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How the night came

Fairy Tales from Brazil, by Elsie Spicer

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"Let us drop the bag full of night right here where we are and run away as fast as we can," said the first slave. "We shall perish. We shall perish, anyway, whatever we do," cried the second slave. "Whether we perish or not I am going to open the bag and see what makes all those terrible sounds," said the third slave. Accordingly they laid the bag on the ground and opened it. Out rushed all the night beasts and all the night birds and all the night insects and out rushed the great black cloud of night. The slaves were more frightened than ever at the darkness and escaped to the jungle.



The daughter of the GREAT SEA SERPENT was waiting anxiously for the return of the slaves with the bag full of night. Ever since they had started out on their journey she had looked for their return, shading her eyes with her hand and gazing away off at the horizon, hoping with all her heart that they would hasten to bring the night. In that position she was standing under a royal palm tree, when the three slaves opened the bag and let night escape. "Night comes. Night comes at last," she cried, as she saw the clouds of night upon the horizon. Then she closed her eyes and went to sleep there under the royal palm tree.



When she awoke she felt greatly refreshed. She was once more the happy princess who had left her father's kingdom in the depths of the great seas to come to the earth land. She was now ready to see the day again. She looked up at the bright star shining above the royal palm tree and said, "O, bright beautiful star, henceforth you shall be called the morning star and you shall herald the approach of day. You shall reign queen of the sky at this hour." Then she called all the birds about her and said to them, "O, wonderful, sweet singing birds, henceforth I command you to sing your sweetest songs at this hour to herald the approach of day." The cock was standing by her side. "You," she said to him, "shall be appointed the watchman of the night. Your voice shall mark the watches of the night and shall warn the others that the _madrugada_ comes." To this very day in Brazil we call the early morning the _madrugada_. The cock announces its approach to the waiting birds. The birds sing their sweetest songs at that hour and the morning star reigns in the sky as queen of the _madrugada_.



When it was daylight again the three slaves crept home through the forests and jungles with their empty bag. "O, faithless slaves," said their master, "why did you not obey the voice of the GREAT SEA SERPENT and open the bag only in the presence of his daughter, your mistress? Because of your disobedience I shall change you into monkeys. Henceforth you shall live in the trees. Your lips shall always bear the mark of the sealing wax which sealed the bag full of night." To this very day one sees the mark upon the monkeys' lips, where they bit off the wax which sealed the bag; and in Brazil night leaps out quickly upon the earth just as it leapt quickly out of the bag in those days at the beginning of time. And all the night beasts and night birds and night insects give a sunset chorus in the jungles at nightfall.

       



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