Italian: The Fair Angiola

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

The Fair Angiola

ONCE upon a time there were seven women, neighbors, all of whom were seized with a great longing for some jujubes which only grew in a garden opposite the place where they all lived and which belonged to a witch. Now this witch had a donkey that watched the garden and told the old witch when any one entered. The seven neighbors, however, had such a desire for the jujubes that they entered the garden and threw the donkey some nice soft grass, and, while he was eating it, they filled their aprons with jujubes and escaped before the witch appeared. This they did several times, until at last the witch noticed that some one had been in her garden, for many of the jujubes were gone. She questioned the donkey, but he had eaten the nice grass and noticed nothing. Then she resolved the third day to remain in the garden herself.

In the middle of it was a hole, in which she hid and covered herself with leaves and branches, leaving only one of her long ears sticking out. The seven neighbors once more went into the garden and began picking jujubes, when one of them noticed the witch's ear sticking out of the leaves and thought it was a mushroom and tried to pick it. Then the witch jumped out of the hole and ran after the women, all of whom escaped but one. The witch was going to eat her, but she begged hard for pardon and promised never to enter the garden again. The witch finally forgave her on the condition that she would give her her child, yet unborn, whether a boy or girl, when it was seven years old. The poor woman promised in her distress, and the witch let her go.

Some time after the woman had a beautiful little girl whom she named Angiola. When Angiola was six years old, her mother sent her to school to learn to sew and knit. On her way to school, she had to pass the garden where the witch lived. One day, when she was almost seven, she saw the witch standing in her garden. She beckoned to Angiola and gave her some fine fruits and said: "You see, fair Angiola, I am your aunt. Tell your mother you have seen your aunt, and she sends her word not to forget her promise."

Angiola went home and told her mother, who was frightened and said to herself: "Ah! the time has come when I must give up my Angiola."

Then she said to the child: "When your aunt asks you tomorrow for an answer, tell her you forgot your errand."

The next day she told the witch as she was directed. "Very well," she replied, "tell her today, but don't forget."

Thus several days passed; the witch was constantly on the watch for Angiola when she went to school, and wanted to know her mother's answer, but Angiola always declared that she had forgotten to ask her. One day, however, the witch became angry and said: "Since you are so forgetful, I must give you some token to remind you of your errand." Then she bit Angiola's little finger so hard that she bit a piece out.

Angiola went home in tears and showed her mother her finger. "Ah!" thought her mother, "there is no help for it. I must give my poor child to the witch, or else she will eat her up in her anger."

The next morning as Angiola was going to school, her mother said to her: "Tell your aunt to do with you as she thinks best."

Angiola did so, and the witch said: "Very well, then come with me, for you are mine."

So the witch took the fair Angiola with her and led her away to a tower which had no door and but one small window. There Angiola lived with the witch, who treated her very kindly, for she loved her as her own child. When the witch came home after her excursions, she stood under the window and cried: "Angiola, fair Angiola, let down your pretty tresses and pull me up!" Now Angiola had beautiful full long hair, which she let down and with which she pulled the witch up.

Now it happened one day when Angiola had grown to be a large and beautiful maiden, that the king's son went hunting and chanced to come where the tower was. He was astonished at seeing the house without any door and wondered how people got in. Just then the old witch returned home, stood under the window, and called: "Angiola, fair Angiola, let down your beautiful tresses and pull me up." Immediately the beautiful tresses fell down, and the witch climbed up by them.

This pleased the prince greatly, and he hid himself near by until the witch went away again. Then he went and stood under the window and called: "Angiola, fair Angiola, let down your beautiful tresses and pull me up." Then Angiola let down her tresses and drew up the prince, for she believed it was the witch. When she saw the prince, she was much frightened at first, but he addressed her in a friendly manner and begged her to fly with him and become his wife.


(900 words)





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