Sortelha is the kind of ancient Portuguese village that inspires legends. This particular story even has a a house named after it, a Casa do Vento que Soa (the House of the Wind that Makes Sounds), although I’m not sure which came first – the tale or the building. Either way, here is the legend.
Knowing that he was about to die, a man called his son, Zé do Feijão, to his deathbed. “Son, I may not be rich but I can give you one piece of advice that is worth more than gold. If you have a secret that you don’t want the wind to spread, don’t tell a soul. Not even your mother or your best friend.”
Although the young man accepted the advice, he wasn’t sure he fully understood it. After mulling it over, he decided to put his father’s words to the test by leaking a false secret. A perfect opportunity arose when a local gentleman lost his prized falcon while out hunting. The wealthy man issued a reward to anyone who found and returned the falcon to him, and a stern warning to anyone who might harm the bird.
By chance, Zé had found the falcon, weak with hunger and therefore easy to catch. Instead of immediately claiming the reward, he hid the bird and invited his best friend over for a meal. After they had eaten, he told his friend that he had accidentally killed the sought after falcon and that in order to escape detection, he had cooked it and served it for dinner that night.
His horrified friend didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t betray Zé’s confidence yet the secret weighed heavily on his soul. Desperate to relieve himself from the burden, he went down to the river and whispered to the reeds, “Zé do Feijão killed the falcon.” Certain that he had not been overheard, the friend then felt free to go about his business.
Shortly afterwards, a shepherd passed by the reeds and stopped to cut one to make a flute. To his astonishment, when he blew into the instrument, instead of music, he heard the words, “Zé do Feijão killed the falcon.” The story quickly spread and the villagers turned up at Zé’s house to accuse him of this dreadful deed. Of course, Zé was able to quickly prove his innocence and claim his reward by producing the missing falcon, alive and in good health.
And that is how Zé do Feijão learned the true value of his father’s advice.
For more information about the village and its charms, read my previous post: Sortelha, One of the Best Historical Villages in Portugal or for another legend from Sortelha, try this one: The Legend of the Eternal Kiss.
And if you like historical villages, find out about another 11 in this post.
Do you know any great Portuguese legends? I’d love to hear them if you do.