Pome and Peel

ITALIAN

    0nce upon a time a noble lord and his lady longed to have a child but no matter how much they wished, they were unlucky.  So the lord decided to visit a certain wizard he knew of to ask for his help.  The wizard gave him an apple.  "Give this to your wife to eat," he said, "and you will soon have a fine son." 
     The lord took the apple home and told his wife what the wizard had said.  The lady was delighted and sent for her maid to peel the apple.  The maid did so, but instead of throwing the peel away, she ate it. 
    Which is why, nine months later, a son was born to both the lady and to     the maidservant, on the same day and at the some time.  The lord looked at them both and saw that they were as alike as alike, save that the maid's child had a skin as red and bright as shiny peel, while his own wife's child had skin as white as the pulp of an apple.  And so he named them Pome and Peel, and decided to bring them both up as his own sons. 
     The two boys grew to manhood like brothers.  Then one day they heard about a wizard's daughter, who was said to be more beautiful than the    morning star.  But no one had ever seen her because the wizard protected her and never allowed her to go out of his house. 
     "How can we get to see this wonderful girl?" said Pome.
     I have an idea," said Peel.  "Let's build ct horse of bronze and hide inside it." 
     So that is what they did.  They took the bronze horse to the wizard's house and climbed inside its hollow belly with a violin and a flute.  Then they began to play.  The wizard looked out of his window and saw the marvelous   creature that seemed to be making music all on its own.  Immediately, the   wizard went out and brought the bronze horse inside. 
     He called to his daughter, "Come and see what I have found for you." And the maiden came from her room to look at the horse and was quite delighted.  She sat down to listen to the music while the wizard went about his own business.  But as soon as the wizard had gone, out jumped Pome and Peel.
     The wizard's daughter was frightened at first, but Pome said, "Don't be
    afraid.  We won't hurt you.  We heard all about your beauty and we wanted to see for ourselves."  And Peel said, "We can go right away, but if you like our music, we can keep playing for a while.  Then we'll go and no one need ever know we were here."
         The wizard's daughter smiled shyly and asked them to play some more for her.  And, by the time they had spent several hours together, she did not want them to go at all.  Indeed she had fallen in love with Pome, and when he suggested that she come with them, she agreed at once.  They all got inside the bronze horse and rolled it outside the wizard's house and so escaped     entirely unseen.
     When the wizard came home he looked high and low for his daughter. When he could find no sign of her, he consulted his magic books and quickly learned what had happened.  The wizard was beside himself with rage.  He rushed upstairs, leaned out of the window and screamed three curses after his daughter.  This is what they were. 
     First, that she would see three horses, one red, one white and one black. Then, since she loved horses more than anything, she would jump on the back of the white one, which would run off with her and throw her over a cliff onto some rocks.
     Second, that she would see three dogs, one red, one white, one black, and that she would pick up the black dog, which would tear out her throat.
     Third, that on the first night she spent with her husband, a great snake would come in through the window of their room and destroy them both. 
     Now it happened that three fairies were passing below the window at that   moment, and so they heard everything.  Later on that night they stopped at   an inn and there they saw the wizard's daughter, with Pome and Peel, sleep-
ing beside the fire.
     "My goodness," said one of the fairies.  "They wouldn't sleep so soundly if they knew what was in store for them."  Now Peel wasn't actually asleep at  all, and so he overheard everything the three fairies said.  First they talked     about the three horses. 
     "if only someone were there when it happened, he could cut off the white   horse's head.  Then everything would be all right," said the first fairy. 
     "And if only someone were there when she meets the dogs he could cut off the black one's head.  Then that would be all right," said the second fairy. 
     "And if only someone were there when the snake comes through the window, he could cut off its head. Then everything would be all right," said the third fairy.
     "Except," said the first fairy, "if anyone were to breathe a word about this, they would turn to stone at once."
     Peel lay quiet and thought about all he had heard.  He knew everything    that was going to happen to Pome and the wizard's daughter but he did not   dare speak of it for fear of turning to stone.  Then he thought how much he   loved his brother, and how fair the wizard's daughter was, and he decided to  do what he could to help anyway.
     Next morning they set out along the way.  Pome had already sent word    home to his father and in a while they met a messenger who had brought     three horses for them to ride.  The wizard's daughter immediately jumped on the back of the white horse, but Peel drew his sword and, with one blow, cut   off its head. 
     "What are you doing?  Have you gone mad?" cried the wizard's daughter.
     Peel shook his head. I cannot tell you," he said.
     Then the wizard's daughter turned to Pome.  "Your brother has an evil     heart.  I do not want to travel any further with him."  But Peel swore that he  had acted in a moment of madness and begged her to forgive him.
     They rode on until they came in sight of Pome and Peel's house.  There    three little dogs ran out to greet them, one red, one white, and one black.  The wizard's daughter bent to pick up the black one, but Peel drew his sword and cut off its head with a single blow.  "Monster!" cried the wizard's daughter.  "Why are you so cruel?" 
     Again Peel said nothing.  Then Pome's parents came out and did their best to make peace between them.  They persuaded the wizard's daughter that Peel must have suffered a fit of madness.  They all went inside and the wedding of Pome and the wizard's daughter was celebrated.
     But during the great feast that followed Peel hardly said a word to anyone.  To everyone who asked he said that he felt fine and that nothing was the matter.  Then he excused himself and went off to bed early.  But instead of going to his own room, he went into the bridal chamber and hid under the bed.  Soon the couple arrived and got into bed.  When they were asleep Peel crept out and drew his sword.  In a little while, the window opened and in slithered a huge snake.  With a cry Peel leapt upon it and cut off its head with a single blow.
     Woken by the noise Pome and his bride sat up in bed and saw Peel with his drawn sword.  But the snake had vanished the moment its head was cut off, so they thought that he was about to attack them.  "Call the guards!" shouted Pome, while the wizard's daughter cried out that she had forgiven Peel twice now but this time he should be put in prison and then executed. 
     So Peel was seized and thrown into a dungeon to await his death. Realizing that he was doomed anyway, he sent a message to the wizard's daughter, begging her to visit him in prison.  Reluctantly, she came.  Peel looked at her sadly.  "Do you remember," he said, "that day when we stopped at an inn to rest?"
     "Of course."
     "Well, while you and Pome were asleep three fairies came in.  I overheard  them talking and they said that your father had placed three curses upon you.  The first was that when you saw three horses you would get on the white one and that it would cause your death.  But if someone were to cut its  head off then everything would be well.  Except that if anyone breathed a word of this they would turn to stone."
     Even as he said this Peel's feet and legs turned to marble.  "Stop!" cried the wizard's daughter.
     But Peel said, I am doomed anyway."  And he told her about the curse of  the three dogs.  As he spoke his body turned to marble up to the neck.
     I understand. I forgive you," cried the wizard's daughter.  "Please don't say anymore!"
     But Peel, speaking with difficulty, told her of the snake.  As he did so, he fell silent and in his place stood a marble statue. 
     "Alas!" said the wizard's daughter.  "Poor Peel, what have I done!"  Then she thought, "There is only one person who can undo this terrible wrong and that is my father."  And she took pen and ink and paper and wrote a letter to him, begging his forgiveness and asking him to come to her as quickly as possible.  When he received her letter the wizard came at once, for indeed he loved his daughter more than anything.
     As soon as he arrived the wizard's daughter ran straight to him and flung her arms about his neck.  "Oh, Father," she said, I am sorry for making you angry.  But I really do love Pome and we are very happy."
     "What do you want of me?" said her father.
     "There is only one thing that makes me sad," and she took him to the statue of Peel. "This good youth was only trying to help. Please will you bring him back to life?"
     The wizard sighed.  "Very well," he said, I will do this for you."  He took a phial of liquid from a pocket in his robes and let a little of it fall onto the statue.  At once, Peel sprang up alive again and there was great rejoicing. And when the wizard saw Pome and Peel together, he recognized them as the children of the lord and lady he had helped long ago by giving them a magic apple.  Then he was truly sorry for all that he had done and thereafter everyone lived very happily for the rest of their days. 

 


 

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