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The Wolf-Child

In the North of Portugal there are many sequestered spots where the enchanted Moors and the wizards meet when it is full moon. These places are generally situated among high rocks on the precipitous sides of the hills overlooking rivers; and when the wind is very boisterous their terrible screams and incantations can be distinctly heard by the peasantry inhabiting the neighbouring villages.

On such occasions the father of the family sets fire to a wisp of straw, and with it makes the sign of the cross around his house, which prevents these evil spirits from approaching. The other members of the family place a few extra lights before the image of the Virgin; and the horse-shoe nailed to the door completes the safety of the house.

But it will so happen that sometimes an enchanted Moor, with more cunning than honesty, will get through one of the windows on the birth of a child, and will brand the infant with the crescent on his shoulder or arm, in which case it is well known that the child, on certain nights, will be changed into a wolf.

The enchanted Moors have their castles and palaces under the ground or beneath the rivers, and they wander about the earth, seeing but not seen; for they died unbaptized, and have, therefore, no rest in the grave.

They seem to have given preference to the North of Portugal, where they are held in great fear by the ignorant peasantry; and it has been observed that all such of the natives as have left their homes to study at the universities, on their return have never been visited by the enchanted Moors, as it is well known that they have a great respect for learning. In fact, one of the kings has said that until all his subjects were educated they would never get rid of the enchanted Moors and wizards.

In a village called Darque, on the banks of the Lima, there lived a farmer whose goodness and ignorance were only equalled by those of his wife. They were both young and robust, and were sufficiently well off to afford the luxury of beef once or twice a month.

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