Italian Popular Tales | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.



ONCE upon a time there was a girl called Saddaedda, who was crazy. One day, when her mother had gone into the country and she was left alone in the house, she went into a church where the funeral service was being read over the body of a rich lady. The girl hid herself in the confessional. No one knew she was there; so, when the other people had gone, she was left alone with the corpse. It was dressed out in a rose-colored robe and everything else becoming, and it had ear-rings in its ears and rings on its fingers. These the girl took off, and then she began to undress the body. When she came to the stockings she drew off one easily, but at the other she had to pull so hard that at last the leg came off with it. Saddaedda took the leg, carried it to her lonely home, and locked it up in a box. At night came the dead lady and knocked at the door. "Who's there?" said the girl. "It is I," answered the corpse. "Give me back my leg and stocking!" But Saddaedda paid no heed to the request. Next day she prepared a feast and invited some of her playfellows to spend the night with her. They came, feasted, and went to sleep. At midnight the dead woman began to knock at the door and to repeat last night's request. Saddaedda took no notice of the noise but her companions, whom it awoke, were horrified, and as soon as they could, they ran away. On the third night just the same happened. On the fourth she could persuade only one girl to keep her company. On the fifth she was left entirely alone. The corpse came, forced open the door, strode up to Saddaedda's bed, and strangled her. Then the dead woman opened the box, took out her leg and stocking, and carried them off with her to her grave. [1]

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               This chapter would be incomplete without reference to treasure stories. A number of these are given by Miss Busk in her interesting collection. A few are found in Pitrè, only one of which needs mention here, on account of its parallels in other countries. It is called Lu Vicerrè Tunnina, "Viceroy Tunny" (tunnina is the flesh of the tunny-fish). There was at Palermo a man who sold tunny-fish. One night he dreamed that some one appeared to him and said: "Do you wish to find your Fate? Go under the bridge di li Testi (of the Heads, so the people call the Ponte dell' Ammiraglio, a bridge now abandoned, constructed in 1113 by the Admiral Georgios Antiochenos); there you will find it." For three nights he dreamed the same thing. The third time, he went under the bridge and found a poor man all in rags. The fish-seller was frightened and was going away, when the man called him. It was his Fate. He said: "To-night, at midnight, where you have placed the barrels of fish, dig, and what you find is yours."

               The fish-dealer did as he was told; dug, and found a staircase, which he descended, and found a room full of money. The fish-dealer became wealthy, lent the king of Spain money, and was made viceroy and raised to the rank of prince and duke. [2]


[1] Pitrè, No. 128. The version in the text is Ralston's condensation, taken from Fraser's Magazine, p. 433. As Pitrè notes, there is some slight resemblance between this story and that of "Cattarinetta" in Schneller, No. 5, which has a close parallel in Bernoni, Trad. pop. venez. Punt. III. p. 76, "Nono Cocon" and one not so close in Papanti, Nov. pop. livor, No. 1, "La Mencherina," p. 7. There is a close parallel to the Sicilian story in a Tuscan tale, "La Gamba" ("The Leg"), in Novelline pop. toscane, pubb. da G. Pitrè, p. 12. In a note Pitrè mentions a variant from Pratovecchio in which the leg is of gold. He also gives copious references to versions from all parts of Europe. The English reader will recall at once Halliwell's story of "Teeny-Tiny" (Nursery Tales, p. 25). To the above references may be added: "Le Pendu" in Cosquin, Contes pop. lorrains, No. 41, in Romania, No. 28, p. 580. Since the above note was written, another Tuscan version has been published by Pitrè, Nov. tosc. No. 19.

[2] Pitrè, No. 203. The parallels to this story may best be found in J. Grimm's Kleinere Schriften, III. p. 414, Der Traum von dem Schatz auf der Brücke. To Grimm's references may be added: Graesse, Sagenschatz Sachsen's, No. 587; Wolf, Hesseche Sagen, No. 47; Kuhn, Westfalische Sagen, No. 169; and Vierzig Veziere, p. 270.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Saddaedda
Tale Author/Editor: Crane, Thomas
Book Title: Italian Popular Tales
Book Author/Editor: Crane, Thomas Frederick
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin and Company
Publication City: Boston
Year of Publication: 1885
Country of Origin: Italy
Classification: ATU 366: The Man from the Gallows

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