Portugal | Pedroso: The Spell-bound Giant

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The Spell-bound Giant

THERE was a widow who had three sons. They lived in great poverty; and the eldest son said one day, "Oh! mother, things cannot go on any longer in this manner; I am old enough now to do something; so I shall go through different countries seeking a livelihood." The mother, not wishing him to go, began crying; but the son, keeping his resolve, endeavoured to persuade her to consent, until at last, one day she prepared his outfit, and he departed at day-dawn on his journey. He travelled on, and on arriving at a certain country he inquired if any one there required a servant. He was told that a magician, who lived in that part, was always wanting servants, and that he had better apply at the house. The young man went to the house, and inquired if a servant was required to wait upon them. "You have come at an opportune time," replied the magician, "and this very day you may enter my service;-you shall earn one coin a-day, but you will have to accompany me wherever. I go." The young man was delighted to earn so much, and said, "Oh, Sir, I am ready to go with you to the very ends of the world, and anywhere you wish." "Very well," replied the magician, "let's go now and get our horses ready to depart." They filled several bags with provisions, and all they could require; they prepared and harnessed two good horses with wallets, and whatever else they might want for the journey, and at midnight the master and his servant left the house and began to travel through dismal places and dark roads. The young man, who was unaccustomed to long journeys, began to get very tired, and did nothing else but ask, "Oh! Sir, have we not yet arrived?" But the magician always answered him by saying, "Don't be troubled, we are sure to get there sometime or another." Thus they journeyed on all the night, and at day- dawn they sighted a very high mountain, and the magician said, "Do you see that mountain? it is there where we have to go." They arrived at the foot of the mountain before long, when the magician told the young man to dismount, and said to him, "Now you must fire a shot at the belly of your horse." The lad, very much frightened, replied, "Oh! Sir, that is just what I shall not do!" "Well, then," rejoined the magician, "I must fire the shot at you instead." The lad, full of fear and terror, fired at the horse. The magician took out the entrails of the horse, filled a bag with them, and then told the lad to get in side the empty belly of the horse, and he put in several bags as well. He then took out a book and commenced to read, and the horse began to ascend the mount until the lad reached the top. The lad came out of the horse, while the magician from the foot of the mount cried out to the boy, "What do you see?" "I see much gold, much silver, many brilliants, many precious stones, and many bones," replied the lad. "Well, then, fill all the bags you have with all those riches," said the magician, "and send the horse down here with them, and I shall send the horse back for you." The lad did as he was told, took out the bags from the horse's belly, filled them with all the richest things that were strewed there, and sent the horse laden with the bags down the hill to his master. When the magician had got the horse safe at the bottom of the hill, he started off with it, leaving the lad quite alone on the top of the mountain. The moment; the boy found himself forsaken he commenced to cry, and to seek for some herbs to eat, as he felt very hungry. When he had rambled about for some time, he found a little herb which grew very luxuriantly, and had very large roots, which made it very difficult for him to root up. But when he had succeeded in rooting up some, he found in the hole which was left a massive iron ring of great size and thickness. The lad, curious to know what it was, began to pull it out; and when the ring was pulled out he saw some steps, which were strewed with gold coins and many rich things. The lad, astonished at what he saw, went down the stairs, and at the bottom of the stairs found himself in a magnificent palace. He saw a table loaded with the most delicious viands, and, as he felt very hungry, he sat down at once to eat. He then left the dinner table and proceeded to another apartment; and as he was about entering the chamber, he saw a giant lying down; and the moment he drew near to him, the giant cried out, "Who has authorised you to enter here?" The lad, terrified, fell upon his knees at the giant's feet, and begged him to pardon him; and he then recounted all that had happened to him. "Well, then," said the giant, when the boy had ceased to speak, "your master is the cause of my being spell bound. You had not the good fortune to kill him; and so long as he lives I shall not get out of this. But you have still one way of saving me: to-morrow before sunrise you must hide behind that tank; after that, three doves will come-a white one, a grey one, and one cinnamon-coloured. If you succeed in catching the white one, you will bring about mine and your happiness." The lad, in his excitement, never laid down to sleep, but spent the night concealed behind the tank. When day began to dawn, the doves appeared; they bathed themselves in the tank, and when the lad tried to catch them, two of their feathers remained in his hand and the birds flew away. The lad, feeling very sad, went to the giant, and said to him, "Oh! sir, the proof that I did my best is, that here!. bring two feathers in my hand, but I promise you that they shall not escape me to-morrow." He procured some ribbon, and the following day prepared a snare in the tank and concealed himself to wait for the doves' return. Day had scarcely dawned when the doves appeared, bathed themselves, and when the white dove was about to fly away she fell into the snare. The lad, very pleased at this, went to put his hands upon her; but at that very instant the dove transformed itself into a lovely maiden. The maiden felt very much ashamed at finding herself in the young man's hand. He then took her to the giant, who was very pleased to see her, and said, "Now, were the magician to die, my enchantment would cease!" Hardly had the maiden approached the giant, than many servants and maids appeared to wait upon her, and bringing many robes of the richest materials for her to wear. Yet the palace remained enchanted,

The young man's brothers, seeing that he did not return, said one day to their mother, "Oh! dear mother, we have never heard any news of our brother; it would be as well if one of us were to go and search for him." The mother replied, "Very well, let one of you go." The youngest of her sons went out in search because he was considered more sharp-witted. He travelled and journeyed on until he arrived at the same country where his brother had gone, and he inquired if any one could give him any information of a boy who had many months ago travelled to that country; but no one could give him any news. They told him that such a lad had gone as servant to a magician's house. He therefore went up to the house, knocked at the door, and the magician answered the call, who put to him the same questions that he had done to his brother, and took him at last into his service. At midnight, after having prepared everything, they started off, and on arriving at the mountain he ordered the boy to shoot at the horse's belly. The boy as he was very sharp-witted saw at once that there was some mystification in all this, and shot at the horse. The master placed the entrails of the horse into a bag and then ordered the boy to get into the horse's belly, and he began to read from the book. The horse began to ascend the mount until it reached the top, and once on the top of the mountain the magician asked the boy, "What do you see?" "I see much wealth," replied the lad. "Very well, then," said the magician, "fill all the bags with them and send them with the horse to me, and the horse shall return for you." What did the boy do? The lad filled the bags with bones, and when the horse was descending he threw a large stone at the master and broke his legs. At this moment the giant suddenly experienced great joy and summoned the boy who was still in his palace and said to him, "Do you know that my spell is broken? some one has killed the magician." And by degrees as the magician's life was ebbing away so the giant's palace kept rising and rising. On awaking in the morning the lad looked out of his chamber window and he saw his mother's house standing near. The mother, who had also risen from her couch at the same hour as her son had done, on opening the front door saw that opposite to her house a splendid palace had risen up. She was much astonished at what she saw, and at that moment her son and his brother, the one who had killed the magician, both stood before her. The other two doves had also broken their spell and were transformed into beautiful maidens, and they married the two brothers. The giant was also disenchanted because he was a prince, and he married the beautiful maiden who in the shape of a white dove had been flying round about his palace.

The text came from:

Pedroso, Consiglieri. Portuguese Folk-Tales. Folk Lore Society Publications, Vol. 9. Miss Henrietta Monteiro, translator. New York: Folk Lore Society Publications, 1882. 
[Reprinted: New York: Benjamin Blom, Inc., 1969.]
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