Once there was a man who had three sons,—Juan, Pedro, and Lucas. His wife died when his children were young. Unlike most of his countrymen, he did not marry again, but spent his time in taking care of his children. The father could not give his sons a proper education, because he was poor; so the boys grew up in ignorance and superstition. They had no conception of European clothes and shoes. Juan and Pedro were hard workers, but Lucas was lazy. The father loved his youngest son Lucas, nevertheless; but Juan and Pedro had little use for their brother. The lazy boy used to ramble about the forests and along river-banks looking for guavas and birds’ nests.
One day, when Lucas was in the woods, he saw a boa-constrictor [Tag. sawang bitin]. He knew that this reptile carried the centre of its strength in the horny appendage at the end of its tail. Lucas wished very much to become strong, because the men of strength in his barrio were the most influential. So he decided to rob the boa of its charm. He approached the snake like a cat, and then with his sharp teeth bit off the end of its tail, and ran away with all his might. The boa followed him, but could not overtake him; for Lucas was a fast runner, and, besides, the snake had lost its strength.
Lucas soon became the strongest man in his barrio. He surprised everybody when he defeated the man who used to be the Hercules of the place.
One day the king issued a proclamation: “He who can give the monarch a carriage made of gold shall have the princess for his wife.” When Juan and Pedro heard this royal announcement, they were very anxious to get the carriage and receive the reward.
Juan was the first to try his luck. He went to a neighboring mountain and began to dig for gold. While he was eating his lunch at noon, an old leper with her child approached him, and humbly begged him to give her something to eat.
“No, the food I have here is just enough for me. Go away! You are very dirty,” said Juan with disgust.
The wretched old woman, with tears in her eyes, left the place. After he had worked for three weeks, Juan became discouraged, gave up his scheme of winning the princess, and returned home.
Pedro followed his brother, but he had no better luck than Juan. He was also unkind to the old leper.
Lucas now tried his fortune. The day after his arrival at the mountain, when he was eating, the old woman appeared, and asked him to give her some food. Lucas gave the woman half of his meat. The leper thanked him, and promised that she would give him not only the carriage made of gold, but also a pair of shoes, a coat, and some trousers. She then bade Lucas good-by.
Nine days passed, and yet the woman had not come. Lucas grew tired of waiting, and in his heart began to accuse the woman of being ungrateful. He repented very much the kindness he had shown the old leper. Finally she appeared to Lucas, and told him what he had been thinking about her. “Do not think that I shall not fulfil my promise,” she said. “You shall have them all.” To the great astonishment of Lucas, the woman disappeared again. The next day he saw the golden carriage being drawn by a pair of fine fat horses; and in the carriage were the shoes, the coat, and the trousers. The old woman appeared, and showed the young man how to wear the shoes and clothes.
Then he entered the carriage and was driven toward the palace. On his way he met a man.
“Who are you?” said Lucas.
“I am Runner, son of the good runner,” was the answer.
“Let us wrestle!” said Lucas. “I want to try your strength. If you defeat me, I will give you a hundred pesos; but if I prove to be the stronger, you must come with me.”
“All right, let us wrestle!” said Runner. The struggle lasted for ten minutes, and Lucas was the victor. They drove on.
They met another man. When Lucas asked him who he was, the man said, “I am Sharpshooter, son of the famous shooter.” Lucas wrestled with this man too, and overcame him because of his superhuman strength. So Sharpshooter went along with Lucas and Runner.
Soon they came up to another man. “What is your name?” said Lucas.
“My name is Farsight. I am son of the great Sharp-Eyes.” Lucas proposed a wrestling-match with Farsight, who was conquered, and so obliged to go along with the other three.
Last of all, the party met Blower, “son of the great blower.” He likewise became one of the servants of Lucas.
When Lucas reached the palace, he appeared before the king, and in terms of great submission he told the monarch that he had come for two reasons,—first, to present his Majesty with the golden carriage; second, to receive the reward which his Majesty had promised.
The king said, “I will let you marry my daughter provided that you can more quickly than my messenger bring to me a bottle of the water that gives youth and health to every one. It is found at the foot of the seventh mountain from this one,” he said, pointing to the mountain nearest to the imperial city. “But here is another provision,” continued the king: “if you accept the challenge and are defeated, you are to lose your head.” “I will try, O king!” responded Lucas sorrowfully.
The king then ordered his messenger, a giant, to fetch a bottle of the precious water. Lucas bade the monarch good-by, and then returned to his four friends. “Runner, son of the good runner, hasten to the seventh mountain and get me a bottle of the water that gives youth and health!”
Runner ran with all his might, and caught up with the giant; but the giant secretly put a gold ring in Runner’s bottle to make him sleep. Two days passed, but Runner had not yet arrived. Then Lucas cried, “Farsight, son of the great Sharp-Eyes, see where the giant and Runner are!”
The faithful servant looked, and he saw Runner sleeping, and the giant very near the city. When he had been told the state of affairs, Lucas called Blower, and ordered him to blow the giant back. The king’s messenger was carried to the eighth mountain.
Then Lucas said, “Sharpshooter, son of the famous shooter, shoot the head of the bottle so that Runner will wake up!” The man shot skilfully; Runner jumped to his feet, ran and got the precious water, and arrived in the city in twelve hours. Lucas presented the water to the king, and the monarch was obliged to accept the young man as his son-in-law.
The wedding-day was a time of great rejoicing. Everybody was enthusiastic about Lucas except the king. The third day after the nuptials, the giant reached the palace. He said that he was very near the city when a heavy wind blew him back to the eighth mountain.