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Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/44

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THE PENTAMERONE.

a thread of silk with a bell tied to the top of the myrtle, and when you come back pull the thread and ring, and immediately I will come out and say, Here I am!"

The prince did so, and then calling a chamberlain said to him, "Come hither, come hither, you! open your ears and mind what I say. Make this bed every evening, as if I were myself to sleep in it. Water this flowerpot regularly, and mind, I have counted the leaves, and if I find one missing, I will take from you the means of earning your bread." So saying he mounted his horse, and went, like a sheep that is led to the slaughter, to follow a boar. In the meanwhile seven wicked women, with whom the prince had been acquainted, began to grow jealous; and being curious to pry into the secret, they sent for a mason, and for a good sum of money got him to make an underground passage from their house into the prince's chamber. Then these cunning jades went through the passage, in order to explore. But finding nothing, they opened the window; and when they saw the beautiful myrtle standing there, each of them plucked a leaf from it; but the youngest took off the entire top, to which the little bell was hung; and the moment it was touched the bell tinkled, and the fairy, thinking it was the prince, immediately came out.

As soon as the wicked women saw this lovely creature, they fastened their talons on her, crying, "You