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Main > Portuguese folktales > Fairy tale "St. Brendan's Island"

St. Brendan's Island

One day there landed in Terceira a cavalier of Rhodes named Vital. From his grandfather he had inherited some of the sacred relics of St. Brendan. He had come to the Azores in his search for the mysterious island. On his doublet he wore an eight-pointed star and a band upon which was embroidered in scarlet silk the motto, "By Faith." It was indeed "by faith" that he had embarked upon his quest.

The little maid, Maria, fell in love with him the moment she heard of him and his errand. She worshiped him as if he had been the good St. Brendan himself, but when she was with him she sat with downcast eyes, her long dark eyelashes sweeping her delicate cheek, and did not give him a glance, much less a word.

The young cavalier loved the little maid. He divided his holy relics of St. Brendan with her, and in return he begged of her that she might speak a word of love.

"To tell my love to you," said Maria, "I'd have to be where nobody but God could hear."

Indeed it was quite true that Maria needed to be where nobody but the good God could hear her when she spoke of her love for the cavalier Vital. The son of the wealthy Captain of the district had long admired her delicate beauty. He had already sought her for his bride. His jealousy against Vital rose up like a burning flame. He went to Maria and demanded that she should marry him at once.

Maria firmly refused.

"If you do not wed me," said the captain's son, "I shall have my father lock you up in the stronghold of St. Louis on the hillside."

"I should prefer to spend all my days confined in the castle of St. Louis rather than be your wife," said she. "Why can't you leave me in peace with my relics of the good St. Brendan!"

The mention of St. Brendan's relics stirred the young man's wrath even more. He well knew who it was who had given her the holy relics. His threat was fulfilled, and she was taken that very day to the castle of St. Louis and locked up in that stronghold.

Her room had a window, and there she sat high up in the tower of the castle looking down at the city of Angra beneath her.

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