Open main menu

Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/56

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
32
THE PENTAMERONE.

time for us to follow up the business by knocking out her brains." "No," said those wise old men, (and it was all to give time to Time,) let us wait till the little ones grow big enough to enable us to discover the features of their father." The king, who never wrote without having the ruled-lines of his council to prevent his writing crooked, shrugged up his shoulders, but had patience, and waited till the children were seven years old. At which time, summoning his councillors anew, he urged them to make an end of the business: then one of them said, "Since you have not been able to draw the secret out of your daughter, and find out who the false coiner is that has altered the crown on your image, we will now hunt out the stain. Order then a great banquet to be prepared, and let every nobleman and every man of rank in the city come to it; and let us be on the watch, and, with our eyes on the alert[1], see to whom the little children shall turn most willingly, moved thereto by nature; for beyond doubt that will be the father, and we will instantly lay hold on him and put him out of the way."

The king was pleased with this counsel, and ordering the banquet to be got ready, he invited all the people of rank and note. And when they had done feasting, he

  1. Literally, 'on the chopping-block,' tagliero;—to 'keep one's eyes upon it, is to watch the cats, that they run away with nothing.