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

José the Beast Slayer

She lived in a big cave in the rocks, and after all the years in the tower it seemed a wonderful home indeed. She was never tired of admiring the trees and flowers of the forest and listening to the songs of the birds. When at last her baby son was born she thought that she was the very happiest person in the whole world.

Now when the baby was two years old, the duke decided that they must take him to a hermitage to be baptized. They went down to the great river and he carried his little son across it in safety. Then he returned for the princess, but on the way his foot slipped and he fell into the river. The strong current bore him swiftly away, leaving the princess on one side of the river and her little son on the other.

"How shall I get across?" cried the princess when she saw what had happened.

"Don't worry, mother," replied the child. "I'll come and get you."

To her amazement he crossed the great river in safety and bravely escorted his mother to the other bank in spite of her tears and cries of fear.

"Well done, my son!" she said when on the other bank. "You are indeed a son to be proud of!"

They went to a church and the boy was baptized. José the Beast Slayer was the name he chose. Then they wandered on until at last they came to a house with a door in which a little window had been cut. The boy thrust in his arm and opened the door as if it had been his own.

"Walk in, mother dear," were his words.

Together they entered the house and together they explored the various rooms. There was nobody there and there was nothing to eat. Accordingly, José went out begging. He asked alms at the royal palace and there he was given money to buy food. There was even enough left over to pay for a gun.

Now that he owned a gun there was no need of begging any more. He shot plenty of game for his mother and what was left he carried to the royal palace to give to the king.

One day in the deep forest he entered a cave where the giant of the forest lived.

"What are you doing here, little penny chicken?

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