Open main menu

Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/170

This page has been validated.





Ingratitude, my lord, is a nail, which, driven into the tree of courtesy, causes it to wither; it is a broken channel, by which the foundations of affection are undermined; and a lump of soot, which falling into the dish of friendship destroys its scent and savour; as is seen in daily instances, and among others in the story which I will now tell you.



There was one time in my dear city of Naples an old man, who was as poor as poor could be: he was so wretched, so bare, so light, and with not a farthing in his pocket, that he went naked as a flea. And being about to shake out the bags of life, he called to him his sons, Oratiello and Pippo, and said to them, "I am now called upon by the tenor of my bill to pay the debt I owe to Nature; and believe me, if you are Christians, that I should feel great pleasure in leaving this