The enchanted boat

This is the story of the enchanted boat. Once upon a time in Canet there lived a sinner as strong as an oak and good as bread, whose name was Vicens, but whom his comrades knew better under the nickname of en Vicens lo Roure; he was also very proud of this epithet that his Herculean build earned him.

the enchanted boat

The enchanted boat

Now, one day, Vicens, barefoot, his breeches rolled up to his thighs, his back wrapped in a wide belt of red flannel, was preparing to push his boat into the sea to go out to sea, when he noticed that the hull was wet. He thought that a comrade had used the boat without warning him, but he noticed that everything was in its place: ropes, oars and rudder.

The next morning the hull was wet again, although the boat had been completely ashore the day before. Vicens questioned some sailors, who claimed to have never touched his boat, then he went to find the bailiff who advised him to hide during the night and stay on the lookout. That same evening, Vicens huddled behind a pile of large nets, patiently awaiting events, listening to the sound of the waves and trusting his pipe to chase away boredom.

The church clock soon struck and the sailor counted the hours on his fingers: ten, eleven, twelve; suddenly he saw flickering lights in the dark night, like will-o'-the-wisps approaching him; with his neck outstretched and his eyes wide, he finally made out a group of women carrying lanterns who were running frolicking on the shore and taking their places in his boat.

He was about to leave his hiding place to chase away these ominous women, when one of them, standing near the rudder, raised her voice. Vicens hid again and heard the following words very clearly:

Vara per un, vara per dos, vara per tres, vara per cuatra, vara per cinch, vara per sis, vara per set.

And the boat slipped on the sand and disappeared on the horizon, like smoke disappearing... The sinner could not recover from his astonishment. This strange vision, the disappearance of his boat, disconcerted his reason. He went to bed, looking forward to daylight. The next morning he found his boat still wet, but he knew what to expect.

He went to find the bailiff for the second time, and asked him for advice: the bailiff recommended that he hide in the boat to recognize the seven bruixas - because they could only be bruixas - who were making the nocturnal journey.

At nightfall, Vicens hid in the hold of his boat under seaweed and waited patiently. Like the day before, the seven women arrived at midnight, still equipped with lanterns, settled into the boat after frolicking, then, one of them, the badessa, said in a tone of communion:

— Vara lier un, vara per dos, vara per tres, vara per cuatra, vara per cinch, vara per sis, vara per set.

But the boat did not move any more than the blocks of stone against which the wave broke.

“Companyas,” said the same woman, “n’hi ha una, assi, que es à punt de parir.” (Comrades, one of us is about to give birth). His comrades protested:

“Som not jo,” said Tune.

— Nor jo.

— Nor jo.

The badessa then repeated, modifying it, the established formula:

— Vara per un, vara per dos, vara per tres, vara per cuatra, vara per cinch, vara per sis, vara per set, vara per vuyt!

And the boat immediately disappeared, as fast as lightning; she sailed far, far away, and landed in a country that Vicens did not know. The seven women disembarked, made a frantic circle, then moved away towards a village where the first houses could be seen. Meanwhile Vicens also went down to the shore and saw plants he had never seen before; he picked a palm leaf and returned to his observation post in the bottom of the boat.

The bruixas soon arrived, laughing at their misdeeds, set sail to windward and the crew found themselves on the Roussillon beach, a few moments later, as if by magic. The next day Vicens went to the bailiff and explained to him the details of his trip, showing the palm leaf as evidence.

— “So who are the seven witches?” » said the bailiff.

— “I know them,” replied Vicens, “and want to point them out to you in church, at the moment when they will take holy water. »

The following Sunday, as agreed, the bailiff and Vicens were stationed at the entrance to the church, near the font, watching the parade of the faithful. Each time one of the witches passed by, Vicens said quietly to his companion:

— “Osca, senyor yawns. »

This was the agreed slogan. Six witches were already known and the last was slow in coming, when the bailiff's wife herself came by. The sailor repeated the revealing word in a deep voice:

— “Osca, senyor yawns. »

The bailiff could not hide his astonishment; the only person who passed by was his wife, however, and he called out to the fisherman.

— “Com diuhes, Vicens”

And in the same solemn tone, Vicens repeated:

— “Osca, senyor yawns. »

The magistrate could not believe his ears. Returning home, he questioned his wife and received her confession; he also learned that she was the badessa of this band of bruixas who were causing alarm in the region. But the seven witches, having been betrayed as a result, no longer met and stopped their misdeeds.

As for the bailiff, he promised Vicens a new boat, on condition that he never spoke of the events he had witnessed, and that he would not betray his wife. But discretion was not the sinner's principal quality, for the people of the country all learned of his curious adventure the next day.