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Main > Portuguese folktales > Fairy tale "The Enchanted Palace"

The Enchanted Palace

In the village of Altos Ares in the island of Terceira there lived once upon a time a fair maid who had been baptized Perola, which means Pearl. As she grew older she was indeed like a rare pearl among the other maidens of the village, so great was the charm of her unusual beauty. She was the joy of her home and of the whole community for her disposition was as lovely as her face.

One bright spring morning Perola leaned over the cistern where she had gone to get water. Her reflection showed so plainly in the water that she paused to gaze into the smiling eyes of her own mirrored face. As she did so a magic spell was woven about her. The water fairy who had come to the cistern had seen her great beauty and had thrown a charm over her. In a moment more she fell into the cistern to join her reflection there.

When Perola could not be found there was great excitement in the little village. Nobody could guess what had become of her. Her mother prayed devoutly for her safety in the church of St. Roque. All the villagers sought for her in every possible place.

Now at the north of the island of Terceira there are groups of tiny rocks in the sea which are called the Biscoitos or biscuits. Here there lived a wise old woman who had a great reputation among all the people of the island for her knowledge.

"Let us go to consult the wise woman of Biscoitos," said one of the village youths when they had sought long and faithfully for a trace of the hiding-place into which Perola might have vanished.

Accordingly, the young men of Altos Ares went to the wise woman, and this is what she told them:

"The fair pearl of your village is safe from the fishers of pearls. She is hidden away in an enchanted palace of marble and ivory and tortoise-shell and mother-of-pearl."

The water fairy had taken Perola through an underground passage which led from the cistern to the beautiful enchanted palace in the lake of Ginjal. There she was kept in hiding. The fairies never dreamed that anybody would ever be able to guess where she was.

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