Portugal | Pedroso: The Little Tick

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The Little Tick

THERE were once two brothers and a sister who lived together, and, being poor people, the brothers one day apprised their sister that they intended going to travel to try and seek fortune. The sister requested them to return in a year's time to see her. They journeyed on through a straight and long road, and they came to a spot where there were two narrow paths. They took leave of one another and separated, saying that in a, year's time they would meet in that same place, and they took each a different turning. The eldest went to a farm where he engaged himself as labourer. The youngest brother travelled until he sighted a very old palace, and, as be had nowhere to go to for the night, he entered it and found that it was a most beautiful place inside although it was deserted. He wished to sup and instantly a table on which was laid an excellent supper made its appearance. After supper a good bed appeared for him to take his rest. When he fell asleep be was suddenly awakened by feeling something coming in contact with him on the bed, which felt very cold and clammy. The first night he was much, frightened by this, but he soon became accustomed to the sensation, and lost all fear; and every night that same object came into his bed and held a long conversation with him. When a year had passed, he told the unknown object that he must go to meet his brother, for them both to return to their own country as agreed upon. The object told him that he might, and on the following night presented him with a complete suit of clothes, some money, and a horse. The young man departed and journeyed on until he reached the place agreed upon to meet his brother. He found that his brother had his hands rough and horny from hard work, whilst his own hands were smooth and white because he had done no work during the whole of that year. They went home and their sister was delighted to see them back again. When they were again leaving home she gave each of them a pound weight of flax, telling them that in a year's time they must return bringing it spun. The brothers took leave of one another and each went his way. When the youngest arrived at the palace, he told the unknown object that always came into his bed every night, and which proved to be nothing else but a tick, that his sister had given him so much flax which she had ordered him to take spun to her in a year's time. The tick made very light of the work, and merely remarked that it was a very easy task indeed and he need not be troubled about doing it so soon. When the year had nearly expired he asked her for it so as to spin it in time to take it home; and that instant the tick produced the flax beautifully spun and ready packed to take with him: and she gave him also another suit of clothes, money, and a horse, and the youth left the palace to go and meet his brother. The brother was carrying the flax in his hand very badly spun and carelessly folded, and it was of a very ugly yellow colour. He asked his brother.--" Where is your flax for I do not see it?" And great was his surprise when he saw that he carried it in a little dainty basket. When the two brothers arrived at the sister's house she was very much surprised to find that one of her brothers brought his pound of flax very badly and loosely spun, whilst the other brought it so well spun and so neatly packed. On the brothers' departure she gave them each a puppy to take with them and to bring up. They took leave of each other for a year, and separated. When the youngest brother arrived at the palace the tick was much surprised that he should have brought her a puppy to bring up. She took it out of sight and he never saw it again until at the end of the appointed time, when she brought it to him in a little basket very comfort ably packed ready to carry home. The brothers met at the usual rendezvous, and the eldest brother made his appearance with a very large powerful dog, which followed him. When they reached home the sister was delighted that they brought back the dogs; and she told them that next time on their return in a year's time they must each bring a wife, as she wished to see her sisters-in-law. The eldest brother told her that he was engaged to be married to his master's daughter; but the youngest did not know what to say about it, as he only knew the tick. They took leave of each other, and each went his way. The youngest brother reached the palace, and told the tick what the sister expected him to do. The -tick then asked him if he would like to marry her; but he replied, "You are so very small." The tick rejoined that he need not be troubled about that. At the end of a year the youth felt much ashamed to have to take to wife this little tick. On the marriage-day the palace appeared in great splendour, with a number of pages, ladies in waiting, and the tick transformed into a most beautiful princess dressed as a bride. The carriages were ready for them, and they proceeded to their sister's country; and a state carriage and horses also went in the procession for his brother and his bride. When the procession reached the place of meeting the brother was there with a countrywoman of the Lisbon suburbs, who wore short petticoats. They entered the carriage, and they all arrived at the sister's house in much pomp. The two brothers were then married, and they afterwards returned to the palace of the tick, who was an enchanted princess; and they all lived very happily together.

The text came from:

Pedroso, Consiglieri. Portuguese Folk-Tales. Folk Lore Society Publications, Vol. 9. Miss Henrietta Monteiro, translator. New York: Folk Lore Society Publications, 1882. 
[Reprinted: New York: Benjamin Blom, Inc., 1969.]
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