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The Legend of Rui Vaz do Trato and the Bull
By Melody Lassalle

In the early days of settlement, a native of Beja de Alentejo, Portugal named Rui Vaz do Trato (aka Rui Vaz Gago) migrated to the island of Sao Miguel. He was the son of Lourenceanes Gago. He was contractor to the King in Mina, Cape Verde as well as other places and a very rich man.

Rui and his wife, Catarina Gomes Rodrigues, first resided in Vila Franca and later in Fenais. They had three sons and two daughters. He was a very rich man and his wealth increased with the purchase of property on Sao Miguel Island.

Rui owned a lot of land on the island of Sao Miguel in Vila Franca, Sete Cidades, Furnas, Ginetes, Rabo de Peixe, and Ribeira Grande. He had cattle and livestock as well. Several times a year he visited his lands make sure operations were running smoothly.

One night before returning home from Sete Cidades, he decided to stop at a campsite just beyond Rabo de Peixe. Just before reaching the campsite, he saw something moving in the night. A bull appeared before him. While still on his horse he began to battle the bull. He attacked it with a spear. Thinking he had finished the job, he continued on his journey. When he got home, he was exhausted. He spoke to no one and went straight to bed.

He rode his horse back to the site of the confrontation during the day. When he arrived at the spot, he was baffled. All he could see was untouched grass. There were no signs of a battle, no animal tracks. He retraced his steps on foot but found nothing to show that the bull had ever been there.

Rui became distraught. If there was no dead bull, then he must have seen an apparition. He convinced himself that he fought a demon that haunted the area. By the time he came home, he was in a state. He tried to tell his wife about the incident, but could not find the right words. Soon after Rui Vaz de Trato died of shock.

© 2003 Melody Lassalle

1. Gaspar Frutuoso. Livro Quarto das Saudades da Terra, volume 1. Ponta Delgada : 1977.

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