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254 ANCIENT PORTUGUESE BALLADS.
"The princess, choked with wickedness ; her soul in sin has fled;
To part such dear and faithful loves God's holy might forbade ! "
The ballad of The Ship Catharine is one of the best known and most popular among the folk-songs of Portugal. Various attempts have been made by Almeida Garrett, Braga, and others to attach it to some historical event, but without satisfactory success, and, indeed, its character is such that it is apparent that it belongs rather to the order of indefinite romance. The incidents in regard to the drawing of the lots to see who shall be eaten, and the ascent of the sailor to look for land, are to be found in the folk-songs of various maritime nations. One of them has been found in Brittany and has been preserved by M. Luzel in the Gwer-zion Breiz-Izel. It relates that a vessel, which had been voyaging for twenty-seven years upon the high seas, naturally fell short of provisions, and the crew were compelled to think of eating each other:
" And when they had drawn for the short straw, it was the master of the vessel to whom it fell — Great God, is it possible that my sailors will eat me?"
" Little page, little page, you who are quick and nimble — go to the top of the main mast to find out where we are."