The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories/Fourth Day

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Fourth Day.

A little before the Dawn went forth to a draught from the labourers, having brought the news of the Sun's approach, the princely pair, one white and the other black, were at the appointed place, where the ten women had arrived shortly before, who having feasted on mulberries, had made their mouths just like a dyer's hands. Then sitting down all together beside a fountain, which served as a looking-glass to the feet of some citron-trees, that were interlacing their heads to prevent the Sun's peeping through, they bethought them how to pass the time until the hour arrived to set their jaws to work, so as to afford amusement to Taddeo and Lucia; and they began to discuss whether they should play at 'Saw-brick,' 'Head or tail,' 'Egg or wind[1],' 'Springstick[2],' 'Morra,' 'Even or odd,' 'the Bell,' 'the Boaster,' 'Little Castles,' 'Throw the ball here,' 'Two or one,' 'The Owl,' or 'The Ball.'

At length the Prince, tired of these games, commanded some instruments to be brought, and that they should sing awhile; and instantly a number of attendants, who were dilettanti in music, came with lutes, tambourins, guitars, harps, mandolins, violins, castanets, flutes and cornets; and giving a beautiful concert, and playing the harmonies of the Abbate Zefero, and Cuccara Gianmartino, and the Florentine dance, they sang a number of Canzoni of the good old time, which are now more easily sighed for than found again; and amongst the rest they sang the following[3]:—

"Fie for shame, O Margarita!
’Tis indeed too cruel this,
That for every little kiss
I must to a new gown treat her.
Fie for shame, O Margarita!"

And this one:—

"O cruel Fair! I fain would see
Myself a slipper, but to be
Under that foot; yet if she knew it,
She'd stamp and run, to make me rue it!"

Then followed this:—

"Come forth, come forth, O Sun!
Shine on the Emperor.
My little box of silver,
Which is worth four hundred.
One hundred and fifty.
Sings the whole night long.
Sings Viola,
The master of the school.
O master, O master.
Send us away quickly!
For Master Tiesto's coming down
With lances and with swords,
And follow'd by the birds.
Sound, sound the little pipe.
For I'll buy you a little gown,
A little gown of scarlet red.
But if you don't play, I'll break your head."

Nor did they omit the following:—

"Sun, sun, keep off the rain!
For I must turn the corn and grain
Of Master Giuliano.
O Master, lend me a lance,
For I will go to France,
From France to Lombardia,
Where dwells my fair Lucia."

Whilst they were in the midst of the singing, the dishes were placed upon the table, and they ate till they were near bursting. Then Taddeo told Zeza to begin, and usher in the day with her song: so, in accordance with the command of the Prince, she spoke as follows.

  1. A game in which one person holds out both hands closed, and the other guesses which hand contains the prize.
  2. Mazz'e ppiuzo. A game very common in our streets; a boy strikes the tip of a little bit of wood on the ground, and makes it spring into the air. For remarks on these games, see the Notes at the end of this volume.
  3. The difficulty of translating these verses into corresponding measures is my excuse for their lameness.