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Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/196

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THE PENTAMERONE.

But bearing in mind the maxim, "Pain in one's elbow and pain for one's wife are alike hard to bear, but are soon over," ere the Night had gone forth into the place-of-arms in the sky to muster the bats, he began to count upon his fingers and to reflect thus to himself: "Here is my wife dead, and I am left a wretched widower, with no hope of seeing any one but this poor daughter whom she has left me. I must therefore try to discover some means or other of having a son and heir. But where shall I look? where shall I find a woman equal in beauty to my wife? every one appears a witch in comparison with her; where then shall I find another with a bit of stick, or seek another with the bell[1], if Nature made Nardella (may she be in glory!) and then broke the mould[2]? Alas, in what a labyrinth has she put me, in what a perplexity has the promise I made her left me! But what do I say? I am running away before I have seen the wolf; let me open eyes and ears and look about: may there not be some other she-ass in Nardella's stable? is it possible that the world should be lost to me? is there such a dearth of women, or is the race extinct?"

So saying he forthwith issued a proclamation and command by Master Chiommiento, that all the handsome women in the world should come to the touch-

  1. As children hunt for anything lost in the sand with a little stick (spruoccolo), and the town-crier goes about with his bell.
  2. So Ariosto says—"Natura il fece e poi ruppe la stampa."