By Master Storyteller Joe Hayes

From his book "The Day It Snowed Tortillas"

This is the story of a man and his wife who had just one son. He was a good boy, both likable and hardworking, but sometimes a little slow to learn.

One day the parents told the boy he would have to go look for work and bring some money into the family, as they were very poor. So the boy set out and soon came to a ranch and began to work there. At the end of the first month, the rancher paid the boy one silver coin, and the boy started for home to give the money to his parents.

On the way, the boy met an old, old man with a long gray beard. "Buenas tardes," the boy greeted him." What are you doing here on the road?"

"I'm selling advice," the man said. And the man told the boy that for one silver coin he might receive some advice of great value. So the boy handed the coin to the old man, who whispered in his ear:

                        Dondequiera que fueras,

                        Haz lo que vieras.

Wherever you may go,

do as you see others do.

The boy walked on home repeating that advice over and over to himself. When he got home, and his parents learned that he had spent all his wages on one piece of advice, they scolded him sharply and told him to go back to work.

The boy returned to the ranch and worked another month. Again he received his silver coin and started for home. Again he met the old man, who said his second bit of advice was even more valuable than the first. The boy paid him, and received these words:

                        Si eres casado,

                        Que tenga cuidado.

                        If you're a married man,

                        Be on your guard.

The boy walked on, repeating the rhyme to himself. When he arrived at home, his parents were furious. "Foolish boy!" they shouted. "We're depending on you to help us with the money you make, and you waste it on advice. Here's somemore good advice-go back to work and don't come home until you have some money to offer!

They chased the boy from the house, and he returned to the ranch. You can guess what happened at the end of the month. Again he met the old man on the road. But this time he hesitated. "If I spend this money, I can't go home," he explained.

"What is money?" asked the old one. "Money comes and it goes. Good advice will last you all your life." And the boy paid his coin to the old man once again. In return, the old one told him:

                        Aunque pobre, eres sano;

                        Trabajo con la mano.

                        Although poor, you're a healthy man;

                        Earn your living with your hands.

With that, the old man disappeared. The boy thought, "Now I can never go home. If I do, they'll chase me off again. I'll go into the world and seek my fortune." And he set out for a foreign land.

After traveling a long time he came to a city built around a great castle. The boy made his way to the castle gate, and there he saw a troop of soldiers marching back and forth with rifles on their shoulders. Suddenly the boy remembered the first bit of advice he had bought. "I must do what I see being done," he said to himself.

He had no rifle, so he picked up a broom that he saw leaning against a nearby wall and fell in with the soldiers.

Now it just so happened that the Princess was looking out from her window at that moment, and there is something you must know about her-she was very sad. Indeed, she hadn't laughed in years. She had been sad for so long that her father, the King, had declared that any man who could make her laugh could marry her!

When the Princess saw the boy take up a broom and march along with the soldiers, she burst forth in peals of laughter. The boy was immediately brought into the castle, to become the Princess's husband!

But there is something more you must know. The reason for the Princess's sadness was that she had been married a hundred times, but each of her husbands had disappeared on their wedding night, never to be seen again. It was whispered that some horrible monster had eaten them!

Well, the boy got married to the Princess, and after the wedding feast they went up to her chambers. But the boy remembered the second piece of advice. "I'm a married man now," he told himself. "I'd better be careful." So he made up his mind to stay awake all night and be on his guard.

Just at midnight he was beginning to doze off when he heard a slithering and hissing sound. He opened his eyes, and there, not two feet from his face, was the gaping mouth of a great serpent! Its eyes were bright yellow, and its long red tongue flashed in and out of its mouth.

Jumping up, the boy seized a sword that hung on the wall, and chopped at the snake until he killed it. That was the monster that had eaten the other bridegrooms-but now it was dead.

In the morning when everyone saw that the Princess's husband was alive, a big celebration was called. It lasted for seven days and seven nights. But the boy kept thinking about the third advice he had bought-although poor, you're a healthy man; earn your living with your hands.

"This dancing and feasting is all very nice," the boy told his wife, "but my advice tells me I should be working with my hands." And he declared that the next day he would go find work.

"You're married to a princess," his wife told him. "You don't have to work."

But he insisted. "Your money is yours. I must still earn my own." In the morning he went to the palace of a neighboring king and asked for work. He was put to work building a wall with some other laborers.

The other workmen soon saw that the boy knew nothing about laying stone or mixing mortar, and he struck them as a bit foolish. They all began to make fun of him. Finally the boy grew angry. "You can say what you like," he told his fellow workers. "But I am married to a princess. Can any of you say as much?"

Of course the other workers didn't believe him. One of them reported to the King that the boy was boasting and pretending to be royalty, claiming that he was married to a princess. The King was enraged and sent for the boy. But when he saw what a simple fellow he was, the King laughed. "So you claim to be a nobleman," he said.

"No, Your Majesty," the boy replied. "But my wife is a princess."

Now the King laughed louder. But the boy told him, "If you don't believe me, wait until noon. You'll see when she brings me my lunch."

The King was growing annoyed. "Yes, I'll wait until noon, and if I don't see a princess coming with your lunch, you may expect to spend the rest of your life in my dungeon!"

"Fine," said the boy. "And if you do see a princess, what will you give me?"

"If you're married to a princess," the King roared, "I'll pay you your weight in gold!"

The boy went back to work on the wall, and just at 12 o'clock he called to the other workers, "Look! Here comes my wife."

Up the road came a carriage drawn by 12 white horses. In front rode 50 mounted soldiers, and 50 more rode behind. The carriage stopped in front of the workmen, and the Princess descended and gave the boy his lunch. The King was watching from his window, and when he saw the Princess he began cursing and muttering to himself. But there was no getting out of his bargain.

The boy was weighed, and an equal weight of gold from the King's treasury was measured out and given to him. Now with his own money-half of which he sent to his parents-the boy returned home with the Princess. And since they lived happily for the rest of their lives, there's really nothing more to tell about them.

To order "The Day It Snowed Tortillas" or other books by Joe Hayes, visit Cinco Puntos Press.

Copyright © Joe Hayes
Order Joe Hayes Books at Cinco Puntos Press

Joe Hayes, Storyteller

Joe Hayes, professional storyteller and SFAOL contributor, has performed in hundreds of schools, libraries, museums and parks. He tells folktales from many cultures, and among his favorites are the local cuentos, the Hispanic tales of New Mexico. A highlight of every summer in Santa Fe, for children and adults alike, are his storytelling sessions outside the tepee at the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe.

In 1982, Mariposa Printing and Publishing company in Santa Fe presented 10 of these stories in "The Day It Snowed Tortillas." Now in its ninth printing, the book has become a regional favorite and has brought delight to readers throughout the country.

From the melodic song of "La Hormiguita"to the classic lament of "La Llorana," "The Day It Snowed Tortillas" is a collection that will captivate hearts for years to come. If you enjoy the stories of Joe Hayes on SFAOL, you can order this book or others he has written by visiting Cinco Puntos Press.


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