Italian Popular Tales | Annotated Tale

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Three Goslings, The

We will end this chapter with two stories in which the chief actors are animals. One of these stories will doubtless be very familiar to our readers. The first is from Venice (Bernoni, Punt. III. p. 65).


ONCE upon a time there were three goslings who were greatly afraid of the wolf; for if he found them he would eat them. One day the largest said to the other two: "Do you know what I think? I think we had better build a little house, so that the wolf shall not eat us, and meanwhile let us go and look for something to build the house with." Then the other two said: "Yes, yes, yes... good! let us go!" So they went and found a man who had a load of straw and said to him: "Good man, do us the favor to give us a little of that straw to make a house of, so that the wolf shall not eat us." The man said: "Take it, take it!" and he gave them as much as they wanted. The goslings thanked the man and took the straw and went away to a meadow, and there they built a lovely little house, with a door, and balconies, and kitchen, with everything, in short. When it was finished the largest gosling said: "Now I want to see whether one is comfortable in this house." So she went in and said: "Oh! how comfortable it is in this house! just wait!" She went and locked the door with a padlock, and went out on the balcony and said to the other two goslings: "I am very comfortable alone here; go away, for I want nothing to do with you."

               The two poor little goslings began to cry and beg their sister to open the door and let them in; if she did not, the wolf would eat them. But she would not listen to them. Then the two goslings went away and found a man who had a load of hay. They said to him: "Good man, do us the kindness to give us a little of that hay to build a house with, so that the wolf shall not eat us!" "Yes, yes, yes, take some, take some!" And he gave them as much as they wanted. The goslings, well pleased, thanked the man and carried the hay to a meadow and built a very pretty little house, prettier than the other. The middle-sized gosling said to the smallest: "Listen. I am going now to see whether one is comfortable in this house; but I will not act like our sister, you know!" She entered the house and said to herself: "Oh! how comfortable it is here! I don't want my sister! I am very comfortable here alone." So she went and fastened the door with a padlock, and went out on the balcony and said to her sister: "Oh! how comfortable it is in this house! I don't want you here! go away, go away!" The poor gosling began to weep and beg her sister to open to her, for she was alone, and did not know where to go, and if the wolf found her he would eat her; but it did no good: she shut the balcony and stayed in the house.

               Then the gosling, full of fear, went away and found a man who had a load of iron and stones and said to him: "Good man, do me the favor to give me a few of those stones and a little of that iron to build me a house with, so that the wolf shall not eat me!" The man pitied the gosling so much that he said: "Yes, yes, good gosling, or rather I will build your house for you." Then they went away to a meadow, and the man built a very pretty house, with a garden and everything necessary, and very strong, for it was lined with iron, and the balcony and door of iron also. The gosling, well pleased, thanked the man and went into the house and remained there.

               Now let us go to the wolf.

               The wolf looked everywhere for these goslings, but could not find them. After a time he learned that they had built three houses. "Good, good!" he said; "wait until I find you!" Then he started out and journeyed and journeyed until he came to the meadow where the first house was. He knocked at the door and the gosling said: "Who is knocking at the door?" "Come, come," said the wolf; "open, for it is I." The gosling said: "I will not open for you, because you will eat me." "Open, open! I will not eat you, be not afraid. Very well," said the wolf, "if you will not open the door I will blow down your house." And indeed he did blow down the house and ate up the gosling. "Now that I have eaten one," he said, "I will eat the others too." Then he went away and came at last to the house of the second gosling, and everything happened as to the first, the wolf blew down the house and ate the gosling. Then he went in search of the third and when he found her he knocked at the door, but she would not let him in. Then he tried to blow the house down, but could not; then he climbed on the roof and tried to trample the house down, but in vain. "Very well," he said to himself, "in one way or another I will eat you." Then he came down from the roof and said to the gosling: "Listen, gosling. Do you wish us to make peace? I don't want to quarrel with you who are so good, and I have thought that to-morrow we will cook some macaroni and I will bring the butter and cheese and you will furnish the flour." "Very good," said the gosling, "bring them then." The wolf, well satisfied, saluted the gosling and went away. The next day the gosling got up early and went and bought the meal and then returned home and shut the house. A little later the wolf came and knocked at the door and said: "Come, gosling, open the door, for I have brought you the butter and cheese!" "Very well, give it to me here by the balcony." "No indeed, open the door!" "I will open when all is ready." Then the wolf gave her the things by the balcony and went away. While he was gone the gosling prepared the macaroni, and put it on the fire to cook in a kettle full of water. When it was two o'clock the wolf came and said: "Come, gosling, open the door." "No, I will not open, for when I am busy I don't want any one in the way; when it is cooked, I will open and you may come in and eat it." A little while after, the gosling said to the wolf: "Would you like to try a bit of macaroni to see whether it is well cooked?" "Open the door! that is the better way." "No, no; don't think you are coming in; put your mouth to the hole in the shelf and I will pour the macaroni down." The wolf, all greedy as he was, put his mouth to the hole and then the gosling took the kettle of boiling water and poured the boiling water instead of the macaroni through the hole into the wolf's mouth; and the wolf was scalded and killed. Then the gosling took a knife and cut open the wolf's stomach, and out jumped the other goslings, who were still alive, for the wolf was so greedy that he had swallowed them whole. Then these goslings begged their sister's pardon for the mean way in which they had treated her, and she, because she was kind-hearted, forgave them and took them into her house, and there they ate their macaroni and lived together happy and contented. [1]


[1] There is another Italian version in Fiabe Mantovane, No. 31, "The Wolf." The only parallel I can find to this story out of Italy is a negro story in Lippincott's Magazine, December, 1877, "Folk-Lore of the Southern Negroes," p. 753, "Tiny Pig." Allusion is made to the Anglo-Saxon story of the "Three Blue Pigs," but I have been unable to find it.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Three Goslings, The
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 124: Blowing the House In

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