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Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/204

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ounces, he now melted away by pounds; and he said to the queen, "My lady mother, if I do not give this bear a kiss, the breath will leave my body." Whereupon the queen, seeing him fainting away, said, "Kiss him, kiss him, my beautiful beast! let me not see my poor son die of longing." Then the bear went up to the prince, and taking him by the cheeks[1] kissed him again and again. Meanwhile (I know not how it was) the piece of wood slipped out of Preziosa's mouth, and she remained in the arms of the prince the most beautiful creature in the world; and pressing her to his heart he said, "I have caught you, my little rogue! you shall not escape from me again without a good reason." At these words Preziosa, adding the colour of modesty to the picture of her natural beauty, said to him, "I am indeed in your hands,—only guard my honour, and take me where you will."

Then the queen inquired who the beautiful maiden was, and what had brought her to this savage life; and Preziosa related the whole story of her misfortunes, at which the queen, praising her as a good and virtuous girl, told her son that she was content that Preziosa should be his wife. Then the prince, who desired nothing else in life, forthwith pledged her his faith; and

  1. Pigliatala a pezzechille. A common practice at Naples in kissing is to nip the person on each cheek at the same time with finger and thumb.