The Story of Juliana and Roberto

Many years ago, in the town of La Pasta, Mexico, lived Juliana Ceja and Roberto Montoya. Juliana and Roberto grew up running through fields and climbing trees together. As they grew older, their friendship blossomed into love. Juliana and Roberto would sit under the trees at night, staring at the beautiful stars dotting the sky and singing heartfelt love songs to one another. During the day, they walked through town, hand in hand, pointing at the things that they would buy when they were married and owned a ranch named El Rancho de Nuestro Amor, or the Ranch of Our Love.

Then, on one of the most glorious days of Juliana's life, Roberto took her out to a tree that they loved to climb when they were young. Under the cover of that wonderful tree, its bright pink and white flowers in full bloom, Roberto asked Juliana if she would marry him. "Si, mi amor," she said happily. Roberto and Juliana embraced, and in a sudden burst of happiness, they ran into town, telling everyone they met the good news.

But amidst all of the joy and laughter, one rain cloud loomed overhead. The Cejas were wealthy ranchers who practiced every custom of the day. The Montoyas were poor craftsmen who barely made a living. When Roberto asked the Cejas if he could marry Juliana, Señor Ceja demanded that Roberto give him the customary amount of sheep as a dowry. Roberto could not afford to give the Cejas his family's few sheep. Neither could he afford to buy any. Señor Ceja angrily refused to give his daughter without payment, and he forbid Juliana and Roberto from marrying or even seeing each other again.

However, Roberto and Juliana continued to meet each other under the tree where he proposed to her, only in secret at night. Months went by, with Juliana and Roberto still visiting each other at night, but their love grew cooler with each passing day. Finally, Roberto suggested that they go speak to Señor Juarez, the wealthy owner of El Rancho de Ovejas, or the Sheep Ranch. Perhaps Señor Juarez would be gracious enough to give Roberto some sheep if Roberto offered to work for him for a few years. Juliana agreed with Roberto, and they decided to meet under the tree the next night and walk to El Rancho de Ovejas.

Roberto and Juliana met under the tree as planned and walked for about two hours before reaching the ranch. They slipped under the wooden fence and stepped into a field of corn. Roberto and Juliana wandered through the corn for another hour but could not find their way to Señor Juarez's house. Juliana was tired, so Roberto told her sit and rest while he found the house. Juliana lay down on the hard, sandy ground and soon fell asleep.

Suddenly, a gunshot jolted her awake. She screamed loudly, got up, and ran away. As she ran, her foot hit a rock, cutting it and knocking one of her sandals off.

Roberto was still traversing the corn rows when he heard the gunshot. Then, he heard Juliana scream. Frightened, he called out for Juliana and heard no answer. He frantically ran through the thick corn, looking for any sign of her. All of a sudden, he tripped over something. He turned around and saw one of Juliana's sandals. The leather was dotted with drops of blood. Roberto's heart sunk to the ground. One of Señor Juarez's hired hands must have thought that Juliana was an animal coming to kill some sheep. He must have shot her and then carried her body away after realizing his mistake, Roberto thought.

Tears filled Roberto's eyes. Juliana was everything to him. Now, he had nothing, not even the smallest reason to live. Grief stricken, Roberto took out the chisel he used to carve statues and, drawing his last breath, whispered, "Viva nuestro amor," or "Long live our love." He then plunged the chisel deep into his heart, cried out once, and fell to the earth, silenced forever.

Juliana was still running from the gunshot when she heard someone scream up ahead. She ran faster, hoping to find a miracle. She did not. On the ground lay the bleeding, lifeless body of Roberto. Juliana embraced the body of her fiancé and began to weep profusely. She felt useless. Without Roberto, she could not live. Abruptly, she spied Roberto's chisel. She picked it up and, after breathing for the last time, cried, "I shall join you, mi amor." Then, she thrust the chisel into her chest and fell at the feet of Roberto, never to move again.

The next day, Señor Juarez's men found Juliana and Roberto in the field. Months of mourning fell over the whole town of La Pasta. The Cejas and Montoyas remained inconsolable until their deaths. Señor Juarez was so upset by the occurrence that he vacated his ranch. And ever since that day, El Rancho de Ovejas has remained desolate, and the people of La Pasta have called it El Rancho de Juliana y Roberto, or Juliana and Roberto's Ranch.