The Two Cakes
I have always heard say, that he who gives pleasure finds it: the bell of Manfredonia says, "Give me, I give thee": he who does not bait the hook of the affections with courtesy never catches the fish of kindness; and if you wish to hear the proof of this, listen to my story, and then say whether the covetous man does not always lose more than the liberal one.
There were once two sisters, named Luceta and Troccola, who had two daughters, Marziella and Puccia. Marziella was as fair to look upon as she was good at heart; whilst, on the contrary, Puccia by the same rule had a face of ugliness and a heart of pestilence, but the girl resembled her parent, for Troccola was a harpy within and a very scare-crow without.
Now it happened that Luceta had occasion to boil some parsnips, in order to fry them with green sauce; so she said to her daughter, "Marziella, my dear, go to the well and fetch me a pitcher of water."
"With all my heart, mother," replied the girl, "but if you love me give me a cake, for I should like to eat it with a draught of the fresh water."
"By all means," said the mother; so she took from a basket that hung upon a hook a beautiful cake (for she had baked a batch the day before), and gave it to Marziella, who set the pitcher on a pad upon her head, and went to the fountain, which like a charlatan upon a marble bench, to the music of the falling water, was selling secrets to drive away thirst. And as she was stooping down to fill her pitcher, up came a hump-backed old woman, and seeing the beautiful cake, which Marziella was just going to bite, she said to her, "My pretty girl, give me a little piece of your cake, and may Heaven send you good fortune!"
Marziella, who was as generous as a queen, replied, "Take it all, my good woman, and I am only sorry that it is not made of sugar and almonds, for I would equally give it you with all my heart."
The old woman, seeing Marziella's kindness, said to her, "Go, and may Heaven reward you for the goodness you have shown me!
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Category: Nigerian folktales
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