The Pesky Goat
Doña Josefina lived on the outskirts of Ciáles, a small town in the highlands of Puerto Rico. Her tiny house was as spotless as a porcelain teacup. Although she lived alone, except for her dog, Ladrón, and her cat, Misifú, Doña Josefina was too busy to ever be lonely.
She spent all her waking moments tending her beloved garden. Doña Josefina was known throughout the island for her mano santa--the blessed hand that turned all plants she touched into breathtaking specimens of splendrous color and robust good health.
In the garden, she grew prize-winning roses and orchids, hibiscus and hydrangea, and dozens of jewel-colored flowers that grow only in ...view middle of the document...
But she could find no clue.
That night, Doña Josefina didn't sleep. She stayed up all night watching from her window for the culprit to appear. Just before dawn, something crept into the garden. Doña Josefina held her breath and waited. As she watched, the thing seemed to rise into the air and take the shape of a small white goat. The goat floated toward a hydrangea plant. When it reached the plant, the goat began to feast on the large balls of blossoms.
"Ay, ay, ay!" cried Doña Josefina. "A cabra is destroying my precious darlings!"
Doña Josefina ran through the living room and out the front door. When she raced down the slick, tile-covered steps, her heel slipped, and she twisted her ankle.
"Oh, no!" she cried. "What shall I do?"
Unable to continue into the garden, Doña Josefina hobbled back into the house and called her dog.
"Ladrón, I will give you an extra helping of meat today if you'll go into the garden and chase away that cabra."
"¡Seguro!" Ladrón replied with an enthusiastic bark. "Of course I'll do it!"
Ladrón raced to the garden, his jowls drooling at the thought of an extra helping of meat. He sniffed loudly as he trotted around the flower beds, searching for the goat.
The goat heard him and prepared herself for an attack. She climbed onto a boulder that was hidden behind a bush. Then she took a deep breath to make herself appear larger and said in a deep, loud voice:
"Heed my words
and stay away.
I'll devour the first
To Ladrón, the tiny goat seemed to have grown ten times its size. He swore that the goat's evil eyes glowed like burning coals. Its teeth would put a crocodile to shame. He didn't want to put those terrible teeth to a test, not for all the delicious meat in Puerto Rico!
Ladrón became a blur of spots and dust. He didn't stop running until he was safely under Doña Josefina's bed. There, he turned into a mass of trembling fur and clattering teeth. He refused to come out until morning, untempted by Doña Josefina's promises of roasted meats and spicy sausages.
"Ay, ay, ay!" cried Doña Josefina. "Now, what shall I do?"
At that moment, Misifú rubbed up against the old woman's leg.
"Ah, Misifú!" said Doña Josefina, stooping to pick up the white cat. "I'll give you two extra helpings of fish tonight if you'll just go into the garden and chase away that peskycabra."
"Why not?" Misifú replied with flick of her tail. "¿Porqué no? It might be interesting to chase a goat."
In no particular hurry, Misifú sauntered out to the garden. Because she made no effort to hide herself, the goat spotted her strolling down the main garden path.
The pesky little...