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A kings son was eating at the dinner table.

While slicing the ricotta, he cut


his finger, and a drop of blood fell on the white cheese. He said to his mother,
Mamma, I would like a wife white like milk and red like blood.

Why, my son, whoever is white is certainly not red, and whoever is red is by
no means white. But go out all the dame and see if you can find such a girl.

The son set out. After some distance he met a woman, who asked, Where
are you going, young man?

How can I confide my secret to a woman? The very idea!

On and on he went, and met a little old man, who asked, Where are you
going, young man?

You Ill tell, respected sir, who will certainly ear further of me. Im seeking a
girl both milk-white and blood-red.

My son, whoever is white is not red, and whoever is red is not white. Take
these three pomegranates, however. Open them and see what comes out.
But do so only beside the fountain.

The youth opened a pomegranate, and out jumped a very beautiful girl white
like milk and red like blood, who immediately cried:
Dear young man, bring me some water,
Otherwise Im Mothers dead daughter!

The young man dipped up water in the hollow of his hand and offered it to
her, but he was too late: the beautiful creature was dead.

He opened another pomegranate, and out jumped another beautiful girl,


saying:

Dear young man, bring me some water,


Otherwise Im Mothers dead daughter!

He brought her water, but she was already dead.

He opened the third pomegranate, and out jumped a girl still more beautiful
than the other two. The young man threw water in her face, and she lived.

She was as naked as the day her mother gave birth to her, so the young man
threw his own cloak over her, saying, Climb this tree while I go for clothes to
dress you in and a carriage to take you to the palace.

The girl remained in the tree beside the fountain. Now every day, this
fountain was visited by the ugly Saracen[1] woman, who came there for
water. As she went to dip up water with her earthen pot, she saw the
maidens face reflected on the surface of the fountain from the tree, and
sighed:

Why must I, who am so beautiful,


Trudge home with water by the potful?

At that, she slammed the pot down, smashing it to smithereens. When she
got home, her mistress said, Ugly Saracen, how dare you return with no
water and no crock! She therefore picked up another earthen pot and
returned to the fountain, where she again saw that image in the water. Ah, I
am truly beautiful! she said to herself, adding:

Why must I, who am so beautiful,

Trudge home with water by the potful?

Again she slammed down the crock. Again her mistress scolded her. Again
she went to the fountain and smashed still another pot. Up to then the
maiden had merely looked on from the tree, but now she had to laugh.

Ugly Saracen looked up and saw her. Oh, its you? You are the one who made
me smash three pots to smithereens? But you are truly beautiful~ just a
minute, I want to do your hair for you.

The maiden was reluctant to come down the tree, but Ugly Saracen insisted.
Let me dress our hair, so that you will be still more beautiful.

Helping her down, Ugly Saracen undid the maidens hair and found a hairpin,
which she thrust into the poor girls ear. A drop of blood fell from the maiden,
then she died. But when the drop of blood hit the ground, it changed into a
wood pigeon, which flew away.

Ugly Saracen went and settled in the tree. The kings son returned in the
carriage and, seeing her, said, You were milk-white and blood-red when I left
you. How on earth did you become so dark?

Ugly Saracen replied:

Out came the sun


And made me dun.

But how could your voice have changed so? asked the kings son.

She replied:

The wind came up,


My voice came down.

But you were so beautiful, and now you are so ugly! said the kings son.

She replied:
Also rose the breeze
And caused my face to freeze.

That was that. He took her into the carriage and carried her home.

From the moment Ugly Saracen settled down in the palace as the wife of the
kings son, the wood pigeon would alight on the kitchen window ledge every
morning and say to the cook:
Cook, O cook of the cursed kitchen,
Tell me, tell me
What the king is doing with old Ugly Saracen.

He eats, drinks, and sleeps, replied the cook.

The wood pigeon said:


Please, a bit of soup for me,
And plumes of gold I will give thee.

The cook served her a plate of soup, and the wood pigeon gave a little shake
and shed a few feathers of gold. Then she flew off.

The next morning she was back:


Cook, O cook of the cursed kitchen,
Tell me, tell me
What the king is doing with old Ugly Saracen.

He eats, drinks, and sleeps, replied the cook.

Please, a bit of soup for me,


And plumes of gold I will give thee.

She ate her soup, and the cook took the golden feathers.

A little later, the cook decided to go to the king with the whole story. The king
listened carefully, and replied, Tomorrow when the wood pigeon returns,
catch it and bring it to me. I shall keep it.

Ugly Saracen, who had eavesdropped and heard everything, knew only too
well that the wood pigeon would be her undoing, so next morning she beat
the cook to the window when the pigeon lit, pierced it through with a spit and
killed it.

The wood pigeon died, but a drop of blood fell in the garden and right there a
pomegranate tree sprang up at once.

This tree had the magic property that whoever was dying and ate one of its
pomegranates got well. And there was always a long line of people begging
Ugly Saracen for a pomegranate.

Finally only one pomegranate remained on the tree, the biggest one of all,
and Ugly Saracen announced: I will keep this one for myself.

An old woman came to her, asking, Will you give me that pomegranate? My
husband is dying.

I have only one left, and I am keeping it for decoration, replied Ugly
Saracen, but the kings son objected. Poor old thing, her husband is dying,
you cant refuse her.

So the old woman went back home with the pomegranate. She got home and
found her husband already dead. That means I keep the pomegranate for
decoration, she told herself.

Every morning the old woman went to Mass. And while she was at Mass, the
girl would come out of the pomegranate, light the fire, sweep the house, do
the cooking, and set the table. Then she would go back inside the
pomegranate. Finding everything in order upon her return, the old woman
was baffled.

One morning she went to confession and told her confessor all about it. He
replied, Know what you should do? Tomorrow morning pretend to go out to
Mass, but hide somewhere at home instead. That way youll see whos doing
all your housekeeping.

The next morning the old woman pretended to leave the house, but stopped
outside the door. The maiden emerged from the pomegranate and started on
the housework and the cooking. The old woman came back in and caught the
girl before she could reenter [sic]the pomegranate.

Where do you come from? asked the old woman.

Peace to you, maam, dont kill me, dont kill me!

Im not going to kill you, but I want to know where you come from.

I live inside the pomegranate And she related her story.

The old woman dressed her in peasant garb like her own, since the maiden
was still as naked as the day she was born, and on Sunday took her to Mass
with her. The kings son was also at Mass and saw her. My heavens! he
exclaimed. I do believe thats the maiden I met at the fountain! So he lay in
wait for the old woman on the road.

Tell me where that maiden came from!

Dont kill me! whimpered the old woman.

Dont worry, I only want to know where she comes from.

She comes from the pomegranate you gave me.

She was in a pomegranate too? exclaimed the kings son, who turned to the
maiden and asked, How on earth did you get into a pomegranate? And she
told him everything.

He returned to the palace with the girl, and had her tell the whole story once
more in front of Ugly Saracen.

Did you hear that? the kings son asked Ugly Saracen when the girl had
finished her tale. I dont want to be the one to condemn you to death.
Condemn yourself.

As there was now no way out, Ugly Saracen said, Coat me with pitch and

burn me to death in the centre of the town square.

So it was done, and the kings son married the maiden.