THROUGH THE APENNINES

di Estella Canziani (1887-1964)

A peasant of Capracotta had a boy, Beppo, and a daughter, Elena. His wife died, and he married a wicked woman, who persuaded him to get rid of his two children. They became suspicious, and told their grandmother, who advised them to take a pocketful of wheat and drop it grain by grain when they were taken to the wood to be lost. This would enable them to trace their way back. Their stepmother surprised at their return, planned again to lose them and let the wild beasts make a meal of them. The grandmother then told the children to take some bran with them, and spread it along their path to enable them to return. Unfortunately the wind blew the bran away, so this time they were lost in the wood and left by themselves. After walking a long distance with no hope of reaching home, they came to a fountain, and Beppo, who was thirsty, was beginning to drink, when suddenly an old man appeared and stopped him, crying out:

– For the love of heaven don't drink; otherwise you will become a goat with golden horns!

Beppo took no notice. He drank, and became a goat with golden horns. Elena, greatly dismayed, could only wander on, followed by Beppo. After many days, they came to a large town where a good prince reigned. The surprised townsfolk took them before the prince, who at once became interested in their adventures, and finally fell in love with Elena and asked her to marry him. She consented on condition that she should not be separated from the goat with the golden horns. The marriage took place with great pomp. Princess Elena expected a baby. Her lady-in-waiting was tired of attending to her as well as to the goat, and she was also jealous of the princess. She made up her mind to get rid of her and take her place at the court. One day she persuaded Elena to go to the terrace overlooking the lake to admire the sunset. While the princess leaned on the parapet, the lady-in-waiting stuck a long pin in the back of her head. The princess fell into the lake, and was drowned.

  • E. Canziani, Through the Apennines and the Lands of the Abruzzi. Landscape and Peasant Life, Heffer, Cambridge 1928, pp. 169-170.

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