Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Three Brothers

Once upon a time there was a great king who had three sons. The oldest
was named Pedro, the next Pablo, and the youngest Juan. One day their
father called them to him, and giving each one a small sum of money,
said: "Go and seek for yourselves wives, for I am getting old and
wish to see you settled down before I die. The one who gets the most
beautiful wife shall have the kingdom. In addition to the money I
have given you, you may each have a horse from my stables."

Pedro and Pablo rushed off and secured the best horses, so that when
Juan, who had stopped to thank his father, arrived at the stable,
he found only an old horse, scarcely able to walk. However, he
determined to set out; but after getting a mile or so from home, he
saw that it was impossible to go farther, so sat down on a well-curb
and wept bitterly. While he was weeping, a frog floated to the top of
the water and asked what the matter was, and Juan told him all about
his trouble. The frog said: "Never mind. Go to sleep for an hour and
I will look for a wife for you."

At the end of the hour the frog awoke Juan and said: "Go home now,
and tell your father that you have found a wife." Juan did so,
and found his brothers at home, each claiming to have found a
wife. Their father said: "I wish to test your wives. Here are three
handkerchiefs. Each of you must take one of them to his bride and
have it embroidered." They took the handkerchiefs and departed; but
Juan, when he had arrived at the well, sat down as before and wept,
because he thought that now he would surely be found out.

The frog floated again to the surface of the well and asked Juan
what the matter was. Juan replied, "I told my father that I had
found a wife, as you bade me, and now he wishes to test my wife,
to see if she is a suitable mate for me, and has sent me with this
handkerchief for her to embroider. I do not know what to do, for now
my father will surely find out that I have deceived him, and I shall be
disgraced." The frog said: "Do not worry. Give me your handkerchief and
go to sleep for an hour and I will have it embroidered for you." At
the end of the hour the frog brought to Juan the handkerchief, all
beautifully embroidered. When Juan arrived at home, he found his
brothers there, each with his handkerchief beautifully embroidered,
but Juan's handkerchief was embroidered the most beautifully of all.

Then their father said: "Your wives, evidently, can embroider well,
but I must see how they can cook. Here are three cows. Each of you
must take one of them and have your wife cook it." The brothers went
off with the cows, but Juan led his cow to the well in which the frog
lived, and, as before, sat down and began to weep. After a while the
frog came to the top of the water and asked: "Why are you weeping so
bitterly?" "Oh, my dear frog! Here is a cow which my father says my
wife must cook. What shall I do?" The frog replied: "Go to sleep for
an hour and I will cook the meat for you." Juan went to sleep, and at
the end of the hour the frog woke him, and showing him the cow cooked
whole, said: "Take this home and when you have carried it upstairs,
break off one horn and see what will happen." Juan took the roast cow
home, and when he arrived there found his brothers before him, with
their meat roasted. Juan carried his cow upstairs and each animal
was placed upon a table by itself. The king tasted Pedro's meat,
and found it too salt. Then he tried Pablo's, and found it not salt
enough. When he approached the table on which Juan's meat was laid,
Juan broke off one of the cow's horns, and immediately a beautiful
service of silver dishes, enough for twelve persons, rolled out, each
dish taking its proper place upon the table, with the roast cow in
the midst. Then the king and his councillors sat down to the feast,
and when they had tasted the meat, they found it just right.

On the next day the king ordered his sons to bring their wives to the
palace, so that he might decide which was the most beautiful. Juan was
in more trouble than ever, for now he was sure of being discovered;
so he went to the well again, weeping bitterly and calling aloud
for the frog. In a few minutes the frog appeared, and to him Juan
related his trouble. The frog said: "Under that tree is a hammock; go
to sleep in it for an hour, and three women will wake you by shaking
the hammock. Take the middle one and return home, for that one is to
be your wife." All happened as the frog had said. Juan took the woman
home with him, and as he approached the house, his father was looking
out of the window. When the king saw how beautiful Juan's wife was,
he was so overcome with joy that he fainted. When he had recovered,
he declared Juan's wife was the most beautiful woman he had ever
seen. So to Juan was given the kingdom. Pedro became the palace
coachman, and Pablo the cook.

Berton L. Maxfield, Ph. B.

Brooklyn, N. Y.

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