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Day One
Pentamerone Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five

                                THE LITTLE SLAVE GIRL
                                                Day 2, Tale 8
                                retold in rhyme by Laura J. Bobrow



A baron had a maiden sister, Lilla was her name.
She played with girlfriends in the garden. Once they played a game:
whoever jumped a rosebush without touching it at all
would win a prize. When Lilla jumped, she made one petal fall.

She picked it up and swallowed it before the rest had seen,
and so she won the prize, and for that day they called her Queen.
Another prize she won was this: she soon was big with child.
She wondered, How? Some fairy friends who heard about it smiled.

They said to her, It’s very clear. The petal is the cause.
We’ll see that she’s endowed with all the best of nature’s laws.
Just bring her to us when she’s born. In secret Lilla bore
a lovely daughter, Lisa. When she brought the girl before

the fairies, all but one of them came rushing in to see.
They gave her grace and full as many favors as there be.
But one of them was late and in her running tripped and fell.
She cursed the pain and put upon the baby’s head a spell. 

When Lisa is but seven while her mother combs her hair,
a comb will be forgotten and remain embedded there.
The child will die. It happened. Seven caskets made of glass
were made, and in the seventh Lilla put her lovely lass.

She hid her in the last room in the palace, far away.
She locked the room and kept the key upon her every day. 
But grief soon took its toll. She called her brother to her side
to give her goods to him and tell him all before she died.

She told him of the child and then she whispered, Here’s the key
to the door which you must never, ever open. Promise me.
He kept the key and kept his promise, too. The years were spun.
He married and his wife had all the palace keys, save one.

This piqued her curiosity. What awful secret lay
within that room? Then, one time while her husband was away
she searched and found the key and quickly opened up the door.
And there lay Lisa, pretty as a rose. Aha! she swore,

He’s cheating on me! Here he keeps her cased in luxury.
We’ll have no more of this! She smashed the caskets angrily
and grabbed poor Lisa by the hair. The comb fell to the floor.
And there stood Lisa, in a daze but mummified no more.

The baroness cut Lisa’s hair, and dressed her as a slave,
and beat her soundly every day. Her scars and burns were grave.
Soon Lisa was an ugly thing, a wench not fit to see.
The wife said, Husband, here’s a slave. Your aunt sent her to me.

Pay her no mind. She’s evil. And the baron did not care.
And then one day he said to all, I’m going to a fair.
I’ll bring you what you want. His wife said, Leave the slave alone.
But Lisa asked him for a doll, a knife and pumice stone.

And think on this, she said to him, in case you should forget
you may not cross a river, no, nor get your ankles wet.
He did forget and found he could not cross a stream unless
he bought what Lisa wanted. This he did with willingness.

When Lisa got her gifts, she sat upon a kitchen stool
and propped the doll in front of her. Oh, doll, she cried, now you’ll
hear what misfortunes I’ve endured. A fairy cast a spell.
My mother thought she’d killed me, and she hid my body well.

She died of grief, but I survived. I grew within my room
until the baron’s wife found out and, jealous of her groom,
enslaved me. Do you hear me, doll? Why don’t you answer me?
I’ll use this knife to kill myself and then I shall be free.

But someone else was listening. The baron heard it all,
for, unbeknownst to Lisa, he was listening through the wall.
He burst into the room and said, Now tell your tale to me.
She told about the rose bush and her mother and the key.

The baron recognized that this most surely was his niece.
He sent her off to relatives where she could live in peace
until her wounds were healed. It took her seven months. At last
he brought her back. My niece has come. Wife, fix a fine repast,

but first let’s have her tell us of the suffering she’s known.
The story then unfolded, and his wife began to groan.
He banished her forever, and for Lisa found a prince.
And the petal baby, Lisa, has been happy ever since. 

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