I am the speckled egg,
a nest in the breeze,
your feet on the ground,
and the hole in your sleeve.

        -- The Lady Velasquez.

Once upon a time, a big house stood on the edge of a gloomy wood. The master of the house had two children, Marta and Rico. These children so loved one another that when they were apart, they could only be sad. This pricked the man's heart to see as he still grieved for his own true love.

One day, the master of the house entrusted the children's care to his cook and stableman. He had to pass through the gloomy wood but promised everyone his return before the next full moon.

The full moon soon passed, still Marta and Rico's father had not returned. And to this, many a night in the kitchen, the cook served the stableman a glass of cheer. She said bandits had surely killed the house master. They'd assassinate a man like him, easy as one says "good day." The house was free to take, summarized the cook, if they only got rid of the children. "Tomorrow," added she, "I'll put a large pot on to boil for Rico. And where he goes, Marta will soon follow. "

Playing hiding games and overhearing these plans, Marta and Rico shuddered. But Marta whispered, "Rico, instead of this, tomorrow we rise earlier than does our misfortune. You and I will dress and go far away. "

The next day, the children did as planned.

In the kitchen the kettle boiled and the cook said it was time to fetch sleepy Rico. Quietly entering their room, they immediately saw that both children were gone. The cook cursed their luck and dispatched the stableman to find them. However, the children spotted him from a distance on the outskirts of the gloomy wood.

Marta said, "Say quick Rico. We belong together."

"Forever and ever more," said Rico.

"In this tree," said Marta, "you must become a nest -- and look I will be the egg."

When the stableman came to the wood, he found nothing there of interest but a swaying nest with one lovely egg. "There is nothing to do here," he said and went back to tell the cook.

The cook scolded him. "You simpleton, you should have torn the nest down, taken the egg and brought it back. Go and do it at once. "

Out went the stableman a second time, but again the children saw him coming.

"Rico say quickly. We belong together," said Marta.

"Forever and ever more," said Rico.

"Then you must become a church -- and look I will be the candle."

So when the stableman came, he found nothing but a church with one pale candle flickering inside. He said, "What can I do here? Let us go."

Upon returning to the house, he explained all he had found.

"You fool! Why did you not pull the church to pieces and bring the candle home with you?"

Now, the cook got herself up and went. The children saw them coming from afar, the cook with the stableman in tow.

"Rico say quickly. We belong together," said the sister.

"Forever and ever more," said her brother.

"Be a fishpond -- and look, I will be what I must."

The two wicked servants came up then. When the cook saw the pond full of golden fish, she suspected some ruse. One especially beautiful carp swam close to the surface -- almost close enough for her to grab, if the stableman would only steady her balance. But a white goose came up from behind and bit the man's legs, honking and beating its wings upon him like a great storm. He let go, and the cook fell head first into the water. The stableman took to his heels while the cook splashed away. Neither of them were ever to be seen again.

And so it was Rico and Marta went home. There they found their father returned from his travels and weeping at the table. He cried bitterly in his arms for the return of his lost children.

With a shout, they were joyously reunited — and if they have not yet died happy, they are living still.

END