HOW AND WHY TALES FROM
by Elsie Spicer Eells
It is late afternoon in my Brazilian garden. The dazzling blue of sea and sky which characterises a tropical noonday has become subdued and already roseate tints are beginning to prepare the glory of the sunset hour. A lizard crawls lazily up the whitewashed wall. The song of the sabiá, that wonderful Brazilian thrush, sounds from the royal palm tree. The air is heavy with the perfume of the orange blossom. There is no long twilight in the tropics. Night will leap down suddenly upon my Brazilian garden from out of the glory of the sunset sky.
Theresa, the ama, stands before us on the terrace under the mango trees, and we, her yáyázinhas and yóyózinhos, know that the story hour has come. Theresa, daughter of the mud huts under the palm trees, ama in the sobrado of the foreign senhora, is a royal queen of story land. For her the beasts break silence and talk like humans. For her all the magic wonders of her tales stand forth as living truth. Her lithe body sways backwards and forwards to the rhythm of her words as she unfolds her tales to us. She is a picture to remember as she stands under the mango trees on our terrace. Her spotless white “camiza” is decorated with beautiful pillow lace, her own handiwork. Her skirt of stiffly starched cotton is red and purple in colour. A crimson flowered folded shawl hangs over her right shoulder and great strings of beads ornament the ebony of her neck and arms. To sit at the feet of Theresa, the ama, is to enter the gate of story land.