Site Map
Folktales of Sicily
Section › 34   Set    Search  Previous Next

Reservations   Contents    

The Shepherd Who Made The King's Daughter Laugh

There was once a king and a queen who had an only daughter, and they loved her very dearly. When she was fifteen years old she became suddenly very sad and would not laugh any more. So the king had it announced that whoever made his daughter laugh, should become her husband. Many tried, but none succeeded.

Now there was a poor woman who had an only son. He was idle and would not learn any trade, so at last his mother sent him to a farmer to keep his sheep. One day as he was driving the sheep over the fields, he came to a well and bent over it to drink. As he did so he saw a handsome ring on the wheel. As it pleased him, he put it on the ring finger of his right hand. He had scarcely put it on, however, when he began to sneeze violently, and could not stop until he chanced to remove the ring. Then he stopped sneezing as suddenly as it had begun.

"Oh!" he thought he. "If such sneezing is caused by the ring, I had better try my fortune with it and see whether it will make the king's daughter laugh." So he put the ring on his left hand, and no longer had to sneeze. Then he drove the sheep home, took leave of his master, and set out toward the city where the king lived. He was obliged, however, to pass through a thick forest which was so large that it grew dark before he came out of it again.

He thought: "If the robbers find me here they will take away my ring, and then I would be a ruined man. I would rather climb a tree and spend the night there."

So he climbed a tree, tied himself fast with his belt, and soon fell asleep. Before long, thirteen robbers came and sat down under the tree and talked so loud that the shepherd awoke. The chief of the robbers said: "Let each tell what he has managed to do today;" and each showed what he had taken.

When the turn came to the thirteenth, he pulled out a tablecloth, a purse, and a whistle, and said: "I took this tablecloth, purse and whistle from a monk. If anyone spreads out the tablecloth and says: 'My little tablecloth, give me macaroni, or roast meat,' or whatever one will, he will find everything there at once. Likewise the purse will give all the money one wants; and whoever hears the whistle must dance whether he will or no."

The robbers at once put the power of the tablecloth to the test, ate and drank, and then went to sleep, the chief laying the precious articles near himself.

When they were all snoring hard the shepherd climbed down, took the three articles, and crept away.

Next day he came to the city where the king lived, and went straight to the palace. "Announce me to the king," said he to the servants; "I will try to make the king's daughter laugh."

The servants tried to dissuade him, but he insisted on being led before the king, who took him into a large room. There was the king's daughter, sitting on a splendid throne and surrounded by the whole court.

"If I am to make the princess laugh," said the shepherd to the king, "you must first do me the kindness to put this ring on the ring-finger of your right hand."

The king had scarcely done so when he began to sneeze violently, and could not stop, but ran up and down the room, sneezing all the time. The entire court began to laugh, and the king's daughter could not stay sober, but had to run away laughing.

Then the shepherd went up to the king, took off the ring, and said: "Your Majesty, I have made the princess laugh. Now the reward belongs to me."

"What? You worthless shepherd!" cried the king. "First you made me the laughing-stock of the whole court, and now you want my daughter for your wife! Quick! take the ring from him, and throw him into prison."

While there the wonderful tablecloth provided him and his companions with plenty to eat, and when it was discovered and taken from him by the king's orders, the purse enabled them all to live in comfort. That was also discovered, and then nothing was left but the whistle.

"Well!" thought the shepherd, "if we can't eat any more, we will at least dance;" and he pulled out his pipe and began to play on it, and all the prisoners began to dance, and the guards with them, and between them all they made a great noise. When the king heard it he came running there with his servants, and had to dance like all the rest, but found breath enough to order the pipe to be taken away from the shepherd, and all became quiet again.

So now the shepherd had nothing left, and remained in prison some time, until he found an old file and one night filed through the iron bars and escaped. He wandered about all day, and at last came to the same forest where he had formerly been.

All at once he saw a large fig-tree bearing the most beautiful fruit, – on one side black figs, on the other, white ones. "That is something I have never seen," thought the shepherd, – "a fig-tree that bears black and white figs at the same time. I must try them." Scarcely had he tasted them when he felt something move on the top of his head, and putting his hand up, found he had two long horns. "Unhappy man!" he cried; "what shall I do?" However, as he was very hungry, he picked some of the white figs and ate them, and at once one of the horns disappeared, and also the other after he had eaten a few more white figs. "My fortune is made!" he thought. "The king will have to give me all my things back, and his daughter in the bargain."

The shepherd disguised himself and went to the city with two baskets of figs, – one of the black and one of the white kind. He sold the black figs to the king's cook in the market place. While the king was at the table the servant put the figs before him, and he was much pleased with them, and gave some to his wife and daughter; the rest he ate himself.

Scarcely had they eaten them when they saw with terror the long horns that had grown from their heads. The queen and her daughter began to weep, and the king, in a rage, called the cook and asked him who had sold him the figs.

"A peasant in the market," answered the cook.

"Go at once and bring him here," cried the king.

The shepherd had remained near the palace, and as the cook came out, he went up to him with the basket of white figs in his hand.

"What miserable figs did you sell me this morning!" cried out the cook to him. "As soon as the king, queen, and princess had eaten your figs, great horns grew on their heads."

"Be quiet," said the shepherd; "I have a remedy here, and can soon remove the horns. Take me to the king."

He was led before the king, who asked him what kind of figs he had sold. "Be quiet, sire," said the shepherd, "and eat these figs," at the same time giving him a white one.

As soon as the king had eaten it one of the horns disappeared. "Now," said the shepherd, "before I give you any more of my figs you must give me back my whistle; if not, you may keep your horn."

The king in his terror gave up the whistle, and the shepherd handed the queen a fig.

When one of the queen's horns had disappeared, he said: "Now give me my purse back, or else I will take my figs away."

So the king gave him his purse, and the shepherd removed one of the princess' horns. Then he demanded his tablecloth, and when he had received it he gave the king another fig, so that the second horn disappeared.

"Now give me my ring," the shepherd said, and the king had to give him his ring before he would remove the queen's horn. The only one left now was the princess, and the shepherd said: "Now fulfil your promise and marry me to the princess; otherwise she may keep her horn as long as she lives."

So the princess had to marry him, and after the wedding he gave her another fig to eat, so that her last horn also disappeared. They had a merry wedding, and when the old king died the shepherd became king, and so they remained contented and happy.


Don Aldino Pear

There were once three brothers who owned a pear-tree and lived on the pears. One day one of the brothers went to pick these pears, and found that many of them had been picked.

"Oh, brothers! what will we do? Many of the pears have been picked!"

So the eldest went and remained in the garden to guard the pear-tree during the night. He fell asleep, however.

The next morning the second brother came and said, "What have you done, brother? Have you been sleeping? Don't you see that the pears have been picked? Tonight I'll keep watch."

That night the second brother remained.

The next morning the youngest went there and saw more of the pears picked, and said, "Were you the one who was going to keep a good watch? Go, I'll stay here tonight. We'll see whether they can cheat me to my face."

At night the youngest brother began to play and dance under the pear-tree. While he was not playing, a fox, believing that the youth had gone to sleep, came out and climbed the tree and picked the rest of the pears. When it was coming down the tree, the youth quickly aimed his gun at it and was about to shoot.

The fox said, "Don't shoot me, Don Aldino! I will have you called Don Aldino Pear, and will make you marry the king's daughter."

Don Aldino answered, "And where shall I see you again? What has the king to do with you? With one kick that he would give you, you would never appear before him again."

Still, out of pity Don Aldino Pear let the fox run away. The fox went away to a forest and caught all sorts of game, squirrels, hares, and quails, and carried them to the king. It was a sight. "Sire, Don Aldino Pear sends me; you must accept this game."

The king said, "Listen, little fox, I accept this game; but I have never heard this Don Aldino Pear mentioned."

The fox left the game there, and ran away to Don Aldino and told him. "I've taken the first step; I've been to the king and given him some game, and he accepted it."

A week later the fox went to the forest, caught the best animals, squirrels, hares, birds, and took them to the king. "Don Aldino Pear sends me to you with this game."

The king said to the fox, "I don't know who this Don Aldino Pear is; I am afraid you have been sent somewhere else! I will tell you what: have this Don Aldino Pear come here so that I can get to know him."

The fox said, "I am not mistaken. What is more, Don Aldino said that he wished the princess for his wife."

The fox returned to Don Aldino and said to him, "Things are going all right. After I've been to the king again, the matter should be settled."

Don Aldino said, "I won't believe it till I have my wife."

The fox now went to an ogress and said, "Don't we have to divide the gold and silver?"

"Certainly," said the ogress to the fox; "go and get the measure and we will divide the gold from the silver."

The fox went to the king and said, "Don Aldino wants to borrow your measure for a short time to separate the gold from the silver."

"What!" said the king and gave the fox the measure. When he was alone with his daughter he said to her in the course of his conversation, "This Don Aldino Pear must be rich."

The fox carried the measure to the ogress. She began to measure and heap up gold and silver. When she had finished, the fox went to Don Aldino and dressed him in new clothes, a watch with diamonds, rings, a ring for his betrothed, and everything that was needed for the marriage. "Look, Don Aldino," said the fox, "I'll be trotting in front of you for some time now. You go to the king and get your bride and then go to the church."

Don Aldino went to the king, got his bride, and they went to the church. After they were married, the princess got into the carriage and the bridegroom mounted his horse. The fox made a sign to Don Aldino and repeated, "I'll go in front. Follow me and let the carriages and horses come after."

They started on their way and came to a sheep-farm that belonged to the ogress. The boy who was tending the sheep threw a stone at the fox when he saw her approach. She began to weep and said to the boy, "Now I'll have you killed. Do you see those horsemen? Now I'll have you killed!" The youth, terrified, said, "If you won't do anything to me I won't throw any more stones at you."

The fox answered, "If you don't want to be killed when the king passes and asks you who owns this sheep-farm, you must say 'Don Aldino Pear', for Don Aldino Pear is his son-in-law, and he may reward you."

The cavalcade passed by, and the king asked the boy: "Who owns this sheep-farm?" The boy replied at once: "Don Aldino Pear."

The king gave him some money.

The fox kept about ten paces in front of Don Aldino, and the latter did nothing but say in a low tone: "Where are you taking me, fox? Where are we going?"

The fox replied: "Quiet, leave it to me."

They went on and on, and the fox saw another farm of cattle, with the herdsman. The same thing happened there as with the shepherd: the stone thrown and the fox's threat. The king passed. "Herdsman, whose is this farm of cattle?"

"Don Aldino Pear's."

And the king, astonished at his son-in-law's wealth, gave the herdsman a piece of gold.

Don Aldino was pleased on the one hand, but on the other was perplexed and did not know how it was to turn out. When the fox turned around, Aldino said:

"Where are you taking me, fox? You are ruining me."

The fox kept on as if she had nothing to do with the matter. Then she came to another farm of horses and mares. The boy who was tending them threw a stone at the fox. She frightened him, and he told the king, when the king asked him, that the farm belonged to Don Aldino Pear.

They kept on and came to a well. The ogress was sitting near it. The fox started to run and pretended to be in great terror. "See who are coming! These horsemen will kill us! What about hiding in the well?"

"Surely," said the ogress in alarm and jumped into it. However, she could not get up again, and drowned. The fox led on till they came to the palace of the ogress. Don Aldino Pear followed the fox, and after him came his wife, his father-in-law, and all the riders. The fox showed them through all the apartments, displaying the riches. Don Aldino Pear and the king were both very satisfied with the wealth shown. There was a festival for a few days, and then the king, well pleased, returned to his own country and his daughter remained with her husband and they enjoyed living together.

What happend to the fox since? It is another tale. [Crane, retold]


The Peasant and the Master

A peasant one day, conversing in the farmhouse with his master and others, happened, while speaking of sheep and cheese, to say that he had had a present of a little cheese, but the mice had eaten it all up.

Then the master, who was rich, proud, and fat, called him a fool, and said that it was not possible that the mice could have eaten the cheese, and all present said the master was right and the peasant wrong.

What more could the poor man say? Talk makes talk.

After a while the master said that having taken the precaution to rub with oil his ploughshares to keep them from rusting, the mice had eaten off all the edges.

Then the friend of the cheese broke forth: "But, master, how can it be that the mice cannot eat my cheese if they can eat the edges of your ploughshares?"

The master and all the others began to cry out: "Silence! The master is right!"

The right to remain silent is often ignored by many.


The Ungrateful Ones

There was once a man who went into the forest to gather wood, and saw a snake crushed under a large stone. He raised the stone a little with the handle of his axe and the snake crawled out. When it was free it said to the man: "Now I'll eat you."

The man answered: "Wait, let us first hear the judgement of someone, and if I am condemned, then you shall eat me."

The first one they met was a horse as thin as a stick, tied to an oak-tree. He had eaten the leaves as far as he could reach, for he was famished.

The snake said to him: "Is it right for me to eat this man who has saved my life?"

The horse answered: "More than right. Just look at me! I was one of the finest horses. I carried my master for many years, and what have I gained? Now that I'm so badly off that I cannot work any longer. They've tied me to this oak, and after I've eaten these few leaves I'm going to die of hunger. Eat the man, then; for he who does good can be ill rewarded, and he who does evil may be well rewarded. Eat him, and you may be doing a good day's work."

They afterwards happened to find a mulberry-tree, all holes, for it was eaten by old age. The snake asked it if it was right to eat the man who had saved its life.

"Yes," the tree answered at once, "for I have given my master so many leaves that he has raised from them the finest silk-worms in the world; now that I can no longer stand upright, he has said that he is going to throw me into the fire. Eat him, then, and you could do well by it."

Afterwards they met a fox. The man took her aside and begged her to pronounce in his favour. The fox said: "To judge better I want to see just how it all happened."

They all returned to the spot and arranged matters as they were at first; but as soon as the man saw the snake under the stone he cried out: "Where you are, there I'll leave you."

And there the snake remained.

The fox wished in payment a bag of hens, and the man promised a bag to her for the next morning. The fox went there in the morning. When the man saw her he put some dogs in the bag and told the fox to carry the bag away before he opened it, so that the mistress of the house would not hear what came next.

So the fox did not open the bag until she had reached a distant valley. As soon as he untied it the dogs came out of the bag at once and bit and tore her apart. That's how it at times is in the world; as who does good may be ill rewarded and who does evil may be seemingly well rewarded.


Gratitude and truthfulness are higher qualities. All do not have a heart of gold either. The one who takes care who she helps may avoid both ingratitude and great mishaps in the wake of her good deeds.


Three Pieces of Advice

A man once left his country to go to foreign parts of the earth. There he entered the service of an abbot. After he had spent some time in faithful service, he desired to see his wife and native land again, and said to the abbot: "Sir, I have served you thus long, but now I wish to return to my homeland."

"Yes, son," said the abbot, "but before you leave I must give you the three hundred ounces that I have put together for you. And then again: Feel free to choose between three pieces of advice and the three hundred ounces."

The servant answered: "I would have your three good counsels."

"Then listen: First: When you change the old road for the new, you will find troubles which you have not looked for. Second: See much and say little. Third: Think over a thing before you do it, for a thing deliberated is very fine. And at last: Take this loaf of bread and break it when you are truly happy."

The good man started off, and on his journey met other travellers. They said to him: "We are going to take the by-way. Will you come with us?"

But he remembering the three admonitions of his master answered: "No, my friends, I will keep on this road."

When he had gone halfway, bang! bang! he heard some shots. "What was that?" The robbers had killed his companions. He continued his highway journey, unnoticed by the robbers.

On his way he arrived at an inn as hungry as a boar and called for something to eat. A large dish of meat was brought which seemed to say: "Eat me, eat me!" He stuck his fork in it and turned it over, and was frightened out of his wits, for it was human flesh! He wanted to ask the meaning of such food and give the innkeeper a lecture, but just then he thought: "See much and say little;" so he remained silent.

The innkeeper came, he settled his bill, and took leave. But the innkeeper stopped him and said: "Bravo, bravo! you have saved your life. All those who have questioned me about my food have been soundly beaten, killed, and nicely cooked."

The traveller quickly left the area. He did not think his skin was safe until then.

When he reached his own country he remembered his house, saw the door ajar and slipped in. He looked about and saw no one, only in the middle of the room was a table, well set with two glasses, two forks, two seats, service for two.

"How is this?" he said: "I left my wife alone and here I find things arranged for two. There is some trouble." So he hid himself under the bed to see what went on. A moment after he saw his wife enter. She had gone out a short time earlier for a pitcher of water. A little after he saw a finely dressed young priest come in and seat himself at the table.

"Ah, is that he?" The husband under the bed was on the point of coming forth and giving him a sound beating; but there came to his mind the final admonition of the abbot: "Think over a thing before you do it, for a thing deliberated is very fine;" and he refrained. He saw them both sit down at the table, but before eating his wife turned to the young priest and said: "Son, let us say our accustomed Paternoster for your father."

When he heard this he came from under the bed crying and laughing for joy, and embraced and kissed them both so that it was affecting to see him. Then he remembered the loaf his master had given him and told him to eat in his happiness; he broke the loaf and there fell on the table all the three hundred ounces, which the master had secretly put in the loaf.



Sicilian folktales and fairy tales, folk tales of Sicily, To top    Section     Set    Next

Sicilian folktales and fairy tales, folk tales of Sicily. User's Guide   ᴥ    Disclaimer 
© 2014–2018, Tormod Kinnes [Email]