HotFreeBooks.com
Italian Popular Tales
by Thomas Frederick Crane
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

The most famous story of the class we are now considering is, however, the one best known by its French title, "Bonhomme Misere." The French version was popular as a chap-book as early as 1719, running through fifteen editions from that date. The editor of the reprint referred to in the note, as well as Grimm (II. 451), believed the story to be of Italian origin and that the original would some day be discovered.[19] This has proved to be the case, and we have now before us a number of versions. These may be divided into two classes: one independent, the other constituting a part only of some other story. The latter class is generally connected with the cycle of our Lord's journeys upon earth, and is represented by "The Master Thief" and "Brother Lustig" in Germany, and "Beppo Pipetta" from Venice. The Sicilian versions which we shall mention first, although independent stories, are connected with the cycle of our Lord's journeys upon earth. We give first two versions from Pitre (Nos. 124, 125).

LXIII. OCCASION.

Once upon a time there was a father and a mother who had a little boy. They died and the child was left in the street. One of the neighbors had pity upon him and took him in. The boy throve well and when he had grown up the one who had sheltered him said: "Come now, Occasion (for this was the boy's name), you are a man; why do you not think about supporting yourself and relieving us from that care?" So the lad made up a bundle and departed. He journeyed and journeyed until his clothes were worn out and he was almost dead from hunger. One day he saw an inn and entered it, and said to the innkeeper: "Do you want me for a servant? I wish only a piece of bread for my wages." The host said to his wife: "What do you say, Rosella? We have no children; shall we take this lad?" "Yes;" and so they took him.

The boy was very attentive and did willingly whatever was commanded him, and at last his master and mistress, who had grown to love him like a son, went before the judge and adopted him.

Time passed and the innkeeper and his wife died and left all their property to the young man, who, when he saw himself in possession of it, made known: "That whoever should come to Occasion's inn could have food for nothing." You can imagine the people that went there!

Now the Master and his apostles happened once to pass that way, and when St. Thomas read this announcement he said: "Unless I see and touch with my hands I shall not believe it. Let us go to this inn." They went there and ate and drank and Occasion treated them like gentlemen. Before leaving St. Thomas said: "Occasion, why don't you ask a favor of the Master?" Then Occasion said: "Master, I have before my door this fig-tree, and the children do not let me eat one of the figs. Whoever goes by climbs up and pulls off some. Now I would like this favor, that when any one climbs this tree, he must stay there until I permit him to come down." "Your request is granted," said the Lord, and blessed the tree.

It was a fine thing! The first who climbed up for figs stuck fast to the tree without being able to move; another came, the same thing; and so on; all stuck fast, one by the hand, another by the foot, another by the head. When Occasion saw them he gave them a sound scolding and let them go. The children were frightened and touched the figs no more.

Years passed and Occasion's money was coming to an end; so he called a carpenter and told him to cut up the fig-tree and make him a bottle out of it. This bottle had the property that Occasion could shut up in it whoever he wished. One day Death went to fetch him, for Occasion was now very old. Occasion said: "At your service; we will go. But see here, Death, first do me a favor. I have this bottle of wine, and there is a fly in it, and I don't like to drink from it; just go in there and take it out for me, and then we will go." Death very foolishly entered the bottle, when Occasion corked it and put it in his wallet, saying: "Stay a bit with me."

While Death was shut up no one died; and everywhere you might see old men with such long white beards that it was a sight. The apostles, seeing this, went to the Master about it several times, and at last he visited Occasion. "What is this? Here you have kept Death shut up so many years, and the people are falling down from old age without dying!" "Master," said Occasion, "do you want me to let Death out? If you will give me a place in paradise, I will let him out." The Lord thought: "What shall I do? If I don't grant him this favor, he will not leave me in peace." So he said: "Your request is granted!" At these words Death was set at liberty; Occasion was permitted to live a few years longer, and then Death took him. Hence it is "That there is no death without Occasion."

LXIV. BROTHER GIOVANNONE.

Once upon a time there was a convent at Casteltermini which contained many monks, one of whom was named Brother Giovannone. At the time when the Lord and all his apostles were on their travels they visited this convent, and all the monks asked the Lord to pardon their souls; Brother Giovannone asked nothing. St. Peter said to him: "Why do you not ask pardon for your soul, like the others?" "I don't wish anything." St. Peter said: "Nothing? When you come to paradise we will talk about it." When the Master had taken his departure and had gone some distance, Brother Giovannone began to cry out: "Master, Master, wait! I want a favor, and it is that any one I command must get into my pouch." The Master said: "This request is granted."

Brother Giovannone was old and one day Death came and said to him: "Giovannone, you have three hours to live!" Brother Giovannone replied: "When you come for me you must let me know half an hour before." After a while Death came and said: "You are a dead man!" Brother Giovannone replied: "In the name of Brother Giovannone, into my pouch with you, Death!" Then he carried his pouch to a baker and asked him to hang it up in the chimney until he came for it. For forty years no one died. At the end of that time Brother Giovannone went and set Death free, so that he might himself die, for he was so old he could do no more. The first one that Death killed when he was free was Brother Giovannone, and then he destroyed all those who had not died in the forty years.

After he was dead Brother Giovannone went and knocked at the gate of paradise and St. Peter said to him: "There is no room for you here." "Where must I go, then?" asked Brother Giovannone. "To purgatory," answered St. Peter. So he knocked at purgatory and they told him: "There is no place for you here." "Where must I go, then?" "To hell." He knocked at hell and Lucifer asked: "Who is there?" "Brother Giovannone." Then Lucifer said to his devils: "You take the mace; you, the hammer; you, the tongs!" Brother Giovannone asked: "What are you going to do with these instruments?" "We are going to beat you." "In the name of Brother Giovannone, into my pouch with you, all you devils!" Then he hung the pouch about his neck and carried all the devils to a smith who had eight apprentices, and the master, nine. "Master-smith, how much do you want to hammer this pouch eight days and nights?" They agreed upon forty ounces, and hammered day and night and the pouch was not reduced to powder, and Brother Giovannone was always present. The last day the smiths said: "What the devil are these; for they cannot be pounded fine!" Brother Giovannone answered: "They are indeed devils! Pound hard!" After they were through hammering, he took the pouch and emptied it out in the plain; the devils were so bruised and mangled that they could hardly drag themselves back to hell. Then Brother Giovannone went and knocked again at paradise. "Who is there?" "Brother Giovannone." "There is no room for you." "Peter, if you don't let me in I will call you baldhead." "Now that you have called me baldhead," said St. Peter, "you shall not enter." Brother Giovannone said: "Ah, what is that you say? I will be even with you!" So he stood near the gate of paradise and said to all the souls who were going to enter: "In the name of Brother Giovannone, into my pouch, all you souls!" and no more souls entered paradise. One day St. Peter said to the Master: "Why do no more souls enter?" The Lord answered: "Because Brother Giovannone is behind the gate putting them all in his pouch." "What shall we do?" said St. Peter. The Lord answered: "See if you can get hold of the pouch and bring them all in together." Brother Giovannone heard all this outside. What did he do? He said: "Into the pouch with myself!" and in a moment was in his own pouch. When St. Peter looked Brother Giovannone was not to be seen, so he seized the pouch and dragged it into paradise and shut the gate at once, and opened the pouch. The first one who came out was Brother Giovannone himself, who began at once to quarrel with St. Peter because St. Peter wished to put him out, and Brother Giovannone did not want to go. Then the Lord said: "When one once enters the house of Jesus, he does not leave it again."[20]

* * * * *

These stories have close parallels in two Roman legends collected by Miss Busk. In the first, the innkeeper asks first for the faculty of always winning at cards; and second, that any one who climbs his fig-tree must stay there. When Death comes the host asks her (Death is feminine in Italian) to climb the tree and pick him a few figs. When once up the tree, the host refuses to let her down until she promises him four hundred years of life. Death has to consent and the host in turn promises to go quietly with her when she comes again. At the end of the four hundred years Death takes the host to paradise. They pass by hell on the way and the host proposes to the devil to play for the newly received souls. The host wins fifteen thousand, which he carries with him to paradise. St. Peter objects to letting the "rabble" in, and Jesus Christ himself says: "The host may come in himself, but he has no business with the others." Then the host says that he has made no difficulty about numbers when Christ has come to his inn With as many as he pleased. "That is true! that is right!" answered Jesus Christ. "Let them all in! let them all in!"[21]

In the other story, a priest, Pret' Olivo, received from the Lord, in reward for his hospitality, the favor of living a hundred years, and that when Death came to fetch him he should be able to give her what orders he pleased, and that she must obey him. Death called at the end of the hundred years, and Pret' Olivo made her sit by the fire while he said a mass. The fire grew hotter and hotter, but Death could not stir until Pret' Olivo permitted her to, on condition that she should leave him alone a hundred years. The second time Death called, Pret' Olivo asked her to gather him some figs and commanded her to stay in the tree. So Death a second time was obliged to promise him a respite of a hundred years. The next time Death called, Pret' Olivo put on his vestments and a cope, and took a pack of cards in his hand and went with Death. She wanted to take him directly to paradise, but he insisted on going around by the way of hell and playing a game of cards with the Devil. The stakes were souls, and as fast as Pret' Olivo won, he hung a soul on his cope until it was covered with them; then he hung them on his beretta, and at last was obliged to stop, for there was no more room to hang any souls. Death objected to taking all these souls to paradise, but could not take Pret' Olivo without them. When they arrived at paradise St. Peter made some objection to admitting them, but the Master gave his permission and they all got in.[22]

* * * * *

The Tuscan version, which contains some of the traits of the last story, is as follows:

LXV. GODFATHER MISERY.

Godfather Misery was old,—God knows how old! One day Jesus and St. Peter, while wandering through the world to name the countries, came to Godfather Misery's, who offered his visitors some polenta, and gave them his own bed. Jesus, pleased with this reception, gave him some money, and granted him these three favors: that whoever sits on his bench near the fire cannot get up; that whoever climbs his fig-tree cannot descend; and finally, out of regard to St. Peter, the salvation of his soul. One day Death came to Godfather Misery, and wanted to carry him off. Godfather Misery said: "It is too cold to travel." Death pressed him; then he asked her to sit by the fire and warm herself a moment, and he would soon be ready. Meanwhile he piled wood on the fire. Death felt herself burning, and tried to move, but could not; so she had to grant Godfather Misery another hundred years of life. Death was released; the hundred years passed, and Death returned. Godfather Misery was at the door, pretending to wait for her, and looking at his fig-tree in sorrow. He begged Death to pick him a few figs for their journey. So Death climbed up, but could not descend until she granted Godfather Misery another hundred years. Even these passed, and Death reappeared. This time there was no help, he must go. Death gave him time only to recite an Ave Maria, and a Paternoster. Godfather Misery, however, could not find this time, and said to Death, who was hurrying him: "You have given me time, and I am taking it." Then Death had recourse to a stratagem, and disguised herself like a Jesuit, and went where Godfather Misery lived, and preached. Godfather Misery at first did not attend these sermons, but his wife finally persuaded him to go to the church and hear a sermon. Just as he entered, the preacher cried out that whoever said an Ave Maria should save his soul. Godfather Misery, who recognized Death, answered from a distance: "Go away! you will not get me." Then Death went away in despair, and never got hold of him again. Godfather Misery still lives, since misery never ends.[23]

In another Tuscan story, similar gifts are bestowed upon a smith, who had always been a good Christian, to enable him to avoid a contract he had made with the Devil, to sell him his soul for two years of life. The first time the Devil comes he sits on the bench near the fire, and cannot rise again until he extends his contract two years. The next time he comes he does not enter the house, but looks in at a window that has the power to detain any one who looks through it. Again the contract is extended. The third time the Devil is caught in the fig-tree, and then a new contract is drawn up, that the Devil and the smith are never to see each other again.[24]

The second class of versions of the story of "Bonhomme Misere" is where the legend is merely an episode of some other story. This class comprises two stories from the territory of Venice. The first is entitled "Beppo Pipetta," from the hero who saved the king's life, which is threatened by some robbers. The king was in disguise, and Beppo did not know who he was until he was summoned to the palace to be rewarded. The king told Beppo that he need not be a soldier any longer, but might remain with him or wherever he pleased, and offered to pay for all he needed; for he had saved his life. We give the rest of the story in the words of the original.

LXVI. BEPPO PIPETTA.

When his first joy at this good fortune was over, Beppo decided to visit his relations. There he met a man in the street who entered into conversation with him, and they chatted for a long time, until they finally went into an inn to refresh themselves with something to eat and drink. "How happens it," asked his new friend, who was vastly entertained by Beppo's conversation, "that you, a soldier, carry no knapsack?" "Hm!" said Beppo, "I don't care to weigh myself down on a march with unnecessary things. I have no effects, and if I need anything, I have a good master who pays all my bills." "Now," said the stranger, "I will give you a knapsack, and a very valuable one too; for if you say to any one, 'Jump in,' he will jump into the sack." With these words the stranger took his leave.

"Wait," thought Beppo; "I will put this to the proof." And, indeed, a favorable opportunity offered itself, for just then the landlord appeared to demand the payment of his bill. "What do you want?" asked Beppo. "My money; you might know that of yourself." "Let me alone! I have no money." "What? you ragged soldier"—"Jump in!" said Beppo; and the landlord went over his ears into the sack. Only after long entreaty, and on condition that he would never again present his bill, would Beppo let him out again. "Just wait, fellow! I'll teach you how to insult soldiers," said he to the landlord, as he went out.

Tired and hungry after a long walk, Beppo again turned into an inn. There he saw a man who was continually emptying a purse, but never finished, for it always became full again. He quickly snatched the purse out of the man's hand, and ran out of the inn, but no less quickly did the owner run after him; and since he had not walked as far as Beppo, who had been wandering about all day, he soon caught up with him. Then Beppo cried: "Jump in!" and the owner was in the sack. "Listen," said Beppo, after he had somewhat recovered his breath, "listen and be reasonable. You have had the purse long enough; give it to me now, or else you shall always stay in the sack." What could the man do? Willingly or unwillingly, he had to give up the purse in order to get out of the accursed sack.

For two years Beppo stayed at home, doing much good with the purse, and much mischief with the sack, until at last he began to long for the capital again, and returned there; but what was his astonishment at seeing everything hung with black, and everybody in mourning. "Do you not know what the trouble is?" he was asked, in reply to his questions as to the cause of this sorrow; "don't you know that to-morrow the Devil is going to carry away the king's daughter, on account of a foolish vow that her father once made?" Then he went directly to the king, in order to console him, but the latter would not put any faith in him. "Your Majesty," said he, "you do not know what Beppo Pipetta can do. Only let me have my own way."

Then he prepared, in a room of the palace, a large table, with paper, pen, and ink, while the princess, in the next room, awaited her sad fate in prayer. At midnight a fearful noise was heard, like the roaring of the tempest; and at the last stroke of the clock, the Devil came through the window into—the sack which Beppo held open for him, crying, "Jump in!" "What are you doing here?" asked Beppo of the raging Devil. "How does that concern you?" "I have my reasons," was the bold reply. "Wait a little, you rascal!" cried Beppo; "I'll teach you manners!" and he seized a stick and belabored the sack until the Devil in anguish called upon all the saints. "Are you going to carry off the princess, now?" "No, no; only let me out of this infamous sack!" "Do you promise never to molest her?" "I promise, only let me out!" "No," said Beppo; "you must repeat your promise before witnesses, and also give it in writing." Then he called some gentlemen of the court into the room, had the promise repeated, and permitted the Devil to stretch one hand out of the sack, in order to write as follows: "I, the very Devil, herewith promise that I will neither carry away H. R. H., the Princess, nor ever molest her in future. SATAN, SPIRIT OF HELL."

"Good!" said Beppo; "the affair of the princess is now ended. But now, on account of your previous impoliteness, allow me to give you a few blows that may serve as reminders of me on your journey." When he had done this, he opened the sack, and the Devil went out as he had come in, through the window.

Then the king gave a great feast, at which Beppo sat between him and the princess; and there was joy throughout the whole kingdom.

After a while Beppo took a pleasure trip and came to a place that pleased him so much that he decided to remain there; but the police must needs go through certain ceremonies and wanted to know who he was, whence he came, and a multitude of other things. Then he answered: "I am myself; let that suffice you. If you want to know anything more, write to the king." Accordingly they wrote to the king, but he commanded them to treat him with respect and not to disturb him.

When he had lived for many years in this place and had grown old, Death came and knocked at his door. Beppo opened it and asked: "Who are you?" "I am Death," was the answer. "Jump in!" cried Beppo, in great haste, and behold! Death was in the sack. "What!" he exclaimed, "shall I, who have so much to do, loiter my time away here?" "Just stay where you are, you old villain," replied Beppo, and did not let him out for a year and a half. Then there was universal satisfaction throughout the world, the physicians being especially jubilant, for none of them ever lost a patient. Then Death begged so humbly and represented so forcibly what would be the consequences of this disorder, that Beppo agreed to let him out, on condition that Death should not come back for him unless he was willing. Death departed and sought by means of a few wars and pestilences to make up for lost time.

At length Beppo grew so old that life became distasteful to him. Then he sent for Death, who, however, would not come, fearing that Beppo might change his mind. So the latter decided to go himself to Death. Death was not at home; but remembering his vacation in the sack, had prudently left the order that in case a certain Beppo Pipetta should come, he was to be beaten soundly; an order which was executed punctiliously. Beaten and cast out by Death, he went sadly to hell; but there the Devil had given the porter orders to show him the same attention that he had received at Death's abode, and that command also was conscientiously obeyed.

Smarting from the blows he had received, and vexed that neither Death nor the Devil wanted him, he went to paradise. Here he announced himself to St. Peter, but the saint thought that he had better first consult the Lord.

Meanwhile Beppo threw his cap over the wall into paradise. After he had waited a while, St. Peter reappeared and said: "I am very sorry, but our Lord doesn't want you here." "Very well," said Beppo, "but you will at least let me get my cap," and with that he slipped through the gate and sat down on the cap. When St. Peter commanded him to get up and begone, he replied, composedly: "Gently, my dear sir! at present I am sitting on my own property, where I do not receive orders from any one!"

And so he remained in paradise.[25]

* * * * *

The story known to our readers from the Grimm collection, "Godfather Death," is found in Sicily and Venice. The version from the latter place given in Bernoni (Trad. pop. p. 6) is as follows:

LXVII. THE JUST MAN.

Once upon a time there was a peasant and his wife who had a child that they would not baptize until they could find a just man for his godfather. The father took the child in his arms and went into the street to look for this just man. After he had walked along a while, he met a man, who was our Lord, and said to him: "I have this child to baptize, but I do not want to give him to any one who is not just; are you just?" The Lord answered: "But—I don't know whether I am just." Then the peasant passed on and met a woman, who was the Madonna, and said to her: "I have this child to baptize and do not wish to give him to any one who is not just; are you just?" "I don't know," said the Madonna; "but go on, for you will find some one who is just." He went his way and met another woman, who was Death, and said to her: "I have been sent to you, for I have been told that you are just, and I have this child to baptize, and do not wish to give it to one who is not just; are you just?" Death said: "Yes, I believe I am just! Let us baptize the child, and then I will show you whether I am just." Then they baptized the child, and afterwards Death led the peasant into a very long room, where there were many lights burning. "Godmother," said the man, astonished at seeing all the lights, "what are all these lights?" Death said: "These are the lights of all the souls in the world. Would you like to see, friend? this is yours and this is your son's." When the peasant saw that his light was about to expire, he said: "And when the oil is all consumed, godmother?" "Then," answered Death, "you must come with me, for I am Death." "Oh! for mercy's sake," cried the peasant, "let me at least take a little oil from my son's lamp and put it in mine!" "No, no, godfather," said Death, "I don't do anything of that sort; you wished to see a just person, and a just person you have found. And now go home and arrange your affairs, for I am waiting for you."[26]

* * * * *

We can mention but briefly another Venetian legend which, like several of those already given, reaches back to the Middle Ages. A wealthy knight, who has led a wicked life, repents when he grows old, and his confessor enjoins on him a three years' penance. The knight refuses, for he might die at the end of two years and lose all that amount of penance. He refuses in turn a penance of two years, of one year, and even of a month, but agrees to do penance for one night. He mounts his horse, takes leave of his family, and rides away to the church, which is at some distance. After he has ridden for a time, his daughter comes running after him and calls him back, for robbers have attacked the castle. He will not be diverted from his purpose, and tells her that there are servants and soldiers enough to defend the house. Then a servant cries out that the castle is in flames, and his own wife calls for help against violence. The knight calmly continues his way, leaving his servants to act for him, and simply saying: "I have no time for it now."

Finally he enters the church and begins his penance. Here he is disturbed by the sexton, who bids him depart, so that he can close the church; a priest orders him to leave, as he is not worthy to hear a mass; at midnight twelve watchmen come and order him to go with them to the judge, but he will not move for any of them; at two o'clock a band of soldiers surround him and order him to depart, and at five o'clock a wild throng of people burst into the church and cry: "Let us drive him out!" then the church begins to burn, and the knight finds himself in the midst of flames, but still he moves not. At last, when the appointed hour comes, he leaves the church and rides home to find that none of his family had left the castle, but the various persons who had tried to divert him from his penance were emissaries of the Devil. Then the knight sees how great a sinner he was and declares that he will do penance all the rest of his life.[27]

Bernoni in his Leggende fantastiche gives nine legends, one of which is the story of St. Peter's mother, mentioned above. Of the remaining ones, several may be classed under ghost stories, and two illustrate the great sanctity attached by the Italian to the spiritual relationship contracted by godmothers and godfathers, and by groomsmen and the bride. It is well known that in the Romish Church a godfather or godmother contracts a spiritual relationship with the godson or goddaughter and their parents which would prevent marriage between the parties. This relationship the popular imagination has extended to the godfather and godmother, and any improper intimacy between the two is regarded as the most deadly sin. The first of Bernoni's legends is entitled:

LXVIII. OF A GODFATHER AND A GODMOTHER OF ST. JOHN WHO MADE LOVE.

Here in Venice, heaven knows how many centuries ago, there was a gentleman and a lady, husband and wife, who were rich people. Well, there frequented their house a compare (godfather) of St. John; and it came to pass that he and his comare (godmother, i. e. the one who had been godmother to the same child to which he had been godfather), the lady of the house, made love to each other in secret. This lady had a maid, and this maid knew everything. So one day this lady said to the maid: "Hold your tongue, and you'll see that you will be satisfied with me. When I come to die, you shall have an allowance of a dollar a day." So this maid kept always on good terms with the lady. It happened that the compare fell very ill. The lady was so desperately sorry, that her husband kept saying to her: "Come, will you make yourself ill too? It's no use fretting, for it's what we must all come to." At last the compare died. And she took it so to heart, that she fell ill in earnest. When her husband saw her giving way to such low spirits, he began to suspect that there had been something between her and the compare; but he never said a word about it to annoy her, but bore it like a philosopher. The maid was always by her mistress' bedside, and the mistress said to her: "Remember that, if I die, you must watch by me quite alone, for I won't have any one else." And the maid promised her that she would. Well, that day went by, and the next day, and the next, and the lady got worse and worse, until at last she died. You can fancy how sorry her husband was. And the maid and the other servants were very sorry, too, for she was a very good lady. The other servants offered to sit up and watch with the maid; but she said: "No; I must sit up by myself, for my mistress said she would have no others." And they said: "Very well. If you want anything, ring the bell, and we shall be ready to do anything you want." Then the maid had four tapers lighted, and placed at the foot of the bed, and she took the Office for the Dead in her hand and began to read it.

Just at midnight the door of the room burst open, and she saw the figure of the compare come in. Directly she saw him she felt her blood turn to water. She tried to cry out, but she was so terrified that she couldn't make a sound. Then she got up from her chair and went to ring the bell; and the dead man, without saying a word (because, of course, dead folks can't talk), gave her a sharp blow on the hand to prevent her from ringing. And he signed her to take a taper in her hand, and come with him to her mistress' bed. She obeyed. When the dead man got to the bedside, he took the lady, and sat her up on the bed, and he began to put her stockings on her feet, and he dressed her from head to foot. When she was dressed, he pulled her out of bed, took her by the arm, and they both went out at the door, with the maid going before them to light the way. In this palace there was an underground passage—there are many like it in Venice—and they went down into it. When they got to a certain part of it, he gave a great knock to the taper that the maid had in her hand, and left her in the dark. The maid was so terrified that she fell down on the ground, all rolled up together like a ball, and there she lay.

At daybreak the other servants thought they would go and see how the maid was getting on, as she had not called them all night. So they went and opened the door of the room, and saw nobody there at all, either living or dead. They were frightened out of their wits, and ran to their master, and said: "Oh, mercy on us, there's nobody left, neither the dead woman nor the live one! The room's quite empty." Said the master: "You don't say so!" Then he dressed himself as fast as he could, and went and looked, and found nobody. And he saw that the clothes his wife wore to go out in were gone too. Then he called the servants, and said to them: "Here, take these torches, and let us go and look in the underground passage." So all the people went down there with lighted torches; and after searching about a bit, they found the poor maid, who gave no sign of life. The servants took her by one arm; but it was all bent up stiff, and wouldn't move. And they tried the other arm, and that was the same, and all her body was knotted together quite stiff. Then they took up this ball of a woman, and carried her up-stairs, and put her on her bed. The master sent for the doctors, to see if they could bring back life to her. And by degrees she began to open her eyes and move her fingers. But she had had a stroke and couldn't speak. But by the movements of her fingers they could make out nearly everything she wanted to say. Then the master had the torches lighted again, and went down again into the underground passage, to see if he could find any trace of the dead woman. They looked and looked, but they could find nothing but a deep hole. And the master understood directly that that was where his wife and her compare had been swallowed up. And upon that he went up-stairs again; but he wouldn't stay any longer in that palace, nor even in Venice, and he went away to Verona. And in the palace he left the maid, with her dollar a day and people to take care of her and feed her, for to the end of her days she was bedridden and couldn't speak. And the master would have every one free to go and see that sight, that it might be a warning to all people who had the evil intention of not respecting the baptismal relationship.[28]

* * * * *

The second of Bernoni's legends turns on the peculiar sanctity of the relation of a groomsman (compare de l'anelo) to the bride. The full title is: "About a compare de l'anelo who pressed the bride's hand with evil intent." It is as follows:

LIX. THE GROOMSMAN

You must know that we Venetians have a saying that the groomsman is the godfather of the first child. Well, in the parish of the Angel Raphael it happened that there was a young man and woman who were in love with each other. So they agreed to be married, and the bridegroom looked out for his best man. According to custom, directly he had chosen his best man, he took him to the bride's house, and said to her: "Look here, this is your groomsman." Directly the groomsman saw the bride he fell so much in love with her that he consented more than willingly to be the best man. Well, the wedding day came, and this man went into the church with evil thoughts in his heart. When they came out of the church they had a collation, according to custom, and then in the afternoon they had a gondola to go to the tavern, as people used to do on such days. First the bride got into the gondola, with the best man, and then the bridegroom and the relations. When they were getting into the boat the groomsman took the bride's hand to help her in, and he squeezed it, and squeezed it so hard that he hurt her severely.

As time went on he saw that the bride thought nothing about him, and he began not to care for her, either. But by and by he began to have a sort of scruple of conscience about what he had done to his comare on the wedding day. And the more he thought of it, the more he felt this scruple. So he made up his mind to go to confession, and to tell his confessor what he had done, and with what evil intention. "You have committed a great sin, my son," said the priest; "I shall give you a penance,—a heavy penance. Will you do it?" "Yes, father," said he; "tell me what it is." The priest answered: "Listen. You must make a journey in the night-time to a place that I shall tell you of. But mind; whatever voices you hear, you must never turn back for an instant! And take three apples with you, and you will meet three noblemen, and you must give one apple to each of them." Then the priest told him the place he was to go to, and the groomsman left him. Well, he waited until night-fall, and then he took his three apples and set out. He walked and walked and walked, until at last he came to the place the priest had told him of, and he heard such a talking and murmuring, you can't think! One voice said one thing, and one another. These were all folks who had committed great sins against St. John; but he knew nothing about that. He heard them calling out: "Turn back! turn back!" But not he! No; he went straight on, without ever looking round, let them call ever so much. After he had gone on a while he saw the three noblemen, and he saluted them and gave them an apple apiece. The last of the three had his arm hidden under his cloak, and the compare saw that the gentleman had great difficulty in stretching his arm out to take the apple. At length he pulled his arm from under his cloak, and showed a hand swelled up to such a huge size that the compare was frightened to look at it. But he gave him the apple, the same as to the others, and they all three thanked him and went away. The compare returned home again, and went to his confessor and told him all that had happened. Then the priest said: "See, now, my son, you are saved. For the first of the three noblemen was the Lord, the second was St. Peter, and the third was St. John. You saw what a hand he had. Well, that was the hand you squeezed on the wedding day; and so, instead of squeezing the bride's hand, you really hurt St. John!"[29]

* * * * *

The third legend is entitled: "Of two compari of St. John who swore by the name of St. John." Two compari who had not seen each other for some time met one day, and one invited the other to lunch and paid the bill. The other declared that he would do the same a week hence. When he said this they happened to be standing where two streets crossed. "Then we meet a week from to-day at this spot and at this hour!" "Yes." "By St. John, I will not fail!" "I swear by St. John that I will be here awaiting you!" During the week, however, the compare who had paid for the lunch died. The other did not know he was dead, and at the appointed time he went to the place to meet him. While there a friend passed, who asked: "What are you doing here?" "I am waiting for my compare Tony." "You are waiting for your compare Tony! Why, he has been dead three days! You will wait a long time!" "You say he is dead? There he is coming!" And, indeed, he saw him, but his friend did not. The dead man stopped before his compare and said: "You are right in being here at this spot, and you can thank God; otherwise, I would teach you to swear in the name of St. John!" Then he suddenly disappeared and his compare saw him no more, for his oath was only to be at that spot.

The sanctity of an ordinary oath is shown in the fourth story: "Of two lovers who swore fidelity in life and death." Two young persons made love, unknown to the girl's parents. The youth made her swear that she would love him in life and death. Some time after, he was killed in a brawl. The girl did not know it, and the young man's ghost continued to visit her as usual, and she began to grow pale and thin. The father discovered the state of the case, and consulted the priest, who learned from the girl, in confession, how matters stood, and came with a black cat, a stole, and book, to conjure the spirit and save the girl.

The fifth legend is entitled: "The Night of the Dead"; i. e. the eve of All Saints' Day. A servant girl, rising early one morning as she supposed (it was really midnight), witnesses a weird procession, which she unwittingly disturbs by lowering her candle and asking the last passer-by to light it. This he does; but when she pulls up her basket she finds in it, besides the lighted candle, a human arm. Her confessor tells her to wait a year, until the procession passes again, then hold a black cat tightly in her arms, and restore the arm to its owner. This she does, with the words: "Here, master, take your arm; I am much obliged to you." He took the arm angrily, and said: "You may thank God you have that cat in your arms; otherwise, what I am, that you would be also."

The sixth legend is of an incredulous priest, who believes that where the dead are, there they stay. It is as follows:

LXX. THE PARISH PRIEST OF SAN MARCUOLA.

Once upon a time there was a parish priest at San Marcuola, here in Venice, who was a very good man. He couldn't bear to see women in church with hats or bonnets on their heads, and he had spirit enough to go and make them take them off. "For," said he, "the church is the house of God; and what is not permitted to men ought not to be permitted to women." But when a woman had a shawl over her shoulders he would have her throw it over her head, that she might not be stared at and ogled. But this priest had one fault: he did not believe in ghosts; and one day he was preaching a sermon, and in this sermon he said to the people: "Listen, now, dearly beloved brethren. This morning, when I came into the church here, there comes up to me one of my flock, and she says to me, all in a flutter: 'Oh, Father, what a fright I have had this night! I was asleep in my bed, and the ghosts came and twitched away my coverlet!' But I answered her: 'Dear daughter, that is not possible; because where the dead are, there they stay.'" And so he declared before all the congregation that it was not true that the dead could come back and be seen and heard. In the evening the priest went to bed as usual, and about midnight he heard the house-bell ring loudly. The servant went out on to the balcony and saw a great company of people in the street, and she called out: "Who's there?" and they asked her if the Priest of San Marcuola was at home. And she said Yes; but he was in bed. Then they said he must come down. But the priest, when he heard about it, refused to go. They then began to ring the bell again and tell the servant to call her master; and the priest said he wouldn't go anywhere. Then all the doors burst open, and the whole company marched up-stairs into the priest's bedroom, and bade him get up and dress himself and come with them; and he was obliged to do what they said. When they reached a certain spot they set him in the midst of them, and they gave him so many knocks and cuffs that he didn't know which side to turn himself; and then they said: "This is for a remembrance of the poor defunct;" and upon that they all vanished away and were seen no more, and the poor priest went back home, bruised from head to foot. And so the ghosts proved plain enough that it isn't true to say: "Where the dead are, there they stay."[30]

* * * * *

The story of Don Juan appears in the seventh legend, entitled:

LXXI. THE GENTLEMAN WHO KICKED A SKULL.

There was once a youth who did nothing but eat, drink, and amuse himself, because he was immensely wealthy and had nothing to think about. He scoffed at every one; he dishonored all the young girls; he played all sorts of tricks, and was tired of everything. One day he took it into his head to give a grand banquet; and thereupon he invited all his friends and many women and all his acquaintances.

While they were preparing the banquet he took a walk, and passed through a street where there was a cemetery. While walking he noticed on the ground a skull. He gave it a kick, and then he went up to it and said to it in jest: "You, too, will come, will you not, to my banquet to-night?" Then he went his way, and returned home. At the house the banquet was ready and the guests had all arrived. They sat down to the table, and ate and drank to the sound of music, and diverted themselves joyfully.

Meanwhile midnight drew near, and when the clock was on the stroke a ringing of bells was heard. The servants went to see who it was, and beheld a great ghost, who said to them: "Tell Count Robert that I am the one he invited this morning to his banquet." They went to their master and told him what the ghost had said. The master said: "I? All those whom I invited are here, and I have invited no one else." They said: "If you should see him! It is a ghost that is terrifying." Then it came into the young man's mind that it might be that dead man; and he said to the servants: "Quick! quick! close the doors and balconies, so that he cannot enter!" The servants went to close everything; but hardly had they done so when the doors and balconies were thrown wide open and the ghost entered. He went up where they were feasting, and said: "Robert! Robert! was it not enough for you to profane everything? Have you wished to disturb the dead, also? The end has come!" All were terrified, and fled here and there, some concealing themselves, and some falling on their knees. Then the ghost seized Robert by the throat and strangled him and carried him away with him; and thus he has left this example, that it is not permitted to mock the poor dead.[31]

* * * * *

The ninth and last of Bernoni's legends is a story about Massariol, the domestic spirit of the Venetians. A man of family, whose business takes him out at night, finds in the street a basket containing an infant. The weather is very cold, so the good man carries the foundling home, and his wife, who already has a young child, makes the little stranger as comfortable as possible. He is cared for and put in the cradle by the side of the other child. The husband and wife have to leave the room a moment; when they return the foundling has disappeared. The husband asks in amazement: "What can it mean?" She answers: "I am sure I don't know; can it be Massariol?" Then he goes out on the balcony and sees at a distance one who seems like a man, but is not, who is clapping his hands and laughing and making all manner of fun of him, and then suddenly disappears.

The same mischievous spirit plays many other pranks. Sometimes he cheats the ferrymen out of their toll; sometimes he disguises himself like the baker's lad, and calls at the houses to take the bread to the oven, and then carries it away to some square or bridge; sometimes, when the washing is hung out, he carries it off to some distant place, and when the owners have at last found their property, Massariol laughs in their faces and disappears. The woman who related these stories to Bernoni added: "Massariol has never done anything bad; he likes to laugh and joke and fool people. He, too, has been shut up, I don't know where, by the Holy Office, the same as the witches, fairies, and magicians."

Pitre's collection contains little that falls under the second heading of this chapter. The following story, however, is interesting from its English parallels:

LXXIII. SADDAEDDA.

Once upon a time there was a girl called Saddaedda, who was crazy. One day, when her mother had gone into the country and she was left alone in the house, she went into a church where the funeral service was being read over the body of a rich lady. The girl hid herself in the confessional. No one knew she was there; so, when the other people had gone, she was left alone with the corpse. It was dressed out in a rose-colored robe and everything else becoming, and it had ear-rings in its ears and rings on its fingers. These the girl took off, and then she began to undress the body. When she came to the stockings she drew off one easily, but at the other she had to pull so hard that at last the leg came off with it. Saddaedda took the leg, carried it to her lonely home, and locked it up in a box. At night came the dead lady and knocked at the door. "Who's there?" said the girl. "It is I," answered the corpse. "Give me back my leg and stocking!" But Saddaedda paid no heed to the request. Next day she prepared a feast and invited some of her playfellows to spend the night with her. They came, feasted, and went to sleep. At midnight the dead woman began to knock at the door and to repeat last night's request. Saddaedda took no notice of the noise but her companions, whom it awoke, were horrified, and as soon as they could, they ran away. On the third night just the same happened. On the fourth she could persuade only one girl to keep her company. On the fifth she was left entirely alone. The corpse came, forced open the door, strode up to Saddaedda's bed, and strangled her. Then the dead woman opened the box, took out her leg and stocking, and carried them off with her to her grave.[32]

* * * * *

This chapter would be incomplete without reference to treasure stories. A number of these are given by Miss Busk in her interesting collection. A few are found in Pitre, only one of which needs mention here, on account of its parallels in other countries. It is called Lu Vicerre Tunnina, "Viceroy Tunny" (tunnina is the flesh of the tunny-fish). There was at Palermo a man who sold tunny-fish. One night he dreamed that some one appeared to him and said: "Do you wish to find your Fate? Go under the bridge di li Testi (of the Heads, so the people call the Ponte dell' Ammiraglio, a bridge now abandoned, constructed in 1113 by the Admiral Georgios Antiochenos); there you will find it." For three nights he dreamed the same thing. The third time, he went under the bridge and found a poor man all in rags. The fish-seller was frightened and was going away, when the man called him. It was his Fate. He said: "To-night, at midnight, where you have placed the barrels of fish, dig, and what you find is yours."

The fish-dealer did as he was told; dug, and found a staircase, which he descended, and found a room full of money. The fish-dealer became wealthy, lent the king of Spain money, and was made viceroy and raised to the rank of prince and duke.[33]



CHAPTER V.

NURSERY TALES.

The tales we have thus far given, although they may count many young people among their auditors, are not distinctly children's stories. The few that follow are, and it is greatly to be regretted that their number is not larger. That many more exist, cannot be doubted; but collectors have probably overlooked this interesting class. Even Pitre in his large collection gives but eleven (Nos. 130-141), and those in the other collections are mostly parallels to Pitre's.

We will begin with those that are advantages taken of children's love for stories. The first is from Venice (Bernoni, Punt. II. p. 53) and is called:

LXXIV. MR. ATTENTIVE.

"Do you want me to tell you the story of Mr. Attentive?"

"Tell me it."

"But you must not say 'tell me it,' for it is

The story of Mr. Attentive, Which lasts a long time, Which is never explained: Do you wish me to tell it, or relate it?"

"Relate it."

"But you must not say 'relate it,' for it is

The story of Mr. Attentive, Which lasts a long time, Which is never explained: Do you wish me to tell it, or relate it?"

"But come! tell me it."

"But you must not say," etc., etc.[1]

* * * * *

The following are intended to soothe restless children, and are so short that they may be given entire.

LXXV. THE STORY OF THE BARBER.

Once upon a time there was a barber.... Be good and I will tell it to you again.[2]

* * * * *

The next is from the same source.

Once upon a time there was a king, a pope, and a dwarf.... This king, this pope, and this dwarf....

(Then the story-teller begins again).

* * * * *

But it is time to give some of the stories that are told to the good children. The first is from Pitre (No. 130) and is called:

LXXVI. DON FIRRIULIEDDU.

Once upon a time there was a farmer who had a daughter who used to take his dinner to him in the fields. One day he said to her: "So that you may find me I will sprinkle bran along the way; you follow the bran, and you will come to me."

By chance the old ogre passed that way, and seeing the bran, said: "This means something." So he took the bran and scattered it so that it led to his own house.

When the daughter set out to take her father his dinner, she followed the bran until she came to the ogre's house. When the ogre saw the young girl, he said: "You must be my wife." Then she began to weep. When the father saw that his daughter did not appear, he went home in the evening, and began to search for her; and not finding her, he asked God to give him a son or a daughter.

A year after, he had a son whom they called "Don Firriulieddu." When the child was three days old it spoke, and said: "Have you made me a cloak? Now give me a little dog and the cloak, for I must look for my sister." So he set out and went to seek his sister.

After a while he came to a plain where he saw a number of men, and asked: "Whose cattle are these?" The herdsman replied: "They belong to the ogre, who fears neither God nor the saints, who fears Don Firriulieddu, who is three days old and is on the way, and gives his dog bread and says: 'Eat, my dog, and do not bark, for we have fine things to do.'"

Afterwards he saw a flock of sheep, and asked: "Whose are these sheep?" and received the same answer as from the herdsman. Then he arrived at the ogre's house and knocked, and his sister opened the door and saw the child. "Who are you looking for?" she said. "I am looking for you, for I am your brother, and you must return to mamma."

When the ogre heard that Don Firriulieddu was there, he went and hid himself up-stairs. Don Firriulieddu asked his sister: "Where is the ogre?" "Up-stairs." Don Firriulieddu said to his dog: "Go up-stairs and bark, and I will follow you." The dog went up and barked, and Firriulieddu followed him, and killed the ogre. Then he took his sister and a quantity of money, and they went home to their mother, and are all contented.

* * * * *

Certain traits in the above story, as the size of the hero and the bran serving to guide the girl to her father, recall somewhat faintly, it is true, our own "Tom Thumb." It is only recently that a Tuscan version of "Tom Thumb" has been found.[3] It is called:

LXXVII. LITTLE CHICK-PEA.[L]

Once upon a time there was a husband and wife who had no children. The husband was a carpenter, and when he came home from his shop he did nothing but scold his wife because she had no children, and the poor woman was constantly weeping and despairing. She was charitable, and had festivals celebrated in the church; but no children. One day a woman knocked at her door and asked for alms; but the carpenter's wife answered: "I will not give you any, for I have given alms and had masses said, and festivals celebrated for a long time, and have no son." "Give me alms and you will have children." "Good! in that case I will do all you wish." "You must give me a whole loaf of bread, and I will give you something that will bring you children." "If you will, I will give you two loaves." "No, no! now, I want only one; you can give me the other when you have the children." So she gave her a loaf, and the woman said: "Now I will go home and give my children something to eat, and then I will bring you what will make you have children." "Very well."

[Footnote L: Cecino, dim. of Cece, chick-pea.]

The woman went home, fed her children, and then took a little bag, filled it with chick-peas, and carried it to the carpenter's wife, and said: "This is a bag of peas; put them in the kneading-trough, and to-morrow they will be as many sons as there are peas." There were a hundred peas, and the carpenter's wife said: "How can a hundred peas become a hundred sons?" "You will see to-morrow." The carpenter's wife said to herself: "I had better say nothing about it to my husband, because if by any mischance the children should not come, he would give me a fine scolding."

Her husband returned at night and began to grumble as usual; but his wife said not a word and went to bed repeating to herself: "To-morrow you will see!" The next morning the hundred peas had become a hundred sons. One cried: "Papa, I want to drink." Another said: "Papa, I want to eat." Another: "Papa, take me up." He, in the midst of all this tumult, took a stick and went to the trough and began to beat, and killed them all. One fell out (imagine how small they were!) and ran quickly into the bedroom and hid himself on the handle of the pitcher. After the carpenter had gone to his shop his wife said: "What a rascal! he has grumbled so long about my not having children and now he has killed them all!" Then the son who had escaped said: "Mamma, has papa gone?" She said: "Yes, my son. How did you manage to escape? Where are you?" "Hush! I am in the handle of the pitcher; tell me: has papa gone?" "Yes, yes, yes, come out!" Then the child who had escaped came out and his mamma exclaimed: "Oh! how pretty you are! How shall I call you?" The child answered: "Cecino." "Very well, bravo, my Cecino! Do you know, Cecino, you must go and carry your papa's dinner to him at the shop." "Yes, you must put the little basket on my head, and I will go and carry it to papa."

The carpenter's wife, when it was time, put the basket on Cecino's head and sent him to carry her husband's dinner to him. When Cecino was near the shop, he began to cry: "O papa! come and meet me; I am bringing you your dinner."

The carpenter said to himself: "Oh! did I kill them all, or are there any left?" He went to meet Cecino and said: "O my good boy! how did you escape my blows?" "I fell down, ran into the room, and hid myself on the handle of the pitcher." "Bravo, Cecino! Listen. You must go around among the country people and hear whether they have anything broken to mend." "Yes."

So the carpenter put Cecino in his pocket, and while he went along the way did nothing but chatter; so that every one said he was mad, because they did not know that he had his son in his pocket. When he saw some countrymen he asked: "Have you anything to mend?" "Yes, there are some things about the oxen broken, but we cannot let you mend them, for you are mad." "What do you mean by calling me mad? I am wiser than you. Why do you say I am mad?" "Because you do nothing but talk to yourself on the road." "I was talking with my son." "And where do you keep your son?" "In my pocket." "That is a pretty place to keep your son." "Very well, I will show him to you;" and he pulls out Cecino, who was so small that he stood on one of his father's fingers.

"Oh, what a pretty child! you must sell him to us." "What are you thinking about! I sell you my son who is so valuable to me!" "Well, then, don't sell him to us." What does he do then? He takes Cecino and puts him on the horn of an ox and says: "Stay there, for now I am going to get the things to mend." "Yes, yes, don't be afraid; I will stay on my horn." So the carpenter went to get the things to mend.

Meanwhile two thieves passed by, and seeing the oxen, one said: "See those two oxen there alone. Come, let us go and steal them." When they drew near, Cecino cried out: "Papa, look out! there are thieves here! they are stealing your oxen!" "Ah! where does that voice come from?" And they approached nearer to see; and Cecino, the nearer he saw them come, the more he called out: "Look out for your oxen, papa; the thieves are stealing them!"

When the carpenter came the thieves said to him: "Good man, where does that voice come from?" "It is my son." "If he is not here, where is he?" "Don't you see? there he is, up on the horn of one of the oxen." When he showed him to them, they said: "You must sell him to us; we will give you as much money as you wish." "What are you thinking about! I might sell him to you, but who knows how much my wife would grumble about it!" "Do you know what you must tell her? that he died on the way."

They tempted him so much that at last he gave him to them for two sacks of money. They took their Cecino, put him in one of their pockets, and went away. On their journey they saw the king's stable. "Let us take a look at the king's stable and see whether we can steal a pair of horses." "Very good." They said to Cecino: "Don't betray us." "Don't be afraid, I will not betray you."

So they went into the stable and stole three horses, which they took home and put in their own stable.

Afterwards they went and said to Cecino: "Listen. We are so tired! save us the trouble, go down and give the horses some oats." Cecino went to do so, but fell asleep on the halter and one of the horses swallowed him. When he did not return, the thieves said: "He must have fallen asleep in the stable." So they went there and looked for him and called: "Cecino, where are you?" "Inside of the black horse." Then they killed the black horse; but Cecino was not there. "Cecino, where are you?" "In the bay horse." So they killed the bay horse; but Cecino was not there. "Cecino, where are you?" But Cecino answered no longer. Then they said: "What a pity! that child who was so useful to us is lost." Then they dragged out into the fields the two horses that they had cut open.

A famished wolf passed that way and saw the dead horses. "Now I will eat my fill of horse," and he ate and ate until he had finished and had swallowed Cecino.[M] Then the wolf went off until it became hungry again and said: "Let us go and eat a goat."

[Footnote M: It appears from this that Cecino had been in one of the horses all the time, but the thieves had not seen him because he was so small.]

When Cecino heard the wolf talk about eating a goat, he cried out: "Goat-herd, the wolf is coming to eat your goats!"

[The wolf supposes that it has swallowed some wind that forms these words, hits itself against a stone, and after several trials gets rid of the wind and Cecino, who hides himself under a stone, so that he shall not be seen.]

Three robbers passed that way with a bag of money. One of them said: "Now I will count the money, and you others be quiet or I will kill you!" You can imagine whether they kept still! for they did not want to die. So he began to count: "One, two, three, four, and five." And Cecino: "One, two, three, four, and five." (Do you understand? he repeats the robber's words.) "I hear you! you will not keep still. Well, I will kill you; we shall see whether you will speak again." He began to count the money again: "One, two, three, four, and five." Cecino repeats: "One, two, three, four, and five." "Then you will not keep quiet! now I will kill you!" and he killed one of them. "Now we shall see whether you will talk; if you do I will kill you too." He began to count: "One, two, three, four, and five." Cecino repeats: "One, two, three, four, and five." "Take care, if I have to tell you again I will kill you!" "Do you think I want to speak? I don't wish to be killed." He begins to count: "One, two, three, four, and five." Cecino repeats: "One, two, three, four, and five." "You will not keep quiet either; now I will kill you!" and he killed him. "Now I am alone and can count by myself and no one will repeat it." So he began again to count: "One, two, three, four, and five." And Cecino: "One, two, three, four, and five." Then the robber said: "There is some one hidden here; I had better run away or he will kill me." So he ran away and left behind the sack of money.

When Cecino perceived that there was no one there, he came out, put the bag of money on his head, and started for home. When he drew near his parents' house he cried: "Oh, mamma, come and meet me; I have brought you a bag of money!"

When his mother heard him she went to meet him and took the money and said: "Take care you don't drown yourself in these puddles of rain-water." The mother went home, and turned back to look for Cecino, but he was not to be seen. She told her husband what Cecino had done, and they went and searched everywhere for him, and at last found him drowned in a puddle.[4]

* * * * *

The next story is one that has always enjoyed great popularity over the whole of Europe, and is a most interesting example of the diffusion of nursery tales. It is also interesting from the attempt to show that it is of comparatively late date, and has been borrowed from a people not of European extraction.[5] The story belongs to the class of what may be called "accumulative" stories, of which "The House that Jack built" is a good example. It is a version of the story so well known in English of the old woman who found a little crooked sixpence, and went to market and bought a little pig. As she was coming home the pig would not go over the stile. The old woman calls on a dog to bite pig, but the dog will not. Then she calls in turn on a stick, fire, water, ox, butcher, rope, rat, and cat. They all refuse to help her except the cat, which promises help in exchange for a saucer of milk. "So away went the old woman to the cow. But the cow said to her: 'If you will go to yonder hay-stack and fetch me a handful of hay, I'll give you the milk.' So away went the old woman to the hay-stack; and she brought the hay to the cow. As soon as the cow had eaten the hay, she gave the old woman the milk; and away she went with it in a saucer to the cat.

"As soon as the cat had lapped up the milk, the cat began to kill the rat; the rat to gnaw the rope; the rope began to hang the butcher; the butcher began to kill the ox; the ox began to drink the water; the water began to quench the fire; the fire began to burn the stick; the stick began to beat the dog; the dog began to bite the pig; the little pig in a fright jumped over the stile, and so the old woman got home that night."[6]

The Italian versions may be divided into two classes: first, where the animals and inanimate objects are invoked to punish some human being; second, where all the actors are animals. The first version of the first class that we shall give is from Sicily, Pitre, No. 131, and is called:

LXXVIII. PITIDDA.

Once upon a time there was a mother who had a daughter named Pitidda. She said to her: "Go sweep the house." "Give me some bread first." "I cannot," she answered. When her mother saw that she would not sweep the house, she called the wolf. "Wolf, go kill Pitidda, for Pitidda will not sweep the house." "I can't," said the wolf. "Dog, go kill the wolf," said the mother, "for the wolf will not kill Pitidda, for Pitidda will not sweep the house." "I can't," said the dog. "Stick, go kill the dog, for the dog will not kill the wolf, for the wolf won't kill Pitidda, for Pitidda won't sweep the house." "I can't," said the stick. "Fire, burn stick, for stick won't kill dog, for dog won't kill wolf, for wolf won't kill Pitidda, for Pitidda won't sweep the house." "I can't," said the fire. "Water, quench fire, for fire won't burn stick, for stick won't kill dog, for dog won't kill wolf, for wolf won't kill Pitidda, for Pitidda won't sweep the house." "I can't." "Cow, go drink water, for water won't quench fire, for fire won't burn stick, for stick won't kill dog, for dog won't kill wolf, for wolf won't kill Pitidda, for Pitidda won't sweep the house." "I can't," said the cow. "Rope, go choke cow," etc.

[Then the mother calls on the mouse to gnaw the rope, the cat to eat the mouse, and the story ends.]

The cat runs and begins to eat the mouse, the mouse runs and begins to gnaw the rope, the rope to choke the cow, the cow to drink the water, the water to quench the fire, the fire to burn the stick, the stick to kill the dog, the dog to kill the wolf, the wolf to kill Pitidda, Pitidda to sweep the house, and her mother runs and gives her some bread.[7]

* * * * *

The Italian story, it will be seen, has a moral. The animals, etc., are invoked to punish a disobedient child. In the Neapolitan version a mother sends her son to gather some fodder for the cattle. He does not wish to go until he has had some macaroni that his mother has just cooked. She promises to keep him some, and he departs. While he is gone the mother eats up all the macaroni, except a small bit. When her son returns, and sees how little is left for him, he begins to cry and refuses to eat; and his mother calls on stick, fire, water, ox, rope, mouse, and cat to make her son obey, and eat the macaroni.[8] The disobedient son is also found in two Tuscan versions, one from Siena, and one from Florence, which are almost identical.[9]

In the Venetian version, a naughty boy will not go to school, and his mother invokes dog, stick, fire, water, ox, butcher, and soldier.[10]

The Sicilian story of "The Sexton's Nose" (Pitre, No. 135) will serve as the connecting link between the two classes above mentioned. Properly speaking, only the second part of it belongs here; but we will give a brief analysis of the first also.

LXXIX. THE SEXTON'S NOSE.

A sexton, one day in sweeping the church, found a piece of money (it was the fifth of a cent) and deliberated with himself as to what he would buy with it. If he bought nuts or almonds, he was afraid of the mice; so at last he bought some roasted peas, and ate all but the last pea. This he took to a bakery near by, and asked the mistress to keep it for him; she told him to leave it on a bench, and she would take care of it. When she went to get it, she found that the cock had eaten it. The next day the sexton came for the roast pea, and when he heard what had become of it, he said they must either return the roast pea or give him the cock. This they did, and the sexton, not having any place to keep it, took it to a miller's wife, who promised to keep it for him. Now she had a pig, which managed to kill the cock. The next day the sexton came for the cock, and on finding it dead, demanded the pig, and the woman had to give it to him. The pig he left with a friend of his, a pastry-cook, whose daughter was to be married the next day. The woman was mean and sly, and killed the pig for her daughter's wedding, meaning to tell the sexton that the pig had run away. The sexton, however, when he heard it, made a great fuss, and declared that she must give him back his pig or her daughter. At last she had to give him her daughter, whom he put in a bag and carried away. He took the bag to a woman who kept a shop, and asked her to keep for him this bag, which he said contained bran. The woman by chance kept chickens, and she thought she would take some of the sexton's bran and feed them. When she opened the bag she found the young girl, who told her how she came there. The woman took her out of the sack, and put in her stead a dog. The next day the sexton came for his bag, and putting it on his shoulder, started for the sea-shore, intending to throw the young girl in the sea. When he reached the shore, he opened the bag, and the furious dog flew out and bit his nose. The sexton was in great agony, and cried out, while the blood ran down his face in torrents: "Dog, dog, give me a hair to put in my nose, and heal the bite."[N] The dog answered: "Do you want a hair? give me some bread." The sexton ran to a bakery, and said to the baker: "Baker, give me some bread to give the dog; the dog will give a hair; the hair I will put in my nose, and cure the bite." The baker said: "Do you want bread? give me some wood." The sexton ran to the woodman. "Woodman, give me wood to give the baker; the baker will give me bread; the bread I will give to the dog; the dog will give me a hair; the hair I will put in my nose, and heal the bite." The woodman said: "Do you want wood? give me a mattock." The sexton ran to a smith. "Smith, give me a mattock to give the woodman; the woodman will give me wood; I will carry the wood to the baker; the baker will give me bread; I will give the bread to the dog; the dog will give me a hair; the hair I will put in my nose, and heal the bite." The smith said: "Do you want a mattock? give me some coals." The sexton ran to the collier. "Collier, give me some coals to give the smith; the smith will give me a mattock; the mattock I will give the woodman; the woodman will give me some wood; the wood I will give the baker; the baker will give me bread; the bread I will give the dog; the dog will give me a hair; the hair I will put in my nose, and heal the bite." "Do you want coals? give me a cart." The sexton ran to the wagon-maker. "Wagon-maker, give me a cart to give the collier; the collier will give me some coals; the coals I will carry to the smith; the smith will give me a mattock; the mattock I will give the woodman; the woodman will give me some wood; the wood I will give the baker; the baker will give me bread; the bread I will give to the dog; the dog will give me a hair; the hair I will put in my nose, and heal the bite."

[Footnote N: As with us the hair of a dog is supposed to heal the bite the same dog has inflicted.]

The wagon-maker, seeing the sexton's great lamentation, is moved to compassion, and gives him the cart. The sexton, well pleased, takes the cart and goes away to the collier; the collier gives him the coals; the coals he takes to the smith; the smith gives him the mattock; the mattock he takes to the woodman; the woodman gives him wood; the wood he carries to the baker; the baker gives him bread; the bread he carries to the dog; the dog gives him a hair; the hair he puts in his nose, and heals the bite.[11]

* * * * *

The second class contains the versions in which all the actors are animals or personified inanimate objects. The first example we shall give is from Avellino in the Principato Ulteriore (Imbriani, p. 239), and is called:

LXXX. THE COCK AND THE MOUSE.

Once upon a time there was a cock and a mouse. One day the mouse said to the cock: "Friend Cock, shall we go and eat some nuts on yonder tree?" "As you like." So they both went under the tree and the mouse climbed up at once and began to eat. The poor cock began to fly, and flew and flew, but could not come where the mouse was. When it saw that there was no hope of getting there, it said: "Friend Mouse, do you know what I want you to do? Throw me a nut." The mouse went and threw one and hit the cock on the head. The poor cock, with its head broken and all covered with blood, went away to an old woman. "Old aunt, give me some rags to cure my head." "If you will give me two hairs, I will give you the rags." The cock went away to a dog. "Dog, give me some hairs; the hairs I will give the old woman; the old woman will give me rags to cure my head." "If you will give me a little bread," said the dog, "I will give you the hairs." The cock went away to a baker. "Baker, give me bread; I will give the bread to the dog; the dog will give hairs; the hairs I will carry to the old woman; the old woman will give me rags to cure my head." The baker answered: "I will not give you bread unless you give me some wood!" The cock went away to the forest. "Forest, give me some wood; the wood I will carry to the baker; the baker will give me some bread; the bread I will give to the dog; the dog will give me hairs; the hairs I will carry to the old woman; the old woman will give me rags to cure my head." The forest answered: "If you will bring me a little water, I will give you some wood." The cock went away to a fountain. "Fountain, give me water; water I will carry to the forest; forest will give wood; wood I will carry to the baker; baker will give bread; bread I will give dog; dog will give hairs; hairs I will give old woman; old woman will give rags to cure my head." The fountain gave him water; the water he carried to the forest; the forest gave him wood; the wood he carried to the baker; the baker gave him bread; the bread he gave to the dog; the dog gave him the hairs; the hairs he carried to the old woman; the old woman gave him the rags; and the cock cured his head.[12]

* * * * *

There are other versions from Florence (Nov. fior. p. 551), Bologna (Coronedi-Berti, X. p. 16), and Venice (Bernoni, Punt. III. p. 74), which do not call for any detailed notice. In the Florentine version a cock gives a peck at a mouse's head and the mouse cries out: "Where must I go to be cured?" Then follow the various objects which are almost identical with those in the other versions. The mouse, however, is killed by the ox, to which he goes last. The Venetian version is the most elaborate; in it the cock and mouse go nutting together, and while the former flies up into the tree and throws the nuts down, the mouse eats them all up. When the cock comes down he flies into a passion and gives the mouse a peck at his head. The mouse runs off in terror, and the rest of the story is as above until the end. The last person the mouse calls on is a cooper, to make him a bucket to give to the well, to get water, etc. The cooper asks for money, which the mouse finds after a while. He gives the money to the cooper and says: "Take and count it; meanwhile I am going to drink, for I am dying of thirst." As he is going to drink he sees Friend Cock coming along. "Ah, poor me," says he to himself, "I am a dead mouse!" The cock sees him and goes to meet him and says: "Good day, friend, are you still afraid of me? Come, let us make peace!" The mouse then takes heart and says: "Oh, yes, yes! let us make peace!"

So they made peace, and Friend Mouse said to Friend Cock: "Now that you are here you must do me the favor to hold me by the tail while I hang over the ditch to drink, and when I say slapo, slapo, pull me back." The cock said: "I will do as you wish."

Then the mouse went to the ditch and Friend Cock held him by the tail. After the mouse had drunk his fill, he said: "Friend, slapo, slapo!" The cock answered: "Friend, and I let you go by the tail!" And in truth he did let go his tail, and the poor mouse went to the bottom and was never seen or heard of more.[13]

The following story from Sicily (Pitre, No. 132) belongs also to a class of tales very popular and having only animals for its actors. It is called:

LXXXI. GODMOTHER FOX.[O]

Once upon a time there was Godmother Fox and Godmother Goat.[P] The former had a little bit of a house adorned with little chairs, cups, and dishes; in short, it was well furnished. One day Godmother Goat went out and carried away the little house. Godmother Fox began to lament, when along came a dog, barking, that said to her: "What are you crying about?" She answered: "Godmother Goat has carried off my house!" "Be quiet. I will make her give it back to you." So the dog went and said to Godmother Goat: "Give the house back to Godmother Fox." The goat answered: "I am Godmother Goat. I have a sword at my side, and with my horns I will tear you in pieces." When the dog heard that, he went away.

[Footnote O: Cummari Vurpidda (diminutive of Fox).]

[Footnote P: Cummari Crapazza (diminutive of Goat).]

Then a sheep passed by and said to the little fox: "What are you crying about?" and she told her the same thing. Then the sheep went to Godmother Goat and began to reprove her. The goat made the same answer she had made the dog, and the sheep went away in fright.

In short, all sorts of animals went to the goat, with the same result. Among others the mouse went and said to the little fox: "What are you crying about?" "Godmother Goat has carried off my house." "Be still. I will make her give it back to you." So the mouse went and said to Godmother Goat: "Give Godmother Fox her house back right away." The goat answered: "I am Godmother Goat. I have a sword at my side, and with my fist and with my horns I will smash you!" The mouse answered at once: "I am Godfather Mouse. By my side I have a spit. I will heat it in the fire and stick it in your tail."

* * * * *

The inference of course is that Godmother Goat gave back the house. The story does not say so, but ends with the usual formula:

Story told, story written, Tell me yours, for mine is said.

Pitre (No. 133) gives another version in which a goat gets under a nun's bed and she calls on her neighbors, a dog, pig, and cricket, to put the goat out. The cricket alone succeeds, with a threat similar to that in the last story.

In the Neapolitan version (Imbriani, Dodici Conti Pomiglianesi, p. 273) an old woman, in sweeping the church, found a piece of money and, like the sexton in the story of "The Sexton's Nose," did not know what to buy with it. At last she bought some flour and made a hasty-pudding of it. She left it on the table and went again to church, but forgot to close the window. While she was gone a herd of goats came along, and one smelled the pudding, climbed in at the window, and ate it up. When the old woman came back and tried to open the door, she could not, for the goat was behind it. Then she began to weep and various animals came along and tried to enter the house. The goat answered them all: "I am the goat, with three horns on my head and three in my belly, and if you don't run away I will eat you up." The mouse at last replied: "I am Godfather Mouse, with the halter, and if you don't run away, I will tear your eyes out." The goat ran away and the old woman went in with Godfather Mouse, whom she married, and they both lived there together.

The Florentine version (Nov. fior. p. 556) is called "The Iron Goat." In it a widow goes out to wash and leaves her son at home, with orders not to leave the door open so that the Iron Goat, with the iron mouth and the sword tongue, can enter. The boy after a time wanted to go after his mother, and when he had gone half way he remembered that he had left the door open and went back. When he was going to enter he saw there the Iron Goat. "Who is there?" "It is I; I am the Iron Goat, with the iron mouth and the sword tongue. If you enter I will slice you like a turnip." The poor boy sat down on the steps and wept. A little old woman passed by and asked the cause of his tears; he told her and she said she would send the goat away for three bushels of grain. The old woman tried, with the usual result, and finally said to the boy: "Listen, my child. I don't care for those three bushels of grain; but I really cannot send the goat away." Then an old man tried his luck, with no better success. At last a little bird came by and promised for three bushels of millet to drive the goat away. When the goat made its usual declaration, the little bird replied: "And I with my beak will peck your brains out." The goat was frightened and ran away, and the boy had to pay the little bird three bushels of millet.[14]

The next story affords, like "Pitidda," a curious example of the diffusion of nursery tales.

Our readers will remember the Grimm story of "The Spider and the Flea." A spider and a flea dwelt together in one house and brewed their beer in an egg-shell. One day, when the spider was stirring it up, she fell in and scalded herself. Thereupon the flea began to scream. And then the door asked: "Why are you screaming, flea?" "Because Little Spider has scalded herself in the beer-tub," replied she. Thereupon the door began to creak as if it were in pain, and a broom, which stood in the corner, asked: "What are you creaking for, door?"

"May I not creak?" it replied.

"The little spider scalded herself, And the flea weeps."

So a broom sweeps, a little cart runs, ashes burn furiously, a tree shakes off its leaves, a maiden breaks her pitcher, and a streamlet begins to flow until it swallows up the little girl, the little tree, the ashes, the cart, the broom, the door, the flea, and, last of all, the spider, all together.[15]

The first Italian version of this story which we shall mention is from Sicily (Pitre, No. 134), and is called:

LXXXII. THE CAT AND THE MOUSE.

Once upon a time there was a cat that wanted to get married. So she stood on a corner, and every one who passed by said: "Little Cat, what's the matter?" "What's the matter? I want to marry." A dog passed by and said: "Do you want me?" "When I see how you can sing." The dog said: "Bow, wow!" "Fy! What horrid singing! I don't want you." A pig passed. "Do you want me, Little Cat?" "When I see how you sing." "Uh! uh!" "Fy! You are horrid! Go away! I don't want you." A calf passed and said: "Little Cat, will you take me?" "When I see how you sing." "Uhm!" "Go away, for you are horrid! What do you want of me?" A mouse passed by: "Little Cat, what are you doing?" "I am going to get married." "Will you take me?" "And how can you sing?" "Ziu, ziu!" The cat accepted him, and said: "Let us go and be married, for you please me." So they were married.

One day the cat went to buy some pastry, and left the mouse at home. "Don't stir out, for I am going to buy some pastry." The mouse went into the kitchen, saw the pot on the fire, and crept into it, for he wanted to eat the beans. But he did not; for the pot began to boil, and the mouse stayed there. The cat came back and began to cry; but the mouse did not appear. So the cat put the pastry in the pot for dinner. When it was ready the cat ate, and put some on a plate for the mouse, also. When she took out the pastry she saw the mouse stuck fast in it. "Ah! my little mouse! ah! my little mouse!" so she went and sat behind the door, lamenting the mouse.

"What is the matter," said the door, "that you are scratching yourself so and tearing out your hair?"

The cat said: "What is the matter? My mouse is dead, and so I tear my hair."

The door answered: "And I, as door, will slam."

In the door was a window, which said: "What's the matter, door, that you are slamming?"

"The mouse died, the cat is tearing her hair, and I am slamming."

The window answered: "And I, as window, will open and shut."

In the window was a tree, that said: "Window, why do you open and shut?" The window answered: "The mouse died, the cat tears her hair, the door slams, and I open and shut." The tree answered and said: "And I, as tree, will throw myself down."

A bird happened to alight in this tree, and said: "Tree, why did you throw yourself down?" The tree replied: "The mouse died, the cat tears her hair, the door slams, the window opens and shuts, and I, as tree, threw myself down." "And I, as bird, will pull out my feathers." The bird went and alighted on a fountain, which said: "Bird, why are you plucking out your feathers so?" The bird answered as the others had done, and the fountain said: "And I, as fountain, will dry up." A cuckoo went to drink at the fountain, and asked: "Fountain, why have you dried up?" And the fountain told him all that had happened. "And I, as cuckoo, will put my tail in the fire." A monk of St. Nicholas passed by, and said: "Cuckoo, why is your tail in the fire?" When the monk heard the answer he said: "And I, as monk of St. Nicholas, will go and say mass without my robes." Then came the queen, who, when she heard what the matter was, said: "And I, as queen, will go and sift the meal." At last the king came by, and asked: "O Queen! why are you sifting the meal?" When the queen had told him everything, he said: "And I, as king, am going to take my coffee."

* * * * *

And thus the story abruptly ends. In one of Pitre's variants a sausage takes the place of the mouse; in another, a tortoise.

In the version from Pomigliano d'Arco (Imbriani, p. 244), an old woman, who finds a coin in sweeping a church, hesitates in regard to what she will spend it for, as in the stories above mentioned. She finally concludes to buy some paint for her face. After she has put it on, she stations herself at the window. A donkey passes, and asks what she wants. She answers that she wishes to marry. "Will you take me?" asks the donkey. "Let me hear what kind of a voice you have." "Ingo! Ingo! Ingo!" "Away! away! you would frighten me in the night!" Then a goat comes along, with the same result. Then follows a cat, and all the animals in the world; but none pleases the old woman. At last a little mouse passes by, and says: "Old Aunt, what are you doing there?" "I want to marry." "Will you take me?" "Let me hear your voice." "Zivuzi! zivuzi! zivuzi! zivuzi!" "Come up, for you please me." So the mouse went up to the old woman, and stayed with her. One day the old woman went to mass, and left the pot near the fire and told the mouse to be careful not to fall in it. When she came home she could not find the mouse anywhere. At last she went to take the soup from the pot, and there she found the mouse dead. She began to lament, and the ashes on the hearth began to scatter, and the window asked what was the matter. The ashes answered: "Ah! you know nothing. Friend Mouse is in the pot; the old woman is weeping, weeping; and I, the ashes, have wished to scatter." Then the window opens and shuts, the stairs fall down, the bird plucks out its feathers, the laurel shakes off its leaves, the servant girl who goes to the well breaks her pitcher, the mistress who was making bread throws the flour over the balcony, and finally the master comes home, and after he hears the story, exclaims: "And I, who am master, will break the bones of both of you!" And therewith he takes a stick and gives the servant and her mistress a sound beating.[16]

There is a curious class of versions of the above story, in which the principal actors are a mouse and a sausage, reminding one of the Grimm story of "The Little Mouse, the Little Bird, and the Sausage." In the Venetian version (Bernoni, Punt. III. p. 81), the beginning is as follows: Once upon a time there was a mouse and a sausage, and one day the mouse said to the sausage: "I am going to mass; meanwhile get ready the dinner." "Yes, yes," answered the sausage. Then the mouse went to mass, and when he returned he found everything ready. The next day the sausage went to mass and the mouse prepared the dinner. He put on the pot, threw in the rice, and then went to taste if it was well salted. But he fell in and died. The sausage returned home, knocked at the door,—for there was no bell,—and no one answered. She called: "Mouse! mouse!" But he does not answer. Then the sausage went to a smith and had the door broken in, and called again: "Mouse, where are you?" And the mouse did not answer. "Now I will pour out the rice, and meanwhile he will come." So she went and poured out the rice, and found the mouse dead in the pot. "Ah! poor mouse! Oh! my mouse! What shall I do now? Oh! poor me!" And she began to utter a loud lamentation. Then the table began to go around the room, the sideboard to throw down the plates, the door to lock and unlock itself, the fountain to dry up, the mistress to drag herself along the ground, and the master threw himself from the balcony and broke his neck. "And all this arose from the death of this mouse."

The version from the Marches (Gianandrea, p. 11) resembles the above very closely; the conclusion is as follows: "The mouse, the master of this castle, is dead; the sausage weeps, the broom sweeps, the door opens and shuts, the cart runs, the tree throws off its leaves, the bird plucks out its feathers, the servant breaks her pitcher," etc.

The version from Milan (Nov. fior. p. 552) resembles the one from Venice. Instead of the mouse and the sausage we have the big mouse and the little mouse. In the version from Leghorn (Papanti, p. 19) called "Vezzino and Lady Sausage,"[Q] the actors are Lady Sausage and her son Vezzino, who falls into the pot on the fire while his mother is at mass. The rest of the story does not differ materially from the above versions.

[Footnote Q: Vezzino e Madonna Salciccia. Vezzino is the dim. of vezzo, delight, pastime.]

In the Grimm story of the "Golden Goose," the goose has the power of causing anything that touches it to stick fast. This same idea is reproduced in several Italian stories. The best is from Venice (Bernoni, Fiabe, p. 21) and is called:

LXXXIII. A FEAST DAY.

Once upon a time there was a husband and wife; the husband was a boatman. One feast day the boatman took it into his head to buy a fowl, which he carried home and said: "See here, wife, to-day is a feast day; I want a good dinner; cook it well, for my friend Tony is coming to dine with us and has said that he would bring a tart." "Very well," she said, "I will prepare the fowl at once." So she cleaned it, washed it, put it on the fire, and said: "While it is boiling I will go and hear a mass." She shut the kitchen door and left the dog and the cat inside. Scarcely had she closed the door when the dog went to the hearth and perceived that there was a good odor there and said: "Oh, what a good smell!" He called the cat, also, and said: "Cat, you come here, too; smell what a good odor there is! see if you can push off the cover with your paws." The cat went and scratched and scratched and down went the cover. "Now," said the dog, "see if you can catch it with your claws." Then the cat seized the fowl and dragged it to the middle of the kitchen. The dog said: "Shall we eat half of it?" The cat said: "Let us eat it all." So they ate it all and stuffed themselves like pigs. When they had eaten it they said: "Alas for us! What shall we do when the mistress comes home? She will surely beat us both." So they both ran all over the house, here and there, but could find no place in which to hide. They were going to hide under the bed. "No," they said, "for she will see us." They were going under the sofa; but that would not do, for she would see them there. Finally the cat looked up and saw under the beams a cobweb. He gave a leap and jumped into it. The dog looked at him and said: "Run away! you are mad! you can be seen, for your tail sticks out! come down, come down!" "I cannot, I cannot, for I am stuck fast!" "Wait, I will come and pull you out." He gave a spring to catch him by the tail and pull him down. Instead of that he, too, stuck fast to the cat's tail. He made every effort to loosen himself, but he could not and there he had to stay.

Meanwhile the mistress does not wait until the priest finishes the mass, but runs quickly home. She runs and opens the door and is going to skim the pot, when she discovers that the fowl is no longer there, and in the middle of the kitchen she sees the bones all gnawed. "Ah, poor me! the cat and the dog have eaten the fowl. Now I will give them both a beating." So she takes a stick and then goes to find them. She looks here, she looks there, but does not find them anywhere. In despair she comes back to the kitchen, but does not find them there. "Where the deuce have they hidden?" Just then she raises her eyes and sees them both stuck fast under the beams. "Ah, are you there? now just wait!" and she climbs on a table and is going to pull them down, when she sticks fast to the dog's tail. She tries to free herself, but cannot.

Her husband knocked at the door. "Here, open!" "I cannot, I am fast." "Loosen yourself and open the door! where the deuce are you fastened?" "I cannot, I tell you." "Open! it is noon." "I cannot, for I am fast." "But where are you fast?" "To the dog's tail." "I will give you the dog's tail, you silly woman!" He gave the door two or three kicks, broke it in, went into the kitchen, and saw cat, dog, and mistress all fast. "Ah, you are all fast, are you? just wait, I will loosen you." He went to loosen them, but stuck fast himself. Friend Tony comes and knocks. "Friend? Open! I have the tart here." "I cannot; my friend, I am fast!" "Bad luck to you! Are you fast at this time? You knew I was coming and got fast? Come, loosen yourself and open the door!" He said again: "I cannot come and open, for I am fast." Finally the friend became angry, kicked in the door, went into the kitchen, and saw all those souls stuck fast and laughed heartily. "Just wait, for I will loosen you now." So he gave a great pull, the cat's tail was loosened, the cat fell into the dog's mouth, the dog into his mistress' mouth, the mistress into her husband's, her husband into his friend's, and his friend into the mouth of the blockheads who are listening to me.[17]

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse