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Main > Portuguese folktales > Fairy tale "The Necklace of Pearls"

The Necklace of Pearls

Now the village maidens were not the only ones who had noticed Francisco's blue eyes and handsome face. A water-nymph who dwelt in the depths of the sea had often observed him. In the daytime she was invisible to the eye of humans and so the lad had never seen her though she often spent long hours near him, never taking her eyes from his face.

"Here comes the beautiful youth in his little fishing boat!" cried the nymph as she saw the moonlight gleaming upon his bright curls. "At last my wish has come true. Now at night he'll be able to see me."

She hastily arranged her own beautiful hair before a little mirror she carried. Some of the strands of priceless pearls which decked her lovely head were a trifle awry. These and the necklaces of rare pearls which hung about her fair throat surrounded her with a gleam of soft light almost like the light of the moon. As she approached nearer to the little boat she saw that Francisco was fast asleep. She swam in the direction of the lad with all possible speed, a wild terror in her eyes.

"What madness is this?" she asked as she looked down upon his bowed head. "This frail boat will drift upon the dangerous rocks and be dashed to pieces. I'll take him home to my own palace without awakening him. Perhaps when he sees how lovely it is he'll even like me a little bit."

Just for a moment she hesitated, thinking how far from home Francisco would be in the palace of mother-of-pearl in the depths of the sea.

"The rocks are really very dangerous," she said to herself as she gently drew his sleeping form into her arms.

The next morning Francisco's empty fishing boat was found by the fishermen. For hours his mother had watched in vain for his return. When at last she heard that the empty boat had been found she was nearly wild with grief.

"He was the best son a mother ever had," she moaned over and over again. "How can I live without him!"

Indeed, as the days and weeks went by it was increasingly difficult for the poor woman to live.

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