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The Miller's Cloak

Portuguese folktale

There was once a pious miller. He was always to be found in the church praying. He prayed for the dead. He prayed for those who were alive. He prayed for all who suffered, for the homeless ones, for the hungry ones. He prayed for those upon the sea and those upon the land.

Now it happened that a terrible storm smote the island. The sea beat high against the rocky coast. Lightning flashed. Thunder roared. The wind howled. The rain fell in torrents as if it were a flood.

"Don't go out in the storm to-night," counselled his wife. "It is not a suitable night for one to go to church."

"I agree with you," replied the miller. "I do not need to go to the church in this fierce storm. Surely my prayers of other days and nights have been so many that to-night I have earned rest in my own dry house. The good God will pardon me."

The miller wrapped his heavy brown cloak about him and lay down upon his bed. The wind shrieked. Thunder shook the earth. Unseen hands pulled the miller's cloak from off his bed.

"The wind has blown out the candle! Light another!" cried the miller to his wife.

By the dim light of the candle the good miller again arranged his bed. He wrapped his heavy mantle about him and once more tried to sleep. Again his cloak was pulled from off his bed as if by unseen hands.

There was no rest for the miller that night. His cloak could not be made to cover him as he lay upon his bed.

"I might as well go to church and pray," he told his wife. "I can't rest here."

He wrapped himself in the brown cloak and went out to the church through the fierce blinding storm. He prayed for the dead. He prayed for those who were alive. He prayed for all who suffered, for the homeless ones, the hungry ones. He prayed for those upon the sea, for those upon the land.

"Surely the prayers of the pious are needed this night," said the miller to his wife when he came in out of the fierce storm.

Lightning flashed. Thunder roared. The rain fell in torrents. The wind howled and drove the pouring rain against the windows. It blew in sheets through the door before the miller had time to close it behind him. The storm beat upon the thatched roof as if it would carry it away.

"Quick, your cloak!" cried the miller's wife. "Take it off that I may dry it by the fire!"

The good man started to obey. As he touched his cloak, however, his eyes opened wide in amazement. It was entirely dry.

"Feel it yourself!" said he to his wife. "There is not a drop of rain upon it!"

The miller's wife discovered that his words were true.

"It is a miracle of God!" cried she as she crossed herself.

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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