Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Italian: A Feast Day

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

A Feast Day

ONCE upon a time, there was a husband and wife; the husband was a boatman. One feast day, the boatman took it into his head to buy a fowl, which he carried home, and said: "See here, wife, today is a feast day; I want a good dinner; cook it well, for my friend Tony is coming to dine with us and has said that he would bring a tart."

"Very well," she said, "I will prepare the fowl at once."

So she cleaned it, washed it, put it on the fire, and said: "While it is boiling I will go and hear a mass." She shut the kitchen door and left the dog and the cat inside.

Scarcely had she closed the door when the dog went to the hearth and perceived that there was a good odor there and said: "Oh, what a good smell!"

He called the cat, also, and said: "Cat, you come here, too; smell what a good odor there is! See if you can push off the cover with your paws."

The cat went and scratched and scratched and down went the cover.

"Now," said the dog, "see if you can catch it with your claws."

Then the cat seized the fowl and dragged it to the middle of the kitchen.

The dog said: "Shall we eat half of it?"

The cat said: "Let us eat it all."

So they ate it all and stuffed themselves like pigs. When they had eaten it, they said: "Alas for us! What shall we do when the mistress comes home? She will surely beat us both."

So they both ran all over the house, here and there, but could find no place in which to hide. They were going to hide under the bed. "No," they said, "for she will see us."

They were going under the sofa, but that would not do, for she would see them there.

Finally the cat looked up and saw under the beams a cobweb. He gave a leap and jumped into it.

The dog looked at him and said: "Run away! You are mad! You can be seen, for your tail sticks out! Come down, come down!"

"I cannot, I cannot, for I am stuck fast!"

"Wait, I will come and pull you out." He gave a spring to catch him by the tail and pull him down. Instead of that he, too, stuck fast to the cat's tail. He made every effort to loosen himself, but he could not and there he had to stay.

Meanwhile, the mistress does not wait until the priest finishes the mass, but runs quickly home. She runs and opens the door and is going to skim the pot, when she discovers that the fowl is no longer there, and in the middle of the kitchen she sees the bones all gnawed.

"Ah, poor me! The cat and the dog have eaten the fowl. Now I will give them both a beating." So she takes a stick and then goes to find them. She looks here, she looks there, but does not find them anywhere.

In despair, she comes back to the kitchen, but does not find them there. "Where the deuce have they hidden?"

Just then she raises her eyes and sees them both stuck fast under the beams. "Ah, are you there? Now just wait!" and she climbs on a table and is going to pull them down, when she sticks fast to the dog's tail. She tries to free herself but cannot.

Her husband knocked at the door. "Here, open!"

"I cannot, I am stuck fast."

"Loosen yourself and open the door! Where the deuce are you fastened?"

"I cannot, I tell you."

"Open! It is noon."

"I cannot, for I am fastened."

"But where are you fastened?"

"To the dog's tail."

"I will give you the dog's tail, you silly woman!" He gave the door two or three kicks, broke it in, went into the kitchen, and saw cat, dog, and mistress all fastened together.

"Ah, you are all fastened, are you? Just wait, I will loosen you." He went to loosen them, but stuck fast himself.

Friend Tony comes and knocks. "Friend? Open! I have the tart here."

"I cannot; my friend, I am stuck fast!"

"Bad luck to you! Are you stuck fast at this time? You knew I was coming and got fast? Come, loosen yourself and open the door!"

He said again: "I cannot come and open, for I am fast."

Finally the friend became angry, kicked in the door, went into the kitchen, and saw all those souls stuck fast and laughed heartily.

"Just wait, for I will loosen you now." So he gave a great pull: the cat's tail was loosened, the cat fell into the dog's mouth, the dog into his mistress' mouth, the mistress into her husband's, her husband into his friend's, and his friend into the mouth of the blockheads who are listening to me.

Next: Buchettino

(800 words)






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