Stories from Pentamerone
Giambattista Basile

Part 2 out of 4

from divers parts to gain a name for themselves. Whereupon he
married the Princess Fenicia, and a great feast was made.

When Canneloro had been there some months in peace and quiet,
an unhappy fancy came into his head for going to the chase. He
told it to the King, who said to him, "Take care, my son-in-law; do
not be deluded. Be wise and keep open your eyes, for in these
woods is a most wicked ogre who changes his form every day, one
time appearing like a wolf, at another like a lion, now like a stag,
now like an ass, like one thing and now like another. By a
thousand stratagems he decoys those who are so unfortunate as to
meet him into a cave, where he devours them. So, my son, do not
put your safety into peril, or you will leave your rags there."

Canneloro, who did not know what fear was, paid no heed to the
advice of his father-in-law. As soon as the Sun with the broom of
his rays had cleared away the soot of the Night he set out for the
chase; and, on his way, he came to a wood where, beneath the
awning of the leaves, the Shades has assembled to maintain their
sway, and to make a conspiracy against the Sun. The ogre, seeing
him coming, turned himself into a handsome doe; which, as soon
as Canneloro perceived he began to give chase to her. Then the
doe doubled and turned, and led him about hither and thither at
such a rate, that at last she brought him into the very heart of the
wood, where she raised such a tremendous snow-storm that it
looked as if the sky was going to fall. Canneloro, finding himself
in front of a cave, went into it to seek for shelter; and being
benumbed with the cold, he gathered some sticks which he found
within it, and pulling his steel from his pocket, he kindled a large
fire. As he was standing by the fire to dry his clothes, the doe came
to the mouth of the cave, and said, "Sir Knight, pray give me leave
to warm myself a little while, for I am shivering with the cold."

Canneloro, who was of a kindly disposition, said to her, "Draw
near, and welcome."

"I would gladly," replied the doe, "but I am afraid you would kill

"Fear nothing," answered Canneloro, "trust to my word."

"If you wish me to enter," rejoined the doe, "tie up those dogs, that
they may not hurt me, and tie up your horse that he may not kick

So Canneloro tied up his dogs and hobbled his horse, and the doe
said, "I am now half assured, but unless you bind fast your sword, I
dare not come in." Then Canneloro, who wished to become friends
with the doe, bound his sword as a countryman does, when he
carries it in the city for fear of the constables. As soon as the ogre
saw Canneloro defenceless, he re-took his own form, and laying
hold on him, flung him into a pit at the bottom of the cave, and
covered it up with a stone--to keep him to eat.

But Fonzo, who, morning and evening visited the myrtle and the
fountain, to learn news of the fate of Canneloro, finding the one
withered and the other troubled, instantly thought that his brother
was undergoing misfortunes. So, to help him, he mounted his
horse without asking leave of his father or mother; and arming
himself well and taking two enchanted dogs, he went rambling
through the world. He roamed and rambled here, there, and
everywhere until, at last, he came to Clear-Water, which he found
all in mourning for the supposed death of Canneloro. And scarcely
was he come to the court, when every one, thinking, from the
likeness he bore him, that it was Canneloro, hastened to tell
Fenicia the good news, who ran leaping down the stairs, and
embracing Fonzo cried, "My husband! my heart! where have you
been all this time?"

Fonzo immediately perceived that Canneloro had come to this
country and had left it again; so he resolved to examine the matter
adroitly, to learn from the Princess's discourse where his brother
might be found. And, hearing her say that he had put himself in
great danger by that accursed hunting, especially if the cruel ogre
should meet him, he at once concluded that Canneloro must be

The next morning, as soon as the Sun had gone forth to give the
gilded frills to the Sky, he jumped out of bed, and neither the
prayers of Fenicia, nor the commands of the King could keep him
back, but he would go to the chase. So, mounting his horse, he
went with the enchanted dogs to the wood, where the same thing
befell him that had befallen Canneloro; and, entering the cave, he
saw his brother's arms and dogs and horse fast bound, by which he
became assured of the nature of the snare. Then the doe told him
in like manner to tie his arms, dogs, and horse, but he instantly set
them upon her and they tore her to pieces. And as he was looking
about for some traces of his brother, he heard his voice down in
the pit; so, lifting up the stone, he drew out Canneloro, with all the
others whom the ogre had buried alive to fatten. Then embracing
each other with great joy, the twin-brothers went home, where
Fenicia, seeing them so much alike, did not know which to choose
for her husband, until Canneloro took off his cap and she saw the
mark of the old wound and recognised him. Fonzo stayed there a
month, taking his pleasure, and then wished to return to his own
country, and Canneloro wrote by him to his mother, bidding her
lay aside her enmity and come and visit him and partake of his
greatness, which she did. But from that time forward, he never
would hear of dogs or of hunting, recollecting the saying--

"Unhappy is he who corrects himself at his own cost."



This is one of the stories which that good soul, my uncle's
grandmother (whom Heaven take to glory), used to tell; and,
unless I have put on my spectacles upside down, I fancy it will
give you pleasure.

There was, once upon a time, a woman named Pascadozzia, and
one day, when she was standing at her window, which looked into
the garden of an ogress, she saw such a fine bed of parsley that she
almost fainted away with desire for some. So when the ogress went
out she could not restrain herself any longer, but plucked a handful
of it. The ogress came home and was going to cook her pottage
when she found that some one had been stealing the parsley, and
said, "Ill luck to me, but I'll catch this long-fingered rogue and
make him repent it; I'll teach him to his cost that every one should
eat off his own platter and not meddle with other folks' cups."

The poor woman went again and again down into the garden, until
one morning the ogress met her, and in a furious rage exclaimed,
"Have I caught you at last, you thief, you rogue; prithee, do you
pay the rent of the garden that you come in this impudent way and
steal my plants? By my faith, I'll make you do penance without
sending you to Rome."

Poor Pascadozzia, in a terrible fright, began to make excuses,
saying that neither from gluttony nor the craving of hunger had she
been tempted by the devil to commit this fault, but from her fear
lest her child should be born with a crop of parsley on its face.

"Words are but wind," answered the ogress, "I am not to be caught
with such prattle; you have closed the balance-sheet of life, unless
you promise to give me the child, girl or boy, whichever it may

The poor woman, in order to escape the peril in which she found
herself, swore, with one hand upon the other, to keep the promise,
and so the ogress let her go free. But when the baby came it was a
little girl, so beautiful that she was a joy to look upon, who was
named Parsley. The little girl grew from day to day until, when she
was seven years old, her mother sent her to school, and every time
she went along the street and met the ogress the old woman said to
her, "Tell your mother to remember her promise." And she went
on repeating this message so often that the poor mother, having no
longer patience to listen to the refrain, said one day to Parsley, "If
you meet the old woman as usual, and she reminds you of the
hateful promise, answer her, Take it.'"

When Parsley, who dreamt of no ill, met the ogress again, and
heard her repeat the same words, she answered innocently as her
mother had told her, whereupon the ogress, seizing her by her hair,
carried her off to a wood which the horses of the Sun never
entered, not having paid the toll to the pastures of those Shades.
Then she put the poor girl into a tower which she caused to arise
by her art, having neither gate nor ladder, but only a little window
through which she ascended and descended by means of Parsley's
hair, which was very long, just as sailors climb up and down the
mast of a ship.

Now it happened one day, when the ogress had left the tower, that
Parsley put her head out of the little window and let loose her
tresses in the sun, and the son of a Prince passing by saw those two
golden banners which invited all souls to enlist under the standard
of Beauty, and, beholding with amazement, in the midst of those
gleaming waves, a face that enchanted all hearts, he fell
desperately in love with such wonderful beauty; and, sending her a
memorial of sighs, she decreed to receive him into favour. She told
him her troubles, and implored him to rescue her. But a gossip of
the ogress, who was for ever prying into things that did not
concern her, and poking her nose into every corner, overheard the
secret, and told the wicked woman to be on the look-out, for
Parsley had been seen talking with a certain youth, and she had her
suspicions. The ogress thanked the gossip for the information, and
said that she would take good care to stop up the road. As to
Parsley, it was, moreover, impossible for her to escape, as she had
laid a spell upon her, so that unless she had in her hand the three
gall-nuts which were in a rafter in the kitchen it would be labour
lost to attempt to get away.

Whilst they were thus talking together, Parsley, who stood with her
ears wide open and had some suspicion of the gossip, overheard all
that had passed. And when Night had spread out her black
garments to keep them from the moth, and the Prince had come as
they had appointed, she let fall her hair; he seized it with both
hands, and cried, "Draw up." When he was drawn up she made
him first climb on to the rafters and find the gall-nuts, knowing
well what effect they would have, as she had been enchanted by
the ogress. Then, having made a rope-ladder, they both descended
to the ground, took to their heels, and ran off towards the city. But
the gossip, happening to see them come out, set up a loud
"Halloo," and began to shout and make such a noise that the ogress
awoke, and, seeing that Parsley had run away, she descended by
the same ladder, which was still fastened to the window, and set
off after the couple, who, when they saw her coming at their heels
faster than a horse let loose, gave themselves up for lost. But
Parsley, recollecting the gall-nuts, quickly threw one of the
ground, and lo, instantly a Corsican bulldog started up--O, mother,
such a terrible beast!--which, with open jaws and barking loud,
flew at the ogress as if to swallow her at a mouthful. But the old
woman, who was more cunning and spiteful than ever, put her
hand into her pocket, and pulling out a piece of bread gave it to the
dog, which made him hang his tail and allay his fury.

Then she turned to run after the fugitives again, but Parsley, seeing
her approach, threw the second gall-nut on the ground, and lo, a
fierce lion arose, who, lashing the earth with his tail, and shaking
his mane and opening wide his jaws a yard apart, was just
preparing to make a slaughter of the ogress, when, turning quickly
back, she stripped the skin off an ass which was grazing in the
middle of a meadow and ran at the lion, who, fancying it a real
jackass, was so frightened that he bounded away as fast as he

The ogress having leaped over this second ditch turned again to
pursue the poor lovers, who, hearing the clatter of her heels, and
seeing clouds of dust that rose up to the sky, knew that she was
coming again. But the old woman, who was every moment in
dread lest the lion should pursue her, had not taken off the ass's
skin, and when Parsley now threw down the third gall-nut there
sprang up a wolf, who, without giving the ogress time to play any
new trick, gobbled her up just as she was in the shape of a jackass.
So Parsley and the Prince, now freed from danger, went their way
leisurely and quietly to the Prince's kingdom, where, with his
father's free consent, they were married. Thus, after all these
storms of fate, they experienced the truth that--

"One hour in port, the sailor, freed from fears,
Forgets the tempests of a hundred years."



It is a great truth that from the same wood are formed the statues
of idols and the rafters of gallows, kings' thrones and cobblers'
stalls; and another strange thing is that from the same rags are
made the paper on which the wisdom of sages is recorded, and the
crown which is placed on the head of a fool. The same, too, may
be said of children: one daughter is good and another bad; one idle,
another a good housewife; one fair, another ugly; one spiteful,
another kind; one unfortunate, another born to good luck, and who
being all of one family ought to be of one nature. But leaving this
subject to those who know more about it, I will merely give you an
example in the story of the three daughters of the same mother,
wherein you will see the difference of manners which brought the
wicked daughters into the ditch and the good daughter to the top of
the Wheel of Fortune.

There was at one time a woman who had three daughters, two of
whom were so unlucky that nothing ever succeeded with them, all
their projects went wrong, all their hopes were turned to chaff. But
the youngest, who was named Nella, was born to good luck, and I
verily believe that at her birth all things conspired to bestow on her
the best and choicest gifts in their power. The Sky gave her the
perfection of its light; Venus, matchless beauty of form; Love, the
first dart of his power; Nature, the flower of manners. She never
set about any work that it did not go off to a nicety; she never took
anything in hand that it did not succeed to a hair; she never stood
up to dance, that she did not sit down with applause. On which
account she was envied by her jealous sisters and yet not so much
as she was loved and wished well to by all others; as greatly as her
sisters desired to put her underground, so much more did other
folks carry her on the palms of their hands.

Now there was in that country an enchanted Prince who was so
attracted by her beauty that he secretly married her. And in order
that they might enjoy one another's company without exciting the
suspicion of the mother, who was a wicked woman, the Prince
made a crystal passage which led from the royal palace directly
into Nella's apartment, although it was eight miles distant. Then
he gave her a certain powder saying, "Every time you wish to see
me throw a little of this powder into the fire, and instantly I will
come through this passage as quick as a bird, running along the
crystal road to gaze upon this face of silver."

Having arranged it thus, not a night passed that the Prince did not
go in and out, backwards and forwards, along the crystal passage,
until at last the sisters, who were spying the actions of Nella, found
out the secret and laid a plan to put a stop to the sport. And in
order to cut the thread at once, they went and broke the passage
here and there; so that, when the unhappy girl threw the powder
into the fire, to give the signal to her husband, the Prince, who
used always to come running in furious haste, hurt himself in such
a manner against the broken crystal that it was truly a pitiable sight
to see. And being unable to pass further on he turned back all cut
and slashed like a Dutchman's breeches. Then he sent for all the
doctors in the town; but as the crystal was enchanted the wounds
were mortal, and no human remedy availed. When the King saw
this, despairing of his son's condition, he sent out a proclamation
that whoever would cure the wounds of the Prince--if a woman she
should have him for a husband--if a man he should have half his

Now when Nella, who was pining away from the loss of the
Prince, heard this she dyed her face, disguised herself, and
unknown to her sisters she left home to go to see him before his
death. But as by this time the Sun's gilded ball with which he plays
in the Fields of Heaven, was running towards the west, night
overtook her in a wood close to the house of an ogre, where, in
order to get out of the way of danger, she climbed up into a tree.
Meanwhile the ogre and his wife were sitting at table with the
windows open in order to enjoy the fresh air while they ate; as
soon as they had emptied their cups and put out the lamps they
began to chat of one thing and another, so that Nella, who was as
near to them as the mouth to the nose, heard every word they

Among other things the ogress said to her husband, "My pretty
Hairy-Hide, tell me what news; what do they say abroad in the
world?" And he answered, "Trust me, there is no hand's breadth
clean; everything's going topsy-turvy and awry." "But what is it?"
replied his wife. "Why I could tell pretty stories of all the
confusion that is going on," replied the ogre, "for one hears things
that are enough to drive one mad, such as buffoons rewarded with
gifts, rogues esteemed, cowards honoured, robbers protected, and
honest men little thought of. But, as these things only vex one, I
will merely tell you what has befallen the King's son. He had made
a crystal path along which he used to go to visit a pretty lass; but
by some means or other, I know not how, all the road has been
broken; and as he was going along the passage as usual, he has
wounded himself in such a manner that before he can stop the leak
the whole conduit of his life will run out. The King has indeed
issued a proclamation with great promises to whoever cures his
son; but it is all labour lost, and the best he can do is quickly to get
ready mourning and prepare the funeral."

When Nella heard the cause of the Prince's illness she sobbed and
wept bitterly and said to herself, "Who is the wicked soul who has
broken the passage and caused so much sorrow?" But as the ogress
now went on speaking Nella was as silent as a mouse and listened.

"And is it possible," said the ogress, "that the world is lost to this
poor Prince, and that no remedy can be found for his malady?"

"Hark-ye, Granny," replied the ogre, "the doctors are not called
upon to find remedies that may pass the bounds of nature. This is
not a fever that will yield to medicine and diet, much less are these
ordinary wounds which require lint and oil; for the charm that was
on the broken glass produces the same effect as onion juice does
on the iron heads of arrows, which makes the wound incurable.
There is one thing only that could save his life, but don't ask me to
tell it to you, for it is a thing of importance."

"Do tell me, dear old Long-tusk," cried the ogress; "tell me, if you
would not see me die."

"Well then," said the ogre, "I will tell you provided you promise
me not to confide it to any living soul, for it would be the ruin of
our house and the destruction of our lives."

"Fear nothing, my dear, sweet little husband," replied the ogress;
"for you shall sooner see pigs with horns, apes with tails, moles
with eyes, than a single word shall pass my lips." And so saying,
she put one hand upon the other and swore to it.

"You must know then," said the ogre, "that there is nothing under
the sky nor above the ground that can save the Prince from the
snares of death, but our fat. If his wounds are anointed with this his
soul will be arrested which is just at the point of leaving the
dwelling of his body."

Nella, who overheard all that passed, gave time to Time to let
them finish their chat; and then, getting down from the tree and
taking heart, she knocked at the ogre's door crying, "Ah! my good
masters, I pray you for charity, alms, some sign of compassion.
Have a little pity on a poor, miserable, wretched creature who is
banished by fate far from her own country and deprived of all
human aid, who has been overtaken by night in this wood and is
dying of cold and hunger." And crying thus, she went on knocking
and knocking at the door.

Upon hearing this deafening noise, the ogress was going to throw
her half a loaf and send her away. But the ogre, who was more
greedy of flesh than the squirrel is of nuts, the bear of honey, the
cat of fish, the sheep of salt, or the ass of bran, said to his wife,
"Let the poor creature come in, for if she sleeps in the fields, who
knows but she may be eaten up by some wolf." In short, he talked
so much that his wife at length opened the door for Nella; whilst
with all his pretended charity he was all the time reckoning on
making four mouthfuls of her. But the glutton counts one way and
the host another; for the ogre and his wife drank till they were
fairly tipsy. When they lay down to sleep Nella took a knife from a
cupboard and made a hash of them in a trice. Then she put all the
fat into a phial, went straight to the court, where, presenting
herself before the King, she offered to cure the Prince. At this the
King was overjoyed and led her to the chamber of his son, and no
sooner had she anoited him well with the fat than the wound
closed in a moment just as if she had thrown water on the fire, and
he became sound as a fish.

When the King saw this, he said to his son, "This good woman
deserves the reward promised by the proclamation and that you
should marry her." But the Prince replied, "It is hopeless, for I
have no store-room full of hearts in my body to share among so
many; my heart is already disposed of, and another woman is
already the mistress of it." Nella, hearing this, replied, "You
should no longer think of her who has been the cause of all your
misfortune." "My misfortune has been brought on me by her
sisters," replied the Prince, "and they shall repent it." "Then do
you really love her?" said Nella. And the Prince replied, "More
than my own life." "Embrace me then," said Nella, "for I am the
fire of your heart." But the Prince seeing the dark hue of her face
answered, "I would sooner take you for the coal than the fire, so
keep off--don't blacken me." Whereupon Nella, perceiving that he
did not know her, called for a basin of clean water and washed her
face. As soon as the cloud of soot was removed the sun shone
forth; and the Prince, recognising her, pressed her to his heart and
acknowledged her for his wife. Then he had her sisters thrown into
an oven, thus proving the truth of the old saying--

"No evil ever went without punishment."



Envy is a wind which blows with such violence, that it throws
down the props of the reputation of good men, and levels with the
ground the crops of good fortune. But, very often, as a punishment
from Heaven, when this envious blast seems as if it would cast a
person flat on the ground, it aids him instead of attain the
happiness he is expecting sooner even than he expected: as you
will hear in the story which I shall now tell you.

There was once upon a time a good sort of man named Cola
Aniello, who had three daughters, Rose, Pink, and Violet, the last
of whom was so beautiful that her very look was a syrup of love,
which cured the hearts of beholders of all unhappiness. The King's
son was burning with love of her, and every time he passed by the
little cottage where these three sisters sat at work, he took off his
cap and said, "Good-day, good-day, Violet," and she replied,
"Good-day, King's son! I know more than you." At these words
her sisters grumbled and murmured, saying, "You are an ill-bred
creature and will make the Prince in a fine rage." But as Violet
paid no heed to what they said, they made a spiteful complaint of
her to her father, telling him that she was too bold and forward;
and that she answered the Prince without any respect, as if she
were just as good as he; and that, some day or other, she would get
into trouble and suffer the just punishment of her offence. So Cola
Aniello, who was a prudent man, in order to prevent any mischief,
sent Violet to stay with an aunt, to be set to work.

Now the Prince, when he passed by the house as usual, no longer
seeing the object of his love, was for some days like a nightingale
that has lost her young ones from her nest, and goes from branch to
branch wailing and lamenting her loss; but he put his ear so often
to the chink that at last he discovered where Violet lived. Then he
went to the aunt, and said to her, "Madam, you know who I am,
and what power I have; so, between ourselves, do me a favour and
then ask for whatever you wish." "If I can do anything to serve
you," replied the old woman, "I am entirely at your command." "I
ask nothing of you," said the Prince, "but to let me give Violet a
kiss." "If that's all," answered the old woman, "go and hide
yourself in the room downstairs in the garden, and I will find some
pretence or another for sending Violet to you."

As soon as the Prince heard this, he stole into the room without
loss of time; and the old woman, pretending that she wanted to cut
a piece of cloth, said to her niece, "Violet, if you love me, go down
and fetch me the yard-measure." So Violet went, as her aunt bade
her, but when she came to the room she perceived the ambush,
and, taking the yard-measure, she slipped out of the room as
nimbly as a cat, leaving the Prince with his nose made long out of
pure shame and bursting with vexation.

When the old woman saw Violet come running so fast, she
suspected that the trick had not succeeded; so presently after, she
said to the girl, "Go downstairs, niece, and fetch me the ball of
thread that is on the top shelf in the cupboard." So Violet ran, and
taking the thread slipped like an eel out of the hands of the Prince.
But after a little while the old woman said again, "Violet, my dear,
if you do not go downstairs and fetch me the scissors, I cannot get
on at all." Then Violet went down again, but she sprang as
vigorously as a dog out of the trap, and when she came upstairs she
took the scissors and cut off one of her aunt's ears, saying, "Take
that, madam, as a reward for your pains--every deed deserves its
need. If I don't cut off your nose, it is only that you may smell the
bad odour of your reputation." So saying, she went her way home
with a hop, skip, and jump, leaving her aunt eased of one ear and
the Prince full of Let-me-alone.

Not long afterwards, the Prince again passed by the house of
Violet's father; and, seeing her at the window where she used to
stand, he began his old tune, "Good-day, good-day, Violet!"
Whereupon she answered as quickly as a good parish-clerk,
"Good-day, King's son! I know more than you." But Violet's
sisters could no longer bear this behaviour, and they plotted
together how to get rid of her. Now, one of the windows looked
into the garden of an ogre, so they proposed to drive the poor girl
away through this; and letting fall from it a skein of thread with
which they were working a door-curtain for the queen, they cried,
"Alas! alas! we are ruined and shall not be able to finish the work
in time, if Violet, who is the smallest and lightest of us, does not
let herself down by a cord and pick up the thread that has fallen."

Violet could not endure to see her sisters grieving thus, and
instantly offered to go down; so, tying a cord to her, they lowered
her into the garden. But no sooner did she reach the ground than
they let go the rope. It happened that just at that time the ogre
came out to look at his garden, and having caught cold from the
dampness of the ground, he gave such a tremendous sneeze, with
such a noise and explosion, that Violet screamed out with terror,
"Oh, mother, help me!" Thereupon the ogre looked round and
seeing the beautiful maiden behind him, he received her with the
greatest care and affection; and treating her as his own daughter,
he gave her in charge of three fairies, bidding them take care of
her, and rear her up on cherries.

The Prince no longer seeing Violet, and hearing no news of her,
good or bad, fell into such grief that his eyes became swollen, his
face became pale as ashes, his lips livid; and he neither ate a
morsel to get flesh on his body, nor slept a wink to get any rest to
his mind. But trying all possible means and offering large rewards,
he went about spying and inquiring everywhere until, at last, he
discovered where Violet was. Then he sent for the ogre and told
him that, finding himself ill (as he might see was the case) he
begged of him permission to spend a single day and night in his
garden, adding that a small chamber would suffice for him to
repose in. Now, as the ogre was a subject of the Prince's father he
could not refuse him this trifling pleasure; so he offered him all the
rooms in his house; if one was not enough, and his very life itself.
The Prince thanked him, and chose a room which by good luck
was near to Violet's; and, as soon as Night came out to play games
with the Stars, the Prince, finding that Violet had left her door
open, as it was summertime and the place was safe, stole softly
into her room, and taking Violet's arm he gave her two pinches.
Then she awoke and exclaimed, "Oh, father, father, what a
quantity of fleas!" So she went to another bed and the Prince did
the same again and she cried out as before. Then she changed first
the mattress and then the sheet; and so the sport went on the whole
night long, until the Dawn, having brought the news that the Sun
was alive, the mourning that was hung round the sky was all

As soon as it was day, the Prince, passing by that house, and seeing
the maiden at the door, said, as he was wont to do,
"Good-day, good-day, Violet!" and when Violet replied,
"Good-day, King's son! I know more than you!" the Prince
answered, "Oh, father, father, what a quantity of fleas!"

The instant Violet felt this shot she guessed at once that the Prince
had been the cause of her annoyance in the past night; so off she
ran and told it to the fairies. "If it be he," said the fairies, "we will
soon give him tit for tat and as good in return. If this dog has bitten
you, we will manage to get a hair from him. He has give you one,
we will give him back one and a half. Only get the ogre to make
you a pair of slippers covered with little bells, and leave the rest to
us. We will pay him in good coin."

Violet, who was eager to be revenged, instantly got the ogre to
make the slippers for her; and, waiting till the Sky, like a Genoese
woman, had wrapped the black taffety round her face, they went,
all four together, to the house of the Prince, where the fairies and
Violet hid themselves in the chamber. And as soon as ever the
Prince had closed his eyes the fairies made a great noise and
racket, and Violet began to stamp with her feet at such a rate that,
what with the clatter of her heels and the jingling of her bells, the
Prince awoke in great terror and cried out, "Oh, mother, mother,
help me!" And after repeating this two or three times, they slipped
away home.

The next morning the Prince went to take a walk in the garden, for
he could not live a moment without the sight of Violet, who was a
pink of pinks. And seeing her standing at the door, he said,
"Good-day, good-day, Violet!" And Violet answered,
"Good-day, King's son! I know more than you!" Then the Prince
said, "Oh, father, father, what a quantity of fleas!" But Violet
replied, "Oh, mother, mother, help me!"

When the Prince heard this, he said to Violet, "You have
won--your wits are better than mine. I yield--you have conquered.
And now that I see you really know more than I do, I will marry
you without more ado." So he called the ogre and asked her of him
for his wife; but the ogre said it was not his affair, for he had
learned that very morning that Violet was the daughter of Cola
Aniello. So the Prince ordered her father to be called and told him
of the good fortune that was in store for his daughter; whereupon
the marriage feast was celebrated with great joy, and the truth of
the saying was seen that--

"A fair maiden soon gets wed."



Ingratitude is a nail, which, driven into the tree of courtesy, causes
it to wither. It is a broken channel by which the foundations of
affection are undermined; and a lump of soot, which, falling into
the dish of friendship, destroys its scent and savour--as is seen in
daily instances, and, amongst others, in the story which I will now
tell you.

There was one time in my dear city of Naples an old man who was
as poor as poor could be. He was so wretched, so bare, so light,
and with not a farthing in his pocket, that he went naked as a flea.
And being about to shake out the bags of life, he called to him his
sons, Oratiello and Pippo, and said to them, "I am now called upon
by the tenor of my bill to pay the debt I owe to Nature. Believe me,
I should feel great pleasure in quitting this abode of misery, this
den of woes, but that I leave you here behind me--a pair of
miserable fellows, as big as a church, without a stitch upon your
backs, as clean as a barber's basin, as nimble as a serjeant, as dry
as a plum-stone, without so much as a fly can carry upon its foot;
so that, were you to run a hundred miles, not a farthing would drop
from you. My ill-fortune has indeed brought me to such beggary
that I lead the life of a dog, for I have all along, as well you know,
gaped with hunger and gone to bed without a candle. Nevertheless,
now that I am a-dying, I wish to leave you some token of my love.
So do you, Oratiello, who are my first-born, take the sieve that
hangs yonder against the wall, with which you can earn your
bread; and do you, little fellow, take the cat and remember your
daddy!" So saying, he began to whimper; and presently after said,
"God be with you--for it is night!"

Oratiello had his father buried by charity; and then took the sieve
and went riddling here, there, and everywhere to gain a livelihood;
and the more he riddled, the more he earned. But Pippo, taking the
cat, said, "Only see now what a pretty legacy my father has left
me! I, who am not able to support myself, must now provide for
two. Whoever beheld so miserable an inheritance?" Then the cat,
who overheard this lamentation, said to him, "You are grieving
without need, and have more luck than sense. You little know the
good fortune in store for you; and that I am able to make you rich
if I set about it." When Pippo had heard this, he thanked Her
Pussyship, stroked her three or four times on the back, and
commended himself warmly to her. So the cat took compassion on
poor Pippo; and, every morning, when the Sun, with the bait of
light on his golden hook, fishes for the shakes of Night, she betook
herself to the shore, and catching a goodly grey mullet or a fine
dory, she carried it to the King and said, "My Lord Pippo, your
Majesty's most humble slave, sends you this fish with all
reverence, and says, A small present to a great lord.'" Then the
King, with a joyful face, as one usually shows to those who bring a
gift, answered the cat, "Tell this lord, whom I do not know, that I
thank him heartily."

Again, the cat would run to the marshes or the fields, and when the
fowlers had brought down a blackbird, a snipe, or a lark, she
caught it up and presented it to the King with the same message.
She repeated this trick again and again, until one morning the King
said to her, "I feel infinitely obliged to this Lord Pippo, and am
desirous of knowing him, that I may make a return for the kindness
he has shown me." And the cat replied, "The desire of my Lord
Pippo is to give his life for your Majesty's crown; and tomorrow
morning, without fail, as soon as the Sun has set fire to the stubble
of the fields of air, he will come and pay his respects to you."

So when the morning came, the cat went to the King, and said to
him: "Sire, my Lord Pippo sends to excuse himself for not coming,
as last night some of his servants robbed him and ran off, and have
not left him a single shirt to his back." When the King heard this,
he instantly commanded his retainers to take out of his own
wardrobe a quantity of clothes and linen, and sent them to Pippo;
and, before two hours had passed, Pippo went to the palace,
conducted by the cat, where he received a thousand compliments
from the King, who made him sit beside himself, and gave him a
banquet that would amaze you.

While they were eating, Pippo from time to time turned to the cat
and said to her, "My pretty puss, pray take care that those rags
don't slip through our fingers." Then the cat answered, "Be quiet,
be quiet; don't be talking of these beggarly things." The King,
wishing to know the subject of their talk, the cat made answer that
Pippo had taken a fancy to a small lemon; whereupon the King
instantly sent out to the garden for a basketful. But Pippo returned
to the same tune about the old coats and shirts, and the cat again
told him to hold his tongue. Then the King once more asked what
was the matter, and the cat had another excuse to make amends for
Pippo's rudeness.

At last, when they had eaten and conversed for some time about
one thing and another, Pippo took his leave; and the cat stayed
with the King, describing the worth, the wisdom, and the judgment
of Pippo; and, above all, the great wealth he had in the plains of
Rome and Lombardy, which well entitled him to marry even into
the family of a crowned King. Then the King asked what might be
his fortune; and the cat replied that no one could ever count the
moveables, the fixtures, and the household furniture of this rich
man, who did not even know what he possessed. If the King
wished to be informed of it, he had only to send messengers with
the cat, and she would prove to him that there was no wealth in the
world equal to his.

Then the King called some trusty persons, and commanded them
to inform themselves minutely of the truth; so they followed in the
footsteps of the cat, who, as soon as they had passed the frontier of
the kingdom, from time to time ran on before, under the pretext of
providing refreshments for them on the road. Whenever she met a
flock of sheep, a herd of cows, a troop of horses, or a drove of
pigs, she would say to the herdsmen and keepers, "Ho! have a
care! A troop of robbers is coming to carry off everything in the
country. So if you wish to escape their fury, and to have your
things respected, say that they all belong to the Lord Pippo, and not
a hair will be touched."

She said the same at all the farmhouses, so that wherever the
King's people came they found the pipe tuned; for everything they
met with, they were told, belonged to the Lord Pippo. At last they
were tired of asking, and returned to the King, telling seas and
mountains of the riches of Lord Pippo. The King, hearing this
report, promised the cat a good drink if she should manage to
bring about the match; and the cat, playing the shuttle between
them, at last concluded the marriage. So Pippo came, and the King
gave him his daughter and a large portion.

At the end of a month of festivities, Pippo wished to take his bride
to his estates, so the King accompanied them as far as the
frontiers; and he went on to Lombardy, where, by the cat's advice,
he purchased a large estate and became a baron.

Pippo, seeing himself now so rich, thanked the cat more than
words can express, saying that he owed his life and his greatness to
her good offices; and that the ingenuity of a cat had done more for
him that the wit of his father. Therefore, said he, she might dispose
of his life and his property as she pleased; and he gave her his
word that when she died, which he prayed might not be for a
hundred years, he would have her embalmed and put into a golden
coffin, and set in his own chamber, that he might keep her memory
always before his eyes.

The cat listened to these lavish professions; and before three days
she pretended to be dead, and stretched herself at full length in the
garden. When Pippo's wife saw her, she cried out, "Oh, husband,
what a sad misfortune! The cat is dead!" "Devil die with her!" said
Pippo. "Better her than we!" "What shall we do with her?" replied
the wife. "Take her by the leg," said he, "and fling her out of the

Then the cat, who heard this fine reward when she least expected
it, began to say, "Is this the return you make for my taking you
from beggary? Are these the thanks I get for freeing you from rags
that you might have hung distaffs with? Is this my reward for
having put good clothes on your back when you were a poor,
starved, miserable, tatter-shod ragamuffin? But such is the fate of
him who washes an ass's head! Go! A curse upon all I have done
for you! A fine gold coffin you had prepared for me! A fine funeral
you were going to give me! Go, now! serve, labour, toil, sweat to
get this fine reward! Unhappy is he who does a good deed in hope
of a return. Well was it said by the philosopher, He who lies down
an ass, an ass he finds himself.' But let him who does most, expect
least; smooth words and ill deeds deceive alike both fools and

So saying, she drew her cloak about her and went her way. All that
Pippo, with the utmost humility, could do to soothe her was of no
avail. She would not return; but ran on and on without ever turning
her head about, saying--

"Heaven keep me from the rich grown poor,
And from the beggar who of wealth gains store."



It always happens that he who is over-curious in prying into the
affairs of other people, strikes his own foot with the axe; and the
King of Long-Furrow is a proof of this, who, by poking his nose
into secrets, brought his daughter into trouble and ruined his
unhappy son-in-law--who, in attempting to make a thrust with his
head was left with it broken.

There was once on a time a gardener's wife, who longed to have a
son more than a man in a fever for cold water, or the innkeeper for
the arrival of the mail-coach.

It chanced one day that the poor man went to the mountain to get a
faggot, and when he came home and opened it he found a pretty
little serpent among the twigs. At the sight of this, Sapatella (for
that was the name of the gardener's wife) heaved a deep sigh, and
said, "Alas! even the serpents have their little serpents; but I
brought ill-luck with me into this world." At these words, the little
serpent spoke, and said, "Well, then, since you cannot have
children, take me for a child, and you will make a good bargain,
for I shall love you better than my mother." Sapatella, hearing a
serpent speak thus, nearly fainted; but, plucking up courage, she
said, "If it were for nothing else than the affection which you offer,
I am content to take you, and treat you as if you were really my
own child." So saying, she assigned him a hole in a corner of the
house for a cradle, and gave him for food a share of what she had
with the greatest goodwill in the world.

The serpent increased in size from day to day; and when he had
grown pretty big, he said to Cola Matteo, the gardener, whom he
looked on as his father, "Daddy, I want to get married." "With all
my heart," said Cola Matteo. "We must look out for another
serpent like yourself, and try to make up a match between you."
"What serpent are you talking of?" said the little serpent. "I
suppose, forsooth, we are all the same with vipers and adders! It is
easy to see you are nothing but a country bumpkin, and make a
nosegay of every plant. I want the King's daughter; so go this very
instant and ask the King for her, and tell him it is a serpent who
demands her." Cola Matteo, who was a plain, straightforward kind
of man, and knew nothing about matters of this sort, went
innocently to the King and delivered his message,

"The messenger should not be beaten more
Than are the sands upon the shore!"

"Know then that a serpent wants your daughter for his wife, and I
am come to try if we can make a match between a serpent and a
dove!" The King, who saw at a glance that he was a blockhead, to
get rid of him, said, "Go and tell the serpent that I will give him
my daughter if he turns all the fruit of this orchard into gold." And
so saying, he burst out a-laughing, and dismissed him.

When Cola Matteo went home and delivered the answer to the
serpent, he said, "Go to-morrow morning and gather up all the
fruit-stones you can find in the city, and sow them in the orchard,
and you will see pearls strung on rushes!" Cola Mateo, who was no
conjurer, neither knew how to comply nor refuse; so next morning,
as soon as the Sun with his golden broom had swept away the dirt
of the Night from the fields watered by the dawn, he took a basket
on his arm and went from street to street, picking up all the stones
of peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, and cherries that he could
find. He then went to the orchard of the palace and sowed them, as
the serpent had desired. In an instant the trees shot up, and stems
and branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit were all of glittering
gold--at the sight of which the King was in an ecstasy of
amazement, and cried aloud with joy.

But when Cola Matteo was sent by the serpent to the King, to
demand the performance of his promise, the King said, "Fair and
easy, I must first have something else if he would have my
daughter; and it is that he make all the walls and the ground of the
orchard to be of precious stones."

When the gardener told this to the serpent, he made answer, "Go
to-morrow morning and gather up all the bits of broken
crockery-ware you can find, and throw them on the walks and on
the walls of the orchard; for we will not let this small difficulty
stand in our way." As soon, therefore, as the Night, having aided
the robbers, is banished from the sky, and goes about collecting the
faggots of twilight, Cola Matteo took a basket under his arm, and
went about collecting bits of tiles, lids and bottoms of pipkins,
pieces of plate and dishes, handles of jugs, spouts of pitchers. He
picked up all the spoiled, broken, cracked lamps and all the
fragments of pottery he could find in his way. And when he had
done all that the serpent had told him, you could see the whole
orchard mantled with emeralds and chalcedonies, and coated with
rubies and carbuncles, so that the lustre dazzled your eyes. The
King was struck all of a heap by the sight, and knew not what had
befallen him. But when the serpent sent again to let him know that
he was expecting the performance of his promise, the King
answered, "Oh, all that has been done is nothing, if he does not
turn this palace into gold."

When Cola Matteo told the serpent this new fancy of the King's,
the serpent said, "Go and get a bundle of herbs and rub the bottom
of the palace walls with them. We shall see if we cannot satisfy
this whim!" Away went Cola that very moment, and made a great
broom of cabbages, radishes, leeks, parsley, turnips, and carrots;
and when he had rubbed the lower part of the palace with it,
instantly you might see it shining like a golden ball on a
weather-vane. And when the gardener came again to demand the
hand of the Princess, the King, seeing all his retreat cut off, called
his daughter, and said to her, "My dear Grannonia, I have tried to
get rid of a suitor who asked to marry you, by making such
conditions as seemed to me impossible. But as I am beaten, and
obliged to consent, I pray you, as you are a dutiful daughter, to
enable me to keep my word, and to be content with what Fate wills
and I am obliged to do."

"Do as you please, father," said Grannonia; "I shall not oppose a
single jot of your will!" The King, hearing this, bade Cola Matteo
tell the serpent to come.

The serpent then set out for the palace, mounted on a car all of
gold and drawn by four golden elephants. But wherever he came
the people fled away in terror, seeing such a large and frightful
serpent making his progress through the city; and when he arrived
at the palace, the courtiers all trembled like rushes and ran away;
and even the very scullions did not dare to stay in the place. The
King and Queen, also, shivering with fear, crept into a chamber.
Only Grannonia stood her ground; for though her father and her
mother cried continually, "Fly, fly, Grannonia, save yourself," she
would not stir from the spot, saying, "Why should I fly from the
husband you have given me?" And when the serpent came into the
room, he took Grannonia by the waist, in his tail, and gave her
such a shower of kisses that the King writhed like a worm, and
went as pale as Death. Then the serpent carried her into another
room and fastened the door; and shaking off his skin on the floor,
he became a most beautiful youth, with a head all covered with
ringlets of gold, and with eyes that would enchant you!

When the King saw the serpent go into the room with his daughter
and shut the door after him, he said to his wife, "Heaven have
mercy on that good soul, my daughter! for she is dead to a
certainty, and that accursed serpent has doubtless swallowed her
down like the yolk of an egg." Then he put his eye to the
key-hole to see what had become of her; but when he saw the
exceeding beauty of the youth, and the skin of the serpent that he
had left lying on the ground, he gave the door a kick, then in they
rushed, and, taking the skin, flung it into the fire and burned it.

When the youth saw this, he cried, "Ah, fools, what have you
done!" and instantly he was turned into a dove and flew at the
window, where, as he struck his head through the panes, he cut
himself sorely.

Grannonia, who thus saw herself at the same moment happy and
unhappy, joyful and miserable, rich and poor, tore her hair and
bewailed her fate, reproaching her father and mother; but they
excused themselves, declaring that they had not meant to do harm.
But she went on weeping and wailing until Night came forth to
drape the canopy of the sky for the funeral of the Sun; and when
they were all in bed, she took her jewels, which were in a
writing-desk, and went out by the back-door, to search everywhere
for the treasure she had lost.

She went out of the city, guided by the light of the moon; and on
her way she met a fox, who asked her if she wished for company.
"Of all things, my friend," replied Grannonia. "I should be
delighted; for I am not over well acquainted with the country." So
they travelled along together till they came to a wood, where the
trees, at play like children, were making baby-houses for the
shadows to lie in. And as they were now tired and wished to rest,
they sheltered under the leaves where a fountain was playing tricks
with the grass, throwing water on it by the dishful. There they
stretched themselves on a mattress of tender soft grass, and paid
the duty of repose which they owed to Nature for the merchandise
of life.

They did not awake till the Sun, with his usual fire, gave the signal
to sailors and travellers to set out on their road; and, after they
awoke, they still stayed for some time listening to the songs of the
birds, in which Grannonia took great delight. The fox, seeing this,
said to her, "You would feel twice as much pleasure if, like me,
you understood what they are saying." At these words
Grannonia--for women are by nature as curious as they are
talkative--begged the fox to tell her what he had heard the birds
saying. So, after having let her entreat him for a long time, to raise
her curiosity about what he was going to relate, he told her that the
birds were talking to each other about what had lately befallen the
King's son, who was as beautiful as a jay. Because he had
offended a wicked ogress, she had laid him under a spell to pass
seven years in the form of a serpent; and when he had nearly ended
the seven years, he fell in love with the daughter of a King, and
being one day in a room with the maiden, he had cast his skin on
the ground, when her father and mother rushed in and burned it.
Then, when the Prince was flying away in the shape of a dove, he
broke a pane in the window to escape, and hurt his head so
severely that he was given over by the doctors.

Grannonia, who thus heard her own onions spoken of, asked if
there was any cure for this injury. The fox replied that there was
none other than by anointing his wounds with the blood of those
very birds that had been telling the story. When Grannonia heard
this, she fell down on her knees to the fox, entreating him to catch
those birds for her, that she might get their blood; adding that, like
honest comrades, they would share the gain. "Fair and softly," said
the fox; "let us wait till night, and when the birds are gone to bed,
trust me to climb the tree and capture them, one after the other."

So they waited till Day was gone, and Earth had spread out her
great black board to catch the wax that might drop from the tapers
of Night. Then the fox, as soon as he saw all the birds fast asleep
on the branches, stole up quite softly, and one after another,
throttled all the linnets, larks, tomtits, blackbirds, woodpeckers,
thrushes, jays, fly-catchers, little owls, goldfinches, bullfinches,
chaffinches, and redbreasts that were on the trees. And when he
had killed them all they put the blood in a little bottle, which the
fox carried with him, to refresh himself on the road.

Grannonia was so overjoyed that she hardly touched the ground;
but the fox said to her, "What fine joy in a dream is this, my
daughter! You have done nothing, unless you mix my blood also
with that of the birds"; and so saying he set off to run away.
Grannonia, who saw all her hopes likely to be destroyed, had
recourse to woman's art--flattery; and she said to him, "Gossip
fox, there would be some reason for your saving your hide if I
were not under so many obligations to you, and if there were no
other foxes in the world. But you know how much I owe you, and
that there is no scarcity of the likes of you on these plains. Rely on
my good faith. Don't act like the cow that kicks over the pail
which she has just filled with milk. You have done the chief part,
and now you fail at the last. Do stop! Believe me, and come with
me to the city of this King, where you may sell me for a slave if
you will!"

The fox never dreamed that he could be out-forced by a woman; so
he agreed to travel on with her. But they had hardly gone fifty
paces, when she lifted up the stick she carried and gave him such a
neat rap that he forthwith stretched his legs. Then she put his blood
into the little bottle; and setting off again she stayed not till she
came to Big Valley, where she went straightway to the royal
palace, and sent word that she was come to cure the Prince.

Then the King ordered her to be brought before him, and he was
astonished at seeing a girl undertake a thing which the best doctors
in his kingdom had failed to do. However, a trial could do no
harm; and so he said he wished greatly to see the experiment
made. But Grannonia answered, "If I succeed, you must promise to
give him to me for a husband." The King, who looked on his son
to be even as already dead, answered her, "If you give him to me
safe and sound, I will give him to you sound and safe; for it is no
great matter to give a husband to her that gives me a son."

So they went to the chamber of the Prince, and hardly had she
anointed him with the blood, when he found himself just as if
nothing had ever ailed him. Grannonia, when she saw the Prince
stout and hearty, bade the King keep his word; whereupon he,
turning to his son, said, "My son, a moment ago you were all but
dead, and now I see you alive, and can hardly believe it. Therefore,
as I have promised this maiden that if she cured you she should
have you for a husband, now enable me to perform my promise, by
all the love you bear me, since gratitude obliges me to pay this

When the Prince heard these words, he said, "Sir, I would that I
was free to prove to you the love I bear you. But as I have already
pledged my faith to another woman, you would not consent that I
should break my word, nor would this maiden wish that I should
do such a wrong to her whom I love; nor can I, indeed, alter my

Grannonia, hearing this, felt a secret pleasure not to be described
at finding herself still alive in the memory of the Prince. Her
whole face became crimson as she said, "If I could induce this
maiden to resign her claims, would you then consent to my wish?"
"Never," replied the Prince, "will I banish from this breast the fair
image of her whom I love. I shall ever remain of the same mind
and will; and I would sooner see myself in danger of losing my
place at the table of life than play so mean a trick!"

Grannonia could no longer disguise herself, and discovered to the
Prince who she was; for, the chamber having been darkened on
account of the wound in his head, he had not known her. But the
Prince, now that he recognised her, embraced her with a joy that
would amaze you, telling his father what he had done and suffered
for her. Then they sent to invite her parents, the King and Queen of
Long Field; and they celebrated the wedding with wonderful
festivity, making great sport of the great ninny of a fox, and
concluding at the last of the last that--

"Pain doth indeed a seasoning prove
Unto the joys of constant love."



Truly the wise man said well that a command of gall cannot be
obeyed like one of sugar. A man must require just and reasonable
things if he would see the scales of obedience properly trimmed.
>From orders which are improper springs resistance which is not
easily overcome, as happened to the King of Rough-Rock, who, by
asking what he ought not of his daughter, caused her to run away
from him, at the risk of losing both honour and life.

There lived, it is said, once upon a time a King of
Rough-Rock, who had a wife the very mother of beauty, but in the
full career of her years she fell from the horse of health and broke
her life. Before the candle of life went out at the auction of her
years she called her husband and said to him, "I know you have
always loved me tenderly; show me, therefore, at the close of my
days the completion of your love by promising me never to marry
again, unless you find a woman as beautiful as I have been,
otherwise I leave you my curse, and shall bear you hatred even in
the other world."

The King, who loved his wife beyond measure, hearing this her
last wish, burst into tears, and for some time could not answer a
single word. At last, when he had done weeping, he said to her,
"Sooner than take another wife may the gout lay hold of me; may I
have my head cut off like a mackerel! My dearest love, drive such
a thought from your mind; do not believe in dreams, or that I could
love any other woman; you were the first new coat of my love, and
you shall carry away with you the last rags of my affection."

As he said these words the poor young Queen, who was at the
point of death, turned up her eyes and stretched out her feet. When
the King saw her life thus running out he unstopped the channels
of his eyes, and made such a howling and beating and outcry that
all the Court came running up, calling on the name of the dear
soul, and upbraiding Fortune for taking her from him, and plucking
out his beard, he cursed the stars that had sent him such a
misfortune. But bearing in mind the maxim, "Pain in one's elbow
and pain for one's wife are alike hard to bear, but are soon over,"
ere the Night had gone forth into the place-of-arms in the sky to
muster the bats he began to count upon his fingers and to reflect
thus to himself, "Here is my wife dead, and I am left a wretched
widower, with no hope of seeing any one but this poor daughter
whom she has left me. I must therefore try to discover some means
or other of having a son and heir. But where shall I look? Where
shall I find a woman equal in beauty to my wife? Every one
appears a witch in comparison with her; where, then, shall I find
another with a bit of stick, or seek another with the bell, if Nature
made Nardella (may she be in glory), and then broke the mould?
Alas, in what a labyrinth has she put me, in what a perplexity has
the promise I made her left me! But what do I say? I am running
away before I have seen the wolf; let me open my eyes and ears
and look about; may there not be some other as beautiful? Is it
possible that the world should be lost to me? Is there such a dearth
of women, or is the race extinct?"

So saying he forthwith issued a proclamation and command that
all the handsome women in the world should come to the
touch-stone of beauty, for he would take the most beautiful to wife
and endow her with a kingdom. Now, when this news was spread
abroad, there was not a woman in the universe who did not come
to try her luck--not a witch, however ugly, who stayed behind; for
when it is a question of beauty, no scullion-wench will
acknowledge herself surpassed; every one piques herself on being
the handsomest; and if the looking-glass tells her the truth she
blames the glass for being untrue, and the quicksilver for being put
on badly.

When the town was thus filled with women the King had them all
drawn up in a line, and he walked up and down from top to
bottom, and as he examined and measured each from head to foot
one appeared to him wry-browed, another long-nosed, another
broad-mouthed, another thick-lipped, another tall as a
may-pole, another short and dumpy, another too stout, another too
slender; the Spaniard did not please him on account of her dark
colour, the Neopolitan was not to his fancy on account of her gait,
the German appeared cold and icy, the Frenchwoman frivolous and
giddy, the Venetian with her light hair looked like a distaff of flax.
At the end of the end, one for this cause and another for that, he
sent them all away, with one hand before and the other behind;
and, seeing that so many fair faces were all show and no wool, he
turned his thoughts to his own daughter, saying, "Why do I go
seeking the impossible when my daughter Preziosa is formed in
the same mould of beauty as her mother? I have this fair face here
in my house, and yet go looking for it at the fag-end of the world.
She shall marry whom I will, and so I shall have an heir."

When Preziosa heard this she retired to her chamber, and
bewailing her ill-fortune as if she would not leave a hair upon her
head; and, whilst she was lamenting thus, an old woman came to
her, who was her confidant. As soon as she saw Preziosa, who
seemed to belong more to the other world than to this, and heard
the cause of her grief, the old woman said to her, "Cheer up, my
daughter, do not despair; there is a remedy for every evil save
death. Now listen; if your father speaks to you thus once again put
this bit of wood into your mouth, and instantly you will be changed
into a she-bear; then off with you! for in his fright he will let you
depart, and go straight to the wood, where Heaven has kept
good-fortune in store for you since the day you were born, and
whenever you wish to appear a woman, as you are and will remain,
only take the piece of wood out of your mouth and you will return
to your true form." Then Preziosa embraced the old woman, and,
giving her a good apronful of meal, and ham and bacon, sent her

As soon as the Sun began to change his quarters, the King ordered
the musicians to come, and, inviting all his lords and vassals, he
held a great feast. And after dancing for five or six hours, they all
sat down to table, and ate and drank beyond measure. Then the
King asked his courtiers to whom he should marry Preziosa, as she
was the picture of his dead wife. But the instant Preziosa heard
this, she slipped the bit of wood into her mouth, and took the
figure of a terrible she-bear, at the sight of which all present were
frightened out of their wits, and ran off as fast as they could

Meanwhile Preziosa went out, and took her way to a wood, where
the Shades were holding a consultation how they might do some
mischief to the Sun at the close of day. And there she stayed, in the
pleasant companionship of the other animals, until the son of the
King of Running-Water came to hunt in that part of the country,
who, at the sight of the bear, had like to have died on the spot. But
when he saw the beast come gently up to him, wagging her tail like
a little dog and rubbing her sides against him, he took courage, and
patted her, and said, "Good bear, good bear! there, there! poor
beast, poor beast!" Then he led her home and ordered that she
should be taken great care of; and he had her put into a garden
close to the royal palace, that he might see her from the window
whenever he wished.

One day, when all the people of the house were gone out, and the
Prince was left alone, he went to the window to look out at the
bear; and there he beheld Preziosa, who had taken the piece of
wood out of her mouth, combing her golden tresses. At the sight
of this beauty, which was beyond the beyonds, he had like to have
lost his senses with amazement, and tumbling down the stairs he
ran out into the garden. But Preziosa, who was on the watch and
observed him, popped the piece of wood into her mouth, and was
instantly changed into a bear again.

When the Prince came down and looked about in vain for
Preziosa, whom he had seen from the window above, he was so
amazed at the trick that a deep melancholy came over him, and in
four days he fell sick, crying continually, "My bear, my bear!" His
mother, hearing him wailing thus, imagined that the bear had done
him some hurt, and gave orders that she should be killed. But the
servants, enamoured of the tameness of the bear, who made herself
beloved by the very stones in the road, took pity on her, and,
instead of killing her, they led her to the wood, and told the queen
that they had put an end to her.

When this came to the ears of the Prince, he acted in a way to pass
belief. Ill or well he jumped out of bed, and was going at once to
make mincemeat of the servants. But when they told him the truth
of the affair, he jumped on horseback, half-dead as he was, and
went rambling about and seeking everywhere, until at length he
found the bear. Then he took her home again, and putting her into
a chamber, said to her, "O lovely morsel for a King, who art shut
up in this skin! O candle of love, who art enclosed within this hairy
lanthorn! Wherefore all this trifling? Do you wish to see me pine
and pant, and die by inches? I am wasting away; without hope, and
tormented by thy beauty. And you see clearly the proof, for I am
shrunk two-thirds in size, like wine boiled down, and am nothing
but skin and bone, for the fever is double-stitched to my veins. So
lift up the curtain of this hairy hide, and let me gaze upon the
spectacle of thy beauty! Raise, O raise the leaves off this basket,
and let me get a sight of the fine fruit beneath! Lift up that curtain,
and let my eyes pass in to behold the pomp of wonders! Who has
shut up so smooth a creature in a prison woven of hair? Who has
locked up so rich a treasure in a leathern chest? Let me behold this
display of graces, and take in payment all my love; for nothing else
can cure the troubles I endure."

But when he had said, again and again, this and a great deal more,
and still saw that all his words were thrown away, he took to his
bed, and had such a desperate fit that the doctors prognosticated
badly of his case. Then his mother, who had no other joy in the
world, sat down by his bedside, and said to him, "My son, whence
comes all this grief? What melancholy humour has seized you?
You are young, you are loved, you are great, you are
rich--what then is it you want, my son? Speak; a bashful beggar
carries an empty bag. If you want a wife, only choose, and I will
bring the match about; do you take, and I'll pay. Do you not see
that your illness is an illness to me? Your pulse beats with fever in
your veins, and my heart beats with illness in my brain, for I have
no other support of my old age than you. So be cheerful now, and
cheer up my heart, and do not see the whole kingdom thrown into
mourning, this house into lamentation, and your mother forlorn
and heart-broken."

When the Prince heard these words, he said, "Nothing can console
me but the sight of the bear. Therefore, if you wish to see me well
again, let her be brought into this chamber; I will have no one else
to attend me, and make my bed, and cook for me, but she herself;
and you may be sure that this pleasure will make me well in a

Thereupon his mother, although she thought it ridiculous enough
for the bear to act as cook and chambermaid, and feared that her
son was not in his right mind, yet, in order to gratify him, had the
bear fetched. And when the bear came up to the Prince's bed, she
raised her paw and felt the patient's pulse, which made the Queen
laugh outright, for she thought every moment that the bear would
scratch his nose. Then the Prince said, "My dear bear, will you not
cook for me, and give me my food, and wait upon me?" and the
bear nodded her head, to show that she accepted the office. Then
his mother had some fowls brought, and a fire lighted on the
hearth in the same chamber, and some water set to boil;
whereupon the bear, laying hold on a fowl, scalded and plucked it
handily, and drew it, and then stuck one portion of it on the spit,
and with the other part she made such a delicious hash that the
Prince, who could not relish even sugar, licked his fingers at the
taste. And when he had done eating, the bear handed him drink
with such grace that the Queen was ready to kiss her on the
forehead. Thereupon the Prince arose, and the bear quickly set
about making the bed; and running into the garden, she gathered a
clothful of roses and citron-flowers and strewed them over it, so
that the queen said the bear was worth her weight in gold, and that
her son had good reason to be fond of her.

But when the Prince saw these pretty offices they only added fuel
to the fire; and if before he wasted by ounces, he now melted away
by pounds, and he said to the Queen, "My lady mother, if I do not
give this bear a kiss, the breath will leave my body." Whereupon
the Queen, seeing him fainting away, said, "Kiss him, kiss him, my
beautiful beast! Let me not see my poor son die of longing!" Then
the bear went up to the Prince, and taking him by the cheeks,
kissed him again and again. Meanwhile (I know not how it was)
the piece of wood slipped out of Preziosa's mouth, and she
remained in the arms of the Prince, the most beautiful creature in
the world; and pressing her to his heart, he said, "I have caught
you, my little rogue! You shall not escape from me again without a
good reason." At these words Preziosa, adding the colour of
modesty to the picture of her natural beauty, said to him, "I am
indeed in your hands--only guard me safely, and marry me when
you will."

Then the Queen inquired who the beautiful maiden was, and what
had brought her to this savage life; and Preziosa related the whole
story of her misfortunes, at which the Queen, praising her as a
good and virtuous girl, told her son that she was content that
Preziosa should be his wife. Then the Prince, who desired nothing
else in life, forthwith pledged her his faith; and the mother giving
them her blessing, this happy marriage was celebrated with great
feasting and illuminations, and Preziosa experienced the truth of
the saying that--

"One who acts well may always expect good."



He who is born a prince should not act like a beggar boy. The man
who is high in rank ought not to set a bad example to those below
him; for the little donkey learns from the big one to eat straw. It is
no wonder, therefore, that Heaven sends him troubles by
bushels--as happened to a prince who was brought into great
difficulties for ill-treating and tormenting a poor woman, so that he
was near losing his life miserably.

About eight miles from Naples there was once a deep wood of
fig-trees and poplars. In this wood stood a half-ruined cottage,
wherein dwelt an old woman, who was as light of teeth as she was
burdened with years. She had a hundred wrinkles in her face, and a
great many more in her purse, and all her silver covered her head,
so that she went from one thatched cottage to another, begging
alms to keep life in her. But as folks nowadays much rather give a
purseful of crowns to a crafty spy than a farthing to a poor needy
man, she had to toil a whole day to get a dish of kidney-beans, and
that at a time when they were very plentiful. Now one day the poor
old woman, after having washed the beans, put them in a pot,
placed it outside the window, and went on her way to the wood to
gather sticks for the fire. But while she was away, Nardo Aniello,
the King's son, passed by the cottage on his way to the chase; and,
seeing the pot at the window, he took a great fancy to have a fling
at it; and he made a bet with his attendants to see who should fling
the straightest and hit in the middle with a stone. Then they began
to throw at the innocent pot; and in three or four casts the prince
hit it to a hair and won the bet.

The old woman returned just after they had gone away, and seeing
the sad disaster, she began to act as if she were beside herself,
crying, "Ay, let him stretch out his arm and go about boasting how
he has broken this pot! The villainous rascal who has sown my
beans out of season. If he had no compassion for my misery, he
should have had some regard for his own interest; for I pray
Heaven, on my bare knees and from the bottom of my soul, that he
may fall in love with the daughter of some ogress, who may plague
and torment him in every way. May his mother-in-law lay on him
such a curse that he may see himself living and yet bewail himself
as dead; and being spellbound by the beauty of the daughter, and
the arts of the mother, may he never be able to escape, but be
obliged to remain. May she order him about with a cudgel in her
hand, and give him bread with a little fork, that he may have good
cause to lament over my beans which he has spilt on the ground."
The old woman's curses took wing and flew up to Heaven in a
trice; so that, notwithstanding what a proverb says, "for a woman's
curse you are never the worse, and the coat of a horse that has been
cursed always shines," she rated the Prince so soundly that he
well-nigh jumped out of his skin.

Scarcely had two hours passed when the Prince, losing himself in
the wood and parted from his attendants, met a beautiful maiden,
who was going along picking up snails and saying with a

"Snail, snail, put out your horn,
Your mother is laughing you to scorn,
For she has a little son just born."

When the Prince saw this beautiful apparition he knew not what
had befallen him; and, as the beams from the eyes of that crystal
face fell upon the tinder of his heart, he was all in a flame, so that
he became a lime-kiln wherein the stones of designs were burnt to
build the houses of hopes.

Now Filadoro (for so the maiden was named) was no wiser than
other people; and the Prince, being a smart young fellow with
handsome moustachios, pierced her heart through and through, so
that they stood looking at one another for compassion with their
eyes, which proclaimed aloud the secret of their souls. After they
had both remained thus for a long time, unable to utter a single
word, the Prince at last, finding his voice, addressed Filadoro thus,
"From what meadow has this flower of beauty sprung? From what
mine has this treasure of beauteous things come to light? O happy
woods, O fortunate groves, which this nobility inhabits, which this
illumination of the festivals of love irradiates."

"Kiss this hand, my lord," answered Filadoro, "not so much
modesty; for all the praise that you have bestowed on me belongs
to your virtues, not to my merits. Such as I am, handsome or ugly,
fat or thin, a witch or a fairy, I am wholly at your command; for
your manly form has captivated my heart, your princely mien has
pierced me through from side to side, and from this moment I give
myself up to you for ever as a chained slave."

At these words the Prince seized at once her hand, kissing the
ivory hook that had caught his heart. At this ceremony of the
prince, Filadoro's face grew as red as scarlet. But the more Nardo
Aniello wished to continue speaking, the more his tongue seemed
tied; for in this wretched life there is no wine of enjoyment
without dregs of vexation. And just at this moment Filadoro's
mother suddenly appeared, who was such an ugly ogress that
Nature seemed to have formed her as a model of horrors. Her hair
was like a besom of holly; her forehead like a rough stone; her
eyes were comets that predicted all sorts of evils; her mouth had
tusks like a boar's--in short, from head to foot she was ugly beyond
imagination. Now she seized Nardo Aniello by the nape of his
neck, saying, "Hollo! what now, you thief! you rogue!"

"Yourself the rogue," replied the Prince, "back with you, old hag!"
And he was just going to draw his sword, when all at once he stood
fixed like a sheep that has seen the wolf and can neither stir nor
utter a sound, so that the ogress led him like an ass by the halter to
her house. And when they came there she said to him, "Mind, now,
and work like a dog, unless you wish to die like a dog. For your
first task to-day you must have this acre of land dug and sown
level as this room; and recollect that if I return in the evening and
do not find the work finished, I shall eat you up." Then, bidding
her daughter take care of the house, she went to a meeting of the
other ogresses in the wood.

Nardo Aniello, seeing himself in this dilemma, began to bathe his
breast with tears, cursing his fate which brought him to this pass.
But Filadoro comforted him, bidding him be of good heart, for she
would ever risk her life to assist him. She said that she ought not to
lament his fate which had led him to the house where she lived,
who loved him so dearly, and that he showed little return for her
love by being so despairing at what had happened. The Prince
replied: "I am not grieved at having exchanged the royal palace for
this hovel; splendid banquets for a crust of bread; a sceptre for a
spade; not at seeing myself, who have terrified armies, now
frightened by this hideous scarecrow; for I should deem all my
disasters good fortune to be with you and to gaze upon you with
these eyes. But what pains me to the heart is that I have to dig till
my hands are covered with hard skin--I whose fingers are so
delicate and soft as Barbary wool; and, what is still worse, I have
to do more than two oxen could get through in a day. If I do not
finish the task this evening your mother will eat me up; yet I
should not grieve so much to quit this wretched body as to be
parted from so beautiful a creature."

So saying he heaved sighs by bushels, and shed many tears. But
Filadoro, drying his eyes, said to him, "Fear not that my mother
will touch a hair of your head. Trust to me and do not be afraid; for
you must know that I possess magical powers, and am able to
make cream set on water and to darken the sun. Be of good heart,
for by the evening the piece of land will be dug and sown without
any one stirring a hand."

When Nardo Aniello heard this, he answered, "If you have magic
power, as you say, O beauty of the world, why do we not fly from
this country? For you shall live like a queen in my father's house."
And Filadoro replied, "A certain conjunction of the stars prevents
this, but the trouble will soon pass and we shall be happy."

With these and a thousand other pleasant discourses the day
passed, and when the ogress came back she called to her daughter
from the road and said, "Filadoro, let down your hair," for as the
house had no staircase she always ascended by her daughter's
tresses. As soon as Filadoro heard her mother's voice she unbound
her hair and let fall her tresses, making a golden ladder to an iron
heart. Whereupon the old woman mounted up quickly, and ran into
the garden; but when she found it all dug and sown, she was beside
herself with amazement; for it seemed to her impossible that a
delicate lad should have accomplished such hard labour.

But the next morning, hardly had the Sun gone out to warm
himself on account of the cold he had caught in the river of India,
than the ogress went down again, bidding Nardo Aniello take care
that in the evening she should find ready split six stacks of wood
which were in the cellar, with every log cleft into four pieces, or
otherwise she would cut him up like bacon and make a fry of him
for supper.

On hearing this decree the poor Prince had liked to have died of
terror, and Filadoro, seeing him half dead and pale as ashes, said,
"Why! What a coward you are to be frightened at such a trifle."
"Do you think it a trifle," replied Nardo Aniello, "to split six
stacks of wood, with every log cleft into four pieces, between this
time and the evening? Alas, I shall sooner be cleft in halves myself
to fill the mouth of this horrid old woman." "Fear not," answered
Filadoro, "for without giving yourself any trouble the wood shall
all be split in good time. But meanwhile cheer up, if you love me,
and do not split my heart with such lamentations."

Now when the Sun had shut up the shop of his rays, in order not to
sell light to the Shades, the old woman returned; and, bidding
Filadoro let down the usual ladder, she ascended, and finding the
wood already split she began to suspect it was her own daughter
who had given her this check. At the third day, in order to make a
third trial, she told the Prince to clean out for her a cistern which
held a thousand casks of water, for she wished to fill it anew,
adding that if the task were not finished by the evening she would
make mincemeat of him. When the old woman went away Nardo
Aniello began again to weep and wail; and Filadoro, seeing that
the labours increased, and that the old woman had something of
the brute in her to burden the poor fellow with such tasks and
troubles, said to him, "Be quiet, and as soon as the moment has
passed that interrupts my art, before the Sun says I am off,' we
will say good-bye to this house; sure enough, this evening my
mother shall find the land cleared, and I will go off with you, alive
or dead." The Prince, on hearing this news, embraced Filadoro and
said, "Thou art the pole-star of this storm-tossed bark, my soul!
Thou art the prop of my hopes."

Now, when the evening drew nigh, Filadoro having dug a hole in
the garden into a large underground passage, they went out and
took the way to Naples. But when they arrived at the grotto of
Pozzuolo, Nardo Aniello said to Filadoro, "It will never do for me
to take you to the palace on foot and dressed in this manner.
Therefore wait at this inn and I will soon return with horses,
carriages, servants, and clothes." So Filadoro stayed behind and
the Prince went on his way to the city. Meantime the ogress
returned home, and as Filadoro did not answer to her usual
summons, she grew suspicious, ran into the wood, and cutting a
great, long pole, placed it against the window and climbed up like
a cat. Then she went into the house and hunted everywhere inside
and out, high and low, but found no one. At last she perceived the
hole, and seeing that it led into the open air, in her rage she did not
leave a hair upon her head, cursing her daughter and the Prince,
and praying that at the first kiss Filadoro's lover should receive he
might forget her.

But let us leave the old woman to say her wicked curses and return
to the Prince, who on arriving at the palace, where he was thought
to be dead, put the whole house in an uproar, every one running to
meet him and crying, "Welcome! welcome! Here he is, safe and
sound, how happy we are to see him back in this country," with a
thousand other words of affection. But as he was going up the
stairs his mother met him half-way and embraced and kissed him,
saying, "My son, my jewel, the apple of my eye, where have you
been and why have you stayed away so long to make us all die
with anxiety?" The Prince knew not what to answer, for he did not
wish to tell her of his misfortunes; but no sooner had his mother
kissed him than, owing to the curse, all that had passed went from
his memory. Then the Queen told her son that to put an end to his
going hunting and wasting his time in the woods, she wished him
to get married. "Well and good," replied the Prince, "I am ready
and prepared to do what you desire." So it was settled that within
four days they should lead home to him the bride who had just
arrived from the country of Flanders; and thereupon a great
feasting and banquets were held.

But meanwhile Filadoro, seeing that her husband stayed away so
long and hearing (I know not how) of the feast, waited in the
evening till the servant-lad of the inn had gone to bed, and taking
his clothes from the head of the bed, she left her own in their
place, and disguising herself like a man, went to the court of the
king, where the cooks, being in want of help, took her as kitchen
boy. When the tables were set out and the guests all took their
seats, and the dishes were set down and the carver was cutting up a
large English pie which Filadoro had made with her own hands, lo,
out flew such a beautiful dove that the guests in their
astonishment, forgetting to eat, fell to admiring the pretty bird,
which said to the Prince in a piteous voice, "Have you so soon
forgotten the love of Filadoro, and have all the services you
received from her, ungrateful man, gone from your memory? Is it
thus you repay the benefits she has done you: she who took you out
of the claws of the ogress and gave you life and herself too? Woe
to the woman who trusts too much to the words of man, who ever
requites kindness with ingratitude, and pays debts with
forgetfulness. But go, forget your promises, false man. And may
the curses follow you which the unhappy maiden sends you from
the bottom of her heart. But if the gods have not locked up their
ears they will witness the wrong you have done her, and when you
least expect it the lightning and thunder, fever and illness, will
come to you. Enough, eat and drink, take your sports, for unhappy
Filadoro, deceived and forsaken, will leave you the field open to
make merry with your new wife." So saying, the dove flew away
quickly and vanished like the wind. The Prince, hearing the
murmuring of the dove, stood for a while stupefied. At length, he
inquired whence the pie came, and when the carver told him that a
scullion boy who had been taken to assist in the kitchen had made
it, he ordered him to be brought into the room. Then Filadoro,
throwing herself at the feet of Nardo Aniello, shedding a torrent of
tears, said merely, "What have I done to you?" Whereupon the
Prince at once recalled to mind the engagement he had made with
her; and, instantly raising her up, seated her by his side, and when
he related to his mother the great obligation he was under to this
beautiful maiden and all that she had done for him, and how it was
necessary that the promise he had given should be fulfilled, his
mother, who had no other joy in life than her son, said to him, "Do
as you please, so that you offend not this lady whom I have given
you to wife." "Be not troubled," said the lady, "for, to tell the
truth, I am very loth to remain in this country; with your kind
permission I wish to return to my dear Flanders." Thereupon the
Prince with great joy offered her a vessel and attendants; and,
ordering Filadoro to be dressed like a Princess, when the tables
were removed, the musicians came and they began the ball which
lasted until evening.

So the feast being now ended, they all betook themselves to rest,
and the Prince and Filadoro lived happily ever after, proving the
truth of the proverb that--

"He who stumbles and does not fall,
Is helped on his way like a rolling ball."



It is an evil thing to seek for better than wheaten bread, for a man
comes at last to desire what others throw away, and must content
himself with honesty. He who loses all and walks on the tops of
the trees has as much madness in his head as danger under his feet,
as was the case with the daughter of a King whose story I have
now to tell you.

There was once on a time a King of High-Hill who longed for
children more than the porters do for a funeral that they may
gather wax. And at last his wife presented him with a little girl, to
whom he gave the name Cannetella.

The child grew by hands, and when she was as tall as a pole the
King said to her, "My daughter, you are now grown as big as an
oak, and it is full time to provide you with a husband worthy of
that pretty face. Since, therefore, I love you as my own life and
desire to please you, tell me, I pray, what sort of a husband you
would like, what kind of a man would suit your fancy? Will you
have him a scholar or a dunce? a boy, or man in years? brown or
fair or ruddy? tall as a maypole or short as a peg? small in the
waist or round as an ox? Do you choose, and I am satisfied."

Cannetella thanked her father for these generous offers, but told
him that she would on no account encumber herself with a
husband. However, being urged by the King again and again, she
said, "Not to show myself ungrateful for so much love I am willing
to comply with your wish, provided I have such a husband that he
has no like in the world."

Her father, delighted beyond measure at hearing this, took his
station at the window from morning till evening, looking out and
surveying, measuring and examining every one that passed along
the street. And one day, seeing a good-looking man go by, the King
said to his daughter, "Run, Cannetella! see if yon man comes up to
the measure of your wishes." Then she desired him to be brought
up, and they made a most splendid banquet for him, at which there
was everything he could desire. And as they were feasting an
almond fell out of the youth's mouth, whereupon, stooping down,
he picked it up dexterously from the ground and put it under the
cloth, and when they had done eating he went away. Then the King
said to Cannetella, "Well, my life, how does this youth please
you?" "Take the fellow away," said she; "a man so tall and so big
as he should never have let an almond drop out of his mouth."

When the King heard this he returned to his place at the window,
and presently, seeing another well-shaped youth pass by, he called
his daughter to hear whether this one pleased her. Then Cannetella
desired him to be shown up; so he was called, and another
entertainment made. And when they had done eating, and the man
had gone away, the King asked his daughter whether he had
pleased her, whereupon she replied, "What in the world should I
do with such a miserable fellow who wants at least a couple of
servants with him to take off his cloak?"

"If that be the case," said the King, "it is plain that these are
merely excuses, and that you are only looking for pretexts to refuse
me this pleasure. So resolve quickly, for I am determined to have
you married." To these angry words Cannetella replied, "To tell
you the truth plainly, dear father, I really feel that you are digging
in the sea and making a wrong reckoning on your fingers. I will
never subject myself to any man who has not a golden head and
teeth." The poor King, seeing his daughter's head thus turned,
issued a proclamation, bidding any one in his kingdom who should
answer to Cannetella's wishes to appear, and he would give him
his daughter and the kingdom.

Now this King had a mortal enemy named Fioravante, whom he
could not bear to see so much as painted on a wall. He, when he
heard of this proclamation, being a cunning magician, called a
parcel of that evil brood to him, and commanded them forthwith to
make his head and teeth of gold. So they did as he desired, and
when he saw himself with a head and teeth of pure gold he walked
past under the window of the King, who, when he saw the very
man he was looking for, called his daughter. As soon as Cannetella
set eyes upon him she cried out, "Ay, that is he! he could not be
better if I had kneaded him with my own hands."

When Fioravante was getting up to go away the King said to him,
"Wait a little, brother; why in such a hurry! One would think you
had quicksilver in your body! Fair and softly, I will give you my
daughter and baggage and servants to accompany you, for I wish
her to be your wife."

"I thank you," said Fioravante, "but there is no necessity; a single
horse is enough if the beast will carry double, for at home I have
servants and goods as many as the sands on the sea-shore." So,
after arguing awhile, Fioravante at last prevailed, and, placing
Cannetella behind him on a horse, he set out.

In the evening, when the red horses are taken away from the
corn-mill of the sky and white oxen are yoked in their place, they
came to a stable where some horses were feeding. Fioravante led
Cannetella into it and said, "Listen! I have to make a journey to my
own house, and it will take me seven years to get there. Mind,
therefore, and wait for me in this stable and do not stir out, nor let
yourself be seen by any living person, or else I will make you
remember it as long as you live." Cannetella replied, "You are my
lord and master, and I will carry out your commands exactly, but
tell me what you will leave me to live upon in the meantime." And
Fioravante answered, "What the horses leave of their own corn
will be enough for you."

Only conceive how poor Cannetella now felt, and guess whether
she did not curse the hour and moment she was born! Cold and
frozen, she made up in tears what she wanted in food, bewailing
her fate which had brought her down from a royal palace to a
stable, from mattresses of Barbary wool to straw, from nice,
delicate morsels to the leavings of horses. And she led this
miserable life for several months, during which time corn was
given to the horses by an unseen hand, and what they left
supported her.

But at the end of this time, as she was standing one day looking
through a hole, she saw a most beautiful garden, in which there
were so many espaliers of lemons, and grottoes of citron, beds of
flowers and fruit-trees and trellises of vines, that it was a joy to
behold. At this sight a great longing seized her for a great bunch of
grapes that caught her eye, and she said to herself, "Come what
will and if the sky fall, I will go out silently and softly and pluck it.
What will it matter a hundred years hence? Who is there to tell my
husband? And should he by chance hear of it, what will he do to
me? Moreover, these grapes are none of the common sort." So
saying, she went out and refreshed her spirits, which were
weakened by hunger.

A little while after, and before the appointed time, her husband
came back, and one of his horses accused Cannetella of having
taken the grapes. Whereat, Fioravante in a rage, drawing his knife,
was about to kill her, but, falling on her knees, she besought him to
stay his hand, since hunger drives the wolf from the wood. And she
begged so hard that Fioravante replied, "I forgive you this time,
and grant you your life out of charity, but if ever again you are
tempted to disobey me, and I find that you have let the sun see
you, I will make mincemeat of you. Now, mind me; I am going
away once more, and shall be gone seven years. So take care and
plough straight, for you will not escape so easily again, but I shall
pay you off the new and the old scores together."

So saying, he departed, and Cannetella shed a river of tears, and,
wringing her hands, beating her breast, and tearing her hair, she
cried, "Oh, that ever I was born into the world to be destined to
this wretched fate! Oh, father, why have you ruined me? But why
do I complain of my father when I have brought this ill upon
myself? I alone am the cause of my misfortunes. I wished for a
head of gold, only to come to grief and die by iron! This is the
punishment of Fate, for I ought to have done my father's will, and
not have had such whims and fancies. He who minds not what his
father and mother say goes a road he does not know." And so she
lamented every day, until her eyes became two fountains, and her
face was so thin and sallow, that her own father would not have
known her.

At the end of a year the King's locksmith, whom Cannetella knew,
happening to pass by the stable, she called to him and went out.
The smith heard his name, but did not recognise the poor girl, who
was so much altered; but when he knew who she was, and how she
had become thus changed, partly out of pity and partly to gain the
King's favour, he put her into an empty cask he had with him on a
pack-horse, and, trotting off towards High-Hill, he arrived at
midnight at the King's palace. Then he knocked at the door, and at
first the servants would not let him in, but roundly abused him for
coming at such an hour to disturb the sleep of the whole house.
The King, however, hearing the uproar, and being told by a
chamberlain what was the matter, ordered the smith to be instantly
admitted, for he knew that something unusual must have made him
come at that hour. Then the smith, unloading his beast, knocked
out the head of the cask, and forth came Cannetella, who needed
more than words to make her father recognise her, and had it not
been for a mole on her arm she might well have been dismissed.
But as soon as he was assured of the truth he embraced and kissed
her a thousand times. Then he instantly commanded a warm bath
to be got ready; when she was washed from head to foot, and had
dressed herself, he ordered food to be brought, for she was faint
with hunger. Then her father said to her, "Who would ever have
told me, my child, that I should see you in this plight? Who has
brought you to this sad condition?" And she answered, "Alas, my
dear sire, that Barbary Turk has made me lead the life of a dog, so
that I was nearly at death's door again and again. I cannot tell you
what I have suffered, but, now that I am here, never more will I stir
from your feet. Rather will I be a servant in your house than a
queen in another. Rather will I wear sackcloth where you are than
a golden mantle away from you. Rather will I turn a spit in your
kitchen than hold a sceptre under the canopy of another."

Meanwhile Fioravante, returning home, was told by the horses that
the locksmith had carried off Cannetella in the cask, on hearing
which, burning with shame, and all on fire with rage, off he ran
towards High-Hill, and, meeting an old woman who lived opposite
to the palace, he said to her, "What will you charge, good mother,
to let me see the King's daughter?" Then she asked a hundred
ducats, and Fioravante, putting his hand in his purse, instantly
counted them out, one a-top of the other. Thereupon the old
woman took him up on the roof, where he saw Cannetella drying
her hair on a balcony. But--just as if her heart had whispered to
her--the maiden turned that way and saw the knave. She rushed
downstairs and ran to her father, crying out, "My lord, if you do
not this very instant make me a chamber with seven iron doors I
am lost and undone!"

"I will not lose you for such a trifle," said her father; "I would
pluck out an eye to gratify such a dear daughter!" So, no sooner
said than done, the doors were instantly made.

When Fioravante heard of this he went again to the old woman and
said to her, "What shall I give you now? Go to the King's house,
under pretext of selling pots of rouge, and make your way to the
chamber of the King's daughter. When you are there contrive to
slip this little piece of paper between the bed-clothes, saying, in an
undertone, as you place it there--

Let every one now soundly sleep,
But Cannetella awake shall keep."

So the old woman agreed for another hundred ducats, and she
served him faithfully.

Now, as soon as she had done this trick, such a sound sleep fell on
the people of the house that they seemed as if they all were dead.
Cannetella alone remained awake, and when she heard the doors
bursting open she began to cry aloud as if she were burnt, but no
one heard her, and there was no one to run to her aid. So
Fioravante threw down all the seven doors, and, entering her room,
seized up Cannetella, bed-clothes and all, to carry her off. But, as
luck would have it, the paper the old woman had put there fell on
the ground, and the spell was broken. All the people of the house
awoke, and, hearing Cannetella's cries, they ran--cats, dogs, and
all--and, laying hold on the ogre, quickly cut him in pieces like a
pickled tunny. Thus he was caught in the trap he had laid for poor
Cannetella, learning to his cost that--

"No one suffereth greater pain
Than he who by his own sword is slain."



I once heard say that Juno went to Candia to find Falsehood. But if
any one were to ask me where fraud and hypocrisy might truly be
found, I should know of no other place to name than the Court,
where detraction always wears the mask of amusement; where, at
the same time, people cut and sew up, wound and heal, break and
glue together--of which I will give you one instance in the story
that I am going to tell you.

There was once upon a time in the service of the King of
Wide-River an excellent youth named Corvetto, who, for his good
conduct, was beloved by his master; and for this very cause was
disliked and hated by all the courtiers. These courtiers were filled
with spite and malice, and bursting with envy at the kindness
which the King showed to Corvetto; so that all day long, in every
corner of the palace, they did nothing but tattle and whisper,
murmur and grumble at the poor lad, saying, "What sorcery has
this fellow practised on the King that he takes such a fancy to him?
How comes he by this luck that not a day passes that he receives
some new favours, whilst we are for ever going backward like a
rope-maker, and getting from bad to worse, though we slave like
dogs, toil like field-labourers, and run about like deer to hit the
King's pleasure to a hair? Truly one must be born to good fortune
in this world, and he who has not luck might as well be thrown
into the sea. What is to be done? We can only look on and envy."
These and other words fell from their mouths like poisoned arrows
aimed at the ruin of Corvetto as at a target. Alas for him who is
condemned to that den the Court, where flattery is sold by the
kilderkin, malignity and ill-offices are measured out in bushels,
deceit and treachery are weighed by the ton! But who can count all
the attempts these courtiers made to bring him to grief, or the false
tales that they told to the King to destroy his reputation! But
Corvetto, who was enchanted, and perceived the traps, and
discovered the tricks, was aware of all the intrigues and the
ambuscades, the plots and conspiracies of his enemies. He kept his
ears always on the alert and his eyes open in order not to take a
false step, well knowing that the fortune of courtiers is as glass.
But the higher the lad continued to rise the lower the others fell;
till at last, being puzzled to know how to take him off his feet, as
their slander was not believed, they thought of leading him to
disaster by the path of flattery, which they attempted in the
following manner.

Ten miles distant from Scotland, where the seat of this King was,
there dwelt an ogre, the most inhuman and savage that had ever
been in Ogreland, who, being persecuted by the King, had fortified
himself in a lonesome wood on the top of a mountain, where no
bird ever flew, and was so thick and tangled that one could never
see the sun there. This ogre had a most beautiful horse, which
looked as if it were formed with a pencil; and amongst other
wonderful things, it could speak like any man. Now the courtiers,
who knew how wicked the ogre was, how thick the wood, how
high the mountain, and how difficult it was to get at the horse,
went to the King, and telling him minutely the perfections of the
animal, which was a thing worthy of a King, added that he ought to
endeavour by all means to get it out of the ogre's claws, and that
Corvetto was just the lad to do this, as he was expert and clever at
escaping out of the fire. The King, who knew not that under the
flowers of these words a serpent was concealed, instantly called
Corvetto, and said to him, "If you love me, see that in some way or
another you obtain for me the horse of my enemy the ogre, and you
shall have no cause to regret having done me this service."

Corvetto knew well that this drum was sounded by those who
wished him ill; nevertheless, to obey the King, he set out and took
the road to the mountain. Then going very quietly to the ogre's
stable, he saddled and mounted the horse, and fixing his feet
firmly in the stirrup, took his way back. But as soon as the horse
saw himself spurred out of the palace, he cried aloud, "Hollo! be
on your guard! Corvetto is riding off with me." At this alarm the
ogre instantly set out, with all the animals that served him, to cut
Corvetto in pieces. From this side jumped an ape, from that was
seen a large bear; here sprang forth a lion, there came running a
wolf. But the youth, by the aid of bridle and spur, distanced the
mountain, and galloping without stop to the city, arrived at the
Court, where he presented the horse to the King.

Then the King embraced him more than a son, and pulling out his
purse, filled his hands with crown-pieces. At this the rage of the
courtiers knew no bounds; and whereas at first they were puffed up
with a little pipe, they were now bursting with the blasts of a
smith's bellows, seeing that the crowbars with which they thought
to lay Corvetto's good fortune in ruins only served to smooth the
road to his prosperity. Knowing, however, that walls are not
levelled by the first attack of the battering-ram, they resolved to try
their luck a second time, and said to the King, "We wish you joy of
the beautiful horse! It will indeed be an ornament to the royal
stable. But what a pity you have not the ogre's tapestry, which is a
thing more beautiful than words can tell, and would spread your
fame far and wide! There is no one, however, able to procure this
treasure but Corvetto, who is just the lad to do such a kind of

Then the King, who danced to every tune, and ate only the peel of
this bitter but sugared fruit, called Corvetto, and begged him to
procure for him the ogre's tapestry. Off went Corvetto and in four
seconds was on the top of the mountain where the ogre lived; then
passing unseen into the chamber in which he slept, he hid himself
under the bed, and waited as still as a mouse, until Night, to make
the Stars laugh, puts a carnival-mask on the face of the Sky. And
as soon as the ogre and his wife were gone to bed, Corvetto
stripped the walls of the chamber very quietly, and wishing to steal
the counterpane of the bed likewise, he began to pull it gently.
Thereupon the ogre, suddenly starting up, told his wife not to pull
so, for she was dragging all the clothes off him, and would give
him his death of cold.

"Why you are uncovering me!" answered the ogress.

"Where is the counterpane?" replied the ogre; and stretching out
his hand to the floor he touched Corvetto's face; whereupon he set
up a loud cry,--"The imp! the imp! Hollo, here, lights! Run
quickly!"--till the whole house was turned topsy-turvy with the
noise. But Corvetto, after throwing the clothes out of the window,
let himself drop down upon them. Then making up a good bundle,
he set out on the road to the city, where the reception he met with
from the King, and the vexation of the courtiers, who were
bursting with spite, are not to be told. Nevertheless they laid a plan
to fall upon Corvetto with the rear-guard of their roguery, and went
again to the King, who was almost beside himself with delight at
the tapestry--which was not only of silk embroidered with gold,
but had besides more than a thousand devices and thoughts worked
on it. And amongst the rest, if I remember right, there was a cock
in the act of crowing at daybreak, and out of its mouth was seen
coming a motto in Tuscan: IF I ONLY SEE YOU. And in another
part a drooping heliotrope with a Tuscan motto: AT
SUNSET--with so many other pretty things that it would require a
better memory and more time than I have to relate them.

When the courtiers came to the King, who was thus transported
with joy, they said to him, "As Corvetto has done so much to serve
you, it would be no great matter for him, in order to give you a
signal pleasure, to get the ogre's palace, which is fit for an
emperor to live in; for it has so many rooms and chambers, inside
and out, that it can hold an army. And you would never believe all
the courtyards, porticoes, colonnades, balconies, and spiral
chimneys which there are--built with such marvellous architecture
that Art prides herself upon them, Nature is abashed, and Stupor is
in delight."

The King, who had a fruitful brain which conceived quickly,
called Corvetto again, and telling him the great longing that had
seized him for the ogre's palace, begged him to add this service to
all the others he had done him, promising to score it up with the
chalk of gratitude at the tavern of memory. So Corvetto instantly
set out heels over head; and arriving at the ogre's palace, he found
that the ogress, whilst her husband was gone to invite the kinsfolk,
was busying herself with preparing the feast. Then Corvetto
entering, with a look of compassion, said, "Good-day, my good
woman! Truly, you are a brave housewife! But why do you torment
the very life out of you in this way? Only yesterday you were ill in
bed, and now you are slaving thus, and have no pity on your own

"What would you have me do?" replied the ogress. "I have no one
to help me."


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