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The Three Citrons

No sooner had he heard all the particulars from Master Pot-ladle, than he began to suspect how matters stood. So he gave orders, under pain of death, that the tree should not be touched, but that it should be tended with the greatest care.

At the end of a few days three most beautiful citrons appeared, similar to those which the ogress had given Ciommetiello. And when they were grown larger, he plucked them; and shutting himself up in a chamber, with a large basin of water and the knife, which he always carried at his side, he began to cut the citrons. Then it all fell out with the first and second fairy just as it had done before; but when at last he cut the third citron, and gave the fairy who came forth from it to drink, behold, there stood before him the self-same maiden whom he had left up in the tree, and who told him all the mischief that the slave had done.

Who now can tell the least part of the delight the King felt at this good turn of fortune? Who can describe the shouting and leaping for joy that there was? For the King was swimming in a sea of delight, and was wafted to Heaven on a tide of rapture. Then he embraced the fairy, and ordered her to be handsomely dressed from head to foot; and taking her by the hand he led her into the middle of the hall, where all the courtiers and great folks of the city were met to celebrate the feast. Then the King called on them one by one, and said, "Tell me, what punishment would that person deserve who should do any harm to this beautiful lady!" And one replied that such a person would deserve a hempen collar; another, a breakfast of stones; a third, a good beating; a fourth, a draught of poison; a fifth, a millstone for a brooch—in short, one said this thing and another that. At last he called on the black Queen, and putting the same question, she replied, "Such a person would deserve to be burned, and that her ashes should be thrown from the roof of the castle."

When the King heard this, he said to her, "You have struck your own foot with the axe, you have made your own fetters, you have sharpened the knife and mixed the poison; for no one has done this lady so much harm as yourself, you good-for-nothing creature!

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