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p. 128

Diana as Giving Beauty and Restoring Strength

Diana hath power to do all things, to give glory to the lowly, wealth to the poor, joy to the afflicted, beauty to the ugly. Be not in grief, if you are her follower; though you be in prison and in darkness, she will bring light: many there are whom she sinks that they may rise the higher.

There was of old in Monteroni a young man so ugly that when a stranger was passing through the town he was shown this Gianni, for such was his name, as one of the sights of the place. Yet, hideous as he was, because he was rich, though of no family, he had confidence, and hoped boldly to win and wed some beautiful young lady of rank.

Now there came to dwell in Monteroni a wonder fully beautiful biondina, or blonde young lady of culture and condition, to whom Gianni, with his usual impudence, boldly made love, getting, as was also usual, a round No for his reply.

But this time, being more than usually fascinated in good truth, for there were influences at work he knew not of, he became as one possessed or mad with passion, so that he hung about the lady's house by night

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and day, seeking indeed an opportunity to rush in and seize her, or by some desperate trick to master and bear her away.

But here his plans were defeated, because the lady had ever by her a great cat which seemed to be of more than human intelligence, and, whenever Gianni approached her or her home, it always espied him and gave the alarm with a terrible noise. And there was indeed something so unearthly in its appearance, and something so awful in its great green eyes which shone like torches, that the boldest man might have been appalled by them.

But one evening Gianni reflected that it was foolish to be afraid of a mere cat, which need only scare a boy, and so he boldly ventured on an attack. So going forth, he took a ladder, which he carried and placed against the lady's window. But while he stood at the foot, he found by him an old woman, who earnestly began to beg him not to persevere in his intention. "For thou knowest well, Gianni," she said, "that the lady will have none of thee; thou art a terror to her. Do but go home and look in the glass, and it will seem to thee that thou art looking on mortal sin in human form."

Then Gianni in a roaring rage cried, I will have my way and my will, thou old wife of the devil, if I must kill thee and the girl too!" Saying which, he rushed up the ladder; but before he had opened or could enter the window, and was at the top, he found himself as it were turned to wood or stone, unable to move.

Then he was overwhelmed with shame, and said,

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"Ere long the whole town will be here to witness my defeat. However, I will make one last appeal." So he cried:--

"Oh, vecchia! thou who didst mean me more kindly than I knew, pardon me, I beg thee, and rescue me from this trouble! And if, as I well ween, thou art a witch, and if I, by becoming a wizard, may be freed from my trials and troubles, then I pray thee teach me how it may be done, so that I may win the young lady, since I now see that she is of thy kind, and that I must be of it to be worthy of her."

Then Gianni saw the old woman sweep like a flash of light from a lantern up from the ground, and, touching him, bore him away from the ladder, when lo! the light was a cat, who had been anon the witch, and she said:--

"Thou wilt soon set forth on a long journey, and in thy way thou wilt find a wretched worn-out horse, when thou must say:--

"'Fata Diana! Fata Diana! Fata Diana!
Io vi scongiuro
Di dare un po di bene,
A quella povera bestia!'
E poi si trovera
Una grossa capra,
Ma un vero caprone,
E tu dirai:
'Bona sera, bel caprone,'
E questo ti risponderà
'Buona sera galantuomo p. 131
Sono tanto stanco, io
Che non mi sento--
Di andare più avanti.'
E risponderai al solito,
'Fata Diana vi scongiuro,
Di dare pace e bene
A questo caprone!'

"'Fairy Diana! Fairy Diana! Fairy Diana!
I conjure thee to do some little good
To this poor beast.'
Then thou wilt find
A great goat,
A true he-goat,
And thou shalt say,
'Good evening, fair goat!'
And he will reply,
'Good evening, fair sir!
I am so weary
That I can go no farther.'
And thou shalt reply as usual,
'Fairy Diana, I conjure thee
To give to this goat relief and peace!'

"Then will we enter in a great hall where thou wilt see many beautiful ladies who will try to fascinate thee; but let thy answer ever be, 'She whom I love is her of Monteroni.'

"And now, Gianni, to horse; mount and away!" So he mounted the cat, which flew as quick as thought, and found the mare, and having pronounced over it the incantation, it became a woman and said:--

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"In nome della Fata Diana!
Tu possa divenire
Un giovane bello
Bianco e rosso!
Di latte e sangue!"

"In the name of the Fairy Diana!
Mayest thou hereby become
A beautiful young man,
Red and white in hue,
Like to milk and blood!"

After this he found the goat and conjured it in like manner, and it replied:--

"In the name of the Fairy Diana!
Be thou attired more richly than a prince!"

So he passed to the hall, where he was wooed by beautiful ladies, but his answer to them all was that his love was at Monterone.

Then he saw or knew no more, but on awaking found himself in Monterone, and so changed to a handsome youth that no one knew him. So he married his beautiful lady, and all lived the hidden life of witches and wizards from that day, and are now in Fairy Land.

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