Italian: Catherine and Her Fate (cont.)

This story is part of the Italian Popular Tales unit. Story source: Italian Popular Tales by Thomas Frederick Crane (1885).

Catherine and Her Fate (cont.)

Finally, after seven years, her Fate seemed weary of always persecuting the unfortunate Catherine. One day, Catherine came again to a city and saw a lady standing at a window, who asked her: "Where are you going, all alone, pretty girl?"

"Ah! Noble lady, I am a poor girl and would like to find a place to earn my bread. Can you not find use for me?"

The lady answered: "I will give you a place willingly, but you must perform daily a service, and I do not know whether you have strength for it."

"Tell me what it is," said Catherine, "and if I can, I will do it."

"Do you see yonder high mountain?" asked the lady. "Every morning you must carry up there a large board covered with fresh bread and cry with a loud voice: 'O my mistress' Fate! O my mistress' Fate! O my mistress' Fate!' thrice. Then my Fate will appear and receive the bread."

"I will do that willingly," said Catherine, and the lady took her into her service.

Now Catherine remained years with this lady, and every morning she took a board with fresh bread and carried it up the mountain, and when she had called three times: "O my mistress' Fate!" there appeared a beautiful tall lady, who received the bread.

Catherine often wept when she thought that she, who had once been so rich, must now serve like a poor maid. One day her mistress said to her: "Catherine, why do you weep so much?"

Then Catherine told her how ill it had fared with her, and her mistress said: "I will tell you what, Catherine, when you take the bread to the mountain tomorrow, ask my Fate to try and persuade your Fate to leave you now in peace. Perhaps that will do some good."

This advice pleased poor Catherine, and the next morning, after she had taken the bread to her mistress' Fate, she disclosed her trouble to her and said: "O my mistress' Fate, beg my Fate to persecute me no longer."

Then the Fate answered: "Ah, poor girl, your Fate is just now covered with seven coverlets, so that she cannot hear you, but when you come tomorrow I will take you to her."

After Catherine had returned home, her mistress' Fate went to the young girl's Fate and said: "Dear sister, why are you never weary of making poor Catherine suffer? Permit her again to see some happy days."

The Fate answered: "Bring her to me tomorrow, and I will give her something that will help her out of all her trouble."

When Catherine brought the bread the next morning, her mistress' Fate conducted her to her own Fate, who was covered with seven coverlets. Her Fate gave her a small skein of silk and said: "Preserve it carefully; it will be of use to you."

Then Catherine went home and said to her mistress: "My Fate has given me a little skein of silk; what shall I do with it? It is not worth three grani."

"Well," said her mistress, "preserve it; who knows of what use it may be?"

Now it happened, some time after this, that the young king was to marry, and on that account had royal garments made for himself. As the tailor was about to sew a beautiful dress, there was no silk of the same color to be found. So the king proclaimed throughout the whole land that whoever had such silk should bring it to the court and would be well rewarded.

"Catherine," said her mistress, "your skein is of that color; take it to the king so that he may make you a handsome present."

Then Catherine put on her best clothes and went to the Court, and when she appeared before the king, she was so beautiful that he could not keep his eyes from her.

"Royal Majesty," said she, "I have brought you a little skein of silk of the color that could not be found."

"I will tell you what, royal Majesty," cried one of his ministers, "we will pay the maiden for the silk with its weight in gold."

The king was satisfied and they brought a balance: in one scale the king laid the silk; in the other, a gold coin. Now just imagine what happened: no matter how many gold coins the king laid in the scale, the silk was always heavier.

Then the king had a larger balance brought and threw all his treasures into the scale, but the silk still weighed the more. Then the king at last took his crown from his head and placed it with all the other treasures, and behold! The scale with gold sank and weighed exactly as much as the silk.

"Where did you get this silk?" asked the king.

"Royal Majesty, it was a present from my mistress," answered Catherine.

"No, that is impossible," cried the king. "If you do not tell me the truth, I will have your head cut off"

Then Catherine related all that had happened to her since she was a rich maiden.

Now there lived at the court a wise lady, who said: "Catherine, you have suffered much, but you will now see happy days, and that it was not until the golden crown was put in the scale that the balance was even is a sign that you will be a queen."

"If she is to be a queen," cried the king, "I will make her one, for Catherine and none other shall be my wife."

And so it was; the king informed his betrothed that he no longer wished her, and married the fair Catherine. And after Catherine in her youth had suffered so much, she enjoyed nothing but happiness in her old age, and was happy and contented.

(1000 words)

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