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Pentamerone Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five

                                                        PERUONTO
                                                                Day 1, Tale 3
                                            retold in rhyme by Laura J. Bobrow


Peruonto’s poor face had the look of a fowl,
with nose like a parrot and eyes like an owl.
His whole head was shaggy, his mouth like a deer
and bare, bandy legs like an old chanticleer. 

Besides, he was lazy. He managed to shirk
whatever was asked, if complying meant work.
When his mother begged, Go to the forest for wood,
Peruonto walked off just as slow as he could.

He came to a meadow where grasses were deep.
Out in the sun lay three youths, fast asleep. 
Peruonto took pity. With branches he made
an arbor above them to give them some shade.

The noise woke them up. When they saw what he’d done
they exclaimed, We are fairies. A blessing you’ve won!
There’s a way that we have to reward men like you.
In the future whatever you wish will come true.

He thanked them and gathered his sticks, a big pile.
Then he sat on it. Show me, he said with a smile.
He didn’t believe it would happen, of course.
Wish me home, said Peruonto. And just like a horse

those sticks took him prancing along into town
past the palace. Vastolla, the princess, looked down. 
When she saw him she laughed, more than ever she had.
Vastolla was usually, perpetually sad. 

Peruonto looked up and he said, angrily, 
I wish we were married, and then you would see.
I would cure you of laughing in less than a day.
Then he dug in his heels and he trotted away.

The King held a feast for the nobles he knew.
Vastolla will marry, perhaps one of you.
But then to his anger, and more, to his shame
Vastolla refused every man he could name.

The King called his council. We’re caught in a fix.
She only will marry her Knight of the Sticks.
Have a feast for the commoners. Then when he’s here 
we will seize him, they said, and the way will be clear.

Peruonto attended the feast. He was last.  
There he is! cried Vastolla. The King was aghast.
What he saw was a man with the face of a fowl,
with nose like a parrot and eyes like an owl.

His whole head was shaggy, his mouth like a deer
and bare, bandy legs like an old chanticleer. 
She wants him?! cried the King. Get her out of my sight!
Put them both in a barrel and seal it up tight.

Her ladies in waiting cried copious tears.
In the cask they put raisins, enough for two years.
The barrel was closed and was tossed in the sea.
Vastolla cried out, What has happened to me?

You’re to blame, you cruel man. Am I under a spell?
If you feed me some raisins, he said, I will tell.
He told of the fairies. He told of their gift.
Each word he pronounced caused her spirits to lift.

Then, Peruonto, she said with a trembling lip,
why not wish that this barrel become a fine ship?
If you feed me some raisins, he said, then I will.
She handed him raisins ‘til he had his fill.

The barrel became a huge vessel with sails,
with guns, and a cabin with royal details.
Vastolla was awed. She was filled with delight,
but she started to worry as day turned to night.

We’d be safer, she said, if this ship were on land,
if we sailed to a shore where a palace could stand.
She turned to Peruonto. Could you wish us dry?
If you feed me some raisins, he said, I will try.

She plied him with raisins. The ship came to rest
and was changed to a palace with all of the best,
with curtains and hangings. She lived like a queen.
But one thing was lacking, for there to be seen

was Peruonto whose face had the look of a fowl,
with nose like a parrot and eyes like an owl.
His whole head was shaggy, his mouth like a deer,
and bare, bandy legs like an old chanticleer. 

Peruonto, she murmured, would you like to change?
Become handsome, as fine as a wish could arrange?
If you feed me some raisins, he said, then we’ll see.
She fed him the rest of the fruit eagerly.

He was gorgeous and straight as a rod when he walked.
His voice was the voice of a prince when he talked.
Vastolla embraced him, and soon they were wed.
They were happy for years, and two children were bred.

But meanwhile the King had grown wretched and old.
He missed his Vastolla. His heart had grown cold.
One sad day he was hunting and when it grew late
he came to a palace. He knocked at the gate.

No one answered, but there was a light in the hall, 
and a table with plates holding roast meats and all.
Fine music was played by invisible lutes.
Then two little boys came to take off his boots.

You are welcome, they said.  We’ve been waiting for you.  
And they hugged him and kissed him and combed his beard, too.
Next there appeared a most comfortable bed.
He slept just as soon as he lay down his head.

In the morning Vastolla came into his room
along with the boys and her most handsome groom.
Father, these are your grandsons. And this is my knight,
fairy-favored. You’ll see that it turned out all right.

They sat at his feet while she told him the tale,
and she begged his forgiveness for all the travail.
Please come home again, daughter, he hastened to say.
And the feasting, they say, lasted many a day. 

Copyright © 2019 Laura J. Bobrow. All rights reserved.