Day 2, Tale #9 of Giambattista Basile’s “Il Pentamerone”
retold in narrative verse by Laura J. Bobrow
A woman had three daughters and so needy was their state, they had to go out begging. They were weary of their fate and they were cross. The woman had some cabbage leaves she’d got. She needed only water from the fountain for the pot. “I’ll make a stew,” she said. “Tell me, which one of you will go to fetch the water?” And, in turn, each daughter answered, “No.” “All right,” their mother sighed, “it’s I who’ll have to get it.” “Stay,” the youngest, Luciella, cried. “You’ve had a tiring day. I’ll go and fetch it, Mother. You must stay at home and rest.” Of all the three Luciella was quite easily the best. She trudged off to the fountain. There a slave stood in the shade. He said, “You’re lovely. Come with me. Your fortune will be made.” Luciella was not loathe, “But first,” she said, “I must, alack, take water to my mother. If you’ll wait I’ll be right back.” At home she said she’d seen some sticks of wood that they could use, and left again. Her sisters did not guess Luciella’s ruse although they wondered when, indeed, she never did return. She’d gone off with the slave to see what treasures she could earn. Through woods and grotto this brave girl accompanied the slave. He led her to a mansion which, from outside, was a cave.