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

The Necklace of Pearls

The water-nymph often gathered her arms full of these rare blossoms and wove them into a garland to crown Francisco's golden curls. He never had a thought of the old life at home with his mother, so completely had the nymph's philtre done its work.

There was always a big fish swimming about the palace. On its back there was a cushion of seagreen satin embroidered with lovely pearls.

"This is your riding horse," said the water-nymph to Francisco the first day he had seen it. "If you should ever get tired of the palace and find the life here a bit monotonous, just mount this horse and ride about for a little."

The water-nymph had shaken out her long fair tresses so that they covered as much as possible of the fishtail she had instead of feet. She was very sensitive about the fact that she had no feet upon which to wear pretty little slippers like those of the maidens she had seen so often as they called out gay greetings to the handsome fisher-lad.

Francisco had smiled into her eyes. "How absurd," he cried, "to think of such a thing as getting tired of this wonderful place!"

In fact the days had slipped by all too fast for the happy youth. Then it suddenly happened one day while the water-nymph was asleep that he thought of his mother, the little house which had been his home for sixteen years and more, the fishing boat which was his pride and joy, the moonlight night when he had gaily kissed his mother's cheek and gone away never to return. He did not stop to waken the sleeping nymph. He said no word to the servants of the palace. He thought only of the fish with the cushion of sea-green satin embroidered with rare pearls.

"Quick!" he cried to it. "Take me home as fast as you can! My mother's heart is breaking! She has shed so many tears for me, I know, that by this time she may be entirely blind."

In another hour Francisco was safe at home with his mother's arms about him. She had shed so many tears that her eyes were swollen almost shut, but they were not closed so completely that they could not shine with the great joy which once more filled her heart.

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