Juan was a servant in the palace of King Tasio. One day King Tasio heard Juan discussing with the other servants in the kitchen the management of the kingdom. Juan said that he knew more than anybody else in the palace. The king called Juan, and told him to go down to the seashore and catch the rolling waves.
“You said that you are the wisest man in the palace,” said the king. “Go and catch the waves of the sea for me.”
“That’s very easy, O king!” said Juan, “if you will only provide me with a rope made of sand taken from the seashore.”
The king did not know what to answer. He left Juan without saying anything, went into his room, and began to think of some more difficult work.
The next day he called Juan. “Juan, take this small bird and make fifty kinds of food out of it,” said the king.
“Yes, sir!” said Juan, “if you will only provide me with a stove, a pan, and a knife made out of this needle,” handing a needle to the king, “with which to cook the bird.” Again the king did not know what to do. He was very angry at Juan.
“Juan, get out of my palace! Don’t you let me see you walking on my ground around this palace without my consent!” said the king.
“Very well, sir!” said Juan, and he left the palace immediately.
The next day King Tasio saw Juan in front of the palace, riding on his paragos drawn by a carabao.
“Did I not tell you not to stand or walk on my ground around this palace? Why are you here now? Do you mean to mock me?” shouted the king.
“Well,” said Juan, “will your Majesty’s eyes please see whether I am standing on your ground or not? This is my ground.” And he pointed to the earth he had on his paragos. “I took this from my orchard.”
“That’s enough, Juan,” said King Tasio. “I can have no more foolishness.” The king felt very uncomfortable, because many of his courtiers and servants were standing there listening to his talk with Juan.
“Juan, put this squash into this jar. Be careful! See that you do not break either the squash or the jar,” said the king, as he handed a squash and a jar to Juan. Now, the neck of the jar was small, and the squash was as big as the jar. So Juan had indeed a difficult task.
Juan went home. He put a very small squash, which he had growing in his garden, inside the jar. He did not, however, cut it from the vine. After a few weeks the squash had grown big enough to fill the jar. Juan then picked off the squash enclosed in the jar, and went to the king. He presented the jar to the king when all the servants, courtiers, and visitors from other towns were present. As soon as the king saw the jar with the squash in it, he fainted. It was many hours before he recovered.