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© Rootbook
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A Rootbook Author
2012 - today
Published by: Rootbook
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Chapter 1

A
peasant had twelve daughters, not one of whom was a head taller than the next; for every year their mother presented him with a little girl; so that the poor man, to support his family decently, went early every morning as a day labourer and dug hard the whole day long. With what his labour produced he just kept his little ones from dying of hunger. 
He happened, one day, to be digging at the foot of a mountain, the spy of other mountains, that thrust its head above the clouds to see what they were doing up in the sky, and close to a cavern so deep and dark that the sun was afraid to enter it. Out of this cavern there came a green lizard as big as a crocodile; and the poor man was so terrified that he had not the power to run away, expecting every moment the end of his days from a gulp of that ugly animal. But the lizard, approaching him, said, “Be not afraid, my good man, for I am not come here to do you any harm, but to do you good.” 
When Masaniello (for that was the name of the labourer) heard this, he fell on his knees and said, “Mistress What‘s your name, I am wholly in your power. Act then worthily and have compassion on this poor trunk that has twelve branches to support.” 
 “It is on this very account,” said the lizard, “that I am disposed to serve you; so bring me, tomorrow morning the youngest of your daughters; for I will rear her up like my own child, and love her as my life.” 
At this the poor father was more confounded than a thief when the stolen goods are found on his back. For, hearing the lizard ask him for one of his daughters, and that too, the tenderest of them, he concluded that the cloak was not without wool on it, and that she wanted the child as a titbit to stay her appetite. Then he said to himself, “If I give her my daughter, I give her my soul. If I refuse her, she will take this body of mine. If I yield her, I am robbed of my heart; if I deny her she will suck out my blood. If I consent, she takes away part of myself; if I refuse, she takes the whole. What shall I resolve on? What course shall I take?