Italian Popular Tales/Chapter 2

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Italian Popular Tales
by Thomas Frederick Crane
Chapter II: Fairy Tales Continued
2501360Italian Popular Tales — Chapter II: Fairy Tales ContinuedThomas Frederick Crane



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

The merchant continued his journey, and found the palace without a doorkeeper, and with no stairway. He began to play the violin, and the fairy and all her twelve damsels appeared and said: "What do you want that you call us?" "Ah! fairy Orlanda, help me!" "What help do you want?" "I have this doll, and the king's son has fallen in love with it, and is ill. What shall I do? If I do not present her to him in a fortnight my head will be cut off." The fairy Orlanda said: "Put this ladder to the wall. Give me the doll. Wait two hours and I will give her back to you again." He waited two hours and then the fairy appeared: "Here is your daughter. She will speak to all, to the king, to the queen, but not to the prince. Farewell." The fairy Orlanda disappeared within, and the merchant departed with his daughter. He took her home to his wife. The doll said: "Mamma, how do you do?" "I am very well, my daughter. Where have you been?" "I have been into the country with papa, and now I have returned." In a fortnight the merchant dressed her elegantly and carried her to the palace. As soon as the king saw her he said to the queen: "My son was right; she is a beautiful girl!" She went into the gallery and spoke with the king and queen, but did not speak to the prince. The mortified prince thought: "She speaks to papa, she speaks to mamma, but not to me! What does it mean? Perhaps she does not speak to me from embarrassment." They were married, but even then she did not speak to him. So the prince was obliged to separate from her, and they lived in two rooms apart. The prince, meanwhile, courted another princess. One morning, while he was breakfasting with his sweetheart, his wife called a servant: "Come here; is the prince at table?" "Yes, Highness." "Wait!" She cut off her two hands and put them in the oven, and there came out a roast, with ten sausages. "Carry these to the prince." "Prince, the princess sends you this." He asked: "How was it made?" The servant replied: "Prince, she cut off her two hands and put them in the oven. She amazed me." "Enough," said the prince, "let us eat them." His sweetheart said: "I can do it, too." So she cut off her hands and put them in the oven; but they were burned and she died. "Oh, what have you done to me! you have killed one for me!" said the prince. After a time he made love to another. The first time he sat at table with her, the princess called another servant: "Servant, where are you going?" "I am going, Majesty, to the prince's table." "Wait!" She cut off her arms, and put them in the oven, and there came out a roast, with two blood-puddings. She said: "Carry it to the prince, at table." "Prince!" "Go away, I don't want to hear any nonsense." "But listen; let me tell you!" "Well, tell away." So the servant told how the princess had cut off her arms (which had grown out again) and put them in the oven, and the roast and puddings had come out. The second sweetheart tried to do the same and died. After a while the prince fell in love with another, and the same thing was repeated. The princess cut off her legs and put them in the oven, and a large roast came out, with two larded hams. The third sweetheart tried to do the same, and died like the others. Then the prince said: "Ah! she has done it to three for me! Unhappy me! I will not make love to any more."

During the night when the princess had gone to bed, the lamp said: "Lady, I want to drink." "Oil-cruet, give the lamp a drink." "Lady, it has hurt me." "Oil-cruet, why did you hurt the lamp? How beautiful is the fairy Orlanda! How beautiful is the fairy Orlanda! How beautiful is the fairy Orlanda!" So she did all night until day. All these things were enchanted: the lamp and the oil-cruet. The prince, who heard it, said one day to a servant: "This evening you must enter the princess' room. You must spend the night under her bed. You must see what she does in the night." The servant did so, and the same thing was repeated with the lamp and the oil-cruet. The servant told the prince, who said: "To-night, I will go." At night he crept under his wife's bed. The same thing was repeated. The lamp said: "Lady, I want to drink!" "Oil-cruet, give the lamp a drink." "Lady, it has hurt me." "Oil-cruet, why have you hurt the lamp? How beautiful is the fairy Orlanda!" The whole night she repeated: "How beautiful is the fairy Orlanda!" The prince responded: "Blessed be the fairy Orlanda!" "Ah!" said the princess, "did it need so much to say a word?" Then they embraced and kissed each other, and remained contented and happy.6

We now pass to an amusing class of stories, in which the hero comes in possession of enchanted objects and loses them, finally regaining them in various ways. There are three versions of this class. In the first, the hero loses the objects by the cunning of a woman, and regains them by means of two kinds of fruits, one of which produces some bodily defect and the other cures it. In the second, the episode of the fruits is wanting, and the owner regains his property either by preventing the princess from cheating him at play or by making her fall in love with him. In the third, a person (usually a landlord) substitutes worthless objects for two enchanted ones, which are recovered by means of a third magic object (usually a stick), which beats until the stolen property is restored.7

To illustrate the first version, we will give a Sicilian story from Gonzenbach (No. 31), which is entitled:


There was once a king and a queen who had an only daughter, whom they loved very dearly. When she was fifteen years old she became suddenly very sad and would not laugh any more. So the king issued a proclamation that whoever made his daughter laugh, whether he were a prince, peasant, or beggar, should become her husband. Many made the attempt, but none succeeded. Now there was a poor woman who had an only son, who was idle and would not learn any trade; so finally his mother sent him to a farmer to keep his sheep. One day, as he was driving the sheep over the fields, he came to a well, and bent over it to drink. As he did so he saw a handsome ring on the wheel, and as it pleased him, he put it on the ring finger of his right hand. He had scarcely put it on, however, when he began to sneeze violently, and could not stop until he had accidentally removed the ring. Then his sneezing ceased as suddenly as it had begun. "Oh!" thought he, "if the ring has this virtue, I had better try my fortune with it, and see whether it will not make the king's daughter laugh." So he put the ring on his left hand, and no longer had to sneeze. Then he drove the sheep home, took leave of his master, and set out toward the city where the king lived. He was obliged, however, to pass through a dense forest which was so extensive that it grew dark before he left it. He thought: "If the robbers find me here they will take away my ring, and then I should be a ruined man. I would rather climb a tree and spend the night there." So he climbed a tree, tied himself fast with his belt, and soon fell asleep. Before long, thirteen robbers came and sat down under the tree, and talked so loud that the shepherd awoke. The captain of the robbers said: "Let each relate what he has accomplished to-day;" and each exhibited what he had taken. The thirteenth, however, pulled out a tablecloth, a purse, and a whistle, and said: "I have gained to-day the greatest treasures, for these three things I have taken from a monk, and each of them has a particular virtue. If anyone spreads out the tablecloth and says: 'My little tablecloth, give me macaroni, or roast meat,' or whatever one will, he will find everything there immediately. Likewise the purse will give all the money one wants; and whoever hears the whistle must dance whether he will or no." The robbers at once put the power of the tablecloth to the test, and then went to sleep, the captain laying the precious articles near himself. When they were all snoring hard the shepherd descended, took the three articles, and crept away.

The next day he came to the city where the king lived, and went straight to the palace. "Announce me to the king," said he to the servants; "I will try to make the king's daughter laugh." The servants tried to dissuade him, but he insisted on being led before the king, who took him into a large room, in which was the king's daughter, sitting on a splendid throne and surrounded by the whole court. "If I am to make the princess laugh," said the shepherd to the king, "you must first do me the kindness to put this ring on the ring-finger of your right hand." The king had scarcely done so when he began to sneeze violently, and could not stop, but ran up and down the room, sneezing all the time. The entire court began to laugh, and the king's daughter could not stay sober, but had to run away laughing. Then the shepherd went up to the king, took off the ring, and said: "Your Majesty, I have made the princess laugh; to me belongs the reward." "What! you worthless shepherd!" cried the king. "You have not only made me the laughing-stock of the whole court, but now you want my daughter for your wife! Quick! take the ring from him, and throw him into prison."

While there the wonderful tablecloth provides him and his companions with plenty to eat, and when it is discovered and taken from him by the king's orders, the purse enables them all to live in comfort. That is also discovered, and nothing is left but the whistle. "Well!" thought the shepherd, "if we can't eat any more, we will at least dance;" and he pulled out his pipe and began to play on it, and all the prisoners began to dance, and the guards with them, and between them all they made a great noise. When the king heard it he came running there with his servants, and had to dance like all the rest, but found breath enough to order the pipe to be taken away from the shepherd, and all became quiet again.

So now the shepherd had nothing left, and remained in prison some time, until he found an old file, and one night filed through the iron bars and escaped. He wandered about all day, and at last came to the same forest where he had formerly been. All at once he saw a large fig-tree bearing the most beautiful fruit,—on one side black figs, on the other, white ones. "That is something I have never seen," thought the shepherd,—"a fig-tree that bears black and white figs at the same time. I must try them." Scarcely had he tasted them when he felt something move on the top of his head, and putting his hand up, found he had two long horns. "Unhappy man!" he cried; "what shall I do?" However, as he was very hungry, he picked some of the white figs and ate them, and immediately one of the horns disappeared, and also the other after he had eaten a few more white figs. "My fortune is made!" he thought. "The king will have to give me all my things back, and his daughter in the bargain."

The shepherd disguised himself and went to the city with two baskets of figs,—one of the black and one of the white kind, the former of which he sold to the king's cook, whom he met in the market place. While the king was at the table the servant put the figs before him, and he was much pleased with them, and gave some to his wife and daughter; the rest he ate himself. Scarcely had they eaten them when they saw with terror the long horns that had grown from their heads. The queen and her daughter began to weep, and the king, in a rage, called the cook and asked him who had sold him the figs. "A peasant in the market," answered the cook. "Go at once and bring him here," cried the king.

The shepherd had remained near the palace, and as the cook came out, he went up to him with the basket of white figs in his hand. "What miserable figs did you sell me this morning!" cried out the cook to him. "As soon as the king, queen, and princess had eaten your figs, great horns grew on their heads." "Be quiet," said the shepherd; "I have a remedy here, and can soon remove the horns. Take me to the king." He was led before the king, who asked him what kind of figs he had sold. "Be quiet, your Majesty," said the shepherd, "and eat these figs," at the same time giving him a white one; and as soon as the king had eaten it one of the horns disappeared. "Now," said the shepherd, "before I give you any more of my figs you must give me back my whistle; if not, you may keep your horn." The king in his terror gave up the whistle, and the shepherd handed the queen a fig. When one of the queen's horns had disappeared, he said: "Now give me my purse back, or else I will take my figs away." So the king gave him his purse, and the shepherd removed one of the princess' horns. Then he demanded his tablecloth; and when he had received it he gave the king another fig, so that the second horn disappeared. "Now give me my ring," he said; and the king had to give him his ring before he would remove the queen's horn. The only one left now was the princess, and the shepherd said: "Now fulfil your promise and marry me to the princess; otherwise she may keep her horn as long as she lives." So the princess had to marry him, and after the wedding he gave her another fig to eat, so that her last horn also disappeared. They had a merry wedding, and when the old king died the shepherd became king, and so they remained contented and happy, and we like a bundle of roots.8

The second version of this story is represented by but three examples, none of them worth giving at length. In one (Pomiglianesi, p. 110) the princess wins the magic objects (purse, cloak that renders invisible, and horn that blows out soldiers) at play. The loser disguises himself as a priest and confesses the princess when she is ill, and makes her give back the objects she has won or stolen. In a Florentine version (Nov. fior. p. 349), the owner of the objects, a poor shepherd's son, pretends to be the son of the king of Portugal. He plays with the princess and wins, but his true origin is discovered and he is thrown into prison. There he makes use of the magic tablecloth, which he sells to the king for the privilege of passing a night in the princess' room. The same payment is asked for the box that fills itself with money, and the little organ that makes every one dance. The shepherd, of course, becomes the princess' husband and inherits the kingdom when the king dies. In the Sicilian story (Pitrè, No. 26) the fairies give Peter the purse, tablecloth, and violin, and he goes to play chess with the daughter of the king of Spain, who is to marry whoever beats her at the game. She cheats and wins, and Peter is thrown into prison. There he uses the tablecloth, and when the princess hears of it, she proposes to play for it. Again she cheats by changing a chessman while Peter is looking away, and the loser is thrown into prison again. They play again for the magic violin, and Peter, who has been warned in prison by other losers of the princess' tricks, keeps a sharp lookout, detects, and defeats her. They are married, and Peter releases all the defeated players from jail, and afterward gets rid of them by means of the violin.9

The third version is the most popular one; the following example of it is from Nerucci's collection of Montalese tales (No. 43).


There was once a poor widow with an only son, and whose brother-in-law was a steward. One day she said to her child: "Go to your uncle and ask him to give you something to keep you from starving." The boy went to the farm and asked his uncle to help him a little. "We are dying of hunger, uncle. My mother earns a little by weaving, and I am too small to find anything. Be charitable to us, for we are your relatives." The steward answered: "Why not? You should have come sooner and I would have helped you the sooner. But now I will give you something to support you always, without need of anything more. I will give you this little ass that lays money. You have only to put a cloth under him, and he will fill it for you with handsome coins. But take care! Don't tell it, and don't leave this animal with any one." The youth departed in joy, and after he had travelled a long way, he stopped at an inn to sleep, for his house was distant. He said to the landlord: "Give me a lodging, but look! my ass spends the night with me." "What!" said the landlord, "what are you thinking about! It cannot be." The youth replied: "Yes, it can be, because my ass does not leave my side." They disputed a while, but the landlord finally consented; but he had some suspicions; and when the boy and his beast were shut in the room, he looked through the keyhole, and saw that wonder of an ass that laid money in abundance. "Bless me!" cried the host. "I should be a fool, indeed, if I let this piece of good fortune escape my hands!" He at once looked for another ass of the same color and size, and while the lad was asleep, exchanged them. In the morning the boy paid his bill and departed, but on the way, the ass no longer laid any money. The stupefied child did not know what to think at first, but afterward examining it more closely, it appeared to him that the ass was not his, and straightway he returned to the innkeeper, to complain of his deception. The landlord cried out: "I wonder at your saying such a thing! We are all honest people here, and don't steal anything from anybody. Go away, blockhead, or you will find something to remember a while."

The child, weeping, had to depart with his ass, and he went back to his uncle's farm, and told him what had happened. The uncle said: "If you had not stopped at the innkeeper's, you could not have met with this misfortune. However, I have another present to help you and your mother. But take care! Do not mention it to any one, and take good care of it. Here it is. I give you a tablecloth, and whenever you say: 'Tablecloth, make ready,' after having spread it out, you will see a fine repast at your pleasure." The youth took the tablecloth in delight, thanked his uncle, and departed; but like the fool he was, he stopped again at the same inn. He said to the landlord: "Give me a room and you need not prepare anything to eat. I have all I want with me." The crafty innkeeper suspected that there was something beneath this, and when the lad was in his room, he looked through the key-hole, and saw the tablecloth preparing the supper. The host exclaimed: "What good luck for my inn! I will not let it escape me." He quickly looked for another tablecloth like this one, with the same embroidery and fringe, and while the child was sleeping, he exchanged it for the magic one, so that in the morning the lad did not perceive the knavery. Not until he had reached a forest where he was hungry, did he want to make use of the tablecloth. But it was in vain that he spread it out and cried: "Tablecloth, make ready." The tablecloth was not the same one, and made nothing ready for him. In despair the boy went back to the innkeeper to complain, and the landlord would have thrashed him if he had not run away, and he ran until he reached his uncle's. His uncle, when he saw him in such a plight, said: "Oh! what is the matter?" "Uncle!" said the boy, "the same innkeeper has changed the tablecloth, too, for me." The uncle was on the point of giving the dunce a good thrashing; but afterward, seeing that it was a child, he calmed his anger, and said: "I understand; but I will give you a remedy by which you can get back everything from that thief of a landlord. Here it is! It is a stick. Hide it under your bolster; and if any one comes to rob you of it, say to it, in a low voice: 'Beat, beat!' and it will continue to do so until you say to it, 'Stop.'"

Imagine how joyfully the boy took the stick! It was a handsome polished stick, with a gold handle, and delighted one only to see it. So the boy thanked his uncle for his kindness, and after he had journeyed a while, he came to the same inn. He said: "Landlord, I wish to lodge here to-night." The landlord at once drew his conclusions about the stick, which the boy carried openly in his hands, and at night when the lad appeared to be sound asleep, but really was on the watch, the landlord felt softly under the bolster and drew out the stick. The boy, although it was dark, perceived the theft and said in a low voice: "Beat, beat, beat!" Suddenly blows were rained down without mercy; everything broken to pieces, the chest of drawers, the looking-glass, all the chairs, the glass in the windows; and the landlord, and those that came at the noise, beaten nearly to death. The landlord screamed to split his throat: "Save me, boy, I am dead!" The boy answered: "What! I will not deliver you, if you do not give me back my property,—the ass that lays gold, and the tablecloth that prepares dinner." And if the landlord did not want to die of the blows, he had to consent to the boy's wishes.

When he had his things back, the boy went home to his mother and told her what had happened to him, and then said: "Now, we do not need anything more. I have an ass that lays money, a tablecloth that prepares food at my will, and a stick to defend me from whoever annoys me." So that woman and her son, who, from want had become rich enough to cause every one envy, wished from pride to invite their relatives to a banquet, to make them acquainted with their wealth. On the appointed day the relatives came to the woman's new house; but noon strikes, one o'clock strikes, it is almost two, and in the kitchen the fire is seen extinguished, and there were no provisions anywhere. "Are they playing a joke on us?" said the relatives. "We shall have to depart with dry teeth." At that moment, however, the clock struck two, and the lad, after spreading the cloth on the table, commanded: "Tablecloth, prepare a grand banquet." In short, those people had a fine dinner and many presents in money, and the boy and his mother remained in triumph and joy.10

The next story to which we shall direct our attention is "Puss in Boots," which, in the form known to our children, is of French origin, being one of the tales which Perrault made so popular by his versions. Before Perrault, however, two literary versions of this story existed: one in Straparola and one in the Pentamerone. There are, besides, several popular versions of this story, which are somewhat peculiar. The one that follows is from Sicily (Pitrè, No. 88).


There were once three brothers who owned a pear-tree and lived on the pears. One day one of the brothers went to pick these pears, and found that they had been gathered. "Oh! my brothers! what shall we do, for our pears have been picked?" So the eldest went and remained in the garden to guard the pear-tree during the night. He fell asleep, however, and the next morning the second brother came and said: "What have you done, my brother? Have you been sleeping? Do you not see that the pears have been picked? To-night I will stay." That night the second brother remained. The next morning the youngest went there and saw more of the pears picked, and said: "Were you the one that was going to keep a good watch? Go, I will stay here to-night; we shall see whether they can cheat me to my face." At night the youngest brother began to play and dance under the pear-tree; while he was not playing, a fox, believing that the youth had gone to sleep, came out and climbed the tree and picked the rest of the pears. When it was coming down the tree, the youth quickly aimed his gun at it and was about to shoot. The fox said: "Don't shoot me, Don Joseph; for I will have you called Don Joseph Pear, and will make you marry the king's daughter." Don Joseph answered: "And where shall I see you again? What has the king to do with you? With one kick that he would give you, you would never appear before him again." However, Don Joseph Pear from pity let her escape. The fox went away to a forest and caught all sorts of game, squirrels, hares, and quails, and carried them to the king; so that it was a sight. "Sir Majesty, Don Joseph Pear sends me; you must accept this game." The king said: "Listen, little fox, I accept this game; but I have never heard this Don Joseph Pear mentioned." The fox left the game there, and ran away to Don Joseph. "Softly, Don Joseph, I have taken the first step; I have been to the king, and carried him the first game; and he accepted it."

A week later the fox went to the forest, caught the best animals, squirrels, hares, birds, and took them to the king. "Sir Majesty, Don Joseph Pear sends me to you with this game." The king said to the fox: "My daughter, I don't know who this Don Joseph Pear is; I am afraid you have been sent somewhere else! I will tell you what: have this Don Joseph Pear come here, so that I can make his acquaintance." The fox wished to leave the game, and said: "I am not mistaken; my master sent me here; and for a token, he said that he wished the princess for his wife."

The fox returned to Don Joseph Pear, and said to him: "Softly, things are going well; after I have been to the king again, the matter is settled." Don Joseph said: "I will not believe you until I have my wife."

The fox now went to an ogress and said: "Friend, friend, have we not to divide the gold and silver?" "Certainly," said the ogress to the fox; "go and get the measure and we will divide the gold from the silver." The fox went to the king and did not say: "The ogress wants to borrow your measure;" but she said: "Don Joseph Pear wants to borrow, for a short time, your measure to separate the gold from the silver." "What!" said the king, "has this Don Joseph Pear such great riches? Is he then richer than I?" And he gave the fox the measure. When he was alone with his daughter he said to her, in the course of his conversation: "It must be that this Don Joseph Pear is very rich, for he divides the gold and silver." The fox carried the measure to the ogress, who began to measure and heap up gold and silver. When she had finished, the fox went to Don Joseph Pear and dressed him in new clothes, a watch with diamonds, rings, a ring for his betrothed, and everything that was needed for the marriage. "Behold, Don Joseph," said the fox, "I am going before you now; you go to the king and get your bride and then go to the church." Don Joseph went to the king; got his bride, and they went to the church. After they were married, the princess got into the carriage and the bridegroom mounted his horse. The fox made a sign to Don Joseph and said: "I will go before you; you follow me and let the carriages and horses come after."

They started on their way, and came to a sheep-farm which belonged to the ogress. The boy who was tending the sheep, when he saw the fox approach, threw a stone at her, and she began to weep. "Ah!" she said to the boy; "now I will have you killed. Do you see those horsemen? Now I will have you killed!" The youth, terrified, said: "If you will not do anything to me I will not throw any more stones at you." The fox replied: "If you don't want to be killed, when the king passes and asks you whose is this sheep-farm, you must tell him: 'Don Joseph Pear's,' for Don Joseph Pear is his son-in-law, and he will reward you." The cavalcade passed by, and the king asked the boy: "Whose is this sheep-farm?" The boy replied at once: "Don Joseph Pear's." The king gave him some money.

The fox kept about ten paces before Don Joseph, and the latter did nothing but say in a low tone: "Where are you taking me, fox? What lands do I possess that you can make me believed to be rich? Where are we going?" The fox replied: "Softly, Don Joseph, and leave it to me." They went on and on, and the fox saw another farm of cattle, with the herdsman. The same thing happened there as with the shepherd: the stone thrown and the fox's threat. The king passed. "Herdsman, whose is this farm of cattle?" "Don Joseph Pear's." And the king, astonished at his son-in-law's wealth, gave the herdsman a piece of gold.

Don Joseph was pleased on the one hand, but on the other was perplexed and did not know how it was to turn out. When the fox turned around, Joseph said: "Where are you taking me, fox? You are ruining me." The fox kept on as if she had nothing to do with the matter. Then she came to another farm of horses and mares. The boy who was tending them threw a stone at the fox. She frightened him, and he told the king, when the king asked him, that the farm was Don Joseph Pear's.

They kept on and came to a well, and near it the ogress was sitting. The fox began to run and pretended to be in great terror. "Friend, friend, see, they are coming! These horsemen will kill us! Let us hide in the well, shall we not?" "Yes, friend," said the ogress in alarm. "Shall I throw you down first?" said the fox. "Certainly, friend." Then the fox threw the ogress down the well, and then entered the ogress' palace. Don Joseph Pear followed the fox, with his wife, his father-in-law, and all the riders. The fox showed them through all the apartments, displaying the riches, Don Joseph Pear contented at having found his fortune, and the king still more contented because his daughter was so richly settled. There was a festival for a few days, and then the king, well satisfied, returned to his own country and his daughter remained with her husband. One day the fox was looking out of the window, and Don Joseph Pear and his wife were going up to the terrace. Don Joseph Pear took up a little dust from the terrace and threw it at the fox's head. The fox raised her eyes. "What is the meaning of this, after the good I have done you, miserable fellow?" said she to Don Joseph. "Take care or I will speak!" The wife said to her husband: "What is the matter with the fox, to speak thus?" "Nothing," answered her husband. "I threw a little dust at her and she got angry." Don Joseph took up a little more dust and threw it at the fox's head. The fox, in a rage, cried: "Joe, you see I will speak! and I declare that you were the owner of a pear-tree!" Don Joseph was frightened, for the fox told his wife everything; so he took an earthen jar and threw it at the fox's head, and so got rid of her. Thus—the ungrateful fellow that he was—he killed the one who had done him so much kindness; but nevertheless he enjoyed all his wealth with his wife.11

The story we shall next consider is, in some of its versions, legendary in its nature, and might more properly, perhaps, have been treated in chapter IV. Its legendary character, however, is only accidental, and it really belongs to the class of stories discussed in the present chapter. The story in general may be termed "The Thankful Dead," from the most important episode in it. The hero shows some respect to a corpse (paying the debts it incurred when alive, and so obtaining the right of burial for it), the soul of which becomes the hero's good fairy, and assists him when in danger, and finally brings about his good fortune. Around this nucleus have gathered various episodes, which will be mentioned in the notes. As an example of this story, we give, on account of its rarity, the Istrian version (Ive, Nozze Ive-Lorenzetto, III. p. 19).


There was once a father who had a son. After this son had passed through school, his father said to him: "Son, now that you have finished your studies, you are of an age to travel. I will give you a vessel, in order that you may load it and unload it, buy and sell. Be careful what you do; take care to make gains!" He gave him six thousand scudi to buy merchandise, and the son started on his voyage. On his journey, without having yet purchased anything, he arrived at a town, and on the sea-shore he saw a bier, and noticed that those who passed by left there some a penny, some two; they bestowed alms on the corpse. The traveller went there and asked: "Why do you keep this dead man here? for the dead desires the grave." They replied: "Because he owed a world of debts, and it is the custom here to bury no one until his debts are paid. Until this man's debts are paid by charity we cannot bury him." "What is the use of keeping him here?" he said. "Proclaim that all those whom he owed shall come to me and be paid." Then they issued the proclamation and he paid the debts; and, poor fellow! he did not have a farthing left—not a penny of his capital. So he returned to his father's house. "What news, son? What means your return so soon?" He replied: "On crossing the sea, we encountered pirates; they have robbed me of all my capital!" His father said: "No matter, son; it is enough that they have left you your life. Behold, I will give you more money; but you must not go again in that direction." He gave him another six thousand scudi. The son replied: "Yes, father, don't worry; I will change my course." He departed and began his journey. When he was well out at sea he saw a Turkish vessel. He said to himself: "Now it is better for me to summon them on board than for them to summon us." They came on board. He said to them: "Whence do you come?" They answered: "We come from the Levant." "What is your cargo?" "Nothing but a beautiful girl." "How do you come to have this girl?" "For her beauty; to sell her again. We have stolen her from the Sultan, she is so beautiful!" "Let me see this girl." When he saw her he said: "How much do you want for her?" "We want six thousand scudi!" The money which his father gave him he gave to those corsairs, and took the girl and carried her away to his ship. But he at once had her become a Christian and married her.

He returned to his father's house; he went up, and his father said to him:

"Welcome! O my handsome son.
What merchandise of women have you made?"
"My father, I bring you a handsome ring,
I bring it for your reward;
It cost me neither city nor castle,
But the most beautiful woman you have ever seen:
The daughter of the Sultan, who is in Turkey,
Her I bring for my first cargo!"

"Ah, you miserable knave!" cried his father. "Is this the cargo you have brought?" He ill-treated them both, and drove them from the house. Those poor unfortunate ones did not know where to find shelter. They went away, and at a short distance from their town there were some rooms at a villa. They went to live in one of those. He said: "What shall we do here? I do not know how to do anything; I have no profession or business!" She said: "Now I can paint beautiful pictures; I will paint them, and you shall go and sell them!" He said: "Very well!" "But, remember, you must tell no one that I paint them!" "No, no!" he said.

Now let us go to Turkey. The Sultan, meanwhile, had sent out many vessels in search of his daughter. These ships went here and there in quest of her. Now it happened that one of these vessels arrived in the town near where she lived, and many of the sailors went on land. Now one day the husband said to his wife: "Make many pictures, for to-day we shall sell them!" She made them, and said to him that he should not sell them for less than twenty scudi apiece. She made a great many, and he carried them to the public square. Some of the Turks came there; they gave a glance at the paintings, and said to themselves: "Surely, it must be the Sultan's daughter who has painted these." They came nearer, and asked the young man how he sold them. He said they were dear; that he could not let them go for less than twenty scudi. They said: "Very well! we will buy them; but we want some more." He answered: "Come to the house of my wife who makes them!" They went there, and when they saw the Sultan's daughter, they seized her, bound her, and carried her far away to Turkey. This husband, then, unhappy, without wife, without a trade, alone in that house, what could he do?

Every day he walked along the beach, to see if he could find a ship that would take him on board; but he never saw any. One day he saw an old man fishing in a little boat; he cried: "Good old man, how much better off you are than I!" The old man asked: "Why, my dear son?" He said: "Good old man, will you take me to fish with you?" "Yes, my son," said he; "if you wish to come with me in this boat, I will take you!" "Thank heaven!" said he. "Good!" said the old man:

"You with the rod, and I with the boat,
Perhaps we shall catch some fish.

I will go and sell the fish, for I am not ashamed, and we will live together!" They ate, and afterward went to sleep; without knowing it, there arose in the night a severe storm, and the wind carried them to Turkey. The Turks, seeing this boat arrive, went on board, seized them, made slaves of them, and took them before the Sultan. He said: "Let one of them make bouquets; let the other plant flowers; put them in the garden!" They placed the old man there as gardener, and the young man to carry flowers to the Sultan's daughter, who with her maids was shut up in a very high tower for punishment. They were very comfortable there. Every day they went into the garden and made friends with the other gardeners. As time went on, the old man made some fine guitars, violins, flutes, clarionets, piccolos—all sorts of instruments he made. The young man played them beautifully when he had time. One day his wife, who was in the tower, hearing his fine songs,—Fair Brow had a voice which surpassed all instruments,—said: "Who is playing, who is singing so beautifully?" They went out on the balcony, and when she saw Fair Brow, she thought at once of having him come up. The Sultan's daughter said to one of those who filled the basket with flowers: "Put that young man in the basket and cover him with flowers!" He put him in, and the maids drew him up. When he was up, he came out of the basket, and beheld his wife. He embraced and kissed her and thought about escaping from there. Then she told her damsels that she wished to depart without any one knowing it. So they loaded a large ship with pearls and precious stones, with rods of gold and jewels; then they let down Fair Brow first, then his wife; finally the damsels. They embarked and departed. When they were out at sea the husband remembered that he had forgotten the old man and left him on shore. Fair Brow said: "My sister, even if I thought I should lose my life, I would turn back, for the word which I have given him is the mother of faith!" So they turned back, and saw the old man, who was still awaiting them in a cave; they took him with them, and put to sea again. When they were near home, the old man said: "Now, my son, it is fitting for us to settle our accounts and divide things!" "Know, good old man," said Fair Brow to him, "that all the wealth that I have belongs half to you and half to me!" "Your wife, too, belongs half to me!" He said: "Good old man, I will leave you three quarters, and I will take one only, but leave me my wife. Do you want me to divide her in two?" Then the old man said: "You must know that I am the soul of him whom you had buried; and you have had all this good fortune because you did that good action, and converted and baptized your wife!" Then he gave him his blessing and disappeared. Fair Brow, when he heard this, as you can imagine, came near dying of joy. When they reached his city, they fired a salute, for Fair Brow had arrived with his wife, the wealthiest gentleman in the world. He sent for his father and told him all that had happened to him. He went to live with them, and as he was old, he died soon, and all his riches went to Fair Brow.12

We have already stated in the preface that it was not our design to admit into this work (except for occasional reference) any stories that were literary in their character. For this reason we have not drawn on the treasures of Straparola or Basile, or even on the more popular chap-books, of which there are in Italy, as elsewhere, a great profusion. Of some of the stories contained in the last named class of works there are purely popular versions. As an example of the class, and for purposes of comparison, we give the story of Leombruno, or Lionbruno, one of the oldest and most popular of its kind. The most complete version is the one from the Basilicata, given by Comparetti, No. 41, which is as follows:


There was once a mariner who had a wife and three or four children. He followed the business of a fisherman, and he and his family lived on his fishing. For three or four years there had been a dearth of fish, so that he had not been able to catch even a sardine. Poor mariner! From this misfortune he had been obliged to sell, little by little, all he possessed, to live, and was reduced almost to beggary. One day he was fishing, and as you can imagine, poor fellow! he did not haul in even a shell. He cursed madonnas and saints. All at once a certain person (it was the Enemy) rose in the midst of the sea before his bark. "What is the matter, mariner, that you are so angry?" "What should the matter be? My bad luck. For three or four years I have been ruining myself, body and soul, in this sea with these nets, and I cannot catch even a string to hang myself with." "Listen," said the Enemy. "If you will agree to give me your wife's next child in thirteen years, from now until you deliver it to me I will cause you to catch so much fish that you shall become the richest of men by selling it." Then the mariner understood that this was the Enemy, and said to himself: "My wife has had no children for some years. Will she take it into her head to have another just now when I make this agreement with the Enemy? Oh, come! she is old now; she will have no more." Then turning to the Enemy, he said: "Well, since you wish to make this contract, let us make it. But, remember, you must make me rich." "Don't fear," said the Enemy; "let us make the agreement and then leave the matter to me." "Softly, we must settle another matter first; then we will make the contract." "What is it?" "Listen. Suppose my wife should have no children during these thirteen years?" "Then you will remain rich and give me nothing." "That is what I wanted to know. Now we can make the contract." And they settled everything at once. Then the Enemy disappeared. The mariner began to draw in his nets, and they were full to overflowing of all kinds of fish, and he became richer from day to day. In great joy he said: "I have played a trick on the devil!"—and, poor man! he did not know that it was the devil who had played a trick on him. Now you must know that just when they were making the contract, the mariner's wife, old as she was, expected to become a mother again, and the Enemy knew it. In due time the wife gave birth to a boy so handsome that he seemed a flower. His parents named him Lionbruno. The Enemy suddenly appeared: "Mariner! mariner!" "How can I serve you?" replied the poor man, all trembling. "The promise is due. Lionbruno is mine." "Yes, you are right. But you must obey the contract. Remember that it is in thirteen years. Now only a few months have passed." "That is true," replied the Enemy; "farewell, then, until the end of the thirteen years." Then he vanished. Meanwhile Lionbruno grew every day, and became constantly handsomer, and his parents sent him to school. But time passes, and behold the end of the thirteen years draws near. One day, before the time agreed upon, the Enemy appeared. "Mariner! mariner!" "Oh, poor me!" said the wretched man, who recognized him by his horrid voice. But he had to answer. And what could he do? The contract was clear and the time come. The poor mariner, willingly or unwillingly, was obliged to promise to send the boy the next day alone to the sea. The next day the mother sent her son, when he returned from school, to carry something to eat to his father. The unhappy father had, however, gone far out to sea, so that his son could not find him. The poor boy sat down on the beach, and to pass the time, took pieces of wood and made little crosses of them, and stuck them in the sand around him, so that he was surrounded by them, and held one also in his hand, singing all the time.

Behold, the Enemy comes to take him, and says to him: "What are you doing, boy?" "I am waiting for my father," he replied. The Enemy looked and saw that he could not take him, because he was seated in the midst of all those little crosses, and moreover had one in his hand. He regarded the boy with an ugly look, and cried: "Destroy those crosses, miserable boy!" "No, I will not destroy them." "Destroy them at once, or—or"—and he threatened him and frightened him with his ugly face. Then the poor child destroyed the little crosses around him, but still held one in his hand. "Destroy the other, quick!" cried the Enemy, more enraged than ever. "No, no!" the poor child replied, all in tears; "I will not destroy this little cross." The Enemy threatened him again and terrified him with his rolling eyes, but the child was firm, and then a bright light appeared in the air. The fairy Colina, queen of the fairies, came down, took the good boy by the hair, and delivered him from the Enemy. Then if you had seen what lightnings and thunder! what darts! The Enemy shot fire from his eyes, mouth, nose, ears, everywhere! But with all his flames he remained duped, and the fairy carried the good boy away to her splendid palace. There Lionbruno grew up in the midst of the fairies. Imagine how well off he was there! He lacked nothing. Increasing always in beauty, he became a youth whom you should have seen! Some years passed. One day Lionbruno said to the fairy Colina: "Listen. I want to go and see my mother and father a little. You will not refuse me your permission, will you?" "No, I will not refuse you it," said the fairy. "I will give you twenty days to go and see your family. But do not stay any longer. Remember that I have saved you from the Enemy and have brought you up in the midst of great wealth. Now this wealth we are to enjoy together, for you, Lionbruno, are to be my husband." You can imagine whether the youth wished to say no. He replied at once: "I will do your will in all things." Then the fairy said: "My Lionbruno, take this ruby; all that you ask of it you shall have." He took the ruby. Then all the fairies gave him in turn some token. He took them, and thanked them all. Then he embraced his bride and departed. Lionbruno travelled better than a prince, magnificently dressed, on a superb horse, with guards before him. He arrived at his town, went to the square, and a crowd of people surrounded him out of curiosity. He asked his way to the house of the mariner who was his father. He did not reveal himself to his parents, but asked them for a lodging that night. At midnight Lionbruno changed, by virtue of the ruby, the wretched hovel into a magnificent palace, and the next day he changed himself into the thirteen-year-old Lionbruno and revealed himself to his parents, telling them how the fairy Colina had liberated him from the Enemy, brought him up, and made him her husband. "For this reason, dear father and mother," said he, "I cannot remain with you. I have come to see you, to embrace you, to make you rich; but I can stay with you a few days only, and then I must leave you." His father and mother saw that they could do nothing, and had to be contented. One fine morning Lionbruno, by an order to the ruby, which he wore on his finger, brought together a great mass of riches, and then called his parents and said: "I leave you masters of all this wealth and of this palace. You will no longer need anything. Now give me your blessing, for I wish to go." The poor people began to weep, and said: "Bless you, my son!" They embraced each other in tears, and he departed.

He arrived at a great city,—like Naples, for example,—and went to lodge at the finest inn. Then he went out to walk and heard a proclamation which declared: "Whatever prince or knight, on horse, with spear in hand, shall pierce and carry away a gold star, shall marry the king's daughter." Imagine how many princes and knights entered the lists! Lionbruno, more for braggadocio than for anything else, said to himself: "I wish to go and carry away the star;" and he commanded the ruby: "My ruby, to-morrow, I wish to carry away the golden star." The princes and knights began to assemble and try their skill. Every one reached the star and touched it with his spear, but there was no talk of their carrying it away. Lionbruno came, and with a master-stroke carried off the star. Then he quickly escaped with his horse to the inn, so that no one should see him. "Who is he?" "Where is the winner?" No one can give any news of him. The king was ill-humored about it, and issued the proclamation again for the next day. But, to cut the matter short, the same thing occurred the next day. Lionbruno duped them a second time. Imagine how angry the king was! He issued a third proclamation. But this time what does the crafty king do? He posts a large number of soldiers at all the places by which one could escape. The princes and knights begin their courses. As usual, no one carries away the star, and Lionbruno carries it off and rides away. But the soldiers, quicker than he, seize him, arrest him, and carry him to the king. "What do you take me for, that, not satisfied with duping me twice, you wish to dupe me a third time?" Thus spoke the king, who was seated on the throne. "Pardon, Majesty. I did not dare to enter your presence." "Then you ought not to have undertaken to carry away the star. Now you have done so, and must become my daughter's husband." Lionbruno, nolens volens, was obliged to marry the princess. The king prepared a magnificent feast for the wedding, and invited all the princes, counts, and barons,—all sorts of persons. When the hall was filled with these gentlemen, Lionbruno, before marrying the princess, said to the king: "Majesty, it is true that your daughter is a very beautiful girl, but I had a bride by whose side your daughter could not stand for beauty, grace, everything." Imagine how the king felt when he heard these words. The poor princess, at this affront in the presence of so many noblemen, became as red as fire. The king, greatly disturbed, said: "Well, if it is so, we wish to see your wife, if she is as beautiful as you say." "Yes, yes!" cried all the noblemen; "we, too, wish to see her; we wish to see her!" Poor Lionbruno was in a tight place. What could he do? He had recourse to the ruby. "Ruby mine, make fairy Colina come here." But this time he was mistaken. The ruby could do everything, but it could not compel the fairy to come, for it was she who had given it its magic power. The summons, however, reached the fairy Colina; but she did not go. "My friend has done a pretty thing!" said she. "Bravo! good! Now I will fix him as he deserves!" She called the lowest of her servants, and made her suddenly appear in the great hall of the king, where all were assembled for the wedding. "How beautiful she is! how beautiful she is!" all said as soon as they saw her. "Is this, then, your first bride?" "What!" answered Lionbruno, "my first bride! This is the lowest of the servants of my first bride." "Gracious!" exclaimed the noblemen; "if this is the lowest of the servants and is so beautiful, imagine what the mistress must be!" "Then," said the king, "if this is not your first bride, I wish you to make her come herself." "Yes, yes, herself!" cried the others, likewise. Poor Lionbruno! He was obliged to have recourse again to the ring. But this time, also, the fairy did not go, but sent instead her next servant. Scarcely had they seen her when they all said: "This one, oh, this one, is really beautiful! This, now, is certainly your first bride, is she not, Lionbruno?" "No, no!" replied Lionbruno; "my first bride is a marvel of beauty. Different from this one! This one is only the second servant." Then the king, in a threatening tone, said to him: "Lionbruno, let us put an end to this! I command you to cause your first wife to come here instantly." The matter was growing serious. Poor Lionbruno had recourse for the third time to the ruby, and said to it: "Ruby mine, if you really wish to help me, now is the moment. You must cause the fairy Colina herself to come here." The summons reached her at once, and this time she went. When all those great lords and the king and his daughter saw that marvel of beauty, they became as so many statues. But the fairy Colina approached Lionbruno, pretended to take his hand, and drew off his ring, saying: "Traitor! you cannot find me until you have worn out seven pairs of iron shoes." Then she vanished. The king, in fury, said to Lionbruno: "I understand. The power of carrying off the star was not yours, but your ruby's. Leave my palace!" He had him seized and well beaten and sent away.

And so poor Lionbruno was left without the fairy Colina and the king's daughter, and departed from the city in great grief. When he had gone a few steps, he heard a great noise. It was a smithy. He entered, and called the blacksmith: "Master, I want seven pairs of iron shoes." "I will make you twelve if you wish, but it seems to me that you must have some agreement with the Eternal to live who knows how many hundred years to wear out all these shoes." "What does that matter to you? It is enough if I pay you. Make me the shoes and hold your tongue." He made them for him at once. Lionbruno paid him, put on one pair, and stuck three in one side of his travelling sack and three in the other, and set out. After walking a long time, he arrived late at night in a forest. All at once three robbers came there. "Good man," said they to Lionbruno, "how did you happen here?" "I am a poor pilgrim," he replied; "it grew dark and I stopped here to rest. And who are you, gentlemen?" "We are travellers." And they all stopped there to rest. The next day Lionbruno arose, took leave of the three robbers, and departed. But he had scarcely gone a few steps when he heard them quarrelling. Now you must know that those robbers had stolen three objects of great value, and were now disputing as to how they should divide them. One of them said: "Fools that we are! We had here that pilgrim, who could have acted as judge and made the division, and we have let him go. Let us call him back." "Yes, yes! let us call him," said the others. They called him, and he came back. "How can I serve you, gentlemen?" said he. "Listen, good man; we have three objects of great value to divide. You must be the judge, and give to each one what belongs to him." "Very well; but what objects are you talking of?" "Here is a pair of boots, a purse, and a cloak. The boots have this virtue, that he who has them on runs faster than the wind. If you say to the purse, 'open and shut,' it at once gives you a hundred ducats. Finally he who puts on the cloak and buttons it up, can see and yet not be seen." "Very good. But to act the judge well, I must first examine these three objects carefully." "Certainly, that is right." Lionbruno put on the boots, tried to run, and went marvellously. "What do you think of these boots?" asked the thieves. "Excellent, indeed," replied Lionbruno, and kept them on. Then he said: "Now let us see the purse." He took it and said: "Purse, open and shut," and at once there came forth a hundred silver ducats. "Now let us see what this cloak is," he said, at last. He put it on and began to button it up. While he was doing so he asked the robbers: "Do you see me now?" They answered: "Yes." He kept on buttoning it and asked again: "Now do you see me?" "Yes." Finally he reached the last button. "Now do you see me?" "No." "If you don't see me now you never will see me again." He threw away the iron shoes and cried: "Now for you, boots!" And away! faster than the wind. When the three robbers saw themselves duped in that way, what a rage they were in! They thrashed each other soundly, and especially the one who had called Lionbruno back; and at last they all found themselves with broken bones.

Lionbruno, after having cheated the robbers thus, continued his way joyfully. After a long journey, he arrived in the midst of a forest. He saw at a distance a slight smoke, and among frightful rocks, a little old hovel all surrounded by dense wild shrubs, with a little door entirely covered with ivy, so that it could scarcely be seen. Lionbruno approached the door and knocked softly. "Who is knocking?" asked from within an old woman's voice. "I am a poor Christian," replied Lionbruno; "night has overtaken me here, and I am seeking a lodging, if it can be had." The door opened and Lionbruno entered. "Oh, poor youth! How have you been tempted to come and ruin yourself in this remote place?" demanded, in great wonder, the old woman, who was within, and who was Borea.13 (Do you know who Borea is? No less a person than the mother of the winds.) "Oh, dear little old lady, my aunt," replied Lionbruno, "I am lost in this great forest, for I have been travelling a long time to find my dear bride, the fairy Colina, and I have not yet been able to find any trace of her." "My son, you have made a great mistake! What shall we do now that my sons are coming home? Perhaps, God help you! they will want to eat you." "Oh, wretched me!" cried Lionbruno, then, all trembling; "who, my aunt, are these sons of yours who so devour Christians?" "My son," replied Borea, "you do not know where you are. Do you not know that this house in the midst of these precipices is the house of the winds? And I, you do not recognize me; I, my son, am Borea, the mother of all the winds." "What shall I do now? Oh, my dear aunt, help me; do not let your sons eat me up!" The old woman finally concealed him in a chest, telling him not to make the slightest noise when her sons returned. Soon a loud noise was heard at a distance: it was the winds returning home. The nearer they approached the louder the noise grew, and a sound of branches and trees broken off was heard. At last the winds arrived, pushed open the door, and entered. "Good evening, mamma." "Welcome, my sons!" replied their mother, all smiling. And so one after the other all the winds entered, and the last to enter was Sirocco, for you must know that Sirocco is the youngest of Borea's sons. Scarcely had they entered when they began to say: "What smell of human flesh is here? Here, Christians, Christians!" "Oh, bad luck to you! what fools you are! Where is there any smell of human flesh here? Who do you think would risk their lives by coming here?" But her sons would not be convinced, especially that obstinate Sirocco. Lionbruno commended his soul to God, for he saw death at his heels. But finally Borea succeeded in convincing her sons. "Oh, mamma, what is there to eat to-night? We have travelled so far, and are so hungry!" "Here, my sons," the mother answered, "come here; for a nice polenta is cooking for you. I will finish cooking it soon, and put it at once on the table." The next day Borea said to her sons: "My sons, when you came you said you smelled human flesh. Tell me, should you really see a man now, what would you do to him?" "Now, we would not do anything to him. Last night, we should have torn him in pieces." "But you would not do anything to him, truly?" "Truly." "Well, if you will give me your promise by St. John not to harm him, I will show you a live man." "Oh! just see! A man here! Yes, yes, mamma, show him to us at once. We swear by St. John! we will not touch a hair of his head." Then their mother opened the chest and made Lionbruno come forth. If you had heard the winds then! They puffed and blowed around him and asked him, first of all, how he had come to that place, where no living soul had ever penetrated. Lionbruno said: "Would to heaven that my journey ended here! I must go to the palace of the fairy Colina; perhaps one of you can tell me where it is?" Then Borea asked her sons one by one and each replied that he knew nothing of it. Finally she questioned her youngest son: "And you, Sirocco, do you not know anything about it?" "I? Should I not know something about it? Am I perchance like my brothers who never can find a hiding-place? The fairy Colina is love-sick. She says that her lover has betrayed her, and continually weeps, and is so reduced by her grief that she can live but little longer. And I deserve to be hanged, for I have seen her in this condition, and yet I have annoyed her so that I have driven her to despair. I amused myself by making a noise about her palace, and more than once I burst open windows and turned things upside down, even the bed she was resting on." "Oh, my dear Sirocco!" said Lionbruno; "my good Sirocco, you must aid me! Since you have given me news of her, you must also do me the favor to show me the way to my bride's palace. I, dear Sirocco, am the betrothed of the fairy Colina, and it is not true that I have betrayed her; on the contrary, if I do not find her, I shall die of grief." "My son," said Sirocco, "listen; for my part I would take you there with all my heart. But I should have to carry you about my neck. And the trouble is I cannot do so, for I am wind, I am air, and you would slip off. Were you like me the matter would go very well." "Don't worry about that," said Lionbruno, "show me the way, and I will not lag behind." "He is crazy," said Sirocco to himself; then he said to Lionbruno: "Very well, since you feel so strong, to-morrow we will make the trial. Meanwhile let us go to bed, for it is late, and to-morrow, God willing, we will rise early!" And all went to sleep. In the morning early Sirocco arose and cried: "Lionbruno! Lionbruno! get up quickly!" And Lionbruno put on his boots in a hurry, seized his purse, fixed his cloak carefully, and left the house with Sirocco. "There," said Sirocco, "is the way we must take. Be careful! Don't let me out of your sight, and leave the rest to me. If a few hours after sunset to-night I don't make you find your beauty, you may call me an ass." They started. They ran like the wind. Every little while Sirocco called out: "Lionbruno!" and he, who was ahead, answered at once: "Oh! don't think I am going to lag behind!" and with these questions and answers they finally reached the palace of the fairy Colina about two hours after sunset. "Here we are," said Sirocco. "Here is your fair one's balcony! See how I am going to blow open the window for you. Attention, now! As soon as it is opened you give a jump and spring in." And so he did. Before the servants could run and shut the balcony window, Lionbruno was already under the fairy Colina's bed. Afterwards one of the maids said to the fairy: "My mistress, how do you feel now? Do you not feel a little better?" "Better? I am half dead. That cursed wind has nearly killed me." "But, mistress, will you not take something this evening? A little coffee, or chocolate, or broth?" "I wish nothing at all." "Take something, if you don't, you will not rest to-night, you have eaten nothing for three or four days. Really, you must take something." And the servant said so much that to get rid of her importunity the fairy said: "Well, bring something; if I want it, I will take it." The servant brought a little coffee, and left it by the side of the bed. Lionbruno, in his cloak so that no one could see him, came from under the bed and drank the coffee himself. The servant, believing her mistress had drunk it, brought the chocolate too, and Lionbruno drank that as before. Then the servant brought the fairy some broth and a pigeon. "Mistress," said she, "since, thank God, you have taken the coffee and the chocolate, take this broth and a bit of pigeon, and so you will gain strength and be better to-morrow." The mistress on hearing all this believed that the servants were making fun of her. "Oh, stupid blockheads! What are you saying? Are not the cups still here with the coffee and the chocolate? I have touched nothing." The servants thought that their mistress was out of her mind. Then Lionbruno took off his cloak, came out from under the bed, and said: "My bride, do you know me?" "Lionbruno mine, is it you?" and she rose from the bed and embraced him. "Then it is not true, my Lionbruno, that you have forgotten me?" "If I had forgotten you I should not have suffered so much to find you. But do you still love me?" "My Lionbruno, if I had not always loved you, you would not have found me at the point of death. And now you see I am cured only because I have seen you."

Then they ate and drank together, and summoned the servants and made a great festival. The next day they arranged everything for the wedding and were married with great splendor and joy. In the evening they gave a grand ball and a fine banquet, which you should have seen!14

The above story is extremely popular, and has long circulated among the people as an independent work in the shape of a chap-book. We have, however, given the form which is handed down by oral tradition, purposely avoiding the use of any literary materials. Many similar tales might be added to this chapter, but the most important and best known have been given. To give those tales which cannot be described as fairy tales and which are usually found in the shape of chap-books in prose and poetry would fall without the scope of the present volume, and would belong more appropriately to a work on Italian popular literature.15


1. This story is found in the Pent. I. 10. In Schneller, No. 29, the king falls in love with a frog (from hearing its voice without seeing it) which is transformed by the fairies into a beautiful girl. The good wishes of the fairies are found in Pitrè, Nos. 61, 94. See also Pent. I. 3; III. 10, and Chap. I. of the present work, note 22. For gifts by the fairies, see Pitrè, vol. I. p. 334, and the following note.

2. This story is often found as an introduction to "False Bride;" see Chap. I., note 21. Sicilian versions may be found in Pitrè, Nos. 62, 63; Neapolitan, Pent. III. 10; from the Abruzzi in Finamore, No. 48; De Nino, No. 18; Tuscan, Gradi, Vigilia, p. 20, De Gub., Sto. Stefano, No. 1, Zoöl. Myth. II. p. 62, note, Tuscan Fairy Tales, pp. 9, 18, Corazzini, p. 409, Nov. tosc. No. 8, La Tinchina dell' alto Mare; Venetian, Bernoni, XIX.; and Tyrolese, Schneller, Nos. 7, 8.

In several of the Tuscan versions (Gradi, Zoöl. Myth., Tuscan Fairy Tales, p. 9, and Nov. fior. p. 202, which is composed of "Two Sisters" and "True Bride") instead of fairies the sisters find cats who bestow the varying gifts.

Other European versions of this story will be found in Grimm, No. 24, "Old Mother Holle;" Norwegian in Asbj. & Moe, No. 15; [Dasent, Pop. Tales from the Norse, p. 103, "The Two Step-Sisters"] French in Bladé, Contes agen. p. 149, and Cosquin, Contes pop. lorrains, No. 48 (Romania, No. 32, p. 564). The Oriental versions are mentioned by Cosquin in his notes to the last named story; see also Benfey, Pant. I. p. 219.

3. Other Tuscan versions are in Gradi, Saggio di Letture varie, p. 125, and Nov. tosc. No. 22; Sicilian and Roman versions may be found in Pitrè, No. 64, and Busk, p. 96.

French versions will be found in Mélusine, pp. 113 (conte picard) and 241 (conte de l'Amiénois). A Japanese version is given in the same periodical, p. 161. An Irish version is in Croker, Fairy Legends etc. (translated in Brueyre, p. 206); and a Turkish version is given in The Wonder World Stories, New York, Putnam, 1877, p. 139. Other French and Oriental versions are noticed in Mélusine, pp. 161, 241. A somewhat similar German version is in Grimm, No. 182. "The Presents of the Little Folk."

4. This story somewhat resembles Gonz., No. 20, mentioned in Chap. I., note 29. Another Sicilian version is in Pitrè, No. 86. I have been unable to find any other Italian parallels. Personification of one's Fate may be found in Gonz., Nos. 52, 55, Pitrè, No. 12; and of Fortune in Pitrè, No. 29, and Comparetti, No. 50. See Indian Fairy Tales, p. 263.

5. Sicilian versions are in Pitrè, No. 105, and Gonz., No. 18. In the latter version the king drives his daughter from the palace and the rejected suitor disguises himself, follows her, and marries her. A Neapolitan version is in the Pent. IV. 10; Tuscan in Gradi, Vigilia, p. 97; Nerucci, p. 211; and Jahrb. VII. p. 394 (Knust, No. 9).

Other European versions are: Grimm No. 52, "King Thrushbeard;" Norwegian, Asbj. & Moe, No. 45, and Grundtwig, III. [1]; French, Romania, No. 32, p. 552 (Contes pop. lorrains, No. 45); and Greek, Hahn, No. 113. See also Tibetan Tales, London, 1882, Ralston's notes, p. lviii.

6. Other versions of this story are: Sicilian, Pitrè, No. 67, and Gonz., No. 28; Tuscan, Archivio, I. pp. 41, 65, Nov. tosc. No. 7, Abruzzi, De Nino, No. 1. For the first part of the story, see Nov. fior. pp. 332–333.

7. I have followed in this division Imbriani, Pomiglianesi, p. 89.

8. Another Sicilian version, which, however, does not contain the trait "cure by laughing," is in Pitrè, No. 28. Gonz., No. 30, may be mentioned here, as it contains a part of our story. The magic gifts in it are a carpet that transports the owner wherever he wishes to go, a purse always full, and a horn that when one blows in the little end covers the sea with ships, when one blows in the big end, the ships disappear. Neapolitan versions are in Imbriani, Pomiglianesi, pp. 62, 83; Roman in Busk, pp. 129, 136, comp. p. 146; and Tuscan in Frizzi, Novella montanina, Florence, A. Ciardelli e C. 1876, Nerucci, p. 471 Archivio per le Trad. pop. I. p. 57, and Nov. tosc. No. 16. De Gub., Zoöl. Myth. I. p. 288, n. 3, gives a version from the Marches, and there is a Bolognese version in Coronedi-Berti, No. 9. Other versions may be found in Finamore, Trad. pop. abruzzesi, No. 30, and Bolognini, p. 21. For other European versions, see Gesta Rom. ed. Oesterley, cap. cxx.; Grimm, No. 122; Campbell, No. 10, "The Three Soldiers" (see Köhler's notes to this story in Orient und Occident, II. p. 124, and Brueyre, p. 138); Cosquin, Contes pop. lorrains, Nos. 11 (Rom. No. 19, p. 361) and 42 (Rom. No. 28, p. 581); and finally, Kreutzwald, Ehstnische Märchen, No. 23. Comp. also De Gub., Zoöl. Myth. I. p. 182, and Ralston's notes to Schiefner's Tibetan Tales, p. liv.

9. I have been unable to find any European parallels to this form of the story.

10. Another version of this story is found in the same collection, p. 359. Other Tuscan versions are found in De Gub., Sto. Stefano, No. 21, Gradi, Saggio di Letture varie, p. 181, Nov. tosc. No. 29, and Comparetti, No. 7 (Mugello). The other versions are as follows: Sicilian, Pitrè, No. 29 (comp. No. 30), Gonz., No. 52; Neapolitan, Pent. I. 1 (Comp. Pomiglianesi, p. 116); Abruzzi, Finamore, No. 37; De Nino, No. 6; Ortoli, pp. 171, 178; Venetian, Bernoni, No. 9; the Marches, Comp., No. 12; and Tyrolese, Schneller, p. 28.

For the other European parallels, see Grimm, No. 36, "The Table, the Ass, and the Stick;" Mélusine (conte breton), p. 130; Cosquin, Contes pop. lorrains, No. 14 (Rom. No. 19, p. 333); De Gub., Zoöl. Myth. II. p. 262 (Russian); Brueyre, p. 48 (B. Gould, Yorkshire, Appendix to Henderson's Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties of England); Asbj. & Moe, No. 7 [Dasent, Pop. Tales from the Norse, p. 261, "The Lad who went to the North Wind"], and Old Deccan Days, No. 12.

11. Another Sicilian version is in Gonz., No. 65, with same title and contents. A Neapolitan version is in the Pent. II. 4, where the fox is replaced by a cat. This is also the case in the versions from the Abruzzi, Finamore, No. 46, De Nino, No. 53; in the Florentine versions in Nov. fior. p. 145, Nov. tosc. No. xii. var.; and in the Tyrolese given by Schneller, p. 122 ("Il Conte Martin dalla gatta"). In another story in Schneller, p. 124 ("L'Anello"), a youth possesses a magic ring and a dog and cat which recover the ring when stolen from its owner. Older and more interesting than the above versions is the one in Straparola, XI. 1. We give it here in full in order that our readers may compare with it the version in our text and Perrault's "Puss in Boots," which is the form in which the story has become popular all over Europe. The following translation is from the edition of 1562 (Venice).


Soriana dies and leaves three sons: Dusolino, Tesifone, and Constantine the Lucky, who, by virtue of a cat, acquires a powerful kingdom.

There was once in Bohemia a very poor lady named Soriana, who had three sons: one was called Dusolino, the other Tesifone, and the third Constantine the Lucky. She owned nothing valuable in the world but three things: a kneading-trough, a rolling-board, and a cat. When Soriana, laden with years, came to die, she made her last testament, and left to Dusolino, her eldest son, the kneading-trough, to Tesifone the rolling-board, and to Constantine the cat. When the mother was dead and buried, the neighbors, as they had need, borrowed now the kneading-trough, now the rolling-board; and because they knew that the owners were very poor, they made them a cake, which Dusolino and Tesifone ate, giving none to Constantine, the youngest brother. And if Constantine asked them for anything, they told him to go to his cat, which would get it for him. Wherefore poor Constantine and his cat suffered greatly. Now the cat, which was enchanted, moved to compassion for Constantine, and angry at the two brothers who treated him so cruelly, said: "Constantine, do not be downcast, for I will provide for your support and my own." And leaving the house, the cat went out into the fields, and, pretending to sleep, caught a hare that passed and killed it. Thence, going to the royal palace and seeing some of the courtiers, the cat said that she wished to speak with the king, who, when he heard that a cat wished to speak to him, had her shown into his presence, and asked her what she wished. The cat replied that her master, Constantine, had sent him a hare which he had caught. The king accepted the gift, and asked who this Constantine was. The cat replied that he was a man who had no superior in goodness, beauty, and power. Wherefore the king treated the cat very well, giving her to eat and drink bountifully. When the cat had satisfied her hunger, she slyly filled with her paw (unseen by any one) the bag that hung at her side, and taking leave of the king, carried it to Constantine. When the brothers saw the food over which Constantine exulted, they asked him to share it with them; but he refused, rendering them tit for tat. On which account there arose between them great envy, that continually gnawed their hearts. Now Constantine, although handsome in his face, nevertheless, from the privation he had suffered, was covered with scabs and scurf, which caused him great annoyance. But going with his cat to the river, she licked him carefully from head to foot, and combed his hair, and in a few days he was entirely cured.

The cat (as we said above) continued to carry gifts to the royal palace, and thus supported her master. But after a time she wearied of running up and down so much, and feared that she would annoy the king's courtiers; so she said to her master: "Sir, if you will do what I order, I will make you rich in a short time." "How?" said her master. The cat replied: "Come with me, and do not ask any more, for I am ready to enrich you." So they went together to the stream, which was near the royal palace, and the cat stripped her master, and with his agreement threw him into the river, and then began to cry out in a loud voice: "Help! help! Messer Constantine is drowning." The king hearing this, and remembering that he had often received presents from him, sent his people at once to aid him. When Messer Constantine was taken out of the water and dressed in fine clothes, he was taken to the king, who received him cordially, and asked him why he had been thrown into the river. Constantine could not answer for grief; but the cat, which was always at his side, said: "Know, O king, that some robbers learned from spies that my master was loaded with jewels, which he was coming to present to you. They robbed him of all, and threw him into the river, thinking to kill him, but thanks to these gentlemen he has escaped from death." The king, hearing this, ordered, that he should be well cared for; and seeing that he was handsome, and knowing him to be wealthy, he concluded to give him Elisetta, his daughter, for a wife, endowing her with jewels and most beautiful garments. After the wedding festivities had been ended, the king had ten mules loaded with money, and five with costly apparel, and sent his daughter to her husband's home, accompanied by a great retinue. Constantine, seeing that he had become so wealthy and honored, did not know where to lead his wife, and took counsel with his cat, which said: "Do not fear, my master, for we shall provide for everything." So they all set out gayly on horseback, and the cat ran hastily before them; and having left the company some distance behind, met some horsemen, to whom she said: "What are you doing here, wretched men? Depart quickly, for a large band of people are coming, and will take you prisoners. They are near by: you can hear the noise of the neighing horses." The horsemen said in terror: "What must we do, then?" The cat replied: "Do this,—if you are asked whose horsemen you are, answer boldly, Messer Constantine's, and you will not be molested." Then the cat went on, and found a large flock of sheep, and did the same with their owners, and said the same thing to all those whom she found in the road. The people who were escorting Elisetta asked the horsemen: "Whose knights are you," and "whose are so many fine flocks?" and all with one accord replied: "Messer Constantine's." Then those who accompanied the bride said: "So then, Messer Constantine, we are beginning to enter your territory." And he nodded his head, and replied in like manner to all that he was asked. Wherefore the company judged him to be very wealthy. At last the cat came to a very fine castle, and found there but few servants, to whom she said: "What are you doing, good men; do you not perceive the destruction which is impending?" "What?" asked the servants. "Before an hour passes, a host of soldiers will come here and cut you to pieces. Do you not hear the horses neighing? Do you not see the dust in the air? If you do not wish to perish, take my advice and you will be saved. If any one asks you whose this castle is, say, Messer Constantine's." So they did; and when the noble company reached the handsome castle they asked the keepers whose it was, and all answered boldly Messer Constantine the Lucky's. Then they entered, and were honorably entertained. Now the castellan of that place was Signor Valentino, a brave soldier, who, a short time before, had left the castle to bring home the wife he had lately married; and to his misfortune, before he reached the place where his wife was he was overtaken on the way by a sudden and fatal accident, from which he straightway died, and Constantine remained master of the castle. Before long, Morando, King of Bohemia, died, and the people elected for their king Constantine the Lucky because he was the husband of Elisetta, the dead king's daughter, to whom the kingdom fell by right of succession. And so Constantine, from being poor and a beggar, remained Lord and King, and lived a long time with his Elisetta, leaving children by her to succeed him in the kingdom.

For copious references to other European versions, see Köhler's notes to Gonz., No. 65 (II. p. 242), and Benfey, Pant. I. p. 222.

12. The earliest Italian versions are in the Cento nov. ant., Testo Papanti (Romania, No. 10, p. 191), and Straparola, XI. 2. Later popular versions, besides the Istrian one in the text, are: Nerucci, p. 430, and Bernoni, III. p. 91, both of which are much distorted. Some of the episodes are found in other stories, as, for instance, the division of the property, including the wife, which occurs in Gonz., No. 74. "The Thankful Dead" is also the subject of an Italian novel, Novella di Messer Danese e di Messer Gigliotto, Pisa, 1868 (privately printed), and of a popular poem, Istoria bellissima di Stellante Costantina composta da Giovanni Orazio Brunette

The extensive literature of this interesting story can best be found in D'Ancona's notes to the version in the Cento nov. ant., cited above. To these may be added: Ive's notes to the story in the text, Cosquin's notes to No. 19 of the Contes pop. lorrains (Rom. No. 24, p. 534). and Nisard, Hist, des Livres pop. II. p. 450. Basque and Spanish versions have been published recently, the former in Webster's Basque Legends, pp. 146, 151, and the latter in Caballero, Cuentos, oraciones, etc., Leipzig, 1878, p. 23. A version from Mentone may be found in the Folk-Lore Record, vol. III. p. 48, "John of Calais."

13. In the original it is la Voria, which in Sicilian means "breeze," but I take it to be the same as Boria in Italian (Lat. Boreas-æ), the North Wind.

14. Other Italian versions are: Nov. fior. p. 440; Archivio, III. 542 (Abruzzi); Pitrè, No. 31; Tuscan Fairy Tales, No. 10, p. 102; De Nino, No. 69; and Widter-Wolf, No. 10 (Jahrbuch, VII. 139). See also Prato, Una nov. pop. monferrina, Como, 1882; and Finamore, Trad. pop. abruzzesi, Nos. 17, 19.

References to other European versions will be found in Köhler's notes to Widter-Wolf, No. 10. See also Grimm, No. 92; Ralston's R. F. T. p. 132, and Chap. I., note 11, of the present work.

15. A work of this kind, similar in scope to Nisard's Hist. des Livres populaires, is greatly to be desired, and ought to be undertaken before the great changes in the social condition of Italy shall have rendered such a task difficult, if not impossible.