The Stolen Smell
Spider Magazine for Kids|February 2021
A Peruvian Folktale
By Dara Dokas

There once was a boy named Pepe who lived with his family in a village beneath a snowcapped mountain in Peru. He had a worn poncho and a hole in his sandal, but he whistled as he watched over his family’s llamas each day. Pepe enjoyed singing songs for the llamas. But what he really wished for was a set of panpipes to play for them.

At the end of the day, Pepe passed the villagers in the market, packing up their wares. He was fond of stopping to visit with the Weaver Women and the Food Sellers, but Pepe’s favorite stand by far was the Instrument Maker. The Instrument Maker sold whistles, flutes, and copper bells. But the best instruments of all were the panpipes. Each evening, the Instrument Maker played a tune for Pepe on the pipes and Pepe thanked him for the music.

No one in the village had much to give, but they shared what they could. This was true for all except one.

Next door to Pepe lived the wealthy Baker. Every day he baked maize cakes and Chancay bread— sweet, anise-flavored buns with a fluffy texture. But if there were cakes or buns left at the end of the day, the Baker did not give any to the hungry children. Instead, he fed them to the pigeons.

“Let people pay for their food,” said the Baker as he tossed crumbs to the birds.

Pepe would have loved to eat a warm maize cake, but he did not have the money to buy one. But each day, Pepe would stop to breathe in the smells that floated from the Baker’s shop. His favorite was the smell of the fresh, hot Chancay buns.

One day, as Pepe stood near the Baker’s wall smelling the delicious smells, the Baker leaned out his window, his hat nearly flying off his head.

“Stop that right now!” ordered the Baker.

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