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CONTURINA.
(The story of a foster-child.)

Over the lonely Ombretta-valley, the great Marmoléda towers with gigantic walls. Up there on the steep rocks, it is said that a song is sometimes heard sounding in a ghostly manner through the silence, and dying away in the mist. This song comes from a female voice, and the old inhabitants of Fassa said that Conturina was living up there -a beautiful girl who had been hated by her foster-mother, and turned out, into the wilderness.

This foster-mother possessed a castle, in a valley, not far from the Ombretta-mountains. She was a rich and distinguished woman, and foreign princes often came to call on her. She also had several daughters, and she was very anxious that each of them should marry a prince. Soon, however, she was obliged to see that her daughters were of no account when compared with Conturina, and to her the foreign princes always turned their attention, and they seemed to visit the castle only because of her. The foster-mother, therefore, became very angry with Conturina, and ill-treated her whenever she could. She also spoke disparagingly about her, but she did not succeed in lowering her in the opinions of others. The servants liked Conturina, and when she was not allowed to appear in the drawing-room the foreign princes asked for her. The lady of the castle became so angry, therefore, that she ordered Conturina, once and for all, to remain silent when the princes came on their visits. To the visitors, however, she said that Conturina was dumb, stupid and paralysed. But it was all in vain. The foster-mother, therefore, sent for a sorceress and she had Conturina turned to stone. The princes still admired Conturina, so the lady of the castle banished the girl into the "Paréis de la Marmolèda", into the terrible abysses of the Marmoleda's south-wall, and immured her there.

Years passed, and nobody knew where poor Conturina had gone. Finally the shepherds began to report that in the rock desert of Ombretta, a woman's voice was sometimes heard. But it was only a distant sound, and no one could tell whence it came, or what the song was saying.

Then, once, on a mild, silent summer night, it happened that a young Ariman (The Arimans watched over the mountain passes.) was quite alone, on duty, up there on the Ombretta-saddle. While standing, and listening into the darkness, he not only heard the mysterious song, but he also succeeded in understanding most of the words. In this song Conturina was telling of her fate and her sorrow, and when she had finished the Ariman shouted up to her, that with dawn he would climb up to the rock-walls to set her free. Conturina, however, replied that it was no longer possible: if some one had come to rescue her during the first seven years of her bewitchment, it would have been possible, but now it was too late, and she had to remain high up there in the rocks until "the promised time" would come.

And so it was.

Whoever wanders during the night through the lonely Ombretta-valley, under the gigantic walls of the Marmoleda-mountains, can hear, in the mist, Conturina's low elegy.

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This legend has been handed down especially by the "Rasteladores" (the girls who rake the hay together at mowing-time). While they worked they used to sing the Conturina-song. Of this song, which once was known in all the Dolomite-valleys, and in the "Splanèdis" (the big plain of the Friuli) as far as the sea, only one verse has been preserved:


Son de sass e no me mève
son de crèpa en Marmolèda,
son na fia arbandonèda
e no sè per ke resòn.

(I am of stone and I don't move,
I am of rocks on the Marmolèda,
I am an abandoned girl
and I don't know why.)