had won the king s heart. The king thought that he was lying on his death-bed…so he said, “Let faithful Jose come to me.”
Faithful Jose was his affectionate servant and was called so because he had been true to him all his lifetime. As soon as Jose came to the bedside, the king said,
“My faithful Jose. I feel that my end approaches and I am worried about my son who is still so young that he cannot always guide himself aright. If you do not promise to instruct him in everything he ought to know and be his guardian, I cannot close my eyes in peace.”
Then Jose answered, “I will never leave him. I will always serve him truly, even if it costs my own life.”
So the king was very happy and said,
“Now I can die in peace. After my death, you must show him all the chambers, halls and vaults in the castle and all the treasures which are in them. But the last room in the long corridor you must not show him. Because in it hangs the portrait of the daughter of the king of the golden palace… if he sees her picture, he will fall in great love with her and will fall down in a swoon and on her account will undergo great troubles. Therefore you must keep him away.”
The faithful Jose pressed his master’s hand again in token of his promise and a little later the king laid his head upon the pillow and expired.
After many days of the king’s funeral, the faithful Jose said to the prince who had now become the King, “It is now time for you to see your inheritance. I will show you your paternal castle.”
So, he led the prince all over it upstairs and downstairs and showed him all the riches and all the splendid chambers. Only one room he did not open containing the perilous portrait. The new king asked him, “Why do you not open that one?”
“There is something in it which will frighten you”, he replied.
But the young King said, “I have seen all the rest of the castle and I will know what is in there” and he went and tried to open the door by force. The faithful Jose pulled him back and said, “I promised your father before he died that you shall not see the contents of that room. It would bring great misfortunes upon both you and me.”
“Oh, no”, replied the young King. “If I don’t see it, I cannot sleep peacefully in the night nor in the day. Now I won’t leave this place till you unlock the door.”
Then the faithful Jose saw that it was no use talking so, with a heavy heart he took the key and opened the door of the chamber. When he had opened it, he went in first and thought he would cover up the picture that the King should not see it. But it was of no use for the King stepped upon tiptoes and saw what he was not supposed to see and as soon as he saw the portrait of the maiden which was so beautiful and glittered with precious stones, he fell down on the ground insensible.
Faithful Jose lifted him up and carried him to his bed and thought with great concern. “Oh! The misfortune has happened…what will come of it?” and he gave the young King cold water until he came to himself. The first words he spoke were “Who does that beautiful picture represent?”
“That is the daughter of the king of the Golden Palace”, replied Jose.
“Oh, Jose! My love for her is so great that I cannot live without her. My life is set upon the search for her. You are my faithful Jose. You must accompany me.”
The trusted servants deliberated for a long while how to set about this task for it was very difficult to get into the presence of the king’s daughter.
At last he found out a way and said to the king, “Everything which she has around her is of gold —chairs, tables, dishes, bowls and all the household utensils. Among your treasures are five tons of gold…lot one of the goldsmiths of your kingdom manufacture vessels and utensils of all kinds there from – all kinds of birds and wild and wonderful beasts such as will please her. Then we will travel with these and try our luck.”
The king summoned all his goldsmiths who worked day and night until many very beautiful things were ready. When all had been placed on board a ship, the faithful Jose put on merchant’s clothes and the king likewise so that they might travel quite unknown. Then they sailed over the wide sea and sailed away until they came to the city where lived the daughter of the King of the Golden Palace.
Faithful Jose told the king to remain in the ship and wait for him. “Perhaps”, said he, “I shall bring the king’s daughter with me…therefore take care that all is in order and set out the golden vessels and adorn the whole ship.”
Thereupon, Jose placed in a napkin some of the golden cups, stepped upon the land and went straight to the king’s palace. When he came into the castle-yard, a beautiful maid stood by the brook who had a golden pail in her hand drawing water and when she had filled it and had turned round, she saw a strange man and asked who he was.
Then Jose answered, “I am a merchant”, and opening his napkin, he showed her its contents.
Then she exclaimed, “Oh! what beautiful golden things!” and she looked at the golden cups one after another and said, “The king’s daughter must see these. She is so pleased with anything made of gold that she will buy all these.” And taking him by the hand, she led him in for she was the lady’s maid.
When the king’s daughter saw the golden cups, she liked them all and said, “They are finely made. I will purchase them all.” But faithful Jose replied, “I am only the servant of a rich merchant;
“What I have here is nothing compared to what is there in our ship. Nothing more delicate or costly has ever been made in gold.”
Then the king’s daughter wished to have them all bought…but he said, “It would take many days and so great is the quantity that your palace has not halls enough in it to place them around.”
Then her curiosity and desire were still more excited and at last she said, “Take me to the ship. I will go myself and look at your master’s treasure.”
Faithful Jose took her to the ship with great joy and the king when he beheld her saw that her beauty was still greater than the picture had represented and thought that his heart would jump out of his mouth. When she stepped on board and the king conducted her below, faithful Jose remained on the deck by the steersman and told him to unmoor the ship and put on all the sails he could that it might fly like a bird through the air.
Meanwhile the king showed the princess all the golden treasures – the dishes, the cups, the bowls, the birds and the wild and wonderful beasts. Many hours elapsed while she looked at everything and in her joy she did not remark that the ship sailed on and on. As soon as she had looked at the last and thanked the merchant, she wished to depart. But when she came on deck, she perceived that they were upon the high sea, far from the shore and were hastening on with all the sails.
“Ah”, she exclaimed in fright, “I have been betrayed. I am carried off and taken away in the power of a strange merchant. I would rather die!”
But the king taking her by the hand said, “I am not a merchant…but a king and equal to you in birth. It is true that I have carried you off. But that is because of my overwhelming love for you. When I first saw the portrait of the beauteousface, I fell down in a swoon before it.”
When the princess heard these words, she felt reassured and her heart was inclined towards him and so, she willingly became his bride.
While they thus went on their voyage on the high sea, it so happened that faithful Jose sitting on the deck of the ship, playing music, saw three cranes in the air who came flying towards them. He stopped playing and listened to what they were saying to one another for he understood them perfectly.
The first one said, “The king is carrying home the daughter of the king of the Golden Palace.” “But he is not home yet”, replied the second. “But he has her”, said the third, “She is sitting by him in the ship.”
Then the first one began again and said, “What matters that? When they go on shore, a fox-colored horse will spring towards them on which he will mount and as soon as he is on it, it will jump up with him into the air so that he will never again see his bride.”
The second one asked, “Is there no escape?”
“Oh yes, if anybody mounts behind quickly and takes out the firearms which are in the holster and with them shoots the horse dead then the young king will be saved. But who knows that? And if anyone knows it and tells him, such a person will be turned into stone from the toe to the knee.”
Then the second spoke again, “I know more…even if the horse is killed, the young King cannot still retain the bride for, when they come into the castle, a beautiful bridal shirt will lie there upon a dish and seem to be woven of gold and silver, but it is nothing but sulphur and pitch and if he puts it on, it will burn him to his marrow and bones.”
Then the third crane asked, “Is there no escape?”
“Oh yes”, answered the second. “If someone takes up the shirt with one’s gloves on and throws it into the fire so that it is burnt, the young king will be saved. But what does that signify? Whoever knows it and tells him will be turned into stone from the knee to the heart.”
Then the third crane spoke, “I know still more… even if the bridal shirt be consumed, still the young king cannot retain his bride. For, after the wedding, a dance will be held and while the young queen dances, she will suddenly turn pale and fall down as if dead and if someone does not raise her up and take three drops of blood from her right arm and throw them away, she will die. But the whole body of the one who knows it and tells it will be turned into stone from the toe to the crown.”
After the cranes had thus talked with one another, they flew away and faithful Jose who had perfectly understood all they had said was from that time very quiet and sad for, if he concealed from his master what he had heard misfortune would happen to him and if he told him all, he must give up his own life. But at last he thought, “I will save my master, even if I destroy myself.”
As soon as they came on shore, it happened just as the crane had foretold and an immense fox-colored horse sprang up. “Capital!” said the king…’’this shall carry me to my castle” and he tried to mount…but the faithful Jose came straight up and swinging himself quickly on, drew the firearms out of the holster and shot the horse dead.
Then the other servants of the king who were not on good terms with the faithful Jose exclaimed, “How shameful to kill the beautiful creature which might have borne the king to the castle!”
But the king replied, “Be silent and let him go. He is my very faithful Jose. Who knows the good he may have done?”
Now they went into the castle and there stood a dish in the hall and the splendid bridal shin lay upon it and seemed nothing other than gold and silver. The young king went up to it and wished to take it up. But faithful Jose pushed him away and taking it up with his gloves on, bore it quickly to the fire and let it burn.
The other servants thereupon began to murmur, “See, how he is burning the king’s bridal shirt!”
But the young king replied, “Who knows what good he has done? Leave him alone. He is my faithful Jose.”
Soon after this, the wedding was celebrated and a great ball was given and the bride began to dance. So, the faithful Jose paid great attention and constantly watched her countenance. All at once she grew pale and fell as if dead to the ground. Then he sprang up hastily raised her and bore her to a chamber, knelt beside her and drawing three drops of blood out of her right arm, threw them away. As soon as she breathed again,
she raised herself up…but the young king had witnessed everything and not knowing why faithful Jose had done this, he was very angry and called out, “Throw him into prison!”
The next morning trusted Jose was brought up for trial and led to the gallows and as he stood there and was about to be executed, he said, “Everyone condemned to die may once before his death speak. Shall I also have that privilege?”
“Yes”, answered the king, “it shall be granted to you”.
Then faithful Jose replied, “I have been unrighteously judged and have always been true to you,” and he narrated the conversation of the cranes which he had heard at sea and how, in order to save his master, he was obliged to do all he had done.
Then the king cried out, “Oh, my most trusted Jose, pardon, pardon…lead him away!” But trusted Jose had fallen down at the last word and was turned into stone. At this event both the king and the queen were in great grief and the king thought, “Ah, how wickedly have I rewarded his great fidelity!” and he had the stone statue raised and placed in his sleeping-chamber near his bed and as often as he looked at it, he wept and said, “Ah, if only I could bring you back to life again, my faithful Jose.”
After some time, the queen bore twins, two little sons who were her great joy. Once when the queen was in church and the two children were playing by their father’s side, he looked up at the stone statue, full of sorrow and exclaimed with a sigh, “Ah, could I restore you to life, my faithful Jose!”
At these words the statue began to speak, saying, “Yes, you can make me alive again, if you bestow on me that which is dearest to you.”
The king replied, “All that I have in the world I will give up for you.”
The statue spoke again, “If you, with your own hand, cut off the heads of both your children and sprinkle me with their blood, I shall be brought to life again.”
The king was terrified when he heard that he must kill his two dear children. But he remembered his servant’s great fidelity and how Jose had died for him and drawing his sword, he cut off the heads of both of his children with his own hand. And as soon as he sprinkled the statue with the blood, life came back to it and trusted Jose stood again alive and well before him and said: “Your faith shall not go unrewarded…” and taking the heads of the two children, he set them on again and anointed their wounds with their blood. Thereupon they healed again in a moment and the children sprang away and played as if nothing had happened.
Now the king was full of happiness and he saw the queen coming. He hid Jose and the children in a great closet. He said to her, ‘ My dear queen, we can restore his life, but it will cost us both our little sons whom we must sacrifice.”
The queen was horrified but she said, “We have to sacrifice our sons.”
Then he was very glad that she thought as he did and unlocked the closet, brought out Jose and the children saying, “God be praised ! He is saved and we have our little sons”, and then he told her what had happened. Afterwards they lived happily together to the end of their life.
MORAL : Faithfulness ultimately brings its own reward.