Italian Popular Tales
by Thomas Frederick Crane
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They took the tubs and put them inside, and the king left sentinels and returned to the city. The sentinels remained there a week; but as they saw no one, they, too, left.

Let us leave the sentinels, who have departed, and return to the mason. He said to his son: "Let us go to the accustomed place." They took the sack and went. Arriving there, they took out the stone, and the father entered. As he entered he stuck fast in the pitch. He tried to help himself and get his feet loose, but his hands stuck fast. Then he said to his son: "Do you hear what I tell you, my son? Cut off my head, tear my coat to pieces, put back the stone as it was, and throw my head in the river, so that I shall not be known." The son did as he was told, and returned home. When he told his mother what had become of his father, she began to tear her hair. After a few days, the son, who did not know any trade, entered the service of a carpenter, and told his mother not to say anything, as if nothing had happened.

Let us leave these and return to the king, who went the next day with his councillors to the country-house. They entered and saw the body, and the king said: "But it has no head! How shall we find out who it is?" The councillors said: "Take him and carry him through the streets three days; where you see weeping you will know who it is." They took the body, and called Filippu Carruba and Brasi Vuturu,[D] and made them carry it about. When they passed through the street where the mason's widow lived, she began to weep. The son, whose shop was near by, heard it, and gave himself a blow in the hand with an axe and cut off his fingers. The police arrested the mother, saying: "We have found out who it is." Meanwhile the son arrived there and said: "She is not weeping for that; she is weeping because I have cut off my fingers and can no longer work and earn my bread." The police saw it was so, believed him, and departed. At night they carried the body to the palace and built outside a scaffold to put the body on, because they had to carry it around three days. About the scaffold they placed nine sentinels—eight soldiers and a corporal. Now it was in the winter and was very cold; so the son took a mule and loaded it with drugged wine, and passed up and down. When the soldiers saw him they cried: "Friend, are you selling that wine?" He said: "I am." "Wait until we drink, for we are trembling with the cold." After they had drunk they threw themselves down and went to sleep, and the son took the body, and, after he had buried it outside of the town, returned home.

[Footnote D: Names of two undertakers in Salaparuta, where the story was collected.]

[In the morning the soldiers awoke and told the king what had happened, and he issued a proclamation that whoever found the body should receive a large sum of money. The body was found and carried about the street again, but no one wept. That night new sentinels were appointed, but the same thing happened as the night before. The soldiers were drugged and dressed in monks' robes, and the corporal had a cross stuck between his legs. The next day another proclamation, the body again found and carried about, but no one detected weeping. The story then continues:]

The mason's son (here called for the first time Ninu) could not rest, and went to Cianedda.[E] "Will you do me a favor?" "If I can," answered Cianedda; "not one, but two. What can I do for you?" "Will you lend me your goats this evening?" "I will." Ninu took them, bought four rotula[F] of candles and an old earthen pot, knocked out the bottom and fastened some candles around it. Then he took the goats and fixed two candles to the horns of each one and took them where the body was, and followed with the pot on his head and the candles lighted. The soldiers ran away in terror, and the son took the body and threw it in the sea.

[Footnote E: The name of a goatherd in Salaparuta.]

[Footnote F: A rotulu = .793 kilos.]

[The next day the king commanded that the price of meat should be set at twelve tari[G] a rotulu, and ordered that all the old women of the city should assemble at the palace. A hundred came, and he told them to go begging about the city and find out who was cooking meat; thinking that only the thief could afford to buy meat at that price. Ninu, of course, bought some and gave it to his mother to cook. While it was cooking, and Ninu absent, one of the old women came begging, and the widow gave her a piece of meat. As she was going down-stairs Ninu met her and asked her what she was doing. She explained that she was begging for some bread. Ninu, suspecting the trick, took her and threw her into the well.]

[Footnote G: Frs. 5.10.]

At noon, when the old women were to present themselves to the king, one was missing. The king then sent for the butchers, and found that just one rotulu of meat had been sold. When the king saw this, he issued a proclamation to find out who had done all these wonders, and said: "If he is unmarried, I will give him my daughter; if he is married, I will give him two measures of gold." Ninu presented himself to the king and said: "Your Majesty, it was I." The king burst out laughing, and asked: "Are you married or single?" He said: "Your Majesty, I am single." And the king said: "Will you be satisfied with my daughter, or with two measures, of gold?" "Your Majesty," he said, "I want to marry; give me your daughter." So he did, and they had a grand banquet.[30]

* * * * *

The story in The Seven Wise Masters, known as "Inclusa," or "The Elopement," is found only in Pitre (No. 176), where it is told of a tailor who lived next to the king's palace, with which his house communicated by a secret door known only to the king and the tailor's wife. The tailor, while at work in the palace, imagines he sees his wife there, and pretending that he has forgotten his shears, etc., rushes home to find his wife there. She finally elopes with the king, leaving at her window an image that deceives her husband until she is beyond pursuit.[31]

Far more curious than any of the stories above given is the last one we shall mention from The Seven Wise Masters. The story in this collection known as "Avis," or "The Talking Bird," is briefly as follows: A jealous husband has a talking bird that is a spy upon his wife's actions. In order to impair his confidence in the bird, one night while he is absent the wife orders a servant to shower water over the bird's cage, to make a heavy sound like thunder, and to imitate the flashing of lightning with candles. The bird, on its master's return, tells him of the terrific storm the night before, and is killed for its supposed falsehood. This story is found in both the Eastern and Western versions of The Seven Wise Masters, and practically constitutes the framework of another famous Oriental collection, the Cukasaptati (from cuka, a parrot, and saptati, seventy, The Seventy Tales of a Parrot), better known by its Persian and Turkish name, Tuti-Nameh, Tales of a Parrot.[32] The frame, or groundwork, of the various Oriental versions is substantially the same. A husband is obliged to leave home on business, and while he is absent his wife engages in a love affair with a stranger. A parrot, which the husband has left behind, prevents the wife meeting her lover by telling her stories which interest her so much that she keeps putting off her appointment until her husband returns. In the Turkish version the parrot reconciles the husband and wife; in the Persian versions the parrot relates what has happened, and the faithless wife is killed.

The Italian versions, as will soon be seen, are not derived from The Seven Wise Masters, but from the Cukasaptati; and what is very curious, the framework has been retained and filled with stories that are not in the original.[33] The most simple version is from Pisa (Comparetti, No. 1), and is called:


There was once a merchant who had a beautiful daughter, with whom the king and the viceroy were both in love. The former knew that the merchant would soon have to depart on business, and he would then have a chance to speak with the girl. The viceroy knew it, too, and pondered on how he could prevent the king succeeding in his plan. He was acquainted with a witch, and promised her immunity and a large sum of money if she would teach him how to change himself into a parrot. This she did, and of course the merchant bought him for his daughter, and departed.

When the parrot thought it was about time for the king to come, he said to the girl: "Now, to amuse you, I will tell you a story; but you must attend to me and not see any one while I am telling it." Then he began his story, and after he had gone a little way in it a servant entered and told her mistress that there was a letter for her. "Tell her to bring it later," said the parrot, "and now listen to me." "I do not receive letters while my father is away," said the mistress, and the parrot continued. After a while another interruption. A servant announces the visit of an aunt. (It was not an aunt, but a woman who came from the king.) The parrot said: "Do not receive her; we are in the finest part of our story," and the young girl sent word that she did not receive any visits while her father was absent, and the parrot went on. When his story was ended the girl was so pleased that she would listen to no one else until her father returned. Then the parrot disappeared, and the viceroy visited the merchant and asked his daughter's hand. He consented, and the marriage took place that very day. The wedding was scarcely over when a gentleman came to ask the girl's hand for the king; but it was too late, and the poor king, who was much in love with her, died of a broken heart, and the girl remained the wife of the viceroy, who had been more cunning than the king.

* * * * *

We have omitted the story told by the parrot because we shall meet it again in the Sicilian version, and substantially in the following version from Florence, which we give entire on account of the rarity of the work in which it is found, and for its own merits.[34] It is also entitled:


Once upon a time there was a merchant who, having to go on a journey, gave his wife a parrot to amuse her in her loneliness. The wife, vexed that her husband should leave her so soon, threw the bird in a corner and thought no more about it. At evening she went to the window and saw pass a young man, who fell in love with her as soon as he saw her. On the first floor there lived a woman who sold coals, and the young man began to tempt her to help him in his love affair. She would not promise, because the merchant's wife had been married but a few days, and was an honest woman. She added, however, that there was a way; her daughter was to be married shortly, she would invite the young wife to the wedding, and the young man, being there too, could manage the rest. The wife accepted the invitation, dressed herself in her finest clothes, and was on the point of leaving when the parrot cried from its corner: "O mistress, where are you going? I wished to tell you a story; but suit yourself." The wife then dismissed the coal-woman, who, not to spoil matters, promised to put off the wedding and return for her the next day. Then the parrot began:

"Once upon a time there was a king's son whose master was so learned in magic that with certain words he could change himself into various animals. The prince wanted to learn these words, too; but the magician hesitated and refused, although he had to yield at last. Then the prince became a crow and flew far away to a distant country and into the garden of a king, where he saw a beautiful girl with a mirror in which was set her portrait. The crow in wonder snatched the glass from her hands, and flew home and resumed his own form, but he fell so deeply in love with the unknown girl that he became ill.

"She, meanwhile, who was the daughter of a king, seeing the glass taken from her, no longer had any peace of mind, and begged her father until he gave her permission to go in search of it. She dressed herself like a physician and departed. She came to a city and heard a proclamation by the king, that whatever physician should pass that way should be obliged to visit and try to cure his daughter. Then the new physician had to go to the palace, but she could not discover any remedy for the grave disease. At night, while sitting by the princess' bed, the light went out, and she left the room to light it, and saw in a little cottage three old women sitting around a cauldron boiling over a great fire. 'Good women, are you washing?' 'What a washing! these are three heads, and when they are cooked the princess will die.' 'Bravo, my good women; bring the wood and I will help, too.' She remained there some time and promised to return. The brighter the fire burned, the nearer the princess came to death. The physician consoled the king and had a fine supper prepared. The second night she carried food and a great deal of wine to the old women, and when they were drunk threw them into the fire and lifted off the cauldron with the boiling heads. The princess recovered and the king wished to give her to the physician and reward him with gems and gold, but the physician would take nothing, and departed."

"You know, mistress, it is late and I am tired," interrupted the parrot; "I will tell you the rest to-morrow."

The next day the woman who sold coals came again, and the merchant's wife was on the point of accompanying her; but the parrot detained her, promising to finish the story. So the woman went away in anger, and the parrot continued:

"The princess disguised as a physician journeyed until she came to another city, and heard a proclamation by the king, that every physician who passed that way should be forced to visit and attempt to cure his son. The new physician, too, had to go to court; but could find no remedy for the severe disease. At night, while sitting at the bedside of the prince, she heard a loud noise in the next room: went to the door and saw three old women, who were preparing a banquet. Afterwards they approached the invalid, anointed him from head to foot, and carried him healed to the table; then when they were full of wine and merry, they anointed him again and replaced him on his bed worse than before. The physician comforted the king, and the second night allowed the witches to take the prince to the table, then appeared and frightening the old women with threats of the king's anger drove them from the room and restored the son to his father. The king, well pleased, wished to recompense the physician, who would take nothing, and departed."

"But you know, mistress, it is late and I am weary. I will tell you the rest to-morrow."

The next day the woman who sold coals returned, and the merchant's wife was on the point of following her; but the parrot detained her, promising to finish the story. The woman went away angry, and the parrot continued:

"After a long journey the princess disguised as a physician came to another city, and heard a proclamation by the king, that every physician who passed that way should be compelled to visit and attempt to cure his son. The new physician, too, had to go to court; but she could find no remedy for the severe disease. The prince would speak to no one, but the physician at last made the invalid disclose the secret of his heart, and he told of the mirror and showed the portrait of the unknown lady whom he loved desperately. The physician consoled the king; had garments and ornaments exactly like those of the young girl in the glass prepared; dressed in them, and as she appeared before the prince he leaped from his bed, embracing his betrothed in the midst of rejoicings."

But here the lady hears her husband arriving. Joy makes her beside herself; and she throws from the window the poor parrot, which now seems to her only a tiresome companion. The merchant enters and inquires about the bird; sees the parrot hurt upon the neighboring roof and picks it up kindly. The parrot narrates to him the wiles of the coal-woman and its own prudence; assures the husband that his wife is innocent; but complains of her being so ungrateful; she had promised him a gold vase, and now treats him thus. The merchant consoles the dying bird, and afterwards has him embalmed and placed in the gold vase. As for his wife, he loved her more than ever.

* * * * *

Another version from Piedmont (Comparetti, No. 2; De Gub. Zool. Myth. II. 322) differs materially from the ones just given. A king is obliged to go to war and leave behind him his wife, with whom another king is in love. Before parting he forbids his wife to leave the palace during his absence, and presents her with a parrot. No sooner has the king departed than his rival attempts to obtain an interview with the queen by giving a feast and inviting her to it. The parrot prevents her going by relating the story contained in the first version. They are interrupted in the same manner by an old woman sent by the lover, but to no purpose. When the story is finished, the husband returns, and the parrot becomes a young man, whom the king had engaged to watch over his wife's fidelity.

The Sicilian version of our story is the most interesting as well as the most complete of all; the single story in the continental versions has been expanded into three, and the frame is more artistic. The story is the second in Pitre, and is as follows:



Once upon a time there was a rich merchant who wanted to marry, and who happened to find a wife as good as the day was long, and who loved her husband desperately. One day she saw him a little annoyed, and said: "What makes you feel so?" "What should make me feel so! I have important business to attend to, and must go and see to it on the spot." "And are you annoyed about that? let us arrange matters thus: you will leave me provisions and close up all the doors and windows but one high up; make me a wicket, and then depart." "The advice pleases me," said her husband, and he laid in at once a large provision of bread, flour, oil, coals, and everything; had all the doors and windows closed up but one, to take the air, had a wicket made like those in the convents, and departed, and the wife remained with her maid. The next day a servant called at the wicket to do what was necessary and then went away. After ten days the lady began to be oppressed, and had a great mind to cry. The maid said: "There is a remedy for everything, my mistress; let us draw the table up to the window, and climb up and enjoy the sight of the Corso." They did so, and the lady looked out. "Ah! I thank you, sirs!" As she uttered the ah! opposite her was a notary's office, and there were the notary and a cavalier. They turned and saw this beautiful young woman. "Oh! what a handsome woman! I must speak with her!" said the cavalier. "No: I will speak first," said the notary. And "I first," and "I first." They laid a wager of four hundred ounces as to who would speak with her first. The lady perceived them and withdrew from the window.

The notary and the cavalier thought about the bet, and had no rest running here and there and trying to speak with the lady. At last the notary in despair went out into the fields and began to call his demon. The demon appeared and the notary told him everything, saying: "And this cavalier wishes to have the advantage of speaking with the lady first." "What will you give me?" said the demon. "My soul." "Then see what you have to do; I will change you into a parrot and you must fly and alight on the window of the lady. The maid will take you and have a silver cage made for you and put you in it. The cavalier will find an old woman who is able to make the lady leave the house. But she will not make her leave, you know. You must say: 'My pretty mamma, sit down while I tell you a story.' The old woman will come thrice; you must tear out your feathers and fly into a passion and say always: 'My pretty mamma, don't go with that old woman, she will betray you; sit down while I tell you a story.' And then tell her any story you wish."

The demon ended with: "Man you are, become a parrot!" and the parrot flew away to the window. The maid saw it and caught it with her handkerchief. When the lady saw the parrot she said: "How beautiful you are! Now you will be my consolation." "Yes, pretty mamma, I will love you, too." The lady had a silver cage made, and shut the parrot up in it.

Let us leave the parrot in the cage, and return to the cavalier, who was making desperate efforts to see the lady. An old woman met him, and asked him what the matter was. "Must I tell you what the matter is?" and dismissed her; but the old woman was persistent. At last to get rid of her he told her all about the wager. The old woman said: "I am able to make you speak with the lady. You must have prepared for me two handsome baskets of early fruit." The cavalier was so anxious to see the lady that he had the baskets of early fruit prepared and given to her. With these things the old woman went to the wicket, pretending that she was the lady's grandmother. The lady believed her. One word brings on another. "Tell me, my granddaughter, you are always shut up, but don't you hear mass Sundays?" "How could I hear it shut up?" "Ah, my daughter, you will be damned. No, this is not well. You must hear mass Sundays. To-day is a feast day; let us go to mass."

While the lady was being persuaded, the parrot began to lament. When its mistress opened the clothespress, the parrot said: "My pretty mamma, don't go, for the old woman will betray you. If you don't go I will tell you a story." The lady took an idea into her head. "Now, my grandmother," she said, "go away, for I cannot come." And the old woman went away. When she had gone, the lady went to the parrot, which related to her this story:


Once upon a time there was a king who had an only daughter, who was very fond of dolls, and had one that was her delight. She dressed her and undressed her and put her to bed, in short did for her what is done for children. One day the king wished to go into the country, and the princess wished to take the doll. While they were walking about, in a moment of forgetfulness, she left her doll on a hedge. It was meal time, and after they had eaten they got into the carriage and returned to the royal palace. What do you suppose the princess forgot? the doll!

As soon as they arrived at the palace the princess remembered the doll. What did she do? Instead of going up-stairs, she turned round and went to look for the doll. When she got outdoors, she became lost and wandered about like a person bereft of her senses. After a time she came to a royal palace and asked who was the king of that palace. "The King of Spain," they said. She asked for a lodging. She entered; the king gave her lodging and treated her like a daughter. She made herself at home in the palace and began to be the mistress. The king had no daughters and gave her liberty to do as she pleased in spite of twelve royal damsels. Now, as there is envy among equals, the damsels began to oppose her. Said they: "Just see! Who knows who she is? and is she to be our princess? Now this thing must stop!" The next day they said to the princess: "Will you come with us?" "No, because papa does not wish it. If he is willing, I will come." "Do you know what you must do to make him let you come? tell him: 'By the soul of his daughter he must let you go.' When he hears that, he will let you go at once." The princess did so, but when the king heard her say: "By the soul of his daughter!" "Ah! wretch," exclaimed the king; "quick, throw her down the trap-door!" When the princess fell down the trap-door she found a door, then another, and another, always feeling her way along. At a certain point she felt with her hands like the blind, and found tinder and matches. She then lighted a candle which she found there, and saw a beautiful young girl, with a padlock on her mouth, so that she could not speak, but she made signs that the key to open it with was under the pillow of the bed. The princess got it and opened the padlock; then the young girl spoke, and said that she was the daughter of the king whom a magician had stolen. This magician brought her, every day, something to eat, and then locked up her mouth, and she had to wait until the next day to open it again. "But tell me," said the princess, "what way is there to free you?" "How do I know? I can do nothing but ask the magician when he opens my mouth; you hide under the bed and listen, and afterwards think what has to be done." "Good! good!" The princess locked her mouth, put the key under the pillow, and crawled under the bed. But at midnight a great noise was heard; the earth opened, lightning, smoke, and smell of sulphur, and the magician appeared in a magician's robe. With the magician was a giant with a bowl of food, and two servants with two torches. The magician sent away the servants, and locked the doors, took the key, and opened the mouth of the king's daughter. While they were eating, she said: "Magician, I have a thought: out of curiosity I would like to know what it would be necessary for me to do to escape from here." "You want to know a great deal, my daughter!" "Never mind, I don't care to know." "However, I will tell you. It would be necessary to make a mine all around the palace, and precisely at midnight, when I am on the point of entering, to explode the mine: you will find yourself with your father, and I will fly up in the air." "It's as if you had not told any one," said the young girl. The magician dressed himself and went away. After a few hours the princess came out from under the bed, took leave of her little sister, for she already called her "little sister," and departed.

She went back to the trap-door and, at a certain point, stopped and called for help. The king heard her, and had a rope lowered. The princess climbed up and related everything to the king. He was astounded, and began the mine, which he had filled with shot, powder, and balls. When it was full to the brim, the princess descended with a watch and went to the king's daughter: "Either both dead, or both alive!" When she entered the room, she said: "It is I," took the lock from her mouth, talked with her, and then concealed herself under the bed. At midnight the magician came, and the king was on the lookout, with his watch in his hand. As the clock struck twelve, the princess fired the mine: boom! and a great noise was heard: the magician vanished, and the two young girls found themselves free and in each other's arms. When the king saw them, he exclaimed: "Ah! my daughters! your misfortune was your good fortune. My crown belongs to you," said he to the princess whom he had adopted. "No, your Majesty, for I am a king's daughter, and I, too, have a crown."

This matter spread over the world, and her fame passed through all the kingdoms, and every one talked of nothing but the great courage and goodness of this princess who had delivered the other princess from the magician. And they remained happy and always enjoyed holy peace.

"What do you think, pretty mamma, of this story?" "It is very fine," said the lady to the parrot.

A week passed after the story; the old woman again came with two other baskets of fruit to her granddaughter: "Pretty idea!" said the parrot. "Take care, pretty mamma; the old woman is coming." The old woman said: "Come, my daughter, are you going to mass?" "Yes, my grandmother;" and the lady began dressing herself. When the parrot saw her dressing herself it began to tear out its feathers and weep: "No, pretty mamma, don't go to mass; that old woman will ruin you. If you will stay with me, I will tell you another story." "Now go away," said the lady to the old woman, "for I cannot kill my dear little parrot, for the sake of the mass." "Ah! wicked woman! to lose your soul for an animal!" The old woman went away and the parrot told this story:


Well then, my lady, there was once upon a time a king who had an only daughter as beautiful as the sun and moon. When she was eighteen a Turkish king wished to marry her. When she heard that it was a Turkish king she said: "What do I want of Turks!" and refused him. Shortly after she became very ill, convulsions, twisting of the body, rolling of her eyes to the back of her head, and the doctors did not know what was the matter. The poor father in confusion called his council together, and said: "Gentlemen, my daughter is losing ground every day; what advice do you give me?" The sages said: "Your Majesty, there is a young girl who found the daughter of the King of Spain;[H] find her and she will tell you what must be done for your daughter." "Bravo! the council has been favorable." The king ordered vessels to go for this young girl: "And if the King of Spain will not let her go, give him this iron glove and declare war!" The vessels departed and reached Spain one morning. They fired a salute, the ambassador landed, presented himself to the king, and gave him a sealed letter. The king opened it and after reading it began to weep and said: "I prefer war, and I will not give up this girl." Meanwhile the girl entered: "What is the matter, your Majesty? (and she saw the letter). What are you afraid of? I will go at once to this king." "How, my daughter, will you then leave me thus?" "I will return. I will go and see what is the matter with this young girl and then come back."

[Footnote H: The princess of the last story.]

She took leave of her half-sister and departed. When she arrived the king went to meet her: "My daughter, if you cure this sick daughter of mine, I will give you my crown!" "That makes two crowns!" she said to herself. "I have a crown, your Majesty. Let us see what the matter is, and never mind the crowns." She went and saw the princess all wasted away. She turned to the king and said: "Your Majesty! have some broth and substantial things made," and they were prepared at once. "I am going to shut myself up with your daughter, and you must not open the door, for in three days I will give her to you alive or dead. And listen to what I say: even if I should knock you must not open." Everything was arranged and the door was fastened with chains and padlocks, but they forgot the tinder to light the candle with at night. In the evening there was great confusion. The young girl did not wish to knock, and as she looked out of the window she saw a light at a distance. So she descended by a ladder of silk, taking with her a candle. When she drew near the light she saw a large cauldron placed on some stones and a furnace under it, and a Turk who was stirring it with a stick. "What are you doing, Turk?" "My king wanted the daughter of the king, she did not want him, he is bewitching her." "My poor little Turk! You are tired, are you not? do you know what you must do? rest yourself a little while I stir." "I will, by Mahomet!" He got down; she got up and began to stir with the stick. "Am I doing it all right thus?" "Yes, by Mahomet." "Well then, you take a nap, and I will stir." When he was asleep, she came down, seized him, and threw him into the boiling cauldron, where he died. When she saw that he was dead, she lighted her candle and returned to the palace. She entered the room and found the invalid had fainted on the floor. She brought her to with cologne water (acqua d' oduri) and in three days she had recovered. Then she knocked at the door and the king entered, beside himself at finding his daughter cured. "Ah! my daughter," he said to the young girl who had healed her, "how much we owe you! you must remain here with me." "It is impossible; you threatened my father with war if he did not allow me to come; now my father declares war with you if you do not let me return to him." She remained there a fortnight, then departed, and the king gave her quantities of riches and jewels. She returned to the king of Spain's palace.

And so the story ends.

* * * * *

"What did you think of the story, pretty mamma?" said the parrot. "Beautiful, beautiful." "But you must not go with the old woman, because there is treason."

After a week the old woman came with her baskets. "My daughter, you must do me this pleasure to-day, come and hear the holy mass." "I will." When the parrot heard that, he began to weep and tear out his feathers: "No, my pretty mamma, don't go with the old woman. If you will stay, I will tell you another story." "Grandmother mine," says she, "I can't come, for I don't wish to lose the parrot for your sake." She closed the wicket and the old woman went away grumbling and cursing. The lady then seated herself near the parrot, which told this story:


Once upon a time there was a king and a queen who had an only son, whose sole diversion was the chase. Once he wished to go hunting at a distance, and took with him his attendants. Where do you think he happened to go? To the country where the doll was.[I] When he saw the doll he said: "I have finished my hunt, let us return home!" He took the doll and placed it before him on the horse, and exclaimed every few minutes: "How beautiful this doll is! think of its mistress!" When he reached the palace he had a glass case made in the wall, and put the doll in it, and kept looking at it continually and saying: "How beautiful the doll is! think of the mistress!"

[Footnote I: The doll of the first story.]

The young man would not see any one and became so melancholy that his father summoned the physicians, who said: "Your Majesty, we know nothing of this illness; see what he does with his doll." The king went to see his son and found him gazing at the doll, and exclaiming: "Oh! how beautiful the doll is! think of the mistress!" The physicians departed as wise as when they came. The prince meanwhile did nothing but sit and look at the doll, and draw deep breaths, and sigh, and exclaim: "How beautiful the doll is! think of the mistress!" The king at last, in despair, summoned his council, and said: "See how my son is reduced! He has no fever, or pain in his head, but he is wasting away, and some one else will enjoy my kingdom! Give me advice." "Majesty, are you perplexed? Is there not that young girl who found the King of Spain's daughter, and cured the other princess? Send for her. If her father will not let her come, declare war with him."

The king sent his ambassadors with the message that the young girl should be sent nolens volens. While the ambassadors were in the king's presence, his daughter entered, the one who had done the wonders, and found her father perplexed: "What is the matter, your Majesty?" "Nothing, my daughter. Another occasion has arrived, another king wants you. Does he mean that I am no longer your master?" "Never mind, your Majesty; let me go; I will soon return."

So she embarked with all her attendants and began her journey. When she arrived where the prince was, she saw him drawing such deep breaths that it seemed as if he would swallow himself, and always exclaiming: "Oh! how beautiful the doll is! think of the mistress!" She said: "You have called me none too soon! However, give me a week: bring me ointments, food; and in a week, alive and well, or dead."

She shut herself up with him and listened to hear what the prince said, for she had not yet heard what he was saying, he was so feeble. When she heard him whisper: "Oh! how be-au-ti-ful is the doll; con-sid-er," and saw the doll, she cried: "Ah! wretch! it was you who had my doll! Leave it to me, I will cure you." When he heard these words he came to himself and said: "Are you the doll's mistress?" "I am." Just think! he returned to life and she began to give him broth until she had restored him. When he was restored she said: "Now tell me how you got the doll," and the prince told her everything. To make the matter short, in a week the prince was cured, and they declared that they would marry each other. The king, beside himself with joy because his son was healed, wrote several letters: one to the King of Spain to tell him that his daughter had found her doll, another to the other king, her father, to tell him that his daughter was found, and another to the king whose daughter she had cured. Afterwards all these monarchs came together and made great festivals, and the prince married the princess, and they lived together in great peace.

* * * * *

"Has this story pleased you, pretty mamma?" "Yes, my son." "But you must not go with the old woman, you know."

After the story was ended a servant came: "My lady, my lady, the master is coming!" "Truly!" said the lady. "Now, parrot, listen; I will have a new cage made for you." The master arrived, the windows were all opened, and he embraced his wife. At dinner they placed the parrot in the middle of the table, and when the joy was at its height the bird threw some soup in its master's eyes. The master, when he felt it, put his hands to his eyes, and the parrot darted at his throat, strangled him, and flew away.

He flew away to the country, and saying, "I am a parrot, and I become a man," he was changed into a handsome, cunning, and well-kempt man on the Corso. He met the cavalier: "Do you know," said this one, "that the poor lady's husband is dead? a parrot strangled him!" "Truly? poor woman! poor woman!" said the notary, and went his way without speaking of the wager. The notary learned that the lady had a mother, and went to her to ask her daughter in marriage. After hesitating, the lady finally said yes, and they were married. That evening the notary said to the lady: "Now tell me, who killed your husband?" "A parrot." "And what about this parrot?" The lady told him everything to where the parrot dashed the broth in its master's eyes, and then flew away. "True! true!" said the notary. "Was I not the parrot?" "It was you! I am amazed." "It was I, and I became a parrot for your sake!"

The next day the notary went to the cavalier to get the four hundred ounces of the wager, which he enjoyed with his wife.

* * * * *

The three stories related by the parrot are, as has been seen, in reality one story, and they are, in fact found as such independent of the frame.[35] It has also been seen that the story or stories related by the parrot are, substantially, the same in all the versions. The Florentine version alone does not contain the episode of the doll. The story, as a whole, has no parallels, although it bears a slight resemblance to the story in the Pentamerone (II. 2), "Green Meadow." The princess as physician, and the secret malady of the prince or princess, are traits which abound in all the popular tales of Europe.[36]

Many single stories of Oriental origin will be found in the chapters following. We shall close this one with a story which was popular in Europe during the Middle Ages, being found in one of the great collections of that period, the Gesta Romanorum. Of the various Italian versions we shall select one from Pomigliano d'Arco called:


Once upon a time there was a mother who had a son named Joseph; and because he never told a lie she called him Truthful Joseph. One day when she was calling him, the king happened to pass by, and hearing her call him thus, asked her: "Why do you call him Truthful Joseph?" "Because he never tells a lie." Then the king said that he would like to have him in his service, and set him to keeping his cows. Every morning Joseph presented himself to the king, and said: "Your Majesty's servant." The king answered: "Good morning, Truthful Joseph. How are the cows?" "Well and fat." "How are the calves?" "Well and handsome." "How is the bull?" "The same." So he did every morning. The king praised him so highly in the presence of all his courtiers that they became angry at him; and one day, to make Joseph a liar, they sent to him a lady, who was to induce him by her words to kill the bull. Joseph was urged so strongly that he consented; but afterwards he was in great perplexity as to what he should tell the king. So he put his cloak on a chair and pretended that it was the king, and said: "Your Majesty's servant. Good morning, Truthful Joseph. How are the cows? Well and fat. How are the calves? Well and handsome. How is the bull? The same. But no; that will not do! I am telling a lie! When the king asks me how the bull is, I will tell him that it is dead."

He presented himself to the king and said: "Your Majesty's servant." "Good morning, Truthful Joseph. How are the cows?" "Well and fat." "How are the calves?" "Well and handsome." "How is the bull?" "Your Majesty, a lady came and with her manners made me kill the bull. Pardon me." The king answered: "Bravo, Truthful Joseph!" He summoned his courtiers and showed them that Joseph had not yet told any lie. And so Joseph remained always with the king, and the courtiers were duped, because they gained nothing that they had expected.[37]



The Italian people possess an inexhaustible store of legends which they have inherited from the Middle Ages. With the great mass of these stories—legends of the saints or local legends—we have at present nothing to do. It is enough to say that they do not differ materially from the legends of the other Catholic peoples of Europe. The class to which we shall devote our attention in this chapter is that of popular legendary stories which have clustered around the person of our Lord and his disciples, and around other favorite characters of mediaeval fancy, such as Pilate, The Wandering Jew, etc. To these may be added tales relating to the other world and stories which are of a legendary nature. The first stories which we shall mention are those referring to mythical journeys of our Lord and his apostles.

The first, "St. Peter and the Robbers" (Pitre, No. 121), relates that once while the Master was journeying with the apostles they found themselves at night out in the fields, and took shelter in a cabin belonging to some shepherds, who received them very inhospitably and gave them nothing to eat. Soon after, a band of robbers attacked the flock and robbed the shepherds, who ran away. The robbers came to the cabin, and when they heard from the apostles how shabbily they had been treated, gave them the supper that the shepherds had prepared for themselves, and went their way. "Blessed be the robbers!" said St. Peter, "for they treat the hungry poor better than the rich do." "Blessed be the robbers!" said the apostles, and ate their fill.

This story, as can easily be seen, is a tradition of the robbers who pretend to have been blessed by Christ. St. Peter is the hero of several stories, in which he plays anything but a dignified role. In one (Pitre, No. 122), he is sent to buy some wine, and allows himself to be persuaded by the wine merchant to eat some fennel-seed. After this he cannot distinguish between good and bad wine, and purchases an inferior kind. When the Master tasted it he said: "Eh! Peter! Peter! you have let yourself be deceived."[J] Peter tasted it again and saw that it was sour. Another apostle was sent to get some good wine, and "hence it is that when you have to taste wine to see whether it is good, you must not eat fennel-seed."

[Footnote J: This story is an attempt to explain the origin of the word 'nfinucchiari (infinocchiare) to impose on one, by the word finocchio, fennel-seed.]


Once, while the Master was on a journey with the thirteen apostles, they came to a village where there was no bread. The Master said: "Peter, let each one of you carry a stone." They each took up a stone—St. Peter a little bit of a one. The others were all loaded down, but St. Peter went along very easily. The Master said: "Now let us go to another village. If there is any bread there, we shall buy it; if there is none, I will give you my blessing and the stones will become bread."

They went to another town, put the stones down, and rested. The Master gave them his blessing, and the stones became bread. St. Peter, who had carried a little one, felt his heart grow faint. "Master," he said, "how am I going to eat?" "Eh! my brother, why did you carry a little stone? The others, who loaded themselves down, have bread enough."

Then they went on, and the Master made them each carry another stone. St. Peter was cunning this time and took a large one and all the others carried small ones. The Lord said to the others: "Little ones, we will have a laugh at Peter's expense." They arrived at another village, and all the apostles threw away their stones because there was bread there; and St. Peter was bent double, for he had carried a paving-stone with him to no purpose.

On their journey they met a man; and as St. Peter was in advance of the others, he said: "The Lord is coming shortly; ask Him a favor for your soul." The man drew near and said: "Lord, my father is ill with old age. Cure him, Master." The Lord said: "Am I a physician? Do you know what you must do? Put him in a hot oven and your father will become a boy again." They did so, and his father became a little boy.

The idea pleased St. Peter, and when he found himself alone he went about seeking to make some old men young. By chance there met him one who was seeking the Master because his mother was at the point of death and he wanted her cured. St. Peter said: "What do you want?" "I want the Master, for I have an old mother who is very ill, and the Master alone can cure her." "Fortunately Peter is here! Do you know what you must do? Heat an oven and put her in it, and she will be cured." The poor man believed him, for he knew that the Lord loved St. Peter, so he went home and immediately put his mother in the hot oven. What more could you expect? The old woman was burned to a coal. "Ah! santu di cca e di dda!"[K] cried the son; "that scurvy fellow has made me kill my mother!" He hastened to St. Peter. The Master was present, and when he heard the story could not control his laughter, and said: "Ah, Peter! what have you done?" St. Peter tried to excuse himself, but the poor man kept crying for his mother. What must the Master do? He had to go to the house of the dead, and with a blessing which he there pronounced he brought the old woman to life again, a beautiful young girl, and relieved St. Peter of his great embarrassment.

[Footnote K: This is the strongest imprecation in Sicily.]

* * * * *

The last anecdote is quite popular, and is found in a number of popular stories, as well as in the Cento Novelle Antiche[1]. A very amusing version is from Venice (Widter-Wolf, No. 5), and is entitled:


In a little town about as large as Sehio or Thiene once lived a master-smith,—a good, industrious, and skilful man, but so proud of his skill that he would not deign to reply to anyone who did not address him as "Professor." This pride in a man otherwise so blameless gave universal dissatisfaction. One day our Lord appeared in the blacksmith's shop, accompanied by St. Peter, whom He was always in the habit of taking with Him on such excursions. "Professor," said the Lord, "will you be so good as to permit me to do a little work at your forge?" "Why not? it is at your service," replied the flattered smith. "What do you wish to make?" "That you will soon see," said the Lord, and took up a pair of tongs, with which he seized Peter and held him in the forge until he was red-hot. Then he drew him out and hammered him on all sides, and in less than ten minutes the old bald-headed apostle was forged anew into a wonderfully handsome youth with beautiful hair. The blacksmith stood speechless with astonishment, while the Lord and St. Peter exchanged the most courteous thanks and compliments. Finally the master-smith recovered himself and ran straight up to the second story, where his sick old father lay in bed. "Father," he cried, "come quickly! I have just learned how to make a strong young man of you." "My son, have you lost your senses?" said the old man, half terrified. "No; only believe me. I have just seen it myself." Finding that the old man protested against the attempt, his son seized him forcibly, carried him to the shop, and in spite of his shrieks and entreaties, thrust him into the forge, but brought nothing out but a piece of charred leg, which fell to pieces at the first blow of the hammer. Then he was seized with anguish and remorse. He ran quickly in search of the two men, and fortunately found them in the market-place. "Sir," he cried, "what have you done? You have misled me. I wanted to imitate your skill, and I have burned my father alive! Come with me quickly, and help me, if you can!" Then the Lord smiled graciously, and said: "Go home comforted. You will find your father alive and well, but an old man again." And so he did find him, to his great joy. From that time his pride disappeared, and whenever any one called him "Professor" he would exclaim: "Ah, what folly that is! There are gentlemen in Venice and professors in Padua, but I am a bungler."

* * * * *

The version in Knust is different. It is called "A Journey of Our Saviour on Earth," and is, in substance, as follows: A father whose son is a gambler, makes him become a soldier. The son deserts during a stormy night and takes refuge in an inn. There he meets a man who seems acquainted with his whole life and whose name is Salvatore (Saviour). He knows that Peter has deserted and is pursued, but he will save him. To gain a livelihood, he proposes to him to travel together and heal the sick. An opportunity to do this is soon offered. A rich man is ill, and Salvatore promises to heal him in three days. He makes every one withdraw, prepares a potion from herbs, and cures the patient. The relatives of the rich man offer in their gratitude all manner of costly things to Salvatore, who, however, accepts only enough to support life. Such an unreasonable proceeding enrages his companion to such a degree that he parts from him. He wishes to cure people independently, and promises a king to heal his sick daughter at once. But although he does everything exactly like Salvatore, the only effect of the potion is to kill the princess. As soon as the king learns this, he has Peter thrown into prison. On his way there he meets Salvatore, who is ready to help him at his request. The latter goes to the king and promises to raise his daughter if he will release to him the prisoner. The king consents, but threatens Salvatore with death in case of failure. The dead, however, comes to life, and in gratitude offers her hand, through her father, to Salvatore, who declares that it is his vocation to wander over the earth. He asks that the maiden be given to his companion.[2]

In a story from Venice our Lord and St. Peter are hospitably received by a poor woman who has no bed to offer them, but makes up one for them from some straw and five ells of linen which she has bought that day. When the Lord departs the next morning he bestows on the woman the power of doing all day the first thing she does in the morning. She begins by taking the linen from the bed of her guests, and pulls off piece after piece of linen. A friend of hers learns this and determines to do the same, but is punished by the Lord for her selfishness.[3]


Once the Lord, while he was making the world, called one of the apostles and told him to look and see what the people were doing. The apostle looked and said: "How curious! the people are weeping." The Lord answered: "It is not the world yet!" The next day he bade the apostle look again and see what the people were doing. The apostle looked and saw the people laughing, and said: "The people are laughing." The Lord answered: "It is not the world yet." The third day he made him look again, and the apostle saw that some were weeping, and some were laughing, and said: "Some of the people are weeping, and some are laughing." The Lord said: "Now it is the world, because in this world one weeps and another laughs."

* * * * *

The next legend accounts for the ass' long ears.


It is related that when the Lord created the world, he also made all the animals, and gave each its name. He also created the ass, which said: "Lord, what is my name?" "Your name is ass!" The ass went away well pleased. After a while it forgot its name, and went back to the Lord. "Lord, what is my name?" "Ass!" After a while it came back again. "Excuse me, Lord, what is my name?" "Ass, ass!" The ass turned and went away, but forgot it another time, and came back. "Lord, I have forgotten my name." The Lord could not stand it any longer, but seized its ears and pulled them sharply, exclaiming: "Ass! Ass! Ass!" The ears were pulled so hard that they became long, and that is why the ass has long ears, and why we pull a person's ears to keep him from forgetting a thing.

* * * * *

Another legend relates that when Christ was journeying through the world he happened, dying with thirst, to enter a town. He saw a woman combing her hair, and said: "Will you give me a drink of water? for I am dying of thirst." "I am busy; it is not the time for water!" Christ said at once:

"Cursed be the braid That is braided Friday."

And continued his journey. After a time he saw a woman making dough for bread. "Good woman, will you give me a drink of water?" "As much as you will!" and went and drew some water and gave him. Christ said:

"Blessed be the dough That is kneaded on Friday."

Hence it is that certain women are accustomed not to comb their hair on Friday.

There is a satirical legend, called "The Lord's Will," which relates that when Christ came to leave the world, he was in doubt as to whom to leave all on the earth. If he left it to the gentlemen, what would the nobility do? if to the nobility, what would become of the gentry, and the workmen, and the peasants? While He was reflecting, the noblemen came and asked the Lord to give them everything, which he did. Then the priests came; and when they were told that everything had been given to the nobility, "Oh! the devil!" they exclaimed. "Then I leave you the devil," said the Lord. To the monks, who, when they heard what had been done, exclaimed, "Patience!" patience was left. The workmen cried: "What a fraud!" and received that for their share. Finally the peasants came and said, with resignation: "Let us do the will of God;" and that was their portion. And this is the reason why in this world the noblemen command, the priests are helped by the devil, the monks are patient, workmen fraudulent, and the peasants have to do many things they don't want to, and are obliged to submit to the will of God.[4]

St. Peter's mother is the subject of a story which has given rise to a wide-spread proverb. She was, so runs the story, an avaricious woman, who never was known to do good to any one. In fact, during her whole life she never gave anything away, except the top of an onion to a beggar woman. After her death St. Peter's mother went to hell, and the saint begged our Lord to release her. In consideration of her one charitable act, an angel was sent to draw her from hell with an onion-top. The other lost spirits clutched hold of her skirts, in order to escape with her, but the selfish woman tried to shake them off, and in her efforts to do so broke the onion-top, and fell back into hell. This story has given rise to the saying, "Like St. Peter's mamma," which is found, with slight variations, all over Italy.[5]

A curious version of this story is given in Bernoni (Leggende fant. No. 8): After the onion-top was broken and St. Peter's mother had fallen back into hell, the story continues: "Out of regard, however, for St. Peter, the Lord permitted her once a year, on St. Peter's day, to leave hell and wander about the earth a week; and, indeed, she does so every year, and during this week she plays all sorts of pranks and causes great trouble."[6]

St. Peter's sisters are the subject of a story with a moral, contained in Schneller, p. 6.


St. Peter had two sisters—one large, the other small. The little one entered a convent and became a nun. St. Peter was delighted at this and tried to persuade his big sister to become a nun also. She would not listen to him, however, and said: "I would rather marry." After St. Peter had suffered martyrdom, he became, as is well known, Porter of Heaven. One day the Lord said to him: "Peter, open the gate of heaven to-day as wide as you can, and get out all the heavenly ornaments and decorations, for to-day a very deserving soul is going to arrive here." St. Peter did as he was told with great joy, and thought: "Certainly my little sister is dead, and is coming to heaven to-day." When everything was ready, there came the soul of —— his big sister, who had died and left many children, who bitterly lamented her loss. The Lord gave her an exalted place in heaven, much to the astonishment of St. Peter, who thought: "I never should have imagined this; what shall I have to do when the soul of my little sister comes?"

Not long after, the Lord said to him: "Peter, open the gate of heaven to-day a little way, but a very little,—do you hear?" St. Peter did so and wondered: "Who is coming to-day?" Then came the soul of his little sister, and had so much trouble to squeeze through the gate that she hurt herself; and she received a much lower place in heaven than the big sister. At first St. Peter was amazed; afterwards he said: "It has happened differently from what I imagined; but I see now that every profession has its merits, and every one, if he only wishes, can enter heaven."

* * * * *

The cycle of stories referring to our Lord would not be complete without legends of Pilate, Judas, and the Wandering Jew. A powerful story is told of the first in Pitre, No. 119, which is as follows:


It is said that the following once took place at Rome: A wagon loaded with stones was crossing a solitary spot in the country when one of the wheels sank into the ground and it was impossible to extricate it for some time. Finally they got it out, but there remained a large hole that opened into a dark room under ground. "Who wishes to descend into this hole?" "I," said the carter. They soon procured a rope and lowered the carter into the dark room. We will suppose that this carter's name was Master Francis. Well, then, Master Francis, when he was let down, turned to the right and saw a door, which he opened, and found himself in darkness that you could cut. He turned to the left, the same; he went forward, the same; he turned once more and when he opened the door what did he see? He saw a man seated before a table; before him, pen, ink, and a written paper that he was reading; and when he finished it he began over again, and never raised his eyes from the paper. Master Francis, who was of incomparable courage, went up to him and said: "Who are you?" The man made no answer, but continued to read. "Who are you?" said Master Francis again; but not a word. The third time, the man said: "Turn around, open your shirt, and I will write who I am on your back. When you leave this place, go to the Pope and make him read who I am. Remember, however, that the Pope alone must read it." Master Francis turned about, opened his shirt, the man wrote on his back, and then sat down again. Master Francis was courageous, it is true; but he was not made of wood, and in that moment he was frightened to death. He fixed his shirt and then asked: "How long have you been here?" but could get no answer from him. Seeing that it was time lost to question him, he gave the signal to those outside and was drawn up. When they saw him they did not recognize him; he had grown entirely white and seemed like an old man of ninety. "What was it? What happened?" they all began to say. "Nothing, nothing," he replied; "take me to the Pope, for I must confess." Two of those who were present conducted him to the Pope. When he was with him he related what had happened and taking off his shirt, said to him: "Read, your Holiness!" His Holiness read: "I AM PILATE." And as he uttered these words the poor carter became a statue. And it is said that that man was Pilate, who was condemned to stay in a cave, always reading the sentence that he had pronounced on Jesus Christ, without ever being able to take his eyes from the paper. This is the story of Pilate who is neither saved nor damned.[7]

* * * * *

Judas is believed to have hanged himself on a tamarind-tree, which, before that time, was a tall, beautiful tree. After Judas's death it became the diminutive, shapeless shrub called vruca, which is a synonym for all that is worthless. The soul of the traitor is condemned to wander through the air, and every time it sees this shrub it pauses, and imagines it sees its miserable body dangling from it, the prey of birds and dogs.[8] This popular legend is told in the following words:


You must know that Judas was the one who betrayed Jesus Christ. Now when Judas betrayed him, his Master said: "Repent, Judas, for I pardon you." But Judas, not at all! he departed with his bag of money, in despair and cursing heaven and earth. What did he do? While he was going along thus desperate he came across a tamarind-tree. (You must know that the tamarind was formerly a large tree, like the olive and walnut.) When he saw this tamarind a wild thought entered his mind, remembering the treason he had committed. He made a noose in a rope and hung himself to the tamarind. And hence it is (because this traitor Judas was cursed by God) that the tamarind-tree dried up, and from that time on it ceased growing up into a tree and became a short, twisted, and tangled bush; and its wood is good for nothing, neither to burn, nor to make anything out of, and all on account of Judas, who hanged himself on it.

Some say that the soul of Judas went to the lowest hell, to suffer the most painful torments; but I have heard, from older persons who can know, that Judas's soul has a severer sentence. They say that it is in the air, always wandering about the world, without being able to rise higher or fall lower; and every day, on all the tamarind shrubs that it meets, it sees its body hanging and torn by the dogs and birds of prey. They say that the pain he suffers cannot be told, and that it makes the flesh creep to think of it. And thus Jesus Christ condemned him for his great treason.[9]

* * * * *

An interesting legend (Pitre, No. 120) is told of the Jew who struck our Lord with the palm of his hand (St. John xviii. 22), and whom the popular imagination has identified with the Malchus mentioned by St. John, xviii. 10. It is called


This Malchus was one of those Jews who beat our Lord; a Jew more brutal than can be told. When Christ was taken to Pilate's house, this Malchus, with an iron glove, gave him a blow so heavy that it knocked out all his teeth. For the sacrilegious act, the Lord condemned him to walk constantly, without ever resting, around a column in an underground room. This column is in a round room, and Malchus walks and walks without ever having peace or rest. They say that he has walked so much that he has worn the ground down many yards and made the column seem higher than it was, for this Malchus has led this life ever since our Lord's passion and death. It is said that this Malchus is desperate from his remorse, and while he walks he beats the column, strikes his head against the wall, and rages and laments; but notwithstanding he does not die, for the sentence of God is that he must live until the day of judgment.[10]

The same legend is found in Bernoni as follows:


Malchus was the head of the Jews who killed our Lord. The Lord pardoned them all, and likewise the good thief, but he never pardoned Malchus, because it was he who gave the Madonna a blow. He is confined under a mountain, and condemned to walk around a column, without resting, as long as the world lasts. Every time that he walks about the column he gives it a blow in memory of the blow he gave the mother of our Lord. He has walked around the column so long that he has sunk into the ground. He is now up to his neck. When he is under, head and all, the world will come to an end, and God will then send him to the place prepared for him. He asks all those who go to see him (for there are such) whether children are yet born; and when they say yes, he gives a deep sigh and resumes his walk, saying: "The time is not yet!" for before the world comes to an end there will be no children born for seven years.[11]

* * * * *

This legend recalls the Wandering Jew, who is known in Sicilian tradition under the name of Buttadeu (from buttari, to thrust away, and deu, God) or more commonly as "The Jew who repulsed Jesus Christ." He is reported to have appeared in Sicily, and the daughter of a certain Antonino Caseio, a peasant of Salaparuta, gives the following account of her father's encounter with Buttadeu:


It was in the winter, and my good father was at Scalone, in the warehouse, warming himself at the fire, when he saw a man enter, dressed differently from the people of that region, with breeches striped in yellow, red, and black, and his cap the same way. My good father was frightened. "Oh!" he said, "what is this person?" "Do not be afraid," the man said. "I am called Buttadeu." "Oh!" said my father, "I have heard you mentioned. Be pleased to sit down a while and tell me something." "I cannot sit, for I am condemned by my God always to walk." And while he was speaking he was always walking up and down and had no rest. Then he said: "Listen. I am going away; I leave you, in memory of me, this, that you must say a credo at the right hand of our Lord, and five other credos at his left, and a salve regina to the Virgin, for the grief I suffer on account of her son. I salute you." "Farewell." "Farewell, my name is Buttadeu."[12]

* * * * *

We have only a few legends of the saints to mention. Undoubtedly a large number are current among the people (Busk, pp. 196, 202, 203, 213-228, gives a good many), but they do not differ materially from the literary versions circulated by the Church. Those which we shall cite are purely popular and belong to the great mediaeval legend-cycle.

The first is the legend of "Gregory on the Stone," which was so popular in the mediaeval epics. There are several Italian versions, but we select as the most complete the one in Gonzenbach, No. 85, called:


Once upon a time there was a brother and sister who had neither father nor mother, and lived alone together. They loved each other so much that they committed a sin which they should not have committed. When the time came the sister gave birth to a boy, which the brother had secretly baptized. Then he burnt into his shoulders a cross, with these words: "Crivoliu, who is baptized; son of a brother and sister." After the child was thus marked, he put it in a little box and threw it into the sea.

Now it happened that a fisherman had just gone out to fish, and saw the box floating on the waves. "A ship must have sunk somewhere," he thought. "I will get the box, perhaps there is something useful in it." So he rowed after it and got it. When he opened it and saw the little child in it, he had pity on the innocent child, took it home to his wife, and said: "My dear wife, our youngest child is already old enough to wean; nurse in its place this poor innocent child." So his wife took little Crivoliu and nursed him, and loved him as though he were her own child. The boy grew and thrived and became every day larger and stronger.

The fisherman's sons, however, were jealous because their parents loved the little foundling as well as them, and when they played with Crivoliu and quarrelled, they called him a "foundling." The boy's heart was saddened by this and he went to his foster-parents and said: "Dear parents, tell me, am I truly not your son?" The fisherman's wife said: "How should you not be my son? Have I not nursed you when you were a baby?" The fisherman forbade his children very strictly to call little Crivoliu a "foundling."

When the child was larger, the fisherman sent him to school with his sons. The children, when they were out of their father's hearing, began again to mock little Crivoliu and to call him "foundling," and the other children in the school did the same. Then Crivoliu went again to his foster-parents and asked them if he was not their son. They persuaded him out of it, however, and put him off until he was fourteen. Then he could no longer stand being called "foundling," and went to the fisherman and his wife, and said: "Dear parents, I entreat you to tell me whether I am your child or not." Then the fisherman told him how he had found him and what was written on his shoulders. "Then I will go forth, and do penance for the sins of my parents," said Crivoliu. The fisherman's wife wept and lamented and would not let him go; but Crivoliu would not be detained and wandered out into the wide world.

After he had wandered about a long time, he came one day to a lonely place where there was only an inn. He asked the hostess: "Tell me, good woman, is there a cave near by, to which you alone know the entrance?" She answered: "Yes, my handsome youth, I know such a cave and will take you to it willingly." Then Crivoliu took two grani's worth of bread and a little pitcher of water with him and had the hostess show him the cave. It was some distance from the inn, and the entrance was so covered with thorns and bushes that he could scarcely penetrate into the cave. He sent the hostess back, crept into the cave, put the bread and water on the ground, knelt with folded arms, and so did penance for the sins of his parents.

Many, many years passed, I know not how many, but so many, that his knees took root and he grew fast to the ground.

Now it happened that the Pope died at Rome, and a new one was to be chosen. The cardinals all assembled, and a white dove was let loose: for he on whom it should alight was to be Pope. The white dove made several circles in the air, but alighted on no one. Then all the archbishops and bishops were summoned, and the dove was again let loose, but it did not settle on any one. Then all the priests and monks and hermits were collected, but the white dove would not choose any of them. The people were in great despair, and the cardinals had to wander forth and search the whole country to see whether another hermit was yet to be found, and a crowd of people accompanied them.

At last they came to the inn in the lonely neighborhood, and asked the hostess whether she knew of any hermit or penitent who was yet unknown to the world. The hostess answered: "Many years ago a sorrowful youth came here and made me conduct him to a cave to do penance. He is surely dead long ago, for he took with him only two grani's worth of bread and a pitcher of water." The cardinals said: "We will look, however, and see whether he is still alive; take us to him." Then the hostess conducted them to the cave; the entrance was scarcely to be recognized, so overgrown was it with brambles, and before they could enter the attendants had to cut away the brambles and bushes with axes. After they had forced their way in, they saw Crivoliu kneeling in the cave, with crossed arms, and his beard had grown so long that it touched the ground, and before him lay the bread, and by it the pitcher of water; for in all those years he had not eaten or drunken. When they let the white dove loose now, it flew about in a circle for a moment and then alighted on the head of the penitent. Then the cardinals perceived that he was a saint, and begged him to come with them and be their Pope. As they were going to raise him up, they noticed that his knees had grown fast, and they had to cut the roots. Then they took him to Rome with them and he was made Pope.

Now it happened that at the same time the sister said to her brother: "Dear brother, when we were young, we committed a sin that we have not yet confessed, for the Pope alone can absolve us from it. Let us go, then, to Rome, before death overtakes us, and confess there our sin." So they started on their journey to Rome, and when they arrived there they entered the church where the Pope sat in the confessional.

When they had confessed in a loud voice, for one always confesses openly to the Pope, the Pope said: "Behold, I am your son, for on my shoulder is the mark you speak of. I have done penance many years for your sin, until it has been forgiven you. I absolve you, therefore, from your sin, and you shall stay with me and live in comfort." So they remained with him, and when their time came, the Lord called them all three to his kingdom.[13]

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An important episode of the original legend is omitted in the above version, but preserved in those in Pitre (No. 117) and Knust (No. 7). The youth after discovering his origin sets out on his wanderings and comes by chance to the country where his mother is living. They meet and, not knowing their relation, marry. In the Sicilian story this relationship is disclosed the day of the marriage by the son showing his mother the box in which he was exposed as a child. In the version of Knust (from Leghorn), the child leaves his foster-father and goes in search of his parents. He encounters them without knowing it of course, and they, supposing him to be a beggar boy, give him shelter and care for him until he has grown up. Then he marries his mother, who recognizes him by a lock of red hair. At the conclusion of the story, after the Pope has heard the confession of his parents he reveals himself, they all three embrace, and die thus united. The story adds, "their tomb is still preserved in St. Peter's at Rome."

Another Pope, Silvester I, is the subject of a legend in Pitre (No. 118) which contains the well-known myth of Constantine's leprosy healed by his baptism at the hands of St. Silvester.

Of greater interest is a legend of St. James the Elder, the patron-saint of Spain, a pilgrimage to whose shrine at Santiago in Galicia was so popular during the Middle Ages. The only popular version which we have found is in a Sicilian story in Gonzenbach, No. 90.


There was once a king and queen who had no children, and who longed to have a son or daughter. The queen prayed to St. James of Galicia, and said: "O St. James! if you will grant me a son, he shall make a pilgrimage to your shrine when he is eighteen years old." After a time the queen had, through the favor of God and the saint, a beautiful boy who was as handsome as if God had made him. The child grew rapidly and became larger and fairer every day. When he was twelve years old, the king died, and the queen remained alone with this son, whom she loved as dearly as her eyes. Many years passed and the time drew near when the prince should be eighteen. When the queen thought that she must soon part from him to send him alone on the long pilgrimage, she became very sorrowful and wept and sighed the whole day.

One day the prince said to her: "Mother, why do you sigh all day?" "It is nothing, my son, only some cares of mine," she answered. "What are you concerned about?" asked he. "Are you afraid that your farms in the Plain (of Catania) are badly tilled? Let me go and look after them and bring you news of them." The queen consented and the prince rode to the Plain, to the property that belonged to them. He found everything in good order, and returned to his mother and said: "Dear mother, rejoice, and cease your care, for everything is going well on your property; the cattle are thriving; the fields are tilled, and the grain will soon be ripe." "Very well, my son," answered the queen, but she was not cheerful, and the next day began to sigh and weep again. Then the prince said to her: "Dear mother, if you do not tell me why you are so sad, I will depart, and wander out in the wide world." The queen answered: "Ah, my dear son, I am sad because you must now part from me. For before you were born, when I longed for you so much, I vowed to St. James of Galicia, that if he would grant you to me, you should make a pilgrimage to his shrine when you were eighteen years old. And now you will soon be eighteen, and I am sad because you must wander away alone, and be gone so many years; for to reach the saint, one must journey a whole year." "Is it nothing but that, dear mother?" asked her son. "Be not so sorrowful. Only the dead return not. If I live, I will soon come back to you."

So he comforted his mother, and when he was eighteen he took leave of the queen, and said: "Now farewell, dear mother, and, God willing, we shall meet again." The queen wept bitterly, and embraced him with many tears; then she gave him three apples, and said: "My son, take these three apples and give heed to my words. You shall not make the long journey alone. When, however, a youth joins you and wishes to accompany you, take him with you to the inn, and let him eat with you. After the meal cut an apple in two halves, one large and the other small, and offer them to the young man. If he takes the larger half, part from him, for he will be no true friend to you; but if he takes the smaller half, regard him as your brother, and share everything that you have with him." After these words she embraced her son and blessed him, and the prince departed.

He had already travelled a long time, and no one had met him. One day, however, he saw a youth coming along the road who joined him and asked: "Where are you going, handsome youth?" "I am making a pilgrimage to St. James of Galicia;" and he told him of his mother's vow. "I must go there, too," said the other, "for the same thing happened to my mother as to yours; if we have the same journey to make, we can make it together." They continued their journey together, but the prince was not confidential towards his companion, for he thought: "I must first make the trial with the apple."

As they were passing an inn, the prince said: "I am hungry: shall we not have something to eat?" The other was willing, so they went in and ate together. After they had eaten, the prince took out the apple, cut it in two unequal halves, and offered them to the other, who took the larger half. "You are no true friend," thought the prince; and to get rid of him, he pretended to be ill, and obliged to remain there. The other said: "I cannot wait for you, for I have far to go yet; so farewell." "Farewell," said the prince, and was glad to be rid of him.

When he continued his journey again, he thought: "Ah, if God would only send me a true friend, so that I should not have to travel alone!"

Not long after, another youth joined him and asked: "Handsome young man, where are you going?" The prince answered him as he had done before, and everything happened the same as with the first young man. After the prince had got rid of him he resumed his journey and thought: "O God, let me find a true friend who shall be to me a brother on the long journey!" While he was uttering this prayer he saw a youth coming along the way, who was a handsome lad, and appeared so friendly that he liked him at once, and thought: "Ah, may this be the true friend!" The youth joined him, and everything passed as before, except that this time the youth took the smaller half of the apple, and the prince rejoiced that he had found a true friend. "Fair youth," said he to him, "we must consider ourselves as brothers now; what is mine shall be yours also, and what is yours, shall be mine. We will travel together, until we come to the shrine of the saint; and if one of us dies on the way, the other must carry his body there. We will both promise this." They did so, and regarded each other as brothers, and continued their journey together.

To reach the shrine of the saint requires a whole year; imagine, then, how long the two must travel. One day when they came, weary and exhausted, to a large, beautiful city, they said: "We will stay here and rest a few days, and afterwards continue our journey." So they took a small house, and dwelt in it. Now opposite it was the royal palace, and one morning as the king was standing on the balcony, he saw the two handsome youths, and thought: "Oh! how handsome these two youths are! one is, however, much handsomer than the other. I will give him my daughter in marriage." Now the prince was the handsomer of the two. In order to attain his aim, the king invited them both to dinner, and when they came to the palace received them in a very friendly manner and had his daughter called, who was more beautiful than the sun and moon. When they retired for the night, the king had a poisonous drink given to the prince's companion, who fell down dead; for the king thought: "If his friend dies, the other will remain here willingly, and think no more of his pilgrimage, but marry my daughter."

The next morning, when the prince awoke, he asked: "Where is my friend?" "He died suddenly last night, and is to be buried at once," answered the servants. The prince said: "If my friend is dead, I cannot remain here longer, but must depart this very hour." "Ah! do remain here," begged the king. "I will give you my daughter for your wife." "No," said the prince, "I cannot stay here. If you will grant me a wish, give me a horse, and let me depart in peace; and when I have completed my pilgrimage, I will return and marry your daughter." The king then gave him a horse, which the prince mounted, and took his dead friend before him on the saddle, and thus completed his journey. The young man, however, was not dead, but lay only in a deep sleep.

When the prince reached the shrine of St. James of Galicia, he dismounted, took his friend in his arms like a child, and entered the church and laid the body on the steps of the altar before the saint, and prayed: "O St. James of Galicia! behold, I have kept my vow. I have come to you and have brought you my friend, also. I confide him now to you; if you will restore him to life, we will laud your mercy; but if he is not to come to life again, he has at least kept his vow." And behold, while he was still praying, his dead friend rose, and became again alive and well. Both thanked the saint, and gave him costly presents, and then started on their journey home.

When they reached the city where the king lived, they occupied again the little house opposite the royal palace. The king was greatly rejoiced to see the handsome prince there again, and much handsomer than before; he arranged great festivities, and had a splendid marriage celebrated, and thus the prince married the fair princess. After the wedding they remained several months with her father, and then the prince said: "My mother is expecting me at home with great anxiety; therefore I cannot stay longer here, but will return to my mother with my wife and my friend." The king consented and they prepared for the journey.

Now the king had a deadly hatred against the poor, innocent youth, to whom he had before given the fatal drink, and who had nevertheless returned alive, and in order to cause him sorrow, he sent him in great haste on the morning of the departure into the country with an errand. "Hasten," he said. "Your friend will not start until you return." The youth hastened away, without taking leave, and performed the king's errand. The king, meanwhile, said to the prince: "Hasten your departure, otherwise you cannot reach your quarters for the night before evening." "I cannot depart without my friend," answered the prince. The king, however, said: "Set out on your journey; he will be here within an hour, and will soon overtake you on his swift horse." The prince allowed himself to be persuaded, took leave of his father-in-law, and departed with his wife. The poor friend could not fulfil the king's commission before several hours, and when he finally returned, the king said to him: "Your friend is already far from here; see how you can overtake him."

So the poor youth had to leave the palace, and did not even receive a horse, and began to run, and ran day and night until he overtook the prince. From his great exertions, however, he contracted leprosy, so that he looked ill, wretched, and dreadful. The prince, nevertheless, received him in a friendly manner and cared for him like a brother.

They finally reached home, where the queen had awaited her son with great anxiety, and now embraced him with perfect joy. The prince had a bed prepared at once for his sick friend and summoned all the physicians of the town and state, but no one could help him. When the poor youth grew no better the prince addressed himself to St. James of Galicia and said: "O St. James of Galicia! you raised my friend from the dead; help him now this time also, and let him recover from his leprosy." While he was praying, a servant entered and said: "A strange physician is without, who will make the poor youth well again." This physician was St. James of Galicia himself, who had heard the prayer of the prince and had come to help his friend. You must know now that the prince's wife had had a little girl who was a pretty, lovely child.

When the saint approached the bed of the sick youth, he first examined him, and then said to the prince: "Do you really wish to see your friend well again at any price?" "At any price," answered the prince; "only tell me what can help him." "This evening, take your child," said the saint, "open all her veins, and anoint with her blood your friend's wounds, and he will be healed at once."

The prince was horrified when he heard that he himself must kill his dear little daughter, but he answered: "I have promised my friend to treat him like my brother; and if there is no other remedy, I will sacrifice my child."

At evening he took the child and opened her veins and anointed with the blood the sores of the sick youth, who was at once cleansed from his foul leprosy. The child became pale and weak, and looked as if it were dead. Then they laid it in its cradle and the poor parents were deeply grieved, for they believed they had lost their child.

The next morning the physician came and asked after the patient. "He is well and sound," answered the prince. "And where have you put your child?" asked the saint. "There it lies dead in its cradle," said the poor father, sadly. "Just look at her once and see how she is," said the saint; and when they hastened to the cradle, they saw the child in it alive and well again. Then the saint said: "I am St. James of Galicia, and have come to help you, because I have seen what true friendship you have displayed. Continue to love one another, and when you are in trouble turn to me and I will come to your aid." With these words he blessed them and disappeared from their sight. They lived piously and did much good to the poor, and were happy and contented.[14]

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There are several interesting legends found only in Gonzenbach's collection. They can be mentioned but briefly here. The first (No. 87) is entitled: "The Story of St. Oniria or Neria." Two huntsmen lost their way in a wood and found at night a hut in which was a table set for supper, and a fire which emitted a heavenly odor. They examined it and found in the coals a heart, which they took with them when they departed, the next morning. After they had travelled a while, they stopped at an inn, and the pious and virtuous daughter of the innkeeper waited on them, and noticed the odor which came from the jacket that one of the huntsmen had laid aside on account of the heat. In the pocket she found the heart, which she kept for a time on a table in her room. One day she was seized with a great longing to eat it. She did so, and it soon was evident that she was about to become a mother. Her father treated her cruelly, for the shame she was going to bring on the family, but her godmother interfered, and one night had a strange dream. There appeared to her a saint, who said: "I am St. Oniria, and was consumed by fire. Only my heart was left, so that I might be born again. This heart the host's daughter has eaten, and she will, in due time, give birth to me." The child was born as predicted, and grew handsomer every day. The grandfather, however, could not endure him, and ill-treated him as well as his mother.

One day, when the child was five years old, the grandfather took him to the city. On the way they passed a place where there was much filth, and the child said to his grandfather: "I wish you might wallow in it." Afterwards they saw a poor man being carried to the grave on a ladder, without any coffin. The child here wished that his grandfather, when he died, might be like this one. Next they met the long funeral procession of a rich man, and the child wished that his grandfather might not be like this rich man. The grandfather, of course, in each case was very angry, and was only restrained from beating the child by the mother's godfather, who had accompanied them.

After they had finished their business in the city they set out for home; and when they came to the spot where they had met the rich man's funeral procession, the child made his grandfather put his ear to the ground, when he heard a great noise, as if of iron pestles and lamentations. The child explained that what he heard were the devils tormenting the rich man's soul. When they came where they had seen the poor man on the ladder, the grandfather listened again and heard the rejoicings of the angels on receiving the poor man's soul.

When they came to the place where the filth was, the child made his grandfather dig and find a pot of money which he told him to use better than he had done his own. The child then said he was St. Oniria, exculpated his mother, and said his grandfather would see him again when the dead spoke with the living. Then he was taken up into heaven.

Years after, two men spent the night in the inn, and one murdered the other and hid the body under the straw, where it was afterwards found by other travellers, and the innkeeper accused of the murder. He was condemned and was on the scaffold when a beautiful youth came riding in hot haste, crying: "Pardon!" The youth led the people into the church, before the coffin of the murdered man, and cried: "Rise, dead one, and speak with the living, and tell us who murdered you." The dead man replied: "The innkeeper is innocent; my treacherous companion killed me." Then the youth accompanied the innkeeper home, revealed himself as St. Oniria, blessed them, and disappeared.[15]

Another legend (No. 92), "The Story of the Hermit," has as its subject the mystery of God's Providence, and is familiar to English readers in the form of Parnell's Hermit. The substance of the Sicilian version is as follows: A hermit sees a man wrongfully accused of theft and shockingly maltreated. He thereupon concludes that God is unjust to suffer such things, and determines to return to the world. On his way back a handsome youth meets him and they journey together. A muleteer allows them to ride his beasts, and in return the youth abstracts the muleteer's money from his wallet and drops it in the road. A woman who keeps an inn receives them hospitably, and on leaving the next morning, the youth strangles her child in the cradle. All at once the youth becomes a shining angel, and says to the hermit: "Listen to me, O man who has been bold enough to murmur against God's decrees;" and then explains that the person who had been wrongfully accused of theft had years before murdered his father on that very spot; the muleteer's money was stolen money, and the child of the hostess, had it lived, would have become a robber and murderer. Then the angel says: "Now you see that God's justice is more far-sighted than man's. Return, then, to your hermitage, and repent if so be that your murmuring be forgiven you." The angel disappears and the hermit returns to his mountain, does severer penance, and dies a saint.[16]

The legend in Gonzenbach (No. 91) entitled "Joseph the Just" is nothing but the story of Joseph and his Brethren, taken from the Bible. In the Sicilian version Joseph has only three brothers; otherwise the story follows the account in Genesis very closely. Another legend in the same collection (No. 89), "The Story of Tobia and Tobiola," is the story of Tobit and Tobias, taken from the apocryphal book of Tobit. The Sicilian story differs in the names only.

There are several other Sicilian legends the heroes of which are pious, simple youths, the religious counterparts of Giufa. One (Pitre, No. 112), called "The Poor Boy," tells the story of a simple youth who asked the priest the way to paradise, and was told he must follow the strait and narrow way. He took the first one he came to, and reached a convent church during a festival, and imagined he had reached paradise. He was found in the church when all had departed; but he persisted in remaining, and the superior sent him a bowl of soup, which he put on the altar; and when he was alone he began to converse confidentially with the Lord on the crucifix, and said: "Lord, who put you on the cross?" "Your sins!" and so the Lord responded to all his questions. The youth, in tears, promised he would sin no more, and invited the Lord to descend and partake of his repast with him. The Lord did so, and commanded him to tell the monks in the convent that they would be damned unless they sold all their property and bestowed it on the poor. If they would do so and come and confess to the Lord himself, he would hear their confession and give them the communion, and when it was finished they would all die, one after the other, and enter the glory of paradise. The poor youth went to the superior and gave him the Lord's message. The superior sold the property of the convent, and everything turned out as the Lord had said. The monks all confessed and died, and all who were present or heard of the event were converted and died in the grace of God.[17]

This legend leads quite naturally to another, in which intercourse with the other world is represented as still occasionally permitted to mortals. It is found only in Sicily, having, curiously enough, parallels in the rest of Europe, but none in Italy. It is called:


There was once a baker who every morning loaded an ounceworth of bread on a horse that came to his shop. One day he said: "I give this ounceworth of bread to this horse and he renders me no account of it." Then he said to his apprentice: "Vincenzo, the horse will come to-morrow and I will give him the bread, but you must follow him and see where he goes." The next day the horse came and the baker loaded him, and gave the apprentice a piece of bread for himself. Vincenzo followed the horse, and after a while came to a river of milk, and began to eat bread and milk, and could not overtake the horse again. He then returned to his master, who, seeing him return to no purpose, said: "To-morrow the horse will come again; if you cannot tell me where he goes I will no longer have you for my apprentice." The next day the apprentice followed the horse again, and came to a river of wine, and began to eat bread and wine, and lost sight of the horse. He returned to his master in despair at having lost the horse. His master said: "Listen. The first time, one pardons; the second time, one condones; the third time, one beats. If to-morrow you do not follow the horse I will give you a good thrashing and send you home." What did poor Vincenzo do? He followed the horse the next day with his eyes open. After a while he came to a river of oil. "What shall I do? the horse will get away from me now!" So he tied the horse's reins to his girdle and began to eat bread and oil. The horse pulled, but Vincenzo said: "When I finish the bread I will come." When he had finished the bread he followed the horse, and after a time he came to a cattle-farm where the grass was long and thick and the cattle so thin that they could scarcely stand on their feet. Vincenzo was astonished at seeing the grass so long and the cattle so lean. Then he came to another farm, and saw that the grass was dry and short, and the cattle fatter than you can believe. He said to himself: "Just see! There, where the grass was long, the cattle were lean; here, where you can hardly see the grass, the cattle are so fat!" The horse kept on, and Vincenzo after him. After a while he met a sow with her tail full of large knots, and wondered why she had such a tail. Farther on he came to a watering-trough, where there was a toad trying to reach a crumb of bread, and could not. Vincenzo continued his way, and arrived at a large gate. The horse knocked at the gate with his head, and the door opened and a beautiful lady appeared, who said she was the Madonna. When she saw the youth she asked: "And what are you here for?" Vincenzo replied: "This horse comes constantly to my master's to get an ounceworth of bread, and my master never has been able to find out where he carries it." "Very well; enter," said the lady; "I will show you where he carries it." Then the lady began to call all the souls in purgatory: "My children, come hither!" The souls then descended; and to some she gave the worth of a grano of bread, to some the worth of a baiocco, and to others the worth of five grani, and the bread was gone in a moment. When the bread had disappeared, the lady said to Vincenzo: "Did you see nothing on your way?" "Yes, lady. The first day that my master sent me to see where the horse went, I saw a river of milk." The lady said: "That is the milk I gave my son." "The second day I saw a river of wine." "That," said the lady, "is the wine with which my son was consecrated." "The third day I saw a river of oil." "That is the oil that they ask of me and of my son. What else did you see the third day?" "I saw," answered Vincenzo, "a farm with cattle. There was plenty of grass, but the cattle were lean. Afterwards I saw another farm, where you could scarcely see the grass, and the cattle were fine and fat." "These, my son, are the rich, who are in the midst of wealth; and no matter how much they eat, it does no good; and the fat ones, that have no grass to eat, are the poor, for my son supports and fattens them. What else did you see?" "I saw a sow with her tail full of knots." "That, my son, is those who repeat their rosaries and do not offer their prayers to me or to my son; and my son makes knots in them." "I also saw a watering-trough, with a toad that was reaching after a crumb of bread, and could not get it." She said: "A poor person asked a woman for a bit of bread, and she gave his hand such a blow that she made him drop it. And what else did you see, my son?" "Nothing, lady." "Then come with me, and I will show you something else." She took him by the hand and led him into hell. When the poor youth heard the clanking of chains and saw the darkness, he came near dying, and wanted to get out. "You see," said the lady, "those who are lamenting and in chains and darkness are those who are in mortal sin. Now come, and I will take you to purgatory." There they heard nothing, and the darkness was so great that they could see nothing. Vincenzo wished to depart, for he felt oppressed by anguish. "Now," said the lady, "I will take you to the church of the Holy Fathers. Do you see it, my son? This is the church of the Holy Fathers, which first was full and now is empty. Come; now I will take you to limbo. Do you see these little ones? These are those who died unbaptized." The lady wished to show him paradise; but he was too confused, so the lady made him look through a window. "Do you see this great palace? There are three seats there; one for you, one for your master, and one for your mistress." After this she took him to the gate. The horse was no longer there. "Now," said Vincenzo, "how shall I find my way back? I will follow the tracks of the horse, and so will get home." The lady answered: "Close your eyes!" Vincenzo closed his eyes, and found himself behind his master's door. When he entered he told all that had occurred to his master and mistress. When he had finished his story all three died and went to paradise.[18]

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