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A Beautiful Sight

From The Little Green Goblin by James Ball Naylor.

 

dropcap-LLittle Bob Taylor was mad, discouraged, and thoroughly miserable. Things had gone wrong—as things have the perverse habit of doing with mischievous, fun-loving boys of ten—and he was disgruntled, disgusted. The school year drawing to a close had been one of dreary drudgery; at least that was the retrospective view he took of it. And warm, sunshiny weather had come—the season for outdoor sports and vagrant rambles—and the end was not yet. Still he was a galley slave in the gilded barge of modern education; and open and desperate rebellion was in his heart.

One lesson was not disposed of before another intrusively presented itself, and tasks at home multiplied with a fecundity rivaling that of the evils of Pandora’s box. Yes, Bob was all out of sorts. School was a bore; tasks at home were a botheration, and life was a frank failure. He knew it; and what he knew he knew.

He had come from school on this particular day in an irritable, surly mood, to find that the lawn needed mowing, that the flower-beds needed weeding,—and just when he desired to steal away upon the wooded hillside back of the house and make buckeye whistles! He had demurred, grumbled and growled, and his father had rebuked him. Then he had complained of a headache, and his mother had given him a pill—a pill! think of it—and sent him off to bed.

Bob was out of sorts

Bob was out of sorts with himself

So here he was, tossing upon his own little bed in his own little room at the back of the house. It was twilight. The window was open, and the sweet fragrance of the honeysuckle flowers floated in to him. Birds were chirping and twittering as they settled themselves to rest among the sheltering boughs of the wild cherry tree just without, and the sounds of laughter and song came from the rooms beneath, where the other members of the family were making merry. Bob was hurt, grieved. Was there such a thing as justice in the whole world? He doubted it! And he wriggled and squirmed from one side of the bed to the other, kicked the footboard and dug his fists into the pillows—burning with anger and consuming with self-pity. At last the gathering storm of his contending emotions culminated in a downpour of tears, and weeping, he fell asleep.

“Hello! Hello, Bob! Hello, Bob Taylor!”

Bob popped up in bed, threw off the light coverings and stared about him. A broad band of moonlight streamed in at the open window, making the room almost as light as day. Not a sound was to be heard. The youngster peered into the shadowy corners and out into the black hallway, straining his ears. The clock down stairs struck ten deliberate, measured strokes.

“I thought I heard somebody calling me,” the lad muttered; “I must have been dreaming.”

He dropped back upon his pillows and closed his eyes.

“Hello, Bob!”

The boy again sprang to a sitting posture, as quick as a jack-in-a-box, his eyes and mouth wide open. He was startled, a little frightened.

“Hel—hello yourself!” he quavered.

“I’m helloing you,” the voice replied. “I’ve no need to hello myself; I’m awake.”

Bob looked all around, but could not locate the speaker.

“I’m awake, too,” he muttered; “at least I guess I am.”

“Yes, you’re awake all right enough now,” the voice said; “but I nearly yelled a lung loose getting you awake.”

“Well, where are you?” the boy cried.

A hoarse, rasping chuckle was the answer, apparently coming from the open window. Bob turned his eyes in that direction and blinked and stared, and blinked again; for there upon the sill, distinctly visible in the streaming white moonlight, stood the oddest, most grotesque figure the boy had ever beheld. Was it a dwarfed and deformed bit of humanity, or a gigantic frog masquerading in the garb of a man? Bob could not tell; so he ventured the very natural query:

“What are you?”

“I’m a goblin,” his nocturnal visitor made reply, in a harsh strident, parrot-like voice.

“A goblin?” Bob questioned.

“Yes.”

“Well, what’s a goblin?”

“Don’t you know?” in evident surprise.

“No.”

“Why, boy—boy! Your education has been sadly amiss.”

“I know it,” Bob replied with unction, his school grievances returning in full force to his mind. “But what is a goblin? Anything like a gobbler?”

“Stuff!” his visitor exclaimed in a tone of deep disgust. “Anything like a gobbler! Bob, you ought to be ashamed. Do I look anything like a turkey?”

“No, you look like a frog,” the boy laughed.

“Shut up!” the goblin croaked.

“I won’t!” snapped the boy.

“Look here!” cried the goblin. “Surely you know what goblins are. You’ve read of ’em—you’ve seen their pictures in books, haven’t you?”

“I think I have,” Bob said reflectively, “but I don’t know just what they are.”

“You know what a man is, don’t you?” the goblin queried.

“Of course.”

“Well, what is a man?”

“Huh?” the lad cried sharply.

“What is a man?”

“Why, a man’s a—a—a man,” Bob answered, lamely.

“Good—very good;” the goblin chuckled, interlocking his slim fingers over his protuberant abdomen and rocking himself to and fro upon his slender legs. “I see your schooling’s done you some good. Yes, a man’s a man, and a goblin’s a goblin. Understand? It’s all as clear as muddy water, when you think it over. Hey?”

“You explain things just like my teacher does,” the boy muttered peevishly.

“How’s that?” the goblin inquired, seating himself upon the sill and drawing his knees up to his chin.

“Why, when we ask him a question, he asks us one in return; and when we answer it, he tangles us all up and leaves us that way.”

“Does he?” the goblin grinned.

“Yes, he does,” sullenly.

“He must be a good teacher.”

“He is good—good for nothing,” snappishly.

The goblin hugged his slim shanks and laughed silently. He was a diminutive fellow, not more than a foot in height. His head was large; his body was pursy. A pair of big, waggling ears, a broad, flat nose, two small, pop eyes and a wide mouth made up his features. His dress consisted of a brimless, peaked cap, cutaway coat, long waistcoat, tight fitting trousers and a pair of tiny shoes—all of a vivid green color. His was indeed an uncouth and queer figure!

“Say!” Bob cried, suddenly.

“Huh?” the goblin ejaculated, throwing back his head and nimbly scratching his chin with the toe of his shoe.

“What are you called?”

“Sometimes I’m called the Little Green Goblin of Goblinville.”

“Oh!”

“Yes.”

“But what’s your name?”

“Fitz.”

“Fitz?”

“Yes.”

“Fitz what?”

“Fitz Mee.”

“Fits you?” laughed Bob. “I guess it does.”

“No!” rasped the goblin. “Not Fitz Hugh; Fitz Mee.”

“That’s what I said,” giggled the boy, “fits you.”

“I know you did; but I didn’t. I said Fitz Mee.”

“I can’t see the difference,” said Bob, with a puzzled shake of the head.

“Oh, you can’t!” sneered the goblin.

“No, I can’t!”—bristling pugnaciously.

“Huh!”—contemptuously—“I say my name is Fitz Mee; you say it is Fitz Hugh; and you can’t see the difference, hey?”

“Oh, that’s what you mean—that your name is Fitz Mee,” grinned Bob.

“Of course it’s what I mean,” the goblin muttered gratingly; “it’s what I said; and a goblin always says what he means and means what he says.”

“Where’s your home?” the boy ventured to inquire.

“In Goblinville,” was the crisp reply.

“Goblinville?”

“Yes; the capital of Goblinland.”

“And where’s that?”

“A long distance east or a long distance west.”

“Well, which?”

“Either or both.”

“Oh, that can’t be!” Bob cried.

“It can’t?”

“Why, no.”

“Why can’t it?”

“The place can’t be east and west both—from here.”

“But it can, and it is,” the goblin insisted.

“Is that so?”—in profound wonder.

“Yes; it’s on the opposite side of the globe.”

“Oh, I see.”

The goblin nodded, batting his pop eyes.

“Well, what are you doing here?” Bob pursued.

“Talking to you,” grinned the goblin.

“I know that,” the lad grumbled irritably. “But what brought you here?”

“A balloon.”

“Oh, pshaw! What did you come here for?”

“For you.”

“For me?”

“Yes; you don’t like to live in this country, and I’ve come to take you to a better one.”

“To Goblinland?”

“Yes.”

“Is that a better country than this—for boys?”

“Yes, indeed.”

“In what way is it better?” Bob demanded, shrewdly. “Tell me about it.”

“Well,” the goblin went on to explain, unclasping his hands and stretching his slender legs full length upon the window-sill, “in your country a boy isn’t permitted to do what pleases him, but is compelled to do what pleases others. Isn’t that so?”

“Yes, it is,” the lad muttered.

“But in our land,” the goblin continued, “a boy isn’t permitted to do what pleases others, but is compelled to do what pleases himself.”

“Oh!” ejaculated Bob, surprised and pleased. “That’s great. I’d like to live in Goblinland.”

“Of course you would,” said the goblin, placing a finger alongside of his flat nose and winking a pop eye. “Your parents and your teacher don’t know how to treat you—don’t appreciate you; they don’t understand boys. You’d better come along with me.”

“I’ve a notion to,” Bob replied thoughtfully. Then, abruptly: “But how did you find out about me, that I was dissatisfied with things here?”

“Oh, we know everything that’s going on,” the goblin grinned; “we get wireless telephone messages from all over the world. Whenever anybody says anything—or thinks anything, even—we learn of it; and if they’re in trouble some one of us good little goblins sets off to help them.”

“Why, how good of you!” Bob murmured, in sincere admiration. “You chaps are a bully lot!”

“Yes, indeed,” the goblin giggled; “we’re a good-hearted lot—we are. Oh, you’ll just love and worship us when you learn all about us!”

And the little green sprite almost choked with some suppressed emotion.

“I’m going with you,” the boy said, with sudden decision. “Will your balloon carry two, though?”

“We can manage that,” said the goblin. “Come here to the window and take a squint at my aërial vehicle.”

Bob crawled to the foot of the bed and peeped out the window. There hung the goblin’s balloon, anchored to the window-sill by means of a rope and hook. The bag looked like a big fat feather bed and the car resembled a large Willow clothes-basket. The boy was surprised, and not a little disappointed.

“And you came here in that thing?” he asked, unable to conceal the contempt he felt for the primitive and clumsy-looking contraption.

“Of course I did,” Fitz Mee made answer.

“And how did you get from the basket to the window here?”

“Slid down the anchor-rope.”

“Oh!” Bob gave an understanding nod. “And you’re going to climb the rope, when you go?”

“Yes; can you climb it?”

“Why, I—I could climb it,” Bob replied, slowly shaking his head; “but I’m not going to.”

“You’re not?” cried the goblin.

“No.”

“Why?”

“I’m not going to risk my life in any such a balloon as that. It looks like an old feather bed.”

“It is a feather bed,” Fitz answered, complacently.

In my land a boy is compelled to do what pleases himself

“WHAT!” exclaimed Fitz Mee

“What!”

The goblin nodded sagely.

“Whee!” the lad whistled. “You don’t mean what you say, do you? You mean it’s a bed tick filled with gas, don’t you?”

“I mean just what I say,” Fitz Mee replied, positively. “That balloon bag is a feather bed.”

“But a feather bed won’t float in the air,” Bob objected.

“Won’t it?” leered the goblin.

“No.”

“How do you know? Did you ever try one to see?”

“N—o.”

“Well, one feather, a downy feather, will fly in the air, and carry its own weight and a little more, won’t it?”

“Yes,” the lad admitted, wondering what the goblin was driving at.

“Then won’t thousands of feathers confined in a bag fly higher and lift more than one feather alone will?”

“No,” positively.

“Tut—tut!” snapped the goblin. “You don’t know anything of the law of physics, it appears. Won’t a thousand volumes of gas confined in a bag fly higher and lift more than one volume unconfined will?”

“Why, of course,” irritably.

“Well!”—triumphantly,—“don’t the same law apply to feathers? Say!”

“I—I don’t know,” Bob stammered, puzzled but unconvinced.

“To be sure it does,” the goblin continued, smoothly. “I know; I’ve tried it. And you can see for yourself that my balloon’s a success.”

“Yes, but it wouldn’t carry me,” Bob objected; “I’m too heavy.”

“I’ll have to shrink you,” Fitz Mee said quietly.

Shrink me?” drawing back in alarm bordering on consternation.

“Yes; it won’t hurt you.”

“How—how’re you going to do it?”

“I’ll show you.”

The goblin got upon his feet, took a small bottle from his waistcoat pocket and deliberately unscrewed the top and shook out a tiny tablet.

“There,” he said, “take that.”

“Uk-uh!” grunted Bob, compressing his lips and shaking his head. “I don’t like to take pills.”

“This isn’t a pill,” Fitz explained, “it’s a tablet.”

“It’s all the same,” the boy declared obstinately.

“Won’t you take it?”

“No.”

“Then you can’t go with me.”

“I can’t?”

The goblin shook his head.

“Isn’t there some other way you can—can shrink me?”

Again Fitz Mee silently shook his head.

“W-e-ll,” Bob said slowly and reluctantly, “I’ll take it. But, say?”

“Well?”

“What’ll it do to me—just make me smaller?”

“That’s all.”

“How small will it make me?”

“About my size,” grinned the goblin.

“Oo—h!” ejaculated Bob. “And will it make me as—as ugly as you are?” in grave concern.

The goblin clapped his hands over his stomach, wriggled this way and that and laughed till the tears ran down his fat cheeks.

“Oh—ho!” he gasped at last. “So you think me ugly, do you?”

“Yes, I do,” the lad admitted candidly, a little nettled.

“Well, that’s funny,” gurgled the goblin; “for that’s what I think of you. So you see the matter of looks is a matter of taste.”

“Huh!” Bob snorted contemptuously. “But will that tablet change my looks? That’s what I want to know.”

“No, it won’t,” was the reassuring reply.

“And will I always be small—like you?”

“Look here!” Fitz Mee croaked hoarsely. “If you’re going with me, stop asking fool questions and take this tablet.”

“Give it to me,” Bob muttered, in sheer desperation.

And he snatched the tablet and swallowed it.

Immediately he shrunk to the size of the goblin.

“My!” he cried. “It feels funny to be so little and light.”

He sprang from the bed to the window-sill, and anticly danced a jig in his night garment.

“Get into your clothes,” the goblin commanded, “and let’s be off.”

Bob nimbly leaped to the floor, tore off his night-robe and caught up his trousers. Then he paused, a look of comical consternation upon his apple face.

“What’s the matter?” giggled the goblin.

“Why—why,” the boy gasped, his mouth wide open, “my clothes are all a mile too big for me!”

Fitz Mee threw himself prone upon his stomach, pummeled and kicked the window-sill, and laughed uproariously.

=======

Just why were his clothes to large, and what happened next you may ask? Well you will have to download the Little Green Goblin to find out for yourself.

The Little Green Goblin by James Ball Naylor – the 12 adventures of Bob and the Little Green Goblin.

ISBN: 9788835375777

DOWNLOAD LINK: https://bit.ly/33XA2Uk

10% of the publisher’s profits are donated to charity.
Yesterday’s books for today’s Charities.

===============

KEYWORDS/TAGS: The Little Green Goblin, childrens fantasy, folklore, fairy tale, fable, action, adventure, young adult, young people, readers, bibliophile, Midnight Visit, Storm, Danger, Giant, Lost, Desert, Magnetize, magnetise, Spring, Encounter, Wireless Message, Headquarters, strange lands, aeronaut, aëronaut, air-tank, anchor, Arabs, balloon, beast, binoculars, Bob, bottom, boy-giant, camels, chemist, children, companion, comrade, country, croaked, desire, devils, ejaculated, electric, Epilepsy, factories, feather-bed, feathers, Fitz, goblin, Goblinland, Goblinville, gob-tabs, gold, lad, laugh, laughed, leopard, lion, lips, little, locker, magic, mayor, medicine, Mee, moonlight, mountain, needle, nuggets, oasis, ocean, officer, palace, parrot, pop, Portuguese, Roberty, Boberty, sheik, south, sprite, Taylor, thumb-screw, thunder, wild,

Giant and the cause of Thunder - West Africa - Cover

Giant and the cause of Thunder – West Africa – Cover

ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 83

In Issue 83 of the Baba Indaba Children’s Stories, Baba Indaba narrates the West African Hausa tale of how a man who believed himself to be “A Man Among Men” was bested by a little boy. Download and read the story to find out how the boy did this. Also, lookout for the moral of the story.

 

BUY ANY 4 BABA INDABA CHILDREN’S STORIES FOR ONLY $1

33% of the profit from the sale of this book will be donated to charities.

INCLUDES LINKS TO 8 FREE STORIES TO DOWNLOADS

Each issue also has a “WHERE IN THE WORLD – LOOK IT UP” section, where young readers are challenged to look up a place on a map somewhere in the world. The place, town or city is relevant to the story, on map. HINT – use Google maps.

 

Baba Indaba is a fictitious Zulu storyteller who narrates children’s stories from around the world. Baba Indaba translates as “Father of Stories”.

 

URL: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Anon_E_Mouse_THE_GIANT_AND_THE_CAUSE_OF_THUNDER_A?id=qYYZDAAAQBAJ

Long, long ago, as far back as the time when animals spoke, there lived a community of cats in a deserted house they had taken possession of not far from a large town. They had everything they could possibly desire for their comfort, they were well fed and well lodged, and if by any chance an unlucky mouse was stupid enough to venture in their way, they caught it, not to eat it, but for the pure pleasure of catching it. The old people of the town related how they had heard their parents speak of a time when the whole country was so overrun with rats and mice that there was not so much as a grain of corn nor an ear of maize to be gathered in the fields; and it might be out of gratitude to the cats who had rid the country of these plagues that their descendants were allowed to live in peace. No one knows where they got the money to pay for everything, nor who paid it, for all this happened so very long ago.  But one thing is certain, they were rich enough to keep a servant; for though they lived very happily together, and did not scratch nor fight more than human beings would have done, they were not clever enough to do the housework themselves, and preferred at all events to have someone to cook their meat, which they would have scorned to eat raw. Not only were they very difficult to please about the housework, but most women quickly tired of living alone with only cats for companions, consequently they never kept a servant long; and it had become a saying in the town, when anyone found herself reduced to her last penny: ‘I will go and live with the cats,’ and so many a poor woman actually did.

 

Now Lizina was not happy at home, for her mother, who was a widow, was much fonder of her elder daughter; so that often the younger one fared very badly, and had not enough to eat, while the elder could have everything she desired, and if Lizina dared to complain she was certain to have a good beating.

 

At last the day came when she was at the end of her courage and patience, and exclaimed to her mother and sister:

 

‘As you hate me so much you will be glad to be rid of me, so I am going to live with the cats!’

 

‘Be off with you!’ cried her mother, seizing an old broom-handle from behind the door. Poor Lizina did not wait to be told twice, but ran off at once and never stopped till she reached the door of the cats’ house. Their cook had left them that very morning, with her face all scratched, the result of such a quarrel with the head of the house that he had very nearly scratched out her eyes. Lizina therefore was warmly welcomed, and she set to work at once to prepare the dinner, not without many misgivings as to the tastes of the cats, and whether she would be able to satisfy them.

 

Going to and fro about her work, she found herself frequently hindered by a constant succession of cats who appeared one after another in the kitchen to inspect the new servant; she had one in front of her feet, another perched on the back of her chair while she peeled the vegetables, a third sat on the table beside her, and five or six others prowled about among the pots and pans on the shelves against the wall. The air resounded with their purring, which meant that they were pleased with their new maid, but Lizina had not yet learned to understand their language, and often she did not know what they wanted her to do. However, as she was a good, kindhearted girl, she set to work to pick up the little kittens which tumbled about on the floor, she patched up quarrels, and nursed on her lap a big tabby—the oldest of the community—which had a lame paw. All these kindnesses could hardly fail to make a favourable impression on the cats, and it was even better after a while, when she had had time to grow accustomed to their strange ways. Never had the house been kept so clean, the meats so well served, nor the sick cats so well cared for. After a time they had a visit from an old cat, whom they called their father, who lived by himself in a barn at the top of the hill, and came down from time to time to inspect the little colony. He too was much taken with Lizina, and inquired, on first seeing her: ‘Are you well served by this nice, black-eyed little person?’ and the cats answered with one voice: ‘Oh, yes, Father Gatto, we have never had so good a servant!’

 

At each of his visits the answer was always the same; but after a time the old cat, who was very observant, noticed that the little maid had grown to look sadder and sadder. ‘What is the matter, my child has any one been unkind to you?’ he asked one day, when he found her crying in her kitchen. She burst into tears and answered between her sobs: ‘Oh, no! they are all very good to me; but I long for news from home, and I pine to see my mother and my sister.’

 

Old Gatto, being a sensible old cat, understood the little servant’s feelings. ‘You shall go home,’ he said, ‘and you shall not come back here unless you please. But first you must be rewarded for all your kind services to my children. Follow me down into the inner cellar, where you have never yet been, for I always keep it locked and carry the key away with me.’

 

Lizina looked round her in astonishment as they went down into the great vaulted cellar underneath the kitchen. Before her stood the big earthenware water jars, one of which contained oil, the other a liquid shining like gold. ‘In which of these jars shall I dip you?’ asked Father Gatto, with a grin that showed all his sharp white teeth, while his moustaches stood out straight on either side of his face. The little maid looked at the two jars from under her long dark lashes: ‘In the oil jar,’ she answered timidly, thinking to herself: ‘I could not ask to be bathed in gold.’

 

But Father Gatto replied: ‘No, no; you have deserved something better than that.’ And seizing her in his strong paws he plunged her into the liquid gold. Wonder of wonders! when Lizina came out of the jar she shone from head to foot like the sun in the heavens on a fine summer’s day. Her pretty pink cheeks and long black hair alone kept their natural colour, otherwise she had become like a statue of pure gold. Father Gatto purred loudly with satisfaction.  ‘Go home,’ he said, ‘and see your mother and sisters; but take care if you hear the cock crow to turn towards it; if on the contrary the ass brays, you must look the other way.’

 

The little maid, having gratefully kissed the white paw of the old cat, set off for home; but just as she got near her mother’s house the cock crowed, and quickly she turned towards it. Immediately a beautiful golden star appeared on her forehead, crowning her glossy black hair. At the same time the ass began to bray, but Lizina took care not to look over the fence into the field where the donkey was feeding. Her mother and sister, who were in front of their house, uttered cries of admiration and astonishment when they saw her, and their cries became still louder when Lizina, taking her handkerchief from her pocket, drew out also a handful of gold.

 

For some days the mother and her two daughters lived very happily together, for Lizina had given them everything she had brought away except her golden clothing, for that would not come off, in spite of all the efforts of her sister, who was madly jealous of her good fortune. The golden star, too, could not be removed from her forehead. But all the gold pieces she drew from her pockets had found their way to her mother and sister.

 

‘I will go now and see what I can get out of the pussies,’ said Peppina, the elder girl, one morning, as she took Lizina’s basket and fastened her pockets into her own skirt. ‘I should like some of the cats’ gold for myself,’ she thought, as she left her mother’s house before the sun rose.

 

The cat colony had not yet taken another servant, for they knew they could never get one to replace Lizina, whose loss they had not yet ceased to mourn. When they heard that Peppina was her sister, they all ran to meet her. ‘She is not the least like her,’ the kittens whispered among themselves.

 

‘Hush, be quiet!’ the older cats said; ‘all servants cannot be pretty.’

 

No, decidedly she was not at all like Lizina. Even the most reasonable and large-minded of the cats soon acknowledged that.

 

The very first day she shut the kitchen door in the face of the tom-cats who used to enjoy watching Lizina at her work, and a young and mischievous cat who jumped in by the open kitchen window and alighted on the table got such a blow with the rolling-pin that he squalled for an hour.

 

With every day that passed the household became more and more aware of its misfortune.

 

The work was as badly done as the servant was surly and disagreeable; in the corners of the rooms there were collected heaps of dust; spiders’ webs hung from the ceilings and in front of the window-panes; the beds were hardly ever made, and the feather beds, so beloved by the old and feeble cats, had never once been shaken since Lizina left the house. At Father Gatto’s next visit he found the whole colony in a state of uproar.

 

‘Caesar has one paw so badly swollen that it looks as if it were broken,’ said one. ‘Peppina kicked him with her great wooden shoes on. Hector has an abscess in his back where a wooden chair was flung at him; and Agrippina’s three little kittens have died of hunger beside their mother, because Peppina forgot them in their basket up in the attic. There is no putting up with the creature—do send her away, Father Gatto! Lizina herself would not be angry with us; she must know very well what her sister is like.’

 

‘Come here,’ said Father Gatto, in his most severe tones to Peppina.  And he took her down into the cellar and showed her the same two great jars that he had showed Lizina. ‘In which of these shall I dip you?’ he asked; and she made haste to answer: ‘In the liquid gold,’ for she was no more modest than she was good and kind.

 

Father Gatto’s yellow eyes darted fire. ‘You have not deserved it,’ he uttered, in a voice like thunder, and seizing her he flung her into the jar of oil, where she was nearly suffocated. When she came to the surface screaming and struggling, the vengeful cat seized her again and rolled her in the ash-heap on the floor; then when she rose, dirty, blinded, and disgusting to behold, he thrust her from the door, saying: ‘Begone, and when you meet a braying ass be careful to turn your head towards it.’

 

Stumbling and raging, Peppina set off for home, thinking herself fortunate to find a stick by the wayside with which to support herself. She was within sight of her mother’s house when she heard in the meadow on the right, the voice of a donkey loudly braying.  Quickly she turned her head towards it, and at the same time put her hand up to her forehead, where, waving like a plume, was a donkey’s tail. She ran home to her mother at the top of her speed, yelling with rage and despair; and it took Lizina two hours with a big basin of hot water and two cakes of soap to get rid of the layer of ashes with which Father Gatto had adorned her. As for the donkey’s tail, it was impossible to get rid of that; it was as firmly fixed on her forehead as was the golden star on Lizina’s. Their mother was furious. She first beat Lizina unmercifully with the broom, then she took her to the mouth of the well and lowered her into it, leaving her at the bottom weeping and crying for help.

 

Before this happened, however, the king’s son in passing the mother’s house had seen Lizina sitting sewing in the parlour, and had been dazzled by her beauty. After coming back two or three times, he at last ventured to approach the window and to whisper in the softest voice: ‘Lovely maiden, will you be my bride?’ and she had answered: ‘I will.’

 

Next morning, when the prince arrived to claim his bride, he found her wrapped in a large white veil. ‘It is so that maidens are received from their parents’ hands,’ said the mother, who hoped to make the king’s son marry Peppina in place of her sister, and had fastened the donkey’s tail round her head like a lock of hair under the veil. The prince was young and a little timid, so he made no objections, and seated Peppina in the carriage beside him.

 

Their way led past the old house inhabited by the cats, who were all at the window, for the report had got about that the prince was going to marry the most beautiful maiden in the world, on whose forehead shone a golden star, and they knew that this could only be their adored Lizina. As the carriage slowly passed in front of the old house, where cats from all parts of world seemed to be gathered a song burst from every throat:!

 

Mew, mew, mew! Prince, look quick behind you! In the well is fair Lizina, And you’ve got nothing but Peppina.

 

When he heard this the coachman, who understood the cat’s language better than the prince, his master, stopped his horses and asked:

 

‘Does your highness know what the grimalkins are saying?’ and the song broke forth again louder than ever.

 

With a turn of his hand the prince threw back the veil, and discovered the puffed-up, swollen face of Peppina, with the donkey’s tail twisted round her head. ‘Ah, traitress!’ he exclaimed, and ordering the horses to be turned round, he drove the elder daughter, quivering with rage, to the old woman who had sought to deceive him. With his hand on the hilt of his sword he demanded Lizina in so terrific a voice that the mother hastened to the well to draw her prisoner out. Lizina’s clothing and her star shone so brilliantly that when the prince led her home to the king, his father, the whole palace was lit up. Next day they were married, and lived happy ever after; and all the cats, headed by old Father Gatto, were present at the wedding.

 

 

From: THE CRIMSON FAIRY BOOK compiled by Andrew Lang

ISBN: 9781909302112

http://abelapublishing.com/andrew-langs-crimson-fairy-book_p27279437.htm

The Crimson Fairy Book

The Crimson Fairy Book