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by on October 24, 2019

Narrated by Lorenzo Licup, a Pampangan.

Long, long before the Spaniards came, there lived a man who had a
beautiful, virtuous, and, above all, clever daughter. He was a servant
of the king. Marcela, the daughter, loved her father devotedly, and
always helped him with his work. From childhood she had manifested a
keen wit and undaunted spirit. She would even refuse to obey unjust
orders from the king. No question was too hard for her to answer,
and the king was constantly being surprised at her sagacity.

One day the king conceived a plan by which he might test the ingenious
Marcela. He bade his servants procure a tiny bird and carry it to her
house. "Tell her," said the king, "to make twelve dishes out of that
one bird."

The servants found Marcela sewing. They told her of the order of the
king. After thinking for five minutes, she took one of her pins, and
said to the servants, "If the king can make twelve spoons out of this
pin, I can also make twelve dishes out of that bird." On receiving
the answer, the king realized that the wise Marcela had gotten the
better of him; and he began to think of another plan to puzzle her.

Again he bade his servants carry a sheep to Marcela's house. "Tell
her," he said, "to sell the sheep for six reales, and with the money
this very same sheep must come back to me alive."

At first Marcela could not make out what the king meant for her to
do. Then she thought of selling the wool only, and not the whole
sheep. So she cut off the wool and sold it for six reales, and sent
the money with the live sheep back to the king. Thus she was again
relieved from a difficulty.

The king by this time realized that he could not beat Marcela in
points of subtlety. However, to amuse himself, he finally thought of
one more scheme to test her sagacity. It took him two weeks to think
it out. Summoning a messenger, he said to him, "Go to Marcela, and
tell her that I am not well, and that my physician has advised me to
drink a cup of bull's milk. Therefore she must get me this medicine,
or her father will lose his place in the palace." The king also issued
an order that no one was to bathe or to wash anything in the river,
for he was going to take a bath the next morning.

As soon as Marcela had received the command of the king and had
heard of his second order, she said, "How easy it will be for me to
answer this silly order of the king!" That night she and her father
killed a pig, and smeared its blood over the sleeping-mat, blanket,
and pillows. When morning came, Marcela took the stained bed-clothing
to the source of the river, where the king was bathing. As soon as
the king caught sight of her, he said in a voice of thunder, "Why do
you wash your stuff in the river when you know I ordered that nobody
should use the river to-day but me?"

Marcela replied, "It is the custom, my lord, in our country, to wash
the mat, pillows, and other things stained with blood, immediately
after a person has given birth to a child. As my father gave birth to
a child last night, custom forces me to disobey your order, although
I do it much against my will."

"Nonsense!" said the king. "The idea of a man giving birth to a
child! Absurd! Ridiculous!"

"My lord," said Marcela, "it would be just as absurd to think of
getting milk from a bull."

Then the king, recollecting his order, said, "Marcela, as you are so
witty, clever, and virtuous, I will give you my son for your husband."

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