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

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Queen and the Tripe-Seller, The


THEY say there was a queen who had such a bad temper that she made everybody about her miserable. Whatever her husband might do to please her, she was always discontented, and as for her maids she was always slapping their faces.

               There was a fairy who saw all this, and she said to herself, 'This must not be allowed to go on;' so she went and called another fairy, and said, 'What shall we do to teach this naughty queen to behave herself?' and they could not imagine what to do with her; so they agreed to think it over, and meet again another day.

               When they met again, the first fairy said to the other, 'Well, have you found any plan for correcting this naughty queen?'

               'Yes,' replied the second fairy; 'I have found an excellent plan. I have been up and all over the whole town, and in a little dirty back lane [2] I have found a tripe-seller as like to this queen as two peas.' [3]

               'Excellent!' exclaimed the first fairy. 'I see what you mean to do. One of us will take some of the queen's clothes and dress up the tripe-seller, and the other will take some of the tripe-seller's clothes and dress up the queen in them, and then we will exchange them till the queen learns better manners.'

               'That's the plan,' replied the second fairy. 'You have said it exactly. When shall we begin?'

               'This very night,' said the first fairy.

               'Agreed!' said the second fairy; and that very night, while everyone else was gone quietly to bed they went, one into the palace and fetched some of the queen's clothes, and, bringing them to the tripe-seller's room, placed them by the side of her bed; and the other went to the tripe-seller's room and fetched her clothes, and took them and put them by the side of the queen's bed. They also woke them very early, and when each got up she put on the things that were by the side of the bed, thinking they were the things she had left there the night before. Thus the queen was dressed like a tripe-seller, and the tripe-seller like a queen.

               Then one fairy took the queen, dressed like a tripe-seller, and put her down in the tripe-seller's shop, and the other fairy took the tripe-seller, dressed like a queen, and placed her in the palace, and both of them did their work so swiftly that neither the queen nor the tripe-seller perceived the flight at all.

               The queen was very much astonished at finding herself in a tripe-shop, and began staring about, wondering how she got there.

               'Here! Don't stand gaping about like that!' cried the tripe-man, [4] who was a very hot-tempered fellow; 'Why, you haven't boiled the coffee!'

               'Boiled the coffee!' repeated the queen, hardly apprehending what he meant.

               'Yes; you haven't boiled the coffee!' said the tripe-man. 'Don't repeat my words, but do your work!' and he took her by the shoulders, put the coffee-pot in her hand, and stood over her looking so fierce that she was frightened into doing what she had never done or seen done in all her life before.

               Presently the coffee began to boil over.

               'There! Don't waste all the coffee like that!' cried the tripe-man, and he got up and gave her a slap, which made the tears come in her eyes.

               'Don't blubber!' said the tripe-man; 'but bring the coffee here and pour it out.'

               The queen did as she was told; but when she began to drink it, though she had made it herself, it was so nasty she didn't know how to drink it. It was very different stuff from what she got at the palace; but the tripe-man had his eye on her, and she didn't dare not to drink it.

               'A halfp'th of cat's-meat!' [5] sang out a small boy in the shop.

               'Why don't you go and serve the customer?' said the tripe-man, knocking the cup out of the queen's hand.

               Fearing another slap, she rose hastily to give the boy what he wanted, but not knowing one thing in the shop from another, she gave him a large piece of the best tripe fit for a prince.

               'Oh, what fine tripe to-day!' cried the small boy, and ran away as fast as he could.

               It was in vain the tripe-man halloed after him, he was in too great a hurry to secure his prize to think of returning.

               'Look what you've done!' cried the tripe-man, giving the queen another slap; 'you've given that boy for a penny a bunch of tripe worth a shilling.' Luckily, other customers came in and diverted the man's attention.

               Presently all the tripe hanging up had been sold, and more customers kept coming in.

               'What has come to you, to-day!' roared the tripe-man, as the queen stood not knowing what to do with herself. 'Do you mean to say you haven't washed that other lot of tripe!' and this time he gave her a kick.

               To escape his fury, the queen turned to do her best with washing the other tripe, but she did it so awkwardly that she got a volley of abuse and blows too.

               Then came dinner-time, and nothing prepared, or even bought to prepare, for dinner. Another stormy scene ensued at the discovery, and the tripe-man went to dine at the inn, leaving her to go without any dinner at all, in punishment for having neglected to prepare it.

               While he was gone she helped all the customers to the wrong things, and, when he came home, got another scolding and more blows for her stupidity. And all through the afternoon it was the same story.

               But the tripe-seller, when she found herself all in a palace, with half-a-dozen maids waiting to attend her, was equally bewildered. When they kept asking her if there was nothing she pleased to want, she kept answering, 'No thank you,' in such a gentle tone, the maids began to think that a reign of peace had come to them at last.

               By-and-by, when the ladies came, instead of saying, as the queen had been wont, 'What an ugly dress you have got; go and take it off!' she said, 'How nice you look; how tasteful your dress is!'

               Afterwards the king came in, bringing her a rare nosegay. Instead of throwing it on one side to vex him, as the queen had been wont, she showed so much delight, and expressed her thanks so many times, that he was quite overcome.

               The change that had come over the queen soon became the talk of the whole palace, and everyone congratulated himself on an improvement which made them all happy. The king was no less pleased than all the rest, and for the first time for many years he said he would drive out with the queen; for on account of her bad temper he had long given up driving with her. So the carriage came round with four prancing horses, and an escort of cavalry to ride before and behind it. The tripe-seller hardly could believe she was to drive in this splendid carriage, but the king handed her in before she knew where she was. Then, as he was so pleased with her gentle and grateful ways, he further asked her to say which way she would like to drive.

               The tripe-seller, partly because she was too much frightened to think of any other place, and partly because she thought it would be nice to drive in state through her own neighbourhood, named the broader street out of which turned the lane in which she lived, for the royal carriage could hardly have turned down the lane itself. The king repeated the order, and away drove the royal cortège.

               The circumstance of the king and queen driving out together was sufficient to excite the attention of the whole population, and wherever they passed the people crowded into the streets; thus a volley of shouts and comments ran before the carriage towards the lane of the tripe-man. The tripe-man was at the moment engaged in administering a severe chastisement to the queen for her latest mistake, and the roar of the people's voices afforded a happy pretext for breaking away from him.

               She ran with the rest to the opening of the lane just as the royal carriage was passing.

               'My husband! my husband!' she screamed as the king drove by, and plaintive as was her voice, and different from her usual imperious tone, he heard it and turned his head towards her.

               'My husband! my royal husband!' pleaded the humbled queen.

               The king, in amazement, stopped the carriage and gazed from the queen in the gutter to the tripe-seller in royal array by his side, unable to solve the problem.

               'This is certainly my wife!' he said at last, as he extended his hand to the queen. 'Who then can you be?' he added, addressing the tripe-seller.

               'I will tell the truth,' replied the good tripe-seller. 'I am no queen; I am the poor wife of the tripe-seller down the lane there; but how I came into the palace is more than I can say.'

               'And how come you here?' said the king, addressing the real queen.

               'That, neither can I tell; I thought you had sent me hither to punish me for my bad temper; but if you will only take me back I will never be bad-tempered again; only take me away from this dreadful tripe-man, who has been beating me all day.'

               Then the king made answer: 'Of course you must come back with me, for you are my wife. But,' he said to the tripe-seller; 'what shall I do with you? After you have been living in luxury in the palace, you will feel it hard to go back to sell tripe.'

               'It's true I have not many luxuries at home,' answered the tripe-seller; 'but yet I had rather be with my husband than in any palace in the world;' and she descended from the carriage, while the queen got in.

               'Stop!' said the king. 'This day's transformation, howsoever it was brought about, has been a good day, and you have been so well behaved, and so truth-spoken, I don't like your going back to be beaten by the tripe-man.'

               'Oh, never mind that,' said the good wife; 'he never beats me unless I do something very stupid. And, after all, he's my husband, and that's enough for me.'

               'Well, if you're satisfied, I won't interfere any further,' said the king; 'except to give you some mark of my royal favour.'

               So he bestowed on the tripe-man and his wife a beautiful villa, with a nice casino outside the gates, on condition that he never beat her any more.

               The tripe-man was so pleased with the gifts which had come to him through his wife's good conduct, that he kept his word, and was always thereafter very kind to her. And the queen was so frightened at the thought that she might find herself suddenly transformed into a tripe-seller again, that she kept a strict guard over her temper, and became the delight of her husband and the whole court.



[1] 'La Regina e la Triparola;' 'Triparola,' female tripe-seller.

[2] 'Vicolo,' a narrow dirty street.

[3] 'Due gocciette d'acqua,' two little drops of water, the Roman equivalent for 'as like as two peas.'

[4] 'Triparolo,' a male tripe-seller.

[5] 'Un bajocco di tripa-gatto,' the worst part of the tripe, sold for cats' and dogs' meat.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Queen and the Tripe-Seller, 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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