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p. 67

Juan Sin Miedo

JUAN SIN MIEDO was so called because he could not conceive of what it was to be afraid of anything. Once he was asked to be caretaker of a certain house which the owner could not get anyone to stay in overnight. It was said to be full of spirits and ghosts. Juan said that he would stay there, of course.

So Juan went there to live. The first night as he was sitting in one of the rooms he heard a voice from up in the ceiling say, "Shall I fall, or shall I not?"

Juan looked up to see who was talking, but could see nothing. He answered, "Sure, fall if you like."

So into his lap fell a skeleton. Juan Sin Miedo lifted the head and looked at it. "Hmm. A skeleton, without any clothes or skin." He threw it into the corner and walked out into the yard.

There he saw a hammock, the one in which the owner of the house, now dead, used to steep. "So this is where he used to sleep. I guess I'll sleep here too." He lay down and closed his eyes. A moment later he opened them to see, seated all around him, a group of dead people dressed in mourning and seated about a coffin.

"Oh, a funeral. Poor fellow," he remarked.

p. 68

The corpses were chatting and smoking. Juan asked for a cigarette. When a ghost handed it to him, Juan looked carefully at the man's face. "How strange. You don't have any eyes. How can you see?"

Thus he chatted with them. He noticed that when each man finished smoking his cigarette he put the butt into the mouth of the dead man. So Juan did the same.

In the distance appeared a tall man dressed in black. On seeing him approach, the ghosts whispered to one another, "The owner!" and they all ran away in fear.

The man in black rode up to Juan on a big, black mule. "Good morning, Juan," he said. "Have you been here all night?"

"Yes," said Juan Sin Miedo.

The owner of the property looked at Juan with interest and said, "How would you like to be head of all this property? You are the only man who will stay here at night. They have put soldiers with guns around, but they die of fright from hearing noises at night, and so join the rest of us here."

"I'd be glad to be chief here, if there is wealth for me in the offer," said Juan.

The owner pointed to the hacienda full of rich furnishings. "This will be yours if you will care for it. You may also have my mule and clothes, for I must return to the graveyard now that sunrise is about here."

So Juan took the clothes and the mule. When he rode into the adjoining town, the people thought he was the ghost of the real owner and they ran and hid. So Juan became owner of the whole region as well.

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