Once there were living in the country in the northern part of Luzon seven crazy fellows, named Juan, Felipe, Mateo, Pedro, Francisco, Eulalio, and Jacinto. They were happy all the day long.
One morning Felipe asked his friends to go fishing. They staid at the Cagayan River a long time. About two o’clock in the afternoon Mateo said to his companions, “We are hungry; let us go home!”
“Before we go,” said Juan, “let us count ourselves, to see that we are all here!” He counted; but because he forgot to count himself, he found that they were only six, and said that one of them had been drowned. Thereupon they all dived into the river to look for their lost companion; and when they came out, Francisco counted to see if he had been found; but he, too, left himself out, so in they dived again. Jacinto said that they should not go home until they had found the one who was lost. While they were diving, an old man passed by. He asked the fools what they were diving for. They said that one of them had been drowned.
“How many were you at first?” said the old man.
They said that they were seven.
“All right,” said the old man. “Dive in, and I will count you.” They dived, and he found that they were seven. Since he had found their lost companion, he asked them to come with him.
When they reached the old man’s house, he selected Mateo and Francisco to look after his old wife; Eulalio he chose to be water-carrier; Pedro, cook; Jacinto, wood-carrier; and Juan and Felipe, his companions in hunting.
When the next day came, the old man said that he was going hunting, and he told Juan and Felipe to bring along rice with them. In a little while they reached the mountains, and he told the two fools to cook the rice at ten o’clock. He then went up the mountain with his dogs to catch a deer. Now, his two companions, who had been left at the foot of the mountain, had never seen a deer. When Felipe saw a deer standing under a tree, he thought that the antlers of the deer were the branches of a small tree without leaves: so he hung his hat and bag of rice on them, but the deer immediately ran away. When the old man came back, he asked if the rice was ready. Felipe told him that he had hung his hat and the rice on a tree that ran away. The old man was angry, and said, “That tree you saw was the antlers of a deer. We’ll have to go home now, for we have nothing to eat.”
Meanwhile the five crazy fellows who had been left at home were not idle. Eulalio went to get a pail of water. When he reached the well and saw his image in the water, he nodded, and the reflection nodded back at him. He did this over and over again; until finally, becoming tired, he jumped into the water, and was drowned. Jacinto was sent to gather small sticks, but he only destroyed the fence around the garden. Pedro cooked a chicken without removing the feathers. He also let the chicken burn until it was as black as coal. Mateo and Francisco tried to keep the flies off the face of their old mistress. They soon became tired, because the flies kept coming back; so they took big sticks to kill them with. When a fly lighted on the nose of the old woman, they struck at it so hard that they killed her. She died with seemingly a smile on her face. The two fools said to each other that the old woman was very much pleased that they had killed the fly.
When the old man and his two companions reached home, the old man asked Pedro if there was any food to eat. Pedro said that it was in the pot. The old man looked in and saw the charred chicken and feathers. He was very angry at the cook. Then he went in to see his wife, and found her dead. He asked Mateo and Francisco what they had done to the old woman. They said that they had only been killing flies that tried to trouble her, and that she was very much pleased by their work.
The next thing the crazy fellows had to do was to make a coffin for the dead woman; but they made it flat, and in such a way that there was nothing to prevent the corpse from falling off. The old man told them to carry the body to the church; but on their way they ran, and the body rolled off the flat coffin. They said to each other that running was a good thing, for it made their burden lighter.
When the priest found that the corpse was missing, he told the six crazy fellows to go back and get the body. While they were walking toward the house, they saw an old woman picking up sticks by the roadside.
“Old woman, what are you doing here?” they said. “The priest wants to see you.”
While they were binding her, she cried out to her husband, “Ah! here are some bad boys trying to take me to the church.” But her husband said that the crazy fellows were only trying to tease her. When they reached the church with this old woman, the priest, who was also crazy, performed the burial-ceremony over her. She cried out that she was alive; but the priest answered that since he had her burial-fee, he did not care whether she was alive or not. So they buried this old woman in the ground.
When they were returning home, they saw the corpse that had fallen from the coffin on their way to the church. Francisco cried that it was the ghost of the old woman. Terribly frightened, they ran away in different directions, and became scattered all over Luzon.