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Women and the devil

Artemisia set near the loom, in the feeble heat of a late spring morning. Cesira, the neighbor who always came with something to do with her industrious hands (maybe knitting or patching, when there was no straw to weave in order to earn some money), that day had only the stool stuffed with hay that she usually bring from home. She approached the perplexed young woman. Meanwhile, the canvas was rolling up on the loom. The girl always confided to the old woman: she hoped to get married soon, she had a boyfriend and some projects for the future. This was the conversation that Cesira wanted to face that day. On her lap her wiry hands were twisting. She made a thorny discovery: the boyfriend was a devil! She was sure! She saw his webbed feet! The young woman found difficult to believe it, but she trusted that woman that she knew since a long time. She tried with a: «What are you saying? It’s impossible, I can’t believe it!» Finally she gave up and look for a way of escape in her wise advices. 

So, the following Thursday (fiancés usually met only on Thursday and Sunday) she came out of the house, determined in broking the engagement. «You know, she said, I think that I am too young for a serious obligation, I don’t want to go on, I want my freedom back… maybe in the future, who knows». She didn’t know how to do and what to expect from him. But he strongly replied: «What are you saying? You are my ideal fiancée! The wife of my dreams. I want to marry you as soon as possible». «You see… it’s me, I don’t want you. You will find another one, maybe even better than me!» They went on with that verbal crossfire until late night (that was quite unusual for that times). Artemisia didn’t convince herself and burst out: «Don’t come back here again!» He threw the last attempt: «I will come until you will be able to tell me how many evenings I am coming here».

«What can I do, Cesira?» The next morning the loom wasn’t working… and so were doing the industrious hands.« I will never find the precise answer. There were rainy evenings, snow and fog… and sometimes the bike was broken or with flat tire. If he was saying years, they were almost three… Months, I could try to calculate… but evenings! What can I do, Cesira?»

A solution was necessary, they can’t even think about guessing. The old woman, after the earned rest in the afternoon, showed her plan. «Listen, we have to prepare a big saba pot for the first evening of his visit. I will show you how to greet him. I will scatter you with the saba, then you will roll around in chicken plumage (I have a mattress full of it). When it will be dark you will climb on the poplar at the bottom of the trail. When you will see the light, you have to caw again and again». 

Artemisia became a big crow without difficulties (she knew paths in corn fields). When she saw the light from far, her call broke the silence. The bike stopped and gets back, but the girl didn’t save her energies and the man stopped repeatedly, frightened. It seemed to be something between the foliage, like a ghost, and the moon appeared and disappeared between the clouds. The sound stopped and went on… the distance was reducing, but the crow wasn’t ceasing. Finally he bursted with anger: «It’s been 366 evenings, and I’ve never seen an uglier crow on this trail!»  He was far, but his voice was clear. The plan worked! She got off the poplar and ran home rapidly. Cesira prepared a tank full of water; so, when the bell of the bike called her outside, Artemisia seemed surprised for the visit.  «Why you came here? I told you that I don’t want to be your girlfriend anymore!» «It’s true, but I will come until you will be able to tell me how many evenings I am coming here». «And you think that I don’t know? It’s been 366 evenings!» «Ah! I always knew: women are smarter than devil!» 

He turned the bike and didn’t came around anymore.

Saba: must boiled for a long time, sweet and sticky.

Story told by Marisa Bertozzi Copelli


The tale of the old woman

Once upon a time there was a child on a pear tree. An old woman passes by and says him: «Hey kid, throw me a pear». «No, rotten witch, you want to put me in your sack». «Come on, kid, throw me a pear». «No – the child says - you want to put me in your sack». By persisting in, the child throws the pear.

The old woman says him: «Come on, kid, come down and pick up the pear, I’ve got backache». «No – the child answers - you want to put me in your sack». 

The old woman persists and the child chooses to pick up the pear; as soon as he climb down, the old woman put him in her sack.

Then the old woman with the child in her sack starts walking, and walking, and walking as long as she has to relieve herself.  She stops by a house and says: «Can you hold me this sack while I relieve myself?». The farmer says her: «At least you have to go far, otherwise it smells bad». 

The old woman relieve herself, pick up the sack and she walks and walks and walks, as long as she reaches her home and begins to cry out: «Carula, put the pot on the fire, because I have the bean; Carula, put the pot on the fire, because I have the bean». When the old woman is on the pot, she opens the sack and a rabid dog comes out and eats her nose.

Source: Brioni Edgardo, Tradizioni popolari novellaresi, Tipografia Ruozi Novellara, 1977, p. 15