Italian Popular Tales
by Thomas Frederick Crane
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She made the bread-cake, and put some poison in it; she put the bread and the bread-cake in the bag, and he went away. He walked and walked and walked until he felt hungry, and said to the dog: "Ah, poor Bierde, how tired you are, and how hungry, too! Wait until we have gone a little farther, and then we will eat." He went on, tired as he was, and at last seated himself under a tree, with the dog near him. He said: "Oh, here we are; now we will eat. Wait, Bierde; I will give you a piece of the bread-cake so that you, too, can eat." He broke off a piece of the cake, and gave it to him to eat. The dog was so hungry that he ate it greedily. After he had eaten it he took two or three turns, and fell dead on the ground, with his tongue sticking out. "Ah, poor Bierde!" said his master. "You have been poisoned! My mother has done it! The wretch! She has put poison in the cake in order to kill me!" He kept weeping and saying: "Poor Bierde, you are dead, but you have saved my life!" While he was weeping three crows passed, alighted, and pecked at the tongue of the dog, and all three died. Then he said: "Well, well! Bierde dead has killed three crows! I will take them with me." So he took them and continued his journey. He saw at a distance a large fire; he approached and heard talking and singing, and beheld seven highwaymen, who had eaten a great many birds, and who had a great deal of meat still left. He said to himself: "Poor me! Now I shall have to die; there is no escape; they will certainly take me and kill me!" Then he said: "Enough; I will go ahead." As soon as they saw him they cried: "Stop! Your money or your life!" The poor fellow said: "Brothers, what would you have me give you? Money I have not. I am very hungry. I have nothing but these three birds. If you want them I will give them to you." "Very well," they said; "eat and drink; we will eat the birds." They took the birds, picked them, skinned them, roasted them over the coals, and said to the youth: "We will not give you any of these; you can eat the others." They ate them, and all seven fell down dead. When the youth saw that they did not stir, but were dead, he said: "Well, well! Bierde dead has killed three, and these three have killed seven!" He rose and went away after he had made a good meal. On the way he felt hungry again, and sat down under a tree, and began to eat. When he got up he saw a beautiful canary-bird on the top of another tree. He took up a stone and threw at it. The bird flew away. Now, behind this tree was a hare, big with young, and it happened that the stone fell on it and killed it. The youth went to see where the stone fell, and when he saw the dead hare he said: "Well, well! I threw it at the canary-bird and the stone killed the hare! I will take it with me. If I had the fire that those robbers left I would cook it." He went on until he came to a church, in which he found a lighted lamp and a missal. So he skinned the hare, and made a fire with the missal, and roasted and ate the hare. Then he continued his journey until he came to the foot of a mountain, where the sea was. On the shore he saw two persons with a boat, who ferried over those who wished to reach the other shore, because one could not go on foot on account of the great dust, which was suffocating. The price for crossing was three soldi. The youth said to the owners of the bark: "How much do you want to set me down on the other bank?" "Three soldi." "Take me across, brothers; I will give you two, for I have no more." They replied: "Two do not enter if there are not three." He repeated his offer and they made the same answer. Then he said: "Very well. I will stay here." And he remained there. In a moment, however, there came up a shower, and laid the dust, and he went on. He reached a city, and found it in great confusion. He asked: "What is the matter here, that there are so many people?" They answered: "It is the governor's daughter, who guesses everything. He whose riddle she cannot guess is to marry her; but he whose riddle she guesses is put to death." He asked: "Could I, too, go there?" "What, you go, who are a foolish boy! So many students have abstained, and you, so ignorant, wish to go! You will certainly go to your death!" "Well," he said, "my mother told me that she would never see me again, so I will go." He presented himself to the governor and said: "Sir governor, I wish to go to your daughter and see whether she can guess what I have to tell her." "Do you wish," he replied, "to go to your death? So many have lost their lives, do you, also, wish to lose yours?" He answered: "Let me go and try." He wished to go and see for himself. He entered the hall where the daughter was. The governor summoned many gentlemen to hear. When they were all there the governor again said that the youth should reflect that if she guessed what he had to say that he would lose his life. He replied that he had thought of that. The room was full of persons of talent, and the youth presented himself and said:—

"Bierde dead has killed three."

She said to herself: "How can it be that one dead should kill three?"

"And three have killed seven."

She said: "Here is nothing but dead and killed; what shall I do?" She was puzzled at once, and felt herself perplexed. He continued:—

"I threw where I saw, and reached where I did not expect to. I have eaten that which was born, and that which was not born. It was cooked with words. Two do not enter if there are not three; But the hard passes over the soft."

When she heard this the governor's daughter could not answer. All the others were astonished likewise, and said that she must marry him. Then he told them all that had happened, and the marriage took place.[24]

* * * * *

We shall now direct our attention to a class of stories found in all lands, and which may, from one of its most important episodes, be called "The Forgotten Bride." In the ordinary version, the hero, in consequence of some imprecation, sets out in search of the heroine, who is either the daughter or in the custody of ogre or ogress. The hero, by the help of the heroine, performs difficult tasks imposed upon him by her father or mother, etc., and finally elopes with her. The pursuit of father or mother, etc., is avoided by magic obstacles raised in their way, or by transformations of the fugitives. The hero leaves his bride, to prepare his parents to receive her; but at a kiss, usually from his mother, he entirely forgets his bride until she recalls herself to his memory, and they are both united. The trait of difficult tasks performed by the hero is sometimes omitted, as well as flight with magic obstacles or transformations. All the episodes of the above story, down to the forgetting bride at mother's kiss, are found in many stories; notably in the class "True Bride," already mentioned.

A Sicilian story (Pitre, No. 13) will best illustrate this class. It is entitled:


There was once a king and queen who had no son, and they were always making vows to obtain one; and they promised that if they had a son, or even a daughter, they would maintain two fountains for seven years: one running wine, the other oil. After this vow the queen gave birth to a handsome boy.

As soon as the child was born, the two fountains were erected, and everybody went and took oil and wine. At the end of seven years the fountains began to dry up. An ogress, wishing to collect the drops that still fell from the fountain, went there with a sponge and pitcher. She sopped up the drops with the sponge and then squeezed it in the pitcher. After she had worked so hard to fill this pitcher, the little son of the king, who was playing ball, from caprice threw a ball and broke the pitcher. When the old woman saw this, she said: "Listen. I can do nothing to you, for you are the king's son; but I can bestow upon you an imprecation: May you be unable to marry until you find Snow-white-fire-red!" The cunning child took a piece of paper and wrote down the old woman's words, put it away in a drawer, and said nothing about it. When he was eighteen the king and queen wished him to marry. Then he remembered the old woman's imprecation, took the piece of paper, and said: "Ah! if I do not find Snow-white-fire-red I cannot marry!" When it seemed fit, he took leave of his father and mother, and began his journey entirely alone. Months passed without meeting any one. One evening, night overtook him, tired and discouraged, in a plain in the midst of which was a large house.

At daybreak he saw an ogress coming, frightfully tall and stout, who cried: "Snow-white-fire-red, lower your tresses for me to climb up!" When the prince heard this he took heart, and said: "There she is!" Snow-white-fire-red lowered her tresses, which seemed never to end, and the ogress climbed up by them. The next day the ogress descended, and when the prince saw her depart, he came from under the tree where he had concealed himself, and cried: "Snow-white-fire-red, lower your tresses for me to climb up!" She, believing it was her mother (for she called the ogress mother), lowered her tresses, and the prince climbed boldly up. When he was up, he said: "Ah! my dear little sister, how I have labored to find you!" And he told her of the old woman's imprecation when he was seven years old.

She gave him some refreshments, and then said: "You see, if the ogress returns and finds you here, she will devour you. Hide yourself." The ogress returned, and the prince concealed himself.

After the ogress had eaten, her daughter gave her wine to drink, and made her drunk. Then she said: "My mother, what must I do to get away from here? Not that I want to go, for I wish to stay with you; but I want to know just out of curiosity. Tell me!" "What you must do to get away from here!" said the ogress. "You must enchant everything that there is here, so that I shall lose time. I shall call, and instead of you, the chair, the cupboard, the chest of drawers, will answer for you. When you do not appear, I will ascend. You must take the seven balls of yarn that I have laid away. When I come and do not find you, I shall pursue you; when you see yourself pursued, throw down the first ball, and then the others. I shall always overtake you until you throw down the last ball."

Her daughter heard all that she said, and remembered it. The next day the ogress went out, and Snow-white-fire-red and the prince did what they had to do. They went about the whole house, saying: "Table, you answer if my mother comes; chairs, answer if my mother comes; chest of drawers, answer if my mother comes;" and so she enchanted the whole house. Then she and the prince departed in such a hurry that they seemed to fly. When the ogress returned, she called: "Snow-white-fire-red, let down your tresses that I may climb up!" The table answered: "Come, come, mother!" She waited a while, and when no one appeared to draw her up, she called again: "Snow-white-fire-red, lower your tresses for me to climb up!" The chair answered: "Come, come, mother!" She waited a while, but no one appeared; then she called again, and the chest of drawers replied: "Come, come, mother!" Meanwhile the lovers were fleeing. When there was nothing left to answer, the ogress cried out: "Treason! treason!" Then she got a ladder and climbed up. When she saw that her daughter and the balls of yarn were gone, she cried: "Ah, wretch! I will drink your blood!" Then she hastened after the fugitives, following their scent. They saw her afar off, and when she saw them, she cried: "Snow-white-fire-red, turn around so that I can see you." (If she had turned around she would have been enchanted.)

When the ogress had nearly overtaken them, Snow-white-fire-red threw down the first ball, and suddenly there arose a lofty mountain. The ogress was not disturbed; she climbed and climbed until she almost overtook the two again. Then Snow-white-fire-red, seeing her near at hand, threw down the second ball, and there suddenly appeared a plain covered with razors and knives. The ogress, all cut and torn, followed after the lovers, dripping with blood.

When Snow-white-fire-red saw her near again, she threw down the third ball, and there arose a terrible river. The ogress threw herself into the river and continued her pursuit, although she was half dead. Then another ball, and there appeared a fountain of vipers, and many other things. At last, dying and worn out, the ogress stopped and cursed Snow-white-fire-red, saying: "The first kiss that the queen gives her son, may the prince forget you!" Then the ogress could stand it no longer, and died in great anguish.

The lovers continued their journey, and came to a town near where the prince lived. He said to Snow-white-fire-red: "You remain here, for you are not provided with proper clothes, and I will go and get what you need, and then you can appear before my father and mother." She consented, and remained.

When the queen beheld her son, she threw herself on him to kiss him. "Mother," said he, "I have made a vow not to allow myself to be kissed." The poor mother was petrified. At night, while he was asleep, his mother, who was dying to kiss him, went and did so. From that moment he forgot all about Snow-white-fire-red.

Let us leave the prince with his mother, and return to the poor girl, who was left in the street without knowing where she was. An old woman met her, and saw the poor girl, as beautiful as the sun, weeping. "What is the matter, my daughter?" "I do not know how I came here!" "My daughter, do not despair; come with me." And she took her to her house. The young girl was deft with her hands, and could work enchantment. She made things, and the old woman sold them, and so they both lived. One day the maiden said to the old woman that she wanted two bits of old cloth from the palace for some work she had to do. The old woman went to the palace, and began to ask for the bits, and said so much that at last she obtained them. Now the old woman had two doves, a male and a female, and with these bits of cloth Snow-white-fire-red dressed the doves so prettily that all who saw them marvelled. The young girl took these doves, and whispered in their ears: "You are the prince, and you are Snow-white-fire-red. The king is at the table, eating; fly and relate all that you have undergone."

While the king, queen, prince, and many others were at the table, the beautiful doves flew in and alighted on the table. "How beautiful you are!" And all were greatly pleased. Then the dove which represented Snow-white-fire-red began: "Do you remember when you were young how your father promised a fountain of oil and one of wine for your birth?" The other dove answered: "Yes, I remember." "Do you remember the old woman whose pitcher of oil you broke? do you remember?" "Yes, I remember." "Do you remember the imprecation she pronounced on you,—that you could not marry until you found Snow-white-fire-red?" "I remember," replied the other dove. In short, the first dove recalled all that had passed, and finally said: "Do you remember how you had the ogress at your heels, and how she cursed you, saying that at your mother's first kiss you must forget Snow-white-fire-red?" When the dove came to the kiss, the prince remembered everything, and the king and queen were astounded at hearing the doves speak.

When they had ended their discourse, the doves made a low bow and flew away. The prince cried: "Ho, there! ho, there! see where those doves go! see where they go!" The servants looked and saw the doves alight on a country house. The prince hastened and entered it, and found Snow-white-fire-red. When he saw her he threw his arms about her neck, exclaiming: "Ah! my sister, how much you have suffered for me!" Straightway they dressed her beautifully and conducted her to the palace. When the queen saw her there, she said: "What a beauty!" Things were soon settled and the lovers were married.[25]

* * * * *

As we have remarked above, this story is often found incomplete, the ending—"forgetfulness of bride"—being wanting.

Several of these versions are from Milan (Nov. fior. pp. 411, 415, 417). In the first, "The King of the Sun," a trait occurs that is of some interest. The hero plays billiards with the King of the Sun and wins his daughter. He goes in search of his bride, and at last finds an old man who tells him where the King of the Sun lives, and adds: "In a wood near by is a pond where, in the afternoon, the king's three daughters bathe. Go and carry away their clothes; and when they come and ask for them give them back on condition that they will take you to their father." The hero does as he is told, is taken to the king, and obliged to choose his bride from among the three, with his eyes blindfolded. The remainder of the story consists of the usual flight, with the transformations of the lovers. The incident of the maidens who bathe, and whose clothes the hero steals, is clearly an example of the Swan-maiden myth, and occurs in a few other Italian tales. In a story from the North of Italy (Monferrato, Comparetti, No. 50), "The Isle of Happiness," a poor boy goes to seek his fortune. He encounters an old man who tells him that fortune appears but once in a hundred years, and if not taken then, never is. He adds that this is the very time for fortune to appear—that day or the next—and advises the youth to hide himself in a wood near the bank of a stream, and when three beautiful girls come and bathe, to carry away the clothes of the middle one. He does so, and compels the owner (who is none other than Fortune) to marry him. By his mother's fault he loses his bride, as in the Cupid and Psyche stories, and is obliged to go in search of her to the Isle of Happiness. The same incident occurs in several Sicilian stories. In one (Pitre, No. 50, "Give me the Veil!") the hero, a poor youth, goes in search of his fortune as in the last story, and meets an old woman who tells him to go to a certain fountain, where twelve doves will come to drink and become twelve maidens "as beautiful as the sun, with veils over their faces," and advises the youth to seize the veil of the most beautiful girl and keep it; for if she obtains it she will become a dove again. The youth does as he is commanded, and takes his wife home, giving the veil to his mother to keep for him. She gives it to the wife, who becomes a dove again, and disappears. The same thing happens twice; the third time the veil is burned, and the wife, who turns out to be the enchanted daughter of the king of Spain, remains with her husband.[26]

There yet remains a large and interesting class of stories to be examined. The class may conveniently be termed "Bluebeard," although, as we shall see, there are three versions of this story, to only one of which the above name properly belongs. These three versions are well represented by the three Grimm stories of "The Feather Bird" (No. 46), "The Robber Bridegroom" (No. 40), and "The Wood-cutter's Child" (No. 3). In the first version, which is, properly speaking, the Bluebeard story, two sisters are married in turn and killed by their husband, because they open the forbidden chamber. The youngest sister, although she opens the forbidden door, manages to escape and deliver her sisters, whom she restores to life. In the second version a robber marries several sisters, whom he kills for disobeying his commands (the trait of forbidden chamber is usually wanting); the youngest sister again manages to escape and restores her dead sisters to life. Generally in this version the husband makes a desperate effort to be revenged on the sister who has escaped from him, but fails in this also. In the third version a young girl is under the guardianship of some supernatural being, who forbids her to open a certain door. The child disobeys, denies her fault, and is sent away in disgrace; she afterward marries and her children are taken from her one by one until she confesses her fault, or, as is the case in an Italian version, persists in her denial to the very end. We shall examine these three versions separately, and first give an example of the first, or Bluebeard, class. It is from Venice (Widter-Wolf, No. 11, Jahrb. VII. 148), and is entitled:


Once upon a time the Devil was seized with a desire to marry. He therefore left hell, took the form of a handsome young man, and built a fine large house. When it was completed and furnished in the most fashionable style, he introduced himself to a family where there were three pretty daughters, and paid his addresses to the eldest of them. The handsome man pleased the maiden, her parents were glad to see a daughter so well provided for, and it was not long before the wedding was celebrated.

When he had taken his bride home, he presented her with a very tastefully arranged bouquet, led her through all the rooms of the house, and finally to a closed door. "The whole house is at your disposal," said he, "only I must request one thing of you; that is, that you do not on any account open this door."

Of course the young wife promised faithfully; but equally, of course, she could scarcely wait for the moment to come when she might break her promise. When the Devil had left the house the next morning, under pretence of going hunting, she ran hastily to the forbidden door, opened it, and saw a terrible abyss full of fire that shot up towards her, and singed the flowers on her bosom. When her husband came home and asked her whether she had kept her promise, she unhesitatingly said "Yes;" but he saw by the flowers that she was telling a lie, and said: "Now I will not put your curiosity to the test any longer. Come with me. I will show you myself what is behind the door." Thereupon he led her to the door, opened it, gave her such a push that she fell down into hell, and shut the door again.

A few months after he wooed the next sister for his wife, and won her; but with her everything that had happened with the first wife was exactly repeated.

Finally he courted the third sister. She was a prudent maiden, and said to herself: "He has certainly murdered my two sisters; but then it is a splendid match for me, so I will try and see whether I cannot be more fortunate than they." And accordingly she consented. After the wedding the bridegroom gave her a beautiful bouquet, but forbade her, also, to open the door which he pointed out.

Not a whit less curious than her sisters, she, too, opened the forbidden door when the Devil had gone hunting, but she had previously put her flowers in water. Then she saw behind the door the fatal abyss and her sisters therein. "Ah!" she exclaimed, "poor creature that I am; I thought I had married an ordinary man, and instead of that he is the Devil! How can I get away from him?" She carefully pulled her two sisters out of hell and hid them. When the Devil came home he immediately looked at the bouquet, which she again wore on her bosom, and when he found the flowers so fresh he asked no questions; but reassured as to his secret, he now, for the first time, really loved her.

After a few days she asked him if he would carry three chests for her to her parents' house, without putting them down or resting on the way. "But," she added, "you must keep your word, for I shall be watching you." The Devil promised to do exactly as she wished. So the next morning she put one of her sisters in a chest, and laid it on her husband's shoulders. The Devil, who is very strong, but also very lazy and unaccustomed to work, soon got tired of carrying the heavy chest, and wanted to rest before he was out of the street on which he lived; but his wife called out to him: "Don't put it down; I see you!" The Devil went reluctantly on with the chest until he had turned the corner, and then said to himself: "She cannot see me here; I will rest a little." But scarcely had he begun to put the chest down when the sister inside cried out: "Don't put it down; I see you still!" Cursing, he dragged the chest on into another street, and was going to lay it down on a doorstep, but he again heard the voice: "Don't lay it down, you rascal; I see you still!" "What kind of eyes must my wife have," he thought, "to see around corners as well as straight ahead, and through walls as if they were made of glass!" and thus thinking he arrived, all in a perspiration and quite tired out, at the house of his mother-in-law, to whom he hastily delivered the chest, and then hurried home to strengthen himself with a good breakfast.

The same thing was repeated the next day with the second chest. On the third day she herself was to be taken home in the chest. She therefore prepared a figure which she dressed in her own clothes, and placed on the balcony, under the pretext of being able to watch him better; slipped quickly into the chest, and had the maid put it on the Devil's back. "The deuce!" said he; "this chest is a great deal heavier than the others; and to-day, when she is sitting on the balcony, I shall have so much the less chance to rest." So by dint of the greatest exertions he carried it, without stopping, to his mother-in-law, and then hastened home to breakfast, scolding, and with his back almost broken. But quite contrary to custom, his wife did not come out to meet him, and there was no breakfast ready. "Margerita, where are you?" he cried; but received no answer. As he was running through the corridors he at length looked out of a window, and saw the figure on the balcony. "Margerita, have you gone to sleep? Come down. I am as tired as a dog, and as hungry as a wolf." But there was no reply. "If you do not come down instantly I will go up and bring you down," he cried, angrily; but Margerita did not stir. Enraged, he hastened up to the balcony, and gave her such a box on the ear that her head flew off, and he saw that the head was nothing but a milliner's form, and the body, a bundle of rags. Raging, he rushed down and rummaged through the whole house, but in vain; he found only his wife's empty jewel-box. "Ha!" he cried; "she has been stolen from me, and her jewels, too!" and he immediately ran to inform her parents of the misfortune. But when he came near the house, to his great surprise he saw on the balcony above the door all three sisters, his wives, who were looking down on him with scornful laughter.

Three wives at once terrified the Devil so much that he took his flight with all possible speed.

Since that time he has lost his taste for marrying.[27]

* * * * *

We have already mentioned, in the class of "Bride Won by Solving Riddle," the story in Gonzenbach of "The Robber who had a Witch's Head." In this story, after the robber has married the first princess, he takes her home, and learns from the witch's head, which hangs over the window in a basket, what his wife says of him in his absence. The counterpart of the witch's head is found in several very curious Italian stories. In these a magician is substituted for the robber, and marries, in the same way, several sisters. In the version in Gonzenbach, No. 23 ("The Story of Ohime"), Ohime, the magician, leaves his wife for a few days, and before he goes gives her a human bone, telling her she must eat it before his return. The wife throws the bone away; but when the magician returns he calls out: "Bone, where are you?" "Here I am." "Come here, then." Then the bone came, and the magician murdered his wife because she had not done her duty. The second sister is married and killed in the same way. Then the youngest becomes the magician's bride. In her perplexity and grief at her husband's command to eat a human arm during his absence, she invokes her mother's spirit, which tells her to burn the arm to a coal, powder it, and bind it about her body. When the magician returns and asks the arm where it is, it replies: "In Maruzza's body." Then her husband trusted her, and treated her kindly, showing her, among other things, a closet containing flasks of salve which restored the dead to life. He forbade her, however, to open a certain door. Maruzza could not restrain her curiosity, and the first opportunity she had she opened the door, and found in the room a handsome young prince murdered. She restored him to life, heard his story, and then killed him again, so that her husband would not notice it. Then she extracted from her husband the secret of his life: "I cannot be killed, but if any one sticks a branch of this herb in my ears I shall fall asleep, and not wake up again." Maruzza, of course, throws her husband, as soon as possible, into this magic sleep, restores the prince, flies with him, and marries him.

Some years after, the branch in the magician's ears withered and fell out, and he awakened. Then he desired to be revenged, and travelled about until he found where his wife lived. Then he had a silver statue made in which he could conceal himself, and in which he placed some musical instruments. He shut himself up in it, and had himself and the statue taken to the palace where Maruzza and her husband lived. In the night, when all were asleep, the magician came out of the statue, carried Maruzza to the kitchen, kindled a fire, and put on some oil to boil, into which he intended to throw poor Maruzza. But just as he was about to do it, the flask which he had laid on the king's bed, and which had thrown him into a magic sleep, rolled off, and the king awoke, heard Maruzza's cries, saved her, and threw the magician into the boiling oil. In spite of his assurances he seems to have been very thoroughly killed.[28]

A Florentine story (Nov. fior. p. 290), called "The Baker's Three Daughters," is a combination of the Bluebeard and Robber Bridegroom stories. The husband forbids his wife to open a certain door with a gold key, saying: "You cannot deceive me; the little dog will tell me; and, besides, I will leave you a bouquet of flowers, which you must give me on my return, and which will wither if you enter that room." The two sisters yield to their curiosity, and are killed. The third sister kills the treacherous little dog, delivers the prince, as in the last story, flies with him, and the story ends much as the last does. In a Milanese version of this story, with the same title (Nov. fior. p. 298), the robber bridegroom takes his wife home, and informs her that it is her duty to watch at night, and open the door to the robbers when they return. The poor wife falls asleep, and is murdered. So with the second sister. The third remains awake, rescues the prince, and flies with him. The rest of the story is as above.

Of the third version of the Bluebeard story there are but two Italian examples: one from Sicily (Gonz. No. 20), and one from Pisa (Comparetti, No. 38). The former is entitled "The Godchild of St. Francis of Paula," and is, briefly, as follows: A queen, through the intercession of St. Francis of Paula, has a girl, whom she names Pauline, from the saint. The saint is in the habit of meeting the child on her way to school, and giving her candy. One day the saint tells her to ask her mother whether it is best to suffer in youth or old age. The mother replies that it is better to suffer in youth. Thereupon the saint carries away Pauline, and shuts her up in a tower, climbing up and down by her tresses, as in other stories we have already mentioned. In the tower the saint instructed Pauline in all that belonged to her rank. One day a king climbs up by the hair, and persuades Pauline to fly with him. She consents and becomes his bride. When her first child was born St. Francis came and took it away, rubbed the mother's mouth with blood, and deprived her of speech. Three times this happened, and then the queen was repudiated and confined in a remote room, where she spent her time in praying to St. Francis.

Meanwhile the queen-mother arranged another marriage for her son; but during the banquet the saint brought Pauline royal robes, and restored her three children to her. Then he led all four to the banquet-hall, and the happy family lived thereafter in peace and happpiness.

The "forbidden chamber" is omitted in the above version, but is found in the Pisan story, "The Woodman." The main idea of the story, however, is curiously distorted. A woodman had three daughters whom he cannot support. One day a lady met him in the wood, and offered to take one of his daughters for a companion, giving him a purse of money, and assuring him that he would always find enough wood. The lady took her home, and told her she must not open a certain door during her absence. The girl did so, however, and saw her mistress in a bath, with two damsels reading a book. She closed the door at once; but when the mistress returned and asked her whether she had disobeyed, and what she had seen, she confessed her fault, and told what she saw. Then the lady cut her head off, hung it by the hair to a beam, and buried the body.

The same thing happened to the second sister, who opened the door, and saw the lady sitting at a table with gentlemen. The lady killed her, too, and then took the third sister, who, in spite of having seen her two sisters' heads, could not control her curiosity, and opened the door. She saw her mistress reclining in a beautiful bed. In the evening the lady returned and asked her what she had seen; but she answered: "I have seen nothing." The lady could extort no other answer from her, and finally clothed her in her peasant's dress, and took her back to the wood and left her.

The king of the neighboring city happened to pass by, and fell in love with her, and married her. When her first child was born the lady appeared at her bedside, and said: "Now it is time to tell me what you saw." "I saw nothing," replied the young queen. Then the lady carried away the child, having first rubbed the mother's mouth with blood. This happened a second time, and then the king put her away, and prepared to marry again. The first wife was invited to the wedding feast. While at the table the lady appeared under it, and pulled the first wife's dress, and said: "Will you tell what you saw?" The reply was twice: "Nothing." Then the queen fainted. At that moment a carriage drove up to the palace with a great lady in it, who asked to see the king. She told him that it was she who had carried away his children, and added that from her childhood she had been subjected to an enchantment that was to end when she found a person who should say that she had seen nothing in that room. She then brought back the children, and all lived together in peace and joy.[29]

One of the most beautiful and touching of all fairy tales is the one known to the readers of Grimm's collection by the title of "Faithful John," and which has such a charming parallel in the story of "Rama and Luxman," in Miss Frere's "Old Deccan Days." There are seven Italian versions of this interesting story, which we shall mention briefly, giving first the shortest entire, as a point of departure. It is from the North of Italy (Comparetti, Monferrato, No. 29), and is called:


There was once a king who had two sons. The eldest did not wish to marry, and the youngest, although he went about everywhere, found no lady to his taste. Now it happened that he once went to a certain city, and there saw a statue with which he fell in love. He bought it, had it carried to his room, and every day embraced and kissed it. One day his father became aware of this, and said to him: "What are you doing? If you want a wife, take one of flesh and bones, and not one of marble." He answered that he would take one exactly like the statue, or none at all. His older brother, who at this time had nothing to do, went out into the world to seek her. On his way he saw in a city a man who had a mouse which danced so that it seemed like a human being. He said to himself: "I will take it home to my brother to amuse himself with." He continued his journey, and, arrived in a more distant town, where he found a bird that sang like an angel, and bought that, too, for his brother. He was on the point of returning home, and was passing through a street, when he saw a beggar knocking at a door. A very beautiful girl appeared at the window, who resembled in every respect the prince's statue, and suddenly withdrew. Then he told the beggar to ask alms again; but the beggar refused, because he feared that the magician, who was then absent, would return home and eat him up. But the prince gave him so much money and other things that he knocked again, and the young girl appeared again, and suddenly withdrew. Then the prince went through the streets, saying that he mended and sold looking-glasses. The servant of the young girl, who heard him, told her mistress to go and see the mirrors. She went, but he told her that if she wanted to select the mirrors she would have to go on board his ship. When she was there, he carried her away, and she wept bitterly and sighed, so that he would let her return home, but it was like speaking to the wall.

When they were out at sea, there was heard the voice of a large black bird, saying: "Ciriu, ciriu! what a handsome mouse you have! You will take it to your brother; you will turn his head; and if you tell him of it, you will become marble. Ciriu, ciriu! a fine bird you have; you will take it to your brother; you will turn his head; and if you tell him, you will become marble. Ciriu, ciriu! a fine lady you have; you will take her to your brother; you will turn his head; and if you tell him of it, you will become marble." He did not know how he could tell his brother, because he was afraid of becoming marble. He landed, and took the mouse to his brother; and when he had seen it and wanted it, the elder brother cut off its head. Then he showed him the bird that sang like an angel, and his brother wanted it; but the elder brother again cut off its head. Then he said: "I have something handsomer," and he produced the beautiful girl who looked like the statue. And as the brother who had brought her said nothing, the other feared that he would take her away from him, and had him thrown into prison, where he was a long time; and because he continued to keep silence, he was condemned to death. Three days before he was to die he asked his brother to come and see him, and he consented, although unwillingly. Then the condemned brother said: "A large black bird told me that if I brought you back the dancing mouse, and spoke, I should become a statue." And saying this, he became a statue to the waist. "And if, bringing you the singing bird, I spoke, it would be the same." Then he became a statue to his breast. "And if, bringing you the lady, I spoke, I should become a statue." Then he became a statue all over, and his brother began to lament in despair, and tried to restore him to life. All kinds of physicians came, but none succeeded. Finally there came one who said that he was capable of turning the statue into a man provided they gave him what he needed. The king said he would do so, and the physician demanded the blood of the king's two children; but the mother would on no account consent. Then the king gave a ball, and while his wife was dancing he had the two children killed, and bathed with their blood the statue of his brother, and the statue straightway became a man and went to the ball. The mother, when she beheld him, suddenly thought of her children. She ran to them and found them half dead, and fainted away. All around sought to console and encourage her; but when she opened her eyes and saw the physician, she cried: "Out of my sight, ugly wretch! It is you who have caused my children to be killed." He answered: "Pardon me, my lady, I have done no harm. Go and see whether your children are there!" She ran to see, and found them alive and making a great noise. Then the physician said: "I am the magician, your father, whom you forsook, and I have wished to show you what it is to love one's children." Then they made peace, and remained happy and contented.

* * * * *

In the Venetian version (Teza, La Trad. dei Sette Sari, p. 26), called "Mela and Buccia," from the names of the prince and his friend, while the two friends are spending the night in a deserted castle, Buccia hears a voice foretelling the dangers to which Mela will be exposed. His horse will throw him if Buccia does not kill it; a dragon will devour him on his wedding night if Buccia does not kill it; and finally, the queen's pet dog will mortally wound him if Buccia does not kill it. If, however, Buccia reveals what he has heard, he will turn to stone. Buccia acts accordingly, and the king forgives him everything but killing the queen's pet dog; for that Buccia is condemned to be hung. Then he relates all, and gradually turns to stone from his feet up. The king, queen, and Buccia's mother are inconsolable until they are informed by an old woman that the blood of the little prince will bring the statue back to life. The faithful friend is by that means restored, and the child also saved. In this version the abduction is wanting, and the last danger is not the one usually threatened.

In a version from Siena (Gradi, Vigilia, p. 64), one of two brothers goes in search of the "Princess with Blonde Tresses." He also buys a parrot and a horse, and the dangers are: he who touches the parrot will have his eyes put out; he who mounts the horse will be thrown; he who marries the fair one will be devoured by a dragon; and he who reveals these dangers will become stone. The remainder of the story is like the last version.

The Florentine version (Nov. fior. p. 421) is mixed up with a number of other incidents. The dangers from which the prince is saved by his faithful servant are: poisoned apples, poisoned pastry, and a lion in the royal chamber. The servant is turned to stone and restored, as in the other versions.

In a Mantuan story (Fiabe mant, No. 9), the dangers are: parrot, horse, and bride; whoever touches these will be devoured by a dragon; whoever reveals these dangers will become stone. The conclusion is the same as above.

The last version we shall mention here is in the Pentamerone (IV. 9), and resembles the one from Monferrato. The elder brother, who goes in search of a bride for his younger brother, buys a falcon and a horse. The first will pick out the younger brother's eyes; the horse will throw him, and finally a dragon will devour him on his wedding night. The remainder of the story is as usual.[30]

We shall conclude this chapter with the class of stories in which giants are outwitted by men. The simplest form is found in two stories which are interesting examples of the survival of classic myths. Both stories are from Sicily, and one was told to Pitre by a girl eight years old (Pitre, No. 51). It is entitled "The Little Monk," and is, in substance, as follows: There were once two monks who went begging for the church every year. One was large and the other small. They lost their way once and came to a large cave, in which was a monster (lit. animal, armalu), who was building a fire. The two monks, however, did not believe it was a monster, but said: "Let us go and rest there." They entered, and saw the monster killing a sheep and roasting it. He had already killed and cooked twenty.

"Eat!" said the monster to them. "We don't want to eat; we are not hungry." "Eat, I tell you!" After they had eaten the sheep, they lay down, and the monster closed the entrance to the cave with a great stone. Then he took a sharp iron, heated it in the fire, and stuck it in the throat of the larger of the two monks, roasted the body, and wanted the other monk to help eat it. "I don't want to eat," said he; "I am full." "Get up!" said the monster. "If you don't I will kill you."

The wretched monk arose in fright, seated himself at the table, and pretended to eat, but threw the flesh away. In the night the good man took the iron, heated it, and plunged it in the monster's eyes. Then the monk in his terror slipped into the skin of a sheep. The monster felt his way to the entrance of the cave, removed the stone, and let the sheep out one by one; and so the good man escaped and returned to Trapani, and told his story to some fishermen. The monster went fishing, and being blind, stumbled against a rock and broke his head. The other version is from the Albanian colony of Piana de' Greci (Comparetti, No. 70), in Sicily, and is substantially the same as the story just given.[31]

Generally, however, the stories in which giants are outwitted by men are more complicated, and may be divided into two classes: one where the giant is outwitted by superior cunning, the other where the giant's stupidity is deceived by the man's braggadocio. The first class may be represented by a Sicilian story (Pitre, No. 33), entitled:


There was once a father who had thirteen sons, the youngest of whom was named Thirteenth. The father had hard work to support his children, but made what he could gathering herbs. The mother, to make the children quick, said to them: "The one who comes home first shall have herb soup." Thirteenth always returned the first, and the soup always fell to his share, on which account his brothers hated him and sought to get rid of him.

The king issued a proclamation in the city that he who was bold enough to go and steal the ogre's coverlet should receive a measure of gold. Thirteenth's brothers went to the king and said: "Majesty, we have a brother, named Thirteenth, who is confident that he can do that and other things too." The king said: "Bring him to me at once." They brought Thirteenth, who said: "Majesty, how is it possible to steal the ogre's coverlet? If he sees me he will eat me!" "No matter, you must go," said the king. "I know that you are bold, and this act of bravery you must perform." Thirteenth departed and went to the house of the ogre, who was away. The ogress was in the kitchen. Thirteenth entered quietly and hid himself under the bed. At night the ogre returned. He ate his supper and went to bed, saying as he did so:

"I smell the smell of human flesh; Where I see it I will swallow it!"

The ogress replied: "Be still; no one has entered here." The ogre began to snore, and Thirteenth pulled the coverlet a little. The ogre awoke and cried: "What is that?" Thirteenth began to mew like a cat. The ogress said: "Scat! scat!" and clapped her hands, and then fell asleep again with the ogre. Then Thirteenth gave a hard pull, seized the coverlet, and ran away. The ogre heard him running, recognized him in the dark, and said: "I know you! You are Thirteenth, without doubt!"

After a time the king issued another proclamation, that whoever would steal the ogre's horse and bring it to the king should receive a measure of gold. Thirteenth again presented himself, and asked for a silk ladder and a bag of cakes. With these things he departed, and went at night to the ogre's, climbed up without being heard, and descended to the stable. The horse neighed on seeing him, but he offered it a cake, saying: "Do you see how sweet it is? If you will come with me, my master will give you these always." Then he gave it another, saying: "Let me mount you and see how we go." So he mounted it, kept feeding it with cakes, and brought it to the king's stable.

The king issued another proclamation, that he would give a measure of gold to whoever would bring him the ogre's bolster. Thirteenth said: "Majesty, how is that possible? The bolster is full of little bells, and you must know that the ogre awakens at a breath." "I know nothing about it," said the king. "I wish it at any cost." Thirteenth departed, and went and crept under the ogre's bed. At midnight he stretched out his hand very softly, but the little bells all sounded. "What is that?" said the ogre. "Nothing," replied the ogress; "perhaps it is the wind that makes them ring." But the ogre, who was suspicious, pretended to sleep, but kept his ears open. Thirteenth stretched out his hand again. Alack! the ogre put out his arm and seized him. "Now you are caught! Just wait; I will make you cry for your first trick, for your second, and for your third." After this he put Thirteenth in a barrel, and began to feed him on raisins and figs. After a time he said: "Stick out your finger, little Thirteenth, so that I can see whether you are fat." Thirteenth saw there a mouse's tail, and stuck that out. "Ah, how thin you are!" said the ogre; "and besides, you don't smell good! Eat, my son; take the raisins and figs, and get fat soon!" After some days the ogre told him again to put out his finger, and Thirteenth stuck out a spindle. "Eh, wretch! are you still lean? Eat, eat, and get fat soon."

At the end of a month Thirteenth had nothing more to stick out, and was obliged to show his finger. The ogre cried out in joy: "He is fat, he is fat!" The ogress hastened to the spot: "Quick, my ogress, heat the oven three nights and three days, for I am going to invite our relatives, and we will make a fine banquet of Thirteenth."

The ogress heated the oven three days and three nights, and then released Thirteenth from the barrel, and said to him: "Come here, Thirteenth; we have got to put the lamb in the oven." But Thirteenth caught her meaning; and when he approached the oven, he said: "Ah, mother ogress, what is that black thing in the corner of the oven?" The ogress stooped down a little, but saw nothing. "Stoop down again," said Thirteenth, "so that you can see it." When she stooped down again, Thirteenth seized her by the feet and threw her into the oven, and then closed the oven door. When she was cooked, he took her out carefully, cut her in two, divided her legs into pieces, and put them on the table, and placed her trunk, with her head and arms, in the bed, under the sheet, and tied a string to the chin and another to the back of her head.

When the ogre arrived with his guests he found the dishes on the table. Then he went to his wife's bed and asked: "Mother ogress, do you want to dine?" Thirteenth pulled the string, and the ogress shook her head. "How are you, tired?" And Thirteenth, who was hidden under the bed, pulled the other string and made her nod. Now it happened that one of her relatives moved something and saw that the ogress was dead, and only half of her was there. She cried in a loud voice: "Treason! treason!" and all hastened to the bed. In the midst of the confusion Thirteenth escaped from under the bed and ran away to the king with the bolster and the ogre's most valuable things.

After this, the king said to Thirteenth: "Listen, Thirteenth. To complete your valiant exploits, I wish you to bring me the ogre himself, in person, alive and well." "How can I, your Majesty?" said Thirteenth. Then he roused himself, and added: "I see how, now!" Then he had a very strong chest made, and disguised himself as a monk, with a long, false beard, and went to the ogre's house, and called out to him: "Do you know Thirteenth? The wretch! he has killed our superior; but if I catch him! If I catch him, I will shut him up in this chest!" At these words the ogre drew near and said: "I, too, would like to help you, against that wretch of an assassin, for you don't know what he has done to me." And he began to tell his story. "But what shall we do?" said the pretended monk. "I do not know Thirteenth. Do you know him?" "Yes, sir." "Then tell me, father ogre, how tall is he?" "As tall as I am." "If that is so," said Thirteenth, "let us see whether this chest will hold you; if it will hold you, it will hold him." "Oh, good!" said the ogre; and got into the chest. Then Thirteenth shut the chest and said: "Look carefully, father ogre, and see whether there is any hole in the chest." "There is none." "Just wait; let us see whether it shuts well, and is heavy to carry."

Meanwhile Thirteenth shut and nailed up the chest, took it on his back, and hastened to the city. When the ogre cried: "Enough, now!" Thirteenth ran all the faster, and, laughing, sang this song to taunt the ogre:

"I am Thirteenth, Who carry you on my back; I have tricked you and am going to trick you. I must deliver you to the king."

When he reached the king, the king had an iron chain attached to the ogre's hands and feet, and made him gnaw bones the rest of his miserable life. The king gave Thirteenth all the riches and treasures he could bestow on him, and always wished him at his side, as a man of the highest valor.[32]

* * * * *

The second version of the above story, in which the giant is deceived by the hero's braggadocio, is represented by several Italian stories; the simplest are some Milanese versions (Nov. fior. pp. 575-580), one of which (Ibid. p. 575) is as follows:


There was once a cobbler who one day was so tired of cobbling that he said: "Now I will go and seek my fortune." He bought a little cheese and put it on the table. It got full of flies, and he took an old shoe, and hit the cheese and killed all the flies. He afterward counted them, and five hundred were killed, and four hundred wounded. He then girded on a sword, and put on a cocked hat, and went to the court, and said to the king: "I am the chief warrior of the flies. Four hundred I have killed, and five hundred I have wounded." The king answered: "Since you are a warrior, you will be brave enough to climb that mountain there, where there are two magicians, and kill them. If you kill them, you shall marry my daughter." Then he gave him a white flag to wave when he had killed them. "And sound the trumpet, you will put his head in a bag, both the heads, to show me." The cobbler then departed, and found a house, which was an inn, and the innkeeper and his wife were none other than the magician and his wife. He asked for lodging and food, and all he needed. Afterward he went to his room; but before going to bed, he looked up at the ceiling. There he saw a great stone over the bed. Instead of getting into bed, he got into a corner. When a certain hour struck, the magicians let the stone drop and it crushed the whole bed. The next morning the cobbler went down and said that he could not sleep for the noise. They told him they would change his room. The same thing happened the next night, and in the morning they told him they would give him another room. When it was a certain hour, the husband and wife went to the forest to cut a bundle of fagots. Then the magician went home; and the cobbler, who had made ready a sickle, said: "Wait until I help you to take the bundle off your back." Then he gave the magician a blow with the sickle and cut off his head. He did the same thing when the magician's wife returned. Then he unfurled his flag, and sounded his trumpet, and the band went out to meet him. After he had arrived at the court, the king said to him: "Now that you have killed the two magicians, you shall marry my daughter." But the cobbler had got so used to drawing the thread that he did so in his sleep, and kept hitting his wife, so that she could not rest. Then the king gave him a great deal of money and sent him home.[33]

* * * * *

A more detailed version is found in a Sicilian story in Gonzenbach, "The Brave Shoemaker" (No. 41), the first part of which is like the Milanese version. On his way to the giant's, the cobbler makes some balls of plaster of Paris and cream-cheese, and puts them in his pocket. When he heard the giant coming through the woods, he climbed a tree; but the giant scented him, and told him to come down. The cobbler answered that if he did not leave him alone he would twist his neck; and to show him how strong he was, he crushed the balls of plaster of Paris in his hands, telling the giant they were marble. The giant was frightened, and invited the cobbler to remain with him, and took him home. After a while, the giant asked him to bring some water in a pitcher from the well. The cobbler said that if the giant would give him a strong rope he would bring the well itself. The giant in terror took the pitcher, and drew the water himself. Then the giant asked the cobbler to cut some wood, but the latter asked for a strong rope to drag a whole tree to the house with. Then the giant proposed a trial of strength, to see which could carry a heavy stick the longer. The cobbler said that the giant had better wind something about the thick end, for when he, the cobbler, turned a somersault with it, he might hit the giant. When they went to bed, the giant made the cobbler sleep with him; but the latter crept under the bed, leaving a pumpkin in his place. The giant, who was anxious to get rid of the cobbler, took an iron bar and struck at the pumpkin all night, believing it the cobbler's head. After he had beaten the pumpkin to pieces, the cobbler, under the bed, gave a sigh. "What is the matter with you?" asked the terrified giant. "A flea has just bitten my ear," answered the cobbler. The next day the cobbler proposed to the giant to cook a great kettle of macaroni, and after they had eaten it, he would cut open his stomach to show the giant that he had eaten it without chewing it; the giant was to do the same afterward. The cobbler, of course, secretly tied a sack about his neck, and put his macaroni in it; then he took a knife and ripped open the bag, and the macaroni fell out. The giant, in attempting to follow the cobbler's example, killed himself. Then the cobbler cut his head off, carried it to the king, and claimed his daughter's hand.[34]

The stories given in this chapter constitute, as we have already said in the Introduction, but a small part of Italian fairy tales. They represent, however, as well as our space will allow, the great fairy cycles, so to speak. As our purpose has been to give only those stories which have been taken down from the mouths of the people, we have not drawn, except for purposes of reference, upon the Pentamerone, one of the most original and charming collections of fairy tales in any language. Enough has been given, we trust, to show how the Italians have treated the themes familiar to us from childhood, and to furnish the scholar with additional material for comparison.



The fairy tales given in the last chapter belong to what may be called the great fairy tale cycles; that is, to extensive classes that are typical forms. It remains to notice in this chapter those stories which do not belong to any of these typical classes, but constitute, so to speak, independent forms.

The reader has perhaps noticed in the fairy tales of the first chapter the conspicuous absence of the fairies to which we are accustomed in German or Celtic stories. We have met ogres and magicians with magic powers, old men and women, and hermits who have aided the hero and heroine, and played the role of the "good fairy," but the fairy in the bright shape in which we see her in French and Irish stories, for example, has been wanting. It will not be amiss, then, to give a few stories in which the fairies play a more important part. We shall first mention a curious story in which the fairies are represented in one of their most usual roles—that of bestowing good gifts. The story is from Sicily (Gonz. No. 73), and is entitled:


There was once a king who wanted to marry. But his wife must be more beautiful than the sun, and no matter how many maidens he saw, none was beautiful enough to suit him. Then he called his trusty servant, and commanded him to seek everywhere and see whether he could find a beautiful girl. The servant set out, and wandered through the whole land, but found none who seemed handsome enough to him. One day, however, after he had run about a great deal and was very thirsty, he came to a little house. He knocked and asked for a drink of water. Now there dwelt in the house two very old women,—one eighty and the other ninety years old,—who supported themselves by spinning. When the servant asked for water, the one eighty years old rose, opened a little wicket in the shutter, and handed him out the water. From spinning so much, her hands were very white and delicate; and when the servant saw them he thought, "It must be a handsome maiden, for she has such a delicate white hand." So he hastened to the king, and said: "Your royal Majesty, I have found what you seek; so and so has happened to me." "Very well," answered the king, "go once more and try to see her."

The servant returned to the little house, knocked, and asked again for some water. The old woman did not open the window, but handed him the pitcher through the little opening in the shutter. "Do you live here all alone?" asked the servant. "No," she answered. "I live here with my sister; we are poor girls and support ourselves by the work of our hands." "How old are you, then?" "I am fifteen and my sister twenty." The servant went back to the king and told him all, and the king said: "I will take the one who is fifteen. Go and bring her to me." When the servant returned to the two old women, and told them that the king wished to elevate the younger to the position of his wife, she answered: "Tell the king I am ready to do his will. Since my birth no ray of the sun has ever struck me, and if a ray of the sun or a beam of light should strike me now, I would become perfectly black. Ask the king, therefore, to send a closed carriage for me at night, and I will come to his palace."

When the king heard this he sent royal apparel and a closed carriage, and at night the old woman covered her face with a thick veil and rode to the palace. The king received her joyfully, and begged her to lay aside the veil. She replied: "There are too many lighted candles here; their light would make me black." So the king married her without having seen her face. When they came into the king's chamber, however, and she removed her veil, the king saw for the first time what an ugly old woman he had married, and in his rage he opened the window and threw her out. Fortunately there was a nail in the wall, on which she caught by her clothes, and remained hanging between heaven and earth. Four fairies chanced to pass by, and when they saw the old woman hanging there, one of them cried: "See, sisters, there is the old woman who cheated the king; shall we wish her dress to tear and let her fall?" "Oh, no! let us not do that," cried the youngest and most beautiful of the fairies. "Let us rather wish her something good. I wish her youth." "And I, beauty." "And I, prudence." "And I, a good heart." Thus the fairies cried, and while they were yet speaking the old woman became a wondrous fair maiden.

The next morning, when the king looked out of the window and saw the beautiful girl hanging there, he was terrified, and thought: "Unhappy man! What have I done! Had I no eyes last night?" Then he had her carefully taken down with long ladders, and begged her pardon, saying: "Now we will have a great festival and be right happy." So they celebrated a splendid feast, and the young queen was the fairest in the whole city.

But one day the sister ninety years old came to the palace to visit the queen, her sister. "Who is this ugly creature?" asked the king. "An old neighbor of mine who is half-witted," replied the queen, quickly. The old woman kept looking at her rejuvenated sister, and asked: "What did you do to become so young and lovely? I, too, would like to be young and pretty again." She kept asking this the whole day, until the queen finally lost her patience, and said: "I had my old skin taken off, and this new, smooth skin came to light." The old woman went to a barber and said: "I will give you what you will to remove my old skin, so that I may become young and handsome again." "But good old woman, you will surely die if I skin you." The old woman would not listen to him, and at last he had to do her will. He took his knife and made a cut in her forehead. "Oh!" cried the old woman.

"Who will look fair Must grief and pain bear,"

answered the barber. "Then skin away, master," said the old woman. The barber kept cutting on, until all at once the old woman fell down dead.[1]

* * * * *

This story leads quite naturally to the class in which gifts, good and bad, are bestowed by the fairies on two persons, one of whom is deserving of good fortune; the other, of punishment or reproof. The simplest form of this story is found in a Milanese tale (Nov. fior. p. 190).


There was once a mother who had two daughters: one was bad and the other was very good. But the mother loved the bad one more than the good one. She said one day to the bad one: "Go and draw a bucket of water." The bad one did not want to go, and so she would not obey her mother. The good daughter, however, said: "I will go and draw it." She went to draw the water, and the bucket fell down the well. She said: "If I go home now without the bucket, who knows what my mother will do to me?" So she climbed down the well, and at the bottom found a narrow passage, with a door. She knocked at the door. "Have you not found a cord and bucket?" There was a saint there, who answered: "No, my child." She continued her way and found another door. "Have you not found a cord and bucket?" "No!" That was the devil there. He answered her angrily because she was a good girl; he did not say: "My child." She knocked at another door. "Have you not found a cord and bucket?" It was the Madonna who replied: "Yes, my child. Listen. You could do me a pleasure to stay here while I am away. I have my little son here, to whom you will give his soup; you will sweep and put the house in order. When I come home I will give you your bucket." The Madonna went away, and the good girl put the house in order, gave the child his broth, swept the house; and while she was sweeping, instead of finding dirt, she found coral and other beautiful things. She saw that it was not dirt, and put it aside to give the Madonna when she returned. When the Madonna came back, she asked: "Have you done all I told you to do?" The good girl answered: "Yes, but I have kept these things here; I found them on the ground; it is not dirt." "Very well; keep them for yourself. Would you like a dress of calico, or one of silk?" The girl answered: "No, no! a calico dress." Instead of that, the Madonna gave her the silk one. "Do you wish a brass thimble, or a silver one?" "Give me the brass one." "No, take the silver thimble. Here is the bucket and your cord. When you reach the end of this passage, look up in the air." The girl did so, and a beautiful star fell on her brow.

She went home, and her mother ran to meet her to scold her for being away so long; and was about to strike her, when she saw the star on her brow, which shone so that it was beautiful to see, and said: "Where have you been until now? Who put that thing on your forehead?" The girl answered: "I don't know what there is there." Her mother tried to wash it away, but instead of disappearing, it shone more beautiful than ever. Then the girl told what had happened to her, and the other sister wished to go there, too. She went, and did the same as her sister. She let the bucket fall, climbed down, and knocked at the saint's door. "Have you not found a cord and bucket?" "No, my child." She knocked at the next door. "Have you not found a cord and bucket?" The devil answered: "No, I have not found them; but come here, my child, come here." But when she heard that he had not found her bucket, she said: "No, I will go on." She knocked at the Madonna's door. "Have you not found a cord and bucket?" The Madonna said that she had. "I am going away: you will give my son his broth, and then you will sweep. When I return I will give you your bucket." Instead of giving the broth to the child, the bad girl ate it herself. "Oh!" she said, "how good it was!" She swept and found a great deal of dirt. "Oh, poor me! My sister found so many pretty things!" The Madonna returned. "Have you done what I told you?" "Yes." "Do you wish the brass or silver thimble?" "Oh! I want the silver one!" She gave her the brass one. "Do you want the calico dress or the silk one?" "Give me the silk dress." She gave her the calico dress. "Here is your bucket and cord. When you are out of here, look up into the air." When she was out she looked up into the air and there fell on her forehead a lump of dirt that soiled her whole face. She went home in a rage to weep and scold her sister because she had had the star, while she had that dirt on her face. Her mother began to wash her face and rub it; and the more she did so the less the dirt went away. Then the mother said: "I understand; the Madonna has done this to show me that I loved the bad girl and neglected the good one."[2]

* * * * *

In other versions (mentioned in the note to the above story) the two sisters receive different gifts from the fairies. In a Sicilian tale (Pitre, No. 62) it is the children of unlike sisters who receive the gifts: the one, beauty. When she combs her hair jewels fall from it; when she washes the water becomes full of fishes; when she opens her mouth flowers fall out; her cheeks are like apples; and finally she can finish her work in a short time. The cousin receives, of course, gifts the very reverse of the above. The story ends with the trait of "True Bride," mentioned at length in Chapter I.

There is still a third version of the above story, which is popular in many lands. The following example is from Florence (Nov. fior. p. 559), and is entitled:


There were once two companions who were humpbacks, but one more so than the other. They were both so poor that they had not a penny to their names. One of them said: "I will go out into the world, for here there is nothing to eat; we are dying of hunger. I want to see whether I can make my fortune." "Go," said the other. "If you make your fortune, return, and I will go and see if I can make mine." So the humpback set off on his journey. Now these two humpbacks were from Parma. When the humpback had gone a long way, he came to a square where there was a fair, at which everything was sold. There was a person selling cheese, who cried out: "Eat the little Parmesan!" The poor humpback thought he meant him, so he ran away and hid himself in a court-yard. When it was one o'clock, he heard a clanking of chains and the words "Saturday and Sunday" repeated several times. Then he answered: "And Monday." "Oh, heavens!" said they who were singing. "Who is this who has harmonized with our choir?" They searched and found the poor humpback hidden. "O gentlemen!" he said, "I have not come here to do any harm, you know!" "Well! we have come to reward you; you have harmonized our choir; come with us!" They put him on a table and removed his hump, healed him, and gave him two bags of money. "Now," they said, "you can go." He thanked them and went away without his hump. He liked it better, you can believe! He returned to his place at Parma, and when the other humpback saw him he exclaimed: "Does not that look just like my friend? But he had a hump! It is not he! Listen! You are not my friend so and so, are you?" "Yes, I am," he replied. "Listen! Were you not a humpback?" "Yes. They have removed my hump and given me two bags of money. I will tell you why. I reached," he continued, "such and such a place, and I heard them beginning to say, 'Eat the little Parmesan! eat the little Parmesan!' I was so frightened that I hid myself." (He mentioned the place—in a court-yard.) "At a certain hour, I heard a noise of chains and a chorus singing: 'Saturday and Sunday.' After two or three times, I said: 'And Monday.' They came and found me, saying that I had harmonized their chorus, and they wanted to reward me. They took me, removed my hump, and gave me two bags of money." "Oh, heavens!" said the other humpback. "I want to go there, too!" "Go, poor fellow, go! farewell!" The humpback reached the place, and hid himself precisely where his companion had. After a while he heard a noise of chains, and the chorus: "Saturday and Sunday!" Then another chorus: "And Monday!" After the humpback had heard them repeat: "Saturday and Sunday, and Monday!" several times, he added: "And Tuesday!" "Where," they exclaimed, "is he who has spoiled our chorus? If we find him, we will tear him in pieces." Just think! they struck and beat this poor humpback until they were tired; then they put him on the same table on which they had placed his companion, and said: "Take that hump and put it on him in front." So they took the other's hump and fastened it to his breast, and then drove him away with blows. He went home and found his friend, who cried: "Mercy! is not that my friend? but it cannot be, for this one is humpbacked in front. Listen," he said, "are you not my friend?" "The same," he answered, weeping. "I did not want to bear my own hump, and now I have to carry mine and yours! and so beaten and reduced, you see!" "Come," said his friend, "come home with me, and we will eat a mouthful together; and don't be disheartened." And so, every day, he dined with his friend, and afterward they died, I imagine.[3]

* * * * *

There are a number of Sicilian stories in which one's fate is personified and appears in the role of a guardian angel, or good and bad fairy. In the same way fortune is personified in several stories. The best example of the former class, which has also a point of contact with the latter, is found in Gonzenbach, No. 21, and is entitled:


There was once a merchant who was very rich and had greater treasures than the king. In his reception room stood three wonderfully beautiful seats. One was of silver, the second of gold, and the third of diamonds. This merchant had an only daughter, whose name was Catherine, and who was fairer than the sun.

One day as Catherine was sitting in her chamber, the door suddenly opened of itself, and there entered a tall, beautiful lady, who held in her hand a wheel. "Catherine," said she, "when would you rather enjoy your life, in youth or in old age?" Catherine gazed at her in amazement, and could make no answer. The beautiful lady again asked: "Catherine, when would you rather enjoy your life, in youth or in old age?" Then thought Catherine: "If I say in youth, I must suffer for it in old age; wherefore I will rather enjoy my life in old age, and in youth God's will be done." So she answered: "In old age." "Be it as you have wished," said the beautiful woman, turned her wheel once, and disappeared. Now this beautiful tall lady was poor Catherine's Fate.

A few days later, her father suddenly received news that some of his ships had been wrecked in a storm; a few days after, he learned that several more of his ships had foundered; and to cut the matter short, scarcely a month had passed when he was himself deprived of all his riches. He had to sell all that he had, and this, too, he lost, until at last he remained poor and wretched. From grief he fell ill and died.

So poor Catherine remained all alone in the world, without a penny, and with no one to give her shelter. She thought: "I will go to another city and seek me a place there." So she set out and walked until she came to another city. As she was going through the streets a noble lady happened to be standing by the window, and asked her: "Where are you going, all alone, pretty maiden?" "Ah! noble lady, I am a poor girl, and would like to find a place to earn my bread. Can you not find use for me?" So the noble lady received her, and Catherine served her faithfully.

Some days later the lady said one evening: "Catherine, I must go out for a time, and will lock the house door." "Very well," said Catherine, and after her mistress had gone she took her work and sat down and sewed. Suddenly the door opened, and her Fate entered. "So?" she cried, "are you here, Catherine? and do you think now that I am going to leave you in peace?" With these words, her Fate ran to all the cupboards, dragged out the linen and clothes of Catherine's mistress, and tore everything into a thousand pieces. Catherine thought: "Woe is me if my mistress returns and finds everything in this condition; she will certainly kill me!" And in her anguish she opened the door and fled. Her Fate, however, gathered up all the torn and ruined things, made them whole, and laid them away in their places. When the mistress returned she called Catherine, but Catherine was nowhere to be seen. "Can she have robbed me?" she thought; but when she looked about, nothing was gone. She was very much astonished, but Catherine did not return, but hastened on until she came to another city. As she was passing through the streets, another lady, standing by the window, asked her: "Where are you going, all alone, pretty maiden?" "Ah! noble lady, I am a poor girl, and would like a place to earn my bread. Can you not make use of me?" Then the lady took her in, and Catherine served her and thought now she could rest in peace. It lasted, however, but a few days. One evening, when her mistress was out, her Fate appeared again and addressed her harshly: "So, here you are now? Do you think you can escape me?" Then the Fate tore and destroyed everything that it found, so that poor Catherine again fled, in her anguish of heart. To cut the matter short, poor Catherine led this frightful life seven years, flying from one city to another, and everywhere attempting to find a place. Her Fate always appeared after a few days, and tore and destroyed her employers' things, so that the poor girl had to flee. As soon as she had left the house the Fate restored everything and put it in its place.

Finally, after seven years, her Fate seemed weary of always persecuting the unfortunate Catherine. One day Catherine came again to a city and saw a lady standing at a window, who asked her: "Where are you going, all alone, pretty girl?" "Ah! noble lady, I am a poor girl, and would like to find a place to earn my bread. Can you not find use for me?" The lady answered: "I will give you a place willingly, but you must perform daily a service, and I do not know whether you have strength for it." "Tell me what it is," said Catherine, "and if I can, I will do it." "Do you see yonder high mountain?" asked the lady. "Every morning you must carry up there a large board covered with fresh bread, and cry with a loud voice: 'O my mistress' Fate! O my mistress' Fate! O my mistress' Fate!' thrice. Then my Fate will appear and receive the bread." "I will do that willingly," said Catherine, and the lady took her into her service.

Now Catherine remained years with this lady, and every morning she took a board with fresh bread and carried it up the mountain, and when she had called three times: "O my mistress' Fate!" there appeared a beautiful tall lady, who received the bread. Catherine often wept when she thought that she, who had once been so rich, must now serve like a poor maid. One day her mistress said to her: "Catherine, why do you weep so much?" Then Catherine told her how ill it had fared with her, and her mistress said: "I will tell you what, Catherine, when you take the bread to the mountain to-morrow, ask my Fate to try and persuade your Fate to leave you now in peace. Perhaps that will do some good." This advice pleased poor Catherine, and the next morning, after she had taken the bread to her mistress' Fate, she disclosed her trouble to her, and said: "O my mistress' Fate, beg my Fate to persecute me no longer." Then the Fate answered: "Ah, poor girl, your Fate is just now covered with seven coverlets, so that she cannot hear you; but when you come to-morrow I will take you to her." After Catherine had returned home, her mistress' Fate went to the young girl's Fate and said: "Dear sister, why are you never weary of making poor Catherine suffer? Permit her again to see some happy days." The Fate answered: "Bring her to me to-morrow and I will give her something that will help her out of all her trouble." When Catherine brought the bread the next morning, her mistress' Fate conducted her to her own Fate, who was covered with seven coverlets. Her Fate gave her a small skein of silk, and said: "Preserve it carefully; it will be of use to you." Then Catherine went home and said to her mistress: "My Fate has given me a little skein of silk; what shall I do with it? It is not worth three grani." "Well," said her mistress, "preserve it; who knows of what use it may be?"

Now it happened, some time after this, that the young king was to marry, and on that account had royal garments made for himself. As the tailor was about to sew a beautiful dress, there was no silk of the same color to be found. So the king proclaimed throughout the whole land that whoever had such silk should bring it to the court and would be well rewarded. "Catherine," said her mistress, "your skein is of that color; take it to the king so that he may make you a handsome present." Then Catherine put on her best clothes, and went to the Court; and when she appeared before the king, she was so beautiful that he could not keep his eyes from her. "Royal Majesty," said she, "I have brought you a little skein of silk, of the color that could not be found." "I will tell you what, royal Majesty," cried one of his ministers, "we will pay the maiden for the silk with its weight in gold." The king was satisfied and they brought a balance; in one scale the king laid the silk, in the other, a gold coin. Now just imagine what happened: no matter how many gold coins the king laid in the scale, the silk was always heavier. Then the king had a larger balance brought, and threw all his treasures into the scale, but the silk still weighed the more. Then the king at last took his crown from his head and placed it with all the other treasures, and behold! the scale with gold sank and weighed exactly as much as the silk. "Where did you get this silk?" asked the king. "Royal Majesty, it was a present from my mistress," answered Catherine. "No, that is impossible," cried the king. "If you do not tell me the truth, I will have your head cut off." Then Catherine related all that had happened to her since she was a rich maiden.

Now there lived at the court a wise lady, who said: "Catherine, you have suffered much, but you will now see happy days; and that it was not until the golden crown was put in the scale that the balance was even, is a sign that you will be a queen." "If she is to be a queen," cried the king, "I will make her one, for Catherine and none other shall be my wife." And so it was; the king informed his betrothed that he no longer wished her, and married the fair Catherine. And after Catherine in her youth had suffered so much, she enjoyed nothing but happiness in her old age, and was happy and contented.[4]

* * * * *

In the class of stories of which "The Bucket" is an example, we have seen the good sister rewarded, and the naughty one punished. Another well-known moral story is the one in which a king's daughter is punished for her pride, in refusing to marry a suitable lover, by being made to marry the first one who asks her hand. This is the case in the Grimm story "King Thrush-Beard," or rather the king gives his proud daughter to the first beggar who comes to the palace gate. The same occurs in one of the Italian versions of this story, but usually the haughty princess, after refusing a noble suitor, either falls in love with the same suitor, who has disguised himself as a person of ignoble rank, or she sells herself to the disguised lover for some finery with which he tempts her. At all events, her pride is thoroughly humbled. An example of the more common version is found in Coronedi-Berti's Bolognese tales (No. 15), and is as follows:


There was once a king who had a daughter whose name was Stella. She was indescribably beautiful, but was so whimsical and hard to please that she drove her father to despair. There had been princes and kings who had sought her in marriage, but she had found defects in them all and would have none of them. She kept advancing in years, and her father began to despair of knowing to whom he should leave his crown. So he summoned his council, and discussed the matter, and was advised to give a great banquet, to which he should invite all the princes and kings of the surrounding countries, for, as they said, there cannot fail to be among so many, some one who should please the princess, who was to hide behind a door, so that she could examine them all as she pleased. When the king heard this advice, he gave the orders necessary for the banquet, and then called his daughter, and said: "Listen, my little Stella, I have thought to do so and so, to see if I can find any one to please you; behold, my daughter, my hair is white, and I must have some one to leave my crown to." Stella bowed her head, saying that she would take care to please him. Princes and kings then began to arrive at the court, and when it was time for the banquet, they all seated themselves at the table. You can imagine what sort of a banquet that was, and how the hall was adorned: gold and silver shone from all their necks; in the four corners of the room were four fountains, which continually sent forth wine and the most exquisite perfumes. While the gentlemen were eating, Stella was behind a door, as has been said, and one of her maids, who was near by, pointed out to her now this one, now that one. "See, your Majesty, what a handsome youth that is there." "Yes, but he has too large a nose." "And the one near your father?" "He has eyes that look like saucers." "And that other at the head of the table?" "He has too large a mouth; he looks as if he liked to eat." In short, she found fault with all but one, who, she said, pleased her, but that he must be a very dirty fellow, for he had a crumb on his beard after eating. The youth heard her say this, and swore vengeance. You must know that he was the son of the king of Green Hill, and the handsomest youth that could be seen. When the banquet was finished and the guests had departed, the king called Stella and asked: "What news have you, my child?" She replied, that the only one who pleased her was the one with the crumb in his beard, but that she believed him to be a dirty fellow and did not want him. "Take care, my daughter, you will repent it," answered her father, and turned away.

You must know that Stella's chamber looked into a court-yard into which opened the shop of a baker. One night, while she was preparing to retire, she heard, in the room where they sifted the meal, some one singing so well and with so much grace that it went to her heart. She ran to the window and listened until he finished. Then she began to ask her maid who the person with the beautiful voice could be, saying she would like to know. "Leave it to me, your Majesty," said the maid; "I will inform you to-morrow." Stella could not wait for the next day; and, indeed, early the next day she learned that the one who sang was the sifter. That evening she heard him sing again, and stood by the window until everything became quiet. But that voice had so touched her heart that she told her maid that the next day she would try and see who had that fine voice. In the morning she placed herself by the window, and soon saw the youth come forth. She was enchanted by his beauty as soon as she saw him, and fell desperately in love with him.

Now you must know that this was none other than the prince who was at the banquet, and whom Stella had called "dirty." So he had disguised himself in such a way that she could not recognize him, and was meanwhile preparing his revenge. After he had seen her once or twice he began to take off his hat and salute her. She smiled at him, and appeared at the window every moment. Then they began to exchange words, and in the evening he sang under her window. In short, they began to make love in good earnest, and when he learned that she was free, he began to talk about marrying her. She consented at once, but asked him what he had to live on. "I haven't a penny," said he; "the little I earn is hardly enough to feed me." Stella encouraged him, saying that she would give him all the money and things he wanted. To punish Stella for her pride, her father and the prince's father had an understanding, and pretended not to know about this love affair, and let her carry away from the palace all she owned. During the day Stella did nothing but make a great bundle of clothes, of silver, and of money, and at night the disguised prince came under the balcony, and she threw it down to him. Things went on in this manner some time, and finally one evening he said to her: "Listen. The time has come to elope." Stella could not wait for the hour, and the next night she quietly tied a cord about her and let herself down from the window. The prince aided her to the ground, and then took her arm and hastened away. He led her a long ways to another city, where he turned down a street and opened the first door he met. They went down a long passage; finally they reached a little door, which he opened, and they found themselves in a hole of a place which had only one window, high up. The furniture consisted of a straw bed, a bench, and a dirty table. You can imagine that when Stella saw herself in this place she thought she should die. When the prince saw her so amazed, he said: "What is the matter? Does the house not please you? Do you not know that I am a poor man? Have you been deceived?" "What have you done with all the things I gave you?" "Oh, I had many debts, and I have paid them, and then I have done with the rest what seemed good to me. You must make up your mind to work and gain your bread as I have done. You must know that I am a porter of the king of this city, and I often go and work at the palace. To-morrow, they have told me, the washing is to be done, so you must rise early and go with me there. I will set you to work with the other women, and when it is time for them to go home to dinner, you will say that you are not hungry, and while you are alone, steal two shirts, conceal them under your skirt, and carry them home to me." Poor Stella wept bitterly, saying it was impossible for her to do that; but her husband replied: "Do what I say, or I shall beat you." The next morning her husband rose with the dawn, and made her get up, too. He had bought her a striped skirt and a pair of coarse shoes, which he made her put on, and then took her to the palace with him, conducted her to the laundry and left her, after he had introduced her as his wife, saying that she should remember what awaited her at home. Then the prince ran and dressed himself like a king, and waited at the gate of the palace until it was time for his wife to come. Meanwhile poor Stella did as her husband had commanded, and stole the shirts. As she was leaving the palace, she met the king, who said: "Pretty girl, you are our porter's wife, are you not?" Then he asked her what she had under her skirt, and shook her until the shirts dropped out, and the king cried: "See there! the porter's wife is a thief; she has stolen some shirts." Poor Stella ran home in tears, and her husband followed her when he had put on his disguise again. When he reached home Stella told him all that had happened and begged him not to send her to the palace again; but he told her that the next day they were to bake, and she must go into the kitchen and help, and steal a piece of dough. Everything happened as on the previous day. Stella's theft was discovered, and when her husband returned he found her crying like a condemned soul, and swearing that she had rather be killed than go to the palace again. He told her, however, that the king's son was to be married the next day, and that there was to be a great banquet, and she must go into the kitchen and wash the dishes. He added that when she had the chance she must steal a pot of broth and hide it about her so that no one should see it. She had to do as she was told, and had scarcely concealed the pot when the king's son came into the kitchen and told his wife she must come to the ball that had followed the banquet. She did not wish to go, but he took her by the arm and led her into the midst of the festival. Imagine how the poor woman felt at that ball, dressed as she was, and with the pot of broth! The king began to poke his sword at her in jest, until he hit the pot, and all the broth ran on the floor. Then all began to jeer her and laugh, until poor Stella fainted away from shame, and they had to go and get some vinegar to revive her. At last the king's mother came forward and said: "Enough; you have revenged yourself sufficiently." Then turning to Stella: "Know that this is your mother, and that he has done this to correct your pride and to be avenged on you for calling him dirty." Then she took her by the arm and led her to another room, where her maids dressed her as a queen. Her father and mother then appeared and kissed and embraced her. Her husband begged her pardon for what he had done, and they made peace and always lived in harmony. From that day on she was never haughty, and had learned to her cost that pride is the greatest fault.[5]

* * * * *

A curious feature in Italian stories is the part played by dolls or puppets. They sometimes serve to represent an absent mistress, or to take her place and receive the brunt of the husband's anger. The most peculiar of these doll-stories are found in the south of Italy; the one that follows is from Naples (Nov. fior. p. 333) and is entitled:


There was once a merchant who had no children. He was obliged to go away for merchandise. His wife said to him: "Here is a ring; put it on your finger. You must bring me a doll as large as I am; one that can move, sew, and dress herself. If you forget, this ring will turn red, and your steamer will go neither forward nor backward." And so it happened. He forgot the doll, embarked on the steamer, and it would not move. The pilot said: "Sir, have you forgotten anything?" to all the gentlemen who were there. "No, sir; nothing." At the end of the steamer was this merchant. "Sir, have you forgotten anything; for the steamer cannot move?" He looked at his hand and replied: "Yes, I have forgotten something—my wife's doll." He landed, got the doll, reembarked, and the steamer continued its way. On his arrival at Naples, he carried the doll to his wife, well dressed and elegant; it seemed like a very handsome young girl. His wife, well pleased, talked to the doll, and they both worked near the balcony. Opposite lived a king's son, who fell in love with the doll, and became ill from his passion. The queen, who saw that her son was ill, asked: "My son, what is the matter with you? Tell your mamma. To-day or to-morrow we die, and you reign; and if you take an illness and die, who will reign?" He answered: "Mamma, I have taken this illness because there is a young girl, the daughter of the merchant who lives opposite, who is so beautiful that she has enamored me." The queen said: "Yes, my son, I shall marry you to her. Were she the daughter of a scavenger, you shall marry her." "You would do a good thing. Now let us send for the merchant." They sent a servant to the merchant's house. "Her Majesty wishes you at the palace!" "What does she want?" "She must speak with you." The merchant went to the palace, and asked: "Majesty, what do you wish?" "Have you a daughter?" "No, Majesty." "What do you mean? My son has fallen ill from the love he has conceived for your daughter." "Your Majesty, I tell you it is a doll, and not a human being." "I don't want to hear nonsense! If you don't present your daughter to me in a fortnight, your head will fall under the guillotine." (Do you not know what the guillotine is? It is the gallows. He was to be hung if he did not take her his daughter within a fortnight.) The merchant went home, weeping. His wife said: "What is the matter; what has the king said to you at the palace, to make you weep?" "Can you not guess what has happened to me? The king's son has fallen ill for the sake of the doll you have!" "He has fallen ill? did he not see that it was a doll?" "He would not believe it, and says it is my daughter, and that if I do not bring her to him within a fortnight, my head will fall under the guillotine." "Well," said his wife, "take the doll, and carry her out into the country, and see what will happen." He did so, and while he was going along, all confused, he met an old man who asked him: "Merchant, what are you doing?" "Ah, my old man, why should I tell you?" "I know all." Then said the merchant: "Since you know all, find some remedy for my life." The old man said: "Exactly. Go to such and such a place, where there is a fairy, who is called the fairy Orlanda. She has a palace with no doorkeeper, and no stairway. Here is a violin and a silk ladder. When you reach this palace, begin to play. The fairy and all her twelve maidens will appear at the window. This fairy Orlanda can give you help."

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