Juan the Blind Man

Many years ago there lived in a little village near a thick forest eight blind men who were close friends. In spite of their physical defects, they were always happy,—perhaps much happier than their fellow-villagers, for at night they would always go secretly to one of the neighboring cocoanut-groves, where they would spend their time drinking tuba or eating young cocoanuts.

One evening a severe typhoon struck the little village, and most of the cocoanut-trees were broken off at the top. The next afternoon the joyous party went to the cocoanut-grove to steal fruits. As soon as they arrived there, seven of them climbed trees. Juan, the youngest of all, was ordered to remain below so as to count and gather in the cocoanuts his friends threw down to him. While his companions were climbing the trees, Juan was singing,—

“Eight friends, good friends,

One fruit each eats;

Good Juan here bends,

Young nuts he takes.”

He had no sooner repeated his verse three times than he heard a fall.

“One,” he counted; and he began to sing the second verse:—

“Believe me, that everything

Which man can use he must bring,

No matter at all of what it’s made;

So, friends, a counter you need.”

Crrapup! he heard another fall, which was followed by three in close succession. “Good!” he said, “five in all. Three more, friends,” and he raised his head as if he could see his companions. After a few minutes he heard two more falls.

“Six, seven—well, only seven,” he said, as he began searching for the cocoanuts on the ground. “One more for me, friends—one more, and every one is satisfied.” But it was his friends who had fallen; for, as the trees were only stumps, the climbers fell off when they reached the tops.

Juan, however, did not guess what had happened until he found one of the dead bodies. Then he ran away as fast as he could. At last he struck Justo, a lame man. After hearing Juan’s story, Justo advised Juan not to return to his village, lest he be accused of murder by the relatives of the other men.

After a long talk, the two agreed to travel together and seek a place of refuge, for the blind man’s proposal seemed a good one to the lame man:—

“Blind man, strong legs;

Lame man, good eyes;

Four-footed are pigs;

Four-handed are monkeys.

But we’ll walk on two,

And we’ll see with two.”

So when morning dawned, they started on their journey.

They had not travelled far when Justo saw a horn in the road, and told Juan about it. Juan said,—

“Believe me, that everything

Which man can use he must bring,

No matter at all of what it’s made;

So, friend, a horn too we need.”

The next thing that Justo saw was a rusted axe; and after being told about it, Juan repeated his little verse again, ending it with, “So, friend, an axe too we need.” A few hours later the lame man saw a piece of rope; and when the blind man knew of it, he said,—

“Bring one, bring two, bring all,

The horn, the axe, the rope as well.”

And last of all they found an old drum, which they took along with them too.

Soon Justo saw a very big house. They were glad, for they thought that they could get something to eat there. When they came near it, they found that the door was open; but when they entered it, Justo saw nothing but bolos, spears, and shields hanging on the walls. After a warm discussion as to what they should do, they decided to hide in the ceiling of the house, and remain there until the owner returned.

They had no sooner made themselves comfortable than they heard some persons coming. When Justo saw the bloody bolos and spears of the men, and the big sack of money they carried, he was terrified, for he suspected that they were outlaws. He trembled; his hair stood on end; he could not control himself. At last he shouted, “Ay, here?”

The blind man, who could not see the danger they were in, stopped the lame man, but not before the owners of the house had heard them.

“Ho, you mosquitoes! what are you doing there?” asked the chief of the outlaws as he looked up at the ceiling.

“Aha, you rascals! we are going to eat you all,” answered the blind man in the loudest voice he could muster.

“What’s that you say?” returned the chief.

“Why, we have been looking for you, for we intend to eat you all up,” replied Juan; “and to show you what kind of animals we are, here is one of my teeth,” and Juan threw down the rusted axe. “Look at one of my hairs!” continued Juan, as he threw down the rope.

The outlaws were so frightened that they were almost ready to run away. The chief could not say a single word.

“Now listen, you ants, to my whistle!” said Juan, and he blew the horn. “And to show you how big our stomachs are, hear us beat them!” and he beat the drum. The outlaws were so frightened that they ran away. Some of them even jumped out of the windows.

When the robbers were all gone, Juan and Justo went down to divide the money; but the lame man tried to cheat the blind man, and they had a quarrel over the division. Justo struck Juan in the eyes with the palm of his hand, and the blind man’s eyes were opened so that he could see. Juan kicked Justo so hard, that the lame man rolled toward one corner of the house and struck a post. His lameness was cured, so that he could stand and walk.

When they saw that each had done the other a great service, they divided the money fairly, and lived ever after together as close friends.

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