The Milk Giving Tree

The Milk Giving Tree

 Refugio Valdez, Costilla, New Mexico

There was once an old man and an old woman who lived a hundred miles from the city. While they had no children, the old couple had a female Indian woman enslaved in their household. They also had a female dog and a mare.  

Since they lived so remotely and since no other dogs were nearby, the old man’s dog had never given birth to puppies. The same was true of the mare, who had not given birth to any foals since other horses never came by.  

All this made the old man was very lonely and sad because he had no one to talk with. So one day he prayed to God to bring him a boy or a girl. 

The next day the old man decided to go fishing, as a way of distracting himself. During this fishing trip, God appeared as an old man and told him:

-“Drop your fishing line here in this current and you’ll take out a fish. Make sure that only your wife eats this fish. This magic fish will help bring you offspring. But before your wife eats of it, the fish must be washed with water from three different sources. You must save this rinse water and separate it into two equal parts. Throw one half in your front yard, exactly ten paces from the door.”

The old man returned home and asked that the enslaved woman wash the fish with water from three different sources as instructed. As she was told, half of the ‘fish water’ was thrown ten steps from the door and then the other half was thrown into the trough from where the female dog and the mare drank.  

Later, the Indian woman prepared the fish to be cooked.  

As soon as it was fried, the old man told the old woman that the meal was ready.  

She then turned to the Indian woman and asked her to, “taste it to see if it had enough salt.” The moment she tasted the fish, she immediately became pregnant with child. 

The old woman also ate the fish and like her slave, instantly became pregnant. 

Outside, having drunk the fish water, the dog also became pregnant, and so did the mare.  

Two months later, the dog gave birth to two puppies.  

At nine months the Indian woman gave birth to a little boy. Within a half hour, the old lady also gave birth to a baby boy. The baby boy of the Indian was named Juan and the baby boy of the old lady was named Pedro.  

Outside, it so happened that at the very spot where the fish water had been thrown, a white tree began to grow. Magically, when fully grown, when the bark of that tree was scratched, milk flowed from it. 

The old man loved this tree and nurtured it with great care, as he recognized that this tree was the eldest of the off-spring of the fish.  

The old man would also dress his children in the same color.  

A year later, the mare also gave birth to two foals and the old man said:

-“One puppy for each boy and one horse for each boy because this family are all children of the fish.

As they began to grow up, the old man taught his sons how to hunt. One day the two boys returned from a hunting trip only to find the old woman arguing with the Indian woman because the old woman wanted to take Juan away from the Indian. When Juan learned why they were fighting, he said: 

-“Please stop, I am my mother’s son, the Indian woman. But if harm will come to her because of this, it is better if I leave.” 

So Juan left but Pedro stayed, though as he was leaving, he told Pedro: 

“I am going to give you my dagger. Each morning, you will go to my oldest brother, the tree. He is the eldest of all of us and he will advise. To find out how I am doing, scratch the tree. If milk flows, know that I am doing well. However, if blood runs, then something is wrong.”

Each day, Pedro would go to the tree and scratch it, and each day milk flowed.  

One day, during his exile, Juan came upon a village. In this place, there was a king dealing with a troublesome giant serpent. Unfortunately, the king did not have an army of soldiers strong enough to defeat the serpent. Eventually, feeling so desperate, the king prepared to offer his daughter the princess to the serpent as an offering so that the serpent would not harm the other villagers.  

It was that same day when Juan entered the village, came upon a humble house, and asked the old lady, “What’s the news around here?” 

To which she responded, “Nothing much, grandson, but tomorrow the king will give up his daughter to the serpent.”

The next day Juan saddled his horse, grabbed his dog, and went directly to the place where the princess was to be sacrificed. She had her face covered with a red mask so she would not see the serpent. When Juan arrived, he said:

-“Princess, if you will you marry me, I can save you from the serpent.”

The princess replied:

-“How can you, one man, defeat the serpent when my father with all his power and support has tried and lost?”

Juan reached out to the princess and gently removed the mask.. With her eyes uncovered, the princess looked upon this young man and those with him. Seeing that he had a dog and a horse and yet referred to them as siblings, she said to Juan:

-“How is it possible that you can be a brother to these animals?

To this he replied: 

-“Because we’re children of the magic fish, all three of us, and if you marry me, we will save you.”

And the princess said:

-“Then of course, I will marry you.”

At this time, the serpent had emerged and seeing the princess in the distance, began to bellow. 

Juan turned to his brothers, the dog and the horse and said:

-“Little brothers, let’s see what you can do for me.”

At that moment, the dog began to run and bark. The horse began to stretch and paw the ground. 

When they saw the serpent approaching them, Juan took out his rifle and fired a shot in the direction of the serpent. The horse and dog chased after the serpent, grabbed it, and began to destroy it. When they killed it, Juan cut out seven tongues and wrapped them in the mask that covered the princess. He then put the princess on his horse and took her to the little old lady’s house. He then told the princess to go to the king and tell him that the serpent had not come. 

The princess went to the king but told him that Juan had killed the serpent. Hearing this, the king sent for Juan and had the couple married. 

The next day, John got up early with his new spouse. As they walked the hallway, he saw some smoke in the distance and asked the princess:

-“What is that smoke? 

And she replied:

-“That is smoke where you go and never return.”

Feeling the challenge before him, Juan said:

-“I will go to that smoke, but you will see that, I will return.”

Juan mounted his horse and the dog followed behind. They rode the entire day. As the night was falling, Juan arrived at a little run-down house. At the entrance he encountered a little old lady who said to him:

-“Come in, my grandson.”

Juan replied, “I don’t have a rope with which to tie my horse.”

When he said this, the old woman removed a white hair from her head and from it made a rope to tie his horse. The moment he tied it, the horse turned to stone, and so did Juan and his dog.

The next day, far from the old woman’s house, Pedro got up early and as he had grown accustomed to doing, he went to the great white tree, scratched it. But to his astonishment, for the first time ever, blood flowed. He then said:

-“My brother is in trouble, I must go help him.”

Pedro mounted his horse and left with his dog following behind.  Because Juan and Pedro, the dogs, and the horses were all children of the magic fish, they resembled one another.  

Back at the castle, when Juan had not returned, the king’s servants went looking for him. As they were searching, they encountered Pedro. Believing that he was Juan, took him back to the princess. The king and queen were relieved believing Pedro was Juan.  

Pedro was overcome with sadness, realizing that his brother was married to the princess and that she was therefore his sister-in-law. He asked himself, what can I do to not sleep with the princess? He reasoned to himself:

‘”If I don’t sleep with the princess, the king will hang me.” 

Not realizing what had happened, the princess prepared their bed, but when Pedro cametook Juan’s dagger and put it in between himself and the princess. The princess then said:

-“What is this? You returned a changed man from the smoke.”

-“No,” he said, “It’s my custom that, when I leave for a distant place, my dagger is to lie between us.”

The princess was satisfied with his response, though Pedro knew he was in a dilemma. He so desperately wanted to inquire about his brother Juan, but he had to be careful so as not to let them know that he was actually Juan’s brother. Otherwise they might hang him.

The next day, they got up early and while walking in the hallway, Pedro noticed smoke in a distance; the same smoke Juan noticed. So Pedro asked the princess:

-”What is that smoke in the distance?”

-“Well that smoke is from the place where you go and never return. But you did,” she told him.

-“No, I didn’t go as far the smoke, but I will go today.”

Pedro got on his horse and rode the entire day as his dog followed. They arrived late in the day at the same little house of the little old lady, she greeted him and said to him: 

-“Come in my little grandson.”

“I can’t,” Pedro told her, “I don’t have a rope to tie my horse.

-The old lady said, “I’ll give you one.”

So, she took out a white hair from her head, and it became a rope. Recognizing the trap, Pedro took the rope, but set fire to it and said:

-“Listen, old lady. If you don’t return my brother to me, my dog and horse will tear you up.

Frightened at what might happen, the old woman said:

-“No, my little grandson, do not hurt me.  Yes, I’ll return your brother.”

When she had returned him, Pedro said to Juan:  

-“Brother, I knew you were in trouble. My oldest brother, the milk tree, is crying blood. “

Juan replied:

-“This old lady has bewitched me.”

Recognizing that she was dangerous, the brothers killed the old woman and the two dogs dismembered her, ridding the place of her enchantment.  

When the two brothers recovered from the spell, Pedro knew he had to tell Juan he had slept with his new wife. Pedro also knew that Juan was a jealous man. He finally told him:

-“Brother, I must tell you something. I didn’t know how to find out where you were. The king sent for me, thinking I was you, and I had to sleep with your princess.

Angered by what he heard, Juan took out his dagger and stabbed Pedro in the heart. Pedro fell from his horse and began to bleed profusely. His dog began to lick his wound to stop the bleeding, but Pedro fell into a coma.

Juan left his brother and returned to the castle, where he was received with the same enthusiasm Pedro got. The princess immediately noticed that he had changed. The king and queen gathered around Juan to talk. As the princess watched, she could not help remembering that Juan had placed the dagger between the two of them the night before. Later that evening, as they were getting ready for bed, Juan noticed the dagger and he asked her:

-“What is this?

Though puzzled, she replied, “You put it there the last time you slept here because you made a promise when you traveled afar, so I too know how to put it between us.”

Realizing what had happened, Juan told her: 

-“It wasn’t me, that was Pedro my brother.”

The princess said:

-“How can it be your brother, when it was same man, the same dog, and the same horse?”

Juan said:

-“Yes, he’s my brother, but I left him for dead when I learned he had slept with you.”

Anguished, Juan immediately began to cry. It was in this moment that the king noticing the wailing, came to find out what happened.  Juan told him that he had left his brother for dead.  The king immediately ordered his servants to go with Juan and bring Pedro back. They arrived where Pedro lay, put him in the coach, and brought him back to the castle.  

Once in the care of the king and queen, Pedro was able to recover.  When he got on his feet, the two brothers went for their parents, the old couple and the Indian servant. Soon after, Pedro married another of the king’s daughters.  

This was followed by eight days of celebrations. 

El Árbol De Leche

Era un viejito y una viejita, y tenía una india cautiva, una perra y una yegua. Este viejito vivía cien millas de la suidá. Esta perra no paría porque no iban perros allá. La yegua no tenía potrillos porque no iban caballos. El viejito estaba siempre muy triste porque no tenía con quien platicar. Empezó a pidirle al Señor que le diera un niño o una niña. Este viejito iba a trai peces del mar. Con eso se mantenía. Un día jué a cazar truchas y le salió el Señor en figura de un viejito y le dijo:

—Echa tu anzuelo aquí en este remanse y sacarás un pez. De este pez no más tu mujer ha de comer. Porque éste es pa que tengan familia. Este pez se tiene que lavar en tres aguas. Esta agua la tienen que tirar diez pasos afuera de la puerta.

La india esta lavó la pez en tres aguas, como jué mandada. La primer agua la tiró a diez pasos ajuera de la puerta, la mitá de la agua, y logo la otra mitá la echó en la canova onde bebía agua la perra y la yegua. Logo puso la pez a frir. Cuando ya estaba frita, le dijo a su señora ama, la viejita, que ya estaba asada la pez, que se la comiera. Antonces dijo ella que la aprobara a ver si tenía sal. Antonces la india la aprobó y de una vez la india se puso encinta, y logo la vieja se puso encinta por la pez que se comió. La perra se puso encinta por la agua que había bebido de la pez. La yegua puso gorda por la bebida de la agua de la pez. A los dos meses parió la perra dos perritos rocíos. A los nueve meses tuvo la india un muchichito. A la media hora tuvo la vieja, la mujer del viejito, otro muchichito. Al hijo de la india le pusieron Juan y al de la viejita, Pedro. Pasó tamién que onde había tirao la agua, diez pasos afuera de la puerta, salió un árbol blanco que este le picaban y corría lechi. Güeno. el viejito cuidaba mucho este árbol porque sabia que este árbol era el mayor de los hijos de la pez. El viejito les mercaba a estos muchichitos vestidos de un mismo color. Al año tuvo la yegua dos potrillos rocíos y el viejito dijo:

—Un perrito es de cada uno y un caballo es de cada uno de los muchichitos, porque toda esta familia son hijos de la pez.

Este viejito enseñó a estos muchichitos a que cazaran. Una vez que vinieron los dos muchichitos de cazar, hallaron a la viejita peliando con la india porque quería quitarle a Juan. Cuando supo por qué

peliaban, dijo Juan:

—No, yo soy de mi madre, la india. Pero si la va a pasar mal

mi madre con ustedes, vale más irme.

Y se jué Juan y se quedó Pedro. Cuando Juan iba a salir, le di-

jo a Pedro:

—Te voy a dejar mi daga. Todas las mañanas vas onde está mi

hermano el árbol de lechi, porque ése es el hermano mayor que tene-
mos y por él nos dirigemos. Si corre lechi, estoy bien, y si corre sangre, estoy mal.

Pedro todos los días iba onde estaba el árbol de lechi y le pega-

ba un rasguñito y salía lechi. Al fin, llegó Juan a una suidá. En esta suidá estaba un rey que le daba mucha batería a la serpiente. Ya para este año no tuvo el rey ejércitos pa peliar con ella y tenía que ponerle a su hija, la princesa, pa que se la comiera pa que no entrara pa la suidá. El día que se la iban a poner, llegó Juan a case una viejita y le preguntó qué nuevas había allí.

—Nada más, nietecito, que mañana va el rey a poner a la princesa pa que se la coma la serpiente.

Pues otro día en la mañana Juan ensilló su caballo y agarró su perro y se jué hasta onde estaba la princesa. Esta princesa tenia la cara tapada con una mascada colorada pa que no viera a la serpien-

te cuando se la viniera a comer. Cuando Juan llegó onde estaba la princesa, le dijo él:

—Señora, si se casa conmigo, la liberto de la serpiente.

—¡Pues mi padre con ejércitos no le ha podido hacer nada y ha de poder un hombre solo!

Le quitó la mascada y se la echó él en la bolsa y ella se sentó a

ver. Se quedó almirada de ver que éste tenía un hermano perro y un caballo.

—¡Cómo es posible que un joven como usté sea hermano de dos animales?

—Porque semos hijos de una pez los tres, y si usté se casa conmigo, estos tres le libertamos la vida.

—Güeno —le dijo ella—, pues antonces sí.

En esto bramó la serpiente. Antonces dijo él a su caballo y a su perro:

—Hermanitos, veremos qué hace por mí.

Y el perrito empezó a correr y a ladrar. El caballo empezó a estirarse y a manotiar. Cuando la vieron venir, Juan sacó su carabina y tiró un tiro al rumbo de onde vinía la serpiente. El caballo y el perro se jueron en pues de ella, la agarraron y la desbarataron. Cuando ya la mataron, jué Juan y le quitó siete lenguas y las envolvió en la mascada que tenía la princesa tapada la cara. Logo la echó en su caballito y la trujo pa acase la viejita y lago de ai le dijo que se juera y le dijiera al rey que la serpiente no había venido. Pero la princesa dijo que Juan había matao la serpiente. Antonces el rey mandó por Juan y lo trujieron y lo casaron.

Otro día se levantó Juan después de casao y subió al corredor junto con su esposa. Cuando estaban en el corredor, vido él un humo lejos en una sierra. Y le preguntó a la princesa:

—¿Qué humito es aquél?

—Ese es un humo de onde irás y jamás en la vida volverás. —Yo sí voy y vuelvo.

Juan agarró su caballo, su perro y se jué. Caminó el día entero. Haciéndose tarde y llegando a una casita que por ondequiera seveían las rendijas, y salió una vieja y le dijo:

 —Pasa, nietecito.

—No trago —le dijo él— con que amarrar mi caballito.

Y se quitó ella una cana y le hizo un cabresto pa que amarrara el caballo.

Amarró el caballo y se volvió una piedra el caballo, otra piedra Juan y otra piedra el perro.

Otro día se levantó Pedro allá en su casa onde estaba el árbol de lechi. Agarró la daga y jué onde estaba el árbol de lechi y le dió un rasguñito y corrió sangre del árbol. Logo dijo:

—Pues mi hermano se halla en trabajos, me voy.

Agarró su perro, su caballo y se jué. Como éstos eran una mis- ma persona, tanto Juan como Pedro, como el perro, como el caballo todos eran parecidos, andaban sus criaos del rey buscando a Juan en la suidá y onde s’ incontraron con Pedro, creyeron que era el marido y lo llevaron a onde estaba la princesa. Pedro se puso muy triste. El pensó que su hermano estaba casao y su cuñada era la princesa que había inviao por él. Antonces él pensaba cómo poder hacer pa no durmir con la mujer, porque le tenía temor al rey que lo juera a horcar si él no se acostaba con la princesa. Antonces la princesa tendió la cama para ellay Pedro. El rey y la reina estuvieron muy contentos con Pedro, pensando que era Juan. Cuando ya Pedro se jué a acostar,

agarró la espada de Juan y la puso en el medio. Antonces le dijo ella:

-Qué es eso? Vinites diferente del humito.

—No. Tengo hecha una promesa de que cuando yo salga por ai lejos. durmirá la espada entre medio de los dos.

Antonces aquélla quedó muy satisfecha. El no podía preguntar por Juan porque no hubiera un equívoco y lo jueran a horcar. Otro día se levantaron muy de mañana él y la princesa y se subieron al corredor. Allá vida él el humito onde estaba su hermano, y le dijo:

—¿Qué humito será aquel que se ve tan lejos?

—¡Adió! es el humito de onde irás y no volverás, y tú si volvítes.

—No, no juí hasta allá. Pero hora sí voy.

Sacó su perro y su caballo y se jué. Corrió el día entero. Haciéndose tarde y llegando al facalito. Salió la vieja. Le dijo:

—Entra, nietecito.

—No —le dijo él —no traigo con qué amarrar mi caballo.

 —Yo te daré —le dijo.

Y se quitó una cana y se volvió la cana un cabresto. Vino Pedro y la recogió y le prendió juego al cabresto.

—¡Ah, vieja! Si no me das a mi hermano, te despadazo con ese perro que traigo ai.

—No, nietecito, no me hagas nada. Sí te doy a tu hermano. Pues ya lo sacó ajuera. Le dijo Pedro:

—Hermanito, ¡cómo me he hallao de acongojao! Mi hermano, el mayor, está llorando sangre.

—Esta vieja me encantó —le dijo él.

Pues hora los dos hermanitos la mataron. Los dos perritos despadazaron a la vieja y lago se desencantó aquí onde estaba la vieja. Eran unas suidades muy grandes y todas estaban encantadas. Cuando se desencantaron, Pedro y Juan se jueron muy contentos. Pedro no hallaba cómo dicile que él había durmido en su casa porque él sabia que Juan era muy celoso dende muy joven. Al fin de las andadas, le dijo:

—Sabes, hermanito Juan, yo no sabía cómo hacer pa descubrir ónde estabas, pero que el rey mandó y me trujo. Pensaron que era tu persona y antenochi yo dormí con tu mujer.

Antonces Juan sacó su daga que traiba y le dió un dagazo a Pedro en el corazón. Pedro cayó de su caballo y empezó a desangrarse mucho y el perrito empezó a curalo como podía y el caballo a no dejar

gente que se arrimara onde estaba Pedro. Pedro se desangró tanto que hasta al fin quedó desmayao.

Juan llegó a case el rey. Lo recibieron con el mismo gusto que había recibido a Pedro. Aquélla vido que éste había venido más diferente que el otro día. Antonces el rey y la reina se juntaron a platicar con él un rato. A la princesa no se la había quitao del pensamiento lo que había hecho Pedro con ella, que había puesto la espada entre medio de los dos. Antonces cuando tendió ella la cama, bajó la espada de Juan y la puso en el medio. Antonces le dijo Juan:

—¿Qué es eso?

—Tú la pusites antenochi que durmites aquí, porque tenias compromiso de que cuando jueras lejos, de poner la espada en el medio y yo tamién la sé poner.

—Pero no era yo. Era Pedro, mi hermano.

—¿Cómo había de ser tu hermano, cuando era el mismo hombre, el mismo perro y el mismo caballo?

—Si, es mi hermano, y yo lo dejé muerto, pensando que había durmido contigo.

Antonces se soltó él llorando. A las lloraderas que tenía Juan, vino el rey a ver qué era lo que había. Antonces le dijo Juan que él había dejao a su hermanito muerto en el llano, muy mal herido. Güeno, pues antonces el rey dijo que irían por él, y se jueron. Y Juan se jué en su caballito. Cuando este perro y este caballo oyeron ir el ruido, se vinieron el potrillo y el perro en pues de la gente pa no dejar que llegaran onde estaba Pedro. Antonces Juan llegó y les habló y se jueron onde estaba su amo, lo subieron en un cochi y lo trujieron. Pedro empezó a descansar muy apriesa. Cuando ya sanó, jueron por los viejitos y por la india. Se casó Pedro con otra princesa. Hicieron fiestas riales por ocho días.