LUCIELLA GOETH TO THE FOUNTAIN TO DRAW SOME WATER, AND MEETETH THERE A SLAVE, WHO TAKETH HER TO A SPLENDID PALACE, WHERE SHE IS ENTREATED LIKE A QUEEN. BY HER ENVIOUS SISTERS SHE IS AD VISED TO LOOK WITH WHOM SHE SLEEPETH AT NIGHT. SHE DOETH AS SHE IS BID, AND TINDETH THAT HER COMPANION IS A HANDSOME YOUTH, BUT SHE LOSETH HIS GRACE AND IS EXPELLED FROM THE PALACE. SHE WANDERETH ABOUT THE WORLD, BUT AT LAST BEING BIG WITH CHILD, SHE REACHETH, UNKNOWN TO HER, THE HOUSE OF HER LOVER, WHERE SHE IS BROUGHT TO BED OF A MAN-CHILD, AND AFTER VARIOUS ADVEN TURES BECOMETH HIS WIFE.
THE hearts of all were moved to compassion by the sufferings of Lisa, and four of them had their eyes red with weeping, for there is naught that touches the heart so much as to behold the innocent suffer; but it being Ciommetella's turn to mind the wheel and spin the flax, she thus began:
The advice imparted by envy is always the father of misfortune, because under the smiling, well-wishing mask is hidden the face which bringeth ruin. And he that beholdeth in hand the hair of fortune must expect in all hours a hundred foes to lay snares and traps to make him fall: as happened to a damsel, who for the wicked advice of her sisters fell from the top of the stair of happiness; and it was a mercy of Heaven that in falling she did not break her neck.
Once upon a time there lived a mother who had three daughters, and misery and want had taken hold of that house (which was the very sink of all misfortunes), and they went a-begging and gathering cast-away cabbage leaves so as to keep body and soul together. One morning the old woman had gone forth a-begging at a certain palace, and the cook had given her some greens and a few things more, therefore she returned home and bade her daughters to go to the fountain to fetch some water; but one with the other kept saying, 'Thou go,' and none went, and the cat wagged her tail: till at last the old woman, seeing their unwillingness, said, 'If thou desirest to have anything done, do it thyself:' and taking the juglet, was going to fetch the water, although through her age and infirmities she could hardly put one foot before the other, when Luciella, her youngest daughter, said, 'Give me the juglet, O my mother: although I am not very strong, yet have I strength enough to do this for thee, as I like thee not to do this work,' and taking the juglet, fared forth from the city, whereto stood a fountain, that liking not to see the flowers fade with fear, kept throwing up water in their faces; and Luciella met there a handsome slave, and he said to her, 'Wilt thou come with me, O thou beauteous damsel, and I will take thee to a grotto not very far distant, and I will give thee many pretty things.'
Luciella, who had never met with kindly words and good treatment, answered, 'Let me carry this water to my mother, who is waiting for it, and then will I return to thee;' and carrying the water home, she told her mother she was going a-begging. Returning to the fountain, where she found the slave awaiting for her, they fared on to a grotto all covered by Venus-hair creeper and ivy, and when she entered it he led her to an underground palace, most splendid and shining with gold, where at once a table was laid, covered with all dainties. After she had eaten, two beautiful slave- girls came forth, and taking off the rags she wore, arrayed her in costly raiments: and in the evening they led her to a chamber where stood a bed with coverlets all purflewed with pearls and gold; where as soon as the candles were put out, some one came and slept with her, and this continued for some days.
After this time the damsel felt a longing to see her mother, and she told the slave, and the slave entered an inner chamber and spake with some one, and came forth with a bag full of gold, saying, 'Give thou these to thy mother: and be careful not to forget thy way and come back soon, but do not say where thou comest from, or whither thou goest.' The damsel went home, and the sisters beholding her so well arrayed nearly died with envy. She stayed with them a few hours, and when she desired to go back, her mother and sisters offered to attend her; but she refused their company, and returned to the same palace by the same grotto; and abiding quietly within it for two months, at the last came upon her the same longing as hithertofore, and again she told the slave, and as before was sent home with gifts to her mother. This happened three or four times, and the sisters grew ever more envious. At the last these hideous harpies took counsel together, and decided that they would confer with a ghula whom they knew, and she told them how it was with Luciella. So when the damsel came to visit them, they said to her, 'Although thou wouldst not tell us anything of thy enjoyance, thou must know that we are aware of these, and we know that every night thou sleepest with a handsome youth, whom thou hast never seen because they drug thy drinks, and thou art always fast asleep. But thou wilt always remain as thou art, if thou do not resolve to do the rede that those that love thee will advise. In the end, thou art our flesh and blood, and we only desire thy weal and thy pleasure: therefore, when the evening shall come, and thou shalt go to thy bed, and the slave shall come bringing thee thy night-drink and water to wash thy mouth bid thou him go and fetch thee a towel to wipe thy mouth, and when he is gone on his errand throw the drink away, so that thou mayest remain awake in the night; and when thou perceivest thy husband fast asleep, open this padlock, and thus he will be obliged to break the spell in spite of himself, and thou wilt remain the happiest woman in all the world.' Poor Luciella knew not that under the velvet saddle the thorns were hid, and amongst the flowers the adder slept, and in the golden bowl the poison was prepared. She believed the words of her sisters, and returning to the grotto, went within the palace, and when night came, did as those wretches had told her, and when all things lay still, she struck a light, and lit the candle, and beheld by her side a flower of beauty, a youth like lilies and roses, and sighting so much beauty, said, 'By my faith, thou shalt not escape from my hands, ever;' and taking the padlock, she un locked it, and beheld some women carrying some skeins of thread on their head. One of these let fall a skein, and Luciella, who was very kind hearted, remembering not where she was, cried out in a loud voice, 'Pick up thy thread, madam.' At the cry the youth woke up; and was so disgusted and an-angered in being seen by Luciella that, at once calling the slaves, he bade them dress her in the same rags that she wore before, and send her home to her mother and sisters.
This they did, and when she stood before them with pale face and sorrow-stricken heart, they bade her go her ways with insolent words; and she, knowing not whither to turn her steps, wandered about the world, and after much travail the unhappy damsel, being big with child, arrived at the city of Torre-Longa, and going to the royal palace, went round to the stables, and sought a place upon the straw wherein to rest. Here one of the court maids of honour found her, and kindly entreated her. So the time for child-bed came, and she was delivered of a son so beautiful that he seemed a golden boug1i; and the first night he was born, a handsome youth entered the chamber where the mother and babe lay, and going near the child, he took him in his arms, and said, 'O my beauteous son, if my mother knew of thee, in a golden bath she would wash thee, and with a golden band she would swathe thee, and if never a cock should crow, never would I leave thy side;' and whilst he was chanting these words, at the first cock crowing he disappeared as quicksilver. The young maid of honour sat near the bedside, and every night she beheld the youth, who came and took the child in his arms, and chanted the same words, and at the first cock-crow disappeared, so she made her way to the queen's presence, and related to her what she had witnessed; and the queen, as soon as the sun, like a clever doctor, had discharged all the stars from the hospital of heaven, bade the crier publish an edict (which was thought by all folk very cruel) that all the cocks in that city should be slain, thus condemning all fowls to widowhood and wretchedness. And in the evening the queen took the maid's place by Luciella's bedside, and waited in great suspense for the youth's coming, and when he came at the same hour, she recognised in him her own son, and she arose and embraced him; and as the curse which had been cast upon the prince by a ghula was that he should wander about in exile far from his home, till his mother should see him and embrace him, and the cock should not crow, as soon as he was in his mother's arms the spell was broken, and the sad term of exile was ended. Thus the mother found that she had gained a grandson beautiful as a jewel. And Luciella regained her husband, and the sisters after a time having knowledge of her happiness and greatness, came with a brazen face to visit her, but they met with the same reception that they had given her when through their wicked rede she had been cast out from the prince's palace: and thus it was rendered to them evil for evil, and they were paid in the same coin, and in great distress of mind they came to know that