(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Most stories are meant to entertain and uplift the average person, who represents the vast majority of readers. “The Blank Page,” however, is a unique story conferred on chosen listeners as a rare and distinct privilege. It is unique because it illustrates the loyalty of the storyteller to the true being of the story; it illustrates the storyteller’s knowledge that when words end, silence may speak a deeper truth to one who listens for it. An old storyteller, who learned the art of storytelling from her grandmother, who in turn learned it from her grandmother, tells the story to a lady and a gentleman at an ancient city gate. The writer tells the story as told by the old storyteller.

In Portugal, following an ancient tradition, whenever a princess of the royal house is married, on the morning after the wedding night the bridal sheet is displayed from a balcony by a chamberlain or a high steward, and the princess is declared to have been a virgin. The sheet is never washed or lain on again.

The sheets for the royal brides have always been provided by the Sisters of Saint Carmel at the Convento Velho. They have obtained this privilege because they grow flax and make the softest, whitest linen in the land. Their second privilege has been to have in their safekeeping the sheets from royal wedding nights. A square from the center of each sheet is cut out, framed, and decorated with a gold, coroneted plate. On it is inscribed the name of the princess whose sheet it is. The framed squares hang side...

(The entire section is 621 words.)