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Main > Portuguese folktales > Fairy tale "José the Beast Slayer"

José the Beast Slayer

There was once a king who had a little daughter. He went to the Wise Man of the Forest to learn how best to bring her up, and this is what he was told:

"For twelve years you must keep your daughter in a tower in the forest. It should have no door, only a little window through which you may pass food to her. You must give her meat which has no bones in it."

The king ordered a tower constructed in the deep forest. It had no door, and only a little window. Here the princess was placed. Every day food was passed to her through the little window. The king himself took charge of this, so that he might be sure that there was no meat given her which had bones in it.

The years flew by, and at last the twelve year period was nearly up. Then the king went away one day and left the servants to carry food to the princess. They were careless, and gave her meat which had a bone in it.

The little princess had grown very tired of being shut up in the tower of the forest.

"Ah," said she when she discovered the bone in her meat. "At last I have something with which to make this little window larger. I've tried in vain to make it bigger with my fingers."

She used the bone to dig away the wall each side of the window and soon the little opening had grown so large that the princess could lean her head out of it and look up at lofty trees. That very day a duke passed that way on a hunting expedition and saw the beautiful princess in the tower. He fell in love with her immediately.

Now that the princess had some one to help her make the hole larger it was an easy matter to make it big enough to escape. That very night she ran away with the duke.

When the king returned from his journey he found the tower in the forest entirely empty. There was nothing but the yawning hole to tell him of his daughter's escape. He tried in vain to find out what had become of her, but there was no person who could tell him anything about her.

The princess had gone with the duke across a great river which no one else knew how to cross.

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