The Peasant’s Will part 4

The Peasant’s Will part 4

The Peasant’s Will part 4

The sons were white with rage, the witnesses shrunk away in terror, and mother and daughter glared at one another with a look of hatred and menace, but no one dared utter a word as X furiously tore the will into fragments.

All of a sudden the daughter started forward, and without hindrance from any one went straight to where the dying man lay, and put the babe down by his side.

“Pare!” she cried. “Pare! do you want me to die of hunger? At least leave me a bowl of‘polenta’ for my child!” A scowl passed over the face of the old man, and unable to show any other sign of hostility he closed his one remaining eye.

I shall never forget the picture of the two heads on the pillow: the beginning and the end of life. One with the laughing eyes and dimpled rosy cheeks of the “bambino,” and the other a dying man’s contracted features, with hollow face darkened by the shadow of death. The idea that the evil spirit was hovering above both, ready to

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The Peasant’s Will part 3

The Peasant’s Will part 3

While she seemed agitated and spoke in an excited manner, she was to all appearances telling the truth, and had no intention of deceiving the lawyer in her answers to his questions concerning the heirs and the amount of property. According to her statements there were only the t hree children, the sons now present, and the property consisted of about fifty acres of good farm land, part at Polegge and part in Rettorgole, another house, live-stock, farm implements, and numerous small articles.

What the old woman had said was confirmed by her sons, and also by the other witnesses. The lawyer suggested that the estate be divided in some general manner among the heirs, but this was objected to by all: wife, sons and witnesses as well. They insisted that it was the wish of the old man to assign everything specifically.

One of the witnesses, a man of rather better appearance and manners than the rest, came forward, and offering his snuff-box to the lawyer with an eviden

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The Peasant’s Will part 2

The Peasant’s Will part 2

X immediately flew in a passion at the idea of such indignity, and declared it preposterous to expect him to mount a ladder of that sort; he said he would rather return to town. The young peasant who was holding the ladder below kept assuring him that it was entirely safe, and another peasant who, attracted by the talk, had come to the opening into the loft, also took hold of the ladder, and shouted— “Come up, Signore, don’t be afraid! It’s strong.”

Being younger, and accustomed to feats of mountain climbing, besides being urged on by curiosity, I determined upon the ascent, and moving cautiously, succeeded in reaching the loft without mishap. X, emboldened by my success, finally changed his mind and followed.

In the loft was a miserable and filthy straw bed, and lying upon it was an old man in rags, with features like wrinkled parchment, one eye entirely closed, and the other almost devoid of life. Though he breathed with difficulty, he did not appear

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The Peasant’s Will part 1

The Peasant’s Will part 1

Antonio Fogazzaro (1842-1911)

Born at Vicenza in northern Italy, Fogazzaro led a very active life, both as senator and writer. Though he studied at first for the law, he was soon able to devote himself largely to writing. His novels (and in particular The Saint) brought him international fame. During his most prolific period he wrote a few volumes of exquisite short stories, among which one of the best is The Peasant’s Will. It is wholly representative of this writer’s art, serene, sympathetic, natural.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano s, by whose permission it is here included.

The Peasant’s Will

In my earlier days I was the assistant of Lawyer X, of Vincenza, when one day in August, about ten o’clock in the morning, a young peasant of Rettorgole came into the office and begged the lawyer to go with him to his home for the purpose

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Little Red Riding-Hood part 2

Little Red Riding-Hood part 2

The wolf began to run as fast as he could, taking the nearest way, and the little girl went by that farthest about, diverting herself in gath­ering nuts, running after butterflies, and making nosegays of such little flowers as she met with. The wolf was not long before he got to the old woman’s house. He knocked at the door—tap, tap!

“Who’s there?”

“Your grandchild, Little Red Riding-Hood,” replied the wolf, coun­terfeiting her voice, “who has brought you a custard and a little pot of butter, sent you by mamma.”

The good grandmother, who was in bed, because she was somewhat ill, cried out:

Expecting Little Red Riding-Hood

“Pull the bobbin and the latch will go up.” The wolf pulled the bobbin, and the door opened; and then presently he fell upon the good woman and ate her up in a moment, for it was above three days that he had not touched a bit. He then shut the door, and went into the grand­mother’s bed,

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Little Red Riding-Hood part 1

Little Red Riding-Hood part 1

Charles Perrault (1628—1703)

Perrault, one of several talented brothers who graced the age of Louis XIV, was a scholar, government official, and writer. He lived a life devoid of extraordinary events, except for the celebrated Quarrel of the Ancients and Moderns in which he fought a long contest with Boileau and other believers in the superiority of the ancient over the modern writers. Toward the end of his life he wrote eleven fairy tales (published 1697), based on traditional stories.

He was the first to give a literary form to Little Red Riding-Hood, Cinderella, Puss in Boots, TheSleeping Beauty, and half a dozen other household stories, which are destined to last as long as children enjoy fairy tales.

The present version, revised from an early English translation, is reprinted from an anonymously translated edition of the Fairy Tales of Penault, London, no date.

Little Red Riding-Hood

(From Tales of My Mother Goose)

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The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son (From the New Testament, Luke XV)

The prodigal is a parable, spoken by Jesus in praise of forgiveness. It is one of the great stories of the world, and is justly regarded as a perfect model of the art of story-telling.

The present text is taken from the King James version. There is no title to the story in the original.

The Prodigal Son

And he said, A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks th

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The Dove And The Crow

The Dove And The Crow

The Dove And The Crow (Anonymous: 2nd Century B.C. or later)

It is thought that the collection of fables now known as the Panchatantra had assumed definite shape at least as early as the Sixth Century A.D., and it is possible that it dates back to the Second Century B.C. Nothing is known of the author. The little stories that make up the collection are mostly Beast Fables, which were originally designed to instruct young princes. “Panchatantra” means “five books.”

The present story, from the second book or Tantra, is reprinted from Ancient Indian Fables and Stories, by permission of the publisher, John Murray. It has no title in the original.

The Dove And The Crow

When Vishnu Sarma had finished telling and expounding these fables, his pupils were lost in admiration of their teacher, whose wisdom had been so clearly marked by his dexterous mingling of amusement with instruction. They rose and all three fell at his feet, thanking hi

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Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus and Eurydice

Ovid (43 B.C.—18 A.D.?)

Publius Ovidius Naso, better known to readers of English as Ovid, was born not far from Rome, and spent the latter part of his life in exile. The Metamorphoses, his most ambitious work, is an attempt to reshape in metrical form the chief stories of Greek mythology, and several from Roman mythology. Orpheus and Eurydice, one of the most human of the legends of antiquity, is a graceful piece of writing. Its “point” is as clear and as cleverly turned as you will find in any ancient tale.

The present translation is based by the editors upon two early versions, the one very literal, the other a paraphrase. The story, which has no title in the original, appears in the Tenth Book of the Metamorphoses.

Orpheus and Eurydice

Thence Hymenaeus, clad in a saffron-colored robe, passed through the unmeasured spaces of the air and directed his course to the region of the Ciconians, and in vain was invoked by the voice of Orph

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The Robbers of Egypt

The Robbers of Egypt

Heliodorus (3rd Century, A.D.)

Heliodorus was one of the earliest writers of the novel, or romance. Though he lived long after the close of the Golden Age of Greek lit-erature, he is (together with Longus) the initiator of the novel form. But like many novelists (even modern novelists, who are supposed to know better), he interspersed his romance with episodes which are in themselves short stories. The very first chapter of the Ethiopian Romance, which is here reprinted, is such a story.

The present version is slightly modified and modernized from the early English translation by Thomas Underdowne. There is no title to the story in the original.

The Robbers of Egypt

At the first smile of day, when the sun was just beginning to shine on the summits of the hills, men whose custom was to live by rapine and violence ran to the top of a cliff and stretched toward that mouth of the Nile which is called Heracleot. Standing awhile, they viewed the

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