Tuscan Folk-Lore and Sketches | Annotated Tale

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

Teresina, Luisa, and the Bear

Clementina had been doing her shopping in the village and now the two children and I were walking home with her. It was near the time of sunset, and the Apennines, blue-purple as the sun gradually dropped behind them, unrolled themselves before us, chain behind chain, as we advanced along the road with the valley on the left and the chestnut-covered hill on the right.

               “A story, nonna mia,” begged I, and “A story,” echoed the children: “tell us the story about Teresina.” So Clementina began:—

ONCE there was a woman who had two daughters: at least, one was a daughter, and the other a step-daughter. Now the daughter, named Luisa, was ugly and wicked: but the step-daughter, Teresina, was so good and beautiful that everybody loved her. This made Luisa very jealous, and she began to think what she might do to get rid of Teresina. One evening she said to her mother:—

               “Mother, send Teresina into the woodhouse to-night, so that the bear may come and eat her while she’s alone in the forest.”

               So the mother gave Teresina a piece of dry bread and said to her:—

               “Take your distaff and go and spin wool in the woodhouse to-night.”

               “Very well,” said Teresina, and went out into the forest; and the dog and the cat went with her.

               When she got into the woodhouse she shut the door, pulled out her piece of bread, and began to eat her supper.

               “Miaou, miaou,” said pussy, and patted her arm.

               “Ah, poor little pussy, are you hungry too? Here’s a piece of bread for you.”

               “Bow-wow,” said the dog, and put his front paws on her knee.

               “Yes, little one, here’s a piece for you too, you must be hungry, I’m sure.”

               When she had finished her bread she began to spin, but she had not been at work long when she heard a knock at the door.

               “Who’s there?”

               “The bear,” was the answer.

               “Oh dear, what shall I do?” said Teresina.

               “Tell him you’ll let him in when he brings you a dress like the sun,” said the dog.

               So Teresina did as she was advised; and the bear went in a very short time to Paris, and came back with a dress as beautiful as the sun.

               “Tell him he must bring one like the moon,” said the cat.

               The bear brought that too.

               “Now ask for one like the sky with the stars in it,” said the dog: and the bear soon came back with that as well.

               “What shall I do now?” asked Teresina.

               “You must ask for a nice silk handkerchief for your head.”

               So the bear brought the most beautiful that ever was seen.

               “What can I say next?” said Teresina, “I shall have to let him in.”

               “No, no, ask for a fan.”

               The bear brought a fan such as Teresina had never imagined.

               “One thing more,” said the dog; “ask for a chest of linen.”

               Again Teresina followed the animal’s advice, and almost immediately the bear appeared at the door with the chest of linen. But just as he arrived the sun rose, and he was obliged to go away. Then Teresina put the chest on her head, took up her dresses, her handkerchief and her fan, and went away home with the cat and the dog.

               When she appeared among the trees before the house, Luisa was first of all very much disappointed, for she thought that the bear had certainly eaten her sister; but when Teresina showed all her beautiful things, then Luisa fairly cried with spite.

               “Give them to me, Teresina,” she said; “you must and shall give them to me!”

               “No, no,” said Teresina, “they’re mine and I shall keep them.”

               “Then, mother,” exclaimed Luisa, “let me go to the woodhouse to-night. I will go to the woodhouse to-night and see the bear. I will, I will!”

               So the mother gave her a nice slice of polenta with plenty of cheese, and in the evening Luisa went off, followed by the cat and dog.

               “Miaou, miaou,” said the cat, when Luisa began to eat.

               “Bow-wow,” said the dog.

               “Get away, ugly beasts,” said Luisa, and kicked at them with her heavy nailed boots. Then came a knock at the door.

               “What shall I do?” asked Luisa.

               “Open,” said the cat and the dog, “it’s the bear with the dresses.”

               So Luisa opened the door, and the bear came and ate her all up.

               But Teresina put on her beautiful dresses when she went out walking: and one day the king’s son saw her, and loved her because she looked so good and beautiful. So Teresina married the prince, and afterwards became queen of the land.

               “Are there any bears about the mountains now, nonna?” I asked, when the story was finished.

               “No, there are none now. I saw one once, though. A man was leading it about with a chain.”

               “I saw one once, too,” said little Elisa. “It was at a fair at that village over there,” pointing to a cluster of houses on the hillside.

               “And what was it like?” I asked.

               “It was covered with hair, had two legs, the head of a horse and the feet of a Christian.”

               And the child really believed she was describing what she had seen.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Teresina, Luisa, and the Bear
Tale Author/Editor: Anderton, Isabella M.
Book Title: Tuscan Folk-Lore and Sketches
Book Author/Editor: Anderton, Isabella M.
Publisher: Arnold Fairbairns
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1905
Country of Origin: Italy
Classification: ATU 480: The Kind and the Unkind Girls

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