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Main > Portuguese folktales > Fairy tale "'Tis Faith Which Saves"

'Tis Faith Which Saves

There was once upon a time a fair maid who lived in the island of Fayal. She was betrothed to a young man of the same island. One day she fell ill with a disease which baffled the skill of all the physicians. Their arts, the mourning of her betrothed, the prayers and tears of her mother, all seemed of no avail. It appeared that the fair maid would die.

Now it happened that in one of the nearby islands, St. Michael, there was a miracle-working image called the Santo Christo. The fair maid begged of her betrothed that he would go to St. Michael and procure some of the mysterious miracle-working sweat of the Santo Christo or some of the miraculous parings of the nails of the image, which had the power to heal any disease.

The young man gladly set out on the quest. On the boat which conveyed him to St. Michael, however, he met a maid with beauty and charm, a maid whose bright eyes made him forget the sad eyes of his betrothed.

When he arrived at his destination he thought only of singing gay songs beneath the balcony of his new love. The days flew by, and soon it was time for the boat to return to Fayal. He had forgotten the mission on which he had come, and he returned to the boat with no relics of the miracle-working Santo Christo.

The homeward journey was rough and stormy. Filled with fear of death at any moment, the young man remembered the fair maid of Fayal who even at that very hour might be dying. His conscience smote him.

"Oh, why did I allow another fair face to crowd out from my heart the image of my beloved?" he asked himself. "Faithless wretch that I am, what shall I say to my betrothed if good fortune and the sea permit me to stand once more at her side?"

The rough waves beat angrily against the side of the boat in answer. That night the storm ceased and in the morning it was fair and clear as the boat entered the beautiful harbor of Fayal under the shadow of Mt. Pico. With clear skies and smooth seas the young man's conscience became less troublesome.

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