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Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/197

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THE SHE-BEAR.

stone of beauty, for he would take the most beautiful to wife and endow her with a kingdom. Now when this news was spread abroad, there was not a woman in the universe who did not come to try her luck,—not a witch, however ugly, who staid behind; for when it is a question of beauty, no scullion-wench will acknowledge herself surpassed, no sea-ork will yield: every one piques herself on being the handsomest; and if the looking-glass tells her the truth, she blames the glass for being untrue, and the quicksilver for being put on badly.

When the town was thus filled with women, the king had them all drawn up in a line; and he walked up and down, from top to bottom, like a baboon that is never still; and as he examined and measured each from head to foot, one appeared to him wry-browed, another long-nosed, another broad-mouthed, another thick-lipped, another tall as a maypole, another short and dumpy, another too stout, another too slender; the Spaniard did not please him on account of her dark colour, the Neapolitan was not to his fancy on account of her waddling gait, the German appeared cold and icy, the Frenchwoman frivolous and giddy, the Venetian with her light hair looked like a distaff of flax. At the end of the end, one for this cause and another for that, he sent them all away, with one hand before and the other behind; and seeing that so many fair faces were all show