THE COCKROACH, THE MOUSE AND THE CRICKET
Day 3, Tale #5 of Giambattista Basile’s "Il Pentamerone"
retold in narrative verse by Laura J. Bobrow
What good is being rich if you’ve a blockhead for a son? Miccone’s son, Nardiello, was the worst of anyone. He’d go to town to drink with the most treacherous of friends. He paid the most for prostitutes and got the bitter ends. In gambling dens he always lost. “You dunce!” Miccone swore. “You’ve wasted half my fortune. I won’t stand it any more. You must give up these habits, spendthrift!” Then, in deep despair, he gave his son a hundred crowns. “You take these to the fair. Buy six steer calves. They’ll grow into fine oxen. When they’re old, they’ll work our fields which we will sow in wheat. And when that’s sold we’ll have enough to buy ourselves a neighboring field or two and with those lands a title. That way you’ll be titled, too.” “Don’t worry, Father. You may safely leave the job to me.” Nardiello ventured forth, but in a wood he chanced to see a fairy with a cockroach which was strumming a guitar. “That is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen by far!” “For just one hundred crowns it’s yours. And here’s its box as well,” the fairy said. Nardiello paid. He ran right to home to tell his father what a jewel he’d bought. “Much better than some steers.” “A gem? What sort?” his father said, and then was moved to tears.