For a long time Juan lived at home, but his parents hated him continually, and at last decided to give him poison. One day they sent him on a long trip, giving him seven pieces of poisoned bread for his food along the way. When he had become weary and hungry from walking, he sat down under a tree and began to open the handkerchief to get from it some of the bread to eat. Suddenly a number of crows flew down from the tree, seized the bread, ate it, and almost immediately died. The boy at once perceived the intention of his parents and returned home. As soon as he arrived there, he declared to his father and mother his intention of leaving them and going elsewhere to live. As soon as they heard him, they were full of joy, and readily gave him the desired permission.
He went to a distant town, and decided to study. He made such progress that his teachers were charmed with his diligence. He was very fond of debates with his schoolmates, and one day asked them the following riddle: “Two tried to kill one, one killed seven, two were left, and one went away.” They searched through the books for the answer to the riddle, but as they were unable to find it, they agreed that Juan was the cleverest one among them, since they could not answer his riddle.
One day the student met a young lady to whom he gave the riddle. She asked for a little time in which to study it, and this being granted, went home, disguised herself as a young man and, returning, asked Juan to tell the answer to the riddle. “For I know,” she said, “that many students have tried to find the solution of this riddle, but have not been successful.” Juan finally granted her request, and told her the answer to the riddle, which was the story of his life.
Then the young lady returned home, put on her own clothes, and went back to the student’s house, to give him the answer to his riddle. When Juan heard her answer, he thought her a very clever young woman, since she had succeeded where so many young men had failed, so he fell in love with the young lady and married her.
The Two Wives and the Witch.
There was once a man who had a wife that was not pretty. He became tired of looking at her, and so went away and married another wife.
His first wife was in great sorrow, and wept every day. One day as she was crying by the well, where she had gone for water, a woman asked her: “Why are you weeping?” The wife answered: “Because my husband has left me and gone to live with another wife.” “Why?” said the witch, for that is what the woman was.
“Because I have not a pretty face,” answered the wife. While she was talking the witch touched the wife’s face, and then she said: “I cannot stay here any longer,” and went off.
When the wife reached home she looked in the glass and saw that her face had been changed until it was the most beautiful in the town. Very soon a rumor spread through the town that in such and such a house there was living a very beautiful woman. Many young men went to see the pretty woman, and all were pleased with her beauty.