Day 5, Tale #1 of Giambattista Basile’s “Il Pentamerone”
retold in narrative verse by Laura J. Bobrow
Once on a time (as stories go, a typical beginning) two sisters, poor as poor can be, made pennies from their spinning. They managed to survive on this. They met their needs just barely. But as for all the treats in life the sisters knew them rarely. Then Heaven told them, “Get a goose.” The sisters said, “We’ll try it.” They went to town that very day to find a goose and buy it They did not have it in their minds to raise the goose for slaughter. They coddled it and let it sleep in bed just like a daughter. The goose in turn rewarded them by leaving in its dropping a quantity of golden crowns which tumbled without stopping. Amazed but pleased the happy sisters gathered up the money and spent it on some luxuries. The neighbors said, “That’s funny. Once they were poor like us. Now they wear clothes to suit a lady. They’ve found some money. Or, perhaps, they’re doing something shady.” One neighbor, Vasta, said, “Let’s bore a hole into their dwelling and spy on them. It could be something bad. No way of telling.” So that they did and watched the goose deliver of its payment. Aha! Their envy grew. They schemed to get themselves some raiment. “It isn’t fair that they should have it all,” they said, “now is it?” And Vasta was selected to go pay the girls a visit.