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Main > Italy folktales > Fairy tale "The Seven Doves"

The Seven Doves

And ascending the mountain till she was quite out of breath, she waited until Time came out, who was an old man with a long, long beard, and who wore a very old cloak covered with slips of paper, on which were worked the names of various people. He had large wings, and ran so fast that he was out of sight in an instant.

When Cianna entered the house of his mother, she started with affright at the sight of that black old chip; and instantly seizing the weights of the clock, she told what she wanted to the old woman, who, setting up a loud cry, called to her son. But Cianna said to her, "You may butt your head against the wall as long as you like, for you will not see your son whilst I hold these clock-weights."

Thereupon the old woman, seeing herself foiled, began to coax Cianna, saying, "Let go of them, my dear, and do not stop my son's course; for no man living has ever done that. Let go of them, and may Heaven preserve you! for I promise you, by the acid of my son, with which he corrodes everything, that I will do you no harm."

"That's time lost," answered Cianna, "you must say something better if you would have me quit my hold."

"I swear to you by those teeth, which gnaw all mortal things, that I will tell you all you desire."

"That is all nothing," answered Cianna, "for I know you are deceiving me."

"Well, then," said the old woman, "I swear to you by those wings which fly over all that I will give you more pleasure than you imagine."

Thereupon Cianna, letting go the weights, kissed the old woman's hand, which had a mouldy feel and a nasty smell. And the old woman, seeing the courtesy of the damsel, said to her, "Hide yourself behind this door, and when Time comes home I will make him tell me all you wish to know. And as soon as he goes out again—for he never stays quiet in one place—you can depart. But do not let yourself be heard or seen, for he is such a glutton that he does not spare even his own children; and when all fails, he devours himself and then springs up anew.

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