José the Beast Slayer
" asked the huge giant as he frowned down at José.
"I may be a little penny chicken, but I'm not in the least afraid of giants," replied the boy boldly.
"What, a little penny chicken like you not afraid of me!" cried the giant as he picked him up roughly and set him on his neck.
José seized the giant's long beard and drew it around his neck so tightly that the giant fell to the floor dead. Then José seized one of the money-bags and ran home with it to his mother.
"You must carry some of this to the king," said his mother when she saw it and had heard his story.
Accordingly, José carried the money as a gift to the king.
"Who is bringing me all this?" asked the king when he saw it.
"A little lad," replied the king's servants.
"Lead him in to me," said the king. "I'd like to see him."
Accordingly, the boy was led before the throne.
"What is your name, my lad?" asked the king kindly.
"I am called José the Beast Slayer, your majesty," replied the boy as he bowed low before the throne.
"Who are your parents?" asked the king.
"My father is dead," replied José, "and my mother is a princess who ran away from a tower in the forest."
José had often heard the story of his mother's life in the tower. It was the tale he liked best of all.
At the boy's words the king started and looked at him sharply.
"Tell me about this tower," he said eagerly.
"It was a tower in the deep forest," replied José. "It had no door, only a little window through which food was passed to her. She could never have any meat with a bone. This was because the Wise Man of the Forest had told her father that it was the best way to bring her up. One day her father went away and the servants gave her meat with a bone in it and—"
"I always suspected something like that," interrupted the king.
José looked at him in surprise.
"Were you there?" he asked.
The king nodded. "Go on with your story, my boy," he said.
José told all the circumstances of his mother's escape from the tower, just as she had so often described them to him.