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  • The Goblin of La Via del Corno
    Page 2
    Continued from page 1

    "Then they played chess, cards, cribbage, drole, écarté, Pope Joan, bo, brag, casino, thirty-one, put, snip-snap-snorem, lift-em-up, tear-the-rag, smoke, blind-hookey, bless-your-grandmother, Polish-bank, seven-up, beggar-my-neighbour, patience, old-maid, fright, baccarat, belle-en-chemise, bang-up, howling-Moses, bluff, swindle-Dick, go-it-rags, ombre or keep-dark, morelles, go-bang, goose, dominoes, loto, morra or push-pin. And when extra hands were wanted they came, but all that came were only fairy hands, short at the wrist, the goblin remarking that it saved wine not to have mouths, et cetera. Then they had long and curious and exceedingly weighty debates as to the laws of the games and fair play, not forgetting meanwhile to sample all the various wines ever sung by Redi.1 So they got on, the Signore realising that one near friend is worth a hundred distant relations.

    "Now it befell one night that the goblin, having seen the Signore take off a pint of good old strong Barolo very neatly and carefully, without taking breath or winking, exclaimed with a long, deep sigh:

    "'Thou art a gallant fellow, a right true boon companion, and it grieves me to the heart to think that thou art doomed to be drowned to-morrow.'

    "'Oh you be—doctored!' replied the Signore. 'There isn't water enough in the Arno now to drown a duck, unless she held her head under in a half-pint puddle.'

    "The goblin went to the window, took a look at the stars, whistled and said:

    "'As I expected, it is written that you are to be drowned to-morrow, unless you carry this horn of mine hung to your neck all day.

    "'Quando ti trovi nel pericolo,
    Suona questo corno piccolo,
    E tu sarai salvato,
    Non sarai affogato!'

    "'If thou find'st thyself forlorn,
    Blow aloud this little horn,
    And thou wilt be safe and sound,
    For with it thou'lt not be drowned.'

    "Saying this, he solemnly handed the horn to the cavalier, drank off a goblet of muscato, wiped his lips, bowed a ceremonious good-night, and, as was his wont, vanished with dignity up the chimney.

    "The gentleman was more troubled by this prediction than he liked to admit. I need not say that the next day he did not go near the Arno, though it was as dry as a bone; nay, he kept out of a bath, and was almost afraid to wash his face.

    "At last he got the fancy that some enemies or villains would burst into his lonely house, bind him hand and foot, carry him far away, and drown him in some lonely stream, or perhaps in the sea. He remembered just such a case. We all remember just such cases when we don't want to. That was it, decidedly.

    "Then he had a happy thought. There was a little hidingchamber, centuries old, in the palazzo, known only to himself, with a concealed door. He would go and hide there. He shouted for joy, and when he entered the room, he leaped with a great bound from the threshold of the door, down and over three or four steps, into the middle of the little room.

    1Redi's Bacco in Toscana is known to the most ignorant in Florence, there being very cheap editions of it constantly sold.

    < Page 1 Page 3 >

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    Leland, Charles Godfrey. Legends of Florence: Collected from the People And Re-told. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1895. 21-25

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