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Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/328

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THE PENTAMERONE.

of whom turning to Cianna said, "Who art thou, and whither art thou going?" And Cianna, who was courteous to every one, said to her, "I am an unhappy girl, who for a matter that concerns me am seeking the dwelling of the Mother of Time."

"Go on further," replied the ant, "and where these mountains open into a large plain you will obtain more news. But do me a great favour,—get the secret from the old woman, what we ants can do to live a little longer; for it seems to me a folly in worldly affairs to be heaping up such a large store of food for so short a life, which, like an auctioneer's candle, goes out just at the best bidding of years[1]."

"Be at ease," said Cianna; "I will return the kindness you have shown me."

Then she passed the mountains and arrived at a wide plain; and proceeding a little way over it, she came to a large oak-tree,—a memorial of antiquity, whose fruit (a mouthful which Time gives to this bitter age of its lost sweetness[2]) tasted like sweetmeats to the maiden, who was satisfied with little. Then the oak, making lips of its bark and a tongue of its pith, said to Cianna, "Whither are you going so sad, my little daughter? come and rest under my shade." Cianna

  1. See page 168, Note.
  2. Alluding to the Golden Age, when man was said to live upon acorns.