The Little Girl Sold with the Pears

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"The Little Girl Sold with the Pears" is an Italian fairy tale collected by Italo Calvino in Italian Folktales, from Piedmont.[1] Ruth Manning-Sanders included a variant, as "The Girl in the Basket", in A Book of Ogres and Trolls.


Once there was a man had to pay the king rent in the form of four baskets of pears. One year his trees yielded only three and a half baskets full, so he put his youngest daughter in the fourth basket to fill it up. When the baskets arrived at the castle, the royal servants found the girl by the pears she ate, and they set her to work as a servant. As the girl grew up, she and the prince fell in love, which caused the other maidservants to grow envious. In Manning-Sander's version, the servants told the king that she had boasted of doing all the laundry in one day; with the prince's aid, she was able to do it. In most other versions, the maids then tell the king that she had also boasted that she could steal the witch's (or ogress's, depending on the version) treasure. The king insisted that she do it.

In Manning-Sanders had the prince told her what to do. Although Calvino found this in his original version, to increase her identification with the pears, she went and passed by an apple tree and a peach tree to sleep in the third, a pear tree. In the morning, a little old woman was under the tree.[2]

In both cases, they gave her grease, bread, and millet. She went on, gave the millet to three women in a bakery, sweeping out the ovens with their hair, threw the bread to some mastiffs, crossed by a red river with a charm that the little old woman had given her, and greased the hinges of the witch's house. Then she took the treasure chest. The chest began to speak, but the door refused to slam on her, the river to drown her, the dogs to eat her, and the women in the bakery to bake her.

Curious, she opened the chest and a golden hen with her chicks escaped, or musical instruments that played on their own, but the little old woman or prince put them back. The prince told her to ask, for her reward, for the coal chest in the cellar. When she asked and it was brought up, the prince was hidden in it, so they married.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Italo Calvino, Italian Folktales p 717 ISBN 0-15-645489-0
  2. ^ Italo Calvino, Italian Folktales p 718 ISBN 0-15-645489-0