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Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/398

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king ordered them to fetch a vinedresser's ladder, wishing himself to scale the house and see what was inside. Then he mounted the ladder, and going through the whole palace, he stood aghast and looked just like a mummy, at not finding there any living person. At last he came to the room where Talia was lying, as if enchanted; and when the king saw her, he called to her, thinking that she was asleep, but in vain, for she still slept on, however loud he called. So, after admiring her beauty awhile, the king returned home to his kingdom, where for a long time he forgot all that had happened.

Meanwhile Talia gave birth to little twins, one a boy and the other a girl, who looked like two little jewels; and two fairies appeared in the palace, who took care of the children, and placed them at their mother's breast. But once, when they wanted to suck, not finding the breast, they seized by mistake her finger, and went on sucking until they drew out the splinter. Thereupon she seemed to awake as from a deep sleep; and when she saw those little jewels at her side, she took them to her heart, and loved them more than her life; but she wondered greatly at seeing herself quite alone in the palace with the two children, and food and refreshment brought her by unseen hands.

After a time the king, calling Talia to mind, took occasion one day when he went to the chace to go and see