This story was first published in this blog on December 26, 2011. It is a written recollection of a folktale told by Don Francisco Castillo, the owner of Hacienda El Carrizal, located at the Andean Merida State in Venezuela. This is my English version.
There once upon a time when three young peasants (Roberto, Juan, and Jose) left their hometown to look for a way to earn a living. Only one of them was married. He reluctantly said good-bye to his young wife and three-month baby boy. The friends walked for many days throughout the mountains and moors, under the vigilant sight of the eagles and condors. Finally, they arrived to a rich farm in a valley where they found jobs tending the animals and crops. They did not know it, but the place was bewitched. After working hard for 22 days, they decided to ask for their payments but they did not know that there have not passed 22 days but 22 years.
Roberto was the first one to ask for his salary, but the patrons made him a strange proposal, they asked him if he wanted the money or three advices. Roberto immediately asked for the money and they gave it to him, but later made him enter a room where he saw an old lady tied to the leg of a bed. Roberto asked them what was the lady doing there. As an answer to his curiosity, the patrons let him working in the farm for the rest of his life.
Then it was the turn of Juan. They asked him the same question: if he wanted his money or three advices. Juan answered exactly as Roberto. He was invited to the room where it was the old lady tied to the leg of a bed, and when he asked about her, he followed the same destiny as Roberto.
When it was Jose’s turn, he was asked the same question. He meditated for a minute and answered in a different way. He wanted to listen the three advices. The patrons then told them to listen carefully: “These are the three advices: don’t ask what is not your business, don’t walk through detours, and don’t react without thinking”.
Before leaving, the patrons made him enter the room with the old lady tied to the leg of a bed. He saw her with curiosity but remembered the first advice and did not ask anything. The patrons rewarded him at passing this proof. They gave him his money, and even handed him a gun to defend himself in his journey.
Feeling very happy, Jose walked during many days the royal path that he had walked with his mates before. Sometimes, he felt that the path was very long and he was tempted to take a detour that found alongside, but he did not do it because he remembered the second advice and did not want to deviate from the main path. In this way, without knowing it, he avoided being robbed by some thieves that used to assault the ones who deviated from the royal path.
Finally, he arrived to his hometown. He noticed new changes in the town. The bushes in his street were now big trees, the dirt roads were now paved and his house had a new fence. But throughout its window, he looked a scene that perturbed him. He saw a young man combing the hair of Jose’s wife. Enraged, Jose took his gun and was ready to shoot at whom he supposed was the lover of his wife. But then, he remembered the third advice. He realized that 22 years had passed and not 22 days as he and his friends thought. He also realized that the young man was his own son, now 22 years old.
That night there was a party in the town. Everybody was happy celebrating the return of the lost friend. Jose’s wife cooked Andean food, the neighbors made a barbecue, there was dancing and happiness everywhere.
When the new day was dawning, Jose called his son apart and told him: “There’s something that I would like to share with you, and I hope it would be as useful for you as it was for me. It’s about three advices…”.