STORY OF A MOSQUITO
This tale by an unknown narrator telling the story of an irresistible as well as blustering Mosquitoarino belongs to the Rom lovara tradition and was first published in the journal of the Gipsy Lore Society. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Roman fairy tales'.
In a country that may or may not have existed, there lived long ago a young Zanzarino. And may good Del drop my tongue if he wasn't the cockiest, most insolent Zanzarino ever to appear to importune decent people on the face of the earth! "I know everything!" he would say. And what he didn't know he made up. As for beauty then, beautiful he really was not. And yet, to hear him boast, it seemed that all the gypsies - from eight to eighty years old or thereabouts - fell for him like the winter sun for the summer moon and like the summer moon for sweet Venus! Now you must know that all our Zanzarino really had in abundance (in sacks, baskets, and shopping bags, or so he said), was the courage of a Knight, a King, and a Lionheart. So when he heard that in a certain ruined castle in a certain distant district there lived a famous candle that burned eternally, he decided on the spur of the moment that he would challenge it to a duel. Actually, many other valiant men from the four horizons had already challenged that candle. None of them, however, had succeeded in winning a duel with her flame. - But I am Nobody and Nobody is not me! - exclaimed our young braggart, puffing out his chest (may good Del forgive his impudence!) - I will succeed. You can bet your lunch on it! And with no time to spare, he ran to the kitchen, grabbed a large knife and cut two slices of bread for the journey. Between them he put a piece of butter, a pinch of salt, two slices of meat and three large, tasty chillies. Then he made a bundle out of his mother's gold handkerchief, slipped the knife into his belt and went on his way. He walked and walked, young Zanzarino on his adventure. And when he reached his destination, he sneaked into the castle and knocked on the room where the candle lived. Ah if you had been there to see! The candle burned silently in the centre of the room and when the Mosquito entered and said: - I challenge you to a duel! -, he did not even move. He just curled the flame gently and sufficiently, no more or less than one curls the tip of a moustache. So what did the Mosquito do? He stepped forward with his hands on his hips, the daredevil! And with both eyes throwing sparks. But the candle nothing, it did not even make a turn. So Zanzarino took out his big knife. And with it he threatened her and said so many ugly things, insulting her, her father, her mother and whole generations of candles who had lived in that castle before her, that any other candle in her place would surely have been furious. But that candle, which was a blessed candle that as a young girl had visited a place - Is that so? You don't want to fight me man-to-man? - exclaimed the mosquito, red in the face. And taking another step, the decisive one, he landed a formidable downward punch in perfect Gypsy style. Never had he done it, the young braggart! - Ouch! Ow! I'm burnt! Ouch! Ouch! Traitorous candle! Why did you devour my poor hand? Didn't you realise I was joking? And to think I was already growing fond of you like a sister! And crying and moaning, young Zanzarino ran home with his tail between his legs and one hand less. - Hurry, hurry! Call a doctor! - cried his old mother, when she saw him in this state. -Hurry! Hurry! A brand new hand is needed here! But of brand-new hands, the doctor did not have a single one in his bag that day. He only had an old hen's foot that he had bought at the market to cook in the broth. And that stuck on young Zanzarino's limp arm. Now, because you are surely sensible and decent people, you would think that from that day young Zanzarino learned that one should neither play with candles nor with fire. Well, you are wrong! Because our Zanzarino (may good Del forgive his unrepentant pride!), as soon as he was on his feet, ran back to the kitchen. He grabbed a large knife, cut two slices of bread, put a piece of butter between them, a pinch of salt, two slices of meat, three large and tasty chilies, and cut the bread in halfand ran to challenge the candle one more time! Never had he done it, the young braggart! After the first hand, he also lost the second. Then a foot, a leg, the other leg, an ear, an arm, a butt, a hip, and finally his head. The poor doctor, who never had anything in his bag that was needed, had to invent one every time, and one every time was not enough. So, in the end, no one could understand what kind of strange animal was running around the village, more conceited and insolent than ever: with two chicken legs, four chicken wings, the head of a rooster, the breast and hip of a turkey and even the bottom of a lapwing (which, if I may say so, was also wrinkled and reddened, may good Del forgive my words!) - Tell the truth, have you ever seen anything more extraordinary? - said the Zanzarino now, going around the village courting all the gypsy girls from eight to eighty years old or so. - And all this because? Because I have the courage of a Knight, a King, and a Lionheart! Good. Our young Zanzarino (if we can still call him that because he was no longer Zanzarino, and neither flesh nor fish) went loitering on the riverbank one day. And what did he see there? He saw the mayor of a neighbouring village, a village of poor peasants, who was hiding behind a reed bush, because while he was bathing, a vagrant thief had ruined his life. - Please help me find something to cover myself with,' the mayor begged him. - I certainly can't go back to the village like this! - I will help you and give you my clothes. But first we must make a pact... - the Mosquito replied. And in no time at all, with his quick and cunning tongue, he convinced him to make a barter. First they exchanged heads. Then the foot, a leg, the other leg, a love, the other hand, an ear, an arm, the chest, a hip and even the foot. - When you give me back my clothes,' said the Zanzarino to the poor mayor, 'I will give you back everything that is yours. Saying this, the Mosquito turned his back on him and ran as fast as the queen of hares to the peasant village, where everyone greeted him with hat in hand, mistaking him for the mayor, and where he took possession of his possessions, his house and even his favourite armchair. And when one day the real mayor came to claim what was his, do you know what the devil Zanzarino did? He kicked him out, threw a big party, was nice to everyone and fell in love with the most beautiful girl in the village, who was neither eight nor eighty, but old enough to get married. And, believe me, that girl was really happy to marry him! Because all the peasants in the village at that point said that such a modest and wise mayor (may good Del have mercy on their round, hollow gourds!), had never been seen on the face of the earth.