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Stories from Pentamerone by Giambattista Basile

Part 3 out of 4

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"I am here," answered Corvetto, "ready to help you tooth and

"Welcome, then!" said the ogress; "and as you proffer me so much
kindness, just help me to split four logs of wood."

"With all my heart," answered Corvetto, "but if four logs are not
enow, let me split five." And taking up a newly-ground axe,
instead of striking the wood, he struck the ogress on the neck, and
made her fall to the ground like a pear. Then running quickly to
the gate, he dug a deep hole before the entrance, and covering it
over with bushes and earth, he hid himself behind the gate.

As soon as Corvetto saw the ogre coming with his kinsfolk, he set
up a loud cry in the courtyard, "Stop, stop! I've caught him!" and
"Long live the King of Wide-River." When the ogre heard this
challenge, he ran like mad at Corvetto, to make a hash of him. But
rushing furiously towards the gate, down he tumbled with all his
companions, head over heels to the bottom of the pit, where
Corvetto speedily stoned them to death. Then he shut the door, and
took the keys to the King, who, seeing the valour and cleverness of
the lad, in spite of ill-fortune and the envy and annoyance of the
courtiers, gave him his daughter to wife; so that the crosses of
envy had proved rollers to launch Corvetto's bark of life on the sea
of greatness; whilst his enemies remained confounded and bursting
with rage, and went to bed without a candle; for--

"The punishment of ill deeds past,
Though long delay'd, yet comes at last."



An ignorant man who associates with clever people has always
been more praised than a wise man who keeps the company of
fools; for as much profit and fame as one may gain from the
former, so much wealth and honour one may lose by the fault of
the latter; and as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, you will
know from the story which I am going to tell you whether my
proposition be true.

There was once a man who was as rich as the sea, but as there can
never be any perfect happiness in this world, he had a son so idle
and good-for-nothing that he could not tell a bean from a
cucumber. So being unable any longer to put up with his folly, he
gave him a good handful of crowns, and sent him to trade in the
Levant; for he well knew that seeing various countries and mixing
with divers people awaken the genius and sharpen the judgment,
and make men expert.

Moscione (for that was the name of the son) got on horseback, and
began his journey towards Venice, the arsenal of the wonders of
the world, to embark on board some vessel bound for Cairo; and
when he had travelled a good day's journey, he met with a person
who was standing fixed at the foot of a poplar, to whom he said,
"What is your name, my lad? Whence are you, and what is your
trade?" And the lad replied, "My name is Lightning; I am from
Arrowland, and I can run like the wind." "I should like to see a
proof of it," said Moscione; and Lightning answered, "Wait a
moment, and you will see whether it is dust or flour."

When they had stood waiting a little while, a doe came bounding
over the plain, and Lightning, letting her pass on some way, to give
her the more law, darted after her so rapidly and light of foot, that
he would have gone over a place covered with flour without
leaving the mark of his shoe, and in four bounds he came up with
her. Moscione, amazed at this exploit, asked if he would come and
live with him, and promised to pay him royally.

So Lightning consented, and they went on their way together; but
they had not journeyed many miles when they met another youth,
to whom Moscione said, "What is your name, comrade? What
country are you from? And what is your trade?" "My name,"
replied the lad, "is Quick-ear; I am from Vale-Curious; and when I
put my ear the ground I hear all that is passing in the world without
stirring from the spot. I perceive the monopolies and agreements
of tradespeople to raise the prices of things, the ill-offices of
courtiers, the appointments of lovers, the plots of robbers, the
reports of spies, the complaints of servants, the gossiping of old
women, and the oaths of sailors; so that no one has ever been able
to discover so much as my ears can."

"If that be true," said Moscione, "tell me what they are now saying
at my home."

So the lad put his ear to the ground, and replied, "An old man is
talking to his wife, and saying, Praised be Sol in Leo! I have got
rid from my sight of that fellow Moscione, that face of
old-fashioned crockery, that nail in my heart. By travelling through
the world he will at least become a man, and no longer be such a
stupid ass, such a simpleton, such a lose-the-day fellow,
such a ---'"

"Stop, stop!" cried Moscione, "you tell the truth and I believe you.
So come along with me, for you have found the road to

"Well and good!" said the youth. So they all went on together and
travelled ten miles farther, when they met another man, to whom
Moscione said, "What is your name, my brave fellow? Where were
you born? And what can you do in the world?" And the man
answered, "My name is Shoot-straight; I am from Castle Aimwell;
and I can shoot with a crossbow so point-blank as to hit a
crab-apple in the middle."

"I should like to see the proof," said Moscione. So the lad charged
his crossbow, took aim, and made a pea leap from the top of a
stone; whereupon Moscione took him also like the others into his
company. And they travelled on another day's journey, till they
came to some people who were building a large pier in the
scorching heat of the sun, and who might well say, "Boy, put water
to the wine, for my heart is burning." So Moscione had
compassion on them, and said, "My masters, how is it you have the
head to stand in this furnace, which is fit to roast a buffalo?" And
one of them answered, "Oh, we are as cool as a rose; for we have a
young man here who blows upon us from behind in such a manner
that it seems just as if the west wind were blowing." "Let me see
him, I pray," cried Moscione. So the mason called the lad, and
Moscione said to him, "Tell me, by the life of your father, what is
your name? what country are you from? and what is your
profession!" And the lad replied, "My name is Blow-blast; I am
from Windy-land; and I can make all the winds with my mouth. If
you wish for a zephyr, I will breathe one that will send you in
transports; if you wish for a squall, I will throw down houses."

"Seeing is believing," said Moscione. Whereupon
Blow-blast breathed at first quite gently, so that it seemed to be the
wind that blows at Posilippo towards evening; then turning
suddenly to some trees, he sent forth such a furious blast that it
uprooted a row of oaks.

When Moscione saw this he took him for a companion; and
travelling on as far again, he met another lad, to whom he said,
"What is your name, if I may make so bold? Whence are you, if
one may ask? And what is your trade, if it is a fair question?" And
the lad answered, "My name is Strong-back; I am from Valentino;
and I have such strength that I can take a mountain on my back,
and it seems to me only a feather."

"If that be the case," said Moscione, "you deserve to be the king of
the custom-house, and you should be chosen for standard-bearer
on the first of May. But I should like to see a proof of what you

Then Strong-back began to load himself with masses of rock,
trunks of trees, and so many other weights that a thousand large
waggons could not have carried them; which, when Moscione saw,
he agreed with the lad to join him.

So they travelled on till they came to Fair-Flower, the King of
which place had a daughter who ran like the wind, and could pass
over the waving corn without bending an ear; and the King had
issued a proclamation that whoever could over-take her in running
should have her to wife, but whoever was left behind should lose
his head.

When Moscione arrived in this country and heard the
proclamation, he went straight to the King, and offered to run with
his daughter, making the wise agreement either to win the race or
leave his noddle there. But in the morning he sent to inform the
King that he was taken ill, and being unable to run himself he
would send another young man in his place. "Come who will!"
said Ciannetella (for that was the King's daughter), "I care not a
fig--it is all one to me."

So when the great square was filled with people, come to see the
race, insomuch that the men swarmed like ants, and the windows
and roofs were all as full as an egg, Lightning came out and took
his station at the top of the square, waiting for the signal. And lo!
forth came Ciannetella, dressed in a little gown, tucked
half-way up her legs, and a neat and pretty little shoe with a single
sole. Then they placed themselves shoulder to shoulder, and as
soon as the tarantara and too-too of the trumpets was heard, off
they darted, running at such a rate that their heels touched their
shoulders, and in truth they seemed just like hares with the
grey-hounds after them, horses broken loose from the stable, or
dogs with kettles tied to their tails. But Lightning (as he was both
by name and nature) left the princess more than a
hand's-breadth behind him, and came first to the goal. Then you
should have heard the huzzaing and shouting, the cries and the
uproar, the whistling and clapping of hands of all the people,
bawling out, "Hurra! Long life to the stranger!" Whereat
Ciannetella's face turned as red as a schoolboy's who is going to
be whipped, and she stood lost in shame and confusion at seeing
herself vanquished. But as there were to be two heats to the race,
she fell to planning how to be revenged for this affront; and going
home, she put a charm into a ring of such power that if any one
had it upon his finger his legs would totter so that he would not be
able to walk, much less run; then she sent it as a present to
Lightning, begging him to wear it on his finger for love of her.

Quick-ear, who heard this trick plotted between the father and
daughter, said nothing, and waited to see the upshot of the affair.
And when, at the trumpeting of the birds, the Sun whipped on the
Night, who sat mounted on the jackass of the Shades, they returned
to the field, where at the usual signal they fell to plying their heels.
But if Ciannetella was like another Atalanta, Lightning had
become no less like an old donkey and a foundered horse, for he
could not stir a step. But Shoot-straight, who saw his comrade's
danger, and heard from Quick-ear how matters stood, laid hold of
his crossbow and shot a bolt so exactly that it hit Lightning's
finger, and out flew the stone from the ring, in which the virtue of
the charm lay; whereupon his legs, that had been tied, were set
free, and with four goat-leaps he passed Ciannetella and won the

The King seeing this victory of a blockhead, the palm thus carried
off by a simpleton, the triumph of a fool, bethought himself
seriously whether or no he should give him his daughter; and
taking counsel with the wiseacres of his court, they replied that
Ciannetella was not a mouthful for the tooth of such a miserable
dog and lose-the-day bird, and that, without breaking his word, he
might commute the promise of his daughter for a gift of crowns,
which would be more to the taste of a poor beggar like Moscione
than all the women in the world.

This advice pleased the King, and he asked Moscione how much
money he would take instead of the wife who had been promised
him. Then Moscione, after consulting with the others, answered, "I
will take as much gold and silver as one of my comrades can carry
on his back." The king consented; whereupon they brought
Strong-back, on whom they began to load bales of ducats, sacks of
patacas, large purses full of crowns, barrels of copper money,
chests full of chains and rings; but the more they loaded him the
firmer he stood, just like a tower, so that the treasury, the banks,
the usurers, and the money-dealers of the city did not suffice, and
he sent to all the great people in every direction to borrow their
silver candlesticks, basins, jugs, plates, trays, and baskets; and yet
all was not enough to make up the full load. At length they went
away, not laden but tired and satisfied.

When the councillors saw what heaps and stores these six
miserable dogs were carrying off, they said to the King that it was
a great piece of assery to load them with all the sinews of his
kingdom, and that it would be well to send people after them to
lessen the load of that Atlas who was carrying on his shoulders a
heaven of treasure. The King gave ear to this advice, and
immediately despatched a party of armed men, foot and horse, to
overtake Moscione and his friends. But Quick-ear, who had heard
this counsel, informed his comrades; and while the dust was rising
to the sky from the trampling of those who were coming to unload
the rich cargo, Blow-blast, seeing that things were come to a bad
pass, began to blow at such a rate that he not only made the
enemies fall flat on the ground, but he sent them flying more than
a mile distant, as the north wind does the folks who pass through
that country. So without meeting any more hindrance, Moscione
arrived at his father's house, where he shared the booty with his
companions, since, as the saying goes, a good deed deserves a
good meed. So he sent them away content and happy; but he
stayed with his father, rich beyond measure, and saw himself a
simpleton laden with gold, not giving the lie to the

"Heaven sends biscuits to him who has no teeth."



The robber's wife does not always laugh; he who weaves fraud
works his own ruin; there is no deceit which is not at last
discovered, no treachery that does not come to light; walls have
ears, and are spies to rogues; the earth gapes and discovers theft, as
I will prove to you if you pay attention.

There was once in the city of Dark-Grotto a certain man named
Minecco Aniello, who was so persecuted by fortune that all his
fixtures and moveables consisted only of a short-legged cock,
which he had reared upon bread-crumbs. But one morning, being
pinched with appetite (for hunger drives the wolf from the thicket),
he took it into his head to sell the cock, and, taking it to the
market, he met two thievish magicians, with whom he made a
bargain, and sold it for half-a-crown. So they told him to take it to
their house, and they would count him out the money. Then the
magicians went their way, and, Minecco Aniello following them,
overheard them talking gibberish together and saying, "Who would
have told us that we should meet with such a piece of good luck,
Jennarone? This cock will make our fortune to a certainty by the
stone which, you know, he has in his pate. We will quickly have it
set in a ring, and then we shall have everything we can ask for."

"Be quiet, Jacovuccio," answered Jennarone; "I see myself rich
and can hardly believe it, and I am longing to twist the cock's neck
and give a kick in the face of beggary, for in this world virtue
without money goes for nothing, and a man is judged of by his

When Minecco Aniello, who had travelled about in the world and
eaten bread from more than one oven, heard this gibberish he
turned on his heel and scampered off. And, running home, he
twisted the cock's neck, and opening its head found the stone,
which he had instantly set in a brass ring. Then, to make a trial of
its virtue, he said, "I wish to become a youth eighteen years old."

Hardly had he uttered the words when his blood began to flow
more quickly, his nerves became stronger, his limbs firmer, his
flesh fresher, his eyes more fiery, his silver hairs were turned into
gold, his mouth, which was a sacked village, became peopled with
teeth; his beard, which was as thick as a wood, became like a
nursery garden--in short, he was changed to a most beautiful youth.
Then he said again, "I wish for a splendid palace, and to marry the
King's daughter." And lo! there instantly appeared a palace of
incredible magnificence, in which were apartments that would
amaze you, columns to astound you, pictures to fill you with
wonder; silver glittered around, and gold was trodden underfoot;
the jewels dazzled your eyes; the servants swarmed like ants, the
horses and carriages were not to be counted--in short, there was
such a display of riches that the King stared at the sight, and
willingly gave him his daughter Natalizia.

Meanwhile the magicians, having discovered Minecco Aniello's
great wealth, laid a plan to rob him of his good fortune, so they
made a pretty little doll which played and danced by means of
clockwork; and, dressing themselves like merchants, they went to
Pentella, the daughter of Minecco Aniello, under pretext of selling
it to her. When Pentella saw the beautiful little thing she asked
them what price they put upon it, and they replied that it was not to
be bought with money, but that she might have it and welcome if
she would only do them a favour, which was to let them see the
make of the ring which her father possessed, in order to take the
model and make another like it, then they would give her the doll
without any payment at all.

Pentella, who had never heard the proverb, "Think well before you
buy anything cheap," instantly accepted this offer, and, bidding
them return the next morning, she promised to ask her father to
lend her the ring. So the magicians went away, and when her
father returned home Pentella coaxed and caressed him, until at
last she persuaded him to give her the ring, making the excuse that
she was sad at heart, and wished to divert her mind a little.

When the next day came, as soon as the scavenger of the Sun
sweeps the last traces of the Shades from the streets and squares of
Heaven, the magicians returned, and no sooner had they the ring in
their hands than they instantly vanished, and not a trace of them
was to be seen, so that poor Pentella had like to have died with

But when the magicians came to a wood, where the branches of
some of the trees were dancing the sword-dance, and the boughs of
the others were playing together at hot-cockles, they desired the
ring to destroy the spell by which the old man had become young
again. And instantly Minecco Aniello, who was just at that
moment in the presence of the King, was suddenly seen to grow
hoary, his hairs to whiten, his forehead to wrinkle, his eyebrows to
grow bristly, his eyes to sink in, his face to be furrowed, his mouth
to become toothless, his beard to grow bushy, his back to be
humped, his legs to tremble, and, above all, his glittering garments
to turn to rags and tatters.

The King, seeing the miserable beggar seated beside him at table,
ordered him to be instantly driven away with blows and hard
words, whereupon Aniello, thus suddenly fallen from his good
luck, went weeping to his daughter, and asked for the ring in order
to set matters to rights again. But when he heard the fatal trick
played by the false merchants he was ready to throw himself out of
the window, cursing a thousand times the ignorance of his
daughter, who, for the sake of a silly doll had turned him into a
miserable scarecrow, and for a paltry thing of rags had brought
him to rags himself, adding that he was resolved to go wandering
about the world like a bad shilling, until he should get tidings of
those merchants. So saying he threw a cloak about his neck and a
wallet on his back, drew his sandals on his feet, took a staff in his
hand, and, leaving his daughter all chilled and frozen, he set out
walking desperately on and on until he arrived at the kingdom of
Deep-Hole, inhabited by the mice, where, being taken for a big spy
of the cats, he was instantly led before Rosecone, the King. Then
the King asked him who he was, whence he came, and what he
was about in that country; and Minecco Aniello, after first giving
the King a cheese-paring, in sign of tribute, related to him all his
misfortunes one by one, and concluded by saying that he was
resolved to continue his toil and travel, until he should get tidings
of those thievish villains who had robbed him of so precious a
jewel, taking from him at once the flower of his youth, the source
of his wealth, and the prop of his honour.

At these words Rosecone felt pity nibbling at his heart, and,
wishing to comfort the poor man, he summoned the eldest mice to
a council, and asked their opinions on the misfortunes of Minecco
Aniello, commanding them to use all diligence and endeavour to
obtain some tidings of these false merchants. Now, among the rest,
it happened that Rudolo and Saltariello were present--mice who
were well used to the ways of the world, and had lived for six
years at a tavern of great resort hard by; and they said to Aniello,
"Be of good heart, comrade! matters will turn out better than you
imagine. You must know that one day, when we were in a room in
the hostelry of the Horn,' where the most famous men in the
world lodge and make merry, two persons from Hook Castle came
in, who, after they had eaten their fill and had seen the bottom of
their flagon, fell to talking of a trick they had played a certain old
man of Dark-Grotto, and how they had cheated him out of a stone
of great value, which one of them, named Jennarone, said he
would never take from his finger, that he might not run the risk of
losing it as the old man's daughter had done."

When Minecco Aniello heard this, he told the two mice that if they
would trust themselves to accompany him to the country where
these rogues lived and recover the ring for him, he would give
them a good lot of cheese and salt meat, which they might eat and
enjoy with his majesty the King. Then the two mice, after
bargaining for a reward, offered to go over sea and mountain, and,
taking leave of his mousy majesty, they set out.

After journeying a long way they arrived at Hook Castle, where the
mice told Minecco Aniello to remain under some trees on the
brink of a river, which like a leech drew the moisture from the
land and discharged it into the sea. Then they went to seek the
house of the magicians, and, observing that Jennarone never took
the ring from his finger, they sought to gain the victory by
stratagem. So, waiting till Night had dyed with purple
grape-juice the sunburnt face of Heaven, and the magicians had
gone to bed and were fast asleep, Rudolo began to nibble the
finger on which the ring was, whereupon Jennarone, feeling the
smart, took the ring off and laid it on a table at the head of the bed.
But as soon as Saltariello saw this, he popped the ring into his
mouth, and in four skips he was off to find Minecco Aniello, who,
with even greater joy than a man at the gallows feels when a
pardon arrives, instantly turned the magicians into two jackasses;
and, turning his mantle over one of them, he bestrode him like a
noble count, then he loaded the other with cheese and bacon, and
set off toward Deep-Hole, where, having given presents to the
King and his councillors, he thanked them for all the good fortune
he had received by their assistance, praying Heaven that no
mouse-trap might ever lay hold of them, that no cat might ever
harm them, and that no arsenic might ever poison them.

Then, leaving that country, Minecco Aniello returned to
Dark-Grotto even more handsome than before, and was received
by the King and his daughter with the greatest affection in the
world. And, having ordered the two asses to be cast down from a
rock, he lived happily with his wife, never more taking the ring
from his finger that he might not again commit such a folly,

"The cat who has been burnt with fire ever after fears the cold



Once upon a time the King of Green-Bank had three daughters,
who were perfect jewels, with whom three sons of the King of
Fair-Meadow were desperately in love. But these Princes having
been changed into animals by the spell of a fairy, the King of
Green-Bank disdained to give them his daughters to wife.
Whereupon the first, who was a beautiful Falcon, called together
all the birds to a council; and there came the chaffinches, tomtits,
woodpeckers, fly-catchers, jays, blackbirds, cuckoos, thrushes, and
every other kind of bird. And when they were all assembled at his
summons, he ordered them to destroy all the blossoms on the trees
of Green-Bank, so that not a flower or leaf should remain. The
second Prince, who was a Stag, summoning all the goats, rabbits,
hares, hedgehogs, and other animals of that country, laid waste all
the corn-fields so that there was not a single blade of grass or corn
left. The third Prince, who was a Dolphin, consulting together with
a hundred monsters of the sea, made such a tempest arise upon the
coast that not a boat escaped.

Now the King saw that matters were going from bad to worse, and
that he could not remedy the mischief which these three wild
lovers were causing; so he resolved to get out of his trouble, and
made up his mind to give them his daughters to wife; and
thereupon, without wanting either feasts or songs, they carried
their brides off and out of the kingdom.

On parting from her daughters, Granzolla the Queen gave each of
them a ring, one exactly like the other, telling them that if they
happened to be separated, and after a while to meet again, or to see
any of their kinsfolk, they would recognise one another by means
of these rings. So taking their leave they departed. And the Falcon
carried Fabiella, who was the eldest of the sisters, to the top of a
mountain, which was so high that, passing the confines of the
clouds, it reached with a dry head to a region where it never rains;
and there, leading her to a most beautiful palace, she lived like a

The Stag carried Vasta, the second sister, into a wood, which was
so thick that the Shades, when summoned by the Night, could not
find their way out to escort her. There he placed her, as befitted
her rank, in a wonderfully splendid house with a garden.

The Dolphin swam with Rita, the third sister, on his back into the
middle of the sea, where, upon a large rock, he showed her a
mansion in which three crowned Kings might live.

Meanwhile Granzolla gave birth to a fine little boy, whom they
named Tittone. And when he was fifteen years old, hearing his
mother lamenting continually that she never heard any tidings of
her three daughters, who were married to three animals; he took it
into his head to travel through the world until he should obtain
some news of them. So after begging and entreating his father and
mother for a long time, they granted him permission, bidding him
take for his journey attendants and everything needful and befitting
a Prince; and the Queen also gave him another ring similar to
those she had given to her daughters.

Tittone went his way, and left no corner of Italy, not a nook of
France, nor any part of Spain unsearched. Then he passed through
England, and traversed Slavonia, and visited Poland, and, in short,
travelled both east and west. At length, leaving all his servants,
some at the taverns and some at the hospitals, he set out without a
farthing in his pocket, and came to the top of the mountain where
dwelt the Falcon and Fabiella. And as he stood there, beside
himself with amazement, contemplating the beauty of the
palace--the corner-stones of which were of porphyry, the walls of
alabaster, the windows of gold, and the tiles of silver--his sister
observed him, and ordering him to be called, she demanded who
he was, whence he came, and what chance had brought him to that
country. When Tittone told her his country, his father and mother,
and his name, Fabiella knew him to be her brother, and the more
when she compared the ring upon his finger with that which her
mother had given her; and embracing him with great joy, she
concealed him, fearing that her husband would be angry when he
returned home.

As soon as the Falcon came home, Fabiella began to tell him that a
great longing had come over her to see her parents. And the Falcon
answered, "Let the wish pass, wife; for that cannot be unless the
humour takes me."

"Let us at least," said Fabiella, "send to fetch one of my kinsfolk to
keep my company."

"And, pray, who will come so far to see you?" replied the Falcon.

"Nay, but if any one should come," added Fabiella, "would you be

"Why should I be displeased?" said the Falcon, "it would be
enough that he were one of your kinsfolk to make me take him to
my heart."

When Fabiella heard this she took courage, and calling to her
brother to come forth, she presented him to the Falcon, who
exclaimed, "Five and five are ten; love passes through the glove,
and water through the boot. A hearty welcome to you! you are
master in this house; command, and do just as you like." Then he
gave orders that Tittone should be served and treated with the
same honour as himself.

Now when Tittone had stayed a fortnight on the mountain, it came
into his head to go forth and seek his other sisters. So taking leave
of Fabiella and his brother-in-law, the Falcon gave him one of his
feathers, saying, "Take this and prize it, my dear Tittone; for you
may one day be in trouble, and you will then esteem it a treasure.
Enough--take good care of it; and if ever you meet with any
mishap, throw it on the ground, and say, Come hither, come
hither!' and you shall have cause to thank me."

Tittone wrapped the feather up in a sheet of paper, and, putting it
in his pocket, after a thousand ceremonies departed. And travelling
on and on a very long way, he arrived at last at the wood where the
Stag lived with Vasta; and going, half-dead with hunger, into the
garden to pluck some fruit, his sister saw him, and recognised him
in the same manner as Fabiella had done. Then she presented
Tittone to her husband, who received him with the greatest
friendship, and treated him truly like a Prince.

At the end of a fortnight, when Tittone wished to depart, and go in
search of his other sister, the Stag gave him one of his hairs,
repeating the same words as the Falcon had spoken about the
feather. And setting out on his way, with a bagful of
crown-pieces which the Falcon had given him, and as many more
which the Stag gave him, he walked on and on, until he came to
the end of the earth, where, being stopped by the sea and unable to
walk any further, he took ship, intending to seek through all the
islands for tidings of his sister. So setting sail, he went about and
about, until at length he was carried to an island, where lived the
Dolphin with Rita. And no sooner had he landed, than his sister
saw and recognised him in the same manner as the others had
done, and he was received by her husband with all possible

Now after a while Tittone wished to set out again to go and visit
his father and mother, whom he had not seen for so long a time. So
the Dolphin gave him one of his scales, telling him the same as the
others had; and Tittone, mounting a horse, set out on his travels.
But he had hardly proceeded half a mile from the seashore, when
entering a wood--the abode of Fear and the Shades, where a
continual fair of darkness and terror was kept up--he found a great
tower in the middle of a lake, whose waters were kissing the feet
of the trees, and entreating them not to let the Sun witness their
pranks. At a window in the tower Tittone saw a most beautiful
maiden sitting at the feet of a hideous dragon, who was asleep.
When the damsel saw Tittone, she said in a low and piteous voice,
"O noble youth, sent perchance by heaven to comfort me in my
miseries in this place, where the face of a Christian is never seen,
release me from the power of this tyrannical serpent, who has
carried me off from my father, the King of Bright-Valley, and shut
me up in this frightful tower, where I must die a miserable death."

"Alas, my beauteous lady!" replied Tittone, "what can I do to serve
thee? Who can pass this lake? Who can climb this tower? Who can
approach yon horrid dragon, that carries terror in his look, sows
fear, and causes dismay to spring up? But softly, wait a minute,
and we'll find a way with another's help to drive this serpent
away. Step by step--the more haste, the worse speed: we shall soon
see whether tis egg or wind." And so saying he threw the feather,
the hair, and the scale, which his brothers-in-law had given him,
on the ground, exclaiming, "Come hither, come hither!" And
falling on the earth like drops of summer rain, which makes the
frogs spring up, suddenly there appeared the Falcon, the Stag, and
the Dolphin, who cried out all together, "Behold us here! what are
your commands?"

When Tittone saw this, he said with great joy, "I wish for nothing
but to release this poor damsel from the claws of yon dragon, to
take her away from this tower, to lay it all in ruins, and to carry
this beautiful lady home with me as my wife."

"Hush!" answered the Falcon, "for the bean springs up where you
least expect it. We'll soon make him dance upon a sixpence, and
take good care that he shall have little ground enough."

"Let us lose no time," said the Stag, "troubles and macaroni are
swallowed hot."

So the Falcon summoned a large flock of griffins, who, flying to
the window of the tower, carried off the damsel, bearing her over
the lake to where Tittone was standing with his three
brothers-in-law; and if from afar she appeared a moon, believe me,
when near she looked truly like a sun, she was so beautiful.

Whilst Tittone was embracing her and telling her how he loved
her, the dragon awoke; and, rushing out of the window, he came
swimming across the lake to devour Tittone. But the Stag instantly
called up a squadron of lions, tigers, panthers, bears, and
wild-cats, who, falling upon the dragon, tore him in pieces with
their claws. Then Tittone wishing to depart, the Dolphin said, "I
likewise desire to do something to serve you." And in order that no
trace should remain of the frightful and accursed place, he made
the sea rise so high that, overflowing its bounds, it attacked the
tower furiously, and overthrew it to its foundations.

When Tittone saw these things, he thanked the animals in the best
manner he could, telling the damsel at the same time that she
ought to do so too, as it was by their aid she had escaped from
peril. But the animals answered, "Nay, we ought rather to thank
this beauteous lady, since she is the means of restoring us to our
proper shapes; for a spell was laid upon us at our birth, caused by
our mother's having offended a fairy, and we were compelled to
remain in the form of animals until we should have freed the
daughter of a King from some great trouble. And now behold the
time is arrived which we have longed for; the fruit is ripe, and we
already feel new spirit in our breasts, new blood in our veins." So
saying, they were changed into three handsome youths, and one
after another they embraced their brother-in-law, and shook hands
with the lady, who was in an ecstasy of joy.

When Tittone saw this, he was on the point of fainting away; and
heaving a deep sigh, he said, "O Heavens! why have not my
mother and father a share in this happiness? They would be out of
their wits with joy were they to see such graceful and handsome
sons-in-law before their eyes."

"Nay," answered the Princes, " tis not yet night; the shame at
seeing ourselves so transformed obliged us to flee from the sight of
men; but now that, thank Heaven! we can appear in the world
again, we will all go and live with our wives under one roof, and
spend our lives merrily. Let us, therefore, set out instantly, and
before the Sun to-morrow morning unpacks the bales of his rays at
the custom-house of the East, our wives shall be with you."

So saying, in order that they might not have to go on foot--for there
was only an old broken-down mare which Tittone had
brought--the brothers caused a most beautiful coach to appear,
drawn by six lions, in which they all five seated themselves; and
having travelled the whole day, they came in the evening to a
tavern, where, whilst the supper was being prepared, they passed
the time in reading all the proofs of men's ignorance which were
scribbled upon the walls. At length, when all had eaten their fill
and retired to rest, the three youths, feigning to go to bed, went out
and walked about the whole night long, till in the morning, when
the Stars, like bashful maidens, retire from the gaze of the Sun,
they found themselves in the same inn with their wives,
whereupon there was a great embracing, and a joy beyond the
beyonds. Then they all eight seated themselves in the same coach,
and after a long journey arrived at Green-Bank, where they were
received with incredible affection by the King and Queen, who had
not only regained the capital of four children, whom they had
considered lost, but likewise the interest of three sons-in-law and a
daughter-in-law, who were verily four columns of the Temple of
Beauty. And when the news of the adventures of their children was
brought to the Kings of Fair-Meadow and Bright-Valley, they both
came to the feasts which were made, adding the rich ingredient of
joy to the porridge of their satisfaction, and receiving a full
recompense for all their past misfortunes; for--

"One hour of joy dispels the cares
And sufferings of a thousand years."



He who seeks the injury of another finds his own hurt; and he who
spreads the snares of treachery and deceit often falls into them
himself; as you shall hear in the story of a queen, who with her
own hands constructed the trap in which she was caught by the

There was one time a King of High-Shore, who practised such
tyranny and cruelty that, whilst he was once gone on a visit of
pleasure to a castle at a distance from the city, his royal seat was
usurped by a certain sorceress. Whereupon, having consulted a
wooden statue which used to give oracular responses, it answered
that he would recover his dominions when the sorceress should
lose her sight. But seeing that the sorceress, besides being well
guarded, knew at a glance the people whom he sent to annoy her,
and did dog's justice upon them, he became quite desperate, and
out of spite to her he killed all the women of that place whom he
could get into his hands.

Now after hundreds and hundreds had been led thither by their
ill-luck, only to lose their lives, there chanced, among others, to
come a maiden named Porziella, the most beautiful creature that
could be seen on the whole earth, and the King could not help
falling in love with her and making her his wife. But he was so
cruel and spiteful to women that, after a while, he was going to kill
her like the rest; but just as he was raising the dagger a bird let fall
a certain root upon his arm, and he was seized with such a
trembling that the weapon fell from his hand. This bird was a fairy,
who, a few days before, having gone to sleep in a wood, where
beneath the tent of the Shades Fear kept watch and defied the
Sun's heat, a certain satyr was about to rob her when she was
awakened by Porziella, and for this kindness she continually
followed her steps in order to make her a return.

When the King saw this, he thought that the beauty of Porziella's
face had arrested his arm and bewitched the dagger to prevent its
piercing her as it had done so many others. He resolved, therefore,
not to make the attempt a second time, but that she should die built
up in a garret of his palace. No sooner said than done: the unhappy
creature was enclosed within four walls, without having anything
to eat or drink, and left to waste away and die little by little.

The bird, seeing her in this wretched state, consoled her with kind
words, bidding her be of good cheer, and promising, in return for
the great kindness she had done for her, to aid her if necessary
with her very life. In spite, however, of all the entreaties of
Porziella, the bird would never tell her who she was, but only said
that she was under obligations to her, and would leave nothing
undone to serve her. And seeing that the poor girl was famished
with hunger, she flew out and speedily returned with a pointed
knife which she had taken from the king's pantry, and told her to
make a hole in the corner of the floor just over the kitchen,
through which she would regularly bring her food to sustain her
life. So Porziella bored away until she had made a passage for the
bird, who, watching till the cook was gone out to fetch a pitcher of
water from the well, went down through the hole, and taking a fine
fowl that was cooking at the fire, brought it to Porziella; then to
relieve her thirst, not knowing how to carry her any drink, she flew
to the pantry, where there was a quantity of grapes hanging, and
brought her a fine bunch; and this she did regularly for many days.

Meanwhile Porziella gave birth to a fine little boy, whom she
suckled and reared with the constant aid of the bird. And when he
was grown big, the fairy advised his mother to make the hole
larger, and to raise so many boards of the floor as would allow
Miuccio (for so the child was called) to pass through; and then,
after letting him down with some cords which the bird brought, to
put the boards back into their place, that it might not be seen
where he came from. So Porziella did as the bird directed her; and
as soon as the cook was gone out, she let down her son, desiring
him never to tell whence he came nor whose son he was.

When the cook returned and saw such a fine little boy, he asked
him who he was, whence he came, and what he wanted;
whereupon, the child, remembering his mother's advice, said that
he was a poor forlorn boy who was looking about for a master. As
they were talking, the butler came in, and seeing the spritely little
fellow, he thought he would make a pretty page for the King. So he
led him to the royal apartments; and when the King saw him look
so handsome and lovely that he appeared a very jewel, he was
vastly pleased with him, and took him into his service as a page
and to his heart as a son, and had him taught all the exercises
befitting a cavalier, so that Miuccio grew up the most
accomplished one in the court, and the King loved him much
better than his stepson. Now the King's stepmother, who was
really the queen, on this account began to take a dislike to him,
and to hold him in aversion; and her envy and malice gained
ground just in proportion as the favours and kindness which the
King bestowed on Miuccio cleared the way for them; so she
resolved to soap the ladder of his fortune in order that he should
tumble down from top to bottom.

Accordingly one evening, when the King and his stepmother had
tuned their instruments together and were making music of their
discourse, the Queen told the King that Miuccio had boasted he
would build three castles in the air. So the next morning, at the
time when the Moon, the school-mistress of the Shades, gives a
holiday to her scholars for the festival of the Sun, the King, either
from surprise or to gratify the old Queen, ordered Miuccio to be
called, and commanded him forthwith to build the three castles in
the air as he had promised, or else he would make him dance a jig
in the air.

When Miuccio heard this he went to his chamber and began to
lament bitterly, seeing what glass the favour of princes is, and how
short a time it lasts. And while he was weeping thus, lo! the bird
came, and said to him, "Take heart, Miuccio, and fear not while
you have me by your side, for I am able to draw you out of the
fire." Then she directed him to take pasteboard and glue and make
three large castles; and calling up three large griffins, she tied a
castle to each, and away they flew up into the air. Thereupon
Miuccio called the King, who came running with all his court to
see the sight; and when he saw the ingenuity of Miuccio he had a
still greater affection for him, and lavished on him caresses of the
other world, which added snow to the envy of the Queen and fire
to her rage, seeing that all her plans failed; insomuch that, both
sleeping and waking, she was for ever thinking of some way to
remove this thorn from her eyes. So at last, after some days, she
said to the King, "Son, the time is now come for us to return to our
former greatness and the pleasures of past times, since Miuccio
has offered to blind the sorceress, and by the disbursement of her
eyes to make you recover your lost kingdom."

The King, who felt himself touched in the sore place, called for
Miuccio that very instant, and said to him, "I am greatly surprised
that, notwithstanding all my love for you, and that you have the
power to restore me to the seat from which I have fallen, you
remain thus careless, instead of endeavouring to relieve me from
the misery I am in--reduced thus from a kingdom to a wood, from
a city to a paltry castle, and from commanding so great a people to
be hardly waited on by a parcel of half-starved menials. If,
therefore, you do not wish me ill, run now at once and blind the
eyes of the fairy who has possession of my property, for by putting
out her lanterns you will light the lamps of my honour that are now
dark and dismal."

When Miuccio heard this proposal he was about to reply that the
King was ill-informed and had mistaken him, as he was neither a
raven to pick out eyes nor an auger to bore holes; but the King
said, "No more words--so I will have it, so let it be done!
Remember now, that in the mint of this brain of mine I have the
balance ready; in one scale the reward, if you do what I tell you; in
the other the punishment, if you neglect doing what I command."

Miuccio, who could not butt against a rock, and had to do with a
man who was not to be moved, went into a corner to bemoan
himself; and the bird came to him and said, "Is it possible,
Miuccio, that you will always be drowning yourself in a tumbler of
water? If I were dead indeed you could not make more fuss. Do
you not know that I have more regard for your life than for my
own? Therefore don't lose courage; come with me, and you shall
see what I can do." So saying off she flew, and alighted in the
wood, where as soon as she began to chirp, there came a large
flock of birds about her, to whom she told the story, assuring them
that whoever would venture to deprive the sorceress of sight
should have from her a safeguard against the talons of the hawks
and kites, and a letter of protection against the guns, crossbows,
longbows, and bird-lime of the fowlers.

There was among them a swallow who had made her nest against a
beam of the royal palace, and who hated the sorceress, because,
when making her accursed conjurations, she had several times
driven her out of the chamber with her fumigations; for which
reason, partly out of a desire of revenge, and partly to gain the
reward that the bird promised, she offered herself to perform the
service. So away she flew like lightning to the city, and entering
the palace, found the fairy lying on a couch, with two damsels
fanning her. Then the swallow came, and alighting directly over
the fairy, pecked out her eyes. Whereupon the fairy, thus seeing
night at midday, knew that by this closing of the custom-house the
merchandise of the kingdom was all lost; and uttering yells, as of a
condemned soul, she abandoned the sceptre and went off to hide
herself in a certain cave, where she knocked her head continually
against the wall, until at length she ended her days.

When the sorceress was gone, the councillors sent ambassadors to
the King, praying him to come back to his castle, since the
blinding of the sorceress had caused him to see this happy day.
And at the same time they arrived came also Miuccio, who, by the
bird's direction, said to the King, "I have served you to the best of
my power; the sorceress is blinded, the kingdom is yours.
Wherefore, if I deserve recompense for this service, I wish for no
other than to be left to my ill-fortune, without being again exposed
to these dangers."

But the King, embracing him with great affection, bade him put on
his cap and sit beside him; and how the Queen was enraged at this,
Heaven knows, for by the bow of many colours that appeared in
her face might be known the wind of the storm that was brewing in
her heart against poor Miuccio.

Not far from this castle lived a most ferocious dragon, who was
born the same hour with the Queen; and the astrologers being
called by her father to astrologise on this event, said that his
daughter would be safe as long as the dragon was safe, and that
when one died, the other would of necessity die also. One thing
alone could bring back the Queen to life, and that was to anoint
her temples, chest, nostrils, and pulse with the blood of the same

Now the Queen, knowing the strength and fury of this animal,
resolved to send Miuccio into his claws, well assured that the beast
would make but a mouthful of him, and that he would be like a
strawberry in the throat of a bear. So turning to the King, she said,
"Upon my word, this Miuccio is the treasure of your house, and
you would be ungrateful indeed if you did not love him, especially
as he had expressed his desire to kill the dragon, who, though he is
my brother, is nevertheless your enemy; and I care more for a hair
of your head than for a hundred brothers."

The King, who hated the dragon mortally, and knew not how to
remove him out of his sight, instantly called Miuccio, and said to
him, "I know that you can put your hand to whatever you will;
therefore, as you have done so much, grant me yet another
pleasure, and then turn me whithersoever you will. Go this very
instant and kill the dragon; for you will do me a singular service,
and I will reward you well for it."

Miuccio at these words was near losing his senses, and as soon as
he was able to speak, he said to the King, "Alas, what a headache
have you given me by your continual teasing! Is my life a black
goat-skin rug that you are for ever wearing it away thus? This is
not a pared pear ready to drop into one's mouth, but a dragon, that
tears with his claws, breaks to pieces with his head, crushes with
his tail, crunches with his teeth, poisons with his eyes, and kills
with his breath. Wherefore do you want to send me to death? Is
this the sinecure you give me for having given you a kingdom?
Who is the wicked soul that has set this die on the table? What son
of perdition has taught you these capers and put these words into
your mouth?" Then the King, who, although he let himself be
tossed to and fro as light as a ball, was firmer than a rock in
keeping to what he had once said, stamped with his feet, and
exclaimed, "After all you have done, do you fail at the last? But no
more words; go, rid my kingdom of this plague, unless you would
have me rid you of life."

Poor Miuccio, who thus received one minute a favour, at another a
threat, now a pat on the face, and now a kick, now a kind word,
now a cruel one, reflected how mutable court fortune is, and would
fain have been without the acquaintance of the King. But knowing
that to reply to great men is a folly, and like plucking a lion by the
beard, he withdrew, cursing his fate, which had led him to the
court only to curtail the days of his life. And as he was sitting on
one of the door-steps, with his head between his knees, washing
his shoes with his tears and warming the ground with his sighs,
behold the bird came flying with a plant in her beak, and throwing
it to him, said, "Get up, Miuccio, and take courage! for you are not
going to play at unload the ass' with your days, but at
backgammon with the life of the dragon. Take this plant, and when
you come to the cave of that horrid animal, throw it in, and
instantly such a drowsiness will come over him that he will fall
fast asleep; whereupon, nicking and sticking him with a good
knife, you may soon make an end of him. Then come away, for
things will turn out better than you think."

"Enough!" cried Miuccio, "I know what I carry under my belt; we
have more time than money, and he who has time has life." So
saying, he got up, and sticking a pruning-knife in his belt and
taking the plant, he went his way to the dragon's cave, which was
under a mountain of such goodly growth, that the three mountains
that were steps to the Giants would not have reached up to its
waist. When he came there, he threw the plant into the cave, and
instantly a deep sleep laid hold on the dragon, and Miuccio began
to cut him in pieces.

Now just at the time that he was busied thus, the Queen felt a
cutting pain at her heart; and seeing herself brought to a bad pass,
she perceived her error in having purchased death with ready
money. So she called her stepson and told him what the astrologers
had predicted--how her life depended on that of the dragon, and
how she feared that Miuccio had killed him, for she felt herself
gradually sliding away. Then the King replied, "If you knew that
the life of the dragon was the prop of your life and the root of your
days, why did you make me send Miuccio? Who is in fault? You
must have done yourself the mischief, and you must suffer for it;
you have broken the glass, and you may pay the cost." And the
Queen answered, "I never thought that such a stripling could have
the skill and strength to overthrow an animal which made nothing
of an army, and I expected that he would have left his rags there.
But since I reckoned without my host, and the bark of my projects
is gone out of its course, do me one kindness if you love me. When
I am dead, take a sponge dipped in the blood of this dragon and
anoint with it all the extremities of my body before you bury me."

"That is but a small thing for the love I bear you," replied the
King; "and if the blood of the dragon is not enough, I will add my
own to give you satisfaction." The Queen was about to thank him,
but the breath left her with the speech; for just then Miuccio had
made an end of scoring the dragon.

No sooner had Miuccio come into the King's presence with the
news of what he had done than the King ordered him to go back
for the dragon's blood; but being curious to see the deed done by
Miuccio's hand, he followed him. And as Miuccio was going out
of the palace gate, the bird met him, and said, "Whither are you
going?" and Miuccio answered, "I am going whither the King
sends me; he makes me fly backwards and forwards like a shuttle,
and never lets me rest an hour." "What to do?" said the bird. "To
fetch the blood of the dragon," said Miuccio. And the bird replied,
"Ah, wretched youth! this dragon's blood will be bull's blood to
you, and make you burst; for this blood will cause to spring up
again the evil seed of all your misfortunes. The Queen is
continually exposing you to new dangers that you may lose your
life; and the King, who lets this odious creature put the
pack-saddle on him, orders you, like a castaway, to endanger your
person, which is his own flesh and blood and a shoot of his stem.
But the wretched man does not know you, though the inborn
affection he bears you should have betrayed your kindred.
Moreover, the services you have rendered the King, and the gain to
himself of so handsome a son and heir, ought to obtain favour for
unhappy Porziella, your mother, who has now for fourteen years
been buried alive in a garret, where is seen a temple of beauty built
up within a little chamber."

While the fairy was thus speaking, the King, who had heard every
word, stepped forward to learn the truth of the matter better; and
finding that Miuccio was his own and Porziella's son, and that
Porziella was still alive in the garret, he instantly gave orders that
she should be set free and brought before him. And when he saw
her looking more beautiful than ever, owing to the care taken of
her by the bird, he embraced her with the greatest affection, and
was never satisfied with pressing to his heart first the mother and
then the son, praying forgiveness of Porziella for his
ill-treatment of her, and of his son for all the dangers to which he
had exposed him. Then he ordered her to be clothed in the richest
robes, and had her crowned Queen before all the people. And
when the King heard that her preservation, and the escape of his
son from so many dangers were entirely owing to the bird, which
had given food to the one and counsel to the other, he offered her
his kingdom and his life. But the bird said she desired no other
reward for her services than to have Miuccio for a husband; and as
she uttered the words she was changed into a beautiful maiden,
and, to the great joy and satisfaction of the King and Porziella, she
was given to Miuccio to wife. Then the newly-married couple, to
give still greater festivals, went their way to their own kingdom,
where they were anxiously expected, every one ascribing this good
fortune to the fairy, for the kindness that Porziella had done her;
for at the end of the end--

"A good deed is never lost."



I have always heard say, that he who gives pleasure finds it: the
bell of Manfredonia says, "Give me, I give thee": he who does not
bait the hook of the affections with courtesy never catches the fish
of kindness; and if you wish to hear the proof of this, listen to my
story, and then say whether the covetous man does not always lose
more than the liberal one.

There were once two sisters, named Luceta and Troccola, who had
two daughters, Marziella and Puccia. Marziella was as fair to look
upon as she was good at heart; whilst, on the contrary, Puccia by
the same rule had a face of ugliness and a heart of pestilence, but
the girl resembled her parent, for Troccola was a harpy within and
a very scare-crow without.

Now it happened that Luceta had occasion to boil some parsnips,
in order to fry them with green sauce; so she said to her daughter,
"Marziella, my dear, go to the well and fetch me a pitcher of

"With all my heart, mother," replied the girl, "but if you love me
give me a cake, for I should like to eat it with a draught of the
fresh water."

"By all means," said the mother; so she took from a basket that
hung upon a hook a beautiful cake (for she had baked a batch the
day before), and gave it to Marziella, who set the pitcher on a pad
upon her head, and went to the fountain, which like a charlatan
upon a marble bench, to the music of the falling water, was selling
secrets to drive away thirst. And as she was stooping down to fill
her pitcher, up came a hump-backed old woman, and seeing the
beautiful cake, which Marziella was just going to bite, she said to
her, "My pretty girl, give me a little piece of your cake, and may
Heaven send you good fortune!"

Marziella, who was as generous as a queen, replied, "Take it all,
my good woman, and I am only sorry that it is not made of sugar
and almonds, for I would equally give it you with all my heart."

The old woman, seeing Marziella's kindness, said to her, "Go, and
may Heaven reward you for the goodness you have shown me! and
I pray all the stars that you may ever be content and happy; that
when you breathe roses and jessamines may fall from your mouth;
that when you comb your locks pearls and garnets may fall from
them, and when you set your foot on the ground lilies and violets
may spring up."

Marziella thanked the old woman, and went her way home, where
her mother, having cooked a bit of supper, they paid the natural
debt to the body, and thus ended the day. And the next morning,
when the Sun displayed in the market-place of the celestial fields
the merchandise of light which he had brought from the East, as
Marziella was combing her hair, she saw a shower of pearls and
garnets fall from it into her lap; whereupon calling her mother
with great joy, they put them all into a basket, and Luceta went to
sell a great part of them to a usurer, who was a friend of hers.
Meanwhile Troccola came to see her sister, and finding Marziella
in great delight and busied with the pearls, she asked her how,
when, and where she had gotten them. But the maiden, who did
not understand the ways of the world, and had perhaps never heard
the proverb, "Do not all you are able, eat not all you wish, spend
not all you have, and tell not all you know," related the whole
affair to her aunt, who no longer cared to await her sister's return,
for every hour seemed to her a thousand years until she got home
again. Then giving a cake to her daughter, she sent her for water to
the fountain, where Puccia found the same old woman. And when
the old woman asked her for a little piece of cake she answered
gruffly, "Have I nothing to do, forsooth, but to give you cake? Do
you take me to be so foolish as to give you what belongs to me?
Look ye, charity begins at home." And so saying she swallowed
the cake in four pieces, making the old woman's mouth water,
who when she saw the last morsel disappear and her hopes buried
with the cake, exclaimed in a rage, "Begone! and whenever you
breathe may you foam at the mouth like a doctor's mule, may
toads drop from your lips, and every time you set foot to the
ground may there spring up ferns and thistles!"

Puccia took the pitcher of water and returned home, where her
mother was all impatience to hear what had befallen her at the
fountain. But no sooner did Puccia open her lips, than a shower of
toads fell from them, at the sight of which her mother added the
fire of rage to the snow of envy, sending forth flame and smoke
through nose and mouth.

Now it happened some time afterwards that Ciommo, the brother
of Marziella, was at the court of the King of Chiunzo; and the
conversation turning on the beauty of various women, he stepped
forward, unasked, and said that all the handsome women might
hide their heads when his sister made her appearance, who beside
the beauty of her form, which made harmony on the song of a
noble soul, possessed also a wonderful virtue in her hair, mouth,
and feet, which was given to her by a fairy. When the King heard
these praises he told Ciommo to bring his sister to the court;
adding that, if he found her such as he had represented, he would
take her to wife.

Now Ciommo thought this a chance not to be lost; so he forthwith
sent a messenger post-haste to his mother, telling her what had
happened, and begging her to come instantly with her daughter, in
order not to let slip the good luck. But Luceta, who was very
unwell, commending the lamb to the wolf, begged her sister to
have the kindness to accompany Marziella to the court of Chiunzo
for such and such a thing. Whereupon Troccola, who saw that
matters were playing into her hand, promised her sister to take
Marziella safe and sound to her brother, and then embarked with
her niece and Puccia in a boat. But when they were some way out
at sea, whilst the sailors were asleep, she threw Marziella into the
water; and just as the poor girl was on the point of being drowned
there came a most beautiful syren, who took her in her arms and
carried her off.

When Troccola arrived at Chiunzo, Ciommo, who had not seen his
sister for so long a time, mistook Puccia, and received her as if she
were Marziella, and led her instantly to the King. But no sooner
did she open her lips than toads dropped on the ground; and when
the King looked at her more closely he saw, that as she breathed
hard from the fatigue of the journey, she made a lather at her
mouth, which looked just like a washtub; then looking down on
the ground, he saw a meadow of stinking plants, the sight of which
made him quite ill. Upon this he drove Puccia and her mother
away, and sent Ciommo in disgrace to keep the geese of the court.

Then Ciommo, in despair and not knowing what had happened to
him, drove the geese into the fields, and letting them go their way
along the seashore, he used to retire into a little straw shed, where
he bewailed his lot until evening, when it was time to return home.
But whilst the geese were running about on the shore, Marziella
would come out of the water, and feed them with sweetmeats, and
give them rose-water to drink; so that the geese grew as big as
sheep, and were so fat that they could not see out of their eyes.
And in the evening when they came into a little garden under the
King's window, they began to sing--

"Pire, pire pire!
The sun and the moon are bright and clear,
But she who feeds us is still more fair."

Now the King, hearing this goose-music every evening, ordered
Ciommo to be called, and asked him where, and how, and upon
what he fed his geese. And Ciommo replied, "I give them nothing
to eat but the fresh grass of the field." But the King, who was not
satisfied with this answer, sent a trusty servant after Ciommo to
watch and observe where he drove the geese. Then the man
followed in his footsteps, and saw him go into the little straw shed,
leaving the geese to themselves; and going their way they had no
sooner come to the shore than Marziella rose up out of the sea; and
I do not believe that even the mother of that blind boy who, as the
poet says, "desires no other alms than tears," ever rose from the
waves so fair. When the servant of the King saw this, he ran back
to his master, beside himself with amazement, and told him the
pretty spectacle he had seen upon the seashore.

The curiosity of the King was increased by what the man told him,
and he had a great desire to go himself and see the beautiful sight.
So the next morning, when the Cock, the ringleader of the birds,
excited them all to arm mankind against the Night, and Ciommo
went with the geese to the accustomed spot, the King followed him
closely; and when the geese came to the seashore, without
Ciommo, who remained as usual in the little shed, the King saw
Marziella rise out of the water. And after giving the geese a trayful
of sweetmeats to eat and a cupful of rose-water to drink, she seated
herself on a rock and began to comb her locks, from which fell
handfuls of pearls and garnets; at the same time a cloud of flowers
dropped from her mouth, and under her feet was a Syrian carpet of
lilies and violets.

When the King saw this sight, he ordered Ciommo to be called,
and, pointing to Marziella, asked him whether he knew that
beautiful maiden. Then Ciommo, recognising his sister, ran to
embrace her, and in the presence of the King heard from her all the
treacherous conduct of Troccola, and how the envy of that wicked
creature had brought that fair fire of love to dwell in the waters of
the sea.

The joy of the King is not to be told at the acquisition of so fair a
jewel; and turning to the brother he said that he had good reason to
praise Marziella so much, and indeed that he found her three times
more beautiful than he had described her; he deemed her,
therefore, more than worthy to be his wife if she would be content
to receive the sceptre of his kingdom.

"Alas, would to Heaven it could be so!" answered Marziella, "and
that I could serve you as the slave of your crown! But see you not
this golden chain upon my foot, by which the sorceress holds me
prisoner? When I take too much fresh air, and tarry too long on the
shore, she draws me into the waves, and thus keeps me held in rich
slavery by a golden chain."

"What way is there," said the King, "to free you from the claws of
this syren?"

"The way," replied Marziella, "would be to cut this chain with a
smooth file, and to loose me from it."

"Wait till to-morrow morning," answered the King; "I will then
come with all that is needful, and take you home with me, where
you shall be the pupil of my eye, the core of my heart, and the life
of my soul." And then exchanging a shake of the hands as the
earnest-money of their love, she went back into the water and he
into the fire--and into such a fire indeed that he had not an hour's
rest the whole day long. And when the black old hag of the Night
came forth to have a country-dance with the Stars, he never closed
an eye, but lay ruminating in his memory over the beauties of
Marziella, discoursing in thought of the marvels of her hair, the
miracles of her mouth, and the wonders of her feet; and applying
the gold of her graces to the touchstone of judgment, he found that
it was four-and-twenty carats fine. But he upbraided the Night for
not leaving off her embroidery of the Stars, and chided the Sun for
not arriving with the chariot of light to enrich his house with the
treasure he longed for--a mine of gold which produced pearls, a
pearl-shell from which sprang flowers.

But whilst he was thus at sea, thinking of her who was all the
while in the sea, behold the pioneers of the Sun appeared, who
smooth the road along which he has to pass with the army of his
rays. Then the King dressed himself, and went with Ciommo to the
seashore, where he found Marziella; and the King with his own
hand cut the chain from the foot of the beloved object with the file
which they had brought, but all the while he forged a still stronger
one for his heart; and setting her on the saddle behind him, she
who was already fixed on the saddle of his heart, he set out for the
royal palace, where by his command all the handsome ladies of the
land were assembled, who received Marziella as their mistress
with all due honour. Then the King married her, and there were
great festivities; and among all the casks which were burnt for the
illuminations, the King ordered that Troccola should be shut up in
a tub, and made to suffer for the treachery she had shown to
Marziella. Then sending for Luceta, he gave her and Ciommo
enough to live upon like princes; whilst Puccia, driven out of the
kingdom, wandered about as a beggar; and, as the reward of her
not having sown a little bit of cake, she had now to suffer a
constant want of bread; for it is the will of Heaven

"He who shows no pity finds none."



He who gives pleasure meets with it: kindness is the bond of
friendship and the hook of love: he who sows not reaps not; of
which truth Ciulla has given you the foretaste of example, and I
will give you the dessert, if you will bear in mind what Cato says,
"Speak little at table." Therefore have the kindness to lend me
your ears awhile; and may Heaven cause them to stretch
continually, to listen to pleasant and amusing things.

There was once in the county of Arzano a good woman who every
year gave birth to a son, until at length there were seven of them,
who looked like the pipes of the god Pan, with seven reeds, one
larger than another. And when they had changed their first teeth,
they said to Jannetella their mother, "Hark ye, mother, if, after so
many sons, you do not this time have a daughter, we are resolved
to leave home, and go wandering through the world like the sons
of the blackbirds."

When their mother heard this sad announcement, she prayed
Heaven to remove such an intention from her sons, and prevent her
losing seven such jewels as they were. And when the hour of the
birth was at hand, the sons said to Jannetella, "We will retire to the
top of yonder hill or rock opposite; if you give birth to a son, put
an inkstand and a pen up at the window; but if you have a little
girl, put up a spoon and a distaff. For if we see the signal of a
daughter, we shall return home and spend the rest of our lives
under your wings; but if we see the signal of a son, then forget us,
for you may know that we have taken ourselves off."

Soon after the sons had departed it pleased Heaven that Jannetella
should bring forth a pretty little daughter; then she told the nurse to
make the signal to the brothers, but the woman was so stupid and
confused that she put up the inkstand and the pen. As soon as the
seven brothers saw this signal, they set off, and walked on and on,
until at the end of three years they came to a wood, where the trees
were performing the sword-dance to the sound of a river which
made music upon the stones. In this wood was the house of an ogre
whose eyes having been blinded whilst asleep by a woman, he was
such an enemy to the sex that he devoured all whom he could

When the youths arrived at the ogre's house, tired out with
walking and exhausted with hunger, they begged him for pity's
sake to give them a morsel of bread. And the ogre replied that if
they would serve him he would give them food, and they would
have nothing else to do but to watch over him like a dog, each in
turn for a day. The youths, upon hearing this, thought they had
found father and mother; so they consented, and remained in the
service of the ogre, who, having gotten their names by heart, called
once for Giangrazio, at another time for Cecchitiello, now for
Pascale, now Nuccio, now Pone, now Pezzillo, and now
Carcavecchia, for so the brothers were named; and giving them a
room in the lower part of the house, he allowed them enough to
live upon.

Meanwhile their sister had grown up; and hearing that her seven
brothers, owing to the stupidity of the nurse, had set out to walk
through the world, and that no tidings of them had ever been
received, she took it into her head to go in search of them. And she
begged and prayed her mother so long, that at last, overcome by
her entreaties, she gave her leave to go, and dressed her like a
pilgrim. Then the maiden walked and walked, asking at every
place she came to whether any one had seen seven brothers. And
thus she journeyed on, until at length she got news of them at an
inn, where having enquired the way to the wood, one morning, at
the hour when the Sun with the penknife of his rays scratches out
the inkspots made by Night upon the sheet of Heaven, she arrived
at the ogre's house, where she was recognised by her brothers with
great joy, who cursed the inkstand and the pen for writing falsely
such misfortune for them. Then giving her a thousand caresses,
they told her to remain quiet in their chamber, that the ogre might
not see her; bidding her at the same time give a portion of
whatever she had to eat to a cat which was in the room, or
otherwise she would do her some harm. Cianna (for so the sister
was named) wrote down this advice in the pocket-book of her
heart, and shared everything with the cat, like a good companion,
always cutting justly, and saying, "This for me--this for thee,
--this for the daughter of the king," giving the cat a share to the last

Now it happened one day that the brothers, going to hunt for the
ogre, left Cianna a little basket of chick-peas to cook; and as she
was picking them, by ill-luck she found among them a
hazel-nut, which was the stone of disturbance to her quiet; for
having swallowed it without giving half to the cat, the latter out of
spite jumped on the table and blew out the candle. Cianna seeing
this, and not knowing what to do, left the room, contrary to the
command of her brothers, and going into the ogre's chamber
begged him for a little light. Then the ogre, hearing a woman's
voice, said, "Welcome, madam! wait awhile,--you have found
what you are seeking." And so saying he took a Genoa stone, and
daubing it with oil he fell to whetting his tusks. But Cianna, who
saw the cart on a wrong track, seizing a lighted stick ran to her
chamber; and bolting the door inside, she placed against it bars,
stools, bedsteads, tables, stones, and everything there was in the

As soon as the ogre had put an edge on his teeth he ran to the
chamber of the brothers, and finding the door fastened, he fell to
kicking it to break it open. At this noise and disturbance the seven
brothers at once came home, and hearing themselves accused by
the ogre of treachery for making their chamber a refuge for one of
his women enemies, Giangrazio, who was the eldest and had more
sense than the others, and saw matters going badly, said to the
ogre, "We know nothing of this affair, and it may be that this
wicked woman has perchance come into the room whilst we were
at the chase; but as she has fortified herself inside, come with me
and I will take you to a place where we can seize her without her
being able to defend herself."

Then they took the ogre by the hand, and led him to a deep, deep
pit, where, giving him a push, they sent him headlong to the
bottom; and taking a shovel, which they found on the ground, they
covered him with earth. Then they bade their sister unfasten the
door, and they rated her soundly for the fault she had committed,
and the danger in which she had placed herself; telling her to be
more careful in future, and to beware of plucking grass upon the
spot where the ogre was buried, or they would be turned into seven

"Heaven keep me from bringing such a misfortune upon you!"
replied Cianna. So taking possession of all the ogre's goods and
chattels, and making themselves masters of the whole house, they
lived there merrily enough, waiting until winter should pass away,
and the Sun, on taking possession of the house of the Bull, give a
present to the Earth of a green gown embroidered with flowers,
when they might set out on their journey home.

Now it happened one day, when the brothers were gone to the
mountains to get firewood to defend themselves against the cold,
which increased from day to day, that a poor pilgrim came to the
ogre's wood, and made faces at an ape that was perched up in a
pine-tree; whereupon the ape threw down one of the fir-apples
from the tree upon the man's pate, which made such a terrible
bump that the poor fellow set up a loud cry. Cianna hearing the
noise went out, and taking pity on his disaster, she quickly plucked
a sprig of rosemary from a tuft which grew upon the ogre's grave;
then she made him a plaster of it with boiled bread and salt, and
after giving the man some breakfast she sent him away.

Whilst Cianna was laying the cloth, and expecting her brothers, lo!
she saw seven doves come flying, who said to her, "Ah! better that
your hand had been cut off, you cause of all our misfortune, ere it
plucked that accursed rosemary and brought such a calamity upon
us! Have you eaten the brains of a cat, O sister, that you have
driven our advice from your mind? Behold us, turned to birds, a
prey to the talons of kites, hawks, and falcons! Behold us made
companions of water-hens, snipes, goldfinches, woodpeckers, jays,
owls, magpies, jackdaws, rooks, starlings, woodcocks, cocks, hens
and chickens, turkey-cocks, blackbirds, thrushes, chaffinches,
tomtits, jenny-wrens, lapwings, linnets, greenfinches, crossbills,
flycatchers, larks, plovers, kingfishers, wagtails, redbreasts,
redfinches, sparrows, ducks, fieldfares, woodpigeons and
bullfinches! A rare thing you have done! And now we may return
to our country to find nets laid and twigs limed for us! To heal the
head of a pilgrim, you have broken the heads of seven brothers;
nor is there any help for our misfortune, unless you find the
Mother of Time, who will tell you the way to get us out of

Cianna, looking like a plucked quail at the fault she had
committed, begged pardon of her brothers, and offered to go round
the world until she should find the dwelling of the old woman.
Then praying them not to stir from the house until she returned,
lest any ill should betide them, she set out, and journeyed on and
on without ever tiring; and though she went on foot, her desire to
aid her brothers served her as a sumpter-mule, with which she
made three miles an hour. At last she came to the seashore, where
with the blows of the waves the sea was banging the rocks which
would not repeat the Latin it gave them to do. Here she saw a huge
whale, who said to her, "My pretty maiden, what go you seeking?"
And she replied, "I am seeking the dwelling of the Mother of
Time." "Hear then what you must do," replied the whale; "go
straight along this shore, and on coming to the first river, follow it
up to its source, and you will meet with some one who will show
you the way: but do me one kindness,--when you find the good old
woman, beg of her the favour to tell me some means by which I
may swim about safely, without so often knocking upon the rocks
and being thrown on the sands."

"Trust to me," said Cianna, then thanking the whale for pointing
out the way, she set off walking along the shore; and after a long
journey she came to the river, which like a clerk of the treasury
was disbursing silver money into the bank of the sea. Then taking
the way up to its source, she arrived at a beautiful open country,
where the meadow vied with the heaven, displaying her green
mantle starred over with flowers; and there she met a mouse who
said to her, "Whither are you going thus alone, my pretty girl?"
And Cianna replied, "I am seeking the Mother of Time."

"You have a long way to go," said the mouse; "but do not lose
heart, everything has an end. Walk on, therefore, toward yon
mountains, which, like the free lords of these fields, assume the
title of Highness, and you will soon have more news of what you
are seeking. But do me one favour,--when you arrive at the house
you wish to find, get the good old woman to tell you what you can
do to rid us of the tyranny of the cats; then command me, and I am
your slave."

Cianna, after promising to do the mouse this kindness, set off
towards the mountains, which, although they appeared to be close
at hand, seemed never to be reached. But having come to them at
length, she sat down tired out upon a stone; and there she saw an
army of ants, carrying a large store of grain, one of whom turning
to Cianna said, "Who art thou, and whither art thou going?" And
Cianna, who was courteous to every one, said to her, "I am an
unhappy girl, who, for a matter that concerns me, am seeking the
dwelling of the Mother of Time."

"Go on farther," said the ant, "and where these mountains open
into a large plain you will obtain more news. But do me a great
favour,--get the secret from the old woman, what we ants can do to
live a little longer; for it seems to me a folly in worldly affairs to
be heaping up such a large store of food for so short a life, which,
like an auctioneer's candle, goes out just at the best bidding of

"Be at ease," said Cianna, "I will return the kindness you have
shown me."

Then she passed the mountains and arrived at a wide plain; and
proceeding a little way over it, she came to a large oak-tree,
--a memorial of antiquity, whose fruit (a mouthful which Time
gives to this bitter age of its lost sweetness) tasted like sweetmeats
to the maiden, who was satisfied with little. Then the oak, making
lips of its bark and a tongue of its pith, said to Cianna, "Whither
are you going so sad, my little daughter? Come and rest under my
shade." Cianna thanked him much, but excused herself, saying that
she was going in haste to find the Mother of Time. And when the
oak heard this he replied, "You are not far from her dwelling; for
before you have gone another day's journey, you will see upon a
mountain a house, in which you will find her whom you seek. But
if you have as much kindness as beauty, I prithee learn for me
what I can do to regain my lost honour; for instead of being food
for great men, I am now only made the food of hogs."

"Leave that to me," replied Cianna, "I will take care to serve you."
So saying, she departed, and walking on and on without ever
resting, she came at length to the foot of an impertinent mountain,
which was poking its head into the face of the clouds. There she
found an old man, who, wearied and wayworn, had lain down
upon some hay; and as soon as he saw Cianna, he knew her at
once, and that it was she who had cured his bump.

When the old man heard what she was seeking, he told her that he
was carrying to Time the rent for the piece of earth which he had
cultivated, and that Time was a tyrant who usurped everything in
the world, claiming tribute from all, and especially from people of
his age; and he added that, having received kindness from Cianna,
he would now return it a hundredfold by giving her some good
information about her arrival at the mountain; and that he was
sorry he could not accompany her thither, since his old age, which
was condemned rather to go down than up, obliged him to remain
at the foot of those mountains, to cast up accounts with the clerks
of Time--which are the labours, the sufferings, and the infirmities
of life--and to pay the debt of Nature. So the old man said to her,
"Now, my pretty, innocent child, listen to me. You must know that
on the top of this mountain you will find a ruined house, which
was built long ago, time out of mind. The walls are cracked, the
foundations crumbling away, the doors worm-eaten, the furniture
all worn out--and, in short, everything is gone to wrack and ruin.
On one side are seen shattered columns, on another broken statues;
and nothing is left in a good state except a coat-of-arms over the
door, quartered on which you will see a serpent biting its tail, a
stag, a raven, and a phoenix. When you enter, you will see on the
ground, files, saws, scythes, sickles, pruning-hooks, and hundreds
and hundreds of vessels full of ashes, with the names written on
them, like gallipots in an apothecary's shop; and there may be read
Corinth, Saguntum, Carthage, Troy, and a thousand other cities,
the ashes of which Time preserved as trophies of his conquests.

"When you come near the house, hide yourself until Time goes
out; and as soon as he has gone forth, enter, and you will find an
old, old woman, with a beard that touches the ground and a hump
reaching to the sky. Her hair, like the tail of a dapple-grey horse,
covers her heels; her face looks like a plaited collar, with the folds
stiffened by the starch of years. The old woman is seated upon a
clock, which is fastened to a wall; and her eyebrows are so large
that they overshadow her eyes, so that she will not be able to see
you. As soon as you enter, quickly take the weights off the clock,
then call to the old woman, and beg her to answer your questions;
whereupon she will instantly call her son to come and eat you up.
But the clock upon which the old woman sits having lost its
weights, her son cannot move, and she will therefore be obliged to
tell you what you wish. But do not trust any oath she may make,
unless she swears by the wings of her son, and you will be

So saying, the poor old man fell down and crumbled away, like a
dead body brought from a catacomb to the light of day. Then
Cianna took the ashes, and mixing them with a pint of tears, she
made a grave and buried them, praying Heaven to grant them quiet
and repose. And ascending the mountain till she was quite out of
breath, she waited until Time came out, who was an old man with
a long, long beard, and who wore a very old cloak covered with
slips of paper, on which were worked the names of various people.
He had large wings, and ran so fast that he was out of sight in an

When Cianna entered the house of his mother, she started with
affright at the sight of that black old chip; and instantly seizing the
weights of the clock, she told what she wanted to the old woman,
who, setting up a loud cry, called to her son. But Cianna said to
her, "You may butt your head against the wall as long as you like,
for you will not see your son whilst I hold these clock-weights."

Thereupon the old woman, seeing herself foiled, began to coax
Cianna, saying, "Let go of them, my dear, and do not stop my
son's course; for no man living has ever done that. Let go of them,
and may Heaven preserve you! for I promise you, by the acid of
my son, with which he corrodes everything, that I will do you no

"That's time lost," answered Cianna, "you must say something
better if you would have me quit my hold."

"I swear to you by those teeth, which gnaw all mortal things, that I
will tell you all you desire."

"That is all nothing," answered Cianna, "for I know you are
deceiving me."

"Well, then," said the old woman, "I swear to you by those wings
which fly over all that I will give you more pleasure than you

Thereupon Cianna, letting go the weights, kissed the old woman's
hand, which had a mouldy feel and a nasty smell. And the old
woman, seeing the courtesy of the damsel, said to her, "Hide
yourself behind this door, and when Time comes home I will make
him tell me all you wish to know. And as soon as he goes out
again--for he never stays quiet in one place--you can depart. But do
not let yourself be heard or seen, for he is such a glutton that he
does not spare even his own children; and when all fails, he
devours himself and then springs up anew."

Cianna did as the old woman told her; and, lo! soon after Time
came flying quick, quick, high and light, and having gnawed
whatever came to hand, down to the very mouldiness upon the
walls, he was about to depart, when his mother told him all she
had heard from Cianna, beseeching him by the milk she had given
him to answer exactly all her questions. After a thousand
entreaties, her son replied, "To the tree may be answered, that it
can never be prized by men so long as it keeps treasures buried
under its roots; to the mice, that they will never be safe from the
cat unless they tie a bell to her leg to tell them when she is coming;
to the ants, that they will live a hundred years if they can dispense
with flying--for when the ant is going to die she puts on wings; to
the whale, that it should be of good cheer, and make friends with
the sea-mouse, who will serve him as a guide, so that he will never
go wrong; and to the doves, that when they alight on the column of
wealth, they will return to their former state."

So saying, Time set out to run his accustomed post; and Cianna,
taking leave of the old woman, descended to the foot of the
mountain, just at the very time that the seven doves, who had
followed their sister's footsteps, arrived there. Wearied with flying
so far, they stopped to rest upon the horn of a dead ox; and no
sooner had they alighted than they were changed into handsome
youths as they were at first. But while they were marvelling at this,
they heard the reply which Time had given, and saw at once that
the horn, as the symbol of plenty, was the column of wealth of
which Time had spoken. Then embracing their sister with great
joy, they all set out on the same road by which Cianna had come.
And when they came to the oak-tree, and told it what Cianna had
heard from Time, the tree begged them to take away the treasure
from its roots, since it was the cause why its acorns had lost their
reputation. Thereupon the seven brothers, taking a spade which
they found in a garden, dug and dug, until they came to a great
heap of gold money, which they divided into eight parts and shared
among themselves and their sister, so that they might carry it away
conveniently. But being wearied with the journey and the load,
they laid themselves down to sleep under a hedge. Presently a band
of robbers coming by, and seeing the poor fellows asleep, with
their heads upon the clothfuls of money, bound them hand and foot
to some trees and took away their money, leaving them to bewail
not only their wealth--which had slipped through their fingers as
soon as found--but their life; for being without hope of succour,
they were in peril of either soon dying of hunger or allaying the
hunger of some wild beast.

As they were lamenting their unhappy lot, up came the mouse,
who, as soon as she heard the reply which Time had given, in
return for the good service, nibbled the cords with which they were
bound and set them free. And having gone a little way farther, they
met on the road the ant, who, when she heard the advice of Time,
asked Cianna what was the matter that she was so pale-faced and
cast down. And when Cianna told her their misfortune, and the
trick which the robbers had played them, the ant replied, "Be
quiet, I can now requite the kindness you have done me. You must
know, that whilst I was carrying a load of grain underground, I saw
a place where these dogs of assassins hide their plunder. They have
made some holes under an old building, in which they shut up all
the things they have stolen. They are just now gone out for some
new robbery, and I will go with you and show you the place, so
that you may recover your money."

So saying, she took the way towards some tumbled-down houses,
and showed the seven brothers the mouth of the pit; whereupon
Giangrazio, who was bolder than the rest, entering it, found there
all the money of which they had been robbed. Then taking it with
them, they set out, and walked towards the seashore, where they
found the whale, and told him the good advice which Time--
who is the father of counsel--had given them. And whilst they
stood talking of their journey and all that had befallen them, they
saw the robbers suddenly appear, armed to the teeth, who had
followed in their footsteps. At this sight they exclaimed, "Alas,
alas! we are now wholly lost, for here come the robbers armed,
and they will not leave the skin on our bodies."

"Fear not," replied the whale, "for I can save you out of the fire,
and will thus requite the love you have shown me; so get upon my
back, and I will quickly carry you to a place of safety."

Cianna and her brothers, seeing the foe at their heels and the water
up to their throats, climbed upon the whale, who, keeping far off
from the rocks, carried them to within sight of Naples. But being
afraid to land them on account of the shoals and shallows, he said,
"Where would you like me to land you? On the shore of Amalfi?"
And Giangrazio answered, "See whether that cannot be avoided,
my dear fish. I do not wish to land at any place hereabouts; for at
Massa they say barely good-day, at Sorrento thieves are plenty, at
Vico they say you may go your way, at Castel-a-mare no one says
how are ye."

Then the whale, to please them, turned about and went toward the
Salt-rock, where he left them; and they got put on shore by the first
fishing-boat that passed. Thereupon they returned to their own
country, safe and sound and rich, to the great joy and consolation
of their mother and father. And, thanks to the goodness of Cianna,
they enjoyed a happy life, verifying the old saying--

"Do good whenever you can, and forget it."



It is truly a great proverb--"Rather a crooked sight than a crooked
judgment"; but it is so difficult to adopt it that the judgment of few
men hits the nail on the head. On the contrary, in the sea of human
affairs, the greater part are fishers in smooth waters, who catch
crabs; and he who thinks to take the most exact measure of the
object at which he aims often shoots widest of the mark. The
consequence of this is that all are running pell-mell, all toiling in
the dark, all thinking crookedly, all acting child's-play, all judging
at random, and with a haphazard blow of a foolish resolution
bringing upon themselves a bitter repentance; as was the case with
the King of Shady-Grove; and you shall hear how it fared with him
if you summon me within the circle of modesty with the bell of
courtesy, and give me a little attention.

It is said that there was once a king of Shady-Grove named
Milluccio, who was so devoted to the chase, that he neglected the
needful affairs of his state and household to follow the track of a
hare or the flight of a thrush. And he pursued this road so far that
chance one day led him to a thicket, which had formed a solid
square of earth and trees to prevent the horses of the Sun from
breaking through. There, upon a most beautiful marble stone, he
found a raven, which had just been killed.

The King, seeing the bright red blood sprinkled upon the white,
white marble, heaved a deep sigh and exclaimed, "O heavens! and
cannot I have a wife as white and red as this stone, and with hair
and eyebrows as black as the feathers of this raven?" And he stood
for a while so buried in this thought that he became a counterpart
to the stone, and looked like a marble image making love to the
other marble. And this unhappy fancy fixing itself in his head, as
he searched for it everywhere with the lanthorn of desire, it grew
in four seconds from a picktooth to a pole, from a crab-apple to an
Indian pumpkin, from barber's embers to a glass furnace, and from
a dwarf to a giant; insomuch that he thought of nothing else than
the image of that object encrusted in his heart as stone to stone.
Wherever he turned his eyes that form was always presented to
him which he carried in his breast; and forgetting all besides, he
had nothing but that marble in his head; in short, he became in a
manner so worn away upon the stone that he was at last as thin as
the edge of a penknife; and this marble was a millstone which
crushed his life, a slab of porphyry upon which the colours of his
days were ground and mixed, a tinder-box which set fire to the
brimstone match of his soul, a loadstone which attracted him, and
lastly, a rolling-stone which could never rest.

At length his brother Jennariello, seeing him so pale and half-dead,
said to him, "My brother, what has happened to you, that you carry
grief lodged in your eyes, and despair sitting under the pale banner
of your face? What has befallen you? Speak--open your heart to
your brother: the smell of charcoal shut up in a chamber poisons
people--powder pent up in a mountain blows it into the air; open
your lips, therefore, and tell me what is the matter with you; at all
events be assured that I would lay down a thousand lives if I could
to help you."

Then Milluccio, mingling words and sighs, thanked him for his
love, saying that he had no doubt of his affection, but that there
was no remedy for his ill, since it sprang from a stone, where he
had sown desires without hope of fruit--a stone from which he did
not expect a mushroom of content--a stone of Sisyphus, which he
bore to the mountain of designs, and when it reached the top rolled
over and over to the bottom. At length, however, after a thousand
entreaties, Milluccio told his brother all about his love; whereupon
Jennariello comforted him as much as he could, and bade him be
of good cheer, and not give way to an unhappy passion; for that he
was resolved, in order to satisfy him, to go all the world over until
he found a woman the counterpart of the stone.

Then instantly fitting out a large ship, filled with merchandise, and
dressing himself like a merchant, he sailed for Venice, the wonder
of Italy, the receptacle of virtuous men, the great book of the
marvels of art and nature; and having procured there a
safe-conduct to pass to the Levant, he set sail for Cairo. When he
arrived there and entered the city, he saw a man who was carrying
a most beautiful falcon, and Jennariello at once purchased it to
take to his brother, who was a sportsman. Soon afterwards he met
another man with a splendid horse, which he also bought;
whereupon he went to an inn to refresh himself after the fatigues
he had suffered at sea.

The following morning, when the army of the Star, at the
command of the general of the Light, strikes the tents in the camp
of the sky and abandons the post, Jennariello set out to wander
through the city, having his eyes about him like a lynx, looking at
this woman and that, to see whether by chance he could find the
likeness to a stone upon a face of flesh. And as he was wandering
about at random, turning continually to this side and that, like a
thief in fear of the constables, he met a beggar carrying an hospital
of plasters and a mountain of rags upon his back, who said to him,
"My gallant sir, what makes you so frightened?"

"Have I, forsooth, to tell you my affairs?" answered Jennariello.
" Faith I should do well to tell my reason to the constable."

"Softly, my fair youth!" replied the beggar, "for the flesh of man is
not sold by weight. If Darius had not told his troubles to a groom
he would not have become king of Persia. It will be no great
matter, therefore, for you to tell your affairs to a poor beggar, for
there is not a twig so slender but it may serve for a toothpick."

When Jennariello heard the poor man talking sensibly and with
reason, he told him the cause that had brought him to that country;
whereupon the beggar replied, "See now, my son, how necessary it
is to make account of every one; for though I am only a heap of
rubbish, yet I shall be able to enrich the garden of your hopes. Now
listen--under the pretext of begging alms, I will knock at the door
of the young and beautiful daughter of a magician; then open your
eyes wide, look at her, contemplate her, regard her, measure her
from head to foot, for you will find the image of her whom your
brother desires." So saying, he knocked at the door of a house
close by, and Liviella opening it threw him a piece of bread.

As soon as Jennariello saw her, she seemed to him built after the
model which Milluccio had given him; then he gave a good alms
to the beggar and sent him away, and going to the inn he dressed
himself like a pedlar, carrying in two caskets all the wealth of the
world. And thus he walked up and down before Liviella's house
crying his wares, until at length she called him, and took a view of
the beautiful net-caps, hoods, ribands, gauze, edgings, lace,
handkerchiefs, collars, needles, cups of rouge, and head-gear fit for
a queen, which he carried. And when she had examined all the
things again and again, she told him to show her something else;
and Jennariello answered, "My lady, in these caskets I have only
cheap and paltry wares; but if you will deign to come to my ship, I
will show you things of the other world, for I have there a host of
beautiful goods worthy of any great lord."

Liviella, who was full of curiosity, not to belie the nature of her
sex, replied, "If my father indeed were not out he would have
given me some money."

"Nay, you can come all the better if he is out," replied Jennariello,
"for perhaps he might not allow you the pleasure; and I'll promise
to show you such splendid things as will make you rave
--such necklaces and earrings, such bracelets and sashes, such
workmanship in paper--in short I will perfectly astound you."

When Liviella heard all this display of finery she called a gossip of
hers to accompany her, and went to the ship. But no sooner had
she embarked than Jennariello, whilst keeping her enchanted with
the sight of all the beautiful things he had brought, craftily ordered
the anchor to be weighed and the sails to be set, so that before
Liviella raised her eyes from the wares and saw that she had left
the land, they had already gone many miles. When at length she
perceived the trick, she began to act Olympia the reverse way; for
whereas Olympia bewailed being left upon a rock, Liviella
lamented leaving the rocks. But when Jennariello told her who he
was, whither he was carrying her, and the good fortune that
awaited her, and pictured to her, moreover, Milluccio's beauty, his
valour, his virtues, and lastly the love with which he would receive
her, he succeeded in pacifying her, and she even prayed the wind
to bear her quickly to see the colouring of the design which
Jennariello had drawn.

As they were sailing merrily along they heard the waves grumbling
beneath the ship; and although they spoke in an undertone, the
captain of the ship, who understood in an instant what it meant,
cried out, "All hands aboard! for here comes a storm, and Heaven
save us!" No sooner had he spoken these words than there came
the testimony of a whistling of the wind; and behold the sky was
overcast with clouds, and the sea was covered with white-crested
waves. And whilst the waves on either side of the ship, curious to
know what the others were about, leaped uninvited to the nuptials
upon the deck, one man baled them with a bowl into a tub, another
drove them off with a pump; and whilst every sailor was hard at
work--as it concerned his own safety--one minding the rudder,
another hauling the foresail, another the mainsheet, Jennariello ran
up to the topmast, to see with a telescope if he could discover any
land where they might cast anchor. And lo! whilst he was
measuring a hundred miles of distance with two feet of telescope,
he saw a dove and its mate come flying up and alight upon the
sail-yard. Then the male bird said, "Rucche, rucche!" And his mate
answered, "What's the matter, husband, that you are lamenting
so?" "This poor Prince," replied the other, "has bought a falcon,
which as soon as it shall be in his brother's hands will pick out his
eyes; but if he does not take it to him, or if he warns him of the
danger, he will turn to marble." And thereupon he began again to
cry, "Rucche, rucche!" And his mate said to him, "What, still
lamenting! Is there anything new?" "Ay, indeed," answered the
male dove, "he has also bought a horse, and the first time his
brother rides him the horse will break his neck; but if he does not
take it to him, or if he warns him of the danger, he will turn to
marble." "Rucche, rucche!" he cried again. "Alas, with all these
RUCCHE, RUCCHE," said the female dove, "what's the matter
now?" And her mate said, "This man is taking a beautiful wife to
his brother; but the first night, as soon as they go to sleep, they will
both be devoured by a frightful dragon; yet if he does not take her
to him, or if he warns him of the danger, he will turn to marble."

As he spoke, the tempest ceased, and the rage of the sea and the
fury of the wind subsided. But a far greater tempest arose in
Jennariello's breast, from what he had heard, and more than
twenty times he was on the point of throwing all the things into the
sea, in order not to carry to his brother the cause of his ruin. But on
the other hand he thought of himself, and reflected that charity
begins at home; and fearing that, if he did not carry these things to
his brother, or if he warned him of the danger, he should turn to
marble, he resolved to look rather to the fact than to the
possibility, since the shirt was closer to him than the jacket.

When he arrived at Shady-Grove, he found his brother on the
shore, awaiting with great joy the return of the ship, which he had
seen at a distance. And when he saw that it bore her whom he
carried in his heart, and confronting one face with the other
perceived that there was not the difference of a hair, his joy was so
great that he was almost weighed down under the excessive burden
of delight. Then embracing his brother fervently, he said to him,
"What falcon is that you are carrying on your fist?" And
Jennariello answered, "I have bought it on purpose to give to you."
"I see clearly that you love me," replied Milluccio, "since you go
about seeking to give me pleasure. Truly, if you had brought me a
costly treasure, it could not have given me greater delight than this
falcon." And just as he was going to take it in his hand, Jennariello
quickly drew a large knife which he carried at his side and cut off
its head. At this deed the King stood aghast, and thought his
brother mad to have done such a stupid act; but not to interrupt the
joy at his arrival, he remained silent. Presently, however, he saw
the horse, and on asking his brother whose it was, heard that it was
his own. Then he felt a great desire to ride him, and just as he was
ordering the stirrup to beheld, Jennariello quickly cut off the
horse's legs with his knife. Thereat the King waxed wrath, for his
brother seemed to have done it on purpose to vex him, and his
choler began to rise. However, he did not think it a right time to
show resentment, lest he should poison the pleasure of the bride at
first sight, whom he could never gaze upon enough.

When they arrived at the royal palace, he invited all the lords and
ladies of the city to a grand feast, at which the hall seemed just
like a riding-school full of horses, curveting and prancing, with a
number of foals in the form of women. But when the ball was
ended, and a great banquet had been despatched, they all retired to

Jennariello, who thought of nothing else than to save his brother's
life, hid himself behind the bed of the bridal pair; and as he stood
watching to see the dragon come, behold at midnight a fierce
dragon entered the chamber, who sent forth flames from his eyes
and smoke from his mouth, and who, from the terror he carried in
his look, would have been a good agent to sell all the antidotes to
fear in the apothecaries' shops. As soon as Jennariello saw the
monster, he began to lay about him right and left with a Damascus
blade which he had hidden under his cloak; and he struck one blow
so furiously that it cut in halves a post of the King's bed, at which
noise the King awoke, and the dragon disappeared.

When Milluccio saw the sword in his brother's hand, and the
bedpost cut in two, he set up a loud cry, "Help here! hola! help!
This traitor of a brother is come to kill me!" Whereupon, hearing
the noise, a number of servants who slept in the antechamber came
running up, and the King ordered Jennariello to be bound, and sent
him the same hour to prison.

The next morning, as soon as the Sun opened his bank to deliver
the deposit of light to the Creditor of the Day, the King summoned
the council; and when he told them what had passed, confirming
the wicked intention shown in killing the falcon and the horse on
purpose to vex him, they judged that Jennariello deserved to die.
The prayers of Liviella were all unavailing to soften the heart of
the King, who said, "You do not love me, wife, for you have more
regard for your brother-in-law than for my life. You have seen with
your own eyes this dog of an assassin come with a sword that
would cut a hair in the air to kill me; and if the bedpost (the
column of my life) had not protected me, you would at this
moment have been a widow." So saying, he gave orders that
justice should take its course.

When Jennariello heard this sentence, and saw himself so
ill-rewarded for doing good, he knew not what to think or to do. If

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