The Enchanted Shell

In the olden time there lived a man and his wife who had no son. They
prayed that they might have a son, even if he were only like a little
shell. When their son was born, he was very small, and just like a
shell, so he was named Shell.

One day Shell asked permission of his mother to go and get some
food. His mother at first would not let him, as she was afraid he
would meet some animal which would kill him; but at last she consented,
and he set out.

He went to the river, where some women were catching fish and putting
them into baskets. One of them laid her basket on the grass near
the river and Shell crept into it. In a few minutes the woman picked
up her basket and started for home. All at once Shell began to cry
"Rain! Rain!" The woman was so frightened at hearing the fishes talk,
as she supposed, that she threw down her basket and ran away. Then
Shell took the basket full of fish to his mother.

The next day Shell went out again. He saw an old man walking along
the road and carrying the head of a cow, so he followed him. The old
man went into the house of a friend, leaving the cow's head hanging
on the fence. Shell climbed up the fence and got into the cow's ear,
keeping very quiet. When the old man came out of the house he took
the head and continued his walk. As he reached a desert place called
Cahana-an, the head began to say: "Ay! Ay!" The old man became so
frightened that he threw the head away, and Shell carried it home.

Days passed. Shell told his mother that he was in love with a beautiful
daughter of the chief and must have her for his wife. The poor mother
was amazed and did not want to present his request to the chief. "My
dear Shell," she said, "you are beside yourself." But he urged her
and urged her, until at last she went. She begged the chief's pardon
for her boldness and made known her errand. The chief was astonished,
but agreed to ask his daughter if she were willing to take Shell for
a husband. 
Much to his surprise and anger she stated that she was
willing to marry him. Her father was so enraged that he exclaimed:
"I consider you as being lower than my servants. If you marry this
Shell I will drive you out of the village." But Shell and the girl
were married, and escaped from the town to a little house in the
fields, where they lived in great sorrow for a week. But at the end
of that time, one night at midnight, the shell began to turn into a
good-looking man, for he had been enchanted at his birth by an evil
spirit. When his wife saw how handsome he was, she was very glad,
and afterwards the chief received them back into his favor.

From Philippine Folk-Tales. Authors: Clara Kern Bayliss, Berton L. Maxfield, W. H. Millington, Fletcher Gardner, Laura Watson Benedict
Back to Top