COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Una Camera di Locanda (What Happened in the Room of a Hotel)


THEY say there was a countess who was very fond of her husband, and her husband was very fond of her; and they vowed nothing should ever make the one think ill of the other.

               One day the brother of the countess, who had been long away at the wars, and whom the count had never seen, came back to see her just while the count was out.

               'Now we'll have some fun,' said the countess. 'We'll watch till my husband is coming home, and then as he comes into the room you just be kissing me; he will be so astonished to see a stranger kissing me, he will not know what to make of it. Then in five minutes we will tell him who you really are, and it will make a good laugh.'

               The brother thought it would be a good joke, and they did as she had said.

               It happened, however, that by accident [2] the count did not that day as usual come into his wife's room, but passing along the terrace in front of it, he saw, as she had arranged, one who was a stranger to him kissing her.

               Then he went into his room, and calling his confidential servant [3] he told him what had happened, and adding, 'You will never see me any more,' went his way.

               The countess waited on and on for her husband to come in, full of impatience to have her joke out. But when she found he did not come at all, she went into his room to seek him there. There she found the servant, who told her what the Count had said, and the desperate resolution he had taken.

               'What have I done!' exclaimed the terrified Countess. 'Is it possible that I am to be punished thus for a harmless joke!'

               Then, without saying anything to anyone she wrapped her travelling cloak about her, and set out to seek her husband.

               The Count had walked on till he could walk no farther, and then he had gone into an inn, where he hired a room for a week; but he went wandering about the woods in misery and despair, and only came in at an hour of night. [4]

               The Countess also walked on till she could walk no farther, and thus she came to the same inn; but as she had only a woman's strength the same journey took her a much longer time, and it was the afternoon of the next day when she arrived. She too asked for a room, but the host assured her with many expressions of regret, that he had not a single room vacant. The Countess pleaded her weariness; the man reiterated his inability to serve her.

               'Give me only a room to rest a little while in,' she begged; 'just a couple of hours, and then I will start again and journey farther.'

               Really compassionating her in her fatigue, the man now said:

               'If you will be satisfied with that much, I can give you a room for a couple of hours; but no more.'

               She was fain to be satisfied with that, as she could get no more, and the host showed her into her husband's room, which he would not want till 'an hour of night.'

               By accident, however, the Count came in that night an hour earlier, and very much surprised he was to find a lady in his room. The Countess, equally surprised to see a stranger enter, pulled her veil over her face, so that they did not recognise each other.

               'I am sorry to disturb you, madam, but this room, I must inform you, I have engaged,' said the count; but sorrow had so altered his voice that the countess did not know it again.

               'I hope you will spare me,' replied the Countess. 'They gave me this room to rest in for two hours, and I have come so long a way that I really need the rest.'

               'I can hardly believe that a lady of gentle condition can have come a very long way, all alone and on foot, for there is no carriage in the yard; so I can only consider this a frivolous pretext,' replied the Count, for sorrow had embittered him.

               'Indeed it is too true though,' continued the Countess. 'I came all the way from such a place (and she named his own town) without stopping for one moment's rest.'

               'Indeed!' said the Count, his interest roused at the mention of his own town; 'and pray what need had you to use such haste to get away from that good town?'

               'I had no need to haste to leave the place,' replied the Countess, hurt at the implied suspicion that she was running away for shame. 'I hasted to arrive at another place.'

               'And that other place was ----?' persisted the Count, who felt that her intrusion on his privacy gave him a right to cross-question her.

               The Countess was puzzled how to reply. She had no idea what place she was making for.

               'That I don't know,' she said at last, with no little embarrassment.

               'You will permit me to say that you seem to have no adequate reason to allege for this unwarrantable occupation of my room; and what little you tell me certainly in no way inclines me to take a favourable view of the affair.'

               The Countess was once more stung by the manner in which he seemed to view her journey, and feeling bound to clear herself, she replied:

               'If you only knew what my journey is about, you would not speak so!' and she burst into a flood of tears.

               Softened by her distress, the Count said in a kinder tone:

               'Had you been pleased to confide that to me at first, maybe I had not spoken so; but till you tell me what it is, what opinion can I form?'

               'This is it,' answered the Countess, still sobbing. 'Yesterday I was the happiest woman on the face of the earth, living in love and confidence with the best husband with whom woman was ever blessed. So strong was my confidence that I hesitated not to trifle with this great happiness. My brother came home from the wars, a stranger to my husband. "Let him see you kiss me," I said, "it will seem so strange that we will make him laugh heartily afterwards." He saw him kiss me, but waited for no explanation. He went away without a word, as indeed (fool that I was) I well deserved, and I journey on till I overtake him.'

               The Count had risen to his feet, and had torn the veil from her face.

               'It can be no other but my own!' he exclaimed, in a voice from which sorrow being banished his own tones sounded forth, and clasped her in his arms.



[1] 'Una Camera di Locanda.'

[2] 'Combinazione.'

[3] 'Credenziere.'

[4] 'Un ora di notte'; an hour after the evening 'Ave.'

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Una Camera di Locanda (What Happened in the Room of a Hotel)
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

Back to Top