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

The Necklace of Pearls

"Promise me one thing," she said to him. "Give me your word that you'll never go fishing again. I don't trust that water-nymph even in the daytime."

Accordingly, Francisco gave up being a fisherman and became a hunter. To make his spears, he gathered the young sapling which grew on the hillside even down to the edge of the water. He had grown still handsomer while he had lived in the palace of mother-of-pearl in the depths of the sea, and there were twice as many pretty maidens who cast smiling glances in his direction.

It was the daughter of the rich man of the village who at last won the heart of Francisco. When he went a-wooing, however, he had no gift to take except the birds he had killed with his own hand. The rich man laughed at him. These were his words:

"When my daughter marries it shall be only to a youth who can bring her rich gifts."

Francisco went away with a sad heart and sat upon the rocks at the edge of the sea, gazing out over the water with eyes so full of tears that they saw nothing.

The water-nymph was not far away from the shore those days. She was always seeking for a glimpse of the golden head which she had so often crowned with flowers. Her joy now at the sight of him was buried by her sorrow when she saw that his heart was full of woe. She knew at once the cause of his grief.

The next morning when Francisco went to get wood to make a new spear, he found a necklace of priceless pearls lying on the shore. It was the gift of the water-nymph, but since his heart had been touched by his mother's tears he had entirely forgotten her. He took the gift to the maid he loved with never a thought of the giver.

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