Filipino Popular Tales
Dean S. Fansler
Part 5 out of 7
"Two days!" exclaimed the doctor, "why did you not call me, then? We
should have been able to save her. Well, take this money and see that
she gets a decent burial."
Pedro returned home in good spirits. He found his wife Marta waiting
for him at the door, and they were happy once more; but in a month the
money was all used up, and they were on the point of starving again.
Now, the doctor had a married sister whom Pedro and his wife had
worked for off and on after their marriage. Pedro told his wife to go
to the doctor's sister, and tell her that he was dead and that she
had no money to pay for the burial. Marta set out, as she was told;
and when she arrived at the sister's house, the woman said to her,
"Marta, why are you crying?"
"My husband is dead, and I have no money to pay for his burial,"
said Marta, weeping.
"You have served us well, so take this money and see that masses are
said for your husband's soul," said the kind-hearted mistress.
That evening the doctor visited his sister to see her son who was
sick. The sister told him that Marta's husband had died. "No," answered
the doctor, "it was Marta who died." They argued and argued, but
could not agree; so they finally decided to send one of the doctor's
servants to see which one was dead. When Pedro saw the servant coming,
he told his wife to lie flat and stiff in the bed as if she were dead;
and when the servant entered, Pedro showed him his dead wife.
The servant returned, and told the doctor and his sister that it was
Marta who was dead; but the sister would not believe him, for she
said that perhaps he was joking. So they sent another servant. This
time Marta made Pedro lie down stiff and flat in the bed; and when
the servant entered the house, he saw the man lying as if dead. So he
hurried back and told the doctor and his sister what he had seen. Now
neither knew what to believe. The next morning, therefore, the doctor
and his sister together visited the cottage of Pedro. They found
the couple both lying as if dead. After examining them, however,
the doctor realized that they were merely feigning death. He was
so pleased by the joke, and so glad to find his old servants alive,
that he took them home with him and made them stay at his house.
This droll seems to be derived from the "1001 Nights" (271st to 290th
nights of the Breslau edition, "The Story of Abu-l-hasan the Wag, or
the Sleeper Awakened"). The Arabian story is not only more detailed,
but contains much preliminary matter that is altogether lacking in
our story. In fact, the two are so dissimilar, except for the trick
the husband and wife play on their benefactor to get more money,
that it is hard to demonstrate a historical connection between the two.
I have in text and translation (the latter unpublished) a Tagalog
metrical version of the Arabian story. This metrical version, which
is told in 1240 lines, is entitled (in translation) "The Story of
Abu-Hasan, Who dreamed when he was Awake. Poem by Franz Molteni. First
edition, Manila." Although this work is not dated, it probably appeared
after 1900. In general, the Tagalog poem agrees with the "1001 Nights"
story, though it differs in details. An analysis of the differences
in the first part of the narratives need not concern us here, as our
folk-tale is connected with only the last third of the romance.
In the metrical version, after Abu, through the favor of the sultan,
has been married to Nuzhat, one of the ladies-in-waiting, the new
couple begin to live extravagantly, and soon exhaust the dowry and
wedding gifts. Then after much deliberation Abu decides to go to
the sultan, tell him that Nuzhat his wife is dead, and ask for
money for her burial. The ruse succeeds; Abu returns home with
a thousand ounces of gold. He at once counsels his wife to go to
the sultana with a similar story that he is dead and that money is
needed for his funeral. Nuzhat, too, receives a thousand ounces from
the sultana. The sultan now visits his wife, and tells her of the
death of Nuzhat. She insists that it is Abu who is dead, and they
argue violently about the matter. Finally the sultan decides to send
one of his servants to report the truth. When Abu sees the servant
coming, he bids his wife lie on the bier, and the servant is shown
her corpse. He reports that it is Nuzhat who is dead. The sultana
is enraged at the servant's statement, and sends her nurse for the
truth. This time Abu lies on the bier, and Nuzhat shows his body to
the nurse. When the old woman returns with her contradictory story,
the sultan's servant calls her a black falsifying witch. At last the
sultan and sultana themselves go to see. Both Abu and Nuzhat are found
lying as if dead. The sultan and his wife now argue so violently as
to which of their favorites died first, that the deceitful couple,
fearful of the outcome, kneel before their rulers, confess the trick,
and beg forgiveness. The royal pair laugh at the joke, and give Abu
and his wife enough to support them the rest of their days.
The last part of the Arabian story is substantially as given above,
only Nuzhat goes first to the sultana with the account of Abu's
death, after which Abu visits the sultan and tells him of Nuzhat's
death. Then follows the quarrel between the sultan and his wife over
the contradictory reports brought back by the two messengers. All
four go in person to discover the truth. Both Nuzhat and Abu are
found dead. Sultan: "I would give a thousand pieces of gold to know
which died first." Abu jumps up, says that he died first, and claims
the reward. Ending as above.
This story of Abu is also told as a folk-tale in Simla, northern India
(Dracott, 166-173), where it retains the Arabic title, "Abul Hussain,"
and is almost identical with the "1001 Nights" version. In the Simla
tale, however, the despatching of servants to learn which one is really
dead is lacking. The sultan and his wife together go to Abul's house,
and find both dead. "If we could only find out which died first!" etc.
Our story, the Tagalog folk-tale, is told almost as an anecdote. The
sultan has been transformed into a doctor; the sultana, into the
doctor's sister; Abu, into a poor servant, Pedro; and Nuzhat, into
Marta. The glitter of the Oriental harem has vanished, as indeed has
also the first two-thirds of the story. The descent in setting and
language has been so great, that I am inclined to suspect that this
droll has existed--at least, in one family--for a long time. It could
hardly have been derived from Molteni's poetic version. For the same
sort of relationship between another folk-tale and an "Arabian Nights"
story, see No. 13 and the notes.
The Three Brothers.
Narrated by Gregorio Frondoso, a Bicol from Tigaon, Camarines. The
narrator says, "This story was told to me by an old man who happened
to stay at our house one night. He was a traveller. I was then a
Once upon a time, when wishing was having, there dwelt in the joyous
village of Delight a poor farmer, Tetong, with his loving wife
Maria. His earning for a day's toil was just enough to sustain them;
yet they were peaceful and happy. Nevertheless they thought that their
happiness could not be complete unless they had at least one child. So
morning and night they would kneel before their rustic altar and pray
God to grant them their desire. As they were faithful in their purpose,
their wish was fulfilled. A son was born to them, and joy filled
their hearts. The couple's love for their child grew so intense,
that they craved for another, and then for still another. The Lord
was mindful of their prayers; and so, as time went on, two more sons
were born to them. The second son they named Felipe; and the youngest,
Juan. The name of the oldest was Pedro. All three boys were lovely
and handsome, and they greatly delighted their parents.
In the course of time, however, when they were about eight, seven,
and six years old, Pedro, Felipe, and Juan became monstrously great
eaters. Each would eat at a single meal six or seven chupas 
of rice: consequently their father was obliged to work very hard,
for he had five mouths to feed. In this state of affairs, Tetong
felt that, although these children had been born to him and his wife
as an increase of their happiness, they would finally exhaust what
little he had. Nor was Maria any the less aware of the gluttony of
her sons. By degrees their love for their sons ripened into hatred,
and at last Tetong resolved to do away with his children.
One night, while he and his wife were sitting before their dim light
and their three sons were asleep, Tetong said to his wife, "Do you
not think it would be better to get rid of our sons? As you see, we
are daily becoming poorer and poorer because of them. I have decided
to cast them away into some distant wild forest, where they may feed
themselves on fruits or roots."
On hearing these words of her husband, Maria turned pale: her blood ran
cold in her veins. But what could she do? She felt the same distress
as her husband. After a few moments of silence, she replied in a
faltering voice, "My husband, you may do as you wish." Accordingly
Tetong made ready the necessary provisions for the journey, which
consisted of a sack of rice and some preserved fish.
The next morning, on the pretext of planting camotes  and corn
on the hill some thirty miles away from the village, he ordered his
sons to accompany him. When they came to a forest, their father led
them through a circuitous path, and at last took them to the hill. As
soon as they arrived there, each set to work: one cut down trees,
another built a shed, and the others cleared a piece of land in which
to plant the camotes and corn.
After two weeks their provisions were almost used up. Tetong then
called his sons together, and said to them, "My sons, we have very
little to eat now. I am going to leave you for some days: I am going
back to our village to get rice and fish. Be very good to one another,
and continue working, for our camotes will soon have roots, and our
corn ears." Having said these words, he blessed them and left.
Days, weeks, and months elapsed, but Tetong did not reappear. The corn
bore ears, and the camotes produced big sound roots; but these were not
sufficient to support the three brothers. Nor did they know the way
back to their home. At last, realizing that their father and mother
did not care for them any more, they agreed to wander about and look
for food. They roved through woods, thickets, and jungles. At last,
fatigued and with bodies tired and bruised, they came to a wide river,
on the bank of which they stopped to rest. While they were bewailing
their unhappy lot, they caught sight, on the other side of the river,
of banana-trees with bunches of ripe fruit. They determined to get
those fruits; but, as they knew nothing about swimming, they had to cut
down bamboos and join them together to bridge the stream. So great was
their hunger, that each ate three bunches of the ripe bananas. After
they had satisfied their hunger, they continued on their way refreshed.
Soon they came upon a dark abyss. Curious to know what it might
contain, the three brothers looked down into it, but they could not
see the bottom. Not contented, however, with only seeing into the
well, they decided to go to the very bottom: so they gathered vines
and connected them into a rope.
Pedro was the first to make the attempt, but he could not stand the
darkness. Then Felipe tried; but he too became frightened, and could
not stay long in the dark. At last Juan's turn came. He went down to
the very bottom of the abyss, where he found a vast plain covered with
trees and bushes and shrubs. On one side he saw at a short distance a
green house. He approached the house, and saw a most beautiful lady
sitting at the door. When she saw him, she said to him in friendly
tones, "Hail, Juan! I wonder at your coming, for no earthly creature
has ever before been here. However, you are welcome to my house." With
words of compliment Juan accepted her invitation, and entered the
house. He was kindly received by that lady, Maria. They fell in love
with each other, and she agreed to go with Juan to his home.
They had talked together but a short while, when Maria suddenly told
Juan to hide, for her guardian, the giant, was coming. Soon the monster
appeared, and said to Maria in a terrible voice, "You are concealing
some one. I smell human flesh." She denied that she was, but the
giant searched all corners of the house. At last Juan was found,
and he boldly fought with the monster. He received many wounds, but
they were easily healed by Maria's magic medicine. After a terrific
struggle, the giant was killed. Maria applauded Juan's valor. She
gave him food, and related stories to him while he was eating. She
also told him of her neighbor Isabella, none the less beautiful than
she. Juan, in turn, told her of many things in his own home that were
not found in that subterranean plain.
When he had finished eating and had recovered his strength, Juan said
that they had better take Isabella along with them too. Maria agreed
to this. Accordingly Juan set out to get Isabella. When he came to
her house, she was looking out the window. As soon as she saw him,
she exclaimed in a friendly manner, "O Juan! what have you come here
for? Since my birth I have never seen an earthly creature like you!"
"Madam," returned Juan in a low voice, "my appearance before you is
due to some Invisible Being I cannot describe to you." The moment
Isabella heard these words, she blushed. "Juan," she said, "come up!"
Juan entered, and related to her his unfortunate lot, and how he had
found the abyss. Finally, struck with Isabella's fascinating beauty,
Juan expressed his love for her. They had not been talking long
together, when footsteps were heard approaching nearer and nearer. It
was her guardian, the seven-headed monster. "Isabella," it growled,
with an angry look about, "some human creature must be somewhere in
"There is nobody in the house but me," she exclaimed. The monster,
however, insisted. Seeking all about the house, it at last discovered
Juan, who at once attacked with his sword. In this encounter he was
also successful, cutting off all the seven heads of the monster.
With great joy Juan and Isabella returned to Maria's house. Then the
three went to the foot of the well. There Juan found the vine still
suspended. He tied one end of it around Isabella's waist, and then she
was pulled up by the two brothers waiting above. When they saw her,
Pedro and Felipe each claimed her, saying almost at the same time,
"What a beauty! She is mine." Isabella assured them that there were
other ladies below prettier than she. When he heard these words,
Felipe dropped one end of the vine again. When Maria reached the top
of the well, Felipe felt glad, and claimed her for himself. As the two
brothers each had a maiden now, they would not drop the vine a third
time; but finally Maria persuaded them to do so. On seeing only their
brother's figure, however, the two unfeeling brothers let go of the
vine, and Juan plunged back into the darkness. "O my friends!" said
Maria, weeping, "this is not the way to treat a brother. Had it not
been for him, we should not be here now." Then she took her magic comb,
saying to it, "Comb, if you find Juan dead, revive him; if his legs
and arms are broken, restore them." Then she dropped it down the well.
By means of this magic comb, Juan was brought back to life. The
moment he was able to move his limbs, he groped his way in the dark,
and finally he found himself in the same subterranean plain again. As
he knew of no way to get back to earth, he made up his mind to accept
As he was lazily strolling about, he came to a leafy tree with
spreading branches. He climbed up to take a siesta among its fresh
branches. Just as he closed his eyes, he heard a voice calling,
"Juan, Juan! Wake up! Go to the Land of the Pilgrims, for there
your lot awaits you." He opened his eyes and looked about him, but
he saw nothing. "It is only a bird," he said, "that is disturbing
my sleep." So he shut his eyes again. After some moments the same
voice was heard again from the top of the tree. He looked up, but he
could not see any one. However, the voice continued calling to him
so loudly, that he could not sleep. So he descended from the tree to
find that land.
In his wanderings he met an old man wearing very ragged, worn-out
clothes. Juan asked him about the Land of the Pilgrims. The old man
said to him, "Here, take this piece of cloth, which, as you see, I have
torn off my garment, and show it to a hermit you will find living at
a little distance from here. Then tell him your wish." Juan took the
cloth and went to the hermit. When the hermit saw Juan entering his
courtyard without permission, he was very angry. "Hermit," said Juan,
"I have come here on a very important mission. While I was sleeping
among the branches of a tree, a bird sang to me repeatedly that I must
go to the Land of the Pilgrims, where my lot awaits me. I resolved
to look for this land. On my way I met an old man, who gave me this
piece of cloth and told me to show it to you and ask you about this
place I have mentioned." When the hermit saw the cloth, his anger
was turned into sorrow and kindness. "Juan," he said, "I have been
here a long time, but I have never seen that old man."
Now, this hermit had in his care all species of animals. He summoned
them all into his courtyard, and asked each about the Land of the
Pilgrims; but none could give any information. When he had asked them
all in vain, the hermit told Juan to go to another hermit living some
Accordingly Juan left to find this hermit. At first, like the other,
this hermit was angry on seeing Juan; but when he saw the piece of
cloth, his anger was turned into pity and sorrow. Juan told him what
he was looking for, and the hermit sounded a loud trumpet. In a moment
there was an instantaneous rushing of birds of every description. He
asked every one about the Land of the Pilgrims, but not one knew of
the place. But just as Juan was about to leave, suddenly there came an
eagle swooping down into the courtyard. When asked if it knew of the
Land of the Pilgrims, it nodded its head. The hermit then ordered it to
bear Juan to the Land of the Pilgrims. It willingly obeyed, and flew
across seas and over mountains with Juan on its back. After Juan had
been carried to the wished-for land, the eagle returned to its master.
Here Juan lived with a poor couple, who cared for him as if he were
their own child, and he served them in turn. He asked them about
the land they were living in. They told him that it was governed by
a tyrannical king who had a beautiful daughter. They said that many
princes who courted her had been put to death because they had failed
to fulfil the tasks required of them. When Juan heard of this beautiful
princess, he said to himself, "This is the lot that awaits me. She
is to be my wife." So, in spite of the dangers he ran the risk of,
he resolved to woo her.
One day, when her tutors were away, he made a kite, to which he
fastened a letter addressed to the princess, and flew it. While she was
strolling about in her garden, the kite suddenly swooped down before
her. She was surprised, and wondered. "What impudent knave," she said,
"ventures to let fall his kite in my garden?" She stepped towards the
kite, looked at it, and saw the letter written in bold hand. She read
it. After a few moments' hesitation, she replaced it with a letter
of her own in which she told him to come under the window of her tower.
When he came there, the princess spoke to him in this manner: "Juan,
if you really love me, you must undergo hardships. Show yourself
to my father to-morrow, and agree to do all that he commands you to
do. Then come back to me." Juan willingly promised to undertake any
difficulties for her sake.
The next morning Juan waited at the stairway of the king's palace. The
king said to him, "Who are you, and what do you come here for?"
"O king! I am Juan, and I have come here to marry your daughter."
"Very well, Juan, you can have your wish if you perform the task I
set you. Take these grains of wheat and plant them in that hill,
and to-morrow morning bring me, out of these same grains, newly
baked bread for my breakfast. Then you shall be married immediately
to my daughter. But if you fail to accomplish this task, you shall
Juan bowed his head low, and left. Sorrowful he appeared before
"What's the matter, Juan?" she said.
"O my dear princess! your father has imposed on me a task impossible
to perform. He gave me these grains of wheat to be planted in that
hill, and to-morrow he expects a newly baked loaf of bread from them."
"Don't worry, Juan. Go home now, and to-morrow show yourself to my
father. The bread will be ready when he awakes."
The next morning Juan repaired to the palace, and was glad to find the
bread already on the table. When the king woke up, he was astonished
to see that Juan had performed the task.
"Now, Juan," said the king, "one more task for you. Under my window
I have two big jars,--one full of mongo,  the other of very fine
sand. I will mix them, and you have to assort them so that each kind
is in its proper jar again." Juan promised to fulfil this task. He
passed by the window of the princess, and told her what the king had
said. "Go home and come back here to-morrow," she said to him. "The
king will find the mongo and sand in their proper jars."
The next morning Juan went back to the palace. The king, just arisen
from bed, looked out of the window, and was astounded to see the mongo
and sand perfectly assorted. "Well, Juan," said the king, "you have
successfully performed the tasks I required of you. But I have one
thing more to ask of you. Yesterday afternoon, while my wife and I
were walking along the seashore, my gold ring fell into the water. I
want you to find it, and bring it to me to-morrow morning."
"Your desire shall be fulfilled, O king!" replied Juan.
He told the princess of the king's wish. "Come here tomorrow just
before dawn," she said, "and bring a big basin and a bolo. We will
go together to find the ring."
Just before dawn the next day he went to her tower, where she was
waiting for him in the disguise of a village maid. They went to the
seashore where the ring was supposed to have been lost. There the
princess Maria--that was her name--said to him, "Now take your basin
and bolo and cut me to pieces. Pour out the chopped mass into the
water in which my father's ring was dropped, but take care not to
let a single piece of the flesh fall to the ground!"
On hearing these words, Juan stood dumfounded, and began to weep. Then
in an imploring tone he said, "O my beloved! I would rather have you
chop my body than chop yours."
"If you love me," she said, "do as I tell you."
Then Juan reluctantly seized the bolo, and with closed eyes cut her
body to pieces and poured the mass into the water where the ring was
supposed to be. In five minutes there rose from the water the princess
with the ring on her finger. But Juan fell asleep; and before he awoke,
the ring fell into the water again.
"Oh, how little you love me!" she exclaimed. "The ring fell because
you did not catch it quickly from my finger. Cut up my body as before,
and pour the mass of flesh into the water again." Accordingly Juan
cut her to pieces a second time, and again poured the mass into the
water. Then in a short time Maria rose from the water with the ring
on her finger; but Juan fell asleep again, and again the ring fell
back into the water.
Now Maria was angry: so she cut a gash on his finger, and told him
to cut her body to pieces and pour the mass out as before. At last
the ring was found again. This time Juan was awake, and he quickly
caught the ring as she rose from the water.
That morning Juan went before the king and presented the ring to
him. When the monarch saw it, he was greatly astonished, and said to
himself, "How does he accomplish all the tasks I have given him? Surely
he must be a man of supernatural powers." Raising his head, he said
to Juan, "Juan, you are indeed the man who deserves the hand of my
daughter; but I want you to do me one more service. This will be the
last. Fetch me my horse, for I want to go out hunting to-day." Now,
this horse could run just as fast as the wind. It was a very wild
horse, too, and no one could catch it except the king himself and
Juan promised, however, and repaired to Maria's tower. When she
learned her father's wish, she went with Juan and helped him catch
the horse. After they had caught it, she caught hers too. Then they
returned to the palace. Juan and Maria now agreed to run away. So
after Juan had tied the king's horse near the stairway, they mounted
Maria's horse and rode off rapidly.
When the king could not find his daughter, he got on his horse
and started in pursuit of Juan and Maria, who were now some miles
ahead. But the king's horse ran so fast, that in a few minutes he had
almost overtaken the fugitives. Maria, seeing her father behind them,
dropped her comb, and in the wink of an eye a thick grove of bamboos
blocked the king's way. By his order, a road was made through the
bamboo in a very short time. Then he continued his chase; but just
as he was about to overtake them a second time, Maria flung down
her ring, and there rose up seven high hills behind them. The king
was thus delayed again; but his horse shot over these hills as fast
as the wind, so that in a few minutes he was once more in sight of
the fugitives. This time Maria turned around and spat. Immediately
a wide sea appeared behind them. The king gave up his pursuit, and
only uttered these words: "O ungrateful daughter!" Then he turned
back to his palace.
The young lovers continued their journey until they came to a small
village. Here they decided to be married, so they at once went to
the village priest. He married them that very day. Juan and Maria
now determined to live in that place the rest of their lives, so they
bought a house and a piece of land. As time went by, Juan thought of
One day he asked permission from his wife to visit his father and
mother. "You may go," she said; "but remember not to let a single drop
of your father's or mother's tears fall on your cheeks, for you will
forget me if you do." Promising to remember her words, Juan set out.
When his parents saw him, they were so glad that they embraced him and
almost bathed him with tears of joy. Juan forgot Maria. It happened
that on the day Juan reached home, Felipe, his brother, was married
to Maria, the subterranean lady, and a feast was being held in the
family circle. The moment Maria recognized Juan, whom she loved
most, she annulled her marriage with Felipe, and wanted to marry
Juan. Accordingly the village was called to settle the question,
and Maria and Juan were married that same day. The merrymaking and
In the mean time there came, to the surprise of every one, a beautiful
princess riding in a golden carriage drawn by fine horses. She was
invited to the dance. While the people were enjoying themselves
dancing and singing, they were suddenly drawn together around this
princess to see what she was doing. She was sitting in the middle
of the hall. Before her she had a dog chained. Then she began to ask
the dog these questions:--
"Did you not serve a certain king for his daughter?"
"No!" answered the dog.
"Did he not give you grains of wheat to be planted in a hill, and
the morning following you were to give him newly baked bread made
from the wheat?"
"Did he not mix together two jars of mongo and sand, then order
you to assort them so that the mongo was in one jar and the sand in
"Do you not remember when you and a princess went together to the
seashore to find the ring of her father, and when you cut her body
to pieces and poured the chopped mass into the water?"
When Juan, who was watching, heard this last question, he rushed from
the ring of people that surrounded her and knelt before her, saying, "O
my most precious wife! I implore your forgiveness!" Then the new-comer,
who was none other than Maria, Juan's true wife, embraced him, and
their former love was restored. So the feast went on. To the great
joy of Felipe, Maria, the subterranean lady, was given back to him;
and the two couples lived happily the rest of their lives.
This story, which is a mixture of well-known motifs and incidents,
really falls into two parts, though an attempt is made at the end to
bind them together. The first part, ending with the treachery of the
brothers after the hero has made his underground journey and rescued
the two beautiful maidens from their giant captors, has resemblances
to parts of the "Bear's Son" cycle. The second half of the story is a
well-developed member of the "Forgotten Betrothed" cycle, preserving,
in fact, all the characteristic incidents, and also prefacing to this
whole section details that form a transition between it and part 1. I
am unable to point out any European parallels to the story as a whole,
but analogues of both parts are very numerous. As the latter half
constitutes the major portion of our story, we shall consider it first.
The fundamental and characteristic incidents of the "Forgotten
Betrothed" cycle (sometimes called the "True Bride" cycle) are as
A The performance by the hero of difficult tasks through the help of
the loved one, who is usually the daughter of a magician.
B The magic flight of the couple, either with transformations of
themselves or with the casting behind them of obstacles to retard
C The forgetting of the bride by the hero because he breaks a taboo
(the cause of the forgetting is usually a parental kiss, which the
hero should have avoided).
D The re-awakened memory of the hero during his marriage ceremony or
wedding feast with a new bride, either through the conversation of
the true bride with an animal or through the true bride's kiss. In
some forms of the story, the hero's memory is restored on the third
of three nights sold to the heroine by the venial second bride. 
E The marriage of the hero and heroine.
Andrew Lang (Custom and Myth, 2d ed., 87-102) traces incidents A and
B as far back as the myth of Jason, the earliest literary reference
to which is in the Iliad (vii, 467; XXIII, 747). But this story does
not contain the last three incidents: clearly they have come from
some other source, and have been joined to the first two,--a natural
process in the development of a folk-tale. The episode of the magic
flight is very widely distributed: Lang mentions Zulu, Gaelic, Norse,
Malagasy, Russian, Italian, and Japanese versions. Of the magic flight
combined with the performance of difficult tasks set by the girl's
father, the stories are no less widely scattered: Greece, Madagascar,
Scotland, Russia, Italy, North America (Algonquins), Finland, Samoa
(p. 94). The only reasonable explanation of these resemblances,
according to Lang, is the theory of transmission; and if Mr. Lang,
the champion of the "anthropological theory," must needs explain in
this rather business-like way a comparatively simple tale, what but
the transmission theory can explain far more complicated stories of
five or six distinct incidents in the same sequence?
The "Forgotten Betrothed" cycle was clearly invented but once; when or
where, we shall not attempt to say. But that its excellent combination
of rapid, marvellous, and pathetic situations has made it a tale of
almost universal appeal, is attested to by the scores of variants that
have been collected within the last half-century and more. In his notes
to Campbell's Gaelic story, "The Battle of the Birds," No. 2, Koehler
cites Norwegian, Swedish, Italian, German, and Hungarian versions
(Orient und Occident, 2 : 107). Ralston (pp. 132-133), Cosquin (2 :
No. 32 and notes), Crane (No. XV and notes, pp. 343-344), Bolte (in
his additions to Koehler, 1 : 170-174), and Bolte-Polivka (to Nos. 51,
56, 113) have added very full bibliographies. It is unnecessary here
to list all the variants of this story that have been collected, but
we will examine some of the analogues to our tale from the point of
view of the separate incidents.
After the hero of our present story has been deserted by his
treacherous brothers, and has found himself once more in the
under-world, he is told by a mysterious voice to go to the Land of the
Pilgrims, where he will find his fate. He meets an old man, who directs
him to a hermit. The hermit, in turn, directs the youth to another
hermit, who learns from an eagle where the Land of the Pilgrims is,
and directs the bird to carry the youth thither. While the story does
not state that the Land of the Pilgrims is on the "upper-world," we
must suppose that it is, and that the eagle is the means whereby the
hero escapes from the underground kingdom. In a large number of members
of the "Bear's Son" cycle, to which, as has been said, the first part
of our story belongs, this is the usual means of escape. The incident
is also found in a large number of tales not connected otherwise
with this group (see Cosquin, 2 : 141-144). It is sometimes combined
with the quest for the water of life, with which in turn is connected
the situation of the hero's being referred from one guide to another
(giants, sages, hermits, etc.), as in our story (cf. Grimm, No. 97,
and notes; also Bolte-Polivka to No. 97, especially 2 : 400; Thorpe,
158; Tawney, 1 : 206; Persian Tales, 2 : 171). This whole section
appears to have been introduced as a transition between parts 1 and 2.
The second part of our story opens with the "bride-wager" incident
(see Von Hahn, 1 : 54, "Oenomaosformel"), though I can point to no
parallel of Juan's method of making love to the princess; that is,
by means of a letter conveyed by a kite.
The tasks which the hero is obliged to perform vary greatly in the
different members of the "Forgotten Betrothed" cycle. Juan has to
plant wheat and bake bread from the ripened grain in twenty-four hours,
separate a jar of mongo from a jar of sand, and fetch a ring from the
sea. The first task imposed by the king has analogies in a number of
European tales. In Groome's No. 34 the Devil says to the hero, "Here
is one more task for you: drain the marsh, and plough it, and sow it,
and to-morrow bring me roasted maize" (p. 106). In Groome's No. 7 the
king says to the old man, "See this great forest! Fell it all, and make
it a level field; and plough it for me, and break up all the earth;
and sow it with millet by to-morrow morning. And mark well what I tell
you: you must bring me a cake [made from the ripened millet-seed,
clearly; see p. 23] made with sweet milk." Cosquin (2 : 24) cites a
Catalan and a Basque story in which the hero has not only to fell a
great forest, but to sow grain and harvest it. In kind this is the same
sort of impossible task imposed on Truth in a Visayan story (JAFL 19 :
100-102), where the hero has to beget, and the princess his wife to
bring forth, in one night, three children. Helpful eagles solve this
difficulty for Truth by conveying to him three newly-born babes. The
second task is a well-known one, and is found in many members of the
"Grateful Animals" cycle. Usually it is ants, which the hero has
earlier spared, that perform the service of separating two kinds of
seed, etc. (see Tawney, 1 : 361 and note). The mixture of sand and
mongo, in our story, is not a very happy conception. Originally it must
have been either gravel and mongo, or else mongo and some other kind of
lentil nearly resembling it in size. The third task, with the method of
accomplishing it, is perhaps the most interesting of all. In a Samoan
story of the "Forgotten Betrothed" cycle (Lang, op. cit., p. 98), the
heroine bids the hero cut her body into pieces and cast them into the
sea. There she becomes a fish and recovers the ring. In a Catalan tale
(Rondallayre, 1 : 41) the hero is also required to fetch a ring from
the bottom of the sea. His loved one tells him to cut her to pieces,
taking care not to let any part drop to the ground, and to throw all
into the water. In spite of all his care, he lets fall to earth one
drop of blood. The heroine recovers the ring, but lacks the first
joint of her little finger when she resumes her original shape.
The "magic flight" is discussed by Cosquin (1 : 152-154) and Macculloch
(167 ff.). Two kinds of transformation are to be noted in connection
with this escape: the pursued either transform themselves, and
thus escape detection by the pursuer, or else cast behind them magic
objects, which turn into retarding and finally insurmountable obstacles
in the path of the pursuer. In our story the transformations are of
the second type, as they are in the story of "Pedro and the Witch"
(No. 36). So far as I know, the first type does not occur in Filipino
folk-tales. Both types are found frequently in Occidental Maerchen,
but in Oriental stories the second seems to predominate over the first
(see Cosquin's citations of Oriental occurrences of this incident). In
Somadeva (Tawney, 1 : 355 ff.) we have two flights and both types
of escape. As to the details of the flight itself in our story,
we may note that the comb becoming a thicket of thorns has many
analogues. The ring becoming seven mountains suggests with its magic
number an Oriental origin. With spittle turning into a lake or sea,
compare similar transformations of drops of water and a bladder full
of water (Macculloch, 171-172).
The incident of the "forgetting of the betrothed" is usually motivated
with some sort of broken taboo. When the hero desires to visit his
parents, and leaves his sweetheart outside the city, she usually
warns him not to allow himself to be kissed. In a Gaelic Maerchen he
is forbidden to speak; sometimes he is warned by his wife not to eat,
etc. (Koehler-Bolte, 172). In our story the taboo is somewhat unusual:
the hero is to allow no tears of joy shed by his parents to fall on
his cheeks. The idea behind this charge, however, is the same as that
behind the forbidden kiss. With the taboo forbidding the partaking
of food, compare the episode of the "Lotus-Eaters" in the Odyssey.
In most of the Maerchen of this group the re-awakening of the memory
of the hero is accomplished through the conversation of two birds
(doves or hens) which the forgotten betrothed manages to introduce
into the presence of her lover just before he is married to another
(Koehler-Bolte, 172; Rittershaus, 150). In our story the heroine asks
a dog questions about the tasks she had helped the hero perform. I
can point to no exact parallel of this situation, though it agrees
in general with the methods used in the other members of the group.
For the first part of our story (with the exception of the
introduction), compare Koehler-Bolte, 292-296, 537-543; Gonzenbach,
No. 58 and notes; F. Panzer's "Beowulf," passim. See also the notes
to Nos. 3 and 4 of this collection.
In connection with our story as a whole, I will cite in conclusion two
native metrical romances that preserve many of the incidents we have
been discussing. The first is a Pangasinan romance (of which I have not
the text) entitled "Don Agustin, Don Pedro, and Don Juan." This story
contains the pursuit by the three princes of a snake to cure the sick
king their father (the "quest" motif), the descent into the well by
the youngest brother, his fight with monsters in the underworld and
his rescue of three princesses, the treachery of the older brothers,
the final rescue of the hero by the youngest princess. While this
story lacks the "forgotten-betrothed" motif, it is unquestionably
related with the first part of our folk-tale, 
The second romance, which is one of the most popular and widespread
in the Islands, having been printed in at least five of the
dialects,--Tagalog, Pampango, Visayan, Ilocano, and Bicol,--I will
synopsize briefly, because it is either the source of our folk-tale
or has been derived from it. The fact that not all the literary
versions agree entirely, and that the story as a folk-tale seems to
be so universally known, makes it seem more likely that the second
alternative expresses the truth; i.e., that the romance has been
derived from the folk-tale. In the Tagalog version the title runs
thus: "The Story of Three Princes, sons of King Fernando and Queen
Valeriana in the Kingdom of Berbania. The Adarna Bird." The poem is
long, containing 4136 octosyllabic lines. The date of my copy is 1906;
but Retana mentions an edition before 1898 (No. 4169). Briefly the
story runs as follows:--
King Fernando of Berbania has three sons,--Diego, Pedro, and Juan. One
night the king dreams that Juan was killed by robbers. He immediately
becomes sick, and a skilful physician tells him that the magic Adarna
bird is the only thing that can cure his illness. Diego sets out to
find the bird, but is unsuccessful; he is turned to stone. A year later
Pedro sets out--meets the same fate. At last Juan goes, seeing that
his brothers do not return. Because of his charity a leper directs
the youth to a hermit's house. The hermit tells Juan how to avoid
the enchantment, secure the bird, and liberate his brothers. Juan
successful. On the return, however, the envious brothers beat Juan
senseless, and, taking the bird from him, make their way back to their
father's kingdom alone. But the bird becomes very ugly in appearance,
refuses to sing, and the king grows worse. Juan, meantime, is restored
by an angel sent from heaven. He finally reaches home; and the Adarna
bird immediately becomes beautiful again, and sings of the treachery of
Diego and Pedro. The king, recovered, wishes to banish his two older
sons; but Juan pleads for them, and they are restored to favor. The
king now charges his three sons with the safe-keeping of the bird,
threatening with death the one who lets it fly away.
One night, while Juan is on watch, he falls asleep. His envious
brothers open the cage, and the bird escapes. When Juan awakens and
sees the mischief done, he leaves home to look for the Adarna. Next
day the king, missing both Juan and the bird, sends Pedro and Diego in
search of their brother. They find him in the mountains of Armenia. In
their joint search for the bird, the three come to a deep well. Diego
and Pedro try in turn to go down, but fear to make the descent to
the bottom. Juan is then lowered. At the foot of the well he finds
beautiful fields. In his wanderings he comes to a large house where a
princess is looking out of the window. She tells Juan that she is in
the power of a giant; and so, when the monster returns, Juan kills
it. He likewise liberates her sister Leonora, who is in the power
of a seven-headed snake. All three--Juan and the two princesses--are
hoisted to the top of the well; but when Juan starts back for a ring
that Leonora has forgotten, his cruel brothers cut the rope. Leonora
sends her pet wolf to cure Juan, and the two brothers with the two
princesses return to Berbania. Juana is married to Diego; but Leonora
refuses to marry Pedro, asking for a seven-year respite to wait for
Meantime Juan has been restored. One day the Adarna bird appears,
and sings over his head that there are three beautiful princesses in
the kingdom "de los Cristales." Juan sets out to find that place. He
meets an old man, who gives him a piece of his shirt and tells him to
go to a certain hermit for directions. The hermit receives Juan on
presentation of the token, and summons all the animals to question
them about the kingdom "de los Cristales;" but none of the animals
knows where the kingdom is. This hermit now directs Juan to another
hermitage. There the holy man summons all the birds. One eagle knows
where it is; and after Juan gets on its back, the eagle flies for a
month, and finally reaches the kingdom sought. There, in accordance
with the bird's directions, while the princesses are bathing, Juan
steals the clothes of the youngest, and will not return them until
she promises to marry him. She agrees, and later helps him perform
the difficult tasks set him by her enchanter father (levelling
mountain, planting wheat, newly-baked bread--recovering flask from
sea--removing mountain--recovering ring from sea [same method as in
our folk-tale]--catching king's horse). Then the two escape, pursued
by the magician. Transformation flight (needle, thorns; piece of
soap, mountain; withe [? coje], lake). The baffled magician curses
his daughter, and says that she will be forgotten by Juan. When Juan
reaches home and sees Leonora, he forgets Maria. On his wedding day
with Leonora, an unknown princess comes to attend the festivities. From
a small bottle which she has she produces a small Negress and Negro,
who dance before the young bridal couple. After each dance the Negress
addresses Juan, and recounts to him what Maria has done for him. Then
she beats the Negro, but Juan feels the blows. Finally, since Juan
remains inflexible, Maria threatens to dash to pieces the bottle,
which contains Juan's life. Juan consents to marry her; but Leonora
protests, saying that her wolf saved Juan's life. Archbishop called
to arbitrate the matter, decides in favor of Leonora. When Maria now
floods the country and threatens the whole kingdom with destruction,
King Fernando persuades Leonora to take his oldest son Pedro. Juan
and Maria are married, and return to the kingdom "de los Cristales."
The Visayan version of the "Adarna Bird" is practically identical with
the Tagalog up to the point where Juan rescues the two princesses
from the underworld. When he and they have been drawn to the top of
the well by the two older brothers, Juan tells Pedro and Diego to
return home with the two maidens, but says that he will continue
the search for the magic bird. He later learns that it is in the
possession of Maria, daughter of the King of Salermo. He directs his
steps thither, falls in love with the princess, and, together with
the bird, they return to Berbania. The three brothers are married at
the same time. It will be noticed that here the "forgotten-betrothed"
motif is lacking altogether.
For a Tagalog folk-tale connected with this romance, but changed
so that it is hardly recognizable as a relative, see the story of
"The Adorna (sic) Bird" (JAFL 20 : 107-108).
It is interesting to note that the Tagalog romance is definitely
reminiscent of the "Swan Maidens" cycle in the method Juan uses to
win the affections of Maria, the enchanter's daughter. For parallels
to Juan's trick of stealing Maria's clothes while she and her sisters
are bathing, see Macculloch, 342 f. For a large collection of "Swan
Maiden" stories in abstract, see Hartland, chapters X and XI.
Considering the fact that both parts of our story are practically
world-wide in their distribution, it is almost impossible to say
where and when the two in combination first existed. I am inclined to
think, on the whole, that our Filipino folk-tale is an importation,
and is not native. As to the relationship between the popular and
the literary versions of the story, I believe that in general the
literary has been derived from the popular.
Juan and His Adventures.
Narrated by Jose Ma. Katigbak, a Tagalog from Lipa, Batangas. He
heard the story from Angel Reyes, another Batangueno.
Once in a certain village there lived a couple who had three
daughters. This family was very poor at first. Near the foot of a
mountain was growing a tree with large white leaves.  Pedro the
father earned their living by selling the leaves of that tree. In
time he got so much money from them that he a ordered a large house
to be built. Then they left their old home, and went to live in
the new house. The father kept on selling the leaves. After a year
he decided to cut down the tree, so that he could sell it all at
once and get much money. So he went to the foot of the mountain one
day, and cut the tree down. As soon as the trunk had crashed to the
ground, a large snake came out from the stump. Now, this snake was
an enchanter, and was the friend of the kings of the lions, eagles,
and fishes, as we shall see.
The snake said to Pedro, "I gave you the leaves of this tree to
sell; and now, after you have gotten much money from it, you cut
it down. There is but one suitable punishment for you: within three
days you must bring all your daughters here and give them to me." The
man was so astonished at first, that he did not know what to do. He
made no reply, and after a few minutes went home. His sadness was so
great that he could not even eat. His wife and daughters, noticing
his depression, asked him what he was thinking about. At first he
did not want to tell them; but they urged and begged so incessantly,
that finally he was forced to do so.
He said to them, "To-day I cut down the tree where I got the leaves
which I sold. A snake came out from the stump, and told me that I
should bring you three girls to him or we should all die."
"Don't worry, father! we will go there with you," said the three
The next day they prepared to go to the snake. Their parents wept
very much. Each of the three girls gave her mother a handkerchief as
a remembrance. After they had bidden good-by, they set out on their
journey with their father.
As soon as they reached the foot of the mountain, the three daughters
disappeared at once, and the poor father returned home cheerless. A
year had not passed by before a son was born to the old couple. They
named him Juan. When the boy was about eighteen years old, his mother
showed him the handkerchiefs of his sisters.
"Have I any sister?" said Juan to his mother.
"Yes, you have three; but they were taken away by a snake," she
told him. Juan was so angry, that he asked his parents to give him
permission to go in search of his sisters. At first they hesitated,
but at last they gave him leave. So, taking the three handkerchiefs
with him, Juan set out, and went to the mountain.
After travelling for more than ten days, Juan came across three boys
quarrelling over the possession of a cap, a pair of sandals, and a
key. He went near them, and asked them why they all wanted those three
things. The boys told him that the cap would make the person who wore
it invisible, the sandals would give their owner the power to fly,
and that the key would open any door it touched.
Juan told the three boys that it would be better for them to give
him those articles than to quarrel about them; and the boys agreed,
because they did not want either of the others to have them. So Juan
put the key in his pocket, the cap on his head, and the sandals on
his feet, and flew away. After he had passed over many mountains,
he descended. Near the place where he alighted he saw a cave. He
approached its mouth, and opened the door with his key. Inside he saw
a girl sitting near a window. He went up to her and took off his cap.
"Who are you?" said the girl, startled.
"Aren't you my sister?" said Juan.
"I have no brother," said the lady, but she was surprised to see the
handkerchiefs which Juan showed her. After he had told her his story,
she believed that he was really her brother.
"You had better hide," said the lady, holding Juan's hand, "for my
husband is the king of the lions, and he may kill you if he finds
Not long afterwards the lion appeared. She met him at the door. "You
must have some visitors here," said the lion, sniffing the air with
"Yes," answered the lady, "my brother is here, and I hid him, for I
feared that you might kill him."
"No, I will not kill him," said the lion. "Where is he?" Juan came out
and shook hands with the lion. After they had talked for a few hours,
Juan said that he would go to look for his other sisters. The lion
told him that they lived on the next two mountains.
Juan did not have much trouble in finding his other two sisters. Their
husbands were the kings of the fishes and the eagles, and they received
him kindly. Juan's three brothers-in-law loved him very much, and
promised to aid him whenever he needed their help.
Juan now decided to return home and tell his parents where his three
sisters were; but he took another way back. He came to a town where
all the people were dressed in black, and the decorations of the houses
were of the same color. He asked some people what had happened in that
town. They told him that a princess was lost, and that he who could
bring her back to the king should receive her hand in marriage and
also half the property of the king. Juan then went to the king and
promised to restore his daughter to him. The king agreed to reward
him as the townspeople had said, if he should prove successful.
Early the next morning Juan, with his cap, sandals, and key, set
out to look for the princess. After a two-days' journey he came to a
mountain. Here he descended and began to look around. Finally he saw
a huge rock, in which he found a small hole. He put the key in it,
and the rock flew open. With his cap of invisibility on his head,
he entered. There within he saw many ladies, who were confined in
separate rooms. In the very last apartment he found the princess with
a giant beside her. He went near the room of the princess, and opened
the door with his key. The walls of all the rooms were like those of
a prison, and were made of iron bars. Juan approached the princess,
and remained near her until the giant went away.
As soon as the monster was out of sight, Juan took off his cap. The
princess was surprised to see him, but he told her that he had
come to take her away. She was very glad, but said that they had
better wait for the giant to go away before they started. After a
few minutes the giant went out to take a walk. When they saw that
he had passed through the main door, they went out also. Juan put on
his sandals and flew away with the princess. But when they were very
near the king's palace, the princess disappeared: she was taken back
by the giant's powerful magic. Juan was very angry, and he returned
at once to the giant's cave. He succeeded in opening the main door,
but he could not enter. After struggling in vain for about an hour,
he at last determined to go to his brothers-in-law for help.
When he had explained what he wanted, the king of the eagles said to
him, "Juan, the life and power of the giant are in a little box at
the heart of the ocean. No one can get that box except the king of
the fishes, and no one can open it except the king of the lions. The
life of the giant is in a little bird which is inside the box. This
bird flies very swiftly, and I am the only one who can catch it. The
strength of the giant is in a little egg which is in the box with
When the king of the eagles had finished his story, Juan went to
the king of the fishes. "Will you fetch me the box which contains
the life and strength of the giant?" said Juan to the king of the
fishes. After asking him many questions, his brother-in-law swam away,
and soon returned with the box. When Juan had received it from him,
he thanked him and went to the king of the lions.
The king of the lions willingly opened the box for him. As soon as
the box was opened, the little bird inside flew swiftly away. Juan
took the egg, however, and went back to the king of the eagles, and
asked him to catch the bird. After the little bird had been caught,
Juan pushed on to the cave of the giant. When he came there, he opened
the door and entered, holding the bird in one hand and the egg in the
other. Enraged at the sight of Juan, the giant rushed at him; and Juan
was so startled, that he crushed the egg and killed the bird. At once
the giant fell on his back, and stretched out his legs to rise no more.
Juan now went through the cave, opening all the prison doors,
and releasing the ladies. He carried the princess with him back to
the palace. As soon as he arrived, a great celebration was held,
and he was married to the princess. After the death of the king,
Juan became ruler. He later visited his parents, and told them of
all his adventures. Then he took them to his own kingdom, where they
lived happily together.
A Tagalog variant of this story, entitled "Pedro and the Giants,"
and narrated by Jose Hilario from Batangas, runs thus in abstract:--
Two orphan sisters living with their brother Pedro are stolen by
two powerful giants. Pedro goes in search of his sisters, and finds
them. Contrary to the expectations of all, the two grim brothers-in-law
welcome Pedro, and offer to serve him. Pedro later wishes to marry a
princess, and the giants demand her of the king her father. He refuses
to give her up, although she falls in love with Pedro. To punish his
daughter, the king exposes her to the hot sun: but one of the giants
shades her with his eagle-like wings. Then the other giant threatens
the king; but the monarch says he is safe, for his life is contained
in two eggs in an iron box guarded by two clashing rocks. With great
personal risk the giant obtains the eggs; and, upon the king's still
refusing to give his daughter to Pedro, the giant dashes the eggs
to the ground, and the king falls dead. Pedro and the princess are
This analogue of our story is not very close in details, yet there
are enough general resemblances between the two to make it pretty
certain that they are distantly related.
Our story of "Juan and his Adventures" belongs to the "Animal
Brothers-in-Law" cycle, a formula for which Von Hahn (1 : 53)
enumerates the following incidents:--
A Three princes who have been transformed into animals marry the
sisters of the hero.
B The hero visits his three brothers-in-law.
C They help him perform tasks.
D They are disenchanted by him.
As Crane says (p. 60), this formula varies, of course. Sometimes there
are but two sisters (cf. our variant), and the brothers-in-law are
freed from their enchantment in some other way than by the hero. For
a bibliography of this group, see Crane, 342-343, note 23, to No. 13.
Perhaps the best version of this story is that found in Basile, 4 :
3, the argument of which, as given in Burton's translation (2 : 372),
Ciancola, son of the King of Verde-colle, fareth to seek his three
sisters, married one with a falcon, another with a stag, and the
other with a dolphin; after long journeying he findeth them, and
on his return homewards he cometh upon the daughter of a king,
who is held prisoner by a dragon within a tower, and calling by
signs which had been given him by the falcon, stag, and dolphin,
all three came before him ready to help him, and with their aid he
slayeth the dragon, and setteth free the princess, whom he weddeth,
and together they return to his realm.
This argument does not quite do justice to the similarities between
Basile's story and ours. For instance, in the Italian story, when
the daughters leave, they give their mother three identical rings as
tokens. Then a son is born to the queen. When he is fifteen years old,
he sets out to look for his sisters, taking the rings with him. Nor,
again, does this argument mention the fact that in the end the animal
brothers-in-law are transformed into men,--a feature which is found
in Basile, but not in our story. In the main, however, it will be seen
that the two are very close. In Von Hahn, No. 25, the brothers-in-law
are a lion, a tiger, and an eagle.
The opening of our story, so far as I know, is not found in any of the
other members of this cycle. Usually the sisters are married to the
animals in consequence of a king's decision to give his daughters to
the first three persons who pass by his palace after a certain hour
(Crane, No. XIII); or else the animals present themselves as suitors
after the death of the king, who has charged his sons to see that
their sisters are married (Von Hahn, No. 25; compare the opening
of Wratislaw No. XLI = Wuk, No. 17). In our story, however, Pedro
is deprived of his daughters in consequence of his greed. With this
situation compare the "Maha-vanija-jataka," No. 493, which tells how
some merchants find a magic banyan-tree. From this tree the merchants
receive wonderful gifts; but they are insatiable, and finally plan to
cut it down to see if there is not large treasure at the roots. The
guardian-spirit of the tree, the serpent-king, punishes them. It is not
impossible that some such parable as this lies behind the introduction
to our story. There is abundant testimony from early travellers in
the Islands that the natives in certain sections regarded trees as
sacred, and could not be hired to cut them down for fear of offending
the resident-spirit. The three handkerchiefs which the sisters leave
with their mother as mementos are to be compared with the three rings
in Basile's version. In a Serbian story belonging to this cycle (Wuk,
No. 5), the three sisters are blown away by a strong wind (cf. our
story of "Alberto and the Monsters," No. 39), and fall into the power
of three dragons. When the brother, yet unborn at the time of their
disappearance, reaches his eighteenth year, he sets out to seek his
sisters, taking with him a handkerchief of each.
The obtaining of magic articles by a trick of the hero is found
in many folk-tales. In Grimm, No. 197, which is distantly related
to our story, the hero cheats two giants out of a wishing-cap over
which they are quarrelling. In Grimm, No. 92, where we find the same
situation, the magic articles are three,--a sword which will make heads
fly off, a cloak of invisibility, a pair of transportation-boots
(see Bolte-Polivka, 2 : 320 f., especially 331-335). In Grimm,
No. 193, a flying saddle is similarly obtained. In Crane, No. XXXVI
(p. 136 f.), Lionbruno acquires a pair of transportation-boots,
an inexhaustible purse, and a cloak of invisibility. This incident
is also found in Somadeva (Tawney, 1 : 14), where the articles are
a pair of flying-shoes, a magic staff which writes what is going to
happen, and a vessel which can supply any food the owner asks for. In
another Oriental collection (Sagas from the Far East, pp. 23-24),
the prince and his follower secure a cap of invisibility from a band
of quarrelling boys, and a pair of transportation-boots from some
disputing demons. Compare Tawney's note for other instances. This
incident is also found in an Indian story by Stokes, No. XXII,
"How the Raja's Son won the Princess Labam." In this the hero meets
four fakirs, whose teacher (and master) has died, and has left four
things,--"a bed which carried whosoever sat on it whithersoever he
wished to go; a bag that gave its owner whatever he wanted,--jewels,
food, or clothes; a stone bowl which gave its owner as much water
as he wanted; and a stick that would beat enemies, and a rope that
would tie them up." Compare also the "Dadhi-vahana-jataka," No. 186,
which is connected with our No. 27. In the Filipino story of "Alberto
and the Monsters" (No. 39) the hero acquires a transportation-boot
from two quarrelling boys; from two young men, a magic key that will
unlock any stone; and from two old men wrangling over it, a hat of
invisibility. In another Tagalog story, "Ricardo and his Adventures"
(notes to No. 49), appears a flying saddle, but this is not obtained
For the "Fee-fi-fo-fum" formula hinted at in our story, see
Bolte-Polivka, 1 : 289-292.
In many of the members of this cycle, when the hero takes his leave
of his brothers-in-law, he is given feathers, hair, scales, etc.,
with which he can summon them in time of need. In our story, however,
Juan has no such labor-saving device: he has to visit his brothers
a second time when he desires aid against the giant.
The last part of our story turns on the idea of the "separable soul or
strength" of the dragon, snake, demon, giant, or other monster. This
idea has been fully discussed by Macculloch (chapter V). As this
conception is widespread in the Orient and is found in Malayan
literature (e.g., in "Bidasari"), there is no need of tracing its
occurrence in the Philippines to Europe. In the norm of this cycle,
the animal brothers-in-law help the hero perform tasks which the
king requires all suitors for his daughter's hand to perform. Here
the beasts help the hero secure the life and strength of the giant
who is holding the princess captive.
Taken as a whole, our story seems to have been imported into the
Philippines from the Occident, for the reason that no Oriental
analogues of it appear to exist, while not a few are known from
southern Europe. Our two variants are from the Tagalog province of
Batangas, and, so far as I know, the story is not found elsewhere
in the Islands. As suggested above, however, the introduction is
probably native, or at least very old, and the conclusion has been
modified by the influence of another cycle well known in the Orient.
Juan Wearing a Monkey's Skin.
Narrated by Lorenzo Licup, a Pampango from Angeles, Pampanga.
Once upon a time there was a couple which was at first childless. The
father was very anxious to have a son to inherit his property: so
he went to the church daily, and prayed God to give him a child,
but in vain. One day, in his great disappointment, the man exclaimed
without thinking, "O great God! let me have a son, even if it is in
the form of a monkey!" and only a few days later his wife gave birth
to a monkey. The father was so much mortified that he wanted to kill
his son; but finally his better reason prevailed, and he spared the
child. He said to himself, "It is my fault, I know; but I uttered
that invocation without thinking." So, instead of putting the monkey
to death, the couple just hid it from visitors; and whenever any one
asked for the child, they merely answered, "Oh, he died long ago."
The time came when the monkey grew to be old enough to marry. He
went to his father, and said, "Give me your blessing, father! for I
am going away to look for a wife." The father was only too glad to
be freed from this obnoxious son, so he immediately gave him his
blessing. Before letting him go, however, the father said to the
monkey, "You must never come back again to our house."
"Very well, I will not," said the monkey.
The monkey then left his father's house, and went to find his
fortune. One night he dreamed that there was a castle in the midst
of the sea, and that in this castle dwelt a princess of unspeakable
beauty. The princess had been put there so that no one might discover
her existence. The monkey, who had been baptized two days after
his birth and was named Juan, immediately repaired to the palace of
the king. There he posted a letter which read as follows: "I, Juan,
know that your Majesty has a daughter."
Naturally the king was very angry to have his secret discovered. He
immediately sent soldiers to look for Juan. Juan was soon found, and
brought to the palace. The king said to him, "How do you know that I
have a daughter? If you can bring her here, I will give her to you for
a wife. If not, however, your head shall be cut off from your body."
"O your Majesty!" said Juan, "I am sure that I can find her and
bring her here. I am willing to lose my head if within three days I
fail to fulfil my promise." After he had said this, Juan withdrew,
and sadly went out to look for the hidden princess.
As he was walking along the road, he heard the cry of a bird. He
looked up, and saw a bird caught between two boughs so that it could
not escape. The bird said to him, "O monkey! if you will but release
me, I will give you all I have."
"Oh, no!" said the monkey. "I am very hungry, and would much rather
"If you will but spare my life," said the bird, "I will give you
anything you want."
"On one condition only will I set you free," said the monkey. "You
must procure for me the ring of the princess who lives in the midst
of the sea."
"Oh, that's an easy thing to do," said the bird. So the monkey climbed
the tree and set the bird free.
The bird immediately flew to the island in the sea, where fortunately
it found the princess refreshing herself in her garden. The princess
was so charmed with the song of the bird, that she looked up, and said,
"O little bird! if you will only promise to live with me, I will give
you anything you want."
"All right," said the bird. "Give me your ring, and I will forever
live with you." The princess held up the ring; and the bird suddenly
snatched it and flew away with it. It gave the ring to the monkey,
who was, of course, delighted to get it.
Now the monkey jogged along the road until finally he saw three
witches. He approached them, and said to them, "You are the very
beings for whom I have spent the whole day looking. God has sent me
here from heaven to punish you for your evil doings toward innocent
persons. So I must eat you up."
Now, witches are said to be afraid of ill-looking persons, although
they themselves are the ugliest beings in all the world. So these
three were terribly frightened by the monkey's threat, and said,
"O sir! spare our lives, and we will do anything for you !"
"Very well, I will spare you if you can execute my order. From this
shore you must build a bridge which leads to the middle of the sea,
where the castle of the princess is situated."
"That shall be speedily done," replied the witches; and they at once
gathered leaves, which they put on their backs. Then they plunged into
the water. Immediately after them a bridge was built. Thus the monkey
was now able to go to the castle. Here he found the princess. She
was very much surprised to see this evil-looking animal before her;
but she was much more frightened when the monkey showed her the ring
which the bird had given him, and claimed her for his wife. "It is the
will of God that you should go with me," said the monkey, after the
princess had shown great repugnance towards him. "You either have to
go with me or perish." Thinking it was useless to attempt to resist
such a mighty foe, the princess finally yielded.
The monkey led her to the king's palace, and presented her before her
parents; but no sooner had the king and queen seen their daughter in
the power of the beast, than they swooned. When they had recovered,
they said simultaneously, "Go away at once, and never come back
here again, you girl of infamous taste! Who are you? You are not
the princess we left in the castle. You are of villain's blood, and
the very air which you exhale does suffocate us. So with no more ado
depart at once!"
The princess implored her father to have pity, saying that it was
the will of God that she should be the monkey's wife. "Perhaps I have
been enchanted by him, for I am powerless to oppose him." But all her
remonstrance was in vain. The king shut his ears against any deceitful
or flattering words that might fall from the lips of his faithless
and disobedient daughter. Seeing that the king was obstinate, the
couple turned their backs on the palace, and decided to find a more
hospitable home. So the monkey now took his wife to a neighboring
mountain, and here they settled.
One day the monkey noticed that the princess was very sad and pale. He
said to her, "Why are you so sad and unhappy, my darling? What is
"Nothing. I am just sorry to have only a monkey for my husband. I
become sad when I think of my past happiness."
"I am not a monkey, my dear. I am a real man, born of human
parents. Didn't you know that I was baptized by the priest, and
that my name is Juan?" As the princess would not believe him, the
monkey went to a neighboring hut and there cast off his disguise
(balit cayu). He at once returned to the princess. She was amazed to
see a sparkling youth of not more than twenty years of age--nay, a
prince--kneeling before her. "I can no longer keep you in ignorance,"
he said. "I am your husband, Juan."
"Oh, no! I cannot believe you. Don't try to deceive me! My husband is
a monkey; but, with all his defects, I still cling to him and love
him. Please go away at once, lest my husband find you here! He will
be jealous, and may kill us both."
"Oh, no! my darling, I am your husband, Juan. I only disguised myself
as a monkey."
But still the princess would not believe him. At last she said to him,
"If you are my real husband, you must give me a proof of the fact." So
Juan [we shall hereafter call him by this name] took her to the place
where he had cast off his monkey-skin. The princess was now convinced,
and said to herself, "After all, I was not wrong in the belief I have
entertained from the beginning,--that it was the will of God that I
should marry this monkey, this man."
Juan and the princess now agreed to go back to the palace and tell the
story. So they went. As soon as the king and queen saw the couple, they
were very much surprised; but to remove their doubt, Juan immediately
related to the king all that had happened. Thus the king and queen
were finally reconciled to the at first hated couple. Juan and his
wife succeeded to the throne on the death of the king, and lived
peacefully and happily during their reign.
The story is now ended. Thus we see that God compensated the father
and mother of Juan for their religious zeal by giving them a son, but
punished them for not being content with what He gave them by taking
the son away from them again, for Juan never recognized his parents.
A Bicol version, "The Monkey becomes King," narrated by Gregorio
Frondoso, who heard the story from an old man of his province, is
almost identical with this Pampango tale. There are a few slight
differences, however. "In the Bicol, the rich parents give their
monkey-offspring away to a man, who keeps the animal in a cage. Finally
the monkey manages to escape, and sets out on his travels. Now the
king of that country builds a high tower in the middle of the sea,
imprisons his daughter there, and promises her hand to the one who can
take her from the tower. The monkey succeeds, as in the Pampango. The
rest of the story is practically as given in the text, except that
the narrator mentions the fact that the monkey's parents fall into
poverty, and in their distress seek aid from their son, now become
king. However, he refuses to recognize them, because of their former
harshness to him, and drives them away." With both these stories may
be compared two other Filipino tales already in print, "The Enchanted
Shell" (JAFL 20 : 90-91) and "The Living Head" (ibid., 19 : 106).
The "Animal Child" cycle, of which our story and its variants are
members is widely spread throughout Europe. The main incidents of
this group are the following.
A In accordance with the wish of the parents, a child in the form
of an animal is brought into the world. This phenomenon usually
takes place in consequence of a too vehement prayer for children,
or an inconsiderate wish for a son even if he should prove to be only
B The animal offspring grows up, is married usually through his own
ingenuity, and is finally disenchanted through the burning of his
animal disguise either with or without his consent.
European representatives of this type are Grimm, Nos. 108, 144;
Von Hahn, Nos. 14, 31, 43, 57, 100; Wuk, No. 9; Proehle, No. 13;
Straparola 2 : i; Basile, No. 15; Schott, No. 9; Pitre, No. 56 (see
also his notes); Comparetti, Nos. 9, 66. Compare also Koehler-Bolte,
318-319. Related Oriental forms of this story are discussed by Benfey,
1 : 254 ff. (section 92).
Although our stories are related to this large family of "Animal Child"
tales, it appears to be the Oriental branch rather than the Occidental
with which they are the more closely connected. The monkey-child, the
castle in the midst of the sea, the building of the bridge from the
mainland to the island, the retirement of the monkey and his royal
wife to live in the forest,--all suggest vaguely but unmistakably
Indian material. I am unable to point to any particular story as
source, and our tale appears to have incorporated in it other Maerchen
motifs; but it seems to be faintly reminiscent of the "Ramayana." The
imprisoning or hiding of a princess, and the promise of her hand to
the one who can discover her, are found in our No. 21 (q.v.). No. 29,
too, should be compared.
Among the Santals, the theme of a girl's marrying a monkey is common
in Maerchen (see Bompas, No. XV, "The Monkey Boy;" No. XXXII, "The
Monkey and the Girl;" and No. LXX, "The Monkey Husband"). In none of
these stories, however, is there a transformation of the animal into
a human being.
How Salaksak Became Rich.
Narrated by Lorenzo Licup, a Pampango from Angeles, Pampanga.
Once upon a time there lived two brothers. The elder was named Cucunu,
and the younger Salaksak. Their parents were dead, so they divided the
property that had been left to them. In accordance with this division,
each received a cow and a piece of land. Salaksak separated from his
brother, and built a small house of his own.
Now, the rice of Cucunu grew faster than that of his brother: so
his brother became jealous of him. One night Salaksak turned his
cow loose in his brother's field. When Cucunu heard of this, he went
to his brother, and said to him, "If you let your cow come into my
field again, I shall whip you." But Salaksak paid no attention to
his brother's threat, and again he let his cow go into the field of
Cucunu. At last his brother grew so impatient that he killed the
cow. When Salaksak went to look for his animal, all he found was
its skin. As he was ashamed of his deed and afraid of his brother,
he dared not accuse him: so he took the skin and put it into a basket.
Not long afterward several hundred cows passed him along the road. He
followed them. While the herdsmen were eating their dinner, Salaksak
threw his skin among the cows. Then he went up to the hut where the
herdsmen were, and said to the chief of the herdsmen, "Friend, it is
now a week since I lost my cow, and I am afraid that she has become
mixed up with your herd. Please be so kind, therefore, as to count
them." The chief immediately went over to where the cows were. As
he was counting them, Salaksak picked up the skin, and, shaking his
head, he said, "Alas! here is the mark of my cow, and this must be my
cow's skin. You must pay me a thousand pesos, or else you shall be
imprisoned. My cow was easily worth a thousand pesos; for when she
was alive, she used to drop money every day." In their great fear,
the herdsmen paid Salaksak the money at once.
Salaksak now went home and told his brother of his good fortune. Hoping
to become as rich as his brother, Cucunu immediately killed his cow. He
took the skin with him, and left the flesh to Salaksak. As he was in
the street calling out, "Who wants to buy a hide?" he was summoned
by the ruler of the town, and was accused of having stolen the hide,
and he was whipped so badly that he could hardly walk home.
Maddened by the disgrace he had suffered, Cucunu burned the house
of his brother one day while he was away. When Salaksak came home,
he found nothing but ashes. These he put into a sack, however, and
set out to seek his fortune again. On his way he overtook an old
man who was carrying a bag of money on his back. Salaksak asked him,
"Are you going to the ruler's house?"
"Yes," replied the old man, "I have to give this money to him."
"I am sorry for you, old man. I, too, am going to the palace. What
do you say to exchanging loads? Mine is very light in comparison
"With all my heart, kind boy!" said the old man; and so they exchanged
After they had travelled together a short distance, Salaksak said,
"Old man, you seem to be stronger when you have a light load. Let me
see how fast you can run." The old man, having no suspicion of his
companion, walked ahead as fast as he could. As soon as Salaksak came
to a safe place along the road to hide, he deserted his companion. He
went to his brother's house, and told him that he had gotten a sack
of silver for a sack of ashes.
"Why," said his brother, "my house is bigger than yours! I ought to
get two sacks of ashes if I burn it. I think that would be a good
bargain." So he burned his house, too. Then he went through the town,
crying, "Who wants to buy ashes?"
"What a foolish man!" said the housewives. "Why should we buy ashes
when we don't know what to do with those that come from our own
stoves?" When Cucunu came near the house of the ruler, the ruler said
to his servants, "I think that fellow is the same one I bade you whip
before. Call him in and give him a good thrashing, for he is only
making a fool of himself." So Cucunu was summoned and lashed again.
Thoroughly enraged, Cucunu determined that his brother should not
deceive him a third time. He thought and thought of what he should
do to get rid of him. At last he decided to throw his brother into
the river. For this purpose he made a strong cage. One day he caught
his brother and confined him in it.
"I will give you three days to repent," said Cucunu. "Now you cannot
deceive me any more." He then left his brother in the cage by the
bank of the river.
As a young man was passing by, Salaksak began to cry out, "They have
put me into this cage because I do not want to marry the ruler's
daughter." The young man, who had vainly striven for the hand of the
girl, immediately approached Salaksak, and said, "If you will let
me take your place, so that I may marry her, I will give you all the
cows I have with me."
So by this trick Salaksak escaped. Cucunu, thinking that the man
in the cage was his brother, would not listen to what he said, but
unmercifully threw him into the river. A few days later, Salaksak
went to his brother's house, and told him that it was quite beautiful
under the water. "There," he said, "I saw our father and mother. They
told me I was not old enough to stay with them, so they sent me back
here with a large number of cows."
"Well, well!" said Cucunu, "I too must go see our parents." He then
hastened to the river, and threw himself in and was drowned. Thus
Salaksak grew rich because of his craftiness.
Clever Juan and Envious Diego.
Narrated by Pablo Anzures, a Tagalog from Manila, who heard the story
from another Tagalog from Santa Maria, Bulakan.
There were once two brothers named Diego and Juan. Their father had
died a long time before, so they lived only with their good mother. In
character these two brothers were very different. Diego, the older,
was envious and foolish; Juan was clever.
One morning, while Diego was away, Juan called his mother, and said,
"Mother, help me fool Diego! Please lie down as if you were dead;
and when he arrives, I will blow air through your nose through
a bamboo tube. As soon as you feel me blowing, get up and try to
look like a woman that has risen from the dead." His mother agreed
to do all that she had been told. Then Juan watched and waited for
Diego. When he saw him coming, he called to his mother and told her
to lie down. Then he pretended to be crying.
When Diego came in and saw his brother, he said, "Juan, why are
"Don't you see? Our mother is dead," said Juan. Then Diego felt very
sorry, and he too began to weep. Juan then said, "O brother! I remember
that I have a magic instrument that resuscitates dead persons." He
opened his trunk and took out a short bamboo tube, and began to blow
through it into his mother's nose. His mother then pretended to revive,
as she had been told. Diego rejoiced; he too was very much surprised
at his brother's possession.
The next day the envious Diego stole the bamboo tube and went to
the churchyard. There he waited for a funeral to pass by. After a
short time the funeral procession of a small boy came along. Diego
stopped it, and called to the mother of the boy, "Don't cry! your son
is only sleeping. Lay him down here, and you will soon see that he
is alive." The mother then ordered the carriers to lay the coffin on
the ground. Diego took out his bamboo tube, and, after he had opened
the coffin, he began to blow air into the boy's nose; but the boy did
not move. He blew harder and harder, but the boy remained as stiff
and lifeless as ever. Then the mother of the dead boy became angry;
she kicked Diego, and said, "You are only trying to fool us!" Diego
was very much ashamed, so he threw away the bamboo tube and ran home.
Some days later the mother of Diego and Juan became ill and died. She
left her sons two carabaos for an inheritance. As Diego was the
older, he took the fat carabao for himself, and gave the thin one
to Juan. Juan was angry: so he killed his carabao, and decided to
sell the hide. He tried to sell it in the neighboring villages,
but he could not find a buyer. He then walked on and on until he
came to a forest. Not very far off, and coming towards him, he saw
a band of Tulisanes.  They were on horseback, and had a large
amount of treasure with them. Juan was afraid: so he climbed a tree,
and hid himself with his hide among the branches and leaves. He
had no more than concealed himself when the Tulisanes came up and
stopped to eat under that very tree. Juan watched them closely. He
unintentionally moved the hide which was on the branch beside him,
and it fell crashing down on the Tulisanes. Frightened by this most
unexpected noise, they ran away as fast as they could, not stopping
to take anything with them. Juan descended quickly, mounted a horse,
and made off with as much as he could carry.
When he reached home, his brother said to him, "Where did you get
all those riches?" Juan replied that he had been given them by the
neighboring villages in return for his carabao-hide. Again Diego
envied his brother. He went out and killed his fat carabao and dried
its hide. Next he went to the neighboring villages and tried to sell
it; but many days passed, and still no one would buy.
Now Diego was very angry. He took a wooden box and put his brother
inside. He bound the box and carried it to the seashore. He was about
to throw it into the water when he remembered that it was not locked:
so he left it, and went back to the house to get the key. Meanwhile
a Chinese peddler selling gold rings came along. Juan heard him, and
shouted, "Chino, Chino, come and see these beautiful and precious
things inside!" The Chinaman approached, and opened the box. Juan
came out, and said, "I will put you inside, and you will see many
beautiful things in the bottom." The Chinaman was willing, so Juan
put him in and closed the box. He then took the Chino's gold rings
and ran away. Not many minutes later Diego came up, and, after locking
the box, he threw it into the ocean.
That same day, while Diego was eating his dinner, Juan came along
with some fine gold rings. Diego was astonished to see his brother,
and said, "How did you manage to get out of the box, and where did
you get those rings?" Juan answered that he sank to the bottom of
the ocean, where he saw his mother, and that she had given him all
those rings. The foolish Diego believed everything that Juan told him,
so he asked his brother to put him into a box and throw him into the
ocean. Juan lost no time in obeying. He got a box, put Diego inside,
took it to the seashore, and there cast it into the deep water. After
that Juan lived happily for many years.
Ruined because of Invidiousness.
Narrated by Facundo Esquivel, a Tagalog from Jaen, Nueva Ecija,
who was told the story when he was a boy.
In time out of memory there lived two brothers, Pedro and Juan. Pedro
was rich, for he had a large herd of cattle: consequently he did not
have much use for his younger brother, who was very poor. Juan had
nothing that he could call his own but a cow. One day, disappointed
over his life of poverty, he killed his cow, and some days afterward
he set out to find his fortune. He took nothing with him but the
hide of his cow. When he reached the next town, he saw large piles of
cattle-hides in front of a butcher's shop. Late that night he stole
out secretly and put the skin of his cow in one of the piles. The
next morning he went to the shop to talk with the butcher.
"Mr. Butcher," he said, "I have come here to look for my lost cow. Have
you not killed a cow with a mark J on the right hip?"
"No," answered the honest man, "all the cows which were killed here
came from my herd out there in the mountains."
Juan stood musing for a few moments, and then said, "Let us look
through these piles of hide to see whether you killed my cow or not!"
"All right," answered the butcher, and so they began the investigation.
When they found the hide which Juan had put there, he began to quarrel
with the man. "You must pay me five hundred pesos for my cow, or else I
shall bring a law-suit before the court against you," he said angrily.
"I wonder how this could have happened!" the butcher exclaimed.
"There is no use of wondering," said Juan impatiently. "You stole
my cow, and now you have to pay for it." The man, who was very much
afraid of being brought before the court, gave Juan the five hundred
pesos; and Juan went away with the money in his pocket, and the hide
on his head.
On his way home he came to a tree standing at a cross-roads. He was
very tired and thirsty, but he could not find a house where to ask
for water. He climbed the tree to look for a place to go to, but,
instead of a house, he saw a company of armed men coming down the
road. The men stopped under the tree to rest. Juan was so terrified
that he hardly knew what to do. As he was trembling with fright, the
hide fell down from the tree and frightened the men away. They thought
that it was a curse from heaven because of their misdeeds. When Juan
realized that the men were gone, he recovered from his fright and
quickly descended. There on the ground he saw a number of sacks full
of money, and, loading a horse with two of the sacks, he started for
his home town.
As soon as he reached his house, he went to his brother's to borrow a
salop.  Then he inserted several pesetas and ten-centavo pieces
in the cracks of the salop, and returned the measure. When Pedro saw
the coins sticking in the cracks of his measure, he said, "What did
you do with the salop?"
"I measured money," said Juan.
"Where did you get the money?" Pedro demanded.
"Where did I get the money?" retorted Juan. "Don't you know that I
went to the neighboring town to sell my cowhide?"
"Yes," said Pedro. Then he added, "The price of hides there must be
very high, I suppose."
"There is no supposing about it," said Juan. "Just think! one hide
is worth two sacks of money."
Pedro, who was envious of his brother's good fortune, killed all
his cattle, old and young, and threw the meat into the river. The
he started with several carretons  full of hides; but he
was disappointed when he came to the town, for nobody would buy
hides. Discouraged and tired out, he returned. He found Juan living
comfortably in a fine new home. Thus Pedro lost all his property
because of his invidiousness.
The Two Friends.
Narrated by Tomas V. Vargas (of Iloilo?).
Once there lived in a certain village two friends, Juan and
Andres. Juan, a very rich man, was tall, big, and strong; while Andres,
a very poor man, was small, weak, and short. Andres worked very hard
to earn his living, while Juan spent most of his time on pleasure.
One morning Andres went to his friend Juan, and asked to borrow one
of his mules. Juan consented, but told Andres that, if any one should
ask who the owner of the mule was, he should tell the truth. Andres
promised, and went off with the mule. He set to work immediately to
plough his small farm. Very soon two neighbors of Andres passed by,
and, seeing him with a mule, asked him where he got it. Andres said
that he had bought it. The men wondered how a poor man like Andres
could buy a mule, and they spread the news about the village. When
this news reached Juan, he was very angry, and he ordered his servant
to go bring back the mule. The animal was brought back, and Juan was
determined not to lend it to his friend any more.
A week later two of Juan's mules, including that which Andres had
borrowed, died. Juan threw the carcasses away, but Andres took the
skins of those dead mules and dried them to sell in the next town.
The next day Andres set out for the town, resting now and then on
account of his heavy load. He was overtaken by night near a solitary
house between his village and the town where he was going to sell the
hides. He knocked at the house, and asked a woman he found there for
a night's lodging. She told him that she could not do anything for him
until her husband arrived. So Andres had to wait on the road near the
house. Not long afterwards a man came towards the house. Andres went
up to him, and asked him if he was the master of the house; but the
man said he was not, so Andres had to go back to the road. From where
he was sitting, Andres could see that the woman inside was preparing
a good supper for the stranger, who meanwhile had entered. While she
and the stranger were sitting at the table, Andres saw another man
approaching in the distance. The woman hastily opened a big empty
trunk and hid the man inside, then she put all the cooked fish in
When the other man, who was the husband, arrived, Andres asked for
a night's lodging, and was received kindly. While the husband and
Andres were talking, the wife told them that supper was ready, and
they went to the table to eat: but there they found nothing for them
but rice; so Andres told the husband that he had an enchanted hide,
and that they could have fish if he wished. The husband wished to see
the skin tested. Andres ordered the skin to bring a man into the trunk;
and when the trunk was opened, there was the man. Next he ordered the
skin to bring cooked fish to the cupboard; and when the cupboard was
opened, there was the cooked fish. The husband then offered Andres
a very high price for the enchanted skin, and Andres willingly sold it.
Early the next morning Andres left the house before the others were
up. It was not long, however, before the husband found out that the
skin was not magic, and he was determined to punish the skin-seller
if he should catch him again. Meanwhile Andres had returned to the
village. There he met Juan, who, noticing the money in his pocket,
asked him where he had gotten it. Andres told him that it was the price
of the skins of his dead mules, which he had sold in the neighboring
town. On hearing this, Juan went directly home, killed all his mules,
and flayed them. As he was passing by the solitary house on his way
to the town, he cried out that he had skins for sale. The husband in
the house thought that it must be the same man who had sold him the
enchanted skin, so he went down and whipped Juan nearly to death.
After this experience, Juan returned home, determined to kill his
friend. But Andres was very cunning, and avoided him. Finally Juan,
angry beyond all measure, killed the mother of Andres. When Andres
found that his mother was dead, he dressed her very well and took her
to town. Then he went directly to the town doctor, to whom he explained
definitely the sickness of his mother. The doctor immediately prepared
medicine for the patient; but just after she had been given the
medicine, he noticed that the woman was dead. Andres then accused him
of having poisoned his mother; and the doctor, fearing the consequences
if Andres should seek justice, agreed to pay him a large sum of money.
Andres returned to his village richer than ever. Juan became friendly
again, and asked him where he had gotten his money. Andres told him
that it was the price of his mother's corpse, which he had sold in the
town. When Juan heard this, he went home and killed his mother. Then
he took the corpse to town to sell it; but, as he was passing along
the street, a crowd of men began to abuse him, and he narrowly escaped
with his life.
Now, Juan was determined not to let Andres escape him. He was after
him all the time. Finally one day he caught Andres. He put him inside
a sack and carried it down to the seashore. On the way to the sea, he
saw a house, and, wishing to have a smoke, he left Andres on the road,
and went to the house to get a light. Meanwhile Andres, who was bound
in the sack, was crying out that he did not wish to marry the daughter
of the king, and that he was being forced against his will. At this
instant a cowboy with his herd of cows passed by. He heard Andres,
and said that he was willing to marry the king's daughter. Andres told
him to unbind the sack, then. He did so, and Andres put the cowherd
in his stead. Then Andres hurried away with the cows. Juan came back,
picked up the sack, and threw it into the sea. When he returned home,
he found Andres there with a fine herd of cows. He asked Andres where
he had found them, and Andres said that he had gotten them from under
the sea. So Juan, envious as ever, ordered Andres to put him in a
sack and throw him into the sea. Andres gladly did so.
Juan the Orphan.
Narrated by Leopoldo Uichanco, a Tagalog from Calamba, La Laguna.
There once lived a boy whose name was Juan. His parents had died,
leaving Juan nothing but a horse. As he did not have a place at home
in which to keep the animal, he begged his Uncle Diego to let the
horse stay in his stable. From time to time Juan went to the stable
to feed his horse. He loved the animal, and took as great care of it
as a father would of a son.
One day Uncle Diego noticed that Juan's horse was growing fatter and
more beautiful than any of his own animals. In his envy he killed the
horse of his nephew, and said to the innocent boy that the animal had
been stricken by "bad air." Being thus deprived of his sole wealth,
Juan cut off the best meat from the dead horse, and with this food
for his only provision he set out to seek his fortune in another
country. On his way through a forest he came across an old man dying
of starvation; but the old man had with him a bag full of money.
"Pray," said the old man, talking with difficulty in his pain and
weakness, "what have you in your sack, my son?"
"Some dried horse-meat," said Juan.
"Let me see!" The old man looked into the sack, and saw with watering
mouth the sweet-smelling meat. "Will you exchange your sack of meat
for my sack of money?" he said to Juan. "I have money here, but I
cannot eat it. Nor can I go to the town to buy food, because I am too
weak. Since you are stronger, my son, pray take this sack of money in
exchange, and go to the town and buy meat with it for yourself. For
God's sake, leave this meat to me! I am starving to death."
Juan accepted the money in exchange for his meat, and pretended to
feel great pity for the old man. He put the heavy bag of money on his
shoulder, and with difficulty carried it home. "Uncle Diego!" Juan
called out from the foot of his uncle's ladder, "come here! Please
come here and help me carry this bag upstairs!"
"Tremendous sum of money," Uncle Diego remarked to his nephew. "Where
did you get it?"
"I sold the meat of my dead horse. This is what I got for it,"
The uncle once more became jealous of Juan. "If with only one horse,"
he muttered to himself, "he could gain so much money, how much should I
get for my fifteen horses!" So he killed all the horses he had in his
stable and cut the meat from them. Then he placed the meat in bags,
and, carrying two on his shoulders, he cried as he went along the
street, "Meat, meat! Horse-meat! Who wishes to buy fresh horse-meat?"
"How much?" asked a gray-headed old woman who was looking out of
"Three hundred ninety-nine thousand pesos, ninety-nine pesetas,
six and one half centavos a pound," said Uncle Diego.
The people who heard him only laughed, and thought that something was
the matter with his head. Nobody would buy his meat. Nobody cared to
deal with him in earnest, and all his meat decayed.
He went home in despair, and planned to take vengeance on his nephew
for the mischief he had done him. He cast the little orphan into
a big sack, and sewed the mouth of the little prison all up. Then
he said that at night he would take the sack and throw it into the
river. However, Juan managed to get out of the bag, and in his place
he put a muzzled dog. When night came, the uncle shouldered the bag,
took it to the river, and hurled it into the deep water. He hoped
that Juan would perish there, and that he himself could gain full
possession of his nephew's money.
But when morning came, Uncle Diego saw Juan smilingly enter the door
of his house. "Juan," said the uncle, "I am surprised to see you
again. Tell me all about how you managed to escape from the sack."
"Oh, no, Uncle!" returned Juan, "I haven't time; there is not a moment
to lose. I have only come here to bid you good-by."
"And where are you going?"
"Back to the bottom of the river. My love, the Sirena,  is waiting
"O Juan!" pleaded the uncle, "if I could only go with you!"
"No, no, no!" protested the boy. "Only one can go at a time. The
Sirena would be angry, and she would consequently refuse to admit to
her glorious habitation any being from this outside world."
"Then let me go first!"
"No, no, no!" said the boy.
But the uncle pleaded so earnestly, that finally the boy yielded with
pretended reluctance. The uncle then covered himself with a rice-sack,
and Juan tied the mouth of the bag securely. "I will fool him," Uncle
Diego said to himself. "When I am under the water and the Sirena
takes me to her house to become her husband, I shall never come back
to Juan. Ha, ha, ha!"
"I will fool him," Juan said to himself. "There is no such thing as
the Sirena in the river. Thank God, my dreadful uncle will soon be
disposed of!" At midnight Juan hurled his happy uncle into the river,
saying, "There is no one who owes that must not pay his debt. 
May my act be justified!"
The heavy sack sank to the bottom of the river, and nothing more was
heard of Uncle Diego.
Two other variants, which were collected by Mr. Rusk, and which I
have only in abstract, run about as follows:--
Juan the Ashes-Trader.--Juan, a poor dealer in ashes, was in the woods
when he heard some robbers coming, and climbed a tree for safety. While
they were busy at the foot of the tree, counting their money, he
dropped the sack of ashes among them. They ran away in fright, and he
acquired all their gold. When the people of the town heard Juan tell
how valuable ashes had become, they all burned their houses and took
the ashes to the forest, where they arrived just in time to suffer from
the wrath of the robbers. Only two escaped to accuse Juan; but Juan
was already on a journey, doing good with his money. A dying woman,
whom he helped, gave him a magic cane; and when the angry villagers
at last found him, he summoned a legion of soldiers by means of his
cane, and all of his assailants were killed. [With the second half
of this story, cf. No. 28 and notes.]
Colassit and Colaskel.--Colassit was good but poor; Colaskel, rich
but bad. Colaskel, quarrelling with Colassit, killed the latter's
only carabao. Colassit skinned his dead animal, and took the hide to
Laoag to sell it, but could find no purchaser. At night he asked for
shelter at a house, but was refused on the ground that the husband was
away from home; yet he boldly staid under the house. At midnight he
heard the clatter of dishes above, looked up through a hole in the
floor, and saw the woman dining merrily with a man. Just then the
husband arrived home and knocked at the door. Colassit saw the woman
put her paramour into a box in the corner, and the food in another
box. Colassit now appeared at the door, and was invited in by the
hospitable husband. On being asked what was in his bag, Colassit
replied that it was a miraculous thing, which, when it made a noise,
as it had a moment before when he had stepped on it, desired to say
something. On being asked to interpret, Colassit said that the skin
told him that there was delicious food in one of the boxes. Thereupon
the food was produced. Now, it was said in the neighborhood that
this house was haunted by the Devil, and the owner thought this a
good opportunity to find out by magic where the Devil was. Colassit
interpreted for the carabao-hide. The Devil was in the other box,
he said. After tying the box with heavy ropes, Colassit started
toward the river with it. He repeated a jingle which informed the
man inside of his imminent fate. The latter replied (also in verse)
that he would give a thousand pesos ransom. Colassit accepted,
and so became rich. [The narrator says that this is only one of ten
adventures belonging to the complete story. It is a pity that the
other nine are missing.]
The cycle of tales to which all our variants belong, and which
may appropriately be called the "Master Cheat" cycle, is one of
the most popular known. It occurs in many different forms; indeed,
the very nature of the story--merely a succession of incidents in
which a poor but shrewd knave outwits his rich friend or enemy (the
distinction matters little to the narrator), and finally brings about
his enemy's death while he himself becomes rich--is such as to admit
of indefinite expansion, so far as the number and variety of the
episodes are concerned. There have been at least four comprehensive
descriptive or bibliographical studies of this cycle made,--Koehler's
(on Campbell's Gaelic story, No. 39), Cosquin's (notes to Nos. 10
and 20), Clouston's (2 : 229-288), and Bolte-Polivka's (on Grimm,
No. 61). Of these, the last, inasmuch as it is the latest (1914)
and made use of all the preceding, is the most complete. From it
(2 : 10) we learn that the characteristic incidents of this family
of drolls are as follows:--
A1 A rabbit (goat, bird) as carrier of messages. A2 A wolf sold for
B A gold-dropping ass (or horse).
C A self-cooking vessel.
D A hat which pays the landlord.
E1 Dirt (ashes) given (sold, substituted) for gold. E2 Money which
was alleged to be in a chest, demanded from the storer of the chest.
F1 Cowhide (or "talking" bird) sold to adulteress, or (F2) sold to
her husband, or (F3) exchanged for the chest in which the paramour
is concealed, or (F4) elsewhere exchanged for money.
G1 A flute (fiddle, staff, knife) which apparently brings to life
again the dead woman. G2 The dead mother killed a second time, and
paid for by the supposed murderer.
H Escape of the hero from the sack (chest) by exchanging places with
J Death of the envious one, who wishes to secure some "marine cattle."
The opponents in this group of stories, says Bolte, "are either
village companions, or unacquainted marketers, or a rich and an
avaricious brother." In addition to the episodes enumerated above,
might be mentioned two others not uncommonly found in this cycle:--
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