The Magic Mirror
It was proclaimed throughout the kingdom of Granada that the king had decided on marrying. The news was first told to the court barber, then to the night watchmen, and, in the third place, to the oldest woman in the city of Granada.
The barber told all his customers, who again told all their friends. The night watchmen in crying the hour proclaimed the news in a loud voice, so that all the maidens were kept awake by thinking of the news, and by day they were being constantly reminded by all the old dueñas that the king had resolved to marry.
After the news had become somewhat stale, the question was asked, “Who is the king going to marry?” To which the barber made reply, that probably “he would marry a woman.”
“A woman!” exclaimed his hearers. “Why, what else could he marry?”
“Not all women are worthy the name,” answered the barber. “Some more resemble the unbaptized, of whom I say, abernuncio.”
“But what mean you, good friend?” demanded his customers. “Is not the king to find a woman for wife in our land of Spain?”
“He would,” replied the barber, “with greater ease find the reverse; but to find a woman worthy to be his wife I shall have great trouble.”
“What, you?” exclaimed all of them. “What have you got to do with providing the king with a wife?”
“I am under royal licence, remember,” said he of the razor; “for I am the only man in the kingdom permitted to rub the royal features. I am the possessor of the magic mirror also, into which if any woman not being thoroughly good shall look, the blemishes on her character will appear as so many spots on its surface.”
“Is this one of the conditions?” asked all.
“This is the sole condition,” replied the barber, placing his thumbs in the armholes of his waistcoat and looking very wise.
“But is there no limit as to age?” they again inquired.
“Any woman from eighteen years upwards is eligible,” said the possessor of the mirror.
“Then you will have every woman in Granada claiming the right to be queen!” all exclaimed.