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  1. The Three Goslings
  2. Pepper-Corn
  3. Tiller and Flutist

The Three Goslings

Once three goslings were greatly afraid of the wolf, for if he found them he would eat them. One day the largest said to the other two: "We had better build a little house so that the wolf shall not eat us. Let us go and look for something to build the house with."

The other two said: "Yes, yes, yes... good! let us go!"

They found a man who had a load of straw and said to him:

"Good man, do us the favour to give us a little of that straw to make a house of, so that the wolf shall not eat us."

The man said: "Take it, take it!" and he gave them as much as they wanted.

The goslings thanked the man and took the straw and went away to a meadow. There they built a lovely little house with a door, balconies, a kitchen - with everything, in short.

When it was finished the largest gosling said: "Now I want to see whether one is comfortable in this house." She went in and said: "Oh! how comfortable it is in this house!"

She locked the door with a padlock and went out on the balcony and said to the other two goslings: "I am very comfortable alone here; go away, for I want nothing to do with you."

The two other little goslings began to cry and beg their sister to open the door and let them in, for if she did not, the wolf would eat them. But she would not listen to them.

Then the two goslings went away and found a man who had a load of hay. They said to him: "Good man, do us the kindness to give us a little of that hay to build a house with, so that the wolf shall not eat us!"

"Yes, yes, yes, take some, take some!" He gave them as much as they wanted.

The goslings, well pleased, thanked the man and carried the hay to a meadow and built a very pretty little house, prettier than the other.

The middle-sized gosling said to the smallest: "I am going now to see whether one is comfortable in this house!" She entered the house and said to herself: "Oh! how comfortable it is here! I don't want my sister here! I am very comfortable here alone."

She fastened the door with a padlock and went out on the balcony and said to her sister: "Oh! how comfortable it is in this house! I don't want you here! Go away!"

The poor gosling began to weep and beg her sister to open to her, for she was alone, and did not know where to go, and if the wolf found her he would eat her. But the entreaties did no good: her sister just shut the balcony and stayed in the house.

The third gosling, full of fear, went away and found a man who had a load of iron and stones and said to him: "Good man, do me the favour to give me a few of those stones and a little of that iron to build me a house with, so that the wolf shall not eat me!"

The man pitied the gosling so much that he said: "Yes, yes, good gosling, or rather, I will build your house for you."

Then they went away to a meadow, and the man built a very pretty house, with a garden and everything necessary, and very strong, for it was lined with iron, and the balcony and door of iron too. The gosling, well pleased, thanked the man and went into the house and remained there.

The wolf looked everywhere for these goslings, but could not find them. After a time he learned that they had built three houses. "Good, good!" he said; "wait until I find you!"

Then he started out and journeyed until he came to the meadow where the first house was. He knocked at the door and the gosling said: "Who is knocking at the door?"

"Come, come," said the wolf; "open, for it is I."

The gosling said: "I will not open for you, because you will eat me."

"Open, open! I will not eat you, be not afraid."

The door remained locked.

"Very well," said the wolf, "if you will not open the door I will blow down your house."

And he did blow down the house and ate up the gosling. "Now that I have eaten one," he said, "I will eat the others too."

After some time he came to to the house of the second gosling, and everything happened as to the first: the wolf blew down the house and ate the gosling.

Then he went in search of the third. When he found her he knocked at the door, but she would not let him in. Then he tried to blow the house down, but could not. Then he climbed on the roof and tried to trample the house down, but in vain. "Very well," he said to himself, "in one way or another I will eat you."

He came down from the roof and said to the gosling to trick her: "Gosling, I don't want to quarrel with you. Tomorrow we will cook some macaroni. I will bring the butter and cheese and you will furnish the flour."

"Very good," said the gosling, "bring them then."

The wolf, well satisfied, said farewell to the gosling and went away.

The next day the gosling got up early, for he wanted to go and buy the flour. When he returned home he shut the house. A little later the wolf came and knocked at the door and said: "Come, gosling, open the door, for I have brought you the butter and cheese!"

"Very well, put them on my balcony."

"No indeed, open the door!"

"I will open when all is ready."

Then the wolf left the things on her balcony and went away. While he was gone the gosling prepared the macaroni, and put it on the fire to cook in a kettle full of water.

When it was two o'clock the wolf came and said: "Come, gosling, open the door."

"No, I will not, for when I am busy I don't want anyone in the way. When the macaroni is cooked I will open."

A little while after, the gosling said to the wolf: "Would you like to taste whether the macaroni is well cooked?"

"Yes, yes! Open the door! that is the better way."

"No, no; just put your mouth to the mail-opening in door and I will pour something through it to you."

The greedy wolf put his mouth to the mail-opening. Then the gosling took the kettle of boiling water and poured the boiling water with a few bits of macaroni in it through the mail-opening and into the wolf's mouth.

The wolf was scalded and killed by the water. Then the gosling took a knife and cut open the wolf's stomach. Out jumped the other goslings. They were still alive, for the wolf was so greedy that he had swallowed them whole. Then the two goslings begged their little sister forgive them for treating her so badly. Kind-hearted as she was, she took them into her house. There they ate their macaroni and lived together happy and contented.

(Retold. See Crane 1885, 267-70)



Once on a time there was an old man and an old woman who had no children; and one day the old woman went into the fields and picked a basket of beans. When she had finished, she looked into the basket and said, "I wish all the beans were little children." Scarcely had she uttered these words when a whole crowd of little children sprang out of the basket and danced about her. Such a family seemed too large for the old woman, so she said, "I wish you would all become beans again." At once the children climbed back into the basket and became beans again, all except one little boy, whom the old woman took home with her.

He was so small that everybody called him little Pepper-Corn, and so good and charming that everybody loved him.

One day the old woman was cooking her soup and little Pepper-Corn climbed up on the kettle and looked in to see what was cooking, but he slipped and fell into the boiling broth and was scalded to death. The old woman did not notice till meal-time that he was missing, and looked in vain for him everywhere to call him to dinner.

At last they sat down to the table without little Pepper-Corn, and when they poured the soup out of the kettle into the dish the body of little Pepper-Corn floated on top.

Then the old man and the old woman began to mourn and cry: " Dear Pepper-Corn is dead, dear Pepper-Corn is dead."

When the dove heard it she tore out her feathers, and cried, "Dear Pepper-Corn is dead. The old man and the old woman are mourning."

When the apple-tree saw that the dove tore out her feathers it asked her why she did so, and when it learned the reason it shook off all its apples.

In like manner, the well near by poured out all its water, the queen's maid broke her pitcher, the queen broke her arm, and the king threw his crown on the ground so that it broke into a thousand pieces; and when his people asked him what the matter was, he answered, "Dear Pepper-Corn is dead, the old man and the old woman mourn, the dove has torn out her feathers, the apple-tree has shaken off all its apples, the well has poured out all its water, the maid has broken her pitcher, the queen has broken her arm, and I, the king, have lost my crown; dear Pepper-Corn is dead."


Tiller and Flutist

There was once a youth named Joseph Ciufolo. He played the flute when he wasn't tilling the soil. One day he was dancing through the fields and playing his flute to relax awhile from all his digging, when he suddenly spied a corpse lying on the ground beneath a swarm of flies. He put down his flute, walked up to the body, shooed the flies away, and covered the dead man with green boughs. Returning to the spot where he had left his hoe, he saw that the hoe had gone to work by itself and already dug up half the field for him. From that day on, Joseph Ciufolo was the happiest tiller alive: he would dig until he got tired, then take his flute out of his pocket while the hoe went on digging by itself.

But Joseph Ciufolo worked for a stepfather who bore him no love and wished to turn him out of the house. In the beginning the man said Joseph was a good worker but lazy; next he said Joseph dug a whole lot but badly. Joseph Ciufolo therefore took his flute and left home.

He went around to all the landowners, but none of them would give him any work. Finally he met an old beggar, and asked him for work to keep body and soul together.

"Come along with me," said the beggar, "and we will share alms." So Joseph Ciufolo started going around with the beggar and singing:

"Succour us, please,
please succour us!"

Everybody gave alms to the old man, but to Joseph Ciufolo they all said, "What's a young man like you doing out begging? Why don't you work for a living?"

"Nobody will hire me," replied Joseph Ciufolo.

"That's what you say. There's the king with so many untilled fields that he's offering good wages to anyone willing to cultivate them."

Joseph Ciufolo went to the king's fields and took the old man whose alms he had been sharing. The fields had never been worked by anyone. Joseph Ciufolo dug them up, sowed them, weeded them, then harvested the crops. Whenever he wearied of reaping he would play his flute; and once he was weary of playing, he would sing:

"Sickle so brisk, sickle so grey,
swing along as in my hands,
in just that way!"

Hearing the singing, the princess looked out the window. She saw Joseph Ciufolo and fell in love with him. But she was a princess, and he a tiller, so the king would never let them get one another. Therefore they decided to run away together.

They married in secret and fled at night in a boat. They were already on the high seas, when Joseph Ciufolo remembered the beggar. He said to his beloved, "We must fetch the old man, for he shared his alms with me. I can't go off and leave him like that."

At that moment they saw the old soul coming up behind the boat, walking with ease on the water. Reaching the boat, he said, "We agreed to divide everything we had, and I always shared with you everything I own. Now you have the king's daughter and must give half of her to me." At that he handed Joseph Ciufolo a knife to cut his bride in half.

Joseph Ciufolo took the knife with a trembling hand. "You are right," he said, "you are perfectly right." He was on the point of cutting his bride in two, when she wept, "Have I nothing to say in this?" At that the old man stopped Joseph.

"Stop! I knew you were a just man. I was the dead man that you covered with green boughs. Go in peace, and may you two be happy."

The old man walked away. The boat came to an island rich in all good things, with a lovely palace ready for the newlyweds.

[Abruzzo. Retold]



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