Page:Tales of old Lusitania.djvu/149

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Tales of Old Lusitania - chapter 34 headpiece.jpg


There was once a lady who had a step-daughter—a pretty child with a fair complexion and golden hair, which fell gracefully in long ringlets over her white shoulders. This lady had a house with a fine garden, planted with roses, tulips, camellias, and all manner of creepers, which wreathed the poles and trellises with living garlands of fragrance and bloom. In the centre of this delightful garden stood a large fig-tree, which stretched out its green branches, laden in summer with delicious fruit that hung like so many pendant dark pearls, but melted in the mouth more easily than that jewel. Once this prolific tree produced a fig of uncommon size, and perfect in shape and colour. The mistress was very proud of this fig, and wished it to ripen well on the tree before she gathered it; but she was afraid the birds, who are good judges of fruit, would single out this splendid fig, peck at it, and spoil it. She therefore ordered her stepdaughter to watch it, telling her at the same time that if she allowed the birds to touch it and