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Italian Popular Tales
by Thomas Crane

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The Gentleman Who Kicked a Skull

THERE was once a youth who did nothing but eat, drink, and amuse him self, because he was immensely wealthy and had nothing to think about. He scoffed at every one; he dishonored all the young girls; he played all sorts of tricks, and was tired of everything. One day he took it into his head to give a grand banquet; and thereupon he invited all his friends and many women and all his acquaintances.

While they were preparing the banquet he took a walk, and passed through a street where there was a cemetery While walking he noticed on the ground a skull. He gave it a kick, and then he went up to it and said to it in jest: "You, too, will come, will you not, to my banquet to-night?" Then he went his way, and returned home. At the house the banquet was ready and the guests had all arrived. They sat down to the table, and ate and drank to the sound of music, and diverted themselves joyfully.

Meanwhile midnight drew near, and when the clock was on the stroke a ringing of bells was heard. The servants went to see who it was, and beheld a great ghost, who said to them: "Tell Count Robert that I am the one he invited this morning to his banquet." They went to their master and told him what the ghost had said. The master said: "I? All those whom I invited are here, and I have invited no one else." They said: "If you should see him! It is a ghost that is terrifying." Then it came into the young man's mind that it might be that dead man; and he said to the servants: "Quick! Quick! Close the doors and balconies, so that he cannot enter!" The servants went to close everything; but hardly had they done so when the doors and balconies were thrown wide open and the ghost entered. He went up where they were feasting, and said: "Robert! Robert! Was it not enough for you to profane everything? Have you wished to disturb the dead, also? The end has come!" All were terrified, and fled here and there, some concealing themselves, and some falling on their knees. Then the ghost seized Robert by the throat and strangled him and carried him away with him; and thus he has left this example, that it is not permitted to mock the poor dead.

Crane, Thomas Frederick. Italian Popular Tales. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1885. Buy the book in hardcover or paperback.

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Italian Popular Tales by Thomas Crane

Italian Popular Tales by Thomas Crane

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