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Strapparola

The Lucky Days

At Casena, in Romagna, lived a poor widow, a very worthy, industrious woman, by name Lucietta. She unfortunately had an only son, who, for stupidity and laziness, had yet to find his equal. He would lie in bed till noon, and when he did resolve to rise, he took a full hour to rub his eyes, and then he would be nearly as long stretching his arms and legs; in short, he behaved like the veriest sluggard upon earth.

 

This grieved his mother very much, for she had once hoped that he would someday become the support of her old age; and she never ceased to urge and advise him, in order to make him a little more active and industrious.

 

"My son," she often said to him, "he who would see good days in this world must exert himself, be industrious, and rise at break of day; for good fortune favours the industrious and the vigilant, but never comes to the lazy and sluggardly. Therefore, my son, if you will believe my counsel, and follow it, then you shall see good days, and all will fall out to your heart's content."

 

Lucilio—that was the young man's name—the silliest of the silly, unquestionably heard what his mother said, but he did not understand the meaning of her words. He got up as if he had woken out of a deep and heavy sleep, and sauntered along the road before the city gate, where he stretched himself, in order to finish his nap, right across the pathway, so that all entering or leaving the city could not avoid stumbling over him.

 

It so happened that the very night before, three inhabitants of the city had gone out to bury a treasure which they had accidentally discovered. They had succeeded in finding it again, and were in the act of carrying it home, when they came upon Lucilio, who still lay across the road, but no longer sleeping. He had just woken up, and was looking round him for one of the good days his mother had prophesied to him.

 

"Heaven send you a good day, friend," said the first of the three men, as he walked over him.

 

"Heaven be praised!" said Lucilio, when he heard the words. "Now I shall have a good day!"

 

The man who had buried the treasure, conscious of his fault, fancied directly that these words bore reference to him, and that the secret had been betrayed. This was quite natural; for whoever has a bad conscience, always interprets the most indifferent words as an allusion to himself.

 

The second man then stumbled over Lucilio, likewise wishing him, as his predecessor had done, a good day. Whereupon Lucilio, still dwelling on the good days, said to himself, but half loud, "Now I have two of them!"

 

The third followed and saluted him as the two others had done, also wishing that Heaven might send him a good day. Up started Lucilio, overjoyed, and exclaiming, "Oh! delightful! Now I have got all three of them! I am fortunate!"

 

He alluded only to three lucky days; but the buriers of the treasure thought he meant them; and as they feared he might go and give information of them to the magistrate, they took him aside, told him the whole affair, and, to bribe him into silence, gave him the fourth part of the treasure.

 

Well pleased, Lucilio took his portion, carried it home to his mother, and said, "Dear mother, Heaven's blessing has been with me; for, as I did as you desired, so I have found the good days. Take this money, and buy with it all we require."

 

The mother was not a little pleased at the fortunate occurrence, and urged her son to go on exerting himself that he might find more such good days.