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  • The Clever Girl
    Page 1

    A COUNTRYMAN and his wife at work in the fields left their little daughter in her cradle at home. An old, old woman crept softly, softly in, and kissed the child on her eyes and her forehead. "I bring you two gifts," she said, "Beauty and Wit." When the parents returned they hardly knew the little one again, so beautiful had she become. And when she grew to be a big girl, none in all the countryside was so lovely or so clever.

    Now, one day, when he was working in his vineyard, the peasant found a mortar made of solid gold. "It's of little use to me," he said, "but what a fine gift for the King! I'll set off this very minute." And he ran into the house to put on his Sunday coat. But Pina, his daughter, said, "You'd better do no such thing. If you show the mortar to the King, he'll only say, 'What is the use of a mortar without a pestle?'" "Nonsense!" replied her father. And off he went.

    He made his way into the Palace, threw himself before the King, and said, "Please, your Majesty, will you accept this gift?"

    "Very nice! Very nice!" replied the King, taking the mortar in his hand. "But where is the pestle?" "I found no pestle," said the peasant.

    "Found a mortar without a pestle? Impossible! You are keeping it back. If you do not bring me the pestle by to-morrow morning I'll have you thrown into prison for a thief!"

    The poor countryman stared, and then as he was turning away, said, "Ah, what a wise girl is my daughter!"

    "What's that you're saying?" asked the King.

    "Only that my daughter Pina told me your Majesty would be sure to ask for the pestle instead of being pleased with the mortar alone. She said I was a fool to give it you."

    "Then your daughter is a great deal cleverer than yourself." Now, the King was not a bad man at heart, but rather greedy, and very capricious, rather like a spoilt child. "Hark ye," he went on, "I'll give that clever daughter of yours something to do. See! Take her this flax and tell her to spin from it linen enough to make shirts for my whole army." And he handed the poor dazed man the flax, and distaffs and spindles made of fish-bones. "If she refuses, or if she is not able to do it, I'll have you both put in prison. Ha! ha! Good-bye!"

    Page 2 >

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    Macdonell, Anne. The Italian Fairy Book. London: T. Fisher Unwin LTD., 1911. 55-61


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