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The Seven Pigeons

In a deserted part of the rock-bound Cantabrian coast, a poor fisherman, named Pedro, discovered a lovely maiden, magnificently dressed, combing her long jet-black hair with a golden comb studded with diamonds.

It was still early morning, and the sun had not attained its greatest power; and as the tide was at its lowest, an innumerable number of ponds were formed by the rocks which, for a distance of half a mile, were left bare by the receding sea.

Seated near to one of these ponds, and cooling her feet in the water, sat this lovely maiden; and she was so intent on performing her toilet that she did not perceive Pedro, who, thinking she was a mermaid, and might therefore cast a spell over him, hid behind a ledge of rocks, and was able to see and hear her without being seen.

Pedro heard her singing the following words—

“I am daughter of a king

Who rules in Aragon,

My messengers they bring

Me food to live upon.

My father thinks me dead;

My death he did ordain,

For that I would not wed

A wicked knight of Spain.

But those whom he did send

To kill me in this place,

My youth they did befriend,

But cruel is my case.”

“Is it even so,” said Pedro to himself, “that this lovely maiden is the daughter of a king? If I render her assistance I may incur great danger, and if I leave her to die it will be a crying shame; what, then, am I to do?”

As he was thus pondering in his mind, he heard a flapping of wings, and, looking in the direction whence the noise came, he saw a pair of perfectly white pigeons bearing a small basket between them, strung on a thin golden bar, which they held at each end between their beaks.

Descending, they deposited the basket by the side of the princess, who caressed them most tenderly, and then took from the basket some articles of food which she greedily ate (for she had not eaten since the previous morning), and after having finished the contents she again sang—

“I am daughter of a king,

Who thinks that I am dead;

Here on this beach I sing,

By pigeons I am fed.

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Category: Chinese folktales
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