Italian Popular Tales/Chapter 5



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

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


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

"Tell me it."

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

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

"Relate it."

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

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

"But come! tell me it."

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

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


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

The next is from the same source.

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

(Then the story-teller begins again).

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A famished wolf passed that way and saw the dead horses. "Now I will eat my fill of horse," and he ate and ate until he had finished and had swallowed Cecino.[2] Then the wolf went off until it became hungry again and said: "Let us go and eat a goat."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


A sexton, one day in sweeping the church, found a piece of money (it was the fifth of a cent) and deliberated with himself as to what he would buy with it. If he bought nuts or almonds, he was afraid of the mice; so at last he bought some roasted peas, and ate all but the last pea. This he took to a bakery near by, and asked the mistress to keep it for him; she told him to leave it on a bench, and she would take care of it. When she went to get it, she found that the cock had eaten it. The next day the sexton came for the roast pea, and when he heard what had become of it, he said they must either return the roast pea or give him the cock. This they did, and the sexton, not having any place to keep it, took it to a miller's wife, who promised to keep it for him. Now she had a pig, which managed to kill the cock. The next day the sexton came for the cock, and on finding it dead, demanded the pig, and the woman had to give it to him. The pig he left with a friend of his, a pastry-cook, whose daughter was to be married the next day. The woman was mean and sly, and killed the pig for her daughter's wedding, meaning to tell the sexton that the pig had run away. The sexton, however, when he heard it, made a great fuss, and declared that she must give him back his pig or her daughter. At last she had to give him her daughter, whom he put in a bag and carried away. He took the bag to a woman who kept a shop, and asked her to keep for him this bag, which he said contained bran. The woman by chance kept chickens, and she thought she would take some of the sexton's bran and feed them. When she opened the bag she found the young girl, who told her how she came there. The woman took her out of the sack, and put in her stead a dog. The next day the sexton came for his bag, and putting it on his shoulder, started for the seashore, intending to throw the young girl in the sea. When he reached the shore, he opened the bag, and the furious dog flew out and bit his nose. The sexton was in great agony, and cried out, while the blood ran down his face in torrents: "Dog, dog, give me a hair to put in my nose, and heal the bite."[3] The dog answered: "Do you want a hair? give me some bread." The sexton ran to a bakery, and said to the baker: "Baker, give me some bread to give the dog; the dog will give a hair; the hair I will put in my nose, and cure the bite." The baker said: "Do you want bread? give me some wood." The sexton ran to the woodman. "Woodman, give me wood to give the baker; the baker will give me bread; the bread I will give to the dog; the dog will give me a hair; the hair I will put in my nose, and heal the bite." The woodman said: "Do you want wood? give me a mattock." The sexton ran to a smith. "Smith, give me a mattock to give the woodman; the woodman will give me wood; I will carry the wood to the baker; the baker will give me bread; I will give the bread to the dog; the dog will give me a hair; the hair I will put in my nose, and heal the bite." The smith said: "Do you want a mattock? give me some coals." The sexton ran to the collier. "Collier, give me some coals to give the smith; the smith will give me a mattock; the mattock I will give the woodman; the woodman will give me some wood; the wood I will give the baker; the baker will give me bread; the bread I will give the dog; the dog will give me a hair; the hair I will put in my nose, and heal the bite." "Do you want coals? give me a cart." The sexton ran to the wagon-maker. "Wagon-maker, give me a cart to give the collier; the collier will give me some coals; the coals I will carry to the smith; the smith will give me a mattock; the mattock I will give the woodman; the woodman will give me some wood; the wood I will give the baker; the baker will give me bread; the bread I will give to the dog; the dog will give me a hair; the hair I will put in my nose, and heal the bite."

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Once upon a time there was Godmother Fox and Godmother Goat.[5] The former had a little bit of a house adorned with little chairs, cups, and dishes; in short, it was well furnished. One day Godmother Goat went out and carried away the little house. Godmother Fox began to lament, when along came a dog, barking, that said to her: "What are you crying about?" She answered: "Godmother Goat has carried off my house!" "Be quiet. I will make her give it back to you." So the dog went and said to Godmother Goat: "Give the house back to Godmother Fox." The goat answered: "I am Godmother Goat. I have a sword at my side, and with my horns I will tear you in pieces." When the dog heard that, he went away.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"May I not creak?" it replied.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The version from Milan (Nov. fior. p. 552) resembles the one from Venice. Instead of the mouse and the sausage we have the big mouse and the little mouse. In the version from Leghorn (Papanti, p. 19) called "Vezzino and Lady Sausage,"[6] the actors are Lady Sausage and her son Vezzino, who falls into the pot on the fire while his mother is at mass. The rest of the story does not differ materially from the above versions.

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


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

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

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

The following nonsense story from Venice (Bernoni, Punt. I. p. 18) will give a good idea of a class that is not very well represented in Italy. It is called:


Once upon a time there were three brothers: two had no clothes and one no shirt. The weather was very bad and they make up their minds to go shooting. So they took down three guns,—two were broken and one had no barrel,—and walked and walked until they came at last to a meadow, where they saw a hare. They began to fire at it, but could not catch it. "What shall we do?" said one of them. They remembered that near by a godmother of theirs lived; so they went and knocked at her door and asked her to lend them a pot to cook the hare they had not caught. The godmother was not at home, but nevertheless she answered: "My children, go in the kitchen and there you will find three pots, two broken and one with no bottom; take whichever you wish." "Thanks, Godmother!" They went into the kitchen and chose the one without a bottom and put the hare in it to cook. While the hare was cooking, one said: "Let us ask our godmother whether she has anything in her garden." So they asked her and she said: "Yes, yes, my children, I have three walnut-trees; two are dead and one has never borne any nuts; knock off as many as you wish." One went and shook the tree that had never borne nuts, and a little nut fell on his hat and broke his heel. Thereupon they picked up the nuts and went to get the hare, which meanwhile was cooked, and said: "What shall we do with so much stuff?" So they went to a village where there were many ill, and they put up a notice in the street that whoever wished might, at such and such a place, get broth given him in charity. Every one went to get some, and they took it in the salad-basket, and it was given to them with a skimmer. One who did not belong to the village, drank so much of this broth that he was at the point of death. Then they sent for three physicians: one was blind, one deaf, and one dumb. The blind man went in and said: "Let me look at your tongue." The deaf man asked: "How are you?" The dumb said: "Give me some paper, pen and ink." They gave them to him and he said:

"Go to the apothecary,
For he knows the business;
Buy two cents' worth of I know not what,
Put it wherever you wish.
He will get well I know not when,
I will leave and commend him to you."18

One of the most popular of Italian tales, as the collector tells us, is one of which we give the version from Leghorn (Papanti, p. 25). It is called:


Once upon a time there was a child whose name was Buchettino. One morning his mamma called him and said: "Buchettino, will you do me a favor? Go and sweep the stairs." Buchettino, who was very obedient, did not wait to be told a second time, but went at once to sweep the stairs. All at once he heard a noise, and after looking all around, he found a penny. Then he said to himself: "What shall I do with this penny? I have half a mind to buy some dates . . . but no! for I should have to throw away the stones. I will buy some apples . . . no! I will not, for I should have to throw away the core. I will buy some nuts . . . but no, for I should have to throw away the shells! What shall I buy, then? I will buy—I will buy—enough; I will buy a pennyworth of figs." No sooner said than done: he bought a pennyworth of figs, and went to eat them in a tree. While he was eating, the ogre passed by, and seeing Buchettino eating figs in the tree, said:

My dear Buchettino,
Give me a little fig
With your dear little hand,
If not I will eat you!"

Buchettino threw him one, but it fell in the dirt. Then the ogre repeated:

My dear Buchettino,
Give me a little fig
With your dear little hand,
If not I will eat you!"

Then Buchettino threw him another, which also fell in the dirt. The ogre said again:

My dear Buchettino,
Give me a little fig
With your dear little hand,
If not I will eat you!"

Poor Buchettino, who did not see the trick, and did not know that the ogre was doing everything to get him into his net and eat him up, what does he do? he leans down and foolishly gives him a fig with his little hand. The ogre, who wanted nothing better, suddenly seized him by the arm and put him in his bag; then he took him on his back and started for home, crying with all his lungs:

"Wife, my wife,
Put the kettle on the fire,
For I have caught Buchettino!
Wife, my wife,
Put the kettle on the fire,
For I have caught Buchettino!"

When the ogre was near his house he put the bag on the ground, and went off to attend to something else. Buchettino, with a knife that he had in his pocket, cut the bag open in a trice, filled it with large stones, and then:

"My legs, it is no shame
To run away when there is need."

When the rascal of an ogre returned he picked up the bag, and scarcely had he arrived home when he said to his wife: "Tell me, my wife, have you put the kettle on the fire?" She answered at once: "Yes." "Then," said the ogre, "we will cook Buchettino; come here, help me!" And both taking the bag, they carried it to the hearth and were going to throw poor Buchettino into the kettle, but instead they found only the stones. Imagine how cheated the ogre was. He was so angry that he bit his hands. He could not swallow the trick played on him by Buchettino and swore to find him again and be revenged. So the next day he began to go all about the city and to look into all the hiding places. At last he happened to raise his eyes and saw Buchettino on a roof, ridiculing him and laughing so hard that his mouth extended from ear to ear. The ogre thought he should burst with rage, but he pretended not to see it and in a very sweet tone he said: "O Buchettino; just tell me, how did you manage to climb up there?" Buchettino answered: "Do you really want to know? Then listen. I put dishes upon dishes, glasses upon glasses, pans upon pans, kettles upon kettles; afterwards I climbed up on them and here I am." "Ah! is that so?" said the ogre; "wait a bit!" And quickly he took so many dishes, so many glasses, pans, kettles, and made a great mountain of them; then he began to climb up, to go and catch Buchettino. But when he was on the top—brututum—everything fell down; and that rascal of an ogre fell down on the stones and was cheated again.

Then Buchettino, well pleased, ran to his mamma, who put a piece of candy in his little mouth—See whether there is any more!19

We will end this chapter with two stories in which the chief actors are animals. One of these stories will doubtless be very familiar to our readers. The first is from Venice (Bernoni, Punt. III. p. 65).


Once upon a time there were three goslings who were greatly afraid of the wolf; for if he found them he would eat them. One day the largest said to the other two: "Do you know what I think? I think we had better build a little house, so that the wolf shall not eat us, and meanwhile let us go and look for something to build the house with." Then the other two said: "Yes, yes, yes . . . good! let us go!" So they went and found a man who had a load of straw and said to him: "Good man, do us the favor to give us a little of that straw to make a house of, so that the wolf shall not eat us." The man said: "Take it, take it!" and he gave them as much as they wanted. The goslings thanked the man and took the straw and went away to a meadow, and there they built a lovely little house, with a door, and balconies, and kitchen, with everything, in short. When it was finished the largest gosling said: "Now I want to see whether one is comfortable in this house." So she went in and said: "Oh! how comfortable it is in this house! just wait!" She went and locked the door with a padlock, and went out on the balcony and said to the other two goslings: "I am very comfortable alone here; go away, for I want nothing to do with you."

The two poor little goslings began to cry and beg their sister to open the door and let them in; if she did not, the wolf would eat them. But she would not listen to them. Then the two goslings went away and found a man who had a load of hay. They said to him: "Good man, do us the kindness to give us a little of that hay to build a house with, so that the wolf shall not eat us!" "Yes, yes, yes, take some, take some!" And he gave them as much as they wanted. The goslings, well pleased, thanked the man and carried the hay to a meadow and built a very pretty little house, prettier than the other. The middle-sized gosling said to the smallest: "Listen. I am going now to see whether one is comfortable in this house; but I will not act like our sister, you know!" She entered the house and said to herself: "Oh! how comfortable it is here! I don't want my sister! I am very comfortable here alone." So she went and fastened the door with a padlock, and went out on the balcony and said to her sister: "Oh! how comfortable it is in this house! I don't want you here! go away, go away!" The poor gosling began to weep and beg her sister to open to her, for she was alone, and did not know where to go, and if the wolf found her he would eat her; but it did no good: she shut the balcony and stayed in the house.

Then the gosling, full of fear, went away and found a man who had a load of iron and stones and said to him: "Good man, do me the favor to give me a few of those stones and a little of that iron to build me a house with, so that the wolf shall not eat me!" The man pitied the gosling so much that he said: "Yes, yes, good gosling, or rather I will build your house for you." Then they went away to a meadow, and the man built a very pretty house, with a garden and everything necessary, and very strong, for it was lined with iron, and the balcony and door of iron also. The gosling, well pleased, thanked the man and went into the house and remained there.

Now let us go to the wolf.

The wolf looked everywhere for these goslings, but could not find them. After a time he learned that they had built three houses. "Good, good!" he said; "wait until I find you!" Then he started out and journeyed and journeyed until he came to the meadow where the first house was. He knocked at the door and the gosling said: "Who is knocking at the door?" "Come, come," said the wolf; "open, for it is I." The gosling said: "I will not open for you, because you will eat me." "Open, open! I will not eat you, be not afraid. Very well," said the wolf, "if you will not open the door I will blow down your house." And indeed he did blow down the house and ate up the gosling. "Now that I have eaten one," he said, "I will eat the others too." Then he went away and came at last to the house of the second gosling, and everything happened as to the first, the wolf blew down the house and ate the gosling. Then he went in search of the third and when he found her he knocked at the door, but she would not let him in. Then he tried to blow the house down, but could not; then he climbed on the roof and tried to trample the house down, but in vain. "Very well," he said to himself, "in one way or another I will eat you." Then he came down from the roof and said to the gosling: "Listen, gosling. Do you wish us to make peace? I don't want to quarrel with you who are so good, and I have thought that to-morrow we will cook some macaroni and I will bring the butter and cheese and you will furnish the flour." "Very good," said the gosling, "bring them then." The wolf, well satisfied, saluted the gosling and went away. The next day the gosling got up early and went and bought the meal and then returned home and shut the house. A little later the wolf came and knocked at the door and said: "Come, gosling, open the door, for I have brought you the butter and cheese!" "Very well, give it to me here by the balcony." "No indeed, open the door!" "I will open when all is ready." Then the wolf gave her the things by the balcony and went away. While he was gone the gosling prepared the macaroni, and put it on the fire to cook in a kettle full of water. When it was two o'clock the wolf came and said: "Come, gosling, open the door." "No, I will not open, for when I am busy I don't want any one in the way; when it is cooked, I will open and you may come in and eat it." A little while after, the gosling said to the wolf: "Would you like to try a bit of macaroni to see whether it is well cooked?" "Open the door! that is the better way." "No, no; don't think you are coming in; put your mouth to the hole in the shelf and I will pour the macaroni down." The wolf, all greedy as he was, put his mouth to the hole and then the gosling took the kettle of boiling water and poured the boiling water instead of the macaroni through the hole into the wolf's mouth; and the wolf was scalded and killed. Then the gosling took a knife and cut open the wolf's stomach, and out jumped the other goslings, who were still alive, for the wolf was so greedy that he had swallowed them whole. Then these goslings begged their sister's pardon for the mean way in which they had treated her, and she, because she was kind-hearted, forgave them and took them into her house, and there they ate their macaroni and lived together happy and contented.20

A curious variant of the above story is found in the same collection (p. 69) under the title:


Once upon a time there was a cock, and this cock flew here and flew there, and flew on an arbor, and there he found a letter. He opened the letter and saw: "Cock, steward," —— and that he was invited to Rome by the Pope.

The cock started on his journey, and after a time met the hen: "Where are you going, Friend Cock?" said the hen. "I flew," said he, "upon an arbor and found a letter, and this letter said that I was invited to Rome by the Pope." "Just see, friend," said the hen, "whether I am there too." "Wait a bit." Then he turned the letter, and saw written there: "Cock, steward; Hen, stewardess." "Come, friend, for you are there too." "Very well!"

Then the two started off, and soon met the goose, who said: "Where are you going, Friend Cock and Friend Hen?" "I flew," said the cock, "upon an arbor, and I found a letter, and this letter said that we were invited to Rome by the Pope." "Just look, friend, whether I am there too." Then the cock opened the letter, read it, and saw that there was written: "Cock, steward; Hen, stewardess; Goose, abbess." "Come, come, friend; you are there too." So they took her along, and all three went their way.

[After a time they found the duck, and the cock saw written in the letter: "Cock, steward; Hen, stewardess; Goose, abbess; Duck, countess." They next met a little bird, and found he was down in the letter as "little manservant." Finally they came across the wood-louse, whom they found mentioned in the letter as "maid-servant." On their journey they came to a forest, and saw a wolf at a distance. The cock, hen, goose, and duck plucked out their feathers and built houses to shelter themselves from the wolf. The poor bug, that had no feathers, dug a hole in the ground and crept into it. The wolf came, and as in the last story, blew down the four houses and devoured their occupants. Then he tried to get at the bug in the same way; but blew so hard that he burst, and out came the cock, hen, goose, and duck, safe and sound, and began to make a great noise. The bug heard it and came out of her hole, and after they had rejoiced together, they separated and each returned home and thought no more of going to Rome to the Pope.]

There is a version from the Marches (Gianandrea, p. 21), called, "The Marriage of Thirteen." The animals are the same as in the last story. On their journey they meet the wolf, who accompanies them, although his name is not in the letter. After a time the wolf becomes hungry, and exclaims: "I am hungry." The cock answers: "I have nothing to give you." "Very well; then I will eat you;" and he swallows him whole. And so he devours one after the other, until the bird only remains. The bird flies from tree to tree and bush to bush, and around the wolf's head, until he drives him wild with anger. At last along comes a woman with a basket on her head, carrying food to the reapers. The bird says to the wolf that if he will spare his life he will get him something to eat from the basket. The wolf promises, and the bird alights near the woman, who tries to catch him; the bird flies on a little way, and the woman puts down her basket and runs after him. Meanwhile the wolf draws near the basket and begins eating its contents. When the woman sees that, she cries: "Help!" and the reapers run up with sticks and scythes, and kill the wolf, and the animals that he had devoured all came out of his stomach, safe and sound.21

There are two Sicilian versions of the story of "The Cock." One (Pitrè, No. 279), "The Wolf and the Finch," opens like the Venetian. The animals are: Cock, king; Hen, queen; Viper, chambermaid; Wolf, Pope; and Finch, keeper of the castle. The wolf then proceeds to confess the others, and eats them in turn until he comes to the finch, which plays a joke on him and flies away. The conclusion of the story is disfigured, nothing being said of the wolf's punishment or the recovery of the other animals.

The other Sicilian version is in Gonzenbach (No. 66). We give it, however, for completeness and because it recalls a familiar story in Grimm.22 It is entitled:


It occurred once to the cock to go to Rome and have himself elected Pope. So he started out, and on the way found a letter, which he took with him. The hen met him, and asked: "Mr. Cock, where are you going?" "I am going to Rome, to be Pope." "Will you take me with you?" she asked. "First I must look in my letter," said the cock, and looked at his letter. "Come along; if I become Pope, you can be the Popess." So Mr. Cock and Mrs. Hen continued their journey and met a cat, who said: "Mr. Cock and Mrs. Hen, where are you going?" "We are going to Rome, and wish to be Pope and Popess." "Will you take me with you?" "Wait until I look in my letter," said the cock, and glanced at it. "Very well; come along; you can be our lady's-maid." After a while they met a weasel, who asked: "Where are you going, Mr. Cock, Mrs. Hen, and Mrs. Cat?" "We are going to Rome, where I intend to become Pope," answered the cock. "Will you take me with you?" "Wait until I look in my letter," said he. When the cock looked in his letter, he said: "Very well; come along."

So the three animals continued their journey together towards Rome. At night-fall they came to a little house where lived an old witch, who had just gone out. So each animal chose a place to suit him. The weasel sat himself in the cupboard, the cat on the hearth in the warm ashes, and the cock and the hen flew up on the beam over the door.

When the old witch came home she wanted to get a light out of the cupboard, and the weasel struck her in the face with his tail. Then she wanted to light the candle, and went to the hearth. She took the bright eyes of the cat for live coals and tried to light the match by them, and hit the cat in the eyes. The cat jumped in her face and scratched her frightfully. When the cock heard all the noise he began to crow loudly. Then the witch saw that they were no ghosts, but harmless domestic animals, and took a stick and drove all four out of the house.

The cat and the weasel had no longer any desire to prolong their journey; but the cock and hen continued their way.

When they reached Rome they entered an open church, and the cock said to the sexton: "Have all the bells rung, for now I will be Pope." "Good!" answered the sexton; "that may be, but just come in here." Then he led the cock and the hen into the sacristry, shut the door, and caught them both. After he had caught them he twisted their necks and put them in the pot. Then he invited his friends, and they ate with great glee Mr. Cock and Mrs. Hen.


  1. Cecino, dim. of Cece, chick-pea.
  2. It appears from this that Cecino had been in one of the horses all the time, but the thieves had not seen him because he was so small.
  3. As with us the hair of a dog is supposed to heal the bite the same dog has inflicted.
  4. Cummari Vurpidda (diminutive of Fox) .
  5. Cummari Crapazza (diminutive of Goat).
  6. Vezzino e Madonna Salciccia. Vezzino is the dim. of vezzo, delight, pastime.


1. The verse in this story is given somewhat differently by Bolza, Canzoni pop. Comasche, Vienna, 1866, Note 9:—

"La storia de Sior Intento,
Che dura molto tempo,
Che mai no se destriga:
Vole che ve la diga?"

The story of Mr. Attentive, which lasts a long time, which is never explained, do you wish me to tell it?

There are in Bernoni, Punt. II. pp. 53, 54, two or three other rhymes of this class that may be given here.


Once upon a time—that I remember—into a blind-man's eye—a fly went—and I thought—that it was a quail—wretched blind-man—go away from here!


Fiaba, aba—Questa xe una—Muro e malta—Questa xe un' altra.

Story, ory—This is one—Wall and mud—This is another.

"A long one and a short one,
Do you wish me to tell you a long one?
This is the finger and this is the nail.
Do you wish me to tell you a short one?
This is the finger and this is the end of it."

2. Pitrè, No. 141. In the notes to this story are given some more of this class.

"Once upon a time there was a page who drew three carts: one of wine, one of bread, and one of relishes. . . . And once upon a time there was a page."

Some poetical versions are given in the same place from various parts of Italy.

"Once upon a time,
An old man and an old woman
Were on top of a mountain . . .
Be quiet, for I am going to tell you it."

— Naples.

"Once upon a time there was a man
Behind the church
With a basket on his back . . .
But be still if I am to tell you it!"

— Milan, Nov. fior. p. 570.

Some more rhymes of this class may be found in Papanti, Nov. pop. livor, p. 17: "Once upon a time there was a man, whose name was Boccabella, who skinned his wife to make a skirt; and skinned his children to make some towels."

"Once upon a time there was a man,
A woman, and a little bottle . . .
Listen to this!"

"Once upon a time there was a king
Who ate more than you;
He ate bread and cheese,
Pull, pull this nose."

Here the speaker pulls the child's nose.

"Once upon a time there was a rich poor man
Who had seven daughters to marry:
On one hand there came a felon,
And on the other seven blisters."

3. Rivista di Letteratura popolare, vol. I. p. 161 (1878). "Una Variante toscana della Novella del Petit Poucet." Versions from the Marches, the Abruzzi, and Tuscany may now be found in Giornale di Filologia romanza, II. p. 23; Finamore, Tradizioni popolari abruzzesi, 1882, No. 47, p. 233; and Nov. tosc. No. 42.

4. The myth of "Tom Thumb" has been thoroughly examined in an admirable monograph: Le Petit Poucet et la Grande Ourse par Gaston Paris, Paris, 1875. The author says in conclusion (p. 52): "Si nous cherchons enfin quels sont les peuples qui nous offrent soit ce conte, soit cette dénomination, nous voyons qu'ils comprennent essentiellement les peuples slaves (lithuanien, esclavon) et germaniques (allemand, danois, suédois, anglais). Les contes des Albanais, des Roumains et des Grecs modernes sont sans doute empruntés aux Slaves, comme une très-grande parti e de la mythologie populaire de ces nations. Le nom wallon et le conte forézien nous montrent en France (ainsi que le titre du conte de Perrault) la légende de Poucet: mais elle a pu fort bien, comme tant d'autres récits semblables, y être apportée par les Germains. Ni en Italie, ni en Espagne, ni dans les pays celtiques je n'ai trouvé trace du conte ou du nom." This latter statement must now, of course, be modified. To the references in Paris' book may be added: Romania, No. 32, p. 59 (Cosquin, No. 53), and Köhler in Zeit. f. rom. Phil. III. p. 617.

The transformation of the chick-peas into children has a parallel in the Greek story of "Pepper-Corn" shortly to be mentioned.

5. The discussion of this point may best be found in the following works: Halliwell's Nursery Rhymes of England (Percy Soc. IV.), London, 1842, pp. 2, 159; Romania, I. p. 218; and Un Canto popolare piemontese e un Canto religioso popolare israelitico. Note e confronti di Cesare Foa, Padova, 1879. The references to the other European versions of this story may be found in Romania, No. 28, p. 546 (Cosquin, No. 34), and Köhler in Zeit. f. rom. Phil. III. 156.

6. Halliwell's Nursery Rhymes, p. 160.

7. There is a poetical version of this story in Vigo, Raccolta amplissima di Canti pop. sicil. 2da ediz. Catania, 1870–1874, No. 4251, beginning:—

"Susi, Bittudda
Va scupa la casa.
— Signura, non pozzu
Mi doli lu cozzu," etc.

The ending, however, is incomplete.

8. Imbriani, Pomiglianesi, p. 232, "Micco."

9. The version from Siena is in Saggio di Letture varie per i Giovani di T. Gradi, Torino, 1865, p. 175, "La Novella di Petuzzo;" the Tuscan (Florence) version is in Imbriani, Nov. fior. p. 548, "Petruzzo." Another Tuscan version may be found in Nerucci, Cincelle da Bambini, No. 7; and one from Apulia in Archivio, III. p. 69.

10. Bernoni, Punt. III. p. 72, "Petin-Petele."

11. The first part of this story is found also in a Tuscan version given by Corazzini in his Componimenti minori, p. 412, "Il Cecio" ("The Chick-pea"). The chick-pea is swallowed by a cock, that is eaten by a pig, that is killed by a calf, that is killed and cooked by an innkeeper's wife for her sick daughter, who recovers, and is given in marriage to the owner of the chick-pea.

The sexton's doubt as to how he shall invest the money he has found is a frequent trait in Italian stories, and is found in several mentioned in this chapter. See notes in Papanti, Nov. pop. livor. p. 29. Copious references to this class of stories may be found in the Romania, Nos. 24, p. 576, and 28, p. 548; Köhler in Zeitschrift für rom. Phil. II. 351; Grimm, No. 80; Orient und Occident, II. 123; Bladé, Agenais, No. 5; Mélusine, 148, 218, 426; and Brueyre, p. 376. See also Halliwell, p. 33, "The Cat and the Mouse."

12. This version is a variant of a story in the same collection, p. 236, which cannot well be translated, as it is mostly in rhyme. There is another version from Montella in the Principato Ulteriore, p. 241, "Lo Haddro e lo Sorece" ("The Cock and the Mouse"), which has a satirical ending. The beginning is like that of the other versions: the cock and the mouse go to gather pears; one falls and wounds the mouse's head. The mouse goes to the physician, who demands rags, the ragman asks for the tail of the dog. The dog demands bread, the baker wood, the mountain an axe; the iron-monger says: "Go to the galantuomo (gentleman, wealthy person), get some money, and I will give you the axe." The mouse goes to the galantuomo, who says: "Sit down and write, and then I will give you the money." So the mouse begins to write for the galantuomo, but his head swells and he dies. A similar story is found in Corsica, see Ortoli, p. 237.

13. It remains to mention two poetical versions: one in Corazzini, from Verona, op. cit. p. 139, which begins:—

"Cos' è questo?
La camera del Vesco.
Cos' è dentro?
Pan e vin," etc.

"What is this? The bishop's chamber. What is in it? Bread and wine. Where is my share? The cat has eaten it. Where is the cat? The stick has beaten him. Where is the stick? The fire has burned it. Where is the fire? The water has quenched it. Where is the water? The ox has drunk it. Where is the ox? Out in the fields. Who is behind there? My friend Matthew. What has he in his hand? A piece of bread. What has he on his feet? A pair of torn shoes. What has he on his back? A whale. What has he in his belly? A balance. What has he on his head? A cap upside down."

The choice of objects is determined by the rhyme, e. g.:

"Cosa g'àlo in schena?
Na balena.
Cosa g'àlo in panza?
Una balanza."

The second poetical version is from Turin, and is given by Foa, op. cit. p. 5. It begins:—

1. "A j'era' na crava
C' a pasturava,
A m' a rout 'l bout
Oh 'l bon vin c'a j'era' nt 'l mè bout
L' è la crava c' a' m l' a rout!

2. "A j'è riva-ie l' luv
L' a mangià la crava
C' a pasturava
C' a m' ha rout 'l bout," etc. (ut supra.)

The following is a literal prose translation of this curious version.

"There was a goat that was feeding, it has broken my bottle. Oh, the good wine that was in my bottle, it is the goat that has broken it! Then came the wolf that ate the goat that was feeding, that broke my bottle, etc. Then came the dog, that barked at the wolf, that ate the goat, etc. Then came the stick that beat the dog, that barked at the wolf, etc. Then came the fire that burned the stick, that beat the dog, etc. Then came the water that quenched the fire, that burned the stick, etc. Then came the ox, that drank the water, that quenched the fire, etc. Then came the butcher that killed the ox, that drank the water, etc. Then came the hangman that hung the butcher, that killed the ox, etc. Then came death, and carried away the hangman, that hung the butcher, etc. Then came the wind, that carried away death, that carried away the hangman," etc.

A variant of this song reminds one more closely of the prose versions.

"Then came the hangman that hung the butcher, etc. Then came the rat that gnawed the cord, that hung the butcher, etc. Then came the cat that ate the rat, that gnawed the cord, etc. Then came the dog that caught the cat, that ate the rat, that gnawed the cord," etc.

The above Italian version, it will be clearly seen, is only a popular rendition of the Jewish hymn in the Sefther Haggadah. Foa, in the work above cited, gives another version from Orio Canarese, and also a number of Italian versions of the "Song of the Kid." His conclu- sion is the same as that of Gaston Paris in the Romania, I. p. 224, that the "Song of the Kid" is not of Jewish origin, but was introduced into the Haggadah from the popular song or story.

14. A version of this story is found in Morosi's Studi sui Dialetti greci, Lecce, 1870.


Once upon a time a goat entered the den of the fox while the latter was absent. At night the fox returned home, and finding the goat fled because frightened by the horns. A wolf passed by, and was also terrified. Then came a hedgehog and entered the den, and pricked the goat with its quills. The goat came out, and the wolf killed it, and the fox ate it.

15. Grimm, No. 30. Another version from the North of Europe is in Asbjørnsen, No. 103 [Dasent, Tales from the Fjeld, p. 30, "The Death of Chanticleer "]. Several French versions may be found in the Romania, No. 22, p. 244, and Mélusine, p. 424. There is a Spanish version in Caballero's Cuentos, etc., Leipzig, 1878, p. 3, "La Hormiguita" ("The Little Ant"). There is a curious version in Hahn's Griechische und Albanesische Märchen, Leipzig, 1864, No. 56, "Pepper-Corn." The story is from Smyrna, and is as follows:—


Once upon a time there was an old man and an old woman who had no children; and one day the old woman went into the fields and picked a basket of beans. When she had finished, she looked into the basket and said: "I wish all the beans were little children." Scarcely had she uttered these words when a whole crowd of little children sprang out of the basket and danced about her. Such a family seemed too large for the old woman, so she said: "I wish you would all become beans again." Immediately the children climbed back into the basket and became beans again, all except one little boy, whom the old woman took home with her.

He was so small that everybody called him little Pepper-Corn, and so good and charming that everybody loved him.

One day the old woman was cooking her soup and little Pepper-Corn climbed up on the kettle and looked in to see what was cooking, but he slipped and fell into the boiling broth and was scalded to death. The old woman did not notice until meal-time that he was missing, and looked in vain for him everywhere to call him to dinner.

At last they sat down to the table without little Pepper-Corn, and when they poured the soup out of the kettle into the dish the body of little Pepper-Corn floated on top.

Then the old man and the old woman began to mourn and cry: "Dear Pepper-Corn is dead, dear Pepper-Corn is dead."

When the dove heard it she tore out her feathers, and cried: "Dear Pepper-Corn is dead. The old man and the old woman are mourning."

When the apple-tree saw that the dove tore out her feathers it asked her why she did so, and when it learned the reason it shook off all its apples.

In like manner, the well near by poured out all its water, the queen's maid broke her pitcher, the queen broke her arm, and the king threw his crown on the ground so that it broke into a thousand pieces; and when his people asked him what the matter was, he answered: "Dear Pepper-Corn is dead, the old man and the old woman mourn, the dove has torn out her feathers, the apple-tree has shaken off all its apples, the well has poured out all its water, the maid has broken her pitcher, the queen has broken her arm, and I, the king, have lost my crown; dear Pepper-Corn is dead."

See also Benfey, Pant. I. p. 191. There is also a version in Morosi, op. cit., given by Imbriani in Pomiglianesi, p. 268; and mention is made of one from the Abruzzi in Finamore, Trad. pop. abruzzesi, p. 244.

16. In addition to the versions mentioned in the text, Imbriani (Pomiglianesi, pp. 250, 252) gives two versions from Lecco.

The following version is found in Morosi, p. 73.


There was once an ant who, while sweeping her house one day, found three quattrini, and began to say: "What shall I buy? What shall I buy? Shall I buy meat? No, because meat has bones, and I should choke. Shall I buy fish? No, for fish has bones, and I should be scratched." After she had mentioned many other things, she concluded to buy a red ribbon. She put it on, and sat in the window. An ox passed by and said: "How pretty you are! do you want me for your husband?" She said: "Sing, so that I may hear your voice." The ox with great pride raised his voice. After the ant had heard it, she said: "No, no, you frighten me."

A dog passed by, and the same happened to him as to the ox. After many animals had passed, a little mouse went by and said: "How pretty you are! do you want me for your husband?" She said: "Let me hear you sing." The mouse sang, and went pi, pi, pi! His voice pleased the ant, and she took him for her husband.

Sunday came, and while the ant was with her friends, the mouse said: "My dear little ant, I am going to see whether the meat that you have put on the fire is done." He went, and when he smelled the odor of the meat, he wanted to take a little; he put in one paw and burned it; he put in the other, and burned that too; he stuck in his nose, and the smoke drew him into the pot, and the poor little mouse was all burned. The ant waited for him to eat. She waited two, she waited three hours, the mouse did not come. When she could wait no longer, she put the dinner on the table. But when she took out the meat, out came the mouse dead. When she saw him the ant began to weep, and all her friends; and the ant remained a widow, because he who is a mouse must be a glutton. If you don't believe it, go to her house and you will see her.

17. Other Italian versions are: Pitrè, No. 136, "Li Vecchi" ("The Old Folks"); and Nov. fior. p. 567, "The Story of Signor Donato."

18. There are two versions of this story in Pitrè, No. 139, and notes. They differ but little from the one we have translated. An Istrian version is in Ive, Fiabe pop. rovignesi, 1878, No. 4, "I tri fardai," and a Corsican one in Ortoli, p. 278.

19. Other Italian versions are: Coronedi-Berti, p. 49, "La Fola d' Zanninein;" and Bernoni, Trad. pop. p. 79, "Rosseto."

20. There is another Italian version in Fiabe Mantovane, No. 31, "The Wolf." The only parallel I can find to this story out of Italy is a negro story in Lippincott's Magazine, December, 1877, "Folk-Lore of the Southern Negroes," p. 753, "Tiny Pig." Allusion is made to the Anglo-Saxon story of the "Three Blue Pigs," but I have been unable to find it.

21. A Sicilian version is in Pitrè, No. 278, "L' Acidduzzu" ("Little Bird"), and one from Tuscany in Nerucci, Cincelle da Bambini, No. 12.

22. Köhler, in his notes to this story, gives parallels from various parts of Europe. To these may be added Asbjørnsen and Moe, Nos. 42, 102 [Dasent, Tales from the Fjeld, p. 35, "The Greedy Cat"]. Comp. Halliwell, p. 29, "The story of Chicken-licken." A French version is in the Romania, No. 32, p. 554 (Cosquin, No. 45), where copious references to this class of stories may be found. Add to these those by Köhler in Zeitschrift für rom. Phil. III. p. 617.