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The Booby

" So Moscione had compassion on them, and said, "My masters, how is it you have the head to stand in this furnace, which is fit to roast a buffalo?" And one of them answered, "Oh, we are as cool as a rose; for we have a young man here who blows upon us from behind in such a manner that it seems just as if the west wind were blowing." "Let me see him, I pray," cried Moscione. So the mason called the lad, and Moscione said to him, "Tell me, by the life of your father, what is your name? what country are you from? and what is your profession!" And the lad replied, "My name is Blow-blast; I am from Windy-land; and I can make all the winds with my mouth. If you wish for a zephyr, I will breathe one that will send you in transports; if you wish for a squall, I will throw down houses."

"Seeing is believing," said Moscione. Whereupon Blow-blast breathed at first quite gently, so that it seemed to be the wind that blows at Posilippo towards evening; then turning suddenly to some trees, he sent forth such a furious blast that it uprooted a row of oaks.

When Moscione saw this he took him for a companion; and travelling on as far again, he met another lad, to whom he said, "What is your name, if I may make so bold? Whence are you, if one may ask? And what is your trade, if it is a fair question?" And the lad answered, "My name is Strong-back; I am from Valentino; and I have such strength that I can take a mountain on my back, and it seems to me only a feather."

"If that be the case," said Moscione, "you deserve to be the king of the custom-house, and you should be chosen for standard-bearer on the first of May. But I should like to see a proof of what you say."

Then Strong-back began to load himself with masses of rock, trunks of trees, and so many other weights that a thousand large waggons could not have carried them; which, when Moscione saw, he agreed with the lad to join him.

So they travelled on till they came to Fair-Flower, the King of which place had a daughter who ran like the wind, and could pass over the waving corn without bending an ear; and the King had issued a proclamation that whoever could over-take her in running should have her to wife, but whoever was left behind should lose his head.

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