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Stories from Pentamerone by Giambattista Basile

Part 4 out of 4

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he said nothing, bad; if he spoke, worse; and whatever he should
do was a fall from the tree into the wolf's mouth. If he remained
silent, he should lose his head under an axe; if he spoke, he should
end his days in a stone. At length, after various resolutions, he
made up his mind to disclose the matter to his brother; and since
he must die at all events, he thought it better to tell his brother the
truth, and to end his days with the title of an innocent man, than to
keep the truth to himself and be sent out of the world as a traitor.
So sending word to the King that he had something to say of
importance to his state, he was led into his presence, where he first
made a long preamble of the love he had always borne him; then
he went on to tell of the deception he had practiced on Liviella in
order to give him pleasure; and then what he had heard from the
doves about the falcon, and how, to avoid being turned to marble,
he had brought it him, and without revealing the secret had killed
it in order not to see him without eyes.

As he spoke, he felt his legs stiffen and turn to marble. And when
he went on to relate the affair of the horse in the same manner, he
became visibly stone up to the waist, stiffening miserably--
a thing which at another time he would have paid in ready money,
but which now his heart wept at. At last, when he came to the
affair of the dragon, he stood like a statue in the middle of the hall,
stone from head to foot. When the King saw this, reproaching
himself for the error he had committed, and the rash sentence he
had passed upon so good and loving a brother, he mourned him
more than a year, and every time he thought of him he shed a river
of tears.

Meanwhile Liviella gave birth to two sons, who were two of the
most beautiful creatures in the world. And after a few months,
when the Queen was gone into the country for pleasure, and the
father and his two little boys chanced to be standing in the middle
of the hall, gazing with tearful eyes on the statue--the memorial of
his folly, which had taken from him the flower of men--
behold a stately and venerable old man entered, whose long hair
fell upon his shoulders and whose beard covered his breast. And
making a reverence to the King, the old man said to him, "What
would your Majesty give to have this noble brother return to his
former state?" And the King answered, "I would give my
kingdom." "Nay," replied the old man, "this is not a thing that
requires payment in wealth; but being an affair of life, it must be
paid for with as much again of life."

Then the King, partly out of the love he bore Jennariello, and
partly from hearing himself reproached with the injury he had
done him, answered, "Believe me, my good sir, I would give my
own life for his life; and provided that he came out of the stone, I
should be content to be enclosed in a stone."

Hearing this the old man said, "Without putting your life to the
risk--since it takes so long to rear a man--the blood of these, your
two little boys, smeared upon the marble, would suffice to make
him instantly come to life." Then the King replied, "Children I
may have again, but I have a brother, and another I can never more
hop to see." So saying, he made a pitiable sacrifice of two little
innocent kids before an idol of stone, and besmearing the statue
with their blood, it instantly became alive; whereupon the King
embraced his brother, and their joy is not to be told. Then they had
these poor little creatures put into a coffin, in order to give them
burial with all due honour. But just at that instant the Queen
returned home, and the King, bidding his brother hide himself,
said to his wife, "What would you give, my heart, to have my
brother restored to life?" "I would give this whole kingdom,"
replied Liviella. And the King answered, "Would you give the
blood of your children?" "Nay, not that, indeed," replied the
Queen; "for I could not be so cruel as to tear out with my own
hands the apple of my eyes." "Alas!" said the King, "in order to
see a brother alive, I have killed my own children! for this was the
price of Jennariello's life!"

So saying, he showed the Queen the little boys in the coffin; and
when she saw this sad spectacle, she cried aloud like one mad,
saying, "O my children! you props of my life, joys of my heart,
fountains of my blood! Who has painted red the windows of the
sun? Who has without a doctor's licence bled the chief vein of my
life? Alas, my children, my children! my hope now taken from me,
my light now darkened, my joy now poisoned, my support now
lost! You are stabbed by the sword, I am pierced by grief; you are
drowned in blood, I in tears. Alas that, to give life to an uncle, you
have slain your mother! For I am no longer able to weave the
thread of my days without you, the fair counterpoises of the loom
of my unhappy life. The organ of my voice must be silent, now
that its bellows are taken away. O children, children! why do ye
not give answer to your mother, who once gave you the blood in
your veins, and now weeps it for you from her eyes? But since fate
shows me the fountain of my happiness dried up, I will no longer
live the sport of fortune in the world, but will go at once to find
you again!"

So saying, she ran to a window to throw herself out; but just at that
instant her father entered by the same window in a cloud, and
called to her, "Stop, Liviella! I have now accomplished what I
intended, and killed three birds with one stone. I have revenged
myself on Jennariello, who came to my house to rob me of my
daughter, by making him stand all these months like a marble
statue in a block of stone. I have punished you for your
ill-conduct in going away in a ship without my permission, by
showing you your two children, your two jewels, killed by their
own father. And I have punished the King for the caprice he took
into his head, by making him first the judge of his brother, and
afterwards the executioner of his children. But as I have wished
only to shear and not to flay you, I desire now that all the poison
may turn into sweetmeats for you. Therefore, go, take again your
children and my grandchildren, who are more beautiful than ever.
And you, Milluccio, embrace me. I receive you as my
son-in-law and as my son. And I pardon Jennariello his offence,
having done all that he did out of love to so excellent a brother."

And as he spoke, the little children came, and the grandfather was
never satisfied with embracing and kissing them; and in the midst
of the rejoicings Jennariello entered, as a third sharer in them,
who, after suffering so many storms of fate, was now swimming in
macaroni broth. But notwithstanding all the after pleasures that he
enjoyed in life, his past dangers never went from his mind; and he
was always thinking on the error his brother had committed, and
how careful a man ought to be not to fall into the ditch,

"All human judgment is false and perverse."



It is a saying worthy to be written in letters as big as those on a
monument, that silence never harmed any one: and let it not be
imagined that those slanderers who never speak well of others, but
are always cutting and stinging, and pinching and biting, ever gain
anything by their malice; for when the bags come to be shaken out,
it has always been seen, and is so still, that whilst a good word
gains love and profit, slander brings enmity and ruin; and when
you shall have heard how this happens, you will say I speak with

Once upon a time there were two brothers--Cianne, who was as
rich as a lord, and Lise, who had barely enough to live upon: but
poor as one was in fortune, so pitiful was the other in mind, for he
would not have given his brother a farthing were it to save his life;
so that poor Lise in despair left his country, and set out to wander
over the world. And he wandered on and on, till one wet and cold
evening he came to an inn, where he found twelve youths seated
around a fire, who, when they saw poor Lise benumbed with cold,
partly from the severe season and partly from his ragged clothes,
invited him to sit down by the fire.

Lise accepted the invitation, for he needed it greatly, and began to
warm himself. And as he was warming himself, one of the young
men whose face was such a picture of moroseness as to make you
die of fright, said to him, "What think you, countryman, of this

"What do I think of it?" replied Lise; "I think that all the months of
the year perform their duty; but we, who know not what we would
have, wish to give laws to Heaven; and wanting to have things our
own way, we do not fish deeply enough to the bottom, to find out
whether what comes into our fancy be good or evil, useful or
hurtful. In winter, when it rains, we want the sun in Leo, and in the
month of August the clouds to discharge themselves; not
reflecting, that were this the case, the seasons would be turned
topsy-turvy, the seed sown would be lost, the crops would be
destroyed, the bodies of men would faint away, and Nature would
go head over heels. Therefore let us leave Heaven to its own
course; for it has made the tree to mitigate with its wood the
severity of winter, and with its leaves the heat of summer."

"You speak like Samson!" replied the youth; "but you cannot deny
that this month of March, in which we now are, is very impertinent
to send all this frost and rain, snow and hail, wind and storm, these
fogs and tempests and other troubles, that make one's life a

"You tell only the ill of this poor month," replied Lisa, "but do not
speak of the benefits it yields us; for, by bringing forward the
Spring, it commences the production of things, and is alone the
cause that the Sun proves the happiness of the present time, by
leading him into the house of the Ram."

The youth was greatly pleased at what Lise said, for he was in truth
no other than the month of March itself, who had arrived at that
inn with his eleven brothers; and to reward Lise's goodness, who
had not even found anything ill to say of a month so sad that the
shepherds do not like to mention it, he gave him a beautiful little
casket, saying, "Take this, and if you want anything, only ask for
it, and when you open this box you will see it before you." Lise
thanked the youth, with many expressions of respect, and laying
the little box under his head by way of a pillow, he went to sleep.

As soon, however, as the Sun, with the pencil of his rays, had
retouched the dark shadows of Night, Lise took leave of the youths
and set out on his way. But he had hardly proceeded fifty steps
from the inn, when, opening the casket, he said, "Ah, my friend, I
wish I had a litter lined with cloth, and with a little fire inside, that
I might travel warm and comfortable through the snow!" No
sooner had he uttered the words than there appeared a litter, with
bearers, who, lifting him up, placed him in it; whereupon he told
them to carry him home.

When the hour was come to set the jaws to work Lise opened the
little box and said, "I wish for something to eat." And instantly
there appeared a profusion of the choicest food, and there was
such a banquet that ten crowned kings might have feasted on it.

One evening, having come to a wood which did not give
admittance to the Sun because he came from suspected places,
Lise opened the little casket, and said, "I should like to rest
to-night on this beautiful spot, where the river is making harmony
upon the stones as accompaniment to the song of the cool
breezes." And instantly there appeared, under an oilcloth tent, a
couch of fine scarlet, with down mattresses, covered with a
Spanish counterpane and sheets as light as a feather. Then he
asked for something to eat, and in a trice there was set out a
sideboard covered with silver and gold fit for a prince, and under
another tent a table was spread with viands, the savoury smell of
which extended a hundred miles.

When he had eaten enough, he laid himself down to sleep; and as
soon as the Cock, who is the spy of the Sun, announced to his
master that the Shades of Night were worn and wearied, and it was
now time for him, like a skilful general, to fall upon their rear and
make a slaughter of them, Lise opened his little box and said, "I
wish to have a handsome dress, for to-day I shall see my brother,
and I should like to make his mouth water." No sooner said than
done: immediately a princely dress of the richest black velvet
appeared, with edgings of red camlet and a lining of yellow cloth
embroidered all over, which looked like a field of flowers. So
dressing himself, Lise got into the litter and soon reached his
brother's house.

When Cianne saw his brother arrive, with all this splendour and
luxury, he wished to know what good fortune had befallen him.
Then Lise told him of the youths whom he had met in the inn, and
of the present they had made him; but he kept to himself his
conversation with the youths.

Cianne was now all impatience to get away from his brother, and
told him to go and rest himself, as he was no doubt tired; then he
started post-haste, and soon arrived at the inn, where, finding the
same youths, he fell into chat with them. And when the youth
asked him the same question, what he thought of that month of
March, Cianne, making a big mouth, said, "Confound the
miserable month! the enemy of shepherds, which stirs up all the
ill-humours and brings sickness to our bodies. A month of which,
whenever we would announce ruin to a man, we say, Go, March
has shaved you!' A month of which, when you want to call a man
presumptuous, you say, What cares March?' A month in short so
hateful, that it would be the best fortune for the world, the greatest
blessing to the earth, the greatest gain to men, were it excluded
from the band of brothers."

March, who heard himself thus slandered, suppressed his anger till
the morning, intending then to reward Cianne for his calumny; and
when Cianne wished to depart, he gave him a fine whip, saying to
him, "Whenever you wish for anything, only say, Whip, give me a
hundred!' and you shall see pearls strung upon a rush."

Cianne, thanking the youth, went his way in great haste, not
wishing to make trial of the whip until he reached home. But
hardly had he set foot in the house, when he went into a secret
chamber, intending to hide the money which he expected to
receive from the whip. Then he said, "Whip, give me a hundred!"
and thereupon the whip gave him more than he looked for, making
a score on his legs and face like a musical composer, so that Lise,
hearing his cries, came running to the spot; and when he saw that
the whip, like a runaway horse, could not stop itself, he opened the
little box and brought it to a standstill. Then he asked Cianne what
had happened to him, and upon hearing his story, he told him he
had no one to blame but himself; for like a blockhead he alone had
caused his own misfortune, acting like the camel, that wanted to
have horns and lost its ears; but he bade him mind another time
and keep a bridle on his tongue, which was the key that had
opened to him the storehouse of misfortune; for if he had spoken
well of the youths, he would perhaps have had the same good
fortune, especially as to speak well of any one is a merchandise
that costs nothing, and usually brings profit that is not expected. In
conclusion Lise comforted him, bidding him not seek more wealth
than Heaven had give him, for his little casket would suffice to fill
the houses of thirty misers, and Cianne should be master of all he
possessed, since to the generous man Heaven is treasurer; and he
added that, although another brother might have borne Cianne
ill-will for the cruelty with which he had treated him in his
poverty, yet he reflected that his avarice had been a favourable
wind which had brought him to this port, and therefore wished to
show himself grateful for the benefit.

When Cianne heard these things, he begged his brother's pardon
for his past unkindness, and entering into partnership they enjoyed
together their good fortune, and from that time forward Cianne
spoke well of everything, however bad it might be;

"The dog that was scalaed with hot water, for ever dreads that
which is cold."



It has always been more difficult for a man to keep than to get; for
in the one case fortune aids, which often assists injustice, but in
the other case sense is required. Therefore we frequently find a
person deficient in cleverness rise to wealth, and then, from want
of sense, roll over heels to the bottom; as you will see clearly from
the story I am going to tell you, if you are quick of understanding.

A merchant once had an only daughter, whom he wished greatly to
see married; but as often as he struck this note, he found her a
hundred miles off from the desired pitch, for the foolish girl would
never consent to marry, and the father was in consequence the
most unhappy and miserable man in the world. Now it happened
one day that he was going to a fair; so he asked his daughter, who
was named Betta, what she would like him to bring her on his
return. And she said, "Papa, if you love me, bring me half a
hundredweight of Palermo sugar, and as much again of sweet
almonds, with four to six bottles of scented water, and a little
musk and amber, also forty pearls, two sapphires, a few garnets
and rubies, with some gold thread, and above all a trough and a
little silver trowel." Her father wondered at this extravagant
demand, nevertheless he would not refuse his daughter; so he went
to the fair, and on his return brought her all that she had requested.

As soon as Betta received these things, she shut herself up in a
chamber, and began to make a great quantity of paste of almonds
and sugar, mixed with rosewater and perfumes, and set to work to
form a most beautiful youth, making his hair of gold thread, his
eyes of sapphires, his teeth of pearls, his lips of rubies; and she
gave him such grace that speech alone was wanting to him. When
she had done all this, having heard say that at the prayers of a
certain King of Cyprus a statue had once come to life, she prayed
to the goddess of Love so long that at last the statue began to open
its eyes; and increasing her prayers, it began to breathe; and after
breathing, words came out; and at last, disengaging all its limbs, it
began to walk.

With a joy far greater than if she had gained a kingdom, Betta
embraced and kissed the youth, and taking him by the hand, she
led him before her father and said, "My lord and father, you have
always told me that you wished to see me married, and in order to
please you I have now chosen a husband after my own heart."
When her father saw the handsome youth come out of his
daughter's room, whom he had not seen enter it, he stood amazed,
and at the sight of such beauty, which folks would have paid a
halfpenny a head to gaze at, he consented that the marriage should
take place. So a great feast was made, at which, among the other
ladies present, there appeared a great unknown Queen, who, seeing
the beauty of Pintosmalto (for that was the name Betta gave him),
fell desperately in love with him. Now Pintosmalto, who had only
opened his eyes on the wickedness of the world three hours before,
and was as innocent as a babe, accompanied the strangers who had
come to celebrate his nuptials to the stairs, as his bride had told
him; and when he did the same with this Queen, she took him by
the hand and led him quietly to her coach, drawn by six horses,
which stood in the courtyard; then taking him into it, she ordered
the coachman to drive off and away to her country.

After Betta had waited a while in vain expecting Pintosmalto to
return, she sent down into the courtyard to see whether he were
speaking with any one there; then she sent up to the roof to see if
he had gone to take fresh air; but finding him nowhere, she directly
imagined that, on account of his great beauty, he had been stolen
from her. So she ordered the usual proclamations to be made; but
at last, as no tidings of him were brought, she formed the
resolution to go all the world over in search of him, and dressing
herself as a poor girl, she set out on her way. After some months
she came to the house of a good old woman, who received her
with great kindness; and when she had heard Betta's misfortune,
she took compassion on her, and taught her three sayings. The first
was, "Tricche varlacche, the house rains!" the second, "Anola
tranola, the fountain plays!"; the third, "Scatola matola, the sun
shines!"--telling her to repeat these words whenever she was in
trouble, and they would be of good service to her.

Betta wondered greatly at this present of chaff, nevertheless she
said to herself, "He who blows into your mouth does not wish to
see you dead, and the plant that strikes root does not wither;
everything has its use; who knows what good fortune may be
contained in these words?" So saying, she thanked the old woman,
and set out upon her way. And after a long journey she came to a
beautiful city called Round Mount, where she went straight to the
royal palace, and begged for the love of Heaven a little shelter in
the stable. So the ladies of the court ordered a small room to be
given her on the stairs; and while poor Betta was sitting there she
saw Pintosmalto pass by, whereat her joy was so great that she was
on the point of slipping down from the tree of life. But seeing the
trouble she was in, Betta wished to make proof of the first saying
which the old woman had told her; and no sooner had she repeated
the words, "Tricche varlacche, the house rains!" than instantly
there appeared before her a beautiful little coach of gold set all
over with jewels, which ran about the chamber of itself and was a
wonder to behold.

When the ladies of the court saw this sight they went and told the
Queen, who without loss of time ran to Betta's chamber; and when
she saw the beautiful little coach, she asked whether she would
sell it, and offered to give whatever she might demand. But Betta
replied that, although she was poor she would not sell it for all the
gold in the world, but if the Queen wished for the little coach, she
must allow her to pass one night at the door of Pintosmalto's

The Queen was amazed at the folly of the poor girl, who although
she was all in rags would nevertheless give up such riches for a
mere whim; however, she resolved to take the good mouthful
offered her, and, by giving Pintosmalto a sleeping-draught,
to satisfy the poor girl but pay her in bad coin.

As soon as the Night was come, when the stars in the sky and the
glowworms on the earth were to pass in review, the Queen gave a
sleeping-draught to Pintosmalto, who did everything he was told,
and sent him to bed. And no sooner had he thrown himself on the
mattress than he fell as sound asleep as a dormouse. Poor Betta,
who thought that night to relate all her past troubles, seeing now
that she had no audience, fell to lamenting beyond measure,
blaming herself for all that she had done for his sake; and the
unhappy girl never closed her mouth, nor did the sleeping
Pintosmalto ever open his eyes until the Sun appeared with the
aqua regia of his rays to separate the shades from the light, when
the Queen came down, and taking Pintosmalto by the hand, said to
Betta, "Now be content."

"May you have such content all the days of your life!" replied
Betta in an undertone; "for I have passed so bad a night that I shall
not soon forget it."

The poor girl, however, could not resist her longing, and resolved
to make trial of the second saying; so she repeated the words,
"Anola tranola, the fountain plays!" and instantly there appeared a
golden cage, with a beautiful bird made of precious stones and
gold, which sang like a nightingale. When the ladies saw this they
went and told it to the Queen, who wished to see the bird; then she
asked the same question as about the little coach, and Betta made
the same reply as before. Whereupon the Queen, who perceived, as
she thought, what a silly creature Betta was, promised to grant her
request, and took the cage with the bird. And as soon as night
came she gave Pintosmalto a sleeping-draught as before, and sent
him to bed. When Betta saw that he slept like a dead person, she
began again to wail and lament, saying things that would have
moved a flintstone to compassion; and thus she passed another
night, full of trouble, weeping and wailing and tearing her hair.
But as soon as it was day the Queen came to fetch her captive, and
left poor Betta in grief and sorrow, and biting her hands with
vexation at the trick that had been played her.

In the morning when Pintosmalto went to a garden outside the city
gate to pluck some figs, he met a cobbler, who lived in a room
close to where Betta lay and had not lost a word of all she had
said. Then he told Pintosmalto of the weeping, lamentation, and
crying of the unhappy beggar-girl; and when Pintosmalto, who
already began to get a little more sense, heard this, he guessed how
matters stood, and resolved that, if the same thing happened again,
he would not drink what the Queen gave him.

Betta now wished to make the third trial, so she said the words,
"Scatola matola, the sun shines!" and instantly there appeared a
quantity of stuffs of silk and gold, and embroidered scarfs, with a
golden cup; in short, the Queen herself could not have brought
together so many beautiful ornaments. When the ladies saw these
things they told their mistress, who endeavoured to obtain them as
she had done the others; but Betta replied as before, that if the
Queen wished to have them she must let her spend the night at the
door of the chamber. Then the Queen said to herself, "What can I
lose by satisfying this silly girl, in order to get from her these
beautiful things?" So taking all the treasures which Betta offered
her, as soon as Night appeared, the instrument for the debt
contracted with Sleep and Repose being liquidated, she gave the
sleeping-draught to Pintosmalto; but this time he did not swallow
it, and making an excuse to leave the room, he spat it out again,
and then went to bed.

Betta now began the same tune again, saying how she had kneaded
him with her own hands of sugar and almonds, how she had made
his hair of gold, and his eyes and mouth of pearls and precious
stones, and how he was indebted to her for his life, which the gods
had granted to her prayers, and lastly how he had been stolen from
her, and she had gone seeking him with such toil and trouble. Then
she went on to tell him how she had watched two nights at the
door of his room, and for leave to do so had given up two
treasures, and yet had not been able to hear a single word from
him, so that this was the last night of her hopes and the conclusion
of her life.

When Pintosmalto, who had remained awake, heard these words,
and called to mind as a dream all that had passed, he rose and
embraced her; and as Night had just come forth with her black
mask to direct the dance of the Stars, he went very quietly into the
chamber of the Queen, who was in a deep sleep, and took from her
all the things that she had taken from Betta, and all the jewels and
money which were in a desk, to repay himself for his past troubles.
Then returning to his wife, they set off that very hour, and
travelled on and on until they arrived at her father's house, where
they found him alive and well; and from the joy of seeing his
daughter again he became like a boy of fifteen years. But when the
Queen found neither Pintosmalto, nor beggar-girl, nor jewels, she
tore her hair and rent her clothes, and called to mind the

"He who cheats must not complain if he be cheated."



A person who is over-curious, and wants to know more than he
ought, always carries the match in his hand to set fire to the
powder-room of his own fortunes; and he who pries into others'
affairs is frequently a loser in his own; for generally he who digs
holes to search for treasures, comes to a ditch into which he
himself falls--as happened to the daughter of a gardener in the
following manner.

There was once a gardener who was so very very poor that,
however hard he worked, he could not manage to get bread for his
family. So he gave three little pigs to his three daughters, that they
might rear them, and thus get something for a little dowry. Then
Pascuzza and Cice, who were the eldest, drove their little pigs to
feed in a beautiful meadow; but they would not let Parmetella,
who was the youngest daughter, go with them, and sent her away,
telling her to go and feed her pig somewhere else. So Parmetella
drove her little animal into a wood, where the Shades were holding
out against the assaults of the Sun; and coming to a pasture
--in the middle of which flowed a fountain, that, like the hostess of
an inn where cold water is sold, was inviting the passers-by with
its silver tongue--she found a certain tree with golden leaves. Then
plucking one of them, she took it to her father, who with great joy
sold it for more than twenty ducats, which served to stop up a hole
in his affairs. And when he asked Parmetella where she had found
it, she said, "Take it, sir, and ask no questions, unless you would
spoil your good fortune." The next day she returned and did the
same; and she went on plucking the leaves from the tree until it
was entirely stript, as if it had been plundered by the winds of
Autumn. Then she perceived that the tree had a large golden root,
which she could not pull up with her hands; so she went home, and
fetching an axe set to work to lay bare the root around the foot of
the tree; and raising the trunk as well as she could, she found under
it a beautiful porphyry staircase.

Parmetella, who was curious beyond measure, went down the
stairs, and walking through a large and deep cavern, she came to a
beautiful plain, on which was a splendid palace, where only gold
and silver were trodden underfoot, and pearls and precious stones
everywhere met the eye. And as Parmetella stood wondering at all
these splendid things, not seeing any person moving among so
many beautiful fixtures, she went into a chamber, in which were a
number of pictures; and on them were seen painted various
beautiful things--especially the ignorance of man esteemed wise,
the injustice of him who held the scales, the injuries avenged by
Heaven--things truly to amaze one. And in the same chamber also
was a splendid table, set out with things to eat and to drink.

Seeing no one, Parmetella, who was very hungry, sat down at a
table to eat like a fine count; but whilst she was in the midst of the
feast, behold a handsome Slave entered, who said, "Stay! do not go
away, for I will have you for my wife, and will make you the
happiest woman in the world." In spite of her fear, Parmetella took
heart at this good offer, and consenting to what the Slave
proposed, a coach of diamonds was instantly given her, drawn by
four golden steeds, with wings of emeralds and rubies, who carried
her flying through the air to take an airing; and a number of apes,
clad in cloth of gold, were given to attend on her person, who
forthwith arrayed her from head to foot, and adorned her so that
she looked just like a Queen.

When night was come, and the Sun--desiring to sleep on the banks
of the river of India untroubled by gnats--had put out the light, the
Slave said to Parmetella, "My dear, now go to rest in this bed; but
remember first to put out the candle, and mind what I say, or ill
will betide you." Then Parmetella did as he told her; but no sooner
had she closed her eyes than the blackamoor, changing to a
handsome youth, lay down to sleep. But the next morning, ere the
Dawn went forth to seek fresh eggs in the fields of the sky the
youth arose and took his other form again, leaving Parmetella full
of wonder and curiosity.

And again the following night, when Parmetella went to rest, she
put out the candle as she had done the night before, and the youth
came as usual and lay down to sleep. But no sooner had he shut his
eyes than Parmetella arose, took a steel which she had provided,
and lighting the tinder applied a match; then taking the candle, she
raised the coverlet, and beheld the ebony turned to ivory, and the
coal to chalk. And whilst she stood gazing with open mouth, and
contemplating the most beautiful pencilling that Nature had ever
given upon the canvas of Wonder, the youth awoke, and began to
reproach Parmetella, saying, "Ah, woe is me! for your prying
curiosity I have to suffer another seven years this accursed
punishment. But begone! Run, scamper off! Take yourself out of
my sight! You know not what good fortune you lose." So saying,
he vanished like quicksilver.

The poor girl left the palace, cold and stiff with affright, and with
her head bowed to the ground. And when she had come out of the
cavern she met a fairy, who said to her, "My child, how my heart
grieves at your misfortune! Unhappy girl, you are going to the
slaughter-house, where you will pass over the bridge no wider than
a hair. Therefore, to provide against your peril, take these seven
spindles with these seven figs, and a little jar of honey, and these
seven pairs of iron shoes, and walk on and on without stopping,
until they are worn out; then you will see seven women standing
upon a balcony of a house, and spinning from above down to the
ground, with the thread wound upon the bone of a dead person.
Remain quite still and hidden, and when the thread comes down,
take out the bone and put in its place a spindle besmeared with
honey, with a fig in the place of the little button. Then as soon as
the women draw up the spindles and taste the honey, they
will say--

He who has made my spindle sweet,
Shall in return with good fortune meet!'

And after repeating these words, they will say, one after another,
O you who brought us these sweet things appear!' Then you must
answer, Nay, for you will eat me.' And they will say, We swear
by our spoon that we will not eat you!' But do not stir; and they
will continue, We swear by our spit that we will not eat you!' But
stand firm, as if rooted to the spot; and they will say, We swear by
our broom that we will not eat you!' Still do not believe them; and
when they say, We swear by our pail that we will not eat you!'
shut your mouth, and say not a word, or it will cost you your life.
At last they will say, We swear by Thunder-and-Lightning that we
will not eat you!' Then take courage and mount up, for they will
do you no harm."

When Parmetella heard this, she set off and walked over hill and
dale, until at the end of seven years the iron shoes were worn out;
and coming to a large house, with a projecting balcony, she saw
the seven women spinning. So she did as the fairy had advised her;
and after a thousand wiles and allurements, they swore by
Thunder-and-Lightning, whereupon she showed herself and
mounted up. Then they all seven said to her, "Traitress, you are the
cause that our brother has lived twice seven long years in the
cavern, far away from us, in the form of a blackamoor! But never
mind; although you have been clever enough to stop our throat
with the oath, you shall on the first opportunity pay off both the
old and the new reckoning. But now hear what you must do. Hide
yourself behind this trough, and when our mother comes, who
would swallow you down at once, rise up and seize her behind her
back; hold her fast, and do not let her go until she swears by
Thunder-and-Lightning not to harm you."

Parmetella did as she was bid, and after the ogress had sworn by
the fire-shovel, by the spinning-wheel, by the reel, by the
sideboard, and by the peg, at last she swore by
Thunder-and-Lightning; whereupon Parmetella let go her hold, and
showed herself to the ogress, who said, "You have caught me this
time; but take care, Traitress! for, at the first shower, I'll send you
to the Lava."

One day the ogress, who was on the look-out for an opportunity to
devour Parmetella, took twelve sacks of various seeds
--peas, chick-peas, lentils, vetches, kidney-beans, beans, and
lupins--and mixed them all together; then she said to her,
"Traitress, take these seeds and sort them all, so that each kind
may be separated from the rest; and if they are not all sorted by
this evening, I'll swallow you like a penny tart."

Poor Parmetella sat down beside the sacks, weeping, and said, "O
mother, mother, how will this golden root prove a root of woes to
me! Now is my misery completed; by seeing a black face turned
white, all has become black before my eyes. Alas! I am ruined and
undone--there is no help for it. I already seem as if I were in the
throat of that horrid ogress; there is no one to help me, there is no
one to advise me, there is no one to comfort me!"

As she was lamenting thus, lo! Thunder-and-Lightning appeared
like a flash, for the banishment laid upon him by the spell had just
ended. Although he was angry with Parmetella, yet his blood could
not turn to water, and seeing her grieving thus he said to her,
"Traitress, what makes you weep so?" Then she told him of his
mother's ill-treatment of her, and her wish to make an end of her,
and eat her up. But Thunder-and-Lightning replied, "Calm yourself
and take heart, for it shall not be as she said." And instantly
scattering all the seeds on the ground he made a deluge of ants
spring up, who forthwith set to work to heap up all the seeds
separately, each kind by itself, and Parmetella filled the sacks with

When the ogress came home and found the task done, she was
almost in despair, and cried, "That dog Thunder-and-Lightning
has played me this trick; but you shall not escape thus! So take
these pieces of bed-tick, which are enough for twelve mattresses,
and mind that by this evening they are filled with feathers, or else I
will make mincemeat of you."

The poor girl took the bed-ticks, and sitting down upon the ground
began to weep and lament bitterly, making two fountains of her
eyes. But presently Thunder-and-Lightning appeared, and said to
her, "Do not weep, Traitress,--leave it to me, and I will bring you
to port; so let down your hair, spread the bed-ticks upon the
ground, and fall to weeping and wailing, and crying out that the
king of the birds is dead, then you'll see what will happen."

Parmetella did as she was told, and behold a cloud of birds
suddenly appeared that darkened the air; and flapping their wings
they let fall their feathers by basketfuls, so that in less than an hour
the mattresses were all filled. When the ogress came home and
saw the task done, she swelled up with rage till she almost burst,
saying, "Thunder-and-Lightning is determined to plague me, but
may I be dragged at an ape's tail if I let her escape!" Then she said
to Parmetella, "Run quickly to my sister's house, and tell her to
send me the musical instruments; for I have resolved that
Thunder-and-Lightning shall marry, and we will make a feast fit
for a king." At the same time she sent to bid her sister, when the
poor girl came to ask for the instruments, instantly to kill and cook
her, and she would come and partake of the feast.

Parmetella, hearing herself ordered to perform an easier task, was
in great joy, thinking that the weather had begun to grow milder.
Alas, how crooked is human judgment! On the way she met
Thunder-and-Lightning, who, seeing her walking at a quick pace,
said to her, "Whither are you going, wretched girl? See you not
that you are on the way to the slaughter; that you are forging your
own fetters, and sharpening the knife and mixing the poison for
yourself; that you are sent to the ogress for her to swallow you?
But listen to me and fear not. Take this little loaf, this bundle of
hay, and this stone; and when you come to the house of my aunt,
you will find a bulldog, which will fly barking at you to bite you;
but give him this little loaf, and it will stop his throat. And when
you have passed the dog, you will meet a horse running loose,
which will run up to kick and trample on you; but give him the
hay, and you will clog his feet. At last you will come to a door,
banging to and fro continually; put this stone before it, and you
will stop its fury. Then mount upstairs and you find the ogress,
with a little child in her arms, and the oven ready heated to bake
you. Whereupon she will say to you, Hold this little creature, and
wait here till I go and fetch the instruments.' But mind
--she will only go to whet her tusks, in order to tear you in pieces.
Then throw the little child into the oven without pity, take the
instruments which stand behind the door, and hie off before the
ogress returns, or else you are lost. The instruments are in a box,
but beware of opening it, or you will repent."

Parmetella did all that Thunder-and-Lightning told her; but on her
way back with the instruments she opened the box, and lo and
behold! they all flew out and about--here a flute, there a flageolet,
here a pipe, there a bagpipe, making a thousand different sounds in
the air, whilst Parmetella stood looking on and tearing her hair in

Meanwhile the ogress came downstairs, and not finding
Parmetella, she went to the window, and called out to the door,
"Crush that traitress!" But the door answered:

"I will not use the poor girl ill,
For she has made me at last stand still."

Then the ogress cried out to the horse, "Trample on the thief!" But
the horse replied:

"Let the poor girl go her way,
For she has given me the hay."

And lastly, the ogress called to the dog, saying, "Bite the rogue!"
But the dog answered:

"I'll not hurt a hair of her head,
For she it was who gave me the bread."

Now as Parmetella ran crying after the instruments, she met
Thunder-and-Lightning, who scolded her well, saying, "Traitress,
will you not learn at your cost that by your fatal curiosity you are
brought to this plight?" Then he called back the instruments with a
whistle, and shut them up again in the box, telling Parmetella to
take them to his mother. But when the ogress saw her, she cried
aloud, "O cruel fate! even my sister is against me, and refuses to
give me this pleasure."

Meanwhile the new bride arrived--a hideous pest, a compound of
ugliness, a harpy, an evil shade, a horror, a monster, a large tub,
who with a hundred flowers and boughs about her looked like a
newly opened inn. Then the ogress made a great banquet for her;
and being full of gall and malice, she had the table placed close to
a well, where she seated her seven daughters, each with a torch in
one hand; but she gave two torches to Parmetella, and made her sit
at the edge of the well, on purpose that, when she fell asleep, she
might tumble to the bottom.

Now whilst the dishes were passing to and fro, and their blood
began to get warm, Thunder-and-Lightning, who turned quite sick
at the sight of the new bride, said to Parmetella, "Traitress, do you
love me?" "Ay, to the top of the roof," she replied. And he
answered, "If you love me, give me a kiss." "Nay," said
Parmetella, "YOU indeed, who have such a pretty creature at your
side! Heaven preserve her to you a hundred years in health and
with plenty of sons!" Then the new bride answered, "It is very
clear that you are a simpleton, and would remain so were you to
live a hundred years, acting the prude as you do, and refusing to
kiss so handsome a youth, whilst I let a herdsman kiss me for a
couple of chestnuts."

At these words the bridegroom swelled with rage like a toad, so
that his food remained sticking in his throat; however, he put a
good face on the matter and swallowed the pill, intending to make
the reckoning and settle the balance afterwards. But when the
tables were removed, and the ogress and his sisters had gone away,
Thunder-and-Lightning said to the new bride, "Wife, did you see
this proud creature refuse me a kiss?" "She was a simpleton,"
replied the bride, "to refuse a kiss to such a handsome young man,
whilst I let a herdsman kiss me for a couple of chestnuts."

Thunder-and-Lightning could contain himself no longer; the
mustard got up into his nose, and with the flash of scorn and the
thunder of action, he seized a knife and stabbed the bride, and
digging a hole in the cellar he buried her. Then embracing
Parmetella he said to her, "You are my jewel, the flower of
women, the mirror of honour! Then turn those eyes upon me, give
me that hand, put out those lips, draw near to me, my heart! for I
will be yours as long as the world lasts."

The next morning, when the Sun aroused his fiery steeds from
their watery stable, and drove them to pasture on the fields sown
by the Dawn, the ogress came with fresh eggs for the newly
married couple, that the young wife might be able to say, "Happy
is she who marries and gets a mother-in-law!" But finding
Parmetella in the arms of her son, and hearing what had passed,
she ran to her sister, to concert some means of removing this thorn
from her eyes without her son's being able to prevent it. But when
she found that her sister, out of grief at the loss of her daughter,
had crept into the oven herself and was burnt, her despair was so
great, that from an ogress she became a ram, and butted her head
against the wall under she broke her pate. Then
Thunder-and-Lightning made peace between Parmetella and her
sisters-in-law, and they all lived happy and content, finding the
saying come true, that--

"Patience conquers all."



It is a well-known fact that the cruel man is generally his own
hangman; and he who throws stones at Heaven frequently comes
off with a broken head. But the reverse of the medal shows us that
innocence is a shield of fig-tree wood, upon which the sword of
malice is broken, or blunts its point; so that, when a poor man
fancies himself already dead and buried, he revives again in bone
and flesh, as you shall hear in the story which I am going to draw
from the cask of memory with the tap of my tongue.

There was once a great Lord, who, having a daughter born to him
named Talia, commanded the seers and wise men of his kingdom
to come and tell him her fortune; and after various counsellings
they came to the conclusion, that a great peril awaited her from a
piece of stalk in some flax. Thereupon he issued a command,
prohibiting any flax or hemp, or such-like thing, to be brought into
his house, hoping thus to avoid the danger.

When Talia was grown up, and was standing one day at the
window, she saw an old woman pass by who was spinning. She
had never seen a distaff or a spindle, and being vastly pleased with
the twisting and twirling of the thread, her curiosity was so great
that she made the old woman come upstairs. Then, taking the
distaff in her hand, Talia began to draw out the thread, when, by
mischance, a piece of stalk in the flax getting under her
finger-nail, she fell dead upon the ground; at which sight the old
woman hobbled downstairs as quickly as she could.

When the unhappy father heard of the disaster that had befallen
Talia, after weeping bitterly, he placed her in that palace in the
country, upon a velvet seat under a canopy of brocade; and
fastening the doors, he quitted for ever the place which had been
the cause of such misfortune to him, in order to drive all
remembrance of it from his mind.

Now, a certain King happened to go one day to the chase, and a
falcon escaping from him flew in at the window of that palace.
When the King found that the bird did not return at his call, he
ordered his attendants to knock at the door, thinking that the
palace was inhabited; and after knocking for some time, the King
ordered them to fetch a vine-dresser's ladder, wishing himself to
scale the house and see what was inside. Then he mounted the
ladder, and going through the whole palace, he stood aghast at not
finding there any living person. At last he came to the room where
Talia was lying, as if enchanted; and when the King saw her, he
called to her, thinking that she was asleep, but in vain, for she still
slept on, however loud he called. So, after admiring her beauty
awhile, the King returned home to his kingdom, where for a long
time he forgot all that had happened.

Meanwhile, two little twins, one a boy and the other a girl, who
looked like two little jewels, wandered, from I know not where,
into the palace and found Talia in a trance. At first they were
afraid because they tried in vain to awaken her; but, becoming
bolder, the girl gently took Talia's finger into her mouth, to bite it
and wake her up by this means; and so it happened that the splinter
of flax came out. Thereupon she seemed to awake as from a deep
sleep; and when she saw those little jewels at her side, she took
them to her heart, and loved them more than her life; but she
wondered greatly at seeing herself quite alone in the palace with
two children, and food and refreshment brought her by unseen

After a time the King, calling Talia to mind, took occasion one day
when he went to the chase to go and see her; and when he found
her awakened, and with two beautiful little creatures by her side,
he was struck dumb with rapture. Then the King told Talia who he
was, and they formed a great league and friendship, and he
remained there for several days, promising, as he took leave, to
return and fetch her.

When the King went back to his own kingdom he was for ever
repeating the names of Talia and the little ones, insomuch that,
when he was eating he had Talia in his mouth, and Sun and Moon
(for so he named the children); nay, even when he went to rest he
did not leave off calling on them, first one and then the other.

Now the King's stepmother had grown suspicious at his long
absence at the chase, and when she heard him calling thus on
Talia, Sun, and Moon, she waxed wroth, and said to the King's
secretary, "Hark ye, friend, you stand in great danger, between the
axe and the block; tell me who it is that my stepson is enamoured
of, and I will make you rich; but if you conceal the truth from me,
I'll make you rue it."

The man, moved on the one side by fear, and on the other pricked
by interest, which is a bandage to the eyes of honour, the blind of
justice, and an old horse-shoe to trip up good faith, told the Queen
the whole truth. Whereupon she sent the secretary in the King's
name to Talia, saying that he wished to see the children. Then
Talia sent them with great joy, but the Queen commanded the
cook to kill them, and serve them up in various ways for her
wretched stepson to eat.

Now the cook, who had a tender heart, seeing the two pretty little
golden pippins, took compassion on them, and gave them to his
wife, bidding her keep them concealed; then he killed and dressed
two little kids in a hundred different ways. When the King came,
the Queen quickly ordered the dishes served up; and the King fell
to eating with great delight, exclaiming, "How good this is! Oh,
how excellent, by the soul of my grandfather!" And the old Queen
all the while kept saying, "Eat away, for you know what you eat."
At first the King paid no attention to what she said; but at last,
hearing the music continue, he replied, "Ay, I know well enough
what I eat, for YOU brought nothing to the house." And at last,
getting up in a rage, he went off to a villa at a little distance to cool
his anger.

Meanwhile the Queen, not satisfied with what she had done, called
the secretary again, and sent him to fetch Talia, pretending that the
King wished to see her. At this summons Talia went that very
instant, longing to see the light of her eyes, and not knowing that
only the smoke awaited her. But when she came before the Queen,
the latter said to her, with the face of a Nero, and full of poison as
a viper, "Welcome, Madam Sly-cheat! Are you indeed the pretty
mischief-maker? Are you the weed that has caught my son's eye
and given me all this trouble."

When Talia heard this she began to excuse herself; but the Queen
would not listen to a word; and having a large fire lighted in the
courtyard, she commanded that Talia should be thrown into the
flames. Poor Talia, seeing matters come to a bad pass, fell on her
knees before the Queen, and besought her at least to grant her time
to take the clothes from off her back. Whereupon the Queen, not
so much out of pity for the unhappy girl, as to get possession of her
dress, which was embroidered all over with gold and pearls, said to
her, "Undress yourself--I allow you." Then Talia began to undress,
and as she took off each garment she uttered an exclamation of
grief; and when she had stripped off her cloak, her gown, and her
jacket, and was proceeding to take off her petticoat, they seized
her and were dragging her away. At that moment the King came
up, and seeing the spectacle he demanded to know the whole truth;
and when he asked also for the children, and heard that his
stepmother had ordered them to be killed, the unhappy King gave
himself up to despair.

He then ordered her to be thrown into the same fire which had
been lighted for Talia, and the secretary with her, who was the
handle of this cruel game and the weaver of this wicked web. Then
he was going to do the same with the cook, thinking that he had
killed the children; but the cook threw himself at the King's feet
and said, "Truly, sir King, I would desire no other sinecure in
return for the service I have done you than to be thrown into a
furnace full of live coals; I would ask no other gratuity than the
thrust of a spike; I would wish for no other amusement than to be
roasted in the fire; I would desire no other privilege than to have
the ashes of the cook mingled with those of a Queen. But I look for
no such great reward for having saved the children, and brought
them back to you in spite of that wicked creature who wished to
kill them"

When the King heard these words he was quite beside himself; he
appeared to dream, and could not believe what his ears had heard.
Then he said to the cook, "If it is true that you have saved the
children, be assured I will take you from turning the spit, and
reward you so that you shall call yourself the happiest man in the

As the King was speaking these words, the wife of the cook, seeing
the dilemma her husband was in, brought Sun and Moon before
the King, who, playing at the game of three with Talia and the
other children, went round and round kissing first one and then
another. Then giving the cook a large reward, he made him his
chamberlain; and he took Talia to wife, who enjoyed a long life
with her husband and the children, acknowledging

"He who has luck may go to bed,
And bliss will rain upon his head."



Woe to him who thinks to find a governess for his children by
giving them a stepmother! He only brings into his house the cause
of their ruin. There never yet was a stepmother who looked kindly
on the children of another; or if by chance such a one were ever
found, she would be regarded as a miracle, and be called a white
crow. But beside all those of whom you may have heard, I will
now tell you of another, to be added to the list of heartless
stepmothers, whom you will consider well deserving the
punishment she purchased for herself with ready money.

There was once a good man named Jannuccio, who had two
children, Nennillo and Nennella, whom he loved as much as his
own life. But Death having, with the smooth file of Time, severed
the prison-bars of his wife's soul, he took to himself a cruel
woman, who had no sooner set foot in his house than she began to
ride the high horse, saying, "Am I come here indeed to look after
other folk's children? A pretty job I have undertaken, to have all
this trouble and be for ever teased by a couple of squalling brats!
Would that I had broken my neck ere I ever came to this place, to
have bad food, worse drink, and get no sleep at night! Here's a life
to lead! Forsooth I came as a wife, and not as a servant; but I must
find some means of getting rid of these creatures, or it will cost me
my life: better to blush once than to grow pale a hundred times; so
I've done with them, for I am resolved to send them away, or to
leave the house myself for ever."

The poor husband, who had some affection for this woman, said to
her, "Softly, wife! Don't be angry, for sugar is dear; and
to-morrow morning, before the cock crows, I will remove this
annoyance in order to please you." So the next morning, ere the
Dawn had hung out the red counterpane at the window of the East
to air it, Jannuccio took the children, one by each hand, and with a
good basketful of things to eat upon his arm, he led them to a
wood, where an army of poplars and beech-trees were holding the
shades besieged. Then Jannuccio said, "My little children, stay
here in this wood, and eat and drink merrily; but if you want
anything, follow this line of ashes which I have been strewing as
we came along; this will be a clue to lead you out of the labyrinth
and bring you straight home." Then giving them both a kiss, he
returned weeping to his house.

But at the hour when all creatures, summoned by the constables of
Night, pay to Nature the tax of needful repose, the two children
began to feel afraid at remaining in that lonesome place, where the
waters of a river, which was thrashing the impertinent stones for
obstructing its course, would have frightened even a hero. So they
went slowly along the path of ashes, and it was already midnight
ere they reached their home. When Pascozza, their stepmother,
saw the children, she acted not like a woman, but a perfect fury;
crying aloud, wringing her hands, stamping with her feet, snorting
like a frightened horse, and exclaiming, "What fine piece of work
is this? Is there no way of ridding the house of these creatures? Is it
possible, husband, that you are determined to keep them here to
plague my very life out? Go, take them out of my sight! I'll not
wait for the crowing of cocks and the cackling of hens; or else be
assured that to-morrow morning I'll go off to my parents' house,
for you do not deserve me. I have not brought you so many fine
things, only to be made the slave of children who are not my own."

Poor Jannuccio, who saw that matters were growing rather too
warm, immediately took the little ones and returned to the wood;
where giving the children another basketful of food, he said to
them, "You see, my dears, how this wife of mine--who is come to
my house to be your ruin and a nail in my heart--hates you;
therefore remain in this wood, where the trees, more
compassionate, will give you shelter from the sun; where the river,
more charitable, will give you drink without poison; and the earth,
more kind, will give you a pillow of grass without danger. And
when you want food, follow this little path of bran which I have
made for you in a straight line, and you can come and seek what
you require." So saying, he turned away his face, not to let himself
be seen to weep and dishearten the poor little creatures.

When Nennillo and Nennella had eaten all that was in the basket,
they wanted to return home; but alas! a jackass--the son of
ill-luck--had eaten up all the bran that was strewn upon the ground;
so they lost their way, and wandered about forlorn in the wood for
several days, feeding on acorns and chestnuts which they found
fallen on the ground. But as Heaven always extends its arm over
the innocent, there came by chance a Prince to hunt in that wood.
Then Nennillo, hearing the baying of the hounds, was so
frightened that he crept into a hollow tree; and Nennella set off
running at full speed, and ran until she came out of the wood, and
found herself on the seashore. Now it happened that some pirates,
who had landed there to get fuel, saw Nennella and carried her off;
and their captain took her home with him where he and his wife,
having just lost a little girl, took her as their daughter.

Meantime Nennillo, who had hidden himself in the tree, was
surrounded by the dogs, which made such a furious barking that
the Prince sent to find out the cause; and when he discovered the
pretty little boy, who was so young that he could not tell who were
his father and mother, he ordered one of the huntsmen to set him
upon his saddle and take him to the royal palace. Then he had him
brought up with great care, and instructed in various arts, and
among others, he had him taught that of a carver; so that, before
three or four years had passed, Nennillo became so expert in his
art that he could carve a joint to a hair.

Now about this time it was discovered that the captain of the ship
who had taken Nennella to his house was a sea-robber, and the
people wished to take him prisoner; but getting timely notice from
the clerks in the law-courts, who were his friends, and whom he
kept in his pay, he fled with all his family. It was decreed,
however, perhaps by the judgment of Heaven, that he who had
committed his crimes upon the sea, upon the sea should suffer the
punishment of them; for having embarked in a small boat, no
sooner was he upon the open sea than there came such a storm of
wind and tumult of the waves, that the boat was upset and all were
drowned--all except Nennella, who having had no share in the
corsair's robberies, like his wife and children, escaped the danger;
for just then a large enchanted fish, which was swimming about
the boat, opened its huge throat and swallowed her down.

The little girl now thought to herself that her days were surely at
an end, when suddenly she found a thing to amaze her inside the
fish,--beautiful fields and fine gardens, and a splendid mansion,
with all that heart could desire, in which she lived like a Princess.
Then she was carried quickly by the fish to a rock, where it
chanced that the Prince had come to escape the burning heat of a
summer, and to enjoy the cool sea-breezes. And whilst a great
banquet was preparing, Nennillo had stepped out upon a balcony
of the palace on the rock to sharpen some knives, priding himself
greatly on acquiring honour from his office. When Nennella saw
him through the fish's throat, she cried aloud,

"Brother, brother, your task is done,
The tables are laid out every one;
But here in the fish I must sit and sigh,
O brother, without you I soon shall die."

Nennillo at first paid no attention to the voice, but the Prince, who
was standing on another balcony and had also heard it, turned in
the direction whence the sound came, and saw the fish. And when
he again heard the same words, he was beside himself with
amazement, and ordered a number of servants to try whether by
any means they could ensnare the fish and draw it to land. At last,
hearing the words "Brother, brother!" continually repeated, he
asked all his servants, one by one, whether any of them had lost a
sister. And Nennillo replied, that he recollected, as a dream,
having had a sister when the Prince found him in the wood, but
that he had never since heard any tidings of her. Then the Prince
told him to go nearer to the fish, and see what was the matter, for
perhaps this adventure might concern him. As soon as Nennillo
approached the fish, it raised up its head upon the rock, and
opening its throat six palms wide, Nennella stepped out, so
beautiful that she looked just like a nymph in some interlude,
come forth from that animal at the incantation of a magician. And
when the Prince asked her how it had all happened, she told him a
part of her sad story, and the hatred of their stepmother; but not
being able to recollect the name of their father nor of their home,
the Prince caused a proclamation to be issued, commanding that
whoever had lost two children, named Nennillo and Nennella, in a
wood, should come to the royal palace, and he would there receive
joyful news of them.

Jannuccio, who had all this time passed a sad and disconsolate life,
believing that his children had been devoured by wolves, now
hastened with the greatest joy to seek the Prince, and told him that
he had lost the children. And when he had related the story, how
he had been compelled to take them to the wood, the Prince gave
him a good scolding, calling him a blockhead for allowing a
woman to put her heel upon his neck till he was brought to send
away two such jewels as his children. But after he had broken
Jannuccio's head with these words, he applied to it the plaster of
consolation, showing him the children, whom the father embraced
and kissed for half an hour without being satisfied. Then the Prince
made him pull off his jacket, and had him dressed like a lord; and
sending for Jannuccio's wife, he showed her those two golden
pippins, asked her what that person would deserve who should do
them any harm, and even endanger their lives. And she replied,
"For my part, I would put her into a closed cask, and send her
rolling down a mountain."

"So it shall be done!" said the Prince. "The goat has butted at
herself. Quick now! you have passed the sentence, and you must
suffer it, for having borne these beautiful stepchildren such
malice." So he gave orders that the sentence should be instantly
executed. Then choosing a very rich lord among his vassals, he
gave him Nennella to wife, and the daughter of another great lord
to Nennillo; allowing them enough to live upon, with their father,
so that they wanted for nothing in the world. But the stepmother,
shut into the cask and shut out from life, kept on crying through
the bunghole as long as she had breath--

"To him who mischief seeks, shall mischief fall;
There comes an hour that recompenses all."



Well was it in truth said by the wise man, "Do not say all you
know, nor do all you are able"; for both one and the other bring
unknown danger and unforeseen ruin; as you shall hear of a certain
slave (be it spoken with all reverence for my lady the Princess),
who, after doing all the injury in her power to a poor girl, came off
so badly in the court, that she was the judge of her own crime, and
sentenced herself to the punishment she deserved.

The King of Long-Tower had once a son, who was the apple of his
eye, and on whom he had built all his hopes; and he longed
impatiently for the time when he should find some good match for
him. But the Prince was so averse to marriage and so obstinate
that, whenever a wife was talked of, he shook his head and wished
himself a hundred miles off; so that the poor King, finding his son
stubborn and perverse, and foreseeing that his race would come to
an end, was more vexed and melancholy, cast down and out of
spirits, than a merchant whose correspondent has become
bankrupt, or a peasant whose ass has died. Neither could the tears
of his father move the Prince, nor the entreaties of the courtiers
soften him, nor the counsel of wise men make him change his
mind; in vain they set before his eyes the wishes of his father, the
wants of the people, and his own interest, representing to him that
he was the full-stop in the line of the royal race; for with the
obstinacy of Carella and the stubbornness of an old mule with a
skin four fingers thick, he had planted his foot resolutely, stopped
his ears, and closed his heart against all assaults. But as frequently
more comes to pass in an hour than in a hundred years, and no one
can say, Stop here or go there, it happened that one day, when all
were at table, and the Prince was cutting a piece of
new-made cheese, whilst listening to the chit-chat that was going
on, he accidentally cut his finger; and two drops of blood, falling
upon the cheese, made such a beautiful mixture of colours
that--either it was a punishment inflicted by Love, or the will of
Heaven to console the poor father--the whim seized the Prince to
find a woman exactly as white and red as that cheese tinged with
blood. Then he said to his father, "Sir, unless I have a wife as
white and red as this cheese, it is all over with me; so now resolve,
if you wish to see me alive and well, to give me all I require to go
through the world in search of a beauty exactly like this cheese, or
else I shall end my life and die by inches."

When the King heard this mad resolution, he thought the house
was falling about his ears; his colour came and went, but as soon
as he recovered himself and could speak, he said, "My son, the life
of my soul, the core of my heart, the prop of my old age, what
mad-brained fancy has made you take leave of your senses? Have
you lost your wits? You want either all or nothing: first you wish
not to marry, on purpose to deprive me of an heir, and now you are
impatient to drive me out of the world. Whither, O whither would
you go wandering about, wasting your life? And why leave your
house, your hearth, your home? You know not what toils and peril
he brings on himself who goes rambling and roving. Let this whim
pass, my son; be sensible, and do not wish to see my life worn out,
this house fall to the ground, my household go to ruin."

But these and other words went in at one ear and out at the other,
and were all cast upon the sea; and the poor King, seeing that his
son was as immovable as a rook upon a belfry, gave him a handful
of dollars and two or three servants; and bidding him farewell, he
felt as if his soul was torn out of his body. Then weeping bitterly,
he went to a balcony, and followed his son with his eyes until he
was lost to sight.

The Prince departed, leaving his unhappy father to his grief, and
hastened on his way through fields and woods, over mountain and
valley, hill and plain, visiting various countries, and mixing with
various peoples, and always with his eyes wide awake to see
whether he could find the object of his desire. At the end of several
months he arrived at the coast of France, where, leaving his
servants at a hospital with sore feet, he embarked alone in a
Genoese boat, and set out towards the Straits of Gibraltar. There
he took a larger vessel and sailed for the Indies, seeking
everywhere, from kingdom to kingdom, from province to province,
from country to country, from street to street, from house to house,
in every hole and corner, whether he could find the original
likeness of that beautiful image which he had pictured to his heart.
And he wandered about and about until at length he came to the
Island of the Ogresses, where he cast anchor and landed. There he
found an old, old woman, withered and shrivelled up, and with a
hideous face, to whom he related the reason that had brought him
to the country. The old woman was beside herself with amazement
when she heard the strange whim and the fancy of the Prince, and
the toils and perils he had gone through to satisfy himself; then she
said to him, "Hasten away, my son! for if my three daughters meet
you I would not give a farthing for your life; half-alive and
half-roasted, a frying-pan would be your bier and a belly your
grave. But away with you as fast as a hare, and you will not go far
before you find what you are seeking!"

When the Prince heard this, frightened, terrified, and aghast, he set
off running at full speed, and ran till he came to another country,
where he again met an old woman, more ugly even than the first,
to whom he told all his story. Then the old woman said to him in
like manner, "Away with you! unless you wish to serve as a
breakfast to the little ogresses my daughters; but go straight on,
and you will soon find what you want."

The Prince, hearing this, set off running as fast as a dog with a
kettle at its tail; and he went on and on, until he met another old
woman, who was sitting upon a wheel, with a basket full of little
pies and sweetmeats on her arm, and feeding a number of
jackasses, which thereupon began leaping about on the bank of a
river and kicking at some poor swans. When the Prince came up to
the old woman, after making a hundred salaams, he related to her
the story of his wanderings; whereupon the old woman, comforting
him with kind words, gave him such a good breakfast that he
licked his fingers after it. And when he had done eating she gave
him three citrons, which seemed to be just fresh gathered from the
tree; and she gave him also a beautiful knife, saying, "You are now
free to return to Italy, for your labour is ended, and you have what
you were seeking. Go your way, therefore, and when you are near
your own kingdom stop at the first fountain you come to and cut a
citron. Then a fairy will come forth from it, and will say to you,
Give me to drink.' Mind and be ready with the water or she will
vanish like quicksilver. But if you are not quick enough with the
second fairy, have your eyes open and be watchful that the third
does not escape you, giving her quickly to drink, and you shall
have a wife after your own heart."

The Prince, overjoyed, kissed the old woman's hairy hand a
hundred times, which seemed just like a hedgehog's back. Then
taking his leave he left that country, and coming to the seashore
sailed for the Pillars of Hercules, and arrived at our Sea, and after
a thousand storms and perils, he entered port a day's distance from
his own kingdom. There he came to a most beautiful grove, where
the Shades formed a palace for the Meadows, to prevent their
being seen by the sun; and dismounting at a fountain, which, with
a crystal tongue, was inviting the people to refresh their lips, he
seated himself on a Syrian carpet formed by the plants and
flowers. Then he drew his knife from the sheath and began to cut
the first citron, when lo! there appeared like a flash of lightning a
most beautiful maiden, white as milk and red as a strawberry, who
said, "Give me to drink!" The Prince was so amazed, bewildered,
and captivated with the beauty of the fairy that he did not give her
the water quick enough, so she appeared and vanished at one and
the same moment. Whether this was a rap on the Prince's head, let
any one judge who, after longing for a thing, gets it into his hands
and instantly loses it again.

Then the Prince cut the second citron, and the same thing
happened again; and this was a second blow he got on his pate; so
making two little fountains of his eyes, he wept, face to face, tear
for tear, drop for drop, with the fountain, and sighing he
exclaimed, "Good heavens, how is it that I am so unfortunate?
Twice I have let her escape, as if my hands were tied; and here I sit
like a rock, when I ought to run like a greyhound. Faith indeed I
have made a fine hand of it! But courage, man! there is still
another, and three is the lucky number; either this knife shall give
me the fay, or it shall take my life away." So saying he cut the
third citron, and forth came the third fairy, who said like the
others, "Give me to drink." Then the Prince instantly handed her
the water; and behold there stood before him a delicate maiden,
white as a junket with red streaks,--a thing never before seen in the
world, with a beauty beyond compare, a fairness beyond the
beyonds, a grace more than the most. On that hair Jove had
showered down gold, of which Love made his shafts to pierce all
hearts; that face the god of Love had tinged with red, that some
innocent soul should be hung on the gallows of desire; at those
eyes the sun had lighted two fireworks, to set fire to the rockets of
sighs in the breast of the beholder; to the roses on those lips Venus
had given their colour, to wound a thousand enamoured hearts
with their thorns. In a word, she was so beautiful from head to
foot, that a more exquisite creature was never seen. The Prince
knew not what had happened to him, and stood lost in amazement,
gazing on such a beautiful offspring of a citron; and he said to
himself, "Are you asleep or awake, Ciommetiello? Are your eyes
bewitched, or are you blind? What fair white creature is this come
forth from a yellow rind? What sweet fruit, from the sour juice of a
citron? What lovely maiden sprung from a citron-pip?"

At length, seeing that it was all true and no dream, he embraced
the fairy, giving her a hundred and a hundred kisses; and after a
thousand tender words had passed between them--words which, as
a setting, had an accompaniment of sugared kisses--the Prince
said, "My soul, I cannot take you to my father's kingdom without
handsome raiment worthy of so beautiful a person, and an
attendance befitting a Queen; therefore climb up into this
oak-tree, where Nature seems purposely to have made for us a
hiding-place in the form of a little room, and here await my return;
for I will come back on wings, before a tear can be dry, with
dresses and servants, and carry you off to my kingdom." So saying,
after the usual ceremonies, he departed.

Now a black slave, who was sent by her mistress with a pitcher to
fetch water, came to the well, and seeing by chance the reflection
of the fairy in the water, she thought it was herself, and exclaimed
in amazement, "Poor Lucia, what do I see? Me so pretty and fair,
and mistress send me here. No, me will no longer bear." So saying
she broke the pitcher and returned home; and when her mistress
asked her, "Why have you done this mischief?" she replied, "Me
go to the well alone, pitcher break upon a stone." Her mistress
swallowed this idle story, and the next day she gave her a pretty
little cask, telling her to go and fill it with water. So the slave
returned to the fountain, and seeing again the beautiful image
reflected in the water, she said with a deep sigh, "Me no ugly
slave, me no broad-foot goose, but pretty and fine as mistress
mine, and me not go to the fountain!" So saying, smash again! she
broke the cask into seventy pieces, and returned grumbling home,
and said to her mistress, "Ass come past, tub fell down at the well,
and all was broken in pieces." The poor mistress, on hearing this,
could contain herself no longer, and seizing a broomstick she beat
the slave so soundly that she felt it for many days; then giving her
a leather bag, she said, "Run, break your neck, you wretched slave,
you grasshopper-legs, you black beetle! Run and fetch me this bag
full of water, or else I'll hang you like a dog, and give you a good

Away ran the slave heels over head, for she had seen the flash and
dreaded the thunder; and while she was filling the leather bag, she
turned to look again at the beautiful image, and said, "Me fool to
fetch water! better live by one's wits; such a pretty girl indeed to
serve a bad mistress!" So saying, she took a large pin which she
wore in her hair, and began to pick holes in the leather bag, which
looked like an open place in a garden with the rose of a
watering-pot making a hundred little fountains. When the fairy saw
this she laughed outright; and the slave hearing her, turned and
espied her hiding-place up in the tree; whereat she said to herself,
"O ho! you make me be beaten? but never mind!" Then she said to
her, "What you doing up there, pretty lass?" And the fairy, who
was the very mother of courtesy, told her all she knew, and all that
had passed with the Prince, whom she was expecting from hour to
hour and from moment to moment, with fine dresses and servants,
to take her with him to his father's kingdom where they would live
happy together.

When the slave, who was full of spite, heard this, she thought to
herself that she would get this prize into her own hands; so she
answered the fairy, "You expect your husband,--me come up and
comb your locks, and make you more smart." And the fairy said,
"Ay, welcome as the first of May!" So the slave climbed up the
tree, and the fairy held out her white hand to her, which looked in
the black paws of the slave like a crystal mirror in a frame of
ebony. But no sooner did the slave begin to comb the fairy's locks,
than she suddenly stuck a hairpin into her head. Then the fairy,
feeling herself pricked, cried out, "Dove, dove!" and instantly she
became a dove and flew away; whereupon the slave stripped
herself, and making a bundle of all the rags that she had worn, she
threw them a mile away; and there she sat, up in the tree, looking
like a statue of jet in a house of emerald.

In a short time the Prince returned with a great cavalcade, and
finding a cask of caviar where he had left a pan of milk, he stood
for awhile beside himself with amazement. At length he said,
"Who has made this great blot of ink on the fine paper upon which
I thought to write the brightest days of my life? Who has hung with
mourning this newly white-washed house, where I thought to
spend a happy life? How comes it that I find this touchstone,
where I left a mine of silver, that was to make me rich and happy?"
But the crafty slave, observing the Prince's amazement, said, "Do
not wonder, my Prince; for me turned by a wicked spell from a
white lily to a black coal."

The poor Prince, seeing that there was no help for the mischief,
drooped his head and swallowed this pill; and bidding the slave
come down from the tree, he ordered her to be clothed from head
to foot in new dresses. Then sad and sorrowful, cast-down and
woe-begone, he took his way back with the slave to his own
country, where the King and Queen, who had gone out six miles to
meet them, received them with the same pleasure as a prisoner
feels at the announcement of a sentence of hanging, seeing the fine
choice their foolish son had made, who after travelling about so
long to find a white dove had brought home at last a black crow.
However, as they could do no less, they gave up the crown to their
children, and placed the golden tripod upon that face of coal.

Now whilst they were preparing splendid feasts and banquets, and
the cooks were busy plucking geese, killing little pigs, flaying kids,
basting the roast meat, skimming pots, mincing meat for
dumplings, larding capons, and preparing a thousand other
delicacies, a beautiful dove came flying to the kitchen window,
and said,

"O cook of the kitchen, tell me, I pray,
What the King and the slave are doing to-day."

The cook at first paid little heed to the dove; but when she
returned a second and a third time, and repeated the same words,
he ran to the dining-hall to tell the marvellous thing. But no sooner
did the lady hear this music than she gave orders for the dove to be
instantly caught and made into a hash. So the cook went, and he
managed to catch the dove, and did all that the slave had
commanded. And having scalded the bird in order to pluck it, he
threw the water with the feathers out from a balcony on to a
garden-bed, on which, before three days had passed, there sprang
up a beautiful citron-tree, which quickly grew to its full size.

Now it happened that the King, going by chance to a window that
looked upon the garden, saw the tree, which he had never observed
before; and calling the cook, he asked him when and by whom it
had been planted. No sooner had he heard all the particulars from
Master Pot-ladle, than he began to suspect how matters stood. So
he gave orders, under pain of death, that the tree should not be
touched, but that it should be tended with the greatest care.

At the end of a few days three most beautiful citrons appeared,
similar to those which the ogress had given Ciommetiello. And
when they were grown larger, he plucked them; and shutting
himself up in a chamber, with a large basin of water and the knife,
which he always carried at his side, he began to cut the citrons.
Then it all fell out with the first and second fairy just as it had
done before; but when at last he cut the third citron, and gave the
fairy who came forth from it to drink, behold, there stood before
him the self-same maiden whom he had left up in the tree, and
who told him all the mischief that the slave had done.

Who now can tell the least part of the delight the King felt at this
good turn of fortune? Who can describe the shouting and leaping
for joy that there was? For the King was swimming in a sea of
delight, and was wafted to Heaven on a tide of rapture. Then he
embraced the fairy, and ordered her to be handsomely dressed
from head to foot; and taking her by the hand he led her into the
middle of the hall, where all the courtiers and great folks of the
city were met to celebrate the feast. Then the King called on them
one by one, and said, "Tell me, what punishment would that
person deserve who should do any harm to this beautiful lady!"
And one replied that such a person would deserve a hempen collar;
another, a breakfast of stones; a third, a good beating; a fourth, a
draught of poison; a fifth, a millstone for a brooch--in short, one
said this thing and another that. At last he called on the black
Queen, and putting the same question, she replied, "Such a person
would deserve to be burned, and that her ashes should be thrown
from the roof of the castle."

When the King heard this, he said to her, "You have struck your
own foot with the axe, you have made your own fetters, you have
sharpened the knife and mixed the poison; for no one has done this
lady so much harm as yourself, you good-for-nothing creature!
Know you that this is the beautiful maiden whom you wounded
with the hairpin? Know you that this is the pretty dove which you
ordered to be killed and cooked in a stewpan? What say you now?
It is all your own doing; and one who does ill may expect ill in
return." So saying, he ordered the slave to be seized and cast alive
on to a large burning pile of wood; and her ashes were thrown
from the top of the castle to all the winds of Heaven, verifying the
truth of the saying that--

"He who sows thorns should not go barefoot."



All sat listening to Ciommetella's last story. Some praised the skill
with which she had told it, while others murmured at her
indiscretion, saying that, in the presence of the Princess, she ought
not to have exposed to blame the ill-deeds of another slave, and
run the risk of stopping the game. But Lucia herself sat upon
thorns, and kept turning and twisting herself about all the time the
story was being told; insomuch that the restlessness of her body
betrayed the storm that was in her heart, at seeing in the tale of
another slave the exact image of her own deceit. Gladly would she
have dismissed the whole company, but that, owing to the desire
which the doll had given her to hear stories, she could not restrain
her passion for them. And, partly also not to give Taddeo cause for
suspicion, she swallowed this bitter pill, intending to take a good
revenge in proper time and place. But Taddeo, who had grown
quite fond of the amusement, made a sign to Zoza to relate her
story; and, after making her curtsey, she began--

"Truth, my Lord Prince, has always been the mother of hatred, and
I would not wish, therefore, by obeying your commands, to offend
any one of those about me. But as I am not accustomed to weave
fictions or to invent stories, I am constrained, both by nature and
habit, to speak the truth; and, although the proverb says, Tell truth
and fear nothing, yet knowing well that truth is not welcome in the
presence of princes, I tremble lest I say anything that may offend

"Say all you wish," replied Taddeo, "for nothing but what is sweet
can come from those pretty lips."

These words were stabs to the heart of the Slave, as all would have
seen plainly if black faces were, as white ones, the book of the
soul. And she would have given a finger of her hand to have been
rid of these stories, for all before her eyes had grown blacker even
than her face. She feared that the last story was only the
fore-runner of mischief to follow; and from a cloudy morning she
foretold a bad day. But Zoza, meanwhile, began to enchant all
around her with the sweetness of her words, relating her sorrows
from first to last, and beginning with her natural melancholy, the
unhappy augury of all she had to suffer. Then she went on to tell of
the old woman's curse, her painful wanderings, her arrival at the
fountain, her bitter weeping, and the treacherous sleep which had
been the cause of her ruin.

The Slave, hearing Zoza tell the story in all its breadth and length,
and seeing the boat go out of its course, exclaimed, "Be quiet and
hold your tongue! or I will not answer for the consequences." But
Taddeo, who had discovered how matters stood, could no longer
contain himself; so, stripping off the mask and throwing the saddle
on the ground, he exclaimed, "Let her tell her story to the end, and
have done with this nonsense. I have been made a fool of for long
enough, and, if what I suspect is true, it were better that you had
never been born." Then he commanded Zoza to continue her story
in spite of his wife; and Zoza, who only waited for the sign, went
on to tell how the Slave had found the pitcher and had
treacherously robbed her of her good fortune. And, thereupon, she
fell to weeping in such a manner, that every person present was
affected at the sight.

Taddeo, who, from Zoza's tears and the Slave's silence, discerned
the truth of the matter, gave Lucia a rare scolding, and made her
confess her treachery with her own lips. Then he gave instant
orders that she should be buried alive up to her neck, that she
might die a more painful death. And, embracing Zoza, he caused
her to be treated with all honour as his Princess and wife, sending
to invite the King of Wood-Valley to come to the feast.

With these fresh nuptials terminated the greatness of the Slave and
the amusement of these stories. And much good may they do you,
and promote your health! And may you lay them down as
unwillingly as I do, taking my leave with regret at my heels and a
good spoonful of honey in my mouth.

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