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Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/181

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THE SERPENT.

Cola Matteo, who was a plain, straightforward sort of man, and knew nothing about matters of this kind, went innocently to the king and delivered his message, saying, "The messenger should not be beaten more, than the sands upon the shore. Know then that a serpent wants your daughter for his wife, and I am come therefore to try if we can make a match between a serpent and a dove." The king, who saw at a glance that he was a blockhead, to get rid of him said, "Go and tell the serpent that I will give him my daughter if he turns all the fruit of this orchard into gold." And so saying, he burst out a-laughing and dismissed him.

When Cola Matteo went home, and delivered the answer to the serpent, he said, "Go tomorrow morning and gather up all the fruit-stones you can find in the city, and sow them in the orchard, and you will see pearls strung on rushes." Cola Matteo, who was no conjuror, neither knew how to comply or refuse; so next morning, as soon as the Sun with his golden broom had swept away the dirt of the Night from the fields watered by the Dawn, he took a basket on his arm, and went from street to street picking up all the stones of peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and cherries that he could find: then he went to the orchard of the palace, and sowed them as the serpent had desired. In an instant the trees shot up, and stems and