Day 1, Tale #8 of Giambattista Basile’s “Il Pentamerone”
retold in narrative verse by Laura J. Bobrow
A peasant, who had little worth and earned his bread by digging earth, slaved hard to keep his family fed. Each year his wife was brought to bed with child, and each, with lusty bawl, a daughter. There were twelve in all. One day while in a deep dark wood a lizard, quite enormous, stood in front of him. He sought his knees and begged, “Oh, madam, spare me, please. Their hungry mouths depend on me.” The lizard said, “That’s why I’m here. I will not harm you. Have no fear. You have twelve daughters. I have none. Bring to me your youngest one. I’ll raise her as my own, and she will know a better life with me.