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Stories from Pentamerone by Giambattista Basile

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Transcribed by Batsy Bybell, cgale@turbonet.com

Stories from Pentamerone

by Giambattista Basile


The collection of folk-tales known as Il Pentamerone was first
published at Naples and in the Neopolitan dialect, by Giambattista
Basile, Conte di Torrone, who is believed to have collected them
chiefly in Crete and Venice, and to have died about the year 1637.


1. How the Tales came to be told
2. The Myrtle
3. Peruonto
4. Vardiello
5. The Flea
6. Cenerentola
7. The Merchant
8. Goat-Face
9. The Enchanted Doe
10. Parsley
11. The Three Sisters
12. Violet
13. Pippo
14. The Serpent
15. The She-Bear
16. The Dove
17. Cannetella
18. Corvetto
19. The Booby
20. The Stone in the Cock's Head
21. The Three Enchanted Princes
22. The Dragon
23. The Two Cakes
24. The Seven Doves
25. The Raven
26. The Months
27. Pintosmalto
28. The Golden Root
29. Sun, Moon, and Talia
30. Nennillo and Nennella
31. The Three Citrons
32. Conclusion


It is an old saying, that he who seeks what he should not, finds
what he would not. Every one has heard of the ape who, in trying
to pull on his boots, was caught by the foot. And it happened in
like manner to a wretched slave, who, although she never had
shoes to her feet, wanted to wear a crown on her head. But the
straight road is the best; and, sooner or later, a day comes which
settles all accounts. At last, having by evil means usurped what
belonged to another, she fell to the ground; and the higher she had
mounted, the greater was her fall--as you shall see.

Once upon a time the King of Woody Valley had a daughter
named Zoza, who was never seen to laugh. The unhappy father,
who had no other comfort in life but this only daughter, left
nothing untried to drive away her melancholy. So he sent for folks
who walk on stilts, fellows who jump through hoops, for boxers,
for conjurers, for jugglers who perform sleight-of-hand tricks, for
strong men, for dancing dogs, for leaping clowns, for the donkey
that drinks out of a tumbler--in short, he tried first one thing and
then another to make her laugh. But all was time lost, for nothing
could bring a smile to her lips.

So at length the poor father, at wit's end, and to make a last trial,
ordered a large fountain of oil to be set in front of the palace gates,
thinking to himself that when the oil ran down the street, along
which the people passed like a troop of ants, they would be
obliged, in order not to soil their clothes, to skip like grasshoppers,
leap like goats, and run like hares; while one would go picking and
choosing his way, and another go creeping along the wall. In short,
he hoped that something might come to pass to make his daughter

So the fountain was made; and as Zoza was one day standing at the
window, grave and demure, and looking as sour as vinegar, there
came by chance an old woman, who, soaking up the oil with a
sponge, began to fill a little pitcher which she had brought with
her. And as she was labouring hard at this ingenious device, a
young page of the court passing by threw a stone so exactly to a
hair that he hit the pitcher and broke it to pieces. Whereupon the
old woman, who had no hair on her tongue, turned to the page, full
of wrath, and exclaimed, "Ah, you impertinent young dog, you
mule, you gallows-rope, you spindle-legs! Ill luck to you! May you
be pierced by a Catalan lance! May a thousand ills befall you and
something more to boot, you thief, you knave!"

The lad, who had little beard and less discretion, hearing this string
of abuse, repaid the old woman in her own coin, saying, "Have you
done, you grandmother of witches, you old hag, you child-strangler!"

When the old woman heard these compliments she flew into such
a rage that, losing hold of the bridle and escaping from the stable
of patience, she acted as if she were mad, cutting capers in the air
and grinning like an ape. At this strange spectacle Zoza burst into
such a fit of laughter that she well-nigh fainted away. But when the
old woman saw herself played this trick, she flew into a passion,
and turning a fierce look on Zoza she exclaimed: "May you never
have the least little bit of a husband, unless you take the Prince of

Upon hearing this, Zoza ordered the old woman to be called; and
desired to know whether, in her words, she had laid on her a curse,
or had only meant to insult her. And the old woman answered,
"Know then, that the Prince of whom I spoke is a most handsome
creature, and is named Taddeo, who, by the wicked spell of a fairy,
having given the last touch to the picture of life, has been placed in
a tomb outside the walls of the city; and there is an inscription
upon a stone, saying that whatever woman shall in three days fill
with tears a pitcher that hangs there upon a hook will bring the
Prince to life and shall take him for a husband. But as it is
impossible for two human eyes to weep so much as to fill a pitcher
that would hold half a barrel, I have wished you this wish in return
for your scoffing and jeering at me. And I pray that it may come to
pass, to avenge the wrong you have done me." So saying, she
scuttled down the stairs, for fear of a beating.

Zoza pondered over the words of the old woman, and after turning
over a hundred thoughts in her mind, until her head was like a mill
full of doubts, she was at last struck by a dart of the passion that
blinds the judgment and puts a spell on the reasoning of man. She
took a handful of dollars from her father's coffers and left the
palace, walking on and on, until she arrived at the castle of a fairy,
to whom she unburdened her heart. The fairy, out of pity for such a
fair young girl, who had two spurs to make her fall--little help and
much love for an unknown object--gave her a letter of
recommendation to a sister of hers, who was also a fairy. And this
second fairy received her likewise with great kindness; and on the
following morning, when Night commands the birds to proclaim
that whoever has seen a flock of black shadows gone astray shall
be well rewarded, she gave her a beautiful walnut, saying, "Take
this, my dear daughter, and keep it carefully; but never open it, but
in time of the greatest need." And then she gave her also a letter,
commending her to another sister.

After journeying a long way, Zoza arrived at this fairy's castle, and
was received with the same affection. And the next morning this
fairy likewise gave her a letter to another sister, together with a
chestnut, cautioning her in the same manner. Then Zoza travelled
on to the next castle, where she was received with a thousand
caresses and given a filbert, which she was never to open, unless
the greatest necessity obliged her. So she set out upon her journey,
and passed so many forests and rivers, that at the end of seven
years, just at the time of day when the Sun, awakened by the
coming of the cocks, has saddled his steed to run his accustomed
stages, she arrived almost lame at Round-Field.

There, at the entrance to the city, she saw a marble tomb, at the
foot of a fountain, which was weeping tears of crystal at seeing
itself shut up in a porphyry prison. And, lifting up the pitcher, she
placed it in her lap and began to weep into it, imitating the
fountain to make two little fountains of her eyes. And thus she
continued without ever raising her head from the mouth of the
pitcher--until, at the end of two days, it was full within two inches
of the top. But, being wearied with so much weeping, she was
unawares overtaken by sleep, and was obliged to rest for an hour
or so under the canopy of her eyes.

Meanwhile a certain Slave, with the legs of a grasshopper, came,
as she was wont, to the fountain, to fill her water-cask. Now she
knew the meaning of the fountain which was talked of
everywhere; and when she saw Zoza weeping so incessantly, and
making two little streams from her eyes, she was always watching
and spying until the pitcher should be full enough for her to add
the last drops to it; and thus to leave Zoza cheated of her hopes.
Now, therefore, seeing Zoza asleep, she seized her opportunity;
and dexterously removing the pitcher from under Zoza, and
placing her own eyes over it, she filled it in four seconds. But
hardly was it full, when the Prince arose from the white marble
shrine, as if awakened from a deep sleep, and embraced that mass
of dark flesh, and carried her straightways to his palace; feasts and
marvellous illuminations were made, and he took her for his wife.

When Zoza awoke and saw the pitcher gone, and her hopes with it,
and the shrine open, her heart grew so heavy that she was on the
point of unpacking the bales of her soul at the custom-house of
Death. But, at last, seeing that there was no help for her
misfortune, and that she could only blame her own eyes, which
had served her so ill, she went her way, step by step, into the city.
And when she heard of the feasts which the Prince had made, and
the dainty creature he had married, she instantly knew how all this
mischief had come to pass; and said to herself, sighing, "Alas, two
dark things have brought me to the ground,--sleep and a black
slave!" Then she took a fine house facing the palace of the Prince;
from whence, though she could not see the idol of her heart, she
could at least look upon the walls wherein what she sighed for was

But Taddeo, who was constantly flying like a bat round that black
night of a Slave, chanced to perceive Zoza and was entranced with
her beauty. When the Slave saw this she was beside herself with
rage, and vowed that if Taddeo did not leave the window, she
would kill her baby when it was born.

Taddeo, who was anxiously desiring an heir, was afraid to offend
his wife and tore himself away from the sight of Zoza; who seeing
this little balm for the sickness of her hopes taken away from her,
knew not, at first, what to do. But, recollecting the fairies' gifts,
she opened the walnut, and out of it hopped a little dwarf like a
doll, the most graceful toy that was ever seen in the world. Then,
seating himself upon the window, the dwarf began to sing with
such a trill and gurgling, that he seemed a veritable king of the

The Slave, when she saw and heard this, was so enraptured that,
calling Taddeo, she said, "Bring me the little fellow who is singing
yonder, or I will kill the child when it is born." So the Prince, who
allowed this ugly woman to put the saddle on his back, sent
instantly to Zoza, to ask if she would not sell the dwarf. Zoza
answered she was not a merchant, but that he was welcome to it as
a gift. So Taddeo accepted the offer, for he was anxious to keep
his wife in good humour.

Four days after this, Zoza opened the chestnut, when out came a
hen with twelve little chickens, all of pure gold, and, being placed
on the window, the Slave saw them and took a vast fancy to them;
and calling Taddeo, she showed him the beautiful sight, and again
ordered him to procure the hen and chickens for her. So Taddeo,
who let himself be caught in the web, and become the sport of the
ugly creature, sent again to Zoza, offering her any price she might
ask for the beautiful hen. But Zoza gave the same answer as
before, that he might have it as a gift. Taddeo, therefore, who
could not do otherwise, made necessity kick at discretion, and
accepted the beautiful present.

But after four days more, Zoza opened the hazel-nut, and forth
came a doll which spun gold--an amazing sight. As soon as it was
placed at the same window, the Slave saw it and, calling to
Taddeo, said, "I must have that doll, or I will kill the child."
Taddeo, who let his proud wife toss him about like a shuttle, had
nevertheless not the heart to send to Zoza for the doll, but resolved
to go himself, recollecting the sayings: "No messenger is better
than yourself," and "Let him who would eat a fish take it by the
tail." So he went and besought Zoza to pardon his impertinence,
on account of the caprices of his wife; and Zoza, who was in
ecstasies at beholding the cause of her sorrow, put a constraint on
herself; and so let him entreat her the longer to keep in sight the
object of her love, who was stolen from her by an ugly slave. At
length she gave him the doll, as she had done the other things, but
before placing it in his hands, she prayed the little doll to put a
desire into the heart of the Slave to hear stories told by her. And
when Taddeo saw the doll in his hand, without his paying a single
coin, he was so filled with amazement at such courtesy that he
offered his kingdom and his life in exchange for the gift. Then,
returning to his palace, he placed it in his wife's hands; and
instantly such a longing seized her to hear stories told, that she
called her husband and said, "Bid some story-tellers come and tell
me stories, or I promise you, I will kill the child."

Taddeo, to get rid of this madness, ordered a proclamation
instantly to be made, that all the women of the land should come
on the appointed day. And on that day, at the hour when the star of
Venus appears, who awakes the Dawn, to strew the road along
which the Sun has to pass, the ladies were all assembled at the
palace. But Taddeo, not wishing to detain such a rabble for the
mere amusement of his wife, chose ten only of the best of the city
who appeared to him most capable and eloquent. These were
Bushy-haired Zeza, Bandy-legged Cecca, Wen-necked Meneca,
Long-nosed Tolla, Humph-backed Popa, Bearded Antonella,
Dumpy Ciulla, Blear-eyed Paola, Bald-headed Civonmetella, and
Square-shouldered Jacova. Their names he wrote down on a sheet
of paper; and then, dismissing the others, he arose with the Slave
from under the canopy, and they went gently to the garden of the
palace, where the leafy branches were so closely interlaced, that
the Sun could not separate them with all the industry of his rays.
And seating themselves under a pavilion, formed by a trellis of
vines, in the middle of which ran a great fountain--the
schoolmaster of the courtiers, whom he taught everyday to
murmur--Taddeo thus began:

"There is nothing in the world more glorious, my gentle dames,
than to listen to the deeds of others; nor was it without reason that
the great philosopher placed the highest happiness of man in
listening to pretty stories. In hearing pleasing things told, griefs
vanish, troublesome thoughts are put to flight and life is
lengthened. And, for this reason, you see the artisans leave their
workshops, the merchants their country-houses, the lawyers their
cases, the shopkeepers their business, and all repair with open
mouths to the barbers' shops and to the groups of chatterers, to
listen to stories, fictions, and news in the open air. I cannot,
therefore, but pardon my wife, who has taken this strange fancy
into her head of hearing the telling of tales. So, if you will be
pleased to satisfy the whim of the Princess and comply with my
wishes, you will, during the next four or five days, .each of you
relate daily one of those tales which old women are wont to tell for
the amusement of the little ones. And you will come regularly to
this spot; where, after a good repast, you shall begin to tell stories,
so as to pass life pleasantly--and sorrow to him that dies!"

At these words, all bowed assent to the commands of Taddeo; and
the tables being meanwhile set out and feast spread, they sat down
to eat. And when they had done eating, the Prince took the paper
and calling on each in turn, by name, the stories that follow were
told, in due order.


There lived in the village of Miano a man and his wife, who had
no children whatever, and they longed with the greatest eagerness
to have an heir. The woman, above all, was for ever saying, "O
heavens! if I might but have a little baby--I should not care, were it
even a sprig of a myrtle." And she repeated this song so often, and
so wearied Heaven with these words, that at last her wish was
granted; and at the end of nine months, instead of a little boy or
girl, she placed in the hands of the nurse a fine sprig of myrtle.
This she planted with great delight in a pot, ornamented with ever
so many beautiful figures, and set it in the window, tending it
morning and evening with more diligence than the gardener does a
bed of cabbages from which he reckons to pay the rent of his

Now the King's son happening to pass by, as he was going to hunt,
took a prodigious fancy to this beautiful plant, and sent to ask the
mistress of the house if she would sell it, for he would give even
one of his eyes for it. The woman at last, after a thousand
difficulties and refusals, allured by his offers, dazzled by his
promises, frightened by his threats, overcome by his prayers, gave
him the pot, beseeching him to hold it dear, for she loved it more
than a daughter, and valued it as much as if it were her own
offspring. Then the Prince had the flower-pot carried with the
greatest care in the world into his own chamber, and placed it in a
balcony, and tended and watered it with his own hand.

It happened one evening, when the Prince had gone to bed, and put
out the candles, and all were at rest and in their first sleep, that he
heard the sound of some one stealing through the house, and
coming cautiously towards his bed; whereat he thought it must be
some chamber-boy coming to lighten his purse for him, or some
mischievous imp to pull the bed-clothes off him. But as he was a
bold fellow, whom none could frighten, he acted the dead cat,
waiting to see the upshot of the affair. When he perceived the
object approach nearer, and stretching out his hand felt something
smooth, and instead of laying hold, as he expected, on the prickles
of a hedgehog, he touched a little creature more soft and fine than
Barbary wool, more pliant and tender than a marten's tail, more
delicate than thistle-down, he flew from one thought to another,
and taking her to be a fairy (as indeed she was), he conceived at
once a great affection for her. The next morning, before the Sun,
like a chief physician, went out to visit the flowers that are sick
and languid, the unknown fair one rose and disappeared, leaving
the Prince filled with curiosity and wonder.

But when this had gone on for seven days, he was burning and
melting with desire to know what good fortune this was that the
stars had showered down on him, and what ship freighted with the
graces of Love it was that had come to its moorings in his
chamber. So one night, when the fair maiden was fast asleep, he
tied one of her tresses to his arm, that she might not escape; then
he called a chamberlain, and bidding him light the candles, he saw
the flower of beauty, the miracle of women, the looking-glass and
painted egg of Venus, the fair bait of Love--he saw a little doll, a
beautiful dove, a Fata Morgana, a banner--he saw a golden trinket,
a hunter, a falcon's eye, a moon in her fifteenth day, a pigeon's
bill, a morsel for a king, a jewel--he saw, in short, a sight to amaze

In astonishment he cried, "O sleep, sweet sleep! heap poppies on
the eyes of this lovely jewel; interrupt not my delight in viewing as
long as I desire this triumph of beauty. O lovely tress that binds
me! O lovely eyes that inflame me! O lovely lips that refresh me!
O lovely bosom that consoles me! Oh where, at what shop of the
wonders of Nature, was this living statue made? What India gave
the gold for these hairs? What Ethiopia the ivory to form these
brows? What seashore the carbuncles that compose these eyes?
What Tyre the purple to dye this face? What East the pearls to
string these teeth? And from what mountains was the snow taken
to sprinkle over this bosom--snow contrary to nature, that nurtures
the flowers and burns hearts?"

So saying he made a vine of his arms, and clasping her neck, she
awoke from her sleep and replied, with a gentle smile, to the sigh
of the enamoured Prince; who, seeing her open her eyes, said, "O
my treasure, if viewing without candles this temple of love I was
in transports, what will become of my life now that you have
lighted two lamps? O beauteous eyes, that with a trump-card of
light make the stars bankrupt, you alone have pierced this heart,
you alone can make a poultice for it like fresh eggs! O my lovely
physician, take pity, take pity on one who is sick of love; who,
having changed the air from the darkness of night to the light of
this beauty, is seized by a fever; lay your hand on this heart, feel
my pulse, give me a prescription. But, my soul, why do I ask for a
prescription? I desire no other comfort than a touch of that little
hand; for I am certain that with the cordial of that fair grace, and
with the healing root of that tongue of thine, I shall be sound and
well again."

At these words the lovely fairy grew as red as fire, and replied,
"Not so much praise, my lord Prince! I am your servant, and would
do anything in the world to serve that kingly face; and I esteem it
great good fortune that from a bunch of myrtle, set in a pot of
earth, I have become a branch of laurel hung over the inn-door of a
heart in which there is so much greatness and virtue."

The Prince, melting at these words like a tallow-candle, began
again to embrace her; and sealing the latter with a kiss, he gave her
his hand, saying, "Take my faith, you shall be my wife, you shall
be mistress of my sceptre, you shall have the key of this heart, as
you hold the helm of this life." After these and a hundred other
ceremonies and discourses they arose. And so it went on for
several days.

But as spoil-sport, marriage-parting Fate is always a hindrance to
the steps of Love, it fell out that the Prince was summoned to hunt
a great wild boar which was ravaging the country. So he was
forced to leave his wife. But as he loved her more than his life, and
saw that she was beautiful beyond all beautiful things, from this
love and beauty there sprang up the feeling of jealousy, which is a
tempest in the sea of love, a piece of soot that falls into the pottage
of the bliss of lovers--which is a serpent that bites, a worm that
gnaws, a gall that poisons, a frost that kills, making life always
restless, the mind unstable, the heart ever suspicious. So, calling
the fairy, he said to her, "I am obliged, my heart, to be away from
home for two or three days; Heaven knows with how much grief I
tear myself from you, who are my soul; and Heaven knows too
whether, ere I set out, my life may not end; but as I cannot help
going, to please my father, I must leave you. I, therefore, pray you,
by all the love you bear me, to go back into the flower-pot, and not
to come out of it till I return, which will be as soon as possible."

"I will do so," said the fairy, "for I cannot and will not refuse what
pleases you. Go, therefore, and may the mother of good luck go
with you, for I will serve you to the best of my power. But do me
one favour; leave a thread of silk with a bell tied to the top of the
myrtle, and when you come back pull the thread and ring, and
immediately I will come out and say, Here I am.'"

The Prince did so, and then calling a chamberlain, said to him,
"Come hither, come hither, you! Open your ears and mind what I
say. Make this bed every evening, as if I were myself to sleep in it.
Water this flower-pot regularly, and mind, I have counted the
leaves, and if I find one missing I will take from you the means of
earning your bread." So saying he mounted his horse, and went,
like a sheep that is led to the slaughter, to follow a boar. In the
meanwhile seven wicked women, with whom the Prince had been
acquainted, began to grow jealous; and being curious to pry into
the secret, they sent for a mason, and for a good sum of money got
him to make an underground passage from their house into the
Prince's chamber. Then these cunning jades went through the
passage in order to explore. But finding nothing, they opened the
window; and when they saw the beautiful myrtle standing there,
each of them plucked a leaf from it; but the youngest took off the
entire top, to which the little bell was hung; and the moment it was
touched the bell tinkled and the fairy, thinking it was the Prince,
immediately came out.

As soon as the wicked women saw this lovely creature they
fastened their talons on her, crying, "You are she who turns to your
own mill the stream of our hopes! You it is who have stolen the
favour of the Prince! But you are come to an end of your tricks, my
fine lady! You are nimble enough in running off, but you are
caught in your tricks this time, and if you escape, you were never

So saying, they flew upon her, and instantly tore her in pieces, and
each of them took her part. But the youngest would not join in this
cruel act; and when she was invited by her sisters to do as they did,
she would take nothing but a lock of those golden hairs. So when
they had done they went quickly away by the passage through
which they had come.

Meanwhile the chamberlain came to make the bed and water the
flower-pot, according to his master's orders, and seeing this pretty
piece of work, he had like to have died of terror. Then, biting his
nails with vexation, he set to work, gathered up the remains of the
flesh and bones that were left, and scraping the blood from the
floor, he piled them all up in a heap in the pot; and having watered
it, he made the bed, locked the door, put the key under the door,
and taking to his heels ran away out of the town.

When the Prince came back from the chase, he pulled the silken
string and rung the little bell; but ring as he would it was all lost
time; he might sound the tocsin, and ring till he was tired, for the
fairy gave no heed. So he went straight to the chamber, and not
having patience to call the chamberlain and ask for the key, he
gave the lock a kick, burst open the door, went in, opened the
window, and seeing the myrtle stript of its leaves, he fell to
making a most doleful lamentation, crying, shouting, and bawling,
"O wretched me! unhappy me! O miserable me! Who has played
me this trick? and who has thus trumped my card? O ruined,
banished, and undone prince! O my leafless myrtle! my lost fairy!
O my wretched life! my joys vanished into smoke! my pleasures
turned to vinegar! What will you do, unhappy man! Leap quickly
over this ditch! You have fallen from all happiness, and will you
not cut your throat? You are robbed of every treasure! You are
expelled from life, and do you not go mad? Where are you? where
are you, my myrtle? And what soul more hard than marble has
destroyed this beautiful flower-pot? O cursed chase, that has
chased me from all happiness! Alas! I am done for, I am
overthrown, I am ruined, I have ended my days; it is not possible
for me to get through life without my life; I must stretch my legs,
since without my love sleep will be lamentation, food, poison,
pleasure insipid, and life sour."

These and many other exclamations that would move the very
stones in the streets, were uttered by the Prince; and after repeating
them again and again, and wailing bitterly, full of sorrow and woe,
never shutting an eye to sleep, nor opening his mouth to eat, he
gave such way to grief, that his face, which was before of oriental
vermilion, became of gold paint, and the ham of his lips became
rusty bacon.

The fairy, who had sprouted up again from the remains that were
put in the pot, seeing the misery and tribulation of her poor lover,
and how he was turned in a second to the colour of a sick
Spaniard, of a venomous lizard, of the sap of a leaf, of a jaundiced
person, of a dried pear, was moved with compassion; and
springing out of the pot, like the light of a candle shooting out of a
dark lantern, she stood before Cola Marchione, and embracing him
in her arms she said, "Take heart, take heart, my Prince! have done
now with this lamenting, wipe your eyes, quiet your anger, smooth
your face. Behold me alive and handsome, in spite of those wicked
women, who split my head and so ill-treated me."

The Prince, seeing this when he least expected it, arose again from
death to life, and the colour returned to his cheeks, warmth to his
blood, breath to his breast. After giving her a thousand caresses
and embraces, he desired to know the whole affair from head to
foot; and when he found that the chamberlain was not to blame, he
ordered him to be called, and giving a great banquet, he, with the
full consent of his father, married the fairy. And he invited all the
great people of the kingdom, but, above all others, he would have
present those seven serpents who had committed the slaughter of
that sweet suckling-calf.

And as soon as they had done eating, the Prince asked all the
guests, one after another, what he deserved who had injured that
beautiful maiden--pointing to the fairy, who looked so lovely that
she shot hearts like a sprite and drew souls like a windlass.

Then all who sat at table, beginning with the King, said, one that
he deserved the gallows, another that he merited the wheel, a third
the pincers, a fourth to be thrown from a precipice; in short one
proposed this punishment and another that. At last it came to the
turn of the seven wicked women to speak, who, although they did
not much relish this conversation, yet, as the truth comes out when
the wine goes about, answered, that whoever had the heart basely
to touch only this quintessence of the charms of love deserved to
be buried alive in a dungeon.

"As you have pronounced this sentence with your own lips," said
the Prince, "you have yourselves judged the cause, you have
yourselves signed the decree. It remains for me to cause your order
to be executed, since it is you who with the heart of a negro, with
the cruelty of Medea, made a fritter of this beautiful head, and
chopped up these lovely limbs like sausage-meat. So quick, make
haste, lose not a moment! throw them this very instant into a large
dungeon, where they shall end their days miserably."

So this order was instantly carried into execution. The Prince
married the youngest sister of these wicked creatures to the
chamberlain, and gave her a good portion. And giving also to the
father and mother of the myrtle wherewithal to live comfortably,
he himself spent his days happily with the fairy; while the wicked
women ended their lives in bitter anguish, and thus verified the
proverb of the wise men of old--

"The lame goat will hop
If he meets with no stop."



A good deed is never lost. He who sows courtesy reaps benefit;
and he who gathers kindness gathers love. Pleasure bestowed on a
grateful mind was never barren, but always brings a good
recompense; and that is the moral of the story I am going to tell

Once upon a time a woman who lived in a village, and was called
Ceccarella, had a son named Peruonto, who was one of the most
stupid lads that ever was born. This made his mother very
unhappy, and all day long she would grieve because of this great
misfortune. For whether she asked him kindly, or stormed at him
till her throat was dry, the foolish fellow would not stir to do the
slightest hand's turn for her. At last, after a thousand dinnings at
his brain, and a thousand splittings of his head, and saying "I tell
you" and "I told you" day after day, she got him to go to the wood
for a faggot, saying, "Come now, it is time for us to get a morsel to
eat, so run off for some sticks, and don't forget yourself on the
way, but come back as quick as you can, and we will boil
ourselves some cabbage, to keep the life in us."

Away went the stupid Peruonto, hanging down his head as if he
was going to gaol. Away he went, walking as if he were a jackdaw,
or treading on eggs, counting his steps, at the pace of a snail's
gallop, and making all sorts of zigzags and excursions on his way
to the wood, to come there after the fashion of a raven. And when
he reached the middle of a plain, through which ran a river
growling and murmuring at the bad manners of the stones that
were stopping its way, he saw three youths who had made
themselves a bed of grass and a pillow of a great flint stone, and
were lying sound asleep under the blaze of the Sun, who was
shooting his rays down on them point blank. When Peruonto saw
these poor creatures, looking as if they were in the midst of a
fountain of fire, he felt pity for them, and cutting some branches of
oak, he made a handsome arbour over them. Meanwhile, the
youths, who were the sons of a fairy, awoke, and, seeing the
kindness and courtesy of Peruonto, they gave him a charm, that
every thing he asked for should be done.

Peruonto, having performed this good action, went his ways
towards the wood, where he made up such an enormous faggot
that it would have needed an engine to draw it; and, seeing that he
could not in any way get in on his back, he set himself astride of it
and cried, "Oh, what a lucky fellow I should be if this faggot
would carry me riding a-horseback!" And the word was hardly out
of his mouth when the faggot began to trot and gallop like a great
horse, and when it came in front of the King's palace it pranced
and capered and curvetted in a way that would amaze you. The
ladies who were standing at one of the windows, on seeing such a
wonderful sight, ran to call Vastolla, the daughter of the King,
who, going to the window and observing the caracoles of a faggot
and the bounds of a bundle of wood, burst out a-laughing--a thing
which, owing to a natural melancholy, she never remembered to
have done before. Peruonto raised his head, and, seeing that it was
at him that they were laughing, exclaimed, "Oh, Vastolla, I wish
that I could be your husband and I would soon cure you of
laughing at me!" And so saying, he struck his heels into the faggot,
and in a dashing gallop he was quickly at home, with such a train
of little boys at his heels that if his mother had not been quick to
shut the door they would soon have killed him with the stones and
sticks with which they pelted him.

Now came the question of marrying Vastolla to some great prince,
and her father invited all he knew to come and visit him and pay
their respects to the Princess. But she refused to have anything to
say to either of them, and only answered, "I will marry none but
the young man who rode on the faggot." So that the King got more
and more angry with every refusal, and at last he was quite unable
to contain himself any longer, and called his Council together and
said, "You know by this time how my honour has been shamed,
and that my daughter has acted in such a manner that all the
chronicles will tell the story against me, so now speak and advise
me. I say that she is unworthy to live, seeing that she has brought
me into such discredit, and I wish to put her altogether out of the
world before she does more mischief." The Councillors, who had
in their time learned much wisdom, said, "Of a truth she deserves
to be severely punished. But, after all, it is this audacious
scoundrel who has give you the annoyance, and it is not right that
he should escape through the meshes of the net. Let us wait, then,
till he comes to light, and we discover the root of this disgrace, and
then we will think it over and resolve what were best to be done."
This counsel pleased the King, for he saw that they spoke like
sensible, prudent men, so he held his hand and said, "Let us wait
and see the end of this business."

So then the King made a great banquet, and invited every one of
his nobles and all the gentlemen in his kingdom to come to it, and
set Vastolla at the high table at the top of the hall, for, he said, "No
common man can have done this, and when she recognises the
fellow we shall see her eyes turn to him, and we will instantly lay
hold on him and put him out of the way." But when the feasting
was done, and all the guests passed out in a line, Vastolla took no
more notice of them than Alexander's bull-dog did of the rabbits;
and the King grew more angry than ever, and vowed that he would
kill her without more delay. Again, however, the Councillors
pacified him and said, "Softly, softly, your Majesty! quiet your
wrath. Let us make another banquet to-morrow, not for people of
condition but for the lower sort. Some women always attach
themselves to the worst, and we shall find among the cutlers, and
bead-makers, and comb-sellers, the root of your anger, which we
have not discovered among the cavaliers."

This reasoning took the fancy of the King, and he ordered a second
banquet to be prepared, to which, on proclamation being made,
came all the riff-raff and rag-tag and bob-tail of the city, such as
rogues, scavengers, tinkers, pedlars, sweeps, beggars, and such like
rabble, who were all in high glee; and, taking their seats like
noblemen at a great long table, they began to feast and gobble

Now, when Ceccarella heard this proclamation, she began to urge
Peruonto to go there too, until at last she got him to set out for the
feast. And scarcely had he arrived there when Vastolla cried out
without thinking, "That is my Knight of the Faggot." When the
King heard this he tore his beard, seeing that the bean of the cake,
the prize in the lottery, had fallen to an ugly lout, the very sight of
whom he could not endure, with a shaggy head, owl's eyes, a
parrot's nose, a deer's mouth, and legs bare and bandy. Then,
heaving a deep sigh, he said, "What can that jade of a daughter of
mine have seen to make her take a fancy to this ogre, or strike up a
dance with this hairy-foot? Ah, vile, false creature, who has cast so
base a spell on her? But why do we wait? Let her suffer the
punishment she deserves; let her undergo the penalty that shall be
decreed by you, and take her from my presence, for I cannot bear
to look longer upon her."

Then the Councillors consulted together and they resolved that
she, as well as the evil-doer, should be shut up in a cask and
thrown into the sea; so that without staining the King's hands with
the blood of one of his family, they should carry out the sentence.
No sooner was the judgment pronounced, than the cask was
brought and both were put into it; but before they coopered it up,
some of Vastolla's ladies, crying and sobbing as if their hearts
would break, put into it a basket of raisins and dried figs that she
might have wherewithal to live on for a little while. And when the
cask was closed up, it was flung into the sea, on which it went
floating as the wind drove it.

Meanwhile Vastolla, weeping till her eyes ran like two rivers, said
to Peruonto, "What a sad misfortune is this of ours! Oh, if I but
knew who has played me this trick, to have me caged in this
dungeon! Alas, alas, to find myself in this plight without knowing
how. Tell me, tell me, O cruel man, what incantation was it you
made, and what spell did you employ, to bring me within the circle
of this cask?" Peruonto, who had been for some time paying little
attention to her, at last said, "If you want me to tell you, you must
give me some figs and raisins." So Vastolla, to draw the secret out
of him, gave him a handful of both; and as soon as he had eaten
them he told her truly all that had befallen him, with the three
youths, and with the faggot, and with herself at the window:
which, when the poor lady heard, she took heart and said to
Peruonto, "My friend, shall we then let our lives run out in a cask?
Why don't you cause this tub to be changed into a fine ship and
run into some good harbour to escape this danger?" And Peruonto

"If you would have me say the spell,
With figs and raisins feed me well!"

So Vastolla, to make him open his mouth, filled it with fruit; and
so she fished the words out of him. And lo! as soon as Peruonto
had said what she desired, the cask was turned into a beautiful
ship; with sails and sailors and everything that could be wished
for; and guns and trumpets and a splendid cabin in which Vastolla
sat filled with delight.

It being now the hour when the Moon begins to play at see-saw
with the Sun, Vastolla said to Peruonto, "My fine lad, now make
this ship to be changed into a palace, for then we shall be more
secure; you know the saying, "Praise the Sea, but keep to the
Land." And Peruonto replied--

"If you would have me say the spell,
With figs and raisins feed me well!"

So Vastolla, at once, fed him again, and Peruonto, swallowing
down the raisins and figs, did her pleasure; and immediately the
ship came to land and was changed into a beautiful palace, fitted
up in a most sumptuous manner, and so full of furniture and
curtains and hangings that there was nothing more to ask for. So
that Vastolla, who a little before would not have set the price of a
farthing on her life, did not now wish to change places with the
greatest lady in the world, seeing herself served and treated like a
queen. Then to put the seal on all her good fortune, she besought
Peruonto to obtain grace to become handsome and polished in his
manner, that they might live happy together; for though the
proverb says, "Better to have a pig for a husband, than a smile
from an emperor," still, if his appearance were changed, she
should think herself the happiest woman in the universe. And
Peruonto replied as before--

"If you would have me say the spell,
With figs and raisins feed me well!"

Then Vastolla quickly opened his lips, and scarcely had he spoken
the words when he was changed, as it were from an owl to a
nightingale, from an ogre to a beautiful youth, from a scarecrow to
a fine gentleman. Vastolla, seeing such a transformation clasped
him in her arms and was almost beside herself with joy. Then they
were married and lived happily for years.

Meanwhile the King grew old and very sad, so that, one day, the
courtiers persuaded him to go a-hunting to cheer him up. Night
overtook him, and, seeing a light in a palace, he sent a servant to
know if he could be entertained there; and he was answered that
everything was at his disposal. So the King went to the palace and
passing into a great guest-chamber he saw no living soul, but two
little boys, who skipped around him crying, "Welcome, welcome!"
The King, surprised and astonished, stood like one that was
enchanted, and sitting down to rest himself at a table, to his
amazement he saw invisibly spread on it a Flanders tablecloth,
with dishes full of roast meats and all sorts of viands; so that, in
truth, he feasted like a King, waited on by those beautiful children,
and all the while he sat at table a concert of lutes and tambourines
never ceased--such delicious music that it went to the tips of his
fingers and toes. When he had done eating, a bed suddenly
appeared all made of gold, and having his boots taken off, he went
to rest and all his courtiers did the same, after having fed heartily
at a hundred tables, which were laid out in the other rooms.

When morning came, the King wished to thank the two little
children, but with them appeared Vastolla and her husband; and
casting herself at his feet she asked his pardon and related the
whole story. The King, seeing that he had found two grandsons
who were two jewels and a son-in-law who was a fairy, embraced
first one and then the other; and taking up the children in his arms,
they all returned to the city where there was a great festival that
lasted many days.



If Nature had given to animals the necessity of clothing
themselves, and of buying their food, the race of quadrupeds
would inevitably be destroyed. Therefore it is that they find their
food without trouble,--without gardener to gather it, purchaser to
buy it, cook to prepare it, or carver to cut it up; whilst their skin
defends them from the rain and snow, without the merchant giving
them cloth, the tailor making the dress, or the errand-boy begging
for a drink-penny. To man however, who has intelligence, Nature
did not care to grant these indulgences, since he is able to procure
for himself what he wants. This is the reason that we commonly
see clever men poor, and blockheads rich; as you may gather from
the story which I am going to tell you.

Grannonia of Aprano was a woman of a great sense and judgment,
but she had a son named Vardiello, who was the greatest booby
and simpleton in the whole country round about. Nevertheless, as a
mother's eyes are bewitched and see what does not exist, she doted
upon him so much, that she was for ever caressing and fondling
him as if he were the handsomest creature in the world.

Now Grannonia kept a brood-hen, that was sitting upon a nest of
eggs, in which she placed all her hope, expecting to have a fine
brood of chickens, and to make a good profit of them. And having
one day to go out on some business, she called her son, and said to
him, "My pretty son of your own mother, listen to what I say: keep
your eye upon the hen, and if she should get up to scratch and pick,
look sharp and drive her back to the nest; for otherwise the eggs
will grow cold, and then we shall have neither eggs nor chickens."

"Leave it to me," replied Vardiello, "you are not speaking to deaf

"One thing more," said the mother; "look-ye, my blessed son, in
yon cupboard is a pot full of certain poisonous things; take care
that ugly Sin does not tempt you to touch them, for they would
make you stretch your legs in a trice."

"Heaven forbid!" replied Vardiello, "poison indeed will not tempt
me; but you have done wisely to give me the warning; for if I had
got at it, I should certainly have eaten it all up."

Thereupon the mother went out, but Vardiello stayed behind; and,
in order to lose no time, he went into the garden to dig holes,
which he covered with boughs and earth, to catch the little thieves
who come to steal the fruit. And as he was in the midst of his
work, he saw the hen come running out of the room, whereupon he
began to cry, "Hish, hish! this way, that way!" But the hen did not
stir a foot; and Vardiello, seeing that she had something of the
donkey in her, after crying "Hish, hish," began to stamp with his
feet; and after stamping with his feet to throw his cap at her, and
after the cap a cudgel which hit her just upon the pate, and made
her quickly stretch her legs.

When Vardiello saw this sad accident, he bethought himself how
to remedy the evil; and making a virtue of necessity, in order to
prevent the eggs growing cold, he set himself down upon the nest;
but in doing so, he gave the eggs an unlucky blow, and quickly
made an omelet of them. In despair at what he had done, he was on
the point of knocking his head against the wall; at last, however, as
all grief turns to hunger, feeling his stomach begin to grumble, he
resolved to eat up the hen. So he plucked her, and sticking her
upon a spit, he made a great fire, and set to work to roast her. And
when she was cooked, Vardiello, to do everything in due order,
spread a clean cloth upon an old chest; and then, taking a flagon,
he went down into the cellar to draw some wine. But just as he
was in the midst of drawing the wine, he heard a noise, a
disturbance, an uproar in the house, which seemed like the
clattering of horses' hoofs. Whereat starting up in alarm and
turning his eyes, he saw a big tom-cat, which had run off with the
hen, spit and all; and another cat chasing after him, mewing, and
crying out for a part.

Vardiello, in order to set this mishap to rights, darted upon the cat
like an unchained lion, and in his haste he left the tap of the barrel
running. And after chasing the cat through every hole and corner
of the house, he recovered the hen; but the cask had meanwhile all
run out; and when Vardiello returned, and saw the wine running
about, he let the cask of his soul empty itself through the tap-holes
of his eyes. But at last judgment came to his aid and he hit upon a
plan to remedy the mischief, and prevent his mother's finding out
what had happened; so, taking a sack of flour, filled full to the
mouth, he sprinkled it over the wine on the floor.

But when he meanwhile reckoned up on his fingers all the
disasters he had met with, and thought to himself that, from the
number of fooleries he had committed, he must have lost the game
in the good graces of Grannonia, he resolved in his heart not to let
his mother see him again alive. So thrusting his hand into the jar of
pickled walnuts which his mother had said contained poison, he
never stopped eating until he came to the bottom; and when he had
right well filled his stomach he went and hid himself in the oven.

In the meanwhile his mother returned, and stood knocking for a
long time at the door; but at last, seeing that no one came, she gave
it a kick; and going in, she called her son at the top of her voice.
But as nobody answered, she imagined that some mischief must
have happened, and with increased lamentation she went on crying
louder and louder, "Vardiello! Vardiello! are you deaf, that you
don't hear? Have you the cramp, that you don't run? Have you the
pip, that you don't answer? Where are you, you rogue? Where are
you hidden, you naughty fellow?"

Vardiello, on hearing all this hubbub and abuse, cried out at last
with a piteous voice, "Here I am! here I am in the oven; but you
will never see me again, mother!"

"Why so?" said the poor mother.

"Because I am poisoned," replied the son.

"Alas! alas!" cried Grannonia, "how came you to do that? What
cause have you had to commit this homicide? And who has given
you poison?" Then Vardiello told her, one after another, all the
pretty things he had done; on which account he wished to die and
not to remain any longer a laughing-stock in the world.

The poor woman, on hearing all this, was miserable and wretched,
and she had enough to do and to say to drive this melancholy
whimsey out of Vardiello's head. And being infatuated and
dotingly fond of him, she gave him some nice sweetmeats, and so
put the affair of the pickled walnuts out of his head, and convinced
him that they were not poison, but good and comforting to the
stomach. And having thus pacified him with cheering words, and
showered on him a thousand caresses, she drew him out of the
oven. Then giving him a fine piece of cloth, she bade him go and
sell it, but cautioning him not to do business with folks of too
many words.

"Tut, tut!" said Vardiello, "let me alone; I know what I'm about,
never fear." So saying, he took the cloth, and went his way through
the city of Naples, crying, "Cloth! cloth!" But whenever any one
asked him, "What cloth have you there?" he replied, "You are no
customer for me; you are a man of too many words." And when
another said to him, "How do you sell your cloth?" he called him a
chatterbox, who deafened him with his noise. At length he chanced
to espy, in the courtyard of a house which was deserted on account
of the Monaciello, a plaster statue; and being tired out, and
wearied with going about and about, he sat himself down on a
bench. But not seeing any one astir in the house, which looked like
a sacked village, he was lost in amazement, and said to the statue:
"Tell me, comrade, does no one live in this house?" Vardiello
waited awhile; but as the statue gave no answer, he thought this
surely was a man of few words. So he said, "Friend, will you buy
my cloth? I'll sell it you cheap." And seeing that the statue still
remained dumb, he exclaimed, "Faith, then, I've found my man at
last! There, take the cloth, examine it, and give me what you will;
to-morrow I'll return for the money."

So saying Vardiello left the cloth on the spot where he had been
sitting, and the first mother's son who passed that way found the
prize and carried it off.

When Vardiello returned home without the cloth, and told his
mother all that had happened, she wellnigh swooned away, and
said to him, "When will you put that headpiece of yours in order?
See now what tricks you have played me--only think! But I am
myself to blame, for being too tender-hearted, instead of having
given you a good beating at first; and now I perceive that a pitiful
doctor only makes the wound incurable. But you'll go on with your
pranks until at last we come to a serious falling-out, and then there
will be a long reckoning, my lad!"

"Softly, mother," replied Vardiello, "matters are not so bad as they
seem; do you want more than crown-pieces brand new from the
mint? Do you think me a fool, and that I don't know what I am
about? To-morrow is not yet here. Wait awhile, and you shall see
whether I know how to fit a handle to a shovel."

The next morning, as soon as the shades of Night, pursued by the
constables of the Sun, had fled the country, Vardiello repaired to
the courtyard where the statue stood, and said, "Good-day, friend!
Can you give me those few pence you owe me? Come, quick, pay
me for the cloth!" But when he saw that the statue remained
speechless, he took up a stone and hurled it at its breast with such
force that it burst a vein, which proved, indeed, the cure to his own
malady; for some pieces of the statue falling off, he discovered a
pot full of golden crown-pieces. Then taking it in both his hands,
off he ran home, head over heels, as far as he could scamper,
crying out, "Mother, mother! see here! what a lot of red lupins I've
got. How many! how many!"

His mother, seeing the crown-pieces, and knowing very well that
Vardiello would soon make the matter public, told him to stand at
the door until the man with milk and new-made cheese came past,
as she wanted to buy a pennyworth of milk. So Vardiello, who was
a great glutton, went quickly and seated himself at the door; and
his mother showered down from the window above raisins and
dried figs for more than half an hour. Whereupon Vardiello,
picking them up as fast as he could, cried aloud, "Mother, mother!
bring out some baskets; give me some bowls! Here, quick with the
tubs and buckets! for if it goes on to rain thus we shall be rich in a
trice." And when he had eaten his fill Vardiello went up to sleep.

It happened one day that two countrymen--the food and life-blood
of the law-courts--fell out, and went to law about a gold
crown-piece which they had found on the ground. And Vardiello
passing by said, "What jackasses you are to quarrel about a red
lupin like this! For my part I don't value it at a pin's head, for I've
found a whole potful of them."

When the judge heard this he opened wide his eyes and ears, and
examined Vardiello closely, asking him how, when, and where he
had found the crowns. And Vardiello replied, "I found them in a
palace, inside a dumb man, when it rained raisins and dried figs."
At this the judge stared with amazement; but instantly seeing how
the matter stood, he decreed that Vardiello should be sent to a
madhouse, as the most competent tribunal for him. Thus the
stupidity of the son made the mother rich, and the mother's wit
found a remedy for the foolishness of the son: whereby it is clearly
seen that--

"A ship when steered by a skilful hand
Will seldom strike upon rock or sand."



Resolutions taken without thought bring disasters without remedy.
He who behaves like a fool repents like a wise man; as happened
to the King of High-Hill, who through unexampled folly
committed an act of madness putting in jeopardy both his daughter
and his honour.

Once upon a time the King of High-Hill being bitten by a flea
caught him by a wonderful feat of dexterity; and seeing how
handsome and stately he was he had not the conscience to sentence
him to death. So he put him into a bottle, and feeding him every
day himself the little animal grew at such a rate that at the end of
seven months it was necessary to shift his quarters, for he was
grown bigger than a sheep. The King then had him flayed and his
skin dressed. Then he issued a proclamation that whoever could
tell what this skin was should marry the Princess.

As soon as this decree was made known the people flocked in
crowds from all the ends of the world to try their luck. One said
that it belonged to an ape, another to a lynx, a third to a crocodile,
and in short some gave it to one animal and some to another; but
they were all a hundred miles from the truth, and not one hit the
nail on the head. At last there came to this trial an ogre who was
the most ugly being in the world, the very sight of whom would
make the boldest man tremble and quake with fear. But no sooner
had he come and turned the skin round and smelt it than he
instantly guessed the truth, saying, "This skin belongs to the king
of fleas."

Now the King saw that the ogre had hit the mark; and not to break
his word he ordered his daughter Porziella to be called. Porziella
had a face like milk and roses, and was such a miracle of beauty
that you would never be tired of looking at her. And the King said
to her, "My daughter, you know who I am. I cannot go back from
my promise whether a king or a beggar. My word is given, I must
keep it though my heart should break. Who would ever have
imagined that this prize would have fallen to an ogre! But it never
does to judge hastily. Have patience then and do not oppose your
father; for my heart tells me that you will be happy, for rich
treasures are often found inside a rough earthen jar."

When Porziella heard this sad saying her eyes grew dim, her face
turned pale, her lips fell, her knees shook; and at last, bursting into
tears, she said to her father, "What crime have I committed that I
should be punished thus! How have I ever behaved badly toward
you that I should be given up to this monster. Is this, O Father, the
affection you bear to your own child? Is this the love you show to
her whom you used to call the joy of your soul? Do you drive from
your sight her who is the apple of your eye? O Father, O cruel
Father! Better had it been if my cradle had been my death-bed
since I have lived to see this evil day."

Porziella was going on to say more when the King in a furious rage
exclaimed, "Stay your anger! Fair and softly, for appearances
deceive. Is it for a girl to teach her father, forsooth? Have done, I
say, for if I lay these hands upon you I'll not leave a whole bone in
your skin. Prithee, how long has a child hardly out of the nursery
dared to oppose my will? Quick then, I say, take his hand and set
off with him home this very instant, for I will not have that saucy
face a minute longer in my sight."

Poor Porziella, seeing herself thus caught in the net, with the face
of a person condemned to death, with the heart of one whose head
is lying between the axe and the block, took the hand of the ogre,
who dragged her off without any attendants to the wood where the
trees made a palace for the meadow to prevent its being discovered
by the sun, and the brooks murmured, having knocked against the
stones in the dark, while the wild beasts wandered where they
liked without paying toll, and went safely through the thicket
whither no man ever came unless he had lost his way. Upon this
spot, which was as black as an unswept chimney, stood the ogre's
house ornamented all round with the bones of the men whom he
had devoured. Think but for a moment of the horror of it to the
poor girl.

But this was nothing at all in comparison with what was to come.
Before dinner she had peas and after dinner parched beans. Then
the ogre went out to hunt and returned home laden with the
quarters of the men whom he had killed, saying, "Now, wife, you
cannot complain that I don't take good care of you; here is a fine
store of eatables, take and make merry and love me well, for the
sky will fall before I will let you want for food."

Poor Porziella could not endure this horrible sight and turned her
face away. But when the ogre saw this he cried, "Ha! this is
throwing sweetmeats before swine; never mind, however, only
have patience till to-morrow morning, for I have been invited to a
wild boar hunt and will bring you home a couple of boars, and
we'll make a grand feast with our kinsfolk and celebrate the
wedding." So saying he went into the forest.

Now as Porziella stood weeping at the window it chanced that an
old woman passed by who, being famished with hunger, begged
some food. "Ah, my good woman," said Porziella, "Heaven knows
I am in the power of the ogre who brings me home nothing but
pieces of the men he has killed. I pass the most miserable life
possible, and yet I am the daughter of a king and have been
brought up in luxury." And so saying she began to cry like a little
girl who sees her bread and butter taken away from her.

The old woman's heart was softened at this sight and she said to
Porziella, "Be of good heart, my pretty girl, do not spoil your
beauty with crying, for you have met with luck; I can help you to
both saddle and trappings. Listen, now. I have seven sons who, you
see, are seven giants, Mase, Nardo, Cola, Micco, Petrullo,
Ascaddeo, and Ceccone, who have more virtues that rosemary,
especially Mase, for every time he lays his ear to the ground he
hears all that is passing within thirty miles round. Nardo, every
time he washes his hands, makes a great sea of soapsuds. Every
time that Cola throws a bit of iron on the ground he makes a field
of sharp razors. Whenever Micco flings down a little stick a
tangled wood springs up. If Petrullo lets fall a drop of water it
makes a terrible river. When Ascaddeo wishes a strong tower to
spring up he has only to throw a stone; and Ceccone shoots so
straight with the cross-bow that he can hit a hen's eye a mile off.
Now with the help of my sons, who are all courteous and friendly,
and who will all take compassion on your condition, I will contrive
to free you from the claws of the ogre."

"No time better than now," replied Porziella, "for that evil shadow
of a husband of mine has gone out and will not return this evening,
and we shall have time to slip off and run away."

"It cannot be this evening," replied the old woman, "for I live a
long way off; but I promise you that to-morrow morning I and my
sons will all come together and help you out of your trouble."

So saying, the old woman departed, and Porziella went to rest with
a light heart and slept soundly all night. But as soon as the birds
began to cry, "Long live the Sun," lo and behold, there was the old
woman with her seven children; and placing Porziella in the midst
of them they proceeded towards the city. But they had not gone
above half a mile when Mase put his ear to the ground and cried:
"Hallo, have a care; here's the fox. The ogre is come home. He has
missed his wife and he is hastening after us with his cap under his

No sooner did Nardo hear this than he washed his hands and made
a sea of soap-suds; and when the ogre came and saw all the suds
he ran home and fetching a sack of bran he strewed it about and
worked away treading it down with his feet until at last he got over
this obstacle, though with great difficulty.

But Mase put his ear once more to the ground and exclaimed,
"Look sharp, comrade, here he comes!" Thereupon Cola flung a
piece of iron on the ground and instantly a field of razors sprang
up. When the ogre saw the path stopped he ran home again and
clad himself in iron from head to foot and then returned and got
over this peril.

Then Mase, again putting his ear to the ground, cried, "Up! up! to
arms! to arms! For see here is the ogre coming at such a rate that
he is actually flying." But Micco was ready with his little stick,
and in an instant he caused a terrible wood to rise up, so thick that
it was quite impenetrable. When the ogre came to this difficult
pass he laid hold of a Carrara knife which he wore at his side, and
began to cut down the poplars and oaks and pine trees and chestnut
trees, right and left; so that with four or five strokes he had the
whole forest on the ground and got clear of it. Presently, Mase who
kept his ears on the alert like a hare, again raised his voice and
cried, "Now we must be off, for the ogre is coming like the wind
and here he is at our heels." As soon as Petrullo heard this he took
water from a little fountain, sprinkled it on the ground, and in an
twinkling of an eye a large river rose up on the spot. When the
ogre saw this new obstacle, and that he could not make holes so
fast as they found bungs to stop them, he stripped himself stark
naked and swam across to the other side of the river with his
clothes upon his head.

Mase, who put his ear to every chink, heard the ogre coming and
exclaimed, "Alas! matters go ill with us now. I already hear the
clatter of the ogre's heels. We must be on our guard and ready to
meet the storm or else we are done for." "Never fear," said
Ascaddeo, "I will soon settle this ugly ragamuffin." So saying, he
flung a pebble on the ground and instantly up rose a tower in
which they all took refuge without delay, and barred the door. But
when the ogre came up and saw that they had got into so safe a
place he ran home, got a vine-dresser's ladder, and carried it back
on his shoulder to the tower.

Now Mase, who kept his ears hanging down, heard at a distance
the approach of the ogre and cried, "We are now at the butt end of
the Candle of Hope. Ceccone is our last resource, for the ogre is
coming back in a terrible fury. Alas! how my heart beats, for I
foresee an evil day." "You coward," answered Ceccone, "trust to
me and I will hit him with a ball."

As Ceccone was speaking the ogre came, planted his ladder and
began to climb up; but Ceccone, taking aim at him, shot out one of
his eyes and laid him at full length on the ground, like a pear
dropped from a tree. Then he went out of the tower and cut off the
ogre's head with a big knife he carried about with him, just as if it
had been new-made cheese. Thereupon they took the head with
great joy to the King, who rejoiced at the recovery of his daughter,
for he had repented a hundred times at having given her to an ogre.
And not many days after Porziella was married to a handsome
prince, and the seven sons and their mother who had delivered her
from such a wretched life were rewarded with great riches.



In the sea of malice envy frequently gets out of her depth; and,
while she is expecting to see another drowned, she is either
drowned herself, or is dashed against a rock, as happened to some
envious girls, about whom I will tell you a story.

There once lived a Prince, who was a widower. He had an only
daughter, so dear to him that he saw with no other eyes than hers;
and he kept a governess for her, who taught her chain-work and
knitting, and to make point-lace, and showed her such affection as
no words can tell. But she was very lonely, and many a time she
said to the governess, "Oh, that you had been my mother, you who
show me such kindness and love," and she said this so often that,
at last, the governess, having a bee put into her bonnet, said to her
one day, "If you will do as this foolish head of mine advises I shall
be mother to you, and you will be as dear to me as the apple of my

She was going to say more, when Zezolla, for that was the name of
the Princess, said, "Pardon me if I stop the word upon your tongue.
I know you wish me well, therefore, hush--enough. Only show me
the way. Do you write and I will subscribe." "Well, then,"
answered the governess, "open your ears and listen, and you will
get bread as white as the flowers. You know well enough that your
father would even coin false money to please you, so do you
entreat him when he is caressing you to marry me and make me
Princess. Then, bless your stars! you shall be the mistress of my

When Zezolla heard this, every hour seemed to her a thousand
years until she had done all that her governess had advised; and, as
soon as the mourning for her mother's death was ended, she began
to feel her father's pulse, and beg him to marry the governess. At
first the Prince took it as a joke, but Zezolla went on shooting so
long past the mark that at length she hit it, and he gave way to her
entreaties. So he married the governess, and gave a great feast at
the wedding.

Now, while the young folks were dancing, and Zezolla was
standing at the window of her house, a dove came flying and
perched upon a wall, and said to her, "Whenever you need
anything send the request to the Dove of the Fairies in the Island of
Sardinia, and you will instantly have what you wish."

For five or six days the new stepmother overwhelmed Zezolla with
caresses, seating her at the best place at table, giving her the
choicest morsels to eat, and clothing her in the richest apparel. But
ere long, forgetting entirely the good service she had received
(woe to him who has a bad master!), she began to bring forward
six daughters of her own, for she had never before told any one
that she was a widow with a bunch of girls; and she praised them
so much, and talked her husband over in such a fashion, that at last
the stepdaughters had all his favour, and the thought of his own
child went entirely from his heart. In short, it fared so ill with the
poor girl, bad to-day and worse to-morrow, that she was at last
brought down from the royal chamber to the kitchen, from the
canopy of state to the hearth, from splendid apparel of silks and
gold to dishclouts, from the sceptre to the spit. And not only was
her condition changed, but even her name, for, instead of Zezolla,
she was now called Cenerentola.

It happened that the Prince had occasion to go to Sardinia upon
affairs of state, and, calling the six stepdaughters, he asked them,
one by one, what they would like him to bring them on his return.
Then one wished for splendid dresses, another to have
head-ornaments, another rouge for the face, another toys and
trinkets: one wished for this and one for that. At last the Prince
said to his own daughter, as if in mockery, "And what would you
have, child?" "Nothing, father," she replied, "but that you
commend me to the Dove of the Fairies, and bid her send me
something; and if you forget my request, may you be unable to stir
backwards or forwards; so remember what I tell you, for it will
fare with you accordingly."

Then the Prince went his way and did his business in Sardinia, and
procured all the things that his stepdaughters had asked for; but
poor Zezolla was quite out of his thoughts. And going on board a
ship he set sail to return, but the ship could not get out of the
harbour; there it stuck fast just as if held by a sea-lamprey. The
captain of the ship, who was almost in despair and fairly tired out,
laid himself down to sleep, and in his dream he saw a fairy, who
said to him, "Know you the reason why you cannot work the ship
out of port? It is because the Prince who is on board with you has
broken his promise to his daughter, remembering every one except
his own child."

Then the captain awoke and told his dream to the Prince, who, in
shame and confusion at the breach of his promise, went to the
Grotto of the Fairies, and, commending his daughter to them,
asked them to send her something. And behold, there stepped forth
from the grotto a beautiful maiden, who told him that she thanked
his daughter for her kind remembrances, and bade him tell her to
be merry and of good heart out of love to her. And thereupon she
gave him a date-tree, a hoe, and a little bucket all of gold, and a
silken napkin, adding that the one was to hoe with and the other to
water the plant.

The Prince, marvelling at this present, took leave of the fairy, and
returned to his own country. And when he had given his
stepdaughters all the things they had desired, he at last gave his
own daughter the gift which the fairy had sent her. Then Zezolla,
out of her wits with joy, took the date-tree and planted it in a pretty
flower-pot, hoed the earth round it, watered it, and wiped its leaves
morning and evening with the silken napkin. In a few days it had
grown as tall as a woman, and out of it came a fairy, who said to
Zezolla, "What do you wish for?" And Zezolla replied that she
wished sometimes to leave the house without her sisters'
knowledge. The fairy answered, "Whenever you desire this, come
to the flower-pot and say:

My little Date-tree, my golden tree,
With a golden hoe I have hoed thee,
With a golden can I have watered thee,
With a silken cloth I have wiped thee dry,
Now strip thee and dress me speedily.

And when you wish to undress, change the last words and say,
Strip me and dress thee.'"

When the time for the feast was come, and the stepmother's
daughters appeared, dressed out so fine, all ribbons and flowers,
and slippers and shoes, sweet smells and bells, and roses and
posies, Zezolla ran quickly to the flower-pot, and no sooner had
she repeated the words, as the fairy had told her, than she saw
herself arrayed like a queen, seated upon a palfrey, and attended by
twelve smart pages, all in their best clothes. Then she went to the
ball, and made the sisters envious of this unknown beauty.

Even the young King himself was there, and as soon as he saw her
he stood magic-bound with amazement, and ordered a trusty
servant to find out who was that beautiful maiden, and where she
lived. So the servant followed in her footsteps; but when Zezolla
noticed the trick she threw on the ground a handful of
crown-pieces which she had made the date-tree give her for this
purpose. Then the servant lighted his lantern, and was so busy
picking up all the crown-pieces that he forgot to follow the palfrey;
and Zezolla came home quite safely, and had changed her clothes,
as the fairy told her, before the wicked sisters arrived, and, to vex
her and make her envious, told her of all the fine things they had
seen. But the King was very angry with the servant, and warned
him not to miss finding out next time who this beautiful maiden
was, and where she dwelt.

Soon there was another feast, and again the sisters all went to it,
leaving poor Zezolla at home on the kitchen hearth. Then she ran
quickly to the date-tree, and repeated the spell, and instantly there
appeared a number of damsels, one with a looking-glass, another
with a bottle of rose-water, another with the curling-irons, another
with combs, another with pins, another with dresses, and another
with capes and collars. And they decked her out as glorious as the
sun, and put her in a coach drawn by six white horses, and
attended by footmen and pages in livery. And no sooner did she
appear in the ball-room than the hearts of the sisters were filled
with amazement, and the King was overcome with love.

When Zezolla went home the servant followed her again, but so
that she should not be caught she threw down a handful of pearls
and jewels, and the good fellow, seeing that they were not things to
lose, stayed to pick them up. So she had time to slip away and take
off her fine dress as before.

Meanwhile the servant had returned slowly to the King, who cried
out when he saw him, "By the souls of my ancestors, if you do not
find out who she is you shall have such a thrashing as was never
before heard of, and as many kicks as you have hairs in your

When the next feast was held, and the sisters were safely out of the
house, Zezolla went to the date-tree, and once again repeated the
spell. In an instant she found herself splendidly arrayed and seated
in a coach of gold, with ever so many servants around her, so that
she looked just like a queen. Again the sisters were beside
themselves with envy; but this time, when she left the ball-room,
the King's servant kept close to the coach. Zezolla, seeing that the
man was ever running by her side, cried, "Coachman, drive on
quickly," and in a trice the coach set off at such a rattling pace that
she lost one of her slippers, the prettiest thing that ever was seen.
The servant being unable to catch the coach, which flew like a
bird, picked up the slipper, and carrying it to the King told him all
that happened. Whereupon the King, taking it in his hand, said, "If
the basement, indeed, is so beautiful, what must the building be.
You who until now were the prison of a white foot are now the
fetter of an unhappy heart!"

Then he made a proclamation that all the women in the country
should come to a banquet, for which the most splendid provision
was made of pies and pastries, and stews and ragouts, macaroni
and sweetmeats--enough to feed a whole army. And when all the
women were assembled, noble and ignoble, rich and poor,
beautiful and ugly, the King tried the slipper on each one of the
guests to see whom it should fit to a hair, and thus be able to
discover by the help of the slipper the maiden of whom he was in
search, but not one foot could he find to fit it. So he examined
them closely whether indeed every one was there; and the Prince
confessed that he had left one daughter behind, "but," said he, "she
is always on the hearth, and is such a graceless simpleton that she
is unworthy to sit and eat at your table." But the King said, "Let
her be the very first on the list, for so I will."

So all the guests departed--the very next day they assembled again,
and with the wicked sisters came Zezolla. When the King saw her
he had his suspicions, but said nothing. And after the feast came
the trial of the slipper, which, as soon as ever it approached
Zezolla's foot, it darted on to it of its own accord like iron flies to
the magnet. Seeing this, the King ran to her and took her in his
arms, and seating her under the royal canopy, he set the crown
upon her head, whereupon all made their obeisance and homage to
her as their queen.

When the wicked sisters saw this they were full of venom and
rage, and, not having patience to look upon the object of their
hatred, they slipped quietly away on tip-toe and went home to their
mother, confessing, in spite of themselves, that--

"He is a madman who resists the Stars."



Troubles are usually the brooms and shovels that smooth the road
to a man's good fortune, of which he little dreams. Many a man
curses the rain that falls upon his head, and knows not that it
brings abundance to drive away hunger; as is seen in the person of
a young man of whom I will tell you.

It is said that there was once a very rich merchant named
Antoniello, who had a son called Cienzo. It happened that Cienzo
was one day throwing stones on the sea-shore with the son of the
King of Naples, and by chance broke his companion's head. When
he told his father, Antoniello flew into a rage with fear of the
consequences and abused his son; but Cienzo answered, "Sir, I
have always heard say that better is the law court than the doctor in
one's house. Would it not have been worse if he had broken my
head? It was he who began and provoked me. We are but boys, and
there are two sides to the quarrel. After all tis a first fault, and the
King is a man of reason; but let the worst come to the worst, what
great harm can he do me? The wide world is one's home; and let
him who is afraid turn constable."

But Antoniello would not listen to reason. He made sure the King
would kill Cienzo for his fault and said, "Don't stand here at risk
of your life; but march off this very instant, so that nobody may
hear a word, new or old, of what you have done. A bird in the bush
is better than a bird in the cage. Here is money. Take one of the
two enchanted horses I have in the stable, and the dog which is
also enchanted, and tarry no longer here. It is better to scamper off
and use your own heels than to be touched by another's; better to
throw your legs over your back than to carry your head between
two legs. If you don't take your knapsack and be off, none of the
Saints can help you!"

Then begging his father's blessing, Cienzo mounted his horse, and
tucking the enchanted dog under his arm, he went his way out of
the city. Making a winter of tears with a summer of sighs he went
his way until the evening, when he came to a wood that kept the
Mule of the Sun outside its limits, while it was amusing itself with
Silence and the Shades. An old house stood there, at the foot of a
tower. Cienzo knocked at the door of the tower; but the master,
being in fear of robbers, would not open to him, so the poor youth
was obliged to remain in the ruined old house. He turned his horse
out to graze in a meadow, and threw himself on some straw he
found, with the dog by his side. But scarcely had he closed his eyes
when he was awakened by the barking of the dog, and heard
footsteps stirring in the house. Cienzo, who was bold and
venturesome, seized his sword and began to lay about him in the
dark; but perceiving that he was only striking the wind and hit no
one, he turned round again to sleep. After a few minutes he felt
himself pulled gently by the foot. He turned to lay hold again of his
cutlass, and jumping up, exclaimed, "Hollo there! you are getting
too troublesome; but leave off this sport and let's have a bout of it
if you have any pluck, for you have found the last to your shoe!"

At these words he heard a shout of laughter and then a hollow
voice saying, "Come down here and I will tell you who I am."
Then Cienzo, without losing courage, answered, "Wait awhile, I'll
come." So he groped about until at last he found a ladder which
led to a cellar; and, going down, he saw a lighted lamp, and three
ghost-looking figures who were making a piteous clamour, crying,
"Alas, my beauteous treasure, I must lose thee!"

When Cienzo saw this he began himself to cry and lament, for
company's sake; and after he had wept for some time, the Moon
having now, with the axe of her rays broken the bar of the Sky, the
three figures who were making the outcry said to Cienzo, "Take
this treasure, which is destined for thee alone, but mind and take
care of it." Then they vanished. And Cienzo, espying the sunlight
through a hole in the wall, wished to climb up again, but could not
find the ladder, whereat he set up such a cry that the master of the
tower heard him and fetched a ladder, when they discovered a
great treasure. He wished to give part of it to Cienzo, but the latter
refused; and taking his dog and mounting once more on his horse
set out again on his travels.

After a while he arrived at a wild and dreary forest, so dark that it
made you shudder. There, upon the bank of a river, he found a
fairy surrounded by a band of robbers. Cienzo, seeing the wicked
intention of the robbers, seized his sword and soon made a
slaughter of them. The fairy showered thanks upon him for this
brave deed done for her sake, and invited him to her palace that
she might reward him. But Cienzo replied, "It is nothing at all;
thank you kindly. Another time I will accept the favour; but now I
am in haste, on business of importance!"

So saying he took his leave; and travelling on a long way he came
at last to the palace of a King, which was all hung with mourning,
so that it made one's heart black to look at it. When Cienzo
inquired the cause of the mourning the folks answered, "A dragon
with seven heads has made his appearance in this country, the
most terrible monster that ever was seen, with the crest of a cock,
the head of a cat, eyes of fire, the mouth of a bulldog, the wings of
a bat, the claws of a bear, and the tail of a serpent. Now this
dragon swallows a maiden every day, and now the lot has fallen on
Menechella, the daughter of the King. So there is great weeping
and wailing in the royal palace, since the fairest creature in all the
land is doomed to be devoured by this horrid beast."

When Cienzo heard this he stepped aside and saw Menechella pass
by with the mourning train, accompanied by the ladies of the court
and all the women of the land, wringing their hands and tearing
out their hair by handfuls, and bewailing the sad fate of the poor
girl. Then the dragon came out of the cave. But Cienzo laid hold of
his sword and struck off a head in a trice; but the dragon went and
rubbed his neck on a certain plant which grew not far off, and
suddenly the head joined itself on again, like a lizard joining itself
to its tail. Cienzo, seeing this, exclaimed, "He who dares not, wins
not"; and, setting his teeth, he struck such a furious blow that he
cut off all seven heads, which flew from the necks like peas from
the pan. Whereupon he took out the tongues, and putting them in
his pocket, he flung the heads a mile apart from the body, so that
they might never come together again. Then he sent Menechella
home to her father, and went himself to repose in a tavern.

When the King saw his daughter his delight is not to be told; and
having heard the manner in which she had been freed, he ordered a
proclamation to be instantly made, that whosoever had killed the
dragon should come and marry the Princess. Now a rascal of a
country fellow, hearing this proclamation, took the heads of the
dragon, and said, "Menechella has been saved by me; these hands
have freed the land from destruction; behold the dragon's heads,
which are the proofs of my valour; therefore recollect, every
promise is a debt." As soon as the King heard this, he lifted the
crown from his own head and set it upon the countryman's poll,
who looked like a thief on the gallows.

The news of this proclamation flew through the whole country, till
at last it came to the ears of Cienzo, who said to himself, "Verily, I
am a great blockhead! I had hold of Fortune by the forelock, and I
let her escape out of my hand. Here's a man offers to give me the
half of a treasure he finds, and I care no more for it than a German
for cold water; the fairy wishes to entertain me in her palace, and I
care as little for it as an ass for music; and now that I am called to
the crown, here I stand and let a rascally thief cheat me out of my
trump-card!" So saying he took an inkstand, seized a pen, and
spreading out a sheet of paper, began to write:

"To the most beautiful jewel of women, Menechella--Having, by
the favour of Sol in Leo, saved thy life, I hear that another plumes
himself with my labours, that another claims the reward of the
service which I rendered. Thou, therefore, who wast present at the
dragon's death, canst assure the King of the truth, and prevent his
allowing another to gain this reward while I have had all the toil.
For it will be the right effect of thy fair royal grace and the merited
recompense of this strong hero's fist. In conclusion, I kiss thy
delicate little hands.
"From the Inn of the Flower-pot, Sunday."

Having written this letter, and sealed it with a wafer, he placed it
in the mouth of the enchanted dog, saying, "Run off as fast as you
can and take this to the King's daughter. Give it to no one else, but
place it in the hand of that silver-faced maiden herself."

Away ran the dog to the palace as if he were flying, and going up
the stairs he found the King, who was still paying compliments to
the country clown. When the man saw the dog with the letter in his
mouth, he ordered it to be taken from him; but the dog would not
give it to any one, and bounding up to Menechella he placed it in
her hand. Then Menechella rose from her seat, and, making a
curtsey to the King, she gave him the letter to read; and when the
King had read it he ordered that the dog should be followed to see
where he went, and that his master should be brought before him.
So two of the courtiers immediately followed the dog, until they
came to the tavern, where they found Cienzo; and, delivering the
message from the King, they conducted him to the palace, into the
presence of the King. Then the King demanded how it was that he
boasted of having killed the dragon, since the heads were brought
by the man who was sitting crowned at his side. And Cienzo
answered, "That fellow deserves a pasteboard mitre rather than a
crown, since he has had the impudence to tell you a bouncing lie.
But to prove to you that I have done the deed and not this rascal,
order the heads to be produced. None of them can speak to the
proof without a tongue, and these I have brought with me as
witnesses to convince you of the truth."

So saying he pulled the tongues out of his pocket, while the
countryman was struck all of a heap, not knowing what would be
the end of it; and the more so when Menechella added, "This is the
man! Ah, you dog of a countryman, a pretty trick you have played
me!" When the King heard this, he took the crown from the head
of that false loon and placed it on that of Cienzo; and he was on
the point of sending the imposter to the galleys, but Cienzo begged
the King to have mercy on him and to confound his wickedness
with courtesy. Then he married Menechella, and the tables were
spread and a royal banquet was set forth; and in the morning they
sent for Antoniello with all his family; and Antoniello soon got
into great favour with the King, and saw in the person of his son
the saying verified--

"A straight port to a crooked ship."



All the ill-deeds that a man commits have some colour of
excuse--either contempt which provokes, need which compels,
love which blinds, or anger which breaks the neck. But ingratitude
is a thing that has no excuse, true or false, upon which it can fix;
and it is therefore the worst of vices, since it dries up the fountain
of compassion, extinguishes the fire of love, closes the road to
benefits, and causes vexation and repentance to spring up in the
hearts of the ungrateful. As you will see in the story which I am
about to relate.

A peasant had twelve daughters, not one of whom was a head
taller than the next; for every year their mother presented him with
a little girl; so that the poor man, to support his family decently,
went early every morning as a day labourer and dug hard the whole
day long. With what his labour produced he just kept his little ones
from dying of hunger.

He happened, one day, to be digging at the foot of a mountain, the
spy of other mountains, that thrust its head above the clouds to see
what they were doing up in the sky, and close to a cavern so deep
and dark that the sun was afraid to enter it. Out of this cavern there
came a green lizard as big as a crocodile; and the poor man was so
terrified that he had not the power to run away, expecting every
moment the end of his days from a gulp of that ugly animal. But
the lizard, approaching him, said, "Be not afraid, my good man, for
I am not come here to do you any harm, but to do you good."

When Masaniello (for that was the name of the labourer) heard
this, he fell on his knees and said, "Mistress What's-your-name, I
am wholly in your power. Act then worthily and have compassion
on this poor trunk that has twelve branches to support."

"It is on this very account," said the lizard, "that I am disposed to
serve you; so bring me, to-morrow morning the youngest of your
daughters; for I will rear her up like my own child, and love her as
my life."

At this the poor father was more confounded than a thief when the
stolen goods are found on his back. For, hearing the lizard ask him
for one of his daughters, and that too, the tenderest of them, he
concluded that the cloak was not without wool on it, and that she
wanted the child as a titbit to stay her appetite. Then he said to
himself, "If I give her my daughter, I give her my soul. If I refuse
her, she will take this body of mine. If I yield her, I am robbed of
my heart; if I deny her she will suck out my blood. If I consent, she
takes away part of myself; if I refuse, she takes the whole. What
shall I resolve on? What course shall I take? What expedient shall I
adopt" Oh, what an ill day's work have I made of it! What a
misfortune has rained down from heaven upon me!"

While he was speaking thus, the lizard said, "Resolve quickly and
do what I tell you; or you will leave only your rags here. For so I
will have it, and so it will be." Masaniello, hearing this decree and
having no one to whom he could appeal, returned home quite
melancholy, as yellow in the face as if he had jaundice; and his
wife, seeing him hanging his head like a sick bird and his
shoulders like one that is wounded, said to him, "What has
happened to you, husband? Have you had a quarrel with any one?
Is there a warrant out against you? Or is the ass dead?"

"Nothing of that sort," said Masaniello, "but a horned lizard has
put me into a fright, for she has threatened that if I do not bring her
our youngest daughter, she will make me suffer for it. My head is
turning like a reel. I know not what fish to take. On one side love
constrains me; on the other the burden of my family. I love
Renzolla dearly, I love my own life dearly. If I do not give the
lizard this portion of my heart, she will take the whole compass of
my unfortunate body. So now, dear wife, advise me, or I am

When his wife heard this, she said, "Who knows, husband, but this
may be a lizard with two tails, that will make our fortune? Who
knows but this lizard may put an end to all our miseries? How
often, when we should have an eagle's sight to discern the good
luck that is running to meet us, we have a cloth before our eyes
and the cramp in our hands, when we should lay hold on it. So go,
take her away, for my heart tells me that some good fortune awaits
the poor little thing!"

These words comforted Masaniello; and the next morning, as soon
as the Sun with the brush of his rays whitewashed the Sky, which
the shades of night had blackened, he took the little girl by the
hand, and led her to the cave. Then the lizard came out, and taking
the child gave the father a bag full of crowns, saying, "Go now, be
happy, for Renzolla has found both father and mother."

Masaniello, overjoyed, thanked the lizard and went home to his
wife. There was money enough for portions to all the other
daughters when they married, and even then the old folks had
sauce remaining for themselves to enable them to swallow with
relish the toils of life.

Then the lizard made a most beautiful palace for Renzolla, and
brought her up in such state and magnificence as would have
dazzled the eyes of any queen. She wanted for nothing. Her food
was fit for a count, her clothing for a princess. She had a hundred
maidens to wait upon her, and with such good treatment she grew
as sturdy as an oak-tree.

It happened, as the King was out hunting in those parts, that night
overtook him, and as he stood looking round, not knowing where
to lay his head, he saw a candle shining in the palace. So he sent
one of his servants, to ask the owner to give him shelter. When the
servant came to the palace, the lizard appeared before him in the
shape of a beautiful lady; who, after hearing his message, said that
his master should be a thousand times welcome, and that neither
bread nor knife should there be wanting. The King, on hearing this
reply, went to the palace and was received like a cavalier. A
hundred pages went out to meet him, so that it looked like the
funeral of a rich man. A hundred other pages brought the dishes to
the table. A hundred others made a brave noise with musical
instruments. But, above all, Renzolla served the King and handed
him drink with such grace that he drank more love than wine.

When he had thus been so royally entertained, he felt he could not
live without Renzolla; so, calling the fairy, he asked her for his
wife. Whereupon the fairy, who wished for nothing but Renzolla's
good, not only freely consented, but gave her a dowry of seven
millions of gold.

The King, overjoyed at this piece of good fortune, departed with
Renzolla, who, ill-mannered and ungrateful for all the fairy had
done for her, went off with her husband without uttering one single
word of thanks. Then the fairy, beholding such ingratitude, cursed
her, and wished that her face should become like that of a
she-goat; and hardly had she uttered the words, when Renzolla's
mouth stretched out, with a beard a span long on it, her jaws
shrunk, her skin hardened, her cheeks grew hairy, and her plaited
tresses turned to pointed horns.

When the poor King saw this he was thunderstruck, not knowing
what had happened that so great a beauty should be thus
transformed; and, with sighs and tears he exclaimed, "Where are
the locks that bound me? Where are the eyes that transfixed me?
Must I then be the husband of a she-goat? No, no, my heart shall
not break for such a goat-face!" So saying, as soon as they reached
his palace, he put Renzolla into a kitchen, along with a
chambermaid; and gave to each of them ten bundles of flax to
spin, commanding them to have the thread ready at the end of a

The maid, in obedience to the King, set about carding the flax,
preparing and putting it on the distaff, twirling her spindle, reeling
it and working away without ceasing; so that on Saturday evening
her thread was all done. But Renzolla, thinking she was still the
same as in the fairy's house, not having looked at herself in the
glass, threw the flax out of the window, saying, "A pretty thing
indeed of the King to set me such work to do! If he wants shirts let
him buy them, and not fancy that he picked me up out of the
gutter. But let him remember that I brought him home seven
millions of gold, and that I am his wife and not his servant.
Methinks, too, that he is somewhat of a donkey to treat me this

Nevertheless, when Saturday morning came, seeing that the maid
had spun all her share of the flax, Renzolla was greatly afraid; so
away she went to the palace of the fairy and told her misfortune.
Then the fairy embraced her with great affection, and gave her a
bag full of spun thread, to present to the King and show him what
a notable and industrious housewife she was. Renzolla took the
bag, and without saying one word of thanks, went to the royal
palace; so again the fairy was quite angered at the conduct of the
graceless girl.

When the King had taken the thread, he gave two little dogs, one
to Renzolla and one to the maid, telling them to feed and rear
them. The maid reared hers on bread crumbs and treated it like a
child; but Renzolla grumbled, saying, "A pretty thing truly! As my
grandfather used to say, Are we living under the Turks? Am I
indeed to comb and wait upon dogs?" and she flung the dog out of
the window!

Some months afterwards, the King asked for the dogs; whereat
Renzolla, losing heart, ran off again to the fairy, and at the gate
stood the old man who was the porter. "Who are you," said he,
"and whom do you want?" Renzolla, hearing herself addressed in
this off-hand way, replied, "Don't you know me, you old goat-beard?"

"Why do you miscall me?" said the porter. "This is the thief
accusing the constable. I a goat-beard indeed! You are a goat-beard
and a half, and you merit it and worse for your presumption. Wait
awhile, you impudent woman; I'll enlighten you and you will see
to what your airs and impertinence have brought you!"

So saying, he ran into his room, and taking a looking-glass, set it
before Renzolla; who, when she saw her ugly, hairy visage, was
like to have died with terror. Her dismay at seeing her face so
altered that she did not know herself cannot be told. Whereupon
the old man said to her, "You ought to recollect, Renzolla, that you
are a daughter of a peasant and that it was the fairy that raised you
to be a queen. But you, rude, unmannerly, and thankless as you
are, having little gratitude for such high favours, have kept her
waiting outside your heart, without showing the slightest mark of
affection. You have brought the quarrel on yourself; see what a
face you have got by it! See to what you are brought by your
ingratitude; for through the fairy's spell you have not only changed
face, but condition. But if you will do as this white-beard advises,
go and look for the fairy; throw yourself at her feet, tear your
beard, beat your breast, and ask pardon for the ill-treatment you
have shown her. She is tender-hearted and she will be moved to
pity by your misfortune."

Renzolla, who was touched to the quick, and felt that he had hit
the nail on the head, followed the old man's advice. Then the fairy
embraced and kissed her; and restoring her to her former
appearance, she clad her in a robe that was quite heavy with gold;
and placing her in a magnificent coach, accompanied with a crowd
of servants, she brought her to the King. When the King beheld
her, so beautiful and splendidly attired, he loved her as his own
life; blaming himself for all the misery he had made her endure,
but excusing himself on account of that odious goat-face which
had been the cause of it. Thus Renzolla lived happy, loving her
husband, honouring the fairy, and showing herself grateful to the
old man, having learned to her cost that--

"It is always good to be mannerly."



Great is the power of friendship, which makes us willingly bear
toils and perils to serve a friend. We value our wealth as a trifle
and life as a straw, when we can give them for a friend's sake.
Fables teach us this and history is full of instances of it; and I will
give you an example which my grandmother used to relate to me.
So open your ears and shut your mouths and hear what I shall tell

There was once a certain King of Long-Trellis named Giannone,
who, desiring greatly to have children, continually made prayers to
the gods that they would grant his wish; and, in order to incline
them the more to his petition, he was so charitable to beggars and
pilgrims that he shared with them all he possessed. But seeing, at
last, that these things availed him nothing; and that there was no
end to putting his hand into his pocket, he bolted fast his door, and
shot with a cross-bow at all who came near.

Now it happened one day, that a long-bearded pilgrim was passing
that way, and not knowing that the King had turned over a new
leaf, or perhaps knowing it and wishing to make him change his
mind again, he went to Giannone and begged for shelter in his
house. But, with a fierce look and terrible growl, the King said to
him, "If you have no other candle than this, you may go to bed in
the dark. The kittens have their eyes open, and I am no longer a
child." And when the old man asked what was the cause of this
change, the King replied, "To further my desire for children, I have
spent and lent to all who came and all who went, and have
squandered all my treasure. At last, seeing the beard was gone, I
stopped shaving and laid aside the razor."

"If that be all," replied the pilgrim, "you may set your mind at rest,
for I promise that your wish shall forthwith be fulfilled, on pain of
losing my ears."

"Be it so," said the King, "I pledge my word that I will give you
one half of my kingdom." And the man answered, "Listen now to
me--if you wish to hit the mark, you have only to get the heart of a
sea-dragon, and have it cooked and eaten by the Queen, and you
will see that what I say will speedily come to pass."

"That hardly seems possible," said the King, "but at the worst I
lose nothing by the trial; so I must, this very moment, get the
dragon's heart."

So he sent a hundred fishermen out; and they got ready all kinds of
fishing-tackle, drag-nets, casting-nets, seine-nets, bow-nets, and
fishing-lines; and they tacked and turned and cruised in all
directions until at last they caught a dragon; then they took out its
heart and brought it to the King, who gave it to the Queen to cook
and eat. And when she had eaten it, there was great rejoicing, for
the King's desire was fulfilled and he became the father of two
sons, so like the other that nobody but the Queen could tell which
was which. And the boys grew up together in such love for one
another that they could not be parted for a moment. Their
attachment was so great that the Queen began to be jealous, at
seeing that the son whom she destined to be heir to his father, and
whose name was Fonzo, testified more affection for his brother
Canneloro than he did for herself. And she knew not in what way
to remove this thorn from her eyes.

Now one day Fonzo wished to go a-hunting with his brother; so he
had a fire lighted in his chamber and began to melt lead to make
bullets; and being in want of I know not what, he went himself to
look for it. Meanwhile the Queen came in, and finding no one
there but Canneloro, she thought to put him out of the world. So
stooping down, she flung the hot bullet-mould at his face, which
hit him over the brow and made an ugly wound. She was just going
to repeat the blow when Fonzo came in; so, pretending that she
was only come in to see how he was, she gave him some caresses
and went away.

Canneloro, pulling his hat down on his forehead, said nothing of
his wound to Fonzo, but stood quite quiet though he was burning
with the pain. But as soon as they had done making the balls, he
told his brother that he must leave him. Fonzo, all in amazement at
this new resolution, asked him the reason: but he replied, "Enquire
no more, my dear Fonzo, let it suffice that I am obliged to go away
and part with you, who are my heart and my soul and the breath of
my body. Since it cannot be otherwise, farewell, and keep me in
remembrance." Then after embracing one another and shedding
many tears, Canneloro went to his own room. He put on a suit of
armour and a sword and armed himself from top to toe; and,
having taken a horse out of the stable, he was just putting his foot
into the stirrup when Fonzo came weeping and said, "Since you
are resolved to abandon me, you should, at least, leave me some
token of your love, to diminish my anguish for your absence."
Thereupon Canneloro struck his dagger into the ground, and
instantly a fine fountain rose up. Then said he to his twin-brother,
"This is the best memorial I can leave you. By the flowing of this
fountain you will follow the course of my life. If you see it run
clear, know that my life is likewise clear and tranquil. If it is
turbid, think that I am passing through troubles; and if it is dry,
depend on it that the oil of my life is all consumed and that I have
paid the toll which belongs to Nature!"

Then he drove his sword into the ground, and immediately a
myrtle-tree grew up, when he said, "As long as this myrtle is green,
know that I too am green as a leek. If you see it wither, think that
my fortunes are not the best in this world; but if it becomes quite
dried up, you may mourn for your Canneloro."

So saying, after embracing one another again, Canneloro set out on
his travels; journeying on and on, with many adventures which it
would be too long to recount--he at length arrived at the Kingdom
of Clear-Water, just at the time when they were holding a most
splendid tournament, the hand of the King's daughter being
promised to the victor. Here Canneloro presented himself and bore
him so bravely that he overthrew all the knights who were come

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