There was once an old witch who lived in a cave and whenever she wanted to go anywhere she said, “Little cave, little cave, take me to such or such a place,” and the cave immediately came out of the rock and took her there. In fact, this old witch could do as she pleased about everything and for this reason people did all they could to keep on friendly terms with her. There was once, however, a man who lost her good will. This man owned a beautiful hacienda with a plain covered with green grass, for no matter how often the cattle ate this grass, it grew up again in a single night. Through this grass-covered plain flowed a stream, but the farmer wanted a lake, because his neighbor had one of which he was always boasting. So this discontented man went in search of the old witch, who readily agreed to move the lake to his place. Arriving at the lake the old witch filled two gourds with water and set off towards the spot which the man pointed out to her, but when she was half way there she slipped, fell and spilled the water, which immediately formed a lake. The man was very angry then, because that was not the place he wanted the lake, so he spoke angrily to the witch, calling her a careless, awkward old woman. To all this the witch answered never a word; she just got up, took her gourds and went back to her cave. That night two of the farmer’s calves fell into the lake and were drowned. The next night the same thing happened, so the man said, “I must fill up this lake, for if all the little calves.get drowned, I shall soon have no strong oxen or patient cows.” So he set to work and dug and dug, until he had made a great hole and though he threw all the earth he took from the hole into the lake, it never filled up, for as the hole grew the lake grew and it kept on growing until there was no hacienda left. And all the time it was growing cattle fell into it every night until at last the man owned a beautiful lake full of fish, but not one head of cattle nor a foot of dry land. The poor farmer was so sad at his loss and so sorry for his rudeness to the old witch that she at last relented and changed him into a blackbird, that always goes with the cows and sometimes sits on their backs.
The Envious Farmer
Originally Published in 1915