But every year the cattle drivers came through the village. One of these was a man of wild reputation. He would woo girls and leave them, stringing along broken hearts like bloody pearls behind him. Well, one day he spotted Maria and he wanted her, but she didn’t want anything to do with him. And so the man desired her all the more. Eventually, Maria decided this man, as handsome as she was beautiful, would make an excellent husband. The only husband, in fact, for her.

Her grandmother tried to talk her out of it. “A vaquero is not going to make a good husband,” she told Maria. “A man like that goes wherever the wind blows. He won’t be able to help himself.” But Maria laughed at her grandmother’s words. “What do these old women know?” And so she married the vaquero.

They bought a house by the river, and they had two children. But soon the vaquero left on a cattle drive and she didn’t see him again for months. Then one day, he arrived at the front door in a carriage and next to him in the carriage was a beautiful foreign woman. He wanted to see his children, but not Maria.

When he had left, Maria, insane with jealousy, took her two children to the river and cast them into the water. She realized her mistake as soon as she had done this terrible deed, but it was too late. She tried to go in after them, but was drowned herself. And that’s where the story would have ended, but months after the funerals, people in the village began to report seeing a woman in white walking down by the river, wailing for her lost children in a high voice, “My children! My children! Where are my children!” Throughout the years, the ghost wandered the river looking for her children. Now, everybody called the woman La Llorona, the Wailing Woman, because they could hear her far away up and down the river crying for her lost children. It was said she had gone completely insane and could no longer tell the difference between her own children and other people’s.

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