The Donkey's Son

A poor woman had a son, who was known as the The Donkey’s Son, as he had been suckled by a donkey when he was a baby because his mother had no milk. He was very brave and as soon as he was 18 years old he set out to travel the world. He came to a place where a man was digging up pine trees with a mattock and turning each tree into a club.

 “How brave are you?” asked The Donkey’s Son.

 “I’ve yet to meet anyone who could beat me,” the man replied.  “Though they tell me there is someone called The Donkey’s Son who is also very brave.”

 “I don’t know who he is, but I pull up pine trees without a mattock,” said The Donkey’s Son.

And The Donkey’s Son began to pull up pine trees with his bare hands as if they were tender plants.

 “Would you like to come with me?” asked The Donkey’s Son.

 “I’m at your command.”

 “Then let’s go. From now on you will be known as Pulls Up Pine Trees,” said The Donkey’s Son with the intention of appealing to his companion’s vanity.

The two compamions travelled on and met a man who was grinding wheat between two huge millstones.

 “You’re a strong fellow,” said The Donkey’s Son.

 “That I am, but they tell me there is someone called The Donkey’s Son who is stronger than I am.”

 “I don’t know who this The Donkey’s Son could be, but I can work both millstones at the same time, while you only work one.”

And in fact The Donkey’s Son began to play with the two millstones as if they were two bars of soap.

 “Would you like to come with me?” The Donkey’s Son asked.

“I’ll come,” replied his new friend.

 “From now on you’ll be known as Grinds Millstones, just as this friend who accompanies us is known as Pulls Up Pine Trees.”

The three came to a town, where The Donkey’s Son ordered a sword to be made which weighed 50 kilos.

They left the town and came to a palace known as the Palace of Misfortune. The three of them entered the palace and The Donkey’s Son ordered Pulls Up Pine Trees to make dinner while the other two of them went hunting. While Pulls Up Pine Trees was peeling some potatoes he heard a voice say:  “I’m falling, I’m falling, I’m falling.”

 “Well get on and fall then,” he replied.

Then a leg fell, then another, then one arm, then the other, then the head and the rest of the body. The various members joined up together again and took the form of an old woman, who broke the pan and gave the cook a sound thrashing. The two hunters came back at nightfall and found there was no supper and Pulls Up Pine Trees was covered in bruises. He told his friends what had happened.

 “In that case tomorrow Grinds Millstones will stay behind and we two will go hunting,” said The Donkey’s Son.

And that’s what happened. The next day Grinds Millstones got a thrashing from the old woman.

 “I’ll stay behind tomorrow,” said The Donkey’s Son, when Grinds Millstones told him what had happened.

The Donkey’s Son was peeling potatoes when he heard the voice say:

 “I’m falling, I’m falling, I’m falling,” and afterwards the members formed hemselves into an old woman.

She made towards the pan, but The Donkey’s Son gave her a good smack. The old woman attacked The Donkey’s Son, but he defeated her. His two companions presumed that The Donkey’s Son would have been beaten, and didn’t return to the palace. So The Donkey’s Son left the palace and went in search of them. He came to a bakery and asked if he could light his cigar at the oven.

 “Help yourself,” replied the old woman.

As soon as he approached the oven, the old woman attacked The Donkey’s Son, but he cut her in two at the waist with one stroke of his sword. Then he saw that his two companions were already inside the oven, where the old woman had thrown them

when they, too, had asked to light their cigars. The three of them set off again and came to a well. They looked inside it and The Donkey’s Son said:

 “I have the feeling someone is down there.”

They decided to lower Grinds Millstones to the bottom of the well on the end of a rope, but when he reached a certain depth he gave them the signal to pull him up again. Pulls Up Pine Trees went down and the same thing happened with him.

The Donkey’s Son went down to the bottom of the well and found a palace there.

He went in and met three beautiful maidens, one enchanted by a serpent, another by a lion and a third by the devil himself. The serpent and the lion appeared and they were both killed by The Donkey’s Son. Last of all the devil appeared. They both fought for a long time and The Donkey’s Son cut off one of the devil’s ears, and he ran off.

Our hero went to talk to the three maidens, and the one who was enchanted by the devil told him to keep the ear because it could be of great service to him.

As Pulls Up Pine Trees and Grinds Millstones had been waiting a long time

for their companion, and he had not come back up again, they went down to see what had happened to him. They found him with the maidens. They decided to raise the maidens to the surface with the two of them pulling the rope, and as soon as they found themselves on top with the maidens, they pulled up the rope and left The Donkey’s Son alone at the bottom of the well.

When he realised that his friends had left him behind he bit the devil’s ear. The devil immediately appeared and asked him what he wanted.

 “I want you to take me to the princesses’ city,” The Donkey’s Son said.

And that’s what happened. When The Donkey’s Son reached the city it was public knowledge that the three princesses had been saved by two brave men. Then The Donkey’s Son proved that what the two impostors had been saying was lies.

The king, who was the father of the princesses, wanted to order their deaths.

But The Donkey’s Son opposed this, being satisfied by their banishment from the kingdom. He married one of the princesses, and was acclaimed as king.


Oliveira 1900 I, 173-176, #63, O Filho da Burra [The Donkey’s Son]. Algarve, Loulé; Oliveira 2002 I, 170-172

Tale type AaTh 301B, The Three Stolen Princesses: The Strong Man and his Companions

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