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Main > Portuguese folktales > Fairy tale "Why the Owl Flies at Night"

Why the Owl Flies at Night

Long ago there was an image of the good St. Anthony washed ashore by the rough waves of the Bay of Angra. A little chapel was built to receive it on the steep slopes of Monte Brasil overlooking the bay and here it still remains.

Once upon a time a little boy named Pedro lived in a tiny cottage near St. Anthony's shrine. His mother had died and his father had married a new wife who was often cruel to him. She dressed him in ragged, shabby clothes and the other children of the parish often pointed their fingers at him in scorn because of his poor garments.

One day as Pedro knelt before the image of the good saint a strange thing happened. His clothing became new and whole. He was dressed as well as any boy in the parish.

"Where did you get clothes like this?" asked the stepmother when he came home that night. "I always knew you were a good-for-nothing. I believe you have stolen them."

Little Pedro told what had happened, but the woman would not believe him.

"Don't stand there talking any longer!" she cried. "Take the water jars and go to the spring and fill them for me. Hurry, I don't want to be kept waiting for the water!"

Pedro lifted the two great water jars which stood on the floor and slowly climbed up the hill to the little spring which supplied water for the family needs during the greater part of the year. Just now the spring had failed, as the stepmother had found out that very day.

Pedro lifted the two great jars and slowly climbed up the hill

Pedro lifted the two great jars and slowly climbed up the hill

"There is no water in the spring now," said an old man whom little Pedro met on the way. The boy had almost reached the spring and the big jars were growing heavy even though they were empty.

"I'm so nearly there I'll go on and see for myself," decided the lad. "The other spring is so far away and the jars will be so heavy that I can never carry them all the long distance. Perhaps there is still a little water here."

When he reached the spring he was surprised to see the water flowing faster than in many a day.

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