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Pedro And The Witch Post by :countincash Category :Short Stories Author :Dean S. Fansler Date :November 2011 Read :2159

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Pedro And The Witch

Narrated by Santiago Dumlao of San Narciso, Zambales.

Pedro was the son of a poor man. He lived with his father and mother by the seashore. Early one morning his parents went to look for food, leaving him alone in the house. He staid there all day waiting for them to return. Evening came, but his father and mother did not appear; some misfortune had overtaken them. Pedro felt very hungry, but he could find no food in the house. In the middle of the night he heard some one tapping at the door. Thinking that it was his mother, he arose and went to meet her. When he opened the door, however, he saw that it was not his mother who had rapped, but Boroka, (90) whom children are very much afraid of. Now, Boroka was a witch. She had wings like a bird, four feet like a horse, but a head like that of a woman. She devoured boys and girls, and was especially fond of their liver. As soon as Pedro opened the door, she seized him and carried him off to her home in the mountains.

Pedro was not afraid of the witch; he was obedient to her, and soon she made him her housekeeper. Whenever she went out at night to look for food, he was sure to have flesh and liver for breakfast the next day. Whenever the witch was away, Pedro used to amuse himself riding on the back of a horse that would often come to see him. It taught him how to ride well, and the two became great friends.

One day when children began to get scarce, and Boroka was unable to find any to eat, she made up her mind to kill Pedro. She left the house and went to invite the other witches, so that they might have a great feast. While she was gone, the horse came and told Pedro of his danger, and advised him what to do. It gave him two handkerchiefs,--one red and the other white. Then Pedro jumped on the horse's back, and the horse ran away as fast as it could. Not long afterward he noticed that the witches were pursuing them. When they came nearer, Pedro dropped the red handkerchief, which was immediately changed into a large fire. The wings of the witches were all burnt off. However, the witches tried to pursue the horse on foot, for they could run very fast. When they were almost upon him again, Pedro dropped the white handkerchief, which became a wide sea through which the witches could not pass. Pedro was now safe, and he thanked the horse for its great help.



While this story is not much more than a fragment, I have given it because of its interesting connections. The chief elements appear to be three: (1) the kidnapping of the hero by a cannibal witch, (2) the friendly horse, (3) the transformation-flight and the escape of the hero. Clearly much is missing. What becomes of the hero is not stated, except that he escapes from the witches. The story is in the form rather of a fairy-tale than of a Märchen proper, since it deals primarily with an ogress fond of the flesh of children. On its surface it might be mistaken for a native demon-story told as an exemplum to children not to answer strange knocks at the door at night. But a glance below the surface reveals the fact that the details of the story must have been imported, as they are not indigenous,--Boroka, horse, transformation-flight; and a little search for possible sources reveals the fact that this tale represents the detritus of a literary tradition from Europe. To demonstrate, I will cite a Pampangan metrical romance and a Tagalog romance, the former probably the parent of our folk-tale. These two romances, in turn, will be shown to be a borrowing from the Occident.

The Pampangan romance is a long story in 954 quatrains of 12-syllable lines, and is entitled "Story of the Life of King Don Octavio and Queen Teodora, together with that of their son Don Fernando, in the Kingdom of Spain (no date)." The inside of the cover bears the statement that the work is the property of Doña Modesta Lanuza. Señora Lanuza was doubtless the redactor of this version; her name appears on other corridos (see JAFL 29 : 213). Although a consideration of this literary form takes us somewhat out of the realm of popular stories, strictly speaking, we may give as our excuse for summarizing it the fact that the related Tagalog romance, "Juan Tiñoso," is one of the most widely-known stories in the Islands, and is told as a folk-tale in many of the provinces where no printed translations of it exist. The story of "Don Octavio"--or "Pugut Negro," as it is popularly known among the Pampangans--runs as follows:--

In Spain there lived a king whose queen, in the ninth month of pregnancy, longed greatly for some pau (a species of mango). As it was the custom then to procure any kind of fruit a pregnant woman might desire to eat, the whole kingdom was stirred up in search of some pau, but in vain. At last a general and a company of soldiers who had been sent out to scour the kingdom found a pau-tree in the mountain of Silva; but the owner, a giant, Legaspe by name, would not give up any of the fruit except to the king himself. When the king was informed of this, he went to the giant, and was obliged to agree that the giant should be the godfather of the expected child. Then he was given the fruit.

Not long after this event the queen gave birth to a son. While the baby was being carried to the church to be baptized, the giant appeared and claimed his right. After the baptism, the giant snatched the boy from the nurse's hands and carried him off to his cave. He found an old woman to take care of the infant, which grew to be a fine youth.

Now, this giant fed on human flesh. One day, when the boy was about fifteen, the giant gave this horrible command to the old woman: "If I fail to catch any human beings for dinner to-day, you will have to cook my godchild, for I am intolerably hungry." No sooner had the giant disappeared than the old woman woke up the youth, and said to him, "My master wants me to cook you for his dinner, but I cannot do such a thing. I will save you. Yonder you see a horse. Fetch it to me, so that we can depart at once." The boy got the horse, and he and the old woman mounted it and rode off as fast as they could.

They had not gone very far, however, when they heard the giant roaring after them. The old woman immediately dropped her comb to the ground, and it became a big mountain. Thus they gained some time; but the giant was soon after them again. The old woman dropped her pin, which became a dense underbrush of thorns; but the giant got through this too. Now the old woman poured out the contents of a small bottle, and all at once there was a large sea, in which the giant was drowned. By this time the two companions were a great distance from Spain. Then the old woman said to the young prince, "Take this whip. On your way home you will see a dead Negro. Flay him, and put on his skin so that you will be disguised. Cultivate humility, be kind to others, and look to the whip in time of need." Having given these directions, the old woman, who was none other than the Virgin Mary in disguise, disappeared.

Pugut-Negru ("disguised Negro") went on his way, and soon found the dead Negro. When he had flayed him and put on the black skin, he mounted his horse and rode facing its tail. When he reached the capital of Albania, he was greatly ridiculed by every one. However, he went to the king and applied for work. The king said that he might take care of his sheep which were in a certain meadow. When he had been conducted to the meadow where the sheep were, he saw the bones of many men. It was said that every shepherd in that place had been killed by "spirits" (multos). That night the spirits threw bones at Pugut-Negru; but he chastised them with his whip, and was left in peace.

This Negro disguise of Prince Fernando, however, was only for Albania. Leaving Albania for a time, he went in his princely garments to visit his parents. He found them in the power of the Moors, who had conquered the kingdom of Spain. With his whip he drove all the Moors out of the country, and freed his family. Later he went to Navarre, and won a tournament and the hand of the princess. Instead of marrying her, however,--for he had already fallen in love with the youngest daughter of the King of Albania,--he went back and resumed his old work as shepherd, disguised as a Negro.

Some time afterwards it was proclaimed that whoever could cure the king's illness would be amply rewarded. The king had an eye-disease, but none of the learned doctors could help him. Finally it was said that Pugut-Negru knew how to cure eye-diseases, and so the king summoned him. "If you can cure my disease," said the afflicted king, "I will marry one of my daughters to you. If you cannot, you shall be hung."--"I'll do my best, your Majesty," said Pugut-Negru humbly. Then he gathered certain herbs, and applied them to the king's eyes. The king soon got well, and asked his three daughters which of them wanted to marry his savior. "I won't!" said the eldest. "Neither will I," rejoined the second. But the youngest and prettiest one said, "I am at your disposal, father." So Pugut-Negru took the youngest for his wife. After the ceremony he went back to his sheep, but he did not live with his wife; he left her at the palace.

It was not many months after the king had been cured when the queen fell ill. As before, it was proclaimed that any one who could cure her would receive one of her daughters in marriage. Two princes presented themselves, and promised to get the lion's milk that was needed to make the queen well. After they had started on their search, they came to the dwelling of Pugut-Negru, whom they forced to accompany them. Pugut-Negru pretended to be lame, and so he could not keep up with them. As he was so slow, they mercilessly threw him into a bush of thorns and left him there. But he said to his magical whip, "Build me at once, along the road in which the two princes will pass, a splendid palace; and let lions, leopards, and other animals be about it." No sooner was the order given than the palace was built, and Pugut-Negru was in it, attired like a king. When the two princes came up, they said to him, "May we have some of your lion's milk?"--"Yes, on one condition I will give you the milk: you must let me brand you with my name." Although this condition was very bitter to them, they agreed. Then they hastened back to present the milk to the queen, who at once married them to her two older daughters. Pugut-Negru went back to his old life as shepherd.

Not long after this event the Moors declared war on the Christians. The king's country was invaded, and the Christians were about to be disastrously defeated, when a strange knight with a magic whip (Pugut-Negru) appeared on the field and put the Saracens to flight. This knight wounded himself in his left arm so that he might receive the attention of the princess. The king's youngest daughter (Pugut-Negru's own wife) dressed his wound without recognizing her husband. After the battle was over, the knight said to the king, "Do you know where my brother Pugut-Negru lives?" But the king was ashamed at the way he had treated Pugut-Negru, so he denied all knowledge of him. Although the king pressed the strange knight to come to the palace, he refused. He hastened back to his sheep, and donned his disguise once more.

One day the youngest princess, the wife of Don Fernando, went stealthily to the hut of Pugut-Negru. She found him undisguised, and at once recognized her handkerchief with which she had tied the strange knight's wound. She embraced her husband with joy, and hastened back to the palace to tell the king of her discovery. The king immediately despatched his prime-minister to the hut in the fields, and Don Fernando was brought back in state. When he had been welcomed to the palace, he told all about his treatment by the two cruel princes, who he said were his slaves. When the king was convinced of their imposture,--they said they had got the lion's milk by their own bravery,--he drove them and their heartless wives from his kingdom. After many other adventures, in which he was always successful, Don Fernando took his wife Maria to Spain, where they lived with his father, King Octavio.

While it is not absolutely certain that our folk-tale of "Pedro and the Witch" was derived from the first part of this romance, I think it most likely. The problem here is the same as that we have met with in the notes to Nos. 13, 16, and 21: Which are earlier,--the more elaborate literary forms, or the simpler popular forms? Obviously no general rule can be made that will hold: each particular case must be examined. In the present instance, as I have shown at the beginning of the note, the evidence seems to point to the folk-tale as being the derivative, not necessarily of this particular form of the story, but at any rate of the source of the romance.

The romance of "Prince Don Juan Tiñoso, Son of King Artos and Queen Blanca of the Kingdom of Valencia, and the Four Princesses, the Daughters of Don Diego of Hungary," which we have spoken of above as a Tagalog romance, has been printed also in the Pampangan, Visayan, Ilocano, Bicol, and Pangasinan dialects. As to the date of the Tagalog version, Retana mentions an edition between 1860 and 1898 (No. 4176). This romance is not directly connected with our folk-tale, it will be seen, but is related closely (in the second half, at least) with "Pugut-Negru." Briefly the life of Juan Tiñoso runs thus:--

King Artos and Queen Blanca of Valencia had one son, Don Juan Tiñoso,--handsome, brave, strong, kind. One day, while passing the prison, Don Juan heard sounds of great lamentation. On being admitted, he saw the giant Mauleon, a captive of his father's. Moved by the giant's entreaties, Juan freed him; and the monster, grateful in return, gave him a magic handkerchief that would furnish him with everything he wanted, and would, if displayed, subdue all wild animals. Then the giant departed. King Artos, extremely wroth with his son for freeing one of his captives, drove Juan out of his kingdom. Juan went to the mountains, and there became king of the animals.

One night Juan dreamed of the beautiful Flocerpida, the youngest and most beautiful of the four daughters of Diego, King of Hungary. But, determined to do penance for the liberty he had taken in freeing Mauleon, Juan asked his magic handkerchief for the disguise of an old leper, which he vowed he would wear for seven years. He went to Hungary and entered the service of King Diego as a gardener. The princess Flocerpida was very compassionate toward the old leper, and Juan's love grew stronger. One night, when Juan was bathing, Flocerpida saw him without his disguise, and immediately fell in love with him. One day King Diego summoned all the knights of his kingdom, so that his daughters might choose husbands. The three older princesses threw their golden granadas, which were caught by men of rank; but Flocerpida refused to throw hers. Angry, the king next day ordered all his subjects to be present, and required his daughter to throw her golden apple. She threw it to the old leprous gardener, and the two were married; but the king drove his daughter from the palace.

Soon King Diego grew sick. The doctors prescribed lion's milk, and the three noble sons-in-law set out to get it. They forced the gardener, their brother-in-law, to go with them, reviling him all the way; but, as he was on foot, they soon left him behind. By means of his magic handkerchief, Juan procured a prince's armor and mount, and, riding fast, he anticipated his brothers-in-law at the cave of the lioness. They soon came up and asked for milk. Juan, king of the animals, would give it to them only on condition that they allowed themselves to be branded on the back with an inscription saying that they were the servants of Don Juan Tiñoso. They agreed, and received the milk. On the return Don Juan again outstripped them, resumed his old disguise, and was reviled by the brothers when they came up. King Diego drank the milk and recovered his health.

Later King Diego received an embassy from the Moors saying that they were coming to fight him. He appointed his three sons-in-law generals. While they were at the war, Juan Tiñoso summoned three giants, and told them to go fight the Moors too, to get the Moorish flag, and to exchange it with the generals for their three golden granadas. On the return of the Christian army, a big fiesta was prepared to honor the successful princes. King Artos and Queen Blanca of Valencia were invited. On the first day some of the guests asked about Flocerpida, and the king gave orders that she should appear on the morrow in an old beggar's gown that he was sending her; but Juan Tiñoso supplied her with beautiful clothes and a coach, and he himself was dressed as a prince. They went to the fiesta, where, in the presence of the king, he demanded his three servants, pointing to his three brothers-in-law. They were made to undress, and the brands on their backs became clear. Then Juan Tiñoso told his story: he said that it was he who obtained the lion's milk, who won against the Moors, (and showed the golden granadas exchanged for the enemy's standard.) King Diego and King Artos were then reconciled to him and Flocerpida, and the other three princes and their wives were driven out of Hungary.

Next to "Doce Pares" and "Bernardo Carpio," this romance is the most popular of the metrical romances circulating in the Philippines. It is read, told as a folk-tale, and acted as a moro-moro (see JAFL 29 : 205 (note), 206). It belongs to the same cycle of stories as Grimm, No. 136, "Iron John," which has many members. (For bibliography, see Köhler-Bolte, 330-334; Cosquin, I : 138-154.) These members vary greatly, and some of them (e.g., Cosquin, No. XII) establish definitely the connection between the "Pugut-Negru" type--kidnapping of hero, friendly horse, transformation-flight, disguise of hero, etc.--and the "Juan Tiñoso" type, although it will be seen that our second romance lacks the first three incidents mentioned.

This whole family of stories is one well worth studying in detail. Unfortunately the war has held up the appearance of Bolte-Polívka's "Anmerkungen," Volume III, which is to contain the notes to the Grimm story; but, with the references furnished by Köhler-Bolte and Cosquin, a good beginning towards such a study might be made. Compare also Rittershaus, No. XXlV and notes; Von Hahn, No. 6 and notes; Macculloch, 173.

It might be added as an item of some interest that "Juan Tiñoso" is written as a sequel to another story of widespread popularity, "The Story of Prince Oliveros and Princess Armenia in the Kingdom of England, and that of Prince Artos and Princess Blanca, who were the Father and Mother of Don Juan Tiñoso in the Kingdom of Valencia." This tale of Oliveros and Artos is directly derived from a Spanish romance of chivalry, and is one form of the "Grateful Dead" type (see Gerould, "The Grateful Dead," FLS 1907).



(90) Boroka, apparently a corruption of the Spanish bruja ("witch").

(The end)
Dean S. Fansler's short story: Pedro And The Witch

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