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Day One
Day Two
Pentamerone Day Three
Day Four
Day Five

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


There once was born a lovely maid.
The king, her father, unafraid
to tempt the fates, threw wide the gates
and called in gypsies, whom he paid. 

Necromancers, come to me
and tell me what her life will be.
Will Renza thrive? Will she survive
to reach a ripe maturity?

They read her lines. The sticks were thrown.
Then they pronounced with curse and groan,
Her days will end, the signs portend.
The cause of death will be a bone.

Not so! I’ll build a high retreat
where she shall live her life complete.
Twelve maids will care for Renza there
and feed her only boneless meat.

And so she grew, a beauty fair.
A prince, young Cecio, saw her there
behind a grate, where she of late
was won’t to breathe the evening air.

He smiled. She laughed. They played the game
of who-are-you? and what’s-your-name?
and cast their eyes, and teased with sighs
that set the two of them aflame.

In short, she welcomed his advance.
By what extraordinary chance
has come this thrill? We’re strangers, still
I know that you’re my great romance.

If I could manage to get free ...
Oh, do! And come away with me.
Tomorrow, pray. I’ll find a way,
said Renza.  It was meant to be.

Then in her room her favorite hound
with bone in mouth leapt, with a bound,
beneath her bed. That’s it! she said
(Stop, Renza, lest your fate redound!)

She took his bone and shoved him out.
Then, when her maids were not about,
she used the bone to chip at stone
and loosen the surrounding grout.

She made a hole through which she fled.
Four linen sheets from Renza’s bed
became a line. At last! You’re mine!
They galloped down the road ahead

until they reached a grand estate.
The prince’s palace stood in wait.
Once there her charms in Cecio’s arms
were preludes to love consummate. 

Next morning though, a page was seen.
He bore a letter from the queen.
Come now, my son, my life is done.
Alas, no cure can intervene.

Stay here, my dear, for I must go.
So soon? she cried. Oh, say not so!
We’ve not wed yet. And you’ll forget.
Your actions cause my tears to flow.

She watched him as he rode away,
but she was of no mind to stay.
She blacked her nose and wore monk’s clothes
obtained from one who passed that way.

She stole a horse and off she went.
They met before the day was spent.
He did not dream of Renza’s scheme,
and could not guess at her intent.

Good evening. May I ride along?
The road is wide, the journey long.
You may, my boy. With tales employ
my ears.  Then Renza spoke, in song:

A girl in tears was near a bride
He left, and she cannot abide
that lonely place. She seeks his face.
Oh, what has torn him from her side?

I like your song immensely, lad.
I’ve left my love. I, too, am sad.
I bid you stay, and all the day
sing me that song. It makes me glad.

Poor Renza readily agreed.
They reached the castle in good speed.
It was a trick. The queen, not sick,
had planned a marriage, out of need.

She had, in fact, the bride at hand.
Cecio told her, Understand.
This lad you see must always be
as near me as we two now stand.

I love him well. The song he sings
instills in me such happy things.
Swear that, he said, and I’ll be wed
and give your ‘bride’ her wedding rings.

The queen said yes. They sat to eat
and he asked Renza to repeat
her song. And then, Sing once again!
Without it I am not complete.

Needless to say, the bride complained,
but his requests were not restrained.
Sing now!  She sang while torments rang
inside her mind. Pure envy reigned.

She made her way into a field
to be alone and thus to yield
to her regrets. Ah, she who lets
men’s words hold sway is soon revealed

to be a plaything of the ghouls.
To trust is but a game for fools.
Cruel Cecio, wait. You’ll meet your fate
and rue these years when passion rules.

Is this your way to pay me back?
My soul is torn. My heart is black.
I’ll take my life and she, your wife,
will end up with an empty sack.

A bed for Renza sat beside
the bed of Cecio and his bride. 
From time to time, Please sing that rhyme, 
came from the groom who lay wide-eyed.

This singing kept the bride awake.
His mewling gives me stomach-ache!
Am I to be your wife, or he?
No more, no more for heaven’s sake!

Be still, said Cecio, you’ll be fine.
I must be near this boy of mine.
He kissed her brow, too loud, somehow.
He meant it as an anodyne. 

That kiss, though passionless, instead  
was thunder in poor Renza’s head.
She sighed at first, her poor heart burst,
and there she lay quite stiff, and dead.

When next she did not sing, alarm
gripped Cecio. Scared, he touched her arm.
Too cold! He knew that life was through.
But what had caused the lad such harm?

He lit a candle. By it’s light 
he learned the truth, and at the sight
he shrieked, It’s she! Oh, agony!
What ruin has occurred this night!

It’s done. It cannot be repaired.
Oh, mother, you alone ensnared
your son. May guilt for blood that’s spilt
afflict your soul with force unspared.

So saying he picked up a blade
and stabbed himself.The wound he made
was fatal. See? I die with thee.
One grave is where we’ll both be laid.

Our story will be told to all.
The queen came running at his call.
In deep despair she tore her hair
and moaned and groaned in bitter gall.  

Then Renza’s father entered, too.
He’d followed when the lovers flew.
Alas, too late. She’d met her fate.
He wailed, The omen has come true! 

The day the gypsy men foretold
her death by bone, her fate took hold.
It’s sealed on high, and though we try,
what’s written man cannot unfold.

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