World of Tales

The Disobedient Son

South American Folktale

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There was once a boy who was rude and wouldn't obey his mother. He would go out for a walk, without having eaten. He wouldn't come back until late, about ten or eleven o'clock at night. At ten o'clock his mother was still waiting up and worrying about him.

"What have you been doing, son?" his mother asked him. "I'm going to bed because it's late and I have just been waiting for you. You don't pay any attention to anything I tell you. I'm going to send you to your godfather. You don't pay any attention to what I tell you. The boy's mother went to see her compadre* the priest

"Compadre, what can be done about your godson? He is quite a scoundrel and doesn't obey me. You're a priest, and you can counsel and discipline this godson of yours; I can't do anything with him. This godson of yours is a rascal, compadre. Let him come to stay here with you to see if he will learn to behave."

"All right, comadre, have him come here. Why shouldn't he do what I tell him? I'm indeed a priest. I'll teach my godson to work. Don't worry, comadre, my godson is going to obey me." The woman said to her son:

"Go with your godfather, my son. He'll teach you. Since you won't obey me, go and work there."

"All right, mother, I'll go to my godfather's. Since I'm not of any use to you, I'll go and work with my godfather."

"I have come, godfather. What can I do for you? 'Go stay with your godfather', my mother said. That's why I came here to you. My mother is the one who sent me. 'Go to your godfather, you're no longer of any use to me,' my mother said."

"All right, godson," the priest said to him, "You're going to work for me."

"All right, godfather, I'm going to work. I'm going to do whatever you tell me to do; everything you tell me, I will do, godfather."

"All right. Now I'm going to tell you something," said the priest. "Godson, tomorrow morning early you're going to sweep; at three o'clock in the morning. I'm not going to awaken you, I'm just telling you now."

"All right," said the boy. At dawn he went and swept. When he was finished sweeping he went to tell his godfather the priest.

"Godfather, I've finished sweeping all of the church. So I've come to tell you."

"All right, godson, I'm glad you've finished. Now rest." Another day passed and the godfather gave him his next task:

"Now godson, I'm going to tell you what you have to do tomorrow morning. You're going to ring the bell at six o'clock. I want you to ring three times and when you're finished, come and tell me and I'll go to say Mass."

"All right," said the boy. When the next day was over the boy went to ring the bell. He went to tell his godfather:

"Godfather, I rang the bell three times. It's time to get up and go and say Mass," he told his godfather.

"All right," said the godfather. Another day was over and the priest spoke once more to the godson:

"Now I'm going to tell you once more what you have to do tomorrow."

"All right," said the boy.

"Ring the bell again early at three o'clock in the morning."

"All right," said the boy. The boy got up and remembered to ring the bell. He went to ring the bell in the belfry, but the priest, his godfather, had given the boy a test. He had left a skeleton in the belfry. The boy got there at three o'clock in the morning and found a skeleton standing in his way. He said to the skeleton:

"Get out of my way! I'm coming to ring the bell. Don't get in my way. Get out of my way, for my godfather sent me to ring the bell. Get out of my way or I'll kill you!" He didn't get out of the way, he didn't move and he didn't answer. "Answer, or do you want me to kill you?" the boy asked the skeleton. "If for the third time you don't answer me, I'm going to smash you to pieces. That's what you want. That's why you got in my way, so now you're going to die. I'm going to throw you all the way down from here." And he pushed the skeleton out of the belfry. When he had smashed the skeleton he rang the bell and came down from the belfry. He went to his godfather's bedroom and knocked on the door to awaken him. The godfather woke up and answered the door:

"What is it?" the priest asked the boy.

"Get up, I've already rung the bell," the boy told the priest. The priest heard this and was surprised.

"Oh, did you ring the bell?" asked the priest.

"Yes, I rang the bell, godfather," the boy said.

"Didn't you see anything in the belfry?" asked the priest.

"Yes, godfather," the boy answered, "I saw something."

"What did you see?" the priest asked the boy.

"I saw someone who was standing in my way who wouldn't let me get by to ring the bell," the boy answered.

"Oh, so what did you do?" asked the priest. "Weren't you afraid of him?

"No, godfather."

"So what did you do?"

"I pushed him and he fell and broke into pieces on the floor."

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