Roman Legends: A Collection of the Fables and Folk-lore of Rome | Annotated Tale

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Beautiful Englishwoman, The


THERE was a beautiful Englishwoman here once, beautiful and rich as the sun. [1] Heads without number were turned by her: but she would have nothing to say to anyone who wanted to marry her. Some defect she found in all. She was very accomplished, as well as rich and beautiful, and she drew a picture, and said 'When one comes who is like this I will marry him; but no one else.' Some time after a friend came to her, and said:

               'There is So-and-so, he is exactly like the portrait you have drawn, and is dying to see you.'

               'Is he really like it?' she inquired.

               'To me he seems exactly like it; and I don't see he has any defect at all, except that he has one tooth a little green.'

               'Then I won't have anything to say to him.'

               'But, if he is exactly like the portrait you have drawn?'

               'He can't be, or he wouldn't have any defect.'

               'But he is exactly like it, and so you must see him; if it's only for curiosity.'

               'Well, for curiosity, then, I'll see him; but don't let him build any hopes upon it.'

               The friend arranged that they should meet at a ball, and the one was as well pleased as the other; but not wishing to seem to yield too soon, she said:

               'Do you know, I don't like that green tooth you've got.'

               And he, not to appear too easy either, answered:

               'And, do you know, I don't like that patch [2] you have on your face.'

               The next time they met, neither he had a green tooth, nor had she a patch; for, you know, a patch can be put on and taken off at pleasure, and this happened a long long while ago, in the days when they wore such things.

               She then said:

               'If you've put in a false tooth I'll have nothing to say to you.'

               'No,' answered he; 'you have taken off your patch; and I've taken off my green tooth.'

               'How could you do that?' she asked.

               'Oh! it was only a leaf I put on to see if you were really as particular as you seemed to be.'

               As they were desperately in love with each other, the next thing was to arrange the marriage secretly. His father had a great title, and would never have consented to his marrying her, because she had none. But she had money enough for both; so they contrived a secret marriage. And then they bought a villa some way off, and lived there.

               For thirteen years they lived devoted to each other, and full of happiness; and two children were born to them, a boy and a girl. It was only after thirteen years that the father discovered where the son was, and when he did, he sent for an assassin, [3] and giving him plenty of money, told him to go and by some device or other to bring him to him and get through the affair. The assassin took a carriage and dressed like a man of some importance, and said that some chief man or other in the Government had sent for him to speak to him. The husband suspected nothing, and went with him. As it was night he could not see which way they drove, and thus he delivered his son to his father, who kept him shut up in his palace.

               The assassin went back to the villa, and by giving each of the servants fifty scudi apiece, got access to the wife, and murdered her, and then took the children to the grandfather's palace.

               'Papa, that man killed mama,' said the little boy, as soon as he saw his father.

               The husband seized the man, and made him confess it.

               'Then now you must kill him who hired you to do it,' he exclaimed. 'As you have done the one, you must do the other. He who ordered my wife to be killed is no father to me.'

               So the assassin went in and killed the father, but when he came out the husband was ready for him, and he said:

               'Now your turn has come,' and he shot him dead.


I have not had the opportunity of sifting this story, but it manifestly contains the usual popular exaggerations.


[1] 'Bella e ricca quanto il sole.'

[2] 'Mosca' and 'neo' both mean either a mole or a patch.

[3] 'Sicario,' hired assassin.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Beautiful Englishwoman, The
Tale Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Book Title: Roman Legends: A Collection of the Fables and Folk-lore of Rome
Book Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Publisher: Estes and Lauriat
Publication City: Boston
Year of Publication: 1877
Country of Origin: Italy
Classification: unclassified

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