Day 2 Tale 7
retold in rhyme by Laura J. Bobrow
A toothless, humpbacked lady had a hut within a wood.
When folks would not give charity, she gathered what she could.
In threshing season, she obtained a single bowl of beans.
She put them in a pot, but then she did not have the means
to cook them. So she put the pot upon the window sill
and ventured forth to find some fuel. And there they sat until
a prince, Nardo Aniello, who was hunting happened by.
He said to his retainers, Men, I’ll make a bet that I
can hit that pot with just one throw, and picking up a rock,
he smashed the pot then trotted off, a haughty turkey-cock.
What did he care that all the beans were scattered now and lost?
nor did he care a penny for the misery he cost.
The crone when she observed the mess was dreadfully dismayed.
Whoever did this cruel act must then be cruelly paid.
She called down curses on his head. May he be evil-eyed
and fall in love at first sight with an ogre’s child, she cried.
Two hours went by. The prince was lost. He’d wandered off the trails,
when suddenly he saw a lovely maiden gathering snails.
His heart was pierced. He loved her. Filadoro was her name.
Not only was the prince in love, but she felt just the same.
At first they stood and gazed. Nardo Aniello could but sigh,
but then he found his voice and sang her beauty to the sky.
You praise me much too much, she said, but this I know is true:
I love you, prince, completely, and I give myself to you.
He kissed her and embraced her when there suddenly appeared
an ogress of a monstrous mien. Aha! the creature sneered,
Hands off my daughter! So, you think you’ll taste of all her charms?
The prince would have attacked her, but he could not move his arms.
She grabbed him by the doublet and she hauled him to her tower.
You’ll slave for me or else you’ll find you’ve met your final hour.
First hoe and plant this plot of land before the end of day
when I return, or I will eat you up. She went away.
Nardo Aniello sobbed and moaned. This work cannot be done.
With teams of oxen night would fall before I’d half begun.
Filadoro came to comfort him. It’s not the work I fear,
nor dying, but to have to part from you, he said, my dear.
You have no work to do, she said, except to hold me tight.
I am enchanted. All will soon be done, before tonight.
It was. The ogress spluttered, You have done the work, I see.
Tomorrow’s task you’ll never do. She smacked her lips in glee.
Six piles of logs lie here and you must split them into fours,
If it’s not done when I return, the meat I’ll eat is yours.
Again the prince began to moan. His lover said, Take heart.
it shall be done without a bit of effort on your part.
That night the ogress thought, My Filadoro has a hand.
He could not have chopped the logs alone. But this that I have planned
will tax them both. Clean out my cistern. You must drain it dry.
of one thousand casks of water, or most surely you will die.
The task was far too great, but Filadoro said, My love,
I was trapped by a conjunction of the stars that shine above.
That time is past. Now I intend to run away with you.
Come quickly. We’ll escape and all our troubles will be through.
And so they thought, but happiness was still a mile away.
They dug a tunnel. When they’d reached the town the prince said, Stay.
We’d better make a proper looking entrance, I suppose.
You wait right here and I’ll return with carriages and clothes.
The ogress, though, had by this time discovered that they’d flown,
and in her fury added to his curse one of her own.
He loves my daughter? Well, my dears, your fate will soon be this:
You’ll forget my Filadoro, prince, when you receive a kiss.
The prince reached home. The court rejoiced for all had feared him dead.
His mother met him on the stairs and kissed him on the head.
Where have you been? she asked. Nardo Aniello could not say.
His memory of what had passed completely slipped away.
While he was gone his mother had secured a foreign bride
to keep him from his hunting and to hold him by her side.
The prince said, I agree. It’s time. There need be no delays.
The wedding feast was scheduled to take place in just four days.
Now, while her prince was absent, Filadoro heard the plan.
She switched clothes with an errand boy and, dressed up as a man,
she found employment at the palace as a kitchen aid
and so she was at work there when the wedding food was made.
She made a special meat pie which was set before them all
and from it flew a wondrous dove which flew about the hall.
It said, Is this the pay back for the help she gave to you,
let Filadoro suffer while you marry someone new?
She loved you with a passion that alas, was all too dear.
She’ll go away and kill herself and leave your future clear.
The dove flew out the window, and the prince was stricken dumb.
At last he said, Whoever made this pastry, bid him come!
Filadoro came and kneeled, and there she sobbed, and wailed, and bawled,
What did I do to you? Her beauty moved him. He recalled.
He told his mother who she was and how she’d saved his life,
and that he’d have this woman and no other for his wife.
His new bride, when she heard the tale, was actually relieved.
Reluctantly I wed you, prince, but underneath I grieved
for my own country. Give me ship and servants and good tide.
He did, and then he seated Filadoro by his side.
He married her. The wedding feast went well into the night.
Is that the happy ending? I am sad to say not quite,
for suddenly there came an awful jangling of bells
and in the room appeared a hideous mask. It cried, More spells
shall come to you, bad prince, to pay for all the wrong you’ve done.
Recall the pot of beans. I am that woman. I’m the one
who put a curse upon your head. Because you broke the pot
I died of hunger. Now I’ll break whatever luck you’ve got.
The shade then dimmed and disappeared. The prince’s face grew pale.
But Filadoro said, Cheer up. Sometimes bad curses fail.
Remember, I’m a fairy and true love is all we need.
To the air she called, Not valid! and good luck was theirs indeed.
Copyright © 2019 Laura J. Bobrow. All rights reserved.