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Juan And Maria Post by :Rob_Jean Category :Short Stories Author :Dean S. Fansler Date :November 2011 Read :1520

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Juan And Maria

Narrated by Anicio Pascual of Arayat, Pampanga, who says, "This story is often told by Pampangan grandmothers to their grandchildren. I have heard it many times. Lately it was told to me again by an old woman."

Once there lived in a barrio an old beggar couple. They had a son named Juan, and a daughter Maria. The proceeds from their begging were hardly enough to support the family. One day, after the old man had returned home from town, he ordered his wife to cook the rice that had been given him. The old woman obeyed him. When he saw that the rice was not enough for him and his wife and children, he angrily said to her, "From now on, don't let me see our children in this house. Chase them as far as you can, and let them find their own food." The old mother wept when she heard the words of her cruel husband. She did not want to be separated from her children; but she feared that she would be whipped if she kept them, so she obeyed the cruel order. At first the poor children did not want to go away; but, when they saw that their bad father was going to kick them, they ran off crying.

Soon the children came to a wild forest. "Maria, what will become of us here?" said Juan. "I am very hungry," said the little girl. "I don't think that I can get you any food in this wilderness," said the kind brother, "but let me see!" He then looked around. By good luck he found a guava-tree with one small fruit on it. He immediately climbed up for the guava, and gave it to his hungry sister. Then the two children resumed their journey.

As they were walking along, Maria found a hen's egg on the grass. She picked it up and carried it along with her in her dirty ragged skirt. At last they saw a very small hut roofed with dry talahib (coarse, long grass). An old woman in the hut welcomed them, and asked them where they were going. After Juan had told her their story, she invited the tired children to stay in the hut with her. She promised that she would treat them as her little son and daughter. From that time on, Juan and Maria lived with the kind old woman. Juan grew to be a strong fine man, and Maria became a beautiful young woman. Juan spent almost all his time hunting in the mountains and woods.

One morning he caught a black deer. While he was taking the animal home, the deer said to him, "Juan, as soon as you reach your home, kill me, eat my flesh, and put my hide in your trunk. After three days open your trunk, and you will see something astonishing." When Juan reached home, he did as the deer had told him to do. On the third day he found in the trunk golden armor. He was greatly delighted by the precious gift.

Maria had not been living long with the old woman when she found that the egg had hatched into a chick, which soon grew into a fine fighting cock. One morning the cock crowed, "Tok-to-ko-kok! Take me to the cockpit. I'll surely win!" Maria told the old woman what the cock had said, and the next Sunday Juan took the fighting cock to the cockpit. There the rooster was victorious, and won much money for Juan.

One day Juan heard that a tournament would be held in front of the king's palace. The winner of the contest was to become the husband of the princess, and would inherit the throne. Juan quickly put on his golden armor, and hastened to the palace to try his skill. He defeated all his opponents. The next day his bridal ceremony was celebrated, and the crown was placed on his head. That very day he ascended the throne to rule over the kingdom. Although Juan was now king, he was not proud. He and the queen visited Maria to get her to live in the palace; but the old woman would not allow her to go with her brother, as she had no other companion in the hut.

One day a prince was lost in the forest. He happened to come across the hut in which Maria was living. He fell in love with her, and wanted to marry her. As the old woman offered no objections to the proposal of the prince, the following day Maria became a queen, just as her brother had become king. Although the parents of Juan and Maria had been very cruel, yet the king and queen did not forget them. The brother and sister visited their father and mother, whom they found in the most wretched condition. When the father saw that his children had become king and queen, he wept greatly for his former cruelty to them.


A Tagalog folk-tale printed in the "Journal of American Folk-Lore" (20 : 306), "Tagalog Babes in the Woods," is related to our story. "There the twins Juan and Maria are driven to the forest by their cruel father. After days of wandering, Juan climbs a tree, and sees in the distance a house. They approach it, and, having asked permission to enter, are invited in; but there is no one to be seen in this magic house, although food and drink and clothing are supplied the two wanderers in abundance." The story is evidently incomplete. It is based on a metrical romance, "The Life of the Brother and Sister, Juan and Maria, in the Kingdom of Spain," of which I will give a brief synopsis, since the chap-book version contains details which are lacking in the fragment cited above.

This metrical romance is printed in both Tagalog and Pampangan. My Tagalog copy, which contains 1836 lines, bears the date 1910, but is clearly a reprint. The Pampangan text is slightly shorter, with 1812 lines. Retana (No. 4164) cites a Pampangan version some time between the years 1860 and 1898, and a later reprint of 1902 (No. 4349). The summary that follows is based on the Tagalog.

Juan and Maria.

During the reign of King Charles the Fifth there lived in Spain a poor couple, Fernando and Juana. They had a son Juan, ten years old, and a daughter Maria, but eight months in age. Fernando was very cruel to his wife and children. He was also very selfish. During meal-times he ate alone, without inviting the rest of his family to eat with him.

One day Fernando said to his wife, "You must send our two children away. If my command is not executed, your life shall answer for your disobedience." The broken-hearted mother summoned her children, and with tears in her eyes told them of the cruel order of their father. The children had to obey their father, for they feared him, and so set off for the mountains. For many days they wandered around, living on wild fruits, and sleeping under trees.

One day Juan was greatly surprised to hear Maria ask for some water to drink, for she had never spoken before. They were far from any stream, and Juan did not know what to do to satisfy his sister. At last he climbed a tree to see whether there was any water near by, and he saw in a valley not far off a beautiful house surrounded with flowers. Juan quickly came down the tree, and the two children set out for the house. When they reached it, they knocked at the door, but no one answered. After knocking again in vain, the boy decided to enter. He pushed open the door, and found himself in a golden salon, luxuriously furnished with gold and silver chairs. On the silver wall hung an image of the Immaculate Conception. The two children knelt down in front of the image and prayed. Then they went to the dining-room, where they found a golden table with exquisite dishes of all kinds.

Several years passed by. Under the care of the Virgin, Maria grew to be a beautiful young woman. One day, as Maria was praying, the Virgin spoke to her through the image. She said that the gallant prince of Borgoña would come to the mountains to hunt deer, and that he would lose his way in the woods. He would come to their house to ask for some water, and would fall in love with Maria. Everything turned out as had been predicted. The gallant prince was so attracted by the beauty and grace of Maria, that he could not help saying to her, "I love you." With the consent of her guardian the Virgin, Maria accepted the Prince of Borgoña, and the day for their wedding was set. The king, his son, and all the nobility of Borgoña, set out for the mountains to get Maria, and on their arrival were surprised at the magnificence of her house. The bishop who was with the company married the couple, and all the retinue went back to the capital.

When Juan now found himself left all alone in the house, he knelt before the image and complained to the Virgin of his situation. The Virgin said to him, "Don't worry! To-morrow mount the horse which is in the stable, clothe yourself in iron, and go to the kingdom of Moscobia to help the king drive the Moors away." Juan did so, and upon his arrival in Moscobia he found thousands of Moors threatening the king. With his sword he killed half the enemy: the rest were routed. Because of his great services, the king married his daughter to Juan, and the new couple were proclaimed king and queen.

Some time afterwards, Juan wrote to his sister, suggesting that they visit their parents. The two couples, accompanied by many of the nobles of their kingdoms, set out for Spain. Their cruel father was astounded to see his children raised to such a lofty position, and he begged their pardon for his former harsh treatment of them. They forgave him, and then returned to their respective kingdoms, where they lived peacefully for many years.

The connection between our folk-tale and the romance is not very clear. In both we have the abandoned children, the discovery of the house in the woods where the children are reared to manhood and womanhood, and the marriage of Maria with a prince who loses his way in the forest. In both Juan becomes a king, and in both the two children seek again their cruel parents and forgive them. On the other hand, there is much in the folk-tale that is lacking in the romance; e.g., the incident of the egg that hatches into a fighting cock, and the incident of the black deer with the miraculous hide. In the folk-tale Juan becomes king because of his skill in a tournament; in the romance, because, with the help of the Virgin, he defeats a large Moorish army. In the one, the shelter in the woods is but a thatch-roofed hut inhabited by a kindly old woman; in the other, it is a magnificent house occupied by no one except the image of the Virgin. The correspondences as well as the differences between the two versions, neither of which appears to be new, suggest that the source of the folk-tale and the romance is one and the same, but that the folk-tale went its own way, the way of the people, and thus acquired its more native appearance. That the common source was some European story, can hardly be doubted, I think.

The opening of our story is not unlike that of the German "Hänsel und Gretel" (Grimm, No. 15). Bolte and Polívka (1 : 123) note that various different Märchen have this beginning "of children whom their father, either because of bitter necessity or because he is forced by their step-mother, takes to the woods and there abandons." One of the most widespread cycles in which it occurs is "Hop o' my Thumb," a version of which is told among the Tagalogs. I will give this Tagalog version here in the notes, by way of compromise, as it were: for while the story is a bona fide Tagalog tale, in that it is told in the dialect, it must have been received directly from Europe; and it appears to have retained the form in which it was received, with but few modifications. No other Oriental form whatsoever of this story has been recorded (see Bolte-Polívka, 1 : 124-126). The Tagalog story was narrated by Pacita Cordero of Pagsanjan, Laguna, and runs thus:--


Melanio and Petrona had seven sons. The father was a woodman. They were so poor, that sometimes the whole family went without dinner. One day Melanio said to his wife, "Petrona, our children are growing, and I don't see how we shall be able to support them all. At present they cannot help us earn a living, because they are too small. Don't you think we should get along better without them?"--"Yes," answered Petrona, "if we could only get rid of them some way!"--"Well, to-morrow I will take them to the forest to gather fuel," said the husband. "While they are busy, I will leave them on the pretext of looking for better kinds of wood, and will hurry home. They will not be able to get home, for they won't know the way."

The wife agreed to this cruel plan. But the youngest son overheard the conversation, and told his brothers about it. At last Pitong (seventh), for that was the name of the youngest, and he was the wisest of all, made this suggestion: "Before we go to the forest to-morrow, I will pick up white stones. I will carry them with me, and as we go along I will drop them one by one. I'll walk behind, so that father will not notice what I am doing. Then, if he leaves us, we can easily follow the track of stones back home." While the six brothers consented to the plan, their minds were troubled, for they doubted the ability of so small a boy to save them.

The next day the children marched straight into the forest with their father as if they were going on a picnic. Pitong dropped his stones one by one. When they reached the woods, their father commanded them to get together what sticks they could find. He left them there, promising that he would meet them in a certain place; but really he hurried home and told his wife. "We are now rid of a heavy burden," he said, and the two were very happy. When the poor boys had finished their work, they looked in vain for their father. Of course they could not find him; but Pitong led the company, and they followed the track of stones. The boys reached home safely, and the parents were route with astonishment.

The next morning Melanio took his sons out with him again. This time all the boys took white stones with them, besides bread, which they intended to eat if they should get hungry; but the part of the forest to which they went was so far, that all the stones were used up before they got there. Pitong did not eat his bread; he broke it into pieces, and dropped them on the ground as they went along. They now reached the nook where their father proposed to leave them. This place was grown up with wild shrubs, so that there were plenty of twigs to keep the boys busy. Melanio slipped away from them without their noticing it. After the seven brothers had worked a long time, they thought of returning home. But they could not find the track: the pieces of bread had been eaten by the ants. They cried out, "Father, father! where are you?" When they were so hungry and tired that they could not shout any more, they sat down on the ground and began to weep.

It began to grow dark. Pitong advised his brothers to pluck up courage, and said to them, "Follow me." So they went on without taking any particular course, and in about a half-hour they came to a tall tree. Pitong climbed it to see if there was a road near by. When he reached the top, he said, "Brothers, I see a lighted house from here. Let us go look for the house! Maybe we can get something to eat there."

When they came near the house, they saw that it was well lighted and richly adorned, as if there were a banquet going on; only it was very quiet. Pitong, followed by his brothers, knocked at the door. A woman kindly admitted them, and the boys begged for some food. They told her how they had been deserted by their selfish father. The woman said to them, "I have a giant husband who is a great eater of human beings. If he finds you here, you will surely be devoured; but I can give you something to eat. I will hide you before he comes, and you must remain perfectly still." The boys had hardly finished dinner when a loud sound was heard from without. The woman said to them, "Here comes my husband! Boys, follow me into that room! You all get into this big trunk and stay here."

The door was suddenly flung open. As soon as the giant entered, he said in a fierce voice, "I smell something human: somebody must be here." He said this many times; and although the wife did not want to show him the boys, she finally did so, for she feared that she would be punished. She beckoned to them to come out of the trunk. "Welcome, my young friends!" said the giant. "I am very glad to have you here." Pitong gazed fearlessly at him, but the others trembled with fright. "Give these boys some food, and prepare them a comfortable bed," said the giant to his wife. "To-morrow early in the morning they will all be killed."

These words increased the terror of the six older brothers. They could not swallow a morsel more of food when the old woman set it before them. Pitong, however, kept trying to think of a plan by which he could save them all. Now, the room in which they were to sleep was also the room of the giant's seven sons, who were about the same height as the woodman's sons. But the giant's sons had on rich garments. At midnight Pitong awoke his brothers. They quietly and carefully exchanged clothes with the giant's sons, and then pretended to sleep. At four o'clock in the morning the giant came in. He paused before the two beds, but at last turned to the one his sons were in. When he felt their rough clothes, he thought them the strangers, and with his axe he cut off the heads of all seven. Then he went away and slept again.

Now Pitong and his six brothers stealthily hurried away into the forest. When morning came, and the giant found that he had killed his own children, he was enraged. He at once took his magic cane, and put on his magic boots and cap. When the boys heard the giant coming after them, they went down into a big hole they had dug. There they hid. But the giant had a keen sense of smell, and he walked around and around, looking for them. At last he became tired; he leaned against a tree and fell asleep. Pitong peeped through a small opening from under the ground. When he saw that the giant was asleep, he called out to his brothers. They quickly stole the magic boot, cap, and cane of the giant, and were soon carried home. Their parents were very much surprised to see them back; but they welcomed their children when they knew of the magic objects. By means of these the family became rich.

As for the giant, when he awoke, he was deprived of all his power. He was so weak that he could not even get up from the ground, so he died there in the woods.

(The end)
Dean S. Fansler's short story: Juan And Maria

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