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Pentamerone Day Three
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Day Five

                                THE THREE FAIRIES
                                        Day 3, Tale 10
                            retold in rhyme by Laura J. Bobrow

The widow Caradonia was consumed by jealousy.
Her daughter, young Grannizia, was as ugly as could be
with ratty hair and bumpy nose and breasts like saddle bags
and fish-like mouth. In short, she was the gruesomest of hags. 

Caradonia married. Her new husband brought with him
a girl whose features were a dream, like those of cherubim,
a precious gem, Cicella. When compared to her own spawn
the one was smooth as velvet and the other coarsest lawn.

Caradonia made it so her daughter loafed around
while Cicella was compelled to work, to scrub and scrape and pound.
Cicella wore the meanest clothes. Grannizia wore the best.
Grannizia ate the finest foods. Cicella got the rest.

Cicella was a pleasant child and bore it all with grace.
One day she went to dump the trash. In an enchanted place
her basket fell into a pit. She could not get it out.
A horrid ogre stood below with pustules on his snout.

Cicella found her courage and addressed him, Please, kind sir,
would you hand me up my basket?  The ogre did not stir.
In fact, he spoke.  Climb down, dear girl, and fetch a big surprise.
He seemed no threat, so she climbed down. A marvel met her eyes.

Three lovely fairies spoke her name and grasped her by the hand.
Come see our palace, they implored. She did. And it was grand.
They sat her down and asked her softly, Will you comb our hair?
And when you’ve combed it, pretty miss, please tell us what is there.

She combed them with a buffalo bone, and answered sweet and true,
Little nits and tiny lice and pearls and garnets, too.
They led her all around the place. Its treasures were immense,
but she refrained from gaping. She had manners and good sense.

They brought her to a wardrobe. It was filled with sumptuous clothes. 
Take what you like, they told her, and a skirt is what she chose.
By which door would you like to leave? they asked her prettily.
I’ll exit by the stable door. That’s good enough for me.

They dressed her in a silken gown and jewels and fancy furs
and told her to look up outside to see what else was hers.
Cicella took her leave of them with kisses and a bow.
When she looked up as she’d been bade, a star fell on her brow.

She went back home. When Caradonia saw the clothes and star.
Why you and not my daughter? You must tell me where they are. 
She sent Grannizia off at once. The fairies took her in.
First, tell us what is in our hair.  Grannizia had to grin.

Your lice are big as chickpeas and each nit is like a spoon.
Now take me to your wardrobe. I can’t spend all afternoon.
The fairies were offended but pretended they were not.
I want some jewels and brand new clothes, the finest that you’ve got.

When Grannizia chose the richest gowns, the fairies stripped her bare.
Look up, they said, when you get out and see what waits you there.
Grannizia did, and on her head an ugly glob was splayed. 
She rubbed and rubbed to no avail. It stuck. And there it stayed.

Caradonia seethed with rage. She made the two girls change.
And said, Cicella, tend the pigs. In rags it won’t look strange.
With calm and patience poor Cicella did what she was told.
A prince, Cuosema saw her there as pretty as spun gold.

At once he knew he loved her and with no disparagement
he sought out Caradonia for her marital consent.
The wedding may take place, she said, but wait until tonight.
I want to ask the relatives to join in our delight.

The dreadful Caradonia stuffed Cicella in a cask.
She sealed it up preparing for a most unsavory task.
She meant to scald Cicella.  But for now I must, she said
make Grannizia a bride so he will marry her instead.

She slathered her with makeup so her warts would not repel,
and doused the girl with perfume to conceal her bilgy smell.
When Cuosema came to fetch her it was dark, but he could see
beneath the veil an ostrich where a goldfinch ought to be.

He muttered and he grumbled but was forced at last to give 
his bride a kiss and take her to the place they were to live.
That awful night went on and on. Grannizia spat and kicked.
Cuosema was aghast.  How could my eyes have so been tricked?  

He moved so far away from her he tumbled from the bed
and landed on a chamber pot. When dawn came, off he sped
right back to Caradonia’s house to thrash her well and good. 
But she was not at home. She had gone out to gather wood.

He called, Where are you, miscreant?  A cat replied, Meow.
Your wife is plugged up in a cask. You must go save her now.
Cuosema smashed the cask and there, indeed, Cicella lay.
He hugged her and she told him what had happened, day by day.

He put the cask together. Then he summoned his false bride.
He put her in the cask and quickly sealed her up inside.
Cuosema and Cicella fled, their hearts filled with desire. 
Soon after Caradonia came with sticks to build a fire.

When water boiled she poured it in the cask with utmost glee.
ignoring moans and groans. You’ll get no help, my dear, from me.
Cicella’s dead! she laughed at last. Her voice was harsh and wild.
She opened up the cask and saw she’d murdered her own child!

Her shrieks and cries were heard for miles. Oh, dreadful deed, she shrilled,
then jumped headfirst into a well and instantly was killed.
They say that none of us can guess what fate our stars portend,
but evil will itself in time beget an evil end.

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