The Project Gutenberg eBook, Tales of Giants from Brazil, by Elsie Spicer
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Title: Tales of Giants from Brazil
Author: Elsie Spicer Eells
Release Date: June 4, 2007 [eBook #21678]
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
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TALES OF GIANTS
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
HELEN M. BARTON
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
By DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY, Inc.
BINGHAMTON AND NEW YORK
Brazil is the land of the giant among all
the rivers of the world. It is the land of
giant fruits and giant flowers. Of course
it is the land of giant stories too.
Years ago when the Portuguese settlers
came to Brazil they brought with them the
folk-tales of the old world. Just as European
grass seed, when planted in our
Brazilian gardens, soon sends forth such a
rank, luxuriant growth that one hardly recognizes
it as grass, so the old Portuguese
tales, planted in Brazilian soil, have grown
into new forms.
The author gratefully acknowledges her
indebtedness to the Brazilian story tellers
to whose tales she has listened, and to the
collection of Dr. Sylvio Romero, “Contos
Populares do Brazil,” from which some of
the “giant tales” have been adapted.
TALES OF GIANTS
THE PRINCESS OF THE SPRINGS
Return to Contents
Once, long ago, the Moon Giant
wooed the beautiful giantess who
dwells in the Great River and
won her love. He built for her a wonderful
palace where the Great River runs into the
sea. It was made of mother-of-pearl with
rich carvings, and gold and silver and
precious stones were used to adorn it.
Never before in all the world had a giant or
giantess possessed such a magnificent home.
When the baby daughter of the Moon
Giant and the Giantess of the Great River
was born it was decreed among the giants
that she should be the Princess of all the
Springs and should rule over all the rivers
and lakes. The light of her eyes was like
the moonbeams, and her smile was like
moonlight on still waters. Her strength
was as the strength of the Great River, and
the fleetness of her foot was as the swiftness
of the Great River.
As the beautiful Spring Princess grew
older many suitors came to sing her praises
beneath the palace windows, but she favoured
none of them. She was so happy
living in her own lovely palace with her own
dear mother that she did not care at all for
any suitor. No other daughter ever loved
her mother as the Spring Princess loved the
Giantess of the Great River.
At last the Sun Giant came to woo the
Spring Princess. The strength of the Sun
Giant was as the strength of ten of the
other suitors of the fair princess. He was
so powerful that he won her heart.
When he asked her to marry him, however,
and go with him to his own palace, the
Spring Princess shook her lovely head. “O
Sun Giant, you are so wonderful and so
powerful that I love you as I never before
have loved a suitor who sang beneath my
palace window,” said she, “but I love my
mother, too. I cannot go away with you
and leave my own dear mother. It would
break my heart.”
The Sun Giant told the Spring Princess
again and again of his great love for her, of
his magnificent palace which would be her
new home, of the happy life which awaited
her as queen of the palace. At length she
listened to his pleadings and decided that
she could leave home and live with him for
nine months of the year. For three months
of every year, however, she would have to
return to the wonderful palace of mother-of-pearl
where the Great River runs into the
sea and spend the time with her mother, the
Giantess of the Great River.
The Sun Giant at last sorrowfully consented
to this arrangement and the wedding
feast was held. It lasted for seven days and
seven nights. Then the Spring Princess
went away with the Sun Giant to his own
Every year the Spring Princess went to
visit her mother for three months according
to the agreement. For three months of every
year she lived in the palace of mother-of-pearl
where the Great River runs into the
sea. For three months of every year the
rivers sang once more as they rushed along
their way. For three months the lakes
sparkled in the bright sunlight as their hearts
once more were brimful of joy.
When at last the little son of the Spring
Princess was born she wanted to take him
with her when she went to visit her mother.
The Sun Giant, however, did not approve
of such a plan. He firmly refused to allow
the child to leave home. After much pleading,
all in vain, the Spring Princess set out
upon her journey alone, with sorrow in her
heart. She left her baby son with the best
nurses she could procure.
Now it happened that the Giantess of the
Great River had not expected that her
daughter would be able to visit her that year.
She had thought that all the rivers and lakes,
the palace of mother-of-pearl, and her own
mother heart would have to get along as best
they could without a visit from the Spring
Princess. The Giantess of the Great River
had gone away to water the earth. One of
the land giants had taken her prisoner and
would not let her escape.
When the Spring Princess arrived at the
beautiful palace of mother-of-pearl and gold
and silver and precious stones, where the
Great River runs into the sea, there was no
one at home. She ran from room to room
in the palace calling out, “O dear mother,
Giantess of the Great River, dear, dear
mother! Where are you? Where have
you hidden yourself?”
There was no answer. Her own voice
echoed back to her through the beautiful
halls of mother-of-pearl with their rich carvings.
The palace was entirely deserted.
She ran outside the palace and called to
the fishes of the river, “O fishes of the river,
have you seen my own dear mother?”
She called to the sands of the sea, “O
sands of the sea, have you seen my darling
She called to the shells of the shore, “O
shells of the shore, have you seen my precious
There was no answer. No one knew
what had become of the Giantess of the
The Spring Princess was so worried that
she thought her heart would break in its
anguish. In her distress she ran over all
Then she went to the house of the Great
Wind. The Giant of the Great Wind was
away, but his old father was at home. He
was very sorry for the Spring Princess when
he heard her sad story. “I am sure my son
can help you find your mother,” he said as
he comforted her. “He will soon get home
from his day’s work.”
When the Giant of the Great Wind
reached home he was in a terrible temper.
He stormed and raged and gave harsh blows
to everything he met. His father had hid
the Spring Princess in a closet out of the
way, and it was fortunate indeed for her
that he had done so.
After the Great Wind Giant had taken
his bath and eaten his dinner he was better
natured. Then his father said to him, “O
my son, if a wandering princess had come
this way on purpose to ask you a question,
what would you do to her?”
“Why, I’d answer her question as best I
could, of course,” responded the Giant of
the Great Wind.
His father straightway opened the closet
door and the Spring Princess stepped out.
In spite of her long wanderings and great
anguish of mind she was still very lovely as
she knelt before the Giant of the Great Wind
in her soft silvery green garments embroidered
with pearls and diamonds. The big
heart of the Giant of the Great Wind was
touched at her beauty and at her grief.
“O Giant of the Great Wind,” said the
Spring Princess, as he gently raised her from
her knees before him, “I am the daughter of
the Giantess of the Great River. I have
lost my mother. I have searched for her
through all the earth and now I have come
to you for help. Can you tell me anything
about where she is and how I can find her?”
The Giant of the Great Wind put on his
thinking cap. He thought hard. “Your
mother is in the power of a land giant who
has imprisoned her,” he said. “I happen to
know all about the affair. I passed that way
only yesterday. I’ll gladly go with you
and help you get her home. We’ll start at
The Giant of the Great Wind took the
Spring Princess back to earth on his swift
horses. Then he stormed the castle of the
land giant who had imprisoned the Giantess
of the Great River. The Spring Princess
dug quietly beneath the castle walls to the
dungeon where her mother was confined.
You may be sure that her mother was overjoyed
to see her.
When the Spring Princess had led her
mother safely outside the castle walls she
thanked the Giant of the Great Wind for
all he had done to help her. Then the
Giantess of the Great River and the Spring
Princess hastened back to the wonderful palace
of mother-of-pearl set with gold and silver
and precious stones, where the Great
River runs into the Sea. As soon as she had
safely reached there once more the Spring
Princess suddenly remembered that she had
stayed away from her home in the palace of
the Sun Giant longer than the three months
she was supposed to stay according to the
agreement. She at once said good-bye to
her mother and hastened to the home of the
Sun Giant, her husband, and to her baby
Now the Sun Giant had been very much
worried at first when the three months had
passed and the Spring Princess had not come
back to him and her little son. Then he became
angry. He became so angry that he
married another princess. The new wife
discharged the nurses who were taking care
of the tiny son of the Spring Princess and
put him in the kitchen just as if he had been
a little black slave baby.
When the Spring Princess arrived at the
palace of the Sun Giant the very first person
she saw was her own little son, so dirty
and neglected that she hardly recognized
him. Then she found out all that had happened
in her absence.
The Spring Princess quickly seized her
child and clasped him tight in her arms.
Then she fled to the depths of the sea, and
wept, and wept, and wept. The waters of
the sea rose so high that they reached even to
the palace of the Sun Giant. They covered
the palace, and the Sun Giant, his new wife,
and all the court entirely disappeared from
view. For forty days the face of the Sun
Giant was not seen upon the earth.
The little son of the Spring Princess grew
up to be the Giant of the Rain. In the
rainy season and the season of thunder showers
he rules upon the earth. He sends upon
the earth such tears as the Spring Princess
shed in the depths of the seas.
THE FOUNTAIN OF GIANT LAND
Return to Contents
Long ago there lived a king who
was blind. He had employed all
the wise physicians in the kingdom,
but all to no avail. Not one of them did a
single thing to restore his lost eyesight.
One day a little old woman came to the
door of the palace begging alms. She said
to the servant at the door, “I wish to say a
word to the king who is blind. I know a
sure cure for his blindness.”
The servant led the little old woman into
the king’s presence. He was sitting upon
the royal throne with his royal crown upon
his head, but his blind eyes were bandaged
and his royal face was sad because he could
no longer see the bright sunlight shining
upon the deep blue sea from the window of
the palace, nor the lords and ladies of the
court before him in their gorgeous garments
of purple and cloth of silver and cloth of
gold, nor of the face of the queen.
“O royal majesty,” said the little old
woman as she bowed low before him, “there
is only one thing in the whole world which
will restore your lost eyesight. It is the
water of the fountain of Giantland. Bathe
your eyes in that water and your lost eyesight
will be restored at once.”
“How can I obtain this wonderful
water?” asked the king. “Giantland is a
long distance from my kingdom and I do
not know the way there.” The king, the
queen, and all the courtiers held their breaths
to listen to the reply of the little old woman.
“Your Majesty will need to build a strong
fleet to sail up the great river which leads
to Giantland,” she said. “The expedition
will need as its leader a prince with a brave
heart, for there will be many perils on the
way to test his mettle. The fountain of
Giantland is at the summit of a long steep
rocky mountain, and it can be reached only
by a prince who ascends the mountain looking
neither to the right nor to the left. All
along the way stand huge giants ready to
enslave one the moment he stops looking
straight ahead. If one should succeed in
climbing the mountain the fountain is there
at the summit, but it is guarded by a dragon.
One can approach it only when the dragon
is asleep. Many princes have tried this
quest and all have failed. If you should be
able to send a prince brave enough and wise
enough to succeed, there at the top of the
mountain he will find a little old woman
who will tell him whether or not the dragon
With these words the little old woman
withdrew from the royal presence. The
king pondered over her advice. Then he
sent for the three princes and told them the
“O my father, I am brave and wise,” said
the eldest prince as soon as he had heard his
father’s words. “I will go upon this quest.
I will bring you a bottle of the water of the
fountain of Giantland that your sight may
The king ordered a great fleet to be prepared
to sail up the river to Giantland. He
collected an enormous sum of money to provide
for the prince. The whole kingdom
buzzed with preparation for the journey.
The prince planted an orange tree in the
palace garden and said to his younger
brother, “Keep close watch of this tree. If
its leaves begin to wither you will know that
some evil has befallen me. Come to my
The eldest prince set out with a great
fleet and his pockets lined with gold. He
anchored in many harbors along the way.
The prince was very fond of gaming and
there were many opportunities to play. Before
he had reached Giantland he had lost
the golden linings from his pockets.
After the prince had sailed up the great
river which leads to Giantland he saw the
steep rocky mountain towering before him.
He set a bottle for the water of the fountain
of Giantland carefully upon his head and
slowly ascended the steep path. He kept
his eyes fixed straight ahead.
Soon, however, he heard giant voices
shouting at him. From the corners of his
eyes he could see giant forms along the pathway.
He forgot that he must look neither to
the right nor to the left.
The moment the prince turned his eyes a
giant immediately seized him and made him
his slave. “You shall be my slave for ever
and a day,” said the giant, “unless you have
gold enough in your pockets to pay your ransom.”
The prince had no gold.
At home in the palace garden the leaves
of the orange tree which the eldest prince
had planted began to wither. His younger
brother noticed it at once and went to the
king. “O my father,” said he, “I know that
my brother has fallen into trouble. I must
go to his aid.”
The king at once prepared another great
fleet. He provided the prince with even
more gold than his brother had taken with
him. Every one in the whole kingdom did
his best to hasten the preparations.
In the palace garden the prince planted
a lemon tree and called the youngest prince
into the garden. The youngest prince was
playing with his dogs. He was a mere boy.
“Keep close watch of this lemon tree while
I am away,” said the prince. “If its leaves
begin to wither you will know that I am in
trouble. Come to my aid.”
The prince sailed up the great river which
leads to Giantland. He anchored at many
harbors and took part in many festas. By
the time he had reached Giantland he had
spent all his gold.
At home in the palace garden the youngest
prince watched the lemon tree carefully
every day. He watered it and pruned it.
He took splendid care of it.
When at last the prince set out to climb
the mountain which leads to the fountain of
Giantland he felt very brave and very wise.
He climbed steadily on and on, looking
neither to the right nor to the left, even
though he heard the voices of the giants
shouting at him, and from the corners of his
eyes could see the giant forms along the pathway.
Suddenly he heard the voice of his own
brother, the eldest prince, weeping as the
giant gave him blows. At that sound he forgot
all about looking straight ahead.
The moment the prince turned his eyes
from the pathway straight ahead of him a
giant seized him and made him his slave.
“You shall be my slave for ever and a day,”
said the giant, “unless you have gold enough
to pay your ransom.”
At home in the palace garden his little
brother was watching the lemon tree. The
very moment its leaves began to wither he
noticed it and ran at once to the king. “O
my father,” he cried as soon as he was in the
king’s presence. “My brother is in trouble.
I must go to his aid.”
“You, my son, are only a lad,” said the
king. “How can you succeed when your
two older brothers have failed? I cannot
bear to let you go. You are all I have left.
I prefer to remain blind the rest of my
days. O, why did I ever listen to the story
the little old woman told me about the water
of the fountain of Giantland?”
The youngest prince begged so hard to go
that at length his father granted his request
and prepared a fleet for him. He gave him
all the gold he could collect in the kingdom.
The prince set out with brave heart. He
sailed on his way steadily although at every
harbour there were voices which bade him
linger. There were games and feasting and
Soon the youngest prince had reached
Giantland. Above him rose the rough steep
rocky mountain. Before he started to make
the ascent he first stuffed cotton in his ears.
Then he carefully placed upon his head a
bottle to fill with the water of the fountain
He climbed up the steep mountain looking
neither to the right nor to the left.
Through the cotton in his ears he could
faintly hear the giant voices calling him.
From the corners of his eyes he could see
the giant forms along the pathway. He
resolutely kept his eyes fixed straight ahead
and steadily climbed upward though the
path was very rough and full of stones.
The cotton in his ears prevented him from
hearing the voices of his two brothers
crying out when the giants beat them.
At length the lad was in sight of the fountain
at the summit of the mountain. The
little old woman was standing in the path,
watching his ascent. As soon as he came
near to her he took the cotton out of his ears
so that he might hear what she had to say to
“You have arrived at a safe moment,”
the little old woman told him. “The
dragon is asleep.”
The little old woman helped the prince
fill the bottle with water from the fountain.
Then she said, “The dragon which guards
the fountain is an enchanted princess. No
prince has ever before been brave enough
and wise enough to reach this spot. In a
year and a day from this moment her enchantment
will be broken. Come again and
claim her as your bride.”
The little old woman gave the prince a
ring, and the prince drew a ring from his
own finger and gave it to the little old
woman. “When the enchantment is broken
put my ring upon the finger of the princess,”
he said. “Expect me back in a year and a
day. I’ll be sure to come.”
The prince made his way back down the
steep slope of the mountain, guarding his
bottle full of the water of the fountain of
Giantland with the utmost care. When he
was half way down the mountain he saw his
two brothers standing in his path.
“Viva,” cried they. “You have been
successful. You have a bottle full of the
water from the fountain. Now if you also
have your pockets full of gold you can pay
our ransom and we will return with you to
our father’s kingdom.”
“My pockets are still lined with gold
which my father gave me,” said the youngest
prince. “Help yourselves. It is yours
if it can serve you.” There was more than
enough money to pay the ransom of his two
When they were sailing down the great
river towards home the two older brothers
plotted against the youngest prince.
“Come,” said one to the other. “How can
we let our father know that it was our little
brother who succeeded in this quest? Let
us cast our brother ashore. Then we will
go together to our father with the water from
the fountain of Giantland. When his sight
is restored we will share his blessing and the
honors of the kingdom. We will claim no
knowledge of our youngest brother.”
This is what the two eldest princes did.
The youngest prince was cast ashore when
he was asleep. After many long weary wanderings
he found refuge in the hut of a poor
fisherman and hired out to work for him.
The king’s eyesight was restored immediately
when he had bathed his eyes in the
water from the fountain of Giantland.
The two princes were given all the honors
of the kingdom. The whole kingdom, however,
mourned the loss of the little prince.
The king and queen never gave up hoping
that he would come back to them. The
queen carefully laid away all the clothes
which had belonged to the youngest prince
so that they would be ready for him if he
should return to the palace. Every day she
shook them out with loving care, so that the
baratas and white ants would not eat holes in
A year and a day flew swiftly by. The
huge dragon which had guarded the fountain
of Giantland escaped from her enchantment
and was restored to the form of a beautiful
The little old woman and the princess
watched and waited for the return of the
prince according to his promise. “Some evil
must surely have befallen the lad,” said the
little old woman. “Let us go in search of
him. I know he was a lad who would not
break his word.”
The little old woman and the beautiful
princess who wore the prince’s own ring
upon her finger came to the palace of the
king. When the king had listened to the
story they told, the guilty princes were called
before him. They were forced to confess
their evil deed. They were immediately
thrown into prison. The anger of the whole
kingdom was kindled against them.
Then the king and the queen and all the
court sailed in their swiftest ships to the
place where the little prince had been cast
ashore. The little old woman and the beautiful
princess who wore the prince’s own ring
upon her finger went with them. At length
after much searching they found the fisherman’s
hut and the prince working for the
The king and the queen and all the court
wept tears of joy when they beheld the
youngest prince alive and well. The queen
wept again when she noticed the poor rough
clothing which the prince was wearing. She
had brought with her the prince’s favourite
suit of cloth of gold which she had laid away
carefully. When the prince put it on it was
a trifle tight and a little bit too short for
him, as he had grown so much in the year.
Nevertheless he looked very handsome in it
when he stood before the beautiful princess
and claimed her as his bride.
The fisherman was greatly astonished at
all the proceedings, for he had never dreamed
that it was the king’s son who had been working
for him all the year and sleeping on a
mat at his side on the floor of his rude hut.
“He may be a prince, but he is the most
faithful lad who ever worked for me,” said
“He is indeed a prince,” cried the courtiers,
“and the bravest, most faithful prince
which any land in all the world ever boasted
“His princely deeds have proven to all the
world that he is fit to reign as king over our
fair land when I no longer live,” said the
king as he gave the prince and the beautiful
princess his royal blessing.
THE BOY AND THE VIOLIN
Return to Contents
Once upon a time there was a man
who had an only son. When the
man died the son was left all alone
in the world. There was not very much
property—just a cat and a dog, a small
piece of land, and a few orange trees. The
boy gave the dog away to a neighbour and
sold the land and the orange trees. Every
bit of money he obtained from the sale he invested
in a violin. He had longed for a
violin all his life and now he wanted one
more than ever. While his father had lived
he could tell his thoughts to his father, but
now there was none to tell them to except
the violin. What his violin said back to
him made the very sweetest music in the
The boy went to hire out as shepherd to
care for the sheep of the king, but he was
told that the king already had plenty of
shepherds and had no need of another. The
boy took his violin which he had brought
with him and hid himself in the deep forest.
There he made sweet music with the violin.
The shepherds who were near by guarding
the king’s sheep heard the sweet strains, but
they could not find out who was playing.
The sheep, too, heard the music. Several
of them left the flock and followed the sound
of the music into the forest. They followed
it until they reached the boy and the cat and
The shepherds were greatly disturbed
when they found out how their sheep were
straying away into the forest. They went
after them to bring them back, but they could
find no trace of them. Sometimes it would
seem that they were quite near to the place
from which the music came, but when they
hurried in that direction they would hear
the strains of music coming from a distant
point in the opposite direction. They were
afraid of getting lost themselves so they
gave up in despair.
When the boy saw how the sheep came to
hear his music he was very happy. His
music was no longer the sad sweet sound it
had been when he was lonely. It became
gayer and gayer. After a while it became
so gay that the cat began to dance. When
the sheep saw the cat dancing they began to
Soon a company of monkeys passed that
way and heard the sound of the music.
They began dancing immediately. They
made such a chattering that they almost
drowned the music. The boy threatened to
stop playing if they could not be happy without
being so noisy. After that the monkeys
After a while a tapir heard the jolly sound.
Immediately his threetoed hind feet and
fourtoed front feet began to dance. He
just couldn’t keep them from dancing; so he,
too, joined the procession of boy, cat, sheep,
Next the armadillo heard the music. In
spite of his heavy armour he had to dance
too. Then a herd of small deer joined the
company. Then the anteater danced along
with them. The wild cat and the tiger
came, too. The sheep and the deer were
terribly frightened, but they kept dancing
on just the same. The tiger and wild cat
were so happy dancing that they never noticed
them at all. The big snakes curled
their huge bodies about the tree trunks and
wished that they, too, had feet with which to
dance. The birds tried to dance, but they
could not use their feet well enough and had
to give it up and keep flying. Every beast
of the forests and jungles which had feet
with which to dance came and joined the gay
The jolly company wandered on and on
until finally they came to the high wall which
surrounds the land of the giants. The
enormous giant who stood on the wall as
guard laughed so hard that he almost fell off
the wall. He took them to the king at once.
The king laughed so hard that he almost fell
off his throne. His laugh shook the earth.
The earth had never before been shaken at
the laugh of the king of the giants, though
it had often heard his angry voice in the
thunder. The people did not know what to
make of it.
Now it happened that the king of the land
of giants had a beautiful giantess daughter
who never laughed. She remained sad all
the time. The king had offered half his
kingdom to the one who could make her
laugh, and all the giants had done their very
funniest tricks for her. Never once had
they brought even a tiny little smile to her
lovely face. “If my daughter can keep from
laughing when she sees this funny sight I’ll
give up in despair and eat my hat,” said the
king of the land of giants, as he saw the
jolly little figure playing upon the violin
and the assembly of cat, sheep, monkeys and
everything else dancing to the gay music.
If the giant king had known how to dance
he would have danced himself, but it was
fortunate for the people of the earth that he
did not know how. If he had, there is no
knowing what might have happened to the
As it was, he took the little band into his
daughter’s palace where she sat surrounded
by her servants. Her lovely face was as sad
as sad could be. When she saw the funny
sight her expression changed. The happy
smile which the king of the land of giants
had always wanted to see played about her
beautiful lips. A gay laugh was heard for
the first time in all her life. The king of
the land of giants was so happy that he grew
a league in height and nobody knows how
much he gained in weight. “You shall have
half my kingdom,” he said to the boy, “just
as I promised if any one made my daughter
The boy from that time on reigned over
half of the kingdom of giants as prince of
the land. He never had the least bit of difficulty
in preserving his authority, for the biggest
giants would at once obey his slightest
request if he played on his violin to them.
The beasts stayed in the land of the giants
so long that they grew into giant beasts, but
the boy and his violin always remained just
as they were when they entered the land.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PRINCESS
Return to Contents
Long ago there was a king who was
very ill. He wanted a hare killed
to make him some broth. His only
son, the prince, set out to find one. As the
prince walked along the path to the forest
a pretty little hare ran out of the hedge and
crossed his path. He at once started in pursuit.
The hare was a very swift runner.
The prince followed her into the deep forest.
Suddenly the hare ran into a hole in the
ground. The prince kept in sight of her
and soon found to his dismay that he was in
a big cave. At the very rear of the cave
there was the most enormous giant he had
ever seen in his life.
The prince was terribly frightened. “Oh,
ho!” said the giant in such a deep savage
voice that the cave echoed and re-echoed
with his words. “You thought you’d catch
my little hare, did you? Well, I’ve caught
The giant seized the prince in one of his
enormous hands and tossed him lightly into
a box at one end of the cave. He put the
cover on the box and locked it down with a
big key. The prince could get only a tiny
bit of air through a little hole in the top, and
he thought that he never could live. Hours
passed. Sometimes the prince slept, but
more often he lay there thinking about his
sick father and what he could ever do to get
out of the box and back once more to his
Suddenly he heard the key turn in the
lock. The cover was lifted, and he saw
standing before him the most beautiful
maiden he had ever seen or dreamed of. “I
am the hare you followed into the cave,”
said she with a smile. “I am an enchanted
princess and, though I have to take the form
of a hare in the daytime, at night I am free
to resume my own shape. You got into this
trouble following me into the cave and I am
so sorry for you that I am going to let you
“You are so beautiful that I could stay
here for ever and gaze into your lovely
eyes,” said the prince.
“You would see only a hare in the daytime,”
replied the princess. “It is not always
night. Besides, the giant may return
at any moment. He just went out on a
hunting trip because he thought that you
would not make a sufficiently big supper for
him. Don’t be foolish. I’ll show you the
way out of the cave and then you must hurry
home as fast as possible.”
The prince thanked her for all her great
kindness to him and acted upon her advice.
He went home by the nearest path, but when
he reached the palace his father was already
dead. The palace was wrapped in mourning.
The prince was so overcome with grief
that he felt that he could not keep on living
in the palace. After his father’s funeral he
went away as a wanderer. He changed
clothes with a poor fisherman whom he met
by the river, for he did not wish to be recognized
as the prince.
Dressed as a poor fisherman he wandered
from one kingdom to another. He caught
fish for his food, and he soon recognized the
fact that the net which the fisherman had
given him as part of his outfit was a most
wonderful net. The biggest fish in the sea
could not break through. “This net must
have the special blessing of Nossa Senhora
upon it,” said the prince.
In the course of his wanderings the prince
arrived at a city where a great festa was being
held. The palace was decked with gay
banners. Every afternoon the messenger of
the king rode up and down the city streets
proclaiming, “The princess of our kingdom
is the most beautiful princess in all the
The prince remembered the beautiful
princess who had let him out of the giant’s
cave. “Surely this princess cannot be as
beautiful as she,” said the prince. “I am
going to see this princess with my own eyes
and find out.”
Accordingly the prince went to the palace
gate to watch for the princess. Soon she
came to the balcony and leaned over the railing.
She was very beautiful, but her nose
was just a tiny bit crooked. She did not
compare at all with the princess of the cave.
“This princess is not by any means the
most beautiful one in the world,” said the
prince dressed as a fisherman. “I know
where there is a princess who is much more
The people standing by heard him. His
words were at once reported to the royal
guards. They seized him roughly and took
him to the king.
“So you are the fisherman who says that
my daughter is not the most beautiful princess
in the world?” said the king sternly.
“You say, I hear, that you know a princess
who is much more beautiful. I am a just
king or else I should order that you be put
to death immediately. As it is, I’ll give you
the chance to prove what you say. If you
are unable to fulfil your boast and show me
this princess who in the opinion of my court
is more beautiful than my daughter, you
shall lose your life. Remember that you
will have to bring her here to my court to
have her beauty proven.”
“Thanks, your majesty,” said the prince.
“If you will allow me two weeks to fulfil the
contract, and if you’ll prepare a festa for the
night two weeks hence, I’ll endeavour to present
the most beautiful princess in the world
to your assembled court.”
The king was astonished at the fisherman’s
words, for he had not thought that a poor
fisherman like him knew many princesses.
However, he allowed him to depart in search
of the princess.
Then the prince hurried home and once
more walked toward the forest by the same
path he had gone the day he went in search
of the hare for his father’s broth. He soon
found the place where the hare had crossed
his path, and he did his best to remember
the course they had followed as he pursued
her into the forest.
In the forest he saw evidences of what
looked like a flood. The water had washed
away every trace of the entrance of the cave.
He dug and dug at the place where he
thought it ought to be. He found nothing
which seemed like the cave’s entrance.
He dug and dug at a new place near by
and soon he found his way barred by a massive
door. The entrance to the cave was
securely shut by it. The prince knocked at
the door with all his might.
Soon the door was opened a tiny bit and
the face of a little old woman looked out.
“I am the ama of the princess,” she said. “I
think you are the prince she was expecting
to return to deliver her from all the terrible
calamities which have befallen her.”
“What has happened to my beautiful
princess who saved my life?” asked the
prince. “I am indeed the prince, but I am
surprised that you should recognize me in
my fisherman’s garb.”
“The princess told me that I would know
you by the smile in your eyes,” replied the
old ama. “I did not look at your clothes at
all. I looked at your eyes. You have the
smile in them though your face is sad.
Come into the cave, and I will tell you all
that has happened.”
When the prince was inside the cave she
hastily barred the door and said, “When the
giant returned he was terribly angry at the
princess because she had let you escape. He
seized her roughly and put her into the box in
your place. The princess had thrown away
the key to the box when she let you out;
and, search as he would, the giant was unable
to find it again anywhere. That made
him even angrier than before. All day he
sits on the top of the chest when the princess
is in the form of the hare. At night when
he goes away he causes a great river to flow
around the entrance to the cave. He has
placed a huge fish as guard to the entrance.
This fish swims up and down before our
door and calls out such vile names at the
princess, that, when she is in her own form,
she stays in the box and stuffs cotton in her
ears. You got here just as the giant had
left. The water must have risen as soon
as you were inside our door. I hear the
Even as she spoke the prince heard the
voice of the fish. It said such terrible words
that the prince was glad that the princess was
in the box with cotton in ears. “You get
into the box with the princess,” he said to
the ama. “I am a good swimmer and I am
going to open the door and swim out. The
box is made of wood that will float; so, inside
of it, you and the princess will float out
“How will you ever swim past this terrible
fish?” asked the old ama.
“Do not fear,” replied the prince. “I
have with me a net which is so strong that
the biggest, fiercest fish in the world cannot
break it. I will catch the fish in it. Just
wait and you will see. In the meantime
take the cotton out of the ears of the princess
and tell her that I am here. Quiet her fears
and stay in the box for a few moments.”
The old ama got into the box as the prince
had commanded. Then he unbarred the
great door. The fish swam at him fiercely,
but the prince quickly entangled him in his
strong net. Holding him fast in the net, the
prince swam up to the surface of the water
and was soon on the bank of the raging river.
Then he killed the fish and scaled it and put
the scales in his pocket.
The box had floated up to the surface of
the water as the prince had said it would.
The prince threw his net over it and drew
it to land. The ama and the beautiful
princess stepped out. The princess was so
lovely that the prince fell upon his knees
before her. The sight of her great beauty
almost blinded his eyes.
“I knew all the time that you would come
back again,” said the princess. “I knew that
you would deliver me from my troubles, but
you have been a long time getting here.”
The prince told the princess all that had
happened to him. “You saved my life from
the giant,” said he. “I am very glad to have
had an opportunity to save your life for
you. Now I must ask you to again save my
life.” Then he told about the festa at
which he must display the most beautiful
princess in the world or forfeit his life.
“I’ll gladly go to the festa with you,” said
the princess. “It is fortunate that it is held
The Princess and her ama travelled
quickly with the prince to the kingdom which
claimed to possess the most beautiful princess
in the world. It was already the night
of the appointed festa when they arrived.
The king’s army was drawn up to slay the
prince. No one dreamed that the poor
fisherman would be able to bring any princess
at all with him, much less a beautiful
one. The prince hid the princess in the box
which the old ama carried on top of her head.
When the poor fisherman stood before the
king with an old ama standing by his side, a
great laugh ran through the king’s court.
“We knew that the fisherman would never
be able to bring a princess more beautiful
than our own lovely princess,” said the
courtiers one to another. “But see what he
has brought in her place!” Then they
laughed and laughed until they could hardly
The king’s soldiers stepped forward to
seize the fisherman to put him to death.
“Grant me just one moment more of life,”
begged the prince.
The king nodded his head and the prince
put his hand into the pocket of his fisherman’s
coat. He pulled out a handful of
silver scales. The most beautiful silvery
cloud filled the room.
“Just a moment more,” begged the prince.
Then he pulled a handful of golden scales
from out his pocket. The most beautiful
golden cloud filled the room.
“Please just another little minute,” asked
the prince and he pulled out a handful of
jewelled scales from his pocket. The most
wonderful sparkling cloud of jewels fell
about them. As the cloud cleared away
there stood the most beautiful princess any
one had ever seen or dreamed of between the
old ama and the prince in the fisherman
The soldiers drew back. The king looked
at the floor and so did all the courtiers.
“You have won your wager,” said the king
when he could find his voice. “Our daughter
is not the most beautiful princess in the
whole world. I see myself that her nose is
a tiny bit crooked.”
The prince and princess and the old ama
went back to the prince’s own kingdom
where the wedding of the prince and princess
was celebrated with a great feast. From
the moment that the fish scales fell upon the
princess her enchantment was broken and
she never became a hare again. She and the
prince lived together happily in the prince’s
palace, and the giant never troubled them
again, though they were always careful to
keep away from the forest.
THE LITTLE SISTER OF THE GIANTS
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Once upon a time there was a little
girl who was very beautiful. Her
eyes were like the eyes of the
gazelle; her hair hid in its soft waves the
deep shadows of the night; her smile was like
the sunrise. Each year as she grew older she
grew also more and more beautiful. Her
name was Angelita.
The little girl’s mother was dead, and her
father, the image-maker, had married a second
time. The step-mother was a woman
who was renowned in the city for her great
beauty. As her little step-daughter grew
more and more lovely each day of her life
she soon became jealous of the child. Each
night she asked the image-maker, “Who is
more beautiful, your wife or your child?”
The image-maker was a wise man and
knew all too well his wife’s jealous disposition.
He always responded, “You, my
wife, are absolutely peerless.”
One day the image-maker suddenly died,
and the step-mother and step-daughter were
left alone in the world. They both mourned
deeply the passing of the kind image-maker.
One day as they were leaning over the
balcony two passers-by observed them, and
one said to the other, “Do you notice those
beautiful women in the balcony? The
mother is beautiful, but the daughter is far
more beautiful.” The step-mother had always
been jealous of the daughter’s loveliness,
but now her jealousy was fanned into
a burning flame. The wise image-maker
was no longer there to tell her that she was
The next day the mother and daughter
again leaned over the balcony. Two soldiers
passed by and one said to the other:
“Do you observe those two beautiful women
in the balcony? The mother is beautiful,
but the daughter is far more beautiful.”
The step-mother flew into a terrible rage.
She now knew that it was true as she had
long feared. The girl was more beautiful
than she. Her jealousy knew no bounds.
She seized her step-daughter roughly and
shut her up in a little room in the attic.
The little room in the attic had just one
tiny window high up in the wall. The window
was shut, but Angelita climbed up to
open it in order to get a little air. The
next afternoon she grew weary of the confinement
of the little room, so she dug a
foothold in the wall where she could stand
and look out of the window. Her step-mother
was leaning over the balcony all
alone when two cavalheiros passed by. One
said to the other, “Do you observe the beautiful
woman in the balcony?” “Yes,” replied
the other. “She is a beautiful woman,
but the little maid who is kept a prisoner in
the attic is far more beautiful.”
The step-mother became desperate. She
ordered the old negro servant to carry the
girl into the jungle and kill her. “Be sure
that you bring back the tip of Angelita’s
tongue, so that I may know that you have
obeyed my order,” she said.
Angelita was very happy to be taken out
of the little attic room, and set out for a walk
with the old negro with a light heart. They
walked through the city streets and out into
the open country. Soon they had reached
the deep jungle. “Where are we going?”
the girl asked in surprise.
“We are taking a walk for our health,
yayazinha,” replied the old negro.
Soon they were so far in the jungle that
the path was entirely overgrown. No ray
of light penetrated through the deep foliage.
Angelita became frightened. “I’ll not go
another step if you do not tell me where you
are taking me,” she said as she stamped her
little foot upon the ground.
The old negro burst into tears and told
Angelita all that her step-mother had commanded.
“I could not hurt one hair of your
lovely head, much less cut off the tip of your
little tongue, yayazinha,” sobbed the old
Angelita stood still and thought. “Go
back to my step-mother,” she said to the old
man. “On the way you will see plenty of
dogs. Cut off the tip of a little dog’s tongue
and carry it home to my step-mother.”
This is what the old negro did. The step-mother
believed him and thought that he had
slain her step-daughter according to her command.
Angelita, in the meantime, wandered on
and on through the jungle. The big snakes
glided swiftly out of her path. The
monkeys and the parrots chattered to keep
her from being lonely. She wandered on
and on until finally she came to an enormous
palace. The front door was wide open.
She went from room to room, but the palace
was entirely deserted. There was not a
neat, orderly room in the entire palace.
“I can make these lovely rooms neat and
clean,” said Angelita. “They surely need
some one to do it!” She found a broom and
went to work at once. Soon the whole
palace was in order once more. Everything
was clean and bright.
Just as Angelita was finishing her task
she heard a great noise. She looked out of
the door, and there were three enormous
giants entering the house. She had never
dreamed that giants could be so big. She
was frightened nearly to death and
scrambled under a chair as fast as she could.
When the giants came into the house they
were amazed to find everything in such
splendid order. “This is a different looking
place from what we left,” said the biggest
“What dirty, disorderly giants we have
been, living here all by ourselves,” said the
middle-sized giant. “I just realize it, now
that I see what our house looks like when it
is neat and clean.”
“What kind fairy could have done all this
work while we were away?” said the littlest
giant, who was not little at all, but almost as
big as his enormous brothers.
The three giants fell to discussing the
question. They could not guess how their
house could have been made so clean.
Their voices were so very kind, in spite of being
so loud and heavy, that Angelita decided
she dare come out from under the chair and
let them see who had done the work for them.
She quickly crawled out from her hiding
“What lovely fairy is this?” asked the
biggest giant, looking at her kindly. He
thought that she really was a fairy.
“This is the loveliest fairy I ever saw in
all my life,” said the middle-sized giant.
“How did such a lovely fairy ever happen
to find our dirty, disorderly palace?” asked
the littlest giant who was not little at all.
Angelita told the three giants her story.
Her beauty and her sweet ways completely
“Please live with us always here in our
palace in the jungle and be our little sister,”
said the biggest giant, and the middle-sized
giant and the littlest giant, speaking all at
once. Their three big deep voices all together
made a noise like thunder.
Angelita lived in the palace with the three
giants after that. Every day when they
went out to hunt she would take the broom
and make the palace neat and clean. They
called her “little sister” and loved her with
all their big giant hearts.
All was well until a little bird went and
told Angelita’s step-mother that she was
alive and living in the depths of the jungle
with the three giants. When the step-mother
heard about it she was so angry that
she thought she could never be happy as long
as Angelita was living in the world. She
consulted a wicked witch as soon as she could
find her shawl.
The wicked witch gave the step-mother
some poisoned slippers. “These will cause
the immediate death of any person who puts
them on,” said the wicked witch. Then she
showed the step-mother just how to reach the
palace where Angelita lived in the depths of
the jungle with the three giants.
Angelita’s step-mother followed the directions
which the witch had given her and
easily found the giants’ palace. Angelita
was so happy living with the giants and
keeping house for them that she had forgotten
what fear was like. She was not frightened
at all when she heard some one clap
hands before the door one day when the
giants were away. She went to the door;
and, though she was very much surprised to
see her step-mother, she invited her into the
house. Her step-mother gave her a loving
embrace and kissed her upon both cheeks.
“Dear child, it is a long time since I have
seen you,” she said. “I have brought you a
little gift to show you that I have not forgotten
you. It is only a poor, mean little
gift, but it is the best I could bring.”
Angelita was touched at her step-mother’s
gift and accepted it with hearty thanks.
As soon as her step-mother had gone she untied
the red ribbon around the package and
opened it. Inside was a pair of leather slippers.
Angelita looked at the little slippers.
They were like the slippers which her dear
father, the image-maker, had once brought
home to her. “How kind it was in my step-mother
to bring these slippers to me,” she
said as she put them on.
As soon as the slippers were on Angelita’s
feet, she fell dead just as the wicked witch
had promised the step-mother she would do.
Her step-mother was watching through the
window, and when she saw Angelita dead
she hurried home in joy. “Now I, alone,
am the peerless beauty,” she said.
When the three giants came home to dinner
they knew at once that there was something
wrong. There were dirty tracks on
the floor and dirty finger prints upon the
door. “Who made these dirty marks?” said
the biggest giant.
“What has happened to our dear little
sister that she has not cleaned them away?”
asked the middle-sized giant.
“I am afraid there is something wrong
with little sister,” said the littlest giant who
was not little at all.
They clapped their big hands before the
door, but no smiling little sister ran to meet
them. They entered the big hall of the
palace with a bound. There in the middle
of the floor lay Angelita, just as she had
fallen when she put on the poisoned slippers
which her step-mother had given her.
“What evil, has befallen our dear little
sister?” said the biggest giant.
“Who could have slain our little sister
whom we loved so much?” said the middle-sized
“Who will keep house for us now that our
dear little sister is dead?” asked the littlest
Then the biggest giant and the middle-sized
giant and the littlest giant all began
to sob so loud that it shook the earth. “Our
dear little sister is dead! What shall we
do! What shall we do!”
The giants could not go into the city to
give their little sister Christian burial, but
they built a beautiful casket out of silver and
carried it to the path which led to the city.
Then they hid themselves to watch and
make sure that some one found it to carry
to the burying place.
Soon a handsome prince passed by on
horseback. He noticed the silver casket at
once and opened it. The girl whose still
form lay inside was the most beautiful maid
he had ever gazed upon. “This dead maid
is my own true love,” he said and he carried
the silver casket home to his own palace.
He commanded that no one should enter
the room where he placed the silver casket,
and this aroused the curiosity of his little
sister at once. At the very first opportunity
she slipped into the room. She opened the
casket and was surprised to see the beautiful
quiet maid. “You are very lovely,” she
said to the still form, “all except your slippers.
I think they are very ugly.” With
these words she pulled off the leather slippers.
Angelita gave a deep sigh, opened her
beautiful eyes, and asked for a drink of
The little sister called the prince at once.
When he saw Angelita was really alive he
could hardly believe the good fortune. He
asked that the wedding night be celebrated
Angelita begged that she might go back
into the deep jungle and invite the three
giants to the wedding. The biggest giant,
the middle-sized giant, and the littlest giant
who was not little at all, came to the wedding
feast. After that they visited their little
sister often at her new home; and, when
she had children of her own, it was the funniest
sight one ever saw to see the biggest
giant hold the tiny babes upon his knee.
THE FOREST LAD AND THE WICKED GIANT
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Once upon a time there was a man
who took his wife and tiny baby
son into the deep forest to make
their home. With his own hands he built
the house out of mud, and he made for it a
thatched roof from the grass of the forest.
For food they depended upon the fruits of
the forest and the beasts which they killed in
the hunt. They lived like hermits, seeing
As the baby son grew into a large strong
boy he learned from his father all the secrets
of the forest. He grew wise as well as
strong. From his mother he heard stories of
their former life in the great city which had
been their home before they went to live in
the forest. These were the tales he loved
to hear best of all. Very often when his
father went out into the forest to hunt the
boy would beg to remain at home with his
mother. While his father was away she
would sit on the ground before their hut and
unfold to the boy all her memories of their
“Father,” said the lad one day after his
father had returned from his hunting trip,
“I am tired of living here in the forest all
by ourselves. Let us return to the city to
“Your mother has been telling tales to
you,” replied his father. “I will see to it
that she never mentions the city to you
again. We left the city to save our lives.
Let me never hear from you another word
about returning to the city.”
After that the lad was made to accompany
his father when he went out hunting. There
was no more opportunity to hear the tales
he loved from his mother’s lips. Nevertheless
he hid away in his mind all that his
mother had told him of their old life; and
at night, when the fierce storms in the forest
or the sound of the wild beasts would not
let him sleep, he often lay awake upon his
mat on the floor of the hut, pondering over
the stories she had told.
At last the father grew sick of a fever and
died. Now that the lad and his mother were
left alone in the forest the lad said, “Come,
let us return to our home in the city. Let
us not stay here alone in the forest any
longer. I must live in my own life the tales
you have told me of the festas and the dancing,
the great tournaments, and the songs
at night under the balconies of the fair
The lad’s request was so urgent that his
mother could not have refused him, even if
she, in her own heart, was not longing for
a return to the life of the city. Accordingly,
they took all their possessions, which consisted
only of a horse and a sword, and set out
for the city.
The lad and his mother reached the city at
nightfall. They went from one street to
another, but saw no living being. They
knocked and clapped their hands before all
the doors of the city, but no one responded.
At last they reached the street where their
old home had been. The lad was delighted
to see what a big handsome house it was.
“No wonder my mother longed to return to a
home like this,” he thought. “How could
she ever have endured the rude hut in the
depths of the forest?”
The doors of the beautiful house stood
wide open. The lad and his mother entered,
and passed from one room to another.
His mother saw one room after another with
everything unchanged. She recognized one
object after another just as she had left it.
There was one room in the house which was
securely barred on the inside, however.
The lad and his mother spent the night in
their old home. In the morning they again
walked about the deserted streets of the city.
They saw no one and heard no living sound.
It was like a city of the dead. They grew
hungry at length; and the lad went outside
the city to seek for food in the forest, according
to the custom which he had known all his
The mother returned to her old home to
await the coming of her son. As soon as she
went upstairs she saw that the barred door
was wide open. There in the hall stood
the most enormous giant she had ever seen.
The great halls of the house were high, but
the giant could not stand up in them without
“Who are you and what are you doing in
my house?” roared the giant in such a terrible
voice that the house trembled.
The woman who had lived so many years
in the forest was not easily frightened.
“Who are you and what are you doing in my
house?” she shouted at the giant in the loudest
tones she could muster.
One might have expected that the giant
would have killed her instantly, but on the
contrary her bold answer pleased him exceedingly.
He laughed so hard that he had to
lean against the wall to keep from falling.
“So you think that this is your house, do
you?” said the giant as soon as he could regain
his voice. “Well, I’ll tell you what
we can do. I like you, and we can share this
house if you will consent to be my wife.”
“I am not alone,” said the lad’s mother as
soon as she could recover from her surprise
sufficiently to find words. “My son is with
me and I am expecting him any moment to
return from the forest whither he has gone
to procure food for us.”
“I can dispose of your son very quickly,
just as I have destroyed all the inhabitants
of this city,” said the giant with a frown.
“You cannot dispose of my son so easily
as you may think,” replied his mother.
“He has grown in the deep forest and is very
strong, far stronger than the city dwellers.
Besides his great strength, he is surrounded
by the magic circle of his mother’s love.”
“I do not know what the magic circle of
a mother’s love is like,” said the giant. “I
don’t remember having seen one anywhere.
Nevertheless I like you, and because I like
you I will endeavour to dispose of your son
as painlessly as possible. I believe you say
you are expecting him any moment. Just
lie down here and pretend that you are sick.
When the boy comes in tell him that you
have a terrible pain in your eyes. As you
have lived long in the forest you will know
that the best remedy for a pain in your eyes
is the oil of the deadly cobra of the jungle.
Send the lad out into the jungle to obtain
this oil for you, and I promise you he will
never return alive. I’ll go back into my
room and bar the door so the boy will never
see me, but I shall listen through the wall to
know whether you carry out my command.”
At that very moment they heard the lad’s
footsteps and his gay voice at the door.
The giant went inside his room and barred
the door. The lad’s mother lay down with a
cloth over her eyes, moaning in loud tones.
“The giant little knows the strength and
skill of the lad whose mother I am,” she said
to herself as she smiled amidst her moans and
“O dear little mother, what evil has befallen
you during my absence?” asked the
boy as he entered the room.
His mother complained of the pain in her
eyes just as the giant had instructed. “The
only thing which will cure me of this terrible
affliction is the oil of the cobra,” she said.
The boy well knew the dangers which attended
securing the oil from the deadly
cobra of the jungle, but never in his life had
he disregarded a request from his mother.
He at once set out for the jungle; and, in
spite of the perils of the deed, he succeeded
in obtaining the oil which his mother had requested.
On the way back to the city, the boy met a
little old woman carrying a pole over her
shoulder from which there hung, head downward,
several live fowls which she was taking
to market. It was really the Holy
Mother herself who had come to aid the lad
in answer to his mother’s prayer.
“Where are you going, my lad?” asked the
old woman. The boy told his story and
showed the precious oil which he had obtained
from the cobra. “The day is coming,
the day is coming, my lad, when you
will, in truth, need the cobra’s oil,” said the
little old woman. “But that day is not today.
Today hen’s oil will serve your purpose
just as well. You may kill one of my
hens and use the hen’s oil, but leave the
cobra’s oil with me so that I may keep it
safely for you until the day when you will
The boy heeded the advice of the little
old woman and killed one of her hens. He
left the cobra’s oil with her and took the hen’s
oil in its place to his mother. Because his
mother had nothing at all the matter with
her eyes, the hen’s oil cured them just as well
as the cobra’s oil. There was no one who
knew the difference, except the boy and the
little old woman.
When the boy had gone out the giant came
in from his own room and said, “In truth
your son is a brave lad. I did not dream
that he would have the courage to go in
search of the oil of the deadly cobra, much
less succeed in his quest.”
“You do not know the great love we bear
each other,” said the lad’s mother.
“I am going to demand a new proof of
your son’s strength and skill,” said the giant.
“Tomorrow you must complain of the pain
in your back and send the boy in search of
the oil of the porcupine to cure it. This is
The next day the woman had to complain
of a pain in her back just as the giant had
commanded. There was nothing else which
she could do. The boy at once went in
search of a porcupine, and succeeded in slaying
one and getting the oil.
On his way back to the city the lad again
met the little old woman who was really
Nossa Senhora. “Leave the oil of the porcupine
with me, my son,” said she when she
had heard his story. “I will keep it for you
until the morrow when you will have great
need of it. Today hen’s oil will serve your
purpose just as well.”
Because the boy’s mother had nothing at
all the matter with her back she was cured
with the hen’s oil which the boy brought,
just as easily as if it had been the porcupine’s
oil. The giant came out of his room and
said, “In truth, lad, you are a boy of great
skill and strength.”
The boy had not seen the giant before and
he was very much surprised. Before he
even had time to recover from his amazement
the giant had seized him and bound
him securely with a great rope. “If you are
really a strong boy you will break this rope,”
said the giant. “If you are not strong
enough to break it I shall cut you into five
pieces with my sword.”
The boy struggled with all his might to
break the great rope. It was no use. He
was not strong enough. The giant stood by
When the lad’s mother saw that he could
not break the rope she fell upon her knees
before the giant and cried, “Do what you
will to me, but spare my son!”
The cruel giant laughed at her request.
When she saw that she could not keep him
from slaying the boy, she said, “If you will
not grant my large request I beg that you
will listen to just a tiny, tiny, little one.
When you cut my son into five pieces do it
with his father’s sword which he has brought
with him from the little hut in the forest
where we used to live. Then bind his body
upon the back of his father’s horse which he
brought with him out of the forest and turn
the horse loose, so it may travel, perchance,
back to the forest from which I brought my
lad to meet this terrible death.”
The giant did as she requested, and the
horse bore the slain boy’s body along the
road to the forest. Outside the city they
met the little old woman who was really
Nossa Senhora. She took the parts of the
lad’s body and anointed them with the porcupine’s
oil. Then she held them tight
together. They stayed securely joined.
“Are you lacking anything,” she asked the
The boy felt of his legs, his arms, his ears,
his nose, his hair. “I am all here except my
eyesight,” he said. The little old woman
anointed his eyes with the cobra’s oil. His
sight was immediately restored. Then he
knew that the little old woman was indeed
the Holy Mother. She vanished as he knelt
to receive her blessing.
The boy in his new strength quickly
hastened back to the city. It was night and
the giant was asleep. He seized his father’s
sword and plunged it into the giant’s body.
The giant turned over without awakening.
“The mosquitoes are biting me,” he muttered
in his sleep.
The boy saw the giant’s own enormous
sword lying on the floor. It was so heavy
he could barely lift it, but mustering all his
strength he drove it into the giant’s body.
The giant died immediately.
“The magic circle of a mother’s love, with
the Holy Mother’s help, will guard a lad
against all perils,” said the boy’s mother
when she heard her son’s story and saw the
giant lying dead.
HOW THE GIANTESS GUIMARA BECAME SMALL
Return to Contents
Once upon a time a prince called
D. Joaõ went hunting with a
number of companions. In the
deep forest he became separated from his
comrades and soon found out that he was
lost. He wandered about for a long time,
and at last he spied what looked like a mountain
range in the distance. He journeyed
toward it as fast as he could travel, and
when he got near to it he was surprised to
find out that it was really a high wall. It
was the great wall which bounds the land of
the giants. The ruler of the country was
an enormous giant whose head reached almost
to the clouds. The giant’s wife was
nearly as enormous as he was, and their only
child was as tall as her mother. Her name
When the giant saw D. Joaõ he called
out, “O, little man, what are you doing
down there?” D. Joaõ narrated his adventures
to the giant, and the giant said, “Your
story of your wanderings interests me. It
is not often that little men like you pass this
way. If you like you may live in my palace
and be my servant.” D. Joaõ accepted the
giant’s offer and stayed at the palace.
The giant’s daughter Guimara was very
much pleased with D. Joaõ. He was the
first little man she had ever seen. She fell
deeply in love with him. Her father, however,
was very much disgusted at her lack of
good taste. He preferred to have a giant
for a son-in-law. Accordingly he thought
of a plot to get D. Joaõ into trouble.
The next day he sent for D. Joaõ to appear
before him. “O little man,” he said
to him, “they tell me that you are very proud
of yourself and that you are boasting among
my servants that you are able to tear down
my palace in a single night and set it up
again as quickly as you tore it down.”
“I never have made any such boast, your
majesty,” replied D. Joaõ.
He went to Guimara and told her about
it. “I am an enchantress,” said Guimara.
“Leave it to me and we will surprise my
The very next night Guimara and D.
Joaõ tore down the giant’s palace and set it
up again exactly as it was before. The
giant was greatly surprised. He suspected
that his daughter had meddled with the affair.
The next day he sent for D. Joaõ and said
to him, “O little man, they tell me that
you say that in a single night you are able
to change the Isle of Wild Beasts into a
beautiful garden full of all sorts of flowers
and with a silvery fountain in the centre.”
“I never said any such thing, your majesty,”
replied D. Joaõ.
He told Guimara about it and she said
that it would be great fun to escape from her
room that night and make over the Isle of
the Wild Beasts into a lovely garden.
Accordingly Guimara worked hard all
night long helping D. Joaõ to make the Isle
of the Wild Beasts over into a garden full of
all sorts of beautiful flowers and with a
silvery fountain in the centre. The king
was greatly surprised to see the garden in the
morning and he was very angry at Guimara
and D. Joaõ.
Guimara was so frightened at her father’s
terrible wrath that she decided to run away
with D. Joaõ. She counselled him to procure
the best horse from her father’s stable
for them to ride.
At midnight Guimara crept out of her
room and ran to the place where D. Joaõ
was waiting for her with the horse, which
travelled one hundred leagues at each step.
They mounted the horse and rode away.
Early the next morning the princess Guimara
was missed from the royal palace.
Soon it was discovered that D. Joaõ was
gone too, and also the best horse from the
stables. The giant talked over the matter
with his wife. She told him to take another
horse which could travel a hundred leagues
a step and go after them as fast as he
could. The giant followed his wife’s advice,
and soon he had nearly caught up with
the fugitives, for they had grown tired and
had stopped to rest.
Guimara spied her father coming and
turned herself into a little river. She
turned D. Joaõ into an old negro, the horse
into a tree, the saddle into a bed of onions,
and the musket they carried into a butterfly.
When the giant came to the river he called
out to the old negro who was taking a bath,
“O, my old negro, have you seen anything of
a little man accompanied by a handsome
The old negro did not say a single word to
him, but dived into the water. When he
came out he called the giant’s attention to
the bed of onions. “I planted these onions,”
he said. “Aren’t they a good crop?”
The bed of onions smelled so strong that
the giant did not like to stay near them.
The butterfly flew at the giant’s eyes and
almost into them. He was disgusted and
went home to talk it over with his wife.
“How silly you were,” said the giant’s
wife. “Don’t you see that Guimara had
changed herself into a river and had changed
D. Joaõ into an old negro, the horse into a
tree, the saddle into a bed of onions, and the
musket into a butterfly? Hurry after them
The giant again went in pursuit, promising
his wife that next time he would not let
Guimara play any tricks on him. The next
time that Guimara saw her father coming
she thought of a new plan. She changed
herself into a church. She turned D. Joaõ
into a padre, the horse into a bell, the saddle
into an altar and the musket into a mass-book.
When the giant approached the church
he was completely deceived. “O, holy
padre,” he said to the priest, “have you seen
anything of a little man, accompanied by a
handsome young woman, passing this way?”
The padre went on with his mass and said:
“I am a hermit padre
Devoted to the Immaculate;
I do not hear what you say.
The giant could get no other response
from him. At last he gave up in despair and
went home to talk things over with his wife.
“Of all stupid fools you are the most
stupid of all,” said his wife when she had
heard the tale. “Don’t you see that Guimara
has changed herself into a church, D.
Joaõ into a priest, the horse into a bell, the
saddle into the altar, and the musket into the
mass-book? Hurry after them again as fast
as you can. I am going with you, myself,
this time, to see that Guimara does not play
any more tricks on you.”
This time the fugitives had travelled far
when Guimara’s parents overtook them.
They had almost reached D. Joaõ’s own
kingdom. Guimara threw a handful of dust
into her parents’ eyes, and it became so dark
that they could not see. Guimara and D.
Joaõ escaped safely into his own kingdom.
When they had started out on the journey,
Guimara had said, “O, D. Joaõ, whatever
happens, don’t forget me for one single minute.
Think of me all the time.” He had
promised and he had remembered her every
instant on the journey. However, when
they reached his own kingdom, he was so
happy to see home once more after all his adventures
that he thought he had never before
been so happy in all his life. After one has
been living in Giantland it is very pleasant
to get home where things are a few sizes
smaller and a bit more convenient. Then,
too, it was very pleasant for him to see
all his friends again. He was so happy at
being home that, just for one little minute,
he forgot all about Guimara.
When D. Joaõ remembered Guimara he
turned around to look at her. When he saw
her he could hardly believe his eyes. Instead
of being a tall, tall giantess with her
head up in the clouds, she reached just to D.
Joaõ’s own shoulder. D. Joaõ was so surprised
that he had to sit down in a chair and
be fanned. He couldn’t say a single word
for eighteen minutes and a half—his breath
had been so completely taken away.
“It is a good thing that you happened to
think of me just as soon as you did,” remarked
Guimara. “I was getting smaller
and smaller. If you had neglected to think
of me for another minute I should have
faded away entirely and you would have
never known what had become of me.”
When Guimara became small she lost her
power as an enchantress entirely. Her
lovely eyes were always a trifle sad because
D. Joaõ had forgotten her that one little
minute. She never went back to Giantland
but reigned as queen of D. Joaõ’s kingdom
for many years.
THE ADVENTURES OF A FISHERMAN’S SON
Return to Contents
Long ago there was a man and
woman who lived in a little mud
hut under the palm trees on the
river bank. They had so many children
they did not know what to do. The little
hut was altogether too crowded. The man
had to work early and late to find food
enough to feed so many. One day the
seventh son said to his father, “O, father, I
found a little puppy yesterday when I was
playing on the bank of the river. Please let
me bring it home to keep. I have always
The father consented sadly. He did not
know how to find food for the children, and
an extra puppy to feed seemed an added
burden. He went to the river bank to fish
that day with a heavy heart. He cast his
net in vain. He did not catch a single fish.
He cast his net from the other side with no
better luck. He did not catch even one little
Suddenly he heard a voice which seemed
to come from the river bed itself, it was so
deep. This is what it said: “If you will
give me whatever new you find in your house
when you go home I will give you fisherman’s
luck. You will catch all the fish you wish.”
The man remembered the request which
his seventh son had made that morning.
“The new thing I’ll find in my house when I
get home will be that puppy,” said the man
to himself. “This will be a splendid way to
get rid of the puppy which I did not want to
Accordingly the man consented to the request
which came from the strange voice in
the depths of the river. “You must seal
this covenant with your blood,” said the
The man cut his finger a tiny bit with
his sharp knife and squeezed a few drops
of blood from the wound into the river. “If
you break this vow the curse of the river
giant will be upon you and your children
for ever and ever,” said the deep voice
The fisherman cast his net where the river
giant commanded, and immediately it was
so full of fish that the man could hardly draw
it out of the water. Three times he drew out
his net, so full that it was in danger of breaking.
“Truly this was a fortunate bit of
business,” said the man. “Here I have fish
enough to feed my family and all I can sell
As the fisherman approached his house
with his enormous catch of fish one of the
children came running to meet him. “O
father, guess what we have at our house
which we did not have when you went
away,” said the child.
“A new puppy,” replied her father.
“O no, father,” replied the child. “You
have not guessed right at all. It is a new
The poor fisherman burst into tears.
“What shall I do! What shall I do!” he
sobbed. “I dare not break my vow to the
The fisherman’s wife was heartbroken
when she heard about the business which her
husband had transacted with the river giant.
However she could think of no way to
escape from keeping the contract which he
had made. She kissed the tiny babe good-bye
and gave it her blessing. Then the
fisherman took it down to the river bank and
threw it into the river at the exact spot from
which the deep voice had come.
There in the depths of the river the river
giant was waiting to receive the new born
babe. He took the little one into his palace
of gold and silver and mother-of-pearl with
ornaments of diamonds, and there the baby
received excellent care.
Time passed and the little boy grew into a
big boy. At last he was fifteen years old
and a handsome lad indeed, tall and straight,
with eyes which were dark and deep like the
river itself, and hair as dark as the shades
in the depths of the river. All his life he
had been surrounded with every luxury, but
he had never seen a single person. He had
never seen even the river giant. All he
knew of him was his deep voice which gave
orders in the palace.
One day the voice of the river giant said,
“I have to go away on a long journey. I
will leave with you all the keys to all the
doors in the palace, but do not meddle with
anything. If you do you must forfeit your
Many days passed and the lad did not
hear the voice of the river giant. He missed
its sound in the palace. It was very still
and very lonely. At last at the end of fifteen
days he took one of the keys which the
river giant had left and opened the door
which it fitted. The door led into a room
in the palace where the boy had never been.
Inside the room was a huge lion. The lion
was fat and well nourished, but there was
nothing for it to eat except hay. The boy
did not meddle with anything and shut the
Another fifteen days passed by, and again
the lad took one of the keys. He opened
another door in the palace which he had
never entered. Inside the room he found
three horses, one black, one white, and one
chestnut. There was nothing in the room
for the horses to eat except meat, but in spite
of it they were fat and well nourished. The
boy did not touch anything and when he
went out he shut the door.
At the end of another fifteen days all
alone without even the voice of the river
giant for company, the lad tried another key
in another door. This room opened into a
room full of armour. There were daggers
and knives and swords and muskets and all
sorts of armour which the boy had never seen
and did not know anything about. He was
very much interested in what he saw, but he
did not meddle with anything.
The next day he opened the room again
where the horses were kept. This time one
of the horses,—the black one,—spoke to him
and said, “We like hay to eat very much better
than this meat which was left to us by
mistake. The lion must have our hay.
Please give this meat to the lion and bring us
back our hay. If you will do this as I ask
I’ll serve you for ever and ever.”
The boy took the meat to the lion. The
lion was very much pleased to exchange the
hay for it. The lad then took the hay to the
horses. All at once he remembered how he
had been told not to meddle with anything.
This had been meddling. The boy burst
into tears. “I shall lose my life as the punishment
for this deed,” he sobbed.
The horses listened in amazement. “I
got you into this trouble,” said the black
horse. “Now I’ll get you out. Just trust
me to find a way out.”
The black horse advised the boy to take
some extra clothes and a sword and musket
and mount upon his back. “I have lived
here in the depths of the river so long that
my speed is greater than that of the river
itself,” said the horse. “If there was any
doubt of it before, now that I have had some
hay once more I am sure I can run faster than
any river in the world.”
It was true. When the river giant came
back home and found that the boy had meddled
he ran as fast as he could in pursuit of
the lad. The black horse safely and surely
carried the lad beyond his reach.
The black horse and his rider travelled on
and on until finally they came to a kingdom
which was ruled over by a king who had
three beautiful daughters. The lad at once
applied for a position in the service of this
king. “I do not know what you can do,”
said the king. “You have such soft white
hands. Perhaps you may serve to carry
bouquets of flowers from my garden every
morning to my three daughters.”
The lad had eyes which were dark and
deep like the depths of the river, and when
he carried bouquets of flowers from the garden
to the king’s daughters the youngest
princess fell in love with him at once. Her
two sisters laughed at her. “I don’t care
what you say,” said the youngest princess.
“He is far handsomer than any of the princes
who have ever sung of love beneath our
That very night two princes from neighbouring
kingdoms came to sing in the palace
garden beneath the balcony of the three
princesses. The two oldest daughters of the
king were proud and haughty, but the youngest
princess had love in her heart and love in
her eyes. For this reason she was one whom
all the princes admired most.
The lad from the river listened to their
songs. “I wish I looked like these two
princes and knew songs like theirs,” said he.
Just then he caught sight of his own reflection
in the fountain in the garden. He saw
that he looked quite as well as they. “I too
will sing a song before the balcony of the
princesses,” he decided.
He did not know that he could sing, but
in truth his voice had in it all the music of
the rushing of the river. When he sang
even the two rival musicians stopped to listen
to his song. The two older princesses
did not know who was singing, but the
youngest princess recognized him at once.
The next day a great tournament took
place. The lad from the river had never
seen a tournament, but after he had watched
it for a moment he decided to enter. He
went to get the black horse which had carried
him out of the depths of the river and the
arms he had brought with him from the
palace of the river giant. With such a horse
and such arms he carried off all the honours
of the tournament. Every one at the tournament
wondered who the strange cavalheiro
could be. No one recognized him except the
youngest princess. She knew who it was the
moment she saw him and gave him her ribbon
The next day all the cavalheiros who had
taken part in the tournament set out to slay
the wild beast which often came out of the
jungle to attack the city. It was the lad
from the river who killed the beast, as all the
cavalheiros knew. When they returned to
the palace with the news that the beast had
been slain, the king said, “Tomorrow night
we will hold the greatest festa which this
palace has ever witnessed. Tomorrow let
all the cavalheiros who are here assembled
go forth to hunt for birds to grace our table.”
The next day the cavalheiros went out to
hunt the birds, and it was the lad from the
river who succeeded in slaying the birds.
None of the other cavalheiros were at all successful.
The two neighbouring princes who
were suitors for the hand of the youngest
princess made a contract. “We cannot let
this stranger carry off all the honours,” said
one to the other. “You say that you killed
the beast, and I will say that it was I who
killed the birds.”
That night at the festa one prince stood
up before the king and told his story of slaying
the beast, and the other prince stood up
and told how he had killed the birds. The
other cavalheiros knew that it was false, but
when they looked around for the cavalheiro
who had done the valiant deeds they could
not find him. The lad from the river had
on his old clothes which he wore as a servant
in the garden and stood at the lower part of
the banquet hall among the servants.
When the king had heard the stories of the
two princes he was greatly pleased with what
they had done. “The one who killed the
beast shall have a princess for a bride,” said
he, “and the one who killed the birds he too
shall have a princess for his bride.”
The youngest princess saw the lad from
the river standing among the servants and
smiled into his eyes. The lad came and
threw himself before the king. “O my
king,” said he, “these stories to which you
have listened are false, as all these assembled
cavalheiros will prove. It is I who killed
the beast and all the birds. I claim a princess
as my bride.”
All the assembled cavalheiros recognized
the lad in spite of his changed appearance
in his gardening clothes. “Viva!” they
shouted. “He speaks the truth. He is the
valiant one of us who killed the beast and the
birds. To him belongs the reward.”
The youngest princess had a heart filled
with joy. The wedding feast was celebrated
the very next day. The river giant
found out about it and sent a necklace of
pearls and diamonds as a wedding gift to the
bride of the lad whom he had brought up in
his palace. The fisherman and his wife,
however, never knew the great good fortune
which had come to their son.
THE BEAST SLAYER
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Once upon a time there was a man
and his wife who were very poor.
The man earned his living making
wooden bowls and platters to sell and
worked early and late, but wooden bowls
and platters were so very cheap that he could
barely support his family no matter how hard
he worked. The man and his wife were the
parents of three lovely daughters. They
were all exceedingly beautiful, and the man
and his wife often lamented the fact that
they did not have money enough to educate
them and clothe them fittingly.
One day there came to the door of the poor
man’s house a handsome young man mounted
on a beautiful horse. He asked to buy one
of the poor man’s daughters. The father
was very much shocked at this request. “I
may be poor,” said he, “but I am not so poor
that I have to sell my children.”
The young man, however, threatened to
kill him if he refused to do his bidding; so
finally, after a short struggle, the father consented
to part with his eldest daughter. He
received a great sum of money in return.
The father was now a rich man and did
not wish to make bowls and platters any
longer. His wife, however, urged him to
keep on with his former occupation. Accordingly
he went on with his work. The
very next day there came to his door another
young man, even handsomer than the other,
mounted upon even a finer horse. This
young man made the same request that the
other had done. He wanted to buy one of
The father burst into tears and told all the
dreadful happenings of the day before.
The young man, however, showed no pity
and continued to demand one of the daughters.
He made fearful threats if the man
would not yield to his request, and the father
became so frightened that he at length parted
with his second daughter. The first young
man had paid a great sum of money, but this
one paid even more.
Though he was now very rich the father
still went on making bowls and platters to
please his wife. The next day when he was
at work the handsomest young man he had
ever seen appeared riding upon a most beautiful
steed. This young man demanded the
third daughter. The poor father had to
yield just as before, though it nearly broke
his heart to part with his only remaining
child. The price which the young man paid
was so very great that the family was now as
rich as it had once been poor.
Their home was not childless very long,
for soon a baby son came to them. They
brought up the boy in great luxury. One
day when the child was at school he quarrelled
with one of his playmates. This
taunt was thrown in his face: “Ah, ha!
You think your father was always rich, do
you? He is a rich man now, it is true, but
it is because he sold your three sisters.” The
words made the boy sad, but he said nothing
about the matter at home. He hid it away
in his mind until he had become a man.
Then he went to his father and mother and
demanded that they should tell him all
His parents told the young man the whole
story of the strange experiences through
which they had obtained their wealth. “I
am now a man,” said the son. “I feel that
it is right that I should go out into the world
in search of my sisters. Perhaps I might be
able to find them and aid them in some way.
Give me your blessing and allow me to go.”
His father and mother gave him their
blessing, and the young man started out to
make a search through all the world. Soon
he came to a house where there were three
brothers quarrelling over a boot, a cap, and
a key. “What is the matter?” asked the
young man. “Why are these things so
valuable that you should quarrel over
The brothers replied that if one said to
the boot, “O Boot, put me somewhere,” the
boot would immediately put him anywhere
he wished to go. If one said to the cap, “O
Cap, hide me,” immediately the cap would
hide him so he could not be seen. The key
could unlock any door in the whole world.
The young man at once wanted to own these
things himself, and he offered so much money
for them that at last the three brothers decided
to end their quarrel by selling the boot,
the cap, and the key and dividing the money.
The young man put the three treasures in
his saddle bag and went on his way. As soon
as he was out of sight of the house he said to
the boot, “O Boot, put me in the house of my
Immediately the young man found himself
in the most magnificent palace he had ever
seen in his life. He asked to speak with his
sister, but the queen of the palace replied
that she had no brother and did not wish to
be bothered with the stranger. It took much
urging for the young man to gain permission
from her to relate his story; but, when she
had once heard it, everything sounded so
logical that she decided to receive him as her
brother. She asked how he had ever found
her home, and how he had come through the
thicket which surrounded her palace. The
young man told her about his magic boot.
In the afternoon the queen suddenly burst
into tears. Her brother asked what the
trouble was. “O dear! O dear! What
shall we do! What shall we do!” sobbed
the queen. “My husband is King of the
Fishes. When he comes home to dinner tonight
he will be very angry to find a human
in his palace.” The young man told her
about his magic cap and comforted her fears.
Soon the King of Fishes arrived, accompanied
by all his retinue. He came into the
palace in a very bad temper, giving kicks
and blows to everything which came in his
way, and saying in a fierce, savage voice,
“Lee, low, lee, leer, I smell the blood of a
human, here. I smell the blood of a human,
It took much persuasion on the part of the
queen to get him to take a bath. After his
bath he appeared in the form of a handsome
man. He then ate his dinner, and when he
had nearly finished the meal his wife said to
him, “If you should see my brother here what
would you do to him?”
“I would be kind to him, of course, just as
I am to you,” responded the King of the
Fishes. “If he is here let him appear.”
The young man then took off the magic
cap by which he had hidden himself. The
king treated him most kindly and courteously.
He invited him to live for the rest
of his life in the palace. The young man
declined the invitation, saying that he had
two other sisters to visit. He took his departure
soon, and when he went away his
brother-in-law gave him a scale with these
words: “If you are ever in any danger in
which I can help you, take this scale and say,
‘Help me, O King of the Fishes.’”
The young man put the scale in his saddle
bag. Then he took out his magic boot and
said, “O Boot, put me in the home of my second
sister.” He found his second sister
queen of even a more wonderful palace than
his eldest sister. Her husband was King of
Rams and treated the newly found brother of
his queen with great consideration. When
the young man had finished his visit there
the King of Rams gave him a piece of wool
saying, “If you are ever in any peril in which
I can help you pull this wool and ask help
of the King of Rams.”
With the aid of his magic boot the young
man went to visit the home of his youngest
sister. He found her in the most magnificent
palace of them all. Her husband was
King of Pigeons. When the young man departed
he gave him a feather telling him if
he was ever in any danger that all he had to
do was to pull the feather and say, “Help
me, O King of the Pigeons.”
All three of the young man’s brothers-in-law
had admired the power of his magic boot
and they had all advised him to visit the land
of the King of Giants by means of it. After
having left each of his three sisters full of
happiness in her costly palace he felt free to
act upon this advice, so by means of his magic
boot he again found himself in a new
He soon heard on the street that the King
of the land of Giants had a beautiful
giantess daughter whom he wished to give
in marriage if she could be persuaded to
choose a husband. She was such a famous
beauty that no one could pass before her
palace without eagerly gazing up in hopes of
seeing her lovely face at the window. The
giant princess had grown weary of being the
object of so much attention, and she had
made a vow that she would marry no one except
a man who could pass before her without
lifting his eyes.
The young man became interested when
he heard this and at once rode past the palace
with his eyes fixed steadily on the ground.
He did not give a single glance upward in
the direction of the window where the beautiful
giant princess was watching him. The
princess was overcome with joy at the sight
of the handsome stranger who appeared as
if in response to her vow. The king summoned
him to the palace at once and ordered
that the wedding should be celebrated immediately.
After the wedding the giant princess soon
found out that her husband carried his choicest
treasures in his saddle bags. She inquired
their significance and her husband
told her all about them. She was especially
interested in the key. She said that there
was a room in the palace which was never
opened. In this room there was a fierce
beast which always came to life again whenever
it was killed. The giant princess had
always been anxious to see the beast with her
own eyes, and she suggested that they should
use the key to unlock the door of the forbidden
room and take a peep at the beast.
Her husband, however, gave her no encouragement
to do this. He decided that it
was too risky a bit of amusement; but one
day when he had gone hunting with the king
and court the princess was overjoyed to find
that the magic key had been left behind.
She at once picked it up and opened the forbidden
door. The beast gave a great leap,
roaring out at her, “You are the very one I
have sought,” as he seized her with his sharp
When her husband and father returned
from their hunting trip they were very much
worried to find that the princess had disappeared.
No one knew where she was.
After searching through the palace and garden
all in vain they went to the place where
the beast was always kept. The prince
recognized his magic key in the door, but the
room was empty. The beast had fled with
the giant princess.
Once more the young man made use of his
magic boot and soon was by the side of the
princess. The beast had hidden her in a
cave by the sea and had gone away in search
of food. The giant princess was delighted
to find her husband whom she had never expected
to see again and wanted to hasten
away from the cave with him at once.
“You have got yourself into this affair,”
said her husband. “I can get you out again,
I think, but I believe that it is your duty to
at least make an effort to take the beast’s
life. Perhaps when he comes back to the
cave you can extract from him the secret of
his charmed life.”
The princess awaited the return of the
beast. Then she asked him to tell her the
secret of his charmed life. The beast was
very much flattered to have the giant princess
so interested in him, and he told it to
her at once. He never thought of a plot.
This is what he said: “My life is in the sea.
In the sea there is a chest. In the chest there
is a stone. In the stone there is a pigeon.
In the pigeon there is an egg. In the egg
there is a candle. At the moment when that
candle is extinguished I die.”
All this time the prince had remained
there, hiding under his magic cap. He
heard every word the beast said. As soon
as the beast had gone to sleep the prince stood
on the seashore and said: “Help me, O
King of the Fishes,” as he took out the scale
which his brother-in-law had given him.
Immediately there appeared a great multitude
of fishes asking what he wished them to
do. He asked them to get the chest from the
depths of the sea. They replied that they
had never seen such a chest, but that probably
the sword-fish would know about it.
They hastened to call the sword-fish and
he came at once. He said that he had
seen the chest only a moment before. All
the fishes went with him to get it, and they
soon brought the chest out of the sea. The
prince opened the chest easily with the aid
of his magic key, and inside he found a stone.
Then the prince pulled the piece of wool
which his second brother-in-law had given
him and said, “Help me, O King of the
Rams.” Immediately there appeared a
great drove of rams, running to the seashore
from all directions. They attacked the
stone, giving it mighty blows with their hard
heads and horns. Soon they broke open the
stone, and from out of it there flew a pigeon.
The beast now awoke from his sleep and
knew that he was very ill. He remembered
all that he had told the princess and accused
her of having made a plot against his life.
He seized his great ax to kill the princess.
In the meantime the prince had pulled the
feather which his third brother-in-law had
given him and cried, “Help me, O King of
the Pigeons.” Immediately a great flock of
pigeons appeared attacking the pigeon and
tearing it to pieces.
Just as the beast had caught the princess
and was about to slay her, the prince took the
egg from within the slain pigeon. He at
once broke the egg and blew out the candle.
At that moment the beast fell dead, and the
princess escaped unharmed.
The prince carried the giant princess
home to her father’s kingdom and the king
made a great festa which lasted many days.
There was rejoicing throughout the whole
kingdom because of the death of the beast
and because of the safety of the lovely princess.
The prince was praised throughout
the kingdom and there is talk of him even
unto this very day.
The prince had cut off the head of the
great beast and the tip of its tail. The head
he had given to the king, but the tip of the
tail he kept for himself. The beast was so
enormous that just the tip of its tail made a
great ring large enough to encircle the
prince’s body. One day, just in fun, he
twined the tip of the beast’s tail around his
waist. He immediately grew and grew until
he became a giant himself, almost as tall
as the king of the land of giants, and several
leagues taller than the princess. It is not
strange that a man who became a giant
among giants should be famous even until
THE QUEST OF CLEVERNESS
Return to Contents
Once long ago there lived a king
who had a stupid son. His father
sent him to school for many years
hoping that he might learn something there.
His teachers all gave him up as hopelessly
stupid, and with one accord they said, “It is
no use trying to teach this lad out of books.
It is just a waste of our valuable time.”
At length the king called together all the
wisest men of his kingdom to consult with
them as to the best way to make the prince
wise and clever. They talked the matter
over for a year and a day. It was the unanimous
opinion of the wise men of the kingdom
that the lad should be sent on a journey
through many lands. In this way he might
learn many of the things which his teachers
had not been able to teach him out of books.
Accordingly the prince was equipped for
his journey. He was given fine raiment, a
splendid black horse upon which to ride, and
a great bag full of money. Thus prepared,
he started forth from the palace one bright
morning with the blessing of the king, his
father, and of all the wise men of the kingdom.
The prince journeyed through many lands.
In one country he learned one thing, and in
another country he learned another thing.
There was no country or kingdom so small
or poor that it did not have something to
teach the prince. And the prince, though he
had been so insufferably stupid at his books,
learned the lessons of his journey with an
After long wanderings the prince arrived
at a city where there was an auction going
on. A singing bird was being offered for
sale. “What is the special advantage of
this singing bird?” asked the prince.
“This bird, at the command of its owner,
will sing a song which will put to sleep any
one who listens to it,” was the reply.
The prince decided that the bird was worth
The next thing which was offered for sale
was a beetle. “What is the special advantage
of this beetle?” asked the prince.
“This beetle will gnaw its way through
any wall in the world,” was the reply.
The prince purchased the beetle.
Then a butterfly was offered for sale.
“What is the special advantage of owning
this butterfly?” asked the prince.
“This butterfly is strong enough to bear
upon its wings any weight which is put upon
them,” was the answer.
The prince bought the butterfly. With
his bird and beetle and butterfly he travelled
on and on until he became lost in the jungle.
The foliage was so dense that he could not
see his way, so he climbed to the top of the
tallest tree he saw. From its summit he
spied in the distance what looked like a
mountain; but, when he had journeyed near
to it, he saw that it was really the wall which
surrounds the land of the giants.
A great giant whose head reached to the
clouds stood on the wall as guard. A song
from the singing bird put this guard to sleep
immediately. The beetle soon had gnawed
an entrance through the wall. Through
this opening the prince entered the land of
The very first person whom the prince saw
in the land of the giants was a lovely captive
princess. The opening which the beetle had
made in the wall led directly to the dungeon
in which she was confined.
The prince had learned many things on
his journey, and among the lessons he had
learned was this one: “Always rescue a fair
maiden in distress.” He immediately asked
what he could do to rescue the beautiful captive
“You can never succeed in rescuing me, I
fear,” replied the princess. “At the door of
this palace there is a giant on guard who
“Never mind,” replied the prince. “I’ll
put him to sleep.”
Just at that moment the giant himself
strode into the dungeon. He had heard
voices there. “Sing, my little bird, sing,”
commanded the prince to his singing bird.
At the first burst of melody the giant went
to sleep there in the dungeon, though he had
never before taken a wink of sleep in all his
“This beetle of mine has gnawed an entrance
through the great wall which surrounds
the land of the giants,” said the
prince to the captive princess. “To escape
we’ll not have to climb the high wall.”
“What of the guard who stands on top of
the wall with his head reaching up to the
clouds?” asked the princess. “Will he not
“My singing bird has put him to sleep,
too,” replied the prince. “If we hurry out
he will not yet be awake.”
“I have been confined here in this dungeon
so long that I fear I have forgotten how to
walk,” said the princess.
“Never mind,” replied the prince. “My
butterfly will bear you upon his wings.”
With the lovely princess borne safely
upon the butterfly’s wings the prince swiftly
escaped from the land of the giants. The
giant on the wall yawned in his sleep as
they looked up at him. “He is good for
another hour’s nap,” remarked the prince.
The prince returned to his father’s kingdom
as soon as he could find the way back.
He took with him the lovely princess, and
the singing bird, and the gnawing beetle,
and the strong-winged butterfly.
His father and all the people of the kingdom
received him with great joy. “Never
again will the prince of our kingdom be
called stupid,” said the wise men when they
heard the account of his adventures. “With
his singing bird and his gnawing beetle and
his strong-winged butterfly he has become
the cleverest youth in the land.”
THE GIANT’S PUPIL
Return to Contents
Long years ago there lived a little
boy whose name was Manoel. His
father and mother were so very poor
that they could not afford to send him to
school. Because he did not go to school he
played all day in the fields on the edge of
the forest where the giant lived.
One day Manoel met the giant. The
giant lived all alone in the forest, so he was
very lonely and wished he had a little boy
like Manoel. He loved little Manoel as
soon as he saw him, and after that they were
together every day. The giant taught
Manoel all the secrets of the forests and
jungles. He taught him all the secrets of
the wind and the rain and the thunder and
the lightning. He taught him all the secrets
of the beasts and the birds and the serpents.
Manoel grew up a wise lad indeed. His
father and mother were very proud of him
and so was his kind teacher, the giant.
One day the king’s messenger rode up and
down the kingdom with a message from the
king’s daughter. The king’s daughter, the
beautiful princess of the land, had promised
to wed the man who could tell her a riddle
she could not guess. All the princes who
had sung of love beneath the palace window
had been very stupid. The princess wished
to marry a man who knew more than she did.
When Manoel heard the words of the messenger
he said to his father and mother, “I
am going to the palace to tell a riddle to the
princess. I am sure I can give her one which
she cannot guess.”
“You are an exceedingly clever lad, I
know, my son,” replied his mother, “but
there will be many princes and handsome
cavalheiros at the palace to tell riddles to
the princess. What if she will not listen to
a lad in shabby clothing!”
“I will make the princess listen to my
riddle,” replied Manoel.
“What riddle are you going to ask the
princess?” asked Manoel’s father.
“I do not know yet,” replied the lad. “I
will make up a riddle on the way to the
palace. I am going to start at once.”
The kind giant who had been the lad’s
friend gave him his blessing and wished him
luck. The lad’s mother prepared a lunch
for him to carry with him. His father sat
before the door and boasted to all the neighbours
that his son was going to wed the
king’s daughter. Manoel took his dog with
him when he went on his journey, because he
wanted some one for company.
Manoel journeyed on and on through the
forests and jungles and after a time he had
eaten all the lunch his mother had given him
when he went from home. When he became
hungry he spent his last vintem for some
bread from a little venda in the town he
passed through. He went on to the forest
to eat the bread, and before he tasted of it
himself he gave a piece to his dog. The dog
died immediately. The bread was poisoned.
Even as Manoel stood by weeping for his
faithful dog, three big black buzzards flew
down and devoured the dead beast. They
fell dead immediately. Just then the lad
heard voices, and soon he saw seven horsemen
approaching. The men were robbers,
and though they had much gold in their pockets
they had no food. “I am hungry enough
to eat a dead buzzard,” said the captain of
the robbers. The robbers greedily seized the
three buzzards and devoured them at once.
The seven men immediately died from the
“The buzzards stole the body of my dog, so
they became mine,” said Manoel. “The
seven robbers stole my three buzzards, so
they became mine, too.” He took all the
gold from the pockets of the seven robbers
and dressed himself in the garments of the
captain of the robbers because they were finest.
He mounted the horse of the captain of
the robbers because that was the best horse.
The lad rode on toward the palace of the
king. After a time he became thirsty and
pushed the horse into a gallop. The horse
became covered with sweat, and with the
horse’s sweat he quenched his thirst. Soon
he arrived at the royal palace.
Dressed in the robber’s fine garments and
mounted upon the robber’s fine horse,
Manoel had no difficulty in being admitted
to the palace. He was taken at once before
the princess to tell his riddle.
The princess saw in Manoel’s eyes all the
secrets of the forests and jungles which the
kind giant had taught him. “Here is a
youth who will tell me a riddle which will be
worth listening to,” said the princess to herself.
All the princes and cavalheiros from
all the neighbouring kingdoms had told her
such stupid riddles that she had been bored
nearly to death. She could always guess
the answers, even before she had heard the
end of the riddle.
This is the riddle which Manoel told the
“I went away from home with a pocket full;
Soon it became empty;
Again it became full.
I went away from home with a companion;
My pocket-full killed my companion;
My dead companion was the slayer of three;
The three killed seven.
From the seven I chose the best;
I drank water which did not fall from heaven.
And here I stand
Before the loveliest princess in the land.”
The princess listened to the riddle carefully.
Then she asked Manoel to say it all
over again. The princess thought and
thought, but she did not have a good guess
as to the answer to the riddle.
No one in all the palace could understand
Manoel’s riddle. “You have won my
daughter as your bride,” said the king, after
he had used all his royal wits to solve the
riddle and could not do it.
When Manoel explained his riddle to the
princess, she said, “Nossa Senhora herself
must have sent you to me. I never could
have endured a stupid husband.”
Return to Contents
Once upon a time there was a man
who was very poor. He was so
poor that he had to sell one thing
after another to get food to keep from
starving. After a while there was nothing
left except the cat. He was very fond of
his cat, and he said, “O, Cat, let come what
will, I’ll never part with you. I would
The cat replied, “O good master Domingo,
rest in peace. You will never
starve as long as you have me. I am going
out into the world to make a fortune for us
The cat went out into the jungle and dug
and dug. Every time he dug he turned up
silver pieces. The cat took a number of
these home to his master so that he could
purchase food. The rest of the pieces of
silver the cat carried to the king.
The next day the cat dug up pieces of
gold and carried them to the king. The
next day he carried pieces of diamonds.
“Where do you get these rich gifts? Who
is sending me such wonderful presents?”
asked the king.
The cat replied, “It is my master, Domingo.”
Now the king had a beautiful daughter.
He thought that this man Domingo must be
the richest man in the whole kingdom. He
decided that his daughter should marry him
at once. He made arrangements for the
wedding through the cat.
“I haven’t any clothes to wear at the wedding,”
said Domingo when the cat told him
that he was to marry the daughter of the
“Never mind about that. Just leave it
to me,” replied the cat.
The cat went to the king and said, “O
King, there has been a terrible fire in the
tailor shop where they were making the
wedding garments of my master, Domingo.
The tailor and all of his assistants were
burned to death, and the entire outfit of my
master Domingo was destroyed. Hasn’t
your majesty something which you could
lend him to wear at the wedding?” The
king sent the richest garments which his
wardrobe afforded. Domingo was clothed
in state ready for the wedding.
“I have no palace to which to take my
bride,” said Domingo to the cat.
“Never mind. I’ll see about it at once,”
replied the cat.
The cat went into the forest to the great
castle where the giant dwelt. He marched
straight up to the big giant and said, “O
Giant, I wish to borrow your castle for my
master Domingo. Will you not be so kind
as to lend it to me a little while?”
The giant was very much insulted. “No,
indeed, I’ll not lend my castle to you or
your master Domingo or anybody else,” he
shouted in his most terrible voice.
“Very well, then,” replied the cat. He
changed the giant to a piece of bacon in the
twinkling of an eye and devoured him on
The palace of the giant was a very wonderful
palace. There was one room decked
with silver, and one room decked with gold,
and one room decked with diamonds. A
beautiful river flowed by the garden gate.
As Domingo and his bride sailed down the
river to the garden gate in the royal barge,
they saw the cat sitting in the window singing.
After that they never saw him again.
He disappeared in the jungle and went to
make some other poor man rich. Perhaps
he will come your way some day. Who
knows? “Quem sabe?” they say in Brazil.
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