The Project Gutenberg eBook, Tales of Giants from Brazil, by Elsie Spicer Eells, Illustrated by Helen M. Barton

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Title: Tales of Giants from Brazil

Author: Elsie Spicer Eells

Release Date: June 4, 2007 [eBook #21678]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1



E-text prepared by Barbara Tozier, Bill Tozier,
and the
Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team



A woman stands with her hands outstreached towards a river.


Author of “Fairy Tales from Brazil”


Publisher's device



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.



  1. The Princess of the Springs
  2. The Fountain of Giant Land
  3. The Boy and the Violin
  4. The Most Beautiful Princess
  5. The Little Sister of the Giants
  6. The Forest Lad and the Wicked Giant
  7. How the Giantess Guimara Became Small
  8. The Adventures of a Fisherman’s Son
  9. The Beast Slayer
  10. The Quest of Cleverness
  11. The Giant’s Pupil
  12. Domingo’s Cat




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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 home.

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 mother?”

She called to the shells of the shore, “O shells of the shore, have you seen my precious mother?”

There was no answer. No one knew what had become of the Giantess of the Great River.

The Spring Princess was so worried that she thought her heart would break in its anguish. In her distress she ran over all the earth.

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 once.”

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 son.

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.


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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 is asleep.”

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 story.

“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 be restored.”

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 aid.”

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.

A young man tends a small tree

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 fair maidens.

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 of Giantland.

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 him.

“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 older brothers.

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 them.

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 princess.

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 fisherman.

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 the fisherman.

“He is indeed a prince,” cried the courtiers, “and the bravest, most faithful prince which any land in all the world ever boasted of.”

“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.


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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 world.

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 violin.

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 dance, too.

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 chattered less.

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, and monkeys.

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 procession.

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 earth.

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 laugh.”

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.


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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 you instead!”

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 father’s side.

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 out.”

A young man climbs from a box and sees a young woman.

“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 world.”

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 beautiful.”

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 fish now.”

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 to safety.”

“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 at night.”

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 stand.

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 clothes.

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.


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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 peerless.

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 man.

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 giant.

“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 place.

“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 entranced them.

“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 giant.

“Who will keep house for us now that our dear little sister is dead?” asked the littlest giant.

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 water.

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 immediately.

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.


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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 no one.

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 old life.

“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 live.”

“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 maidens.”

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 life.

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 stooping.

A woman confronts a giant who reaches the ceiling. She is about his knee height.

“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 groans.

“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 require it.”

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 my command.”

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 laughing.

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 boy.

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.


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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 was Guimara.

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.

A seated young woman regards a young man who is less than half her size.

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 father.”

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 young woman?”

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 at once.”

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.

Dominus vobiscum.

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.


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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 wanted one.”

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 piabinha.

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 keep anyway.”

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 voice.

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 solemnly.

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 in addition.”

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 baby brother.”

The poor fisherman burst into tears. “What shall I do! What shall I do!” he sobbed. “I dare not break my vow to the river giant.”

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 life.”

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 door.

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 balcony.”

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 to wear.

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.


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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 daughters.

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 about it.

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 them?”

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 eldest sister.”

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, here.”

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 country.

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 claws.

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.

A young man by the sea holds a feather; many birds are in the distance.

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 now.


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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 open mind.

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 purchasing.

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 giants.

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 princess.

“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 sleeps.”

“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 life.

“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 spy us?”

“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.

A young man carries a cage and leads a butterfly which is carrying a young woman.

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.”


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 poison.

“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 princess:

“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 rather starve.”

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 both.”

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.

A cat presents a bowlful of coins to a king.

“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 king.

“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 spot.

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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