THREE BOYS decided to leave their mother and father and go away to work. Their mother made a lunch for each of them and they left. They came to a place where there were some fig trees; here, they ate lunch. At this place the road branched three ways. After lunch, the: oldest boy said that he would take the road that went straight ahead. "In one year from now we will meet at this fig tree." The oldest boy cut the tree saying, "When blood comes out of a cut in this tree, it means bad luck; if milk flows, it is good luck."
The oldest boy found good work, and married a fine girl, the daughter of his boss. The next oldest boy married a good girl, and he had good luck. But the youngest encountered very bad luck indeed.
Although the country was full of all kinds of animals, he hunted all day long but found no game for his supper. That night he hunted a place in which he could sleep, and he found a cave. In the cave was a lion. And the lion said to him, "Don't you have any bad luck in your travels about this country?"
"No," said the youngest boy.
The lion then said, "Don't you want to be my captain?"
"Good," said the boy, "but I don't know how to talk your language very well."
"That is all right," answered the lion. "You'll learn soon." The lion took out a horn, blew it, and called all the animals together. When the animals of all the world were there together, the lion talked with them about making this boy their captain. They all said that they would like him for a captain.
Then the lion taught the boy how to talk with every kind of animal. When the boy had been there a month a crow came to see him, and she said, "Listen, my friend, I have two little crows. I want them to be baptized."
"Very well," said the boy. "Bring them here. I will baptize them." So now the boy had two little crow god-children. The father crow brought to the boy an egg. "Take this egg, compadre," he said, "and whatever you want, ask the egg for it--it doesn't matter what it is, you'll get it."
So the boy took the egg and set out for a big pueblo. He arrived there very late at night. He took the egg out of his pocket and asked it to make him into a negro, and to give him a guitar. In his black attire, carrying the guitar, he stopped at the house of a lady. He greeted her, "Good evening."
"Good evening, young negro," she answered.
"I would like to sleep here," he said.
The lady said, "That's all right." She gave him a supper of tortillas, meat, and beans. When he had eaten, she asked him to play and sing. He did. He knew many songs not known to other singers. The lady was so delighted she wanted to dance.
He slept all night on a mat on the floor. Early in the morning the lady arose. She told him to get up. After breakfast she told him to remain there looking after the house while she went out. This lady knew the king in that pueblo very well.
She went to the king and told him that she had a negro who was very good at playing the guitar and singing.
"Where is he?" asked the king.
"He is in my house." So the king sent a man to bring the negro to him. This man arrived at the house and said to the boy, "The king wants you." The boy was surprised. "Don't be afraid," said the man. "Let's go."
When the king saw the negro and heard him play he was very pleased and said, "What size shoe do you wear?"
"Six," he answered. So the king ordered shoes and a whole set of new clothes made for the negro. Before putting on these new, clean clothes, the negro went to a place where he could bathe himself.
Now, the king had a daughter who was very pretty. This girl wanted to see the negro boy when he had no clothes on, so she looked through a crack at him when he was bathing. The boy had taken off his outer, black skin and she saw him as a very beautiful boy. She said nothing of this to anyone.
After bathing, the boy put on his black skin and his new clothes and went to supper. Afterwards, the king asked him to sing. He took his guitar and played and sang. They all enjoyed it very much. But the daughter knew about him. She said, "That guitar is old. He should have a
new one." The king told the negro that he should have a new guitar.
But the boy said, "No, this is just as good as a new one."
A week later the girl told her father that she would like to get married. So her father sent out notices that he who should have one peso more than the king himself would be allowed to marry his daughter. Many rich dukes came and talked to the king, but not one of them had the necessary wealth. The king was always ahead.
When they had all gone away, the little negro went alone to a small hill outside of the pueblo. Here he took out his egg and talked to it. He said he would like to have a palace, better than all the palaces in the world. Before him, inside the hill arose a palace of pure gold. He then asked for it to be furnished completely with tables and chairs of pure gold. And it was. He ordered pigs and horses to be put in the stables and yards. These also were of gold, and they ate golden grains of corn. The boy went out and commanded that a huge iron gate be put across at the entrance. Then he went to visit the lady who had taken him to the king. He did not speak of his palace, but said that he had come to see her. She was pleased and asked him to sing for her.
The next day the negro asked the king, "Why didn't your daughter marry one of those rich men who came here?"
"Because they didn't have any more money than I have," answered the king.
"I have more money than you have," said the negro.
"Where?" asked the king.
"Do you see that hill over there?" The king thought that there must be a rich mine in the hill.
"Yes, I see the hill," said the king. "Let's go see it closer." The girl wanted to go along too, so the king ordered a big coach for her. They came to the hill and the king said, "Where is your money?"
The negro, dismounting, took out a huge iron key. Everyone was surprised as he went to open the gate. They looked in, then covered their faces with their hands because of the brilliance of the treasure inside. But the girl said to her father, "Go in, go in, go in."
They all entered and saw the palace all made of gold. "Look at my pigs," said the boy. They were also of gold.
"You beat me by one pig!" said the king.
"Let's go see my horses," said the negro. The king didn't need more to convince him, but he was always interested in horses, so they went to the stables. The horses were also of gold.
"That's enough. I want to see no more. You can marry my daughter," said the king. The next day the boy married the king's daughter.
The king loved his son-in-law very much. It didn't matter if he was a negro; he was rich. At the wedding everybody danced. The girl danced until she perspired very much. The boy took out a huge handkerchief and wiped her face for her. The next day they went to their palace in the hill.
They were very happy. He talked to her about his two crow god-children. "But," he said, "I must leave you for a while. It is nearly a year since I left home and I must go see my father."
He ordered ten mules loaded down with money and five men to care for them. The girl warned him that he would have to pass a place where there were many thieves. "Take care," she said, "when you pass that place."
"Very well," he replied, and he set out. Tile next day he arrived where the thieves were. They asked him to stop and play at barratas with them. He did, and they won from him all of his mules, with their loads. Next, he lost his fine clothes and had to put on the old clothes of one of the thieves. He sent his five muleteers away, saying there was no more work. Then he set out on foot toward his home.
Since that day had marked a year since he had taken leave of his brothers, he arrived late at the fig tree. He cut the tree, and it indicated good luck by weeping milk. So he went on.
He arrived at his home looking like a vagabond. On seeing him, his parents did not want to admit that he was of their family. His father said to him, "You are no longer my son. Your brothers have done well, but look at you."
That evening they handed him his supper out of the window. They didn't want him in the house. He was told that he could care for the chickens and pigs. If he wanted to stay there, he must sleep in the chicken house.
"Take care that the chickens don't drop on you," said his father.
He went to the chicken house where he was to sleep. When he got there, he talked to the chickens. "If one of you makes a single dropping during the whole night, I'll wring your neck and throw you outside!" he warned them. They all listened attentively.
One chicken said, "This captain is very strict, so be careful."
About midnight, the boy heard a chicken make a dropping. He knew that it was an old, old rooster, but he asked, "Who did that?"
"Not I." said the nearest hen.
"Not I," said the next. And so on down the roost each answered, "Not I." When the question came to the old rooster, he said nothing. The others said that he had done it, and, finally, he admitted it. The boy twisted his neck and threw him outside, a good lesson to the chickens, who did not make a dropping all that night.
The boy's father came the next morning and saw the chicken house clean. "How could this be?" he wondered.
He had some three hundred pigs who were very dangerous and unmanageable. "You are going to take the pigs out today. Be careful, for they are broncos," he said to the boy.
The boy went to the pig sty. There he talked with a big white pig. The pig recognized him as a leader. The boy told this pig to tell the rest of the pigs not to act up that day. And the white pig did so.
The father wanted to count the pigs as they left, so the boy ordered them to pass the gate of the sty in pairs, marching as if in an army. The father was astounded. The pigs marched in pairs out into the country.
The boy said to the white pig, "Tell your companions not to wander far, for I am going to take a nap." They minded him, for they were very contented with their captain. In the afternoon, they returned, marching home to the sty.
The boy thought often of his wife and the
golden palace he had left. In a suit at home he had left the crow's egg. After about a month his wife began to wonder what could have happened to her husband.
One day the boy saw a crow flying overhead.
"Stop a minute, compadre." he called to the crow. The crow turned about and came back. It was, indeed, his compadre.
"What happened to you?" asked the crow.
The boy told him all that had passed. "If I had paper and pen, I would write to my wife," he added, for he knew how to write very well.
The white pig had a suggestion. He told the crow to fly out to a trash pile and bring back a piece of paper. Then the pig told the crow to pull out a feather. "Make a little hole in the back of my neck and use my blood for ink."
Thus the boy wrote a letter to his wife telling her where the egg was, and asking her to bring it to him.
The crow took the note and flew to the palace of gold. The girl was seated in the door, sadly thinking. She saw the crow fly low over her and suddenly remembered that her husband had a crow compadre. When the, crow said "Crak, crak," she called it to come on down. It turned about and brought her the note.
She went to the suit and found the egg in the pocket. She then ordered ten mules loaded with money. She put on clothes of a man, took her pistol, and set out, accompanied by five men. She arrived at the house of the boy's father, where she was received most graciously, for they thought she was a rich man. At dinner the father of the boy talked of the tramp who was caring for the pigs and chickens. He didn't know quite what
kind of a person he was, for the chickens never soiled the floor of their house at night when this man slept there, and the wild pigs were now very tame and marched like soldiers for him.
The woman, who was dressed as a man, watched at the window and saw the boy come for his dinner. As he went to the chicken house, she joined him. She sat with him while he ate. She said nothing of who she was. "If I show you something I have here, perhaps you will remember me," she said and reached in her pocket and pulled out the handkerchief with which he had wiped her face at their wedding. At that, he recognized his wife. She had brought him a suit of fine clothes, and some women's clothes for herself. They were very happy. They spent the night in the chicken house.
The next morning the father complained that it was very late and that tramp had not yet got up to feed the chickens. He went out and knocked at the door. "Get up!" he said. "The chickens are hungry and it is late."
"Excuse me a moment, I'll be out in a little while," the boy answered.
At last he and his wife appeared, dressed in all their finery.
The old man said, "Of course, of course, you are my son."
But the boy, by means of the egg, destroyed his father, the house and everything but the animals. With his wife he went home to their palace of gold in the hill. RL