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Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/55

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oil than wine[1], said, "Of a truth she deserves to be severely punished; and the haft of the knife which should take away her life ought to be made of the horns that she has placed on your brows. Nevertheless, if we put her to death before the child is born, that audacious scoundrel who, to put you into a battle of annoyances, has armed both your left and your right wing[2]— who, to teach you the policy of Tiberius[3], has set a Cornelius Tacitus before you—who, to represent to you a true dream of infamy, has made you come out through the gate of horn[4]—he will escape through the broken meshes of the net. Let us wait then till it comes to light, and we discover the root of this disgrace, and then we will think it over, and resolve cum grano salis what were best to be done." This counsel pleased the king; for he saw that they spoke like sensible, prudent men: so he held his hand, and said, "Let us wait and see the end of this business."

But, as Heaven would have it, the hour of the birth came, and Vastolla brought into the world two little boys, like two golden apples. The king, who was still full of wrath, summoned his councillors to advise with him; and he said, "Well, now my daughter is brought to bed, it is

  1. That is, had studied much and drunk little.
  2. In the military language of the Romans, the wings were called cornua.
  3. That is, 'to teach you cruelty.' Observe the allusion to horns in Cornelius.
  4. Alluding to the Odyssey, T. 562; and Æneid, vi. 594.