The wonderful towels

The encantadas met at the covas d'en Riubanys, and, every evening, went to wash their laundry in the Cadi river, then hung it nearby. This is the story of the wonderful towels.

The wonderful towels

The wonderful towels

No one had ever been able to steal a single piece of linen from them and the most daring peasants had received many blows with sticks, when a fisherman from Prades, al Julia tort (Julien the lame) had the idea of using the following stratagem : he went to the washerwomen and, while chatting with them, dropped his net impregnated with glue on a headdress, which allowed him to remove the object. But the fisherman, soon caught and searched by the fairies, was forced to return the headdress and received as many slaps as there are stars in the firmament.

Chance, however, was to provide another with the opportunity for a more successful attempt.

A young girl from Corneilla, who was in an interesting state, went to a friend in Villefranche, around ten o'clock in the evening, to be delivered. As she passed crying near the caves of Riubanys, the fairies, taken with pity, took her in and gave birth to her. The newborn was carefully wrapped in a large towel woven with broom flowers (flors de gineste) and placed in a pot (olla).

But the grieving father searched everywhere for his missing daughter. Lo Qamat - that was his name, which he owed to his thinness and his pale complexion - had the idea of going to consult the fairies and went towards their home; but, as he trampled on some laundry lying on the ground, he felt a hail of blows from sticks falling on his shoulders which made him groan. Lo Gamat, however, having made known to the fairies the purpose of his incursion, was accompanied into the cave; There he found his daughter completely recovered from her emotions and took her back to the village, taking the olla and its precious contents.

When we undid the silky diapers of the newborn, we recognized the towel imprudently and generously used by the encantadas. Lo Gamat took the linen, wrapped it in a thick black cloth and carefully locked it in a cupboard, waiting for the right moment to pronounce the consecrated formula in front of the talisman. And, in fact, when three knocks rang out on the church bell tower, he placed himself three steps from the cupboard and uttered the following three formulas three times:

Lo dia voldries veurer,

Lo dia no vettras.

Al dia feré lo que voldré.

(You would like to see the day, you will not see it, because in the day I will do what I see fit.)

Three days later, the lucky owner of the enchanted towel had regained flourishing health: lo Gamat had become lo Taixó (the badger), to whom we compare a healthy man. His fields, which were barren, became fruitful; he had abundant harvests and saw his dearest projects come to fruition.

His happiness was paid for by the people of the country. Exasperated, in fact, by her ingratitude, furious at having been robbed after having rendered a service, the fairies took revenge on the poor peasants who had the misfortune to pass near them and distributed as many beatings in the countryside as possible. there were ears of wheat in the fields of Gamal-Taixô.

Los covas d'en Riubanys (Riubanys caves) are located a few meters from the main road which connects Villefranche to Corneilla-de-Conflent, at the bottom of an enormous precipice.