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The Princess of the Lost Island

The Story of Euphemia and Her Good Deeds

Portuguese folktale

Euphemia was the daughter of King Atlas and the granddaughter of the great god Jupiter. She was more beautiful than her fifteen sisters, though they were all lovely.

All the ten sons of Neptune admired her charms and sought to marry her, but she would wed none of them. There was, in truth, no one in all the world who was worthy of her. Euphemia herself knew this and preferred to remain a star in the constellation of the Hyades, her sisters, rather than wed an unworthy husband.

Euphemia became a Christian, they say, through the efforts of the cherubim. She decided to come down to earth and go about doing good deeds. Accordingly, she came to the island called Seven Cities.

Now in the island of Seven Cities there lived a rich and venerable Christian prince. He adopted Euphemia as his own daughter. She was called Princess Euphemia of the island of Seven Cities.

As soon as she came to the island all pain and misery vanished from it. Joy reigned. Banquets were held, songs were sung, gay dances were danced. It was as if every day were a feast day.

Time passed. Many changes came to the island, but Euphemia herself remained always young, always beautiful.

One day two priests from the outside world visited the island. They saw the magnificent palaces, the beautiful gardens. Two tame lions followed them about. They were as gentle as if they had been dogs.

"We are in the celestial regions," said one priest to the other.

"Let us stay here forever," said the other priest. "It is indeed the Paradise of which we have dreamed."

The two priests had come in a tiny launch from a large boat.

"We should return and tell our friends about this celestial region," they agreed. "To-morrow we will all explore this wonderful country."

It was almost dark when the two priests reached their ship by the little launch. They reported all the things they had heard and seen in the new land.

The next morning, however, the island had entirely disappeared. The water stretched before their gaze with an unbroken rippling blue surface.

"What has become of our beautiful island," the good priests asked in amazement.

"We were anchored off the shore of one of the enchanted islands," was the opinion of everybody.

Euphemia, they say, has not yet disappeared entirely. She has changed her form. She is still found in the Azores in the plant called SOLANEA, the flower of St. Cosmo. She is still doing good deeds. Pain disappears when she comes, just as it did in the lost island. St. Cosmo, the patron saint of all good physicians, could never have gained his reputation without her good deeds.

The Islands of Magic
Legends, Folk and Fairy Tales from the Azores

Portuguese folktales

Notes: The book contains 34 folktales from the Azores (Portugal).

Author: Elsie Spicer Eells
Published: 1922
Publisher: Hardcourt, Brace and Company, Inc., New York

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