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The Sexton's Nose

A SEXTON, one day in sweeping the church, found a piece of money (it was a fifth of a cent) and deliberated with himself as to what he would buy with it. If he bought nuts or almonds, he was afraid of the mice; so at last he bought some roasted peas, and ate all but the last pea.

This he took to a bakery nearby, and asked the mistress to keep it for him. She told him to leave it on a bench, and she would take care of it. When she went to get it, she found that the cock had eaten it. The next day the sexton came for the roast pea, and when he heard what had become of it, he said they must either return the roast pea or give him the cock.

This they did, and the sexton, not having anyplace to keep it, took it to a miller's wife, who promised to keep it for him. Now she had a pig, which managed to kill the cock. The next day the sexton came for the cock, and on finding it dead, demanded the pig, and the woman had to give it to him.

The pig he left with a friend of his, a pastry cook, whose daughter was to be married the next day. The woman was mean and sly, and killed the pig for her daughter's wedding, meaning to tell the sexton that the pig had run away. The sexton, however, when he heard it, made a great fuss, and declared that she must give him back his pig or her daughter. At last she had to give him her daughter, whom he put in a bag and carried away.

He took the bag to a woman who kept a shop, and asked her to keep for him this bag, which he said contained bran. The woman by chance kept chickens, and she thought she would take some of the sexton's bran and feed them. When she opened the bag she found the young girl, who told her how she came there. The woman took her out of the sack, and put in her stead a dog.

The next day the sexton came for his bag, and putting it on his shoulder, started for the seashore, intending to throw the young girl in the sea. When he reached the shore, he opened the bag, and the furious dog flew out and bit his nose.

The sexton was in great agony, and cried out, while the blood ran down his face in torrents, "Dog, dog, give me a hair to put in my nose, and heal the bite."

The dog answered, "Do you want a hair? Give me some bread."

The sexton ran to a bakery, and said to the baker, "Baker, give me some bread to give the dog. The dog will give a hair. The hair I will put in my nose, and cure the bite."

The baker said, "Do you want bread? Give me some wood."

The sexton ran to the woodman. "Woodman, give me wood to give the baker. The baker will give me bread. The bread I will give to the dog. The dog will give me a hair. The hair I will put in my nose, and heal the bite."

The woodman said, "Do you want wood? Give me a mattock."

The sexton ran to a smith. "Smith, give me a mattock to give the woodman. The woodman will give me wood. I will carry the wood to the baker. The baker will give me bread. I will give the bread to the dog. The dog will give me a hair. The hair I will put in my nose, and heal the bite."

The smith said, "Do you want a mattock? Give me some coals."

The sexton ran to the collier. "Collier, give me some coals to give the smith. The smith will give me a mattock. The mattock I will give the woodman. The woodman will give me some wood. The wood I will give the baker. The baker will give me bread. The bread I will give the dog. The dog will give me a hair. The hair I will put in my nose, and heal the bite."

"Do you want coals? Give me a cart."

The sexton ran to the wagon maker. "Wagon maker, give me a cart to give the collier. The collier will give me some coals. The coals I will carry to the smith. The smith will give me a mattock. The mattock I will give the woodman. The woodman will give me some wood. The wood I will give the baker. The baker will give me bread. The bread I will give to the dog. The dog will give me a hair. The hair I will put in my nose, and heal the bite."

The wagon maker, seeing the sexton's great lamentation, is moved to compassion, and gives him the cart. The sexton, well pleased, takes the cart and goes away to the collier. The collier gives him the coals. The coals he takes to the smith. The smith gives him the mattock. The mattock he takes to the woodman. The woodman gives him wood. The wood he carries to the baker. The baker gives him bread. The bread he carries to the dog. The dog gives him a hair. The hair he puts in his nose, and heals the bite.

Crane, Thomas Frederick. Italian Popular Tales. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1885.
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Italian Popular Tales by Thomas Crane

Italian Popular Tales by Thomas Crane

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